Onward I go with this Weblog. Everything from 2007 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2015 has been archived.
My Space: 1999- Season Two Blu-Ray set arrived late in the afternoon on Thursday when I was out on a local television production relating to the current federal election. I arrived at home at 10 P.M. to find the Blu-Ray set in my mailbox. More than a day later in arriving than what was expected with the money that I had paid for shipping. But as I say, where Space: 1999 is concerned, nothing goes smoothly.
So, what is the verdict?
First of all, the fourth Blu-Ray disc in the set will not play on the better of my two multi-region players. It is the first time that I have come across a Blu-Ray disc that failed to load, my player giving me a notation of, "Cannot play this disc." It does play in my other multi-region Blu-Ray machine, with a slightly less crisp picture quality. I have a second set on its way to me, and when that one arrives, I will be able to tell if the Blu-Ray disc is defective in one specific case, or if it has a different encode that my better player cannot process.
Network Distributing has done a first-class job on restoring the episodes visually. They all look outstandingly detailed and colourful. If I had to quibble, I would say that the multiple exposure procedure used to film the transparent Vindrus in "A Matter of Balance" and Koenig's ghosts in "The Lambda Factor" still shows an unsatisfying, fluttery variation in brightness, film grain, and colour temperature. Which could be corrected, I would think, with some extensive work. But I cannot complain, as Network did the best that could be done within budget. I am happy to say that the arm placing the laser in Magus' hand in "New Adam, New Eve" and the brief appearance of a clapperboard at Vindrus' first appearance in "A Matter of Balance" are now, thankfully, gone. I will have to check again, but I think that a boom microphone was also eliminated from camera-shot in the scene of Shermeen approaching the temple in "A Matter of Balance", and also that the wooden fringing of Petrov's console (in a scene in "The Metamorph") is now cropped out of picture. A wooden support beam for the command module of Koenig's Eagle in "Devil's Planet", visible in the European DVDs, is now also cropped away, happily. I think that this is as thorough as the remastering team were in removing illusion-shattering material. The wires on the Eagles can still be seen. The compressed air nozzle next to Barbara Bain's face can still be seen in "The Metamorph" (that easily could have been cropped off- and it was cropped off on the A & E DVDs). And people and a canoe can still be seen in the background as John and Maya are swimming in "The Rules of Luton". I do applaud Network for doing what it did, though, in not showing certain material not intended by the production crew to be seen by the viewer.
Going into these Blu-Rays, I did have misgivings about audio. My main worry was the clarity and intensity of the music. And with regard to "The Metamorph", the music continues to be a problem. It is still weak, lacks dynamism, is buried at times under the sound effects. Yes, even on the 5.1. The music that plays as Koenig is talking with Mentor in the Grove of Psyche and realises with aghast revulsion what Mentor has done, still lacks sufficient audibility. The sound of Psyche's processes overpowers it, even though the person doing the mix reduces the sound of Psyche to try to give prominence to the music. And the music accompanying the launch of Eagle Four still lacks the sense of grandeur meant to accompany the first lift-off of an Eagle in Season Two and which before the A & E DVD releases used to stir me greatly.
Happily, bar perhaps "Seed of Destruction", all of the other episodes that I have watched thus far have excellent sound quality for the music. The music in "Seed of Destruction" as Koenig is discovering that his jacket markings have been reversed, becomes muffled. That is the only instance outside of "The Metamorph" whereby the music has thus far disappointed.
I cannot help but note a muffling of some of the foley tracks, most noticeably in "Seed of Destruction", in which I am used to hearing the click-clacking of shoes, the rip sound of the replica removing the crystal from the cave wall, the slamming shut of Koenig's survey case, etc.. All sound muffled. I am aware of the foley in some other episodes being less distinctive to the ear, and come to think of it, I did notice such on some first season episodes too. I thought that it might have been a deliberate aesthetic editing decision on the new 5.1 audio tracks, but now I am not so sure. I suspect that the foley tracks have degraded over the past decades and cannot be restored to the same quality as music, dialogue, and the electronic sound effects.
Another oddity about the remixed audio is that now there are sound effects for exterior Moonbase scenes, for the Moon drifting, and for planets rotating in space. They are weird and difficult to describe. I never heard such sound effects before on viewing the episodes. Not even on initial broadcast.
Original mono audio is still available on the episodes, but it sounds hollow and has hiss. I prefer the 5.1 with its faults and oddities.
As outstanding as the episodes look, I must say that I am disappointed with the still picture galleries. The quality is a diminishing from that of the first season Blu-Rays' galleries. There are digital compression artifacts on many of the photographs. Residue can been seen on some of them. And there are black-and-white behind-the-scenes photographs that were not "ported over" from the DVDs. Several, in fact. The result being that the galleries are not comprehensive, not exhaustive. The first season Blu-Ray set had a greater range of photographs in its galleries. The compression artifacts are puzzling. Surely, higher quality scans could be done of photographs.
The student film from 1976 is excellent value. It gives perspectives of the production previously unseen. I cannot help but smile whenever I see Martin Landau in full costume standing outdoors in a car park. His comments, however, are nothing new. He says, more or less, the same things that he says in The Making of Space: 1999 and in the previously available interview on the outdoor set of "A Matter of Balance". I admire Martin Landau for his acting. He is, I believe, one of the twentieth century's best and greatest actors. Mind, my assessment of him is skewed by the fact that he played John Koenig, the leading hero of one of my favourite television shows. But I find that he has much gravitas whenever he is on screen, even when the role that he is playing is not exactly the most satisfying one for him to be essaying, like the one-dimensional antagonists he all-too-frequently was cast-as in his post-Space: 1999 years of the late 1970s and early 1980s. But much as I admire Landau the actor, his repertoire of thoughtful comments tends to be quite limited. I am not sure that he is a very philosophical or considered man. He knows how to convincingly assume other identities, and for that I applaud him, but I doubt if I would find him to be an interesting conversational partner. I struggle with the 44-minute interview of him in 1994. I could not go much past ten minutes of it before I had to switch it off and proceed to something else. I was not looking forward to listening to his opinions of Season Two of Space: 1999. Those come much later in the interview. Along the lines of it being cartoonish and comic-booky, invoking that snobbery against cartoons and comic books as an art form, that the fans of
I do not wish to appear ungrateful and churlish about this Blu-Ray set. It truly does merit the attention, the anticipation, that I have given to it. It feels so very good to hear excellent audio on those early episodes again, and "The Exiles", an episode that has always looked disappointingly smeary and full of flicker in previous video iterations, is breathtakingly beautiful on Blu-Ray. I am also happy to report that the penal colony of Entra in "Devil's Planet" now sounds exactly as it did back in 1977. All sound effects are there.
More to come.
Sunday, October 4, 2015.
Continuing my assessment of the Space: 1999- Season Two Blu-Ray set, moving beyond brief surveying of several of the episodes, I have proceeded to watch every episode in the set.
And I do have more bad news. No, nothing concerning the video restoration. That never wavers in its outstanding quality. It is the audio. The muffling in "Seed of Destruction" that I noted is, alas, not limited to just that episode. Three episodes now are quite evidently affected by deficient audio. In addition to "Seed of Destruction", "The AB Chrysalis" and "Catacombs of the Moon" qualify for this dubious honour. In fact, "Seed of Destruction" is the least bad of the three. The muffle of audio in "The AB Chrysalis" affects the music, and it warbles, varying in intensity as the music plays. The scene of the Eagle lifting off from the underground habitat of the planet and the climactic scene of the Alphans bracing for the blast wave that is expected to destroy Moonbase, has a very pronounced warble to the music. "The AB Chrysalis" had problematic audio on its DVD releases (all regions) and really has not sounded right since its laser videodisc release in 1991. I suspect that the audio on all film elements of the episode was put on inferior film stock, or on film stock that perhaps was damaged by dampness in the summer of 1976 ("The AB Chrysalis", "Catacombs of the Moon", and "Seed of Destruction" all were produced in the summer), the effects of that damage not becoming manifest until decades later. And it has worsened considerably since the DVD releases of 2001 and 2002. Unfortunately, I doubt that anything will be done now to restore the audio on these episodes. It would involve going back to Derek Wadsworth's original session recordings and mixing the music back into the episodes, and recording new foley where necessary. Alas, this Blu-Ray release will probably be the last that Season Two will ever see.
"Catacombs of the Moon" also has the warble to its music (though not as bad as with the music in "The AB Chrysalis"). And it, like "Seed of Destruction", has less discernible foley.
As undeniable the improvement of the audio is on the early Season Two episodes, three of the mid-season episodes have distinctly degraded audio. And all tracks on the Blu-Ray disc are affected. 5.1, mono, and music-only. The muffle effect mars all of them, sadly.
Yes, I am the only person to have noticed this, apparently. None of the reviewers have said anything about it. Not as yet, anyway. Doubtless, on discussion forums, I would be told that I am crazy (people in those groups always call into question my mental competence whenever I say anything that they disagree with) if I were to call attention there to this problem. But I know these episodes. I have heard them dozens upon dozens of times. An untoward change in their audio will immediately register to my attuned sense of aural discernment. These episodes do not sound as effective as they used to sound.
It has to be accepted that the ravages of time are robbing us stalwart aficionados, of the audio that we once enjoyed so very much on our favourite television shows and movies. The Bionic Woman also has audio issues, as, too, does On Her Majesty's Secret Service. They may and probably will, never again sound as they did when they were first televised or screened. I mourn the loss.
Twenty-one episodes out of twenty-four is still a good average. But it is not a "perfect game".
Some improvement has been done to images in my Era 1 memoirs, and a few new images have been added thereto, and some more text, too. I have also done some minor changing to my Space: 1999 Page.
All for today, October 6, 2015.
With further viewing of my Space: 1999- Season Two Blu-Ray set, I have, alas, found two more episodes to add to the problematic audio tally. "The Rules of Luton" has the warble to its music at the start of the "hook" after main title and, sadly, during the talk between Koenig and Maya on the mountaintop. Of all scenes to be affected, why that one?! Arguably one of my top three favourite scenes of the whole of Space: 1999. The music during the conversation seems fainter than what had been heard on previous iterations of the episode, and the music has a warble to it during some of the tenderest statements. The warble can also be heard at other times in Act 3 and in Act 4. And "The Mark of Archanon" has distinct music muffling when Pasc is telling the Alphans about his expedition and as Helena is examining Etrec after his fainting spell in Command Centre. At other times, there are "dropouts" in the music, including during the music playing at start of Act 1.
This brings to six the number of episodes with less than stellar audio. "The Metamorph" is passable. The music in it may not be overpowering, but it does not warble. This would leave five episodes, then, with a warbling or a muffling of music, plus some "quieter" foley. It is a "downer" on an otherwise outstanding Blu-Ray release. The perfect release of Space: 1999 continues to be elusive. And realistically, there will not be another.
I would say that the problem with the warbling or muffled music could be fixed by doing a re-mixing using Derek Wadsworth's original session tracks. But as this will doubtless be the last time that Space: 1999 will ever see release on physical media, what we now have is all that we will ever have.
To be honest, "The Rules of Luton", which used to be a personal favourite, is not an episode that I revisit very much these days. Which is why it was the second-to-last episode in the Blu-Ray set, that I watched. Yes, I am afraid that the constant belligerent "rapping" of it has vastly diminished my enjoyment. And if I am to be honest, I have to concede that production clearly was not at the top of its game in the making of "The Rules of Luton". There is a sense of the production team just wanting to spend as little time on location as possible and opting for one "take" of many scenes. Director and cameraman do not seem to have been concerned with keeping production crew and Black Park tourists out of film frame. There are more instances of production crew or persons extraneous to production "in picture" in this episode than in all other episodes combined. Maybe they are spectators that the Judges of Luton have "brought in" to observe the spectacle of mortal combat. Right. Whatever.
Indifference to this episode (and the others) may be the reason for audio problems not being detected so far by anyone besides me. The lack of love for Derek Wadsworth's expressive music, is so depressing. But it is a fact of life, and the biggest reason why I am not optimistic about ever again being able to hear that music effectively in the episodes currently affected by warble and muffle.
I am going to conclude my review of the Blu-Ray set by commenting about "Seed of Destruction" in Season One format, offered in this Blu-Ray set as a bonus item after "The Dorcons". Consensus appears to be overwhelmingly in favour of the experiment. And as usual, I do have to differ with "the herd". In my estimation, it does not work. Most of the music cues do not fit the scenes. Several of them hail from scenes of decidedly different theme, mood, or context in Season One. About the only ones that I feel are effective are those from "Earthbound" playing as Koenig is walking through the caverns of the Kalthon asteroid, and perhaps the fight music playing as Maya overcomes the Security guard blocking Maya and Tony from entering the Eagle (though I have never really cared for that fight music heard in Season One). What this experiment has done for me is to show very cogently how much I prefer Derek Wadsworth's Space: 1999 music to Barry Gray's. Wadsworth's music conveys a sound of the future, of the fantastic, of humanity, and of the otherworldly, of the uncanny, far more effectively in my estimation. Most of the music of Season One that I have fancied was not written by Gray at all. Adagio in "Dragon's Domain", for example. I do love Gray's music in "Black Sun" and "War Games" (especially during Prof. Bergman's soliloquy in "War Games"), but over the first season as a whole, Gray's scope is limited. There really was not very much to "choose from" for a Season One-styled musical score for "Seed of Destruction". Not from Gray, anyway. Some of the library music tracks used in Season One may have been more effective. Then again, I think "Dorzak" would have been a better candidate for "Season One" "treatment". Or "Devil's Planet". Yes, that is an episode that, I think, would be best fitted to the style of Season One, it not having Maya involved in it (in anything other than flashback) and it portraying an alien society that would, I think, aptly coincide with those seen in "The Last Enemy" and one or two other Season One episodes.
With this, I bring my review of the Space: 1999- Season Two Blu-Rays to a close. A release so frustratingly close to being definitive, missing the mark in the audio department. It pains me to say.
October 10, 2015.
Just to show how irrational the Season Two haters in Space: 1999 fandom are, here is exhibit A. From the Space: 1999 Facebook group.
"OK: 'Mark of the Archanon' S2E7. This episode has weird loop holes in it. #1 Why is Etrik's voice dubbed over? #2 We find out that these Archanons were on Earth in the past, then in the final scene after the Archanon ship lands at Alpha, the descendant of "Lyra" who was Pask's wife says that Lyra had been dead for 8K years. That means they came to the Earth 8K years ago?? And Pask says that the Earth was violent and hateful etc.......8K years ago....I don't get it..."
First of all. The title of the episode is "The Mark of Archanon". It is shown on screen. A simple clean pause of it (I presume that the person is not using an early-1980s two-head VHS videocassette machine) will reveal this for as many minutes are required for the person to read it, to absorb it, to process it. Next, the name of the character of Etrec is clearly seen on a medical monitor in the episode; no excuse for this person misspelling it. Ditto for the name of the character of Pasc. How on Earth is one supposed to seriously regard a critical sortie that is itself so full of egregious errors. And this is just the beginning. What in heck is a "loop hole"? Another term for "plot hole"? The dubbing-over of a character's voice, done throughout an episode because an actor's voice is considered ineffective, is not a "plot hole". And from where is the self-appointed critic pulling the "8K years ago"? Out of his backside? It is said more than once in the episode that Pasc and Etrec's generations of Archanons (including Lyra) visited the Earth-Moon system one thousand years previous. Not eight. One. One thousand. Eight thousand. Do those sound the same?! No. Is this person afflicted with a hearing problem, or is he just "making up" "plot holes" to "troll" the group? And yes, Pasc says that Earth of a thousand years previous, i.e. circa 1100 A.D., was violent and hateful. And it was. News flash. It still is in 2015. What is not to "get" from that? It is accurate. And it is quite cogent to me that the violence and hatred observed by the Archanons on Earth ignited the dormant "killing sickness" in Pasc.
There are things wrong with "The Mark of Archanon". It is far from my favourite episode. But this attack is so fundamentally wrong that it begs to be "called out" for its sheer silliness. And its irrationality, if the person issuing it is indeed serious and is not simply "trolling". And the irrationality permeating the group is made clear by the fact that not a single person in the group noted the glaring errors in the self-appointed critic's stance. No. Not a single person.
And here is exhibit B. Facebook group again.
"Well for my sins today it's 'Space Warp'... The lowest point for Space 1999 for me. Even the acting is parody like at times.. Landau struggling with the line, 'we must have gone through a Space Warp' The writing is like a 16 year olds fanfic imo..."
I left in the poor punctuation, the lack of hyphen in "parody-like", inappropriate capitalisation, a missing apostrophe, and the lack of colon in the television show's title, which any self-respecting Space: 1999 aficionado should not omit, if he or she wishes to be seriously regarded. Koenig does not say, "We must have gone through a space warp." He says, "They (Alpha) must have gone through a space warp." Big difference. And I see nothing wrong with Koenig's statement. It is a correct deduction based on the pertinent facts. What else is he to say? For him to say anything else would be stupid.
This is what I mean when I say that Space: 1999 fans are a blinkered, dense, even twisted bunch. They misrepresent the second season of their supposed favourite television show, doing so either on purpose or erroneously. But either way, there is no excuse for it, and no excuse for them.
All for today. Thanksgiving Sunday, 2015.
Amazingly, someone at the Facebook group for Space: 1999 tried to "call out" a Season Two hater in the usual daily attack "thread". Very sensible advice was given. Here that is.
"So you didn't like 'Year 2'. So what? Like 'Year One' and be happy. No need to have someone, anyone, bash 'Year Two'..... again."
And here is what the hater responded with, and there is a smile emoticon at the end of it. Ha! I am leaving the poor punctuation and bad grammar in it.
"I will say what I want to say....If you read my post carefully you see that I am simply commenting on the differences that I saw. The changes to the show are horrendous and should be commented on. Yes season 1 was so much better. Season 2 was abominable. It is the missed opportunity that hurts when I think of what a good second season should have been. Instead, we are just asked to accept the pile of crap and be happy. Sorry I cannot do that and if I like I will say so."
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the typical mentality of the Space: 1999- Season One fan. After nearly forty years. By the way, he has two "like clicks" from other fans. More to come, no doubt.
These are the people who are given credence whenever Space: 1999 is reviewed in publications. These are the people to whom "the herd" and persons writing about the fan movement panders and genuflects.
I was "booed" out of fandom for opposing such attitudes, while the presidents of fan clubs and editors of fan newsletters embraced these people whole-heartedly and relished joining the mob calling me Kevin the Destroyer. I do not think that the injustice could be better elucidated than to let their own words, their own obstinate and vulgar posturings, speak for themselves. Is this the cerebral person for whom Season One was meant? A sad state of affairs, because Season One was a quality work. Flawed, yes. But on the whole, quality.
Returning briefly to the subject of the Space: 1999- Season Two Blu-Rays. On watching "Seed of Destruction" in Season One format, I notice that the foley sounds much better in that than in the original episode. Which would lead one to suppose that either a different, degraded set of foley elements was used for the original episode, or a deliberate decision was made to "tone them down" for the original episode. Why, I have no idea. I would prefer to think the former of these to have been the case. But either way, the episode in its original format does not have as satisfying an audio quality as it previously had. Sad, because it looks so much better now than it used to. Why must there so often these days be a "trade-off" on video and audio quality?
October 13, 2015.
I woke myself this morning, visited the Roobarb's Forum and Space: 1999 Facebook group and received my daily dose of contrariness and invalidation, and I then asked myself what it is that keeps me going, and the answer is elusive as ever. I do not know. It cannot be the hope that this contrary tide will ever turn, because I know that to be patently impossible.
All I need to do is to not want something to happen, for it to happen. When it comes to sports, to politics, to whatever, this has been the norm now for quite some time. And this year has epitomised it more clearly than ever.
I have memories of times when the tide was not so contrary, but I am even starting to doubt those memories. I have been fighting the contrary tide for so long now that it is difficult to remember things ever having been different. I just do not belong in this world. I am a twentieth century man weaned on all of the wrong things, apparently. Or so my contemporaries of the past century never cease to demonstrate in their own glibly stated abandonment and expressed disdain of twentieth century works that I cherish, most especially the now matter-of-factly debased "lesser seasons" thereof.
It baffles me how Season Two of Space: 1999 even reached Blu-Ray. Doubtless, there is not a positive review of it to be found anywhere. And it is now established as fact that the era of Bugs Bunny is gone, and the cartoons produced post-1948 bereft of critical acclaim.
Of course, I knew that hate-filled sorties against Season Two of Space: 1999 would proliferate and go into overdrive with the release of the Blu-Ray set. I did not want for such to be the case. And so, it is the case. I do not want certain sports teams to win. And they do. I do not want a majority Liberal government. And that is going to happen, too. Etcetera. Etcetera. It is like this world, this universe, is intent on slapping me in the face over and over again until my dying day, which I am ultimately being conditioned to welcome. And to think that I desired immorality when I was a boy.
Nobody questions anything anymore. Nobody wonders how it is possible for a party to be third in the polls before the campaign to now be in reach of majority government. Nobody is critical of the processes that caused such to occur. Nobody challenges patently wrong attacks on the so-called "less acclaimed" season. Everyone just parrots the same "talking points" over and over again until they become "established fact" even if they are founded on ignorance and a wilful refusal to acknowledge merit- even when that merit is put before their eyes.
As I say, I do not know what keeps me going. It is not hope for the future. Not hope for even the slightest turn in the direction of the Zeitgeist. Walks into the local HMV and a gaze over the DVD and Blu-Ray offerings there tell me just how far the contrary tide has flowed in the past year alone.
When the Liberals win their majority government, they will be in power for a generation at least. And it will be legal to smoke marijuana. My insufferable junior high school peers will be pleased about that. Being "high" and "stoned" was all that they cared about. It is doubtless from the demographic of my age group that the Trudeau Liberals are receiving the bulk of their support. Landslide majority for them coming next Monday. Because it is not what I want. So, it must be so.
It would seem to me that a real progressive would want to improve the species, to pull the species away from compulsions to drug itself for pleasure. Not the opposite. But as I say, those abusive louts in junior high school will soon have the society that they wanted. And there will be a Trudeau in power for the last phases of my life as there was one in power in my life's first four eras.
Not that I advocate the Harper Conservatives. I do not. But I do not want the son of Pierre Trudeau given carte blanche to do what he wants with Canada for the next sixteen to twenty years. Mind, with Fukushima, I am not sure that there are even twenty years left for our civilisation.
Crazy century, this is. I hate it. God help me. I hate it.
But I move on today in this Weblog entry to bemoan yet again the attitudes in the Space: 1999 Facebook group. These last couple of days, the people there have been harping about a Weblog that someone wrote telling, in "Agony Booth"/Mystery Science Theatre 3000 style, that he and his wife watched "The Rules of Luton", hated and derided every minute of it, the wife saying that it was the worst thing she had ever seen in her life, and gave it a rating of a minus two out of ten. Some arrogant person in the Facebook group then smugly says that fans of "Year 2" should read that Weblog for remedial enlightenment, to show to them how wrong they are for appreciating that awful season. Nobody, absolutely nobody, told that person to come off of his stinking high horse.
How is one whiny woman's glib-"snarkiness"-in-overdrive opinion in any way definitive? How is she in any way a person of authority in matters of imagination, art, and entertaining television? Why should her peevish cynicism be remedial to anyone who sees merit in "The Rules of Luton" or Season 2 in general?
But it is indicative of the unremitting contrary tide that I describe. Of course, I knew that the release of the Blu-Ray set would be accompanied by the heightened rancour and spiteful sorties. Everything is so predictable. There is not a pleasant surprise ever to be found anymore. Again, I hate this century. I hate life in it. And I am going to hate it even more after election day. I have decided not to watch the election night coverage on CBC Television. Perhaps the only advantage in living alone is that I do not have to listen to that election night coverage. I will also need to "un-Facebook" for awhile, to avoid the exaltation of friends to the stunning victory for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
The overwhelming tendency is to compare "The Rules of Luton" to Lost in Space's "The Great Vegetable Rebellion". And here is the "kicker". The very people who are most critical of Space: 1999's second season actually like and respect Lost in Space. The senselessness of this should not be lost on anyone. Lost in Space did not respect its genre. It thought the genre to be silly and portrayed it as such. Satirically. With "camp". One of the reasons why I cannot abide Lost in Space. "The Great Vegetable Rebellion" is terrible. A rotund actor in a bulgy carrot costume revealing in a circle an orange-painted face. Dr. Smith and Will Robinson turned into plants ("Moisture. Moisture. I need moisture."). The whole thing played for laughs, laughs to deride the concept of intelligent plant life and the genre to which that concept belongs. "The Rules of Luton" uses the concept, but seriously. With reverence. There are no plant-costumed actors. Rotund or otherwise. No one is turned into a vegetable. It uses the idea of punishment for killing plant life and folds it into a rendition of Fredric Brown's "Arena" that had been adapted successfully for Star Trek. If anything, "The Rules of Luton" is "Arena" redux. But done with humanity. With the characters of John and Maya together struggling to survive and learning about one another's history. The sentient plant concept could have been more subtle, but it is done with the restraint lacking in Lost in Space. The shrubs and berries do not talk. They screech when they are being "killed". The only talking being done is by three trees, the Judges of Luton. Most of that talking is through Koenig's commlock. Some of it not. But who is to say how the trees are able to convert their thoughts into words? There are no forced explanations for that. There is some metaphysical force at work in the episode to "cloak" the planet from Tony's Eagle, but there are possible explanations, within the realm of science fiction concepts and story devices, that might be posited for that. It is an entertaining episode, with a superb scene between John and Maya, and one that ends with a satisfying resolution, John's defeat of Alien Strong with ingenuity prevailing over brute strength and John's refusal to kill and his exposing of "lust for death" in the Judges of Luton establishing the process for some extent of reform on the planet. Minus two out of ten? Crazy! My backside, that is!
As far as plant intelligence does go, "The Rules of Luton" would be better compared with Doctor Who's "The Seeds of Doom" (an alien plant talks in that and plants are seen as being hostile to and potentially strangling of humans). "The Seeds of Doom" is one of the most acclaimed serials of Doctor Who.
And the criticisms of Fred Freiberger arriving at the planet name of Luton by seeing Luton on a road's signpost, are overwrought. Why is Luton any less likely a name for an alien world than Psychon, Archanon, or Kalthon? Or any less possible an outcome of alien etymology than Gwent (in Season One's "The Infernal Machine")? Gwent is a locality in southeast Wales. The name of Luton sounded right to Freiberger to be that of one of a number of worlds with an "o" and an "n" at the end of their name. And he used it. So, what?
But Gerry Anderson trotted out the criticisms routinely when interviewed, and Season-Two-hating fans coopted them and reiterated them with gusto. And of course, they regard the aforementioned "snarky" spiel of a Weblog as Shakespearean in quality.
Contrary, contrary, the tide rushes on.
October 16, 2015.
Martin Willey's Catacombs Website has a review of the Space: 1999- Season Two Blu-Rays. Not much that is substantial concerning audio and video quality (still the audio problems on "The AB Chrysalis", etc. have only been noticed by me). I would, however, comment on this paragraph.
"Unfortunately, there are some edits to 'fix' errors by the original editors. The clapperboard seen near the start of 'A Matter Of Balance' is gone. The hand seen placing a stun gun in Magus' hand in 'New Adam, New Eve' is also gone. These errors are only a few frames and even fans missed them until we were able to record and replay them in the 1980s (and many people didn't see them until watching DVDs in slow motion). Admittedly, after seeing them, they are hard to 'un-see'. These brief errors give an insight into the making of the show, and there are much more serious flaws visible. It is unacceptable to edit the original episodes."
Oh, really? What "insight" do they give into the "making of the show"? Other than to indicate that the editor was rushing to meet a deadline and made a mistake, leaving in something that was not intended by the director to be seen. There are far more important "insights" to be gleaned from Season Two than that. Positive insights. Insights lost on the faultfinding fans with their fingers forever poised on their freeze-frame and slow-motion controls.
Was not Season One's "The Testament of Arkadia" colour-corrected in 2005 in one scene to make the sky in reused footage from "Another Time, Another Place" match the Arkadian sky? Indeed it was. So, the precedent for change is there.
For what it may be worth, the clapperboard in "A Matter of Balance" was also not seen in the print of that episode in the A & E DVD set. It was never meant to be seen and appears only to have appeared with the film-to-video transfer done of the episode for laser videodisc and later Region 2 DVD. It does amuse me to see any fan become agitated at the removal of any of their ever-so-vaunted flaws, which constitute one of the brickbats that they like to use. And I approve of the removing of anything that was not meant to be shown. Boom microphones, yes. Wooden fringes of sets, yes. Stage hand's arm, yes. Camera shake, yes. Any visible production crew and equipment that appear, if they can be removed, yes. And this does include the boom microphones eliminated from some Season One episodes for the 2005 remastering of that season. And it would also include wire removal on the Eagles if Network had opted to undertake that; indeed, if such could be done on Goldfinger and the Superman movies, why not Space: 1999? If anything, I think the remastering team could have gone somewhat further and eliminated the man in a canoe and other people in background in "The Rules of Luton", the dog trainer releasing the Maya hound in same episode, the compressed air nozzle in "The Metamorph", and a few other things. A reversing of the film of the Laboratory Eagle landing in "All That Glisters" (using "clean" footage from episode title sequence) could even be substituted for the incorrect footage of the standard Eagle lifting off of the planet later in the episode. Such corrections do enhance my viewing pleasure, and the knowledge that the attackers have had some of their angles of assault eliminated pleases me, also. These are hardly George Lucas kinds of changes, or even changes on the order of Star Trek Remastered.
But it is all just pie in the sky for me now. This Blu-Ray release will be the last.
I do wish that the audio could have been perfect for all episodes, and as it is not, I am opting to retain my A & E DVDs of the affected episodes, and they will, I sadly have to say, be my media of choice when I want to watch the episodes affected by muffle and warble in the Blu-Ray set.
The Roobarb Forum is a nest of Season Two detractors. This morning someone there has said that ITC should have "left well enough alone" and allowed Space: 1999 to have continued in Season One format, and that at least a couple of more seasons would have been possible. We do not know that. With Star Wars coming, slow, talky, deliberate science fiction would be less and less in vogue, I would think. Besides, if ITC had "left well enough alone", Season Two as it is known would never have been made, and I and its other admirers would have been denied it. The best year of my golden time in Douglastown probably would not have happened as it did. Etc.. I absolutely loathe arguments like this. They strive to invalidate the existence of Space: 1999 fans weaned on Season Two. Not unlike what Gerry Anderson did in The Space: 1999 Documentary.
I have been concentrating on Space: 1999 lately. Because of the Blu-Ray release. Because of the predicted increase of stated hostility toward Season Two. But also because I have had little to say about other subjects. No news about the DePatie-Freleng cartoons' Blu-Ray release by Kino Lorber. No developments on the Warner Brothers cartoons, Spiderman, or Rocket Robin Hood. It is even quiet on the subject of The Littlest Hobo, episodes of which no longer running in my area. My autobiography has seen some upgrading, but I know that it is the least read offering on my Website. Or at least it was, when I was at Webs.com. At HostPapa, I cannot track Web page visits. Perhaps that is for the best, as I all too often became depressed at the traffic to my Website when I was at webs.com.
Sunday, October 18, 2015.
It was Halloween yesterday. It has been decades since I last partook of the usual activities of Halloween (i.e. dressing in a costume, obtaining treats, etc.). Since my father fell ill in 2011, I have not even given candy at my door, and I think the word is around my neighbourhood that I do not do that. Nobody knocked on my door last night. The year previous, I heard at least a couple of summons to the door.
I do still like Halloween, for it does give to the spooky cartoons of Warner Brothers some degree of positive attention. At the Friz Freleng Family Page on Facebook, some images from "Hyde and Hare" and "Hyde and Go Tweet" were displayed yesterday, and one of the "Hyde and Hare" images has received 128 "likes". It is a gratifying acclaim for a cartoon that was debased by the denizens of the Termite Terrace Trading Post some six years ago (my, how time flies!). Indeed, the Friz Freleng Family Page has revealed an appreciation for Mr. Freleng's work that was almost totally lacking on cartoon discussion forums (and those now constitute a dying if not already dead Internet venue). It would appear that the small group of people commenting regularly at the old Termite Terrace Trading Post were not representative of anything more than a niche group of Freleng-slurring Bob Clampett boosters. Acolytes of John K. and Michael Barrier. Spouting almost verbatim the same sorties. The Friz Freleng Family Page's group may not be a large contingent of people in itself, but it is a larger number of people than the couple of dozen of regular contributors to Termite Terrace Trading Post discussions of the previous decade. Larger and seemingly representing of more walks of life. Granted, there is today a sharp overall decline in recognition and appreciation of vintage twentieth century cartoons. Groups dedicated to such recognition and appreciation are bound to be small. But I would say that size need not matter. Not anymore. The mainstream masses today are an unappreciative horde at the best of times, when it comes to imaginative entertainment. It is why reality television is so popular and pervasive. I cannot see this as ever changing. Appreciation of twentieth century entertainment is more and more becoming what was once called cult.
The cynic in me might be inclined to think that the Termite Terrace Trading Post became infested by detractors of my favourite cartoons and detractors of my work because such people wanted somewhere to congregate where they could be seen by me and seen to be frustrating me. All that one has to do is praise one portion of a body of work for persons of contrary persuasion to try and negate and "shoot down" that praise in group unison. People can be and all too often are contrarian and obstructive. And some people are deliberate "wind-up" provocateurs. I knew people like that in my youth. People who would sit with me as I was regarding something known to be of my liking, and proceed to derisively mock it, belittle it, "put it down". And me along with it. It galled me that such people were so evidently present, and seemingly legion, on the Internet. Or at least in those sectors of the Internet frequented by me. And on one in which I had a role in creating. The Termite Terrace Trading Post.
The result of the Canadian election was what I expected. I even predicted that the Liberals would win every seat in New Brunswick, and they did. It was not guesswork on my part. I saw the proverbial writing on the wall. A bandwagon effect was being generated, and as I have already seen how easily the public can have fear of radiation brainwashed out of them and the worst nuclear disaster ever effectively put out of public consciousness, it was a foregone conclusion that people in sufficient numbers could be influenced to elect a full complement of politicians of one political party, the party that just about every political pundit and national media outlet was endorsing and "trumping" relentlessly over the long campaign. But what is done is done. Governance in Canada at the national level is a "write-off", as far as I am concerned. Probably for a whole generation. That is how long I expect the Trudeau Liberals to be in power, as the Liberals of Trudeau Senior were. Media are on Justin Trudeau's side, and will never leave it. Nothing he does will ever be criticised. Other points of view will not be given consideration.
I was right when I said the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTIONs would never reach a tenth volume. They were cancelled after the sixth volume. I said that anti-Season-Two-of-Space: 1999 rancour would intensify with the announcement of the Blu-Ray set. And it did. I was right about the Space: 1999 Blu-Ray set being delayed in transit to me. It was. I was right about there being audio issues with that Blu-Ray set. There are. I was right about the results of the Canadian election. I predicted a Liberal majority government as early as early September. A colleague of mine at work can verify that. And I was right. I predicted a "sweep" by the Liberals in New Brunswick and a rout by them of all others in Atlantic Canada. Which did indeed happen. My tendency to be right is now at its most reliable. It is astonishing, actually. When I was young, I was often wrong. At least half of the time. Now, I am right about ninety to ninety-five percent of the time. Yes, I was wrong when I prognosticated a non-release of Space: 1999's second season on Blu-Ray. But then, I did contribute to the cause in that case, by writing a letter to Network Distributing and urging others to do so. Whether or not that initiative was pivotal to persuading Network Distributing to proceed with the Blu-Ray release, I do not know. I am not going to be so vain. I did forecast a non-release, and I was in error. An error that falls within that five to ten percent range. My propensity for correct prediction does come from my cynicism, my quashed youthful idealism, and my belief that the world's tide is always contrary to my wishes. If I do not want for something to happen, it happens. When the election results were forthcoming, all that I could do is nod my head and say, "Of course." It follows that I do not relish being right so much, because a pleasant surprise, with an outcome that I actually want, is always preferable.
Crazy life, this is. Is it not?
All for today, November 1, 2015.
I have been quiet this past month on my Weblog because I have been busily working to upgrade the textual content of my Website. I decided to go fully with British spelling, for "across-the-board" consistency, and I have therefore been comprehensively spell-checking every Web page, including the television listings project. It is astonishing how many spelling errors on this Website escaped my notice for all these years. But now, I believe that the spelling on my Web pages has reached a consistency with which I can be comfortable and somewhat proud. The work has also extended to cartoon and episode titles in some cases. Canadian spelling tends to be more in line with British than with American, though there are exceptions. For instance, in Canada, it is airplane and not aeroplane. But I chose to use the British spelling for that, and also for such words as manoeuvre and cosy, though the American spellings do tend be considered standard in Canada. Words ending with "o" and "r" are of course "o", "u", and "r" in British spelling. The changes span across my entire Website.
While doing this work, I have also undertaken to standardise cartoon titling to theatrical title appearance, for all of the Warner Brothers cartoons. "Half Fare Hare" is now "Half-Fare Hare". "Bugs Bonnets" is now "Bugs' Bonnets". "Barbary Coast Bunny" is now "Barbary-Coast Bunny". "Shiskabugs" is now "Shishkabugs". "The Rabbit of Seville" is now "Rabbit of Seville". "Mouse Warming" is now "Mouse-Warming". "Hot Rod and Reel" is now "Hot-Rod and Reel!". "Hen House Henery" is now "Henhouse Henery". And so on. I am going with what the directors originally intended, not with how the cartoons' titles may have been displayed on television show cartoon title cards. Actually, "The Rabbit of Seville" was only a Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show cartoon titling display post-1989; prior to then, it had always been "Rabbit of Seville". All of the Televised Looney Tunes Web pages, all of the Looney Tunes articles and director tributes, and all of my autobiographical Web pages have been adjusted accordingly. And this Weblog and its archive. And the television listings. Everything.
I would note that this revision does not include the Web pages for Looney Tunes On Nickelodeon and That's Warner Bros.!. I have no editorial control over those. Because I did not solely write them, I cannot host them at my Website. They are at Golden Age Cartoons, which evidently is not updated anymore. According to its updates column, nothing has changed on it or been added to it since January, 2013. I do not know if Jon Cooke is active on the Internet. There does not appear to be an e-mail address for him. The lack of updating of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Website would seem to indicate that Jon has moved on from Internet-based cartoon appreciation. Or at least that with dedicated Website maintenance. I am familiar with the Golden Age Cartoons Facebook Page. I admit that I seldom visit it. I do not know who is running it at the present time. As it stands, the Hyperlinks to my Televised Looney Tunes Web pages are broken at the Looney Tunes On Television section of Jon's Website. Anyone wishing to read them has to come here to my Website, or be guided to them by a search engine.
I would like to see the Looney Tunes On Nickelodeon and That's Warner Bros.! Web pages revised to conform with how the others now appear, but there is no address to which to send revisions. In all honesty, those are the televised Looney Tunes television programmes in which I have the least interest. It has always been so. But I did contribute to their Web pages and would like to see those textually consistent in format with the others. Mind, the images on them are not to my current standard. But then, neither are the ones on my Littlest Hobo Page. I lack the resources to improve upon those, alas.
I am happy to report that I have found a kindred spirit in my latest co-worker. He is a Millennial, but, thanks be to Teletoon Retro and other broadcasters, he is very knowledgeable and appreciative of vintage cartoons and of twentieth century works of science fiction/fantasy. I am looking forward to the months ahead. I think the workdays will not seem as long or as dry as they have been in recent years. Which works for me in another sense because I am not looking forward to having to listen to the gloating of Liberals over the election victory of Justin Trudeau. Hopefully, I'll be able to "tune out" much of that as my colleague and I converse about more pleasant things.
The Return of the Pink Panther will be released in Blu-Ray in the U.K. in January. With that plus the Blu-Ray release of the DePatie-Freleng cartoons, it is looking like 2016 will be the year of the Pink Panther. I know of nothing else coming to Blu-Ray in 2016. There was some talk of Gerry Anderson's UFO being worked-on for Blu-Ray release by Network Distributing. It would sure be nice to have UFO sitting on my shelf with both seasons of Space: 1999, all on Blu-Ray. UFO has already been released on Blu-Ray in Japan and Germany, but Japan is off-limits for me in every sense of the word (because of Fukushima), and the Blu-Ray release in Germany is seriously flawed and totally lacking bonus features. I would hope that Network's release would "port over" everything from the Australian DVD release. But who knows? Space: 1999- Season 2 does appear to have been a successful Blu-Ray release for Network, but I know of no exact sales figures.
No snow on the ground yet, and that is always a happy sight. Winter should seem less long this year, though probably not less gruelling.
All for today, Saturday, November 28, 2015.
First major snowfall of the winter of 2015-6 fell on Thursday, December 3. I know. Technically, it is not winter until the twenty-first of December, but where I live, it can snow and snow heavily many weeks before that. And as far as I am concerned, if there is snow on the ground, it is winter.
I have done some more revisions to cartoon titles, having found some with exclamation marks that were missing in my titling of them dating back to 1997. Hopefully, my work on this is now completed. I have also done some updating to The Space: 1999 Page. "In Memoriam" additions, a paragraph on the Season Two Blu-Rays, and some improvements to the synopses for "Dragon's Domain" and "The Testament of Arkadia".
A considerable amount of acrimony has appeared concerning the Space: 1999- Season Two Blu-Ray set, particularly in an exchange between a gentleman named Ole Alstrup and Network Distributing's Tim Beddows. I am not prepared to bring myself into that fray by commenting much on this. Mr. Alstrup claimed to have found missing sound effects in certain episodes on the Blu-Rays and remarked to non-replies by Mr. Beddows and Mark Stanborough (who oversaw the production of the Season 2 Blu-Ray set). Most of the contention that followed between the two men (which appeared on the Space: 1999 Facebook Group) was specific to the non-reply allegation and not to the audio issue noticed. I can confirm that the sound effects said to be missing, are missing. Or at least very faint. One of them is the pop-clicking sound of the radio device on the helmet worn by Zoran and by Koenig in "The Immunity Syndrome". It is no longer there. A similar sound heard as Dave Reilly waves his hand across his detecting device in "All That Glisters" is now almost inaudible. Neither of these are major problems. They are far less serious than the muffled warbling of music in five episodes and suppressed foley in a couple of episodes. But they are still indicative of a Blu-Ray release with problematic audio. In question is whether the audio problems noticed by Mr. Alstrup are due to the only surviving elements not having the sounds on them. That being the case, it would not be the fault of the people at Network Distributing. I do not have the answer. But what we do have is the best possible visual look to the television series' second season, but not the best possible sound in some episodes. I do not think that these problems will be resolved by a reissue of the set. The Bionic Woman- Season 2 DVD set was far more problematic, and with the exception of the DVD with the most egregious flaw, no reissuing of the box set was done to correct all problems. Not in Region 1.
I am prepared to accept the box set. My ears are even adjusting to the audio on them, and I do not notice the deficiencies in audio quite as much as I did on first viewings of the Blu-Rays. I am also able to calibrate my Blu-Ray player's audio setting for each Blu-Ray disc put into it. This said, I do have one thing more to note. Another quibble. Evidently, the main title sequence for "The Exiles" was grafted onto all other episodes, or most of them. On the mono tracks, some identifiable portion of the opening music to "The Exiles" can be heard right after the main title sequence fades to black, before the audio cuts to that of the episode being watched. This is true for "One Moment of Humanity", "Journey to Where", "The Mark of Archanon", "Seed of Destruction", "The Seance Spectre", and one or two others.
Leaving aside the Space: 1999 Blu-Rays, I propose to address the subject of my autobiography. I have been giving some considerable thought of late to the tone of the autobiography's third and fourth eras and in particular how I describe some of the erstwhile friends I had in my years in Fredericton. It is true that I have a bias for the friendship that I had in Douglastown. Not that it was a case there of no quarrels whatsoever and perfect compatibility in every case, but the overall quality of fellowship and friendship was higher in Douglastown. And the first group of friends that I found in Fredericton mostly just did not make for a good match with me. I am no longer entirely sanguine about how I went about describing that incompatibility. I may come across as being judgemental and peevishly condemning, which is unfortunate. They could not help being the way that they were any more than I could help being the way that I was. We were all children, all of us in a developmental phase of our lives. Just because I may be critical of my own ways does not, I suppose, really give me licence to be similarly critical of others. How my relationship with them ebbed and flowed and ultimately declined in most cases, is important to chronicle, yes, for it defined my reactions to life eras and affected my enduring responses to favourite works of entertainment. And the compatibility factor was a key facet of those faltering associations. Still, I may have been too critical in my writing of the experience of being friends with them. I may have hurt them if they did read my autobiography or were told of it. Yes, even by way of my assessment of my friendship with them in childhood. I do not know what the solution is, now, to this. A revision of my autobiography to remove the assessments may make the sequence in my affiliations somewhat vague and unsatisfying. I could, I suppose, just refer to issues of compatibility and go no further. I will examine my options. One would, of course, be to remove the autobiography altogether.
I treasure the memories of being with friends who were compatible with me, who did defer to my leadership in projects and collaborated respectfully with me in those, who sought out my knowledge and appreciated it, who enjoyed my company unconditionally. Who were neither cloying nor cavalier. Just pleasant and respectful. The majority of them were in Douglastown. I also deplore the troublemakers who threw wrenches into the works. Like someone I knew in Fredericton in Era 4. But maybe I do harp on him too much. I do not know. But I am definitely thinking about these matters.
All for today, Sunday, December 6, 2015.
Nearly all of the snow from the last big snowfall has melted away with a few days of warm and foggy weather. And of course the Fredericton area is due for more snow early in the week ahead. Low pressure systems, from wherever they may originate, always come here and dump snow on us. Anyway.
The Space: 1999 Facebook brigade is again launching into sorties against Season Two. The latest one concerns a scene in "Catacombs of the Moon" in which the wounded Patrick Osgood is found in the living quarters of a couple of scantily dressed women. How, it is asked, did Osgood gain access to those living quarters? Oh, yes. Freddie Freiberger again. That is the answer. Nothing in Season Two is ever explained. Bad writing is par for the course. And so on.
"Plot holes". "Plot holes". "Plot holes". Today I am going to counter with this.
Why? Because I can.
The Empire Strikes Back is a five-star movie. Considered to be one of the best movies ever made. And yet, it has many things in its story structure that are not explained. Apparent inconsistencies. Improbabilities. One of the biggest of such is not even mentioned in the YouTube video. How does the Millennium Falcon, lacking a functioning Hyperdrive, reach the Bespin System? Many of the quibbles in the video are frivolous, but several of the cited lapses in story structure do constitute valid criticisms. But in my estimation and in that of countless film critics, millions of Star Wars aficionados, and hundreds of millions of viewers, the "plot holes" do not matter. It is the concepts, the depictions, the characterisations, the conflicts, the mise-en-scene, the adrenaline-charging action, and the overarching sense of wonder and pure escapist fun that carry The Empire Strikes Back to its lofty heights. There is scarcely a movie or television series episode that has airtight writing, and what few do have that very probably are boring, weighted-down-with-tedious-exposition exercises in obsessive-compulsive perfectionism.
Superman II has a huge "plot hole". One that could, theoretically at least, sink the whole movie. How does Superman regain his powers to battle General Zod and company? I was aware of it when I was first viewing the movie. So were most other people. And yet, Superman II was a blockbuster and it remains one of my favourite movies. The "plot hole" was explainable. Superman must have re-energised the Fortress of Solitude with that green crystal and somehow regained his power from a mechanism in the Fortress. But the "plot hole" did not, in any case, ultimately diminish the excitement of the battle of Metropolis. Not for me. Not for most other people. Compared to it, Space: 1999's alleged lapses are minor.
For me, Space: 1999 (both seasons) is in the same class of imaginative entertainment as The Empire Strikes Back, and as such cannot be mortally assailed by bloopers-at-ten-paces fans with an axe to grind against the man who allegedly destroyed their most beloved childhood opus. But if I am to address the touted lapse in "Catacombs of the Moon", here I go. Osgood is an engineer. It says, "Engineering," on the back of his overalls. It may be within his field of expertise to "trip" the lock on a door to a room on Alpha, and to do so without the signals going back to the main computer system of the Moonbase. There. Simple. And if this is not satisfactory, here is another. The heat storm may be causing malfunctions of the door system on Alpha. Yes, it could be the effect of the heat storm. I prefer the former of my two explanations, myself. But to each their own. There are explanations. Explanations that do not require any great twisting and turning of the storyline. Not a single fan in that "thread" furnished either of these explanations. No. The imagination of those fans is limited to invoking Fred Freiberger's name in some glibly posturing, ostensibly clever sortie.
And so it goes. How many viewers of Space: 1999 would have noticed this alleged lapse back in the television show's heyday? How many did? This is the very first time that I have come across this particular contention. Enough said?
I have been asked what are my favourite episodes of Star Trek. There are several episodes that I do watch more than the majority of the others. And there are some episodes that I dislike and do not revisit very much, or at all. My favourites would include "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "The Enemy Within" (though I do not think that its particular rendition of the Jekyll-and-Hyde concept is entirely satisfying), "What Are Little Girls Made of?", "The Squire of Gothos", "Arena" (I do become restless with it as Kirk is trying to find a means of vanquishing the Gorn), "Space Seed", "Errand of Mercy", "The Doomsday Machine", "Mirror, Mirror", "Obsession", "By Any Other Name", "The Ultimate Computer", "Spectre of the Gun", "The Tholian Web", "Day of the Dove", "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", "Whom Gods Destroy", "The Lights of Zetar", "The Savage Curtain", "All Our Yesterdays", and "Turnabout Intruder". I have respect for "The City On the Edge of Forever" but cannot say that it is a favourite. If I am in the right mood, I also have time for "The Cage" (and "The Menagerie"), "The Man Trap", "Dagger of the Mind", "The Galileo Seven", "This Side of Paradise", "The Devil in the Dark", "Operation: Annihilate!", and "Wolf in the Fold". However, I think that "Amok Time", "The Trouble With Tribbles", and "Journey to Babel" are overrated. Many of the episodes that I dislike are in the second season. "Friday's Child", "I, Mudd", "A Private Little War", and, yes, "A Piece of the Action". Those are some of my least favourites. I would rather watch "Spock's Brain" than sit though those. "The Immunity Syndrome" is turgid. Not a favourite. Generally, I favour the first season and find just about every episode of it worthy of merit. I am not fond of "Shore Leave", though. "The Alternative Factor", though somewhat problematic, is more satisfying for me. I quite like the concepts used in the third season. There are few episodes from it that I do not like. And I must say that the third season has benefited greatly from the newly made special effects. A few second season episodes that I disliked on initial viewing have "grown on me" in recent years. "The Omega Glory", for one. And somehow, I have always found "Return to Tomorrow" to be compelling. Not a "go-to" episode, but one that I always enjoy when I do watch it. People reading this may draw whatever conclusions they wish as to my tastes where Star Trek is concerned. It never was and will never be my favourite space science fiction opus. But I do enjoy watching its episodes, for the most part. I can often feel like I am in the old living room in Douglastown in early 1977 or in my television room in Fredericton in late 1983, those time periods when I was seeing many a Star Trek episode for the first time. Time periods both with a favourable vibe as regards my life as a whole.
All for today, Sunday, December 13, 2015.
The votes have been tallied, and Network Distributing's best release to Blu-Ray and DVD in 2015 is...
Space: 1999- Season Two.
Yes, and with twenty-eight percent of the vote. I will put that in numerals for further emphasis. 28 percent. That may seem to some to be rather less than a sizable majority, but the vote does include every Network Distributing release of 2015. Such being considered, twenty-eight percent is a more than impressive score. Flawed though the release may be.
How is this reconcilable with the refrain that Season Two of Space: 1999 is garbage, excrement, the worst work of space science fiction/fantasy ever lensed, and that anyone who likes it is in the smallest, tiniest minority, is delusional, should be shamed into silence or verbally accosted almost to the point of destruction? It came ahead of Quatermass and The Professionals. And The Flaxton Boys. It came ahead of every feature film released by Network Distributing in 2015. Not bad for something that a great many people in a particular camp (or camps) would like to see burned, arguing that much of it ought never to have been broadcast, or made. I am not going to say much more on this beyond proposing whether maybe, just maybe, the detractors of Space: 1999- Season Two are not as much in the right as they arrogantly and obnoxiously believe themselves to be.
I must say that the Blu-Ray release of Season Two of Space: 1999, however flawed, is the redeeming factor for a year that for me has been dire, dire, dire. And right up to the Holidays, it has been so. A friendship into which I had invested much time and effort in recent years has been terminated by that person with a Facebook un-friending. No explanations. No response to my message wherein I tried apologising for any and all inadvertent slights that I may have brought about. To say that it hurts is to mildly state my feelings. One could argue that ultimately I am "better off" without friends like that. But I do seem to attract all too many of them. And I did really, really like this person, and thought that the feeling was mutual. Disposable friend am I. This has been so for most of my tenure in the Fredericton region of this planet. My thoughts are very much on the subject of Karma and what I evidently did to turn Karma so much against me in terms of social life since 1977. Since leaving Douglastown, I have not found a single friend of my specific age, and for some reason, age is for most people the key criterion for determining the long-term, or even short-term, worth of a friend and viability of friendship. All that I have found in Fredericton has been a succession of younger friends, of whom almost no one has been anything other than oblivious to my human sensitivities and unconditionally accepting of my own sometimes difficult-to-relate-to perspectives and faults. First mistake that I make, first misunderstanding that occurs, and it is snub, snub, snub. Treat me like dirt. And then be completely oblivious to how I feel about that. Is an older friend unworthy of empathy? Is the slightest sign of imperfection grounds for outright rejection? After having lived in this place for close to four decades and having had to endure this agonising process time and time and time again, are these not pertinent questions? And what does Karma have against me, anyway? Is it life-long condemnation for leaving Douglastown and for not keeping in contact with all friends there? Condemnation for the motivations for the move that entered my head when it was proposed to me by my parents one fateful evening in April of 1977? For my having possibly hurt steadfast friends in having assented to the decision to move? Karma evidently does not observe being a child as having any bearing on the judgement meted out upon a transgressor. My having been all of eleven years old does not mitigate in my favour at all. It was clear on that first day of school in Grade 6 when I discovered that I was the only new pupil in that grade at Park Street School. And I would be such for that full school year. Nobody in the same boat as I. No compatriots in the non-acceptance stakes among the persons of the sixth grade, several of whom delighted in seeing me alone and downtrodden in the school yard, and in berating me for my interests and likes. In so many ways, I was marked for a life of hurt and frustration. In my remaining school years and in the adult life beyond. Younger friends only. All of whom rating me as of lesser importance than their same-age peers and being completely oblivious to my feelings about that, eventually throwing me aside without the slightest compunction. Some of whom berating me to impress their friends. This is a really lamentable existence that I suppose I did bring upon myself. Yes, I did have younger friends in Douglastown, but there that was not problematic. My younger friends there never undervalued me or made me feel inferior. Several of them are among the best friends that I have ever had. Granted, that was a time when I and all of my friends were juveniles. Things may change with the onset of the teenage years. An older friend may become less desirable then.
I can examine this predicament that I am in until the proverbial cows come home. But it does not alter the fact that I am marked for rejection by persons younger than me, seemingly in perpetuity. And the most distressing thing about this is that younger friends are so very dear to me. They are like the younger brothers that I was not to have within family. And during the good times, I feel that sense of brotherhood most strongly. Which does accentuate the hurt when these people give me the push.
I will have much time on my hands in the upcoming Holidays and hope to use it to work on further image improvement on this Website. I will also try to respond to e-mail, though my confidence in my ability to write always sees a tremendous drop when I am unable to convince someone not to un-friend me.
All for today, Sunday, December 20, 2015.
Christmas is what it is for me. My parents are dead. I have no siblings. And this year, no one in my mother's family invited me to any Christmas celebrations, nor even telephoned to ask how I am doing. It was a solitary Christmas for me, apart from my cat.
I continue to look back to early life experiences and decisions. The ones that set me on this path to lonely solitude. It is clear that the move to Fredericton in 1977 was the critical event that directed me toward this particular future. When I came home for lunch that first day of school in Grade 6 at Nashwaaksis' Park Street Elementary School, my eyes emitted tears and a plaintive lump in my throat had formed. And it is crystal clear to me now why I has so aggrieved, for I had irrevocably turned my life into a path to isolation, to a condition devoid of company, as exemplified in the Holiday season. I had turned it, or my parents had turned it. Whatever. The decision to move to Fredericton was, again, the critical event. The one that determined the destiny that I now experience day-by-day.
Anyway. Enough on that.
Much hoopla there is surrounding a movie called Star Wars. In a way reminiscent of the way of things of the autumn of 1977 when I came upon the Fredericton scene. Not that my peers then were largely gushing with adulation for that George Lucas opus, but there is something of a divide between my associates and my generation and generations younger than mine and me today as regards Star Wars now rather like there was then between myself and an accepted and quite popular opinion. I walked through the mall and past the movie theatres two Fridays ago and saw insanely long queues, two grown males in Stormtrooper costumes, and so forth. I just shook my head bemusedly, as I would have done were I to have beheld such sights in September of 1977.
I would add, though, that the Star Wars currently in theatres is not the Star Wars that was in vogue in 1977. That Star Wars was good, fresh, and original for what it was. And whatever one may think of him today, George Lucas then was an imaginative man and a competent director. This Star Wars of today is directed by a man for whom I have no respect. The man who made a mockery of Star Trek in two unoriginal and way, way overrated messes.
J.J. Abrams reminds me of the ostensibly brainy boy up the street who thought he knew more than he actually did, who thought he was more talented than he was, who would condescend to play baseball with me and my associates, but only for whatever amount of time he judged appropriate. And who would seize on a demonstrably and patently wrong "take" on something and refuse to budge on it. He also recalls me to some of the young film-making cooperative people I knew once who proffered the most trite, the most banal subject matter, and "trumped it up" as high art, injecting a ton of idiosyncratic and tediously repetitive "tricks" into the filming process, so as to appear avant garde. I found his Star Trek to be appalling. A wilfully ignorant parody, and a slur, on the work of Gene Roddenberry. People kept telling to me that Star Wars was really J.J.'s passion, and that he would more than "do right" with that. Pah!
I am not the biggest booster of all things Star Wars. By no means. But I said that if what J.J. did with Star Trek is indicative of how he views the overall space fiction genre, then I was not sure that his interpretation of Star Wars will be anything to be appreciated.
I have not seen Star Wars Episode 7. But I am not one to be bothered by "spoilers" and have gone ahead and read extensively about it. I went through forty pages of Internet Movie Database reviews of it, the bulk of them negative, and the criticisms offered all reminded me of problems that I had with Abrams' 2009 Star Trek movie, lens flares excepted (there are reportedly not many of those in Abrams' Star Wars). Clunky story-writing flawed not just with minutiae details (gaps in those I can fill if I have good will toward that which is being shown) but with general premise. What he has shamelessly given to us is a reconstituted, re-packaged Episode 4, i.e. Star Wars 1977. He shamelessly bills Mark Hamill third in the acting cast but provides little more than thirty seconds of Luke Skywalker at the end of the movie. He has Han Solo go down to mortal end without so much as a fight. And to establish the prospectus of his Star Wars, there is scant salient extrapolation from the end of Return of the Jedi, other than having to accept that the new Republic stupidly, effetely allowed some dark faction to emerge and build yet another planet-destroyer, seemingly having learnt nothing from the past. And that Han and Leia were terrible parents. And that Luke ran away into hiding because one student turned bad. And that the lightsabre that was in Luke's hand when Darth Vader cut Luke's hand off in The Empire Strikes Back was somehow rescued from falling into the atmosphere of Bespin and preserved. And so on. What galls me is that, from what I have read, Abrams has the new planet destroyer explode planets as viewed in huge spectacle in the sky of neighbouring worlds, heedless of the nature of space. If Venus or Mars, our closest planetary neighbours, were to be made to explode (and assuming that both were on the same side of the Sun in their orbits as Earth is at the time of the explosions), they would be dots of light in the sky "winking out". Not giant orbs viewed as breaking apart in massive explosions. If the planets were much closer together than they are, there would be pronounced gravitational influences every time their respective orbital positions came nearest to one another. But leaving this one aside with a suspending of disbelief, Abrams reportedly has his planet destroyer possessing atmosphere and vegetation and not freezing over as it moves from one star to another. If I read these reviews correctly, J.J. Abrams' lack of scientific knowledge is far, far more egregious than what Gerry Anderson was once accused-of by Isaac Asimov.
I have a limit to how much my mind can absorb as regards defiance of the accepted nature of space. I can "buy" what is promulgated in Space: 1999, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. And the past couple of Star Wars trilogies. Yes, I can. But not these things, if what is being said is true. And I frankly do not want to "buy" them, because of Abrams' lack of imagination. A third "Death Star". Another quest for the missing documents for someone's secret location. Another desert planet. Yawn.
The nostalgia factor is being cited heavily regarding this latest Star Wars. For me, there is not much nostalgia connected to Star Wars. I do not have a nostalgic "rush" when I see the movies. Star Wars' original heyday was a time of my life for which I have little love today. 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1981 constituted the least favourite part of my childhood. Those were the years when I was in junior high school, and I hated every minute of that. I did find the first two Star Wars movies, and especially The Empire Strikes Back, to be excellent space escapism. Spectacular and supremely innovative film-making. But I sensed then and certainly do think today, that there really is not much to Star Wars as a concept. Those first two films were more iconography than story, and Lucas was a genius in marketing that iconography. I think that there is way, way more depth and imaginative potential to Star Trek, Space: 1999, and Doctor Who. Even Battlestar Galactica (the original) had more depth to its characters and more potential in the predicament of the characters. The fact that they, the film-makers of Hollywood, cannot yield a seventh Star Wars movie without wholesale copying of elements of the first Star Wars movie of 1977 does seem to speak to this almost as much as it does to the limited imagination of J.J. Abrams. Lucas himself brought back the assault on the Death Star for his third movie. There does appear to be very little story-telling scope to the premise of Star Wars. The "bad guys" have to have a weapon that needs to be neutralised. There has to be someone needing to be found, or rescued from the "bad guys". The "bad guys" have to have some juggernaut of a formidable fighter that has to be confronted in a duel. Where is the exploration? Where is the discovery? Where is the sense of awe and grandeur about space? The Empire Strikes Back did, I think, the most with the constrictive universe of Star Wars and added as much layers of nuance as possible to it. Since then, Star Wars has been trying to recapture past glories with reiterated themes and storylines. What little might be different in this one, is unpalatable, negating the character development of the first three films. Did Han really grow as a person? Did Luke?
I had opined that it went against my grain to plunk my behind in a theatre seat and watch a J.J. Abrams movie, but I was prepared to do so if the movie were, in this case at least, actually good. I guess that I have been rescued from doing so, and from giving to J.J. any more of my money. Mind, it will likely make me all the more the outcast among my current associates. But I have to be true to myself and to my beliefs. I like very little of what Hollywood does, and of what Hollywood has been doing these past twenty years or so. And J.J. Abrams epitomises what I feel is so wrong about movies and television of today. And I can sense Gene Roddenberry's ashes still spinning fitfully wherever they are in space.
And if what I have read is true, Abrams has had the temerity to "rip off" the "Dragon's Domain" episode of Space: 1999. Yes, nothing is sacred.
All for now, on Boxing Day, 2015.
I have waded into the fray at Home Theatre Forum's "thread" on the Space: 1999 Blu-Rays. I expect to be branded a mental deficient by someone there for calling attention to audio problems and expressing my relief that the usual finger-pointing as regards Season Two was eschewed in the compiling of the value-added content. It is par for the course. At this juncture, none of it matters anyway. The Blu-Ray set is what it is, and it will no doubt be the final release to physical media for Space: 1999.
Yesterday, I went to the mall to do some walking, but only the theatres section of the mall was open, and there are still long lines for Star Wars. Of course, every second person in the lines had his or her face buried in a cellular telephone device. Just the usual reminder of how far-gone our civilisation now is. All that I can do is shake my head and roll my eyes.
My uncle in Ontario telephoned yesterday when I was out. It is a relief to know that I have not been completely forgotten by the family.
All for today, the snow-stormy day after Boxing Day, 2015.
It is Wednesday, December 30, 2015.
My second multi-region Blu-Ray player has become locked at Region B, meaning that I now have two Region B machines. It would appear that I will have to buy a third machine to be dedicated solely to Region A. For some reason, the multi-region "hacks" done to Blu-Ray machines just are not stable.
I am spending some of my time this Holiday season on some further image upgrades. I have been labouring away on improving the title card to The Daffy Duck Show. It will never be perfect, being as it does hail from a videotape recording of a broadcast in 1978. But I am trying to digitally paint away as much of the ghosting as possible in the image. I am also toiling with the image of the Uptown Theatre in Newcastle in my Era 2 memoirs, endeavouring to remove pixel "blockiness". Again, it will never be perfect, but my aim is to make it look as presentable as possible. I have also done some adjusting to the Virgil Ross "Scare Hare" cel that is at the top of my "Hyde and Hare" article, to improve its quality.
While recently watching the Pepe Le Pew cartoon, "Wild Over You", I was seized with a sudden inspiration. Or a memory flash. It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate the two. The thought that came upon me was that perhaps it was "Wild Over You" and not "Don't Axe Me" that was second cartoon in instalment three of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour on CBC Television, i.e. Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour- Season One. It was just the sight of a suit of armour that started me pondering on this. "Knights Must Fall" is in the same episode, and Sylvester crashes into a suit of armour in the following episode's "Mouse-Taken Identity". I was never certain about "Don't Axe Me" being in that third instalment. It just seemed a logical fit. But now, I see that "Wild Over You" could just as aptly have sat in that instalment as cartoon two. The problem is, I do not remember seeing much of Pepe Le Pew in The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour on CBC Television. Just "Touche and Go" in episode nine and Pepe's cameo appearance in "Dog Pounded" in episode ten. Those and Pepe marching in the procession of characters and being in the semi-circle of five characters in cartoon title cards. Pepe was something of a puzzlement to me back then. I had scant knowledge of him as a regular character of the Warner Brothers cartoons. Further, a cartoon with a wildcat ought to have been quite memorable to me if I did see it in The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, for it would have recalled me to the transformed Sylvester in "Dr. Jerkyl's Hide". And when clips from "Wild Over You" appeared in Bugs Bunny's Valentine when I saw that television special for the first time in 1979, I do not remember recognising them as having been seen before. This is a mystery, which has been puzzling me greatly. I cannot recreate the third instalment with "Wild Over You" as I do not have a usable copy of that cartoon for editing into a The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour reconstruction. I only have it from its commercial DVD release on LOONEY TUNES SUPERSTARS: PEPE LE PEW: ZEE BEST OF ZEE BEST. And commercial DVDs are encrypted to prevent such copying for editorial purposes. I am therefore unable to watch it as part of the episode to glean reinforcing impressions. At present, I have a notion of it being in the episode, and doubts that the notion is correct. So, it is just "stay the course" and keep "Don't Axe Me" slotted in the episode as cartoon two. It is frustrating to not be certain either way.
I am also entertaining notions of "Person to Bunny" being the first cartoon of episode eleven. But I have not the vaguest memory of that. "Pre-Hysterical Hare" is a better fit, but I only remember seeing that cartoon in episode twenty-three. All that I can say for reasonable certainty is that Elmer Fudd was in two of the cartoons in episode eleven. "Bugs' Bonnets" definitely being one of them. The other could have been "Person to Bunny". On the other hand, the excessive cigarette smoking in that cartoon would preclude its inclusion, if the censors were as concerned about that as the trimming of the smoking scene of "A Sheep in the Deep" would seem to indicate. I do not know. "Pre-Hysterical Hare" was the first cartoon of episode eleven when The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour was telecast on Global in the Toronto area in the late 1970s. That much is definite.
So, cartoon two of instalment three and cartoon one of instalment eleven are currently in question. Unless some more persuasive impressions or factual observations do come my way, I am staying with what I already have.
The DePatie-Freleng cartoons have had their Blu-Ray release by Kino Lorber delayed yet again. New release date is April 17, 2016. I wonder how long that this release date will hold. Word is that film prints clear of laugh track have been found for every Inspector and Ant and Aardvark cartoon to be released. Which is good news, if the Blu-Rays ever do go on the market. I always have to cooperate with such an eventuality.
All for today.
Sunday, January 10, 2016.
New Brunswick is about to have its January thaw, for all of two days, to be followed by a huge snowstorm. Typical. So very typical.
Pat Harrington Jr. died last week. He was the voice of the Inspector and Sergeant Deux-Deux in the Inspector cartoons on The Pink Panther Show. Of course, that work in his career merited little, if any, mention in the obituaries that appeared on the Internet. He is best remembered for playing Schneider on One Day at a Time. I have added Pat Harrington Jr. to the "In Memoriam" section of my Pink Panther Show Page.
I have also made an addition to my Space: 1999 Chronology. An episode in which Alpha encounters a zoological spaceship on which Maya learns the forms of the space animals into which she transforms in episodes from "New Adam, New Eve" onward. I placed the episode in the long gap between "The Rules of Luton" and "New Adam, New Eve". It would seem to be an apt addition to the timeline.
I still have not seen the new Star Wars movie. I was not keen to plop down my money and sit in a theatre to watch a J.J. Abrams film, but I was prepared to do so if the movie had been an unqualified success. However, the plurality of negative reviews at the Internet Movie Database and on YouTube has dissuaded me from making the, ahem, trek to the local cineplex. Lens flares excepted, it looks like J.J. Abrams has done to Star Wars what he did to Star Trek. Fouled the so-called franchise. Franchise. I hate the use of that word as applied to television and/or movie series, though in the case of J.J.'s handiwork, it may be said to be applicable, for these are arguably the McDonald's versions of oft-revisited, long-venerated opuses. The negative reviews that I have read all raise sensible issues with the prospectus of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Awakens from what, anyway? Was the Force asleep? Luke's lightsabre recovered from Bespin with no explanation. The ruination of the character arcs of the three heroes of the original trilogy. The third go at a Death Star, with the same old weakness. A Death Star whose victim planets can be seen by the naked eye on worlds of other solar systems (no recognition of the speed of light and the time lag in viewing something happening light-years away). The heroine suddenly becoming Force-proficient with no training. And so on. This movie is definitely one for buying from the bargain bin of my local DVD dealer on a whim on a frivolous afternoon, or having a friend show to me from his DVD of it.
Who the heck is J.J. Abrams, anyway? Prior to 2009, I had never heard of him. He is a self-professed "sci-fi geek". Yet, by his own admission, he had never seen a single episode of Star Trek. What "sci-fi geek" in his forties worth any salt could be so narrow-minded as to have not watched anything of so important an opus as Star Trek? Even after somehow attaining the mantle of director of a Star Trek movie, he did not do his homework and set aside four or five days for a remedial viewing of the original Star Trek television series, which is available on DVD and Blu-Ray and VHS videotape and laser videodisc. I often said to my associates that I had little faith in J.J.'s understanding of Star Wars if he thinks that his rendition of Star Trek is an acceptable space fiction genre movie, and it is clear from his Star Wars effort that Mr. Abrams has an insufficient understanding of it and its central concept and the appeal of its original trilogy's heroes.
As previously stated, I am immune to much of the nostalgia surrounding the original trilogy. Indeed, the only Star Wars movie for which I have a palpable sense of nostalgia is Return of the Jedi, though I do acknowledge that it is the lesser of the three original Star Wars films (and Lucas' post-1997 tinkering of it has done it no favours). "Hitting the beats" of the first Star Wars movie is unlikely to tug at my heartstrings. Even if the treatment of Luke, Han, and Leia had been true to their character arcs of the original trilogy.
But my patronage is not required. The new Star Wars is shattering box office records. Bully for it. And yes, I have to keep my mouth shut when in the company of friends and associates. No one wants to hear me diminish the triumphant return of the Force.
As I said before, Space: 1999, Star Trek, and Doctor Who are about space. Star Wars is set in space. And it is now in the hands of people who do not comprehend, or care to comprehend, basic space science. Yes, I know that sound in a vacuum and the Moon drifting from solar system to solar system in the course of weeks or months is far from scientifically accurate, but those were dramatic necessities for dozens of imaginative stories of discovery and were not as egregious as what this latest Death Star is doing. The Death Star's mode of multiple planet destruction is not even necessary as a story device. The new Death Star could easily just destroy planets of the same solar system without people viewing the explosions with the naked eye. But that did not occur to J.J.. He must have been playing truant on the day that the nature of space was taught in junior high school. Or "zoning out". Besides, the Death Star was done to death, anyway. How about something different? No such luck. The universe of Star Wars is evidently nowhere near as rich and as vast for stories of discovery as those of Star Trek, Space: 1999, and Doctor Who.
All for today, I guess.
Today, Saturday, January 16, 2016, I am at long last a proud possessor of Animation: The Art of Friz Freleng, a magnificent publication from 1994 consisting of Friz Freleng's biography and a multitude of cogent observations of his work and its recurring themes and motifs, his cartoon-directorial style, and the accolades that he received over the years of his long career. Only four thousand copies of the book were printed, and I received mine in pristine condition. It comes in two hardcover sections, one of them a book loaded with pictures and the other called "The Collection" and including a videocassette with a documentary entitled Friz Freleng: Frame-By-Frame, an audiocassette with Friz Freleng and Mel Blanc at a cartoon dialogue recording session, cartoon cels, and a booklet outlining how a cartoon, "A Pizza Tweety Pie", was developed in Friz Freleng's cartoon production unit. There is also a certificate of authenticity signed by the man himself. I was able to obtain this unique publication via eBay for less than 100 Canadian dollars. The gods must have been smiling upon me for me to have obtained it at such a price, because it normally fetches between two and three hundred dollars at Amazon Marketplace and on eBay. I have recently been in correspondence on Facebook with Hope Freleng Shaw, who recommended that I acquire the book, for it does contain the quality of study of Mr. Freleng's cartoons that has been sadly lacking in so many venues for cartoon analysis. Study by the man himself and by his biographer. This book should be a must read for cartoon aficionados, especially the ones who have been besmirching Mr. Freleng and the quality of his work for the past couple of decades. No need to mention names. People who have followed my Weblog know who they are.
"Hyde and Go Tweet" is examined at length in the book, accompanied by concept sketches of the credits sequence for that cartoon, and of the first glimpses of Dr. Jekyll's laboratory through building windows. "Hyde and Hare" receives a mention, also, in the book. All of Friz Freleng's most revered cartoons, from "Rhapsody in Rivets" to "The Three Little Bops" and "Birds Anonymous", are comprehensively studied. The book incorporates mention of Mr. Freleng's cartoons into the biographical sections, connecting cartoon ideas with Mr. Freleng's life experiences. The development of the character pairings and formula-driven cartoon series is also discussed, and some very apropos contrasts are made between the Road Runner cartoons of Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng's Tweety and Sylvester cartoon shorts. The creativity of the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons in setting and situation is elucidated most effectively, I feel, which ought to turn into mincemeat the tired, old refrain that the cartoons of Tweety and Sylvester are all the same. I cannot see how any sensible person who reads this book could come away from it with anything less than utmost appreciation for the man and his work.
I have yet to watch the Frame-By-Frame documentary. I will need a working VHS deck on which to play it. This book really should be reprinted with the documentary on DVD. It is 100 minutes in length.
I read my article on "Hyde and Hare", and it troubles me greatly that I had to pander to the all-too-prolific Freleng detractors in the writing of it, having to acknowledge for the benefit of some of the more open-minded (or less closed-minded) persons of such a group, that Friz Freleng was not the most acclaimed director, before proceeding to delineate the demonstrable merits of "Hyde and Hare". I should not have had to do that. I had to be conservative in my accolades of the man, while studying one of his very best cartoons. I had to kowtow somewhat to some of the probable sceptical readers. Ideally, such a fraction of potential readers should have been small. But I knew, going into the writing of "Hyde and Hare": An Overlooked Masterpiece, that such a fraction would, in all probability, not have been small. Yes, even then. Back in the 1990s. That was before my most unpleasant clashes with the vocal Freleng-merit naysayers on the Termite Terrace Trading Post. But I have been lamenting all of this many a time in the years since then. The reading of this book has been more than sufficient consolation. I just wish that it could "shut up" the louts who speak over and over to there having been nothing of value in Freleng's work of the 1950s. But they would not read the book anyway, even if they could be provided with a copy. I am just so very happy to have mine at last.
Lastly, Kino Lorber has released pictures of the covers for the upcoming Blu-Rays of the DePatie-Freleng cartoons. Here are the covers to the Inspector and Ant and the Aardvark Blu-Ray releases.
Did the Inspector drink a growing potion?
I am very much looking forward to these. Their April release is the light at the end of a long and dark winter tunnel.
All for today.
It is Sunday, February 7, 2015.
My Era 2 memoirs have had further additions, in text and images. It has been a busy few weeks digitally painting imperfections out of the images that have been added to McCorry's Memoirs Era 2. But the colours that now pop out of those memoirs, largely because of the comic book cover images that I have added, are fully indicative of how superlatively colourful those times of my life certainly were.
A few evenings ago, I watched Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan via my Blu-Ray of it. And I thought as I watched it that William Shatner really "delivered the goods". He does receive quite a "rap" for his performance. An unfair "rap". He plays an ageing Kirk dealing with his mortality and the skeletons of his past quite to perfection. Yes, I know about his famous exclamation of anger at his antagonist and the lampooning that that has received. But there was no ridiculing of it in 1982 when the movie was in theatres. It wasn't until an episode of The Critic circa 1996 that I was privy to any irreverent attitude toward Shatner's acting in Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan.
Granted, there was a review of the movie in Maclean's magazine at the time that was negative about the movie, but it smacked of churlish criticism for criticism's sake. After the turgid and yawn-inducing Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan was a return to form, as it were, for Star Trek. Friends and I certainly thought so. And its producer and director paid due reverence to the original series by giving all 79 episodes a viewing, and "zeroing in" on the villain that best matched Kirk in the charisma department in those original voyages. It would be sheer arrogance for a producer and director to refuse to do research as thorough as that into the exceedingly popular prospectus upon which they hope to expand, one so highly acclaimed in its heyday or heydays. Yes, I am having a swipe at a particular producer-director of my generation as I say this.
Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan is arguably where the Star Trek movie series peaked. Creatively. Artistically. Dramatically. I do not think that it was the peak of the overall Star Trek concept. That distinction goes to the original TV series (its first season, mostly). But it was where the latter-day adventures of Kirk and crew reached a pinnacle. The concept of ageing and death is depicted with a parallelling of Kirk's troubled ruminations and Spock's interest in Earth's old philosophies on the subject, and in the idea of sacrifice of one's twilight years for the greater good.
And in Montalban as Khan, we, the viewers, have the ultimate Trek villain. With a believable motivation for revenge and a juggernaut of intensity that could only match the portrayal of Shatner's Kirk at its most brooding.
Every subsequent Star Trek film tried in vain to present a villain to rival Montalban's Khan. Thus have we had the wrath of Kruge, of Chang, of Solon, of Nero. And even a false deity. And they all failed to "measure up" to Khan as played by Montalban. Latter-day Star Trek, at least in its movies, became driven by the urge to repeat the success of Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan. And J.J. Abrams even tried to vainly remake it. Let us face it. Or "facepalm" it, if needs be. Star Trek as a movie had its peak in 1982. With Shatner and the original cast. With a producer and director that had reverence, not contempt, for the original Star Trek concept. With writing that played successfully to the ageing of the beloved characters and that spun a yarn about death and life and rebirth, with all-consuming vengeance powering it. Yes, the Moby Dick quotes were somewhat heavy-handed. That much I will say. But Montalban "delivered" in his speaking of them.
If 1982 was when Star Trek films peaked, I would also argue that 1980 was when Star Wars peaked. With The Empire Strikes Back. Artistically. Creatively. Dramatically. The concepts underpinning the Star Wars prospectus were never better nuanced and portrayed than there in that movie, and the imagination was never more elaborate. And the revelation about Luke's heritage was gripping and could never again be matched. Irvin Kershner pulled the very best performances out of all of his actors, who were at the peak of their powers. Harrison Ford, especially. Indeed, it was clear to me in 1983 when I was seeing Return of the Jedi that whatever it was that came together to make The Empire Strikes Back so awesome, now just wasn't there. It was an occasionally thrilling return to the well, but imaginatively quite tepid, reverting to the tried tropes and sorts of settings of the first movie and condescending to such "kiddie fare" like Muppet musicians and teddy bears, with sledgehammer-effect delivery of exposition-ridden dialogue (for the younger viewers) from See-Threepio. And it felt like Lucas had opted to just perfunctorily finish the saga as quickly and as easily as possible. Star Wars had peaked in 1980. It would never be that good again. I intuited it then, and I appreciated what we had.
The general public cannot seem to find that acceptance and is constantly seeking to see that earlier peak surpassed. The latest movie has to be the best, does it not? The latest James Bond movie. The latest Planet of the Apes movie. The latest Star Wars. Oh, yes. Connery was "too Seanish"; Brosnan is so much better. Oh, yes. Sure. I read that at the time of Goldeneye. And now, Daniel Craig is truly Fleming's James Bond, and Skyfall is the best Bond movie of all time. Oh, yes? No.
James Bond peaked in the 1960s when Connery was Bond and espionage was most relevant at the heights of the Cold War. It peaked when the idea was fresh and new and had Cubby Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Terence Young, and others who understood the character and the concept and the appeal of such. It was when the audience was given larger-than-life, suave but maniacal villains like Dr. No, Goldfinger, and the operatives of Ernst Blofeld's SPECTRE. Played by actors who were born to play those parts. Gert Frobe. Joseph Wiseman. Telly Savalas. And most every Bond film then had a large-scale battle, with sets or milieus from the master production designer, Ken Adam.
I have tended to think that the Bond films peaked again with The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker in terms of spectacle and extravagance and sheer fun. But I know that Bond as a concept was best served by the films of the 1960s. And through the 1980s and beyond, the movie series kept trying to "go back" to the heights of the 1960s, with mixed results at best. After the end of the Cold War, the Bond movies lost their "edge". Of course they did. And their range of story ideas. Especially with all of Ian Fleming's books having already been turned into films. So, now it is terrorists. Or Russian renegades. Over and over again. And this time it is personal. Again and again. A movie series that has lost the raison d'etre that made it so successful to start with, trying constantly to up the ante with more and more angst in the lead character and increasingly wild chase sequences. It has lost its original producers, directors, and writers, and yet it keeps trying to reach the same highs while at the same time being relevant to the dreary and uninspiring realities of today.
Doctor Who also had its peak last century. It peaked first with the Dalekmania of the 1960s and then reached its pinnacle with Tom Baker playing the Doctor in mid-1970s stories with Gothic archetypes and body horror. That was definitive Doctor Who which the so-called franchise has been trying to emulate ever since. We had Colin Baker playing the Doctor as alien, aloof, and hectoring, but he just came across as unlikable. With Sylvester McCoy, the then production team tried for another mysterious and brooding Doctor, but the results were hollow and laboured. The phenomenon of "Nu-Who" has been trying time and time again to recapture the allure of Doctor Who in the Tom Baker years, while "parading out" younger and younger actors to play the role, to appeal to the young.
Everything has its day. Everything peaks and then goes into decline. Such is life. Such is certainly my life. It peaked twice. In 1977 and again in 1983. It has never been that good again and can never really be. I have acknowledged that as much as I have the peaking of many of my favourite entertainments. One of my very favourite entertainments, the Warner Bros. cartoons, had peaked and was in decline before I was born.
Sadly, it is a facet of the Zeitgeist of today, powered by my generation and the Millennials, to not accept a past peaking of anything. We must always be "going forward" to better and better things. Our film-makers are not content to honour the achievements of our parents' generation. We have to not only match them, but surpass them and leave them in the dust. So that they can be forgotten. Pushed off the shelves at HMV. Where is the Star Trek of Gene Roddenberry? Where is classic Doctor Who? Soon, the Star Wars of George Lucas will go the same route.
Such vanity, such arrogance it is, to seek to leave in the dust the crowning achievements of past generations of entertainment makers.
Every time that something is "rebooted", I mourn for the ultimate decline of public recognition for the originals. It saddens me today that when I talk to Millennials, I am conversing with people who have never seen an original television series Star Trek episode, and who think of William Shatner as that ham rampant who is now part of the gag in "poking fun" at himself. And who only think of Star Trek in regards to J.J. Abrams, Chris Pine, Eric Bana, and Benedict what-is-his-name. And soon (if not already), I will be talking to people who think that Darth Vader does not hold a candle as a villain to Kylo Ren. Or that Han Solo was just that stupid old codger who walked onto a bridge to be impaled by his son's lightsabre.
It is not a dirty truth for something to have had its day and peaked in the twentieth century. It is not a dirty truth that my parents' generation, with imaginations hewn in the Great Depression and World War II, made some outstanding material that we cannot hope to surpass. It is a dirty truth that none of this seems to matter today and that I am likely to be scoffed-at or excommunicated or Facebook un-friended for feeling this way.
But I do, and I am now at the age that Kirk was at when he was brooding about his own ageing and mortality in Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan. And no, I am not going to launch into a conniption and shout, "J.J-J-J-J-J-J-J-J!!!!" Not worth the straining of my vocal chords, that.
I do propose to proceed further into a discussion on the James Bond films. Not a subject about which I have felt inclined to say much these days. I just do not like what Eon Productions is now offering. James Bond is a tired concept that needed to be retired years ago. After all of the Ian Fleming books had been made into movies. After the Berlin Wall came down. After the death of ace scriptwriter Richard Maibaum. After the death of producer Cubby Broccoli. 1989 with Licence to Kill would have been a natural end to the movie series. And for some time, it was. Cubby Broccoli did not think that Pierce Brosnan was entirely right for the part, and in all honestly, I do agree with him. After Timothy Dalton opted out of doing more movies, I suppose that Cubby Broccoli was convinced that he should give Brosnan a go at the role. It is no secret that I am not much of an admirer of Goldeneye, but it is light-years ahead of what's been done with James Bond in this century, I do have to say. Cubby may have been ailing and near death, but enough of his influence was there, and there in the months after his death while Tomorrow Never Dies was in the planning stages, to yield content that was rather true to the spirit of the movie series and its thirty-some years of illustrious history. I liked Tomorrow Never Dies. It may be by-the-numbers as a Bond formula film, and the action in it may be said to be excessive. But it had a suave, megalomaniac villain in the Goldfinger, Stromberg, and Drax tradition, and the very high stakes in Bond's mission were clear. After Cubby's death, his daughter and step-son inherited the mantle of "movie-runner", and I do not think that they have ever been "up" to the task. The World is Not Enough would have been the first movie that they produced from virgin territory, as it were. And it so happens that it was the first James Bond movie that I did not like at all. It was the first Bond movie to be written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. And those men have written all of the subsequent Bond films, including 2006's Casino Royale, which had Ian Fleming's book as source material. The problems started with them and continue with them.
With The World is Not Enough, there was a veering away from traditional James Bond movie story development. In the classic Bond movies, usually in the scene coming immediately after the main titles, there is the requisite briefing scene in M's office, whereby the viewer is told what Bond's mission is, what he will be looking for, or who he will be investigating and why. Or if not that, then we, the audience, see the villains in conference, discussing what they intend to do. It is clear what is going on in the movie. It is clear why Bond is chasing someone or is being chased. With The World is Not Enough, there is an exceedingly long boat chase scene on the river Thames. Thrilling, yes. But the context is not clear. A woman killed a man in the MI6 headquarters with exploding money, but apart from the fact that she is a murderer, why is it so urgent for Bond to capture her? What is at stake? We do not know. There is an earlier scene involving money and someone being killed off-screen, but it is not satisfactorily developed. Not enough for the viewer to have a full intellectual and emotional investment in the boat chase. After the credits sequence, we see Bond trying to understand M's connection with the daughter, Elektra King, of the man murdered by the exploding money, but why should the viewer care about her? What is at stake? Then, it is revealed that the story has something to do with oil pipelines in eastern Turkey and that Elektra King is in some sort of danger. But the stakes are too localised, not large enough. It is unclear why Elektra King is important. As the movie proceeds, the viewer becomes privy to Elektra being the villain. But by then, it is difficult to become emotionally invested in what is happening. The movie climaxes with a protracted underwater scene wherein Bond is Mark Harris in The Man From Atlantis. No oxygen tank or breathing unit gadget necessary. And every Bond film from Purvis and Wade has had a long underwater scene without oxygen tanks.
The sins of Die Another Day are known to just about everyone. It was a terribly written film. Following it was exceedingly tasking. How did Colonel Moon survive the fall that should have killed him? And it is unclear when we see the man with diamonds in his face, who that is supposed to be. Yes, one eventually comes to the conclusion that it is Zao. But how did he come to look like that? The McGuffin of the movie is some concentrated solar energy weapon that when directed at an ice palace cannot immediately liquefy the structure. And apparently it has the ability to destroy border installations and start armed conflict, just so that the villain, a Korean who modifies his DNA to be Caucasian, can impress his father. Or something like that. For some inexplicable reason, the villain also dresses in an electric suit. My eyes roll as I typewrite this. The fact that the producers have kept Purvis and Wade as writers is indicative, I feel, or their lack of qualification to follow in Cubby's footsteps.
And then, in the documentary on the making of Casino Royale (2006), they say that the only way that Casino Royale could be done was to go back to the beginning and "reboot". No. It was not the only way. Not if they had writers of imagination- or if they themselves had any imagination.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent an evening watching Tomorrow Never Dies. The last James Bond movie that I can honestly say I liked.
A few evenings earlier, I had given a Blu-Ray player spin to Casino Royale (2006). I only proceeded an hour into the thing before I switched it off. Tomorrow Never Dies, on the other hand, I could not stop watching.
My problems with Casino Royale are a matter of record to my Facebook friends. I keep trying to give that movie another chance, but there is a huge block. The "reboot". It was not necessary to "reboot" the movie series to do Casino Royale. It does not have to be Bond's first mission. There can be liberties with Ian Fleming's original book; there is precedent for such liberties in many of the classic Bond films. In fact, Casino Royale could have been made as Bond's last mission- and the producers could have had Brosnan play Bond.
But apart from my issues with the prospectus of the movie, its cinematography is off-putting. Not the same aesthetic of the preceding Bond films. Casino Royale (2006) looks more like episodes of Miami Vice. Too yellow. And contrast ratios are too low. Bond films traditionally had stark contrast ratios accenting a grittiness to their image. And yellow was not a primary colour. The other Daniel Craig James Bond film that I have seen, Skyfall, was similar, as I recall. I know. At least it is not teal and orange. Actually, teal and orange would be an improvement.
Great, pulse-pounding chase scene at the start of the movie. Great, that is, in a Marvel super-hero kind of way. Bond leaping from cranes and falling many feet onto his back or onto his spread legs and having no debilitating injury, just is not right. And in any case, it is not clear what the chase is about (yes, that problem again). It is difficult to become invested in a chase scene as protracted as this without clear context and motivation. And it and the later vehicle chase at an American airport are the only times the movie really comes alive. And neither one has a salient explanation. By the time that the movie reaches its exposition scene between M and Bond an hour or so into it, I have lost whatever inclination that I have to invest myself in what is transpiring. Besides, apart from bleeding out of his eye, Le Chiffre is not all that interesting a villain. I do not really care about why Bond has to defeat him. And before the viewer can settle into the card play scenes, they are abruptly cut short for long pauses (long pauses?!) in the marathon of poker.
In just about every way, the Casino Royale TV version from 1954 is a more satisfying experience. It is clear quite early, from Leiter's briefing of Bond, why Le Chiffre has to be stopped; Bond defeats Le Chiffre in an uninterrupted game of Baccarat; and we have an un-protracted scene of Le Chiffre using methods of persuasion to force Bond to turn over the cheque. It works as an hour of TV; I do not think that it works as a film. Though it is possible that a major retooling of the story with Brosnan as Bond and Bond winning the money and sparring with Le Chiffre in a series of action set pieces, might have worked, we will never know.
They, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, chose to end the classic Bond continuity (dicey though it may have been) with Die Another Day and start again. But why bother? The Fleming books have been done as movies, mostly in the Cold War era in which Fleming envisaged them. By Cubby Broccoli and his team of superlatively talented writers, directors, cameramen, art directors, special effects people, and actors. Why do it all over again?
I have to "hand it" to M*A*S*H. And The Mary Tyler Moore Show. They knew when it was time to "call it a day" and "bow out". Yes, there was a spin-off or two, but the central concept was declared "played-out" and was retired. Entertainment of today does not make such artistic decisions. Not as long as there are derrieres to be put in seats and dollars to be made. As long as the "reboot switch" is there, Hollywood can just go on back to the well again and again and again, and nobody will question why the characters have not retired.
Perhaps Hollywood can do so, but I will not be a party to it. I did not go to see Spectre. Spectre was already done in the Bond films of the 1960s. The ones that had Sean Connery as 007 (and George Lazenby, too, it is true). Connery had a charisma and a gravitas that Daniel Craig could not begin to approximate. And it may be controversial to say this, but Lazenby, Moore, and Dalton had it, too. Brosnan was not quite in the same league, but I would want him as Bond before Craig any day.
Casino Royale sits on my shelf in a Blu-Ray/DVD case with the 1954 TV version and the 1967 spoof. All versions in one case. Granted, the TV version is incomplete and on DVD only. Curiously, it was more readily available before the 2006 movie was made. Which brings me back to another grouse that I have. Always, the "rebooted" versions become the default versions, with the originals pushed to the background as relics of a past that the Zeitgeist of today wants to bury. Sad. So very sad.
But at least in my house, sparsely inhabited though it may be, when James Bond is to be watched, it is the movies of Cubby Broccoli. And when Star Trek is to be watched, it is Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. When Doctor Who is to be watched, it is the Doctor Who of the twentieth century. Etc..
I liked the recent, "rebooted" Planet of the Apes movies. I did. But are they really necessary? Is a "rebooted" James Bond movie series really necessary? Was not Star Trek already done to death before 2009? Doctor Who may be popular, and that popularity has been a boon to me in a number of respects, but is going on with it really necessary? The producers and writers managed to reach the end of the Doctor's thirteen-life cycle, and even that has been restarted.
I have sidestepped saying much today about Star Wars. But it is implied here. All of the so-called franchises are.
I have resolved that the next movie that I see at the theatre will be a non-franchise, "one-off" movie. What, I don't know. One will see if Hollywood will "come up" with one this year.
It is Saturday, February 27, 2015.
I have done substantial additions to Eras 2 and 3 of McCorry's Memoirs, adding new text and several new images. I am currently working on a couple of additional images for Eras 3 and 4. Much digital paint work is required to bring them up to standard. Some updates have also been done to The Space: 1999 Page. Other than this, I have not been doing much with my website of late. My schedule at work in quite intensive right now. I am, however, now in possession of a means of monitoring traffic to my Website at HostPapa. Clearly, I have lost Website traffic in the move from Webs.com to HostPapa, as had also been the case with the transition from Geocities to Webs.com. Every time that my Website moves, it loses traffic. The bulk of my Website's visitors are now looking at the Warner Brothers cartoons-related Web pages and not much else. There has been a significant uptick in traffic to my Pink Panther Show Page, but a distinct drop in visits to The Spiderman Page, The Rocket Robin Hood Page, and The Space: 1999 Page, to name a few. Canadian traffic to my Website has dropped drastically with the transition from Webs.com to HostPapa. And my Weblog receives almost no traffic at all.
I suspect that my blacklisting by Wikipedia is a factor in this. At present, only my Web pages regarding televised Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies have Hyperlinks at Wikipedia, which would explain why the bulk of visits are to the Warner Brothers cartoons-related Web pages.
It occurs to me that some of my readers may be wondering why I am so apparently strident against J.J. Abrams while giving not just a "free pass" but accolades for that notorious "show-killer", Fred Freiberger. I mean, why lament the scapegoating of Fred Freiberger while lambasting J.J. so vigorously?
The answer is simple. Fred Freiberger had imagination. He had it in bucket-loads. Many people would argue that he failed to temper his imagination with believability and realistic restraint. But there can be no denying that he had imagination. His worlds, however seemingly Earth-like and inviting some of them may have been, truly were alien. The Star Trek season of Fred Freiberger was more imaginative than its predecessor. Imaginative and experimental. Yes, "Spock's Brain" just did not work, but that was more due to how the story was executed than the central concept's quality and validity (or alleged lack of those). All of the other episodes of Star Trek- Season Three are, from a story-structural standpoint, serviceable at the very least (and at the very most quite effective), and the concepts highly imaginative. Even "And the Children Shall Lead", all too often reviled, is a story about possession and misleading of the innocent, and of a seizing of control of the Enterprise by a malevolent entity through the innocent. Kirk's solution for exorcising the entity from the children and the Enterprise is satisfying. The concept of the evil entity emerging from out of a cave is fascinating.
Let us look at it this way. If J.J. Abrams had done Season Two of Space: 1999, the explosion of Psychon would have been seen in daytime sky with the naked eye by the inhabitants of worlds of neighbouring solar systems; Mentor would have had "daddy issues"; Cantar would have made a Hitler demagogue speech to the people of Golos; Koenig would be shown to be a weak and ineffectual leader (and he would be at least fifteen years younger), relying on Helena and Maya to think of the solutions to every crisis and to act on those solutions; Tony would not need to brew beer because there would be casks of brand-name alcohol on Alpha (along with a bar with the playing of popular music therein); "Journey to Where" would not exist because time dilation would not have happened on Alpha and it would still be 2000 on Earth, with technology not yet developed for near-instant trans-galactic communication and teleportation; Maya would have turned herself into a laser-sword-wielding warrior and eviscerated her and John's opponents in "The Rules of Luton" within the first few minutes of combat; the Earth rescue party in "The Bringers of Wonder" would have been real because surpassing the speed of light would not have been impossible (come to think of it, the speed of light would not have been mentioned at all); and in "Devil's Planet", Elizia would have successfully seduced Koenig, and he would have been shown in his underwear laying on top of her while she made some vulgar remark about sex with farm animals (the sophisticated dialogue in the actual, existing "Devil's Planet" would be far, far beyond J.J.'s script-writing expertise). Actually, this whole thought exercise is a non sequitur because Abrams would not have had the imagination to conceive any of the worlds in Season Two of Space: 1999, from Psychon to Dorca. He would likely have simply brought back villains from Season One and recast them with actors of a different nationality and range of portrayals. And the camera would never have stood still for anything longer than a few seconds. And lens flares and other idiosyncratic film-making tricks. Plenty of those.
People revile Fred Freiberger, and people deify J.J. Abrams. It makes no sense. But then, what does in this world of today? Fred Freiberger was and continues to be unfairly scapegoated. The people at the Space: 1999 Facebook Page are, even today, espousing hatred for "Fast Freddie", as Season Two is now going through yet another round of directed hostility by fans in a mutual-gratification circle. Sharing sorties against Season Two and giving responses of agreement to each other and revelling in the doing of such. Indeed, what defines Space: 1999 fandom, what has defined it for decades and continues to define it, is hatred of Season Two and of Fred Freiberger. That and really only that. There are people who only comment at the Space: 1999 Facebook Page when it is time yet again to berate Season Two. Darned right that I lament about that. Admittedly not as much as I would wish to, I have have presented a case for appreciation of Season Two, its concepts, its thematic and/or story plot connections from episode to episode. I cannot go further because someone else has staked a claim to extensive, elaborate, all-encompassing aesthetic appreciation of patterns and nuances to Season Two, and I already overstepped my bounds twenty-six years ago. God! Was it really that long ago?
Accept my word for it. There is tremendous aesthetic depth to Season Two of Space: 1999. And Star Trek- Season Three has merits. Plenty of merits. I just do not see same in J.J. Abrams' works. What I do see is a "free pass" given to him for extremely egregious lapses of space-science plausibility (for the sake of mere spectacle) and pandering to the youth culture of today for which advancement must be virtually instantaneous and the authority of older adults is to be mocked, dismissed, portrayed as effete. From cadet to Starship Captain in one movie. Yes, I know that Fred Freiberger said once that he felt that science fiction should have young faces- but I have always interpreted that statement to suggest people like Tony Anholt or Robert Conrad. People in their late twenties or early thirties. Not teenagers or people in their early twenties. Not that very young people cannot be there at all. Like Shermeen in "A Matter of Balance", for instance. But only in non-authority positions. Not authority figures. Let us remember that Shermeen was very callow and temperamental, needing to be "handle(d) with care".
How about this? J.J. was criticised (and rightly so) for showing the destruction of the planet Vulcan visible in full spectacle in the daytime sky of another planet (and one that in Star Trek lore is supposed to be on the outermost fringe of the galaxy; but anyway). He subsequently attains the ostensible "dream gig" of his life. A Star Wars movie. And what does he do? He arrogantly repeats the mistake but on an even grander scale.
Fred Freiberger was a professional doing a job and using his imagination in generous (perhaps, some people would say, too generous) portion. J.J. Abrams is a self-professed Star Wars "nerd" (who evidently did not pay attention in junior high school science class and did no remedial reading thereafter) somehow given opportunities to produce and direct resurrected, ahem, franchises but lacking the imagination to bring those franchises anywhere really new and wondrous and lacking the good taste to leave blatant expressions of smut on the cutting room floor. Granted, some of that smut would have been appropriate for Alien or Outland. But Star Trek is neither of those. Nor is Star Wars. How could Nero coming back in time and destroying the Kelvin have changed the galaxy and the worlds of Star Trek to the extent that it so evidently did? It could not. It simply could not.
Fred Freiberger came in and watched eight episodes, a full third of the existing oeuvre of Space: 1999, before proceeding to move the television series in the direction that he (and ITC New York) chose for it. Abrams watched almost nothing of Star Trek's existing oeuvre. Just The Wrath of Khan, apparently.
There is my rant for the day, for whatever little that it may be worth. I have next to nothing new to report as regards Blu-Ray or DVD releases. I await the DePatie-Freleng cartoons in April (assuming that they are not delayed again). Scott of the Antarctic will be released on Blu-Ray in Region B in May. UFO is coming to Blu-Ray this year, but still no release date as yet. That is all that I have in the way of news.
Recently, I have received e-mail correspondence from persons requesting information on The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show and The Pink Panther Show not at present available on those Web pages. In my response here to the requests, I must state that everything that I know about all of the works of entertainment with Web pages at my Website, is there on those Web pages. Every morsel of information. Every memory. Every preserved-in-writing fact. I am withholding nothing. If information is not present on the Web pages, I do not have it.
I did not catalogue every interstitial segment in the episodes of The Pink Panther Show when last I had occasions to watch that television show. In its run on Teletoon Retro in 2008. Should I have? Perhaps. But I was rather busy then with work, and in any case, I was not able to view every single Pink Panther Show episode that was shown on Teletoon Retro in 2008. Because of work, I missed some of them. And I did not then have a video recording device at my disposal. The bottom line is that I cannot say for sure what episodes contained each of the interstitial segments. And if an episode guide is not offered for a particular Bugs Bunny & Tweety season, it is because I did not write down the contents of the episodes. My interest flagged from time to time, particularly if a season of Bugs & Tweety contained nothing but the same cartoons offered in the preceding season. And for one or two of the seasons of the late 1990s, affiliate preemptions of Bugs & Tweety for college football kept me from seeing a sizable percentage of the episodes, and I opted not to bother writing down the contents of what episodes I did see.
If people do have information on any television programme honoured at my Website, that is information not currently available on my Web pages, they are most certainly encouraged to send it to me. I still update my Website whenever any new information "comes to light".
The not-good people in the Space: 1999 Facebook group have been "at it" again these past few weeks. They are now systematically going through all of the episodes of the second season, "picking them apart" for all sorts of questionable minutiae that may be assembled for being utilised as brickbats in yet another reiterated assault on Season Two and what people may venerate it.
The target this week has been "All That Glisters". And it has received a virtually unanimous thrashing on everything from its concept to its characterisations to its story structure to its production design.
Not long ago, I wrote a quite extensive defence of "All That Glisters", and I have no desire to today write another. I have always loved the episode for its concept, its production design, and its characterisation. I will grant that its story structure could have been better. It does "drag" somewhat as the Alphans are trying to determine what it is that the rock wants from them. But all in all, it is stimulating, entertaining Space: 1999. A truly alien world. A truly alien form of life. The rock is an alien life force, not altogether unlike that in the Season One episode, "Force of Life". It has somewhat more of a physical presence, but its essence is, in purpose and methodology, still quite uncanny and, for a time, cryptic to the Alphans. It is the distillation of a planetary life force, a Gaia. One that somehow threw the ecosystem of its own biosphere off-kilter. I think that this is an amazing concept.
But the fans moan, groan, and "bitch" about the "impossible" sentience of the rock, about Koenig's changing bearing and tactics in responding to the threat posed by the rock in the Eagle as that threat becomes more and more understood, and even about such trivialities as how the cloud-seeding nucleide crystals came to be on the Eagle. How coincidental, how convenient, they say, that the crystals should be on the Eagle on this particular mission! To this I counter with, "Who knows why they are on the Eagle?" And does it matter to the entertainment quality of the episode? Maybe they, when dispersed, act as a navigational aid in the event of a rescue Eagle needing to be sent for another Eagle with crippled instrumentation for location tracking. Maybe they aid in sensor detections during reconnaissance missions. Who knows? Who "bloody well" knows? Quibbles like this one are minutiae. And they lead me to quote something I read recently on the Internet that I have been meaning to invoke in my ruminations on fan attitudes as regards "plot holes" and things that are "passed off" as "plot holes".
"Note, 'a minor, insignificant detail that didn't get as much attention as I would have liked because the movie was spending too much time focusing on stuff that actually matters' is not actually the correct definition of 'plot hole'.
You see, in fiction, there is a thing called 'the principle of economy of detail', which basically means that you don't provide more detail than is absolutely necessary.
You see, it is not possible for a writer to explain ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING in a fictional story. So, he has to pick and choose, there are always details which the author deliberately chooses to omit for the sake of not overwhelming the audience with too much detail and losing sight of the story.
99.9 percent of the things that are listed on Internet lists of 'plot holes' in movies are things which are explained in the movie if you just pay attention, or which are not important and were deliberately omitted by the author for the sake of economy of detail."
Nail, on its head, hit?
What details should be economised and which ones should not would be writer's discretion, but it would seem to me that details that are not essential to following the development of the main story, need not be addressed. In the case of the nucleide crystals, they are not essential to the Alphans freeing themselves of the rock's powers and escaping the planet. Rather, their presence is advantageous at the conclusion of the episode for enabling the Alphans to administer some mitigation for the plight of the antagonistic quantity. And the explanation for the presence of the crystals is not absolutely required for accepting that the Alphans have been able to help the rock after all. It is not impossible for the crystals to be there. And a viewer could easily rationalise their presence if needs be.
Alas, the "principle of economy of detail" does not appear to have much mileage today when it comes to appreciation of the works of my parents' generation. What Space: 1999 fans do is not very dissimilar to what most people today are doing. But it is the ferocity, the mutual-gratification circle aspect, the scapegoating of one man, and intransigent persistence after no less than four decades, that sets the fans of Space: 1999 apart in a class all their own.
People nowadays do tend to proudly assert that audiences today are so much more sophisticated and less forgiving than the audiences of yesteryear. "Economy of detail" is therefore said to be merely an excuse for sloppy writing. But it is not, as has been elucidated. Excessive exposition can be, and in my estimation often is, unsatisfying and boring.
Also, I just am not sure how much that this idea of today having more sophisticated audiences "rings true", or if it does "ring true" at all. Why? Because the movies of J.J. Abrams are insanely popular with the very people who pride themselves as being sophisticated. Multitudes of them. Despite the humongous and quite ostentatious problems with their premises of those movies. Starkiller Base is preposterous within the context of the organisational reality of the Star Wars universe (how could the Republic not have known about and prevented its construction?) as presented in the other Star Wars movies, and in terms of basic science, which even the space fantasy of Star Wars has hitherto respected at some cogent base level. And yet, the majority of people have no problem with it and rate Star Wars: The Force Awakens a ten-out-of-ten. They also forgive the enormous coincidences that propel the story and the violations of the Jedi training precepts as portrayed in all of the other Star Wars films. I still have not seen J.J. Abrams' Star Wars, but from what I have read, these cited issues with the movie have some basis in fact. Certainly, the contentions that I have with his Star Trek have basis in fact.
The Roobarb Forum is a hotbed of Space: 1999- Season Two haters, and yet scarcely anyone there has any problems with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Odd, that. The oh, so sophisticated people that they profess themselves to be.
But it is not only the movies of J.J. Abrams that I would cite in refuting this more-sophisticated-audiences idea. Much of what comes out of Hollywood today is deeply flawed. So many, so very many, misbegotten "retreads" or "reboots". "Reboots" lacking integrity and/or coherence in demonstrably fundamental ways. Yet, they keep on being made because people are going to the cinema or turning on their televisions to see them. Why are people of today so unforgiving of old productions that did not emphasise most slavish attention to some details, and so forgiving, or indeed so wilfully ignorant, of the lapses in detail or story plot of productions of today? "Sleight of hand", perhaps. "Sleight of hand" wielded with astronomically high production values, extremely "busy" film frames and story structure, and pandering, at every development turn in story, to the vaunted importances of today (i.e. the fixation on "relationships" and on protagonists' oh, so all-important sexuality, on social justice, and on that ever-supreme consciousness of ever-so-essential political correctness). This plus the hype of the Hollywood machine, which these days with "social media" appears to be a juggernaut of Biblical proportion. If a movie and its director employs such "sleight of hand", the public is evidently willing to suspend disbelief (or ignore the very concept of suspension of disbelief) and accept without question something like Starkiller Base, while people en masse are unwilling to suspend disbelief to accept classic movies' or television shows' decision to, for instance, not have language be a barrier between humans and aliens, or between astronauts and talking apes, or between people of different nationalities. English being the lingua franca or the ultimate adaptation of language on all worlds or simply the universal means of communication, was deemed a dramatic necessity within the scope of suspension of disbelief. This was standard practice back in the day of Space: 1999, or in the day of the original Star Trek television series, or in the day of Planet of the Apes, or in the day of classic Doctor Who. Etcetera. Now, of course, such is unacceptable. Yes, unacceptable. But egregious, sensational violations of basic speed-of-light astrophysics are quite acceptable. As long as the Force-sensitive prodigy, Rey, bests everyone around her and the villains whom she defeats look spectacularly "cool" with their hardware.
What I am saying is that I do not believe that people of today are more sophisticated. Nor do I believe that movies and television shows of today are essentially better. Pandering to what people of today want to see in their entertainments. Yes, I can allow that movies and television programmes of today do that effectively. Does that make them qualitatively better? I do not think so.
In addition to that "positivism" fallacy that I elucidated some time ago, what is happening today is something of an ethnocentrism- but with the "foreign country" being the past. Anything past is foreign to sensibilities and the oh, so superior attitudes of today, and to the expectations of the unsubtle, imagination-poor though extremely extravagant film-making styles of the twenty-first century. And as such is ripe for critical picking-apart (or, as I have lamented, for being totally ignored).
I also contend that many of the angles of attack today against Season Two of Space: 1999 are predicated on the dubious principle of tastes today being qualitatively superior to those of the 1970s and of Season One somehow being above or beyond the particular styles and sensibilities of the decade of the 1970s as opposed to Season Two being very much of its time. As though that time was incapable in its fashions and mores, of yielding an imaginative entertainment of artistic merit. Poppycock! And "economy of detail" or suspension of disbelief have been speciously tossed to the wind, as people talk of Season Two not "holding up", of it having "plot holes" that sink it in the estimation of aesthetically minded persons of today. Pah!
A stand-by angle of attack that tends to be chosen as regards Season Two is how cheap it was in comparison to Season One. Doubtless, less money was spent on Season Two. But is more money always really necessary? And if it is, does it always make something look impressive, not shoddy? I would point to the cheap-Jack cardboard Eagle cut-outs in Season 1 episodes. "War Games", most blatantly, but also "The Full Circle", "Guardian of Piri", "Missing Link", and "Earthbound" (the hangar scene in that has many Eagle cut-outs). Compare the hangar scene in "Earthbound" with the one in Season Two's "Space Warp". The hangar scene in "Space Warp", though not one hundred percent perfect, is way more impressive. I would further point to the obvious jump-cutting to black with light flashes for spaceship explosion effects in the battle scenes in "Alpha Child". I would point to the liquid freon dripping off of the Voyager One in "Voyager's Return". I would point to the multiple exposing of the Ultra Probe with the Centauri Space Dock in "Dragon's Domain".
And I would also point to "The Testament of Arkadia" and Koenig looking up and seeing the man-in-the-Moon side of the Moon in the daytime sky on Arkadia. Not only does the effect of the Moon in the sky look awfully cheap, but it is at variance with what is said in the episode. Arkadia is supposed to be far enough away from Alpha for a two-way Eagle travel time of thirty hours. Thirty hours! Wow! That being the case, surely the Moon ought not to be visible, with the naked eye, in the daytime on Arkadia. Besides, the man-in-the-Moon side of the Moon is shown pointed away from the nighttime side of Arkadia after the Moon has "stopped dead".
Here is my essential problem. If one accepts that Eagle flight time to planets in other episodes (of both seasons) is fairly rapid, as it usually seems to be, i.e. in the order of fifteen minutes to a half-hour (or less; or more by some small multiples), then fifteen hours (thereabouts) of flight time from Alpha to Arkadia, given especially how close to one another that they so evidently are from the space scenes and the Moon in Arkadia's daytime sky, is nonsensical. Fifteen hours? What?
Of course, it is possible that Arkadia is moving away from Alpha and the Eagle has to do "catch up" to the velocity of the revolving planet, but the Moon is said to be "stopped dead" near Arkadia and is shown to be very near Arkadia in scenes in acts one and four of the episode; so, with acceptance of the Moon having been "stopped dead", Arkadia cannot be moving very fast- if it is moving at all. Is Alpha really completely immobile and Arkadia doing its revolution around its sun as normal, or is Alpha being kept in constantly the same range of Arkadia, being pulled with Arkadia in Arkadia's movement of planetary revolution? The visuals of the two astral bodies suggest that both- the Moon and the planet Arkadia- are either immobile or are moving together to stay within a constant range of one another. Does not this whole thing come across as patently absurd? Not J.J. Abrams level of absurdity or ridiculousness, granted.
But is it something to fall into "economy of detail"? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But on a scale of egregiousness, it does make the presence of the nucleide crystals in "All That Glisters" look like a trivial quibble.
Oh, I can allow that a first Eagle flight to a planet is apt to be protracted, as variables in the planet's velocity and Eagle compensation factors are calculated during flight, and later Eagle flights to the same planet are bound to be faster. Perhaps much faster. Yes, this can be granted. But still. Fifteen hours thereabouts for first flight to a planet as close to the Moon as Arkadia so clearly is in the establishing space views over the episode credits and at start of Act 4 and in the view of the Moon in Arkadia's daytime sky, is an excessive amount of time, in my estimation.
Is it really necessary for Eagle flight time to Arkadia to be so long? Is it necessary to show the Moon in Arkadia's sky? These are pertinent questions that do not occur to the fans in their zeal to focus their overweening criticisms and outright hostility on the "Freiberger season".
The only way that I can accept the "lapse" in "The Testament of Arkadia" is to reject the "stopped dead" notion and regard the Moon as travelling with Arkadia as Arkadia is moving fast in its orbit. And also that the Moon is rotating so that its man-in-the-Moon side can be pointing away from Arkadia in one scene and visible in Arkadia's sky in another. And therefore, "stopped dead" is an incorrect statement by Koenig of Alpha's situation. Oh, if this had been in Season Two, the fans would have had a "field day".
And oh, do they moan and prattle about Season Two's flaws! Of course there are flaws. Any television series has flaws. I was watching a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode a few evenings ago, and an alien planet clearly had the Great Lakes on it. And Earth as seen from space had the continental features of an alien planet. There are flaws in Season One of Space: 1999. Plenty of them. Despite the money that was spent. Despite the time that the production team had to "get it right". Things do "slip by". Things that do not occur to people. Happens all of the time. However, the visible-to-naked-eye planet explosions in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars ought to have occurred to him because he was criticised for same in his Star Trek. But anyway.
One could quibble with "Dragon's Domain", that ostensibly unassailable episode of Season One of Space: 1999. Why was Cellini not ordered to undergo a polygraph test to show whether or not he was telling the truth about the monster? Why was the axe that he used against the monster not analysed for traces of alien tissue? Why does Helena discharge Cellini from Medical Centre so quickly after what he had done and the admission that he had made? Surely she would have been within her rights to detain him for further observation? And so on. Would "economy of detail" allow for a dismissing of these questions? Maybe. But it ought to allow for a dismissing of questions of a similar nature regarding episodes of Season Two.
Moving on I go.
I have recently come upon some full episodes of CBC Television children's after-school television programmes. And they really do set the nostalgia generator's gears turning. Pencil Box was a clever television show with puppets introducing renditions of stories submitted by youngsters. Some with drawings. Some with actors. Some with puppets. I loved that television show. My strongest memories of seeing it are of after the 1977 McCorry move to Fredericton, but Pencil Box was airing in 1976, also, when I was in Douglastown. And the episode now available is from Friday, September 24, 1976. Here it is.
And next there is Homemade Television. That one was not as memorable to me as Pencil Box was. When I first saw its offered episode on YouTube back in September, I needed quite an amount of time to effectively recall myself to seeing it back in the 1970s. Only the main title card really stuck in my memory to any cogent extent, and even then, not altogether clearly. But now I can visualise myself seated in front of the floor-model Zenith television in the living room of our new Fredericton home on a sunny autumn afternoon in early October of 1977, watching this episode of Homemade Television. For the first time in what seems like ages, I felt a renewed closeness, a oneness, with my generation as I watched the children in this episode of Homemade Television, listened to their banter, and shared in their excitement at being on national television. It aired on the Wednesday between the October of 1977 CBC Television Saturday airings of the Space: 1999 episodes, "Collision Course" and "Force of Life", the former of which shown by CHSJ-TV in New Brunswick, the latter of which, not shown by CHSJ. I look at those assembled children and cannot help but think that several of them were keen viewers of Space: 1999. Outstanding find, this episode. Even if the humour in it, from the four performers, is not always sophisticated.
And with these two gems from the Canadian broadcasting past, I being this Weblog entry for Wednesday, March 9, 2016 to a close.
"Journey to Where" is the latest Space: 1999- Season Two episode to receive quite the thorough thrashing at the Space: 1999 Facebook group. And mostly from people who say that they like the episode. If such makes sense. I will quote some of the comments and then respond to them.
"I like this episode, even with all the flaws. The most wondrous part is the real-time communication even with two different real times. And the ability to recalibrate to the past and bring John, Helena and Alan back. By the way, that is a form of time travel. Why did nobody from Texas City, 2100-something go back and prevent the pollution? All right, back to the story. I like the idea of a technic to bring the Alphans back and that future generations remember the Moon and the inhabitants. Well, it is likely that two astronauts and a doctor do not know anything about botany so they could not identify the plants? By the way the plants from the Studios' backyard (gum trees, bamboo and eucalyptus I think I identified) were certainly unknown in fourteenth century Scotland. And Alan, as a child from the Outback not able to start a fire? That was a nice joke. The storyline as such is a good one with the interaction with the clan people, Helena's illness, the fungus cure, and so on. John and Helena's closeness and John's willingness to become ill to by kissing her shows that very well. Oh, and Alan is an orderly person. He closes the door while running away. Very interesting clans people with the old hag and the chief. Interesting guests at all. And a bit childish Dr. Logan and his female assistant with the horrible wig. Tony's attempts to poison his friends were hilarious and no rubber monsters. Refreshing. I do not count this Jeckyll and Hide transformation. To have a scale from 1 to 10 for 'Year 2', I would give it a 8."
Though I was generous and corrected punctuation, apostrophes, etc., I kept the person's misspelling of both Jekyll and Hyde. Difficult it certainly is to regard a person as a serious critic when he or she does not know how to spell the names of one (or is it two?) of the most famous characters of fiction.
Of course, speak (or write) first and foremost of "all its flaws", so as to proclaim that it is riddled with them. Naturally. One cannot articulate one's liking of a Season Two episode without remarking about its copious alleged demerits. Sigh. Yawn.
The real-time communication is a dramatic necessity. Yes, dramatic necessity. What a concept! It is one that even Isaac Asimov acknowledged as valid as a storytelling precept. "Journey to Where" could not possibly transpire within the fifty-minute time allocation for a one-part episode if there were to be a sizable time lag in the communication. And there are explanations that can be posited for the real-time communication in "Journey to Where". I do in fact posit them in my Space: 1999 Chronology, which the fans refuse to read or seriously consider, hated renegade that I am.
The ability to recalibrate to the past to retrieve John, Helena, and Alan is also a dramatic necessity. And it is attuned to the neutrino pattern in their original Alpha-to-Earth transference, which was distorted by the one-time occurrence of an earthquake of some precise magnitude near Texas City at the same time as a transference from Alpha in Alpha's precise location in space and time. To suggest that Earth could begin to adapt this set of exceedingly rare circumstances to time-travel at will is a ludicrous stretching if ever I saw one. It indicates a desperation in fault-finding. I could invoke the "principle of economy of detail" to apply to this, but it is beyond even the bounds and the necessity of that. It is so clearly a reaching, a grasping to find fault. Besides, how could someone "go back" and prevent the pollution as this person suggests? The powers-that-be would not listen any more than the powers-that-be listen today. A time-traveller warning of an ecological catastrophe would be sent to an insane asylum, probably. Ever see Twelve Monkeys?
Why would astronauts, or a doctor, know much or anything about botany? It is not their field of expertise. No more than it was the field of expertise for the Commander, Dr. Russell, and Carter on Arkadia in Season One's "The Testament of Arkadia". Remember that it was Anna Davis, with her "widest possible experience" who discovered the presence of trees of Earth on Arkadia. Trees on an alien planet could look like trees on Earth, as they of course do in episodes of both seasons. A person not specialising in botany would be unlikely to isolate trees as belonging to Earth, or to specific parts of Earth. And really, is any rational viewer going to notice any of this? Production could not go to Scotland to film, just as the Doctor Who production team did not film in Scotland for the much-lauded Doctor Who serial, "Terror of the Zygons". Some allowances need to be made for this. In my estimation, the parts of Black Park used to simulate Scotland were effective. This is not a flaw.
If one wants flaws to "Journey to Where". Fine. Alan Sheppard being the first married man in space is wrong. The dates of the Black Plague's recorded scourge across Europe were some years after the events of "Journey to Where". The Alphans' modern English ought not be have been understood by the clan chief, MacDonald. There. Those are flaws. How important are they, really? Actually, the last of these, ahem, flaws is a dramatic necessity and can be excused.
The episode did correctly forecast the team against whom the Boston Red Sox would next be victorious in the World Series. How "cool" is that?
As to Carla's wig, it could be future fashion. And as to why she would need a wig, maybe she has no hair of her own. The ruination of the Earth's environment in the 2000s could have affected the health of future generations, especially if some of the pollution, or much of it, was radioactive. "Journey to Where" presents a future world on Earth where technology is at an exceedingly high level but with a cost in changes to nature, certainly in nature of the planet itself- and likely also in the biological functionality of its organisms. Evidently, the Earth people are all reliant on pills for nourishment. For whatever it is worth, I think that it is quite an interesting "touch" that Carla's hair is as synthetic as the recreations of old Earth in the "tele-sensual systems" in the Earth cities.
And Dr. Logan is a fascinating character. Cantankerous and detached and not at all "warm". Mannered and methodical as a scientist but seeming always to be stifling an urge to launch into a rage. That is what a future man may indeed be like. A repressed man who would very much love to partake in a transformation into Mr. Hyde.
Some time ago, I wrote an elaborate essay on the significance of the appearance of Mr. Hyde (by Maya's transformation) in the episode, its connection to the import of Tony's beer, and how it tied into the desire to return to Earth, Helena's illness that led her to compare herself to a monster, and the eventual chains and hell fire to which the three Alphans were consigned. It was printed in a fan club newsletter. Not a single person said anything about it, one way or another. Anyway. Moving on.
Another person having a "go" at "Journey to Where" while professing to like- or indeed love- it.
"One of my favourites! I'll say that again. This really is one of my favourites. Now, the year is 2100-something, and they're looking for the Moon? Why? (maybe the Caldorians told them the Alphans were still around). The mistiming of all of Yasko's lines make Zienia Merton's absence all the more acute. So, after one of the longest thirty-second countdowns outside of a Bond film, the test package is sent and Koenig immediately decided he goes next. Why him? Who coordinates the rest of the evacuation, with him gone. Hang on, who is coordinating it anyway? There's no one else in the room where the booth is set up. Why aren't they lining up the next volunteers, given the deadline? Down on the planet, how did Helena catch a virus? From whom? Why would the common cold be such a risk, after all she must have grown up on Earth and been exposed to germs then. And how come the one time we can't understand the 'aliens' because they're speaking a different language, it turns out that they are British! Finally, as a John and Helena fan I was overjoyed to see them kiss at last, but why does it look so fake? Helena and Zarl's kiss looked much more convincing!"
Why would they not be looking for the Moon? They now have the technology to communicate and teleport across vast distances of space. Why not use it to seek out the runaway Moon and offer to the people of Alpha a means of returning home? It would certainly be quite the feather in the scientist's cap. I see no problem at all with this. It is quite logical.
Yes, the character of Yasko ought not to be necessary. Zienia Merton should have been kept on contract. There. I conceded something. But Yasko is acceptable for the minor part that she has.
Why Koenig first? Because of the enormous risk. As Commander, it is his responsibility to assume that risk before anyone else. If he, Helena, and Alan had transferred successfully, Tony, who was put in charge on Alpha and is overseeing the transference operations there from Command Centre (with Ben Vincent providing all of the bio-medical feedback), would have had no problem assembling the next sets of volunteers. Once transference of people was clearly successful, volunteers would then have been assembled in groups of three. Why ask for further volunteers until the first transference is successful? I just do not comprehend the criticism of this. Any of it. Besides, plans for organising further transferences should easily come within the scope of "economy of detail". It is not necessary to allude to that, much less show it.
How does Helena catch a virus? Someone may have sneezed onto a leaf or a blade of grass which she subsequently touched before touching her face. Viruses are spread that way. Maybe she rolled along a blade of grass with the virus on it and her nose thereby came into contact with the virus, after she materialised on the Earth's surface. And it is said by Helena that Alphans would have a reduced resistance to viruses, their immune systems having relaxed somewhat in a prolonged germ-free environment. Also, who knows what effect the transference process and the drop in body temperature accompanying it, would have on the immune system, especially of a person who has been living in time-dilation effect of relativistic velocities for many months? It is within the realm of possibility for a virus to incubate quicker than normal. No problem there either. Easily explained. Or maybe Helena, in her tenure as a doctor, came into contact with a particular strain of virus that stayed dormant within her until the effects of the transference weakened her immunity to it. Yes, that has a certain credibility, I think. But I think that I prefer the first explanation- if an explanation is really necessary. I do not believe that it is necessary.
Further on the subject of viruses becoming incubated and symptomatic. Doctor Who's 1966 serial, "The Ark", had people of the far future showing the symptoms of a cold virus within not much more than an hour (if that) after exposure, their resistance to it being low because of immune system unfamiliarity with it. Fast virus incubation is something that has to be accepted as, if not a dramatic necessity, then something specific to the science fiction/fantasy genre, in which immune response to viruses may be changed by some unusual, not-present-day situation or process.
John's kiss of Helena looks natural to me, given their circumstances.
Grasping. Grasping. Grasping. These people are. And why am I talking like Yoda?
The Scotsmen in the episode may be British, but Scots did not speak the Queen's English in 1339. They spoke Gaelic. This criticism is no criticism at all. If the Scots in "Journey to Where" did not speak Gaelic, the episode would be criticised for that. Seems to me that it will be criticised no matter what it did.
And yet these people profess to like it. Despite tearing into it with one grasping criticism after another.
And there are fans who hate "Journey to Where". Says someone at another Space: 1999 Facebook group, "A totally ridiculous episode." And this was in response to, "The only person in the annals of medicine to contract the cold virus literally out of thin air." I sigh heavily in exasperation, and onward I go.
But not today. I have "used up" my allotted time answering these criticisms, almost all of them unwarranted, of one of Space: 1999's best episodes.
And with that, I "sign off" with this being all for today, March 14, 2016.
I propose to start today's Weblog entry by continuing with my defence of "Journey to Where". Why? Because I think that it is a "cracking", great episode of Space: 1999. Not just on an entertainment level but also on an aesthetic and symbological level.
Further assault on it has concentrated upon the enclosed, technological metropolis of Texas City in the episode and the characters within that metropolis. The attackers state that the environs of Texas City in the episode look geographically nothing like the surroundings of Texas City of today. Perhaps, but it is said nowhere in the episode that the Texas City of 2120 is where Texas City of today is situated. What is stated, by Dr. Logan, is that Texas City in 2120 is in central America (or Central America) near the Gulf of Mexico. The viewer can speculate about what happened to the nations and national boundaries of Earth after the Moon left orbit and after (or before) twenty-first century pollution had its toll. Mexico and the nation-states of Central America, or perhaps only Mexico, might have fallen because of the earthquakes and other disasters that resulted from the Moon's break from Earth. Economic collapse might have occurred, and the United States may have had to "buy Mexico out" and annex its territory to prevent a socialist or communist revolution. The state of Texas could then have expanded, and the metropolis that was later constructed in what was Mexico, called Texas City. Not a problem here. And this would put a centre of space communications operations closer to the equator (wherever the equator is after the Moon left Earth).
Another angle of criticism is the naming of Dr. Logan's operations centre as Space Station One. It is not in space. So, why call it Space Station One? Yes, Space Control might be a more apt name. But a facility for coordinating space missions and networking space communications could be called Space Station One. It is not really problematic.
And quibbles exist toward Freddie Jones' Dr. Logan not sounding Texan, i.e. not having a Texan accent. Why should he have one? It would be silly, I think, if Freddie Jones had spoken in an affectedly Texan way. Besides, in as far into the future as 2120, might not regional differences in speech have fallen away somewhat? Freedom of movement of people on Earth also could have resulted in people of British extraction working in various parts of the world. Again, no problem, really, with this. At least, Freddie Jones does not sound distinctly British as Logan. Isla Blair as Carla does, I suppose. But still. In a global society of the future, people of British descent could be working in Texas City and elsewhere. British actors' union rules prevented the bringing-over to the U.K. of American actors and actresses in guest-star capacities. Allowances have to be made for that. And casting has to be lauded for not putting cockneys in the roles of the Texas City operatives.
Much of this, perhaps all of it, falls under "economy of detail" in any case.
For all of the talk of alleged flaws in "Journey to Where", not a one of them was noticed by my mother when she watched it (several times) with me. My mother, by the way, was a nurse. No, she did not say a thing about Helena's illness in the episode. I doubt that most (or any) rational viewers did. Fans, after a campaign of hate of forty years, finally seized upon that angle of criticism recently. It is a silly one. I have never seen Doctor Who's "The Ark" criticized on the basis of speed of cold virus incubation. No. Never.
The rancour at the Facebook group reached the extent yesterday of the following, most unpleasant discussion, in reaction to someone posting a Hyperlink to The Space: 1999 Documentary.
"Or, how F.F. did a great job... Not. It's great to hear all the people involved being as candid as they are here. A far cry from the promotional crap they were forced to offer when 'Year 2' was being announced."
"And if 'Year 2' had been a success, you wouldn't have all this after-the-fact second guessing. Of course, if 'Year 1' had been a success, there would not have been any changes."
"That is your opinion, which I respect, even if I totally disagree for a number of reasons."
"Sadly, I can't use the alternative to likes on comments, so I'll just settle with (second person in discussion) obviously needing to read up on Space: 1999 and how Season Two came about (hint- it wasn't because Season One was unsuccessful), as he's clearly delusional, ignorant/stupid (pick one)."
I corrected for punctuation, etc. and left out the name of the person being attacked.
Oh, the old assertion of being delusional again. They always trot out that one. Perfect way, they believe, to discredit someone. Allege that the person challenging their attitude is not mentally competent. Hogwash.
Was Season One successful? No. Not to the degree that ITC Entertainment wanted and expected. And such was why Sir Lew Grade declared it cancelled in late 1975. It was not successful in the U.K., where the size of Doctor Who's audience was at one of its highest peaks when Space: 1999's first season was the competition. Season 13 (1975-6) was one of the most successful seasons of Doctor Who. Space: 1999 was scarcely a blip on the radar of U.K. public interest in Doctor Who's broadcast in 1975 and 1976. Season One was also not successful in attaining a network broadcast in the U.S., and after being marketed in syndication suffered a drop in ratings after the "curiosity viewing" time period of September to mid-October had passed. Though the CBC in Canada declined to give to it a full-network airing in 1975-6 (and therefore it had been rather less than an unqualified success in Canada; in fact, I had not even heard of Space: 1999 before the summer of 1976), it was successful enough to prompt the CBC to give to Season Two a full-network telecast, and Season Two was, in turn, more successful. The CBC did not cancel Space: 1999 after Season Two (a testimonial to Season Two's success in Canada) and did something unprecedented (I think) in subsequently giving to Season One an airing as a full-network presentation after the run and rerun of Season Two, eventually cancelling Space: 1999 after Season One's 1977-8 full-network run and rerun. Season One was also not a success in Denmark, where public and media outcry caused it to be banned. Season Two had a much more favourable audience response in Denmark. These are facts, and they do rather "back up" the argument of the person defending Season Two and show the ad hominem attacks against him as the baseless and classless slurs that they are.
But again, ladies and gentlemen, this shows what Space: 1999 fandom is all about.
Seasons One and Two of Space: 1999, for all of their merits, were both insufficiently successful for Sir Lew Grade to grant to either one a continued life in television production. And Sir Lew Grade knew his job. Bottom line. But Season Two was a success in Canada in 1976 and 1977. That much is certain. It received good treatment by the CBC, and viewers responded favourably to it. One person has said that it was the third highest rated television show on CBC Television in 1976-7. I do not know about that, but the numbers of Space: 1999 viewers were to the CBC's liking, which was why the CBC opted not to terminate Space: 1999's broadcast after rerun of Season Two's episodes. If Season Two's ratings had "tanked", would the CBC have even kept Space: 1999 on air for the spring and summer reruns of Season Two's episodes? No, I would not think so.
Sylvia Anderson died yesterday. Sad news. Her contribution to Gerry Anderson productions, including Space: 1999, was indeed very profound. She reached the age of 88, which was a "good innings", as the British say. Drewe Henley (Ehrlich in Space: 1999- "The Bringers of Wonder") died two days ago. He is better known as Red Leader in Star Wars. May they rest in peace.
Lastly, some appealingly potent surges of nostalgia come from watching a couple of compilations of bumpers, commercials, end credits, introductions, and In the News segments from Bugs Bunny/Road Runner episodes on CBS in 1976 and 1985. Here are Hyperlinks to them.
The moving-graphics titling to "Hyde and Go Tweet" can be found in the compilation of items from 1985. Also the moving-graphics titling of "Compressed Hare" and "Apes of Wrath". And, strangely, the title card to "A-Lad-in His Lamp" hailing from 1968. Later in the 1984-5 Bugs Bunny/Road Runner season, a moving-graphic titling to "A-Lad-in His Lamp" appeared.
I was at my grandparents' house in Fredericton on the morning of Saturday, August 21, 1976 after a memorable early-morning Douglastown-to-Fredericton trek by car and did see all of the commercials, etc. in the first of these compilations.
All for today, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.
Another day and further assault on "Journey to Where".
Here it is. I am not feeling charitable this morning. So, I am going to do a minimum of correcting for punctuation, grammar, etc..
"Okay. I'm all caught up and thought I'd give a few thoughts on this one. Up to this point, I've sorta been liking 'Year 2'. ... I didn't realise how good the music was! I wish I had kept my 'Year 2' CD set! Anywho, I always liked this episode, but this time around I just started shredding it to pieces. ... And I'm not even scientific by any means! First, this is a re-imagining of 'The Full Circle'. Freddie decided instead of an implausible mist he'll use an implausible time travel idea instead. Did you notice it was Alan that fought with a 'cave man' first this time around, too?? As already stated above, why would Koenig and Helena be on the first trip? They should be the LAST ones to go. You know, Captain sinking with the ship and all. That was just lame- though I do agree it was really nice to see all the main cast (sans Sandra) still together at this point. Barbara Bain has been doing a bang-up job this season. She's really firing on all cylinders so far and in this episode she's doing a great job being sick. So good in fact, I kept thinking, 'don't come near me or cough on me!' Seriously! She's much more accessible than in 'Year 1' (and for those who say she can't act- uh, yea; okay, whateva). Why would they leave the area they beamed into? I know they wanted to get to shelter, but did they know if they could be re-beamed from another point on the planet? Not a good risk. And where does the energy come from to beam them not only to 2020 Earth but FROM Earth back to Alpha? (Star Trek did it too, but at least you can say the ship had the energy necessary; you can't say that here). I sorta hated when they used teleportation on 1999 (in 'Year 1', I think they only used it in 'Last Enemy', and I hated that scene- and so I hate it here). NO ONE realised ALL the plants, trees, grass, water were EARTH-like?!?! Seriously? Anna figured it out on a nuclear blasted Arkadia and these people can't see it on a green Earth? Where did they get the new wrist monitors? And who knew that you could push the buttons and make the corresponding reading on the machine blink? I guess Koenig did? The whole talking between galaxies, universes, solar systems, etc.. Lame. Awesome that Maya didn't save the day (again), but I'm sure Freddie was getting hot under the collar that his 'creation' isn't being used to her full abilities. The running joke with Tony's beer was cute. I thought this episode Maya said something about feeling anxious returing to Earth as an alien?? I was thinking what Earth would do to her. The experiments, etc.. Horrifying, I like the lighthearted segments- but lemme tell ya, they've dumbed down this series to a run-of-the-mill television show - more akin to Space Academy than Star Trek. Yes, Freddie humanised the series a lot, but I think at the expense of realism. IMO, of course. And almost the same ending as Full Circle- though this time, Koenig mentions global conflicts instead of human (local) emotions like he did in 'Full Circle'. And I guess that was the message of this episode. Why should we go back to Earth? It sucked."
More akin to Space Academy than to Star Trek. Ha! The kiss between John and Helena would never have been allowed on Space Academy. Nor the making and drinking of Tony's beer. And the pseudo-science in "Journey to Where" would have been deemed inappropriate for Space Academy's educational approach to the telling of space fiction, though it would be quite at home on Doctor Who or in Star Trek in some of its more fanciful iterations. Of course, the invoking of Space Academy for comparison purposes is meant to demean Space: 1999- Season Two as befitting the Saturday morning norms of science fiction/fantasy. And I have already argued that not to be so.
Literally, "Journey to Where" is not a strict re-imagining of "The Full Circle". "The Full Circle" involved the Alphans being retrogressed (somehow) into cavemen while on an alien planet. Any retrogressing that happens in "Journey to Where" is symbological in the Jekyll and Hyde allusions. Not literal, as it is in "The Full Circle". "Journey to Where" is a time-travel story. Three Alphans become lost somewhere in time after a technological procedure goes awry. In the literal sense, they stay, more or less, civilised. That is not what happens in "The Full Circle". Yes, Alan does have a fight with some primitives in the two episodes. But so what? He and Paul also fight primitives in "Mission of the Darians". Alan is joined in his fight by John in "Journey to Where". It is not just him in the fight against primitives, as it is in "The Full Circle". I feel sure that Nick Tate being in the action in whatever episode, was what he and his fans wanted to see.
I have dealt with most of the other angles of attack already. Why would Koenig be first for the transference? As I have already said, because of the risk. Koenig is first because of the risk involved. He does then ask for two volunteers to join him. If any of the "background" Alphans wanted to step forward, they could have done so. Helena decides to step forward because, as she says, "You never know when you'll need a doctor." Medical considerations regarding the transference process and its possible physiological effects make her a suitable choice for being in the first group to be transferred. Contention over who should be first to transfer is then actually presented with Jackson's question of, "Why should they (Koenig and Russell) go first?" To which Alan replies with, "Why? Do you want to take the risk?" And Jackson shrugs resignedly. The potential controversy over command personnel going first is addressed, and the risk mentioned. Ought not that to be enough?
Besides. This is Space: 1999. Starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. People were "tuning in" to see them in the "thick" of the action. How satisfying would it have been if Joe Blow and Jane Doe and George Shmoe from Technical Section had gone in the first transference and become lost, with John and Helena and the others on Alpha spending most of the episode worrying about the fate of three obscure Alphans? The leading characters of any science fiction/fantasy opus on television (be they Koenig and Russell, Kirk and Spock, the Doctor and Sarah Jane, or whoever) have to be the ones who go on reconnaissances and such and encounter the dangers. That is why people "tune in" every week. Would Landau have been at all happy to have three supporting characters or guest-star characters be in the heart of the crisis of an episode while Koenig twiddles thumbs in Command Centre? Ridiculous angle of attack.
Alpha is not a sinking ship. The comparison of Alpha with one is silly. Life on Alpha can go on. And it does for several more years. To end of the television series and beyond. Yes, there are dangers, but the situation on Alpha is not hopeless, whereas the situation on a sinking ship obviously is so. Again, the comparison is silly. Koenig is not abandoning his people, but is leading the risky process of transference. "Cutting a path" for them to follow. And as stated in Season One's "Missing Link", Alpha and life on it can go on with or without John Koenig. If the risk being undertaken were to result in Koenig being lost, Alpha would continue onward with Tony in command. I would have thought that to be obvious. It should be obvious in every episode in which Koenig goes on a reconnaissance mission. Now, this said, one can see the potential for "rumblings" of discontent in the Alphan "background". "Rumblings" of discontent which become manifest in later episodes, namely "Catacombs of the Moon" and "The Seance Spectre". Far from a subject for criticism, this provides an intriguing correspondence between episodes. The fan critic sees it as a flaw. I do not.
And there should be ample time, assuming that nothing were to go wrong, for everyone on Alpha to transfer to Earth. No one would be left behind. And even if some persons were left behind due to something gone amiss, it was from a risk that, in Koenig's judgement, should be undertaken. His people would not have forgiven him if he said no to Dr. Logan.
Besides, who is to say that Koenig could not teleport back to Alpha to do the traditional Captain's thing in the event of something complicating a complete transfer of Alpha's population to Earth? And Helena would doubtless go back with him to be at his side. This is, I know, conjecture. It could have been addressed in dialogue in the episode- if the episode had been a two-parter, which it would need to have been to contain all of the fan-pleasing exposition.
Where does the energy come from to teleport? It exists because Earth's human population of many decades into the future has acquired the technological know-how to generate it for the harvesting of neutrinos and the applying of them for communications and transference. Perhaps nuclear fusion has been achieved. Or geothermal energy has been perfected. "Economy of detail." "Economy of detail." "Economy of detail." Does every little detail have to be explained? Cannot viewers suspend disbelief? If the energy for transporting can exist on the U.S.S. Enterprise in Star Trek, why cannot it exist in the cities on Earth in "Journey to Where"?
If a person cannot accept teleportation, then science fiction/fantasy ought not to be their genre of entertainment. The teleportation of matter is one of the more routine components of successful science fiction/fantasy. From Star Trek to Blake's 7. From The Tomorrow People to Carl Sagan's Contact. And for the record, "The Last Enemy" is not the only first season Space: 1999 episode with teleportation. "Ring Around the Moon" is another such episode. And "Guardian of Piri" (the Servant of the Guardian teleports to and from Alpha). The "lifeboat" Eagle and its occupants are teleported across space (somehow) in "Black Sun". How are Jarak and Rena removed from the bodies of Jackie and Sue Crawford in "Alpha Child"? There is a kind of teleportation involved there. And how does the monster in "Dragon's Domain" shift itself from one place to another? It teleports in some way. I rest my case on this one.
John, Helena, and Alan must find shelter from the cold. That is why they have to move. They cannot stay in their "beam-down" location. Helena is already showing signs of being adversely affected by the cold. They cannot just stay there for an indeterminate period of time.
Alpha has always had wrist biomonitors. They were in Season One.
Koenig could have learnt to make the biomonitors blink while he, Helena, and Alan were in the Scotsmen's cell. "Economy of detail."
The vegetation non-recognition criticism I have already addressed. Vegetation on alien planets looks like that of Earth. The vegetation on Retha in "The Full Circle" in Season One certainly did. Just because vegetation looks like that of Earth does not mean that the heroes are on Earth. This has to be accepted in Space: 1999 as a matter of course. And Koenig, Russell, and Carter are not botanists specialised in doing close analysis of plant life. Also, is it not implied in Season One's "The Testament of Arkadia" that a parent civilisation may have transplanted life forms (including plants) onto Earth and potentially onto other worlds? The presence on an alien planet of forms of life similar to, identical to, or indeed sharing lineage with, those of Earth is posited elsewhere in the episodes of Space: 1999. Just because Koenig, Russell, and Carter find themselves surrounded with familiar-looking vegetation cannot be "a given" that they are on Earth. As far as they know, the transference process is spatial only and wherever they are, it is their time (and 2120 Earth's time, when Earth's surface is devoid of vegetation); so, by their reckoning, they have to be on another planet.
If I was to do a teleporting to Earth, knowing it to be a wasteland without breathable air, and then found myself surrounded by vegetation and able to breathe, what would I be most likely to conclude? That I have somehow gone back in time? Or that I am on another planet? If I have already found there to be Earth-like planets in the universe and if time travel is not known to be possible (not technologically on Earth, anyway), the odds are exceedingly in favour of me thinking that I am on some other planet. That is what John, Helena, and Alan think. And it makes perfect sense. Again, they are not botanists and have neither the expertise nor the equipment to thoroughly analyse the vegetation.
I cannot believe that I am even having to say these things.
All of the other "stuff" in the criticism is subjective blather. I cannot be bothered responding to it. For what it may be worth, I consider the question of a return to Earth and the implications in it to be very compelling, and it does "tie in" with "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and ideas or concepts in that. I do not think that it "sucked". That is a completely subjective "observation". Ha! I do so love that word as applied to Season Two. Yes, I am being sarcastic. I see that the Catacombs Website is adding more and more "observations" to the episodes of Season Two. And no new ones to those of Season One. Naturally. Of course. I laugh sarcastically.
Enough said, I should think. These people just want to hate Season Two because it is not their precious, oh, so sacrosanct Season One, and they will subject the episodes of Season Two, even the best ones, to incredibly intense levels of scrutiny, to try to "back up" their stance. Much of that scrutiny not being rationally formulated or applied. While they obsequiously spare Season One any intense criticism. Nobody is looking at the episodes of Season One with his or her fingers on the remote control buttons. Why does this not surprise me?
One more thing. If the people at the Space: 1999 Facebook group do not want what they are saying being quoted and rebutted, all that I can suggest is one of two things. Make their group private (because as long as it is public, anything said at it is "fair game"), or simply shut their "traps". I do not think for one minute that they will make their group private. Not a chance. They want the general public to read their sorties. It is propaganda. And of course they will not "shut up". They have not done so yet, after forty years. And so it must remain, must not it?
At this juncture, I am prepared to allow them to just "do their darnedest" with the other episodes. I can easily anticipate the tone and structure of the "discussion" on "The Rules of Luton". I have already defended that one quite enough.
Something else that they are prone to say about Season Two is that the Alphans in it just loved to "kick arse" and always prevailed because they "kicked the hardest". Johnny Byrne once made a comment to that effect, and the fans of course do reiterate it as though they were Mr. Byrne's choir. I would respond to it by saying, quite frankly, that it is rubbish. In no episodes are the Alphans relishing the battles that they must fight. Is Tony enjoying having his arm and leg broken in "The Beta Cloud"? No. Is Koenig having a merry time battling the aliens in "The Bringers of Wonder" or Elizia's guards in "Devil's Planet" or the Dorcons? No. Is Koenig laughing with glee as he disconnects Zova's tether line in "The Exiles"? No. They solemnly fight the battles that they must fight to survive, and they do win but not without a significant amount of peril and stress, often with fortitude and ingenuity being key factors in battle. Then, in their relief, they move to "wind down" the tension with a bit of jocularity. It is human nature to do that. Watch any M*A*S*H episode.
All for today in this "Journey to Where" saga. Thursday, March 17, 2016. St. Patrick's Day, this is. And of course, it is snowing today.
It is Saturday, March 19, 2016. Fredericton is now covered in two days' worth of near-constant "light" snowfall. And for Monday, a snowstorm is forecast. Typical. Start of spring, and winter returns with a vengeance. I would not be at all surprised to find 2014 levels of snow on the ground here by mid-April. And for yet another year, an April with snow on the ground throughout that month.
I am currently working on improving the images on my "Deconstructing" Bugs article. It is a work in progress, and I will report its completion when such is achieved. I also last evening updated The Space: 1999 Page with additions to the "In Memoriam" section. An update sadly necessitated by the deaths of Sylvia Anderson and Drewe Henley. These days, it seems that it is The Space: 1999 Page that I have to update most frequently in response to deaths of actors, actresses, and behind-the-scenes production people. It is a sad reality that the people involved in the making of Space: 1999 are now mostly in their twilight years and that deaths have to be expected as not only inevitable but as likely to happen in the short-term future. Actually, most of the people involved in the making of The Prisoner are now dead, including Mr. McGoohan himself.
But moving away from this morbid topic to another of something of a parallel- though much less morbid- nature. The death of television series and the allegations of their having had a "show-killer" in the production team. No, not Space: 1999 this time. Though it is the Space: 1999 Facebook group that is involved in the alleging, with their favourite scapegoat being the ultimate target. Someone mentioned the Bionic Woman episode, "The Vega Influence". The one with the meteorite on the Arctic base somehow controlling the people there. Comparisons were made, of course, between that and Space: 1999's second season's "All That Glisters", with the judgement, ever so matter-of-factly stated, that both are "difficult to watch". No, they are not. Not for me. I happen to love both.
The discussion then broadened to a tangent to the effect that the lion's share of 1970s television programming was abysmally poor or bad, that The Six Million Dollar Man was initially good and that Freddie Freiberger presided over and was the agent of its demise, and so forth. Someone also argued that The Six Million Dollar Man was superior to The Bionic Woman in every respect. I disagree with all of this. First of all, I thought in the 1970s and have thought ever since then that The Bionic Woman was the stronger of the two television series about bionics. Jaime Sommers had more humanity than Steve Austin. And more of a vulnerability. Indeed, she had died and been resuscitated. And her first couple of missions for the OSI were not unqualified successes. There was a greater sense of peril in her missions, and humanity and its fate seemed to be more at stake in Jaime's missions than in Steve's. In a plurality of episodes, that is. Not necessarily all of the episodes. "Doomsday is Tomorrow", The Bionic Woman's most outstanding two-part episode, is riveting television, witt the threat to the whole world immediate and most grim. I find Jaime to be a more fascinating character than Steve. Granted, that much may be said to be subjective. Both characters are layered and rather complex, especially on how they have adapted to their bionic state and the changes imposed into their life by that and by the expectations of the OSI. But I feel that Jaime's complexity goes somewhat psychologically deeper than Steve's. Again, she died. And she subsequently lost her memory. Then, she strove to totally rebuild her life, with the OSI requisitioning her help on a regular basis. In addition to this, there was a sensibility to Jaime's outings for the OSI that often called upon her more tender qualities as a woman.
My friends all have tended to favour The Six Million Dollar Man. And that is quite acceptable. Boys do tend to identify best with men. My appreciation of the two television series about bionic people does often extend beyond viewer identification with the leading character.
The Bionic Woman also had, I think, more interesting guest stars. John Houseman, Lew Ayres, Vincent Price, Abe Vigoda, Julie Newmar (the last three of whom were in the same episode!).
Both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman did not last past 1978. I do not believe that either one was "killed". Rather, they became tired. They ran out of fuel. I believe this to be especially true of The Six Million Dollar Man, which after five seasons, had gone as far as it could go. I have the entire television series on DVD. When I watched every episode five or six years ago, I honestly did not notice any real difference between the fourth and fifth seasons (apart from Steve losing his Season 4 mustache and having his hair styled differently). The quality in terms of production value and story remained constant from Season 4 to Season 5. Both had some rather turgid two-part (or two-hour) episodes. Actually, I found the majority of episodes of Seasons 4 and 5 to be watchable but unremarkable and unmemorable. And I could even say the same about several of the episodes of Season 3. There was a two-hour fourth season episode, "The Thunderbird Connection", through which I struggled to sit. Yes, "The Lost Island" in Season 5 was weird, but then so were the Bigfoot episodes of Seasons 3 and 4.
I just do not see evidence of any culpability on Fred Freiberger's part in the end of production and broadcast of The Six Million Dollar Man. It was a television series that had had its day. By 1978, ABC was putting all of its yen-for-imaginative-television eggs in the basket of Battlestar Galactica, which did indeed replace on The Six Million Dollar Man on Sunday nights. The time had come, simply, for something different. Something more in the vein of Star Wars. The Bionic Woman was not produced by Freiberger, and it was cancelled at the same time as The Six Million Dollar Man. It, too, was tired. In fact, the final episode, "On the Run", was all about Jaime's fatigue with being an agent for the OSI. Lindsay Wagner had less of a presence in The Bionic Woman in its final season. There was one episode, "Max", in which Jaime had little involvement. It was all about the bionic canine, Max, and his friendship with a youth played by The Brady Bunch's Christopher Knight. And in another episode, "The Antidote", Jaime was in critical condition in hospital, and Max had to "save the day". The third season of The Bionic Woman was clearly not "going strong". As I watched it during its initial run, I sensed that The Bionic Woman's days were numbered.
I flatly reject the idea that 1970s television was abysmally poor. Quite a sizable percentage of it was unabashedly imaginative. Bold in imagination and in the story-structure execution of imaginative concepts. And colourful, bright, and on the whole quite optimistic. I can easily say that the 1970s were my favourite decade for television. No other decade comes close to bumping it off of that perch. None. Yes, the 1960s had Star Trek and Doctor Who. And it had Spiderman. Indeed, the 1960s would be my second favourite decade. But its best efforts were rather avant garde, belonging more in the 1970s than to the 1960s and that decade's emphasis on "camp" satire (e.g. Batman, Lost in Space, Gilligan's Island) and/or on being twee. The 1970s had a more earnest, a more serious, sense of wonder to it. A twinkle still there, but with an element (just the right amount) of grittiness. The difference between The Avengers and The New Avengers would perhaps best demonstrate what I am saying. By the way, when are we ever going to be able to buy decent quality DVDs or Blu-Rays of The New Avengers?
There were very few television shows of the 1970s that I did not then like. Some have not "aged well" for me today. For the record, I cannot now abide Happy Days (before or after Ted McGinley joined it). But I loved television back then. I lived and breathed it. It was my preferred subject for conversation at school for most of my time in Douglastown. Space and astronomy would overtake it on many a day when I was in Grade 5. When people ignorantly proclaim the 1970s as a bad decade for television or entertainment in general, I bristle. Of course, someone who disapproves of bold expressions of human imagination in mass entertainment would think so, but I do not believe that they are right. Doubtless, their attitude did "win out", as is all too much in evidence today on television and at the movie theatres. The rut into which Hollywood has fallen has been a result of an eschewing of imagination and a push for realism, even to the extent of rebooting old fanciful works and trying to do them more realistically. Darkly. With smut. With shades of grey. And oftentimes with less heart and less artistry, and with even more egregious lapses in logic and realism. It is not for no reason that I am less forgiving of flaws in entertainment of today than I am of alleged ones in entertainment works of old.
All for today.
Good Friday, 2016.
I am continuing to work on the images in my "Deconstructing" Bugs article. I have as yet no date for completion of that work. I do only have two images left in that article that require digital painting.
News is sparse these days. I see people on Internet discussion forums continuing to pine for DVD or Blu-Ray releases of the Warner Brothers cartoons, but their longing-filled laments will not move the powers-that-be toward restoring more cartoons and announcing optical videodisc media. That ship has sailed. It sailed twice. Once for DVD. Once for Blu-Ray. The boat did not go far enough from the dock. All of the hundreds of cartoons that are unreleased on DVD and/or Blu-Ray will languish un-restored in vaults.
These days, I am not sanguine about my attitude of ten years ago regarding the pre-1948-versus-post-1948 cartoons contention, as regards DVD releases and general squabbling about relative merits of cartoons of the two time frames. I would guess that my removal of many years from the posturings of the Bob Clampett aficionados has "softened me". I did not really have any animosity toward the cartoons of Clampett, Avery, and others, in my pre-Internet years, or indeed in my first years on the Internet. It was being in the presence on the Internet of Clampett-favouring detractors of everything Freleng, Jones, and McKimson that soured me toward the work of directors and of time periods other than those that I had long venerated.
I am truly "better off" without them. And the same is certainly true as regards the fandom of Space: 1999. When in 2000 I made my long-overdue exit from fandom in its fan-club and Internet "Mailing List" iterations, it certainly was to my benefit. I do not know what compels me to continue looking at fandom in its current incarnation, the Space: 1999 Facebook group. Oftentimes, I will computer-mouse-"click" onto it without thinking. And when I do, I receive much of my daily dose of contrariness and aggravation. And things are becoming worse and worse for Season Two on Facebook these past few days.
Before I continue, I would ask that my readers ignore what I said three Weblog entries above about the location of Texas City in 2120. It does not need to be in Mexico or anywhere outside of the now-existing boundaries of the United States. This image shows Big Bend, Rio Grande, which is in the southeasternmost part of Texas very near the Gulf of Mexico.
Allowing for possible tectonic shifting post-Moon's-departure-from-Earth-orbit, decades of mountain erosion or collapse from extremes of weather and possible pollution damage, and of course the elimination of the roadway, this could easily be the terrain surrounding Texas City in "Journey to Where". So, to the people arguing that Season Two could not even "get right" a postulated location for Texas City, 2120, I say, "Wrong again."
As I say, the Season Two "bashing" is reaching fevered proportions. "The Taybor" received a near-unanimous denunciation, and people are trotting out the tired, ever so tired, refrains about the "magnum opus" of Season One's "Mysterious Unknown Force" and Season Two's complete lack of quality for opting not to "carry on" with such.
Much as I feel gratetul for Season One for it having helped me through my first, mainly lonely year in Fredericton, I am actually starting to hate it. And it is the fans who are doing this. Is Season One really so good that it merits a forty-years-and-counting campaign of rancour and utter hate for Season Two and Fred Freiberger and ostracism and allegations of mental deficiency for anyone who likes, loves, or favours Season Two? No, I do not believe that it is that good. What could possibly be so good to justify this ceaseless dearth of reasoned and fair and considerate conduct? Certainly not a "Mysterious Unknown Force" that is incontrovertibly manifest in only a few episodes- and which is in any case not clearly delineated as being the same metaphysical agent in each instance of deux-ex-machina intervention.
It is, I now tend to opine, just wishful thinking on the part of some of the more mystically inclined Alphans that ostensibly transcendent forces in episodes like "Black Sun", "Collision Course", and "The Testament of Arkadia" are one and the same, acting in perfect consistency and in the best interests of the Alphans (if that is what such Alphans do indeed think). Why does Koenig describe the Arkadia deux-ex-machina force as existing on that planet and not some further manifestation of the deity in the black sun? The answer to this is that it did not occur to the writer and to the producers- and that Space: 1999 is not a serial but a series of self-contained episodes meant to be broadcast in any order and to be understood in any order. An effort to attach an overarching purpose to some manifestations of some metaphysical quantity/quantities should be judged to be quite tenuous.
And if Season One is so sublimely superior to Season Two and most all other science fiction/fantasy productions, why are there cardboard cut-out Eagles in it? Why are there sub-par special effects in it? Why are there arguably as many lapses in story elements, story structure, or story development in its episodes as there are in episodes of Season Two?
The fans are now attacking "The Metamorph", saying that Koenig destroying Psychon was going too far. People, what Koenig was aiming to do was to stop Mentor and put the biological computer, Psyche, out of commission- and thereby save Moonbase Alpha's people from either a mortal or a mind-damaged fate. The explosion of Psychon was an outcome inextricably linked to this action- but not Koenig's aim in the initiative that he undertook. The release of Psyche's energy would destroy Psychon. But Mentor only told Koenig this after Koenig had already swung a rock beam into Psyche's tubes. And as Mentor already proved himself to be a liar, why would Koenig feel inclined to believe him? I doubt very much that Koenig wanted events to "end up" with Psychon's explosion. He wanted to protect his own people and to stop Mentor from doing further harm. It had, I would think, been determined on Alpha that the explosions-laden robot Eagle sent under the order of Directive Four, would, if detonated in the vicinity of a restrained vast energy source (Psyche), release that energy and cause the planet's destruction- but indications would seem to be that such was known on Alpha only after Koenig gave the order for Directive Four. But even if it was not, Koenig's main consideration was stopping Mentor and putting Psyche out of commission.
Koenig did not go into the Grove of Psyche at episode's climax with intent of destroying the planet and killing Maya's father. That was obvious to me at the age of ten when I first saw "The Metamorph".
The "Year One" pundits are alleging that the titles of Season Two episodes are exceedingly melodramatic and sensationalistic. No, they are not. "The Metamorph", "The Exiles", "The Taybor", "The AB Chrysalis", "Space Warp", "Dorzak", "The Lambda Factor", "The Dorcons". Functional and minimally descriptive in many cases. Others, such as "The Mark of Archanon", "The Rules of Luton", "Catacombs of the Moon", and "Seed of Destruction", are of the blank-of-blank manner of titling, just like Season One episode titles such as "The Testament of Arkadia" or "Guardian of Piri" or "Force of Life". Indeed, the titling of episodes of the two seasons of Space: 1999 shows rather a remarkable structural consistency. "Space Brain" and "Space Warp". "Matter of Life and Death" and "A Matter of Balance". "The Last Sunset" and "The Beta Cloud". "Dragon's Domain" and "Devil's Planet". And so on. Etcetra. Wrong again, these people are.
And they are sputtering out the refrain that, "'Year Two' is for children," yet again. It is not. Children's television does not have in it alcohol consumption, corpses strewn on the surface of a planet, a lustful grabbing of a woman's leg, a seductive dance, a violent fight ending in a death (with blood coming out of the dead man's mouth), a murder scene with the victim screaming in agony, etcetera, etcetera. How blinkered can a group of people possibly be?
Also, it has occurred to me in my ruminations that some of the most acclaimed Star Trek episodes had alien creatures in gaseous form (i.e. without anatomical brains) that were sentient and intelligent and had alien intelligences that spoke not with mouths and vocal chords but with "thought transmission". There is no reason why Space: 1999 cannot have successful episodes with sentient rocks or with intelligent and articulate plants. And the first season of Space: 1999 itself had alien intelligences without physical bodies.
But there is no winning with people whose collective, whose mutual-gratification-through-hating-of Fred-Freiberger society, has become ever more arrogantly confident of its rightness, of its postured justification in ridiculing a dead man like a group of teenagers "picking fun" at a schoolmate.
There is a vulgarly derogatory terminology that I have refrained from using, though I have hinted at it a few times in recent Weblog entries. Think of a group of men in a circle of mutual gratification, and the hyphenated word should spring forth. As a matter of fact, a foray into dubiously tasteful humour in an old Space: 1999 newsletter did "poke fun" at the first season episode, "The Full Circle", coopting the final word of that episode's title into the vulgarly derogatory terminology. And there is an argument going around the Internet today comparing fandom to a group of males in a mutual-gratification circle. I am inclined to agree with it. I am, of course, thinking of people who "get their jollies" reading others espousing the same hatred for Season Two and Fred Freiberger that they have (that they have had for four decades) and who support one another with affirmative comments and "thumbs-up" "likes".
Season One deserves so much better people than this in its "camp". Alas, the situation has "come down" to this. While my feelings of animosity toward a certain faction of cartoon fandom have eased, those that I harbour toward the "'Year One' camp" of Space: 1999 fandom are more potent than ever. Not that I wish the few hundred persons of that "camp" any harm. Physical or mental. I will do nothing against them but continue to call attention to the folly of their conduct. And "vent" about it. But for now, though, I am tired and propose to leave aside such procedures.
This is all that I have to say today, this freezing-rainy Good Friday.
This is the silliest assault yet on an episode of Season Two.
"OK, I couldn't find the 'Metamorph' 'watch and discuss' post so I thought I'd post something I just thought about that never occurred to me until now. I don't understand how someone as bright and intelligent as Maya couldn't see beyond her father's deception of what he was doing with all of the aliens that came to the planet. She never questioned that mind sucking machine beyond what her father told her it did? But then again she couldn't see beyond Dorzak's deception. So is that also a flaw in the Psychon gene where none of them think they could be deceived? Mentor was shocked and felt deceived when Maya went down to the pits and saw what was really down there. She trusted an alien's words over his. And with so many aliens visiting Psychon, why didn't Maya figure things out before the Alphans arrived. Seems like Mentor said this a lot to Maya. MAYA: 'I'd help in your work if you'd like.' MENTOR: 'Oh no no no, there's a great deal about the work I do that you do not understand as yet.' MAYA: 'Oh Father.' MENTOR: 'Ah, ah, ah, ah, not yet!' MAYA: 'And these Alphans? Will they help restore our planet?' MENTOR: 'Yes, Maya. Now run along.' How many times before has he refused her help and has never taught her anything about his work? If Maya is intelligent enough to be the lead science officer on Alpha, it's hard for me to believe that she never figured out what her father was doing on her own. Besides, she's the only other person on the planet besides her father. What does she go and do when he tells her to 'run along'? Does she practice being a moth and fly around the corridors??? Oh, that can't be because moths are drawn to flames and the pits were full of them."
If it never occurred to him until now, nearly forty years later, maybe it ought never to have occurred to him? It certainly denotes some quite good writing to not be evident for that long a time.
It is indeed quite possible for someone to be very "bright", very smart, with mathematics or science or whatever, and to be sheltered and naive. Many young people are like that. I was somewhat like that. Maya loved her father and believed in him fully and trusted him implicitly. He told her not to go to the caves, saying that they are radioactive, and she believed him. She believed him when he told her that the aliens whom he deceived, had achieved happiness through rapport with Psyche and left Psychon so much the better for that rapport. He was her father who could do no wrong in her eyes, a father who loved her mother with all of his heart, and his dream of restoring Psychon a brilliant and, for her, a deeply empathetic one.
Maya grows as a person in her contact with the Alphans, both before and after Psychon's destruction. It is not unreasonable for her to go from being sheltered and guileless to being the worldly (or universe-edly) Alpha Science Officer.
As to what she does in her spare time, who knows? Maybe she studies her science and mathematics, possibly playing sophisticated mathematical games. "Economy of detail".
Being reunited with what may be the only other surviving Psychon does affect Maya in "Dorzak", causing her to regress somewhat to her old naivete. I would think that this is quite natural. Quite human, actually. Would not any of us want to think the best about the only other person of our race known to have survived, and most particularly when that other person has a history of being a philosopher, a poet, and a peaceful man?
Anyway, in response to this oh, so artful criticism, someone says this.
"It's an absolute mess of a script from beginning to end. Brian Blessed is the only bright spot. One other thing that was so bizarre. Koenig's deliberate destruction of Psyche without knowing the consequences. In essence, he destroyed a planet and what was left of its civilisation in a juvenile fit of rage. He made James Kirk look like a Vulcan."
"The Metamorph" was met with acclaim in Starlog magazine and other publications. If its script was an "absolute mess" from start to finish, how was this possible? There is nothing wrong with "The Metamorph" to an extent that a viewer's following of the story is inhibited or thwarted. Mentor has a machine, Psyche, that can terraform the planet Psychon using a gestalt of mental energy and which destroys the minds of the people whom he subjects to his apparatus. Mentor has tricked other spacefarers into becoming his victims, but Koenig and the Alphans are too strong-willed a match for Mentor, and they are able to have enough contact with Maya after learning of Mentor's deceitful and ghastly procedures, to convince her of the truth. Koenig must stop Mentor from obliterating Alpha and victimising further peoples. And in order to do so, he reckons, he must destroy Psyche. It is a spur of the moment decision after watching Mentor using Psyche to begin razing Moonbase Alpha. Calling it a juvenile fit of rage is stupid. I can picture my father doing the same thing if the proverbial chips were down- as they certainly were for Koenig and Moonbase Alpha.
The only way that someone could call "The Metamorph" messy is if they threw "Economy of detail" to the wind and started questioning technicalities that are not directly relevant to the main story's development. Like how Psyche creates the Overseers, what the Overseers are, and how Koenig's stun gun beam reverts one of them to what would appear to be their original rocky state. Who knows? Psyche somehow does the job in making the Overseers the corporeal entities that they are. A computer capable of terraforming a planet, could possibly create artificial sentient humanoids. Or perhaps they are humanoid robots formed out of rock and merely directed by brain waves emitted from Psyche. Details that needed to be economised for the sake of story development within the allotted episode running time. Only a faultfinding fan with an axe to bear against Season Two would quibble about it. Just because not everything is explained does not mean that a story is an "absolute mess".
And John Koenig is not Jim Kirk. They are different leaders in different circumstances. As Martin Landau is fond of saying, Koenig was not trained or psychologically prepared for leading Moonbase Alpha in its post-"Breakaway" journey across the universe, the lives of 300 people and the safety of the often beleaguered Moonbase hinging on his every move. He has not had indoctrination with "the Prime Directive". And as I think Johnny Byrne said, Koenig acts in instinctive ways. He is bound to be more spur-of-the-moment impulsive than Kirk. Besides, would Kirk have destroyed Psyche if doing so kept his people alive and his beloved Starship intact? Very probably. Also, Koenig did try to reason with Mentor, to no avail. So, how could Koenig realistically expect that just threatening to destroy Psyche would cause Mentor to "back down"? It is clear by episode's climax that Mentor can only really be stopped with force. Force upon Psyche, whose destruction of Alpha has already been started by Mentor. The situation is desperate.
By the way, "The Rules of Luton" is now receiving a thrashing more nasty than even I envisaged. And of course, the smugly complacent pseudo-intellectuals all think that they are ever so witty in their denunciations of it and of "Freddie the Freeloader".
Very well. They have done seven weeks of this. Seventeen more weeks to go of the gratification-circled assault on the episodes of Season Two. Nothing, no episode, to be spared from a concentrated attack, however reaching and grasping at straws that the attacks are. And of course, Season One is perfect. Not a single thing wrong with any of its episodes.
And once they are done with this latest, twenty-four-weeks-long "bashing" festival, what then? Why, do it all over again, of course! Only with even more "snarkiness", more vitriol. More determination to find fault.
Have I convinced anyone yet what a sorry bunch of losers these people are? Chris Gore was right in Sci-Fi Universe when he branded Space: 1999 fans as such. Whoever would have thought that I would ever agree with Chris Gore?
There is a story there, too, with Sci-Fi Universe and Chris Gore, but that for another time.
Easter Monday, 2016.
Two news items. DVD Talk has reviews of two of the three Kino Lorber Blu-Rays of the DePatie-Freleng cartoons. The Ant and Aardvark and Crazylegs Crane Blu-Rays, to be precise. Not much information to be had from those reviews other than the revealing that laugh tracks are still in some of the cartoons. I am most interested in the Inspector Blu-Ray release, and the reviewers have eschewed that one, apparently.
And Douglas Wilmer (Commissioner Dixon in Space: 1999- "Dragon's Domain") has died at the age of 96. I had believed him to be dead in the 1990s and in some of the 2000s because of an erroneous report on his death in an issue of Fanderson's FAB magazine in the early 1990s. Like Guy Rolfe. And for a time like Jill Townsend. The report, one on deceased actors and actresses involved in Gerry Anderson productions, was wrong several times. It had also been wrong about Godfrey James. I feel quite asinine for having had Mr. Wilmer in my "In Memoriam" section for so very long. I ought to have sought verification from a second source, particularly after FAB was already known to have been wrong about Jill Townsend. I removed him from "In Memoriam" some years ago when I read a news story about him being very much alive. And today I had the grim task of adding him again to "In Memoriam". This time, there is no doubt that Mr. Wilmer has left the people of this world. Some of the obituaries for him are even mentioning his work in Space: 1999. Amazing!
He was also in Octopussy as art expert Jim Fanning. The man who accompanied James Bond to the auction at Sotheby's. Funny that he was in entries in Space: 1999 and the film James Bond in which there were tentacled creatures somewhere about. His curriculum vitae also included two Inspector Clouseau movies, an episode of UFO, an episode of The Avengers, and El Cid with Charlton Heston. All of the obituaries are citing Sherlock Holmes as his career-highlighting role. I cannot comment on that as I have no experience of it. He was excellent as Commissioner Dixon and always great value in whatever other television series episodes or movies that I saw him in, over the decades of my life.
Saturday, April 2, 2016.
My friend Ev's father died yesterday. Ev was one of my friends of Era 2 in Douglastown, and during those years and on several visits with Ev in Era 5 I had contact with Ev's father. I sat on his knee as he was being Santa Claus at a Christmas party at the Douglastown village hall in 1976 and told him about the telescope and other things that I wanted that Christmas. In May of 1988, on my first late-1980s return visit to Douglastown, my father and I found Ev's father in their backyard, and we talked with him until Ev returned from a shopping excursion. And on one of my times in the Miramichi region in 1989, Ev's father car-drove me to Newcsstle and the bus depot there.
The passing-away of friends' parents all too often seems to occur as winter is coming to an end, either in March or early April. There is something about this time of year that seems to be particularly fatal to people connected to me. My grandmother died on April 2, 2000. My grandfather died on March 8, 1985. My mother died on March 4, 2010. My friend, Joey, lost his father on March 28, 2000. Less than a week before the death of my grandmother. My friend, Rob, lost his grandfather in March of 2008. My sitter, Mrs. Walsh, also died in March of 2008. I seem to recall Kevin MacD's father dying in March, also. Yes, there is quite a lethality to the weeks of late winter. My father's death in November of 2012 was one of the rare instances of this morbid pattern being broken. And my friend, Sandy, died in February of 2014. Not March. Although February is a particularly difficult month to live though when one is ill. Very little rejuvenating sunshine and plenty of demoralising snowstorms.
As more and more of my friends have lost both of their parents, the ravages of time and my own mortality become ever more evident. As our parents' generation has "winked out" in this world, it is our generation that it next. And some of us have already died. In fact, the obituaries in the local newspaper almost daily have at least one death notice for someone born after 1966. Scary.
Ev's father had a long life. A "good innings", as the British say. And he does go into the next world in distinguished company with actor Douglas Wilmer. My mother died around the same time that Merlin Olsen and Corey Haim did.
Douglastown has lost so much these past ten years, and it will now be without Ev's father. I cast my eyes downward in sad contemplation.
My further ruminations today pale in importance to my friend's loss. I really do have little more to say, other than that Douglas Wilmer's death has, strangely, been met with not a single mention at the Roobarb Forum of his work in Space: 1999. Being that he was in an episode of the much-vaunted first season, and arguably the most famous episode, I do find it odd that nobody at Roobarb has thought to say anything about Mr. Wilmer's portrayal of Commissioner Dixon.
And I would also say that I am close to completing work on improving images in my "Deconstructing" Bugs article. And that I am mystified by the near-total collapse in Web page traffic apart from that for my Web pages for televised Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. All that anyone seems to be looking at these days are the Web pages dedicated to The Bugs Bunny Show, etc., and most especially The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show. The balance of my Website no longer seems to receive daily traffic at all. I will speculate on the reasons for that at some other time.
A review of the Inspector Blu-Ray release has surfaced at blu-ray.com. Disappointingly, laugh tracks are in several of the cartoons.
Finally, this week, my co-worker showed to me the first ten minutes of Star Wars Episode 7 on his cellular telephone device. My response to seeing that was that the production values are good, but then, I had no issue with the production values on J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. My problem with J.J.'s work goes beyond that to story, style, imagination (or lack thereof), and fidelity (or lack thereof) to concept, characterisation, and the overall universe of whatever be the, ahem, franchise that he is, ahem, revisiting. The action was impressive enough, but I acknowledge that most of the criticisms of the movie are of everything after the first ten minutes. Eventually, I probably will see the movie in full. Someone I know will show it to me, most likely on a cellular telephone device via some digital download from the Internet.
April 3, 2016.
The "In Memoriam" sections of The Space: 1999 Page and The Littlest Hobo Page have been updated. A grim task. Abe Vigoda, Don Francks, and others are added to the list of deceased actors and actresses who worked on The Littlest Hobo, and Douglas Wilmer and a few others are now among the names of Space: 1999 thespians now gone.
This past weekend, I wrote a fairly impressive Weblog entry concentrating on the concept of nostalgia, true nostalgia, not the counterfeit nostalgia that the Hollywood corporate machine is financing and exploiting. And before I could complete it and add it to this Weblog, power briefly went out and I lost all that I wrote. I feel unmotivated at this time to remount that writing effort, but maybe someday I will "take it up" again.
It really does puzzle me how so many people I respect are gushing with adulation for Star Wars Episode 7. But it just goes to show, I guess, that people are prepared to overlook even the most egregious flaws to see something positive and laudable, whatever it be, in a movie. In this case, I seem to be incapable of recognizing that positive and laudable quantity. It is a controversial movie, Star Wars Episode 7, and whereas I have tended to fall into the defending "camp" in contentions regarding a work of entertainment, in this case I do find myself quite resolutely among the detractors.
The Space: 1999 Facebook group has moved on from "The Rules of Luton", has savaged "The Mark of Archanon", and is now tearing into "Brian the Brain". With "Brian the Brain", the discourse has now slid entirely into "mindless dissing". Not that it was not teetering ever so precariously on the precipice already (if not having not already fallen over that edge). But the moans and groans in this case are focusing entirely on superficiality and on wholly subjective response to superficiality (such as the sound of Brian's voice) as the basis for rejecting an entire episode, its depictions, its concepts. In every case, the attacks are nothing but drivel. I suppose that in having made at least a modicum (yes, I am being generous) of substantive sense in critical sorties, the group is tired and is now just resorting to the cheapest of disparaging assaults. Here is one example.
"It was the first time in ages that I watched this episode (Nick is not in it so what?), and I have to say, it is a good thing to skipp it. The interaction between Helena and John is good, but that is all. It started with the first scene. Why the heck is Helena with her monster recorder in Command Center? And as usual, Yasko is pressing button after button and does not get the readings. And here we see a Swift for the first time. It does look remarcedly like the Superswift in 'Bringers of Wonder'. So why did only Alan recognise the ship? Did I hear it right and Koenig said, 'We'll investigate swift.' Was that a word game? And the inside of the Swift must be wizzard space. Outside the ship is not bigger then an Eagle, but boy, do you have room inside. Brian behaves like a creation of Monty Python with the voice of the irish cowboy. And he talks far too much. This episode is as brainless as Brian is mad. It will be years again, before I will watch this again, if ever."
Honestly, if I had written like that in Grade 4 or Grade 5, my teacher would have given my work a failing grade. I have retained the spelling mistakes, for they underscore the mindless subjectivity and poor articulation of such in the person's review. It is the most extensive commentary made as yet in this reiterated attack on "Brian the Brain", an episode that I have always venerated for its concepts, for its depictions, for its characterisation. And I never have been bothered by Brian's voice. Captain Michael, Brian's creator, evidently had a happy-go-lucky and jaunty personality and instilled some of that into his artificial intelligence robot. It was meant to be a disarming and cute affectation, but the robot became nothing of the cute kind. Beneath that jolly and jokey, glib-talking persona was a murderous monster.
I cannot be bothered refuting the drivel that was delivered as some incontrovertible indictment against the episode, its writer, and its producer. Other than to say that on its outside the Swift is clearly larger than an Eagle, and that nobody says in "The Bringers of Wonder" that they do not recognize the familiar features of the Superswift (only that the Superswift never "got off the drawing board", and therefore there is at least some initial doubt that the spaceship approaching Alpha and exceeding the speed of light is of Earth origin- even if it does look like human technology).
I say again, these are not rational people. Nobody bearing a grudge of forty years and counting against a season of a television show and a producer who has been dead for thirteen years, would fit the criteria for rationality, anyway. But commentary of quality such of this bespeaks irrationality and lack of astute sensibility. It permeates Space: 1999 fandom and any other "camps" that smugly deride everything Season Two.
By the way, the Facebook group dedicated to Season Two is itself awash in negativity and Fred Freiberger-slurring these days. There is a long discussion in that group about retention of actors and actresses from Season One, eventually leading one of the discussion's contributors to say this.
"Out of all the series that I enjoy the Fred was associated with Wild, Wild West was really the only one that he was successful with. All the others, Star Trek, 1999, and Six Mill, were destroyed by him."
I left in the poor grammar and the television show abbreviations. Declaring Space: 1999 as having been destroyed by its second season in a group ostensibly created to celebrate the second season, would seem more than just a trifle unjust, would not one say? How, exactly, did Fred Freiberger destroy The Six Million Dollar Man? That has never really been lucidly argued. And a remedial study on what happened with Season Three of Star Trek would be in order, I should think. Star Trek was already on its way out of the transmissions of network television (NBC put Season Three at the deadly time slot of 10 P.M. on Fridays), and some excellent literature has come forth of late that shows that Paramount itself was at fault in the deficiencies of Season Three (which I would in any case say were not irretrievably damaging to the final product in just about every instance, "Spock's Brain" being an anomaly).
This is all that I have to say for today, April 13, 2016.
Strange days, these are. Nova Scotia is sitting under 15 to 25 centimetres of snow that fell Thursday and yesterday, while New Brunswick is basking under blue skies and green is starting to show in fully snow-free lawns. A very unusual turn of fortune. New Brunswick usually receives the worst of the weather of Canada's eastern Maritimes. But I will happily accept it. This generally mild winter has been rather apt compensation for some deeply demoralising changes to my social existence, most specifically valued friendships, these past four or five months.
I would further cite the conditions facing my Website as further cause to be demoralised. I can see the statistics for visits to my Web pages, and the visits are annoyingly becoming increasingly concentrated on The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show Page, to the exclusion- or I should say neglect and ignorance- of everything else. I have difficulty motivating myself to update my Web pages when they are not being looked-at by persons other than myself. This Weblog has fallen on particularly bad times. Statistics show that it has only two regular visitors. I have poured a considerable amount of time and effort into these Weblog ruminations. Of course, my ruminations of late have been focused on Space: 1999 and the campaign of hate and disparagement foisted upon its second season. Perhaps this is of scant interest to people. But it ought to be, for said campaign of hate and disparagement is the most significant injustice being perpetrated now upon a vintage work of imaginative entertainment. I have not had much to comment lately on other subjects. There being no DVD or Blu-Ray release, or even broadcast, of the Warner Brothers cartoons, has provided for me nothing new on which to pontificate- or lament. The DePatie-Freleng cartoons are about to be released on Blu-Ray, and from what I am reading, laughter-free audio could not be found for any of the cartoons currently on DVD with laugh tracks. Evidently, "Sicque! Sicque! Sicque!" is still going to have that peculiar combination of audio, part of it having laugh track and part of it with original, laughter-free audio. I will know by the end of this month what the reckoning is with the DePatie-Freleng cartoons released to Blu-Ray by Kino Lorber. The ones that interest me, anyway. Of the DePatie-Freleng cartoons, I do not think that I will be buying anything more than the Inspector and Ant and Aardvark cartoons (and the Pink Panthers if MGM ever does see fit to put them on Blu-Ray- or to allow Kino Lorber to do so).
I have updated The Star Blazers Page, putting episode titles into the episode guide. I have made some word corrections to McCorry's Memoirs Era 2. And I am finished improving images in the "Deconstructing" Bugs article. I see that there is potential for improvement to one or two of the images on The Star Blazers Page, and I will seek to achieve such improvement.
On the question of whether "Wild Over You" and not "Don't Axe Me" was second cartoon of Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour instalment three, I have reached a state of seemingly un-resolvable lack of certainty. I watched "Wild Over You" a couple of weeks ago and could not find even the slightest glimmer of memory of watching it in 1973 or 1974. Or any time before that. It would be a good fit there. A better fit than "Don't Axe Me". But I just do not remember. It is frustrating. But maybe my lack of memory could be regarded as the best indication of it not being in that Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour episode. Mind, I do not remember "Don't Axe Me" either. But its farm imagery would be an easier blend with the aesthetic of cartoons of early Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour first season episodes, i.e. that of cartoons with Foghorn Leghorn.
Not much else to say today. Other than that I wish that this Weblog had more readers.
Saturday, April 16, 2016. April 16, 1977, also a Saturday, was the day that telecast of Kiwanis Auction caused Space: 1999 to be preempted on CHSJ-TV, Space: 1999 being aired at 5 P.M. that day on CBC Television. TV Guide had a synopsis for "New Adam, New Eve" delineating it as the episode expected to air on CBHT, CBIT, and CBCT that day, but indications are that it was "Brian the Brain" that was shown on CBC Television on April 16. I remember trying to tune in CBCT on my upstairs television and only seeing what looked like John Koenig and Helena Russell exchanging glances. The picture was very snowy, and no audio other than the "white noise" of almost non-existent television reception. CBCT- Charlottetown was only attainable in the Miramichi region during days with favourable atmospheric conditions. "Brian the Brain" aired only once in New Brunswick. In English, that is. On October 30, 1976. It aired in N.B. only once in French, also. On January 15, 1977. Elusive episode in New Brunswick, it was.
Friday, April 22, 2016.
I have come upon an article that addresses the group-think, mutual-gratification-circle phenomenon that has become entrenched in fandom. Echo chamber culture is a more acceptable name for the phenomenon than what some people might call it (and the vulgar designation that I have been intimating in some Weblog entries of late). I am not into gaming in any way. So, I cannot comment on the phenomenon in that context. But I can speak with authority on the nature of fandoms for Space: 1999, Doctor Who, and the Warner Brothers cartoons. I may speak with less authority about the fandom for Star Trek- though I recognize the familiar patterns of behaviour. They are all (I mean, all) echo chambers. The people choose the scapegoat and "have at him" or "have at it" with gusto, gratifying each other in affirmative responses to their slurring of persons or ideas contrary to the "accepted wisdom" of the herd.
Every fandom has something about its subject that the fans zero-in upon and attack as unworthy of esteem within their sub-culture and "drown out" any contrary opinions or insights, turning the fan movement into a veritable "group-think" echo chamber.
Here is the article.
This is the Freiberger-phobic, Season Two-berating fans of Space: 1999 in the proverbial nutshell. Wherever they may be spreading their venom and patting one another on the back for their pejorative witticisms and ever-so-high-minded put-downs of the man himself, his productions, his creations, and persons who disagree with the herd. It also accurately delineates the denizens of my old haunt, the Termite Terrace Trading Post, and its regular contributors to cartoon and cartoon-animation discussions. I am afraid that it is not only endemic to Internet-based fandom but the always inevitable outcome whenever an Internet-based fan group is formed or wherever fans congregate. Whether it be it on a discussion forum like the Space: 1999 Mailing List or the Roobarb Forum or the Space: 1999 Facebook group, or on Amazon.com product reviews, or the Internet Movie Database, or in the comments section of a YouTube selection, etc..
Echo chambers, all. And they feed into the arrogance of the predominant persons espousing approval-seeking hatred for the "lesser" season, the "lesser" production block, the "lesser" producer or cartoon director.
This statement in the article is so very true.
"No individual person will view a single piece of culture in exactly the same way. The dismissive hand-waving and saying, 'I didn't see it; you must be too sensitive,' or a million like variants is dismissive of fact that we bring something unique to all cultural experiences. Worst of all, it shuts down the conversation."
Nail, on its head, hit. And dismissive hand-waving regarding my outlooks and insights was why I became in response so questioning of or even rather strident against whatever was being used as a brickbat. I brought something unique to the table, as did others. We were dismissed as flakes, wreckers of the consensus (oh, the ever so important consensus!), or whatever. I foolishly embarked upon new initiatives for reaching out to like-minded aficionados, only to discover the same processes leading to the same inevitable belligerence and echo-chamber scapegoating.
And this, my readers, is to be my final say on the matter of Space: 1999 fans, their daily sorties against Season Two and Freddie Freiberger, and their attitude.
I also propose to discontinue adding to this Weblog for the foreseeable future. The sheer collapse of my Website's "hits" outside of The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show Page and a few others (this Weblog being particularly sparse in its traffic) has prompted me to reevaluate the expenditure of time on writing for my Website, and this Weblog most especially. I have little new to say about most of the works of imaginative entertainment honoured at my Website save for the usual laments about insufficient representation of them on optical videodisc or about unjust critical reaction to them. And the paucity of interest from my fellow countrymen in the past decades of their lives as viewers of broadcast television and its imaginative offerings is really very demoralising.
Noted as this day nears its end is that McCorry's Memoirs Era 3 experienced a huge surge in "hits" starting mid-afternoon. Apparently, a Hyperlink to it was posted somewhere on Facebook. While such may appear to be a positive development, I have to state that not a single one of my Era 3's visitors of today proceeded onward to Era 4. Not a one.
All for today.
April 26, 2016.
I do not know if this is of interest to anyone, but I received the Kino Lorber Blu-Ray releases of the Inspector and the Ant and the Aardvark cartoons yesterday and watched the first of the two Blu-Rays of the Inspector. Here is my verdict.
"Napoleon Blown-Aparte" and "Cock-a-Doodle Deux-Deux" both have unique variations of Inspector theme music in their titles, and Kino Lorber stripped those variations away and replaced them with the usual Inspector theme music, with some sloppy music editing work where the credits fade and the first scene of the cartoon starts. How could they do this? I love those variations on the music.
There are spelling mistakes for several of the cartoon titles in the menus. "Napoleon Blown-Aparte" misspelled as "Napolean Blown-Aparte". "Sicque! Sicque! Sicque!" misspelled as "Sique! Sique! Sique!". "Unsafe and Seine" misspelled as "Unsafe and Unseine". And there are other misspellings. The new documentaries were good for their content, and less so for their quality of technical production. On-screen time codes, generated by some sort of AVID editing software, can be seen for several frames for cartoon clips in the documentaries. I doubt that those were meant to be seen. Audio of Friz Freleng talking was drowned-out in one instance by music.
Kino Lorber had a year to work on these Blu-Rays. We waited that long for them. Flaws such as those aforementioned are inexcusable. I will be retaining my MGM DVDs of the Inspector cartoons (which look quite acceptable) and declaring these Kino Lorber Blu-Rays superfluous. In all honesty, I was not exactly "bowled over" by the picture quality of the few cartoons that I watched on the Blu-Rays. There are signs of film elements just transferred raw, with dirt and such not digitally removed. High definition and with a minimum of compression artifacts, yes. But not state-of-the-art. And the monkeying-around with the title music on the two aforementioned cartoons is just unacceptable.
But does Kino Lorber care? The company has my money. I bought the Blu-Rays. But I will buy no more. And I would urge my Weblog's readers, what few there are of them, not to buy these Blu-Rays.
April 27, 2016.
I gave to the Kino Lorber Blu-Rays of the Inspector cartoons a further viewing last night, and my eyes conveyed to me the splendour that is high definition video. Film blemishes aside, the cartoons look very crisp and clear. I cannot just "chuck away" these Blu-Rays. But I am so very annoyed that I have to accept a "trade-off" on audio quality for superior video. Such has been the case now on a number of Blu-Ray releases. I have had to resign myself to such acceptance all too often. It is a grudging acceptance.
Other people have noticed the changed music on the two Inspector cartoons. A discussion at Blu-Ray.com Forum on the issue has brought a Kino Lorber representative into the group and offering comment. The problem, he says, originates with MGM, and Kino Lorber will not be releasing any corrected Blu-Ray videodiscs. The aficionados of the cartoons of DePatie-Freleng will just have to "grin and bear" these glitches in the Blu-Ray release.
And the commentary on "Cock-a-Doodle Deux-Deux" has the original and closing music for the cartoon playing while Jerry Beck is talking. Curiouser and curiouser.
It is a disappointing development, but I cannot bring myself to sneer at the video quality of the Blu-Rays and reject this release. I will just have to adapt myself to not hearing the music that is supposed to be there in the titles of two of the cartoons and avert my ears to the sloppy transition between credits and first scene of "Cock-a-Doodle Deux-Deux".
All for now.
Some bad news. Par for the course, these days, is bad news. But anyway.
Rumour has it that Network Distributing is not going ahead with a Blu-Ray release of UFO, despite having announced such as coming in 2016 in an Internet promotional video trailer back in January. Someone has evidently said in Network's Facebook comments that work has not yet started on restoration of the UFO episodes and that the people who had worked on restorations for Network in the past have now had their contract for services for Network discontinued. I have been unable to find the comments to this effect, but I am in no position to refute or disbelieve them. One can only wonder what happened, but it could be that sales for Space: 1999- Season Two were disappointing, and that Network has in reaction to that decided to "pull the plug" on a Blu-Ray release of UFO. Purely speculation, I know. At this juncture.
I have done some updating to The Pink Panther Show Page, to include additional information on the Kino Lorber Blu-Rays. That is the limit to my Website work of late. That and my entries to this Weblog having but two or three readers. I am so very tired of looking at my traffic statistics and seeing the same Web pages over and over and over again in the list of accessed Web pages, while others receive next to no visitors at all. Readership for "Hyde and Hare": An Overlooked Masterpiece has dwindled, while for some reason Nuance and Suggestion in the Tweety and Sylvester Series continues to garner daily perusals. As for The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show Page, I can always be certain of copious reader statistics for it whenever I look at my Web page "hits" for the day. It is the only Web page that can boast anything resembling the attention that my Website used to receive ten, fifteen, eighteen years ago. All of the work that I put into McCorry's Memoirs Era 2 has had next to no observance at all. So very depressing, and so very perplexing, given how nostalgic that many Miramichiers are for the decades of the previous century.
I posted comment on a photograph of The Forest Rangers displayed at one of the Facebook Web pages for Miramichi past and heritage, and in my comment I offered a Hyperlink to Television Listings For Canada's Eastern Maritime Provinces: 1974 to 1975. A conversation started between myself and someone who worked for CKCD/CKAM back in the 1970s. The "thread" was soon abruptly deleted and another "thread" started beneath a newly posted Forest Rangers photograph. Frustrating. So very frustrating.
In one of the weekends of the next month, I will be going to the Miramichi for a day. I have not been there since last summer. But I am dreading the very probable sight of my old school having been demolished. I still cannot believe that such is certain to happen, the very historic building that it is. But the city and the province are not interested in spending the money to preserve it and maintain it. And "pretty boy" Prime Minister will not do anything to save it. Of course not. Maybe someone should inform him that he might be able to pose for a nice "selfie" in front of it.
I have not anything more to say for today, Saturday, April 30, 2016. Other than that on this day thirty-nine years ago, CBC Television showed the Space: 1999 episode, "The AB Chrysalis", at 5 P.M.. And that in the morning of that day, my father bought for me the Pocket Books version of Moon Odyssey, the second Space: 1999 novelisation book.
Not much to say today, beyond my report of yet another flaw in Kino Lorber's Blu-Ray release of the DePatie-Freleng cartoons. On the Ant and the Aardvark cartoon, "Technology, Phooey", the audio is ahead of the video by several frames, meaning that mouth movement is not synchronised with voice. The discrepancy is immediately noticeable and lasts for the length of the cartoon. I have not yet viewed every cartoon in the Inspector and Ant and Aardvark releases. So, this particular flaw could plague other cartoons. But it means yet again that Kino Lorber's Blu-Ray releases are inferior to the MGM DVDs in the audio department. Why was the flaw not detected? Lack of quality control. An audio-video synchronisation problem also mars Kino Lorber's Blu-Ray release of the movie, On the Beach (1959). I have a SONY Blu-Ray player. SONY is the originator of the Blu-Ray format. I think it highly unlikely that my player is at fault. The problem with On the Beach was noted by many other people possessing different brands of Blu-Ray players.
Readership of my Web pages other than those for The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show and some of the other television vehicles for the Warner Brothers cartoons, continues to disappoint. All of the work recently put into my autobiography, and so little of it being noticed. I do toy with the idea of revising my Era 6 and Era 7 memoirs and re-adding them to my Website, only to invariably lose motivation when I see the almost non-existent "hits" for Era 1 and Era 2.
All for now.
May 8, 2016.
Something quite bizarre and disturbing has been happening for the past year or past couple of years. I have remarked about it occasionally in my laments about declining traffic on my Website, but I have only recently become aware of how pervasive and widespread that the phenomenon is, and with that awareness has come a very acute feeling of estrangement with society of the present. I have never felt more at odds, more alienated, from the Zeitgeist than I do now.
It is like everyone is being programmed, with "going forward" and like lingo, to completely forsake the past. Past entertainment, past culture, past practices, past outlooks. With regard to entertainment, the abandonment of classic television and cinema has never been more apparent. No one wants to talk about classic Doctor Who, classic James Bond, classic Star Trek, or, dear lord, even classic Star Wars. It is all the "new stuff" and only the "new stuff". A walk into HMV last evening showed to me a whopping paucity of anything pre-2000 on the shelves. I could not lock my eyes onto anything from my youth. It was all that "samey" aesthetic of post-2000. In Chapters bookstore, I opened Doctor Who Magazine and saw almost nothing but articles about "new Who". Everything Star Wars is The Force Awakens. The original Star Wars movies have been supplanted in the public consciousness by J.J. Abrams' handiwork. Not unlike what has happened with the original Star Trek. And classic cartoons? All forgotten.
I walked into what used to be my comfort zone, the control room at Rogers TV in advance of Voice of the Province, a weekly political television show that I direct, and I found everyone in deep discussion about movies of recent release of which I have no familiarity, and other subjects of which I could not even find any words for mentally associating with them. Not only that, but my entrance into the control room was completely ignored.
This trend, or whatever it is, really started gaining momentum with Star Wars Episode VII, but I did notice it having traction a year or two earlier with the plethora of action films reiterating the mythos of super-heroes of that past century that everyone wants to forsake and forget. In fact, I detected it with the hype surrounding the James Bond movie, Skyfall, in 2012. The inclination to throw everything of any vintage onto the scrap heap of obscurity was becoming manifest around then, as I heard gushing praise for "the best Bond movie ever", with refrains about the Bond movies of the 1960s as being hopelessly passe and no longer possessing artistic value.
Nobody is stepping back and questioning any of this. I want to talk about the classics, but nobody else does. Hence the total snubbing of me when I enter a room.
When people become disassociated from the past, I fear for the future. I noticed the legions of people decreeing "going forward" almost immediately that the expression started being iterated. Not just by politicians, but by commentators, newscasters, and even the man reading the weather forecast on CBC News. It is a "buzz-expression" that "took root" exceedingly fast.
I hate to squawk "conspiracy" or any similar word, but something has been happening. It started with the recession of 2008 which was said to be the basis for pulling away from DVD releases of twentieth century entertainment. And twentieth century modes of thought. And then, within a year or so, "going forward" started being spewed everywhere. And how readily everyone forgot that prior to 2008 it had rarely been used, if at all.
The "TV on DVD" "fad" came to a crashing halt, apart from new productions which very rapidly dominated the shelves. Specialty television channels started eliminating "old stuff" from their schedules. SPACE- The Imagination Station, never really a big booster of the works of the twentieth century, finally removed the original Star Trek from its schedule. Teletoon Retro went the way of the Do-Do. James Bond was "rebooted" and given a post-9-11, dystopic thematic thrust, with an angst-ridden Bond who no longer scored the absolute victory against his adversaries. The Connery Bond, the Moore Bond, and even the Brosnan Bond are no longer given any recognition. "Reboots" foisted upon the masses by Hollywood are instantly accepted as definitive, supplanting what came before them. All because we as a society are "going forward". Nothing meaningful, nothing worthwhile, can come of "looking backward". So we are all told. That extends to popular culture, film and television appreciation, and also the political realm.
At the present time, I feel no affiliation with any political party. I regard both the political left and the political right as sides of the same coin. Both in their own way dangerous to the order and the integrity of the world as I have known it for five decades. They are both spewing "going forward" at every turn. Both of them have shown a wanton disregard for the environment and the safety of the air and the food chain. One of them seems dangerously hawkish, and the other dangerously naive and Pollyanna-ish. Both seem to be consumed with the notion that technology and progress has made our world and our way of life invulnerable. A complacency has fallen over the world at the same time as the world changes more and more for the worse. The environment is now past the "tipping point", I feel. Daily, I see death notices for people of my generation (so much for an 80-year life expectancy). And the world has been destablilised, with political ramifications that make me shudder. And yet people are concerned about "nice hair" and "rock-star" optics and congratulations for "forward-thinking".
I am not going to say that the twentieth century was perfect. Certainly not. The first half of it was horrific for the most part. But the second half of it showed the greatest of human potential. And much as the generations of today want to deny it, most of what people are flocking to see has its origins in the latter half of the twentieth century. Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. George Lucas' Star Wars. Ian Fleming's (and Cubby Broccoli's) James Bond. The super-heroes of Stan Lee's Marvel Comics. Bruce Geller's Mission: Impossible. Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts. And so on. The true visionaries, the true pioneers, were last century, mostly of my parents' generation. Whose generation put man on the Moon? Yes, their generation.
My mother and father were both very rational people. My mother was somewhat liberal, my father rather conservative, but together in their discourse, they found the sensible middle ground. They would both be appalled with what is happening in the world today. How jingoistic that everything is becoming. And how readily, how eagerly, people ignore or forsake their past, their heritage. In this, I speak of three generations. The Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials.
My mother used to say that the 15-minute loop of news reporting on CBC Newsworld was a kind of brainwashing. Not unlike the INGSOC news of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. I think she was a visionary in that respect, and I hew to that vision of hers quite often. When I witnessed the complete whitewash of the triple meltdown of nuclear reactors (one of them plutonium-fuelled) on the coast of the greatest body of water on the planet, I could not help but wonder what my mother would have thought. People believe what they want to believe. We want to believe that our civilisation, our way of life, is patently right for the planet and invulnerable. And that no calamity could possibly threaten the survival of us as individuals or the overall civilisation. It was therefore an easy business to compare plutonium to bananas. To say that increases to background radiation are harmless. To completely ignore the prospect of isotopes being ingested into the body and to portray radiation from man-made transuranic isotopes as being no different from the rays of the Sun. People wanted to believe that, and they did. Memories of how Chernobyl was reported on the news media in 1986 (with alarm and anger at Russia) were suppressed, somehow eradicated. And Chernobyl, bad as it was, involved only one reactor and was contained by the Russians within two weeks. Not so, Fukushima. Whose reactor cores are ex-vessel and uncontained. The plutonium-fuelled reactor three blew sky-high. Right up into the jet stream.
Memory of the response to Chernobyl may have been purged in the masses. But not in me. I remember.
I correctly forecasted the outcome of the federal election last fall. Because I saw how en masse people were leaning with how the CBC was reporting and "analysing" the election campaign. We are all "going forward" now. It extends beyond politics, of course, to the accepted mode of thought in general. That which encompasses popular culture, what is acceptable in popular culture, and so forth. We all have to be alike. We all have to like the same things and think the same thoughts. I have borne witness to this tendency in people for most of my life. Certainly after moving to Fredericton. That much is granted. But now as I reach the age of 50 and am dealing with the usual psychological ramifications of that, I am finding myself estranged from friends of a great many years, friends who are throwing me on the scrap heap along with all that I valued for much of my life.
I do see the figurative fire with the thoughts, the ideas, the works of the twentieth century being thrown onto it. There is now nobody I can talk with about any of the productions I grew up with and venerated. People look away when they see me enter a room. If a conversation starts, out is whipped the cellular device, and the person I'm talking with focuses on the screen of that, or if I do have enough latitude in the conversation to talk about a favourite work of entertainment, my conversation partner will invariably start talking about the present direction of the "franchise" before changing the subject or seeking to terminate the conversation. Usually the latter. After all, they are so very busy, and for me to be given any time at all is a generosity that can be retracted if I don't think in the accepted way, "going forward".
What I ask is for some scepticism about current trends. Some independent thought. A friend does not have to agree with me on everything, but damn it, I would appreciate at least some of the time being given some even tentative credence, that I may, just may, be on the right track about some things. That I was not absolutely and constantly wrong in my tastes and interests and sensibilities in the first ten, twenty, thirty, forty years of my life. That there is merit to the loyalties that I have, and that I ought to be appreciated for such. Not shunned.
I may ask, but will I receive? Probably not. I witness the collapse of traffic to my Website, and most especially to parts of that Website that concentrate upon past life eras and television offerings of those years. And I can see no glimmer of light on the horizon. All of the light is behind me. In the past. And the feelings associated with this are pure and true nostalgia. And in me the feelings of nostalgia surge all the more greatly when I hear the vacuous proclamations of "going forward". I remember sitting with friends and talking about the original works, playing them, listening-to or watching them. Together sharing appreciation of the merit in them. We may have disagreed as to favourite opuses, episodes, or characters, and that was within our shared overall appreciation of the body of work or the genre. I am not going to be a lemming and embrace the "new stuff" and deny appreciation to "the old". It does irk me that I have to watch the "old stuff" alone with the grim awareness that I am alone among all my friends now. And to counter that, I turn to nostalgia. Real nostalgia.
I am so grateful to my parents for giving me the childhood that they did. There are days when I just do not know what I would do without the memories of it. And the passions and the intellectual responses that I had in it for the works that I experienced. Much as the Zeitgeist of today strives to bury them.
May 15, 2016.
A few updates today, June 7, 2016.
Looks like the UFO Blu-Ray set is a go after all. Network Distributing has posted a status update on the project. Poor sales of Season Two of Space: 1999 have evidently prompted Network to change plans and to work with existing high-definition masters and not do a new high-definition video transfer of the television series. An understandable decision, to minimise expenses. Of course, the UFO fans are crying foul, lamenting that Season Two of Space: 1999 received a new high-definition video transfer but UFO is not receiving same- and I cannot help but wryly smile. Maybe it is Karma. Season Two of Space: 1999, long the victim of a hate campaign, is rewarded for weathering the storm, while instigators of the hate campaign receive the just desserts for their animosity. Santy Claus knows who is naughty and who is nice. Not be nice, and do not receive the gifts that one wants.
Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan has been released on Blu-Ray in a Director's Cut with regraded colour. But the colours are reportedly less vibrant than on previous releases, and there are some editing errors that are bad enough to "off-put" prospective buyers. As for me, I will hew to my currently possessed Blu-Ray of the movie, the one released in 2009. Errors plague of late the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of vintage productions, and I believe it to be symptomatic of the attitude of indifference toward vintage entertainment that has become widespread in society today. It now pervades the home video departments of the major entertainment studios.
Quite a few really nasty discussion "threads" have appeared on the "circle jerk" (oops, I mean echo chamber) that is the Space: 1999 Facebook group. All of them, of course, directed at Season Two and its episodes. Par for the rancid course there. Charming people. Unimaginative, pedantic, devoid of mature comprehension of and empathy for the tastes and insightful perspectives of others. How apt that they post photographs of quizzically perplexed children in response to someone bemoaning their unending unfair disposition! As I said earlier, they are half-adults. The terminology fits.
Moving on, I go. Notice that I do not say, "Going forward."
And I said it. I said "circle jerk". See what the fandom of Space: 1999 has driven me to.
June 9, 2016.
A huge cache of Space: 1999- Season Two photography has appeared at the Flickr Website. There are six Web pages in total comprising many hundreds of rare photographs from during the production of Season Two. Many of them very rare. It looks like the photographic slide collection possessed by my former associate, Dean, in the 1980s and 1990s. He had nearly five hundred photographic slides, and I recognize virtually all of these photographs from what he had. There are some slides that I remember him having that are not represented in this assemblage of photographs. Not many, though. Just about everything that he had, is at the Flickr Website. And what is offered at Flickr is indicative of just how beautiful Space: 1999's second season is and how much professionalism, artistic dedication, and optimism for promotion and success that there was in the making of it. I was always "struck" at the beauty of the photographic slides in Dean's collection. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dean had someone transfer the slides to CD-ROM and then sold them to a Space: 1999 fan and collector in the U.K.. These photographs are either from a subsequent dissemination of the CD-ROM or from subsequent scans of the slides by the U.K.-based collector or by someone further "downstream" in collectors' world. Here is the Hyperlink to them.
All for now.
June 12, 2016.
Typical June. Four days of rain, and then one day of sun. If that. Clouds over before the day is done. And another three or four days of rain.
I have moved my entertainment centre to the living room of my house, into the same corner where the television was situated from mid-September to mid-October of 1977, for most of December of 1977, some of January of 1978, most of March of 1978, and nearly all of the summer of 1978. The television was there when I was anticipating, in vain, the CBC Television airing of the Space: 1999 episode, "Death's Other Dominion", on September 24, 1977 (CHSJ-TV's capriciousness foiled that). It was there when I watched CBC broadcast of Space: 1999's episodes, "Alpha Child" (October 15), "The Full Circle" (December 10), "Guardian of Piri" (December 17), "The Last Sunset" (December 31), and "Voyager's Return" (January 14, 1978). And CBC rebroadcast of the episodes, "War Games" (March 11, 1978), "Death's Other Dominion" (March 18), "Collision Course" (March 25), "Missing Link" (July 15), "Mission of the Darians" (July 22), "Space Brain" (August 5), "Matter of Life and Death" (August 26), "Voyager's Return" (September 2), and "The Troubled Spirit" (September 16). Also CHSJ-TV's surprise showing of "Dragon's Domain" in lieu of Walt Disney on July 16, said episode videotape-delayed from CBC Television airing on May 6. The television was in the aforementioned corner when I saw both parts of The Bionic Woman- ""Fembots in Las Vegas", the first few episodes of Logan's Run, some of Cheryl Ladd's first Charlie's Angels episodes, episodes of CBC Television's Stationary Ark, Pencil Box, Homemade Television, What's New?, and Young Chefs, CHSJ-TV telecasts of The Little Rascals, Clue Club, and Davey and Goliath, early episodes of CHiPs, ATV Midday Matinee broadcasts of Pinocchio in Outer Space, The Night Strangler, and The Green Slime, a repeat broadcast of Roots, first glimpses of Dallas, and the three-hour premiere of Battlestar Galactica. Also episodes of The Edge of Night with Dr. Miles Cavanaugh's deranged first wife, Denise, plotting against Miles' second wife, Nicole; CBC Television's Par 27 (which aired before Space: 1999 in summer of 1978); and some of the second season of The New Avengers. A time of my life when I was either completely alone among members of my generation in my new environs, or a marginally accepted outlier among some eventually-to-be-erstwhile friends of a younger age.
Just what are the sales figures for the Space: 1999 second season Blu-Rays? I have bought four sets. I did my part in supporting the release. In fact, I bought the first two sets at full price at day of release. But of course, my purchasing power does not register much at all among the overall sales figures. Talk is that sales were poor. But this is not coming from Network Distributing directly. At least, I do not think so. I am not reading it from Network Distributing's Facebook. It is a given that sales would be lower than those for Season One. Because of the pigheaded louts in the fan movement who would never deign to have Season Two on their shelf. Certainly not with purchase at full price. Yes, that certainly. But also, it has to be considered that sales of physical media in general have seen a substantial drop since 2010, when Season One was released. Further, the Season Two Blu-Rays are coded to Region B only and cannot be played on North American Region A Blu-Ray machines, a fact that no doubt put a big dent in sales tallies. And Space: 1999 is available on the World Wide Web, on YouTube, Dailymotion, etc.. It puzzles me why Network has not directed YouTube to remove Space: 1999 from its offerings as Warner Brothers is ever so diligent about doing as regards the cartoons of Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters. I have no doubt that the easy availability of Space: 1999 on the Internet did hurt sales of the Blu-Rays. Of course, the arrogant Season One fans are making their usual hay about this, oh-so-matter-of-factly declaring that poor sales are to be expected given the alleged dearth of quality that Season Two possesses. There is not one asinine remark from these people that I fail to anticipate. They never do disappoint me in their capacity to be asinine- and arrogant. If sales are low, they themselves did contribute to that fact. And then they can turn around and smugly state that it is a natural outcome, because Season Two has no appreciative following of any size, or of any value. Which of course they do.
But why should it matter to me what the louts say? I have the Blu-Rays. I have a copious supply of them. They exist. And audio deficiencies aside, they are splendid. With UFO to add to the Season One and Season Two Space: 1999 Blu-Rays, I will have Blu-Ray representation of everything Gerry Anderson that is of interest to me (including also Journey to the Far Side of the Sun and The Day After Tomorrow- "Into Infinity"). All sitting together on my shelf. Granted, there is the matter of the bonus material of the Season One set being on a DVD. I wish that this could be rectified. But it still is a glorious sight to behold. And to have Star Trek and Space: 1999 complete in high definition on Blu-Ray is the sweetest culmination of ever so many years of dedicated and oftentimes frustrating collecting. If only my parents could be around to see this! My father was with me when I acquired the Season One Blu-Ray set in 2010. I had that much. However, it was my mother who suffered the most with me in my pursuit as I fretted and cursed at every untoward something or other that thwarted my aim. She did not live to even see the announcement that Blu-Rays were coming for Season One. In fact, she did not live to see me acquiring my first Blu-Ray player. I had it just under two months after her death.
This is all for today.
June 19, 2016.
On the heels of the bungled release of the Director's Cut of Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan has come Studio Canal's release in the U.K. of the Blu-Ray of Scott of the Antarctic. An outstanding job of remastering of that 1948 movie. As regards video quality, certainly. But the audio? Oh, dear. Overly processed, clipping or distorting whenever John Mills' voice or Ralph Vaughan Williams' music or the backfiring of a motorised sledge or the revelling of the expedition members raises past a certain critical decibel. The 2004 DVD sounds better, even with PAL speed-up. But once again, video quality trumps audio quality, and I feel compelled to accept the Blu-Ray, aural warts and all.
Still, it is yet another bungled Blu-Ray release, coming after the DePatie-Freleng cartoons' Kino Lorber Blu-Ray release, the Italian Blu-Ray of Fahrenheit 451 (the only European Blu-Ray of that movie to retain the bonus features of the DVD), and the Director's Cut of Star Trek II.
What is wrong with the Italian Blu-Ray of Fahrenheit 451? A portion of the movie has out-of-synchronisation sound effects. Everything from Montag reading his first book to the light of his living room wallscreen to Clarisse hanging up the telephone receiver after having talked to the Captain and told him that Montag is ill. The sound effects are a second behind the video. A shame, because it is the best looking Blu-Ray of the movie and has the documentaries and other value-added content of the movie's 2003 DVD release. Granted, one has to manually switch off the second set of Italian subtiitles (for the titles of the books being burned) when watching the movie in English. And it is also necessary to manually switch off Italian subtitles when watching the documentaries. Unless of course one wishes to "brush up" on one's Italian-speaking skills. The subtitles default to on whenever a documentary begins. Of course, if Universal in North America or the U.K. would just stop dilly-dallying and release Fahrenheit 451 on Blu-Ray for the English-speaking market, these problems, including the out-of-synchronisation sound effects, would be moot. I doubt that such an egregious lapse in quality would go unnoticed prior to authoring the American or British Blu-Ray. Oh, who am I "kidding"? Of course, such a lapse could still occur. The people currently running the studios care little or nothing about twentieth-century cinema, beyond Star Wars, Jaws, and Indiana Jones; errors are going to continue.
Paramount has announced that in order to obtain Star Trek- The Animated Series on Blu-Ray, one will need to buy a massive Blu-Ray set comprising all three seasons of Star Trek, the first six Star Trek movies, and Star Trek- The Animated Series. The massive Blu-Ray set is to be released near the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek's network television debut. Yes, it is Star Trek's fiftieth anniversary this year, as it is also my own fiftieth year. And also the fiftieth anniversary of Fahrenheit 451, come to think of it. If that is not reason enough for Universal to release Fahrenheit 451 this year, I do not know what would be reason enough.
The Space: 1999 Facebook group has reached the second part of "The Bringers of Wonder" in its systematic discussion of the episodes of Space: 1999. Except for "The AB Chrysalis", not a single positive thing has been said about any of the second season episodes. They are all universally hated in the group, or at least among the ever-so-illustrious faction that holds sway and dominates conversation utterly. Even "The AB Chrysalis" was thrashed, with only a token positive comment or two about the urgent intensity of the Alphans in the episode or the effect of the "bouncing balls". And just about everything said is subjective drivel. Objectively, no episode is perfect, of course. And the criticism of what imperfections exist is valid. But the bulk of the criticism is based on misinterpretation or wilful misrepresentation of episode concept or story development or completely subjective opposition to the aesthetic of alien garments or the usual alleged improperity of monsters in works of science fiction-fantasy. Six more episodes to go, and the boors are done in their latest series of sorties. But it will start all over again, in little time at all.
I note the continued large amount of traffic to my Televised Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Web pages. Clearly, there remains quite a sizable amount of interest in the Warner Brothers cartoons. It is so very sad that Warner Brothers cannot at least release to Blu-Ray all of the cartoons released to DVD. I would settle for that, for the time being, anyway. The cartoons look so much better on Blu-Ray than on DVD. Video compression artifacts mar the DVDs, in some cases with unwatchable results- to my eyes and their current standards. Yes, I would love to have "Hyde and Hare" on Blu-Ray. But Warner Brothers will not be continuing THE LOONEY TUNES PLATINUM COLLECTION, not with repeat cartoons from the DVDs, not with newly remastered cartoons. The Warner Brothers cartoons are now dead on optical disc media- beyond what was released prior to 2013.
All for now.
After a spate of rainy days, New Brunswick is now being bathed in sunshine, and I am having my usual flashbacks to summers past. Summers when my parents were alive. Summers when I was accompanied by friends in imagination-indulging projects. Summers when the world was a better place, when life was better.
Canada appears to be on the verge of another labour stoppage in its postal service. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has announced that its members will be in a legal position to walk off of the job and to picket as early as July 2. Last time that the postal workers went "on strike", Canada Post itself locked them out of its buildings, prompting the then Conservative government to pass back-to-work legislation. I would expect a different series of events this time. The workers will walk out, and the left-leaning Trudeau Liberals will allow the disruption of the mail service to continue until management and workers arrive at a compromise. And that may mean no mail for the whole summer. I have some shipments of comic books still pending, and my order of the Blu-Ray of Tijuana Toads may be affected- if there is a walkout or a lock-out on July 2. Blu-Ray purchases later in the summer will have to be sent by courier. Actually, these past couple of years, I have been using courier for Blu-Ray orders from the U.K., as the trans-Atlantic mail has become excruciatingly slow. I presume that ordering-by-courier will be the norm for all of my transactions with Amazon.co.uk for the months to come, and will also now apply to orders from the U.S. and Australia.
The Space: 1999 fans had a field day assailing part two of "The Bringers of Wonder" and have proceeded to unanimously berating "The Lambda Factor", an exemplary "bottle" episode that one would think would be spared the concentrated slings and arrows. The angles of attack are on the performances of overwrought Alphans (the fans are evidently not aware that Dr. Russell even addresses short tempers and irritations of the Alphans in her Status Report at start of the episode; so, there is an inter-episode acknowledgement of the unusual behaviours of the Alphans), alleged deficient quality of acting, and the gorilla into which Maya briefly transforms. Koenig is being sleep-deprived, troubled by horrific nightmares; naturally, he is going to be less than patient, irritable, clipped, and short of diplomatic words with his people. Helena is worried about him, and her worry is bound to have her in an edgy mood. And Tony has a mysterious murder to solve and is naturally quite uptight about such. The acting of Deborah Fallender has received most of the venom. Her character is being affected by the lambda variant, her personal life is falling apart, and she is going mad. Naturally, she is going to be shouty and overwrought. That is how madness is manifest. Carolyn Powell has a menacingly unhinged quality, made all the more unnerving by her ability to psychically murder people. The other "guest" characters and the actors who play them are satisfying in the performances delivered. I never had any issues with the acting in the episode. There is only one objective quibble that could be made with "The Lambda Factor", and that is with Tony not issuing the Security alert on Carolyn Powell until after the catatonic Koenig is brought to Medical Centre. Considering the threat posed by Carolyn by then so clearly evident, Tony ought to have been immediately on his commlock, giving his orders to his Security personnel. Other than that, the episode is in my estimation impeccable. No problem with the gorilla. It is a man in a gorilla suit. Obviously, a real gorilla would have been too dangerous for the actors. For some reason, men suited-up as gorillas always results in disparagement from fans of a production. I have read similar comments about a gorilla in an Incredible Hulk episode. And with apish creatures in an episode of Blake's 7. Planet of the Apes has not been subject to such attacks, presumably because its men-in-suit gorillas have something of a humanoid physiology. But there is something about gorillas and men being dressed as them that people automatically have a problem with, as though it is offensive to some sensibility. The gorilla in "The Lambda Factor" is, in any case, of better design than most of its peers of other productions and is so briefly shown as to not be particularly inviting of viewer scorn for the whole episode. And Maya needed to open doors in an emergency situation. A gorilla's strength would be most effective in such a situation.
One of the attacks on "The Bringers of Wonder" is contentious- if not patently unsound, stating that Helena does not gas the Moonbase whenever there is a threat in other episodes such as that posed by Carolyn in "The Lambda Factor" and therefore alleging an extra-episodic inconsistency or "plot hole". Surely, an order to gas the Moonbase would have to come from Koenig. Helena could not do it on her own initiative. And besides, part two of "The Bringers of Wonder" does come after "The Lambda Factor" in given chronology. Koenig's decision in "The Bringers of Wonder" to incapacitate the Alphans may be a spur of the moment, first-time-used option there. It would not have occurred to him or to Helena in a previous episode.
The fans are making critical hay from the flimsy mask Helena wears. Yes, Helena's surgical mask may not have been effective to keep her from inhaling the gas. But maybe she did not actually need it. She may have isolated her section of Alpha from the gas and was just wearing the mask as a precaution while she was connecting the Contact Gas container to the Moonbase air supply. Moonbase may not have respirators or gas masks on hand for use, in any case. Why would it? It is supposed to be a germ-free environment. And if one wished to isolate one's personal air supply for whatever reason, donning a spacesuit would be a likely- and more space-futuristic- option. Should Helena have been shown in a spacesuit? I reckon that might have received laughs from the audience.
Besides, quibbles such as the immediately aforementioned could easily be levelled at Season One. Helena, Dr. Mathias, and a nurse are not even wearing face protection as they are about to perform an autopsy on Balor in "End of Eternity", contradicting the precautions being used in an autopsy on Lee Russell in the earlier episode, "Matter of Life and Death". Ah, but the fans will bristle if I were to raise that particular inconsistency.
Why, they ask, is there a connection in the Moonbase air supply for a gas canister? Maybe for times when an emergency air supply has to be pumped into parts of the base. Who knows? "Economy of detail" again. Same for the attacks on there being a shaft in the Waste Dome for atomic fuel for detonating the nuclear waste. Who is to say what additional reasons there may be for such a shaft? Other items besides atomic fuel may need to be inserted into the shaft to, perhaps, keep the Waste Domes stable, or to monitor or analyze the radiation inside the shaft. Who the bloody well knows?
Also, the fans are fond of attacking the scene where the illusory Superswift Pilot Ship is shown at the Nuclear Waste Domes as seen by Helena on a monitor screen. Should it not have been the Pilot Ship in New York City? To maintain the full illusion? Not necessarily. How could a camera in New York City transmit an image of the Pilot Ship's exterior to Alpha- particularly as Koenig has just pressed a button to activate a camera transmission at the Waste Domes (not a camera transmission on Earth; how could he possibly do that?)? The appearance of the Pilot Ship at the Waste Domes may be the only improvisation that the aliens could project, under unexpected circumstances. Actually, I doubt that the aliens even knew that Koenig was going to activate a camera transmission at the Waste Domes; they appear to be unaware of the conversation being had between John, Helena, and Maya in Medical Centre. The appearance of the Pilot Ship instead of the Eagle may be a latent telepathically projected image in Helena's mind, to supersede any real image that contradicts the overall illusion cast by the aliens. Regardless of any potential intent by the aliens, to show the Pilot Ship in New York City on that screen would be silly.
All for today, Sunday, June 26, 2016.
It is Monday, June 27, 2016.
It has come to my attention that the Golden Age Cartoons Website, including The Unofficial Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Page, has been shut down, the exact date of its cessation having been some weeks ago. As some of my Weblog's readers may know, The Unofficial Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Page was the original home for my Televised Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Web pages. Jon Cooke and I started corresponding with each other nearly twenty years ago, after I had come across his Website and contributed to its Censored Looney Tunes section. Jon had compiled an episode guide for That's Warner Bros.!/The Bugs N' Daffy Show. I complimented him on that and supplied him with an episode guide for Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends. Shortly thereafter, with Jon's encouragement, I penned the two "crowning glories" of the newly-added-to-Jon's-Website Looney Tunes On Television, Web pages for The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show and The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. Next came Web pages for The Bugs Bunny Show, The Road Runner Show, Looney Tunes On Nickelodeon, and The Other Television Shows Starring the Warner Brothers Cartoon Characters, and Jon also encouraged me to also contribute my essays on the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons and "Hyde and Hare". It has a happy collaboration, and one whose yield was widely acclaimed in the years of the late 1990s. It is so difficult to believe that this collaboration was almost twenty years ago. I feel a distinct sadness at the news that Jon's Website has passed away into the Internet ether.
But it also is not entirely unexpected. The Website had not been updated for some considerable time, and I was unsuccessful at having the Hyperlinks for The Bugs Bunny Show Page, etc. changed to my new HostPapa location. My communications with Jon had lapsed in the late 2000s and never did resume. After I had my acrimonious parting from the Termite Terrace Trading Post and with Golden Age Cartoons in general in 2009, Jon and I never corresponded again. I read that he married a year or two after that. When Golden Age Cartoons established a Facebook presence, the majority of activity, what amount of that there was, relating to Jon's Website was concentrated there, on the Facebook for Golden Age Cartoons. But I do not know how involved that Jon was in that.
My parting from the Termite Terrace Trading Post, whose inception in the late 1990s I had collaborated upon with Jon, had been a long time in coming. I do not propose to dredge up at length all of the old conflicts. But it was not a pleasant place to be if one venerated the oeuvre of Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and Robert McKimson post-1948. It was an "echo chamber" for the aficionados of Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, Frank Tashlin, and the earlier, i.e. pre-1948, cartoons of Freleng and Jones. But mostly the cartoons of Clampett. Mainly if not exclusively those. If people liked Clampett, they hated Freleng and McKimson and scarcely rated Jones. And routine "threads" would "bash" the post-1948 cartoons of Freleng as a matter of course, as though it was a given that Freleng's post-1948 cartoons are meritless. I reached my personal ultimate "breaking point" on such in 2009, and to my bitter but by no means unsurprised observation, I had not a single compatriot in my complaints and my beleagured counter-argumentative retorts to the pre-1948s pundits' routine anti-post-1948, anti-Freleng, etc. sorties. Nobody reached out to me after I left with slings and arrows fired relentlessly at my back.
All of this is factual. As things did transpire, I regret the establishing of a discussion forum on the Warner Brothers cartoons. But at the time that Jon and I were considering doing so, there was no expectation that the attitude of contributors to the forum would be anything other than fair-minded. And at the time, I had no misgiving and no animosity whatsoever directed toward early sections of the history of output of the Warner Brothers cartoon studio. I may not have fancied the cartoons of the 1930s and early 1940s but was prepared to respect them. No such respect existed toward my favoured time frame of cartoon production or toward me personally on the part of the adherents of the works of Clampett. The latter years of my tenure at Golden Age Cartoons were demoralising, demeaning, a lamented blemish on my lifelong love of the cartoons.
But in reacting to the news of the ending of The Unofficial Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Page, my thoughts are with the overall Website and the dedication that Jon gave to it and the generously complimenting and helpful spirit with which he accepted my contributions in the late 1990s. Indeed, the look of my Web pages to this day is very much credited to Jon. I very much fancied Jon's choice for formatting and layout and his taste in selecting images. Back then, there were not very many cartoon images available on the Internet, and the quality of them was, to say the least, variable, but Jon always made tasteful choices and always impressed me with what he added to the text that I provided. I have vastly improved on the quality and amount of images by my own devices in recent years, but the formatting and layout of the Web pages has remained true to Jon's choices of nearly twenty years ago. And even the non-cartoon-related Web pages on my Website have, for consistency, coopted that formatting and layout.
Times these days are bad for the Warner Brothers cartoons. The Zeitgeist of today seems determined to bury them. Whether that be because of political correctness or whatever the reason. Warner Brothers will not release any more Blu-Rays or DVDs of the cartoons, and their presence on broadcast television is gone. As The Unofficial Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Page now, too, is gone.
A moment of silence for Jon Cooke's Unofficial Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Page.
And this is all for today.
I have found two more cartoons that require title corrections in their mentions on my Website. "Cats A-Weigh!" and "Hoppy-Go-Lucky". The exclamation point was missing from the former and the hyphens from the latter. I have made the necessary adjustments to all of my Televised Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Web pages, Era 2 of McCorry's Memoirs, and the final two instalments of my television listings project.
My Space: 1999 Page has undergone some revisions, also. Specifically to the Radio-Canada broadcasts of 1977, to the Times of Transition section of the chronology, and to the entry for the Krom II encounter in the main post-leaving-Earth-orbit timeline. As regards the last of these, the title given to it has been changed to "The Schism of Krom II". A title somewhat consistent with the blank-of-blank titling of other episodes, "The Testament of Arkadia" being one of the more cogent examples of such.
I quite fancy the idea of doing a fully "fleshed-out" telling of that posited epic episode, one that I envisage being of two parts, or two hours. A definitive bridge between Seasons One and Two. Either in narrative form of a standard novel or as a script. But I lack the time and, I have to say, the initiative to undertake so ambitious a project. If a fan writer sympathetic to my outlook on the television series were to offer to do the work, I would be happy to green-light it. It would, of course, be subject to vetting by myself to bring it fully into synchronisation with the rationale for Season One and Season Two bridging that I posit. But as I have laid the groundwork already for it in my chronology section called Times of Transition, I would suppose that a prospective writer would know in advance what I am "getting at" in my proposed "bridging work". The salient point of argument is that there is a way of bridging the two seasons comprehensively and effectively, where there is imagination. The majority of fans "hung up" on the differences between the seasons and dismissive of Season Two seem to be sorely lacking in the imagination department, or so blinkered in decades of posturing against Season Two that their imaginations are so constricted as to preclude arriving at a thoroughly attested, thoroughly credible prospectus for a bridging.
The Space: 1999 fans on Facebook are now about to "take a dump" on "The Seance Spectre". No need to tell me. I know. Sanderson's characterisation. Ken Hutchinson's "shouty" performance. Maya's transformation into a bulky monster. "Bad science" in the "weather belt" description of the Taura phenomenon. Script technicalities in the flight of John and Maya to Taura and their remote-controlled rescue. "Mindless" action over substance. Relentlessly predictable. So, there cannot be "weather" in space, right? What about the whole nebula sequence in Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan? The ever so highly acclaimed Star Trek II- The Wrath of Khan. Is there not a manifestation of a spatial form of inclement "weather" in that? And ah, yes. Irrational and fanatically argumentative people of pent-up hostility like Sanderson never shout, do they? Right.
The workers of Canada Post are still on the job, but a labour disruption (by "strike" or lock-out) is sure to happen eventually. I currently have two items on order from the U.S.. Customs Canada has held onto one of them, a Gold Key Tweety and Sylvester comic book, for close to a week. It may arrive in the next few days. Another shipment, of three hardcover Space: 1999 books, only shipped a day or two ago. I can only hope the "Posties" stay on the job for another week or so. And that they are back at work when JB Hi-Fi in Australia sends to me my complete Blu-Ray set for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in late August.
All for today, Sunday, July 3, 2016.
It is Sunday, July 17, 2016.
I am now at the beginning of three weeks of vacation from work. Or holiday. Whatever word really befits not going to work but also not travelling any great distance. I do intend a few "day trips" within New Brunswick or perhaps a few miles outside of New Brunswick, but this is all of the travel that I intend doing. Weather permitting, of course. A rainy day would not suffice for the enjoying of a visit to some other municipality.
The Miramichi region comprising Newcastle, Douglastown, and Chatham is definitely on my radar. I go there every year now. Several times a year, in fact. The place is much changed now from what it was fifteen to twenty years ago, and every time I go back there, I am confronted with yet another change. One thing that has not changed is the chili dog at the Newcastle Dairy Queen. It is as it was in 2012 when the photograph immediately below this paragraph was snapshot, in 1988 when my friend, Kevin MacD., and I dined there, in all of the times I ate there with my parents, and back when we lived in the Miramichi region, back in the 1970s.
Some changes to my Website made in the past few weeks include some expansion of my chronology for Space: 1999 on The Space: 1999 Page and some further alterations to the titles to cartoons in my Televised Looney Tunes Web pages so that they conform with how they were originally titled in theatrical presentation.
At long last, I have attained a full collection of Space: 1999 hardcover books. Below is an image of the books sitting on my shelf.
I had possessed Alien Seed, Android Planet, and Rogue Planet in hardcover format since I bought them in Toronto (at World's Biggest Bookstore) in 1980. The first two of these three books had lost their dust covers long, long ago.
The real prize, however, is the six books preceding these three, those six books consisting of episode novelisations. I have acquired all six from different sources within the past two years. Their quality is not pristine, but they are probably in as good a condition as I am ever likely to find them to be in, for purchase at a reasonable price. Actually, Collision Course and Astral Quest are in near-mint condition, having been purchased from a U.S. company called Starbase Atlanta which sold them described as such on eBay. The others are of very good to near excellent quality, Moon Odyssey having some scuffing to its dust cover and Breakaway some "foxing" to the tops of its pages. The rarity of these six books cannot be overstated. I never, ever saw them for sale in any bookstore. The Fredericton Public Library had them in its stacks for many years before their sudden disappearance there in the late 1990s. I remember very clearly my discovery of them at the library sometime circa 1980 and my natural coveting of them. They are without the photograph sections that were in the Pocket Books paperback versions of the books, but they are, being hardbound, much more durable, and the dust jackets display some appealing image compositions.
I yearned to purchase them from the library but was denied, by the library, being allowed to do so. And as each book was marred with library stickers and stains and other damage inflicted by readers, it was ultimately best to wait and acquire them in much better condition.
Powys Books has been promising a Space: 1999 Year One Omnibus for what seems like an eternity. It would contain the novelisations of the episodes as written by authors E.C. Tubb, John Rankine, and Brian Ball and changed to conform with the so-called Powys-verse. I will probably buy that too. If it ever does see release. In the photograph above, Powys' Space: 1999 Year Two Omnibus can be seen next to Rogue Planet.
All for now.
It is a dull day today, and I thought that I would endeavour to make mincemeat of another diatribe against Season Two of Space: 1999. Just for something to do.
The Facebook group for Space: 1999 in its systematic slamming of the episodes of Season Two has reached "The Immunity Syndrome", the second-to-last episode of the season and of the television series as a whole. What started as actually a fairly respectful round of comments came to an abrupt and predictably peevish turn with the following little essay.
"As a 9-year-old, I had mixed feelings for this one. I liked seeing more Alphans, a larger survey team for a planet, excellent Eagle crash effects, the glider, fibre optic cables of the laser rifle, and no goofy transformation of Maya. But- Koenig was put into a goofy-silly costume; The Alphans' good-fortune at camping next to an alien ship that held both analysis and the solution. Miraculously they were able to find the ship which was obfuscated by foliage. It is a bit much to accept. Also, I did not like the planet set, and, I didn't see what 'Immunity Syndrome' meant.
As an adult, and now that I see this to be a Johnny Byrne episode, I am even more disappointed. I suspect too much interference and forced rewrites resulted with what was filmed. In addition to the issues I saw as a 9-year-old, now I am struck by how odd and illogical it was for Maya and Helena to attempt to get to the planet. They reasoned the party was doomed as the atmosphere itself was turning poisonous and were told to stay put by Koenig. Helena is the chief and last remaining doctor for all of Alpha, meaning she has responsibilities, and Maya is their chief scientist at this point. Yet, both decided to abandon Alpha on a suicide trip with no hope of either their return or rescue of the landing party only to save Tony- who will die along with everyone else and now themselves when the planet's atmosphere turns poisonous. On top of it, when confronted in 'The Last Sunset' with corrosive Lunar atmosphere, an Eagle was reworked as a solution. Basically, Russell and Maya should have devised a rescue operation on that basis. Now too, I see the title was used in a Star Trek episode, and the arch looked like the arch in Trek's 'City On the Edge of Forever'.
Planet set is an issue for me. If you are going to make an alien planet look like Earth, just, go outside and do a location shoot. If you have odd plants and odd sky, like the planets of 'Guardian of Piri', or 'Matter of Life and Death'- then, use a set.
The lesson of this episode is ham-handed and murky until spelled out. Chiefly, communication is important- or understanding or such. My issue is that it's only in the last few minutes of the last act, that it is brought up. No clues or supporting dialogue in eighty percent of what had preceded."
All right. Let us proceed.
Goofy transformation of Maya. Subjective drivel.
Goofy-silly costume. Subjective drivel. To it, I will respond by saying that Koenig needs to be garbed in a suit that fully protects him from sound and sight of the entity. It is an effective outfit in that respect.
The Alphans' good fortune of just happening to camp next to where the alien structure was. Dramatic necessity. Plain and simple. Contrived, story-advancing circumstances can also be found in episodes of Season One, such as the Caldorian spaceship happening to crash-land near Alpha, Cellini and party just happening to dock with the spaceship that had the monster on it, the Alphans landing on Arkadia within walking distance of the cave with the skeletons and Sanskrit message, and so on. What happens in "The Immunity Syndrome" is no more difficult to accept. Also, the Alphans do have sensors and scanners. Locating the alien structure may have been facilitated by the instruments brought on the reconnaissance mission.
The Earth-like planet set is actually quite nicely done. Considering that it is in a studio, it looks like a remarkable achievement for Keith Wilson and his team. It being late in the autumn when "The Immunity Syndrome" was filmed, I doubt that an outdoor "shoot" would have been acceptable for achieving the desired effect of the Earth-like planet with (at first) pleasant environmental conditions. Let us remember that the planet has to look lush and inviting to the Alphans. If it had been snowing, or if many of the trees had dropped their leaves, the effect might not have been what was desired. And I would think that Martin Landau would have not been pleased to have to work outside for hours at a time in Centigrade temperatures barely above zero. I love that the planets in "Devil's Planet" and "The Immunity Syndrome" have the same look, and my assessment is more valid than the critic's because it is most likely in tandem with what production wanted in planet depiction.
"The Immunity Syndrome". The planet, like a living being, has an immune system, and immunity becomes a syndrome when the constituent elements of the planet start to turn hostile to the landing party, as though the landing party is an invading organism that comes under attack by the planet's immune system. It is admittedly an abstract concept. Not one that may be readily understood. I did not "grasp" it at age eleven when I first saw the episode. Ah, but then, does not this indicate a sophistication that puts Season Two out of the "kid vid" designation often hurled pejoratively at it by the fans? The fan making the criticism does not perceive or comprehend the concept. Fair enough. He evidently does not see how planets in Space: 1999 are often coded as holistic entities a la the Gaia principle. For if he did, he might have some inkling of what is being suggested in the episode's title.
It is not odd or illogical for Helena and Maya to want to go to the planet. Tony's condition is grave. Helena as both a doctor and as a friend wants to do everything she can for Tony. And Maya is in love with Tony; naturally she would want to be with him- even if it means that she may die with him. And Helena in her love for John would feel rather the same way for being with him, one would think. Besides, it is not a given as yet that the landing party is doomed. The situation looks dire, but a solution could still be found, and as Maya is Science Officer, her place is with Koenig in trying to find the solution.
Helena the last remaining doctor on Alpha? Where did that come from? Although Anton Phillips left the role of Dr. Mathias, Mathias is still somewhere on Alpha, I would think. Dr. Vincent, too. And Raul Nunez. There are other trained doctors on Alpha who can assume Helena's place if worse comes to worse. And there are other trained scientists on Alpha. There are a great many trained people on Alpha who can step forward and fill the senior person's shoes, as it were. This invokes a precept that must be accepted in any science fiction/fantasy production involving the crew of a spaceship or colony. The leading characters must be the ones in peril, per standard practice in format television, and should they be lost, the community will "carry on".
It is not a given that the situation in "The Last Sunset" is the same as that in "The Immunity Syndrome". The corrosion effect on the Eagles in "The Immunity Syndrome" is more intrusive, more pervasive. Stripping down and refitting an Eagle to withstand the corrosion would logically require parts of the corroded Eagle for analysis- and Alpha does not have those in "The Immunity Syndrome"; the affected Eagles are on the planet. Also, a refit would involve a time factor of days (Bergman quotes such a time factor in "The Last Sunset" for refitting an Eagle), and Tony's condition is said to be grave; Helena and Maya do not have time to wait that long- even if a refit were possible. And this is overlooking the time factor involved in arriving at a solution to the poisoning of the planet's air and water. No, it is not basic at all that Helena and Maya would devise a rescue mission on a premise of Eagle part refits.
And no, the arch does not completely resemble that in the mentioned Star Trek episode (some similarity, perhaps- but so what?). And that a Star Trek episode has the same title is not a damning indictment against Space: 1999's use of the title. No more than Season One of Space: 1999 using "War Games" for an episode title, Doctor Who in 1969 having had a serial titled as "The War Games".
I am not certain that the importance of communication is a "lesson" of the episode. It proves to be advantageous in reaching a satisfactory resolution to the Alphans' predicament on the planet. But as to whether or not it is a "lesson", I would say that it is no more a "lesson" here than it is in Season One's "Space Brain". It, or some lack of it, is just a problem that must be overcome in encounters with aliens if the heroes of Space: 1999 are to survive.
I will concede that it is a problem- a potential problem- for the episode that there is a deux ex machina that resolves the episode. Tony is restored to health, the planet's elements are rendered no longer hostile, and the Alphans are able to leave the planet, because the solitary being performed some sort of hocus-pocus. But the fans all seem to love a story resolution of such a kind when it is done in Season One. It ought not to be a problem for them, then. I have no issue with it myself. A force that can, "...mobilise the natural forces of the planet to destroy (Alpha's) people," can turn around its doing of that and conceivably reverse its effects (at least the ones that have not claimed any lives).
Now, one also has to accept that the solitary being goes to sleep after driving Tony mad, enabling Koenig, Dr. Spencer, and the Security men to enter the clearing past the arch without them, too, being rendered insane. And then it awakens sometime later and starts to turn the planet's "immune system" against the landing party. The fans do not appear to have any umbrage with this. But it is basis for a potential quibble.
My only issues are with the Survey Eagle suddenly appearing as a standard Eagle in the sky above the landing party, and Koenig during the crash being shown in a "flopped" or reversed camera shot, presumably from the filming of "Devil's Planet". Other than that, "The Immunity Syndrome" is outstanding. There is so much to love about the episode.
And some fans are saying that "The Immunity Syndrome" is the only Season Two episode worthy of comparison with Season One. Nonsense. Balderdash. There is merit in all of the second season episodes, and merit that in several cases is worthy of a level of esteem comparable to that given to the episodes of Season One.
This brings me to something else that I have been deliberating about lately. It frustrates me to high heaven that I have to refrain from telling what I know about the merits of Season Two, beyond some of the more superficially acknowledgeable ones that I mainly gleaned myself either prior to meeting my former associate, Dean, or sometime after that. But Dean, in having discovered most of the merits, still has ownership of his observations and interpretations. And they are elaborate and very extensive. The merits of Season Two are aesthetic and philosophical but do not derive from overt philosophising by characters in episode epilogues. It is difficult to explain in concise and simple terms. Dean shared with fandom some preliminary phases of his work, and fandom dismissed them outright and branded Dean a "flake". Because the fans did not like Season Two, and the confirmation bias within their vaunted collective clashed with what in parlance today is called cognitive dissonance. In other words, the fans will not relinquish the cosy posturing within their group against Season Two for an outlook that contradicts what they cling to in their prideful, "echo-chambered" collective stance.
But Dean has since then (the late 1980s) desisted from expounding his work in public, and he was quite insistent that I keep my mouth shut. He and I parted ways more than a decade ago, more over interpersonal incompatibility and strife than over disagreements about appreciating Season Two and sharing such appreciation. After all of the time that has passed, all of the venom to which Season Two and its producer have been subjected, all of the anguish that I have experienced and indignation that I have felt in watching this awful injustice, I cannot agree with Dean's continued reticence to say much of anything about his work, for it and it alone can really vindicate Season Two from the smugly fired slings and arrows of the past four decades and counting, and me from my dubious status within and without fandom. I cannot agree, but I still must go along with his resolution- even if it means perpetually having to watch Season Two assailed and my retorts dismissed as feeble and as ineffectual- as am I, personally, evidently.
It has been more than 26 years since I sat with Dean at a house in Belledune, New Brunswick and accepted his judgement of me for revealing some of his work in some rashly written essays of my doing, conceding to his requirement that I give to him all of the time he needs to bring his work to a state of completion that satisfies him. In the meantime, I have had to endure an anti-Season Two slur-fest at a convention, a reproval in reprisal from a false friend and fan club president over my understandable exasperation over fan attitudes and unfairly focused nitpicking, an acrimonious parting from two fan clubs during which I was subjected to extremes of vilification, and pack-of-wolves-style ridicule in an Internet group. In spite of all of that, my ultimate parting of the ways with Dean was just one based on an incompatibility of personality. And a favour that I did for him that put him at odds with my late parents- and with me also.
But still I must hold my tongue. There are things that I know that would categorically refute just about all of these attacks against Season Two and its episodes, but revealing them would put me in conflict with Dean. And I do not want that. It was rough enough for me back in the day. Back in 1990. Back when panic attacks had me racing out of university classrooms. I have no desire to go back to that. So, I must constantly endure the cocksure pejoratives of preeminent persons of the confirmation-biased group of fans. And not just them, but people at forums like Roobarbs and in the comment sections of YouTube videos, and so on. And try not, struggle not, to let it "get to me".
All for today, Sunday, July 24.
I awoke to a (sarcasm alert) lovely, edifying sight this morning, that of Monday, July 25, 2016.
The City of Fredericton, in its infinite wisdom, declared the magnificent tree in my front yard, that has been there since my parents and I moved into our Fredericton house in August of 1977, unfit to continue living. I am not a tree expert, granted, but the tree did not, to my eyes, look any less healthy than the trees, of same breed, in neighbours' yards. The only thing that I can reckon to have doomed it was that it was taller and had a forked division outward into two primary branches.
But whatever rationale that the powers-that-be had for painting the red circle of death on the tree, I am now going to be looking at a yard without the tree that grew along with me after my parents and I moved onto Linden Crescent in 1977. The tree that withstood caterpillar infestations in 1982 and 1993. The tree that stayed standing after Hurricane David in 1981 and that most remarkably weathered the Arthur storm of 2014. The tree that shaded my young associates and I on afternoons in the 1980s. Gone.
I have the urge to report the City of Fredericton to the Judges of Luton.
All for today.
Earlier this week, I put Hyperlinks to select Web pages of my authorship at the top of just about all of my Web pages, in hope of increasing traffic to my less-visited efforts. And so far, my initiative has met with yet another abject failure. If anything, my having done this only seems to have narrowed the Website "hits" all the more to my Web pages for Bugs & Tweety and The Littlest Hobo. And- oh, yes- my article on Sylvester and Tweety. Traffic to my autobiographical Web pages has collapsed utterly (it had frustrated me that whenever an autobiographical Web page, most particularly Eras 1 and 2, was visited, the visitor was never a fellow Canadian, i.e. someone familiar with Canadian television broadcast history and the way of life in Canada in the 1970s). Nostalgia truly is dead, if it ever really existed at all, as regards the 1970s (and the 1980s, too). The sheer lack of interest from my fellow Canadians in Space: 1999 is galling, too. What happened to those high ratings that YTV told me about during Space: 1999's run on YTV in the early 1990s? What happened to the popularity of Space: 1999 on CBC Television in 1976 and 1977? It looks like everyone who has any inclination to look respectfully at "Hyde and Hare" has already read my article on that. And as for Spidey and Rocket Robin, the same-old, same-old.
My latest initiative has failed in the most frustrating way possible. It has somehow only intensified the skewing in Web page "hits" toward three or four of the same Web pages. And has proven that virtually nobody likes my work enough to delve deeper into my Website after having accessed one of those three or four Web pages. They just came because they wanted to know if the Littlest Hobo dog is still alive (seriously!) or whether or not Bugs & Tweety was going to return to Teletoon. Or whether there might be a useful portrait image of Tweety or Sylvester for a decal is to be found in my article.
I have very, very little faith in the aesthetic curiosity of my fellow man. Canadian or other nationalities. And as little faith in nostalgia among the populace. What I have been lamenting about is not just in my imagination. People are being conditioned to forsake the twentieth century. And the art of the twentieth century. Yes, definitely that. And the conditioning is so very widespread that quite possibly I could be the only hold-out among my fellow citizens of the Canadian nation. The malaise has spread to my Facebook. Response there to my posts about anything vintage has never been so sparse.
But returning to the mention of aesthetic curiosity, or curiosity in general. The real hallmark of an intelligent person is open-mindedness and a boundless curiosity. I have seen this being said in the comments section of someone's YouTube video. And I would cite it for truth. Of course, it does not apply to the blinkered fans of Space: 1999. Who, by the way, have at last finished their abusive foray into episode-by-episode analysis (better to call it relentless criticism) discussions with a trouncing of "The Dorcons". Not a single episode was spared the intensive slings and arrows of pedantic, faultfinding non-aesthetes with a forty-year-old axe that must by made to continue grinding. I honestly do not today have in me the gumption to undertake a refuting of the attacks on "The Dorcons". It is all a dismissal of "economy of detail", a selective, subjective repudiation of the principle of suspension of disbelief, and a pigheaded closed-mindedness about appreciating anything that is not first season. Someone launched into a carpet-bombing sortie against the Maya character and her powers, denouncing them as completely unacceptable as a tenet of a quality piece of science fiction/fantasy work, just because they have some fanciful, less readily explained facets to them. These people always wield the presumption, the imagination-constrictive fallacy, that what is true for Earth must be universally true for the worlds of the cosmos. That alien organisms and alien consciousnesses cannot possibly have mind-over-matter ability enough to store mass-converted-to-energy within them, or to generate energy for mass, and to metamorphose some inanimate matter on their person during a transformation, and retain their consciousness (i.e. their soul) in transformed state. This is just one for-instance, with regard to Maya's powers. Goodness knows, it is but one of a seemingly endless number of angles of attack. Because something happens that is not known to be possible on Earth, it is absurd and unacceptable. Who cares if it might be artistic, symbolic, etc.?
I have had quite enough of this whole thing. Believe it or not, I have been disinclined of late to watch my Space: 1999 Blu-Rays. My enthusiasm for the television show always suffers when I am reeling from the rancour of its followers of evidently the only acceptable persuasion. Nobody ever challenges them. The Facebook group is a true "echo chamber" for the Season Two haters. That season of a wonderful television show that captured and fired my imagination in the best times of my life. And which still can and does- provided that my mind is not littered with the venomous put-downs of the oh, so illustrious clique.
This concludes my Weblog entry for Wednesday, August 3, 2016.
I am currently working on expanding my television listings project, adding listings for further days in the 1970s, with particular emphasis on 1974, which had been sparse in listings for Sundays and weekdays. This is a work in progress. Little new material has been added yet to the television listings Web pages. But I have the results of my researches in a file on my computer. When I will have completed this update, I expect that there will be an additional Web page added for television listings of a time frame of 1973 to 1975.
The assault on Season Two of Space: 1999 on Facebook has reached something of a climax with a general attack "thread" for the entire season, for "the good, the bad, and the ugly", i.e. one concession of positivity for something of a general nature, followed by slews of bile thrown for supposed demerits. The ability of Maya to transform has come in for most of the venom thus far. What happens to her clothes? From where does she attain extra mass? Where does mass go when she turns into something smaller? Obviously, her life force is of such a nature that it is able to store mass converted to energy (including the mass from inanimate matter) and then re-composite it when re-transforming.
All right, then. If one wishes to be pedantic, one has to be so with everything. To be fair. Or if one is willing to accept as given one alien's matter-altering powers, one must accept those of all other aliens. The Q character in Star Trek- The Next Generation is constantly converting matter to energy and reshaping it in whatever form or whatever different quantities that he wishes. Obviously, the law of conservation of mass and energy does not apply to him. Why must it rigidly apply to Maya? The character of Charlie in Star Trek- "Charlie X" turns a woman into a little reptile, and the intervening Thasians restore her. Alphans travel through a mist in "The Full Circle" and lose their clothes and their instruments, and later regain them by passing back through same mist.
From where- or from what- does Maya gain her knowledge of Earth animals? Pictures. Videos. Comparable anatomies with animals of Psychon prior to the boiling of the planet. All that it requires is a little suspension of disbelief and some imagination rationally applied to a concept.
Season One is not air-tight in its technicalities. How was the Ultra Probe intended to make a manned landing on Ultra in "Dragon's Domain"? It had no wings, no landing gear, no vertical thrusters. Not with its main module or with its nose cone section. Why did Cellini risk the lives of three of his crew in a boarding of the alien craft, when just one of them could have entered the alien spaceship and explored and reported findings? Why was Cellini, having been declared mentally unstable, permitted to come back to Alpha with all of the spears and axes in his possession? Why is he permitted to have such weapons in his quarters? Helena is supposed to have the final word on any matter that impacts the health and well-being of everyone on Alpha, and an unstable man possessing cutting and impaling weapons would pose a danger to the physical well-being of his fellow Moonbase inhabitants. Best episode of the Space: 1999 television series. And yet, it has items of its premise that would (or should) have a critical viewer scratching his head. The fans would say that this is irrelevant to the artistic quality of the episode. Fine, then. Then neither are the unstated technicalities of Maya's powers. She is an alien, as is Q. As are Jarak and Rena of "Alpha Child" (beings without physical bodies who can invade the human form and metamophose clothing).
Now very much accustomed to Blu-Ray, I find DVD quality increasingly cringe-inducing, especially when video compression is excessive. As it is on the cartoons in the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTIONs. I would no longer be averse to "double dipping" to reacquire cartoons already on an optical digital videodisc format if it means high-definition video and a minimum of compression artifacts. I would like to see Warner Brothers release additional Blu-Ray sets so that every cartoon on DVD is released to Blu-Ray. Word is that just about all of those cartoons were mastered in high definition before being down-converted for release on DVD. I would like to see this, but, alas, Warner Brothers evidently is only interested now in digital "streaming" (i.e. Internet availability only) for cartoons. This is what is now being said by people "in the know". It is a sad state of affairs. It would surely be nice if Warner Brothers could "licence out" the cartoons for release by a company like Twilight Time, Shout! Factory, or, yes, even Kino Lorber. But Warner Brothers does not appear to like the "licencing-out" option.
I had a dream a couple of weeks ago that I read news that the Inspector Clouseau movies, Pink Panther cartoons, and the Spiderman 1967-70 television series were to be released on Blu-Ray. Just a dream, I am afraid. Sometimes, my dreams have been proved to be rather prophetic. But in this case, I doubt very much that my dream will ever come true. Very probably not with regard to Spiderman. There may be a better chance of a Blu-Ray release of the Pink Panther cartoons and Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau movies- but not much better a chance. MGM has not budged on undertaking such an initiative for the past few years since rumours started circulating of a comprehensive Pink Panther Blu-Ray release. I tried to watch A Shot in the Dark yesterday and opted out of the initiative after less than thirty minutes. DVD quality is an eyesore for me today. Alas, it may be all that one will ever have for a large percentage of entertainment productions of the past century. But some positive news does occasionally come. A U.K.-based company is going to be releasing The Incredible Hulk and several other Universal television shows to Blu-Ray later this year. The Bionic Woman would be a promising prospect, also. Indeed, its DVD release boasts a video quality remarkably close to that of Blu-Ray. Not quite high definition but amazingly very near to it. But there are audio issues for The Bionic Woman that may hold back a Blu-Ray release- at least until improvements to the audio can be achieved.
All for today, Sunday, August 14, 2016.
A partial retraction on something I said earlier this year. The Swift in Space: 1999- "Brian the Brain". In watching the episode last evening, I found that, when flanked by Eagles in scenes in Act 2, the Swift does not look bigger than an Eagle and indeed appears distinctly smaller when it is foregrounded in film frame by an Eagle. It only appears bigger when on a landing pad on Alpha. I must therefore cede to the critic on this, in as much as the scaling of the Swift relative to the Eagle is inconsistent through the episode. But before anyone can triumphantly belch that this puts Season Two in a category of abject inferiority, I would add that this is nowhere near as poor as a visual effect as the cheap-Jack cardboard Eagle cut-outs used in episodes of Season One. And an Eagle is diminished in scale relative to the Ultra Probeship when it is shown shuttling Ultra Probe crew to the Probeship at space dock in "Dragon's Domain". So, both seasons have instances of inconsistent spaceship model scaling. But none of this was noticed back in the day. Back in Space: 1999's heyday. Nobody involved in production would have expected that people would be watching the episodes over and over again forty years later in a video format surpassing the reception of mid-1970s televisions. And I do not really think that anyone, be it Brian Johnson or Gerry Anderson or Fred Freiberger, should be scathingly faulted for this sort of thing. They were making a television show for audiences of the 1970s. And the effects in it still surpass those of Star Trek (Star Trek in its original look before the digital tinkering of the twenty-first century).
I continue to work on additions to my television listings project. I have added some new listings to the 1973 to 1974 television listings Web page. More will be coming.
I have come across a most interesting YouTube video about the phenomenon of cults and cult behaviour. The observations made are hauntingly similar to what I have experienced in fan organisations, with me being branded as the outsider, as being out-group. The video is based on a book written by a Dr. Arthur Deikman titled The Wrong Way Home. The video can be found at YouTube, and the book is available at Amazon.com. I will ruminate upon it at some later date when I have time to do so at length.
August 19, 2016.
It has been nearly a month and a half since I last updated my Weblog. I have been working on my television listings project quite heavily in the past several weeks. And the work continues. I am not ready to here make something of an official re-introduction to the television listings project. However, I have done all that I am inclined to do at this time with the television listings from 1966 to early 1982. A huge amount of listings have been added for the years of the 1970s, and every Sunday from autumn of 1972 to September of 1975 now is represented. There are many other Sunday and weekday listings now added for the mid-to-late-1970s. And now, I shall expand the listings for the 1980s post-1982.
I also added listings for three of the days of my old friend Michael's visit with me in July of 1980. I always remembered the movie, Airport, as being telecast on the Sunday evening prior to Michael's departure by bus to Douglastown from where he would return to Scarborough, where he then lived. I remember us two being no longer on speaking terms as Airport was being shown on ABC affiliate WVII, and I vividly recall the overcast Monday morning when I was with Michael for the last time. Outside the Fredericton Regent Street S.M.T. bus depot. I stayed in the car as he exited our vehicle and as he started walking toward the bus depot entrance, and I declined to say a good-bye or farewell. I remember my mother admonishing me for my being so incourteous and for my not apologising to Michael and making amends with him before he left. She said that I would someday regret having been so rude and inflexible. And she was right. However, the differences between Michael and myself had become quite substantial. And we both had recoiled from one another as the days of his visit with me had proceeded. It is a weekend, that of July 5 and 6- plus preceding Friday, that has come into much more vivid focus with my having compiled the television listings for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Michael's stay. We did not actually watch much television during those days. We did, however, go to see a matinee presentation of The Empire Strikes Back at Nashwaaksis Twin Cinemas. And we, on another one of the days, went by intercity bus to the mall area of Fredericton on a shopping expedition (me buying a Star Trek Photonovel). I had always been absorbed in collecting pursuits and fanciful reveries, but somehow I guess such had been "jacked up a notch or two" since I had left Douglastown in 1977. Michael may have found such to be off-putting to an intolerable extent. After my roughest year of school, I was not in a condition to receive a series of criticisms (especially a series of such from my old, best friend), and my mother, usually preferring neutrality in my differences with friends, chose not to be neutral and sided with Michael in his criticisms, which only compounded the problem and hastened the two of towards being uncommunicative with each other.
I have been thinking many a time these past ten months about the loss of my friendship with Michael. The friendship I had with him when we two lived in Douglastown was of a unique quality. There was a closeness with us that virtually every friend I have had in Fredericton has eschewed. He was a younger friend who did not subordinate me to any in-group preferences. He told me that I was his best friend. And he spared no effort or expense to keep me in his life after I left Douglastown. His coming to Fredericton to stay with me in 1978 and 1980 was- and has been- unmatched by any other friend I have ever had. The loss of him saddens me so very much. If there could be a way of going back and altering the character of that stay he had with me in July of 1980, making it more agreeable for both of us, I would do it.
This is all for now of the life's-story soap opera. I am anticipating Network Distributing's UFO Blu-Ray box set due in about a month's time. And a most surprising DVD release of a completely animated lost Doctor Who story, Patrick Troughton's debut, "The Power of the Daleks". I just hope, I just pray, that there is not a nuclear war before then. I cannot believe even the prospect of such is being talked-about. In this crazy world and its dumbed-down (or perhaps I should say conditioned to be wilfully ignorant) populace, nothing can be "ruled out" anymore. Oh, how I miss the sensible ruminations of Carl Sagan! His remains, wherever they are, must surely be spinning. Is our civilisation about to make "the ultimate mistake"? And over what, exactly? Russia is no longer communist. It poses no threat to our way of life. But warmongering seems to be the inevitable direction of a society that has "maxed-out" its credit limit, pushed its economic situation to a brink, and is in the throes of a bitterly acrimonious conflict between opposing philosophies of "progressivism" and "traditionalism", between a political machine determined to push the world into a future bearing remarkably little resemblance with the ways and practices of the past and a movement that favours traditional outlooks and ways of living. I will refrain from saying much more about this, other than that if war does erupt, it will be an unjust war that will inevitably escalate into a nuclear exchange making The Day After a reality.
With these concerns, it is difficult for me to give any significant thought of late toward Space: 1999 and the unending animosity in its fandom toward Season Two. Or to the lack of DVD or Blu-Ray releases of the Warner Brothers cartoons. And so forth.
My father always said that World War III would start in Syria, with the U.S. attacking Russia through Syria. He was a wise man. A very wise man. And he is looking all the more wise with every day that comes and passes. My mother also, for she always said that twenty-four-hour news media was brainwashing people, "dumbing them down" to be easily indoctrinated. I lost most of my faith in the likes of CNN or CBC Newsworld with the cover-up of Fukushima, and then there is Justin Trudeau's confounded victory last autumn, going from third place to majority government within just two months, as the CBC and other media give to him all of the favourable coverage he needed to achieve such a victory. Never underestimate the power of the news media. Wherever my mother is, she is nodding and saying, "There you go." She was right about me regretting how I handled the last hours and final moments of Michael's visit in 1980, and she was right in her opinion of the news media. Repeat the same narrative every fifteen minutes, over and over and over again, and people are completely convinced of it- even if it might be 180-degrees to the opposite of what had been reported sometime previously.
I have opted not to buy and roast a turkey for Thanksgiving this year. I will just dine out somewhere. The Diplomat, most likely.
All for today, Saturday, October 8, 2016.
I am very nearly finished my latest intensive work on my television listings project. Just a few finishing touches needed to be done on the final instalment. It has been a labour-intensive past couple of months. Is this going to be the final effort put into the project? Probably not- assuming that I continue to live for the next several years. But for now, I am declaring my work on the project to have reached a state of completion. I am aware that the final instalment of it is almost entirely composed of Saturdays. Something I will prioritise for change in some future update. Saturday was the day of the week on which most of my television viewing was done during my university years, for MPBN's "omnibus" airings of the serials of Doctor Who, for Star Trek on CHSJ-TV, and for The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show or The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour (in 1985-6). In my second year of university (1986-7), there was scant programming on weekday television that interested me, CHSJ having terminated its airings of Spiderman before the autumn of 1986, ATV having stopped running The Pink Panther Show at around that same time.
I am having nightmares about nuclear war again. Something I had not experienced with any regularity for more than two decades. Yes, I did have such nightmares back in the 1980s, as did most people, I think. And this resurgence in the frequency of such bad dreams is all because of the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations during the current U.S. election, and the bellicose anti-Russia posturing of one of the Presidential candidates in particular. My feeling of helplessness is palpable, because, of course, I cannot do anything of consequence to change the direction of the U.S. election process. I am not a U.S. voter, I have next to no Facebook friends in the U.S., and my Weblog's readership is minuscule. I could implore people not to vote Democrat and to vote Green, Libertarian, or- yes- Republican. But what good would that do? I have never been able to convince people- even my friends- that television shows I like are good. What hope could I possibly have to change the mind of any U.S. voter about political party affiliation? I just wish that the Democrats would be honest and say that a vote for them is a vote for being drafted to fight a war against a country that is no longer ideologically opposed to the traditional American way of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
And I will add that I have witnessed the values of my parents decline in the generations now holding political sway- as I have also bemoaned many a time the public's turning away from the works of my parents' and my grandparents' generation. I am very afraid for what the future holds. For in addition to conditions I have described, the countries of the West have lost their moral compass. Corruption thrives in such an environment. As does warmongering and strife and violence in general. Dark times confront this world. It looks like that third world war described by John Koenig in a routinely reviled Space: 1999 episode is going to occur. Only in this case, there will be no "brand new, wonderful civilisation" to rise from the ashes.
Again, I have little inclination to say much of anything about what is being discussed in the Space: 1999 "echo chamber". It is just business as usual there, and I do not have a compelling urge to respond to any of the latest sorties. My mind is occupied with far more vital concerns and considerations. The future of this civilisation. The future of this cycle of life on Earth.
I will ruminate here on my Weblog one more time before election day.
October 30, 2016.
I did say that I would ruminate one more time before the U.S. election, and I shall be true to my word- unlike a certain politician in the Presidential race for whom "flip-flopping", having differing "public" and "private positions", projecting of undesirable characteristics onto an opponent, and expedient stretching of the truth is so routine that she does not even know a truth from a fabrication.
There is a voice inside of me that keeps advising me not to bother. What I have learned of people in the past few decades has gone into overdrive in the contentions expressed in this election cycle. My father always said that Americans are parochial, ignorant, small-minded. He used to say this whenever we would sit in amazement as television game show contestants gave idiotic responses to questions about anything non-American, or anything remotely intellectual. But I have found this confounded mindset not just to be true of Americans, but of people in general. There is so much obtuseness in the world. So many persons who are proud of being obtuse- and spiteful in expressing their obtuseness especially when "backed-up" by an echo chamber of the like-minded. Spiteful, caustic, condescending, and downright arrogant. This is just about all that I have encountered in my woebegone efforts to convince people that the entertainments that I like are in fact good. And, yes, Americans have been among the most spitefully intransigent people whom I have tried in vain to impress.
Not that "Brits" and my Canadian brothers and sisters have been edifyingly embracing of my notions either, for the most part.
It is not a digression from the purpose of today's Weblog posting when I write of my frustrations as regards this Website and my efforts to garner acclaim for it and agreement with its assertions. Follow.
My educational background is in the arts. I hold a Bachelor of Arts. I know that these days, a degree in the Arts is judged to be useless by a great many people. But I do believe that it is what some (some, not all) of we Arts students gain from our studies that can distinguish us from most people. This is of course assuming that we managed not to be indoctrinated with Leftist dogma. What we may have on emerging from the graduatiom ceremonies is an ability to think critically. To think for ourselves and to contest the herd's all-too-readily adhered-to or coopted modes of thought or ways of looking at things. The current Zeitgeist, as it were. And to subject such to rigorous enquiry and the highest standards of reason and evidence and to reject anything that fails to "hold up" to rational scrutiny.
What an Arts education also provided, in its introductory course, Arts 1000, was a thorough immersion in the development of Western civilisation, its thinkers, its philosophies, its cultural lineage and greatest yields over many centuries. But Social Studies and History in the public school system can (or maybe I ought to say should) foster at least a rudimentary knowledge of such- provided of course that pupils, students are paying attention. It would appear, though, that most of the youth going through the school system are not paying attention. Most particularly as the "dumbing down" of people has been ongoing for some time now.
Our civilisation, that of Western Europe, the British Commonwealth (which includes Canada), the U.S., and some of the other countries of the world, is an amalgam of Greco-Roman philosophies and motifs, the principles of Magna Carta, and the Judeo-Christian beliefs conveyed through the teachings and traditions of the Church, plus the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the lofty deliberations of the great liberals of early America. And from this emerged the Industrial Revolution which propelled the nations of the West (and later those of the East, i.e. Russia, the Far East) to the prosperity and technological advancements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries culminating in the most magnificent of human achievements. Putting men on the Moon. This civilisation, its cultural heritage, has a value so immense that words fail me in articulating it. Our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers fought and died so that this civilisation could endure, so that tyrants could not destroy it and the ideas of supreme value underpinning it. So much beauty has been created within this civilisation and through its culture, including that of the works that I venerate with this Website. And the generations of today have no right to throw this civilisation to the wind in a vainglorious gesture of self-loathing for some of the sins committed by our forefathers. I am not saying that our civilisation's history has been one of perfectly consistent nobility. Of course not. But its achievements ought not to be belittled by the wrong-turns made along the way. It is these achievements that delineate, that define mankind's better side. The culture that celebrates those and that counsels adherence to the loftier principles of commitment to work, individual responsibility and freedom to self-actualise, and knowing right from wrong as absolute (not relativistic) precepts for the living of one's life, is worthy of respect and continuing dominance within the nations that were founded upon it.
This is the cultural heritage of Canada. It was the culture upon which I was raised. The culture that my parents and many of my educators strove- and strove successfully- to impress upon me. And when our Prime Minister Zoolander (i.e. Trudeau Junior) contends (or contends as I am told) that Canada has no core culture, I call unmitigated bull's droppings on that. As if I needed more proof that my lamentations on that Canadian election day a year ago were more than a little valid. He is a moron, a mental midget who should go back to being a snowboarding instructor. Not that there is anything wrong with snowboarding. But knowledge of it is scarcely a qualification for being a country's leader. What a philosopher-King he is! Not! Much as the CBC would have the Canadian people think that he is. The CBC used to be my favourite broadcaster. But now I cannot stomach it.
The Liberal Party of Canada used to be a centrist party. Maybe even centre-Right. Now, it is resolutely on the Left. I would contend that it is further Left than the New Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party in the U.S., formerly a centrist party, has also gone Leftist. Or at least it has as regards domestic social policy. Where foreign policy is concerned, it is "neo-con". And Hillary Clinton is the "war candidate". U.S.-Russian relations have been set back decades and now verge on a war that would assuredly destroy our civilisation. And why? For political expediency. For someone to use as a scapegoat for the damning revelations coming forth over the course of the campaign, to distract from those revelations themselves.
When I was in the years of my upbringing, abortion, euthanasia, and legalising of marijuana use all were morally contentious issues. No government would dare deign to enact any of them as policy. But now they are pushed as such, and anyone on the opposing side is told to "get out of the way". The Left has adopted them as key tenets of political platform, and media conditioning is having people lessening their resolve against them. "Progressivism" is being pushed by Liberal and Democrat politicians as a be-all-and-end-all mode of thinking and doing, and no right-thinking person can possibly or acceptably be opposed to any of it.
Now, I am not opposed to some of the principles in the "progressive" playbook. Equal rights for genders and for sexual orientations. I believe in that. Alas, I do not think that such is being practiced by society as much as is claimed. I cannot say that I am in agreement on much else being promulgated, made policy by the Leftists now governing most of the Western countries. Anything that subverts or has potential for destroying the culture on which I was raised, I am vehemently opposed-to- and the Democrats and Hillary Clinton want to press the accelerator on a movement inexorably toward what I think to be a sharp precipice and a deep, deep ravine of cultural destruction for the West (and economic destruction too). Assuming of course that they do not plunge the world into a Day After scenario. Oh, how Carl Sagan's remains must surely be spinning now! Why does the Left hate Russia so much now? Russia is no longer a Communist state with aspirations of turning the world into an oligarchical collectivist hell-hole. The U.S., on the other hand? What would the Democrats be in-favour-of on this matter? Oligarchical collectivism (albeit corporate rather than Marxist-Leninist), or an individualist-populist society in which the individual is free to succeed or to fail, with personal responsibility, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, etc. (what the United States of America was originally founded-upon centuries ago)?
I tend to be centrist or centre-Right in my political leanings. One might call me a classical liberal, with some classical conservative in my blood too. But I am not a "neo-con". And over the course of my lifetime, I have not thought Conservative (and Republican) governments to have been good governments. This would include the governments of Mulroney and Harper, and those of the two generations of Bush in the U.S.. Ronald Reagan was a decent man. I did cringe at his "hard-lined" stance regarding the Soviet Union, but in the end it did achieve a highly gratifying result. Sadly, all of the promise post-the-Berlin-Wall's-tearing-down has been destroyed, and the world is now on the brink of a final war. And Conservative and Republican and Liberal and Democrat governments are to blame. Most especially the current regime in the U.S. and its "war candidate".
I will now pivot to some of the posting that I put onto my Facebook yesterday. Worded differently in some instances.
Democracy can only really be said to exist in a genuine sense when there are at least two political parties with enough voter support to form government. When matters become such that only one party commands the sufficient votes to be elected to government in perpetuity, a state has become uni-partisan. Uni-partisan countries inevitably descend into a condition of abject corruption, because any party in power for a protracted period of time does become arrogant, convinced of its invincibility, and then descends into deeper and deeper levels of corruption. Beware any party in any country that seeks to change the composition of the voting base in its perpetual favour. Also beware any state where the ruling party (and its leader) has the media under control to use as a propaganda arm. Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four was a work of fiction; it was not meant to be a guidebook for governance.
And readers should heed my instincts because I have worked in the political field for most of my adult life. My accuracy for being right about politicians is phenomenal (as anyone who has worked with me can attest). I often do predict how a politician is going to pivot before they do it. Uncannily often to the precise choice of words. I can be and often am disturbed by my accuracy. And it is not an accuracy guided in any way by wishful thinking. I frequently do not like my correct predictions. Indeed, I did forecast the federal Liberal majority government more than a month before the election last year- and the ten-to-nothing seat count as regards Liberals versus everyone else in New Brunswick.
I am really not sure how the U.S. election is going to go, but I can read what is in the eyes of the candidates. And I can see the "spin" and the motives in manipulative rhetoric. A Hillary Clinton presidency scares me like nothing- I mean nothing- I've ever been afraid-of before. I see it in her eyes. I hear it in her rhetoric. I do not have any children. If I did, I would fear for their future.
This is not an unqualified endorsement of Donald Trump. I can see his weaknesses. But I do not see them as potentially apocalyptic. I would be disinclined to support him but for one simple fact. Only he can defeat Hillary Clinton. Do I think he will? I do not know. There are too many X-factors in this election. But if he does not win, the Republican Party is finished. Of that much I am sure. The populism surrounding Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump will recede or be stamped-out. Or overwhelmed by Democrat (i.e. establishment) voters. The U.S. will be a uni-party oligarchy. And if the rulers want war, war will come. God help us all.
Yes, I believe in God. This election has finally reaffirmed that. And a Hillary Clinton victory will assuredly send me back to Church.
Almost nobody in the United States reads my Weblog. So, these ruminations will have scant effect on the election. But my soul does compel me to share them. If Hillary Clinton does press the big, red button, at least I will be commended for trying to prevent it, when my time of judgement before the Almighty comes.
All for today, November 6, 2016.
Some post-election commentary, for whatever it may be worth.
I am happy that the world has been pulled back from the brink of nuclear war, as a result of the Trump victory. I am happy that Hillary Clinton was defeated. Now, the first woman President, whoever she will be, has a good chance of being a decent person. I am also happy that the Clinton-controlled news media was defeated, rebuked, even repudiated, by a large percentage of the U.S. population. Not that I expect any humility or a mea culpa from the media. They will no doubt "double down" with the arrogance, the smugness, the spin-doctoring, the Orwellian flourishes, and the hostility toward the political centre and centre-Right. I am unhappy to see the riots, but they were not unexpected. The political Left is petulant, spiteful. Sore losers and ungracious winners (when they do win).
All of this said, I am not sanguine about all that a Trump Presidency portends in terms of policy. I certainly do not think that a Trump administration will be good for the environment. Nothing will be done about the Fukushima problem. The nuclear power industry will not abate or be abated. Trump has spoken about restarting power stations. Granted, he did not say that they were nuclear power stations. But still it is worrying. On an optimistic note, I am hopeful that Trump will "drain the swamp", removing corruption, decadent establishment complacency, and crony capitalism from the political power structure of Washington D.C., or at least reduce such substantially. The same crony capitalism that contributed to the Fukushima disaster may be curtailed. That at least is a step in the right direction. If Trump can kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership and keep Fukushima-contaminated food from Japan from being imported into the U.S. and Canada, that is certainly very, very positive. I think that there is a strong possibility of the U.S. regaining some of its economic strength- and as manufacturer, rather than just consumer, of products, which can only lead to better economic performance. And I would hazard a thought of there being a likelihood that Trump will pull the United States back toward the political centre after many years of unhealthy romance with Leftism. And that will be good. And I can hope that other countries might follow the American lead. Including Canada. Maybe there is hope that Canada will not be lumbered with Justin Trudeau's confounded Leftism for a generation or more. I would like to see the unholy alliance between the Democratic Party and news media broken, or at least fully exposed in the eyes of the whole populace. And lastly, I would like to see an end to American foreign policy of a military interventionist nature, a change that Trump has promised to implement. And perhaps a new spirit of cooperation for the United States and Russia is now beckoning.
Some good may come of a Trump Presidency. I saw nothing good coming of a Clinton Presidency. Nothing but destruction of the Western culture and Western values and a nuclear war rendering lifeless our planet Earth. Time will tell how sincere Trump is with keeping his promises. I do not think that the health of the ecosystem and the health of the peoples of the world will benefit from Trump's policies. There is nothing in anything he says to make me believe otherwise. But he may surprise me. Maybe. Until he does, I will hew to a fair amount of scepticism. Not that I believe that the political Left has the answers. It does not. I say this both as a student of history and as an observer of events and conditions of recent times.
I am working on some further additions to my television listings project, expanding 1975-6 into two Web page units. Once finished with that, I have some photographs that I intend to add to my autobiography (Era 1).
My UFO Blu-Ray set still has not arrived. Ordering with expedited shipping no longer guarantees delivery of a parcel within the same week of dispatch. This mode of shipping now is no faster that what standard Air Mail used to be, and standard Air Mail is at least fifty percent slower than what it used to be. DVDs from the U.K. sent via Air Mail used to reach me within five days. Now, it is a wait of seven, eight, nine days. Sometimes two or three weeks. I recently had a parcel from Australia not reach me for nearly two months after its sending. The UFO Blu-Ray set is receiving some negative reviews as regards picture quality and bonus features. It is not the definitive release that had been hoped-for by UFO aficionados and Gerry Anderson collectors. There will probably be a UFO Blu-Ray set released in future by Umbrella Entertainment in Australia that will be definitive. And the "dipping" will be done yet again. I am not really a tremendously enthusiastic fan of UFO, and yet I have bought it on optical disc media four times now. The Carlton DVD release. The A&E DVD release. The Umbrella DVD release. And now the Network Distributing Blu-Ray set.
All for today, November 20, 2016.
My UFO Blu-Ray box set arrived on Monday, November 21. Delivery was supposed to be on Thursday, November 17. But I suppose that the people who put forth that delivery estimate did not reckon on sending a package to the frigid wastes of Canada. Do we not all live in igloos in Canada and can only be reached by dog sled? Maybe not. But we in New Brunswick in the eastern Maritimes of Canada are the backwater of the civilised world, or so the powers-that-be would have it.
Anyway, the Blu-Ray discs had a cumbersome way of being released from the Digipak case, but I was able to remove them without flexing them in all but one instance, and I do worry about what that one instance may portend as regards disc longevity. The episodes are somewhat underwhelming in their high-definition remaster. There is a slightly too bright picture, and digital noise reduction has removed detail from the visuals, sometimes leaving a waxy appearance. Still, there is clear superiority over the DVDs in resolution and digital artifacting. And it is gratifying to finally have UFO and Space: 1999 on Blu-Ray sitting side-by-side on my shelf.
I am perplexed at the bonus features. The newly-made documentaries are decidedly not to the Network Distributing usual standard in evidence in the documentaries in The Prisoner and Space: 1999- Season One Blu-Ray sets. "From Earth to the Moon" is a ninety-minute plod that after two attempts I was unable to view from start to finish. It meanders from one anecdote to the next, with no overarching format or structure to it. It consists mostly of guest star and film-extra reminiscences and their accolades for the now mostly deceased members of the television show's regular acting cast, all of which loosely and lazily strung together. Everything about "From Earth to the Moon" from a technical production standpoint signifies amateurishness. Camera shot composition for the interviews is unflattering in most cases, showing the bellies of the interviewees while allowing top of head to touch screen top. The rule for camera shot composition, as I was taught in my most rudimentary instructions in television production, is eyes a third of the way down the screen, requisite head room, and no cutting of a person's body beneath the abdomen. Most especially when the interviewee has a paunch. Head-and-shoulder camera shots are best for "talking head" interviews. Inconsistent lighting of the interviewees is another problem. And a person-identifying lower-third-of-screen graphic obscuring a credit on a film clip. Never, ever do that. But most especially "off-putting" is the languid pace of the interviews and how they are edited. There are sections of interviews that ought not to have been used because the interviewee was deliberately, playfully moving himself out of camera shot frame, with the abrupt compensatory camera movement revealing the fakeness of the virtual background and the suddenly intruding boom microphone above, or because interviewee was veering far from topic. I was appalled to even find myself listening to anecdotes about the making of J.J. Abrams' second Star Trek movie. Sweet mother of God! Cannot I consider myself to be guaranteed clear of Abrams in a documentary on a television series produced in Britain in 1969?! And the decision to have off-camera interviewers' mumbled questions captioned. Egad!
It would have been preferable for the documentary to be like the "These Episodes" documentary on Network's Space: 1999- Season One Blu-Ray set. Titled "The UFO Files", with "incident" numbers beside the titles for each examined episode.
Much as I dislike having to admit it, Fanderson's mid-1990s UFO Documentary as offered in the Umbrella Entertainment DVD release of 2007, is the definitive behind-the-scenes "making-of" for UFO. Network ought to have paid for its inclusion in this Blu-Ray box set. Even if it is only in standard definition. Most of the people of the UFO main acting cast and production team were still alive when that documentary was videotape-recorded and able to contribute to it. And it was more tightly put together and rather more informative about UFO's strengths as a work of science fiction/fantasy. I feel sure that Network anticipated an impressive amount of consumer interest in the UFO Blu-Ray set, meaning that any monies spent on purchasing the rights to The UFO Documentary should have been expected to be quickly recouped. I have to say that whatever my differences are with Fanderson's slant on judgement of artistic quality of certain Anderson works, I have always regarded the quality of technical production of its documentaries to be impeccable and admirable. A gold standard when it comes to "making-of" featurettes or feature-length documentaries.
The release of the UFO Blu-Ray set has sparked a round of assaults upon Space: 1999 by the quasi-intellectual snobs at the Roobarb Forum. Contentions that UFO is somehow vastly superior to Space: 1999, Space: 1999 alleged as being a bastard child to the ever-so-above-reproach UFO. Here are some of the attacks.
"Space: 1999 is half the programme UFO is, not even close. In fact 1999 is shite."
"Well, that's a bit strong. It has some redeeming qualities- mostly the vis-fx if truth be told. Some of the writing is ponderous and pointless, striving for profundity and not finding it, but the worst thing about Space 1999 is the acting. It's uniformly dull, with Bain being the absolute worst (followed closely by Prentis Hancock who was just never very good in anything he did) and even a talent like Martin Landau only just getting away with it. At least UFO didn't take itself so resoundingly seriously."
"UFO is the best. I watched that and 1999 growing up. One burnt itself into my psyche giving me half recalled early memories and even traumatic reactions, while the other bored me senseless."
Here is a revolutonary idea. Why cannot both television shows be respected and enjoyed? Why must one be considered quality and the other be deemed excrement? But as these people insist on launching into a "to arms, to arms" demeanor, I will say the following. In terms of imagination, Space: 1999 has UFO slaughtered hands-down. Space: 1999 is about space; UFO is about Earth. Yes, I know that there is a Moon base in UFO. But it is only in existence to protect the Earth. There is no sense of wonder about space in UFO. No sense of the vastness, the unlimitedness of space. Representation of the world of "the other", of the aliens, is obscure at best and ridiculous at worst. How could a satellite in orbit around Earth possibly obtain close-up pictures of an alien planet said to be in another solar system? Such is the motivation for one of the more languid and uninspiring UFO episodes. The characters of UFO never set foot on another planet, and there is scarcely any postulation on, much less depiction of, otherworldly environments. Apart from Earth-to-Moon travel, the characters of UFO are not on the move. They are "grounded". Space: 1999 really propels the viewer to space and its array of alien worlds. It grabs the imagination and never lets go. Episodes look different from one another. There is rarely a glaring sameness to it, despite the frequent assertions of it being confined to a planet-of-the-week or monster-of-the-week formula.
UFO is formulaic, too. Its episodes involve the latest alien machination to eradicate man, harvest human bodies, or impair or destroy S.H.A.D.O. and kill Ed Straker. Or if not this, then some Earthly threat to S.H.A.D.O.'s security has to be investigated and neutralised. I have just described most UFO episodes with these two immediately preceding sentences. What UFO does have in its favour is a believable and compelling organisation in S.H.A.D.O., some eye-grabbing hardware, and a hero of gravitas in Ed Straker. But Space: 1999's John Koenig has gravitas, too. Landau brings an intensity to the part of Moonbase Alpha Commander that is at least equal to what Straker is given in the scripts for UFO. Yes, Straker is a man with a failed marriage, a dead son, and an appreciable amount of psychological baggage and resultant interpersonal tension. But Koenig does not need a backstory to appeal to viewers. He has viewer interest in the responsibility he must bear as a man of beleaguered and "vulnerable humanity" (to quote Christopher Penfold) tasked to protect a community of mentally unprepared travellers of the cosmos. Straker is a fascinating character, sure. But the characters around him, not so much. Freeman just chases the women and acts as a "sounding board" and sidekick to Straker. Foster is a romantic, sturdy or "beefcake" action hero with some moderate amount of sensitivity but otherwise not much depth. Characters disappear in UFO with as little explanation as those of Space: 1999 (people are not allowed to just resign from S.H.A.D.O.; if they are gone from S.H.A.D.O. operations, where are they?). The continuity of the UFO television series as a whole is tenuous, as early, premise-establishing episodes are dated as happening later than episodes of the second production block, i.e. episodes in which the characters are clearly more familiar with each other.
Several of the early UFO episodes are excruciatingly slow. I struggle to see how anyone can accept those without accepting the slower episodes of Space: 1999, which at least still offer imaginative concepts and/or otherworldly depictions. I respect UFO and do in fact quite highly rate the last nine episodes that were filmed with the coming of David Tomblin into the production, Tomblin turbo-charging UFO with speed of story development, elaborate expansion of the powers of the aliens, and innovative camera work. But I still do not think that UFO had much "legs" to it beyond the twenty-six episodes of it that were made.
This is all that I have to say today, Sunday, November 27, 2016.
My work on my television listings project has reached a state of completion by which I am now prepared to present the Hyperlinks to it. Here they are.
My autobiographical Web pages now have all of the Hyperlinks to corresponding television listings Web pages for each life era.
Greatly expanded have been the television listings for the early 1970s and mid-1970s. Television listings for 1975-6, for example, are now spread across two bulky Web pages, having previously comprised only one large Web page. It is now possible to follow most of a salient portion of ATV's run of Spiderman, with episode titles made available (all from my memory, a substantial section thereof now recently jogged). I was also able to overlay the syndication order of The Pink Panther Show to the summer of 1976 to accord with certain memories, and I am happy to report that it fits the dates of the days of that summer like a perfectly fitting glove. This is to say, it fits those dates apart from one rather bothersome niggle. The Queen's historic motorcade in Douglastown. That motorcade cannot have been on the day that newspapers say that Her Royal Highness visited the Miramichi region (i.e. Friday, July 16, 1976, in advance of her attending the opening of the Summer Olympics in Montreal). July 16, 1976 would have been the day, by my reckoning, that my cat, Frosty, had her litter of kittens on the living room chair as I was watching the Pink Panther Show episode with "G.I. Pink", "Carte Blanched", and "Pinkadilly Circus". A rainy day, that was. And one on which a teenaged sitter was at our house for the morning and afternoon while both of my parents were at work. As I remember vividly, the day of the Queen's Douglastown motorcade was overcast but precipitation-free, my cat was fully mobile and not very pregnant or newly a mother, and my parents were both at home. Just about everyone in our village was not working and at home. I am fairly certain it was a Sunday. Maybe the Queen revisited the Miramichi region on her way back to England after the Olympics' opening ceremonies. This is the only explanation that I can furnish to account for ostensible inconsistencies in my recollection of July of 1976.
I now propose to leave aside television listings research and return to concentrating on Weblog entries and television show Web page expansions and image upgrades.
I recently contributed a brief comment to the Facebook Web page for The Bugs Bunny Video Guide. Specifically to a discussion about the possibility of Warner Brothers releasing a DVD of horror-themed Warner Brothers cartoons. Something like the LOONEY TUNES AFTER DARK laser videodisc. Actually, such a DVD could be released with only a couple of cartoons needing restoration, them being, of course, "Hyde and Go Tweet" and "Dr, Jerkyl's Hide". The remaining cartoons, "Hyde and Hare", "Transylvania 6-5000", "Water, Water Every Hare", "Claws For Alarm", "Scaredy Cat", "Jumpin' Jupiter", "The Wearing of the Grin", "The Abominable Snow Rabbit", "The Duxorcist", "The Night of the Living Duck", "Hair-Raising Hare", and the cartoons of Witch Hazel and of Marvin Martian, would all be ready for release in such a cartoon compilation. If it was to be a Blu-Ray with potential room for some further cartoons, "The Birth of a Notion", "The Prize Pest", and a few others might be included.
At this juncture, this is merely a thought experiment. Warner Brothers is unwavering in its refusal to return to DVD or Blu-Ray releases requiring even one or two newly-done restorations on cartoons. But a revisiting of LOONEY TUNES AFTER DARK would be fabulous from my own particular point of view. And all three of Friz Freleng's cartoons based on "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" would be a must for a comprehensive release of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies horror cartoon oeuvre. From where I am standing, anyway.
My DVD of the Doctor Who 1966 missing story, "The Power of the Daleks", newly animated in full this year, arrived in my mailbox more than a week ago. I am accustomed to limited and/or poor cartoon animation, having been an aficionado of Spiderman and Rocket Robin Hood for most of my life. But still I cannot help but wince at the the poorly rendered walking and other body movements of characters in this new presentation of a presumed-lost Doctor Who serial. The animation of the Daleks, however, is faultless and laudable to the highest degree. All things considered, the good, bad, and ugly, I can say that I have finally experienced "The Power of the Daleks", Patrick Troughton's debut story as the Doctor.
Once more into the breach, dear friends, as regards Space: 1999- Season Two. Of course. The smearing of every episode, every concept, every performance, every scene, every line of dialogue of the second season of Space: 1999 is just never going to abate, much less end. Once again, it is the denizens of the Roobarb Forum who are mounting the latest attacks.
And here those attacks are.
"I've already found an episode I had never seen before (or forgotten completely). 'One Moment of Humanity'. For me it's the type of series where the episodes are watchable only when you have no idea what's going to happen. Considering they had a number of highly-thought-of directors, the direction on the first few episodes of Series 2 seems pretty bad. The 'balletic' scene with Helena is painfully awful and goes on forever. Characters frequently react at not quite the right moment. And did no-one see the irony of Koenig's 'You're not stealing our atmosphere'... on the Moon! Considering Ms. Bain's reputed insecurity, I was astonished that she didn't insist that the 'You old hag' line directed at her be cut!"
"I seem to be talking to myself, but I'll persist with a question. In 'Journey to Where', when Freddy and Isla make their first appearance, they talk about 'indoctrinating the Alphans'... yet, despite expecting them to turn out bad, they aren't, and really are people from Earth and trying to get the Alphans home. Was this simply put in to make the viewers think they were up to no good? If so, it's a bit much, even for this show."
"I think the word, 'indoctrinating', was probably the wrong one and perhaps might have made Dr. Logan and company appear to have malice on their mind. To be honest, I never saw any malice in their actions and accepted them from the start as who they said they were. The Alphans of course didn't, and you get that cliched, 'Who won the World Series in 1996?' type of tosh which I think I've seen in war films and read in war stories (when they're weeding out spies in Allied forces, etc) and which I wouldn't mind betting was added by Fred Freiberger. Presumably any advanced civilisation could find out the answers to those questions if they wished to do the Alphans harm! There is plenty of awful dialogue in Series 2; the conversations between Koenig and his co-pilot in 'Catacombs of the Moon' spring to mind and I doubt they were scripted by Anthony Terpiloff."
"Series 2 is paste baubles compared to the silver and gold of Series 1."
"A reasonable comparison."
"The first series had a very unique sense of the awe and mystery of outer space, and in the main, focused on very human reactions to some very "out there" concepts. The second series, apart from about 3 or 4 episodes, is Monsters, Inc.."
I shall now proceed. I sigh and yawn as I typewrite.
I can see little objective evidence of bad direction in the early episodes of Season Two. Outside of, maybe, Catherine Schell turning aside and laughing during the scene of the Eagle landing in "All that Glisters"- and that was just a "take" that ought to have been redone. The "balletic" scene in "One Moment of Humanity" is lengthy but is quite competently acted by Barbara Bain and Leigh Lawson. Camera angles and cuts and timing of cuts of camera perspectives are effective. And the scene is intercut with views of Maya trying to disable the Vegan computer. It does not drag to a really intolerable degree. And it needs to be lengthy enough to show the build-up of psychological stress being caused in Koenig, who has to watch the seductive dance and suppress his jealous reactions. And Koenig does not say that atmosphere on the Moon is being stolen. He says that atmosphere inside Moonbase Alpha is being drained, as a result of general power loss on Moonbase Alpha being imposed by Vega. He is not referring to a stealing of atmosphere on the overall Moon. This attack is a misconstruing of dialogue that any reasonable viewer ought to interpret correctly.
As to the "You old hag" line of dialogue. It really is, "You decrepit hag." Once again, the critic fails to be factual. The words as delivered are clearly meant to be taunting by the androids to incite violence from Helena and Tony. They are not situated in the scene as being part of some purportedly objective or factual observation. And Barbara Bain is a professional. She accepted the dialogue in the way that it was intended and acted the scene convincingly as someone knowing that she is being taunted and doing level-best to not react in the manner being desired by the would-be provocateurs.
The criticism of "Journey to Where" is laughable. I feel inclined to counter it with a remark of, "Subtlety is lost on you, Pinky."
An apparent coding of Alpha's possible future Earth benefactors as being rather less than virtuous, I have always found to be fascinating. Yet, these legions of detractors regard everything in Season Two in a negative light and have maggot in their brains preventing any glimmer of an appreciative angle of interpretation of anything remotely subtle in performance, dialogue, etc.. At the very least, a fair-minded person ought to regard the early sense of possible malice as being a clever conceit, something to intrigue the viewer, to pull him or her into the episode. I would venture further to say that the Earth people are meant to be portrayed with some ambiguous or dual texture to their nature, the Jekyll-and-Hyde reference in Maya's transformation adding some further conflicted dimensionality to the overall episodic premise of return to Earth, it being something other than a thoroughly noble goal for our heroes to pursue. The Earthlings have destroyed their natal planet's ecosystem. That at the very least ought to paint a less than rosy picture of the world that Alpha is being propositioned to return-to, to repatriate-with, to embrace as something for which to risk life. Yes, for the Alpha-to-Earth transference of personnel to go ahead, Alphans do need to be "indoctrinated" to the future Earthlings' decidedly uncontrite, distinctly less than virtuous, quite scientifically arrogant (a la Dr. Jekyll) "Who needs nature?" way of thinking. That combined with the dismal news in and of itself that Earth's life-giving qualities as a biosphere have been sullied, ruined (ruined by human activity) in the decades since Alpha's break from Earth orbit. Far from being bad dialogue, I regard it as compellingly textured. And it is, in my estimation, perfectly delivered with cantankerous aloofness by Freddie Jones' Dr. Logan. I find Dr. Logan a fascinating character. Always have.
Oh, and it is World Series of 1998 that Koenig asks about, not World Series of 1996. Yet again, our esteemed critics fail to be factual. And why should Koenig not ask about such a thing when trying to ascertain whether the people messaging Moonbase Alpha are in fact Earthlings? Better an obscure fact such as that than something that aliens who have studied Earth history might know.
As to the "awful" conversations between Koenig and co-pilot in "Catacombs of the Moon", I do not recall there being much conversation. Good or bad. Just statements about the storm of fire for functional development of story at the right times in that story.
The other sorties are the usual exaggerated drivel. I propose to just leave them without response. It is not worth my time to address them at any length.
2016 nearly done. And the more things stay the same. On aesthetic matters, anyway. Politically, rather a much different story. The world is not out of danger yet. Not with the possibility of sore losers overturning the election and installing that warmonger into the Oval Office. It has been said that she would be a P.E.P.. A planet-ending-President. I find it difficult to disagree with that assessment. The world is in a scary phase now.
Sunday, December 11, 2016.
Word at The Bugs Bunny Video Guide's Facebook Web page is that Jerry Beck recently was a guest on a popular radio talk show. And that on that talk show with Mr. Beck, there was a thought experiment about what Warner Brothers might opt to do for merchandise tie-ins for a sequel to SpaceJam, with a tangent toward a possibility of new restorations for cartoons for DVD or Blu-Ray release. Leaving aside ruminations on why the world needs a SpaceJam 2, I propose to address the attitude of Mr. Beck toward unreleased-to-digital-videodisc Bugs Bunny cartoons.
I did not hear the radio talk show. So, I am admittedly proceeding from hearsay. But it is being said that Mr. Beck, "...had some fun mocking some of the Bugs cartoons left to go on our passed-around image (after all, how can one defend 'Pre-Hysterical Hare', anyway?), but he agreed that some of the unreleased ones- 'Racketeer Rabbit,' 'Hot Cross Bunny', etc.- would be worth fighting for should remastering resume."
Ah, yes. "Racketeer Rabbit". Pre-1948. "Hot Cross Bunny". Post-1948, but only just. No doubt all of the Bugs cartoons he had fun mocking were those of the 1950s.
I believe that I have lamented about Mr. Beck's biases before. Sure, the man is entitled to his opinion. But why must the consumer be dictated-to by one man's opinion on what constitutes good Bugs Bunny and what does not? I mean, this is the reason why very funny Bugs Bunnies like "No Parking Hare", "Half-Fare Hare", "Hare-Less Wolf", and "Piker's Peak" continue to be absent from the home video market. Because Jerry Beck would prefer to see every pre-1948 Bugs Bunny cartoon released for the umpteenth time, while shunning many past-1948 cartoons that he personally judges to be inferior. As for "Pre-Hysterical Hare", I will defend it. It made for apt correspondence with "Mad as a Mars Hare" and Jekyll-and-Hyde cartoons in same or adjacent episodes of television series. It introduced the creative idea of a Stone Age with some degree, some manifestation, of technological modernity in its contraptions and product, by way of the concept of a motion-picture film of prehistoric life. The Flintstones (1960-6) owed something of a debt to this 1958 Robert McKimson cartoon, I would assert. And I quite like the idea of a caveman Elmer Fudd hunting a prehistoric antecedent to Bugs Bunny (definitely a novel stretching of the tired old formula of hunter Fudd versus Bugs). "Pre-Hysterical Hare" is as deserving of a release onto a home video format as, say, "From Hare to Heir" or "The Iceman Ducketh".
Personally, I doubt that Warner Brothers will commission any new cartoon restorations to coincide with SpaceJam 2. New collections may be issued of already restored cartoons. Perhaps, just perhaps. further Blu-Ray releases of the restored cartoons may come. But it is all just a thought experiment at this juncture. Still, the mention of Mr. Beck mocking cartoons did raise my ire this morning. And I thought that I would address it.
Would it not be nice to see newly restored cartoons released? Absolutely, it would be nice. I think my readers know which ones I would personally like to see introduced to the marvel that is the digital videodisc. It would also be superb if Disney could release the 1967-70 Spiderman on Blu-Ray to coincide with the theatrical premiere of a movie focused on the latest iteration of the web-swinger. Are such breakthroughs likely to happen? My sceptical mind counsels a response of no. But who knows? Talk is that the election of Donald Trump is having a revivifying effect on the American economy that has been slumping since 2008. Maybe a corner has turned or is about to turn, and consumer confidence might be on the upswing- with studios willing to spend some money to release some vintage material for ageing Generation Xers.
I will believe it when I see it.
December 23, 2016.
Today, my all-too-usual rebuttal is of a review of the Space: 1999 Season Two Blu-Ray set at Amazon.co.uk.
"In Space: 1999- Season 2, everyone can hear you scream with frustration.
I remember watching this back in the '70s and I remember being a bit disappointed with the second series even then. Upon revisiting the second series after watching the Blu-Ray 1st series, It has all been reconfirmed.
There are some good points.
The video quality is bright and clear on a large HDTV. I can't imagine that a Blu-Ray transfer would bring much to the party. There are some decent episodes that are still worth watching and some great character actors of the period make a welcome appearance. The video special effects are still decent, although the sound effects leave an awful lot to be desired and quickly grate as the same effects are repeated ad-nauseum until you wince.
Some of the original cast survived, but others (e.g. Sandra) are beamed in and out of the episodes at random and without explanation. Barry Morse as Prof Bergman is sadly missed for his professional gravitas and cut off development of the relationship with Koenig. The terrible alien costume design was obviously done on a very tight budget. Some of the storylines are incongruous, where characters suddenly act out of character (especially Martin Landau) for no apparent reason and instead of acting like a commander would, go off the rails at the drop of a hat. You can tell that the actors aren't particularly comfortable with some of the direction.
I also personally preferred Season 1 music and the Main Mission setting.
This is worth buying for the nostalgia, but don't expect to be entertained and thrilled like you were in Season 1. A great missed opportunity."
And so, with the requisite sigh I begin.
"Everyone can hear you scream with frustration."
Oh, how clever! This is the only glimmer of any creativity in this product review. And where creativity goes, even this is, at best, perfunctory. Frustration, indeed. Only for people expecting a continuation of the Season 1 format and for people abjectly unwilling to stretch imagination and suspend disbelief. I am the really frustrated one, having to continue reading and responding to this rot (because no one else ever bothers to do so- or has the hardihood for doing so).
"I remember watching this back in the '70s and I remember being a bit disappointed with the second series even then. Upon revisiting the second series after watching the Blu-Ray first series, It has all been reconfirmed."
This is sheer subjectivity. I was not disappointed (not "a bit" or otherwise) with the second season. Nor were my friends who followed the CBC Space: 1999 broadcasts along with me. But then, we did not have preconceived notions of what we wanted the second season to be. We accepted it for the exciting, spectacular space action-adventure that it was touted as being. And this said, it is quite possible for someone who saw second season before first season, to be disappointed with the pacing and minimalist characterisations in Season One. This is a matter of perspective, and therefore subjective and not definitive as a brickbat. And as for a "reconfirming" of that initial reaction, such a repeat judgement is par for the course when a mind is closed.
"I can't imagine that a Blu-Ray transfer would bring much to the party."
Wilful ignorance. Of course the second season looks glorious on Blu-Ray. Anyone who watches the Blu-Rays will have to concede this, for it is a universally recognisable truth. I would have to conclude that the reviewer is only watching DVD and basing his assessment of the quality of visuals on that. And his lack of imagining on how much can be brought to "the party" where Blu-Ray is concerned, carries no weight.
"The video special effects are still decent, although the sound effects leave an awful lot to be desired and quickly grate as the same effects are repeated ad-nauseum until you wince."
No examples given by the reviewer. But accepting that some sound effects recur, what is wrong with a television series having a unique aural aesthetic established with some repetition across its number of episodes? My problem with so much of today's entertainment is how bog-standard, undistinctive, indistinguishable from everything else, that the works being offered so obviously are, both visually and aurally. I suppose that I should at least be grateful for the reviewer's oh-so-kind concession as to the quality of the special effects.
Besides, repetition of sound effects occurs in Season One also. So, why "pick on" the second season for this insufficiently argued demerit?
"Some of the original cast survived, but others (e.g. Sandra) are beamed in and out of the episodes at random and without explanation."
Sandra may have assignments that place her out of Command Centre limelight for awhile. Or she may simply be off-duty when the events of some episodes transpire. Such can be left to the viewer's imagination. Alpha is not just a few rooms. It is a large base, and there is much to be done by its operatives. This quibble can easily be applied to Alphans played by guest stars only appearing in one episode and why they are not visible in all the other episodes. And so can the explanation. They are elsewhere on the Moonbase doing something that keeps them out of the film camera's eye. Besides, characters like Sandra are secondary. It is Koenig and Russell and Bergman or Maya who are the primary characters, the ones that viewers are expected to care most about. And Carter and Verdeschi would be next in this particular pecking order. It is nice to see characters like Sandra doing their jobs in the Alphan background and occasionally (not in every episode) seeing a larger role in the action. Yes, it would have been preferable to have Sandra in Command Centre instead of Yasko, but I am "tuning in" to watch Koenig, Russell, Maya, Verdeschi, and Carter (when there is a place for Carter in an episode). I can live with Sandra being somewhere else on Alpha during the events of a particular episode. I am certainly not going to remove score points for an episode because of Sandra's absence.
"Barry Morse as Prof Bergman is sadly missed for his professional gravitas and cut off development of the relationship with Koenig."
Yes, yes, yes. I know. We all miss Professor Bergman. But Maya had her own dynamic personality and interesting associations with other characters. Things change as television shows progress. Characters come and go. Doctor Who is a testimonial to that. One of the best ones. Characters are missed, but new ones come along, and the viewer is expected to adjust to the change. Besides, Bergman's relationship with Koenig really did not extend beyond philosophical discussions. The depth of their friendship, its history, how far back they go together, and what shared experiences established and consolidated their friendship, never were depicted, nor even discussed. But as with the absences of characters in episodes of Season Two, the viewer is left to explore the possibilities in his or her own imagination.
"The terrible alien costume design was obviously done on a very tight budget."
Examples, please. Of course, there are none. Yes, there was a budget. Was it "very tight"? Tighter than the budget for Doctor Who? No, I do not think so. The alien costumes are part of Space: 1999's aesthetic, and they are at least serviceable. Yes, at least that. I presume that the reviewer is specifically referring to monster suits, which were also in use in Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Star Wars. The creatures are men in suits, and the viewer is expected to let imaginative licence compensate for any evident joins in the costumes.
"Some of the storylines are incongruous, where characters suddenly act out of character (especially Martin Landau) for no apparent reason and instead of acting like a commander would, go off the rails at the drop of a hat. You can tell that the actors aren't particularly comfortable with some of the direction."
No examples whatsoever. An argument with no examples ought not to be given serious consideration. I will give examples of Koenig acting not Commander-like in the first season. Refusing to listen to reason and evidence offered by Bergman and landing on planet Terra Nova in "Matter of Life and Death" with disastrous results. Is that incongruous for the cautious and considered Commander Koenig? How about deciding to abandon Alpha and stay with Vana on Zenno in "Missing Link"? Is that conduct of a responsible Commander? And how about Koenig in "Force of Life" leaving Helena alone in Medical Centre with the clearly mortally dangerous Anton Zoref, not posting a full Security detail inside Medical Centre with her to observe Zoref at all times? Is that in character for Koenig? And what about Koenig verbally tearing into Kano in front of Main Mission's personnel in a petulant display of temper in "The Last Sunset"? Or threatening to go into a tantrum and, "...tear this place apart" in "Mission of the Darians"; is this something that a responsible Commander would do?
I am aware of the often-cited case of Koenig stunning Cantar in Season Two's "The Exiles". I have already dealt with that. And quite effectively. What Koenig is doing is prudent and right, under the circumstances. With the risk that he is being asked to undertake. But keep repeating a falsehood over and over until it becomes "truth" thoughtlessly parroted by the multitudes. This definitely appears to be working for the Season Two detractors in such instance. But from where I am standing, everything Koenig does in Season Two has a certain logic to it in accordance with his character, if one intreprets correctly situation and context. Except perhaps his joyride in Eagle Ten in "The Bringers of Wonder", but his mind then is under alien control. I can say the same of the other characters. Once context is understood, incongruity does not exist.
"This is worth buying for the nostalgia, but don't expect to be entertained and thrilled like you were in Season 1. A great missed opportunity."
Oh, yes. "Breakaway", "Ring Around the Moon", "Earthbound", "Missing Link", "Guardian of Piri", "Voyager's Return", "The Full Circle", and "The Testament of Arkadia" are so much more thrilling than "The Metamorph", "Journey to Where", "The AB Chrysalis", "Seed of Destruction", "The Bringers of Wonder", "The Seance Spectre", "The Immunity Syndrome", and "The Dorcons". So much subjectivity. Yet, in terms of action- entertaining and thrilling action- which can be objectively metered, Season Two does have a distinctive "edge" over Season One. I fail to see how anyone can convincingly argue otherwise.
All for today, December 24, 2016.
As the beginning of 2017 approaches, I am aware of a certain fact. A first in my many years as a collector of imaginative entertainment on DVD and Blu-Ray. There is as yet nothing announced as coming to shiny digital media disc in 2017 that is of interest to me.
For the past several years, I have been determinedly, methodically upgrading my collection from DVD to Blu-Ray. In 2016, I replaced, from DVD to Blu-Ray, The Return of the Pink Panther, cartoon collections for the Inspector and the Ant and Aardvark, Scott of the Antarctic, Fahrenheit 451, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (the complete television series), Star Trek- The Animated Series, Nine to Five, The Shape of Things to Come, Time After Time, Moby Dick, UFO (the complete television series), The Quiet Earth, and The Incredible Hulk (the complete television series). A fairly decent year, though not the most remarkable. It has definitely been to my advantage to be multi-region in range of disc playability; had I not been so, the above list would have been substantially shorter. And I have to admit to being disappointed with several of these releases for lack of quality control resulting in audio-video synchronisation issues, deficient audio range, and poorly edited documentaries- and some of these faults in combination. I have been very disappointed in the intransigent response of companies to the problems that are noticed and complained-about by eagle-eyed (or eagle-eared?) consumers, and in the lackadaisical attitude of the majority of buyers of the media to the "flagged" problems. There is no hope of these problems being corrected, and one just has to accept them as a "trade-off" for the improved video quality of high-definition Blu-Ray.
And there is nothing "in the pipeline" for 2017 known to me at this juncture. Yet, I look at my shelves and see many an excellent possible property for release on Blu-Ray. Or in some cases, "franchise", to use the parlance of current times. The Planet of the Apes television series of 1974 and Spiderman (1967-70) are parts of "franchises" with outstanding present-day commercial power, movie series for both Apes and Spider-Man being in vogue, with new productions anticipated, to some considerable degree of enthusiasm, by the public. Blu-Ray releases for both television shows to "tie in" with the new movies would seem to be a realistic idea. They would have been thus a decade ago, certainly. They could be so again, if marketed correctly.
In addition to Planet of the Apes and Spiderman, I would very much like to see the following.
1) The definitive Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Blu-Ray from Warner Brothers. With both the 1932 and 1941 movies and with "Hyde and Hare", "Hyde and Go Tweet", and "Dr. Jerkyl's Hide" as value-added content. The budget for restorations of the latter two cartoons could come from the commissioning of a Blu-Ray for the two movies. And all could comfortably fit on one disc, together with bonus features "ported over" from the DVD of the two movies (i.e. Greg Mank commentary on the 1932 movie, trailer for the 1941 movie). 2017 is the eighty-fifth anniversary of the theatrical release of the 1932 Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde movie, if Warner Brothers does requires some time milestone to use as a "selling point".
2) The Pink Panther Feature Film and Cartoons Box Set. MGM has had this in the planning stages for years, but never with any real movement toward an actual release. Apart from denying Kino Lorber the rights to release the Pink Panther cartoons with the other DePatie-Freleng cartoon shorts (on some basis of wanting, ostensibly, to do something on its own with the material at some indeterminate future time), MGM has not given indication that a Blu-Ray release of the cartoons and the movies is even a possibility, much less something imminent. But the Pink Panther cartoons have, I believe, been already remastered in high-definition video, as have the other DePatie-Freleng cartoons. And value-added content already exists from the DVD release. So, really, all that needs to be done is to author Blu-Rays and issue the manufacturing order. At least two of the movies are already mastered in high-definition video. It should not be very much of a risky financial "dip" to commission work on remastering the remaining three (I am of course referring only to the movies made before Peter Sellers' death).
3) The Black Hole (1979). Just about every space science fiction-fantasy opus of my youth is on Blu-Ray, except for Walt Disney Productions' The Black Hole. A high definition video transfer of the movie is known to exist. And value added content can be sourced from the DVD. This is another instance of just needing to commission the authoring and pressing of the Blu-Ray. I could live with seeing the wires on the robots, but if Buena Vista Home Entertainment could effect digital wire removal for the robots, I certainly would not object to that work being undertaken.
4) Releases by Fabulous Films of The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man. At least The Bionic Woman, whose digital video transfers for DVD already boast stunning colour and clarity. And mastered with corrections for all of the problematical audio that marred the initial DVD release in North America. The film elements for The Six Million Dollar Man are not in as good a condition as those of The Bionic Woman, but perhaps some work can be done to improve upon what is currently available.
5) The New Avengers. All DVD releases of the 1976-7 television show are very sub-par even for DVD. As all filmed episodes of the original Avengers are on Blu-Ray, this would be a natural extension of what is already available in high-definition video, and serve as a vehicle for some tribute to Patrick Macnee, who died last year.
6) The Bad News Bears Set. All three original movies (the Billy Bob Thornton remake is unnecessary). Why not? There is a following for these movies. The first one, at least.
And I could continue, with stated desires to see all of the Peanuts television specials released in a Blu-Ray box set. And a Return of the Saint set from Network Distributing. And perhaps releases of Oh, God!, Heaven Can Wait, and The Out-of-Towners. And why not a Twilight Time release of The Martian Chronicles television miniseries?
Who knows? Some of these might be somewhere down the line for the coming year. I can see a Fabulous Films Blu-Ray set of The Bionic Woman to be quite likely as a 2017 possibility. That one I might be willing to bet some money on coming in the next twelve months. Most- if not all- of the others, though I may present quite a convincing case for them, are anything but a sure or even possible thing. But if this Weblog can spark some discussion of them as potential Blu-Ray releases, that would be a start.
But, then, who is reading my Weblog these days? Almost no one, if my Web page traffic statistics are accurate.
December 28, 2016.
It is Friday, December 29, 2016.
Last evening, I completed my viewing of the episodes of UFO on the recently released Blu-Ray box set of same, by watching "A Question of Priorities", an episode of UFO's first production block, and an episode lauded without any documented exception by Gerry Anderson aficionados and UFO fans, as one of the greatest works- if not the greatest work- of television produced by Gerry Anderson and company. The people who declare Space: 1999 incontrovertibly inferior to UFO and second season of Space: 1999 and Fred Freiberger to be horse's excrement and pundits of Space: 1999- Year Two to be juvenile-minded if not abjectly delusional and unworthy of any serious consideration, tout "A Question of Priorities" to be a sterling example of intelligent, adult science fiction by the master, Gerry Anderson.
I have to admit that I never quite "warmed" to it. And to this, some people would say that, really, I am not supposed to experience a "warming", because "A Question of Priorities" is downbeat and tragic and therefore meant to leave a viewer reeling with dismay at what a "downer" it is. It is intended to qualify Ed Straker's personal "baggage" and implement a characterisation of him as a "scarred" man whose vulnerable humanity has been dealt a major hit. There can be no doubt that Straker's loss of his only son ought to, and has, left emotional wounds, and that such loss, such wounds, can, and do, add depth to his character. But the episode as presented is unsatisfying, not just as engaging science fiction but as the family drama that it tries to be.
Abe Mandell of ITC's New York office famously hated the episode and, according to Gerry Anderson, used it as the basis for his edict that no episodes of Space: 1999 be set on Earth or be oriented around marital or family matters. Anderson always contended that Mandell was wrong, that "A Question of Priorities" was UFO's best achievement, indeed the best achievement of the entire Gerry Anderson oeuvre. Mandell was always Anderson's scapegoat of choice for blaming alleged artistic deficiencies and disappointingly abortive (supposedly) television series runs. And Anderson maintained that if Mandell had not interfered, his live-action television productions such as UFO and Space: 1999 would have been longer-lived.
But I am inclined to agree with Abe Mandell. If I want to watch family drama, I will watch The Waltons, or- I shudder to say it- Little House On the Prairie. Yes, it is right for characters to have backstory- but not at the expense of effectively-paced episodic action for the central premise of an opus like UFO or Space: 1999.
And in my considered opinion, "A Question of Priorities" stumbles as family drama. Follow.
Straker returns his son to his ex-wife and her husband after a fun father-and-son day at the Harlington-Straker movie studios. Straker's son, Johnny, asks his father to wait for him to come back outside from the house of his mother and stepfather, and Straker does so, standing outside his parked car and enduring a strained meeting with his ex-wife as they discuss visitation rights. Considering that Johnny is eager to show something, a model boat, to his father, he spends what seems an inordinate amount of time in the house before coming back outside (I suppose that maybe he had to answer the call of his bladder). Straker is already driving his car away, having been told to leave by his ex-wife, Mary, and is departing the driveway, when Johnny from an upstairs window sees him going. Johnny comes running out of the house, trying to "catch up" to his father's car. Mary does not say a word to her running son. She does not call Johnny back to the house and instruct him to wait until his father's next visit, as she so clearly told to Straker that he must wait for, to see whatever Johnny wanted to show to him. She does not run after Johnny. She does not even caution Johnny to be careful as he is running toward the road. She does not look up the road, see a car approaching, and shout, "Look out!" to her boy. She just walks from top of the driveway to her house's front door without a word. What kind of mother is this?
A car hits Johnny, and then Mary comes running. Suitably frantic. Straker stops his car, now some distance up the road, and runs to his son. And Mary is bawling, "Ed! Do something!" to Straker, as our hero looks confounded and flustered. Cue the UFO title and a fade-out.
I would add that the directing of the accident scene is odd. The viewer sees Straker exit his car and run to his son, but from a far-wide camera shot from his back. Not what one would expect to see, i.e. a view of Straker from his front approaching his car-stricken son, with a close-up or two on his panic-stricken face. The way that Straker runs is strange, too. Who runs like that? Especially in an emergency situation.
What follows is a storyline involving an urgent need for a new, experimental drug that could save Johnny's life. Straker arranges to procure the drug from an American laboratory and fly it to England on a supersonic S.H.A.D.O. aircraft. Apparently, time is of the essence. Mary accepts Straker's word that the transporting of the drug in swiftest possible dispatch, is guaranteed. But from here the story becomes muddled. Straker does not confide in his friend, Alec Freeman, about the crisis. These two men are long-time friends. Freeman was best man at Straker's wedding. Why does Straker not talk to Freeman about the accident? Why does he not tell Freeman that he has ordered the vitally needed drug to be sent to England? Is he afraid that Freeman would not understand? Why would Freeman not understand? He is an old friend, and a human being. The episode, as contrived, relies on lapses in believable characterisation to propel its story structure. And so, Freeman, not knowing why Straker has ordered the fastest possible departure of a S.H.A.D.O. aircraft from the U.S. and just assuming that Straker was somehow psychic (what?) in having ordered the aircraft's departure, diverts it to respond to a recently confirmed alien presence in western Ireland. He does not "clear" this with Straker; he just does it. And Straker, on learning of Freeman's order, is strangely calm about it and resigned to it.
But why need to divert the U.S.-to-England aircraft flight at all? With supersonic air travel, a S.H.A.D.O. aircraft, with requisite mobiles and so forth, could have been sent from S.H.A.D.O. Headquarters, London, to western Ireland in almost no time at all, to confront the alien quantity at work there. And it was presumptuous, to say the least, of Freeman to interfere with Straker's ordered aircraft flight from the U.S.. And again, why did not Straker simply tell his friend what the aircraft from the U.S. was carrying and why it was so important?
And then when Straker learns what Freeman has done, he sheepishly declares it to have been a question of priorities. No. A S.H.A.D.O. aircraft from London to western Ireland fully loaded with investigative teams and equipment ought to have been already ordered; it ought to have been ordered readied for dispatch at the moment that the UFO's trajectory toward western Ireland was definitively calculated. Even if the UFO was subsequently believed to have crashed into the sea some hundred yards off of the Irish coast, a full investigative team ought to have seen assembled and sent with all of the requisite hardware, for the aliens could be scheming something that S.H.A.D.O. does not yet know about. Better to be safe than sorry. But no. Freeman waited and then acted on an assumption that Straker had been psychic (what?) and had ordered a rush dispatch of an aircraft from the U.S. (instead of an aircraft flight from London, far closer to Ireland than is the U.S.) with regard to the UFO incident. Straker was uncharacteristically reticent to talk to his old friend Freeman about the crisis with his son, and Freeman was negligent first in not dispatching an aircraft with mobiles, etc. from London to Ireland and next in not "clearing" with Straker the diversion order for the aircraft from the U.S..
The drug does not arrive on time, and Johnny dies. Mary verbally assails Straker, saying that she never wants to see him again. And Straker just stands there like a prize pushover. The accident was her fault. Not his. She told him to leave before Johnny could show the model boat to him. She then let Johnny run out to the road without a word of disapproval or caution. Straker should have been angry at her, and he should be giving a piece of his mind to her when she is heaping the blame onto him for the death of his only son. Not that some of the blame should not be his. He could have confided in Freeman about Johnny's condition and on why the U.S.-to-England aircraft with the drug aboard was necessary and urgent. Of course, Mary would not have known about any of that.
What sort of hospital was Johnny admitted-to? It seems remarkably quiet. Non-busy. A country hospital, apparently. Would not a child in critical condition be better served in a metropolitan hospital with access to all of the most up-to-date drugs and laboratories? Why not transfer him to one? All right. Maybe this quibble is something of a stretch.
But, then, the drug being requisitioned is said to be in experimental stage of development. It is not in general use as yet. There is no guarantee that it would have saved Johnny's life. The boy could still have died. Mary's single-minded heaping of blame onto Straker for the delayed delivery of the drug as being cause of Johnny's death, seems all the more unfair, and Straker's chumpish silence in the face of the blame-piling looks to be detrimental to his characterisation as a strong, "bloody-minded", and aptly considered personality.
It is, in my estimation, quite a mess of a story. And the UFO incident is ancillary to, secondary to, the family drama- and not really very satisfying in and of itself. It is a dull UFO incident, where UFO incidents go. The alien machinations involve a transmitter device. Yawn. Yawn also for the scenes of the alien from the UFO establishing the device in a blind old lady's house. Also, I am not sure why the alien from the UFO allows the Mary Merrill blind old lady character to live. Her questioning of the alien enables S.H.A.D.O. to pinpoint the alien's location. As to how the UFO reached Ireland without interception by S.H.A.D.O., it is said to be moving too fast to be intercepted, but it does not appear to be travelling very fast as it is shown approaching Earth. And as I have said, S.H.A.D.O.'s response to the UFO's planet-fall is not what one would logically expect. All of this told, I would suppose that the viewer is expected to be so concerned about the fate of Straker's hitherto unseen son, as to not ask questions about the UFO incident, i.e. what this television series really is supposed to be about. And this UFO incident is one that develops in rather a languid and un-engaging manner, as a plodding "sub-plot" to a family drama. A family drama that staggers and wheezes. Family drama evidently being something that the writers and producers are not practiced in doing effectively. I understand Abe Mandell's objections with the episode, and Space: 1999 benefitted from his edict to avoid Earth and domestic entanglements thereon.
Anderson fans revere "A Question of Priorities". And they assail Space: 1999 and Season Two thereof. What I hope to have done in this Weblog entry is to at least instill some doubt in a layman's mind as to the orthodoxy of the usual refrains of the leading fans of UFO and the Anderson oeuvre. Or to at the very least explain why I find the much-acclaimed episode to be unsatisfying. How many of my grumbles can be dismissed with "economy of detail"? Few of them, if any, I should think. Mary just letting her son run onto the road without caution and Straker declining to confide in his old friend are critical lapses of characterisation to enable a contrived drama to proceed to a tragic conclusion, and they are key details to story structure, details whose explanations cannot be satisfactorily economised, in my view.
January 1, 2017.
New Year's Day. A usually unremarkable day in the McCorry household of yesteryear. I do remember one New Year's Day in my Douglastown years (1972-7) whereupon I had an argument with my parents while we were watching The Tournament of Roses on our living room television. What the argument was about, I do not recall. But I walked out of the house and up the main Douglastown road, passing the houses of the Matchetts, Bransfields, Kirkpatricks, Savages, and Mrs. Sullivan, before the cold, snow-drift-causing winds that overcast, snowy day sent me retreating back into our house. I am thinking that day to have been New Year's Day, 1975. Or maybe New Year's Day, 1974.
I cannot believe that it is 2017. Where is the time going?
I propose to follow my criticism of the UFO episode, "A Question of Priorities", in my last Weblog entry with a general assessment of UFO. It does irk me to all too often see UFO touted as being superior to Space: 1999. By all of the objective measures that I do apply, it comes a distant second to Space: 1999 with regard to Gerry Anderson's television series work. And over all of Gerry Anderson's productions, I would put UFO in fourth place in esteem, after Space: 1999, The Day After Tomorrow- "Into Infinity", and Journey to the Far Side of the Sun. All of those have a far more palpable sense of wonder to them. Stretching of imagination. Odyssey of discovery. UFO may be said to be rather akin to an espionage opus, with aliens replacing enemy agents of an Earthly foreign power, as the antagonists. Its fixation on secrecy and absolute security fits with such. Whereas Space: 1999 is, like Star Trek, a pioneering, branching-out-into-new territory, scientific-discovery, and intellectual-expansion premise, of far, far, far greater scope than the Earth and the space region of Earth's orbiting satellite. Every Space: 1999 episode has a different planet or different alien(s) or different spaceship(s) to be encountered. Every UFO episode has the same planet (Earth) or the same aliens or the same spaceships. The range of imagination and artistic expression in UFO is limited. I do not see how anyone can deny this. The visual effects in UFO are impressive, but they are not imaginatively stretched. Just UFOs moving about around the Moon, in Earth's atmosphere, or over Earth surface, and being destroyed in explosions over the dust of the Moon or the land and seas of Earth. The Moon base in UFO is basic, frugal, a "dullsville" shell of a place compared to Moonbase Alpha. And S.H.A.D.O. interceptors, though of an appealing design, are not in the same league as the Space: 1999 Eagle.
In Space: 1999, there is much effort to simulate the effect of Lunar gravity pull on people perambulating on the Moon. In UFO, little- if any- such effort.
Ed Bishop and Michael Billington deliver quality acting performances. Virtually without any exception, I would say. But they are not compelling on-screen presences, for audiences of many nations. They are not of the same pedigree as the internationally renowned Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, and Barry Morse.
I appreciate UFO for what it is. For what it endeavours to be, and mostly succeeds in being. The nine episodes of the second production block are all dynamic and extend the premise of UFO to most audacious extents. Such is due mostly, I think, to the contributions of David Tomblin. Are those nine episodes perfect? No. Some of them are exceedingly weird, playing with the capabilities of the aliens to the utmost fantastic degree, to the detriment of their own logic or the logic of the television series as a whole. But I give them an enthusiastic passing grade (and then some) for their boldness. The preceding seventeen episodes are hit-and-miss, I opine. Sometimes failing as effective, engaging television entertainment in the usual accepted story-development formula. Sometimes frustratingly staid in presenting the concept of UFO. Some are downright mundane, not involving alien activity at all. Not many of those first seventeen episodes require much imaginative engagement by the viewer, outside of accepting the technology of S.H.A.D.O.. Of those seventeen episodes, I like the ones that do apply some imagination to UFO's premise and that attempt some salient delineating of the otherworldliness of the aliens and what unusual or even supernatural things that they are capable of doing. I like "E.S.P." and "Kill Straker!". "Sub-Smash" would be a run-of-the-mill submarine-in-trouble story, if not for the alien attack that precipitated the crisis for the submarine. I find it to be good for what it is. "Identified" and "Exposed" can be said to be quite effective as establishing episodes for the television series, though "Identified" does lack excitement after its pre-episode-title scenes, for it can be leaden in its earnestness to "set the scene". "The Square Triangle" has an interesting idea, but it is awfully slow in its story development. Quality guest stars do help to maintain viewer interest in some of the mundane episodes. But a number of those initial seventeen episodes can be something of a "slog", and there can be no denying that the final nine do finally bring the energy to UFO that was lacking in it from the beginning. However, I am not of the opinion that there was enough potential material in the UFO concept to carry it through a second season. I think that by the last episode of the twenty-six episodes produced the proverbial well had been nearly run dry. A few more episodes may have been possible, but not another twenty-six. The UFO fans who curse Space: 1999 for divesting them of another season of Straker and company are, in my opinion, barking up a wrong tree.
All for now on this New Year's Day. Let us hope that our world will survive 2017. I worry very much about the sabre-rattling of the current U.S. administration. It was repudiated. It lost the election. It ought to accept that verdict and allow for a smooth transition to the new leadership.
I left my assessment of UFO unfinished. I did not provide examples for some of my comments.
When I said that playing with the capabilities of the aliens to the utmost fantastic degree was to the detriment of episodes' own logic or the logic of the television series as a whole, I was referring to the ability of the aliens in "Timelash", UFO's penultimate episode, to put S.H.A.D.O. Headquarters into a time bubble and "freeze" all personnel therein; if the aliens can do this, why did they not use the process to immobilise S.H.A.D.O. Headquarters during previous attempts to destroy S.H.A.D.O.? "Timelash" is evidently chronologically near the end of the television series because Foster calls Straker by his first name, Ed, which he did not start doing until quite some of the way into the second block of episodes, i.e. the final nine episodes. If the aliens can put S.H.A.D.O. into a "holding pattern" through a time "freeze", why did they not use the same process to prevent S.H.A.D.O. from stopping them in their machinations of previous episodes? And as regards internal-episodic logic, how would "freezing" S.H.A.D.O. Headquarters prevent S.H.A.D.O. Moon Base and Skydivers from acting to investigate once communications with S.H.A.D.O. Headquarters have been interrupted? The time "freeze" would have to extend over the Moon and the oceans of Earth. It is possible for this to be done, I suppose, but it would require much coordination and knowledge of where Skydivers are at on Earth at any given time.
Further, it is established from the earliest episodes that the aliens want the human population of Earth to use for body part transplants when needed, and yet, in "Destruction", one of the nine episodes of the second production block, the aliens are trying to release a nerve gas that would eradicate all life on Earth, thereby ending the routine, constant supply of body parts that the aliens are portrayed as wanting. And this also contradicts what John Croxley says, as regards the aliens' less than apocalyptic intentions, when he is in telepathic contact with the aliens in the episode, "E.S.P".
And "The Long Sleep", UFO's last episode and an episode wherein Straker and Foster's friendship is clearly in its most advanced stage, is dated as happening in 1980, ten years after an earthquake in Turkey in 1970. Yet, "Survival", an early UFO episode in which Straker and Foster only speak to each other with use of rank or with use of surname (they are not on a first-name basis- even when together in private), is dated as transpiring in 1981. Does not compute, does it? And for "The Long Sleep" to be happening in 1980 would mean that, even without the discrepant date in "Survival", most- if not all- of the twenty-six episodes would have to happen in 1980. And a vast majority of the episodes transpire in the summer months. Something of a stretch of credulity, this.
But with "The Long Sleep", there are also story-internal lapses in logic or credulity-sustainability. The aliens plant a bomb in an abandoned English farmhouse in 1970 but only have one unit of a mechanism for detonating the bomb. After a young woman, Catherine Fraser, steals the mechanism, the aliens are without a replacement for it (all right; maybe there is an element in it that is exceedingly rare; I can accept this as a possibility, though it is not mentioned in the episode's dialogue) and just leave the bomb in the farmhouse, where it could be discovered by someone and reported to the authorities, thereby making the presence of alien activity on Earth this much more known, meaning a potential heightened degree of human resistance to the aliens' intentions. Not very smart of the aliens. And the viewer is expected to believe that the bomb stays undetected in the farmhouse for ten years (i.e. that nobody went inside the farmhouse and found the strange device therein), or that if someone did find the weird object ensconced in the farmhouse, he or she did not report it. This is unlikely, though I concede not impossible. But to compound one's sense of inter-story unlikelihood, Catherine throws the mechanism that she stole into a houseboat. After being in a ten-year coma, she tells to Straker where she threw the mechanism- and the houseboat is in the exact same place after ten years (really!), and the owner of the houseboat either did not find the mechanism in all of those ten years, or did find it but did not report it (he finds in his houseboat a bizarre cylinder that could be truly dangerous and just keeps quiet about this for ten years). The aliens hatch a wild scheme (wild even by the standards of UFO's "final nine") involving the resuscitation of Catherine's dead male companion using "years" somehow removed from her and keeping him in proximity to her for a decade. Why go to all of this trouble? Why not just remove the bomb from the farmhouse and devise another plan for achieving the same end? Whatever that end might be. I struggle to see how blasting Britain in half is so very integral to the aim of the aliens of continuing to surreptitiously harvest human organs. I mean, integral enough to go to the lengths that they do to regain a mechanism that they are unable, with all their sophisticated technology, to locate. S.H.A.D.O. was not in existence in 1970 when the aliens were planting the bomb; so, destroying S.H.A.D.O. cannot have been their aim. Not their original one in 1970, anyway. The mind boggles at just the contemplation of storyline developments of "The Long Sleep". An episode I actually quite like. It has likable characters and a fascinatingly inventive concept, even if the story as it develops has a viewer perplexedly scratching his or her head. Straker calls Catherine Fraser Miss Ross in one scene. That was her name in the initial draught of the episode's script.
But here are examples that I am providing to "back up" a statement in my previous Weblog entry, examples being something I said sometime earlier to be important- as of course they are.
I also called some episodes mundane, in that they have in them no alien involvement at all. Or perhaps I should say none that manifests itself directly, as an immediate, inter-episodic antagonistic quantity, in the story. "Court-Martial", "The Responsibility Seat", and "Confetti Check A-O.K." would be examples of this.
And for examples of episodes that do not have action and/or suspense build to a climax near end of Act 4 as per standard hour-long television episode convention, these would be "Identified" (the opening episode) and "The Square Triangle". What climax action there is in the latter happens quite some time before the finish of the episode's Act 4. With Liz Newton firing a gun at and killing an alien that she mistakenly thought was her husband arriving at home (she and her lover, Cass Fowler, had planned to murder her husband and make the killing appear un-premeditated and accidental) and S.H.A.D.O. operatives walking into the Newton house. The post-climactic denouement of the episode is protracted, starting after the alien is killed in the Newton house and extending through the scenes of Liz Newton and Cass Fowler being brought to S.H.A.D.O. Headquarters, introduced to Straker, and given amnesia-inducing drugs to make them forget, and Foster subsequently explaining his suspicions about Newton and her lover to Straker.
Why does Straker even bother to bring Newton and Fowler to S.H.A.D.O. Headquarters? Why not just administer the amnesia-inducing drug to them when they are in S.H.A.D.O. custody outside the Newton home?
Said today by one of the persons in the Space: 1999- "Year 2" Facebook group. Yes, even the Facebook group for "Year Two" cannot bring itself to sustain a non-hostile line of discussion.
"If Series 2 had our Series 1 characters, it would still be on the air!"
Um. No. I say that quickly with a clipped tone of voice and a brief, rapid shaking of the head. Like how the Doctor says no to Rose Tyler's mother, Jackie, in the first episode of post-2005 Doctor Who after Jackie makes an innuendo-steeped comment to him. That kind of no. No, it would not be still on the air. On the air for forty years?!? What do these people smoke? It would not even be on the air in 1976-7, for that matter. Lew Grade would not have commissioned its production. Lew Grade commissioned production of Season Two based on the proposed changes put forth by Freiberger and Anderson. Changes that did not involve "our Series 1 characters". And besides, Space: 1999- in whatever form- would not have lasted any longer than the remainder of the time frame in which Grade was committed to producing television programming; he pivoted away from that, circa 1978.
I turn 51 tomorrow. Fifty-one years of living on this Earth with people I just cannot fathom. Irrational people who are against me and my way of seeing the world and its works. Against me at every step. I am tired. So very tired.
Now, one might ask why I bother to fight the bandwagon, if doing so tires me so much. I guess that I need to do it to convince myself that as much is being done as possible to counter the contrary tide. In my most recent efforts, I have been trying to debunk the assertion that UFO is superior to Space: 1999 (and Space: 1999- Season Two, especially) on the basis that it is more imaginative or more "air-tight" in its writing. No, I say. And I have provided detailed explanations and cogent examples to "back up" my claim. Whether or not "economy of detail" can be invoked for some of the items of contention, the bottom line is that Gerry Anderson's two live-action science fiction-fantasy television series of the 1970s are not free of rather loosely-story-"plotted" episodes with questionable story elements therein. To use one television series as a brickbat against the other on the basis of unquestionable versus questionable script-writing is a fallacious tactic and as such unfair. As I have said before, everything has "plot holes", even the monumental masterwork, The Empire Strikes Back. "Economy of detail" may be used to mitigate or to overturn angles of attack, but at the end of the day it is how imaginative, how stimulating of one's imagination, that something is, that matters most to me. And how artistically expressive is that imagination in what it being authored and depicted. How nuanced. How aesthetically correspondent the episodes. These are my "measuring units" for determining the beauty of a concept, a visualisation, an entry in a television or movie series, series of cartoons, etc., or overall body of work. I rail against the dismissing of these for alleged demerits in effective "plotting", particularly where the same standards are not applied elsewhere, but ultimately it is my love for an oeuvre and its assembled notions and vivid and suggestive depictions, that is paramount in importance to me. And it is precisely this that spurs me on, to continue fighting the tide. Does not stop me, however, from lamenting that tide's relentless resilience, and the bandwagon's seemingly incessantly reiterated boarding call.
January 4, 2017.
January 6, 2017.
News is now out to the Internet that Shout! Factory will be releasing a Blu-Ray set of the Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau movies, from The Pink Panther through to Trail of the Pink Panther, on April 11. It is great news, to be sure. I doubt that I will replace my Blu-Rays of The Pink Panther and The Return of the Pink Panther unless there is a major improvement in picture quality. The original MGM Blu-Ray of The Pink Panther had bonus features that have not been announced as being included on the Shout! Factory Blu-Ray of the same movie. I will be discarding Trail of the Pink Panther as I have never liked it. It was an Ed Wood-esque ploy to produce a movie out of assembled cutting-room-floor outtakes after a leading actor's death, and the story cobbled together is unsatisfying (it flat-lines completely after the outtakes are all used and makes little sense where the outtakes are being strung together) and contradicts continuity over the preceding films (Simone (Capucine) could not have been married to Sir Charles Lytton from the mid-1960s to 1981, unless Sir Charles accepts being a bigamist in order to be also married to Claudine (Catherine Schell) in The Return of the Pink Panther).
And what of the Pink Panther cartoons? What is to become of those? Might Kino-Lorber be given the rights to release them? Or Twilight Time? Or Shout! Factory? MGM finally relented to "licence out" the movies. Why not also the cartoons?
What I will probably do is just add the Blu-Rays of A Shot in the Dark, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, and Revenge of the Pink Panther to my collection and donate the balance of the Shout! Factory Blu-Ray set to charity.
January 13, 2017.
2017 is quite a milestone of a year for me. First, it marks the passing of forty years since I moved from Douglaatown to Fredericton. And second, it comprises twenty years of my presence on the Internet. Twenty years since I first did a computer mouse click to access a Web page.
I propose to defer for awhile my ruminations on the forty-year anniversary of my Fredericton habitation and to address in this Weblog entry the twenty-year age of my being on the Internet. This Website is also forty years-old this year. That particular anniversary will not be precisely timed until mid-summer.
I was not dragged kicking and screaming onto the World Wide Web, but still I was not an eager beaver. I did not understand what all of the ballyhoo was about as the Internet was being touted as a technological revolution far more important than the telephone. It looked to me to be just another place to find information. Besides, I was very much into the collecting of television, movies, cartoons (then still with the horror that was VHS videocassette) and was determined to spend what monies I had on such. My old, clunky MS-DOS computer (which I had used for mere typewriting) had gone non-operational, and I was in no hurry to replace it.
My mother gave to me the forceful push when she bought for me a new computer that had Internet connectability (a "dial-up" connection, it was). I had not a clue what Windows 95 was, much less how it operated. So, my mother hired a college student to give to me some instruction. And as things transpired, I did not need much of that. I learned quickly how to operate Windows, and in no time I was "surfing the Internet" for Websites dedicated to some of my favourite subjects. It probably is not difficult to guess what many of those were.
That was the days of "dial-up" (i.e. no home telephone service for the duration that I had access to the Internet), slow Web page loading, and the days, the years before "social media". Dedicated Websites, "chat rooms", "mailing lists", and "message boards" were the "in-things" at the time. I remember in those early days coming across the Internet Movie Database, and I toiled away there at uploading entries and information for many a favourite production.
Back then, I was exceedingly idealistic. I was reaching out to people all over the Internet, seeking to share insights on the television programmes and such of my fancy. In the spring months of 1997, I discovered what was then the most comprehensive Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Website that I had yet seen, and started an e-mail conversation with its owner, Jon Cooke. He had put together an episode guide for the then-airing Bugs N' Daffy Show, and I offered to supplement it with episode guides for all of the television vehicles for the cartoons going back to my childhood, to share my detailed recollections and impressions with the world. It was like having books published without having to find a company willing to publish them. And so came such things as Web pages for The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show and The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. And then Web pages for virtually everything from the 1960s' Bugs Bunny Show to the then-present.
Next, buoyed by the excitement of actually having people reading my writing and responding positively (imagine that!) to it, after having struggled to find any receptive response in fan clubs or an enduring enthusiasm among my associates of my Fredericton neighbourhood, I kept on writing. Web pages on Space: 1999, Spiderman, and many other old favourites just gushed out of my typewriting fingers. I had to have a main Web page for everything to be available together in one Internet location, and from there I had made my own Website. By the second half of summer of 1997, it was there on the Internet, at Geocities' Hollywood Boulevard designation. Address 2196. Someone suggested I do a Rocket Robin Hood Page, I liked that idea, and I did precisely that. I received a request for a Littlest Hobo Web page. The idea for that appealed to me, episodes of The Littlest Hobo were airing each weekday, and I started work on the project, not as yet realising how much work it would be. 114 episodes, I would discover. But it was fun putting the episode guide together over a five-month time period, and writing all of the text before and after it.
My biggest achievements, from my perspective, were long-sought (by me, at least) elaborations on just what I saw in the works of imagination that had "grabbed" me so very greatly and had fascinated me for almost my entire life. These were works of analysis and interpretation. They became my most controversial work- and frustratingly the least read. Certainly the least appreciated. And almost on cue contrary opinions became legion on the discussion forums. And not just on my interpretations but on my general love for the material. A rot started setting in as regards my initiative and joie-de-vivre as an Internet contributor. I "fell out" with many people in the decade or so that followed, as "snarkiness" and disrespect had become de rigeur toward anything of any vintage. The word, cheesy, was flung about all over the World Wide Web. If something was made with old methods, that was enough for denouncing it as cheesy. This plus the general mood of negativity and the reveling in discussing of feuds between people (e.g. Chuck Jones and his fellow mainstay Warner Brothers cartoon directors and Bob Clampett), a forum's outspoken persons usually flocking to side in a bandwagon against the person or work or body of work being most denigrated, invariably that which I had written about so adoringly.
My morale did a nose-dive, my idealism evaporated, my initiative for adding more Web pages fizzled completely. After 2001, virtually nothing completely new was added to my Website. Just improvements to or expansions of existing Web pages. In 2009, matters became so discouraging that I pulled my Website off the Internet. And it was only in answer to my mother's last wishes to me, that I reinstated it. She told me to make something of my life. A Website so comprehensive, so much the product of many years of dedicated work, is something made of my life- even if my efforts to grow an appreciative audience for the material that I so venerate may have been in vain, a quixotic gesture against the contrary winds and tides.
Twenty years later, I continue to maintain the Website. Frustrated as I am that its potential audience continues to shrink, as public awareness of pre-2000 entertainment appears doomed to go extinct, at the behest of the twenty-first century's entertainment industry, for which remakes and reboots are all the more imperative to keep the "going forward" masses from looking back at what wonders and beauty the generations of the twentieth century had brought to the screens of television and cinema.
Yes, I am frustrated. I am tired. But I "press on". HostPapa will soon be informing me that it is time to pay the fee for a further year's availability of my Website, and I will pay that money to HostPapa. It is not exactly "petty cash". But out of my wallet it will flow yet again.
On the subject of feuds, I wish to dispel any belief that may exist about there being a feud between myself and Jerry Beck.
I respect Jerry Beck. I appreciate his work. Most especially his writing, with Will Friedwald, of the book, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Brothers Cartoons, cataloguing in detail every Warner Brothers cartoon from 1930 to 1969. I will never forget the day on which I first had that book in my hands, having ordered it from Fredericton's Westminster Books. It is true that most of my most favourite cartoons were fact-presented, synopsised, and assessed in the book by Mr. Friedwald, not by Mr. Beck, but that does not detract from the truth that Mr. Beck should rightly be lauded for the overall project. It is a masterful achievement. I had to buy the book twice, because my first copy of it literally fell apart from my many, many readings of it. I credit Mr. Beck on my Web page for The Bugs Bunny Show. That Web page would be woefully incomplete were it not for his exhaustive research on that television show that premiered years before I was born. My experience of The Bugs Bunny Show is limited to its Canadian broadcasts in 1975 and 1994-5, which were quite short of being exhaustive. I corresponded with Jerry Beck in the late 1990s regarding the airing of The Bugs Bunny Show in Canada. I sent to him some videotapes of episodes from the third Bugs Bunny Show season telecast on Global Television in the eastern Maritime provinces of Canada on Saturday mornings from September, 1994 to April, 1995. A season of full-colour twenty-six episodes with stage scenes, many of which he was looking to procure for a proposed restoration project for the initial two seasons of the television show. I supplied him with all of the information on that Global Television broadcast, and he, in appreciation, sent to me a videotape of then-rare material such as the Philbert television pilot episode. I always enjoy watching his contributions to bonus documentaries on DVD and Blu-Ray releases of cartoons, most recently Kino-Lorber's Blu-Ray releases of the DeParie-Freleng cartoons.
All of this said, I diverge with Jerry Beck on his selections of Warner Brothers cartoons for DVD and Blu-Ray release. I think that he allows personal bias to guide him way too much in his choices in that regard. I depart vociferously from him on his tendency to downplay and even ridicule the cartoons of the 1950s, and on his opting to concentrate on 1940s cartoons for choices for cartoon selections on DVD and Blu-Ray, with the result being that there are so very many cartoons of the 1950s that still have not been released to home video on any format. Virtually every pre-1948 Bugs Bunny cartoon has been on home video on some format. Several 1950s Bugs Bunnies, most particularly those directed by Friz Freleng and Robert McKimson, have not. Step forward, "No Parking Hare", "Half-Fare Hare", "Piker's Peak", and "Hare-Less Wolf", to serve as prime examples of this. And, yes, "Pre-Hysterical Hare", too. On-DVD representation has been especially poor for Freleng's post-1950 Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam cartoons. And in the GOLDEN COLLECTION range overseen by Mr. Beck, Foghorn Leghorn was largely ignored. The small percentage of Freleng's Tweety cartoons on DVD in Region 1, compared to that of the cartoons of other characters, is particularly disagreeable, and Mr. Beck lamented an alleged overabundance of Tweety cartoons on the one GOLDEN COLLECTION DVD to concentrate on the canary's cartoon shorts. Tweety was also poorly served by the LOONEY TUNES SUPERSTARS DVD range. Very poorly served.
Now, in 2017, cartoons such as "Beanstalk Bunny", "Hare Brush", "The Fair-Haired Hare", "Wild and Woolly Hare", "Rabbit Every Monday", "Robot Rabbit", "A-Lad-in His Lamp", "Rabbitson Crusoe", "Upswept Hare", "Hyde and Go Tweet", "Tweet and Lovely", "Tweet and Sour", "Muzzle Tough", "Fowl Weather", "A Street Cat Named Sylvester", "Greedy For Tweety", "Tree Cornered Tweety", "The Leghorn Blows at Midnight", "Leghorn Swoggled", "Plop Goes the Weasel", and so very many others still are not on DVD. The same Road Runners, e.g. "The Fastest With the Mostest" and "Lickety-Splat!", keep being "passed over", too.
I also think that he has listened too much to the most outspoken cartoon aficionados on discussion forums on which it is trendy and socially acceptable to favour the pre-1948 cartoons almost to the utter exclusion of the post-1948s and to the detriment of fair and enlightening discussion of the artistry and the objective, universally recognisable merits of the cartoons of the 1950s. Just because a certain "tack" of discussion had come to dominate discussion forums does not mean that such is representative of all cartoon collectors or the general public.
I think that cartoon selection decisions should be based on cartoons' proven popularity with the public per American television network ratings, toy merchandising, hobbyist constructions (I would recommend a look for "Hyde and Go Tweet" sculptures on the Internet), salient appreciation in intelligent (if I must say so myself) articles of analysis and interpretation such as mine and those of others, and on whether it is time for long-neglected cartoons to have their time in the home video limelight. Not on the pre-1948-cartoon favourtism of one man, however important he may be in the writing and publishing of excellent books cataloguing the cartoons, or on a like-minded group of his acolytes populating a tending-toward-echo-chamber discussion forum.
I hope that I have clarified myself in these paragraphs. There is no feud between myself and Mr. Beck. Rather, a disagreement. A disagreement that did, on my side thereof, become somewhat bitterly expressed with Warner Brothers' decision to prematurely end the GOLDEN COLLECTION and PLATINUM COLLECTION with hundreds of cartoons unrestored and unreleased. Not that such was not expected by me, mind. I argued that the future of the GOLDEN COLLECTION range was in trouble because of how the post-1948 cartoons were being treated. And not just in the choosing of the cartoons for release. Also in the slant with which the cartoons were being talked-about in some of the DVD commentaries. Bitter though the disagreement may be, I would not escalate it to a description of it as being a feud. Even if my ire may rise from reading mention of mocking of some cartoons.
At this juncture, I would be happy if Warner Brothers would release Blu-Rays for all of the cartoons currently only available on DVD. I would buy them. I would so very much love to have "Hyde and Hare" on Blu-Ray. How about it, Mr. Beck?
One more item before I bring today's Weblog entry to a close. Kino-Lorber is reported as having said that MGM has "licenced out" the Pink Panther cartoons to some company other than Kino-Lorber for Blu-Ray release. As to which one, I would suppose that Shout! Factory would be the best bet, them also now having the Blu-Ray rights for the Inspector Clouseau movies. Perhaps Shout! Factory decided against releasing the cartoons in the same box set as the movies, on the presumption that people buying the movies would not want the cartoons, and vice versa. And that it therefore is more sesnsible to release them separately for lower prices and thus more buyers for both box sets.
My daily dose of disincentive to think positively, have faith in my fellow man, or go on living.
I see this on the Space: 1999 Facebook group this morning.
"NO!!!!!! Not Season Two!!!!!"
"There was no Season 2 just like the Star Wars prequels never existed."
"Only for Maya."
With one thumb-up for the first statement and two for the second. And not a word of disagreement. It was in reaction to a montage of Season Two images.
So, I start this mid-January winter's day with the certain knowledge that the people who delighted in my departure from the Space: 1999 fan movement have their daily gloat, their daily source for feeling ever so righteous, ever so gratified, knowing that fan orthodoxy continues to be squarely in their way of thinking. And with as much cocksure gusto as ever. While all that I can do is sit alone, watch Season Two episodes, and ponder on how the next attack will be worded, what the next assault will be about, what it will "zero in on".
A day in the life of Kevin McCorry. A non-work day, anyway. Sunday, January 15, 2017.
Sunday, January 22, 2017. Thirty-three years ago to this day, the Space: 1999 episode, "New Adam, New Eve", aired on CBHT, CBIT, and CBCT in Canada's eastern Maritimes at 11 A.M., after Gunsmoke at 10 A.M. and Switchback at 8:30 A.M.. "New Adam, New Eve" would be the last Space: 1999 episode that I would acquire from my videotape-recording source, Fonda, in Dartmouth. I would not have access to Space: 1999 broadcasts for several weeks until I found someone else in Nova Scotia willing to do videotape-recording for me. The story is all there in my Era 4 memoirs.
I have not much to report today. 2017 looks to be a fallow year with regard to Blu-Ray releases. Apart from the Pink Panther films Blu-Ray set, there has as yet been nothing announced that is of interest to me.
I came across this little gem this past week.
My readers can imagine how I am inclined to react to it. Absolute blinkered drivel. Relying on a speciously-affirmed generalisation and on the hoary premise that a "widely considered" opinion is somehow an absolute indictment against a work of imagination. So, because of allegedly deficient acting and storytelling, Space: 1999 is the worst science fiction television programme ever. No aesthetic value, no imagination-engaging value, no entertainment value whatsoever. Worse than the likes of Galactica 1980 and Manimal. In my estimation and in that of some of the most intelligent people I have known, the acting in Space: 1999 is at least competent and sometimes quite sublime. And as for the storytelling, though I think that the Mysterious Unknown Force concept is overrated by fans, one cannot deny the clear artistry in the application of it as a "thread" across a number of episodes, and my own Space: 1999 Web page expounds upon the aesthetic construct of cross-adjacent-episodes correspondences of subject matter. I am not going to argue that storytelling is "air-tight", but is it ever really so in anything?
In any case, the placing of Space: 1999 at the top of such a list, or for that matter putting it anywhere on such a list, is nothing but an expression of wilful ignorance. I would also contend that Logan's Run and even The Amazing Spider-Man do not belong on this list. There is quite an admirable amount of intelligent science fiction in Logan's Run. And The Amazing Spider-Man, though not exactly overwhelmingly sensational in depicting the Spider-Man concept, still never failed to entertain, and Nicholas Hammond and Robert F. Simon gave quality performances as Peter Parker and J. Jonah Jameson. They captured the essence of the characters.
I am reminded of one of the first letters that my associate, Dean, wrote to me in 1988. In it, he said, "There is a conspiracy afoot. Space: 1999 has to be the most downed-on work of modern science fiction to date. It has been reviled, maligned, and abused by critics and audiences alike. And that was in its heyday. It's quite a perplexing irony, don't you think? After all, it was an excellent production, by the standards of its time. And it still looks quite sharp and impressive in its depictions. And creative ideas tended to be at once bold and yet uncontroversial. It was a showcase for everything that the public, at large, wished to see in science fiction, but mostly were denied. Acting also was admirable. You'd think the show would have enjoyed a resounding success. And ITC, moreover, always had a knack for promoting its works."
Whatever became of my association with Dean, I still remember, to the exact words, his earliest correspondence. And it has been proven right. Society has striven to keep Space: 1999 out of positive aesthetic limelight, usually by way of besmirching, wide-ranging preemptive strikes, expressed so preemptively and presumptive of agreement by all right-thinking people that an admirer of it is on the beleaguered defensive before he or she can even think to utter a sound. Assuming that he or she even feels so brave to even try to formulate a response.
"Space: 1999? Come on. Let's have a criticism." Snap fingers three times. "Quick. Quick. Quick."
Of course, the Space: 1999 fans on the Facebook group were apoplectic in their reactions to this list. And out poured the ever so predictable refrains that "Year 1" was excellent and "Year 2" was garbage. "Year 2" deserves to be on the list, not "Year 1". Bla, bla, bla. Yada, yada, yada.
I said that I had little news to report, and I was right. None of this really is news, is it? Just ever and a day, the same old, same old.
By the way, Space: 1999 did not "centre" on the explosion of the nuclear waste on the Moon. That was only the event in episode one that set the Moon and its inhabitants on their way through the cosmos. All subsequent episodes "centred" on other things. Other, much more interesting things. Any non-ignorant viewer ought to be able to recognise this as a universally acceptable fact.
If Space: 1999 really is the worst of the worst per "widely considered" opinion, why is it on Blu-Ray? Huh? Hmm? Huh?
I begin today's Weblog entry with mention of an ice storm that struck New Brunswick this past Tuesday and Wednesday. The northeastern parts of the province, including the Miramichi region, were worst hit by the storm. Power has been out for several days in my old home village of Douglastown. That particular effect of the storm will soon be put in the past, but the damage to the trees and other foliage will be everlasting. As depressingly defoliated as my old home environs have become, they will be more sparse than ever with regards to vegetation. The video recording below, courtesy of Newcastle's 95.9 Sun-FM radio station, shows how much damage was inflicted by the ice that accumulated on the branches of trees, etc..
I also note that my old elementary school building in Douglastown now has its windows removed, which means that its demolition cannot be far away. Nothing but sad news of late for my childhood habitat and my nostalgic attachment thereto. I must expect that when I next set foot in Douglastown sometime in the coming spring, there will be no more elementary school building. Just an empty space. There are already too many of those along the main road of Douglastown. And this new one will be huge.
Quite a week it has been for celebrity deaths, too. Mary Tyler Moore, Mike Connors, and John Hurt. May they rest in peace. A Facebook posting that I did about the death of Mike Connors somehow became prolific on Facebook News Feeds, for I received a huge amount of response to it. It is the most measurable verbalised attention that anything I have written has received in all of my living memory. But this really is not saying much, because measurable verbalised attention to my writings has been chronically limited.
John Hurt should be most noteworthy for his playing of the first-shown living victim of the "chest-burster" in the Alien movies and for his outstanding portrayal of protagonist Winston Smith in Nineteen-Eighty-Four, but of course the obituaries are preferring to concentrate on some of his less science fiction and less dystopic-future roles- and a more recent one, too. The obituaries for him all are titled with references to Elephant Man and Harry Potter. And so I sigh. As I seem to be doing so very much these days.
Lastly, for something that does not leave me heaving a downbeat Charlie Brown trademark sigh, I recently came upon a most impressive work of concept art based on "Hyde and Hare". Here it is.
This does bring the mortal menace of Dr. Jekyll's horrible transformation to something of a new range of vivid artistic expression, to say nothing of the added fear factor. The fact that this cartoon can inspire someone so much, so very compellingly, as to invest such evident time and effort into a new and different, exquisitely detailed rendition of its concept, does give to me some palpable sensation of pleasure. Mind, I did have rather a startled sensation when my eyes first met sight of it. Yes, that too. "Hyde and Hare" still has a capacity for scaring me when it comes back into my life unexpectedly, suddenly.
It, and some recent positive commentary on "Hyde and Hare" in some enclaves of the Internet, does give to me pause for thought that prior to my essay on "Hyde and Hare" becoming available on the World Wide Web, this cartoon was so overlooked, so ignored, so obscure in the history of Bugs Bunny cartoons, that I could find scarcely anything substantial (favourable or otherwise) said about it anywhere. And now, it is the subject of artwork like the effort shown above in this Weblog entry. Yes, thought worth considering. But a thoroughly effective countering of the slings and arrows of my past associations at Golden Age Cartoons? That remains to be seen.
Still, I do very much like this picture. Kudos to the person (or persons) who made it.
All for today, Sunday, January 29, 2017.
Last year, the Space: 1999 Facebook group systematically assailed each and every episode of Season Two, on a group-discussion one-episode-per-week basis. I said that it would only be a matter of time before the hateful process of this sort would start all over again. And lo and behold, it has. Only with a "doubled-down" amount of "snarkiness", to a caustic procedural approach described as "my self-torture-journey through Season 2", with berating-an-episode-a-day intention. And of course, the "circle-jerking"-to-hating-of-Season-Two echo chamber that the group is, everyone is "on-board", giving affirming, agreeing responses to the slurring. This, people, is what Space: 1999 fandom is fixated-on, obsessed-with, constantly spinning in an unending circle. I really should not be bothered answering to the reiterated attacks. They are based on even less rationally considered and more presuming-of-blinkered-consensus criticism than were the assaults against Season Two last year.
I just do not understand how people can be so inveterately fixated on a mere single season (and not on all the episodes thereof) of a television programme as to hate the other season of the television programme so unremittingly, with so much rancour, for more than four decades. Second season has merits that ought to be recognisable by most people possessing some degree of sophistication. Even if the merits do need to be "pointed out", once they are articulated, contrary opinion ought to show some sign of yielding change. But, no. It does not. The opposite, in fact.
However, I will respond to one particular denigration of late, as it is a slur upon "Journey to Where", an episode that I hold in very high esteem indeed.
"Continuing my self-torture-journey through Season 2.
AND THAT ANOYED ME
'Journey to Where' - (well....the whole episode anoyes me alot. Gotto be one of the worts of the worst). The part where the alphans say "Who needs nature anyway". I thought "nature" was what they were looking (and longing) for,very much. Why would you want to change living in a confined eviroment to another confined enviroment? Because if you "dont need nature" then keep on living on Alpha would be a good thing."
I have retained the person's spelling mistakes. They "speak volumes" as to the sophistication of the individual.
In his rather stumbling way, he is referring to the Alphans' opting to leave Alpha for a return to an Earth of ruined environment and enclosed technological human settlements as something not logically acceptable within the context of the overall television series. And on that basis, he is lambasting the episode.
And my response?
In literal terms, the Alphans regard a return to Earth to be preferable to living on Alpha because: they cannot freely breed on Alpha and would, presumably, be able to do so on Earth; Alpha's life-support systems are a concern because rare elements are needed for their long-term functionality, and going to Earth would relieve the Alphans of such concern; and being firmly "grounded" on Earth is thought by the Alphans to be a better "footing" than constantly being on the move in space. There is, after all, no guarantee that Alpha will encounter an ecologically vibrant and welcoming habitable planet anytime soon, or within foreseeable future, before something grave may someday happen to the runaway Moon and Moonbase. Also, it has been a long time since the Alphans were last on their home planet; whatever Earth's condition may now be, a return thereto could still be quite an enticing proposition in and of itself. I would have thought all of this to be obvious to any long-time fan of the television series. I recognised it back in 1976 after watching just a few episodes. But there is also basis in Jungian psychology and in the premise and concept of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" for the Alphans' yearning for a return to Earth regardless of Earth's latest ecological condition. A dim, animal impulse for re-bonding with the surface of man's natal planet is part of man's baser nature. A regressive impulse in the psyche of men and women which, if yielded-to from a psychological or spiritual high, is a regression analogous thematically and symbolically to the ungraceful transition from Jekyll to Hyde, the very transition alluded-to in Maya's one transformation in the episode, i.e. that to Mr. Hyde after sampling some of Tony's beer. Tony's beer thus is likened to Jekyll's concoction, and the conceding to a regressive impulse in the episode by the Alphans accords symbolically with Dr. Jekyll's most sinful surrender to an impulse for regression.
This regressive urge underlies the literal rationale above cited for Alpha choosing transference to Earth, and also Dr. Logan and Carla's ability to rather easily "indoctrinate" the Alphans to their "Who needs nature?" attitude. It overpowers the revulsion to what has become of Earth.
I am only scratching the surface. "Journey to Where" is much, much more sophisticated than I have above said it to be. But all that I have said is lost on these people, these quasi-intellectuals who think themselves ever so superior to the very few alleged imbeciles of oh, so unquestionably poor taste who happen to like "Year 2".
February 1, 2017.
The local groundhog saw his shadow yesterday. Six more weeks of winter. In Canada, this means six more weeks of winter after March 21. I would note that now, today, it has been two months since I last saw my lawn, and Fredericton is at present the only southern New Brunswick city to have a thick snow cover. I am told that grass can be seen throughout Saint John. Sixty miles south of Fredericton. Tears fill my eyes as I typewrite this.
Today's dose of anti-Season-Two bile on the Space: 1999 Facebook group, that Internet den of iniquity for any true open-minded intellectual esthete.
"AND THAT ANOYED ME
'The Taybor' - That only very good looking female alphans goes to the solarium (nice in a way, but still anoying).
That 'Taybor' has a tradinglisence writen in english.
And of course the whole silly story."
What is silly is this person's spelling mistakes.
Why is it annoying that in one partial view of the Solarium Section of Alpha, attractive-looking (I could have said good-looking, but I have a more varied, more advanced vocabulary, having passed from Grade 4 to Grade 5) women are shown? This is television. Why are the female leading characters of television shows all beautiful women? Because such is viewer bias, which any television producer of any competence will adhere-to in visualisation. If he or she desires a successful television series. What a ridiculous complaint for me to feel obliged to refute!
"That 'Taybor' has a tradinglisence writen in english."
No more difficult to accept than the Survivors on the S.S. Daria (of Season One's "Mission of the Darians") speaking English, surely. In Space: 1999 (both seasons), English is the lingua franca of the universe.
For the record, I had to gaze over "tradinglisence" a few times to determine what in bloody hell this person is saying.
Look, why is this person watching Season Two's episodes if he hates them so much as to call a watching of them tortuous? This is a natural question that a sensible observer would pose. And the only responses to it that could be reasonably put forth point toward either sheer irrationality or a vanity-fuelled exercise in confirmation bias for a closed-minded person- with a validation-seeking, approval-seeking rancorous broadcast within a group of like-minded "circle-jerkers" wherein he feels confident of nary a challenging word of contradiction.
This is doubtless going to continue for every other second season episode. And sometime later, someone else will start the "hate-fest" all over again.
And of course, there is also this.
"AND THAT ANOYED ME.
'Rules of Luton' - Everything! I couldnt bring my self to watch it."
"Then don't!" I say. No one is forcing him to. But someone should force him to sign his name onto a remedial spelling course.
Anyway, I shall move onward to some good news.
Carl Sagan's Cosmos is announced to be coming to Blu-Ray, in Australia of all places, in April. I would have expected an American or even a European Blu-Ray release before an Australian one. But as I have multi-region Blu-Ray playback with my equipment, it should matter not to me where something is released. Actually, though, it does, because the wait for something to be delivered to me from Australia tends to be excruciatingly long. I guess that I should not expect to have the Cosmos Blu-Ray box set in my possession until June. I do puzzle at how much quality high-definition video could be gleaned from Cosmos, which was a mixture of filmed footage with videotaped visuals. This release could indeed be just standard-definition Blu-Ray. If it is, it is still preferable to my old Cosmos DVDs as the television series is spread across fewer optical videodiscs, meaning less storage space.
All for today, February 3, 2017.
Fukushima is in the news again. I have been reading long discussion "threads" about it on Facebook and am astonished at how much common-sense, erudite, properly concerned commentary is at last being manifest. Still not much mention of isotopes and their travel patterns and effects on the body, but people are in large numbers at last appearing to comprehend the wide-ranging threat to life on this planet posed by the release of humongous quantities of radioactive materials into the biosphere. Strontium-90. Caesium-137. Iodine-129. And the worst one of all, plutonium-239. Cancer has now struck someone of my generation in my extended family. My cousin has stage four breast cancer. I must note that until now, my family had not had many incidences of cancer. My mother smoked like a chimney, and it was heart disease, not cancer, that killed her back in 2010. It is the Fukushima effect, people. I am fairly certain that such had something to do with the death of my friend, Sandy, from cancer three years ago. Three years. My God, time is passing so fast now.
A winter storm is forecast this coming Wednesday. The first day this winter when I absolutely need to be at work at an early-morning hour. All that I can say to that is, "Typical."
I have worked with digital paint to improve the look of the image of the RCA VideoDisc on my Spiderman Page. Said image is nearly twenty years-old. It was sent to me by someone who possessed that RCA VideoDisc. I wish that I could find an image of the back of that RCA VideoDisc's plastic cartridge on which television series general information and episode synopses were printed, along with some pictures. I had that RCA VideoDisc in my hands nearly thirty years ago, having rented both it and RCA VideoDisc player from Doug Worrall's Furniture so that I could copy some of its contents to VHS videocassette. At that time, I needed "Where Crawls the Lizard"/"Electro the Human Lightning Bolt" to complete my collection then of Spiderman on videotape, a previous videotape-recording of it from CHSJ-TV from 1982 being long purged from my videotape stacks, purged in a mistaken belief that said instalment would resurface on CHSJ-TV in 1985-6. It was one of two instalments of Spiderman not to air on CHSJ in the 1985-6 broadcast year. And thereafter, CHSJ never again showed an episode of Spiderman. MITV, which started broadcasting in autumn of 1988, did telecast Spiderman many times. I was able to make a videotape-recording of "Where Crawls the Lizard"/"Electro the Human Lightning Bolt" from MITV that was much better than the one that I had off of the RCA VideoDisc, which, as was usual for that home video format, skipped in places during its content.
Some of my other Web pages have been improved in their text. I detected some information requiring updating, some superfluous words needing removal, and some episode descriptions that could do with better wording. My standards these days are much higher than they were twenty years ago.
I have not much else to say today. I managed to find a seller of the Panther versions of the James Bond books on eBay. Condition appeared excellent in most cases in the photographs, and I have purchased them. It will be a pleasant sight to see them on my shelves again. I had them in my book collection back in 1981.
Sunday, February 5, 2017.
Until today, I was unaware of the existence of this. Blissfully unaware, I would be inclined to say.
The procedure being used for it is similar to what was done by Ralph Bakshi to produce more episodes of Spiderman and Rocket Robin Hood after money supply for his group at Ralph's Spot had been depleted. In his case, however, he was able to record new dialogue to mate with recycled footage. Barring the availability of a Rich Little to imitate the voice of Martin Landau and those of other Space: 1999 regular actors, I doubt that new dialogue could be supplied for improvised, old-footage-cobbled-together episodes to expand the existing canon for Space: 1999.
The editor of this YouTube video managed to digitally put the head of Tony Anholt onto the body of Prentis Hancock, which brings to my mind an old saying that just because one is able to do something does not mean that one should. Personally, I judge the doing of this to be of questionable taste. It is not something that I would think that Ed Wood would eschew doing, if he had at his disposal the tools for attempting it. But, then, was Ed Wood a film-maker of any respectable rank? I would note that Barry Stokes' head is also grafted to the body of Jim Smilie in the same video. If Ralph Bakshi were to do something like such with the cartoon drawings of characters, that is one thing. But this is something else entirely. Digitally severing the head off of an actor and putting it onto another actor just does not impress me. And, no, I cannot say that I liked it when it was done by George Lucas. But I would think that he at least would seek the approval of the actor or the survivors of a deceased actor. I feel rather sure that these people did not seek the permission of Tony Anholt's family for digitally manipulating his likeness.
And one of the asteroids shown does suspiciously resemble one that is in The Empire Strikes Back. Even if Granada were to sanction a production such as this, I doubt that Lucasfilm would authorise the use of its visuals in a work touted to belong to the distended canon of another composition.
But why bother doing this at all? It is not that it really brings anything new to the Space: 1999 universe. What is it with Space: 1999 fandom and its preoccupation with a return of the Balor character from "End of Eternity"? Prior to this, two fan projects had also propounded a reappearance of the un-kill-able killer from Progron. Fans like to think of Balor as Space: 1999's version of Star Trek's Khan. But such a corollary does not work conceptually. Alpha expelled Balor out of an airlock. It is reasonable to presume that Koenig and company subsequently made absolutely sure to remove Balor from Lunar gravity and leave him far behind the runaway Moon on its onward trajectory. I admit to liking the idea of a further engagement in battle with the immortal exile in black when I first was privy to an effort at contriving one. But on later reflection, I viewed it as untenable without supposing that the Alphans were rather less than thorough, therefore distinctly less than prudent, in eliminating Balor from the Moon.
And yet, the fans love the idea unreservedly. They also do not see that it is unlikely that Alpha would suddenly be in the midst of an asteroid field. Would not Alpha's long-range scanners have detected the asteroids from far away? Oh, of course, if Season Two had established an episode in such a way, it would be derided relentlessly by the same fans. Ah, but this video is based on Season One. So, all is gelling in ample aspic.
I am led to ruminate thusly. The fans have begrudged and lambasted Fred Freiberger for forty years as having been insufficiently artistic in crafting the episodes of Season Two. And yet the best that they can "come up with" is Balor returns. Or the Dragon returns. Or Jarak returns. That is all that they really have. Or so it seems. It is not altogether surprising, though, for these people lack the imagination quotient needed for appreciating the beauty of inventiveness of concept of Season Two's episodes. Their imagination is lacking in broadness; hence, they cannot really stretch the premise of Space: 1999 beyond what has already been pioneered by the writers and producers of Season One of the original television series. Freiberger was a professional doing a job, as were his writers. They were not fans. The same description applies to the authors of the original novels and the writers of the comic magazine stories. Fans appear to have a myopic range of vision for validating their preferences within the existing story material, by writing reiterated-concept stories with returning antagonists. This sort of thing worked in Star Trek for Khan. Because within Star Trek's universe, recurring villain characters had been a rarity (Harry Mudd excepted- and he was more of a comedic foil than a truly daunting opponent for Captain Kirk). Khan-versus-Kirk had some special alchemy. And lightning struck that one time for further conflict. Doctor Who succumbed to an over-reliance upon bringing past nemeses back into battle with its heroic leading character during the 1980s, when fan opinions arguably had too much sway with the then "show-runner". I propose to rest my case here, now, vis-a-vis fan predilection for returning enemies in their favourite opus.
The Pink Panther movies Blu-Ray set has been delayed to June 27. And I heave a deep sigh at this news. I already do not like 2017, and news of this only contributes further to my feeling of displeasure.
February 8, 2017.
February 13, 2017. New Brunswick is in the grip of a blizzard. At least forty centimetres of snow has fallen on top of what copious and towering heaps of disgusting white frozen water were already on the ground. Fredericton is now precisely in the condition that it was in two years ago at this time in the winter season. And back it is to 2015, a year that I despise for so many reasons. The only good thing to come out of 2015 was the Space: 1999 second season Blu-Ray set. In all other respects, it was an utter feces pile of a year, and I am still living with the residue of it. Lost and heart-wrenchingly missed friends, unremitting routine loneliness, and an idiot Prime Minister who has no respect for the Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, Anglo-Saxon, English-and-French identity of Canada, contending as he ever does that there is no core Canadian culture. Yes, all of that.
Moving on to some other items of note, I wish to report quite an epiphany that I had while watching the Bugs Bunny cartoon, "Roman Legion-Hare", this past Saturday. That cartoon being the final Bugs Bunny film of 1955 and the one that concludes my analysis of Bugs' 1955 cartoons in my article, "Deconstructing" Bugs: The Bugs Bunny Cartoons of 1955. In said article, I contend that Bugs has a "battle for deliverance" in "Knight-Mare Hare" and restores himself to a lofty perch from which he fell in "Hyde and Hare" as a result of some particularly shameful conduct, and that Bugs' incontrovertibly winning standing in "Roman Legion-Hare" confirms re-ascension back to his charmed place in the pantheon of cartoon heroes. The realisation came to me on Saturday that in "Roman Legion-Hare", Bugs is selected to be fed to lions in the Roman Colosseum. What people were consigned to such a fate in Roman times? Why, Christians, of course. In "Roman Legion-Hare", Bugs is in the predicament of the Christians, people of virtue in their following of the teachings of Christ and the Bible, and he is therefore coded as being of something of a similar blessed distinction. And he survives the cartoon with nary a scratch by lion's claw, the big cats opting to "go for" Yosemite Sam, Captain of the Roman Guards, and Emperor Nero, the unequivocally evil quantities in the cartoon, representative as they are of the regime that persecuted the beatified followers of Christ. In an all-the-more-now-definite cogent sense, Bugs has truly redeemed himself. This does rather fit my argument like a cartoon hare's glove, n'est-ce pas? It is amazing how the dawned awareness of nuances such as this just settles so aptly, so right, into my already posited angle of interpretation.
I have added images of some videotape covers to my Era 4 memoirs and am working on some digital painting to burnish some pictures that I intend to add to my other autobiographical Web pages.
One of my fellow countrymen has typewritten an on the whole positive review of Ralph Bakshi's seasons of Spiderman and provided some Hyperlinks to some of the stimulatingly dynamic library music tracks utilised in Bakshi's episodes of Spiderman. Here is that person's review which constitutes an entry in his Weblog.
Lastly, an image of the back of the RCA VideoDisc of Spiderman episodes has been found, courtesy of David Sudbury. Many thanks to him. Here it is.
All for now from my God-forsaken part of North America.
It has been an awful week. First, Fredericton received a dumping of nearly eighty centimetres of snow on top of what copious amount of snow had already been on the ground. Then, the news that I had been dreading for months, came. My old school building in Douglastown, the Rankin House, has been demolished. The excavator was on site on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. And the ugly work was done that day, under overcast skies and amidst heaps of snow and ice.
My job prohibits me from articulating politically. On provincial matters, at least. If it did not embargo me so, I would have some choice words to say about politics in New Brunswick and the Miramichi area. Whoever allowed the historic building to rot and then be designated for destruction, needs to be accountable to the people who wanted the heritage building that was the Rankin House preserved as a part of Miramichi and Douglastown cultural identity. Unfortunately, from what I have read, such people do not appear to be a sizable majority in the Miramichi region of New Brunswick. Or at least not a sizable vocal majority. Plenty of commentary there is to the effect that eyesores like the Rankin House should be torn down and that memories of yesteryear are codswallop. Yes, the spirit of J. Jonah Jameson seems to have found a home now in Miramichi, New Brunswick. Reading such remarks is quite hurtful and distressing to me. But then, over these past decades, scarcely ever does anyone care how I feel about anything. The Miramichi region that I knew prior to the 1996 amalgamation, back when my parents' generation was the community-sustaining and governing force there, was quite a different place compared to today. I find it difficult to believe that my parents' generation would have allowed the Rankin House to decay and be levelled. I doubt that its members would be publicly making disparaging remarks about it and the sensibilities of the people who have a heart-felt attachment to it, and/or to the fond memory of hundreds of social interactions that occurred therein (memory kept most vivid with there being a tangible reality to it still existing in the present). J.J. Jameson was not a representation of the values of my parents' generation. Certainly not entirely. Yes, my mother and father were believers in work and dedication to work (as Jameson professed to be). But they were not stone-hearted pinchpennies.
Gone are my parents. And now gone is my old elementary school. Where I learned to read, write, spell, count, add, subtract, multiply, divide, draw, colour, paint, make papier mache, speak French, correctly name the world's land masses and countries, identify and describe the planets of the Solar System, and be a citizen of the universe. The only place where I ever found friendship among people sharing my birth year. The place where I shared impressions of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Planet of the Apes, The Flintstones, Spiderman, and, most especially, Space: 1999 with associates and friends. Where my seminal experiences with such television programmes were accentuated with positive social interaction in rooms and hallways and on outdoor sand and grass. Where my lifelong fascinations with imaginative material were nurtured and made to flourish. I would say that this Website probably would not exist were it not for the five years that I lived in Douglastown and the reinforcement there of my imaginative fancies, some significant fraction of said reinforcement having been at school. Especially when I was in Grade 5. When I had more friends than ever before or after. Five years of memories are connected with that demolished edifice. For me and hundreds of other people. And my province, my country, should be shamed for permitting the so very lamentable wrecking day to come to pass.
Ah, but then, the oh, so vaunted Prime Minister Trudeau the Second says that Canada has no core culture. Buildings such as the Rankin House can have no value in such a conception. And we are all "going forward", are we not? Forward to our Leftist Utopia of perfected human nature completely divorced from relics of past cultural identity. Such as that school. Those people with whom I shared impression and friendship. The interests and impressions that I had from television programmes delivered on the television airwaves by that culture-minded broadcaster, the CBC.
I have nothing more to say today, Saturday, February 18, 2017.
Sunday, February 26, 2017.
New Brunswick has been basking in warmer than normal temperatures for several days, and the obscene amounts of snow on ground have been steadily reducing to what I would call "classic winter" levels, i.e. equatable with the snow accumulations of winters of the 1970s and 1980s. However, we in New Brunswick, we in Fredericton are a long time distant from sight of blades of grass. And I doubt that the current warming trend will last very much longer. Daytime high temperatures of below zero are forecast for later in the week, and the ever-treacherous month of March would appear set to come in like a lion.
My work schedule this past week has been gruelling, but I have found some time to do some image improvements for my Website. Specifically, this applies to a couple of images on my Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour Page, plus newly added RCA VideoDisc cover pictures on my Era 3 memoirs. With thanks to David Sudbury for finding those images of the RCA VideoDiscs. Most of the RCA VideoDiscs that I possessed in 1981 and 1982 are now represented in the images in my autobiography's Era 3 section. Exceptions are the RCA VideoDiscs of Airplane!, Shane, the second volume of Charlie Brown television specials, The Muppet Movie, and History of the World: Part I.
Oh, yes. And Star Trek- The Motion Picture. I keep forgetting about that one. Probably because it was so rarely watched. It never was used for a showing for any comers. No one would sit still if I was to try to show Star Trek- The Motion Picture. Not even myself.
In my last Weblog entry, I made reference to Leftist Utopia of perfected human nature. I propose to expand upon that
reference. It was meant pejoratively, and I believe that it did come across that way to my readers. Human nature
cannot be perfected while man is "grounded" on Earth. Acquisitiveness, lust, territoriality, tribalism,
ethnocentrism, aggression, and propensity for violence are all tendencies inherent in the nature of man. They and
their associated impulses have existed over the centuries and are deeply rooted in the human collective psyche.
Just because the threat of nuclear annihilation has inhibited the waging of war does not mean that the warrior
impulse is not still there in the human mind. It exists, and is in evidence all over the planet, "coming out" in
anti-social, often violent anti-social, ways. It has not been bred out of the human genome. It, and all of the
tendencies of man above enumerated, cannot be transcended in man's Earthly state. Not by political action. Not by
media indoctrination. Not by "dumbing-down" of the populace. The "progressivist" movement that seems to dominate the
political discourse of the twenty-first century hews to the dangerously naive belief that changing society on Earth,
from rugged individualism to a submissive collectivism, will somehow effectively and totally ameliorate man. It
places the shaky concept of "positivism" on a pedestal and worships it and a very statist system of governance as a
replacement for religion. Drivel. Man spiritually is no better now than he was a century ago. Technological
advancements and new gadgetry have not deified we humans. Bullying still exists. It just has a new medium. People
use cellular telephones and the Internet and "social media" to maliciously gossip and bully. This is what I mean.
Old impulses have new platforms. I say that while man has no higher purpose than a life on Earth, there is no
perfecting human nature, no matter what the snake oil salesmen of today may contend. A veneer of tolerance will
inevitably fall away when a person or a people wish to expand his, her, or their territory or the reach of his,
her, or their way of life. Warfare will just adapt to current circumstances. And I am not convinced in any case
that the old "formula" of wars between nations is entirely a thing of the past. The threat of "the bomb" may not be
enough to counter war-mongering tendency. Indeed, the world was closer to World War Three late last year than it
has ever been in my lifetime.
The world is not Star Trek and cannot be politically and culturally engineered to be Star Trek. Star Trek is fantasy. A beautiful, desirable fantasy. But still fantasy. And even it envisages man finally ascending to greatness only (I repeat, only) when he ventures to the "final frontier". Much as I hate to admit it, I do not now believe that man will ever leave his inner solar system. Or if he does, it will not happen before man is many centuries into the future. Just because our world today is some decades closer to the century depicted in Star Trek does not mean that humans are any closer to it spiritually. Man is still a threat to man. Man still kills man, for lucre or for power, or out of lust-fuelled jealousy, or as a result of ideological disputes, or for territorial reasons. Or because he has projected "the other" within himself onto someone else. And the more that people are herded together, the more aggression that there is between persons or groups.
Anyone who has studied Freud and Jung knows all of this. Actually, it does not require a reading of the works of
those two men to acknowledge human failings, today as yesterday. Only a fool will deny it. A complete and utter
fool. A dangerous fool if he or she is in a position of high office. Such as a country's oh, so anointed Prime
Minister who was handed everything in life on a silver platter, his father also having been Prime Minister (funny
how that works, eh?). No political ideology is perfect. But some are more practical than others. A free-market
capitalist system with checks and balances, individualism with civic-mindedness and an intrinsic sense of
responsibility, separation of church and state, and the rule of law in a limited-government environment is the way
to go, I think. Yes, I know. Fukushima happened in a free-market capitalist system, but it happened in one that had been corrupted with cronyism and influence-peddling. Checks and balances failed. And the political Leftism of the Obama Administration effectively whitewashed the Fukushima disaster. Political Leftism is not necessarily virtuous. I would contend just the opposite. Where is the accountability in a collectivist system wherein the individual is of scant importance? Fukushima happens, and it is downplayed in the United States because continuance of nuclear power is deemed to be for the "common good", individual deaths, even numbering in the millions, being ruled acceptable to the "number-crunchers". Among the powers-that-be, no heads roll. And onward we go, "moving forward" to our Utopia in which Big Brother knows best. The common individual is just a replaceable cog in the machine. But man's inherent impulses cannot be quelled. They will surface. And strife will ensue. A collectivist government will of course try to divert people's aggression toward an enemy of its choosing.
Orwell certainly understood this particular item. Oceania is at war with East Asia. No. Now, Oceania is at war
with Eurasia. And the arch-traitor, Goldstein. Him too. Boo. Hiss.
I have no home now among political parties. There is no centre-Right, traditional-conservative option opposed to nuclear power.
But just let us have the society that existed when my parents' generation was "in charge". It was not perfect. But
as it was, it is so much preferable to what is in place now on our troubled green, blue, and brown orb. I think many members of my
generation know this deep-down in their soul, even if they will not admit to it.
Human nature is not perfectible while man is "grounded" on his mother world. It is folly to think otherwise. And yes, I am invoking the Space: 1999 episode, "Journey to Where", and its concepts when I argue this.
I yesterday participated in a discussion at the Facebook Web page for The Bugs Bunny Video Guide. A list of twenty chosen essential cartoons for remastering for DVD or Blu-Ray release was requested from the discussion's contributors. And I submitted my list of twenty such cartoon shorts. This was only a thought experiment. Warner Home Video has not requisitioned cartoon fan input for decisions as to what cartoons to remaster. There is no indication that thought has been given by the Home Entertainment division of Warner Brothers for any further cartoon remastering or DVD or Blu-Ray release. "Hyde and Go Tweet" was of course on my list. As was "Dr. Jerkyl's Hide".
On "Hyde and Go Tweet", what I call "Hyde and Go Tweet" day, February 23, has now passed. I did a search of the Internet to try to tabulate just how much cartoon aficionado interest there is in this overlooked-for-DVD-and-Blu-Ray-consideration Sylvester and Tweety outing. It is astonishing how much "Hyde and Go Tweet" art can be found with a simple Google Search. Art in both ink and clay. So much work put into such greatly impressive efforts. Yet, this cartoon still is not on shiny digital videodisc. A fact which can only be attributable to bias on the part of parties- or party- involved in making the decisions as to which cartoons are chosen.
Anyway, below are some samples of "Hyde and Go Tweet" art by cartoon enthusiasts posting to the World Wide Web.
All for today.
Sunday, March 12, 2017.
I have been busy these last couple of weeks on upgrading images on my Website by use of digital paint. I have improved immensely on the two pictures of the closing credits sequence for The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour (i.e. Wile E. with his catapult and Bugs driving a tiny car), plus a couple of the cartoon title cards. And I have almost finished work on bringing the latest additions of RCA VideoDisc images in my Era 3 McCorry's Memoirs to my present standard. I have also added a new image to McCorry's Memoirs Era 1 showing the Miramichi Regional Hospital as it was in the late 1960s or early 1970s, along with some newly written paragraphs outlining the significance of that hospital in my early-life experience with "Hyde and Hare" and "Hyde and Go Tweet", particularly my mother bringing me there one day to see the laboratory.
So, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour Page and McCorry's Memoirs Eras 1 and 3 have been updated. I will be working on further image upgrades in the weeks ahead.
With the death of Chris Wiggins, I also need to update The Littlest Hobo Page, The Spiderman Page, and The Rocket Robin Hood Page, Mr. Wiggins having guest-starred in Littlest Hobo episodes and having provided his voice to villains of both Spidey and Rocket Robin's heroic adventures. As Infinata, overlord of Dementia Five, Mr. Wiggins made probably his greatest impact on the minds of impressionable young Canadians. And he was Mysterio. And Baron Blank ("Welcome to the planet Blotto, gentlemen. Your rooms are ready."). And his voice was in Will Scarlet, in all of that noble character's appearances in Rocket Robin Hood episodes. But I should not, and would not, wish to diminish Mr. Wiggins' portrayal of kindly Johann Robinson in Canada's The Swiss Family Robinson television series. As Johann, Wiggins was in many ways the Father Knows Best for Canada's children. No one Canadian who was raised in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and who watched any television on Saturday morning could have missed hearing the gravelly tones of Mr. Wiggins' expressive voice, whether it be in the characterising of a daunting malefactor or that of the happy-go-lucky Will, or the portrayal of wise and loving Papa Robinson. May he rest in peace.
News is that Warner Brothers cartoons are going to be available in high-definition video, but not on Blu-Ray. Rather, in an over-the-Internet, pay-for-view service under the Boomerang name. This stings. It really does. Yes, perhaps it will give to Warner Brothers incentive and financial support for remastering more cartoons, perhaps even the whole catalogue thereof. But what benefit is this to the collector, who wants the cartoons on physical media? I find even the DVDs of the cartoons to be difficult to watch these days. High-definition video is what my eyes are now attuned-to. And a minimum of video compression artifacts. I want to see all of the cartoons released on Blu-Ray. But as some old friends were fond of saying, "Fat chance."
I am aware of the latest sorties against Season Two of Space: 1999 on Facebook. I cannot be bothered responding to any if it. It is being written by people who write "should of" and "would of". Whenever I see that, I assume stupidity. And rightly so. On the other hand, the latest regular assailer of all things Season Two has at least learned how to spell the word, annoyed. However, his insight on the television series itself is still as unsophisticated as ever. It would be a waste of my time rebutting more of the drivel. I would much rather work on my Website and try to enjoy the sunnier weather this month. I say try. Difficult when so much snow is still on ground and bone-chilling winds are blowing. The windchill factor yesterday must have been at minus thirty.
All for today.