Thursday, August 20, 2015

Batgirl "Equal Pay" PSA (1973)


I was deeply saddened to read of the passing of actress/dancer Yvonne Craig earlier this week. The delightful Ms. Craig was the Space: 1970 "Space Babe" in June of 2011, earning her place in that august assembly for her portrayal of mad Orion slave girl Marta in the Star Trek episode, "Whom Gods Destroy." But she was best known as the caped and cowled Batgirl on the 1966 television incarnation of Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward.

While Batman was definitely a 1960s show, and beyond the purview of this blog, I'm slipping this video in on a technicality. In 1973, she and Burt Ward reprised their roles as Gotham City defenders for a Public Service Announcement regarding the Equal Pay Act. Adam West declined to participate, so Dick Gautier (who played the robot "Hymie" on Get Smart), donned the cape and mimicked West's trademark deadpan delivery. The PSA aired well into the decade, and I remember seeing it once as a kid, late at night, and wondering why Batman seemed different.

Anyway, it's a nice showcase for Craig's charm - I love her graceful little spin toward the ticking time bomb. She's already missed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) TV Guide Ad

It took nearly a decade for Stanley Kubrick's mind-blowing 2001: A Space Odyssey to air on U.S. network television, finally making its broadcast premiere on February 13th, 1977, on NBC's "Big Event." I remember it clearly, because I begged my folks to let me stay up and watch it (spaceships), but they only agreed to let me watch until my regular bedtime, as I had school the next day. On the east coast, it started at 8 PM, and my bedtime was nine (hey, I was only twelve!).

So... I only got to see the whole "dawn of man" sequence and maybe the PanAm shuttle docking with the space station before being hustled off to bed.

Now, at the tender age of twelve, I probably would have struggled mightily with the deliberate pace of the film and lack of action, but I was already a spaceship special effects junkie (thanks to Star Trek and Space: 1999), and was deeply disappointed that I didn't get to see more of the actual "space odyssey."

I didn't actually see the entire movie until I was at art school in '83 or '84, watching it in pan & scan on my tiny portable B&W television set. I didn't see it widescreen until it came out on DVD.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rainier Beer "Fresh Gordon" TV Spot (1978)


This 1978 commercial for Rainier Beer manages to "homage" 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars (dig that oh-so-close background music in the cantina) and Flash Gordon... and stars the original Flash, Buster Crabbe, as "Fresh Gordon."

Only in the 1970s.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Bionic Dog!

When The Bionic Woman switched networks in its third year from ABC to NBC, it debuted with the surprisingly affecting tail - I mean, "tale" - of cyborg canine Maximillian, Dr. Rudy Wells' (Martin E. Brooks) first bionic test subject. The million-dollar dog (Max-a-million, get it?) was experiencing psychological difficulty adjusting to his bionic prosthesis, and only Jaimie Sommers' patience and compassion could save him from being put down by an uncharacteristically cold Dr. Wells.

While that week's TV Guide ad makes the episode look like kid-friendly fun and games with a super-powered pooch, the episode is surprisingly emotional, due, in large part, to Lindsay Wagner's usual fine, empathic acting. I really like this one, and was pleased by the addition of Max to the bionic brigade.

(Not coincidentally, my dog is named Max, too.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

STAR TREK Phaser Battle commercial


Here's a vintage commercial for Mego's Star Trek Phaser Battle electronic game, which the narrator assures us is "the most exciting game ever!" I never had this, but it looks, well, amazing.

Of course, from what I've read online, it appears that it was very difficult to play, took six (!) "D" batteries, and was not very well constructed, breaking easily. It also was very expensive, selling for around $70 in 1976 dollars! (According to an online inflation calculator, that would come to nearly $300 today!)

Still....

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Very Bionic Birthday

Here's wishing a very fine 76th birthday (born April 1939) to the great Lee Majors, the original Six Million Dollar Man, and hero to millions of 70s Star Kids.

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN U.K. Annuals

As with most popular television series of the Seventies, ABC's The Six Million Dollar Man was popular in the United Kingdom, and received the "annual" treatment for young viewers. There were at least four of these hardcover collections of fiction, games, articles and comic strips, published from 1977 through 1980. (If anyone know of others, please send scans - or if you have a better scan of the 1980 Annual, I'd like to replace the only one I was able to find online).


Friday, February 27, 2015

Obit: Leonard Nimoy R.I.P.

"Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human."

Actor Leonard Nimoy, who originated the role of half human-half Vulcan Science Officer Spock on the original Star Trek television series, has passed away at age 83, due to end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Nimoy reprised the role of Spock in the 1973 animated Trek series, eight feature films, beginning with 1979's Star Ttrek - The Motion Picture, and a couple of episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1991. (Not to mention countless cameos, videos and even some games.)  In 1973, he starred in the TV movie/pilot Baffled as a race car driver with ESP powers, and in '78 as Dr. David Kibner in Phillip Kaufman's remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. From 1977 to 1982, he was the host of the syndicated documentary series, In Search Of....

Obviously, I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Leonard Nimoy. Star Trek is not only my favorite television series of all time, but it has had a huge impact in how I think and perceive the world around me. The character of Spock, as delineated by the talented Mr. Nimoy, represented rationality and scientific curiosity. Logic - tempered with the best qualities of humanity. Loyalty... and sly, sharp wit. Qualities that I aspire to (and, admittedly, rarely achieve).

In the 1990s, I worked tangentially with Mr. Nimoy as the scripter of the comic book series Leonard Nimoy's Primortals. My direct interactions with the man were few - we spoke on the phone a couple of times and only met face-to-face on one occasion - but I have in my files a memo from him praising my writing on the series. Rarely have I been so honored by a compliment.

A fine actor, writer and artist, his legacy will live long... and prosper.

Monday, February 23, 2015

PLANET OF THE APES (1968) Door Posters

Among the plethora of promotional material created by 20th Century Fox for the original 1968 Planet Of The Apes were these two-color "door panel" posters for theaters, introducing various characters from the film. This kind of giant poster was fairly prevalent in the 60s (I've seen similar ones for the Bond films and other flicks), but became less common in the 70s as studios continued to cut costs on this kind of promotion. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #51: STARCRASH

Star Caroline Munro and director Luigi Cozzi pose with the miniature of Count Zarth Arn's unique and menacing claw-shaped flagship during the shooting of the enjoyably goofy Starcrash in 1977-78.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

News: SILENT RUNNING (1972) Coming to Blu-ray

Universal's on a roll. Along with Gerry Anderson's Journey To The Far Side Of the Sun, the studio is releasing Douglas Trumbull's 1972 sci-fi parable, Silent Running, for the first time in HD in the United States on April 7th. It's about time!

From the Press Release:
Academy Award nominee* Bruce Dern stars in Silent Running, a sci-fi classic that journeys beyond the imagination. Botanist Freeman Lowell (Dern) has spent eight years aboard the space freighter Valley Forge preserving the only botanical specimens left from Earth under huge geodesic domes. When he receives orders to destroy the project and return home, Lowell rebels and hijacks the freighter, while plunging the craft into the gaseous rings of Saturn. From that moment on, he has only the trees, the gardens and two “Drone” robots, Huey and Dewey, to keep him company on his greatest adventure of all.
Extras appear to be the same as on the previously-released DVD:

The Making of Silent Running
Silent Running by Douglas Trumbull
A Conversation with Bruce Dern
Douglas Trumbull: Then and Now
Theatrical Trailer
Optional Feature Commentary with Director Douglas Trumbull and Star Bruce Dern


I'm pretty excited about this - Trumbull's effects deserve to be viewed in hi-def - but I still hate that cover art, recycled from the DVD release. The original poster artwork is so much better. Anyway, the Silent Running Blu-ray is available now for pre-order from Amazon ('natch).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

News: Gerry Anderson's JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN (1969) Coming To Blu-Ray

Space: 1999 creators Gerry & Sylvia Anderson's 1968 feature film, Journey To The Far Side Of the Sun (a/k/a Doppleganger), starring Roy Thinnes (The Invaders), is coming to Blu-ray disc in the U.S. on April 7th from Universal.

From the Press Release:
Classic sci-fi adventure and suspense has never been more exciting as when you Journey to the Far Side of the Sun! One hundred years in the future, two astronauts are sent to uncover the secrets of a “duplicate” Earth on the other side of the sun. When they crash land three weeks earlier than they had planned, they must embark on a life-or-death mission to determine whether they have arrived back home or on the strange mirror world. This imaginative space adventure offers a journey few will ever forget! 
It's an interesting movie, with a dark tone and overall aesthetic that is very similar to Anderson's subsequent TV series, UFO. In fact, a number of the props, costumes and musical cues from the film (most notably the "futuristic" automobiles) showed up on UFO a year or two later, along with a few cast members.

So far, no word on any extras, but I wouldn't really expect any from a Universal catalog title. The Journey To The Far Side Of the Sun Blu-ray is already available for pre-order at Amazon.