Archive for the ‘Star Trek (1966-1969)’ Category

Good News about Babylon 5   2 comments

WITH MY JUSTIFIABLE CRITIQUE OF SUPERFICIAL CRITICS

A few days ago, I read that my favorite science fiction series, Babylon 5, will return in a rebooted form.  J. Michael Straczynski, the creative genius who created and wrote most of the original series, will helm the rebooted series.

This reality fills me with optimism about the integrity of the upcoming series.

Most of the articles I read about the reboot of Babylon 5 mentioned subpar special effects of the 1993-1998 series.  I have heard of people younger than I choosing not to watch B5 because of its special effects.  In the 1990s, the special effects of B5 were state-of-the-art.  Technology has moved on.

The writing, acting, and character development in B5 are excellent.  The show, a pioneer in serialized storytelling, stands the test of time.  Those who cannot see past now-dated special effects to appreciate the changes in the characters of G’Kar and Londo Mollari, for example, are superficial critics.  I own the original Star Trek series (1966-1969) on blu-rays.  I have the option of watching episodes with original effects or new effects.  Spock’s Brain with enhanced special effects is just as stupid as it is with the original effects.  Likewise, The City on the Edge of Forever is no less impressive with original effects than with enhanced effects.  Emphasizing storytelling is better than focusing on special effects.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Posted September 30, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5-Crusade, Star Trek (1966-1969)

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The Starlost: Space Precinct (1973)   2 comments

Above:  “A sun, a real star”

A Screen Capture

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EPISODE 16

Aired January 5, 1974

0:49:24

The episode is available here.

STARRING

Keir Dullea as Devon

Gay Rowan as Rachel

Robin Ward as Garth

GUEST STARRING

Ivor Barry as Rathe Mathers, Chief of the Intra-Ark Police

Nuala Fitzgerald as Reena, Chief of Planetary Police, Federation of United Planets

Richard Alden as Mike, the Pilot of I.A.P. Module Number One

Diane Dewey as “Tech,” Police Technician, Class A, Intra-Ark Police

William Osler as Computer Host and Voice

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Series created by Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison)

Episode written by Martin Lager

Story Consultant = Norman Klenman

Director = Joseph L. Scanlan

Producer = William Davidson

Executive Producers = Douglas Trumbull and Jerry Zeitman

Above:  Garth, “Tech,” and Rathe

A Screen Capture

THE INTRA-ARK POLICE (I.A.P.)

Where have the Intra-Ark Police (I.A.P.) been for the previous fifteen episodes?  They would have been helpful as early as the second episode, Lazarus from the Mist.

Diane Dewey’s character has no name.  The end credits list the character as “Technician.”  The character herself and all other characters who encounter her call her “Tech.”

Why do the Intra-Ark Police, who have long known about the impending doom of the Ark, tried to do nothing to save it?

Above:  I.A.P. Module Number One

A Screen Capture

The I.A.P. modules allow for mobility on the Ark, a large vessel.

Most members of the I.A.P. are “textbook-trained graduates of the Ark Academy,” as Chief Rathe Masters refers to them dismissively.

Where is the Ark Academy?

Who controls the Ark Academy?

Does Rathe answer to the Director of Security, mentioned in Farthing’s Comet?

The I.A.P. violate the already-broken concept of The Starlost.

Members of the I.A.P., except for mini-skirted women, wear uniforms identical to those of the Astro-Medics.  “Tech” dresses identically to Lethe, from And Only Man is Vile.

The I.A.P. knows much about the residents of the Ark.

The I.A.P. has been tracking Devon, Rachel, and Garth for seven months, since Voyage of Discovery.  This timeframe contradicts The Alien Oro.

Chief Rathe Masters’s base of operations is I.A.P. Module Number One.

The I.A.P. has at least twelve divisions.  We hear about yet never see Division 12.

Rathe has grand plans for the I.A.P.-F.U.P. police force.  The result will be a force that “will be able to handle everything from a burglary to a space shootout.”

The Solar System of the Federation of United Planets

A Screen Capture

THE FEDERATION OF UNITED PLANETS (F.U.P.)

The name “Federation of United Planets” is terribly derivative of the United Federation of Planets, from Star Trek (1966-1969) and its successors.

The F.U.P., contained in one solar system of ten planets, consists of nine inhabited worlds.  The habitable zone in that solar system is extremely unlikely, to understate the case.  But recall, O reader, that The Starlost is the series that mentions a “solar star,” “radiation virus,” and “space senility.”  Are you expecting science?

The worlds of the F.U.P. orbit what Rathe describes as “a sun, a real star.”  I hope they do not orbit a “solar star”!

The F.U.P. is about to go to war over the mining rights on the uninhabited world of Apor.  The two main planets, leaders of competing alliances, are Arak and Accombra.  Arak passed on the opportunity to mine on Apor until Accombra staked its claim.  Now Arak threatens to wage war and Accombra threatens to secede.  The hijacking of Accombran ore freighters is increasing tensions.

Above:  Federation Headquarters

A Screen Capture

The headquarters of the F.U.P. is an orbiting space station.

The F.U.P. and the I.A.P. have been in contact for five years.  Now that the Ark is close to the solar system, a launch window is about to open.  The next launch window will open in about a year.

Above:  Reena

A Screen Capture

Reena, the Chief of Planetary Police, F.U.P., seeks Rathe’s help in preventing an interplanetary war.  She says she needs his advanced police techniques in the F.U.P.

Reena’s uniform reminds me of clothes in Gallery of Fear and The Beehive.

Above:  Chief Rathe Masters, I.A.P.

A Screen Capture

SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE

As Space Precinct opens, Rachel is consulting a sphere projector while Devon and Garth look on.  The members of the trio are wearing their usual clothing from Cypress Corners, also known as M124.  Rachel is gathering information about biosphere M71, a scientific, experimental, agrarian station.  The last reported contact with M71 was in 2386, in the year after the Ark‘s accident.  M71 was high-tech in 2386.  The regular access routes are sealed, but access may be possible via service channels.  The sphere projector provides directions.

Devon and Rachel are enthusiastic about going to M71, but Garth is not.  He says goodbye and heads back toward Cypress Corners.  Garth does not get far before Rathe Masters, Chief of the Intra-Ark Police (I.A.P.), detains him for questioning and takes him to I.A.P. Module Number One, docked in its assigned place.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Devon don spacesuits before entering a freight elevator with little air in it.  They are en route to M71.  The elevator gets stuck, and the supply of air in the space suits is limited.

At Module One, Rathe learns more about Garth than Garth may have known about himself.  Rathe offers Garth a job as a detective in the I.A.P.  Garth accepts the offer.  Rathe is convinced that Garth can help him prevent a war in the Federation of United Planets (F.U.P.).

Rathe calls Reena, the Chief of Planetary Police in the F.U.P.  He tells her that Module One will leave in a few minutes, when the launch window will open.  Yet Module One can never leave because someone is jamming the system.  “Tech,” Rathe’s trusted aide, tells him that the jamming signal comes from the F.U.P.  He believes her.  Yet she is lying; she keeps jamming the system.  “Tech” spends most of the episode casting blame onto innocent people, mainly Reena and Garth.

Garth suspects that Reena may have a traitor on her staff.  This turns out to be correct; he is Ragar, whom we never see.  Ragar and “Tech” are working together.  Ragar, responsible for protecting the ore ships, is orchestrating the hijacking of them and getting rich.  He, planning to win the F.U.P. war and have Reena killed, has offered “Tech” Reena’s job in one year.

Poor Garth!  Mike suspects him of being a traitor.  Rathe suspects.  Even Reena suspects him.  Then she reveals that “Tech” is a traitor.

Back in the freight elevator, Devon removes his helmet then the helmet of the unconscious Rachel.  The air in the elevator is all the air they have left.  Reena calls in Division 12 to rescue Devon and Rachel.  Then, when alone, she calls off Division 12.  Next, she tells Garth that Devon and Rachel have died.

Soon, however, Garth overhears “Tech” speaking with Ragar.  He knows that she is a liar and a traitor.  She tries to kill him by stunning him and leaving him in an airless elevator.  But one of his boots prevents the elevator door from closing completely.  “Tech” tells Rathe that Garth is dead.  He is alive, though.

Rathe sends Division 12 to rescue Devon and Rachel.  Division 12 rescues them, off-screen, of course.

Until nearly the end of the episode, Reena suspects Garth of being a traitor.  Then she tells Rathe that “Tech” is a traitor.  “Tech” goes to the Ark jail.  The plot ended, tensions in the F.U.P. begin to cool.

Reena says,

Garth, we’ll make a detective out of you yet.

Garth replies,

Well, I’ll let you know.

Le fin.

Above:  Mike, Pilot of Intra-Ark Police Module Number One

A Screen Capture

OTHER UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Where is the laundry in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where are the bathrooms and showers in tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

How does Garth maintain that early 1970s haircut while on the run in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Given that Devon, Rachel, and Garth have been to the Bridge, why do they need to find the backup Bridge?

Why are so many people on the Ark fatalistic?

Why does Devon not invoke his authority as the Ark commander?  (The Return of Oro)

Why does Devon’s level of interest in saving the Ark vary from episode to episode, and sometimes within an episode?

How many zoological laboratories are on the Earth Ship Ark?

What is M71 like in 2790?

Will Devon and Rachel go to M71 after all?

Will Garth rejoin Devon and Rachel?

Is the Ark doomed to collide with the “Class-G solar star”?

Above:  “Tech”

A Screen Capture

OTHER COMMENTS

For the record, Garth, Identification Number 774833-BXL-871, was born to Rebecca and Old Garth on May 22, 2767.

Space Precinct was the final episode of The Starlost filmed.  However, there were scripts for episodes #17 and 18:  God That Died and People in the Dark.

The full season run would have been twenty-four episodes.  However, NBC chose not to order the final eight episodes.  Good riddance to bad rubbish!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 COMMON ERA

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All images in this post are screen captures from a series that is freely available at archive.org and YouTube.

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The Starlost: The Implant People (1973)   2 comments

Above:  Professor Brant

A Screen Capture

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EPISODE 11

Aired December 8, 1973

0:49:24

The episode is available here.

STARRING

Keir Dullea as Devon

Gay Rowan as Rachel

Robin Ward as Garth

GUEST STARRING

Donnelly “Dr. Cottle” Rhodes as Roloff

Patricia Collins as Queen Serina

Leo Leyden as Professor Brant

Jeff Toner as Jardy, Professor Brant’s Grandson

Dino Narizzano as Council President Domal

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Series created by Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison)

Episode written by Helen French and Martin Lager (Credited)

Episode written by John Meredyth Lucas (Uncredited)

Story Consultant = Norman Klenman

Director = Joseph L. Scanlan

Producer = William Davidson

Executive Producers = Douglas Trumbull and Jerry Zeitman

Above:  A Cheesy Model

A Screen Capture

BACKGROUND

Reports that the Patricia Collins who portrayed Queen Serina was the “Hip Hypnotist” are objectively false.  (I checked.)  No, the Patricia Collins who portrayed Queen Serina is a British actress born in 1937.  According to the Internet Media Database (IMDB), as of today, she is alive.

I have no way of knowing which came first–the uncredited writing or the uncredited writing–of this episode.

John Meredyth Lucas is a name a fan of science fiction and television of a certain era should recognized.  His credits at IMDB indicate an uneven career.  His credits include having written The Ultimate Computer (1968), The Enterprise Incident (1968), and Elaan of Troyius (1968), all for Star Trek (1966-1969).  Lucas’s writing credits include episodes for series a various genres.  Other credits–as a producer–include the third season (1968-1969) of Star Trek and as the only, abbreviated season of Beyond Westworld (1980).

Above:  Serina and Roloff

A Screen Capture

SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE

As the episode opens, Devon, Rachel, and Garth are in a tunnel.  Rachel is sleeping.  Garth is complaining.  Devon tells Garth to get back to sleep.  A dirty urchin (Jardy) is watching the trio.  He steals Garth’s crossbow.  Garth pursues him into the nearest biosphere.  Professor Brant and two other scientists clad in green and sporting cerebral implants, are working.

Jardy, we eventually learn, is Professor Brant’s grandson.  Jardy is also mute.

In this biosphere, Queen Serina is the theoretical ruler.  Actually, though, her advisor, Roloff, is in charge.  Serina is isolated from her people.  She knows only what Roloff tells her.  Unbeknownst to her, most of her subjects are poor and starving, and Roloff is a liar and a tyrant.  Roloff maintains his power via implants and fear.  The implants, as far as Queen Serina knows, improve brain function.  Actually, they inflict great pain when Roloff triggers them.  A few people–the elites–have implants.  Roloff and Queen Serina do not.

Lorenz, whom Queen Serina mourns, was her husband.

The leaders of this biosphere know they are in a biosphere of the Earth Ship Ark.  When Devon informs Roloff of the Ark’s impending collision with a star, Roloff’s only suggestion is getting an implant.

Roloff dissolves the council, supposedly in the name of Queen Serina.  Then he tells Queen Serina that the council, opposed to her progressive legislation, dissolved itself.  The council is not the barrier to the monarch’s progressive legislation; Roloff is.

Devon is unusually trusting in this episode.  He trusts Roloff until Roloff has him implanted.

Jardy leads Garth to the hiding place of the councilmen.  They are planning a revolution, but need for Dr. Brant, who developed the first generation of implants to help his grandson, to remove their implants.  Jardy, who had stolen the crossbow on the councilmen’s orders, returns it.  Professor Brant removes implants, onscreen and offscreen.  Devon removes Brant’s implant.

Queen Serina overhears Roloff tell the mute Jardy his plans to kill her.  She, feeling betrayed, confronts her advisor.  He takes her prisoner.  Then, in order, he takes Rachel and Garth prisoner.  Meanwhile, Devon, Brant, and the councilmen stage their revolution.  They capture Roloff, who will go on trial yet not get an implant.  Nobody else will get implanted.

Queen Serina’s subjects presumably may look forward to a brighter future.

Le fin.

Above:  Domal

A Screen Capture

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Where is the laundry in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where are the bathrooms and showers in tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

How does Garth maintain that early 1970s haircut while on the run in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Given that Devon, Rachel, and Garth have been to the Bridge, why do they need to find the backup Bridge?

What is the name of the biosphere of the week?

Why will nobody in power in this biosphere even try to save the Ark?

Garth lost his previous crossbow in Mr. Smith of Manchester.  Where did Garth get another one?

Above:  Sleeping

A Screen Capture

OTHER COMMENTS

The only qualification Roloff lacks to be a mustache-twirling villain is a mustache.

Queen Serina is useless.

One theme in this episode is how easy cowardice is in the face of tyranny.

Next Episode:  The Return of Oro

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2021 COMMON ERA

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All images in this post are screen captures from a series that is freely available at archive.org and YouTube.

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The Starlost: Astro-Medics (1973)   5 comments

Above:  Astro-Medics

A Screen Capture

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EPISODE 10

Aired December 1, 1973

0:49:21

The episode is available here.

STARRING

Keir Dullea as Devon

Gay Rowan as Rachel

Robin Ward as Garth

GUEST STARRING

Stephen Young as Dr. Christopher Trask

Budd Knapp as Dr. Martin Trask

Meg Hogarth as Dr. Jean Pelletier

Bill Kemp as the Captain of Medical Module 7

David Mann as the Astrogator of Medical Module 7

Michael Zenon as the Commander of Galactic Ship Seer D221

William Osler as Computer Host and Voice

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Series created by Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison)

Episode written by Paul Schneider and Martin Lager

Story Consultant = Norman Klenman

Director = George McCowan

Producer = William Davidson

Executive Producers = Douglas Trumbull and Jerry Zeitman

Above:  Medical Module 7

A Screen Capture

BACKGROUND

The Starlost had many problems.  One of these was the abandonment of the premise of the series.  Astro-Medics marked the first time an episode featured characters who have known for a long time that the Earth Ship Ark is on a collision course with a star and have consistently done nothing even to try to resolve that problem.  This, however, was not the first episode to raise the question, “Who trained and credentialed these people?”  The first episode to do that was And Only Man is Vile.

The writing career of Paul Schneider was uneven.  He wrote Balance of Terror (1966) and The Squire of Gothos (1967) for Star Trek (1966-1969), as well as The Terratin Incident (1973) for Star Trek (1973-1975).  Schneider also wrote The Satyr (1981) and The Guardians (1981) for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981).

The aliens in this episode are idiots, objectively.  These humanoid reptiles hail from a planet where the temperature is even.  These aliens, a spacefaring species, need a human doctor to tell them to turn down the thermostat, for medical reasons.  Really?

Above:  The Power of Green:  The Flight Crew of Medical Module 7

A Screen Capture

SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE

Devon, Rachel, and Garth are in a medical/scientific facility, Sector M16.  Garth enters Sonic Chamber IV, intended for the destruction of microorganisms.  Garth becomes trapped briefly.  Then Devon rescues him.  Yet Devon becomes trapped, unconscious, and injured.  Garth gets Devon out of Sonic Chamber IV.  Rachel consults the nearest sphere projector, which notifies Medical Module 7.

Unbeknownst to anyone in the series to date, a few small crafts, Medical Modules, are constantly in orbit of the Earth Ship Ark.  There used to be more of them, and the crews and medics are overworked, but they are there.  Drs. Christopher Trask and Jean Pelletier arrive with an extra to take the trio to Medical Module 7.

Dr. Christopher Trask holds his father, Dr. Martin Trask, in contempt.  Christopher, an emotional bully, regards Martin as a “senile old man.”  Yet Martin is not senile; he is a doormat.  This story is mainly the tale of the father and the son developing a healthy, mutually respectful relationship.

Garth spends most of this episode feeling guilty for causing Devon’s life-threatening injury.  Dr. Christopher Trask spends most of this episode not trying to save Devon’s life–only making Devon comfortable before the supposedly-inevitable death.

Dr. Christopher Trask becomes fixated on the challenge of saving the lives of the crew of Galactic Ship Seer D221.  The crew is in mortal danger, for reasons they cannot understand.  The alien commander contacts Medical Module 7, which leaves the Ark and heads toward the alien vessel.  Garth aborts that trip, causing Medical Module 7 to drift and possibly to lose the opportunity to return to the Ark.  But he does force surgery on Devon.  Dr. Martin Trask begins that surgery.  Meanwhile, Galactic Ship Seer D221 sets a course to rendezvous with Medical Module 7.

The alien commander knows that the Ark is on a collision course with a “Class-G star”–not a “solar star,” at least.  That commander also proposes to help restart the reactors aboard the Ark in exchange for medical aide.  Dr. Christopher Trask tries to understand the cause of the aliens’ problem, to no avail.

The Doctors Trask switch tasks; Christopher completes the surgery and saves Devon’s life while Martin saves the aliens.  Martin tells them, in so many words, to turn down the thermostat.  That works.  The alien commander gives the captain of Medical Module 7 the coordinates of the Ark.  The alien commander also declines to help save the Ark; he has to go, for some reason.

Medical Module 7 returns Devon, Rachel, and Garth to the Ark.  Then Drs. Trask, Trask, and Pelletier have to leave for Biosphere M23, for a medical emergency.  Devon, Rachel, and Garth, like the idiots they are, do not ask to ride shotgun with them.

Above:  Galactic Ship Seer D221

A Screen Capture

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Where is the laundry in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where are the bathrooms and showers in tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

How does Garth maintain that early 1970s haircut while on the run in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Given that Devon, Rachel, and Garth have been to the Bridge, why do they need to find the backup Bridge?

Where have the Astro-Medics been in the previous episodes?  They would have been useful more than once.

Above:  The Alien Commander

A Screen Capture

OTHER COMMENTS

This episode is tedious.

The green uniforms of the flight crew of Medical Module 7 match the green egg crate foam.  The green egg crate foam in The Starlost is notorious, in my mind, at least.

Next Episode:  The Implant People

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

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All images in this post are screen captures from a series that is freely available at archive.org and YouTube.

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The Starlost: Mr. Smith of Manchester (1973)   3 comments

Above:  Trent, Mr. Smith, and the Secretary (Left to Right)

A Screen Capture

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EPISODE 9

Aired November 24, 1973

0:49:24

The episode is available here.

STARRING

Keir Dullea as Devon

Gay Rowan as Rachel

Robin Ward as Garth

GUEST STARRING

Ed Ames as Mr. Smith, President of Manchester

Pat Galloway as Trent, Mr. Smith’s Aide-de-Camp

Pattie Elsasser as the Secretary (“the Dumb Bunny”)

Doris Petrie as the Nurse

Les Rubie as City Man

Jim Barron as Computer Voice

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Series created by Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison)

Episode written by Arthur Heinemann and Norman Klenman

From a story by Arthur Heinemann

Story Consultant = Norman Klenman

Director (credited) = Joseph L. Scanlan

Director (uncredited) = Ed Richardson (the Associate Producer)

Science Consultant = Ben Bova

Producer = William Davidson

Executive Producers = Douglas Trumbull and Jerry Zeitman

Above:  Prisoners and Guards

A Screen Capture

SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE

Guards (whose uniforms scream, “This is 1973!”) drag the chained Devon, Garth, and Rachel before Mr. Smith, the President (and dictator) of Manchester.  His aide-de-camp, the widow Trent is present, also.  So is the unnamed secretary, who rocks a miniskirt.  (Did I mention that this series dates to 1973?)  President Mr. Smith, who knows he is in a biosphere on the Earth Ship Ark, is convinced that our trio is a team of spies from outside biosphere.  He also entertains the theory that Devon, Rachel, and Garth belong to the fifth column in Manchester.  When Devon mentions Cypress Corners, nobody even bats an eye; Trent and Mr. Smith know what it is.

Unlike other biospheres, the irises into Manchester are concealed.  Once they open, there is no seam in the metal.  This explains why (a) Devon, Rachel, and Garth stumbled into Manchester, and (b) Mr. Smith does not know where the irises are.

Manchester is a police state.  Patriotism is loyalty to the President.  Treason is disloyalty to the President.  Tyranny reigns in Manchester.  The guards are loyal and obedient to Mr. Smith, and the surveillance system is extensive.

Also, Mr. Smith lies easily and frequently.

Manchester’s original purpose was to manufacture weapons for the other biospheres.  Mr. Smith told Devon, Rachel, and Garth that the purpose was to manufacture guns and small weapons.  He could have been lying, though.  Manchester has been making and storing tanks and munitions, though.  Mr. Smith has been planning to invade the Ark with his tanks, munitions, and poisonous pollution.

Mr. Manchester claims to seek commerce and cultural exchange with the other biospheres, though.  Mr. Smith lies easily and frequently.  Mr. Smith plays nice with Devon, Rachel, and Garth, hoping that they will lead him to the exits from the biosphere in which he is sealed.

Apparently, during or after the Dome Wars (prior to 2385), some faction or factions sealed the entrances to Manchester, which menaced them.

Mr. Smith suspects Trent of disloyalty to him.  He has her arrested for treason after she expresses her doubts about the President to Devon, Rachel, and Garth.  Mr. Smith orders Trent tortured then exiled to the noxious Outer City, where the atmosphere poisons her.  The trio rescues Trent from the Outer City, but cannot prevent her death.  They take her to the weapons warehouse, where Mr. Smith is waiting with guards and his secretary.  Mr. Smith witnesses Trent’s death.

Mr. Smith’s secretary is a dim bulb.  In a warehouse full of weapons, she says that Devon, Rachel, and Garth cannot possibly have access to weapons.  The President utters the best line of the episode in response:

You are a dumb bunny, aren’t you?

Devon, Rachel, and Garth, wearing gas masks, use gas to repel Mr. Smith, the guards, and the secretary.  Then our trio finds the exit and goes.  Devon says:

When we learn how to control that madman, we’ll come back.

Garth replies,

Unless he gets out first.

Le fin.

Above:  The Outer City

A Screen Capture

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Where is the laundry in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where are the bathrooms and showers in tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

How does Garth maintain that early 1970s haircut while on the run in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Given that Devon, Rachel, and Garth have been to the Bridge, why do they need to find the backup Bridge?

How much storage space does Manchester have for the tanks and munitions it has manufactured?

How much time will Mr. Smith or someone in his employ need to find the exit in the warehouse?

Above:  Mr. Smith and the “Dumb Bunny”

A Screen Capture

OTHER COMMENTS

Except for Circuit of Death, aired early and out of order, Mr. Smith of Manchester is the last episode of The Starlost I will summarize and review that lists Ben Bova as the Science Consultant.  Bova finally succeeded in having his name removed from the closing credits, after producers in Toronto ignored his advice.

Arthur Heinemann wrote three of the worst episodes of Star Trek (1966-1969), all from the third season (1968-1969):  Wink of an Eye (1968), The Way to Eden (1968), and The Savage Curtain (1969).  Somehow, Mr. Smith of Manchester manages to be more watchable than those.

The script implies yet does make explicitly clear that Manchester is the name of the biosphere of the week.

The special effects for the Outer City are dreadful.

Devon mentions the infamous “solar star” again.

Curiously, one who suffers electronic interrogation in Manchester forgets the experience immediately and comes away from it feeling relaxed.

We first heard of the Dome Wars in The Pisces.

Mr. Smith of Manchester, despite its flaws, is superior to The Alien Oro and Gallery of Fear, cures for insomnia.

Next Episode:  Astro-Medics

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 9, 2021 COMMON ERA

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All images in this post are screen captures from a series that is freely available at archive.org and YouTube.

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The Starlost: The Alien Oro (1973)   6 comments

Above:  Oro

A Screen Capture

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EPISODE 7

Aired November 3, 1973

0:49:21

The episode is available here.

STARRING

Keir Dullea as Devon

Gay Rowan as Rachel

Robin Ward as Garth

GUEST STARRING

Walter Koenig as Oro

Alexandra Bastedo as Idona (Y-419-B2)

William Osler as Computer Voice and Host

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Series created by Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison)

Episode written by Mort Forer and Marian Waldman

Story Consultant = Norman Klenman

Director = Joseph L. Scanlan

Science Consultant = Ben Bova

Producer = William Davidson

Executive Producers = Douglas Trumbull and Jerry Zeitman

Above:  Oro’s Ship, Explorer Ship 531

A Screen Capture

BACKGROUND

Harlan Ellison wrote many introductions.  He told the following story in the introduction to Edward Bryant’s novelization of Phoenix Without Ashes (1975):  As ratings for The Starlost fell from week to week, the people in charge of producing the series called Gener Roddenberry.  The offered him fifty percent of the show if he would rescue the series.  The Great Bird of the Galaxy refused.  Then those Canadians asked Roddenberry to recommend someone.  He offered one name:  Harlan Ellison.  As Ellison told the story, Roddenberry said:

If you hadn’t screwed him so badly, he could have done a good job for you.

Then Roddenberry hung up.

Roddenberry had other irons in the fire.  He was working on a proposed series, for which he made two pilots for two networks.  Those pilots were Genesis II (1973) and Planet Earth (1974).  Somewhere in there, he also worked on another project, The Questor Tapes (1974).  That did not lead to a series either.  The Questor Tapes did influence Lieutenant Commander Data in Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1987-1994) and related movies (1994, 1996, 1998, and 2002), though.  Furthermore, the name “Dylan Hunt” and some plot elements from Genesis II and Planet Earth influenced Andromeda (2000-2005).

The casting of Walter Koenig as Oro (dressed in a gold-colored uniform, appropriately) was an effort to breathe new life into the series by bringing in an actor from Star Trek (1966-1969).  Unfortunately, the script was bad.  Yet Koenig returned for episode #13, The Return of Oro.  Oro was the only recurring antagonist in The Starlost.

One of the practices in television in the 1980s was to create television movies out of short-lived series by combining two episodes.  Once upon a time, this was the only way to see some episodes and series.  In 1980, ten of the sixteen episodes of The Starlost became five television movies, entitled:

  1. The Starlost:  The Beginning (Voyage of Discovery and The Goddess Calabra),
  2. The Starlost:  Deception (Mr. Smith of Manchester and Gallery of Fear),
  3. The Starlost:  The Alien Oro (The Alien Oro and The Return of Oro),
  4. The Starlost:  The Return (Astro-Medics and The Implant People), and
  5. The Starlost:  The Invasion (The Pisces and Farthing’s Comet).

The cover of each VHS tape proclaimed:

BEYOND 1984.  BEYOND 2001:  A SPACE ODYSSEY.

BEYOND STAR TREK.

THE STARLOST.

AN ADVENTURE FROM THE

RUNAWAY HIT TELEVISION SERIES.

Given that The Starlost ended prematurely, after only sixteen episodes, and that the ratings were low, I must laugh at “runaway hit.”

Above:  The Hull Breach

A Screen Capture

MATTERS CHRONOLOGICAL

The technology of the planet Exar, in the Xenophon Nebula, enabled detection of the accident aboard the Earth Ship Ark in 2385.  However, The Ark came within visual range of long-range sensors only in 2790.

This episode and Space Precinct (#16) contradict each other regarding chronology.  The Alien Oro provides a date for Oro’s arrival aboard the Ark:  April 3, 2790.  Dialogue establishes this event as having occurred not quite one year prior to the rest of the episode.  Yet Space Precinct establishes that the time elapsed from the first episode to the sixteenth episode is only about seven months.

Recall that Children of Methuseleh (#5) starts on May 2, 2790.

Above:  Idona

A Screen Capture

SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE

This episode has too little material for the run time.  The summary, therefore, is mercifully short.

Oro, from the planet Exar, pilots Explorer Craft 531 toward the Earth Ship Ark.  His mission is to identify the Ark then to return to orbital station K7.  (How is that for an Easter egg?)  However, Oro loses control of his ship and crashes into the Ark, breaching its hull.

Not quite a year later, Oro is nearly done repairing and rebuilding Explorer Craft 531, with the help of Idona, whom he rescued.  Idona, having escaped from her biosphere, had been wandering in tubes and corridors.  She is proficient with technology, fortunately for Oro.  Oro’s space window back to Exar is about to reopen, and he wants to leave on time.

Devon, Garth, and Rachel, whom the annoying computer has summoned to the location of the hull breach, don space suits and explore the germane area of the ship, apparently close to the main Bridge.  (That fact raises some questions about Voyage of Discovery and Lazarus from the Mist.)  Devon, Garth, and Rachel meet Idona and Oro.  Garth, who has never met a woman proficient in “men’s work,” becomes infatuated with her.  Devon tries to persuade Oro to help save the Ark, but Oro insists that is a hopeless cause, and besides, he has no time to do try.  Rachel enter’s Oro’s ship and becomes stuck in there for a little while, until Devon insists that Oro release her.  But Rachel is never in any danger.

Oro knows that Idona will die in a few days or weeks unless he takes her to Exar with him.  Garth understands.  He will miss Idona, but he wants her to live.  Oro and Idona depart.

Le fin.

I skipped a few details, but so be it.

Above:  Idona and Garth in Oro’s Ship

A Screen Capture

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Where is the laundry in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where are the bathrooms and showers in tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

How does Garth maintain that early 1970s haircut while on the run in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Given that Devon, Rachel, and Garth have been to the Bridge, why do they need to find the backup Bridge?

How many people have been exiting bisopheres and exploring the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where were the Ark police when they should have been tending to the Oro situation?

Could not the Astro-Medics (#11) have treated Idona?

How convoluted can the interior chronology of the Earth Ship Ark become?

Above:  Exar

A Screen Capture

OTHER COMMENTS

As anyone who paid attention in French class should know, “ee-grek” is the pronunciation of “Y.”  Idona refers to her home biosphere accordingly.  (I paid attention in French class.)

Biosphere Y seems to be good place to be from, as an old saying goes.  Idona (Y-419-B2) thinks so, anyway.

Screenwriters Mort Forer and Marian Waldman were husband and wife.

The onscreen credit lists Marian Waldman as “Marion Waldman.”

The Ark’s computer disapproves of yelling at it.  To quote Saturday Night Live, “Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.”

Next Episode:  Gallery of Fear

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

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All images in this post are screen captures from a series that is freely available at archive.org and YouTube.

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The Starlost: And Only Man is Vile (1973)   5 comments

Above:  New Eden Leisure Village

A Screen Capture

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EPISODE 6

Aired October 27, 1973

0:49:55

The episode is available here.

STARRING

Keir Dullea as Devon

Gay Rowan as Rachel

Robin Ward as Garth

GUEST STARRING

Simon Oakland as Dr. Asgard

Irena Mayeska as Dr. Diana Tabor

Trudy Young as Lethe

John Bethune as Villager “A”

Tim Whelan as Village Elder

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Series created by Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison)

Episode written by Shimon Wincelberg

Story Consultant = Norman Klenman

Director = Ed Richardson (the Associate Producer)

Science Consultant = Ben Bova

Producer = William Davidson

Executive Producers = Douglas Trumbull and Jerry Zeitman

Above:  Dr. Asgard

A Screen Capture

REFERENCES

At least one text by Reginald Heber (1783-1826), the Anglican Bishop of Calcutta (1823-1826), has survived into 2790.  That text is a hymn, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains” (1819), a missionary text.  The germane stanza is:

What though the spicy breezes

Blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle;

Though every prospect pleases

And only man is vile?

In vain with lavish kindness

The gifts of God are strown;

The heathen in his blindness

Bows down to wood and stone.

“Lethe” is a reference to Greek mythology.  The word means “oblivion.”  Lethe was the daughter of Eris, the Goddess of Discord.  Also, the recently deceased who drank from the River Lethe lost all memory of their past existence.

Above:  Dr. Diana Tabor

A Screen Capture

SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE

In Biosphere XIV, home of New Eden Leisure Village (supposedly population 1000), Dr. Asgard and Dr. Diana Tabor, of the Institute for Reeducation, are conducting psychological-sociological research and carrying on a professional argument.  Dr. Asgard, instead of shouting at Carl Kolchak, is attempting to prove his negative opinion of human nature, that we are selfish beasts, and that recognizing this is the key to the human species surviving on its next planet.  He is a Social Darwinist.  The Institute for Reeducation, original to the Ark, has survived the accident, with Dr. Asgard being aware of any peril to the Ark.

Drs. Asgard and Tabor observe all the movements of Devon, Rachel, and Garth from the time they arrive outside Biosphere XIV.

When Devon hears the misquoted line, “Where every prospect pleases,” engraved on a pillar, he is the only one of the trio to know the next line:  “And only man is vile.”

Given the tedium of this episode, I choose to speed through this summary and skip certain details.

A young woman, Lethe, is the first person the trio meets.  She pretends to be the survivor of some unspecified disaster, from which the other villagers fled.  Actually, she works for the Institute for Reeducation.  She tries to break up the solidarity of the trio.  She attempts to convince Devon, Rachel, and Garth to turn against each other.  This strategy worked on the others who came through this biosphere.  It does not work on Devon, however.  It has a slight effect on Rachel.  And it has a greater and a temporary effect on Garth.

The villagers are present, though.  We see eight or nine of them in the episode.  They live in fear of “the invaders” and seek to kill Devon for reasons of …plot.  Garth and Rachel rescue Devon, and the villagers return to wherever they had been.

Dr. Asgard is upset that he has lost.

Devon, Rachel, and Garth celebrate their friendship.

Above:  Devon, Rachel, and Garth with Lethe

A Screen Capture

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Where is the laundry in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Where are the bathrooms and showers in tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

How does Garth maintain that early 1970s haircut while on the run in the tubes and corridors of the Earth Ship Ark?

Given that Devon, Rachel, and Garth have been to the Bridge, why do they need to find the backup Bridge?

How long have Drs. Asgard and Tabor worked for the Institute for Reeducation?

Who, if anyone, oversees the Institute for Reeducation?

Who awarded Drs. Asgard and Tabor their credentials?

What will Dr. Asgard, Dr. Tabor, and Lethe do next?

Above:  Devon with Villagers

A Screen Capture

OTHER COMMENTS

Shimon Wincelberg (1924-2004), also known as S. Bar-David, wrote for series in a wide variety of genres from 1953 to 1997.  Genre credits included seven episodes of Lost in Space (1965-1968), two episodes of Star Trek (1966-1969), two episodes of The Immortal (1970-1971), and one episode Man from Atlantis (1977-1978).  The episodes of Star Trek were two of the best:  Dagger of the Mind (1966) and The Galileo Seven (1967).  The episode of Man from Atlantis was absolute dreck:  The Imp (1978).

Yahrens ago, when I lived in Statesboro, Georgia, I purchased a manual on Marxism-Leninism from the Goodwill thrift store.  The Communist Party of the Soviet Union had published this volume in Moscow.  English was obviously the translators fourth or fifth language.  Politics aside, the reading was inelegant.  I kept the book around for (a) curiosity, and (b) aid in curing occasional insomnia.  Years later, I gave the book to a graduate student focusing on the Cold War.

And Only Man is Vile rivals that book as a cure for insomnia.

Next Episode:  The Alien Oro

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

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All images in this post are screen captures from a series that is freely available at archive.org and YouTube.

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 20–The King is Undead (2002)   1 comment

Above:  Confirmed Sightings of Elvis Presley, 1977-2001

All images in this post are screen captures.

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The King is Undead

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired March 8, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-119

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Main Guest Actor

Joey Sagal as Jesse Garon/Elvis Presley

Behind the Camera

Writer = Javier Grillo-Marxuach

Director = Krishna Rao

Above:  Jesse Garon

Brief Summary

Donald Stern is ecstatic.  In 2002, after a quarter of a century of sporadic reported sightings, the ultimate quarry of tabloids seems within his grasp.  There is an elusive, reclusive figure with worshipers and imitators who hold rallies and rituals.  The reclusive figure always appears at the concluding rituals of these gatherings, and always between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.  Finding him would be, in Stern’s words, “Tet, D-Day, and the invasion of Grenada rolled up into one.”  The elusive quarry is Elvis Presley, who faked his death in 1977.  Tucker Burns and Wes Freewald, undercover as Elvis impersonators, get the assignment of a lifetime.

Meanwhile, Grace Hall is unhappily stuck with a story about another skid row vampire.  He turns out to be an Elvis impersonator, so the A-plot and the B-plot merge.

For once, Wes Freewald is the skeptic among the main characters.  He spends almost all of the episode not believing that Elvis is alive despite many clues to the contrary.  “Jesse Garon” is staying in room 1835 (for January 8, 1935, the birthday of Elvis Presley.)  “Jesse Garon” (the name of Presley’s deceased twin brother) has checked in as “Tennessee C. Beale.”  He is also the right age to be Elvis Presley.  “Jesse Garon” consistently denies being Elvis while fitting the description.  Tucker and Wes unwittingly interfere his plan to spray the nearly 100 vampires in the ballroom with holy water via the sprinkler system, thereby destroying the soulless undead.

On the final night of the Elvisopolis 3000 Elvis Impersonator Competition, the master of ceremonies is King Master Lobo, a vampire.  These are dangerous events that have been occurring for about two decades; there has been at least one vampire-related killing per Elvisopolis, and the undead victim has walked out of the morgue every time.  Before Grace may enter the ballroom, she must dress like Elvis, so she does.  Once there, she realizes that she is surrounded by vampires.

“Jesse Garon” takes great offense to vampires disguised as Elvis impersonators.  He has been hunting and killing them for a quarter of a century, after finding a secret hive of vampires in Las Vegas then deciding to fight back after some of the undead stalked him.  The list of Jesse’s allies grows from Wes, Tucker, and Grace to include Donald Stern and Vera, who come equipped to spray vampires with garlic.  However, the only people the guards will allow into the ballroom are those dressed like Elvis.  Vera and Donald have to wait.  Jesse and our main trio kill all but one of the vampires in the ballroom.  Tucker even shines the ultraviolet flash light onto Wes’s sparkly attire, causing UV light to kill many of the undead.  Tucker and Jesse kill Lobo.

When the police arrive, Donald Q. Stern, Ph.D. in molecular biology, provides a cover story to an officer:  there was a mass hallucination.

“Jesse Garon,” wearing blue suede shoes and still denying being Elvis Presley, departs.  Wes Freewald has not taken a photograph of him.

Above:  Elvis Impersonators

Character Beats

Of all the World Chronicle staff members, Grace Hall has the most firsthand experience with vampires.

Tucker Burns has been a fan of Elvis Presley since childhood.  He spent many Saturday afternoons watching Elvis movies the local UHF television station aired.

Wes Freewald’s parents are fans of Elvis Presley.  Wes is not.  In late May 1977, during the week Star Wars Episode IV:  A New Hope debuted, the Freewald family drove four hours one way to attend an Elvis concert.  The parents dressed Wes like Elvis, who gave him a blue scarf.  Nevertheless, Wes cared more about Star Wars.

Vera really needs a boyfriend, husband, whatever.

Donald Q. Stern may hold a Ph.D. in molecular biology.

Above:  Vampire-Elvis Impersonator

Great Lines

Grace Hall, to Donald Stern:  “How many times do I have to tell you I didn’t know he was a vampire until our second-to-last date?”

Tucker Burns, to Wes Freewald:  “Hey, man, not everybody in our generation is a raving scifi geek, all right?  I mean, in a straight fight, I would pick the King of Rock and Roll over Han Solo or Captain Kirk any day.”  Wes Freewald:  “Okay, now this discussion is over.  We’ve got to draw the line somewhere, Tucker.’

Wes Freewald:  “Even though the King never did make a scifi flick, we’ve got to help him.”

Grace Hall, to Wes Freewald:  “Why are you dressed like Little Richard?”

Jesse Garon:  “Teenage girls and scifi geeks say, ‘slayer.’ I’m a vampire hunter.”

Jesse Garon:  “Those sons of bitches have soiled the name of the King of Rock and Roll for the last time.”

Donald Stern:  “You know me–always on the look for a mass vampire movement.”

Above:  Lobo

In-Universe

This episode plays out within a few hours, from late one night to early the next morning.

There is an army of vampires bent of global domination.  See He’s Dead, She’s Dead, the seventh episode produced and the fifth one broadcast.

Above:  Vera with Donald Stern, Spraying Garlic

Comments

The King is Undead is the twentieth episode produced and broadcast.

The King is Undead contains many references to Elvis Presley’s wardrobe, lyrics, and movies in dialogue, as well as visually.  Vince, an alcoholic homeless man, points to a canine and tells Grace, “It’s just a hound dog.”  Grace, speaking on her cellular telephone, says she was “all shook up.”  Sal the Pig-Boy pleads, “Don’t be cruel.”  He also dresses like late Elvis.  Donald Stern tells Tucker and Wes, “It’s now or never.”  A group called the Blue Hawaiians wins the award for best Elvis-inspired barbershop quartet.  The list goes on and on.

An Elvis-inspired barbershop quartet?

This episode is enjoyable.  The concept is properly wacky, and the execution of it excellent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 12: Pig Boy’s Big Adventure (2001)   2 comments

Above:  Monica, Sarcastic Savage Simian

All images in this post are screen captures.

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Pig Boy’s Big Adventure

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired January 11, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-116

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Main Guest Cast

Lizette Carrion as Monica, the “Savage Simian”

Jim Chovick as Dr. Harcourt Fenton

Christopher Hoffman as Dr. Elias Fenton

Behind the Camera

Writer = Javier Grillo-Marxuach

Director = Michael Grossman

Above:  Fiendish Fentons, Dastardly Doctors

Brief Summary

For at least five weeks’ worth of issues, the World Chronicle has been publishing front-page stories about the “Savage Simian.”  Headlines have included, “Savage Simian Spotted in Schenectady,” “Savage Simian Stuns Scientists,” “Savage Simian’s Sinister Spree,” “Savage Simian Startles Schoolyard,” and Simian Sauvage Sieges Sous-Chef.”  Publisher Donald Stern enjoys speaking in alliteration.  He says, “This savage simian is a sensation.”  He informs the staff of his new money-making venture, 1-900-GOT-CHIMP, which collects tips about the Savage Simian while charging callers $4.95 a minute.  He tells the reporters, “I want the Chronicle to be one-stop shopping for Savage Simian scoop, speculation, and scandal.”  His goal is publish a story with the headline, “Savage Simian Speaks.”

Pretenders to the title of that precocious primate populate the area around the reception desk.  Vera the receptionist rebuffs one would-be Savage Simian, who, dejected, departs.

Grace Hall departs for two weeks of vacation in the Mediterranean.  She arrives at the beginning of a revolution.  She calls Donald Stern for help.  He calls in favors, for he has influence at the U.S. Department of State.

Wes and Tucker, investigating the story of the Savage Simian, keep seeing a sinister man, supposedly from Animal Control.

Sal and other hybrids prefer the term “manimal,” a term in use prior to the infamous, short-lived series from 1983Manimal (1983) was “unabsolvably inaccurate,” according to Sal.

Wes and Tucker encounter the Savage Simian and the sinister, sneaky fake Animal Control man at an empty theater.  The intrepid investigative reporters retrieve the Savage Simian’s dog tag and a device the faux-Animal Control agent used to inject the Savage Simian with a tracking microchip.  Wes and Tucker give the dog tag to Donald, who immediately swears them to secrecy.  He has a similar, secret dog tag for Sal.  Now the publisher begins to understand the importance of that object.

Wes and Tucker rescue the Savage Simian from the sinister, sneaky faux-Animal Control man at a park.  They take the sarcastic simian to the archives of the World Chronicle.  Donald Stern is stunned to see the snarky simian, who snaps about the negative press the World Chronicle has created about her.  The Savage Simian’s moniker is Monica, and she bemoans people trying to feed her bananas.

Twenty years prior, one Dr. Harcourt Fenton went to prison for fifteen years.  He had transplanted animal organs into the children of impoverished, desperate parents.  Sal learns that his mother was not a sow, but that he spent time in Dr. Fenton’s laboratory.  Monica, a militant anti-human activist, encourages Sal to leave the World Chronicle.  The two manimals wear fedoras and move about in Manhattan until agents of Dr. Ellis Fenton, Harcourt’s son, capture them and take them to a laboratory at the Elias Center for Advanced Animal Medicine.  Wes and Tucker are already there.

Dr. Harcount Fenton, a sinister surgeon, transplanted a porcine kidney into the young Sal, still dressed in diapers.  This operation caused Sal’s transformation into a manimal.  Furthermore, the fiendish Fenton deceived Sal’s destitute parents by telling them that their son had died.  Sal eventually went to live on a farm, where Donald Stern found and hired him.

Wes and Tucker rescue Sal, in mortal danger from the two fiendish Fentons, and liberate the other manimals from their menageries.  Sal is the sole manimal who does not want to kill the dastardly doctors.  The dastardly doctors die off-screen.  The other manimals manage to flee then to scatter around the world.  Sal returns to the safety of the World Chronicle.  Donald Stern publishes one last alliterative headline about Monica:  “Savage Simian Storms Science Sanctuary.”  Sal wants to find his parents.  Donald Stern states his support.

Marines escort Grace Hall into the offices of the World Chronicle.  She expresses how much she enjoyed their company on the aircraft carrier.  Donald Stern thanks them for returning her safely.  The Marines express their gratitude for what the publisher did for the Marine Corps in Grenada in 1983.  They salute Donald Stern, who returns the salute.

Wes, Grace, Tucker, Donald, and Sal eat out at a Chinese restaurant.  Each of the humans wears a pig snout.  Donald orders vegetarian food, pleasing Sal.

Above:  Simulated Savage Simians Sitting

Character Beats

Sal the Pig-Boy does not eat out (until the end of this episode.)  The mask takes an hour to put on and is uncomfortable to wear.

Wes frequently quotes Star Wars movies.  He quotes Episodes IV and V in this episode.

Dr. Harcourt Fenton’s name is mud.  He seeks to learn from his “mistakes,” who have pulses.

Above:  Manimals Moving About Openly in Manhattan

Great Lines

On a front page of the World Chronicle:  “Woman Gives Birth to Porcelain Geisha Doll.”

On a front page of the World Chronicle:  “Al Sharpton Wins ‘Dartboard of the Decade” Award.”

Vera, to a faux-Savage Simian:  “Get your filthy paws off me, you damn dirty ape.”  (Obviously, this is a reference to Planet of the Apes, 1968.)

Tucker Burns, to Grace Hall:  “I can’t believe it.  We have to go play Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler with ape monsters, and you get to go on a Mediterranean vacation?”

Later in the episode–Sal, to Wes Freewald and Tucker Burns”  “Didn’t you guys ever watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom?”

Wes Freewald, after the fake Animal Control man disappeared the first time:  “Who was that masked man?” (Obviously, this is a reference to the Lone Ranger.)

Monica:  “What good is it being a half-woman, half-animal if you can’t make a joke?”

Tucker Burns, to Wes Freewald:  “You know, one of these days, you’re going to be stuck in a situation without a Star Wars quote.”  Wes Freewald, in reply:  “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Above:  Simian Sauvage Sieges Sous-Chef

In-Universe

Due to the video quality of the episode posted at archive.org, few dates on front pages of the World Chronicle are clear.  However, the date on the issue with the headline, “Simian Sauvage Sieges Sous-Chef,” is clearly February 6, 2001.  This episode, therefore, occurs after that date.

Donald Stern has a photograph of himself standing beside Pope John Paul II in his office.

What did Donald Stern do at Grenada in 1983 that won him the admiration of the U.S. Marine Corps?

Above:  Sympathetic Sapiens in Snouts

Comments

The passage of time within this episode is problematic.  At the end, Grace proclaims that she spent two weeks on an aircraft carrier.  If we take her word for it, this episode plays out in between two and three weeks.  That is possible, but improbable.

I am gob-smacked.  This great episode is full of geeky goodness.

“Dr. Harcourt Fenton” is, of course, a reference to confidence man Harcourt “Harry” Fenton Mudd, whom Roger C. Carmel played with roguish delight in Mudd’s Women (1966), I, Mudd (1967), and Mudd’s Passion (1973), in the live-action (1966-1969) then the animated (1973-1975) Star Trek series.  I prefer to ignore that bastardization, Star Trek:  Discovery, as much as possible.

Yes, I enjoyed writing this post.  The main alternative was watching the world go to hell in a hand basket.  Escapism has its place, I concluded years ago.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 7: Only the Young Die Good (2001)   1 comment

Above:  Dr. Suzanne Gorham

All images in this post are screen captures.

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Only the Young Die Good

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired August 18, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-109

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Main Guest Cast

Eric Balfour as Mark Griffin

Jack Banning as Dr. Ronald Copeland

Nora Dunn as Dr. Suzanne Gorham

Eugene Roche as Arnie Campbell

Behind the Camera

Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Writer = Peter Hume

Director = Adam Davidson

Brief Summary

Unethical and immoral policies reign supreme at the Gorham Longevity Institute, Nyack, New York.  As the episode begins, an elderly man, whom orderlies identify as Mr. Copeland, attacks an orderly and flees to a nearby convenience store.  The old man speaks to the store clerk, a young man, and identifies himself as Mark Griffin, who worked in that store last summer.  (Mark Griffin is 21 years old.)  The elderly man begs for help as three orderlies drag him away; they will kill him, he insists.  The clerk, an avid reader of the World Chronicle, shares the surveillance video with the tabloid.

Donald Stern pulls Tucker Burns and Grace Hall off their assigned story about a murderous meter maid.  The publisher wants a cover story, and within a few days.  While Tucker goes undercover as Tucker Jones, Patient Care Technician (orderly), Grace goes to the archives and conducts initial research with Sal.  Patient Care Technicians, paid $35 an hour, must live on the grounds for the first few weeks.  Few last longer than a few days or two weeks, though.  Mark Griffin, 21 years old, has a long criminal record.  Sal’s computer hacking reveals that Griffin worked as a Patient Care Technician from April 1 to April 14, but has recently been working at a coffee shop.  Furthermore, Sal informs Grace of the dubious professional record of Dr. Suzanne Gorham, founder and head of the Gorham Longevity Institute.  Her background is in research related to the brain and dementia, but, Sal learns, “undisclosed moral concerns” led to the corporate termination of that research years ago.

“Tucker Jones” gets the job and his assignment:  Arnie Campbell.  Arnie is an obnoxious, sexist, racist, and homophobic dirty old man.  He openly objectifies women and says he can identify “fruits” by the way they walk.  He is also able to pay the $5 million to get into the Gorham Longevity Institute.

Orderlies, on orders from Dr. Gorham, kill “Dr. Copeland.”  Millionaire clients pay Dr. Gorham pay Dr. Gorham to grant them new life.  A client wakes up inside the body of a former Patient Care Technician and the former orderly wakes up inside the body of an elderly person.  Then the staff murders the elderly person and the client leaves the institute.   Arnie wakes up inside Tucker’s body.  Tucker is horrified to wake up inside Arnie’s body.

Meanwhile, Grace has been speaking to Dr. Ronald Copeland, living inside the body of Mark Griffin.  The new Mark Griffin is charming.  He refers to his grandfather, by which he means Copeland.  The new Mark Griffin plays lawn bowling with his “old friends,” all elderly men.  His grandfather taught him the game, he says.

Dr. Ronald Copeland was a brilliant cardiologist whose career and research stalled after his hands began to shake.  Dr. Gorham had no qualms about accepting his payment and about killing Mark Griffin.

Wes picks up “Tucker” from the Gorham Longevity Institute.  Wes immediately realizes that something is wrong.  Arnie, inside Tucker’s body, does not recognize Tucker’s taste in music.  Also, Tucker propositions random women and charms Vera.  The receptionist enjoys the attention initially.  Then she flees “Tucker.”  Then Tucker, inside Arnie’s body, enters the offices of the World Chronicle and confronts Arnie, inside Tucker’s body.  Arnie threatens to kill Tucker’s body.  Then Arnie, inside Tucker’s body, flees.

Dr. Copeland, inside Mark Griffin’s body, finally admits his actual identity.  He helps Grace subdue Arnie, inside Tucker’s body.  Arnie is offending even the “old friends.”  Then Grace and Wes force Dr.  Gorham to reverse the transfer of consciousness.

Arnie’s plan had been, as Tucker Burns, to resign from the World Chronicle within a week.  He intended to move to Chicago and accept a position as a junior executive of Campbell Pharmaceutical, with a goal of running the company in less than a year.

Dr. Gorham and her main orderlies have to contend with homicide charges.

Dr. Copeland admits his moral culpability.  Grace encourages him, as Mark Griffin, to attend medical school (his plan), become a cardiologist, and save as many lives as possible.

Arnie plays lawn bowling with Tucker.  Arnie apologizes to Tucker.  Then Arnie hands the reporter a bottle of pills to take in case Tucker feels a burning sensation.  (Was that supposed to be funny?)

The B-plot is about Wes and Vera trying to uncover Donald Stern’s birthday and place of birth, two of his many secrets.  Wes, up for his two-year review, wants a raise, and Vera tells him that knowing those two secrets about the publisher are essential for that purpose.  Wes and Vera convince themselves that Stern is an ageless extraterrestrial alien softening up the human population for an alien invasion.  Besides, the employees have proof that Stern looks the same in late 2001 as he did in 1981, right before he disappeared for six years.  The publisher tells them that he merely hates birthdays, birthday cakes, and the “Happy Birthday Song.”   Wes and Vera seem to believe him.  Maybe they do.

Wes keeps his job but does not receive a raise.

Above:  Arnie Campbell

Character Beats

Vera really needs a romantic partner.

Donald Stern is fluent in German.

Grace Hall describes the World Chronicle as an “irreverent journal of popular culture.”

Above:  Vera

Great Lines

Vera, on the telephone:  “Black eyes with green skin or yellow eyes with gray skin”  (pause)  “Oh, that was a gray, then.  Lucky you!  I hear they’re insatiable.”

Donald Stern:  “Excellent!  Where there’s stink, there’s ink!”

Grace Hall:  “Oh, my God!  Tucker’s turned into Dean Martin!”

Above:  The Recapture of Mark Griffin, Inside the Body of Dr. Ronald Copeland

In-Universe

Given what is proven to be true in the continuity of this series, Donald Stern being an extraterrestrial alien bent on world domination is plausible.

Why has Donald Stern not aged visibly in two decades?

Tucker recently wrote a story, the headline of which was, “WOMAN GROWS HORNS AFTER CATCHING MAD COW DISEASE.”

Did Dr. Gorham have to reverse any other transfers of consciousness?  This is an unanswered question.

Above:  The New Dr. Ronald Copeland

Comments

Transfer of consciousness from one human body to another is a trope in science fiction.  Off the top of my head, I recall this trope being present in Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling (The Prisoner, 1968) and Turnabout Intruder (Star Trek, 1969).  The transfer of human consciousness into an android body is a related trope, for which I can think of a longer list with little effort.

I wish there had been an episode about the woman who grew horns after catching Mad Cow Disease.

I give this episode a mixed review.  I like the Wes-Vera-Donald half of the episode.

On the other hand, Eugene Roche was a character actor I enjoyed seeing play about any role.

Arnie and Dr. Copeland are monstrous people, but the episode downplays that aspect of the story.  True, Dr. Copeland admits his moral monstrousness to Grace at the end, but the episode makes an unconvincing case for sympathizing with him nevertheless.  And Arnie is always unsympathetic.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

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