Saturday, March 31, 2012

Season of the One Season Wonder...

Success is great and all, it has its lessons to impart, but failure is no slouch in the race to be "educator of the year".

I make no secret that failed television series utterly fascinate me, "one season wonders" I calls em', back in Channel Zero's Outlaw Days we used to screen them with perverse impunity.
That was back in olden analog times, these days all sorts of obscure televisual catastrophes get tossed out onto DVD, in many cases it's a last attempt to cash in on a series that lacks a sufficient episode count to be profitable in syndication.

Two upcoming titles of note:

The Invisible Man (1975) This was a hugely hyped NBC series circa 1975 starring David McCallum as an invisible scientist who undertook secret agent stuff for the government. As I recall this was NBC's response to the whole "Six Million Dollar Man" phenom. To be honest, David McCallum with his huge blonde cranium, is nigh perfect at this sort of role he has a certain sly wit and never takes the outlandish set up too seriously.
Too bad the scripts were all mid seventies spy stuff, mediocre and uninspired. The Show went for the terminal dirt nap after seventeen weeks, as I recall NBC execs blamed the failure on the fact that McCallum's character was happily married and thus limiting plot possibilities!

So of course, Harv Bennett (showrunner on "The Six Million Dollar Man) was hired to create a sort of successor series called "The Gemini Man" which was an unmarried rakehell invisible secret agent played by the weirdly uncharismatic Ben Murphy. Damn thing went off a cliff in seventeen week, David McCallum no doubt laughed. If the Gemini Man ever turns up on DVD I'll discuss it in more detail to be sure.`

Logan's Run (1977) Ahhhhh 1977, a storied year when Science Fiction went from a nerdy cult to An Industry, overnight thanks to Star Wars/Close Encounters.
All the TV networks wanted in, unfortunately, CBS got the bright notion that the cheap and witless film version of "Logan's Run" was a good bet for an ongoing television series. In the patois of the time it was "a natural" with it's simpleminded futuristic hash of "The Fugitive" the sort of set up readily understandable to television executives.
The show had problems, chiefly it's lead, Gregory Harrison a preposterously handsome actor who could underplay a test pattern, he was duly buttressed by actor-writer Donald Moffat as Rem the Android a sort of acerbic Mister Spock knock off and Heather Menzies a decorous actress whose character thought a minidress and ballet slippers acceptable post apocalyptic attire.
For all that, the show had some serious science fiction chops behind the cameras, Star Trek alum DC Fontana was the story editor and she was able to hook in no less than Harlan Ellison and David Gerrold to contribute scripts before the ax fell.
Maybe it was the concept, these Fugitive knock offs fall into crippling formula pretty quickly if you don't watch out, or maybe it was the cheap cardboard sets...still Heather Menzies was easy on the eye and Donald Moffat was pretty funny all told...As for Gregory Harrison, I hear he was always good to his mother.

BTW The Four "Man from Atlantis" TV movies have been released on DVD, regardless of Patrick Duffy's lingering appeal, the main reason to pick up something like this is to see the Late Victor Buono as the evil "MIster Shubert".
MyGhod but that man was born to play villains, from his days on "Batman" and "The Wild Wild West" Buono stole every single scene he was ever in with aplomb! If you want to watch a classically trained Shakespearean effortlessly redeem mediocre material then by all means track these sonsabitches down.

Well there you have it, ghod almighty we really LIVED in the mid 1970's....

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