Wednesday, January 20, 2016

QUARK (1978) TV Guide Ad

Here's the original NBC TV Guide ad heralding the debut of the short-lived sci-fi spoof, Quark, on February 24th, 1978. This hour-long series premiere - "May the Source Be With You" - came almost nine months after the pilot episode, which had aired the previous May.

As I've opined on this blog before, I think the show had a lot of potential, even if the handful of episodes aired were decidedly uneven in quality. I sincerely believe that had it received a full season to work out the kinks, it could have become something a lot more memorable.

Friday, January 15, 2016

JASON OF STAR COMMAND (1978) Stop-Motion Monster

Stephen Czerkas with his monster.
Photo ©Mark Wolf. All rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
Back in 1978, producer and special effects artist Mark Wolf dropped by the studio where the team of Stephen Czerkas and Jim Aupperle - both veterans of Planet of Dinosaurs - were slaving away producing stop-motion animated sequences for Filmation's ambitious live-action Saturday morning space opera, Jason Of Star Command. During his visit, he snapped these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos of the monster of the week - an insectoid alien with an electric tongue(!) featured in the first season episode, "Planet of the Lost!"

 The Jason monster designs and filming models were outstanding (as the photos show) and the animation always top-notch... even if the animators, due to the network's restrictions on violent action, found their work extra challenging at times.

According to Mark, "I recall Steve and his partner, DP/animator Jim Aupperle, both remarking about how the show went to extreme lengths not to do anything too violent, which put a crimp in delivering anything  too  dramatic for Saturday mornings.  I believe it was Jim who said, 'How are the humans supposed to fight-off the monsters?  Use harsh language?'"

Photo ©Mark Wolf. All rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
Photo ©Mark Wolf. All rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
Photo ©Mark Wolf. All rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
As fans of the series - which I'm guessing is pretty much every reader of this blog - knows, the effects work on Jason was truly exceptional, going far above and beyond anything else produced for Saturday morning kid shows of the time. Much of the work was of feature film quality. Even today, most of it still holds up, especially the imaginative (and plentiful) stop-motion alien monsters.

Special Star Kid thanks to Mark Wolf for sharing these photos with Space: 1970.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

News: Patrick Duffy's MAN FROM ATLANTIS Novel Due 2016

Patrick Duffy, star of the short-lived 1976-77 Man From Atlantis television series, has long talked about writing a novel based on the series, exploring the origins of his character, Mark Harris. Now it appears that he's finally done so, with the book scheduled for release in June of 2016.
Dive deeper than ever before and discover the origins of The Man from Atlantis.

When TV unveiled the series Man from Atlantis no one knew the how, where and why of Mark Harris.  Over time the show’s star Patrick Duffy formulated his own version of the history of Mark and his people.  Here at last is the book that gives every reader and fan of the show the life and mythology of Atlantis, who they were and where they came from. Patrick Duffy’s close connection to his fictional character makes this a behind the scenes fantasy story.

Mark Harris, the Man from Atlantis, has been quietly living under the protection of Dr. Elizabeth Merrill who saved his life in 1976. By studying his abilities the two have contributed countless advances for mankind’s development. Only a select few know his true identity.

Jason the whiz kid of the science lab.

Stacy the bright young intern–who is constantly flustered by Mark’s presence.

Dr. Nagashima, a master of oceanic knowledge who Elizabeth lured from Japan to join her inner circle.

Then their California ocean side laboratory is shaken when several attempts are made upon Mark’s life. He discovers the assailants have powers similar to his and he is lead into the uncharted depths of the oceans. As he discovers his past Mark’s origins and genealogy finally come to the surface

The novel, simply titled Man From Atlantis, is already available for pre-order through online booksellers like Amazon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cracked STAR WARS Art by John Severin

This original 1980 Cracked magazine cover art by the legendary John Severin seems even more appropriate today, with the new Star Wars film poised to set box office and merchandising records in the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

THE IMMORTAL (1970) Coming To DVD In 2016

According to TV Shows On DVD, the short-lived, 1970 science fiction adventure series, The Immortal, starring Christopher George, will be coming to DVD in 2016 from Canadian company, VEI.  The great Christopher George played Ben Richards, a race car driver with a unique blood type containing immunity to all known diseases... and even old age. When an elderly billionaire discovers Richard's secret, he decides to abduct Richards, and keep him captive as a personal blood bank. In tried-and-true genre TV fashion, Richards goes on the run, pursued by the billionaire's hired mercenaries.

Details on the DVD release are sparse at this point, as it was one of about a dozen titles announced last week by VEI (which also released the David McCallum Invisible Man on disc a few years back). Among those other titles, one that might be of some interest to Star Kids is the 1973 series, The Magician, starring Bill Bixby, of The Incredible Hulk.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

SILENT RUNNING (1972) Lobby Cards

"Amazing companions on an incredible adventure..."

Here's a terrific set of promotional lobby cards for Douglas Trumbull's 1972 sci-fi parable, Silent Running, featuring an impressive selection of lesser-seen stills from the film, including some very nice effects shots that showcase the exquisite detailing on the Valley Forge spaceship. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

DAMNATION ALLEY (1977) Newspaper Ad

This original newspaper ad "slick" for 20th Century Fox's other big sci-fi release of 1977, Damnation Alley, certainly promises a lot. "More than a movie," even. Of course, even if it hadn't come out the same year as Star Wars, I can't imagine it would have been much better received by audiences and critics than it was. As impressive as the "Landmaster" vehicle was, the overall production was just shoddy - even for the pre-Lucas 70s.

Sure, it has a talented cast, and even a premise with a certain amount of potential, but the only way it can truly be enjoyed today (and even in '77) is as "camp"... and I say that as a guy who is notoriously forgiving when it comes to the era's sci-fi efforts (and yes, who owns the movie on Blu-ray).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

STAR TREK Meets LASERBLAST

Star Trek (with a weird, hybrid U.S.S. Enterprise), Laserblast (represented by David Allen's stop-motion aliens) and the Universal sci-fi classic, This Island Earth, collide in this cool magazine poster from the late 1970s. I'm sure one of you Star Kids out there can identify where this poster originally appeared and the artist who painted it... because I have no idea!

The artist's signature is indecipherable, unfortunately, and the style isn't instantly familiar.

If I had to guess as to its origins, I'd say it looks like something from the UK's Starburst or maybe the short-lived Science Fantasy Film Classics, or maybe Fantastic Films.

UPDATED: I knew I could count on you folks! Star Kids Martin Kennedy and Glen Mullaly have both identified it as being the work of John Allison. It appeared in Science Fantasy Film Classics #3 from the Summer of '78 (the one issue I didn't have!). Looks like my guess wasn't that far off. Thanks, guys!

Friday, September 18, 2015

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978) "Super Sets"

From the Miami Herald's TV section for the week of August 6-12, 1978, here's a fairly in-depth interview with the original Battlestar Galactica's art director Jack Chilberg, discussing the forthcoming space epic's impressive sets and production design. Hell, even today, the Galactica's bridge is still one of the most impressive sets from any science fiction series, with its vast, multi-leveled size and functioning details.

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.