In this, my life's seventh era, I dedicated vast amounts of my time on building a Website. And some money, also. In 1998, I was paying a university student to do some captures of images from videotape and laser videodisc for use as visual material on my Website's Web pages. The university student had an office at the University of New Brunswick Student Union Building, which is pictured here.
The seventh era of my life commenced circa mid-1997. And it was to be an era much, much longer than any previous era of my life. Twelve years. Transition from its immediate predecessor was rather more gradual than in previous changeovers, as a series of determining factors slotted into place over the course of the summer and into early autumn of 1997. By the time that a change of eras was irrefutable, I was an avid surfer and very motivated contributor to that new, cyber-spatial repository of knowledge that is the Internet, I was substantially less zealous than I ever had been before, during fifteen years of videotape collecting, about purchasing pre-recorded videocassettes and videotaping favourite television shows, etc. from television broadcast, I was rather more aware of my mortality than I had ever previously been, and I was on my way to gainful employment in the television industry.
I still bought pre-recorded videotapes and videotape-recorded some television programming like The Road Runner Show (in 1997) and The New Avengers (in 1998 and 1999). But less than I was doing so in Era 6. I was very much aware by 1997 that VHS videocassette was on the verge of being superseded by something much superior. Something of better picture quality and much more durable. And I was more and more using videotape as a temporary archival medium for irresistable, possibly one-time-only-opportunity-to-procure productions such as the aforementioned Road Runner Show and New Avengers. Productions that I did not at the time expect ever to reach the new format of home video software. I would in this life era lose interest completely in videotape as a medium for owning my favourite works of entertainment. And until such time as the new software format had grown to include a large amount of my favourites, my collecting instinct did rather "take a back seat" to what would in this era be my primary motivation.
Arguably, the most definitive aspect of this era is my keen participation on the Internet. As previously stated, the acquisition of an Internet-capable computer in December of 1996 had opened for me a new, exciting avenue for sharing my memories, my objective knowledge, my impressions, insights, and ideas. Very timely this was indeed, with one of the old means of disseminating my writings having proved no longer practicable or even desirable, my failure in that endeavour having become exceedingly obvious by mid-1995. For the first few years of this era, I was at my computer keyboard for many hours daily, learning basic HTML (codes for Website construction), synopsizing episodes of television series and doing so in my own distinctive and rather comprehensive way, wrapping those television show episode synopsis into Web pages with extensive and eloquent (if I must say so myself) introductions and overviews of those particular television programs, and injecting by times into those overviews many aesthetic observations or ideas. In 1997 alone, by the last day of December, I had provided to Jon Cooke's Unofficial Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Information Page, content for Web pages concerning just about every television vehicle for the Warner Brothers cartoons, writing The Bugs Bunny Show Page (with cited help from some of writer Jerry Beck's episode synopses therefor, in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Brothers Cartoons), by myself (except for some credited contributions from others) authoring The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour Page, The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show Page, and The Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends Page, and co-writing with Jon The Looney Tunes On Nickelodeon Page and The That's Warner Bros.!/Bugs N' Daffy Show Page, with The Road Runner Show Page, another solo effort (excepting certain benefactions) by me, very much in speedy progress. And not wishing to exclude any television programme with the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon characters from my Website's attention, I also crafted a Web page encompassing all other television shows comprised of the Warner Brothers cartoons, The Porky Pig Show, The Sylvester and Tweety Show, The Daffy Duck Show, The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour, and Bugs Bunny et ses amis among them.
But not being solely a pundit of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, I sought in virtually no time at all to augment my writing on the Internet to include Web pages for Spiderman, The Pink Panther Show, and Rocket Robin Hood (in 1997, I was without videotape-record of most of this television series and needed to rely on my memory and on the generous help of some enthusiastic electronic mail (e-mail) correspondents, for details of episodes with which I had been least enamored, least attentive during the CHSJ and MITV years of Rocket Robin Hood telecast, i.e. those episodes made before Ralph Bakshi was sent by Steven Krantz to Toronto). It was also a request from a reader of my Spiderman Page, for a Web page on Rocket Robin Hood that spurred me to start writing The Rocket Robin Hood Page. It was also on the suggestion of an ardent aficionado of The Littlest Hobo for which I had submitted a summary of basic storyline to the Internet Movie Database, that I add a Littlest Hobo Page to my fast expanding Website, that I started working on such a Web page, not yet knowing how long that television series' first run was or how much work was ahead of me for The Littlest Hobo Page. But I was enjoying very much the opportunity to watch Littlest Hobo episodes twice each weekday from September, 1997 through to September, 1998, the tender, sentimental character interaction in the episodes striking a now quite sensitive chord within me, particularly with my frame of mind at that time, nostalgia building again and accompanied by increased awareness of my mortality and the preciousness of life.
So it was that after a few months of solely providing writings to Jon and to the Internet Movie Database, I started constructing my own personal Website at the Geocities Webspace provider, using that Website as a "home base" as it were for all of my Web pages concerning television shows other than those compiling Warner Brothers cartoons. So, as I was daily adding episode synopses to my Littlest Hobo Page, so too was I writing about my own life experiences in the form of an autobiography divided into eras, each of which having its own Web page. I also uploaded onto my Website my reminiscences of Space: 1999's run on the CBC English and French television networks from 1976 to 1978; I had previously written these for provision to the Space: 1999 fan club based in Calgary but had not submitted them for the club newsletter before my quitting of said club in 1995. And still motivated to add more to my Website, I wrote Web pages for Star Blazers, The Prisoner, and what else?... Oh, yes. Space: 1999, too. I uploaded my chronology project, in its then iteration, for Space: 1999, bridging the two seasons of the television series.
By Christmas of 1997, all of the aforementioned was under a Kevin McCorry byline on the World Wide Web, but my perhaps proudest achievement was the addition to Jon Cooke's Website of my essay on "Hyde and Hare", Jon doing an exemplary job of enhancing it with what few images then were available, on the Internet, of the Friz Freleng-directed cartoons oriented around the scary story of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", plus my essay on Sylvester and Tweety cartoons. I supplemented them in early 1998 with "Taz", an article about the history and the appeal to mass audiences of the spinning, devouring cartoon juggernaut from the jungle of Tasmania, on the request of a boy who e-mailed me and told to me that he was enjoying my work for Jon's Website.
The speed, the enthusiasm, the initiative with which I wrote in 1997 and 1998 is astounding to me today in retrospect. It was the positive comments that I tended to receive almost daily about my Web pages and Website from people e-mailing me that did spur me onward to keep writing, and to never rest on my laurels after putting a particular Web page on the Internet, to constantly improve and build upon on each one of those Web pages. It was rather like nirvana receiving such edifying comments after having for so long being treated as though I was doddering at playing squeaky fiddle before absent plaudits and accumulating rotten tomatoes, and after having for a long while lost my audience around home for my videotape presentations and for sharing of my fondness for and impressions of my favourite works of imagination.
Correspondingly, in autumn of 1997, there was much of interest to me on television. All of it vintage, of course. I have already mentioned The Littlest Hobo. And though I was reluctant to invest further in collecting videotapes, I could not resist videotape-recording the broadcasts on new specialty cable television channel Teletoon of episodes of The Road Runner Show. Fundy Cablevision in Fredericton was actually slow to add Teletoon to our television dial in Fredericton, and it was a contact in Winnipeg who notified me that The Road Runner Show was on Teletoon, with all of the cartoon title cards and music accompaniment therefor that I had for so long missed from the days of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour on CBC Television. My contact offered to videotape Road Runner Show episodes for me for an appropriate remuneration for his services, and the first videotape that he sent to me, reaching me in early November just one day before a labour stoppage at Canada Post, contained episodes three to seven of The Road Runner Show's 1971-2 season, the first cartoons on the videotape being "Ready, Set, Zoom!" and "Hyde and Go Tweet", titled just as they had been on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Road Runner and Coyote on either side of cartoon title, all against red background, and Sylvester looking from behind a tree at a fleeing Tweety, and with music derivative from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies original cartoon titles from 1964 to 1969. All of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote between-cartoon gag segments were present, too. I was in heaven! Not even the Teletoon logo at bottom of screen continuously there on all non-commercial content on the specialty television channel could dampen my delight. "Tweety's Circus" was on the videotape, too, as was "The Solid Tin Coyote", "The Dixie Fryer" (which I now could watch without edits of violence, for the first time since the 1970s), "Hoppy Daze" (same notation, I think, as for "The Dixie Fryer"; certainly, it had always been curtailed for violence on The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show), and "Birds of a Father" (ah, to see it again with its title card as had been seen on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour on CBC Television!). A few weeks thereafter, Fundy Cablevision was providing Teletoon to Fredericton, and I was videotaping Road Runner Show instalments every Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday. I eventually added twenty-five Road Runner Show episodes to my assemblage of videotaped material before Teletoon recycled those same episodes over and over. I was never able to attain the episode with "Hopalong Casualty", "Tweet and Lovely", and "Wild Over You", as that one disappeared very quickly from Teletoon. I think that it did receive but one Teletoon showing before its disappearance. In 2008, The Road Runner Show was one of the television programmes anchoring a new Teletoon broadcasting service, Teletoon Retro. The long-missing episode finally resurfaced at that time.
In addition to The Road Runner Show, Teletoon was showing the Star Trek animated cartoon television series. For a time. In 1997 and 1998. I had been familiar with the cartoon-animated Star Trek by way of airings of it in French circa 1980. It was a treat being able to watch it in English and to hear the voices of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and others, as their beloved characters. However, the episodes themselves were, the lion's share of them, not particularly interesting or memorable. The only one that left an impression upon me was "The Ambergris Element", in which Kirk and Spock are turned into water-breathers during an exploration of a water world.
Teletoon was part of a block of new television channels introduced to Canadian cable television viewers in the autumn of 1997. Another such was Space- The Imagination Station. Naturally, I was rather anticipatory about this, believing as I did that it, Space- The Imagination Station, would be an ideal place for Space: 1999, and many other imaginative television favourites of yesteryear. Such did give to me hope that Space: 1999, all of its forty-eight episodes, might remain in the public consciousness in Canada. However, I was to be disappointed in what was in the offering on Space- The Imagination Station. The only nod that it gave to my old favourite opus about Moonbase Alpha was a televising of the four "movies" assembled out of Space: 1999 that had comprised part of Super Space Theatre in the 1980s. Somehow, those Frankenstein's creations were still "making the rounds" in Canada, even though the eight episodes from which they were formed, were back in the forty-eight-episode Space: 1999 television series package. I do not know if Space- The Imagination Station had the rights to the television series-proper, or the ability to acquire those rights. It could be that YTV still held those rights, but I would say that, by 1997, such was unlikely. It mattered little, anyway, because the programme manager of Space- The Imagination Station said, on a Internet discussion forum of that new broadcaster, that ratings for the broadcast of the four "movies" were poor and that for that reason alone there would be no place for Space on Space. Further, Space had acquired Doctor Who, but only as far into the run of Doctor Who serials as the third such for the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), "The Ambassadors of Death". Plus a random Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) serial, "The Sontaran Experiment". And from there Space returned to the first Doctor Who serial, "An Unearthly Child", and showed this limited run of Doctor Who again, and then again and again. And this was on weekdays between 1:30 and 2 P.M.. Not the best airtime for Doctor Who. Yes, the Doctor Who serials were shown in their individual half-hour episodes format, not as omnibus "movies". And the copies were rather ancient film-to-video transfers, the early 1990s recolourisations of the Jon Pertwee episodes not being used and the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton serials definitely looking worse for wear. At least, the recovered-in-1992 "The Tomb of the Cybermen" was included in the offering. Albeit totally unrestored. Space announced on its Internet discussion forum that ratings for Doctor Who were too low to justify purchasing more serials. And within almost no time at all after that, the Doctor and the TARDIS (his time-and-space-travel machine), dematerialised on Space for the last time.
More successful on Space was Star Trek, of course. Space was able to procure complete episodes of Star Trek, the truncated episode iterations from the 1980s having been finally abandoned by the syndicator, Paramount Television. Space also was telecasting Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the much-ballyhooed Irwin Allen creation, Lost in Space, both of which I was now, in 1997 and 1998, seeing for the first time, courtesy of Space.
I had known of Lost in Space. Videotape collectors had had it in their calalogues, and were treating it as some kind of Holy Grail. Fans of Space: 1999 were comparing Season Two of Space: 1999 to it as a tactic of disparagement (one of many) of their unloved season of their favourite television programme. And one evening late in Era 6 or very early in this era, I discovered some Space: 1999 comic books at a vendor of used books in Fredericton North, and as I was paying for a purchase of them, I was told with a supreme confidence by the man running the store that Space: 1999 was a horrible, shabbily written piece of drivel and that his childhood favourite, Lost in Space, was infinitely better than the wretched piece of slop that I evidently liked. No. Practically nothing had changed since those early days of Grade 6 at Park Street School. Adults were just as inconsiderate, overweening, and obnoxious in berating my favourite opus, as had been my coarse peers of the Fredericton school. Here I was again being told that I was illegitimate.
Anyway, as a result of that encounter, I was feeling rather resentful about Lost in Space being used against Space: 1999. In a rather different way, to be sure, than it was used by Space: 1999 fans. Space was, like Teletoon, late to come to Fredericton, and by the time that it was on Fredericton television screens, its showing of Lost in Space had aleady reached that television show's second season. The first episodes that I saw of Lost in Space, were of that season. And in my judgement, they were horrible. It was like Gilligan's Island in space, but turgid at an hour's length, and with less dignity. Singing Vikings. "Give me a break." Dr. Smith was, like Gilligan, constantly ruining the other characters' chances of returning to home, but unlike Gilligan, he did so without being at all sympathetic. He was an asinine buffoon, and given to histrionics that could only be described as "camp". "Oh, the pain! The pain!" I thought that Jonathan Harris was excellent as the contemplative Commander Gampu in 1977's Space Academy, but as Dr. Smith, he was wildly exaggerated, deliberately exaggerated, as the troublemaking, highly overwrought nincompoop. The characters were on the same planet every week, and the alien quantities kept coming to them, with a "ping" as they suddenly appeared. And they were actors or actresses with painted faces. The whole thing looked like satire, like it was "sending up" (to use the British expression) the science fiction/fantasy genre. And that was several weeks before my eyes and ears were assaulted by "The Great Vegetable Rebellion", a Lost in Space third season episode (yes, as difficult as it is to believe, Lost in Space lasted as long as as a third season) to which Space: 1999's "The Rules of Luton" episode was being said to be the same as, with increasing and annoying, to me, frequency. There is nothing wrong, fundamentally, with the concept of intelligent alien plant life. Doctor Who and The Avengers visited the idea, and the Doctor Who serial, "The Seeds of Doom", that did so, is highly acclaimed. Actually, "The Rules of Luton" was more like Star Trek's episode, "Arena", than it was like any of the intelligent plants episodes of other television series. And it did not have rotund actors in ridiculous carrot costumes, or characters turned into plants and saying, "Moisture, moisture, I need moisture." Like most episodes of Lost in Space, "The Great Vegetable Rebellion" was lampooning its concept, treating it disrespectfully. And I could not abide that.
The production values were laughable. The main introduction for second season, and also first season (which I saw after Season Three), had a "twee" and comical sound to it. The third season main introduction was rather more dynamic and thrilling. It was the best part of the entire television series, I would say. And at least the third season had anandoned the aesthetically boring planet on which the family Robinson was stranded for most of Season Two. But I was not a fan of Lost in Space. It did not have the class and the largely reverential approach to subject matter that Season Two of Space: 1999 had. That Star Trek mostly had. That Doctor Who mostly had. That man at the bookstore was evidently addled by some substance, or, to use a colloquialism, "out to lunch". But I still chafed at his attitude, and that of Space: 1999 fans who compared the aesthetically fascinating Season Two of their loftily appreciated opus, to such "schlock".
Space was also showing Space Precinct, Gerry Anderson's 1990s effort at a television series set in space. I watched it. Quite regularly. But it was, as was par for the course for the 1990s, dark, blandly coloured, and grim. Like Star Trek- The Next Generation, it was edited on videotape which "softened" the overall look of it, and especially its special effects. Though a good actor, Ted Shackleford did not have gravitas as the leading man. And though Gerry Anderson often lamented Fred Freiberger's work on Space: 1999 for its monsters, Space Precinct had "bug-eyed monsters" left, right, and centre. And they talked. The music was bland. And I honestly cannot remember a single one of the stories. At least Space gave to me an opportunity to see Space Precinct. I probably would never have seen it if Space had not offered it. And Space also was showing a new Incredible Hulk animated cartoon television series.
It was not long, however, before Space dropped all of these productions from its roster and more and more ran television shows and movies with a tenuous connection to off-of-Earth places and things. If any at all. It became Earth- The Imagination Station, With a Little Amount of Space. Star Trek endured on Space until at least 2010. Not much else did. Teletoon kept a presence for The Road Runner Show on its schedule, and would eventually add to it The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show (Seasons 4 and 5 thereof, reassembled into instalments of Teletoon's making, with no discernible connections in the cartoons of same or consecutive episodes). And also Spiderman and Rocket Robin Hood.
My interest in what was on television was more and more becoming concentrated upon what was being shown that was of any vintage. I was so very happy to have The Road Runner Show in my collection, even with Teletoon logos that were almost constantly on screen and highly conspicuous, to say the least. I remember the afternoon in autumn of 1997 when the videotape of its episodes, sent to me by the gentleman in Winnipeg, arrived in my mailbox. As I have said, it was the final day of mail delivery before a weeks-long stoppage of labour at Canada Post. I remember having a bath that evening and feeling so very fortunate to have received the videotape before Canada Post went inactive. By early 1998, I was possessor of twenty-five episodes of The Road Runner Show, albeit with Teletoon logos plastered onto them. To my appreciation and satisfaction, in September and October of 2001, Teletoon was not imposing its logo at all upon viewers for some considerable while, and I was able to achieve recordings on videotape of logo-free episodes of both The Road Runner Show and Spiderman. By then, however, videotape was quite moribund as a format. I had a brief time of access to a DVD recorder (which a colleague of mine had) in 2004 and in that time made DVD copies of reconstructions that I had done on VHS videocassette of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. And the episodes of Spidrman that I had videotape-recorded from Teletoon. Not long after that, there was a telephone call from someone at Buena Vista Entertainment notifying me that Spiderman was coming to commercial DVD. That was quite an exciting time, as I will chronicle.
Also, in autumn of 1997, YTV Canada had procured telecast rights to Warner Brothers cartoons and was showing them weekdays at 5:30 P.M. under the title of Bugs Bunny. All of these cartoons were televised by YTV with original theatrical titles and were uncut. Few cartoons made after 1957 were in the package allocated to YTV by Warner Brothers Canada, and some of the cartoons that I sought most to see and have without edits for violence (which had been the case on Bugs & Tweety) continued to be elusive, most notably "Hare-Less Wolf". YTV's airing of an unabridged "Which is Witch?" enabled an addition of that to my collection, though. Ditto "No Parking Hare". YTV, however, received a complaint about "Which is Witch?" and "Wise Quackers" that were together in one Bugs Bunny instalment, the depiction of an African native witch doctor in the former and Daffy Duck playing slave to Elmer Fudd and a reference to whipping of slaves in the latter being the reasons specified by the complainant for wishing those cartoons removed from broadcast, and YTV did as it was bidden, these two cartoons vanishing from YTV by early 1998. YTV's propensity by 1997 for showing its logo often during its programming had dissuaded me from videotaping very many of the cartoon shorts on Bugs Bunny, though I was able to arrive at a logo-free "No Parking Hare" by combining two videotape recordings thereof from separate telecasts. There were other cartoons on Bugs Bunny that I did videotape with hope that on a subsequent airing of same the YTV logo would not appear at the identical time in the cartoon, but never was able to acquire that second videotape recording.
And there was a release to prerecorded videotape a series of Pink Panther cartoon compilations which I was buying from the Wal-Mart department store in the Regent Mall during the fourth quarter of 1997. Those plus a few videotape releases from years previous of Pink Panther cartoon re-energised my interest in the cartoon output of DePatie-Freleng Enterprises after a few years of dormancy. I also bought, even though I did not yet own my own laser videodisc player, a Pink Panther and Inspector cartoon laser videodisc entitled THE PINK PANTHER ANIMATION ARCHIVE. I rented a laser videodisc player from Magic Forest Music Store, downtown Fredericton, on which to watch the audio-visual data on this platter and also another laser videodisc purchased in 1997, that being LOONEY TUNES AFTER DARK (which included "Hyde and Hare", "Hyde and Go Tweet", and twelve other Warner Brothers cartoons rooted in horror and/or the supernatural). Both were bought through mail by a Canadian vendor located in Vancouver, British Columbia. These laser videodiscs looked very pretty indeed when relayed onto on my television screen, and this plus the commendation for optical media disc stated by my film studies professor at university and the impressive Space: 1999 laser videodisc collection of my former pen pal in Regina had altogether served to indoctrinate me to the virtues of the laser videodisc. Also, I was aghast to find that my prized videocassette of the 1932 Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde movie, a pre-recorded videotape bought in Bangor in 1991, looked like an Antarctic blizzard on my television screen when I played it in my JVC videotape machine one day in 1998, it evidently having degraded while sitting inside my videotape storage drawer.
Thus, the late 1990s were a time of an abortive migration by me to laser videodisc, abortive in that the video laserdisc was to go the way of the Do-Do with the introduction of digital videodisc (DVD). DVDs were on the shelves at Music World in the Fredericton Mall in early 1998, but there was scant anything then available on DVD that I wished to own. In 1998 and 1999, whilst laser videodiscs were being discontinued en masse from manufacture, there I was, buying a Yamaha previously used for rental laser videodisc player from Magic Forest Music Store and scrambling to procure as much of my fancied productions as possible on laser videodisc. I did in fact manage to buy all of the Warner Brothers cartoon laser videodiscs produced and distributed by Warner Brothers (and consisting mostly of the cartoons produced post-1948 and most beloved and cogitated by me), though a couple of them, BUGS BUNNY: WINNER BY A HARE and ROAD RUNNER AND WILE E. COYOTE: IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED..., needed to be purchased in used condition from sellers at the eBay Internet auction Website, for obscene amounts of money (i.e. upwards of $100- U.S. funds), and WINNER BY A HARE had what at the time appeared to be a mild "laser rot", a lamented phenomenon by which the reflective layer of the laser videodisc was corroding and the laser videodisc's content exhibited multi-coloured visual flak. I also bought some of the Space: 1999 laser videodiscs, used, from eBay sellers and discovered sides separation on one of them, the laser videodisc literally peeling apart, and severe "laser rot" exhibited on television screen during playing of most of the others. I would retain most of the laser videodiscs that I had acquired long after my transition from laser videodisc to DVD, though those Space: 1999 laser videodiscs were of such deplorable construction (with water-based glue reportedly used as laminate, the oxygen in the water being chemically reactive with the aluminum needed for reflectivity of the laser videodiscs) that I sold them to a willing buyer for substantially less than what I paid for them; the platter whose halves were dividing was, of course junked. For awhile, I sought, in vain, to buy Japanese Space: 1999 laser videodiscs of purportedly superior crafting; however, a pair of Japanese box sets of post-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons, BUGS & FRIENDS and STARS OF SPACEJAM, were in autumn of 1998 added to my collection and were together something of a showpiece (or I should say that they would be so, if I had any visitors) in my television viewing room and area for videocassette and laser videodisc shelving and storage. Many of the cartoon shorts in the BUGS & FRIENDS laser videodisc box set were otherwise unavailable on pre-recorded commercial videocassette or on any laser videodisc release in North America. There was also on one of the laser videodiscs in BUGS & FRIENDS a film-print-transfer-to-analog-video of "Hyde and Hare" of much better clarity of picture and depth of colour than that on LOONEY TUNES AFTER DARK.
The Space: 1999 laser videodisc whose two sides were separating was the one with episodes "Seed of Destruction" and "Space Warp". The inside of that laser videodisc had a texture that felt like soft wood. Such did not bode particularly reassuringly for the durability of the laser videodisc format. At least not by my reckoning. There was talk of laser videodiscs from Japan, the STARS OF SPACEJAM and BUGS & FRIENDS box sets among them, as being of a superior manufacture to those made in the United States or at the lamented Philips and DuPont Optical operation in the U.K.. Maybe so. But the vast majority of laser videodiscs were produced at American factories such as one at Terre Haute, Indiana. I was privy on the Internet to long lists of titles potentially doomed to succumb to "laser rot" or sides separation. Space: 1999 was on that list. All volumes thereof. Ironically, VHS videotape copies from them would have a significantly longer shelf life. My enthusiasm for collecting laser videodisc was curtailed, and I was awaiting awaited growth in the DVD market and eventual availability on DVD of entertainments of interest to me. But not before I had bought the afoermentioned cartoon and Space: 1999 laser videodiscs, plus a number of others, including those of the 1932, 1941, and 1968 movie renditions of Dr. Jekyll and his uninhibited alter-ego, and the Star Wars Trilogy, and Michael Radford's Nineteen-Eighty-Four. I was able to buy The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968) from Los Angeles-based Ken Crane's Videodiscs for the bargain price of ten American dollars (much less than what I paid for it in its VHS videotape format), and the Star Wars movies, also bought by me from Ken Crane's, were likewise ridiculously inexpensive. Ken Crane's was in the process of clearing most of its shelves of laser videodiscs to "make way" for the DVD, and laser videodiscs were being sold there at discount prices. I also bought most of the Planet of the Apes movies on laser videodisc from Ken Crane's for less than the cost of a VHS videotape. They arrived at my door in one bulky package.
I was, however, not keen on movies being split onto two laser videodiscs, as was the case with the Star Wars movies. This was a problem with videodisc from its very inception. Way back in the days of the RCA VideoDisc. Flipping the side of a videodisc was one thing. Having to change videodiscs was another. I was even less enamoured with the latter of these than I was with the former, and now there was the "laser rot" problem. And in addition to WINNER BY A HARE having "laser rot", I was seeing incipient signs of it on my LOONEY TUNES AFTER DARK laser videodisc. Near the end of the cartoon, "Jumpin' Jupiter".
I did not annoy me very much having to flip or change videodiscs of cartoons or television show episodes. But movies were another matter. DVD was said to transcend this, it having a storage capacity even better than that of commercial videotape. And DVD was touted as being immune to the "laser rot" phenomenon. I certainly hoped so. But a collection of DVDs was not as yet, 1998 and early 1999, within my reach. So, there I was with a huge collection of videocassettes in which I no longer had faith for their robustness and durability, and numerous laser videodiscs soon to be outmoded by the DVD. I continued to devote most of my time and enthusiastic energies to my Website project- while periodically "checking in" on the latest news of home video media. It would be some time yet before my zeal as a collector would return in full force. And it would return with a vengeance as desired DVDs were being released nearly every week in the early 2000s. Still, I watched my cartoon laser videodiscs fairly often. The cartoons looked gorgeous with laser videodisc video resolution. I especially loved the BUGS & MARVIN- MARTIAN MAYHEM laser videodisc in the Japanese BUGS & FRIENDS box set, it having "Hyde and Hare" together with such cartoons as "Mad as a Mars Hare" (with which "Hyde and Hare" had some similarities) and "Napoleon Bunny-Part". Also on that laser videodisc was "Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24 1/2th Century", with Daffy saying, "Let 'em eat cake," a reference to French history which accorded thematically with historical France in "Napoleon Bunny-Part". I loved the presence of correspondences between cartoons in same compilation of cartoons in my collection.
I also bought used laser videodiscs of pre-1948 Looney Tunes, specifically those belonging to MGM/UA Home Video's GOLDEN AGE OF LOONEY TUNES range. I had indeed through the 1990s been buying pre-recorded videocassettes, also coming out of MGM/UA Home Video, of pre-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons, starting with a couple of Bugs Bunny cartoon compilations that I purchased from Suncoast in Bangor in 1991 and continuing with BUGS & DAFFY- THE WARTIME CARTOONS and Bugs Bunny: Superstar obtained throuh mail from Movies Unlimited in spring of 1993. I was interested in seeing Bugs flummoxing Hitler and Daffy heckling operatives of the Gestapo, having already been quite familiar with Bugs' tussles with Napoleon and soldiers of Nero. And having been both student and teacher of history, I of course had an interest in seeing how the Warner Brothers animated cartoon writers and directors lampooned the enemy in World War II and in speculating on how a showing of those cartoons such might be used in teaching about the Second World War. Thus, BUGS & DAFFY- THE WARTIME CARTOONS was a must buy. As for Bugs Bunny: Superstar, interviews with the men who created the Warner Brothers cartoons are always compelling viewing, and were especially that back then for their rarity, long before there was such a thing as a DVD bonus feature. A review of Bugs Bunny: Superstar in an issue of Animato! magazine that I found at a clearance sale at A Collector's Dream store in 1992, had been critical of cartoon director Robert Clampett's allegedly egotistical dominance of that documentary on the development and early history of Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons; I was curious to see and hear Clampett in the documentary to see if he was as egotistocal and dominating as the reviewer had described him to be. And I thought that it would be interesting to see how the documentary movie was assembled from cartoon shorts, interview footage, and filmed antics in the buildings and outdoor parking lots adjacent Termite Terrace (where early Warner Brothers cartoons were made), how narrator Orson Welles narrated it, etc.. Further, there was a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon, that I had never before seen, included in the movie's cartoon selections. I quite liked the format of both of these items on pre-recorded videocassette, it being full cartoon shorts introduced either by Leonard Maltin (in BUGS & DAFFY- THE WARTIME CARTOONS) or by Clampett or Welles (in Bugs Bunny: Superstar).
The cartoons themselves were rather hit-and-miss, at best very funny if not particularly pleasing to me aesthetically, and at worst leaving me entirely unaffected, not even by inducing of laughter or of smiling. Chuck Jones' "My Favourite Duck" (1942) was rather similar to Daffy-Duck-heckles-Porky-Pig cartoons of post-1948 and into early 1950s vintage, though those latter cartoons of such "formula" tended to be directed by Robert McKimson, not Jones. Jones' pre-1948 Bugs Bunny I found to be rather too dissimilar to his Bugs of post-"Frigid Hare" (1949). Impish, brash, rather boy-like in temperament and stature, as opposed to his rather refined, "grown up", principled, but still fun-loving persona after "Frigid Hare". Jones' "My Bunny Lies Over the Sea" (1948), of the post-1948 package of cartoon shorts and long part of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner and Bugs Bunny & Tweety television shows, I had long thought, since first seeing it on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, to be somewhat disconcerting, and I now perceived that it had more in common with the Jones Bugs Bunny cartoons preceding it than with those that came after it. Freleng's non-Bugs Bunny cartoons pre- and post-1948 and of after around 1942 I could usually depend upon to keep me entertained, amused, even aesthetically stimulated or intrigued. Tex Avery's "A Wild Hare", first Bugs-Bunny-cartoon-proper, was very rudimentary (i.e. just Elmer Fudd hunting Bugs Bunny in the woods), quite an eyesore, and slow in pace and wit. I cared not for the look of Bugs in any of his pre-1945 cartoons, especially Avery's, Freleng's, or Jones'. McKimson, while animating for Clampett, seemed to have attained Bugs' ultimate physique and physiognomy before his colleagues had done; this I will say for Clampett's Bugs cartoons. I will also grant that I found his cartoons, "Falling Hare", "What's Cookin', Doc?", and "The Old Grey Hare", to be frenetic, brash, unquestionably funny. And yet rather repulsive, for the un-subtlety of their humour and of their basis for humour, much too often self-aggrandisment and/or sadism on the part of Bugs or some other character known to be of the hero variety. The Daffy Duck in Clampett's "Draftee Daffy" did seem like the cowardly mallard with whom I had been familiar; however, it was as though he was under the influence of a massive dose of amphetamine- and with psychotic reaction, his tactics for ridding himself of "the little man from the Draft Board" being rather disconcerting in overt, sneering wickedness. Cartoons like "The Weakly Reporter" and "The Swooner Crooner" had very little in them that registered with my sensibilities. "A Corny Concerto" seemed quite lame. "Herr Meets Hare", "Russian Rhapsody", and "Plane Daffy" were amusing for their caricatures of Hitler and his underlings. BUGS & DAFFY- THE WARTIME CARTOONS and Bugs Bunny: Superstar were welcome in my collection of videotapes in terms of sporadic amusement and informative content as regards World War Two time period humour, and showing the development of the Warner Brothers cartoon characters and of the cartoon studio itself toward the ultimate post-1948 productions.
Easily the MGM/UA Bugs Bunny videotape that I enjoyed most was STARRING BUGS BUNNY (purchased in summer, 1993). Everything on it was of the Jones-Freleng-Robert-McKimson cartoon-directorial triumvirate. McKimson's Bugs in cartoons like "Easter Yeggs" and "Acrobatty Bunny" was almost exactly as I had known him in such cartoons as "A-Lad-in His Lamp" and "The Windblown Hare", and though I still did tend to balk at Jones' Bugs in pre-"Frigid Hare", or at least pre-"Mississippi Hare" (1949) cartoons, I still judged his early Bugs Bunny to be preferable to Clampett's. I found Frank Tashlin's two Bugs Bunny cartoons, "The Unruly Hare" and "Hare Remover", to be rather compelling for the way that Bugs was drawn, McKimson's design being clearly in evidence but with augmented emphasis on Bugs' facial features as means of expression, and showing Bugs' back teeth, and for the rather unusual placement of Bugs and Elmer in situations different from the by-then quite generic Fudd-with-rifle-hunts-Bugs-in-woodland scenario. The pre-1948 cartoons having always been for me a subject of both curiosity and indifference or wariness, I did give to them quite an extensive innings in display unto me via videocassette and laser videodisc in the 1990s, though I did not tend to respond to them with such affection and appreciation as did I toward the post-1948 cartoons (even those post-1948 cartoons which I had only seen for the first time after I reached adulthood).
I just could not keep myself attentive and receptive to the cartoons of the 1930s and early 1940s. They were like the creations of an entirely different cartoon animation studio, one such of work unappealing to my tastes. Even as regards those cartoons with characters like Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Elmer, I was discovering that enjoyment and inclination to ponder depended upon how close to 1948 that a particular cartoon's production occurred. The closer to 1948, the better. And it depended also on who was the director. Near-to-1948 Bugs cartoons such as "Rhapsody Rabbit" (1946) directed by Freleng could indeed be to my liking (once Freleng's cartoon animation unit settled on a look of Bugs consistent with that of post-1948), although there may be an instance or two of a character acting rather too petulant and much too hurtful, e.g. Bugs in "Rhapsody Rabbit" firing a gun at and felling and maybe killing a coughing audience member, and then blowing with satisfaction on the smoking gun. And the victim being someone who was quite involuntarily delaying the commencement of Bugs' intended Franz Liszt piano recital. There can be no denying that "Rhapsody Rabbit" is a gorgeous cartoon, and that it is a cartoon of impeccably timed gags delivered with cartoon animation of top quality. This is my opinion of it. I just wish that it did not have that scene of Bugs Bunny with the gun.
I was quite willing to respect the pre-1948 cartoons, even those of the 1930s that for me were proving to be unwatchable, as essential to the development process of the cartoon production at Warner Brothers leading toward the ultimate sophistication of the post-1948, pre-1964 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. And I was also prepared to embrace any argument in favour of nuance and meaning in the pre-1948 cartoons should any such be put forth in Warner Brothers cartoon discussion that still was appreciative of my contributions to the overall subject. Circumstances, however, would eventually strain my capacity for open-mindedness and good will toward the pre-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons.
This brings me to the Termite Terrace Trading Post. That monster soon turning on its creator like many a product of, to quote Walter Pigdeon's character in Forbidden Planet, "...those mad scientists of the taped thrillers." My role in the bringing into being of an Internet "message board" pertaining to Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, and other cartoons of the so-called Golden Age, was indeed quite major. Jon Cooke and myself had been receiving electronic mail (e-mail) correspondence from many people asking for information about certain cartoons or for videotape-recordings of cartoons. I had regarded my discussions with Jon about Warner Brothers cartoons and about the television dissemination of them, to have been very enjoyable, enlightening, and gratifying. And some of the readers' comments on Jon's Censored Cartoons Web pages (for which I had also provided content) had been quite observant, even insightful. In late 1997, I proposed to Jon that there be added to his Website a "message board" on which for visitors to his Website and to my Web pages thereon, to ask questions and request desired videotaped cartoons from other collectors of those. It was I who invented the name of Termite Terrace Trading Post for the "message board". Of such nomenclature it was a choice at which I had arrived for what seemed the right reason. It invoked the designation of Termite Terrace given not just to the original place, in the 1930s, where cartoons were made at Warner Brothers studios, but to the creative "engine" that had output cartoon shorts through the full span of Looney Tune and Merrie Melodie production, i.e. up until 1964, along with a likely extension of the place name to an imaginary supplementary location, a horizontal wooden beam upon which trades of material or requests for information might be affixed on pieces of loose-leaf paper. I did not anticipate that lengthy discussion of cartoons in "message board threads" would become the primary raison-d'etre for the Termite Terrace Trading Post "message board" on Jon's Website, but I was initially quite pleased to see this, and I quite reveled in it, participating very diligently in many a "thread", from my own aesthetically, cognitively, philosophically fertile perspective. It was truly refreshing to be part of intelligent sharing of impressions and ideas without people resorting to glibly negative catchwords and catchphrases regarding something in the Warner Brothers cartoon filmography or someone involved in production, and ad hominem attack upon someone for whom the more enjoyable and aesthetically significant parts of the oeuvre somewhat diverge from hitherto accepted norm. There seemed to be a measurable degree of understanding and acceptance for my "take" on Bugs Bunny's virtues and one, quite momentous failing of his. Yes, my "Hyde and Hare" article on Jon's Website eventually was "up for discussion".
I ought to add before going any further that Jon did say that he had been thinking about starting some sort of "message board". It was my suggestion of one such called Termite Terrace Trading Post that prompted him to proceed with what he had been considering, utilizing my ideas for the name and stated initial main purposes. So, the Termite Terrace Trading Post was not a singularly Kevin McCorry creation, though my input in its inception was quite sizable. It becoming for the most part a discussion forum followed as a matter of course, to the keenly approving sentiment of Jon, myself, and the then, in 1997, regulars on the Trading Post.
The intention was never to specify the early years of cartoon production at Warner Brothers as sole or even central focus of attention for the Termite Terrace Trading Post. Yet, as time passed and as circumstances necessitated having registered membership for the discussion forum, the "message board" became distinctly cliquey and with a tendency to concentrate discourse mainly on pre-1948 cartoons or on non-Warner Brothers cartoons, as an increasing proportion of the regularly communicative membership were expressly adherent to a sensibility, one foreign to me, that the pre-1948 cartoons are the "better" ones, the post-1948s being a pretentious, unsightly, feeble corpus consisting mostly of conceptual and structural (with gags) retreads (as if variations on a theme or formula, suggestive visualisation, gag refinement with improved timing and/or new, meaningful import and/or increased sublety and/or use with different characters, or first-time combinations of recycled gags, are inadmissable as merit). There was already, by end of 1997, a sizable portion of contributors to the Termite Terrace Trading Post who had little favour for the post-1954 cartoons directed by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson and at best tolerant acceptance of the 1948-to-1954 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.
In the early autumn, 1997 weeks shortly after my "Hyde and Hare" article became available on Jon's Website, I was receiving some e-mailed correspondence about it, amounting to little more than corrections of my statement then in the article concerning "Hyde and Hare"'s apparent dearth of presence on television airwaves through the 1970s and 1980s. People were commenting that they did indeed see "Hyde and Hare" quite often in television syndication in those decades. Favourable e-mails or "online" reviews of my article were few and far between. There was one short reference to it on some entertainment "message board" (I do not recall the name of such) in which someone declared the article as "over the top" while saying that I at least understood Bugs Bunny of the 1950s, for whatever that was worth. Faint praise is better than none at all, I suppose. But it is not very edifying or encouraging. Yet, when a discussion of the article did commence at the Termite Terrace Trading Post in autumn of 1997, I did have a group of rather staunch supporters whose names I do remember. I also had one unequivocal detractor who responded to my article with a negative review of the cartoon in question. In his review, he branded Bugs a blithering idiot in "Hyde and Hare", such having been the case for no reason, he believed, other than poor story writing. The cartoon animation, in his judgement, was at best serviceable for purpose of portraying Jekyll with prim body language. And humour in the cartoon was practically non-existent in his perception. All of such compounded a damning indictment against a cartoon which can have therefore no realistic appreciation. My article was then criticised as fanciful, irrelevant, worthless to the serious-minded cartoon aficionado, of value only to me personally. My observations and claims to symbolism, foreshadowing, etc. were rejected in the same vein, i.e. as fanciful clap-trap. My supporters begged to differ with the critic, and indeed I certainly defended myself and my article to his rejecting comments, but he, I think, won the debate by way of his self-confident, unflinching, dismissive attitude, and by invoking the opinion now very pervasive in cartoon discussion forums, the opinion to which all "true" cartoon buffs hew, that the cartoons were in decline since the vaunted pre-1948 years, since those good old days when that almighty Bob Clampett was Warner Brothers' definitive cartoon director. Still, it was nice to know then anyway that there were some people who did not think my approach to perceiving and measuring merit in "Hyde and Hare" to be complete codswallop. And with some further favourable mentions of my article in discussion "threads" in late 1997 and in 1998 and an Internet Movie Database reviewer of "Hyde and Hare" reiterating in his own words what I had observed about the cartoon and a for a time anyway a reasonably high rating for "Hyde and Hare" holding firm at the Internet Movie Database, I could sustain a fairly gratifying sense of accomplishment. My critic was evidently wrong about my article being only valuable for me. It seemed that the debate which I lost did not do very much harm to the credibility of the article to more open-minded followers of the Warner Brothers cartoons. And it did not dampen my urge to keep writing, which I did, through fourth quarter of 1997 and into 1998.
Reaction to "Hyde and Hare" was certainly more in evidence than that to my Tweety and Sylvester article which had been uploaded to Jon's Website some months earlier than the "Hyde and Hare" article (although I suppose the youngster who requested an article on the Tasmanian Devil on the strength of his approval of the articles that I had already written, does qualify as one commenter, and a favourable one). I can say, thankfully, that readership and compliments for my work on The Bugs Bunny Show Page, on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour Page, and on The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show Page were quite appreciable in the late 1990s. Someone at the Termite Terrace Trading Post even said that he wished I could author a book on the subject of television presentation of Warner Brothers cartoons. I received e-mail many times per week from readers of my Web pages, and back then, I strove to answer every e-mail that I received, even if I was unable to help a person with his or her request. This was so for correspondence received regarding any of my Web pages. Not only those concerning Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.
As the years passed, as people left, including most of my supporters in the "Hyde and Hare" debate of 1997, and as new persons joined the Termite Terrace Trading Post, there was a consolidation of favour there for the pre-1948 cartoons, and ignoring or berating of the post-1948 cartoons became very routine indeed and quite impossible for me to disregard. Even with the private discussions that I may have been having with some post-1948-cartoon-admiring Looney Tune and Merrie Melodie enthusiasts. Even with a still somewhat sizable amount of Web page reader e-mail. Even with the memory of support in 1997 on the Termite Terrace Trading Post for my "Hyde and Hare" article. I was also more than a trifle disconcerted with the tendency of the newcomers to the Termite Terrace Trading Post to utilise vulgar language in describing their esteem or lack thereof for certain cartoons or certain persons in cartoon production.
Correspondence about my Web pages on Warner Brothers cartoons on television did begin a quite sharp decline in 1999, and there was by then a markedly prolific anti-Tweety (anti-Friz-Freleng-Tweety, anyway) disposition expressed by people on the Termite Terrace Trading Post and elsewhere on the Internet, an apparent free-fall for "Hyde and Hare" in its rating at the Internet Movie Database (so much for my article!), and periodic statements on the Termite Terrace Trading Post that Friz Freleng is only of interest for his cartoon director work in the 1940s and that he became a "hack" director of valueless "formula" cartoons in the 1950s. There were a few ardent Clampett-philes (one such with same first and second initials as those of Mr. Jameson of Spiderman) at the Termite Terrace Trading Post who matter-of-factly referred to mediocrity "setting in" almost immediately with "You Were Never Duckier" (1948), with and no refutation from other members of the discussion forum. A Chuck Jones-versus-Bob Clampett "feud" began being referenced, resulting in very long "threads", Jones clearly being deemed by the majority to be on the wrong side in such a "feud". And there had come unto us a book by Michael Barrier called Hollywood Cartoons which had raised my ire with its sweeping invalidations of Friz Freleng's cartoons of the 1950s, its negative posturing even on Chuck Jones' Road Runner cartoons and startlingly also on "What's Opera, Doc?" (long thought to be the zenith of aesthetic appeal of Jones' work if not of that of entire Warner Brothers cartoon production), and its portrayal of the pre-1948 cartoons, most especially those of Clampett, as being what for which Warner Brothers' animated-cartoonists should be honored and remembered. To my dismay, Barrier's book was found to have many acolytes at the Termite Terrace Trading Post and in many other places on the World Wide Web. By end of 2000, I had become more than a little disenchanted with what I was reading with regularity on the "message board" of whose creation I had had a major part- and things would soon become worse still. For now, though, I propose to leave this particular matter and remember some other events and situations of the second half of 1997.
At Fundy Community Television in the launching of a new television season in autumn of 1997, there had been a substantive change on the contingent of volunteer workers of which I was one. A number of established volunteers had departed for pastures new at start of summer (rather more than had been the case at start of broadcast season in 1996), and opportunity was with me at last to settle into a routine crew position other than standing behind camera in a hockey rink, gymnasium, football field, or the Channel 10 production studio. Both the regular in-studio and regular in-mobile-vehicle Character Generator persons were among the leaving-Fundy-Community-Television emigres of 1997, and I stepped into their vacated crew position on rather a constant basis. I am happy to say that mishaps involving me became very infrequent and never injurious or life-threatening, after autumn of 1997. Through efficient work and quantitative participation in Fundy Community Television production of diverse sorts, I had become known to the Programme Manager of Channel 10 and was by start of 1998 definitely on a short list for employment, be it freelance and sporadic or salaried and somewhat consistent. In February, 1998, the Programme Manager telephoned me to ask if I would be interested in joining the paid production crew at the New Brunswick Legislature for which Fundy Community Television at that time provided long-form coverage of daily legislative proceedings. I accepted. And so was my foot firmly in the door.
I was one of three video camera operators situated on the floor of the Legislature. There were two such cameras, one capturing images on the government side of the Legislature chamber and the other pointed toward the desks of the Opposition Members of the Legislative Assembly. We rotated our work shifts so that we each had one hour behind camera followed by a half-hour's respite from the floor of the Legislature and from hearing as loudly as possible the verbal sparring and the haranguing of the politicians. During that respite, we could relax downstairs in the television production control room at which there was all of the standard equipment including video switcher/mixer, audio mixer-console, and computer for on-screen text to identify Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) names, constituency or cabinet-ministerial portfolio. In 1997-8, there were two persons operating the machinery in the television production control room, meaning that on our half-hours away from camera we were surplus to requirements in the television production control room (I shall henceforth just call it the control room) and could relax either there or somewhere in the Legislature building, sometimes in the Legislature Library. However, in subsequent years, the person not on shift behind camera tended to be required to assist the then one person (the director) in operation of graphic text or in maintaining acceptable audio levels, at least for the busiest part of the day; at other times, the director could easily do all of the control room tasks himself or herself.
Being on what was designated as the Legislature Crew entitled unto myself and unto my colleagues occasional paid "gigs" for Channel 10 whenever volunteer labour was sparse or non-existent, i.e. usually on important, lengthy productions in the daytime on weekdays when most volunteers were in school or university or at work at their paid jobs and when cancelling of production for lack of crew was not an option. The Legislature did tend to be in session for at most 4 months per year, and while it was prorogued or in days, weeks, months of adjournment, we the Legislature Crew would not be paid (the Legislature was, with few exceptions, only paying Fundy Communications, the overarching name for the company of which Fundy Community Television was accessory, for staffing on the days on which the Legislature was in session) but for the remuneration for the additional work that we did beyond the sessions of the Legislature. Such additional labours were plentiful in 1998, including for a full thirteen episodes of Bugs Greene, a folk music television program, which were lensed at the Country Junction in Hanwell some fifteen miles south of Fredericton, over the course of the first week of June, 1998; an Eastern Governors' Conference convened at the Sheraton hotel in Fredericton in mid-June, 1998; and a series of public hearings at the Legislature in autumn of 1998, mainly to do with the supplying of natural gas to New Brunswick communities.
Because I was almost always assigned to camera operation for most of or all of these paid "gigs" for Fundy Community Television, when I did volunteer work at Channel 10, I naturally wished to eschew the Camera Operator crew position, and post-September, 1997, I did tend to be deployed in an in-studio-control-room or in-mobile-vehicle (I shall just call it the mobile) capacity when volunteering on productions. One notable exception was a hockey game at my favourite (not!) venue, the Lady Beaverbrook Rink, during which I operated camera and somebody else was given responsibility at Character Generator. As a joke before the game, that other person typed in "Otto'Matic" in the credit roll under Audio Operator as we were under-crewed and someone in the mobile was multi-tasking. But not only did the Character Generator person not remove the joke from the credit roll, but the credit roll froze precisely and most undesirably where "Otto'Matic" was on screen, while credits were being shown after the game and before end of videotaping for later broadcast. Quite the hilarious snafu! Easily corrected as we ran credits again and edited the revised credit roll onto the end of the hockey game on the videotape. It would have been indelible if our television coverage of the hockey game had been live. I saw the erratum on my camera viewfinder and heard the producer-director's exclamations concerning it. This was an incident that still is reflected back upon for a laugh. One of many such. As I participated in the "tear-down" procedure after production that evening, avoiding the rink's storage corridor after my near-fatal mishap there on a prior production occasion, there was a fair amount of good-natured banter about that Otto'Matic fellow's newfound fame.
As paid work for Fundy Community Television was scarce in the summers, I went back to the tried and true self-employing practice of offering lawn-cutting service to persons in Nashwaaksis. In 1997, 1998, and 1999, from May through September, I had a few regular weekly grass-mowing jobs. When I had bronchitis in 1997, maintaining my lawn-cut schedule was something of a trial, and did indeed work whilst I was sick. That probably was the primary reason for a rather protracted time of recuperation. Even with antibiotics, I had a proneness to croup and sudden and violent fits of coughing for weeks through July and into August in 1997. One day, the Volunteer Coordinator at Channel 10 telephoned me to ask if I would be available for television coverage of baseball, and she was aghast at how ill I sounded- and that was when I was already a week or so into antibiotic treatment.
I was close to full recovery by the second week of August when one evening on a walk on my street I saw Joey mowing the lawn of his parents' and once again his Linden Crescent home. As he was putting his lawn mower away upon completing the grass-shearing task, I called to him by name, and he advanced toward me at the end of his driveway. He was smiling, and I felt almost instantaneously at ease for the in-person conversation, the first such for many years, between us. As with our talk on the telephone one day in November, 1995, we easily moved from topic to topic, an occasional pause or two (this time) not deterring us from continuing to talk like we used to all those years previous, back in the 1980s. It did indeed seem quite a shame that in-person communication in each other's affable company had been so very elusive for so many years, certainly since 1990, because it did come so easily for us that evening. Joey encouraged me to talk about what had happened in 1996 with me and teaching, knowing as he did that I had been in training to teach in 1991, indeed even seeing me at Fredericton High School that year while I was doing my practicum and when he was in Grade 12 at the school. Joey informed me about his being a temporary resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada during the previous winter, that of 1996-7. After about fifteen minutes of conversation very much as it had been in the old days, Joey gave his sagging, beltless pants a couple of pulls upwards- on the sides and then in the front, just like he used to do- and said with regret that he had to end our talk and ready himself for an evening commitment. I wanted to propose a further meeting but was wary of doing so for fear that he might not agree to that. So, we bid to each other an indefinite farewell, and Joey told me to be good to myself. I do not know for sure if he was awaiting a suggestion from me that we meet again, soon. Perhaps he was and was disappointed and maybe somewhat irked that I had declined to suggest a "follow up" joining. I saw him again a few evenings later, actually. Or at least I think that it was him. He (at least I thought it was him) was working on a building site on Main Street on Fredericton North as I was walking past that location. Joey (or who I thought was him) seemed to notice me but did not show expressions of affinity or enthusiasm. Could it be that once again I had erred as regards our friendship and its hopeful full restoration? It was a possibility that I was now quite able and willing to ponder. Drat! There just does not seem to be an effective medium for me in regards to reestablishing friendships. Either I "come on too strong" or I overcompensate for past instances of that by being much too cautious, skittish even, appearing not very interested.
Still, the in-person talk between Joey and myself that August, 1997 evening did set a precedent, to the effect that our conversing happily and amiably face to face without anxiety or nervous tension was indeed quite possible and I would say had been so for many years after 1990. Perhaps if we had simply done that through the early 1990s, my seeing him with others would not have had much of a baleful effect, if any, on me, and we might have reached full reconciliation as early as 1990. I wish that I could say that we did in the late 1990s build upon the precedent, but apart from a series of encounters on which we waved to each other as he passed me in his car or on which we greeted each other as he was coming home from work, Joey and I did not have another in-person talk of quality and duration approaching that of our conversation that evening in summer of 1997, through the remainder of the 1990s. However, Joey did one very remarkable day come to my house on attachment to his plumbing company employer which my parents summoned for kitchen piping changes during house renovations in September, 1999. I will come to this later.
Joey indeed was the only Era 4 friend with whom I had contact after 1993. All other friends of Era 4 were post-1993 "off into the sunset" in the story of my life. They may have later passed me in a car, with waving gestures exchanged. Or I may have seen them with no acknowledgement either way, from myself or them, of our seeing each other, at somewhere like the Regent Mall or King Street Tim Hortons, once or twice. But that was all. With Joey, however, I had had telephone and in-person conversation. And although it was in a job assignment that brought him to my house after so many years' absence thereat, therein, Joey would also approach and greet me at my home in 1999. Contact between us two continuing was certainly appropriate, him being my best friend in my best years as resident of Fredericton. And today, he has been the one friend of bygone days to summon me over to him to talk.
In 1997, Fredericton had a new movie theatre complex at the Regent Mall, the immediate result thereof being the closure of the Plaza Cinemas on Smythe Street beside the K-Mart Plaza. Rather inauspiciously, my last movie-viewing experience at the Plaza Cinemas would have been Independence Day in 1996. And the first feature film that I saw, for the first time, at the new ten-cinema Empire Theatres at the Regent Mall was Contact in 1997. My mother, father, and I saw that movie rendition of the then-late Carl Sagan work of acclaimed fiction about Earth receiving communication and an invitation from aliens of the star Vega, one evening in summer of 1997. The first movie that I did in fact see at Empire Theatres' Regent Mall Complex was not one that I not before seen, for the most part anyway. I am referring here to Star Wars- The Special Edition seen by me with my father at Empire Theatres' cinema 3 on a Sunday afternoon early in 1997. I only remember the Computer-Graphic-Imaged Jabba the Hutt with Han Solo along with a small number of other newly rendered scenes. I had seen Star Wars so many times that the balance of the movie did not have much of an impression upon me on seeing it again on a cinema screen. The same was true for my viewing of The Empire Strikes Back- The Special Edition that I saw in spring of 1997 in, quite notably, the same theatre, Nashwaaksis Cinema 2, whereat Tony and I first were riveted and bedazzled by the spectacle of the first Star Wars sequel in June, 1980. Seeing it again, and by myself (sigh!), as a rather jaded 31-year-old who had by then seen this, my favourite of the Star Wars films, uncounted dozens of times (albeit mostly on a television screen) was underwhelming. Only the tinkering that George Lucas had done to the movie for its revised version (hence Empire Strikes Back- The Special Edition) pulled me out of a rather inattentive fog, as I was thinking about my Web pages that I was writing for Jon's Website, and about a few other things.
1997 was quite an unusual year for me in adult life for amount of attendance in movie theatres- and this does not include the movies that I saw at university for film study classes in 1996-7. One reason for this, the main one, was that I was given Empire Theatres coupons by Fundy Community Television when I was designated Volunteer of the Month in, I think, November, 1997. At the new cineplex in the Regent Mall, I also in 1997 saw Titanic and Tomorrow Never Dies, these two motion pictures being shown at the Empire Theatres cineplex around Christmastime, and I used my Empire Theatres coupons toward admission and treats on the occasions of seeing those, the first of them experienced with my parents and the latter of them viewed by myself. And between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, in both cases.
Titanic was overlong and encumbered with contrived improbabilities, even for my quite fertile and accommodating imagination, and the acting in it sophomoric, mainly on the part of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It was quite a pleasant surprise to see the actress who played Detective Deborah Saxon on The Edge of Night in the late 1970s and early 1980s, now in the role of mother to Kate Winslet's character. She and Eric Braeden (of my father's then favourite daytime television serial, The Young and the Restless, and an actor who was born to play businessman John Jacob Astor) were the only bright lights in a dim ensemble of performers. The movie theatre was almost filled to capacity for that late afternoon and early evening screening of Titanic, and hot as Hades by the time of the movie's much too long-awaited climax. There were good special effects, even if most of them were achieved by way of image compositing in-computer. But I still preferred the made-for-television movie, S.O.S. Titanic (1979), which I watched on television a few times over the years since 1979, as the definitive dramatic enactment-depiction of the sinking of the unsinkable ocean liner.
As for Tomorrow Never Dies, plenty of action and destruction and an extravagantly portrayed, "scenery-chewing" media-mega-mogul villain played superlatively by Jonathan Pryce earns that James Bond movie the most plaudit from me among the outings for Pierce Brosnan's Secret Agent 007. The media-mogul villain idea was a novel one of the world of James Bond. I liked it. But this is not saying very much, really. Goldeneye, which I did not see in a movie theatre and first watched in spring, 1997 by way of pre-recorded videotape, was lacking pace after the opening titles, was sparse in the traditional Bond music aesthetic, and had villains and situations that looked like the film-makers were grasping at anything no matter how crass, cringe-inducing, unsubtly lewd, overdone in violence, or contrary to common sense, to instill some life and public attention into a flagging franchise. Brosnan seemed much too pleased to be in the Bond role, and that bled into his performance as Bond, I felt, giving to the character rather an insincere comportment as he is "offing" the opposition or bedding women to further (if that) his pursuit of the antagonist. Bond is supposed to have reluctance to be doing these things, per Ian Fleming's conception for the character. Brosnan just did not succeed, in my estimation, in conveying that reluctance. And his Bond was all too often using automatic weapons- or outrunning the firing of such weapons as though he is Superman or Jaime Sommers. Conversely, Sean Connery's wariness to play Bond "gelled" with the character's own reluctant but duty-bound commitment to a licence-to-kill vocation, and Roger Moore was sufficiently deadpan for the most part for his enjoyment of playing Agent 007 not to show itself, by and large. And both whenever possible used their Walther PPK pistols to kill their enemies, not machine guns, though, yes, machine guns were sometimes (emphasis on sometimes) used. Timothy Dalton had captured Bond's character quite effectively in both of the movies in which he was cast in Ian Fleming's espionage-agent creation, and George Lazenby did so too, I feel, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Brosnan's later efforts as the British spy were in The World is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002) which seemed to me to be, respectively, tepid and hokey, the latter committing the cardinal sin in my eyes by resorting to all means at its disposal to appeal to the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers generation, with its computer-generated camera zooms, "proto-hip-hop" song as Bond is returning to Britain by aircraft from Cuba, and the villain's electric suit that of course has visible electric arcs all over it and on anyone touching it when it is activated. Subtlety and refinement, R.I.P.. And even this is overlooking the vulgar-innuendo-laced dialogue. There was more sophistication in my James Bond play performances that I had in my basement when I was 15-years-old. I am, however, prepared to be convinced of aesthetic merit in these movies and in Brosnan's essaying of the Bond character.
Have I become a hopelessly jaded curmudgeon, incapable of seeing, enjoying, and valuing merit in movies and television programmes of post-1980s production? Are rose-tinted glasses toward the entertainments of decades past narrowing my vision? Have I become as abjectly blinkered as persons about whom I have complained in this autobiography? While it could be said that I have a disinclination to fancy anything with "post-modernist" style and trappings, I think it is still possible for me to discern lofty and meaningful productions from a sea of smut and drabness. I enjoyed Jurassic Park. It was wholesome, "clean" family entrtainment, with a message about the dangerous hubris of the scientist. Something that could have come out of the 1970s, albeit without the Computer Graphic Imaging (CGI) dinosaurs. And I appreciated Contact! for the sense of wonderment and the message that it tries to convey, i.e. that sometimes even scientists must accept on some faith the perceived verity of their findings. Even if that movie does have all of the hallmarks of calculated, Hollywood-committee-approved movie-making with check-marks ticked on every criterion that the movie met, including the obligatorily gratuitous scene in bed for the leading character and her love interest, it did at least have a sense of upward-thinking awe at the heavens above Earth and at the possibilities "out there", while nodding comedic to the nonsensical popular culture regarding aliens on Earth which "post-modernism" has elevated to easily lampooned proportions. My mother and I laughed at all of the weird people who congregate at the radio telescope site at which the signal from space was first received. And there is rather tenderly affecting climax and denouement as Jodie Foster's Ellie Aaroway character finds her long-dead father as the projected image of an alien intelligence at a location somewhere in far-out space, and must contend against all empirical evidence presented to her by her colleagues that she was never gone from Earth in her transference capsule for any amount of time measured on all monitoring equipment on the transference capsule's site on a Japanese island. And I did also think that Spider-Man (2002) quite effectively captured and portrayed the essence of the super-hero of the Marvel illustrated magazines and one of my favourite animated cartoon television series, albeit with some adjustments to the origin of Spidey or to the Green Goblin's costume that I thought unnecessary. A pity that its sequels failed to do continue this, instead turning the series of movies into the sappy saga of Peter-loves-Mary-Jane. More on that in due course.
My mind was rather occupied while I was viewing Titanic and Tomorrow Never Dies at Empire Theatres. Occupied with my Website work, and most especially with The Littlest Hobo, which by then was in its reruns on ATV into its fourth production block, and one two-part episode of it being particularly affecting for me.
I was also from 1996 through to 1998 being reunited with the Dallas television serial by way of its run on The Nashville (Television) Network (TNN). All Dallas episodes from very first one in 1978 to very last one in 1991 were telecast weekdays on TNN at noon Atlantic Time, and it did become by 1997 a lunchtime ritual to watch Dallas whilst I cooked and ate my midday meal. I had not followed the storylines of Dallas until around 1981. I had missed most of the hoopla of, "Who shot J.R.?" in 1980, though it was impossible not to know about it and to know who did in fact pull the trigger on the gun that fired two pieces of lead into that double-crossing, two-timing, snake-in-the-grass oilman, J.R. Ewing. The time frame of Dallas' familiarity for me were its 1982-3, 1983-4, 1984-5, and 1985-6 seasons. After Bobby Ewing stepped out of the bathroom shower and his ex-wife and soon to be repeat wife, Pam, discovered that she had dreamt the entirety of the 1985-6 season in a single night, my interest in the television show nose-dived. Not that I cannot appreciate the audacity in the dream pretense presented at start of Dallas' 1986-7 season to allow Bobby's death in 1985 to be nullified, but it did at the time have a bearing for me as the most shameless of ploys to erase a character demise, and I had no desire to follow the reset storylines. If a television series is going to have one of its characters die and show that character expiring in front of multiple witnesses and with medical instruments definitely registering the death, it ought to have courage of convictions and not try to reverse what it had done. I still believe so today, although the concept of time being erased and unpleasant happenings never having really transpired does rather resonate with desires that I tend to have pertaining to change and loss in my own life's storylines. I like the "Dream Season" concept but just do not care very much for its utilization on Dallas. Emerald mine and Martinique masquerade diversions aside, I think that the 1985-6 Dallas season was worthwhile and should not have been deleted.
The "Dream Season" of Dallas aired on TNN from late June to early August in 1997. It was the longest season in the history of Dallas, clocking at thirty-one episodes, and curiously, I was sick with bronchitis during the Colombian emerald mine episodes, and I had also been ill, as I recall, when some of those episodes first aired on CBC (and CBS) in February, 1986. I was recovering from the bronchitis as the "Dream Season" was advancing to its finale on TNN, and in the process, I was finding myself laughing with amusement, sometimes going into fits of coughing as I laughed, at the many references in dialog to dreams, sleep, and night during the episodes of the 1985-6 Dallas season, and also how many strange visualisation techniques (e.g. through-the-mirror perspectives, subjective camera, "washed-out" skies, etc.) were used by the production team. Indeed, with hindsight and knowledge of the eventual decision on the notion of the dream, I was definitely receptive to such peculiarities in the 31 episodes of 1985-6 Dallas, peculiarities that had in that Dallas season's initial run had gone straight past me. It seemed almost as if it had been intended all along to declare that season to be a dream. Such had not been the case, though. The return of actor Patrick Duffy to Dallas was never broached until the last eight approximate episodes of the 1985-6 season were in production, and even then, the idea of utilising a television-season-long dream to eliminate Bobby's death, was not in consideration as other contrivances were being broached. Among them, a surreptitious resuscitating and hiding of Bobby for a year, or perhaps Duffy henceforth playing a twin of Bobby. However, the collective subconscious being what it I do now tend to acknowledge it to be, who is to say that in the deepest recesses of their unconscious minds, the makers of Dallas had from September, 1985 onward the germ of an idea for returning Duffy to the television show and explaining away Bobby's death and all subsequent occurrences and situations as the figments of imagination of a particular sleeping person. I will always dislike the dream contrivance on Dallas because I saw the 1985-6 Dallas season as having been one of improvement for many of the characters, despite the explosively vengeful deeds of Angelica Nero in the final episode, and I hated to see all of that wiped away by a statement that, "None of that happened," whereas I do in fact quite fancy the idea of myself waking one morning to find that the years since the end of Era 4 were just a dream and that I am back with Joey and my other Era 4 friends, all of them precisely as they were in 1987. I did not miss Bobby on Dallas, but I do miss the way of life for me that I lost in 1987.
As much as I wish that the 1985-6 season of Dallas had not been abrogated like it ultimately was, I do regard the rather surreally impressionistic aspects to that season and references in it to dreaming and so forth as very compelling. Thus, I did quite feel motivated to list everything suggestive of so "trippy" a predilection of filming and scriptwriting within Dallas' 1985-6 season and to posit some alternative, rather fantastical in themselves, explanations for the return of Bobby that could keep the "Dream Season" afloat as a viable continuation of the early-to-mid-1980s storylines of Dallas. And so, in early 1998, I added to my Website a Web page about the "Dream Season" of Dallas.
Something else from 1985 which had in that year been watched quite intently by me on my television set, the television miniseries, The Last Place On Earth, also became subject of a Kevin-McCorry-written Web page. I added The Last Place On Earth Page in 1998 to my growing Website, synopsising constituent episodes and introducing the episode guide with a quite elaborate telling of the historical event of the race to the South Pole and of the geography of Antarctica. I had in 1996 acquired for Christmas that year a rather expensive box set of pre-recorded VHS videotapes containing all episodes of this outstanding television programme about the 1911-2 race to Earth's southern extremity, and it had included numerous scenes that had been mysteriously excised from the television miniseries as telecast on PBS in autumn of 1985, scenes mostly of pre-expedition experiences of Scott and Amundsen in their home countries. The pre-recorded videotapes were invaluable for my synopses of the seven episodes of The Last Place On Earth. My videocassette recorder, however, snapped one of the videotapes, that with the "Leading Men" episode, at the very start of the spool by breaking the bond between transparent leader and beginning of magnetic videotape. I performed a repair splice at the place of breakage, but used Scotch adhesive tape to do so, and traces of the adhesive bled onto the videotape itself, straining play and leading to audio-visual dropouts on the videotape. Such was one of many nails in the coffin for videotape, as far as I was concerned. A similar thing happening to my videocassette of Superman purchased in 1992, was another. These plus the problems that I was having with incoming Doctor Who pre-recorded videotapes, i.e. dancing rainbow glitches at the start of them and full-frame dropouts periodically in them.
Although my Web page for The Last Place On Earth was not one of my more visited and commented-upon (via e-mail, etc.) Internet accomplishments, I did in 1998 receive an awesome communique from someone in Antarctica, at a scientific base situated on the coast of the Antarctic continent along the Indian Ocean, complimenting me for The Last Place On Earth Page, for its accuracy of information on Antarctica and on the contest of Scott-versus-Amundsen, and for its pleasing readability. Film critic Roger Ebert also cited my Last Place On Earth Page during his review of silent motion picture footage of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1915 Trans-Antarctic Expedition. And indeed, in the late 1990s, as my Web pages were somewhat new to the Internet, I was receiving e-mail from many people of interest in my entertainment fancies and Web page authoring. Holly McKimson, niece of Warner Brothers cartoon director Robert McKimson and daughter of cartoon animator Charles McKimson, contacted me in early 1999 to notify me of her father's death and to offer compliments for my Remembering Robert McKimson tribute then on my Website. And as I shall delineate, I was in 1999 writing to and receiving letters from Fred Freiberger, producer of Season 2 of Space: 1999. Also, in 2000, I would be in communication with Simon Christopher Dew, producer of Seasons 1 to 4 of The Littlest Hobo (1979-85). Correspondence on the Internet included such with several other noteworthy persons, all of whom of aid to me in the improving and/or expanding of Web pages. Perhaps the most unusual contact was with a Space: 1999 guest star whom I was erroneously listing on my Space: 1999 Page as being deceased- due to incorrect information obtained via a source of supposedly exacting standards of research and stalwart credibility.
And I was receiving e-mailed queries as to the lyrics of Michigan J. Frog's most famous song, heard in the cartoon, "One Froggy Evening", queries that I answered immediately, with grateful responses promptly forthcoming. And a couple of gentlemen in Toronto, one a cartoon animator and the other the manager of a motion picture production studio, were very pleasant to exchange e-mails with, concerning, respectively, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour and Looney Tune and Merrie Melodie television syndication packages of the 1970s and Rocket Robin Hood. The late 1990s were rather a giddy time for me. Kindred spirits did appear to be in great abundance, and I was fulfilling a yearning of many years for my writing to reach truly attentive, receptive, appreciative, and complimenting therefore validating readers. I should also say that even the person who disliked "Hyde and Hare": An Overlooked Masterpiece, had been quite civil in putting forward his rather dissonant perspective on the cartoon short with Bugs Bunny meeting Dr. Jekyll.
In 1997, I was of quite sanguine impression about prospects for me on the Internet. Expressive adherence on the World Wide Web toward Space: 1999 was still in a state of infancy in 1996 and 1997, and I was feeling somewhat emboldened by some early indications that I was receiving of fair-mindedness on the part of persons such as a fellow New Brunswicker in Claire (a small town near the borders with Quebec and Maine) who was building his own Eagle spaceship models and who helped me to purchase a compact disc (CD) of Derek Wadsworth's Space: 1999- Season Two music soundtrack available as a "Limited Edition" in the United States, and a young lady from France who was very impressed with my Space: 1999 Chronology. My belief (oh, how wrong it was!) that people on the Internet who were Space: 1999 enthusiasts were not of the same ilk as the brigade in organised fandom, did prosper for all of a few months before I stumbled upon the Space: 1999 Mailing List Archive. Found on that was one person, a Briton, who tersely remarked that what Fred Freiberger did with his producership of Season Two was indefensible, while someone else, an American, curtly proclaimed that the ever so contemptible Season Two was worthless even for children, a conclusion arrived-at with his juvenile offspring, to whom he was showing videotapes of Season Two episodes, saying that those episodes were boring. Both of these remarks in their sweeping generalisations and confounded presumptuousness did quite raise my dander, though I did, as always, write without cusses and curses and was quite rational and formal in putting forward my contending questions or counter-assertions. I would today still argue that anyone who does put across opinions so sweepingly, so absolutely against some entertainment that may inspire, fascinate, compel, or give solace, into a discussion accessible via textual archiving, to anyone on the Internet, is "fair game" for receiving unsolicited communication from someone in disagreement with them.
The former person ignored my e-mail that "took exception" to his pronouncement to Season Two being indefensible, me maintaining that my very existence as an intelligent admirer of the television program and that the existence of others, even a few, whose imaginations were, like mine, captured by the episodes, depictions, characters, etc. of Space: 1999- Season Two and in some cases motivated consequently to learn trades or intellectual disciplines or other languages (French, in my case), are quite conclusive proof to the contrary. He did not reply to this, presumably because he chose to disregard it.
The latter fellow, however, was quite swift to reply to me, and I must say that I had never been subjected to such a toxic tirade in all of my life. The language in his e-mail was more profane than anything that I had ever experienced in junior high school, as he lambasted me and all wretched and illegitimately conceived and very indecently copulating (so his obscene vernacular suggested) Season Two fans for having a temperamental, intolerant nature. All that I had done was to ask him that if he dislikes Season Two so much, why then is he showing it to his children? Or watching it at all, for that matter. It is a valid question, for sure. I was aghast at the swearing being put before my eyes on my computer screen in response to my pertinent question by this utterly unpleasant person, and in short retort I did say how shocking I found it to be that a parent could be capable of such an outburst of profanity. It really was quite appalling, the words that I read, all of them intended to insult me in no moderate terms. That person did not reply this time, but within a few hours, I was receiving e-mails from individuals of whom I had no prior knowledge, people berating me for my oh, so intemperate and hurtful remarks, saying that the whole Space: 1999 Internet fan community was now aware of what a disgusting ruffian I was. "Rest assured," I was told, "that every Internet Space: 1999 fan knows of (my) offencive and disgraceful behaviour." My private e-mails to the person with the ever so vaunted vocabulary had been disseminated without my knowledge, much less approval (approval neither implicit nor explicit), on an Internet "mailing list" of which I was not a member and whose text I could only read once such was archived, and doubtless with spin-doctored embellishments to them, the people e-mailing me in reaction to them being of course Season 1 fans in sympathy with the person of such a high-minded way with words. Oh, and quite expectedly, the two people mentioned above, i.e. those in Claire, New Brunswick and France, with whom I had been in favourable correspondence about Space: 1999, were uncommunicative after the Space: 1999 Mailing List had its way with me in 1997.
I was remarkably calm about the whole ugly matter, though. My positive experiences on the Internet in regard to interest in other entertainments were armoring me against the Space: 1999 fans' typical enmity, and I shrugged to cast the tripe off of me like the foul, hateful monkey attempting to latch onto my back that it was, observing quite rightly that as of then, the only people to be caustic toward me on the World Wide Web had been the fans of Space: 1999. And it figured, I said. It said something of them. It just reinforced the impression formed in 1995 that Space: 1999 fans are a disagreeable, even noxious, bunch to be kept way, way, way beyond arm's length. I commented to such effect a number of times in the late 1990s as I avowed my revulsion toward those people. Indeed, if I had not been concerned in 2000 for the future of the Space: 1999 television series on digital videodisc (DVD), I would have, post-1997, never again gone within a million Cyberspace parsecs of their presence, much less put myself in a position to again be spin-doctored, rumor-mongered, vilified, and disgraced.
There was, however, a matter of a campaign toward DVD release of Space: 1999, a campaign into which I was invited to be a participant. Invited by a Space: 1999 follower confrere, evidently, who lived in Montreal, Quebec. Someone who said that he was in harmony with me in viewpoint and sympathetic to my plight as a someone wilfully misconstrued in fandom. I collaborated with him and others in the conducting of the campaign. And then in 2000, frequent expression on the Internet of an opinion that only Season 1 should see DVD release stirred me, after years of lurking on the outside, into an ill-advised joining of The Space: 1999 Mailing List and an abortive and quite traumatic foray into the discussions thereon in late June and early July of 2000. Indignation had been building in me, too, over how I read or heard about or saw octogenarian Fred Freiberger being spoken-to by fans at the Space: 1999 convention in Los Angeles in September, 1999. But as I often say in these memoirs, more on this later.
Many weeks, several months did pass before, in the autumn of 1997, I became able to establish myself in a television production crew regular position more visible to Fundy Community Television management staff and thereby more advantageous in terms of potential advancement into a paid situation, than had been the case for me until then. Meantime, work on my Website served to fill my days when I was not engaged in duties relating to the production of television- and to film-making, too, at the Film-Makers Cooperative, and as social existence around home continued to be in torpor. My involvement with Fundy Community Television was giving to me occasion to practice my much improved interpersonal skills, my Dale Carnegie training, etc., in addition to doing some teaching of new volunteers on the operating of the graphics machine or video switcher or cameras. However, the revolving-door nature of volunteerism at Channel 10 meant that lasting relationship was to be as elusive in that as it was being elsewhere. The Film-Makers Cooperative was even less availing in terms of formed and sustained friendships. In a collaborative group effort such as that toward television program or film production, one-on-one relationships do tend to be stymied or at the very least are not given conditions in which to flourish- that is if they should ever commence. Joey and I were back to hiatus after our excellent talk on an evening in summer of 1997, our friendship a few times a year coming out of limbo for an affable if abbreviated encounter. Work on my Website and receiving, reading, and responding to persons e-mailing me, did indeed fill my days in 1997 and 1998. By and large, the evaluations of my Website that I was receiving in nearly daily e-mails was pleasant, encouraging, invigorating, and motivating of me to further writing. The last months of 1997 and most of 1998 did constitute arguably my best time on the Internet. There was a fairly gladsome feel to my life in the last years of the 1990s, sparsely fettered by the fans of Space: 1999 and their sorties. It was true that I was feeling nostalgic on many a day, most particularly when viewing Littlest Hobo episodes dating back to the early 1980s, and finding myself becoming teary-eyed at the ending of many Littlest Hobo stories as the feeling of separation and loss as regards a friend, a grandparent, a deceased pet, etc. in my life experience was being channeled by the crying of a character on The Littlest Hobo when the dog departs for another location, another transitory relationship, unlikely or never to see that particular character again. But I did nonetheless stay in quite high spirits, for the most part. My renewed acquaintance with the television show of the righteous wandering German shepherd vanquishing or morally rehabilitating wrong-doers and overcoming formidable odds in wholesome adventures together with positive response of many persons to my presence on the Internet, did keep in check nostalgia's attendant bitter-sweetness and the melancholia that therefrom can sometimes- or oftentimes- stem.
However, I did occasionally verge on periods of gloominess. The days leading to Christmas in 1997 were something of an incongruous blip in the chipperness in my life early in this era. Christmas of 1997 was quite atypical in my experience. In contrast to my exuberant, eagerly expectant-of-gifts state of mind of Christmases past, for 1997's Holiday season, my anticipation was at low ebb. My parents were going to give money to me instead of the usual surprise (or semi-surprise) presents, and the coming of December 25 did not materialistically dominate my thoughts. Still, I was, as usual, sensitive to the cozy feel of the time of year, but did not feel like I was a part of it, to some extent because of the paucity of presents under the Christmas tree, but mostly due to the fact that I saw some old friends, i.e. Joey, a few of my erstwhile friends of the neighbourhood of Era 6, etc., celebrating the season with other people, and I was not included in their revels. Not that this was the first December in which I was without companionship of friends, but without material gratification to distract me, my awareness of Christmas loneliness was unusually high. November and December of 1997 were also the snowiest in recent memory; there was more snow on the ground in New Brunswick by mid-December than there usually had been in February. Summer rarely seemed so far away!
From September to December, I had summarised almost eighty episodes concurrent with the weekday broadcast of The Littlest Hobo on local television station ATV, and I was, admittedly, beginning to tire of the main story formula of the show (London, the dog, thwarting criminals or extricating people from life-threatening peril). As my unaccustomed Christmas depression was establishing itself, on the days of 22 and 23 December, 1997, a most delightful two-part episode of The Littlest Hobo, one that I had never seen before, was transmitted on ATV. It was not a Christmas story. Its events were vividly captured on camera direct to videotape in summer of 1982, and with the amount of snow around me, including that in all of the Christmas programming saturating the television airwaves, the sight of green grass and trees in full bloom in the episode was like water to a thirsty man on a desert!
However, what impressed me most about the episode, titled "The Five Labours of Hercules", was the friendship between London and a boy whose limping leg was in a brace and who was played with the right mix of pathos and fortitude against temporarily adverse fortune. There were no criminals or troublemakers and no mortally endangered people for London (the name of the dog character in The Littlest Hobo) to rescue. It was a refreshingly different premise. London agreed to assist the boy to raise money to buy a beloved St. Bernard puppy, through a problematic dog-sitting business; problematic in that the boy and London were the only minders, and the dogs being guarded were far from cooperative! There were no parents or other children involved. Only the boy, with the name of Nathaniel, and London. The likability of the relationship between Nathaniel and London can be credited largely to Nathaniel's personality. He was faithful and loyal throughout to his canine helper, believing in London even when it appears that London has "let him down" by losing all of the dogs. When frustrated, he remained likable. He was not inclined to bitterness and blame. He resolutely initiated his own hopeful solution to the crisis, was disappointed by its lack of result but, again, retained his level-head. When London retrieves all of the dogs for him, he expresses open and humble gratitude. He came across as the kind of friend whom everyone (and me) wishes for but rarely finds. And indeed was London the ultimate friend to him, literally "going the distance" by running through a large city to "round up" all of the errant hounds.
Perhaps this character was an ideal to which no true-life boy- or adult, could compare, but it struck a deeply favourable chord. It had been far too many years since I last had a friendly companion anything like him! He was twelve years-old and a solitary human figure in a suburb. Naturally, association with the character formed in my mind through my experience at his age, reinforced by my current renewed awareness of perpetual loneliness, which had me in want of friendship of the sort exhibited by both Nathaniel and by London. I wished that I knew Nathaniel, and the young actor who played him, and hoped that I still could, even more than fifteen years after the episode's production. With this hope, my Christmassy spirit of, "on Earth peace and good will toward men," rebounded, sparing me from the murk of selfish depression on the edge of which I had been teetering for days previous. London and his friend had rescued me from what would have been a major slump in my newfound strength. Even more than a decade after his television passing, The Littlest Hobo was still "doing his thing", helping someone in need!
And so was I motivated to reach out to and make contact with the actor, Hadley Kay, whose performance was so appealing on those two days close to Christmas, and fate was kind to me, because I discovered on the Internet the address of his agent! I wrote to him, stating how much I enjoyed his episode and his character and inviting him to visit my Littlest Hobo Web page. I did not realise, in my rush to mail the letter, that I had not satisfactorily described the circumstances of my viewing of the charming two-part Littlest Hobo episode. It being more than fifteen years since his portrayal of London's friend, my letter must have seemed untimely and strange, to say the least. It had not been my way to write letters to actors and other famous people (my letter to Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones in 1993 was the only prior overture that I had ever made to an accomplished entertainer); so, I am not practiced in expressing to a performer/artist my heartfelt appreciation of his work. I found Hadley's e-mail address just days after mailing the letter to him and resolved to try again to contact him, this time by e-mail, after giving my letter sufficient time to reach him. In my e-mail, I thoroughly outlined my reasons for responding so enthusiastically to the episode and to Nathaniel. Hadley answered within hours of receiving my e-mail, and, as readers of my Littlest Hobo Page are no doubt aware, shared his memories of the Littlest Hobo episode and updated me on his work since then. I am pleased to report that Hadley shares his character's amiable nature! Below is the text of his first e-mail to me, sent on April 27, 1998.
The New Labours of Nathaniel...
Boy have you ever done your homework! Hercules would be proud. Where the Saint Bernard went... I will never know.
You will be happy to know my limp has since been cured. Although, I must admit all these years later I still swing my right foot out a bit before it lands squarely on the pavement. Of course, this has nothing to do with the limp I faked for the benefit of the character Nathaniel, in "The Five Labours of Hercules".... Or, maybe I did take a piece of Nathaniel with me? Who knows?
You may or may not know however, that Nathaniel's limp was caused by polio. Something the show did not make entirely clear to the audience. However, studying polio patients at a local Toronto hospital was part of the preparation I endured before shooting began. It was also at this hospital that I was fitted by a specialist for the leg brace I wore in the episode. You may or may not have noticed, depending on how many times you have seen this particular episode, that I limped with the wrong leg a couple of times. I suppose the director Mario Azzopardi did not catch me switch limping legs. But for a twelve-year-old actor, I guess I did okay back then... I am twenty-nine in November.
It is amazing to me that you have taken such a vast interest in the show. Friends and family occasionally tell me that they have seen it, to which I usually bow my head in mock shame. Not to say I do not look back on it as a fond memory, but it was early Canadian TV, and most of us are aware of its shortcomings as compared to the U.S. shows we tried to emulate early on, and still do, I suppose.
I left Toronto almost four years ago. I now live in Los Angeles with my wife of 4 years, and continue to pursue my acting career here. I have had to completely start from scratch here, and while stars are certainly made in Hollywood, becoming one is an entirely different bowl of soup. However, I have had a couple of rewards in my short time here, one of which will probably be of interest to you. I started acting in commercials, film, and television when I was five. One aspect of my career that particularly flourished was voice-over, and still does. I followed the link to your Web page and noticed your interest in cartoons, of which I have done many. Especially in Canada. In Toronto, I did everything from the leads in both Care Bears Movies I and II, Ewoks & Droids, The Popples, Garbage Pail Kids, My Pet Monster, Dinosaucers, U.S. Star Commander, Beverly Hills Teens, Inspector Gadget, etc.. More recently, I played "Podgy Pig" in Rupert Bear for the last four years, and I am also the voice of "The Bee" in all of the HoneyNut Cheerios commercials you see. When I moved to Los Angeles I hit the cartoon goldmine, when I landed the role of Scooby Doo. I have since stopped playing the role of Scooby, but got the honor of doing it for one year. There were no more Scooby Doo cartoons in production since the series ended in the eighties, but Scooby ended up in commercials, and sometimes guest-starred in other cartoons like Johnny Bravo. I was not a dead-ringer for the original voice Don Messick, who died last year, but I was pretty darn close. It was an honour to have Hanna himself pick me out of so many stars competing for the role, but in the end I think that my lack of sounding "exactly" like the original Scooby did me in. It was a blast though.
I also did an episode of Rugrats, just a couple of lines. And recently shot a movie with Ed Asner called The Fanatics, in which I played HIS boss. It was a great role, but I learned unfortunately that the scenes with him were cut out of the movie in the end due to a change in the direction of the film. Oh well, them the breaks!
Otherwise, I continue to hack away at it, in the land of Hollywierd.... The IMDb is missing alot of credits by the way. I don't know how they collect information, but I will eventually post a pic and resume on my own future Web site.
Anyway, I hope this helps a bit in your collection of Hobo tidbits. If you have the episodes on videocassette I would love a copy for my future kids to see. I would pay any expenses if you are able to do so. The only thing is, they would arrive safest in care of my agent. I live in an apartment building in Los Angeles, and they wouldn't fit in my tiny mailbox. Being Los Angeles, anything left on top of my mailbox is likely to get stolen. Let me know if you have the episodes at your disposal, and I will arrange to send you shipping costs.
Best of luck on your Hobo tribute!
Hadley 'Nathaniel' Kay
On Thursday, May 28, 1998, I videotape-recorded part one of "The Five Labours of Hercules" for Hadley- and for myself- when it circulated again on ATV, and sent it to him in addition to a copy of part two, which I had videotaped on December 23, 1997. He received them a week later. It was a tremendous pleasure to provide a videotape recording of his episode for him!
Curiously, the May 28, 1998 airing of "The Five Labours of Hercules: Pt. 1" on ATV came a day earlier than it was expected; assuming same sequence of episodes on ATV as had been the case the previous December, "Winner Take All" would be the Thursday, May 28 Littlest Hobo episode in rerun on ATV, with "The Five Labours of Hercules: Pt. 1" coming the day later, Friday, May 29, and part two of "The Five Labours of Hercules" being on ATV on Monday, June 1. But I had a premonition as I went to bed on Wednesday, May 27 that ATV would defer "Winner Take All" to Monday, June 1 and air parts 1 and 2 of "The Five Labours of Hercules" on Thursday and Friday, May 28 and 29 respectively. It was rare for ATV or any television station to split two-part episodes on opposing weekday sides of a weekend. Of course, it was possible that both parts of "The Five Labours of Hercules" could be left until Monday and Tuesday, June 1 and 2 respectively, with "Winner Take All" being shown on May 28 and "Small Pleasures" on May 29. But somehow, I had an inkling of foresight that ATV would screen part one of "The Five Labours of Hercules" on May 28, and I was videotaping for Hadley at the very beginning of the May 28 episode. When the title of "The Five Labours of Hercules: Pt. 1" was there, big as life, I grinned and laughed in a gratified way, for my capacity for intuitive foreknowledge of a television event had manifested itself again (see my Space: 1976-8: Boy Meets Alpha Space: 1999 memoirs for another instance of such unlikely prescience).
It was fortuitous indeed that ATV's broadcast of "The Five Labours of Hercules: Pt. 1" was on May 28 and not on June 1, in that for the full week of June 1 to June 5, I was at the Country Junction in Hanwell operating camera for Channel 10's production of 13 Bugs Greene episodes, and I would not have been at home and able to do a fully attended, off-broadcast videotaping of "The Five Labours of Hercules: Pt. 1", seamlessly removing commercials and providing to Hadley a very professional, first generation videotape recording of the first part of the Littlest Hobo two-parter in which he played the amiable Nathaniel. I vividly remember looking out the front window of the Country Junction during an afternoon lull in the videotaping of the Bugs Greene music television program on a mid-week day as it was raining heavily outside, and thinking about Hadley in sunny California receiving the videotape I sent to him and delighting in revisiting his Nathaniel role in the television show about the perseveringly helping German shepherd.
In the last years of the 1990s, The Littlest Hobo was rather a source of sweetness and light in my life versus the opposite of such, i.e. sourness and dark, of which Space: 1999 was by this time basis. And The Littlest Hobo was appealing to and accentuating the positive aspects of my personality, such as tenderness and compassion, while the prevailing attitudes and behaviours surrounding Space: 1999 and its fan following, to which I was still peripherally connected (through my contact in Montreal and through Dean), tended to invoke my rather less than agreeable tendencies, by this time those of sullen defeatism punctuated by occasional bursts of woebegone outspeaking and agitation. Notwithstanding my work with my cohort in Montreal toward the campaign toward Space: 1999 DVDs and an interview that he organised with Space: 1999- Season Two music composer Derek Wadsworth, my contributions to the Internet on the subject of Space: 1999 were limited to pleas for fair-mindedness and lamentations on the ignoring or denigrating of those pleas. For the most part, however, I strove to keep close to the entertainment fancies and interests that had best potential for pleasurable relations with people on the World Wide Web, and therefore for my amenable personality traits to prosper. My continued involvement in community television and the forming via that involvement of friendships with some fellow volunteers, friendships which at the time appeared to have a prospect of lengthy life, were also tonic against the asperity surrounding Space: 1999. I should mention, too, that the enthusiast-followings of other imaginative productions to which I was dedicated, were, for the time being, mostly pleasant to which to be connected.
My Web page for The Littlest Hobo did in fact win a Yahoo! Canada award in early May, 1998. An uploading to my Littlest Hobo Page of the powerfully popular theme song to the 1979-85 television series and Hadley's reminiscences of his episode no doubt increased The Littlest Hobo Page's attraction quotient to make this possible! Within weeks of this were the accolades for my work in chronicling the history of televised Looney Tunes, i,e. those accolades appearing on The Termite Terrace Trading Post, and which were actually likening my writing to that of Leonard Maltin and animation historians Jerry Beck and Steve Schneider. A tremendous compliment, for sure! And with a Guestbook addition to my Website, a mind-boggling number of Spiderman boosters signed the Guestbook, all complimenting me on my in-depth coverage (The Spiderman Page) of the 1960s television rendition of the super-hero.
I was in a somewhat more chipper mood concerning Space: 1999 by the early spring of 1998 and apprehensively watched a "documentary" videotape on the making of the series, a videotape sent to me by my contact in Montreal. All that its second half was, was a prolonged diatribe against Season 2, with contentious put-downs presented in rapid succession as incontestable fact.
And what a pity that was, for that "documentary", name of The Space: 1999 Documentary, was quite resplendent in the style of its crafting. Divided into two hour-long parts, its main title sequences for the two parts had rapid cutting and newly written pieces of music that were worthy of the main titles of the television series itself. The two parts had titles in the same font used for all episodes of the television series, and, like the one Space: 1999 two-part episode, "The Bringers of Wonder", there was even an "end of part one" statement as its first part, reaching its end, was in a freeze-frame prior to closing credits. It was lovingly put together, The Space: 1999 Documentary. It could easily go along with the forty-eight episodes in a package, being in accordance with them in the ways that I have mentioned. Some of the interviews were of the 1976 production time period for Season Two, specifically during the filming of "A Matter of Balance". It was the first time that I saw Martin Landau and Catherine Schell being interviewed while they were in full costume in the sunshine of the outdoor location in Black Park. Those interviews have since then found their way onto many a DVD. I also heard Fred Freiberger's voice for the first time, with his interview in 1976 during production of the same "A Matter of Balance" episode. That interview was used by the documentary to establish a "straw man" to be evicerated, then torn to tiny particles, by latter-day interviews with cast and crew, almost all of them with unbridled antipathy, with unequivocal contempt, for the second seson, its producer, and, by logical extension, the Space: 1999 fans who appreciate Season Two, minority though they, or I, may be. Gerry Anderson himself denied our, my, existence, saying that "to a man" everyone prefers Season One and rejects Season Two as a disaster that ought never to have been made. And this was just par for the course, as the second half of the "documentary" was unrelenting in its vilification of the second season, participant after participant edited as to be pummelling it in a rapid punch, punch, punch, punch assault. Because it all is in a production branded a "documentary", all of it is put forth as though it is fact and that anyone having a different outlook is a delusional "flake". All of the usual fare for the fan movement and its beleaguered minority, presented in a glossy, visually and aurally handsome package. As I say, a pity. A great, great pity.
It was not just a pity, though, as eventualities did show. The Space: 1999 Documentary was to be a huge brick in the structure of the temple to the supremacy of Season One and the abject deplorability of Season Two and the utter illegitimacy of existence of people like myself. It was one huge salvo in the onslaught of invective launched at Season Two as the 1990s became the 2000s, and a broadcast of it, albeit in a shortened form, on a broadcast television channel in the U.K. meant that its hostility toward Season Two would be uptook by disinterested observers of the question of Space: 1999's artistic worth, in the general public, heeding as they will the purported incontrovertible facts stated in the "documentary", regarding them as truth. And matters for Season Two of Space: 1999 could only grow worse, worse, worse.
Coming to me in the same mailed parcel from the Montrealer as The Space: 1999 Documentary was a videotape copy of something called The Day After Tomorrow- "Into Infinity". Produced by Gerry Anderson and his team between the making of the two seasons of Space: 1999, The Day After Tomorrow- "Into Infinity" was an hour-long science fact drama for children's television in the U.K. and the U.S. in late 1975. It aired on Special Treat on the NBC television network in the United States on Tuesday, December 9, 1975. I never had any occasion to see it until I had the videotape copy of it in 1998. If I had seen it around the time of its 1975 broadcast in the U.S., I would have been in awe of it and in love with it for its depictions of space and space pheomena and its space exploration premise. It would have very much ignited my imagination. And if I had seen it some short while after I had first experienced the two seasons of Space: 1999, I would have delighted in how much it was reminiscent of my favourite television series. Indeed, it was packed to the brim with Space: 1999 connections. Nick Tate, Brian Blessed, Joanna Dunham, and Don Fellows, who all acted in Space: 1999, played the adult roles in it. Its screenplay came from the pen of Space: 1999 writer, Johnny Byrne. Charles Crichton, Space: 1999 director, helmed the filming of The Day After Tomorrow- "Into Infinity". And the visual effects were the work of Space: 1999's Brian Johnson and Nick Allder. Its sets were recognisable as either reworkings of those of Season One of Space: 1999 or precursors to those of Space: 1999- Season Two, and its music was written by Derek Wadsworth, composer of the music for Season Two of Space: 1999. In many ways, it feels like a long-lost Space: 1999 episode. An episode perhaps set along a separate thread of time in the same Space: 1999 realm of existence. It concerns a pair of families who board a photon-powered, experimental spaceship, the Altares, capable of nearly attaining the speed of light. The families' mission is to pilot the spaceship to Alpha Centauri, and to experience for the first time for the human race the time-dilation effect of near-light-speed travel. And once at Alpha Centauri, the two families are to study the three stars, Alpha Centauri, Beta Centauri, and Proxima Centauri (all gorgeously rendered, by the way, by Johnson and Allder), and the astral neighbourood thereof, and then, if they choose to do so, proceed further into space. They pass Pluto while departing the Solar System. A malfunction in the photon drive to their spaceship puts them in dangerously close proximity to an unstable red giant star, and after they escape that predicament, they are pulled into a black hole. Fabulous material! I would have "eaten it up" and "craved seconds, thirds, and fourths" had I seen it when I was nine, ten, eleven years-old. I enjoyed it immensely that day in the early spring of 1998 when I watched it for the first time, and I would revisit it numerous times before I abandoned my videotape of it. Many years would pass before I would own it on DVD.
One enjoyable item out of two in that videotape package was not a bad average, I guess.
I also acquired, in spring of 1998, an expanded edition of Doctor Who- "The Five Doctors", a then-new release on commercial videotape. The expanded edition offered some scenes that were new to followers of Doctor Who, plus available-for-the-first-time extensions of scenes familiar to viewers of the original "The Five Doctors" cut, and new special effects. I could not resist the urge, fuelled by curiosity over all that was new to the story, to buy it. With it in a two-videotape set was the Doctor Who story, "The King's Demons", that preceded it in the time-travelling Doctor's chronology.
No longer was I much of a fan of science fiction in a present-day capacity. Almost nothing then currently produced in the genre appealed to me. The new Star Treks, Babylon 5, and The X-Files all left me cold. Theatrical motion pictures like Independence Day did not engage my imagination either. It is possible that there was a critical window for the genre's works to impress me, and that window was my late-juvenile and teenage years. The crucial element, though, in this turning-off of me by the genre was the implacable hostility of people in various "camps" toward the television series and their seasons that impressed and inspired me. I was writing on several subjects and had many contacts, and the only people who were quite barbed toward me, plainly intolerant of my views, were science fiction fans, and Space: 1999 fans in particular, a fact that could only contribute to my disaffection with the genre and with the following of this particular television show.
My Montreal contact is difficult to categorise as a boon to my existence in these years, though I do credit his generosity in providing me with audiocassettes and compact discs of Space: 1999 music, videotapes of items like the aforementioned documentary on Space: 1999, and some other things. With him, though, I was vicariously still exposed to Space: 1999 fandom which was growing ever more rank. He did filter his reports of unfavourable fan commentary or fan developments mostly with his own opinion usually in concert with my own, about the arrogant attitude of the contrary fans of the majority school of thought. But it again was a mistake to be associated, even on the periphery and via someone else, with ever so de rigeur antipathy toward everything in Season Two and toward anyone who will not concede to such. The expiry date of fandom's appeal to me had long since passed. Even though I had through my Montreal contact participated in an interview with Season Two musician Derek Wadsworth and in early 1999 was provided by him with the mail address of Season Two producer Fred Freiberger resulting in an enlightening and edifying correspondence and an interview with Mr. Freiberger, I still wish that I had entirely extricated myself from the fandom of Space: 1999 in 1990 or 1991.
The winter of 1997-8 ended mercifully early, after having snowily commenced several weeks ahead of schedule, and the summer of 1998 was rather a dandy! Not because of any turnaround for me socially, however.
There was a higher than usual number of fair-weather days in 1998's summer. In July, for the first time in five years, I, by myself, drove our McCorry family car to my old home village of Douglastown on the river Miramichi and stayed in the then Miramichi City for a couple of days. When I returned home, I learned that my services were required by YTV Canada for an August 11 production in scenic Carleton Park in Fredericton, along the Saint John River. A nationally viewed television station headquartered in Toronto was asking me to work for it, albeit for one day, as a puller of cables for its game television show, Oh, Oh!, the pay for some 7 hours of work being $100! I also helped in procuring further local help from the volunteer contingent at Fundy Community Television (by summer of 1998 having the moniker of TVNB) and thus impressed the YTV production coordinator. Weather during the eleventh of August was cool (a blessing), and though it did rain, the downpour did not begin until the production and tear-down were concluded!
There were also public hearings on the bringing of natural gas to New Brunswick, that myself and my Legislature television crew colleagues were assigned in provision of coverage on Channel 10. When not at work in these endeavours, I was continuing to improve my Website, paying a university student (who I had met through the New Brunswick Film-Makers Cooperative) to frame-grab pictures of television programmes to which I staunchly maintain Web pages. A correspondent in Toronto had episodes of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour as aired by Global Television in 1978, and of course I was drooling with anticipation on acquiring those, even on the then, in 1998, rapidly outmoding VHS videotape medium. Though the episodes were not in the form that had been fondly known to me via CBC Television showings in the early-to-mid-1970s (cartoons introduced with their theatrical release titling image instead of the title cards utilised for the original 1968-9 season of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour). I was elated to be able to see again at long last and to have in my possession the opening, the Part 2 introduction, and the closing credits sequence, along with long-sought, unedited copies of such cartoons as "Hare-Less Wolf" and "Piker's Peak". I would eventually use this material combined with parts of The Road Runner Show and of that season of The Bugs Bunny Show televised on MITV in 1994-5, to reconstruct The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour in as close as possible a replicant of the television series as I dearly remember it.
I required a videocassette recorder to archive television programs. Weekday broadcasts of The Littlest Hobo on Showcase and ATV stopped at the end of August, before which time I videotaped as many of my favourite episodes as possible. Canada's Bravo! specialty cable television channel added The New Avengers to its programming roster in September, and I could not let pass the opportunity for adding that to my collection, particularly as I had not seen episodes of this classic, action-adventure 1970s television show since the mid-1980s, when they were run late-night on CBS.
Sporadic and then rather regular work came for me in 1998, and after having been without a bank account for several years, I opened one in November. Although financially the prospects of travel in 1999 were rather promising (I should emphasise that at no time did I seriously entertain thought of going to the Space: 1999 "Breakaway" Convention in Los Angeles in September), I found myself yearning more for a truly durable video collection (laser videodiscs and, eventually, digital videodiscs, or DVDs), i.e. tangible assets, and some measure of independence from my parents.
I worked on three New Brunswick Film-Makers Cooperative endeavours in 1998. On the first weekend of April, with a light snowfall causing a rawness in the air, as audio assistant (i.e. boom microphone holder), I joined the production crew on the set, the University of New Brunswick Social Club, for "The Worst That Can Happen", the worst-case scenario for a young man who approaches a beautiful girl in a bar. She and her friends laugh in his face and most other patrons in the drinking establishment do likewise, he is humiliated, and she steals his wallet! We managed to complete filming in one day, with a deadline advanced upon us by two hours while we were in the middle of our filming schedule.
On the second-to-last Saturday and Sunday of August, the New Brunswick Film-Makers Cooperative used the Maritime Institute of Technology's main floor with multiple computer-desk cubicles, to dramatise the plight of a "beatnik" telephone call centre employee. Frustrated with the individuality-denying demands of his job, he resigns, to work in a fast food restaurant where he must toil under even more insufferable regimentation. "The Other Side of the Phone" was an enjoyable, if prolonged and inconclusive, project. Several scenes were not completed, and the director moved away from Fredericton weeks later, leaving the short film in indefinite limbo. Again, I was in the sound department, this time as operator of the Nagra (reel-to-reel audiotape recorder).
On a chilly, windy, and drizzly Saturday and sunny Sunday in mid-November, I served as continuity person and art director on "Stoning a Seagull", a reenactment of an infamous event at Fredericton High School. A sadistic group of teenagers with rocks bombarded a seagull to death. Our film rendition of the gruesome deed was written with poignancy by introducing one of the boys as a five-year-old who is fascinated by the beauty and grace of the seafaring birds and "matures" through peer pressure to be a callous killer of the fowl that he once admired. A scene of the boy as a stone-throwing 11-year-old on a river shore were filmed on Saturday afternoon, his 5-year-old self being shown seagulls on a storybook page by his mother was lensed on Saturday evening, and the stoning incident was choreographed on Sunday on the University of New Brunswick grounds (a football field). We, of course, coloured chunks of Styrofoam to look like stones and used no birds; the "stoning" sequence was accomplished with the camera assuming the perspective of the doomed seagull. Happily, this film was completed on schedule.
Still, I found the length of usual production day, i.e. early morning to late at night, the protracted downtime during such a day, the irregularity of the work, paid or not (almost entirely not paid), and the clique of very individually focused (if this is not a contradictory description), less than conversationally accessible persons altogether to be somewhat distancing. Filming of "Stoning a Seagull" went almost until midnight. It lasted for that long so as to accommodate a complicated camera orientation that needed to be prepared outside the bedroom of the youngest boy cast as lead character. And the amounts of time spent waiting for lighting and camera angles to be readied during production of "The Worst That Can Happen" (which in any case, from my perspective, did not have a particularly interesting setting or story) and the lack of sociability of most of the people present toward anybody not already known to them over a long span of years, had me itching to reach end of production (the "That's a wrap!" moment). These plus a paucity of paid work, the Oh, Oh! television production freelance "gig" with YTV, at Carleton Park in Fredericton, being one of the very rare instances of my involvement in the Film-Makers Cooperative actually leading to travails with remuneration, and the much more socially and paid-job fulfilling and comparatively less time-consuming connection to TVNB serving as counterpoint, prompted me to allow participation at the Film-Makers Cooperative to lapse in 1999.
My hours at the Legislature and with other assignments for TVNB were proving indeed quite sufficient to fill my days in addition to my work on my Website, my collecting and watching of fancied entertainments on a new and exciting audio-visual medium, i.e. DVD, and going for walks (including those on my latest favourite route into the Devon area of Fredericton North whose streets, houses, and ethos were rather like those of Miramichi-area communities- and to a particular bench from which there is a panoramic view of Fredericton South). And besides, TVNB was by 1999 serving as a quite an effective vehicle for social existence, leaving the Film-Makers' Cooperative rather in the dust in such a regard. Not that there had been no congeniality whatsoever at the Film-Makers' Cooperative, but it was in evidence mostly only in a few people whose presence on a given, day-long "film-shoot" was anything but guaranteed.
Granted, conditions of actual production at TVNB tended to be not much or at all conducive to one-on-one relationship. This said, though, I nonetheless found friendship with a number of people of both genders and different age brackets at TVNB in 1999. My having become established and comfortable as a fairly "tenured" volunteer in-studio and on-site with mobile and as an employee in at the Legislature and in making of other television programming, I was sufficiently at ease in tasks by the time of 1999 that I felt freer to be communicative with co-workers as we were assembling or disassembling the component parts to the production paraphernalia. We were able to chat as we were preparing cameras prior to videotaping or going live to broadcast, and as we were coiling cables after conclusion of production.
1999-2001 was one of a couple of "Golden Ages" for me socially at Channel 10. I found that even such tedious (for me) productions such as coverage of hockey, football, basketball, or volleyball games were becoming quite enjoyable for the company that I had not only during production but also in the "set-up" and "tear-down" procedures. No longer a novice, I was often one of the most experienced people on site for a production, providing guidance to the less experienced persons. And I was entrusted by several of the producers to operate video switcher and to do the directing in production and sometimes without direct supervision as the producer needed to leave the studio control room or mobile production van to talk with someone or to respond to call of nature. By 1999, I had worked in all capacities from cable-puller all of the way to director, and I was respected for my range of experience and capability. I also served as reporter on occasional news stories for TVNB's Plugged In "newsmagazine"-format television series, including a story on the condition of Fredericton sidewalks in mid-winter, providing narration for it while videotape footage (b-roll, we call it) of the sidewalks was presented between excerpts of an interview conducted with the Fredericton Chief Engineer. As I settled more and more into my labours for Channel 10, confidence in socially meshing with my colleagues did increase. Following certain major productions, the crews would have a meal at a nearby restaurant, and on such occasions and during downtime between "set-up" and commencement of a television event, friendships did form and grow. My TVNB involvement was, hence, rather a source of joy coincident with a decline in the gratification of being a presence on the Internet concerning subjects long cherished and admired and in recognition and validation accorded to my Website, to my perspectives, observations, and insights. 1999 was where the rot started creeping in, though still only in small amounts leading into 2000. It was, alas, decay from then on for the Internet and my place thereon as a positive element in my life.
But before the downward slide of the Internet became all too apparent, there were yet some interesting developments. On September 13, 1999, my Space: 1999 Page registered a total of 161 accesses by Internet users, quite possibly a record amount of "hits" in one day for any Web page authored by me. All the more remarkable for the feeble amount of traffic that my Space: 1999 Page usually tallies, especially since 2000. Being as scarcely anyone in the scant numbers of enthusiasts or persons of abiding interest in the television series about the Moonbase, is in sympathy with my sensibilities about it, this comes as little surprise. Still, the September 13, 1999 effect remains a noteworthy factoid in the history of my Website. Also, British fandom for The Littlest Hobo seemed to come out of nowhere by 1999 and sent the persons-viewing numbers for my Littlest Hobo Page into a daily average of 40 to 50, and on some days in excess of 60. And even today, per-diem views of my Littlest Hobo Page outnumber those of my next most frequented entertainment item Web page often by a 2-to-1 margin. Bizarre, one would think, that a Canadian television series with American actors mostly in the main guest roles for the first three seasons and with Canadians in near all other acting parts and made on videotape with not very expansive budgets, would have a keener, more sizable following overseas than in its native country and continent. But this is certainly what the statistics of my Website in the years since 1999 have been revealing. Majority of visitors coming from British Internet Service Providers or via the Google.uk Internet search engine. It seems that a bank advertisement (of all things) in Britain utilised lyrics from "Maybe Tomorrow", tapping into and heightening British public consciousness of the television series whose episodes opened and closed with that song, such that many people in the land of Big Ben, tea, and crumpets sought re-acquaintance with the song- and the television program in conjunction with it- via the Internet, and thus were coming to my Littlest Hobo Page.
However, I must admit that I wearied of the many e-mails that I was receiving with subject lines referencing The Littlest Hobo and asking only if I could provide the song on a high-quality "downloadable" format (e.g. mp3 compressed data file) or on compact disc. No referring in the e-mail to the episodes of the television series, the heroics of the dog, the investment of time and effort that I had put into authoring The Littlest Hobo Page. I was also finding an increasing tendency of out-of-the-blue e-mail contacts regarding some of the other entertainments about which my Website had Web pages, to be just as non-plussing and taxing on my capacity, better as it then was compared to years before, for personable subservience and patience. One-sentence e-mail text asking whether I can do this or that, provide some item, or whatever, was becoming very tiresome even as the volume of e-mail communiques was yet for some time rather large. It just seemed to me that initiating communication with someone and not even mentioning his or her labour and effort on the project or projects by which establishing of contact had become possible, is rather rude. I found myself becoming distinctly unenthused about answering the same e-mail queries over and over again, even those that did convey a passing statement to my writing on my Website. I added a Frequently Asked Questions Web page to my Internet site, but even that did not forestall people from e-mailing with the same questions. It also much vexed me when I did consent to provide something to someone and had it ready for dispatch, only for the person to not send the agreed-upon funds for sending it and then cease to communicate. Such a thing happened more and more through 1999 and 2000.
And then there was an odd e-mail that I would receive concerning my Space: 1999 Page. In such an e-mail, the sender would deign to give a remedial lesson on the relative merits of Seasons 1 and 2, or rather the abundance of merit in Season 1 and absence of that in Season 2, the premise being that my Web page is insufficiently slanted against Season 2. Yes, somebody contacting me because I am much too nice toward some entertainment item on my Website. If a person wants to read scathing comments about Season Two of Space: 1999, there is a more than ample number of Websites, then and now, all too happy to oblige in precisely that. Does the existence of one place on the Internet that chooses not to revile Season 2 but to look upon it kindly and constructively really bother people so much? Dean would say yes, collective subconscious conspiracy and such. And he would ascribe the same hypothesis to persons who, while selling Space: 1999 laser videodiscs on the eBay Internet auction Website, declare the second season to be complete garbage that nobody would want. I would in response to being subjected to these further morally trying occurrences mutter the plaintive question, "Could I please awaken from this nightmare any time now?" Beyond this, the unpleasantness in 1997 heeded, I would exercise the better part of valour and just not reply to the e-mail or to the eBay vendor's ever so tactful disposition.
Occasionally, though, an e-mail received would raise my spirits, give to me something with which to build upon one of my standing Web pages, or just assure me that what I was doing in the late 1990s on the Internet was not time misspent. Someone from Ontario remembering the on-videotape-producing at his house of a Littlest Hobo episode, the widow of the music composer for the Littlest Hobo feature film of 1958 providing some information on her husband's work for said movie, a compliment by Space: 1999 producer Fred Freiberger on the thoroughness and insightfulness of my Space: 1999 Page, and the son of late voice characterization artist Bernard Cowan offering a correction on my otherwise laudable Spiderman Page. These plus the memory of communicating with Hadley and with other people of note in prior years helped to stave off my increasing feeling of disaffection with the Internet, though not indefinitely.
I do not want to appear grouchy in these matters. I do appreciate "Maybe Tomorrow", certainly, but that is not all that there is to The Littlest Hobo. Notation likewise on Spiderman's theme song and incidental music or those of anything else. While it is possible to fancy the introductory song to a television programme and nothing else to do with that, and to therefore have no interest in reading my Website beyond its transcript of the song, if that, I still was flummoxed by the amount of people of this very inclination, to e-mail me with nary a acknowledgement of the work done on a Web page at my Website. And I will affirm, vigorously if need be, that there is much more about The Littlest Hobo to stir one's soul than the song. The main character, the dog himself, for most cogent instance.
In response to my Web page on The Littlest Hobo, a friendly lady who visited with London's owner and educator, Charles P. Eisenmann, provided his address by e-mail to me, and I compiled a list of questions to add to a letter introducing myself, my Web page, and my interest in the wonderful Littlest Hobo German shepherd. Through his daughter, who had Internet access, Mr. Eisenmann reviewed my Littlest Hobo Page and responded to my letter.
My profound thanks to Mr. Eisenmann for correcting some of my errors and for answering my many questions about the dogs who characterised the wandering German shepherd. Huge thanks also to Mr. Eisenmann's daughter who assisted in my correspondence with him e-mailing to me the text of Mr. Eisenmann's letter, which is below.
Enjoyed your letter & questions. First, let me correct you on a few facts which you erroneously put forth. The 1958 movie was filmed in California, not Canada. McGowan owned the Littlest Hobo rights, they did not get credit for that movie. H & R Productions made it. Buck McGowan left the production one-week after we started shooting. Charles Rondeau came in as director.
I was still playing professional baseball; so, the filming was spread out over one year. Allied Artists bought the finished product. It proved to be the "sleeper" of the year and it opened up the market for my personal appearances, along with the 1963-5 television series. I toured for 13 years (1966-79) in every major city in the U.S. and Canada, three shows a day, seven days a week. In addition, I did live appearances on The Tonight Show, Mike Douglas, The Today Show, Steve Allen, Betty White's Pet Set, You Asked For, Wide World of Entertainment, and over 200 live TV appearances in all the cities.
I only owned one dog in the first 60 segments of the television series and in the feature. It would be rare if a second dog would appear in any segment other than if the star were hurt. I would on a hot day, use a second dog for a run, jump or swim. My number one star died on the first day of videotaping production in 1979 and a young Bo took over until 1985, when another young London took over. He is 15 years old and still living.
To the Questions:
I have trained dogs for two years and taught for 53. You should note, I used the word, train, when I first got a dog to watch a night club I owned. He taught me that a dog has the capacity to think by using three words. Faith, respect, and attitude. They have given me what you or any other person does not understand. The capacity of a dog to own a vocabulary in the thousand of words. To me, no matter how great a dog becomes, he is still a physically handicapped child. He cannot talk and has no hands. Toro is versed in three languages.
Normally, a scene would be filmed in a full camera-shot, medium camera-shot, and a close-up of each actor saying his lines. Since a dog cannot talk, his look or actions will be his talk. In hundreds of scenes, the mediums or close-ups were not used editorially. You asked about a funny take. I remember Paul Richards, a fine actor but very much aware of his face before the camera. In this scene, it was a camera-two-shot of London and Paul looking at each other. That meant a side view of Paul, so what does Paul do? He moves to a position, which gave him facial prominence, but left London having to turn his back to the camera. I waited until the end scene. Paul had been knocked down and London came over to wake him up. It was now a side view, two shot. I hand-signaled London to move to the far side and Paul now had his back to the camera, and London was in close-up. There was never any thought about portraying London as a "Spirit Dog".
I did a feature film in 1959 called Just Between Us where I had London rounding up six dogs. Once again, London is brought up intellectually; hence, his total concept is about his mental superiority to any dog, merely conditioned. We likewise did a feature for Columbia called My Dog Buddy. You mention that no real dog can do what London did. I suggest you would do well to see some of my personal appearances where the dog would pick out words and discern colours. I would spell three sentences; he would complete the request before a human had one sentence deciphered. All the deeds, which you mentioned the dog does in episodes, he can do at your house or in any locale. That is the value of teaching or forcing a dog to use his God-given qualities but always within his realm of accomplishment. It is a shame you could not have met him!
I did not choose London because he was a German Shepherd. His name came from London, England where I was hit by a V2 bomb. In 1972, I had five shepherds: London, Toro, Thorn, Lance and Litlon. Over that span, I also had Venus and Roura. But one dog did all but two percent of every scene except for one segment where I used Litlon for two scenes.
The McGowans with some help from the intellectual capacity of my dogs did the original script. During the 1963-5 television series, 57 episodes were filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia and surrounding areas, three being filmed in Toronto. I rented a house during the three years of shooting in West Vancouver. The years following, 1965 to 1979, found me writing three books: 1) Stop, Sit and Think; 2) The Better Dog, the Educated Dog; and 3) A Dog's Day in Court, plus a videotape: The Educated Dog.
As to dangerous filming, you have to understand that the Littlest Hobos did their own thinking, when it come to all the difficult tasks. It was the dog who assented to all the tasks. You made jest of the fact that the dogs seemingly were beyond human understanding. You'd have to see and know how these dogs were brought up intellectually. They, like an actor, would understand as I talked to them what was expected of them. If a dog was skeptic of a particular task, his desire or lack of desire told me he was desirous or not of accomplishing it. If there was one obstacle in the making of the series, it was in the editing. The director and I would go over a scene and then film/videotape it. When it went into editing, they would edit the wording in the script, hence hundred of feet of the dog accomplishments went on the floor. That is why sometimes the Littlest Hobo appeared to not be looking at his objective.
Winter of 1998-9 was dominated by my work as a camera operator at the New Brunswick Legislature. For as long as the Legislature was in session, I was behind a camera, composing camera perspectives of politicians during their speeches, statements, oral questions, etc.. I had little time to do much else. From Tuesday to Friday on each week, I usually just worked, ate, and slept. However, my income was regular and substantial, and I did not miss a single day of work because of illness.
Yet another interview with someone involved in the entertainment of my youth came about in January, 1999, when I acquired the mailing address of Fred Freiberger, producer of the second season of Space: 1999 and third season of Star Trek. I established correspondence with him and sent to him lists of questions, which he answered. My purpose, though sparse in realistic hope, was to neutralise once and for all the virulent antipathy directed toward him by majority members of fandom for these two television shows. Confidence in doing so was not abundant, the bias against the Fred Freiberger-produced final seasons of Space: 1999 and Star Trek having been entrenched in the minds of so many people for approximately a quarter-century and becoming ever more rancorous in Space: 1999 fandom in the 1990s. But I could in theory reassure myself at least that everything was done on my part to combat the negative propaganda being spread about his work that impressed me so very much in the late 1970s.
Response to the interview was indeed slow to come, some three months late to be precise. By and large, the e-mail messages on this subject that were sent in my direction consisted of the quasi-intellectual arguments against Season Two reconstituted for the umpteenth time, along with, "Congratulations and commendations on your interview, but we still think that you're wrong to trumpet Season 2 of Space and that Freiberger was wrong in his work on the show." The same old, same old.
Perpetual conflict with the lion's share of fans definitely precluded my going to the September 13, 1999 Breakaway Convention in Los Angeles, and because I chose to spend my earnings on a DVD player (purchased June 22), budgetary considerations did not permit a trek across North America in September of 1999. And having seen what DVD is capable of achieving, most notably a fifty percent improvement over VHS videotape in picture resolution- and absolutely no graininess or distortion of colour, I would henceforth commit monies to augmenting my collection of DVDs from the handful that I had at that point in time to a number comparable to that of my videotapes. If only many of my favourite television shows, movies, and cartoons would be released on the awesome, new home video format!
As the winter of 1999 approached its end and New Brunswick was bombarded by late-season snowstorms, I completed my work at the Legislature for the 1998-9 session and resumed my routine of working as a volunteer on various regular TVNB television shows. I returned to the television station's centre of activity, the studio, to find new faces in the dedicated group of volunteers, some of them quite young- and all very keen, their enthusiasm contagious. In April and May, I was enjoying my duties with renewed vigor, despite the fact that I was back to unpaid status for awhile. I even worked on a couple of productions for the first time ever: curling and automobile racing.
To maintain an income for the duration of my hiatus as a salaried TVNB employee, I chose to again mow neighbourhood lawns for the summer, not anticipating the driest June in New Brunswick since the Great Depression. Lawns yellowed and shriveled as my lawn-cutting business collapsed, and therefore did my DVD collecting schedule stall. July and August of 1999 were almost completely devoid of activity at TVNB, with no new programming being produced.
I reckoned as it was proceeding and still thus opine now, that 1999 was the most surrealistic year in my life. There was a series of quite unlikely occurrences, unlikely in their happening at all or in the circumstances or timing of their transpiration. Even daily routines had become rather bizarre, for instance the mail being delivered on Linden Crescent after dinner and at dusk during January and February, me finding the BUGS BUNNY: WINNER BY A HARE laser videodisc in my mailbox on one of those very late afternoon postman rounds. Yes, the same Bugs Bunny laser videodisc previously referred to as having "laser rot". Doubtless, it being crammed into my mailbox in the bitter cold temperatures in the dead of winter and then brought into my warm house could only have exacerbated its flawed condition. In May of 1999, The New Avengers, having already been telecast on Bravo! Wednesdays at 6 P.M. which in itself had been odd as screening time for an action-espionage-fantasy television program that had in the 1980s been shown on the CBS television network very late at night, was moved by Bravo! to 2 P.M. on Wednesdays, and starting with a run of three episodes ("Obsession", "Trap", "Hostage") that Bravo! had until then ostensibly opted not to televise. Seeing Steed, Purdey, and Gambit foiling extravagant machinations in mid-afternoon felt very surreal. I videotaped all New Avengers episodes telecast on Bravo!, even though I had little faith by 1999 in videotape's worth as a means of archiving favourite entertainments. It was either videotape them or go without them and wait, perhaps for many years if not ultimately in vain, for their release on laser videodisc or digital videodisc (DVD). Bravo! New Avengers broadcasts were not marred by logos apart from a very brief appearance of the Bravo! "bug" in transparent form, at the very start of an episode. The same had been true for episodes of The Prisoner telecast by Bravo! in 1996.
My first DVD player, one of the Toshiba brand, was purchased from Magic Forest Music Store in downtown Fredericton in June of 1999, after my having already purchased a handful of DVDs, what small selection there was then of movies that I quite desired to own. Movies that I already had on VHS videocassette and now wanted on much more durable, shiny digital videodiscs of video quality far, far superior to that of VHS or laser videodisc. The first DVDs that I purchased were Logan's Run (the movie, not the television series, the television series to this day being still not on DVD), 2001- A Space Odyssey, Alien and its sequels, Battlestar Galactica (theatrical movie version of the television series' premiere episode), and Tomorrow Never Dies. I also had on order from Ken Crane's Videodiscs in Los Angeles The Black Hole and a couple of DVD box sets of episodes of the Avengers television series. It was astounding, almost unbelievable, how vivid and sharp and uncorrupted the video picture yielded by DVD was on my Electrohome television set. The first DVD that I played was Tomorrow Never Dies, and the pre-credit sequence seemed almost to come out of the television screen at me. Bye-bye, VHS videocassette. Adios, laser videodisc.
At least, I wished that I could say good-bye to those videophile's formats soon to be extinct, but so much, so very much needed to become commercially available on DVD before I could retire my collection of videocassette and laser videodisc. Still, commencement of amorous relationship with the digital videodisc was definite, and in months to follow, I was fervently perusing the Internet Websites of DVD sellers and adding more James Bond movies to my DVD collection, plus all of the Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau movies, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, Forbidden Planet, Fahrenheit 451, Flash Gordon (1980), Nicholas and Alexandra (a lavish historical epic movie first seen by me in junior high school and which had impressed me then with its scope and its British cast of distinguished actors, many of whom with a Space: 1999 connection), Outland, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, more Avengers, and, by late 1999, individual 2-episode volumes of Star Trek (my Columbia House VHS videotapes of Star Trek were becoming quite obsolete). My continued lawn-cutting work in the summers and my work for TVNB for parts of the balance of the year provided me with some funds for DVD purchases, and my sales of VHS videotapes as they were superseded by DVDs helped to defray most of the costs of upgrading my collection. Fortunately, VHS videotape was still popular enough in 1999, 2000, 2001 for my videocassettes to find buyers, though, alas, this was not so for the Columbia House Star Trek videotapes, most of which were junked.
It was a familiar situation, though one not of recent experience, to be with a home entertainment media in its infancy before very much of anything was made available on software of that new media. I remembered the RCA VideoDisc and my dalliance with it in its problematic, viewing-and-hearing-disruptive idiosyncrasies. But those "skip-a-thon" RCA VideoDiscs of the early 1980s were as archaic as primordial muck compared to the DVD. Whole movies in addition to many bonus features could be fit on one shiny object the size of a compact disc (CD).
It was strange to have so much in my collection on obsolete media, with a wait of who knew how long to upgrade most or all of the collected items in the new, desired audio-video media format. The only comparable situation to this in my past was in 1981 when my audiotapes of television shows and movies were about to be surpassed by RCA VideoDiscs and then by videotapes, in a lengthy collecting process begun anew. But my assemblage back then on audiotape of fancied entertainments was nothing approaching the size of my videocassette collection by 1999.
Summer of 1999 was a long, mostly quite barren season. Production had come to almost dead-stop at TVNB (though it would resume in September quite substantially). Social contact through TVNB had likewise, consequently, become next to nil. I was alone for days and weeks. Visits to my Website and e-mails received were few in those summer months, and I found the often longer than expected wait for DVDs to be almost unendurable.
But once summer had passed, television programming production activity at TVNB returned to normal amount, and I was again in the company of fellow volunteers, staff, and Legislature colleagues. At home, the kitchen was in the process of being renovated, rearranged, and requiring new power socket installations and changes to position and way of output of water pipes. My cat, Twinkles, was very upset at the disruption of household routine, and my grandmother agreed for awhile to reside in a nursing home as the downstairs became our family cooking and dining area and the upheaval in the house was sure to add burden to my mother's already stressful, intensive responsibility of caring for my grandmother in the downstairs "granny suite". Alas, my grandmother fell during her first day in the nursing home and needed hospitalization, and the result was many weeks at the Fredericton hospital (at which she contracted pneumonia) and some months at a special care facility in MacAdam, a hour's car-drive from Fredericton. It became an ordeal from which she never entirely recovered.
I offered many hours of volunteer service at TVNB whilst the reconstructive work to the kitchen at home was proceeding during the first few weeks of September. Particularly memorable was almost a whole weekend, that of September 4 and 5, of videotaping in-studio production of many episodes of Aubrey Hanson and Friends (a folk country music television programme) and on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 7 and 8, several instalments of According With Carmen, an interview-of-prominent-citizens television show.
September 13, 1999, the day that the Moon was supposed to be blasted out of Earth orbit as in Space: 1999. What was that day like for me?
It was sunny. I mowed a lawn in the morning, watched a Saturn 3 DVD that arrived at my door by courier and walked to a post office to mail some letters in the afternoon, and joined a TVNB crew in the evening for coverage of a Fredericton City Council meeting. I mentioned to my fellow crew members the significance of the day, and those of them who remembered Space: 1999 expressed their amusement that the Moon was still in orbit. Stepping out of my car on arrival home after City Council, I looked up to behold the crescent Moon in the clear sky. The fantastic future that so thrilled me for the first time in 1976 was now a past envisioning of a furture date in the rearview. My only significantly remarkable event concerning Space: 1999 on the real-life September 13, 1999 was discovery that my Space: 1999 Web page accesses for the day had been a whopping 167, far above the daily maximum at that time of any other of my Web pages!
Yet, it was dream-like to be living the very day heralded so very much in years gone by. But what was to happen on the day after September 13, 1999 was rather more notable.
Renovation work in the kitchen was continuing. Plumbers had already been to our house for a few days to work on new piping for the kitchen sinks, and although I did know that my old friend Joey was working for the particular plumbing company summoned to participate in the adjustments to our kitchen, I had not seen him in the plumbing team assigned to our kitchen, and the amount of customers on a given day for the plumbing company had meant that the odds of his being on the McCorry house kitchen plumbing operation were indeed quite slim.
Joey had not been at my house to visit me since 1987. Yes, it had been that long. And it had been for as many years solemnly quite apparent that he and I being together again within my home was practically a pipe dream. Oh, how I wish that I could credit myself for consciously conceiving a pun as witty as this! But it did emerge from my fingers tapping computer keyboard buttons and presumably from mere intuition or from my unconscious mind. Granted, the pun may be regarded as contrary to my immediate impression of seeing Joey that morning, an impression not that I was having a pipe dream, but rather that I had that morning awoken to find the past twelve years to have been a dream, a la Dallas, and that Joey was greeting me after my long-overdue emergence from land of slumber. Granted, the place where we two were standing was not like it had been in 1987, Joey was taller, his face older, and any notion of my having a Pam Ewing Dallas 1986 moment did last only a fraction of a second. But one cannot help but remark with amusement at the reunion of Joey and I in my home on September 14, 1999, i.e. for me to awaken to a "Blast From the Past" (the title of the Dallas awakening of Pam Ewing episode) in my own life after the day, September 13, 1999, when, in my favourite work of fiction about 1999, the Moon is blasted out of Earth orbit. That September 13, 1999 would be the climax of my dream and thereafter it is 1987 again, Era 4 never having ended, Joey and I again seeing each other day by day at my home and at his, is a premise that I rather fancy very, very much. To say the least, it is quite a strange coincidence, the date of September 13, 1999 followed one day later by finding my old friend within the structure of my home after such not having been experienced in oh, too many years.
For the number of quite superb conversations that Joey and I had had on the telephone or in front of his house since 1990, none had led to a resumption of the amount of time spent with one another and the degree of rapport shared for much of the fourth era of my life. A reality had become established since 1987- and since some critical errors made by me in June of that year. If I was to communicate with Joey or be with him for a limited amount of time, it would be not in our pre-1987 most frequent, most definitive milieu, i.e. in my home, more specifically in the basement of my home and in my television viewing room. The basement and the adjacent garage had been in early 1987 our primary place for socializing, for enjoying each other's company. Joey's absense from there had been continuous since his final times in my house, in my basement, with me in Era 4.
And so it was that on the morning of September 14, 1999, I awoke and went about my morning routine then existent with the renovations occurring in the kitchen. I went downstairs to the "granny suite" in what used to be the garage and a section of the basement, for something to eat. My mother was on the telephone in the "granny suite", talking with someone about my grandmother in the hospital. As I nibbled on some cereal and ate an orange, I could scarcely anticipate an event that would not be at all foreign to the storylines of a certain prime-time television serial of the 1980s.
Joey appeared from the doorway to the unfinished portion of the basement. And he spoke my first name in its shortened, three-letter form, in greeting me. I was briefly dumbstruck, oblivious to the known presence in the house of the plumbing company with which I was aware that Joey was working. A couple of seconds later, I responded in kind, smiling and saying Joey's name in shortened-to-three-letter version as I followed him into what renained of the old McCorry basement for a chat on the changes to the place since Joey's last visits therein, way back in 1987. Not wishing to interrupt Joey's travails for his employer, I shared some abbreviated conversation with him through the morning, re-introduced him to my mother, who then told my father, returning home from a jaunt to a store for the morning newspaper, that Joey was amongst the plumbing staff assigned that day to our home. And so, my father was very coldial with Joey when they encountered one another outside in the driveway. By mid-afternoon, Joey's work was done, and as he was walking to my front door with his colleagues, he said that it was good to see me again. And I concurred. It would of course have been even better if my life's timeline had jumped back to 1987 and Joey and I were to be together again on a regular, day-by-day basis. Yes. Oh, yes!
Perhaps it could happen, an awakening to be back in 1987. Even with losing DVD and being back in the days of VHS videotape and multiple-generation copies at that, and once more being in a time wherein Space: 1999 ("movie" compilations of episodes aside) had not been televised in my Canadian province since the 1970s and wherein only 30 minutes of Warner Brothers cartoons were on television by way of ABC's Bugs & Tweety Show as it then existed, I would be delighted to be looking at the 1987 calendar in the kitchen again, attending university in my sophomore and junior Bachelor of Arts degree years, watching and videotaping Doctor Who on Saturday evenings, playing baseball, however fraught with losses as I may then have been, with Craig and others at Park Street School field, and keeping one-on-one company with Joey, delivering journals with him, and talking about James Bond movies, Spiderman episodes, and so forth. I could return to Douglastown and the other Miramichi area communities for regular visit, as I had done in the dream, and reunite with old friends. That could still happen. And later friendships, also. I want to see the end of Era 4 reversed. And Joey and I staying together. Positive happenings in my life of later years could still happen as they did.
I can dream, can I not? Maybe I indeed am dreaming...
In the weeks following the day of seeing Joey again at my home, my contributions to TVNB included directing television coverage of most of a municipal political debate at the Wu Centre on University of New Brunswick campus, the first major directing stint for me in a production using the mobile vehicle. I also in those weeks bought DVDs of James Bond movies available to the buying public as Special Editions with abundant bonus features.
I had chosen not to go to Empire Theatres to see Star Wars- The Phantom Menace in its May to July, 1999 engagement at the cineplex at Fredericton's Regent Mall, though I had been witness to the whopping amount of media attention given to the movie, to the merchandising based on it (Kentucky Fried Chicken on Main Street Fredericton North was hawking toys of strange characters such as Boss Nass and Jar Jar Binks), and to the unfavourable response of fans and movie critics to it. Unaccustomed, surreal, even, it was in my experience to find a Star Wars movie on the dubious side of popular opinion. Finally relenting to the seeming imperative of viewing the film, I walked one evening in late September to the Nashwaaksis Cinemas which by then, September, 1999, were nearing closure as the Regent Mall cineplex was claiming the bulk of the pie of movie ticket sales, and which already were reduced to a budget pair of movie theatres showing motion pictures in the last days of their theatrical circulation before going to commercial videocassette, laser videodisc, and DVD. I could that evening perceive the much-publicised faults to George Lucas' latest opus. And yet being able to view something newly produced that was depicted to be situated in space of immense distance from Earth and which was not confined to the staid-in-imagination, mundane storytelling popularised by the likes of Star Trek- The Next Generation and which dared to show new, fantastic worlds and life forms, had made for quite a bracing pair of hours in the same movie theatre in which Tony and I first beheld The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. I had good will for the movie and still did have that as I was exiting the theatre that September, 1999 evening, though subsequent viewings of it on DVD over the years have neutralised whatever imaginative import that it seemed to have. Computer-generated and/or computer-composited special effects, while they may have advanced since Star Trek- the Next Generation, still have a less convincing effect than in-camera explosions with model spaceships and miniature planetary landscapes, etc.. And watching computerised visualisations on a television screen on repeated occasions seemed only to signal one's attention to how underwhelming that those visualisations are, even in all of their busy spectacle, gimmicks, and glossiness. And there was the matter of insufficiently appealing characterisation (no Han Solos or Luke Skywalkers to be found) and a listless script with a number of glaring, not easily rationalised inconsistencies with the original Star Wars Trilogy. There was also George Lucas' reluctance to release any of his Star Wars movies to DVD, a sore issue with many a enamored-with-DVD videophile including myself, the lack of availability of Star Wars DVDs for some years straining my- and our- capacity for generous spirit for Lucas and his new Star Wars movies.
On September 13, 1999, my Space: 1999 Web page had received 167 visits, and for an all too brief time frame, I indulged the thought that perhaps, just perhaps, this television show had a respectably sizable and enamored fan following and may yet have a place of honor in the entertainment pantheon. And then, I found on the Internet some early reports on what had happened at the Space: 1999 convention in Los Angeles on September 11-13, 1999.
I never entertained realistic thought of attending the convention- and this is beyond the question of allocated funds for the journey. After what had happened in 1995 and 1997, the fans of Space: 1999 were scarcely people with whom I would be eager to congregate. My interview with Fred Freiberger in the early months of 1999 did have quite an unexpected result: an invitation extended to him to be a guest at the September 13, 1999 convention. I was told that it was my interview with Mr. Freiberger that sparked interest in the persons organising the convention, in having him among the convention's guests. One of those convention organisers was in e-mail communication with me. It was from him that I learned that my interview with Mr Freiberger had been catalyst in the interest of the organisers in having Mr Freiberger attend the event. Mr. Freiberger wrote a letter to me to inquire about the invitation that he had received, whether or not I would, from my experience in the fan movement and with the individuals who were approaching him, give counsel on the idea of his accepting to guest at the convention, and address the fans and so forth. No invitation to partake as guest at any Space: 1999 fan gathering had hitherto come his way, and now, a handful of months after my interview with him came to the Internet as a part of my Space: 1999 Page, he was being cordially invited to the "big one" of Space: 1999 conventions, held on the very day that Moon and Moonbase were fictionally to be cast adrift in space.
Naturally, I was inclined to think that whatever the intentions of the convention organisers, Mr. Freiberger was going to have a less than loving reception from fans in general in the convention halls. I knew what I had been subjected to in defending Mr. Freiberger's work on Space: 1999. But I was not about to permit my own feelings of offence by the fans to jaundice my advice to the producer of Space: 1999- Season Two. Not if I could help it. His age, the infrequency of Space: 1999 conventions, and the capriciousness of fans altogether considered, this could indeed be his last chance to attend a Space: 1999 convention; I was not going to dissuade him and deny him this even if I did have misgivings about the idea. I had no quarrel with a few of the people on the organising committee, one of whom was very kind to me when I joined fandom in 1984 (she had been fan club president at that time), and I thought that maybe a little reverse psychology might work on some of the others, i.e. by saying in an e-mail to one particular convention organization representative (who was a known Season Two detractor) that I knew for sure that fans would be foul-tempered about Mr, Freiberger being at the convention, I was giving incentive to less potentially sympathetic organisers to prove me wrong, knowing as I certainly did how eager most fans were to do precisely that. Perhaps the organisers would put an extra effort toward fostering an attitude of civility among fans in attendance toward Mr. Freiberger? Would my reverse psychology work? I hoped so. Expressing some reservations but citing the comforting presence in the convention's organising group of the kind person with whom I had corresponded in 1984 toward joining fandom, I gave affirmative advice on going to the convention to Mr. Freiberger, and he did attend the convention, sat on stage to field questions, was among the people signing autographs, and reported to me after the September 11-13 weekend event that he had had a pleasant time.
First reports from my contact in Montreal who did go to the convention with his fiancee and some of his fan friends were that Mr. Freiberger's presence at the convention was a "hit" and that my hostility toward the fans could be put to rest. I so much wanted to believe this. And the blunt e-mail that I received from the convention organiser with whom I had been in communication and upon whom I had applied the reverse psychology, telling me that I was proven wrong about how Mr. Freiberger would be treated (the second of two short sentences- the only two sentences- in the e-mail was, "You were wrong."), seemed to confirm Montreal's accounting of the fan gathering in the City of Angels, September 11-13, 1999.
However, there was an undercurrent of antipathy and hostility that was certainly apparent in the videotaped footage of the convention provided to me by the Montrealer. And post-convention reports from Space: 1999 fans on the Internet referred to a videotape camera being deactivated when Mr. Freiberger appeared on stage to answer fan questions, with derogatory comments from said Internet-based fans on his livelihood and lucidity. The questions were frequently heard on the videotape to have an insolent tone to them. And there was mention that actors Nick Tate and Barry Morse were uncomplimentary of Season Two, to the plaudits of fans present. It sounded like the convention was exactly what I had expected it to be. Yes, there were a few post-convention communiques telling a different story, one of promise, one in which the fans at the convention mostly resolved to at last respect both seasons of the show, one in which Mr. Freiberger was positively received, one in which the final, big Space: 1999 fan event was a "cathartic experience"- "cathartic" in the sense that many of fandom's problems were supposedly resolved. But as months passed, and 1999 was a memory in year 2000, fan spin-doctoring of the convention was very anti-Season Two (of course), while every, virtually every recognised publication continued to propagate the idea that Season Two of Space: 1999 was garbage and the television show's "death sentence". The Space: 1999 Mailing List certainly did not reduce its carping about any and all aspects of Season Two.
On November 27, 1999, Huckleberry Hound, whose misadventures had been added to the YTV Canada schedule in September of 1999, again confronted one Dr. Jikkle as I beheld "Piccadilly Dilly" for only the second time in twenty-seven years! There was a peculiar mix of far-flung familiarity in the long-unseen cartoon with aspects of it that I did not comprehend from my 1972 vantage point and therefore now seemed unfamiliar. Again, rather a surreal experience. With the benefit of more than a quarter century of viewing animated cartoons, I found myself wincing at the extremely poor and repetitive cartoon animation and at the now un-frightening depiction of Jikkle's chemically induced personality disorder- and musing about how on Earth I could have been unnerved by this cartoon, which was far inferior to those of like story structure by Warner Brothers. Dr. Jikkle was indeed very poorly cartoon-animated, his arms pinned to his sides and not moving at all, and his alter-ego's pounding of Huck's London police officer's hat and Huck subsequently pulling the hat away so that his head can emerge from his midsection London "bobby" uniform occurred again and again, same cartoon animation each time. My childhood tastes as a whole came under more deliberation, me questioning their worth and the orthodoxy of maintaining an appreciative vigil for them. Such self-questioning would become rather frequent in the 2000 decade, as my resolve wavered many a time with regard to keeping my Website on the Internet and continuing to trumpet my interests and tastes.
In the final months of 1999, though, conditions could be said to have been improving. In as much anyway as Website traffic was returning to a semblance of pre-1999 levels. However, that was largely because of the availability on my Website of RealAudio files of Littlest Hobo and other music referred-to as pleasing to the bulk of my Website's visitors who e-mailed me, them seeking to establish contact out of desire of the music in a superior audio format. My writing continued to be quite infrequently referenced. Had it all been a waste of my time?
The New Brunswick Legislature resumed deliberations in November, and for that I was again on payroll at TVNB, now owned by Shaw CableSystems, which was based in Calgary, Alberta. Shaw also hired me to do television programme substitutions (simulcasts), superimposing Canadian broadcasts onto American ones of the same television shows at the same hours. Hence, I was gainfully employed in an appreciable and quite constant way.
Through 1999 and 2000, I dedicated a substantial amount of hours off from my job, to a reconstruction of all 26 shows of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour as it had appeared on CBC during the early 1970s. Sadly, all that I possessed at this point in time for a source medium was VHS videotape recordings, but all of the essential elements (stage introductions, brief Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote segments for between the cartoons, and the cartoon shorts) for a reconstruction were present, and my success at this project proved that a DVD collection of the twenty-six instalments could be attained once affordable recordable DVD was marketed. What I did next was to begin watching my Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour reconstructions at 6 P.M. on Saturdays, duplicating the experience of twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven years earlier, and would persist in this nostalgia-fostering procedure for years to follow.
Much as I hate to have to do it, I will reference Space: 1999 fandom again. In 1995 while staying with my oh, so congenial Calgary contact, I found in an issue of F.A.B., the official magazine of the Fanderson Gerry Anderson fan organization of which the Calgarian was a member, a list of deceased actors in the productions of Gerry Anderson, including those who had appeared in Space: 1999. While some like Margaret Leighton, Toby Robins, Patrick Troughton, and Lynne Frederick were known by me to have died, there were some thespians reported as having expired whose passings I had not been aware, such as Guy Rolfe, Godfrey James, Douglas Wilmer, and Jill Townsend. Rolfe and Wilmer were not young men when they had their episodic guest roles in the television series about the drifting Moon; so, their stated decease was credible, though they still would not have reached end of life-expectancy when they died. Jill Townsend was quite the surprise as she was quite a young woman when she portrayed the alien Sahala in the "Dorzak" episode. I saw in a subsequent F.A.B. in my Calgary host's possession that the report of Godfrey James' no longer being among the living has been greatly exaggerated, as evidenced by a letter to F.A.B. by Mr. James himself, stating that it was in no way written and sent by a ghost but by a still-alive, flesh and blood man. Fair enough for F.A.B. to make a mistake; we all do. I accepted that it would be the only one in this matter and assumed the other mentions of actor deaths to be correct. And based on this, I included in my Space: 1999 Page an In Memoriam section, and therein were Guy Rolfe, Douglas Wilmer, Jill Townsend.
Late one November, 1999 day I received an e-mail from someone whom I was, in my Space: 1999 Page, saying had died, my source for that most embarrassing error being the issue of F.A.B. that I had read in Calgary. Quite the sort of event that would be quite at home in a dream. The e-mail was from Jill Townsend who had come upon my Space: 1999 Web page and found herself among the list of deceased persons. "Where did you learn of my death?" she asked. I was staggered not just to receive correspondence from an actress from Space: 1999 but to have been corrected on a matter as fundamental as someone's life and misreported death. I apologised most profusely to Ms. Townsend and cited my source of the erroneous information for her. And I added a special notice to my Web page elucidating the mistake, my assumption, and the original source. It had not been the first time that F.A.B. was wrong about the death of somone who had been in Space: 1999 actor's death, the case of Godfrey James being one already evident other example. And as I would later learn, Guy Rolfe was also very much alive until his passing in 2003, eight years after his death had been stated in F.A.B. and several years after I included him in my Space: 1999's In Memoriam section. I now wondered about Douglas Wilmer too. No death information was provided in his Internet Movie Database listing.
Fanderson had already not much endeared itself to me with its Space: 1999 Documentary's vicious "slagging off" of Season Two Space: 1999 and thoroughly denying the existence of any appreciative following of it and certainly giving no consideration to such in its "factual" coverage of the making and history of both Space: 1999 seasons. Very presumptuous on the part of such documentarians. But in my notice regarding Jill Townsend, I said nothing specific of Fanderson's other faulty or contentious output, merely saying that it was not the first time that I had found something disseminated by Fanderson to be in error. A very embarrassing error, too, reporting that persons living are no longer on their mortal coil. I certainly felt embarrassed for having coopted without a secondary source the actor death list in F.A.B., thinking it to be accurate. Fanderson is situated in the U.K. and would have been better informed than I in North America about the passing-away of British actors and actresses, especially those who were involved in Gerry Anderson productions. The Godfrey James error aside, I still thought that the actor and actress death list could be relied upon; how wrong I was! The Fanderson brass, in response to learning of my clarification on Jill Townsend, condemned me for having a smug, self-satisfied attitude and for being delusional (yes, that chestnut) and an untouchable who should have no credence under any circumstances. Yes, I was not producing documentaries editorializing against seasons of television shows, portraying a producer so negatively by using his own comments of years previous against him straw-man-style, and denying the existence of any fans of fair and considered mind regarding Season Two- and for all of my self-doubt and self-criticisms, I was smug and self-satisfied. Yes. Oh, yes.
Moving onward to some rather more pleasant happenings. For Christmas in 1999, I received a plethora of DVDs on order via courier from Amazon.com, among them the first volume in the new line of Star Trek television series (1966-9) DVDs, the two episodes on Volume 1 being "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "The Corbomite Manoeuvre" (I remember marvelling at the unprecedented detail in the picture of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" as presented on the DVD), Contact, the John Barrymore 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, some box sets of black-and-white Avengers episodes, The Terminator, Island at the Top of the World, Heaven Can Wait, among others. I will always remember the Christmas day of 1999 being spent with A.M. watching of Contact, afternoon viewing of The Island at the Top of the World, and an evening with The Avengers, interspersed with Star Trek and John Barrymore as Jekyll and Hyde (I had already sampled my DVDs of those items, i.e. Star Trek, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) before Christmas day). And with credit at Music World in additional present by my folks and my grandmother, I on the day after Boxing Day bought Ladyhawke, The Towering Inferno, and The Poseidon Adventure. It would be the first time that I saw The Poseidon Adventure. I had seen Ladyhawke and The Towering Inferno on television. I should say that none of these three movies were in my videocassette collection, and I would be unlikely to collect them on DVD had there not been such a limited selection of movies and television shows on DVD at that time.
In January and February of 2000, further DVDs bought also mostly due to there being little else available of interest to me, included 90 Degrees South: With Scott to the Antarctic (which would have to suffice until such time as Scott of the Antarctic and The Last Place On Earth would come to DVD), Westworld, All Quiet On the Western Front (both the 1930 and 1979 versions thereof), Jesus of Nazareth, DAVEY AND GOLIATH, The Jerk, and On the Beach (a 1959 movie about a post-nuclear war enclave of people hoping to have a future in less irradiated Australia, that had been recommended by my science-fiction film studies professor in 1997). On the Beach, I bought sight-unseen. Likewise, Westworld. I had heard of Westworld and was intrigued at how it would mate the conventions and motifs of the Western with futuristic technology (science fiction nodding to story strands or images or tropes of the Western genre had long been aesthetically appealing to me). I enjoyed Westworld when I watched it on DVD on a memorable snow-stormy day early in 2000. Yul Brynner was chilling in his role as a relentless gunslinging robot, and the characters played by Richard Benjamin and James Brolin were likeable. All Quiet On the Western Front (1979) had many a British thespian in it, including some from Space: 1999 (i.e. Michael Sheard, Kevin Stoney, Mary Miller, and Ken Hutchinson), and it was made by the same production company (ITC Entertainment) as Space: 1999. I had seen it in 1991 when I was teaching school, showing a videotape-recording of it to the History classes in my charge. Jesus of Nazareth, also an ITC production, was replete with British actors known to me, including Ian McShane and Lee Montague of Space: 1999. I was delighted that Meteor was released to DVD by MGM/UA Home Video on February 29, 2000 (it and On the Beach came in the same shipment from Amazon.com), for it was one movie long held in my VHS videotape assemblage that I sought to replace with a DVD of same.
MGM/UA Home Video had already released a wave of James Bond movie Special Edition DVDs "scooped up" by me in the final third of 1999 (special edition DVDs of the movies, Goldfinger, Thunderball, Live and Let Die, For Your Eyes Only, Licence to Kill, Goldeneye, and Tomorrow Never Dies). The announced release in May, 2000 of DVDs of more James Bond movies including Dr. No, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker, and all of those DVDs Special Editions, was eagerly anticipated by me (the remaining James Bond movies were due on DVD in the autumn of 2000). All James Bond movie Special Edition DVDs were loaded with bonus features, including making-of documentaries. Delightful! The making-of documentary for On Her Majesty's Secret Service was most especially anticipated by me because the story of that movie's conception and filming and of the hiring of George Lazenby for the James Bond role and his abbreviated tenure therein, was the most fascinating of everything that was known, and before then as yet unknown, about the James Bond movies and their history of pre-production, production, and post-production. And good luck was with me one evening nearly a week before the DVD of On Her Majesty's Secret Service was to be officially released, for there on a shelf at Fredericton's Regent Mall Wal-Mart, sitting there big as life, was that DVD. And only one unit of it. Wow! What luck! I "snatched it up" with not a fraction of a second of hesitation, and immediately upon returning to home, I had its shrink wrap off of it and was loading it into my DVD player. It was everything that I could have hoped for, the documentary filled to the brim with interesting information and compelling commentary, the movie looking far better than I had ever before seen it. Most of the other DVDs in that wave of James Bond movie Special Editions were incorporated into my collection when they arrived at my door in a shipment from Amazon.com on the Friday afternoon of the week of the Tuesday on which those James Bond movie DVDs were officially released. A humid Friday afternoon after a long week of work for me at the Legislature. I watched my newly acquired DVDs of Dr. No, Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me, and The Man With the Golden Gun that day and on the weekend thereafter. Same days after that, I bought The World is Not Enough, which was in that same second wave of James Bond movie Special Edition DVDs, and I must say that it was not enough for me to stay interested in it. A turgid movie with mostly dull action sequences (the only really exciting one is in the protracted pre-credits part of the movie) that tries to synthesise the James Bond spy world with what could only be called "soap opera", with some unsatisfying details in the story development. Meet James Bond, the man from Atlantis. And Elektra King, who conveniently drops her gun and runs away so that Bond can "catch up" with her and eliminate her. And Brosnan, who already was looking too old for the role of Bond, did not have the on-screen presence to bring some electricity, some personal magnetism to the unexciting proceedings. And plutonium was handled ridiculously insouciantly in the movie. For completeness' sake, I retained ownership of that DVD of the movie. To this day, I have never been able to watch all of that movie in one sitting. I had not seen it in a theatre. I bought it on DVD largely sight-unseen.
Other DVDs brought into my collection in late 1999 and early 2000 were of Rollerball, The Birds, and Horror Express (a 1971 horror thriller that I had not seen but had read television listings about in the late 1970s; it was said to be set on the Trans-Siberian Express, and I found that to be rather compelling, in addition to the presence of Space: 1999 guest actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, along with Telly Savalas). I also sampled some Twilight Zone episode DVDs and bought the Lord of the Flies movie in its Criterion Collection DVD release in March, 2000 (I had seen that movie in addition to Fahrenheit 451 while in Grade 11).
And I continued to add more Star Trek to my expanding supply of DVDs as two new DVDs of it were released every couple of months throughout 2000. One of them was cracked and had to be returned to Amazon.com for replacment. That was the one with episodes "Operation-- Annihilate!" and "Catspaw".
To defray some of the cost of all of thse DVDs, I was selling my old videotapes of the same productions to anyone who wuld buy them. In some cases, I was able to sell the videotapes for almost as much money as it cost me to buy a DVD. And in other cases, I could not find any buyers. My videotapes of STAR TREK- THE COLLECTOR'S EDITION garnered no interest whatsoever in the used videotape market, and I ultimately junked them. Evey single one of them. After the hundreds of dollars that I paid to have all of them. Of course, with the Star Trek episodes looking nothing short of magnificent on DVD, I would never again watch those videotapes. Therefore, they were just a waste of valuable space in my house. And in any case, I wanted to be rid of VHS videotape.
This is so, but the release rate of DVDs of substantial interest to me appeared to be glacial as I proceded into year 2000. And almost none of my collection of videotape was superseded by new DVD releases in the first quarter of 2000. Star Trek episodes were an exception to this as was the movie, Meteor (which was memorably released on DVD on February 29, 2000). Most of the DVDs that I bought in 2000's first few months were of productions that I had not before possessed. With the release of a much anticipated second wave of James Bond movies in May, my replacing of videotape with DVD started to "pick up" again. I remember also buying Star Trek III- The Search For Spock from Music World in the Fredericton Mall one Friday afternoon in April. And the Star Trek episode releases on DVD had reached Season One's "Space Seed" episode in May. I remember watching "Space Seed" on DVD one Monday afternoon in late May. Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan was released on DVD in mid-summer of 2000, and that DVD was bought by me from Amazon.com.
DVD was almost the only source of joy for me in 2000, which was in just about all other respects quite a dire twelve months. I was wracked by recurring periods of pain in one of my molars, particularly after biting something hard, like a piece of bacon or even an overcooked end of a potato chip, reluctance to see a dentist for fear of the tooth requiring painful surgery or extraction, worry about a lump on my left arm that was eventually diagnosed by my doctor as a cyst and benign, a notably tedious spring session of the Legislature that seemed to go on forever as the new government of Bernard Lord was questioned and questioned and questioned about budgetary estimates for various departments, a favourite volunteer of mine appearing to be indefinitely barred from service due to a series of unannounced, unexpected non-attendances at productions for which he had previously committed himself, etc., etc.. And death touched my life many a time in 2000. Indeed, the ominousness that had always accompanied mention of the year 2000, was provd justified in terms of my experience of the annum.
Perhaps continuing the trend toward the surreal, some of the deaths in 2000 were in very peculiar circumstances.
Celebrity death is a fact of life in any year, though in 2000, there did seem to be a higher-than-usual amount of fatality among persons whose work in the field of television or cinema movie entertainment had been seen and appreciated at past times in my life. John Colicos, who was Baltar in Battlestar Galactica, Commander Kor in the Star Trek episode, "Errand of Mercy", and Mikkos Cassadine in my all-time favourite storyline of General Hospital died in 2000 a short while after reprising his Baltar role in a "teaser trailer" for a Battlestar Galactica revival. Bob Homme, who portrayed the title character of CBC Television's Friendly Giant went to the highest castle in 2000. Walter Matthau, to me forever the beer-guzzling Morris Buttermaker of The Bad News Bears, ascended to the baseball diamond of a celestial world in the summer of 2000. And then there was Sir Alec Guinness, who would rail at people associating him with his Obi-Wan Kenobi role in the Star Wars movies, Larry Linville, who played Frank Burns in M*A*S*H, and Jason Robards, who played the leading role in The Day After (1983). Two of the strangest deaths were that of Desmond Llewelyn (in late 1999, actually), portrayer of the MI6 gadget-master provider of James Bond's many fast and havoc-wreaking cars, who was killed in a car accident, and Charles M. Schulz, creator of Charlie Brown and Peanuts, who died on the very day that the Charlie Brown and Peanuts daily newspaper comic strip was to be retired.
Most affecting to me, though, were deaths quite close to home. One would scarcely think of the ending of winter and arrival of spring as being a time of death, but in my life in 2000 and indeed in a year previous to that, i.e. 1985, decease among people known to me either in family or in friend's family did occur. My grandfather had died in March of 1985, and in 2000, March and the first days of April again constituted a time of death of people in my life. And as per a proverb, death came in three. Yes, the Grim Reaper was to strike close thrice in the early months of the year of doom. In March and May, two friends of bygone days lost their fathers much too soon. Joey's father died at home on March 28, and in the Miramichi region of New Brunswick, Kevin MacD.'s father lost a battle with cancer on May 11. I read the obituaries in newspapers, and it was only by a quirk of chance by which I happened to come across The Miramichi Leader while at work at the Legislature that I learned of Kevin's father's death. Of course, I sent my sympathies to both of them through signed cards. Work at the Legislature prevented me from going to see Joey at the funeral home, though he was very much in my thoughts on the days after his father's passing. And it was just a few days following Joey's loss, not even a week, that my grandmother died after quietly having supper in her downstairs apartment on Sunday, April 2. She had not fully recovered from her fall in September, 1999, but there was no indication that she was feeling particularly unwell when her day to leave us had arrived. Extended family came into Fredericton for her funeral later in April, and the gathering was at our house.
2000 was also to be one of another sort of pain and misery for myself, in that, as previously stated, I had a periodically aching tooth that was becoming progressively worse. I was contending with the coming and going of pain in the tooth and avoiding chewing on that side of my mouth whenever possible in a vain bid to delay the inevitable. I was never fond of dentists and did strive to keep my teeth brushed and clean after every meal and snack, but a filling in a molar had deteriorated, exposing more and more of the actual tooth to decay. I withstood several moments of intense discomfort from day to day as I again was part of the TVNB New Brunswick Legislature crew. We had the dubious privilege of being present when the Legislature sat all night on May 2 to 3, logging a whopping twenty-one hours of work before we were relieved at 9:30 A.M. as the Legislature continued onward for another full day of proceedings. It was the first time that I ever went an entire night without sleep, and my biological clock prevented me from any amount of slumber in the subsequent daytime.On May 10, the tooth pain became absolutely unbearable while I was at work, and I had no choice but to contact a dentist. The tooth was temporarily refilled, but a root canal or an extraction loomed as a very real possibility when the time came to re-examine the tooth in September. Not a day passed in the summer that I did not think about and dread the impending dental surgery. It was a tremendous relief that my dentist was able to refill the tooth, but he had to drill deep into it, and I was so very close to needing more drastic work done! As time would tell, even this was a stop-gap (pun, be pardoned) solution.
As I laid in the dentist's chair, I looked forward to all of the DVDs that were being released and that I was reveling in collecting. James Bond films, Planet of the Apes, Star Blazers, many favourite movies of differing genres, and, to my amazement, Space: 1999! Yes, what had to be the biggest fluke of the new millennium was A & E's New Video Group's planned DVD release of the Space: 1999 television series in a series of waves starting in January, 2001!
As my anticipation for the Space: 1999 DVDs was building in the final four months of 2000, my collection of DVD was expanding considerably, with a sizable number of productions whose presence on DVD superseded VHS videotape or laser videodisc of same work of entertaiment. The final wave of James Bond movie special edition DVDs had their sales debut in October, and I bought them all in one big order from Amazon.com. From Russia, With Love. You Only Live Twice. Diamonds Are Forever. Octopussy. A View to a Kill. The Living Daylights. All of them with absorbing making-of documentaries, and many other bonus features besides. And on the same day that those new special edition DVDs of official James Bond movies were added to the shelves of DVD vendors, the unofficial James Bond film, Never Say Never Again, saw its DVD release. And it was in the same Amazon.com order as those six official James Bond movies. Alas, the DVD of Never Say Never Again skipped some scenes in the movie and needed to be ameliorated and replacements of it sent to all of its buyers, including me. My replacement for the faulty DVD of Never Say Never Again was in my possession in January of 2001. The official James Bond movies in their third wave of spcial edition DVD releases were not without flaws of their own. Scenes of From Russia, With Love in bonus documentary features had distortions in their colours. Octopussy had a DVD-pause card for Diamonds Are Forever. Octopussy and The Living Daylights were missing on-screen location descriptors and subtitled translations of statements spoken in foreign languages. And the documentary on the making of A View to a Kill looked sloppy in its montages of scenes from the Roger Moore James Bond movies. Less than perfect though the full DVD set was, I was pleased to have it. The James Bond DVDs were a splendid sight on my shelf.
By and by, I had DVDs coming into my possession, all of them vast improvements over what I had before of the same works, and I was revelling in the superiority of DVD to VHS videotape or laser videodisc as it pertained to some productions of my interest, whether those productions be The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968) or The Time Machine (1960) or Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas television specials of Peanuts. I bought all of those on DVD in the last four months of 2000. And a DVD box set of The Little Rascals that was on store shelves in September, 2000, and a box set of the Omen movies, and a DVD of The Fly (1958) and its first sequel. And, on the recommemdation of it by my contact in Montreal, I bought Escape From New York with Christmas money from my parents. A DVD of Terminator 2- Judgement Day was a Christmas gift from my parents, as, too, was a DVD box set of Cosmos (it did not arrive at my door in mail order from Carl Sagan Productions, until early January). An experiencing by me of Cosmos happened in 1983 by way of PBS and MPBN and my videotaping of some of its episodes, as Space: 1999 was soon to be had by me that year on videotape, a circumstance that could be said to have a distinct parallel with my acquisition of Cosmos on DVD in 2001 weeks before Space: 1999 was to be had by me on same digital videodisc home video medium. Curious! It was a parallel not lost on me at the time.
With my excitement over the coming release of Space 1999 mounting as the date of release of the first two box sets of that favourite television series of mine edged closer, closer, closer, I was watching all of these new additions to my collection, plus a couple of other new acquisitions. A DVD box set of some of the most acclaimed Avengers episodes (and in that DVD box set a bonus featurette in which actress Linda Thorson spoke fondly of her friendship with actor Ian McShane, who was in Space: 1999's episode, "Force of Life") and a Warner Home Video DVD of Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest (a movie with Martin Landau in it). That Avengers DVD box set and the North By Northwest DVD were in a package of DVDs sent to me by Amazon.com in mid-January. The next DVD shipment to me from Amazon.com would be the one containing the first two DVD box sets of Space: 1999.
The spring, 2000 Legislature session dragged on and on, with evening sittings of the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in addition to days. For awhile, it looked as though the session would press forward into summer, but a few early-morning-to-late-evening sitting days in mid-June and a sudden resolve by both government and Opposition to conclude business of the House brought the session to an end at about the same time that schools were finishing courses for the summer. The last day of the 2000 Legislature session did have something of a feel of a final day of school to it. As I would not have been able to mow lawns in addition to my television work at Legislature in May and June, I had opted not to renew my lawn-cut agreements with people of Nashwaaksis, the result being a lack of supplemental work in July and August, i.e. beyond my simulcasting duties. Happily, the monies that I was receiving for doing the simulcasts were sufficient to fund my DVD purchases and one visit to Douglastown in summer of 2000. Alas, I was worried about my tooth, and a most unpleasant encounter with on-Internet persons of the pro-Season One, rigidly-anti-Season Two persuasion was, it grieves me to say, the dominant happening of the summer of 2000.
I was by then certainly discovering on the Internet how nasty that fan followers of entertainments could be; what had transpired in the fan clubs of earlier days was chicken feed by comparison. I soon was finding that my ability to forecast disparaging comments was becoming very astute, for what that was worth. There was, it seemed, nearly no asinine remark that I could not accurately predict to be coming from fans on the Internet on the subject of Season Two of Space: 1999. I would think to myself that someone is going to say such-and-such, and lo, someone verbalises almost precisely so. For example, someone posts a comment on the Space: 1999 Mailing List that particular Season Two episodes, including "Devil's Planet", did not air in Germany, and I predicted almost to a tee the snide remark to come from another Mailing List member: "Lucky Germans."
And with news of A & E's New Video Group's Space: 1999 DVDs and of potentially only thirty-six of the forty-eight Space: 1999 episodes seeing DVD release came the predictable refrain that as nobody cares about Season Two, all twenty-four of the first season episodes should be on New Video Group's DVDs, with twelve of the twenty-four episodes of Season Two comprising the balance of the thirty-six digital videodiscs. Only first season is desirable, anyway, said the preeminent fans on the Space: 1999 Mailing List, to no rebuttals from anyone. No expression of offence from anyone.
The Space: 1999 Mailing List was already definitely not a conglomerate of my favourite people. Leading into 2000, the Mailing List had done a running, episode-by-episode discussion of Space: 1999, and the poison was spewed onto Season Two for all readers to the Mailing List Archive to see. Just a series of people finding every imaginable kind of fault with all episodes from "The Metamorph" to "The Dorcons" inclusive. Granted, some first season episodes were not immune to the barrage of petty nitpicks, slurs on writing ("brain-farts" were mentioned in reference to some story ideas), and "blown out of proportion" misreadings, wilful or no, of episode events or character descriptions and actions. With what was being said on the Internet there on the Mailing List and elsewhere, it is astonishing that news of a DVD release of the television series whether annotated or in whole, could have emerged in 2000. As usual, what ought to be an occasion for joy is, with the fans, sullied by rancour, by discord. Were such news of a DVD (or VHS videocassette) release of Space: 1999 to have come my way a decade and a half before, I would have soared to the stratosphere with unfettered happiness.
My excitement level was still at a zenith for the Space: 1999 DVDs, though. They were the most anticipated additions to my collection of DVD. By far. Alas, it was to be a staggered release, with twelve episodes in a first wave, twelve in a second wave, and twelve in a third wave. Only thirty-six episodes had been announced by A & E as coming to DVD. And going into 2001 with the first Space: 1999 DVDs due on January 30, one still was uncertain that the A & E New Video Group's release of Space: 1999 would be fully comprehensive. Whether Season Two would see release on DVD in its entirety on the North American continent. Quite possibly, a full release of Season Two might depend on sales of the first two box sets thereof. Such was my inference, and that of some others. A company called Carlton Communications in the U.K. was also slated to release DVDs of Space: 1999 in 2001, but I as yet did not possess equipment that could play DVDs from the U.K. and did not as yet expect that such equipment could be available to me. Two box sets each with two DVDs therein, were released of Space: 1999 by A & E New Video Group that January, with twelve episodes in production order startiing with from "Breakaway". Early reports of the film-to-video transfers being of the laser videodisc era, with A & E's New Video Group doing some "colour adjustments", dampened some of my enthusiasm. But not much of it. Just being able to possess Space: 1999 on DVD with the new home video format's postulated high degree of robustness and durability, continued to have me salivating with eager anticipation. I was not exactly "bowled over" by the packaging of the DVDs. The typeface used for the covers and the superimposing of colour photographs of Landau and Bain with black and white backgrounds did not aesthetically appeal to me. And this rather less than fetching stylistic choice was carried over to the menus on all of the DVDs, as I would discover when I had the DVDs in my possession. As usual, the wait for the delivery in my mailbox of anything Space: 1999 was a gruelling one exceedingly taxing upon my patience. I was doing training that week (i.e. the week of the release of the first two box sets of Space: 1999 DVDs) on a new chracter generator graphics computer at work, and my mind kept wandering to the DVDs of Space: 1999 that I wished to come expeditiously into my ownership. They were in my hands by Friday of that week, and I wasted not a second on loading one of thm into my DVD player.
On the whole, Space: 1999 did look better on those DVDs than I had ever experienced it. Crisp, vivid, and with unprecedented stability of colour. But there was a huge, screen-spanning digital blockiness glitch near the fifty minute mark on the episode, "Another Time, Another Place", and all of the colour had been drained out of a couple of scenes of an Eagle spaceship spiralling into Lunar surface (in episodes "Force of Life" and "Alpha Child"). A more egregious changed-from-colour-to-black-and-white scene was the visualisation of Moonbase Alpha at the start of "The Last Enemy", which would be released on DVD in A & E New Video Group's second wave of Space: 1999 DVDs on July 31.
There were not very many of my favourite episodes in wave one. With wave two would come many of what I considered to be Space: 1999's most striking achievements, including the ice planet episode, "Death's Other Dominion", the spectacular "War Games" with its space battle scenes and those of Moonbase bearing the full brunt of an alien attack, the scary "ghost story" that is "The Troubled Spirit", "The Infernal Machine" with its dazzling scenes of spacecraft in space battle engagement, "Mission of the Darians" with its impressive visualisations of a gigantic space ark, and "Dragon's Domain", whose noteworthy elements I need not repeat. I made a mistake of ordering the wave two DVDs from a company called DeepDiscountDVD that had been recommended to me by someone I had come to trust. I had to wait nearly three weeks for those DVDs to arrive, and naturally I was fretting fitfully over the long, seemingly interminable expectation. In a very palpable sense, it was deja vu. An experience cogently, very cogently, similar to my wait in 1983 for the first Space: 1999 episode to be videotape-recorded by my benefactor in Dartmouth, to reach me in Fredericton. On an overcast day in mid-August, I, in a very agitated state over my overdue package of Space: 1999 DVDs, left my house for a long walk on the Fredericton North waking trail, going as far as the walking trail's junction with Gibson Street in the Devon area. I sat on a chalk rock, watched the Gibson Street traffic, and brooded over my all too usual frustration when I was wanting anything to do with Space: 1999. Why, I asked, was I cursed? Why? As I was perambulating my glum return to home, I stopped at Dairy Queen and there had a lunch of chicken fingers. When I arrived back at home, I found the package from DeepDiscountDVD sitting on the kitchen counter. The relief and the joy that I felt was matched almost by intensity at my vexation for having been made to wait so long for DVDs that my contact in Montreal had had in his possession for many days and about which he had been sharing with me many details. I knew from him that there were incorrect colour palettes in "Dragon's Domain", a "washed-out" look to the colours in "The Full Circle" and "The Testament of Arkadia", shimmering on details in the picture in "War Games", motion-blur in "Death's Other Dominion", and the aforementioned black-and-white Moonbase Alpha at start of "The Last Enemy". These were all demerits, to be sure. But still, I was in glee at having the DVDs of many of Space: 1999's most outstanding episodes. And yes, they were first season episodes. I still loved the first season, even if my aesthetic preference was now with Season Two. But alas, my joy over these DVDs finally in my possession, would be hampered by strife with fans. The two fans in particular with whom I was still in contact. And indeed, the entire early history of Space: 1999 on DVD was marred with discord in my association with fans.
The release of Space: 1999 by New Video Group coincided with an estrangement like never before from fandom and from any individual fans with whom I still was in communication, and as ever, an estrangement from fans cannot occur with a quiet parting of company but rather with plenty of animosity, of accusatory and in some cases downright libelous denunciations slung in my direction. Everything from persons alleging me to be too dogmatic to be a law-abiding, socially amenable citizen, to Dean branding me morally irresponsible (for my declining to subscribe readily to his claims of wrongful intent on the part of a mutual contact, this time over a deal gone ostensibly wrong involving Dean's photographic slides of Space: 1999- Season Two, a loan of them for transfer to compact disc (CD) to the benefit of the three of us, to my and by then Dean's contact in Montreal), the person in Montreal declaring me less than compos mentis because I bristled at his claim that my former Calgary contact and fan club president's book on Space: 1999, filled with the same anti-Season-Two poison as tainted our collaborated "Ultimate Guidebook" effort, was the definitive, be-all-and-end-all tome on the television series.
Yes, in 2000 and 2001, it all "came to a head". And just when it ought to have been a time for jubilation with the coming or the arrival to DVD of Space: 1999. Nothing could be allowed to endanger the DVD release. Certainly not fan hostility. Fan hostility, I would add, going uncontested. And my vexation over how Season Two was being treated was energising my what ought to be understandable inclination to rally to its defence. And so it was that I braved one final confrontation with the fan movement in July of 2000, urging those Space: 1999 pundits on the Internet to drop their anti-Season Two rancour for the sake of the DVDs, and I found myself in the middle of a fracas, me against a nest of others. Challenges came at me constantly over the course of three days. My Montreal cohort as regards DVD release and Season Two (I thought) who had promised to "back me up" was nowhere to be seen for those days. Actually, I was "holding forth" solitarily, handling the situation quite deftly for the first day and a half, responding to each would-be invalidation with efficiently argued, very-difficult-to-refute counterpoint to the usual fan refrains against Season Two, Freddie Freiberger, etc.. And then someone threw Martin Landau's opinion of Season Two episodes at me. A sore subject and one that can incite an emotional reaction, especially given how upsetting it is for the actor who portrayed my childhood hero to be seen as being in accord with people such as the ones that I describe. Once the invoking of Mr. Landau in the Space: 1999 Mailing List's Kevin McCorry-versus-all-comers of 2000, I became impaired in my capacity to respond calmly and collectedly to the derision accorded to Season Two and to my way of looking at it and some of the observations that I put forward (fevered Maya having visions of her overheating home world in episode "Space Warp", poetic justice being delivered to the antagonists of episodes "The Exiles" and "Brian the Brain", and such). I became rather obviously emotional and defencive of self instead of defencive of season of television program or of television programme's producer, producer's decisions, etc., and captious responses to me on the Mailing List promptly increased in number and stringency, turning ad hominem as to accost me for alleged refusal to mature, lack of a social life, insinuations of dangerous overzealousness, etc..
I was all alone against this mob. No "back-up" from my professing ally in Montreal (I should have expected as much), despite his pledge prior to this particular fray to be my "back-up". After hours of being berated on the Mailing List, I used a boxing metaphor in conceding defeat "this round" but that there would be another "match" at some later date- and I was portrayed as having been literal, not figurative, and as having physically threatened another fan by the metaphorical terminology that I had chosen. One would think even an idiot ought to have been able to recognise the metaphor in what I was saying. And whatever my feelings about them, I certainly do not think those people to be idiots. They are not as astute and sophisticated as they think that they are. They have an intellectual osteoporosis caused by their rigid closed-mindedness, years and years of confirmation bias in a "group-think" situation, and several decades of resentment and hate-fuelled sorties against Fred Freiberger and Season Two. But I will not say that they are idiots. Yes, I know (oh, how I know!) that they are very literal minded to such a degree that arguments in favour of symbolism are not only lost on them but are as pearls cast before swine (by the way, pearls before swine was an expression used by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, and any expeditious consulting of Wiktionary and other Internet reference Websites will convey the meaning: "To give things of value to those who will not understand or appreciate it."). But reasonably intelligent individuals (and I do credit them that much, which is more than I can say of their assessment of me), literal-minded or no, still should have been able to see the metaphorical reference to boxing and to my having been dealt a "knock-out blow" by a formidable foe, or gang of foes. So, why construe my words as being literal and "threatening"? Why, indeed? Because it was a cheap and convenient way of both forcing a retraction and apology from me for my "threats" (despite my resolve never to have to apologise to fans again), and a clinching (to the perspective of all who readily accepted the ad hominem spin against me) methodology for "shutting me up", so that I would never again contest their pugnacious anti-Season-Two "group-think". Contrary to my chin-up fortitude in my boxing analogy, there would not be subsequent occasion for a "re-match round in the ring". I do not believe that even the most perverse masochist on Earth (which I certainly am not, in any event) would subject himself to recurrence of what I lived through in mid-2000.
And so, they won. They won by: 1) numbers on their side; 2) the amount of prestigious names on their side; 3) sheer viciousness; 4) spin-doctoring prowess (even my ability to anticipate asininity could not fully precaution me to all possible angles of spin); 5) "hits" (I mean this word figuratively, I hasten to add, lest the spin-doctors use this to imply a false allegation by me of physical abuse) to sensitive areas such as my favourite character's actor's opinion utterly against episodes I treasure and perceive meaning; 6) the non-outcry of any "likers" of Season Two to what was happening; and 7) the usual tack of, "You're taking the show too seriously. Lighten up and get a life." A tack that borders hypocrisy for they "take (it) seriously" enough to assault it for many years and are in several cases "professional fans" who produce documentaries (of a high technical standard of construction, it is true), publish books, create comprehensive Websites, etc.. And it is a bully's common refrain that the victim was "asking for it" because of being weird or having a martyr complex or simply because he or she would not "go with the flow" and complained of the pressure to do so or to "shut up". A bully's ethics are invariably spurious or at best dubious, and this is no exception. And childhood bullying in a schoolyard by an insecure boy or girl or small group of boys or girls is one thing. But when a bully has backing him the establishment (i.e. fandom's leaders and most preeminent members with ties to persons involved in making Space: 1999 who themselves are in accord with and part of the establishment) and should have little cause to be insecure about the unlike, it looks all the more deplorable to be so closed-mindedly dogmatic in silencing a person ad hominem by declaring him to be mentally unfit, afflicted with social diseases, or whatever. There ought to be no justification at all for vilifying a lone individual or even a few individuals who perceive beauty in Season Two and are in good faith seeking to share awareness of the beauty with their fellow Space: 1999 aficionados and reacting indignantly to being devalued, taunted, laughed-at, and condescended-to by a hornet's nest of invalidators.
What of the people who happened to see Season Two before Season One on initial broadcast and liked what was presented? Surely there must be some fans of Space: 1999 who do not think Season Two to be, "an unmitigated farrago from beginning to end" (to quote one so very enlightened writer on the subject of Space: 1999)? If there are, they will quietly sit on their hands year after year as the slurs and diatribes against Season Two continue. They will say nothing when a person such as myself advocates a constructive, progressive view on the matter and is treated like filth by the hoard of Season-One-only buffs. They will coopt the judgment that I deserve to be shouted down, laughed at, for failing to kowtow to the know-all dominators. They will acknowledge the supremacy of Season-One-only, self-deprecate at altar to the egos of the Season 1 mob, or even be quislings, collaborators with the Season Two haters in promoting fan-written books with anti-Season Two spin, etc.. I have as little use for such fans as I have for the hostiles; they do Season Two no justice and are incapable of being friends to me, watching idly as they do whilst I by myself incur wrath of the Season Two haters when I "cry out" as the lone voice against their confounded presumptuousness.
It is frustrating of course that I am in possession of an enormous amount of aesthetic insights on episodes, sequential patterning of episodes, on shared traits of episodes, and so much else that Dean has rights to disseminate. All I can do is say that there is much to appreciate beneath superficial surface in second season but cannot come forth with much of anything when asked to produce my evidence. It hence does become rather easy to portray me as fandom's prattling-on-empty dunderhead. Even if I were to divulge all to which I have awareness about Season Two, it would all of it be dismissed outright anyway; of this I have no doubt based on what was rejected. Still, the frustration that I felt is not to be understated. I retreated from the fan movement as an evident crank rambling on and on about merit in the vilified Space: 1999 season about which I had shared precious little in the way of example, though what was delineated over the years, on "Journey to Where" and a few other episodes, was outright dismissed anyway. "We're not into that kind of fandom," they would say as they proceeded to step up attack on the so damnable Season Two.
My retreat from the Mailing List and the Internet Space: 1999 fan community was met with an assertion that I am afflicted with a "martyr complex" and therefore deserving of any and all sneering reprovals. This is a specious, morally dubious argument at best, scarcely any different from the self-excusing of a bully. Oh, why bother to understand or empathise with the person whose viewpoint goes against that of the herd when the ever so right thing to do is to ostracise. Yes. Oh, yes.
My proclaiming "comrade-in-arms" Montreal contact, a day after the accosting of me reached its height, without declaring sympathy for my stance on the contentious matters, pledged support for my rights on the Mailing List. It was in deference to his help, such as it was, that I would not, a year later (2001), readily subscribe to Dean's allegations of un-honourable intent by the Montrealer in the photographic slides dispute then, in 2001, embroiling the pair of them. In 2001, Dean and the Montrealer were the last two Space: 1999 fan contacts that I had, and the conflict between them in which Dean was insistent that I become embroiled, was the real, absolute final straw.
As to the idea that I threaten danger to them, with naught but a spin-doctored boxing metaphor for evidence, this really should not deserve a response. But it is an attack on my civility and obedience to the rule of law, and therefore needs debunking. These people have had enough of an effect on my life and happiness as it is. Why would I compound that by forfeiting my liberty as a law-abiding citizen? The suggestion that I am capable of committing violence in the cause of a television series, or any cause for that matter, is ludicrous. I do not believe that they really thought so; rather, it was a ploy to "poke fun", to invalidate me further, to forestall any potential appeal that I might have toward a silent contingent of fans on the Mailing List (if such existed, which I doubt), and censure me within their legions once and for all. It is most certainly libellous, all the same, to suggest inclination of unlawful and violent nature in anyone, even if the suggestion is stated in jest, in ridicule.
I have not had the courage to look at the Mailing List Archive after that 2000 kerfuffle; it is an experience that I wish never again to be subjected or reminded. Alas, its effect upon me has been very pronounced as one should be able to imagine- and I continue to feel that effect. Only tens of hundreds of affirmations of my worth by persons on the Internet or an old and true best friend's consoling and expression of undying loyalty, could fully offset the impact upon me of the mid-2000 swarm-and-censure. As it was, I could no longer, as I had done in 1990 and 1997, rely on my interest in the Warner Brothers cartoons and a belief that they at least constitute an aesthetic taste about which I am not "going against the grain", for solace. I would have benefitted immensely for one good friend to have been at my side in defence, giving to those obnoxious louts a righteously indignant rebuke and then "leaving the scene" with me, "telling them off" as we departed. No. There are no such friends in the ever so noble Space: 1999 fan movement.
Verbal assaults had come relentlessly, my weaknesses were found and exploited, and I came out of the whole ordeal rumour-mongered, spin-doctored beyond belief. But resolving once and for all not to go within a thousand light-years of those people again. I would promote the DVDs with my Website as much as possible, alert past visitors and Guestbook signers to the coming of Space: 1999 to DVD, author only the most objective reviews of them, and purchase them in multiple numbers. Failure of the DVDs, if such were to happen, would not be by my doing.
Dean, with whom I then, in 2000, still was in contact, insisted that the severely unpleasant attitude of the fans was involuntary, born of a resistance in their unconscious to aesthetically suggestive content of Season Two. Even if such conduct on their part is involuntary or subconsciously propelled, it is scarcely acceptable excuse for vilifying me and my manifestation of interest in the television show. Wilful or not, it is foul-spirited and just plain rude and hurtful to anyone with a fair share of self-sensitivity. Not that I am not potentially guilty of having unconsciously slighted someone, for instance my Melvin Street friend of Era 6. However, some of his apparent objections were to such things as wishing him good luck on first day on a job or expressing concern about a tattoo's health effects. Scarcely the same thing as branding an entertainment sentimentally and aesthetically fancied by a person to be tripe or "an unmitigated farrago from beginning to end" and dismissing the legitimacy or the fact of that person's existence or that of others like him. Nonetheless, I am willing to acknowledge the possibility or indeed a probability of my having inadvertently, involuntarily offended someone, feel sorry for such, and several times strive to make amends even after having been snubbed in retaliation. The fans of Space: 1999 are not only many degrees more abrasive but, it seems, perpetually unable, or unwilling, to see how offencive that their abusive comments are, even when the offence is made known to them. They are not only unaware of a unconsciously induced tendency to slight (assuming Dean is correct about that being unconscious) and disinclined to feel the least bit sorry, but they are proudly determined to press forth with gusto in expressing themselves in majority numbers so derogatorily, oblivious to the feelings of minority persons or a loner in their midst. Deficient or utterly lacking empathy is something I have already attributed to the fans, including myself somewhat. Never was it more evident, though, than on the Internet.
A person with empathy or sense of reciprocity, i.e. doing unto others as one would have others do onto oneself, ought to be able to recognise and intercept or quash an involuntary inclination to deride someone else's favoured item, certainly when it goes so far as to involve using coarse and vulgar vernacular and to spin-doctor the person(s) objecting to such derision. Or an empathetic person should at least feel regret or remorse for having done thus. These fans do not fit such a description of person. Even if Dean is correct about the vilifying of Season Two, its producer, and its defender being unconscious, it in no way excuses it. In any case, the fans have no wish to be excused for it.
Once objections are raised by me to the glib closed-mindedness of the fans, with my attempts to win favour for Season Two on such grounds as consecutive episode similarities or intriguing concepts (Maya's fever for instance in "Space Warp" being accompanied by delirious visions of the temperature rise of her mother planet, Psychon, her fevered planetary mother being a living organism- the Gaia principle- with which she is in sympathy while herself afflicted with abnormally high body temperature), onward comes the oh-do-shut-up-will-you and oh-grow-up retorts, followed by the same old practice of capitalising on my vexation from those refrains, portraying such as hysterical and symptomatic of mental unfitness, in order to justify the contemptuous tack toward Season Two and toward its adherent-defender(s).
Saying that I am delusional and deserving of censure and/or reproach because of how I react to being told that Season Two's lousiness or lack of anything worthy of accolade is a matter of fact, that my interest in it has no legitimacy, that the season of Space: 1999 by which my imagination was first grabbed by said television show and about which I was writing, is comparable to trash, fecal matter, etc., surely ought to be at best disingenuous and at worst downright base. It should be obvious that I came into fandom in the 1980s and joined one club and later aided in starting another without feeling the least bit apprehensive or paranoid about being a keenly contributing member and having good will for my fellow fans and trusting same to be true in return. I had been rather more naive than most newcomers probably are. Paranoia is the opposite of naivete. The most extreme opposite. My reaction to how I eventually was treated ought to be inadmissible as justification for that treatment.
Even under constraint in terms of what I was at liberty to convey (i.e. without impinging on Dean's priority, silent though he was as a contributor on the subject from 1990 onward- and this constraint was an albatross' talons around my neck long after the conflagration of 1990) and even with my purportedly less than adept style of written delivery, I put forward what should be universally recognisable observations and hypotheses about hitherto unsung meaning in particular episodes (such as Jekyll's potion symbolism of the beer in "Journey to Where") or shared, similar themes or motifs in between episodes or import of certain devices or happenings with those devices. Enough to indicate that I may have some grain of legitimacy in my rather peculiar sensibility and way of honouring the television series. I also, mistakenly though I now concede doing so to have been, listed some errors in Season One story construction or technical production. What I was proclaiming was rejected outright, received with reiterated, ever more noxious assaults upon Season Two, its producer, and its "apologists" (another of many "post-modern" pejoratives that I deplore) and on me in particular. My indignant reaction to that, which ought to be understandable, is used as justification for the deriding. Citing effect to excuse cause should be woolly practice under any circumstances. But it is rampant where fan repudiation of me personally and of my way of appreciating television show content is concerned.
This said and my condition of exile acknowledged, I should say that the exile is in no small part self-imposed, in the interest of "getting away" from people like I have described. Post-2001, I have sought to shun every person associated with the fandom of Space: 1999. A pity I did not do so much sooner. I did quit the club; I was not expelled. However, it was a certainty that I would be the fan club's version of the village idiot were I to stay, condescended-to and subsequently silenced while attacks upon the episodes, indeed everything, of Season Two continued with all the more relish. It is an exile predicated on being unwelcome in anything other than an abjectly obsequious capacity post-my-1995-flagrant error of listing challengeable depiction or writing or whatever in episodes of Season One. I left the Space: 1999 Mailing List just a couple of days after the conflagration of mid-2000. And a year later, I ceased to converse or exchange written correspondence with Dean and the Montrealer. I would never again engage in discussion with individual fans of the Season One-only "camp". As Dean so rightly said to me in the late 1990s as I spoke of my plight in the Calgarian's club and in my early encounter on the Internet with people of that "camp", there can be no winning with them. Not even the slightest quarter. Dean compared the fan movement to a bowel movement. It is long and tedious. Sometimes painful. And it stinks. In yet another contention was Dean quite correct. Was that man ever wrong? Perhaps. But not in terms of fandom and the fan herd mentality.
There was one person I encountered in early days in the Internet, and not in connection with the earlier (i.e. in 1997) "run-in" with the Space: 1999 Mailing List. I was incited to protest an article that he wrote that brutalised Season Two for everything from sexism to fights to wilful script plagiarism to poor visual effects and a generally uncomely look. My retort to the writer of that hatchet-job was thusly: besides the first season of Space: 1999, what else on television at the time of production or before, had special effects and overall visualisation and production values as good as or better than Space: 1999- Season Two? The reply was that I was invalidating my own contention of quality in Season Two by saying that Season One should be excluded from comparison. I was spun to be saying that not only is Season One so obviously superior that it must not be used in comparing visualisations and so forth, but that by necessity of my argument, Season Two has no merit and can not possibly have any merit, all things determined to be inferior being necessarily meritless. Not that I am saying that Season Two is inferior to Season One, but if it is, does that mean by that it is thrrefore excerable? Of course not. But this was that person's logic. Another Season Two detractor whom I have referenced previously in these memoirs proclaimed that to drop the style of Season One was indefensible, and the product of the resultant change must necessarily be wrong and never possibly be capable of having any perceived merit. It is, one should think, idiot's logic that for something to be inferior is for that something to be bad, for there to be utter impossibility of any worthy characteristics. As ludricous, as asinine as this thought process is, it prevails in Internet discussion. One of numerous tactics of my preeminent and prestigious opponents.
Oh, and there is of course the brickbat reserved for using against men in monster suits. Never, ever, should any work of imagination set far, far out in space ever dare to portray an alien life form as having humanoid body dimensions, i.e. two legs, two arms, abdomen, and head, but being reptilian or of some other non-mammalian species of living thing. Not even for a handful of episodes or for momentary glimpse in a Maya transformation. It is a damning mark against the whole of a production, all 24 episodes of Season 2, for a man in a monster suit to appear momentarily in some episodes or even as the antagonist, or instrument of the antagonist, in a few others. And if such a creature is manifest, and without ever revealing, with cuts or tears or broken fastening in the suit that there is a man beneath, it invalidates potential of any aesthetic or philosophical merit in the stories themselves. This is blinkered thinking that ought to be universally recognizable as such. But no, any assertion by me about how compelling it is that Maya in "Space Warp" is having visions of her mother planet boiling whilst she herself is feverish is met with allegations that I am "one can short of a six-pak", among other oh, so witty ad hominem retorts. Favourable observation of concepts of story is inadmissible if there is a man in a monster suit in the episode. Blinkered thinking rules! Yes. Oh, yes.
Why does this bother me so much? Why should it not? These television shows of my personally determining years are of course part of who I am, of the experiences that I treasure most, and comprised foundation for my later discovery and appreciation for other imaginative productions, my keen interest in The Empire Strikes Back, the Superman movies, and even Doctor Who, for examples, coming out of, growing out of, my having been mentally imprinted with the renderings of imaginative science fiction/fantasy so vividly brought to celluloid in Space: 1999. And them having numerous Space: 1999 thespians present in them. And there was my fascination with the super-heroism of Spidey in exotic places and times. And my experience of watching the excursions of the Merry Men in Rocket Robin Hood. And Bugs Bunny, him having impacted upon my sensibilities mostly for his and some of his cartoon colleagues' scary encounters with the chemical concoction of Henry Jekyll, M.D.. It all connected. My life history in which being with and having fun with friends went along with or was part and parcel of my enjoyment of and aesthetic response to the television programmes, etc. of Eras 2 or 4. And my particular aesthetic awareness in addition to profoundly rousing nostalgia continues to attract me to these reviled works of entertainment. Until my death do us part. That reviling of them and the rejection of what I say of them is felt very personally really ought not be difficult, and certainly not impossible, to comprehend; being told that I should be content to enjoy them all by my lonesome must come across as at least disingenuous. I wanted during and after that imposed un-effusive solitariness in my latter years in the public school system to believe that my impressions, insights, or just my experience with certain works of imagination could indeed have value to a plurality of persons, that I could make a measure of difference to how such imaginative productions are perceived. Despite a promising first few years, the Internet ultimately "put paid" to this conception. And how!
People believe what a majority resolves to be truth. Changing a majority view or even fostering a rethink within a sizable minority is a forlorn hope as I discovered this era on the Internet. My premises for going onto the Internet were unrealistic and hopeless. With regard to Space: 1999, certainly, but also, sadly, in the matter of the Warner Brothers cartoons and other entertainments as I would discover. But the debate is done, the destruction complete. All I now have left are nostalgic impulses and the gratification of those; I have no inclination to articulate on aesthetically suggestive content of Space: 1999 or on philosophical impressions of that content. I lost, and if they rub one's nose in the loss (they are the type of people who would do that), it only demoralises one further, if one is not feeling chipper enough to surmount the effect of the everlasting quasi-intellectual, derogatorily lampooning attacks or knowledge of such attacks.
If I divorce in my mind the whole of my fandom experience from Season Two (and from the entire television series, Seasons One and Two) and watch with the eyes and listen with the ears and cogitate with the mind of the version of myself to whom it was available on local television stations in English and French in 1976 and 1977 and in French in 1979 and obtainable in English on videotape-recording in the 1980s, I can yet derive some pleasure from Space: 1999. Not easy, this. I can rarely maintain the separation of memory of fandom from the television show itself for the full fifty-one minutes approximate of an episode. The only value I can evidently hope to derive now from my relationship with the opus that is Space: 1999 is nostalgia. But what a value! The more that "post-modernism" with its mire, its grunge, its grim greys and dull reds and blues, its obsession with base sexuality and inhumanity and its insular, small-minded hatred of the kind of colourful off-the-Earth fiction that Space: 1999 Seasons One and Two did offer, permeates popular culture, and the jaded cynicism of my generation and of generations younger continues and proliferates ever more, the greater the solace of nostalgia- and the solace is grander still if I can purge from my memory the oh, so right and ever so true opinions of the fan collective. Even if just for fifty-one minutes.
I wish that I could say that I rebounded as easily from this particular strife with Space: 1999 fans as I had done in 1997, but I cannot. The debacle of 2000 had impacted me deeply and indelibly. In a way, the effect was good, in that I now wisely intended to ever refrain from touching with a light-year-foot pole that hornet's nest. Not for any cause and not at any spurring from any ostensible ally. But mostly, the events of mid-2000 had me in a depressive state. I had seen how sparsely supportive my ally in Montreal had been despite promises that he would "back me up". For three, unpleasant days, he left me to fend for myself against a group arrogantly and viciously determined to abuse, misconstrue, and spin-doctor me, deconstructing what I said for an angle with which to churn absolute indictments against my credibility. My credibility as a writer, as a discerning aesthete, as a grown-up, or as a compos mentis person. What I did receive from him and from Dean also were observations about where I had erred. The Montrealer said that he was in possession of some information that could adversely adjust the image of my most outspoken detractor in the 2000 clash of Kevin-versus-a-mob but declined to use it, permitting that most Gargantuan of invalidators to claim total victory as ever so meritorious champion of all that is right.
I was not morally resilient enough in 2000 for the ugliness of mid-year not to stick to me like prickly burdocks. My Internet involvement concerning other entertainments was, too, in undeniable decline in intended effect, in morale, in motivation. Most especially my allegiance to merit in Warner Brothers cartoons coming out of the post-1948 years.
The cancellation on ABC of The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show was phase one of the diminution of my zeal for watching, considering, and writing contemplatively and full of praise about Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Not so much the termination of telecasts on ABC of the works of Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson, as Bugs & Tweety had by 2000 been reduced to a faint vestige of what it once had been. But the lack of sorrow expressed for its passing after 14 years of existence on the ABC television network, and after 40 years of American network television presence for Bugs and his fellow personages of the mid-twentieth-century Warner Brothers cartoon. A plurality, I would say the majority, of contributors to a "thread" said that they had little interest in the cartoons contained in the network television series, even when not edited for violence or racially or ethnically sensitive content. And through the autumn of 2000, as Cartoon Network, a specialty cable television channel to which I did not have access, was televising the cartoons of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, etc. and downgrading many of the cartoons to which broadcast rights had been acquired by it from ABC after September of 2000 to evidently not-to-be-telecast status, I was deeply puzzled in addition to feeling downbeat. An ever proliferating opinion against cartoon shorts of post-1948 years, or at least post-1954 time, in support of the stance of Michael Barrier in his book, Hollywood Cartoons, was cause for further despair.
One Saturday morning, the A.M. of November 4, 2000 to be precise, I was perturbed and piqued by a discussion on the Termite Terrace Trading Post about the alleged inferiority of the post-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons. As was so often true of this stage in my life's history, my Channel 10 work and relations with colleagues there cheered me somewhat from the irking and depressive effects of contrary tides on Internet discussion forums and what not.
Indeed, in the decade that was to come, it would be work at my job and not my involvement on the Internet from which I would derive sense of fulfillment and gratification. And in 2002, I had advancement at work to something above an introductory level position. The months leading to my promotion were distinctly pleasing in terms of occupation as I rather did come into my own pedigree as a director of television programs. In the final quarter of 2000 and into 2001, I was given the opportunity to assume the director's chair for many an in-studio television show and several mobile productions at Fundy Community Television which became Rogers Television in 2001 after the cable television company, and its production arm, changed ownership. At the Legislature, I did remain camera operator in 2000 and 2001, though constantly improving my position of seniority in that capacity, and being called upon often to temporarily direct Legislature coverage when the de facto director needed relief. And I continued my work on simulcasting. It was in my directing of in-studio and of community-event productions via the television production mobile that I most impressed colleagues, superiors, and volunteers. Relationships with people at work were very cordial and in some cases full-fledged, albeit short-lived, friendships. I found much solace in this for a time as my faith in my presence, effectiveness, and worth on the Internet was collapsing, and with such my ability to enjoy without reservation or severe inferiority complex the imaginative works which I have so long revered. There is nothing like being "made wrong" because I esteem that which the persons in majority and in prestige or favour would have for all time locked away, to put a damper on my viewing pleasure to say nothing of what it did to my impulse, my enthusiasm, to write. I had written and had failed time and time again in what I had written, in my aim of fostering even a glimmer of turnaround in thought surrounding the imaginative works which I cherish and aesthetically appreciate.
Admittedly, I was under some considerable constraint in what I felt that I could in good conscience reveal about Space: 1999 Season 2. But my tellings were still verifiable. I was nonetheless derided, treated like filth for what I did write.
Abjectly blinkered attitude of my detractors on Space: 1999 and the sheer impossibility of changing that no matter what I wrote notwithstanding, I still felt alone and miserable on the Internet. A familiar condition in my life, it is true. Only this time, it was combined with an awareness of failure as a writer (due either to deficient talent or hopeless subject), with the taint of funk, with the belief that I had over the years that I might have some relevance to the world at large with regard to beloved entertainments having been squashed like some insect, in more than one entertainment interest- and the years to come would only add to this. My bitterness would be accentuated by the DVD releases of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and the critical reaction to the configurations by production decade of cartoon shorts on them. And the smugness of the oh-so-always-right haters of Season Two of Space: 1999 would augment all the more in the years after the Moon's fictional departure from orbit.
I did happily also have DVD releases of many movies and television shows to which to look forward. A movie that I had never seen before but about which I was curious, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, was released on DVD in 2001, and I bought it and was gripped by it. It was about simultaneous nuclear explosions in the Arctic and Antarctic causing Earth to stray from its orbit around the Sun and to move toward its parent star. There was a hint of Space: 1999 in its premise, and its acting cast included Leo McKern of Space: 1999's "The Infernal Machine" episode. And there was Cosmos, reaching DVD in December of 2000. Star Trek DVDs continued to be forthcoming. A box set of Superman and its sequels was eagerly awaited in second quarter of 2001. All James Bond movies were on DVD by the end of 2000. Even the Planet of the Apes television series was put onto DVD in late 2001, to my surprise and gratification. My attachment to Space: 1999, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, etc. had served as a sidekick or springboard to my interest in those other works, and DVDs of those items could much stanch the hemorrhage of morale where my favourite entertainments were concerned. Yet, the immediate thrill of seeing on DVD the episodes of Space: 1999 and of actually holding in my hands DVDs of Space: 1999 should be unequivocal. And it was. The first time, anyway. A pity that it would be contaminated during the second "wave" of Space: 1999 digital videodiscs (of the second half of Season One) by yet another very unpleasant, embroiling bout of antagonism and accusation, this time between the last two fans with whom I was in communication. More on this later.
My feeling of alienation from cartoons and their "first-to-be-made-is-best" aficionados continued to grow as 2001 was upon the world. I announced on the Termite Terrace Trading Post in January, 2001 that I would be departing the discussion forum and gave my reasons for arriving at such decision. I did not single out any particular persons. Nor did I "rag" on specific cartoons or cartoon directors. Not on that occasion. I merely said that I did not feel "in concert" with the chorus of pundits of pre-1948 cartoons to whom the post-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were downgraded, overrated detritus, and that I was dismayed also with Cartoon Network's reported way of assembling compilations of cartoons (sometimes airing certain cartoons several times in a week and avoiding the telecasting of many cartoons late of Bugs & Tweety). The reactions were not much unlike what one would expect of Space: 1999 fans. "Are you insane?" was one retort. Another person vented his animosity for me, such animosity evidently having been building over years of awareness of my Web pages, saying, "You make me sooooo angry." Another person lectured me for my ignorance of what constitutes acceptable-for-televising cartoons, for my ignorance of Cartoon Network standards and breadth of ownership of broadcast rights, and my wilful denial of there being only fifteen good Tweety cartoons (no doubt including the few Bob Clampett Tweety cartoons with the featherless, pink canary being most exceedingly aggressive, even loud-mouthed) in his vaunted esteem and that of all right-thinking cartoon buffs are of this view. And that if Cartoon Network was refraining from showing several Tweety cartoons to which broadcast rights had been transferred to Cartoon Network away from ABC, it was an option based on cartoon quality, or lack thereof.
Response was essentially good riddance to bad rubbish and to trip over my hat as I went out the door. In fairness, I should say that I did receive one or two empathetic e-mail communiques from Termite Terrace Trading Post regulars imploring me to remain with them on the discussion forum and not to "take so hard" the assailing that I was receiving from other Termite Terrace Trading Posters. But private support does precious little to offset the clear sailing of the tide-riders on the good ship Bob-Clampett-genius/Friz-Freleng-hack captained by Michael Barrier and that red-haired, overweening orator and "star attraction" of many a digital videodisc documentary, name of John K.. Or from the public (most "message boards" are readable by any and all Internet perusers) repudiation of my hopes for being an agent of favourable change for recognition of and respect for the entertainments that affected me and my life in crucially affecting times. Again, my work on the Internet failed to yield anything positive, so it did appear. And I have since felt compelled to remove all of it and have on in 2009 would do exactly that.
With nobody chastising the arrogant ones for their slamming of me and of what I express favour, the preeminent persons of the anti-whatever-I-want-respected collective can smugly, blithely attest with authority that the "un-acclaimed", or "less-acclaimed-by-consensus", portion of the corpus has- and can have- no legitimate lofty aesthetic appreciation as a matter of fact, except from that crank, Kevin McCorry. This was what did happen with Space: 1999; must my reeling from that that be compounded by fans of cartoons conducting themselves similarly? Especially after how much solace I did have from my interest in the cartoons in, say, 1990. It ought to be understandable that I would rail against that portion of the work, the Warner Brothers cartoons, which did not much appeal to me in my initial experiences of it- but which I could have regarded highly had it not been used against my fancied items. And of course, one's sense of pride as a writer capable of bringing people to at least an abidingly positive disposition toward what one praises is adversely impacted at its heart by rejection and ridicule by the people whom one knows are most knowledgeable about the subject.
Am I the Inspector Clouseau of the field of writing? A walking, or I should say penning, disaster wherever I venture? Or is it what I write about, against which the tide of opinion is bound to be contrary, my writings hopelessly irrelevant and laughably out of phase with the correct frame of reference? Or maybe a combination of bad writing and going against the powerful surf? Was Dean right about a conspiracy of the collective subconscious- and not only regarding Space: 1999 but all other opuses of the imagination in which unintended meanings are manifest? Whatever it be, I bemoan a crushing, depressing discovery, after the aloneness endured in school, after the collapse of Era 4 and the trouncing that I received as regards Space: 1999, after how much my connection to these imaginative items meant to me in quality times and how much they appealed to me aesthetically. A discovery that there could be no significant or appreciable place on the World Wide Web for me and my history of experiencing and way of looking at works of imagination. At least not as someone other than the Internet equivalent of the community idiot. Maybe that terminology goes too far. How about the community misfit to whom everyone feels superior and about whom they laugh disparagingly?
I very grudgingly calve to the confounded fact of my aloneness. I can live with it. But I will never be content about it or grateful for it. Never. And I will forever bristle at smug assaults upon imaginative entertainment of my taste when I happen upon them.
Why do people join fan clubs? Why do they join discussion groups on the Internet? To commune with persons of a similar mind and to find affirmation and validation in others of the worth of their viewpoint. For fans whose views are approved, validated by their peers and even by the people responsible for producing the item around which the fan club or discussion group is based, to say to me that I should be content to be alone in my views, alone and subject to incessant depreciation in the contributions, one after another, of others, is, it seems to me, patently lacking in both empathy and real, honest sense. They need to be honest with themselves, admitting to the gratification that they do have in being in tune, by and large, with prevailing viewpoints. It is always pleasing to find popularity among the noted and the privileged for something which one fancies, and displeasing to find not a soul about who will stand with one in admiring that something. My lecturers should therefore grant that I have just cause to lament being alone in publicly venerating one entertainment's production cluster after another which fall afoul of the "received wisdom" of the fan collective. And that I must read only the ubiquitous "dissing" uttered by the ever more smug purveyors of the contrary opinion. Oh, that sacrosanct gestalt entity from whom credence and respect is only possible if one joins the fray in dismissing, if not reviling, the hated part of an overall oeuvre. Protest this, and prepare to be verbally assailed with no stated accord from any quarter. Nor any empathy- that is if empathy from such people is indeed possible. I doubt that it is, in the vast majority of cases. Sadly.
The reasons why I do persist in keeping a Website are: 1) a hope, however forlorn, that someday people will tire of hearing the same accolades over and over for one part of a body of work and sweeping derision of the remainder of the work and will crave a different approach to looking at the unloved section or sections of that work; 2) deference to the time and effort that I put into the Web pages; 3) obstinacy (I do often find myself quoting Michael Caine as Inspector Abbeline in the Jack the Ripper television miniseries of 1988 when he corked a bottle of liquor, put it and self-pity aside, and said: "No, you bastards. It's not going to be that easy."); and 4) knowledge that the Web pages are in their most up-to-date where they are Hyperlinked-to from various search engines; a cache on the Internet of my Web pages does not necessarily include the most recently updated form of all of them.
Were it not for a job, I would have had nothing from 2000 onward with which to feel competent, worthwhile, legitimate, fulfilled in present-day life. So, while I became ever more cognisant of the disregard by prevalent "camps" on the Internet for my contributions to the repository of knowledge, and as I experienced time and time again the treatment of the unwanted loner amongst those people who have inclination to contemplate certain entertainments of yesteryear, job-related activities and social connections through work helped to give to me a sense of purpose and to keep me from succumbing to despair that would surely come of my failure on the Internet on top of every other lonely disappointment (my fault or no) of previous years or eras. I could in fact come home from work in an upbeat enough mood to sit and watch a favourite entertainment of years past on DVD and feel some delight in the experience, even though I was by myself in the viewing process and disinclined to write about that entertainment. This would be the reality of this life era's latter years, i.e. 2002 to 2009.
I became distinctly resolute in my work at my job, in the quality of it, in my learning of its many intricacies and especially those of new equipment added to the television production facilities of TVNB Channel 10 and at the New Brunswick Legislature. Personal pride began to depend primarily on this whilst my motivation to continue adding to the Internet was in collapse. I was by 2001 becoming antsy about expectant recognition and promotion and could bristle at the idea of people from outside of the Fredericton community television system occasionally coming to TVNB Fredericton and challenging one's prospects of advancement, one's seniority, one's level of training. Although I remained confident and somewhat comfortable while working, principally when in the presence of volunteer friends, there was a nerviness, even a tetchiness, about me by 2001 where I was concerned about having my toes stepped upon should opportunities for progress did arise. I could not and would not be the timid wallflower. I had developed encouraging social connections with several volunteers, but, alas, all of those would prove short-lived, as I have said, the volunteers "moving on" after a couple of years of involvement with the television station, and promptly declining any contact. Whilst the relationships were in the thriving stage, however transitory the thriving may have been, I did feel quite morally chipper, and my attention was pleasingly diverted from reaction to those disagreeable experiences on the Internet.
But much of 2001 and early 2002 was wracked with uncertainties. Fundy Communications had sold its cable television arm to Shaw CableSystems out of Calgary, Alberta, who subsequently had come to a deal with Rogers Cable of Toronto, a deal which saw the cable television enterprise in New Brunswick going to Rogers. Big companies acquiring the assets of smaller ones tends to be regarded with wariness, even worry, by employees, who naturally are concerned about being replaced. And there was much concern among myself and my colleagues at the Legislature as to whether we would keep our jobs, let alone be promoted. Volunteers were also dismayed to find reductions in amounts of programming at Channel 10, for in first half of 2001, in-studio programming was limited to one night (Wednesday) with three live public-participation-by-telephone television shows airing in quick succession, and from September to end of year, scarcely any in-studio productions. Just as I was prospering in my direction duties, we, Legislature crew and studio volunteers, were all thinking that the rug might be pulled out from under all of us. Mobile productions did continue but rather less than their usual amount per month. We were in a period of transition, and things were to improve, but for several weeks, several months, there was doubt that any of us would continue working and seeing each other. During the long lulls of production in the latter half of 2001, volunteers with whom I had formed friendships in 1999 or 2000 were considering moving onward to other activities or even leaving Fredericton or New Brunswick. By early 2002, just as I was on the verge of promotion, the very people with whom I would wish to celebrate my success, were in the process of exiting from community television. As happens so often in my life, the timing of achievements is often somewhat less than ideal.
My emphasis on job coincided with yet more diminished attention or interest in my Website and the Website's undistinguished status on the Internet, undistinguished but for my Littlest Hobo Page (and that primarily because of the television show's opening theme song which was enduringly popular, especially in Britain) and maybe my Rocket Robin Hood Page (valued only ironically, for the allegedly uniform lack of quality in the scorned, laughed-at subject of that Web page). All of my work on the Web pages pertaining to Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies despite some early indications of receptivity, had ultimately failed to find appreciative or convincible readership as the cartoons produced post-1948 were in severe decline in esteem given to them by a new establishment of cartoon animation aficionados.
This said, my last writing project of any note concerning an imaginative work or works that I put onto my Website was "'Deconstructing' Bugs: The Bugs Bunny Cartoons of 1955, composed in the late summer days of 2001. I struggled to assemble and articulate ideas for that, expecting deconstruction of my words to be used against what I was putting forth- if not against me ad hominem as had so often happened with Space: 1999. I laboured to craft an article delving into the subject of atypical Bugs Bunny cartoons clustered in the mid-1950s, covering all bases (so I thought) of potential attack so as to deliver a proposed explication in which it would be difficult to "pick holes", and to leave sufficient "wiggle room" for me to appear un-dogmatic, non-committal (or non-"committed", to use parlance pertaining to deficient mental health as a Space: 1999 fan or pre-1948 Warner Brothers cartoon buff would use as a "cheap shot"), ultimately positing my observations as a hypothesis, not as anything approaching being determinative. The result was a rather lacklustre effort. Not something of which I could be particularly proud. I did nonetheless call attention to some quite marvelous notions from the cartoons set amongst their 1955 "neighbours" within a sense of distinctness. Not surprisingly, response to the article was scarcely appreciative or grateful. Nothing was refuted, only rejected outright. Yawn icons were positioned next to anyone's mention of it. But I tend not to think that reaction could be favourable no matter how I wrote it; it dealt with a subject about which cartoon fans balk at acknowledging anything interesting. Oh, yes. Bugs Bunny was better as a rambunctious jerk under the cartoon direction of Bob Clampett. Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and Robert McKimson did nothing worth appreciating with Bugs or other characters in the 1950s. Yada, yada, yada.
I should mention for any readers who have not noticed, that whatever issues or grievances that I may have with fans of an entertainment, I have not mentioned full names of people and in most cases no names at all. I am, of course, named whenever someone wishes to invoke me in his/her discussion of the lousiness of a work of imaginative entertainment that I fancy and about which I have written. I leave the negative namedropping to others while I resist full personal specificity in recounting my disagreeable experiences.
2001 would look like another year of death, and one with the dreaded scythe being wielded even nearer to me, for my own father was to become gravely ill in the accursed third month of the year. March, which claimed my grandfather in 1985, Joey's father in 2000, and was just 2 days short of being the month of my grandmother's passing in 2000, looked like it was going to bring a loss to me that would shatter my entire life as I had known it until this time.
My father was in hospital for the entire month but gradually recovered from his illness and came home on April 7, and his convalescence continued into May and June, as my mother closely monitored his diet and activities. I was working long hours at the Legislature, doing simulcasts, and increasing my volunteer work in an attempt to impress the new ownership, Rogers Cable, of TVNB. My parents' situation was precarious after March of 2001, and I was intent more than ever at increasing my work hours and my finances to finally be able to support myself and, if need be, to support my mother also. But the Fredericton system of TVNB was being down-scaled, paid work was becoming scarce when the Legislature was not sitting, and the Legislature was planning shorter sessions. There was a growing feeling of unease about the future for one's job prospects in this industry.
Death would yet insist on removing from my life a family member. Twinkles, my loyal feline companion since 1991, became unwilling to use her box of kitty litter and left regular messes around the house, and after several months of this, my parents and I decided on July 6, 2001 to humanely end her life. Unlike the euthanasia of Frosty in 1991, I was this time present at the veterinary hospital to say good-bye to the beloved cat and will never forget my last sight of her.
July, 2001 would mark closure of another sort. Hostility was being directed toward me surrounding a transaction gone wrong between my last extant Space: 1999 fan contacts- Dean, who now lived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and the other Space: 1999 fan in Montreal whom I have referenced above. I was prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the latter person, grateful as I was for his support for my rights, such as that support was, in regards to what transpired in the Space: 1999 Mailing List in 2000. And I was, for this, given rather the ear-bashing from Dean for failing to side utterly with him, in a dispute about whose circumstances I had not been a first-hand eyewitness. This situation came at a time when I should have been enjoying Space: 1999 DVDs, the second "wave" of such having been delivered in my mailbox just a couple of days previous, and it pointed me toward the last exit door for my fan connections, whereby I walk away from both of these persons, from the last of my ties to the fandom of this fascinating but strife-surrounded television show. The immediate result: a liberating feeling quite like the one I had when I graduated from school 17 years earlier. Free finally, this time from turmoil of 17 years! I would have thought that nobody could justly fault me for doing this, after all that I had been through because of Space: 1999. Whoever was right or wrong in this dispute, the overriding question was, should I choose a side and become caught in the crossfire, or stay out of it, and distance myself from both parties if either or both of them refused to accept my decision? Common sense dictated the latter. Of course, neither person was about to let me pull away from him without some reproval directed at me for the quarrel and its three-way-split outcome. Dean spared no condemnation, declaring me abjectly immature and morally irresponsible.
"We can't all be saints," I said to myself. I had done all that I could do in accordance with my own personality to serve this television series and my assuming and supposed allies, and enough was enough. I now had a life in my job and persons met through that job. Indeed, on the day, a Sunday, when the battle in Montreal was reaching its climax, I welcomed the opportunity to spend that sunny summer afternoon with co-workers in televising a soccer game at Fredericton High School's football/soccer field. And I enjoyed that afternoon very much indeed. No sooner was I back at home and watching my latest purchased Space: 1999 DVDs then Dean was telephoning me to talk about how he "told off" our mutual contact, thrusting the unpleasantness at me yet again after so genial an afternoon, on so nice a summer's day. I finally told him that I had enough of all of the ballistics, those of him and all of the others, and was opting out of contact with him and with the Montrealer of longer residence. With all of the conflict over one season of Space: 1999 or the other, animosities over material things and a transaction gone afoul, was just too much.
Now, from August, 2001, I would, I resolved, buy and derive pleasure from the DVDs and leave the fans, all of them, to their squabbles and invalidations. Time now to strengthen ties with family and colleagues, and live as pleasant a life as possible in my immediate surroundings.
Over the years, I had accumulated a filing cabinet's worth of correspondence from other fans and fan-written literature. Out it all went to the curbside in a large trash bag. 17 years of wounding was finished, and the healing was to start now.
But would it? September 11, 2001 hit the world like a giant brick in the face. The terrorist attack upon the U.S.A. was unbelievable yet so astonishingly real. Suddenly, everything else, including my own problems with people, did rather pale in significance. At the same time, the tooth that had caused me so much trouble in 2000 started aching again, and this time, my dentist pronounced it un-savable, and an appointment was set for its removal at September 24, 2001. The joy of adopting a gorgeous Himalayan kitten, Sammy, on September 15 was counteracted by grief about what was happening in New York City and Washington, D.C. and by anxiety about impending tooth extraction. Not that the tooth was of any significance compared to what was transpiring in the United States, but it did add to a feeling of gloomy malaise.
The tooth was extracted quickly and painlessly, to my profound relief, but on that same day, my father fell outside the veterinary hospital where Sammy was being examined and inoculated, and he broke his wrist and required surgery. And September 24 was his birthday. His recuperation lasted for months, and through the autumn and early winter, I had to transport him around the city for his appointments and grocery shopping, when I was not working, of course. Also, that same autumn, I availed myself of a multi-region DVD player and obtained U.K. DVDs of the second season of a certain television series about a runaway Moon plus select episodes of The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Doctor Who whilst buying North American DVDs of the Planet of the Apes television series, The Prisoner, and Star Trek.
As stated previously, the final quarter of 2001 at TVNB was defined by a near total lack of production. No regular in-studio programming except for Rotary Bingo, which never required my services. And fewer than usual mobile productions. There was promise of a better year in 2002 but little tangible indication of that as disgruntled volunteers on the rare occasions when they were together talked pessimistically about the future. The Legislature's resumption in November was accompanied by unseasonably warm though soggy weather as I and my colleagues returned there to work somewhat disenchanted by seemingly very dim prospects of promotion. For yet another year, we would be behind the cameras, only this time quite often without production at the studio or on mobile productions to talk about or to anticipate during the long weeks. A sense of hopelessness and restlessness could be felt all around our group, contract workers and volunteers.
Fortunately, it was brief. Early 2002 witnessed a tremendous improvement in my situation with Rogers Cable after a string of months of uncertainty and pessimism among myself and my colleagues. Programming restarted at levels comparable to those of a couple of years previous, and I and some of my long-time cohorts were given our due. At long last, recognition had come. We became assistant directors of studio and mobile productions, and I was promoted in March to be the director of the Legislature crew.
For me, 2002, the fifth year of usually five-year life eras, was one of change. But in this case, I would not say that there was change that demarked the end of a life era and the start of a new one. I still lived in the same place, was still working in the employ of community television, and was continuing to maintain my Website (and would continue to do so until 2009), though my interest in my Website was not what it had been in the first few years of this life era.
There were other changes in my life. Yes, there were. I had a new pet cat, my father was unable for a time to drive his car, and my connection to Space: 1999 fandom had been at last severed. And there was a marked further decrease in my interest in Website management and correspondence, fuelled by the disharmony of the preceding summer, the horrors of September, 2001, and the ultimate negative effect on my already precarious belief in people in general. But beside all of this, my life would continue more or less as it had been proceeding. I had a job in television. With my pay from my job, I was buying DVDs. I had my Website.
My job was giving to me some professional satisfaction, too, post-my-promotion, though my first couple of months as director at the Legislature were marred by a recalcitrant crew, whose errant behaviour I had to compensate-for in my work and for whose negligence and disharmony I was judged to have been responsible. I did not command their respect, an age-old problem for me with self-doubting nature, even though I was an excellent director. Naturally, I was nervous in my first days in my new role. And my nervousness was perceived by them to be weakness. They thought me to be unqualified for my promotion and opted not to cooperate with me after I was critical of them after their first faux-pas. It was said by persons above me in the chain of command that I was wrong to be critical, that I should have kept my tongue still and referred the problem personnel to my supervisor. It was an ordeal that lasted for a couple of months. April and May of 2002. There was a mostly new crew after that. I was on probation for a time and did finally "pass the test with flying colours". I had an outstanding crew for the 2002-3 session year of the Legislature, everyone respected me, and our work was excellent.
However, my job was one thing. My Internet work and my experience on the World Wide Web was something else. With my lamentable clash with the Internet Space: 1999 fan community combined with a growing displeasure over the direction in which attention and esteem given Warner Brothers cartoons before and after 1948 was moving, together with dearth of e-mail from appreciative, thankfully informed and inspired readers of my Web pages, it was becoming more and more difficult to not be negative in general about the World Wide Web and my place on it.
Still, I persevered. And there was some unexpected recognition to be had for my Website.
In 2001, I launched a campaign on my Website for a release of Spiderman on DVD. I invited readers of my Website to sign their name and their e-mail address to a petition on my Website calling for such a DVD release. Reader participation in the campaign was abysmally sparse. It was not, it could not possibly have been, of an amount that would persuade rights holder Buena-Vista Home Entertainment to explore the possibility of marketing a super-hero cartoon television series of so old an age on DVD. After awhile, I, with a deep sigh, terminated the campaign and removed it from my Website. I erased it, lest the low number of persons expressing interest in DVDs of Spiderman cast a debilitating, everlasting shadow over prospects for Spidey on shiny digital videodisc.
But something was coming that would generate some significant public interest in Marvel Comics' signature character. A feature film of Spider-Man that reached movie theatre screens in May of 2002. It was directed by Sam Raimi and adhered very much to the established mythos of the super-hero known to the world as Spider-Man, with inspired casting for many of the roles. Especially J. Jonah Jameson, Uncle Ben, and Norman Osborn and his alter-ego, the Green Goblin. It concerned the origin of Spider-Man and that of Spidey's adversary, the Green Goblin, and depicted numerous spectacular battles between the two characters, with mortal peril for hapless persons in the vicinity of the conflict. The 1967-70 Spiderman opening's song was in that movie, and the movie won critical acclaim and was a winner in box office statistics. I saw it on Friday, May 10, 2002 at Fredericton's Empire Theatres, my mother and father sitting with me in a filled-to-capacity cinema that evening, and the audience in the theatre applauded with appreciation of the movie as it went to its end credits. I had never before experienced so effusive a response of an audience to a movie. Spider-Man (2002) had a release on DVD in the autumn of the same year, and the DVD topped the selling statistics for DVD for the week of of its release. I bought mine from Wal-Mart in Fredericton's Regent Mall late one evening after I had completed work at a community television production. Not long after the success of Spider-Man (2002) at cinemas, there was mention at some Internet forums of discussion that a remaster of 1967-70 Spiderman was being done in Australia. Speculation was that the remaster was being commissioned for a broadcast of Spiderman on an American specialty cable television station. A DVD release of it did not seem to be a realistic hope, and there was no further news about the remaster as 2002 gave way to 2003, which in turn transitioned into 2004. Spider-Man 2, sequel to the 2002 Spider-Man, was very enthusiastically anticipated by the public in the months leading to its cinema premiere in late June of 2004, and as people's excitement over the next Web-swinging of Spider-Man was mounting in 2004's first and second quarters, my Spiderman Web page was receiving surges of traffic. And one night early that year, I received a telephone call from a producer at Buena-Vista Home Entertainment, and he told me, to my surprise and gratification, that Spiderman (1967-70) was an imminent DVD release not as yet announced to the world, and that he was tasked to made a short documentary on the televison series, to be a bonus feature on the DVD. And that he wanted me for an on-screen interview! He wanted to know if I could travel to California for the interview, and I responded that I could not do so, and although I was working in television production, I did not have my own video camera and video recording equipment on which to capture video of me talking. The Buena-Vista Home Entertainment producer and I were unable to arrange the interview, but I thanked him very profusely for acknowledging my Spiderman Web page's existence and from that acknowledgement wishing to interview me for the DVD bonus documentary. I promised to be one hundred percent compliant with an embargo on sharing the news of the DVD release until the official announcement of it. And I wished him all the best of success with the Spiderman DVDs and the bonus documentary.
My excitement over this DVD release was quite palpable, as the weeks and the days of waiting for it gradually reduced in number. Some Spiderman episodes had been on commercial VHS videotape or RCA VideoDisc, but a majority of them had not (especially those of the Ralph Bakshi-produced seasons of the television series), and all too many of them that did see videotape release in THE MARVEL COMICS VIDEO LIBRARY, did not look particularly radiant. Early reviews of the box set were flowing with accolade for vivid detail and magnificent colour. I bought two units of the Spiderman box set on its day of release in June of 2004. It was the same day as a federal election in Canada. I came home that night after being on the crew for a community television broadcast of the election results in New Brunswick and watched Spiderman episodes that looked eye-poppingly gorgeous. Better than they ever looked before. "Blotto" was the first episode that I watched. My chin must have hit the floor, and I must have been drooling when I saw how beautiful that it looked. "Blotto" had never been released on a home video format before. The bonus documentary was not in the box set. It was evidently cancelled, the reason for the cancellation never made known to me. The most important consideration was the episodes themselves. Almost all of them were restored to nearly pristine quality, with colours that were almost without parallel in their dazzling beauty.
It was not the campaign that I had initiated for a DVD release of Spiderman that had led to this exquisite DVD box set, but rather the popularity of the Spider-Man movies directed by Sam Raimi. Still, my Spiderman Web page did receive recognition by a person or persons in the DVD production industry, even if that recognition was not made public. It was a rare happy development for me at a time when I was not feeling edified by the discourse on the Internet as regards my favourite entertainments. And it excited me very much to know that a DVD release of the full Spiderman television series was coming to the world. And it was a glorious DVD box set. One of the most prized ones in my collection. The gratifying culmination of my urge burgeoning in my life's late Era 3 and into my life's early Era 4 to possess Spiderman on home video media.
Further, with the ability to view Web page viewing statistics, I was finding that my episode guides to the various television series, until 2005 separate, on their own Web pages, from my main articles concerning those television series, were registering less than one-tenth of the amount of Internet user traffic for the main articles, meaning, logically, that people accessing my Web pages were not continuing with reading what I had written, either that they had not interest in doing so or that they did not like my writing of the main articles. The Spiderman, Littlest Hobo, and Rocket Robin Hood Pages did seem most indicative of this phenomenon.
And there was yet more induced disgruntledness to come on the matter of the Warner Brothers cartoons, most notably with regard to their DVD releases in North America starting in autumn of 2003. There would be much clamor by people contributing product reviews at Amazon.com for equality of representation of all cartoon directors on the DVDs, the fact that Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and Robert McKimson directed cartoons at Warner Brothers exclusive of any other recurring cartoon directors for nearly fifteen straight years post-1949 meaning not one whit to the people bemoaning the earliest LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION DVDs for overemphasis on the Freleng-Jones-McKimson trio, and for having a plurality of Freleng's Tweety and Sylvester cartoons and of Jones' Road Runner cartoons on them. And there did follow, cause-and-effect or no, quite a drift in emphasis on the DVDs toward pre-1948 cartoons, with post-1948 cartoons now the "runts of the litter", the "also-rans" to "round out" collections of cartoons in the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION DVD volumes, and being disparaged on audio commentaries, etc., to the rousing approval of the new orthodoxy at Internet "message boards" and in Amazon.com product reviews. There would subsequently be a series of discussions at the Termite Terrace Trading Post and elsewhere as to expert opinions in DVD audio commentaries and documentaries- and an insistent push, by advocates of classic designation only to pre-1948 cartoons, for a consensus viewpoint on the relative artistic worth of cartoons produced before and after 1948. The cartoons of Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, Frank Tashlin, and of early-career Jones and Freleng versus the Jones-Freleng-McKimson body or work of the late 1940s, the whole of the 1950s, and the early-to-mid 1960s. A consensus viewpoint that of course must marginalise (at best) anyone who does not fall on the correct side of the fence in terms of the cartoons meriting attention and expert approval. Was this a perverse reprise of that adversarial Space: 1999 Season-One-trumps-Season-Two phenomenon? The last thing that I needed. Already, I found that my capacity for broadly-minded consideration of the cartoons that had not impressed me as much other cartoons had done, was under quite a strain, and there was a building resentment and narrowing or closing of the mind, in me, I regret to say.
My resolve post-2001, post-end-of-relations-with-inimical-to-joie-de-vivre-fans-of-the-television-show-about-the-drifting-Moonbase, to heal after so many years of confounded, assailing conflict, was being stymied, flummoxed, by this development; troublesome, aggravating, highly unwelcome it certainly was for me. One rather hopes to heal in an at least benign environment as regards other items of one's fascination, with people of kind and open-minded intent. Indeed, in the encouraging early days of my Website's existence, I did rather count upon agreeable impressions of apparently all-encompassing, receptive fellow cartoon pundits to counter my adverse reaction to the fans of that television science fiction/fantasy opus. But this was not to be in the years following 2000, to my bitter dismay.
My disgruntlement over attitudes prevalent on the Internet as regards my entertainment favourites, would see me through the remaining seven years of this life era. As would my purchases of DVDs, and my continued employment at Rogers Television. 2002 onward to 2009 was a time frame in which this was my norm, punctuated by alarm over Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in late 2002 and most of 2003 and then Swine Flu (H1N1) through most of 2009. I attended a couple of conferences of Canadian Legislature broadcasters, one of them in St. John's, Newfoundland in August of 2008, and the other in Halifax, Nova Scotia in August of 2009 (whilst H1N1 was raging in most of Canada). I had a severe case of influnza mixed with acute bronchitis over the Christmas time period of 2003, and suffered greatly in the one day of work at the Legislature that I had to complete before I could attend to my sickness, which by the end of that workday had me in pain in my throat, feverish, and weak. A day later, I was expelling phlegm with violent fits of coughing. It was the worst Christmas of my life up to that time. I had to visit a walk-in clinic on the evening before Christmas Eve, and received a prescribed antibiotic to combat the bronchitis.
My DVD purchases continued to give to me something to which to look forward through all of those years. I have mentioned the DVD release by A & E's New Video Group of Space: 1999. For that DVD release, Season Two Space: 1999 received a completely new film-to-video transfer and looked so much better than it did on DVDs released in the U.K. by Carlton Communications in late 2001. The A & E Space: 1999 Season Two DVDs were released in two waves of two two-DVD box sets each, in 2002, the first such wave being in late January, and the second wave in late July. And with regard to pictre quality, they made my earlier purchase of the Carlton Communications Season Two DVDs not only redundant but obsolete. There had been doubt, as late as autumn of 2001, of A & E New Video Group releasing all of Season Two on DVD, and on the basis of that doubt, I had bought the Carlton DVDs and was prepared to "make do" with them. But the video quality of the A & E New Video Group DVDs put those Carlton DVDs to shame. And I was very, very happy indeed to have the entirety of Season Two on DVD and looking so sharp, so colourful that it would rival post-2000 movies on a large flat-screen liquid crystal television. Further, many of the bonus features on the Carlton Communications DVDs appeared on those of A & E New Video Group in the Season Two box sets. The episodes looked better than ever, but the audio on some of them was lacking bass in some episodes and frequency in others. I adjusted to this, for the picture quality was the main "selling point" of the A & E New Video Group DVDs. Carlton Communications' DVDs were now unwatchable, knowing as I did that the A & E New Video Group DVDs looked vastly so much better.
And not long after those Season Two box sets, A & E's New Video Group repackaged all of its Space: 1999 DVDs into a "Megaset", that had as an inducement for its purchase a bonus DVD that had audio commentaries for three first season episodes, "Death's Other Dominion", "Dragon's Domain", and "The Testament of Arkadia", film-to-video transfers of those three episodes that were alleged to be superior to how they looked on the initial DVD releases of them, and the fan-produced CODA to the television series, "Message From Moonbase Alpha", with actress Zienia Merton reprising her role as Data Analyst Sandra Benes and its concept and its lines of dialogue (Sandra speaking to Earth in a recorded message) provided by Space: 1999 episode scriptwriter Johnny Byrne. There were also some photographs of Byrne and his fellow writer of many a Space: 1999 episode, Christopher Penfold, visiting the film studio at which "Dragon's Domain" was committed to motion-picture celluloid. The bonus DVD was more than sufficient incentive for me to buy the "Megaset". And I also bought a release of Cosmos 1999 on DVD in France. It had the French-language audio that had been meticulously recorded on film at Cinelume Productions in Montreal but lacked the French-language title sequences that Cinelume had done for all of the episodes (the episodes were offered as they looked in English, with DVD-player-generated subtitles for the on-screen text).
By 2003, I had bought DVDs of nearly all of the movies that I had owned on VHS videotape. The Star Wars movies were an exception. Much to the chagrin of nearly all avid fans of Star Wars. And me, too. Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi were finally released on DVD in a box set in autumn of 2004. I remember walking to Blockbuster Video on Main Street in Nashwaaksis and buying the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD minutes after that business opened its doors for the morning on the day of release for that box set. There was an excellent, comprehensive documentary, Empire of Dreams, on the making of the Star Wars Trilogy, that I watched first before my marathon viewing of the three Star Wars motion pictures that had premiered on cimema screens in 1977, 1980, and 1983, respectively. That was a gorgeous sunny day, as was also the case when I made a similar very early business day visit to the same Blockbuster Video to buy LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 2 in 2004. I was very, very excited about that DVD box set, as "Hyde and Hare" was on the first DVD therein, fully restored in exquisite detail and colours. On an overcast day in the autumn of 2003, I also visited Blockbuster Video Nashwaaksis to buy LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 1.
Other exciting DVD releases in 2003 and 2004 were a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde 1932 and 1941 movie double-feature (with "Hyde and Hare" as a bonus item on that DVD), the aforemetioned DVD box set of Spiderman, The Martian Chronicles television miniseries spread across two DVDs, and DVD releases of The Incredible Hulk's fan favourite episodes. And there was the entire Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century television series, both of which having terrible storage cases and using double-sided DVDs with two layers on both sides or one side, a type of DVD that was prone to data "dropout" or, worse, delamination and/or cracking (especially with the "grip-of-death" spindles in the storage cases).
It seemed that everything was "coming out" on DVD. I was already struck with amazed surprise at the DVD release of the full Planet of the Apes television series from 1974, some of the episodes thereof having not been experienced by me since autumn of 1974, and all of the others unseen by me in their original format since then. I loved so much that box set that arrived in my mailbox late in 2001. Even Carl Sagan's Cosmos had reached DVD and was incorporated into my collection in January, 2001 after a long, long wait for its delivery at my door. It had been mailed to me direct from Carl Sagan Productions. Alas, there were alteratons to the episodes, with new film or video footage added and numerous original visualisations eliminated. But it was the only way to own Cosmos on DVD. I acquisced to it.
I had The Omega Man and Soylent Green on DVD, both of which having been released on shiny digital videodisc media in the humid summer of 2003. Paramount Home Video had a blitz of vintage movie DVD releases, and I acquired DVDs of Paramount Pictures' The Bad News Bears movies, Paper Moon, The Odd Couple, and Shane. And in my collection from Twentieth Century Fox Video were DVDs of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and, bought by me on DVD sight-unseen, Zardoz (I had read many a comment about that movie's audacity and was curious about it). Fahrenheit 451 had, in spring of 2003, a new release on DVD with bonus features, and it was waiting for me at home after a long day at work, in the midst of a worrying time when SARS was ravaging the Canadian city of Toronto (my DVD of Fahrenheit 451 shipped to me that spring had been ordered by me from Amazon.ca in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)).
And even The New Avengers had reached DVD. I had thought that to be highly improbable, but it happened. And I was able to at last dispense with the videotape-recordings that I had of it from its broadcast on Bravo! Alas, the picture quality of the New Avengers on DVD was rather poor, the film-to-video masters being nearly a decade-old. Still, I was so very pleased to have Steed, Purdey, and Gambit and their counter-espionnage travails and excursions on DVD. All twenty-six episodes. The New Avengers was an A & E New Video Group release, as, too, was The Prisoner and Gerry Anderson's UFO. I had all of these on DVD on a shelf with Space: 1999.
Doctor Who DVD releases had, by 2003, become a regular happening to which I looked forward. Every few months, a Doctor Who serial was put on DVD with amazing restoration work and many bonus features. The release schedule was "sped up" in 2006, with DVDs of Doctor Who coming almost once a month. I bought them all. Every existing episode of Doctor Who would be on DVD by 2014.
All of the cartoons of the Pink Panther had a release on DVD in 2006, and with a array of bonus features. It was a sterling DVD box set, and to my surprise and elated delight, it was complemented in 2007, 2008, and 2009 by DVDs of Ant and Aardvark and Inspector cartoons. Every single one of them. There was also a new release of the Inspector Clouseau movies and a new remaster of them. My days were brightened very much by purchases of all of these DVDs. And there was more! The Last Place On Earth, the television miniseries about the Scott and Amundsen race to the South Pole, saw DVD release, and to my amazement so did the British fantasy television series, The Tomorrow People, every serial thereof. Like those of Doctor Who, The Tomorrow People's serials were released over the course of several years, one DVD at a time. The most improbable DVD release of all had to be that of Rocket Robin Hood. Amazing! Astonishing! I wish that the film-to-video transfers could have been befitting of such descriptors. They were awful. And one episode was missing. But it was a testimonial to the popularity of DVD and the collecting on it of vintage television programming that something as obscure as Rocket Robin Hood should be digitised on shiny home video media platters. I incorporated all of this into my collection with the utmost pleasure. It brightened my days in years when my Website's visitor traffic and opinion by people at large on the Internet vis-a-vis my favourite productions was being less than edifying or inspiring of me, and my work was rather tedious (especially after almost everything was automated and I no longer had a crew to direct).
Oh, God! was released on DVD in summer of 2002. I bought that on a sunny summer day while possible juror selection was looming over me. Fortunately, the defendant in the court case changed his plea and a jury was not needed. I bought Jaws in 2000, Jaws 2 in 2001, The Bounty (1984) in 2001, and Mutiny On the Bounty (1962) in 2006. There was much excitement in DVD collecting circles over the DVD release, in May of 2001, of the Superman movies. Sadly, the first Superman movie was marred by having its audio mix redone, with almost all of the Space: 1999 and Pinewood Studios sound effects that had been used for the movie, replaced by dull, unremarkable Hollywood sounds, and it being placed on a problematical (problematical for reasons I have delineated) two-sided DVD with two layers on both sides. It looked very nice but sounded, to my ears, awful. The film-to-video transfers of the other movies were at best adequate. I was not a fan of Superman IV at all (an inept movie, it was, by any standard), but retained it for completeness' sake. The Superman movies were re-released on DVD in autumn of 2006 in a huge box set with a new cut of Superman II and the first Superman movie with its original audio mix and a plethora of bonus documetaries. The, in my estimation, non-essential and, frankly, boring new Superman movie, Superman Returns, was also in the box set.
The most frustrating DVD releases for me were certainly those of the Warner Brothers cartoons. LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTON VOLUME 3 was released in the autumn of 2005, and the majority of the cartoons in it were pre-1948, with the minority post-1948 cartoons in it tarnished with derisive audio commentary by one John K.. I was not pleased at all about this, though the denizens of the Termite Terrace Trading Post were gushing with effusive approval at the diminished presence of the post-1948 cartoons. That galled me so very much, and what it seemed to bode displeased me even more. Happily, though, GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 4 was a marked improvement for the fortunes of the post-1948 cartoons. A Bugs Bunny DVD in it consisted exclusively of post-1948 Bugs Bunny outings, Speedy Gonzales' cartoons had a DVD all to themselves, and another DVD had cat cartoons that almost all hailed from years after the 1948 demarcation of cartoon distribution, a demarcation having existed since before I was born. I enjoyed GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 4 very, very much, and especially loved the documentary on director Friz Freleng, Friz On Film, that was on the Speedy DVD in the box set. But with GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 5 in 2007, pre-1948 cartoons returned with a vengeance. Two of the four DVDs were composed exclusively of them, and they were present in no small amount on the other two DVDs. Sales of GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 5 were so disappointing (surprise, surprise!) for Warner Brothers that Warner Home Video's "bean counters" decreed that GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 6 in 2008 would mark the end of the range of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies on shiny digital video disc. And it, too, would have copious amounts of pre-1948 cartoons at the expense of cartoons post-1948. The selection of cartoons in the GOLDEN COLLECTIONS concentrated too much in my opinion on show business parodies and wartime cartoons and "one-shot" cartoons. Characters like Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester Jr., and Hippety Hopper were poorly served by the GOLDEN COLLECTIONs. And there was a clear bias against Sylvester and Tweety, the bulk of their cartoons not tapped for the DVDs, even though a large number of them were on DVD in Japan (but not "Hyde and Go Tweet", sadly). I bought those Tweety Japanese DVDs, by the way. All three of them. To this day, most of those cartoons are not on DVD in North America.
Some other of my DVD purchases in 2003 were Paper Moon, Pinocchio in Outer Space, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, House of Wax (another movie that I bought on DVD sight-unseen), The Out-of-Towners, Juggernaut, and the aforementioned produced-by-Gerry Anderson television series, UFO, of which all episodes were available in two DVD box sets. Most of the UFO episodes were seen by me for the first time when I watched the DVDs of them. I also acquired The Treasure of the Sierra Madre for the two Bugs Bunny cartoons (i.e. "Hot Cross Bunny" and "8 Ball Bunny") that came with it as bonus features on its two DVDs. And I enjoyed the movie, seeing it then the first time. I liked movies and television series episodes about prospecting, Space: 1999- "All That Glisters", for one. Some sundry productions added to my DVD collection in 2004 were The Shape of Things to Come, Starcrash, Scott of the Antarctic, and Spider-Man 2, plus some of the seasons of The Flintstones.
By 2004, numerous titles that had received the nod for release on DVD in the home video format's years of youth, were reveiving renewed attention for a latter-day distribution on the digtal video disc with improvements in picture quality and an increase in bonus features. And the temptation to buy those titles again, was often too much for me to resist. The most notable of these was Space: 1999. A & E New Video Group release of Space: 1999 was not without flaws and could have been much better than it was with regard to value-added material. News to the effect of there being a remaster of Space: 1999 being undertaken in the U.K. eventually met my eyes as the thirtieth anniversary of Space: 1999's television premiere was approaching. An announcement of a special edition of Season One of Space: 1999 on DVD released in the U.K. by Network Distributing, home video arm of Granada Ventures that had become rights-holder of the entire ITC repository of television and cinema productions, was dissemenated on the Internet in mid-2005. Stunningly beautiful frames of the restored film elements and lists of abundant bonus material, were indeed enticing for me as I was more than sufficiently convinced that this was to be the definitive DVD release of Space: 1999- Season One. My multi-region DVD player had gone non-operational by 2005, and I was using my computer DVD drive and software called AnyDVD for playing of DVDs outside of North America DVD Region 1. I would be able to play the Network Distributing Space: 1999 DVDs and revel in their picture quality, albeit on a computer monitor screen instead of on the screen of my floor-model television. The special editon of Space: 1999- Season One was released in early November, 2005, and I bought it from Amazon.co.uk with shipment by overnight courier. This time, I did not need to endure a protracted wait for my Space: 1999 "fix", as the parcel dispatched by Amazon.co.uk was in my hands two days after the shipping process initiated at that on-the-Internet vendor of mountains of merchandise.
It was an overcast November day. I received the parcel at my door from the operative of a courier company, and was my usual swift self in removing packaging and shrink wrap as I eagerly moved to put into my computer DVD drive the bonus material DVD of the new Space: 1999 extravaganza. Reports on the Internet of rather less than user-friendly storage cases for the Network Distributing Space: 1999 DVDs were indeed verifiable in my experience. I had to press and press the spindles, my thumb turning red and an indentation of my thumb's skin being painfully rendered, as I laboured to free the DVDs from what I prayed would not be a grip of death. I was successful, thank goodness, in my toil, and I put all seven of the DVDs into the standard Alpha DVD cases that I was using for my collection. And the seventh DVD of my newest acquisition was spinning in my computer. I watched first a magnificent documentary produced for the DVD box set, on the conception and production of select episodes. It was ingeniously called "These Episodes", with the "This Episode" card of the main opening of Season One episodes modified to show the documentary title and appearing on screen amidst rapid showings of scenes of numerous episodes, to begin the seventy minutes of scene excerpts and commentary by individuals involved in the episodes' making. Each episode addressed in the documentary had a discrete block of time allocated to it, and "Dragon's Domain" had some especially engaging comments from its writer, Christopher Penfold, and Space: 1999 Executive Producer Gerry Anderson, intercut with scenes from the episode. And comments and episode excerpts were with the accompaniment of entirely new arrangements of the episode's Adagio music. After I finished watching "These Episodes", I delved into the episodes themselves. "Dragon's Domain" first. I was as much in awe of the frequency range and the thoroughly resounding clarity of the new 5.1 audio mix done by Network Distributing as I was at the exquisite calibre of remastered visuals. I had never seen Space: 1999 look so very vivid or heard it sound so very dynamic! The only demerit that I would have to attach to my assessment of the newest serving of Space: 1999 was that there were was a prolific amount of digital video compression artifacts on the episodes, made very noticeable by their movement on screen, dancing about on the walls of Moonbase Alpha or on the surfaces of alien worlds. But the remaster was of such crispness and breadth and depth of colour that I could easily overlook the signs of digital video compression, and I did. Having watched "Dragon's Domain", I then had marathons of viewing of the remaining twenty-three episodes over the next thirty-six hours, jumping from DVD to DVD as I watched them in whatever order had my fancy on those particular days. Words fail me in describing how gratifying that it was to be seeing Space: 1999 in such astounding quality.
Ah, but one thing was missing. One rather big thing. Something that any sensible, open-minded, rational enthusiast of Space: 1999 in all of the aesthetic appreciation that it can engender throughout its span of episodes, ought to notice as being absent and to desire to have. There was no Season Two on DVD in an equivalent quality of remaster and in a parallel amount of attention in bonus material, to go with this new iteration of Season One. As Star Trek was then, in 2005, available on DVD in box sets with an abundance of value-added material, of its three seasons, Space: 1999, I reckoned, ought to have that, too, for both of its seasons. Not just the first. Happily, there soon was notation of a planned Network Distributing Space: 1999 Season Two box set, but not until 2007. And not very long after that notation was first manifest, Network Distributing, without any statement of explanation, cancelled plans for a "follow-up" of the first season of Space: 1999 on DVD with DVDs of the second season. And that was that. That was that for a long, long time. Sitting on my shelf beside the Network Distributing Space: 1999- Season One DVDs were A & E's New Video Group's old DVDs of Season Two Space 1999. The latter set of DVDs quite incongruous with the former. And Network Distributing, and A & E's New Video Group, would release Season One Space: 1999 on the Blu-Ray format of digital videodisc in 2010, and again, a new remaster of Season Two was nowhere to be seen.
I was farther from the Space: 1999 fan movement in 2007 than I had ever been since I joined an Ohio-based Space: 1999 fan club in 1984. Still, I had every certainty that the blinkered louts of the anti-Season Two brigade were saying, in reaction to news of that cancellation, that no one wants Season Two, anyway. I would bet on it. Any person of fair and rational mindset would acknowledge the existence of Season Two and the fact that so many of the phenomena that were quitessentially Space: 1999 (the runaway Moon, Moonbase Alpha as led by Commander John Koenig and Dr. Helena Russell, Eagles, Moonbuggies, stun guns, commlocks, strange alien worlds with Gaia principle, Greco-Roman-styled alien cultures, the art direction of Keith Wilson, the visual effects of Brian Johnson, the modular look of the future) were still there in Season Two in abundance, and that therefore Season Two has many a thing to recommend it and should be on DVD alongside Season One in a company's release of Space: 1999 on the home video medium of the 2000s. But these are not fair, rational people. They are like Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes. Blinkered.
Season Two Space: 1999 should always accompany Season One Space: 1999 on home video. As it accompanied it in the ITC Entertainment syndicated television catalogue. Just as the Ralph Bakshi-produced seasons of Spiderman were in the DVD box set for that television programme along with the season that preceded them. And, yes, I do have to say, in all consistency, that I am not opposed to a release to DVD of the pre-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons. Even though I personally do not favour them aesthetically, even though a majority of them seem to me to be product of a completely different cartoon animation studio, I feel that, in all fairness, they should be released to home video with the same care and attention that is given to the post-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons. Yes, of course. But not at the expense of the post-1948s. Not with the marginalisation of the post-1948 cartoons as just some token sprinklings, to "round out" a release. It was because the post-1948s were being diminished in importance on the GOLDEN COLLECTIONs and because I knew that the GOLDEN COLLECTIONs needed a large plurality of post-1948s in order to sell to a sufficiently impressive extent for Warner Brothers to continue with the GOLDEN COLLECTION range, that I was vociferously opposed to how the GOLDEN COLLECTIONS were being compiled and very much at cross-purposes with the "in-crowd" at the Termite Terrace Trading Post. I was on a collision course with those people.
Arguably the last positive experience that I had with cartoon fans at the Termite Terrace Trading Post was in the late summer of 2005, on the day of and some days following the fiftieth anniversary of the release to theatres of "Hyde and Hare", that anniversary having been noted by me in a "thread" of discussion that I commenced. "Hyde and Hare" was experiencing a constantly dropping rating at the Internet Movie Database, reviews of it at same locale on the World Wide Web were a far distance from being consistently favourable commentary, and its release in restored form on DVD in LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 2 in 2004 had been acknowledged with scant enthisuiasm on the Internet. I was anything but confident of accolades for it or for my article on it, when I started that discussion "thread", but, as the saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained. To my surprise, response to my discussion-initiating posting regarding it being fifty years since "Hyde and Hare"'s first theatre screening, was almost entirely positive. The Trading Post, having for years been non-articulate as contributors to it routinely desmirched the work of Friz Freleng in the 1950s, was at last glistening with respectful comments on what I consider to be Mr. Freleng's masterpiece. In a discussion "thread" lasting several Internet pages. Sadly, it was back to business as usual at the Trading Post not long therafter, and some of its more outspoken denizens would be increasingly bellicose in asserting that Freleng was "a hack", Freleng cartoon animator Gerry Chiniquy was incompetent, and that nothing made in the 1950s, in having an economical approach to cartoon animation, could justly be called magnum opus for the cartoon studio or for Mr. Freleng. Design, symbolism, foreshadowing, characterisation, etc. irrelevant in consideration of merit or a lack thereof. So they said. More on this later.
In spring of 2005, feeling somewhat motivated to do something new of substance with my presence on the World Wide Web, I did some upgrading of my Website, expanding my autobiography with many, many additional remembrances, and revising existing paragraphs to be in accordance with my then outlook on my life's waxing and waning of social fortune. I remember going to a screening of Star Wars Episode III- Revenge of the Sith at the Regent Mall cineplex, my thoughts at times in the movie being with my autobiographical work. I also increased the amount of images on many of my Website's Web pages. I went around Fredericton and snapshot photographs for my Era 3 and Era 4 memoirs, and searched the Internet for other images. And I grew my Spiderman Page with episode-by-episode analysis for a comprehensive elaboration on imaginative ideas and correspondences between episodes in the three Spiderman seasons.
The popularity of the second of the Spider-Man movies, 2004's Spider-Man 2, and an increased amount of traffic on my Web page for Spiderman that was being fostered, ostensibly, by Spider-Man's gladdening bask that year in the limelight, combined with my excitement over the DVD release that same year of the complete Spiderman television series, fuelled my motivation to add that new content to The Spiderman Page. And my interest in revising and expanding my autoiography was in no small part generated by a resurgent feeling of nosalgia in me for Era 4 and my for my old best friend, Joey, who was uppermost in my thoughts as I was seated in a cinema at the Empire Theatres cineplex and watching Spider-Man 2 by myself on an evening in early summer of 2004. Joey and I had watched many a Spiderman episode together in our friendship's best year, 1983. It was natural that I would be thinking of him while I was seeing a Spider-Man movie. And with my experiencing of Return of the Jedi on DVD in 2004's autumn, my memories of the summer of 1983, and of Joey and I in that summer, were sparked and heightened and invigorated with rather a soul-stirring effect of a potency, a power, that I had not felt for a long, long time. Oh, how I missed Joey!
And my ability by then to view happenings from different angles had reached a level by which I was at last able to see everything, including my own failings, in my friendship with Joey and my sad, sad loss of Joey's presence in 1987, from an angle approximating or matching his point of view. And I spent many afternoons in the summer and autumn of 2004 walking the sidewalks, streets, and trails of Nashwaaksis thinking at length about past experiences with Joey and how I now believed them to have been regarded by him. And not very long after that, I was gripped with a feeling of unwavering determination to revisit my autobiography with this newfound enlightenment on the ups and downs, the waxing and waning, of my best friendship of my best Fredericton years. And so it was that I undertook in 2005 to dedicate hours and hours of my time to revisions and expansions to my life's story.
I desired so much to see Joey again. I had not seen him since that day in 1999 when he was at my place doing plumbing work. He was a married man when his father died in 2000, and I saw him and his wife and their infant son at a distance one day at the Brookside Mall a year or so after that. I was not comfortable approaching Joey then, and in 2004 and 2005 I still was not. Joey had not invited me to his wedding, and he had not been in communication with me after I sent a coldolence and sympathy card to him after his father's death. Although I now believed myself to be viewing past events from the correct perspectives, I was uncertain of how to share those perspectives with him. He had a new, married life and like most young, married men, would not be likely to want to look back to the past, to times in his life before he met his wife. Definitely not his childhood and his times with me that were not always satisfying for him.
However, one day in 2006, my father came home from shopping at Sobeys in Brookside Mall and told me that he had seen Joey there and that Joey had asked him about me. I felt a warm sensation inside me from my heart through all of my blood vessels at knowing that Joey still had an interest in me. At least enough to want to know how I was faring in life.
My assignments at work were broadened in 2005 outside of my labours at the Legislature, to include producing the bingo broadcasts on a community television station in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. For several Mondays through the summer of 2005, I drove a Rogers vehicle to St. Stephen for an approximate 90-minute trek thereto and another 90 minutes on the road for my return to Fredericton, and, at a large computer lab with a small broadcasting facility in St. Stephen High School, I spent several afternoon hours preparing for broadcast and an hour in the evening producing the bingo television programme. Eventually, my supervisor was able to find someone living nearer than I to St. Stephen, to do the job.
Having proved my mettle as Associate Producer outside of Legislature broadcasting, I was given the nod at last to produce in-studio programming. I had directed, with no other Rogers Television staff present, some episodes of Channel 10 live talk television shows, and had done so with success, with volunteer crews dedicated to doing their very best work for me. And when the long-tenured studio producer left his job at start of 2006, I co-produced, with a fellow Associate Producer, the then television programmes broadcast live province-wide in New Brunswick from the Fredericton Rogers Television studio, Crosby Live and Voice of the Province. Through the first quarter of 2006, my fellow Associate Producer and I made some of the best, and most technically challenging, in-studio programming shown on community television in New Brunswick in all of my years of experience with such. I was more effective in the director's chair than I had ever before been, and my colleague and I had the most enthusiastic volunteer crews that I had ever seen. Sometimes, we had an overabundance of volunteers. The content of the television shows and the challenging work on camera stimulated the volunteers' interest and engagement. During a sizable portion of that time, I also acted as stand-in volunteer coordinator, assembling crews for productions both in-studio and in-mobile, and was almost always a success in that regard. I was in the volunteer coordiator role for most of the early 2006 election programming at Rogers Television New Brunswick, broadcast of the State of the Province Address, and television transmission of many a sporting event. My supervisor gave to me rather effusive commendations for my work. And I would say that my enjoyment of my work had never been at a level as high as it was then. And I was very, very fond of the people with whom I was working. People of a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. Having to go back to the Legislature when it resumed its sessions in late March, was rather a sad time, as it meant that I would no longer be assigned to the in-studio television shows, except for occasions when the new producer hired for them, was unavaiable due to illness. And from 2006 onward, the Legislature broadcasts were to be with robotic cameras and a crew reduced to just me and one other person. I was no longer a director of a camera crew at the Legislature. I was trained to operate the camera robotics while doing the switching from camera to camera, monitoring the audio levels, and watching over my colleague working the graphics computer. The control room was redesigned to be ergonomically ideal for two people, and sometimes one person, to operate all of the equipment. And I was promoted to full-time producer and was in charge of the new dedicated television channel for the Legislature, with the person working at my side being part-time. I was responsible for producing content for the channel in the months that the Legislature was not in its sessons. And I still had some assigned duties at Rogers Television. Some bingos at the Fredericton studio. An occasional live in-studio talk television programme. More stints in the role of assembling volunteers for production crews. Supporting other producers at events coverage like debates of political leaders.
During the months in 2006 in which I was enjoying my professional work, I was buying several noteworthy DVDs. A DVD box set of the first three serials (An Unearthly Child", "The Daleks", "The Edge of Destruction") of Doctor Who. The DVD box set of the Pink Panther cartoons. And Seasons One, Two, and Three of Star Trek, with dandy-looking DVD box set cases and awesome menus and many bonus features. The Star Trek seasons DVD releases, of 2004, superseded my earlier Star Trek DVD purchases for these reasons plus improvements in digital video compression and some audio adjustments to put right some errors with the prior DVD release of the Star Trek episodes. The episodes in the season box sets were in broadcast order, not production order as had been the case with the prior DVD release. I would classify that as a demerit. But it did not deter me from buying the season box sets and dispensing with my Star Trek DVDs of old.
2006 was an exiting year for me with regard to Doctor Who on DVD. Some of my favourite serials were released on DVD in succession. "The Daleks". "Genesis of the Daleks". "Inferno". "The Daleks" was an epic serial of Doctor Who's earliest season, and the first to showcase what would become the bitterest enemies of the Doctor, the menacing Daleks, as the Doctor and his companions grappled with the metal-encased monster Daleks on a war-ravaged planet convincingly realised with early 1960s visual effects and a British Broadcasting Corporation budget for set creation. I loved every minute of it when I first saw it in July of 1986. "Genesis of the Daleks" is quintessential Doctor Who, with the Tom Baker incarnation of the heroic Time Lord known as the Doctor battling Daleks and their evil creator, Davros, shortly after the Daleks' birth. And "Inferno" is a harrowing story of atavism, of hideous primordial creatures transformed out of men by a green substance from the Earth's depth touched by those men, and a scientist dangerously obsessed with penetrating Earth's crust as quickly as possible, and the Doctor in a fearsome fascist parallel world in which he is surrounded by sadistic counterparts of his friends. There are many frightening and, for me, disturbing and fascinating scenes in it. Something, some compulsion deep in their psyche causes the men infected by the green substance to want to complete the induced transformation into the monsters, once their mutation has passed a stage by which reason and conscience are clouded. In one scene, the aforementioned dangerously obsessed scientist, his hand already disgustingly transmuted, picks up some of the green substance and rubs it across his face. And in the parallel world, there is an apocalyptic outcome of Earth crust penetration, man's natal planet falling apart as the pressures of the Earth's core come spewing forth, inundating everything with lava. "Inferno" was definitely a manifestation of many of the allusions to changability that unsettled and captivated me from my early childhood onward. All of these Doctor Who stories were complemented on DVD with "making-of" documentaries that I was anticipating very, very much.
On a rainy day that spring, I bought a new DVD release of A Boy Named Charlie Brown and was looking forward to watching it as I was buying a new suit at the Moore's apparel store in the Fredericton Mall, my parents there with me. I would wear my new suit every day that I was at work at the New Brunswick Legislature, including a Friday in late April that year whereupon there was a social event, an outdoor barbeque, for Rogers Televison staff and volunteers in recognition of National Volunteer Week and all of the volunteer effort in successful television production in the Rogers Television Fredericton region. I had finished my day's stint at the Legislature and joined the social event after walking direct from the Legislature Building to the Fredericton edifice of Rogers, still wearing my suit. In my suit, I was the most dapper-looking person there at the social event. And although in my expensive blazer, dress shirt, and suit pants, I partook in some frisbee fun with some of the younger volunteers. I enjoyed that immensely. I had already bonded with those volunteers over the many weeks of my producership with a colleague of television programming in the Rogers Television Fredericton studio and in my capacity of temporary volunteer coordinator. I had very good rapport with them.
Also in 2006, I learned that writer Michael Butterworth was revising his novelisations of Space: 1999's second season episodes to be in tandem with episode chronology given in the television series-proper, and more faithful to how events transpire in the episodes as they were filmed than had been the novelisations as originally printed in the 1970s, and that all episode novelisations would be incorporated into an ombibus (i.e. comprising of all second season episodes) edition in a huge hardcover book. The price for the book was in excess of a hundred American dollars. I wanted it and was prepaed to part with the money rquired for its purchase. It was also a publication limited to a few hundred copies, and I need to act fast to secure for myself a copy. It was being sold by a company called Powys Books that also was planning some new, original Space: 1999 novels. I had the bulky book in my possession and first thing in it that I read was the preface by Mr. Butterworth. Alas, it was anything but complimentary on Season Two Space: 1999, demeaning it for it being, supposedly, inexpressive, risible, devoid of quality and of any artistry, not even having kitsch value. It inflamed me to see my detractors in the fan movement given yet more ammunition to fire at the second season and its beleaguered defenders. The man who wrote the novelisations of Season Two judging Season Two to be not at all of any worth except perhaps as something that brought young people together to do charitable things. Oh, how I know that they delighted in reading that, and the thought of that vexed me to the most conceivable degree. It soured, to put it mildly, the reading experience that was to follow as I delved into the episode novelisations themselves. Why, I lamented to myself, must Season Two only be offered to the public with a repudiation of it stated by the makers of whatever be the product oriented around it? A person cannot possibly be allowed to go into it without being influenced not to appreciate it. I had never before seen any other production suffer such indignity. This went to show how "far gone" the situation had become vis-a-vis Season Two Space: 1999.
I clenched my teeth also as I read a disparaging treatise, by the publisher, on "plot hole" here and "plot hole" there, in the episodes. Many of them explainable (if one is really imperatively compelled to explain them) using information provided elsewhere in the second season, many of them belonging in a category of what should be allowable "economy of detail" in fiction, many of them not noticable by an average viewer on several viewings of the episodes. And "plot holes" exist in other works of science fiction/fantasy, some of them far, far more glaring than those said to be in the episodes of Season Two of Space: 1999. And I would include first season Space: 1999 in this statement. "Plot hole" is a colloquialism and is all too often an imprecise appellation, meant by the naysayers of all things Space: 1999 second season to include anything and everything therein that they do not like. And it is a brickbat wielded all too confidently, all too smugly, all too decisively, by people like my erstwhile and obnoxious contact in Calgary in the 1990s and the swaggering and pillorying populace of the Space: 1999 Mailing List, against anyone profferring an appreciation of the second season as aesthetically interesting work. In 2006, I was more than a little sick and tired of it. And of Season Two being so routinely targeted selectively for a massed attack with the brickbat. "Singled-out" for such. While other works go unsullied by the "nitpickers". While I am lambasted for even trying to level the playing field by doing some "nitpicking" of my own, as I had done in the mid-1990s in that infamous newsletter column.
I put the book on my shelf beside the Space: 1999 books that I had already possessed, and to this day it is there on that shelf. And I bought, in 2007, a couple of the Powys Books original Space: 1999 novels, curious as I was how the bridging between Seasons One and Two was being done by Powys' writers. Some of their ideas were to my liking, others not. I did not abide the use of profanity by the Alphans in the books, or the sexual promiscuity on Moonbase Alpha that the the novels were positing. That was not Space: 1999, in my opinion. Not Season One or Season Two. There was no vulgar language or lewd activity in either season of the television series. Period.
The Doctor Who DVDs kept coming, the autumn of 2006 bringing such serials of Doctor Who as "The Hand of Fear", "Mark of the Rani", and "The Invasion" to the collector's shelf. "The Fand of Fear" was a Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) story, one of the, for me, more engaging ones of those, but not one that I was inclined to revisit very often. "The Mark of the Rani" was of the short era of the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker). Written by Pip and Jane Baker, who had penned the second season Space: 1999 episode, "A Matter of Balance", "The Mark of the Rani" has always been regarded by me as one of the better Colin Baker Doctor Who serials. Pip and Jane Baker wrote into it an interest that they had in what one would call the human spirit, with a renegade Time Lady adjusting the reactions of men of a mining town of Victorian England to numerous happenings, conditioning them to be irrational and prone to violence by removing them them the chemical that promotes sleep, making other persons susceptible to suggestion and turning them into obedient slaves, and one man retaining conscousness and humanity after being metamorphosed into a tree, his spirit enduring through a life principle when he is arboreal form. I quite liked Pip and Jane Baker's ideas. And the final Doctor Who DVD release of 2006 was that of "The Invasion", a Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) serial whose two missing episodes were cartoon-animated in accordance with the audiotape-recorded dialogue, music, and sound effects of the episode (audiotape-recorded by young fans of the television programme from broadcasts of them back in the 1960s), the first time that such a procedure was done for home video release of missing episodes of Doctor Who. It was a DVD release that I was eagerly anticipating for the cartoon-animated episodes, restoration of the six extant episodes, and a documentary about fans of Doctor Who who audiotape-recorded their favourite television programme, as I had done back in the 1970s for The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Space: 1999, etcetera, etcetera.
In the mid-2000s, I partook in some discussions at some corners of the Internet about Doctor Who DVD releases. I was keener about seeing DVD releases of some serials more than I was about announcements of DVDs of others. Unlike how matters were with the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION, that range of DVD faring poorly in sale and and ending after six volumes, it looked very much like every second of Doctor Who would eventually be on shiny digital videodisc. But I did not relish having to wait until the mid-2010s to enjoy DVDs of such favourites of mine as "Planet of Evil" and "The Seeds of Doom". I allowed my impatience to sometimes gain sway over my ideal of fair-mindedness with regard to works of the imagination. As usual, I found there to be an aversion to the more imaginative entries in a canon, on the part of outspoken fans. It is ever thus, it would seem. Much to my umbrage, my exasperation. I was feeling an augmenting amount of displeasure in my involvement with cartoon discussions on the Internet as the years of the 2000s ticked away, after my tumultuous association with the fandom of Space: 1999 and its more brusquely narrow-minded personalities, and there were times when I was tempted to just say, "To hell with it," and bid adieu to the Internet, deleting my Website, and "walking off into the sunset" to be the stereotypical cynical ex-writer. I was very close to doing so in late 2004. And I gravitated toward it again and again for the five years subsequent to 2004.
But my love for my entertainment favourites and my desire to share that love with others, proved to be a stronger gravity pull, and back I went to presenting my case for appreciating those works, to be "slapped down" again by some imperious person with the sacrosanct dismissive attitude toward whatever it was that I was commending. And so it went. Until 2009.
With the runaway success of a revived Doctor Who in 2005, the DVD release timetable for vintage Doctor Who was accellerated. More DVDs of Doctor Who would be released each year from 2006 onward, some of them being boxed sets of multiple serials. With my salary as a full-time worker, I was able to buy every Doctor Who DVD on its release day. Even the ones in boxed sets. I would have a complete collection of Doctor Who on DVD in 2014.
Where my DVD purchases in the mid-2000s were concerned, Doctor Who was not my sole interest. I already mentioned the Network Distributing Space: 1999 DVDs and the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTIONs. And in the autumn of 2005, I bought the television series, Star Maidens, on DVD. My prior experience of Star Maidens was by way of its francophone version, Les Filles du ciel, shown on CBC French on Wednesdays at 1:30 P.M. in 1979. It had an aural-visual aesthetic much reminiscent of that of Space: 1999 (one Keith Wilson was production designer for both television shows), and I was intrigued at its premise, of a celestial body cataclysmically breaking orbit around its parent sun and leaving its solar system and crossing interstellar space and entering into another stellar neighbourhood, that was strikingly similar to the runaway Moon concept of Space: 1999. Toegther with a notion of a female-dominated planet, which was broached by a couple of episodes of Space: 1999. And two regular characters of Star Maidens were played by actresses who had been in Space: 1999. Judy Geeson and Lisa Harrow. With the DVD release of Star Maidens, I at last had occasion to see that television show in English, and to view all episodes of it (I had only seen a handful of the episodes in 1979, Wednesday being a school day for everyone above the sixth grade). I enjoyed it very much, though the idea of a battle of the sexes that formed the basis of conflicts propelling several of the episodes, did become tiresome after awhile. Star Maidens is not a television series that I would binge-watch. Also in 2005, I bought DVDs of The Quiet Earth, a last-man-on-Earth movie made in New Zealand in 1985, and Star Wars Episode III- Revenge of the Sith. I quite liked the third of the Star Wars prequel movies, Revenge of the Sith. I cannot say that I am much of an enthusiast of the two movies prior to it, though I did enjoy the experience of seeing The Phantom Menace in the movie theatre and had good will for it for some time thereafter.
A third Spider-Man movie came to cinemas in 2007. Like its two predecessors, it was directed by Sam Raimi. The third Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man 3, continued story arcs from Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, including one that I wished could have been less dominant in those movies, Peter-loves-Mary-Jane. In Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker resigned from his super-heroic efforts to pursue romance with Mary Jane Watson. Not unlike Superman's decision to relinquish his super-powers and his super-heroic deeds to couple with Lois Lane in Superman II. Peter fawned over Mary Jane, emoted over her, had her in his mind everywhere he went. It was so sappy. So obviously meant to appeal to girls. So saccharine-sweet. That was not the Spidey with whom I was familiar in my following of the 1967-70 cartoon television series. The Spidey who ventures by himself without hesitation into explorations into strange lands and battles with sinister forces. Peter's spider-powers even went away in Spider-Man 2 as he was in a conflicted mental state over his personal want versus his great responsibility coming with great power, and were fully gone after he decided to forego the latter for the former. He eventually chose to be crime-fighting, life-saving Spider-Man again, but his spidey-powers remained dormant. He only regained his powers when Mary Jane was abducted by Dr. Octopus. Mary Jane in peril was what re-awakened the Spider-Man super-heroic facet of Peter, not his loftier desire to protect people at large from crime and calamity. I found this to be unsatisfying, an undercutting of the selfless heroism directive of Spider-Man. And it added to my reaction to what I perceived as a girl-pleasing, excessive focus on Peter's romantic pursuits. I quite liked the end of the first Spider-Man movie, Peter walking away from Mary Jane and saying to himself that he is Spider-Man, with responsibilities that must keep him solitary. This was cast aside with Peter's Mary Jane fixation in Spider-Man 2. And at the end of it, Mary-Jane discovered that Peter was Spider-Man and chose to be with him. What was next? Why, marriage, of course. And so, Spider-Man 3 opened with Peter planning to propose marriage to Mary-Jane, and what followed that was a protracted story having in it all of the usual daytime drama cliches, including love triangle, amnesia, and the leading character going astray and becoming the losing quantity as the triangle closes, its lines merging into one. Tobey Maguire as Peter with tears pouring down his face, and then, under the influence of an alien substance, doing a street dance that met with so much derision from the movie's audiences. These were what was foremost in the minds of people exiting theatres and writing on the Internet about Spider-Man 3. Not anything that Spider-Man did, and not the movie's two villains, Sandman and Venom, neither of whom having made much of an impression upon viewers in the scarce screen time that they had. The writers were so focused on Peter-and-Mary-Jane that they failed to tie Peter's rival photographer, Eddie Brock, to the mention of an Eddie in the first movie, a connection which had probably been the intention from the start of the series of movies, that Eddie referenced in the first movie being Eddie Brock. And Raimi's direction was curiously slapdash, after having been one of the strengths of movies one and two of Spider-Man. Some of the scenes had plainly unbelievable reactions from people to a loved one being in mortal danger. And there was the deux ex machina of a butler whose "out-of-left-field" testimony over something happening not exactly a day or two earlier, changed everything from the perspective of Peter's friend, Harry Osborn, and at a critical time, yet. My chin dropped over how inept the movie was at many a juncture. I saw it with a colleague from work, and we had both noticed the same weaknesses in it. It was an eyesore, too, in places. The action scenes were much too frenetic and hurt the eyes as one strained to follow them.
It is not that I cannot appreciate a good daytime or prime-time drama. But I do not look for that in a super-hero movie. I do not want that.
In the mid-to-late 2000s, more productions that I would never have thought would ever see home video release, reached DVD. The Projected Man. Moon Zero Two. Phase IV. The Saturday morning Space Academy television series. I eagerly bought these DVDs as soon as they were made available. The Projected Man looked so much better on DVD than it did on my videotape-recording of it from television broadcast in 1996. And it was complete on DVD. The film print of it used for that 1996 television broadcast, was missing numerous scenes. Moon Zero Two I had not seen since the Wednesday evening in spring of 1981 when I discovered it via an ATV broadcast of it. I revelled in the opportinuty to see it again, and to own it. It shared a DVD with a dawn-of-civilisation movie called When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth that really was not my cup of tea. I had to buy that DVD at a premium cost from a private seller at Amazon.com Marketplace, as it was in limited release at an American chain of stores that would not ship to Canada. The same was the case for the DVD of Phase IV, a movie about intelligent and poisonous ants that I saw on ATV's Midday Matinee in November of 1978 and which had Lynne Frederick of Space: 1999 in it as a young woman who becomes trapped in a geodesic dome with two scientists. Space Academy was a delight to see again after many, many years. I had not seen it since the late 1970s. The video quality was not to the highest standard for DVD, but I enjoyed very much my reunion with Commander Gampu and his diligent team of effervescent young scientists-in-training. One of the bonus features in the DVD box set of Space Academy was a documentary with interviews with cast members, all of whom having vivid and fond memories of making the television series.
I also was buying DVDs that improved upon the quality of a previous release. And such included Earthquake, whose 2006 DVD boasted a new film-to-video transfer far superior to that of the old Goodtimes Home Video 1999 DVD of the movie. I walked one sunny May Saturday afternoon from the Rogers Television studio up York Street to the Fredericton Man and Music World to buy Earthquake, had a spaghetti lunch at Pizza Delight on Prospect Street, and then walked all of the way home with my new DVD of Earthquake in hand. The Prisoner had undergone a mid-2000s remaster, and I bought it again on DVD in 2007. Those new Prisoner DVDs were a Network Distributing product. They had dazzling video quality (of the same calibre as the Network Distributing DVDs of Space: 1999) on all seventeen Prisoner episodes, and a lengthy documentary, "Don't Knock Yourself Out", on the making of the television series. And UFO had a release on DVD in Australia in a deluxe boxed set and looking better than ever, and with a mountain of bonus material. I endured a wait of more than six weeks for the delivery of that UFO box set at my door.
And in 2007, one of my very favourite Doctor Who serials, "Planet of Evil", was digitised for autumn release to DVD, with some nifty bonus features and an stunningly colourful look to its alien jungle and surroundings to its anti-matter universe portal pool pit. I loved hearing how producer Philip Hinchcliffe and his script editor, Robert Holmes, chose to attend to the story outline provided by writer Louis Marks, with an eye to making the Jekyll-and-Hyde element of the story as commensurate with tropes of pulp space science fiction as could imaginatively be done within the restrictions of Doctor Who production. After "Planet of Evil", more Doctor Who came to DVD in quick succession, serials also favoured by me and among my most fervently sought content on digital videodisc, serials such as "Destiny of the Daleks", "Doctor Who and the Silurians", and "The Sea Devils" "The Five Doctors" was a deluxe two-DVD release in March of 2008. The winter months of early 2008 were some of the harshest of their kind that I had ever seen, and the DVD releases of Doctor Who gave to me someting to anticipate as I walked amongst exceedingly high banks of snow on my neighbourhood streets and sidewalks. The Saint John River flooded its banks that spring, and I had to partake in an evacuation of all items in the Legislature broadcast control room and video media archive and join the Rogers Telvision mobile team for live television coverage of the flood. I remember watching a new Doctor Who DVD, of the serial, "The Invasion of Time", when I received a summons to report for duty at the Rogers Television mobile truck.
In the autumn of 2008, whilst the whole of Canada was in the midst of a fiercely contested election campaign, the world was thrust into a financial crisis as the real estate market in the United States collapsed, forcing business giants heavily invested in that market to sell their assets at low prices or to declare bankruptcy. The U.S. stock market "crashed", confidence in economies plummetted, people worried about their employment future limited their spending mainly to that on the most essential products, and the whole world was quivering at the thought of a reprise of the Great Depression. Canada's media was touting government spending as the ideal solution for preventing Great Depression Two, with the ever so benevolent "daddy" politician leading the Liberal Party, and from the oh, so always charismatic francophone province of Quebec, touted as Canada's saviour in the dark times to come. Conservative leader Stephen Harper's hopes for a majority government fell to Earth with a thud. He only managed to win a minority government, and he did so by promising "stimulus spending". American leaders were pledging the same, starting with a "bail-out" of the big businesses whose misbegotten investments had in no small part contributed to the crisis.
The effect on the DVD market was almost immediate. Brick-and-mortar stores soon started reducing their DVD inventory, shrinking their DVD sections, and most especially eschewing vintage entertainment in their displays of product. And in response to this, the movie studios began "downsizing" their home video divisions and restricting their DVD manufacture more and more to productions in the public consciousness from some recently circulated movie or from some currently produced, currently running television programme. New DVD releases of movies and television of yesteryear were curtailed, and existing DVDs started going out of print. The LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION DVD range had already been announced to be cancelled before the start of the crisis, and the future now looked bleaker still for further releases of the vintage Warner Brothers cartoons on home video. 2009 saw a DVD release of Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. And that was all that year for the characters of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. I appreciated it for it being the only way to possess "Hyde and Go Tweet" on commercial DVD, albeit not in its original form as a discrete cartoon short. Fortunately, Doctor Who was maintaining its popularity, its 2005 revival being a steady "hit" in many countries in the world. And DVD releases of vintage Doctor Who continued through autumn of 2008 and into 2009 without any abating. And I kept buying them. Serials that I liked but which were not top favourites of mine, were in the offering as new DVD releases in final quarter of 2008 and in 2009. "The War Machines", the serials of what was called "The E-Space Trilogy", "The Rescue", "The Romans", "Image of the Fendahl". "The Deadly Assassin", "The War Games", and serials comprising what fans of Doctor Who designated as "The Black Guardian Trilogy". And there were some which which I was not enamoured, that came to DVD in that time frame. "The Trial of a Time Lord", for one.
In August of 2008, I went to a broadcasters' conference in St. John's, Newfoundland. I was on two aeroplanes for my travel to St. John's, Newfoundland's capital city. The first one, a very small aircraft, flew me at low altitude from Fredericton to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the second one, going from Halifax to St. John's, was a jet. I stayed at a Sheraton Hotel with St. John's Harbour and Signal Hill visible from my room window. I walked one evening to Signal Hill, and to my dismay found that my camera's batteries were dead, and that I would therefore be unable to photograph the location and myself in it. In my hotel room in St. John's, I watched two pay-per-view movies, The Incredible Hulk (2008) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The conference group had a day's excursion to a sea kayacking resort, and not being a partaker in water sports, aqua-phobe hat I am, I opted out of doing the sea kayacking and wandered around the place with some of the wives of the broadcasters, before the entire group was assembled for a restaurant meal. We all then went to Cape Spear, North America's easternmost place. I was flown back to Fredericton by the same types of aeroplane used on the two phases of my outward journey, and my parents met me at the Fredericton airport and conducted me to home, whereat I relaxed and watched a new DVD of Journey to the Far Side of the Sun that I had purchased a week or so before going to St. John's. It was a DVD that was superior to that of the Gerry Anderson Productions 1969 film's first foray onto digital videodisc bought by me back in 1999. I watched my also newly acquired DVD of Phase IV on the day before my aeroplane flights with destination Newfoundland.
While in Newfoundland, I kissed the fish onto which every newcomer to Canada's easternmost province is required to press puckered lips in order to be welcomed there, while at a dinner theatre close to my hotel.
In August of 2009, I went to another broadcasters' conference, that one in Halifax. I drove a rental car thereto and back to Fredericton, and I stayed at a hotel near a Halifax dock frequented by one Theodore Tugboat. My camera was fully functional throughout my travels this time, and I have many a photograph of the sights that I saw both in Halifax and in Lunenburg, whereat I boarded the Bluenose II ship for a sailing tour of waters and coastlines. Throughout my time in Halifax, I was anxious about the H1N1 virus that was ravaging the world, and was keeping my distance from people and restricting my breathing when I had to pass through the same doorways through which other people had trodded. The conference group had a meal at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, everyone besides me having lobster. I had a very rare prime rib. Too rare for my liking. And the smell of lobster ruined my appetite. But I soldiered onward.
And on another day, the conference group had a supper at another location. A resplendent dining room at the Nova Scotia Legislature Building. One wherein the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia frequently entertained very important guests. On that occasion, too, I was the only person in the group not to be eating something from the sea. In Lunenburg, the conference group had a lunch at a restaurant called The Tides prior to boarding the Bluenose II. I had a chicken burger. Some of the others had seafood, and some not.
After returning to Halifax from the day's excursion to Lunenburg, I went for a solitary walk into the Halifax city core under late-afternoon sunshine, intent on finding and photographing the CBHT building. And I was successful in my quest. There I was, standing close to the structure wherein Space: 1999 had been telecined for broadcast in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island between May, 1983 and April, 1985. Although I had been in Halifax a couple of times since 1985, and once in the 1970s, I had never seen the CBHT building before that sunny afternoon in 2009. Beautiful as Lunenburg, with all of its scenery, and the Bluenose II certainly were, the sight of the CBHT building was the apex of gratification for me of my days in Nova Scotia in August, 2009.
On one of my evenings in Halifax, I walked by myself to a Boston Pizza restaurant and had a meat lovers' pizza pie. As I was sitting alone at a table and awaiting my meal, my thoughts were on a recent conflagration with the Termite Terrace Trading Post's herd of Bob Clampett pundits, the one which was compelling me to at last remove myself for all time from that group of people pridefully incompatible with me and my sensibilities on the subject of aesthetically fascinating animated cartoons and assemblages of them on television. After the untimely end, in 2008, of the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION DVD range leaving hundreds of post-1948 cartoons unreleased on the home video format of the 2000s, my tolerance of the anti-post-1948-cartoons attitude of the legions of Bob Clampett-lauding cartoon fans populating the Trading Post, was at an all-time low. I had had enough of them, to be frank. More than enough. And an argument over whether "Hyde and Hare" can justly be called a masterpiece or not, it having been directed by Friz Freleng whom the Clampett boosters routinely accosted as being "a hack", it being from a time when cartoon animation was being economised and effort was invested in imagined story situation and creatively abstract, aesthetically compelling (for me) design for milieus and character bodies and movements, and whether it belonged on a list of best hundred cartoons as I believed that it did, or indeed whether a plurality of the post-1948 cartoons should be on such a list, and a total lack of support from anyone for my position in the exchange of opposing ideas on what constitutes art in cartoons, was all too reminiscent of my confounded experience with the fans of Space: 1999. And it served as attestation to the fact that I was tilting at a huge windmill as I had done in the fandom for Space: 1999. Another cause going against a bandwagon's trajectory, with no hope of a future breakthrough. Why bother persisting with it? Those halcyon days of my early years on the Internet when I did have supporters, were long-gone by then. Definitely.
It is counter-intuitive. The Bugs Bunny Show, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, etc. had been the renowned torch-bearer for the popularity of Bugs Bunny and other Warner Brothers cartoon characters for forty years, topping the ratings for Saturday morning consistently for those four decades, and all of them consisting exclusively of post-1948 cartoons. Why was that popularity not being represented proportionally on Internet discussion forums through the 2000s? Why was there not a single person standing tall beside me and telling to these people to show to me the respect that I have earned with my work, and to stop trying to consensus-build an anti-post-1948 cartoons monolithic establishment, and saying to them that their attitude is not universal and probably not even majority among people in general? Why? Is the popularity of the aforementioned television programmes and their constituent cartoons an illusion? Or am I living in an inverted-reality nightmare? I do not want to be in such a nightmare? I hate the thought of such. Was I yet again imprinted mentally by the "wrong section" of a body of work? Am I condemned always to be the branded-illegitimate outlier everywhere I go? What an awful experience to have to endure in perpetuity! I hate the idea of this too.
In 2009, I had reached the end of my rope, as it were, in having to absorb the disparaging remarks and assured-as-being-right-in-a-vaunted-group attitudes of these people. Their proud proclamations at having a consensus, a consensus as usual contrary to me. And the condescension of people in the group toward me, lecturing me about how alone that I am and how I should therefore, in abject, mortified defeat, acknowldege the illegitimacy of my perspective and keep my mouth shut, or my typewriting fingers still, while the people "dish out" their antipathy for the post-1948 cartoons again and again, year after year, inflamed me to the core of my being. It added insult to the injury of not being able to have hundreds of cartoons on DVD after decisions had been made with the abortive GOLDEN COLLECTION DVD range to favour the pre-1948 cartoons, and of the derisive commentaries on certain post-1948 cartoons on the existing DVDs. In my anger, I made some factual errors in my writing, and I was pounced-upon for them by some of my detractors including the gentleman who first dismissed my "Hyde and Hare" article back in 1997, him emerging from the woodwork to join the chorus of people branding me "emo" and deserving of a textual lashing and censure. Make one mistake, and everything that one has said can be branded patently erroneous. To be in error one time, means that one has zero credibility for all time. Everything that I had written on the subject of cartoons was being disregarded, and I was judged as being a petulant little boy for objecting to such. There was scant respect for the work that I put into writing those Web pages. The work that included, if I must say so, a certain eloquence in addition to an observational acuity. One person, with initials J.J., was exceedingly vicious toward me after I apologised for an error that I had made. "Oh, Kevin," I say most emphatically to myself, "never, ever apologise to people like him!" The lack of any allies in that group, and the total lack of empathy in it for how such made me feel, was more than sufficient evidence that these people were as unworthy of my time, attention, and adherence as the fans of Space: 1999.
And I was anything but happy with the Web page traffic at my Website in 2009. It had been in decline for many years. Geocities was announcing that it would soon be ceasing its offering of Internet space to members of the public, and I did not feel motivated to work on moving my Website to somewhere else on the World Wide Web. After my conflict in 2009 with the Termite Terrace Trading Post's oh, so venerable members, I opted to forestall Geocities' ending of by Website by terminating it myself. Not long after returning to home from the broadcasters' conference in 2009, I pulled the proverbial plug on my Website. This was one of three occurrences that brought my life's seventh era finally to a close. I had also joined the social Website, Facebook, in August of 2008 (a few weeks before I went to St. John's), and I was having pleasant, gratifying social connections there that put to shame the quality of interaction on discussion forums. Social connections including some rejoinings with old friends from as far back in my life as Douglastown and Era 2. Indeed, over the course of the final five months of 2008 and the first two-thirds of 2009, I viewed Facebook and what was called "social media" as my place on the Internet. My euphoria over being in communication with all of those people of my past was immense. And a huge part of it was a feeling of community, lifetime continuity, and unqualified belonging to me that I had not experienced in many, many years. And as circumstances would soon lead me into a darker region of life's journey, the presence of those old friends in my life by way of Facebook, would be very, very beneficial for me. It was as if it was ordained that they would be with me again with the turmoil through which I was about to live.
The final era-ending occurrence would be my mother's open-heart surgery in November of 2009. Aneurysms in her heart valves were a worsening condition for her, and she refused to quit smoking even in the days leading to her surgery. She had a difficult, protracted recovery from surgery, she was irritable in her withdrawal from nicotine (her not being able to smoke after surgery), and Christmas of 2009 in the McCorry household was one of tribulation and little happiness. My father had a heart flutter and had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance. I was having to contend with the stress of having two ailing parents. All by myself. I had no one to help me. Happily, my father's condition was not so serious as to require a hospital stay. I think that his heart flutter was due to stress over my mother's difficulties. And my mother had to undergo another operation on her heart in early March of 2010, an operation that she did not survive. She died in post-op. My mother's first surgery and her difficult recovery from that had jarred me clear of any feeling of normalcy, and her death shook my world to its foundations.
In the final few years of this life era, I was watching episodes of Gunsmoke and Space: 1999 on DVD on Sunday mornings, trying to approximate the experience that I might have had, if I had lived not in New Brunswick but in Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, with watching Space: 1999 preceded by Gunsmoke on CBHT, CBIT, or CBCT in the A.M. of Sundays between May of 1983 and April of 1985. I bought DVDs of all that was available of Gunsmoke on late-2000s digital videodisc, and scheduled 10 A.M. viewings of Gunsmoke episodes, with watching of Space: 1999 episodes at 11 A.M.. With the launching of Teltooon Retro in 2008, I watched The Pink Panther Show and The Road Runner Show on that new Canadian cable television broadcaster whenever I had occasion to do so. I bought the first season episodes of Rocket Robin Hood on DVD and was awaiting the DVD release (in 2010) of Seasons Two and Three of Rocket Robin Hood. My mother accompanied me to the 2007 Fredericton Exhibition, and my thoughts that day were with the upcoming release of Doctor Who- "Planet of Evil" on DVD that autumn. And in the mid-to-late-2000s, I discovered an Internet video service called YouTube onto which people were posting videotape-recordings of television broadcasts of the 1970s and 1980s. Nostalgia in me for past eras of my life, especially Era 2, was sparked and re-energised to an enormous degree, in my watching of some of those offerings on YouTube, most especially one with the final commercial interval and end credits of the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour episode of August 21, 1976 on CBS, whose final ten minutes or so I had seen at my grandparents' house on that day so long ago. In the era of my life that was my Douglastown years, with all of my friends there. It felt, more than it did for some time, like I was back in that time. And there were old Sesame Street segments available for viewing, including the one with a flower in a big city and one with the letter, e, wherein a young character is riding an eagle, chasing a beagle, to a Queen by the sea. The music was so very evocative of tender feelings of innocence and comfort in beneficent surroundings, that it stirred me to remember my Douglastown years with more longing and sentimentality than I had felt before. It was bringing tears to my eyes. I felt a surge of affection for my cat, Sammy, sitting beside me, for my parents, for my old friends, for my old sitters, for everyone who had been with me in those years of long ago. Having not been back in Douglastown and the Miramichi region of New Brunswick since 2000, I went back to the Miramichi region and Douglastown for a summertime visit of multiple days' length in 2007 and saw my sitter, Mrs. Walsh, and the grandfather of my old friends, Johnny and Rob, at their homes that were familiar to me from my Douglastown years in the 1970s. It would be the last time that I would see them. They died late in the following March.
I saw none of my old friends on that visit but did have some reunions with pals of yesteryear in another summertime sojourn in the Miramichi region in 2008. Ev and I met for a few minutes in his parents' kitchen, Sandy and I spent an hour or so together, and Rob and I had a first-time-in-31-years coming together completely by lucky chance (he was visiting his grandmother at the same time as I was back in Douglastown that summer), and spent a whole evening together at his grandmother's place in Douglastown, fondly remembering old times and sharing perspectives on present-day circumstances. Rob and I had some photographs snapshot of us, had a brief walk together on familiar Douglastown ground and pavement, and shared e-mail addresses. We soon were friends on Facebook, and those e-mail addresses were thereafter no longer our chosen means for our communication. Facebook Messenger was, in our mutual opinion, much more efficient and dependable than e-mail. I saw Rob again in 2009 on my trek back to Fredericton from the broadcasters' conference in Halifax. I stopped at the Tim Horton's in Amherst, Rob's then home town, and he met me there for coffee. We sat and talked for an hour or so. Sandy's mother had died, and he was more nostalgic for olden days than I had hitherto known him to be. We would have some of our sweetest reunions in years of 2010s, before cancer very sadly ended Sandy's life in 2014.
Actor deaths were on the increase. Jack Palance departed Earth in 2007, Barry Morse joined the choir invisible in 2008, and I remember my father one Sunday morning in spring of 2008 telling me of the death of Charlton Heston.
For Christmas in 2007, I bought a Samsung flat-screen widescreen liquid-crystal display television, which I would use as a computer monitor in addition to an apparatus for watching DVD from a standalone DVD player, and for viewing broadcast television. DVDs from Europe looked gorgeous when played on my computer onto my new television. Although I was much the cynic in 2007 where writing was concerned, having scarcely any inclination to believe that I could make a difference in the sensibilities of the Zeitgeist, I that year created a Weblog for my Website and wrote occasonal entries for it for two years before I terminated my Website in 2009. For some time, my Weblog was all that I worked upon on my Website. And for Christmas in 2008, my mother bought for me a new desktop computer.
Christmas of 2008 was the final normal Christmas in the McCorry home. The last Christmas on which my parents and I exchanged gifts and my mother cooked a turkey dinner. I bought for myself DVDs of Blake's 7 and the second season of Star Blazers and remember watching the Blake's 7 episode, "Ultraworld", while the Christmas Day smell of roasting turkey filled the house. I remember going for a walk that day with overcast skies and warmer than normal Christmastime temperatures.
The first few months of 2009 had Fredericton buried in grotesque amounts of snow. And for the first time ever, my father had to hire a team of workers to remove snow from our house's roof. Later, as the snow was melting, H1N1 made its unwelcome appearance in the world, giving to me something of which to be fearful for the balance of that year and some of 2010. The global financial crisis of 2008 was affecting my workplace, as numerous colleagues lost their jobs in early 2009. My Legislature duties that continued to be essential to my employer, shielded me from rounds of worker dismissals at Rogers Television.
In 2008, Teletoon Retro began broadcasting. On it were The Road Runner Show, The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show (the fourth and fifth seasons thereof, in a slapdash reassembled form), and The Pink Panther Show. Via its Teletoon Retro transmission, The Pink Panther Show was being seen in Canada's eastern Maritimes for the first time since ATV ceased airing of it in the 1980s. In 2008 and 2009, I used to hurry to home after work to see The Pink Panther Show in its weekdays-at-6 P.M. telecasts. Teletoon showed the first three seasons of The Pink Panther Show comprising all of the cartoons of the Inspector and the Ant and Aardvark and almost all of the Panther's pre-1974 carroons. And some select episodes of the syndicated Pink Panther Show seasons, though none with cartoons of the Texas Toads and Misterjaw. The Toads only appreared in an interstitial segment or two.
In 2009, my association with the fan following for the Warner Brothers cartoons was scarcely any better than my involvement with Space: 1999 fandom had become in its darkest hours, and I was not exactly experiencing edification from the quarters of other fan movements, either. My enthusiasm for writing contributions to the pool of knowledge for all things imaginative, was at a nadir at that time.
My vexation with the confounded arrogance of the fans of Bob Clampett at the Termite Terrace Trading Post, their smugness at being evidently in the majority there, and their proliferating remarks of derision toward the Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson cartoons of post-1948, and all of it with a mind toward building a consensus to steamroll over any favourable point of view as regards those cartoons, was coming to a boil as summer of 2009 was starting. Before my aggrieved and infuriated eyes, the post-1948 cartoons were being made the Space: 1999- Season Two of the Warner Brothers cartoons filmography. And after all that had been flung in my direction in my Space: 1999 fandom experience, the prospect of this, the thought of what happened to Season Two Space: 1999 having an analogue in the following of my other great fascination of most of my years, the Warner Brothers cartoons, asthetes of the work that I esteem being judged to be mentally ill, denied of any given credence, regarded with contempt as garbage human beings, was filling me with seething indignation and sometimes outright rage. This and the thought that yet again all that I had written had been for nought. Or perhaps even counter-productive, inciting people to embrace all the more, and in larger numbers, the earlier portion of the oeuvre being used against the later section of it whose aesthetic qualities I was endeavouring to elucidate, and to join the detractors of my favourites in a unison and a touted consensus of repudiation and condemnation of what I hold dear. Any person with empathy would see this and fully understand why I was reacting to it as I was. There was evidently nary a single such person at the Termite Terrace Trading Post of 2009.
Indeed, blinkered thinking, and consensus-building based on blinkered thinking, appeared to be legion everywhere I went. With me always "on the outside, looking in" (to use one of my father's favourite expressions). That and writing articles to which no one was attentive or appreciative. Plus having to read over and over again sweeping dismissals, never contested by anyone but me, of what I was lauding as being artistically valuable. Discovering this to be the case in cartoon fandom as it had been in the loutish herd of followers of Space: 1999. Oh, how that galled me!
I strive not to be blinkered myself, but I admit that I can be so if I am on the defencive as regards my favourite works, if a section of a series of works venerated by me less than another section of such, is being used against what I am lauding. I am only human, after all. I have made mistakes. I erred in forestalling Dean's priority in the revealing of numerous aesthetic observations about symbolism in Season Two Space: 1999. I was mistaken in composing that nit-picking column in the fan club newsletter in the mid-1990s. And then my woe-be-gone tussles on the Internet with fans of Space: 1999. But these were errors of judgement, born of naivete and/or egocentricity, in considering people's probable reactions to what I was about to do, and choosing accordingly whether or not to proceed. They were not errors of aesthetic sensibility, acuity of observation, awareness of artistry in storytelling and of potential subtle philosophical meaning in story subject matter, and articulation of such meaning. To my dismay and distess, I found that yet another of my long-time favourite entertainments was surrounded by fans of an inclination to malign a large swath of its offerings, imaginative offerings that I fancied and admired.
Much as it inflames me to say, there is a parallel between what I experienced in Space: 1999 fandom and what was before my eyes in my involvement with the fans of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies on the Internet. It is not a perfect parallel, I hasten to say. I love both seasons of Space: 1999. From my first experience of them onward into my later life, I always did love them. With the Warner Brothers cartoons, however, I do not love the pre-1948 portion of the corpus. Overall. In general. I do like some of the pre-1948 cartoons. Yes, I do. And although the majority of them may not be to my taste, although I did not see the merit in them that I perceived in the post-1948 cartoon shorts, I was prepared to respect them and to acknowledge or perhaps even coopt persuasive arguments for any sophistication or meaning in them. I came to cartoon fandom with this mindset, and it was the right one to have. But that chalice was poisoned by the fans' attitude toward the cartoons that I admire and cherish. I came to resent their preferred cartoons, as a result. And their arguments about abundant rubbery animation being the only factor in determining a cartoon's worth, whether it signified anything or not, did not hold much currency for me, in any case. I soon was no longer was of a mind to be receptive to adulation for the cartoons directed by Clampett and others before 1948. And it grated on me to see the pre-1948 cartoons dominate the cartoon selection on DVDs and the cartoon clips used for documentaries on the DVDs.
There were parallels between how a section of a science fiction/fantasy work esteemed by me, Space: 1999, was ravaged by fans closed-mindedly favouring another portion of the oeuvre, and how the post-1948 cartoons of Warner Brothers were being rejected and besmirched by fans of the pre-1948 cartoons of same cartoon production studio, and the Bob Clampett cartoons in particular. And between how I reacted to both situations. And in how I was treated by the fan group in consequence in both cases. The parallels were not lost on me, and it distressed and inflamed me that I could seemingly find no respite anywhere from my minority of one status as an aesthete of imaginative entertainment. That yet again a work that was a large part of my life in many an era, was being the victim of a "smear campaign", and my objection to such being met with invalidation. The parallels are not perfect, however. With Space: 1999, I continue to appreciate the subject matter of both seasons, despite my resentment over how I was treated by the fans of the first season. Mind, there are times when my resentment hampers my enjoyment of viewing of either of the two seasons. As is also the case for my viewing of the cartoons, those of both pre- and post-1948. I can channel my younger self's love for Space: 1999 to counter the resentment somewhat. I am less able to do that for the Warner Brothers cartoons, as I saw very few of the pre-1948 cartoons in my formative years.
As noted several paragraphs above, certain persons at the Termite Terrace Trading Post were arguing that "Hyde and Hare" could not possibly be a masterpiece, and nor could anything else made at Warner Brothers' cartoon studios in its time period of production, the mid-1950s, at least not anything to come out of the Freleng cartoon production unit, because the cartoon animation was not lavishly funded, some economising had to be done, and Gerry Chiniquy was one of Freleng's cartoon-animators. Yes, there was a slurring of the work of veteran Freleng cartoon animator Gerry Chiniquy. The same Gerry Chiniquy, who was, in Freleng's estimation, the very best dance animator at the cartoon studio.
When I objected to the argument, was the sole objector in the vaunted group of animated cartoon aficionados, I was "slapped down", first with accusations of being an "emo" child, and then with a further argument about "Hyde and Hare", in having some economy of cartoon animation, being no better than the Rudy Larriva-directed Road Runner cartoons of the mid 1960s, which were epitomes of cost-cutting and corner-cutting in cartoon production. Not that I dislike the Road Runner cartoons of Rudy Larriva. But they, along with the Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales mid-1960s cartoons, were the deep trough in the Warner Brothers cartoon filmography after 1948. I acknowledge that. It would be delusional not to do so. But "Hyde and Hare", and almost every other Warner Brothers cartoon short of the mid-1950s, was not in the same dubious league as the mid-1960s cartoons of the Road Runner. Yes, the budgets for production of the mid-1950s cartoons had been reduced from those of the 1940s, but that does not preclude them from being artistic in their ideas, in their story, in their design and stylisation. In how directors "worked around" the budget reductions and created imaginative and meaningful situations and characters using the money that they had. Bugs was no longer just evading hunters in the woods. He was going everywhere, and everywhen. Sylvester and Tweety were seldom confined to a house. Pepe Le Pew was in exotic locations. Not just the streets of Paris. Daffy Duck was in a vast array of milieus, plying his dubious trade in heroism. And the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons, although in the desert in all of their cartoons, were innovative in the gags with ACME products. In no way does a moderate reduction in cartoon-animation necessarily equate them with the Rudy Larriva Road Runners and the slashing of costs with those. With regard to budgets allocated and the effect of reduced funding, there is a matter of degree to be considered. Of course, there is. Any rational person should think so. The mid-1960s Road Runners were an extreme case of the effects of budget cutting. Less so, much less so, the cartoons of the mid-1950s. This is a nuanced view. This is a sophisticated view. Not the view of a simpleton who only sees things in a black-and-white way, who says that only cartoons with unlimited animation, can be appreciated aesthetically and intellectually. That nothing meaningful can come of a cartoon whose makers had budget in mind. Ridiculous. "One Froggy Evening" was made on a mid-1955, not a 1940s, budget, and it was anything but an artistically vacuous piece of tripe. Several 1950s cartoons won Oscars. Most of them directed by Freleng. The Motion Picture Academy was evidently impressed by them. I doubt that it would have much in the way of praise for the mid-1960s Road Runner cartoons helmed by Larriva. Where there is a directive to use restraint in cartoon animation, a director and his team will endeavour to up their creative game, as it were, opting for some other means for conveying their ideas, something other than than ostentatious movement of a surfeit of characters populating the film frame. More paired-down and more potentially cogent inter-character conflict. More subtle and meaningful expressions. A stylised character or background design to convey some message to the viewer who is paying close attention, who is not just being dazzled by a screen-filling spectacle of frenetic movement of many characters and excesses of zaniness.
I said all of this, and was condemned for it. No one tried to see my point of view. Rather, I was the recipient of a condescending lecture (as though I was a petulant tyke) to the effect that I am alone on the group in thinking this way, that I am a minority of one and as such not to be paid any heed, and that I just have to accept such and shut my trap. More and more new people would be discovering the cartoons, and now that the cartoons are all in the same package of televised cartoon shorts at Cartoon Network, "newbies" would be surveying cartoons of the decades side by side, and all would opine that the pre-1948 cartoons, especially those directed by Bob Clampett ones, are the better ones. So, there. More or less, that was what was said, and of course, after my long history as the patent illegitimate fan of Space: 1999, it inflamed me to my being's core.
And people who regard the pre-1948 cartoons as the best ones must necessarily all hate the balance of the Warner Brothers cartoon filmography, dismissing it utterly as aesthetically void abominations, and rejecting all arguments in favour of any cartoon of that time period- and condescending to lecture the person protesting their attitude and their insistence upon an consensus of opinion in line with their persuasion. Oh, yes, of course. Everything is absolute. Space: 1999- Season One, magnificent; Space: 1999- Season Two, cow dung. Pre-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons, the very best of the Warner Brothers cartoon studio; post-1948 cartoons, waste of celluloid. It is not enough that one's preferred season of a television series or production block of cartoon shorts is hearlded as an artistic triumph. The other season or seasons have to be universally rejected as worthless bilge.
Not that I am agreeing that Season Two Space: 1999 or the post-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies are inferior to what came before them, but if one does accept that the body of work said to be of a quality lesser than that of something previous, is indeed an inferior, does that inferiority preclude it from having admirable qualities? Of being artistic in its own right? Many, many people seem to think so. I use the word, think, loosely. In my estimation, it is balderdash to contend that because something is esteemed less by the dominant faction of a fan movement, that it is therefore unworthy of any esteem at all, execrable and utterly disposable. Not deserving of release on DVD. And that anyone who thinks otherwise is a "loon". Or a child in a man's body to be "talked-down-to", sometimes by much younger persons. Many of the contributors to the Termite Terrace Trading Post discussions were of the Millennial generation (born post-1982), or Generation X persons of a birth year in the late 1970s.
Like the Space: 1999 fans, they are empathy-deficient. They cannot comprehend another point of view on their favourite entertainment or appreciate any observation or insight born of that different point of view. And they have no understanding of how invested a person can be in something that had influenced his or her aesthetic sensibilities from a young age through early and mid-adulthood, and cannot identify with that person's feelings of indignation over the rejection of those sensibilities and the dismissal of that person and his personal history in which his entertainment favourites had been integral part, as being illegitimate. Nor can they even imagine how it feels. Before I departed the Trading Post, its door's wood giving me splinters on my way out of the room of spiky, condescendingly arrogant, blinkered persons, I told them what I thought of them and their lack of empathy. There had been some empathetic people there in years past when I had earlier tussles with the Clampett worshippers. They had been empathetic enough to reach out to me privately to give moral support. But in 2009, such people were long gone from the group, or still were there and no longer having empathy for me, or possibly had joined the prevailing flock like lemmings in building a "consensus" against there being any worth to the post-1948 cartoons, calling for only the pre-1948 cartoons to be on DVD, and so forth.
It is not that I cannot empathise with their love or the pre-1948s, but I do not have information to the effect that such love, heedless utterly of beauty in the later cartoons, is founded on a sound aesthetic footing. As far as I can tell, the earlier cartoons are not particularly beautiful or meaningful. A sizable number of them are black and white and look to be drawn with compasses and protractors with little shape refinement. Where are the clever abstractions of shape and detail? They are ultiltarian in trying to make people laugh, all too often poorly timed and laboured in endeavouring to do so, and not stimulating as ephemeral entertainment. The pacing is leaden, the humour is protracted (I cited the quite circulrly rotund hotel manager falling down the stairs in "Porky's Pig's Feat", that goes on and on and on and on and stopped being funny long, long before the last yelp of pain is uttered by the manager, as an example of my contention in this regard, and was almost lynched for so-doing) and too often based on ugly-looking stereotypes and bad taste in bold and ostentatious display.
But as I have said, I was willing to respect the earlier cartoons and appreciate any meaning to them that may be indicated by their fans, before that cup was tainted with those fans' attitude toward the post-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and their Bob-Clampett-is-God, Friz-Freleng-is-rubbish, and Chuck-Jones-is-not-as-good-as-he-is-said-to-be bearing stated ad nauseam, one person after another, and all of them trumpeting a consensus that they have reached. Me? I am the outlier again. The misfit. Made to have my dubious status thrown in my face day after day at the same time as a favourite entertainment of mine is being assailed. Where I have experienced this before? To ask a rhetorical question.
I cannot express satisfactorily in words how galling that it was to be going through much the same thing with the Warner Brothers cartoons as I had with Space: 1999. It would look at first glance to be some cruel, sick joke. But, no. These people were not joking. And another one of my most favourite television programmes from my youth's best years, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, was in the process of being defiled as Season Two Space: 1999 had been. It and subsequent television programmes assembled from the vintage Warner Brothers cartoons of the years after 1948, when cartoon series of the dozen or so Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters were established and thriving in their creativity within their particular formulae, stylisation was lavish, at its peak, and subtlety and nuance and meaning were the orders of the day in cartoons that were funny at the same time as having commentary on the human and animal condition. The assailing was obscene, in my view. It was a grotesque inverting of a reality that I had come to accept for nearly four decades of my life, that the cartoon shorts of the time period of the director triumvirate of Jones, Freleng, McKimson were the ultimate expression of the genius of the animated cartoon and the supreme achievements of the Warner Brothers cartoon studio, beloved by the masses in their broadcasts on television since 1960. And these people had no humility whatsoever in stating their opinion that the DVDs should be dominated by pre-1948 cartoons and that I am wrong to think otherwise. My vexation was intense. So very intense.
Happily, my life was not all vexation. I had some places to where I could go to have a spatial connection to better times, happier times, times of belonging, of being accepted, times whose memory brought comfort to me when I was feeling under siege by present-day tribulations, tribulations at work (as was the case in 2002), tribulations at my computer at home, reading besmirching of my entertainment favourites, and the push for a consensus that those people debasing the objects of my affection were always seeking to grow. Comfort, that is, in having been accepted and happy, once. Comfort in not finding adversity everywhere I had been. Comfort in knowing that my place in the world and my sense of belonging in it had not always been under seige. The Miramichi region was one of those places to where I could go for such comfort. Skyline Acres in Fredericton, place of my grandparents' old home, was another. For a time, I could find respite from the disagreeable experiences of my present. But it was transitory, alas. Minutes after the switching-on of my computer, I was subject to a renewed round of repudiations of my entertainment favourites, with never an outcry from anyone. And so it went.
My involvement on the Internet started with tumultuous waters in the sea of Space: 1999 fandom, and in 2009 it was coming to an end, apart from my Facebook social connections, with me in a maelstrom of flak coming from cartoon fans. Two disagreeable bookends, as it were. And I was anything but confident of there being much solace to be had in the fan followings of other entertainments. Blinkered, contrary thinking and utter rejection of my work appeared to be inescapable in the niches of the Internet in which I had ventured in my quest for kindred spirits and value for my experiences, observations, and insights. And it truly seemed to be time to don my hat and step through the door to the outside, to be met by what friends of old there were on Facebook.
There can be no reasoning with people such as these. Not in Space: 1999's following. Nor in that of the cartoons of Warner Brothers. Nor in Spiderman fan circles (the majority opinion there holds that Ralph Bakshi's Spiderman seasons are to be forgotten). I wasted so much time in trying to do so. So much time in a fan club, and on discussion forums. And so much time also with the writing of my Web pages? That did appear to be the case in 2009.
In 2009, Music World in the Fredericton Mall was soon to close, while a HMV store in the Regent Mall had a sizable and stalwart clientele and was selling DVDs in sufficient number to maintain a DVD section. However, the economic crisis would eventually result in its closure also. I bought some DVDs from HMV in 2009. Not many. A handful. What few DVDs of interest to me that were released that year. A special edition of Flash Gordon. Some DVDs of the 1960s Canadian children's television series, The Forest Rangers. The Forest Rangers DVDs had video quality scarcely any better than that of VHS videotape. The company that released them did not go to original film negatives and do a remaster; the episodes were ported onto DVD from ageing videotape masters. I was alone at home watching The Forest Rangers DVDs in autumn of 2009 when my mother was in preparation for surgery for her aneurysm condition.
Also in that autumn, I bought such Doctor Who DVDs as those of the serials, "The Keys of Marinus", "The Twin Dilemma", "Frontier in Space", and "Planet of the Daleks" (with a re-colourisation of its third episode, that episode having been available only in black and white on VHS videotape and omitted from the serial in its North American television broadcasts in the 1980s and 1990s). DVD special editions of Star Trek movies also were released in autumn of 2009, and I purchased those a week or two before Christmas.
My mother's difficult convalescence after her surgery and her death after a subsequent surgical procedure effectively upended my life. Thereafter, death was now a constant, tangible concern. Nothing could be expected to be the same as one day after another. The reassuring presence of my mother in my life and the feeling of security in my parents' combined support of me, was lost. My father and I bonded in our grief and in our need to continue functioning with my mother gone, and I had to be mentally ready every day, every morning I awoke, every day I came home from work, for the possibility that he may expire, too. My friends on Facebook provided sympathy, solace, and encouragement for me in those, for me, unprecedented times, and I embraced my connections on Facebook with friends after having opted to retire from hosting a Website.
Having delineated the elements of this new reality in my life, I now bring my Era 7 memoirs to a close.
McCorry's Memoirs Addendum.