Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Here's another Space: 1970-era vintage TV Guide advertisement, for the Fall premiere of NBC's 1975 television series, The Invisible Man. Starring David McCallum and Melinda Fee, the sci-fi adventure program crossed H.G. Wells with The Six Million Dollar Man. It didn't last long - 12 hour-long episodes and a 90 minute pilot film - but it is fondly remembered by this Star Kid. The show will be hitting U.S. home video on DVD and (surprisingly) Blu-ray, in May of this year. I can hardly wait!

Pre-Order The Invisible Man - The Complete Series DVD

Pre-Order The Invisible Man - The Complete Series Blu-ray

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

BUCK ROGERS - The Lost TV Series

Believer probe design by Bob McCall
If you’re a regular reader of Space 1970  you’re already more than familiar with the 1979 television series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Produced by Universal Studios for NBC, and airing from the Fall of '79 through the Spring of 1981, Buck Rogers was a light, comic book-styled space adventure based on the classic 1930s newspaper adventure strip, and starred Gil Gerard and Erin Gray.  The show that aired on NBC that year originated with a pilot film (also released theatrically that Summer) produced by veteran TV producer Glen A. Larson – who had also created Universal’s previous television space opera, Battlestar Galactica.

Glen A. Larson
Larson – a tremendously successful producer, whose other credits include such favorites as Knight Rider, Magnum P.I. and The Fall Guy, as well as two of the three Six Million Dollar Man pilot telefilms – had a very specific idea of what made good TV: handsome, wisecracking heroes, lots of beautiful women wearing as little as possible, and simple, straight-forward and light-hearted stories that could entertain the whole family from junior to grandma. His version of Buck Rogers followed that well-tested formula precisely.

But Larson wasn’t originally supposed to produce Buck Rogers.

In fact, according to various reports in Starlog and other magazines between 1977 and '79,  when Universal and NBC first proposed a new Buck Rogers series in the late 1970s, they had a very different kind of futuristic adventure show in mind.

Originally, the NBC Buck Rogers show was going to be much more in the Star Trek vein, with more serious science fiction adventures and strongly character-driven stories. The show would take place almost exclusively in outer space, with 20th century Buck in command of the 25th Century Earth starship Constitution.

Various U.S.S. Constitution starship designs by Bob McCall
The executive producer was Andrew J. Fenady – a veteran film and televisions producer (mostly of Westerns) and probably best known as the author of The Man With Bogart’s Face. Samuel Peeples – who had written the second pilot for Star Trek – as well as plenty of Flash Gordon and Space Academy scripts for Filmation Studios, wrote the pilot film script.

David Gerrold
The science fiction author David Gerrold – best known for writing the "Trouble With Tribbles" for Star Trek, and who had recently been the story editor on the first season of the Peacock Network's own The Land of the Lost, was hired to oversee the writing on Buck Rogers.

Several scripts, with such intriguing titles as "The Guns of Babylon" and "Kill The Constitution," by sci-fi TV veterans D.C. Fontana (Star Trek, Logan's Run) and Dick Morgan (who had written for the 50s show Space Patrol, as well as Land of the Lost) were commissioned and written… but never filmed.

Acclaimed space artist Bob McCall, who had contributed concept and advertising art for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Disney's The Black Hole, was hired to design the spaceships for the series, but his designs went unused. Some of his sketches did show up in an issue of Starlog, though (which is where I snagged the scans accompanying this post), and they exhibit a decidedly different aesthetic from the spacecraft seen on Larson’s version of the show.

More Believer probe ship/shuttle designs by Bob McCall
Apparently, someone, either at the studio or the network, decided that they wanted something lighter, so the project was turned over to Glen Larson and Bruce Lansbury (The Fantastic Journey, Wonder Woman), who handled the weekly series.

It’s too bad. As much as I enjoy the comic book tone of first season of Buck Rogers, a more serious, Trek-like version of the concept, with scripts by experienced science fiction writers, might have made a very memorable – and possibly more successful - series. I sure would have liked to have seen it.

Note: This article is based on a segment from my first - and thus far, only - Space: 1970 Podcast, newly expanded and illustrated for this blog post.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Is this the Face of Evil?

Today we wish the legendary Patrick Macnee - Battlestar Galactica's Count Iblis (and the voice of the Imperious Leader and the Opening Narrator!) - a very fine 90th birthday!

"There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians or the Toltecs or the Mayans. Some believe there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive, somewhere beyond the heavens...." 

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #15: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Mark Hamill, just hanging around the wampa cave, during filming of the first (and best) Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), while producer Gary Kurtz and director Irvin Kirschner (at least, I think that's Kirsch back there) enjoy his discomfort.

Captain's bLog: 0206.12

So, here we are, a month and more into 2012, and Space: 1970 is zipping along at lightspeed. January received more unique hits and page views - by far - than any other month since launching this site a bit over two years ago. I find that quite gratifying. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in my love for this stuff, and that a small oasis of snark-and-cyncism-free genre nostalgia can actually survive on the 'net.

I only wish that I had more time to write more posts of substance - essays, detailed book and DVD reviews, "Favorite Episodes," "Fave Fives," etc. - and didn't need to rely so much on purely image-based posts. Realistically, the posts wherein I share scans of movie posters, TV ads, comic book covers and such get just as many views (and more comments, usually) than the posts that I labor over for days or weeks. But that doesn't mean that I'm satisfied. I mean, sure, this is a nostalgia/retro blog, but I would like it to be a little bit more than a virtual scrapbook.

Unfortunately, that kind of blogging takes a lot more time, energy and focus, three things that have been in short supply around here of late.

All that said, I do hope to get these four articles posted by the end of February: a look at the 70s Buck Rogers series that never was, a "Favorite Episodes" post on Battlestar Galactica's "Gun On Ice Planet Zero," a "Fave Five" list of sci-fi fighter ships, and the long-promised review of the 1975 television pilot, Strange New World, the conclusion to the Gene Roddenberry/Warner Brothers "PAX Trilogy."

Since it's a short month, I guess I better get writing....

•  I did a little maintenance to the site this past weekend. I replaced a couple of defunct videos and added some images to old posts. Specifically, I uploaded additional new poster scans for Saturn 3, Silent Running and Flesh Gordon. Check 'em out.

STATS: Here on Blogger, Space: 1970 now has 375 "Followers," while over on the Facebook fan page, the number of users who "Like"  S:70 is now over 800. And in January, thanks to the popularity of the Frazetta Galactica posts, the site received over 40,000 page views - as noted above, marking the best visitor numbers the blog has ever achieved. Thanks to everyone for your support and a hearty welcome to new readers! I hope you'll stick around.

•  February's "Space Babe" will be posted later this week.... stay tuned.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Filmation FLASH GORDON Tribute Art

Art by Frank Cho. Colors by Val Staples.
A few years back, when BCI Entertainment first released the complete Filmation Saturday morning animated Flash Gordon series on DVD, the set came with two collectible "tribute" art cards featuring all-new renditions of the 1979 cartoon version of the characters by "name" comic book artists. The piece above, showcasing Filmation's Flash, Dale and Zarkov, is by Frank Cho, creator of the comic strip Liberty Meadows and artist on various Marvel Comics titles like The Mighty Avengers and Shanna The She-Devil. His famous talent for the sexy rendering of gorgeous women is well demonstrated by that luscious Dale Arden!

Art by Gene Ha.
This piece, by artist Gene Ha, spotlights the lovely Princess Aura, scion of Ming the Merciless, dictator of Mongo, and her huntress pack. Ha has drawn comics for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Malibu and Wildstorm.

These were neat little extras to find in the DVD box; I don't know if subsequent repackagings and reissues of the Flash Gordon cartoon series on disc have included these cards, but as a huge fan of the 1979 cartoon Flash, I love seeing these guys' interpretations of the Filmation designs. Beautiful.

Friday, February 3, 2012

SFTV Color Poster Books

Remember these? Poster magazines were another distinctly 70s piece of memorabilia. These were basically one huge sheet of paper, one side of which was a giant poster, while on the other side, articles and photographs were printed. Then, the whole thing was folded up into 8 1/2" x 11" magazine size. These magazines were cool and all, but once you tacked it up on your wall, it was a bit difficult to go back and re-read the articles.

I had several issues of the Star Trek Poster Magazine that was published in the 70s, and also a couple of the movie/TV tie-in poster mags (Salvage 1, Moonraker and CE3K) that were published during the Space: 1970 era. I also had this one, the SFTV Color Poster Book, published by the Starlog Group. As far as I know, only this one issue appeared. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have it any longer....

ADDENDUM: Apparently these kinds of mags were published well into the 80s - my wife just showed me a few celebrity-type poster mags that she bought in the 80s. One of them was also from Starlog Press, so I guess they just kept cranking them out....

ADDENDUM 2: It turns out that there were, indeed, at least two issues of this poster mag. Courtesy of Space: 1970 Facebook Fan Scott Weller, here's the cover to the second issue of the SFTV Poster Book:

Cool! Thanks, Scott!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

THE FANTASTIC JOURNEY (1977) Network Promo

Wow! A rare, vintage TV spot for the short-lived NBC sci-fi series, The Fantastic Journey, which starred Jared Martin, Carl Franklin, Roddy McDowell (The Planet Of The Apes), Ike Eisenmann (Escape To/Return From Witch Mountain) and the lovely Katie Saylor. This particular promo trumpets the addition of McDowell to the show's constantly-shifting regular cast, though it also shows footage from the previous episodes....