Friday, September 30, 2011

PLANET OF THE APES (1968) Theatrical Posters

"It's a madhouse!" As Planet Of The Apes co-writer Rod Serling might put it: submitted for your approval... a selection of colorful theatrical posters and one-sheets from around the world, all heralding 20th Century Fox's first simian sci-fi epic back in 1968. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fourth Coolest Toy Ever: Mego STAR TREK Communicators

When I was in fifth or sixth grade (circa 1975-76), my pal Mark Usher and I formed a short-lived Star Trek "club." There were four of us in all, as I remember, and once a week, we'd all go over to Mark's house after school and basically play Star Trek all afternoon. He lived on an old farm, and his parents cleaned out an old outbuilding for us to use as a clubhouse - or, in our case, "starship." His father even made a sign that said "U.S.S. Enterprise" and placed it over the door. (I vaguely recall that he misspelled it somehow, but I could be misremembering.)

His mother was an artsy-craftsy sort, and she wanted to make sure that we weren't getting into trouble, so she actually created Trek-themed projects for us to do. We made plywood "control panels" for our "ship" - including a "transporter console" with sliding levers (wide beads on strings) - which Mark's father mounted on the walls of the shack. We made uniforms out of appropriately colored tee-shirts, which his mother helped us draw insignias on with fabric paints, and we made papier-mâché planets, which we suspended from the ceiling of our clubhouse/starship with fishing line.

But mostly, we role-played being crew members of the Enterprise, and explored the alien cornfields and woods on the Usher property. We kept in touch with the Mego Star Trek Communicators, which were - as the advertising proudly exclaimed, "real, working walkie-talkies!" But unlike the other walkie-talkies we had as kids, these had flip-up lids, just like the ones on TV. Of course, they were considerably larger than their television counterparts, colored blue, and had telescoping antennae - but they worked.

If you didn't wander too far apart, anyway.

Mark also had the "Command Communications Console," which was a nicely Trek-styled base set tuned to the same CB frequency, and the only actually working piece of equipment in our ramshackle starship. It didn't get used much, as I recall, because no one wanted to be the Communications Officer and stay behind "on the ship" while the rest went exploring.

For those keeping score, the coolest 70s toy ever was the Mattel Space: 1999 Eagle Transporter. The second-coolest toy of the Space: 1970 era was Kenner's 18" Alien. And the third was Kenner's Bionic Bigfoot from The Six Million Dollar Man.

ARK II (1976) Network Promo

Still under the weather, hence this quickie video post. A rare bit of 70s TV ephemera: a very brief (10 second) network promo for Filmation's Saturday morning, post-Apocalyptic sci-fi adventure series, Ark II.

What's with that weird art?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


"I said 'lunch,' not 'launch!'"

I recently commented to friends that with the release of Man From Atlantis on DVD, I now had virtually my entire TV childhood on my video shelves. There are still a few notable exceptions, though, including the Saturday morning sci-fi sitcom, Far Out Space Nuts, from 1975.

Produced by Sid & Marty Krofft, the show was basically a pared-down Gilligan's Island in space (ironically, Filmation actually produced a cartoon of that very premise in 1982, Gilligan's Planet), with a bumbling simpleton and his blustery, overweight companion stranded on an alien planet after accidentally being shot into outer space on a NASA rocket.

It made sense then, that the Kroffts cast Gilligan himself, Bob Denver, in the lead role of  "Junior." In the part of Space Nuts' "Skipper," the Kroffts cast chubby comic Chuck McCann as "Barney."

Their furry alien sidekick, "Honk," was played by Patty Maloney. The diminutive actress also appeared on Buck Rogers as distaff ambuquad "Tina" (and at least twice as Twiki, filling in for Felix Silla), and played Chewbacca's mischievous offspring, Lumpy, in the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Although I'm certain I watched it every Saturday morning when I was ten, I sincerely don't remember much about the show except that, like Filmation's Ghost Busters (another childhood favorite of the era), it was filled with lots of old fashioned, vaudeville-styled slapstick and juvenile wordplay, with every story taking place on the same "alien planet" set. I recall lots of cool space monsters, though, several of which appeared at the end of the show's titles - and probably re-appeared on the Krofft's The Lost Saucer, which aired the same year. (I also watched Saucer, but liked Nuts better.).

Goofy as it is, Far Out Space Nuts is still a part of the tapestry of space and sci-fi themed entertainment that shaped me as a Seventies Star Kid, and I would love to have the show on DVD on the shelf next to my Space Academy, Ark II, Land Of The Lost, Flash Gordon, Star Trek animated series, and Jason Of Star Command boxed sets. And, considering how many honest laughs I still get out of the Ghost Busters show (for example), I'd probably genuinely enjoy watching Space Nuts again, too!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Captain's bLog: Supplemental

Sorry for the lack of new stuff so far this week. Fighting a head cold. Regular posting will resume shortly...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A very happy birthday to Luke Skywalker himself. Mark Hamill turns 60 today.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Coming Attractions: JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN (1969) Theatrical Trailer

And today, for your weekend viewing pleasure, we present the theatrical trailer for Journey To The Far Side Of the Sun (a/k/a Doppelganger), the 1969 feature film produced by Gerry Anderson (Space: 1999). 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 that series a year or two later, along with a few cast members.

Captain's bLog: 0924.10

I haven't posted one of these site updates since a little over a month ago, and I'm pleased to see, looking back, that I've managed to actually post most of the articles I'd promised. I'm still working on that post about the aborted mid-70s Star Trek II television series (commonly referred to as "Phase 2" these days), and trying to wrap up the second podcast. Hopefully, I'll have it ready soon. I did mange to completely miss posting a September Space Babe - how exactly I forgot, I'm not sure. But at least we had that Erin Gray/Wilma Deering gallery to enjoy. I promise a good 'un for October.

I'll also try to finally finish up that review of Strange New World, get another "Favorite Episodes" post done, and finally write a review/article on the Hammer sci-fi Western, Moon Zero Two. Of course, I will keep posting any cool bits of art, Behind-The-Scenes photos, ads, posters, ect., that I come across.

  Wow. It's been a pretty great Summer for Space: 1970-vintage home video releases, with Battle Beyond The Stars and Damnation Alley hitting Blu-ray and DVD back in July, Warner Archive's surprise Man From Atlantis discs and the upcoming Canadian release of The Invisible Man (!). Not to mention those controversial Star Wars Blu-ray editions all the kids have been talking about. Over the next few weeks, we have the third (and final) season of The Bionic Woman hitting the shelves, and the first season of The Six Million Dollar Man is finally getting a general retail release.

Truly, this is a great time to be an aging, nostalgic sci-fi geek. Now I'm just waiting for the complete Logan's Run and Fantastic Journey television series to hit home video, so I can have my whole childhood on my DVD shelves!

   I'm kinda kicking myself now for not catching Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes in the theater this Summer. The reviews, from both critics and sci-fi fans were surprisingly popular. Of course, I'll be checking it out on disc in a month or two... but still. What did you people think of it? Was it worthy of the Planet Of The Apes name?

  Support Space: 1970: The site now has over 330 "followers" here on Blogger, and the Facebook fan page is up to 712 "likes." My sincere appreciation to everyone for their moral support! I also want to thank everyone who have used the Amazon links on this site to make purchases (and the few who've made Paypal donations - if you'd like to contribute, there's a link in the right-hand sidebar). Every little bit helps.

  Shameless Self-Promotion Dept: Anyone interested in my non-70's sci-fi writing should check out my personal/professional homepage, Atomic Pulp. That's where you'll find previews of my upcoming comic book and fiction writings, a bibliography of my published works, and links to my various other pop culture blogs and websites.

Friday, September 23, 2011

More BUCK ROGERS 2nd Season TV Guide Ads!

Thanks to Space: 1970 reader "Bishop37," here are two more vintage TV Guide advertisements from early 1981, promoting the delayed second season of the revamped Buck Rogers In The 25th Century television series. Both of these illustrations appear to be the work of the same unidentified artist who created the ad I posted a few days ago.

The top ad heralds the two-hour season premiere episode, "Time Of The Hawk," which introduced Thom Christopher as the series' new resident alien, avian humanoid "Hawk." The other is for the third episode, "The Guardians." When I was a kid, poring over TV Guide each week, planning my viewing schedule, I loved these kinds of advertisements, which always promised so much... which is one reason why I post them on this blog. They spark great memories from a less cynical time.

A bunch of Buck Year One TV Guide ads can be found HERE.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1979-80) Marvel Comics Cover Gallery - Part 1

Dave Cockrum/Bob McLeod
Dave Cockrum/Bob Wiacek
Dave Cockrum/Rudy Nebres
Walt Simonson/Klaus Janson
Walt Simonson/Klaus Janson
Rich Buckler/Klaus Janson
Rich Buckler/Klaus Janson
In 1979, Marvel Comics launched their Battlestar Galactica comic book series. In issues #1-3, writer Roger McKenzie and artist Ernie Colon adapted the premiere telefilm, "Saga Of A Star World," while Issues #4 & 5, by McKenzie and Walt Simonson, adapted the following two-part story, "Lost Planet Of The Gods." Starting with issue #6, Marvel began publishing original adventures, also written by McKenzie, with pencil art by Rich Buckler. Inker Klaus Janson provided the finishes on most of the run.

Unlike Star Trek, Galactica's type of space opera better lent itself to the Marvel Comics style of storytelling, and Simonson and Buckler, in particular, really had a handle on the material. It also appears that Universal gave the company a bit more leeway than Paramount had given them on Trek, because their Galactica series really pushed the concept and introduced a lot of great ideas.

I really love this series - especially the issues that Simonson worked on.

I'll post the second batch of covers shortly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #8: THE BLACK HOLE

This week's Behind-The-Scenes photo, from The Black Hole, takes us to the effects stage of Walt Disney Studios, circa 1979, and the shooting of one of the two 12-foot USS Cygnus miniatures with Disney's A.C.E.S. (Automated Camera Effects System). Aside from the pair of 12-foot, full models of the Cygnus, there were several other sectional models built to a much larger scale for close up shots. The 12-foot miniatures weighed 170 pounds each and were constructed primarily of brass. They were built from scratch, with EMA tubes and domes used for detailing. Under the brass exoskeleton were sections of translucent plastic, built in sections, which housed about a hundred and fifty automotive light bulbs. The two models cost $100,000 and took a crew of 12 to 15 people approximately a year to build.

One of the two models was completely destroyed filming the story's climax. The other miniature went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York for a while after filming. It's fate since then is a mystery.

The Black Hole ultimately received two Academy Award nominations - one for Best Visual Effects and one for Best Cinematography.

News: 70s Sci-Fi on Netflix

As noted in the post below, I happened to notice earlier this week that Space: 1970 staples Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, Star Blazers, and - um - Galactica: 1980 have recently been added to Netflix's Instant streaming program.

I'm not shilling for the company here, but I thought that U.S. readers with Netflix subscriptions might like to know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BUCK ROGERS 2nd Season TV Guide Ad

Here's the only TV Guide advertisement I've found so far for the second season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. In this case, it's for the second episode of Year Two, "Journey To Oasis," guest-starring 70s sci-fi fave Mark Lenard (Star Trek, The Planet Of The Apes, Cliffhangers!) as an old flame of Wilma's (!?).

I posted a bunch of first season Buck Rogers/TV Guide ads HERE, a while back.

FYI: I just noticed that the complete Buck Rogers (as well as the original Battlestar Galactica) series is now available for instant streaming on Netflix.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Here's the original CBS network promo for the premiere episode of the (very) short-lived Beyond Westworld television series from 1980. It starred Jim McMullan as Delos Security Chief John Moore, who had to stop a rogue roboticist named Quaid (James Wainright) from using the Delos robot technology to replace key political, military and corporate leaders and thus, conquer the world.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SPACE: 1999 (1976) Original Comic Art By Joe Staton

Veteran comic book cartoonist Joe Staton was still relatively new to the field when he drew the first two issues of Charlton Comics' Space: 1999 series, but he handled the assignment marvelously. Case in point: this terrific cover painting for Issue #2, pitting an unarmed Commander John Koenig against a massive, indigo alien warrior in hand-to-hand combat. I've always really loved this cover, with its fiery, crimson sky and simple, effective composition.

The story it accompanies is pretty nifty, too. Also drawn by Staton, with a script by Nicola Cuti, its plot - which has Koenig and and the alien stranded on a planet together, beginning as enemies and finally working together - prefigures Enemy Mine (and the Barry B. Longyear story it was based on) by nearly a decade.

Joe Staton also co-created (with Cuti) the super-hero series E-Man for Charlton before moving on to DC Comics, where he drew virtually every major character in their line, including a long run on Green Lantern. As it happens, he's a friend of mine, and a valued collaborator. He's drawn several of my comic book scripts, including my crime comic/graphic novel, Femme Noir: Dark City Diaries.

News: THE INVISIBLE MAN (1975) Coming to DVD

According to TV Shows on DVD, the 1975 David McCallum sci-fi adventure series, The Invisible Man, is coming to DVD in October from Canadian company VEI. The complete 12-episode series will be offered on DVD and - rather surprisingly, for a show of this vintage - Blu-ray.

In this version of The Invisible Man, which was clearly intended to be the network's answer to The Six Million Dollar Man (and was even co-created by Harve Bennett), McCallum played Dr. Daniel Westin, a scientist who accidentally turns himself permanently invisible in an experiment. With the help of his wife (Melinda Fee), he creates a remarkably lifelike rubber mask and pair of gloves, and is soon recruited by the government to be a secret agent. Westin received his orders from Walter Carlson (Craig Stevens).

I enjoyed the show as a kid, of course, and saw a few episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel back in the 90s. I seem to remember that it had a slightly lighter tone than the bionic shows, and I liked that the hero was married and that his wife was his partner in his adventures.

At the moment, the set looks like it will only be available in Canada, at least initially. is already taking pre-orders.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

News: MOON ZERO TWO (1969) Re-released on DVD

Warner Archive, the manufacture-on-demand arm of Warner Home Entertainment has just re-released the 1969 Hammer Films "Space Western," Moon Zero Two on DVD.

Previously-issued on a Best Buy exclusive double feature disc with Hammer's prehistoric romp, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, it was reportedly withdrawn from distribution because the packaging failed to inform buyers of the little bit of cavewoman nudity in the dinosaur flick. I bought that edition when it came out, but I have noticed that it's commanding fairly high prices on the online resale sites since.

Presumably, the new MOD disc uses the same near-pristine, anamorphic widescreen transfer from the Best Buy DVD.

In any case, Moon Zero Two, which stars James Olson and Space: 1970 siren Catherine Schell, and features some groovy future-mod costuming and set design, goes on sale today at the WB Shop. Retail is $19.95 plus shipping.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


In 1977, NBC followed-up four TV movies about the water-breathing superhero known as "Mark Harris" with a single-season, hour-long weekly television series of 13 episodes. Now, Warner Archive has brought that series to Manufacture-On-Demand DVD with the 4-disc, Man From Atlantis - The Complete Television Series set.

As the series begins, there have been some changes made in the format used in the TV movies (reviewed HERE). Mark Harris (Patrick Duffy) has become more acclimated to the surface world and has taken on a more active role with the government-allied Foundation For Oceanic Research. No longer just a test subject for scientist Dr. Elizabeth Merrill (the lovely Belinda J. Montgomery, who, inexplicably, is absent from the final two episodes), he now commands the Foundation's deep-sea submersible, The Cetacean, and carries out missions at the behest of Foundation Director C.W. Crawford (Alan Fudge). Many of these missions consist of foiling the evil plans of capricious capitalist Mr. Schubert (the great Victor Buono) to accumulate wealth and power from the sea.

With the Cetacean's newly-redesigned command deck and presence of a regular bridge crew (including Communications Officer Jean-Marie Hon of Ark II), the weekly Man From Atlantis somewhat resembles an underwater Star Trek (the show's creators had strong ties to that seminal sci-fi series), but the overall tone of the show was much lighter than either its interstellar inspiration or the preceding Man From Atlantis teleflicks. In fact, while the show looks great - with consistently nice photography, great sets (the interior of the Cetacean submersible and the Foundation's underground headquarters are both really slick, by 70s TV standards), and marvelous, Old School miniature effects - the stories are no longer science fiction, and tend instead toward aggressively non-violent, kid-friendly fantasy.

With stories featuring mischievous imps, friendly (and unconvincing) sea beasts, misunderstood giants, mermaids, pirates and magical time-travel, as well as far too much Mister Schubert (who figures in 5 of the first 7 episodes) - a character that had been slightly menacing in the first TV movie, but was too genial, comic and physically unimposing to present much of a threat on the series - the weekly Man From Atlantis lacks any semblance of dramatic weight or real sense of adventure. The cast remains appealing, and the character of aqua-man Harris is very likable, but the weekly show is a definite step down from the four TV movies that preceded it, and just reeks of network interference based on timidity and/or condescension.

Guest stars in this single season include Laurette Spang (Battlestar Galactica), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dee Wallace, Pat Morita, Ted Cassidy, Dick Gautier, Pernell Roberts, Rene Auberjonois, John Shea and Billy Barty, among other familiar faces.

Warner Archive's presentation is remarkably nice. I don't know how much actual remastering was done on these episodes, but the 1.33:1, "full frame" transfers are surprisingly bright and clean, with only minimal occurrences of visible speckling or other detritus. The episodes are complete and uncut, and spread across four discs. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio is clear and free of distortion or distracting hiss.

If you grew up with Man From Atlantis and have the same sort of nostalgia for it that I do, the technical quality of these Warner Archive MOD discs is very nice, and definitely worth the somewhat higher price. But if you've never seen the show, or memories of it are somewhat vague, I'm not sure how well it will hold up. It is very much a 70s genre show aimed at a young audience, and while it's kinda fun and definitely charming, it's not really good science fiction. I enjoyed revisiting it and am pleased to have it in my collection; your mileage may vary (as they say).

BUYMan From Atlantis:  Complete Television Series  (Remastered, 4 Disc)