Thursday, May 17, 2012

LOGAN'S RUN TV Series (1977) - DVD Review

Growing up in the Seventies as a sci-fi loving Star Kid, I eagerly embraced pretty much any television show or movie with a futuristic setting. In 1977, CBS debuted a weekly television series called Logan's Run, based on the 1976 MGM feature film of the same name, and I was there in front of the Zenith every week... well, for the few weeks the show ran, anyway.

In the 22nd Century, most of the surface of the Earth is barren wasteland thanks to a nuclear war a hundred years previously. Still, the human race survives - in a variety of isolated communities. One of these is the City of Domes, whose inhabitants live a life of perfect leisure and hedonistic pleasure... until they turn 30. Then, they're required to participate in the ritual of Carousel, resulting in a fiery death and the false promise of "Renewal" - i.e. reincarnation. Some citizens don't believe in Renewal, and instead of reporting to Carousel when their time is up, they run... and attempt to leave the City in search of a legendary place of safety and freedom that they call "Sanctuary."

To hunt and eliminate these "Runners," the city maintains a police force known as Sandmen. One of these Sandmen, Logan 5 (Gregory Harrison), is persuaded by a female Runner named Jessica (Heather Menzies) to turn his back on the system he has always served, and go on the run with her. In the world beyond the City, Logan & Jessica search for Sanctuary, all the while pursued by Logan's former best friend and partner, Francis (Randy Powell) and a cadre of other Sandmen. With the companionship of an android named Rem (Donald Moffat) they picked up along the way, the Runners encounter various menaces and strange societies as they search the outside world for fabled Sanctuary.

I hadn't seen the show since I was a kid, so I wondered how well it held up. As it turns out, I discovered that Logan's Run generally held up better than I expected. Overall, the stories were pretty good (with "Man Out Of Time," "Crypt," "The Innocent," and "Carousel" being my favorites), and actually a bit smarter than I remembered. In fact, out of the 14 episodes produced, there were only two that I thought were complete clunkers (one of which being the bonkers "haunted house" story, "Night Visitors"). Hell, even the obligatory Most Dangerous Game rip-off, :Capture," was enjoyable, thanks to the casting and the scenes of Logan and Francis working together. Star Trek vet D.C. Fontana was the Story Editor, and series writers included genre pros like David Gerrold, John Meredyth Lucas and Harlan Ellison.

Being a "family hour" show aimed primarily at kids, there's very little violence (Logan's Sandman sidearm now being equipped with a blue, paralyzing ray that it didn't have in the movie), but there's plenty of other kinds of action. Production values are generally pretty high, with a number of costumes, props and special effects shots recycled from the feature film and lots of location shooting around Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park (& Observatory), Vasquez Rocks and other over-familiar Southern California locations.

Gregory Harrison's Logan is suitably square-jawed and heroic, but is otherwise pretty bland. To be fair, this is due in large part to the writers, who usually give the best dialogue and scenes to Jessica and Rem. Menzies is cute as hell with her Farrah hair and super-short minidress, and plays her role well. The best of the regulars, though, is veteran character actor Moffat, who plays his android character with an appealing mix of slightly smug cybernetic superiority and affection for his companions. Guest stars include Christopher Stone (The Bionic Woman), Mariette Hartley (Genesis II, Star Trek), Mary Woronov, Nicholas Hammond (Spider-Man), Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon), William Smith, Gerald McRaney and James Olsen (Moon Zero Two) among other familiar faces.

The 3-disc DVD set from Warner Home video includes all 14 episodes of the series, including the double-length premiere, presented in their original 1.33:1 TV aspect ratio. Picture quality is frankly a bit disappointing - there is considerable print damage evident in may episodes, and an overall softness to the image. I know the show is 35 years old, but it would have been nice if Warners had spent a little money on cleaning up and remastering the transfers. Audio is a satisfactory if flat Dolby Digital Mono. There are no bonus features provided.

BUYLogan's Run: Complete Series

15 comments:

  1. Always been keen to see this show, it never arrived in the UK at all (at least not in my region). In fact, 'Battlestar Galactica' didn't arrive in my area until the early 80's. Of course, we did get other gems such as 'Blake's 7', which probably didn't make it to the States. It would be interesting to know what sci-fi shows other countries had that the rest of us star kids missed out on

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    1. It did air in the UK. At least, in the Yorkshire region.

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  2. Thank you for the review. I had been waiting for your take on the set. Like you, I find myself wishing the print quality was better, but it's better than nothing and I doubt this series will get rerun anytime soon, so this is a perfect way to recapture some great 70's styled TV sci-fi! :D

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  3. Excellent choice for any day. I only just found this wonderful website three weeks ago. Your whole site is a real treat as is todays coverage of Logan's Run the tv series. Although I'm a bigger fan of the 1976 movie, the brief series gave us something fun to watch. Your photos are crisp and colorful and your comments are spot on. Your mission statement is what really caught my eye with your positive views and negatives need not apply. Perhaps I will figure out the computer more so I can be someone other than Anonymous. Thanks for todays entry and who can really figure out why some series make it and some don't. Don't let your palm light blink.

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  4. I'm happy to see that you had the same reaction to the Logan's Run DVD set as I did. I just finished watching all the episodes the other night and thought that the first two-thirds of the episodes were very strong from a story standpoint. The ideas were fairly thought provoking and I too was quite impressed by the sets and production design.

    Yes, Harrison has little to do but drive the car and stun people from time to time. Yes, Menzies is generally terrific as Jessica and it's nice to see her as integral to the plots and not just a damsel in distress. Yes, Moffat gets all the best lines and steals every scene he's in with his "outsider" opinions on humanity.

    I remember being quite bored by the show when it first aired and it's great to re-evaluate it as an adult and find that it had much more potential than I ever gave it credit for. It's a pity that it never got past it's first 13 episodes. However, the episodes from the last third of the run were less than interesting and the scripts seemed rushed.

    No matter, I'm very thankful to have these DVDs. Hopefully, Fantastic Journey might make it onto DVD sometime soon as well.

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  5. William Smith, you say? SOLD!!!

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  6. Yep. Big Bill Smith also appeared in a Buck Rogers In The 25th Century episode....

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  7. 'Logan's Run' was shown in the U.K. early in 1978. It was on the I.T.V. network on Saturday evenings, usually clashing with the B.B.C.'s 'Dr.Who'. There was a comic strip to be found in the 'Look-In' magazine. I still have the Brown & Watson annual! 'Blake's 7' has been shown in America.

    I agree with Chris. Some 'Logan' episodes were a bit weak, but 'Man Out Of Time' and 'The Crypt' showed it had great potential. Shame it got cancelled when it did.

    Best wishes, Zokko

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  8. The gorgeous Heather Menzies appeared wearing even less than the mini-dress in a 1973 issue of 'Playboy'. Interested star kids can find the pics on Google

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  9. I had a huge crush on Heather Menzies when I was a kid watching this show. Didn't realize until many years later that she was one of the Von Trapps in The Sound of Music as well.

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  10. I really liked the series as a kid, but never got to see the full run until I was much older (just like the "Planet of the Apes" TV series). I agree with you on the episodes -- "Man Out of Time" is the one that I remember the most (mainly due to the dangers and irony of time travel).

    I really liked that Francis had some other motives in the series, other than just blind rage and feeling betrayed by Logan. I always suspected that there was more to the city of domes -- and adding the secret council made more sense. When the council of elders made the offer to allow Francis to join their ranks, I always wondered if it was a legitimate offer. From what I read, the next season might have had Francis join Logan and a rebellion would start to form. THAT would have been very cool to see -- but, it never came to pass.

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  11. i was a huge fan of the movie for 20 years before i found out their was a tv show, i guess it was buried in eire and the uk after its orignal broadcast and never repeated, the shows are all right, its fun to try and spot sets from other scfi movies and tv shows

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  12. I never saw this show as a kid. I loved the movie, but only knew of this show from articles in Starlog. Decided to buy it when it came on DVD and was overall happy. The cast worked well together, the special effects were fine for the time, but the most important aspect that the writing was mostly strong. There was some real potential in this show. A shame it didn't get a whole season at least.

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  13. I bought this a couple of months ago and am making my way through it at leisure. I just watched the Night Visitors episode tonight and fell asleep during it. It wasn't my cup of tea either. Overall this series is better than I expected too. I remember it fondly as a kid but I also remember it getting pre-empted alot so I am not sure all 13 episodes even aired. I was very fond of Logan's hover car and transformed every big cardboard box I found into a similar vehicle. I am so glad it exists though so I know I wasn't dreaming it.

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  14. I owe you thanks again, Chris. I had very vague memories of watching this in the UK as a kid in the 1970s. Your blog prompted me to import the US DVD and I'm really enjoying it. Half-way through and there have been a couple of great episodes already.

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