Earth II

Earth IIAn Apollo spacecraft is launched – despite the attempted interference of a saboteur – with three astronauts and the initial modules of a massive new space station aboard. President Durant of the United States asks American citizens to vote on the founding of a new “nation in space” using this space station as its capitol, and the vote is overwhelmingly in favor of creating a new spacefaring country: Earth II. The station grows in both size and population, setting out to be a completely democratic society in which any citizen can bring an issue up for a vote. But the first real test of Earth II’s leadership arrives in the form of a Chinese orbital nuclear warhead. A team of astronauts from the station sets out to destroy it, but instead the warhead is left intact without the ability to receive commands from Earth. The ramifications of this event reveals a hawkish faction aboard Earth II, insisting that the weapon be kept for the station’s protection. An opposing faction wants the weapon destroyed completely, fearing it represents too much power for anyone to use ethically. And one person, ignoring the democratic process, takes it upon herself to take the action she fears no one else will take, with disastrous consequences.

Order the DVDwritten by William Read Woodfield & Allan Balter
directed by Tom Gries
music by Lalo Schifrin

Cast: Gary Lockwood (David Seville), Scott Hylands (Jim Capa), Hari Rhodes (Loren Huxley), Tony Franciosa Earth II(Frank Karger), Mariette Hartley (Lisa Karger), Gary Merrill (Walter Dietrich), Inga Swenson (Ilyana Kovalefskii), Edward Bell (Anton Kovalefskii), Lew Ayres (President Charles Carter Durant), Brian Dewey (Matt Karger), Diana Webster (Hannah Young), Bart Burns (Stiner), John Carter (Hazlitt), Herbert Nelson (Chairman), Serge Tschernisch (Russian), Vince Cannon (Technician), David Sachs (Surgeon), Bob Hoy (West)

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

The Stone Tape

The Stone TapeAn abandoned pre-war building is taken over by Ryan Electronics to serve as the skunkworks for a crash program to find and develop the electronic recording medium that will supplant magnetic tape. With its wartime history as a command post for visiting American soldiers, and an even longer history as a haunted house stretching back into the late 1800s, the building isn’t anyone’s favorite place. Some members of the electronics R&D team refuse to work there, and a visit to the pub reveals that the locals believe that any new secret project there is military (and hazardous) in nature. The sole female member of the Ryan Electronics team, Jill, experiences a vision in a supply room formerly used by the U.S. Army, catching a fleeting glimpse of a screaming woman, and project director Peter isn’t convinced until he hears the screaming for himself. Determined to debunk the hauntings so his team can get down to their real work, Peter decides to throw the team’s resources at the problem, using every kind of sensing and recording equipment at their disposal and regarding the sightings as merely misinterpreted data. Even though sightings continue, none of the group’s equipment manages to record any of it. After several further sightings, Peter becomes convinced that the sightings are a message recorded in the very stones of the building itself, a “stone tape” recorded by a massive output of psychic energy, though the haunting nature of the repeated sightings gives his team the uncomfortable feeling that the burst of energy was provided by the moment of the screaming woman’s death. Gradually becoming unhinged by an obsessive belief that the “stone tape” represents exactly the kind of breakthrough recording medium his team was sent to discover, Peter begins probing the room with UV light, lasers, and blasts of high-frequency sound, and eventually the sightings stop: his team believed he’s “wiped the tape.”

At least until Jill begins to pick up on something else, another presence somehow recorded in the stone. Something older – almost unimaginably older – and far more dangerous than a screaming woman. Could it be that Peter has simply erased the most recent recording from the stone tape and revealed the original recording?

written by Nigel Kneale
directed by Peter Sasdy
special sound effects by Desmond Briscoe and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Cast: Michael Bryant (Peter), Jane Asher (Jill), Iain Cuthbertson (Collinson), Michael Bates (Eddie), Reginald Marsh (Crawshaw), The Stone TapeTom Chadbon (Hargrave), John Forgeham (Maudsley), Philip Trewinnard (Stewart), James Cosmo (Dow), Neil Wilson (Sergeant), Christopher Banks (Vicar), Michael Graham Cox (Alan), Hilda Fenemore (Bar Helper), Peggy Marshall (Bar Lady)

Notes: There is little music in The Stone Tape; instead of crediting a music composer, BBC Radiophonic Workshop co-founder Desmond Briscoe is billed as creating “special sound effects.” BBC graphics designer Bernard Lodge, responsible for many of the Doctor Who title sequences including the Tom Baker-era “time tunnel” graphics, created the title sequences for The Stone Tape. Louis Marks (Doctor Who: Day Of The Daleks) was the script editor, and the show was produced by late-Hartnell-era Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd.

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Genesis II

Genesis IIIn 1979, NASA researcher Dylan Hunt volunteers to become the first human test subject of a process of suspended animation that he has helped to develop for long space journeys. Rather than freezing its subjects, Hunt’s process relies on a special combination of drugs and a chamber pressurized with a mixture of gases that shut down the body’s metabolic processes without killing the subject. During the pressurization of Hunt’s sleeping chamber, a major earthquake strikes the underground facility, forcing the scientists there to evacuate. Dylan Hunt is left behind, buried alive beneath Carlsbad Caverns.

Hunt is awakened by a team that obviously isn’t working for NASA, and is told that it is now 2133. The underground caverns are occupied by an organization called PAX, but Hunt’s caretaker, Lyra-A, isn’t a member of PAX. She’s a mutant – as can be seen by her second navel – and claims that PAX is a civilization of warmongers, masquerading as pacifists, lurking underground and waiting to strike at the more civilized people who live on Earth’s surface. Hunt accepts Lyra-A’s offer of an escape to her city, Tyrannia, only to find an oppressive mutant regime enslaving humans.

written by Gene Roddenberry
directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
music by Harry Sukman

Genesis IICast: Alex Cord (Dylan Hunt), Mariette Hartley (Lyra-a), Ted Cassidy (Isiah), Percy Rodrigues (Primus Kimbridge), Harvey Jason (Singh), Titos Vandis (Primus Yuloff), Bill Striglos (Kellum), Lynne Marta (Primus Harper-Smythe), Harry Raybold (Slan-n), Majel Barrett (Primus Dominic), Leon Askin (Overseer), Liam Dunn (Janos), Scott Graham (Tyranian Teacher), Ed Ashley (Wehr-r), Linda Grant (Astrid), Robert Swan (Lahyn-n), Beulah Quo (Primus Lu Chan), Dennis Robertson (General), Ray Young (Tyranian Teacher #2), Tom Pace (Brian), Teryl Willis (Cardiologist), David Westburg (Station Operator), Robert Hathaway (Shuttle Car Operator), Tammi Bula (Teenager)

Genesis IINotes: If Gene Roddenberry liked working with you that one time, Gene Roddenberry will hire you again. Cases in point: Ted Cassidy played Ruk in the Star Trek episode What Are Little Girls Made Of?, while Mariette Hartley guest starred in one of the final original Trek episodes, All Our Yesterdays. Percy Rodrigues put Captain Kirk on trial in Court-Martial, and appeared in other genre series such as The Starlost and the television incarnation of Planet Of The Apes before going on to become one of the 1970s’ most frequently employed movie trailer voice-over Genesis IIartists. Dylan Hunt would be recast in his next TV adventure (1974’s Planet Earth), and would be renamed (but not recast) for one last try-out in the 20th century, 1975’s Strange New World; Roddenberry’s Dylan Hunt/PAX concept wouldn’t be revisited further until a space-based revamp transformed it into the 21st century syndicated series Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, for which all of the earlier attempts nearly 30 years earlier can be regarded misfired pilots.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Questor Tapes

The Questor TapesFollowing the mysterious disappearance of its creator, Nobel-prize-winning physicist Dr. Emil Voslovik, work continues in his absence to complete his final creation: a sentient android. A team of university researchers with corporate and international sponsors attempts to complete construction of the Questor android, but decide not to use the programming prepared by Voslovik. Voslovik’s assistant, engineer Jerry Robinson, protests the sudden swap of programs, but it turns out that his fears are unfounded: Questor does not activate after receiving the substitute program. Even when the correct program is loaded, Questor shows no signs of life. The team constructing Questor adjourns, with team leader Darrow suggesting that the android should be dismantled, as the advanced technology developed by Voslovik still has some value. Unknown to the scientists, Questor gains consciousness later that night, using specialized tools to mold his plastic appearance into a much more human form, but his speech and mannerisms remain robotic. As part of his programming, he immediately seeks out Jerry Robinson to ask for help in finding Dr. Voslovik.

Initially skeptical of Questor’s identity and his purpose, Robinson reluctantly gives in to the android’s demand to travel to London to search for Voslovik, finding out along the way that Questor has enormous strength and agility, but no capacity for emotion, and a near-total reliance on Robinson for moral guidance. Darrow, having grown suspicious of Robinson even before Questor’s surprise awakening, instigates an international manhunt for Questor and Robinson, and the two have to lie low in London. Their search leads them to the estate of Lady Helena Trimble, a woman with far-reaching connections but, seemingly, no political ambitions. In a secret chamber on her estate, Voslovik has constructed (and, apparently, abandoned) a surveillance center capable of peeking in on governments, individuals, and nations, with an interface specifically designed for Questor. Unnerved by the implications of this, Robinson loses his nerve and tips off Darrow to Questor’s location.

Questor reveals that he is designed to self-destruct within three days, via a catastrophic overload of his internal nuclear furnace, unless he locates Dr. Voslovik, and Robinson warns Darrow of the impending disaster. Having expressed a fascination with boats for the entire duration his search, despite repeated assurances that Voslovik wasn’t fond of going near water, Questor suddenly pieces the clues together and demands passage to Turkey, where he and Robinson climb to find a vast, hidden chamber within Mt. Ararat, trailed by Darrow the entire time. Questor finally locates Dr. Voslovik, moments away from death, and learns of his origins, a secret directly tied to the future of the human race.

teleplay by Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon
story by Gene Roddenberry
directed by Richard A. Colla
music by Gil Melle

The Questor TapesCast: Robert Foxworth (Questor), Mike Farrell (Jerry Robinson), John Vernon (Dr. Darrow), Lew Ayres (Dr. Voslovik), James Shigeta (Dr. Chen), Robert Douglas (Dr. Michaels), Dana Wynter (Lady Helena Trimble), Majel Barrett (Dr. Bradley), Ellen Weston (Allison Sample), Reuben Singer (Dr. Gorlov), Fred Sadoff (Dr. Audret), Gerald Saunderson Peters (Randolph), Walter Koenig (Administration Assistant), Eyde Girard (Stewardess), Alan Caillou (Immigration Official), Lal Baum (Colonel Hendricks), Patti Cubbison (Secretary)

The Questor TapesNotes: Co-writer Gene L. Coon was one of the driving creative forces behind the original Star Trek, responsible for such episodes as Arena, Space Seed, The Devil In The Dark, Errand Of Mercy, and Metamorphosis; under the pseudonym Lee Cronin, he also contributed later scripts such as Spock’s Brain. He is often credited as the creator of the Klingons and the contributor of such concepts as the Prime Directive. He died of cancer in 1973, several months before the premiere of The Questor Tapes. Walter Koenig gets a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it walk-on as the assistant who gives Jerry Robinson’s credentials to Darrow – it’s easy to miss him behind the giant ’70s sideburns and moustache.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Planet Earth

Planet EarthA PAX expedition to California runs into trouble, encountering a savage sect of mutant “Kreegs” who try to take the team’s technology for their own savage ends. Pater Kimbridge takes a shot from a 20th century rifle, and Dylan Hunt leads the team back to the safety of PAX’s central city. Kimbridge will require life-saving surgery, and PAX’s only two surgeons qualified to perform the procedure have both gone missing. Hunt decides to lead a team to a community where men are enslaved by women, hoping to follow up on a sighting of the missing Dr. Connor there. What Hunt doesn’t know is that it won’t be as easy as masquerading as a new male slave: the water and food given to men is laced with a drug that ensures their obedience to – and fear of – their mistresses. Hunt manages to avoid the drug for some time, but his insubordination to women gives him away and he is forcibly dosed. Now he has to fight off the effects of the drug as he tries to carry through his plan to find Dr. Connor and free the enslaved men; worse yet, the Kreegs are about to launch an attack on the female-dominated community, already aware that its men will not fight back.

teleplay by Gene Roddenberry and Juanita Bartlett
story by Gene Roddenberry
directed by Marc Daniels
music by Harry Sukman

Planet EarthCast: John Saxon (Dylan Hunt), Janet Margolin (Harper-Smythe), Ted Cassidy (Isiah), Christopher Cary (Baylok), Diana Muldaur (Marg), Sally Kemp (Treece), Johana de Winter (Villar), Claire Brennen (Delba), Corrine Camacho (Bronta), Majel Barrett (Yuloff), Jim Antonio (Jonathan Connor), Aron Kincaid (Gorda), John Quade (Kreeg Commandant), Rai Tasco (Pater Kimbridge), Sara Chattin (Thetis), Lew Brown (Merlo), Raymond Sutton (Kreeg Captain), Joan Crosby (Kyla), James Bacon (Partha), Craig Hundley (Harpsichordist), Robert McAndrew (First Dink), Bob Golden (Second Dink), Susan Page (Little Girl)

Planet EarthNotes: Planet Earth is based on a story idea that Gene Roddenberry had mooted as a “possible future episode” of both the original Star Trek and, later, for a prospective Genesis II series. More familiar faces are found behind the scenes; Marc Daniels directed the first Star Trek episode broadcast, The Man Trap, as well as fan favorites The Naked Time, The Menagerie, Court-Martial, Space Seed, The Doomsday Machine, and Mirror, Mirror. At the time of this movie’s TV premiere, he had also turned his hand to writing, including the animated Star Trek episode One Of Our Planets Is Missing. And finally, Roddenberry’s right-hand man for almost all of the original Star Trek, Planet Earthproducer Robert Justman, is credited as the producer of Planet Earth as well. Diana Muldaur had appeared in the original Star Trek episodes Return To Tomorrow and Is There In Truth No Beauty?, and Roddenberry would call upon her again to play Dr. Katherine Pulaski in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Craig Hundley, who appeared as Tommy Starnes in …And The Children Shall Lead, appears as a harpsichordist here – perhaps the midway point between his early acting ambitions and his later musical leanings, which would lead him to devise the Blaster Beam instrument that was heavily used by Jerry Goldsmith in the soundtrack of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Strange New World

Strange New WorldCaptain Anthony Vico is the leader of a team of researchers aboard a space station operated by the scientific agency PAX, conducting experiments in subjecting human beings to suspended animation. The station is moved into a different orbit when a swarm of asteroids is detected nearing Earth, and the computer is set to awaken Vico and his crew in a few days is given new orders: don’t revive them for another 180 years, and then give them instructions to return to Earth to reunite with any PAX remnants that may still exist. Upon
returning to Earth, Vico and his team follow an intermittent PAX homing signal until they’re all but sitting on top of its source, at which point another signal renders them unconscious.

When Vico and his team awaken, they find themselves in an idyllic city populated entirely by young, fit people, whose leader seems intent that the PAX team should stay there. Vico loses his patients and attempts to escape, discovering that the seemingly young population consists of humans kept alive by cloning; as their organs age or fail, they are replaced by organs harvested from the clones. The PAX team is imprisoned to serve as a supply of fresh blood, with a strong immune resistance, for the clones, until Vico leads them in an escape.

The PAX survivors then run across a desert oasis filled with fresh fruit and spring water, but this find is naturally too good to be true: two primitive tribes battle over the resources of this small area of land, and one of the groups takes PAX navigator Allison Crowley hostage, leaving Vico and PAX’s Dr. Scott little time to negotiate her release – or start a local war by trying to free her before she comes to harm.

written by Ronald F. Graham, Alvin Ramrus and Walon Green
directed by Robert Butler
music by Richard Clements and Elliot Kaplan

Strange New WorldCast: John Saxon (Captain Anthony Vico), Catherine Bach (Guide), Norland Benson (Hide), Martine Beswick (Tana), Reb Brown (Sprang), Keene Curtis (Doctor Scott), Dick Farnsworth (Elder), Gerrit Graham (Daniel), Bill McKinney (Badger), Kathleen Miller (Allison Crowley), James Olson (Surgeon), Ford Rainey (Cyrus), Cynthia Wood (Arana)

Strange New WorldNotes: Produced without any participation from Gene Roddenberry, Strange New World is Warner Bros.’ third and final attempt to launch the PAX saga as a series, since the studio owned the rights to the format Roddenberry developed. To avoid legal entanglements, the character of Dylan Hunt was renamed Anthony Vico, though John Saxon was again cast in the role. The only other common element is the name of the PAX organization (used as a proxy for NASA here), and the basic premise of Hunt/Vico being frozen in suspended animation, only to be revived in a destroyed world which he vows to rebuild to its former glory. This was the last attempt to bring Dylan Hunt to TV in the 1970s; the next attempt, the 2000 premiere of the Strange New Worldposthumously-produced Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, restored Hunt’s name and retained the “man frozen in time awakens to rebuild his world” log line, but shed the PAX concept and the not-so-distant-future-of-Earth setting. The writing talent brought to bear on this final attempt to salvage the Genesis II concept was considerable: Walon Green co-wrote the classic western The Wild Bunch (1969), while Ronald F. Graham (1941-2010) wrote many episodes of UK TV series like The Professionals, The Sweeney, and Dempsey & Makepeace. Al Ramrus wrote episodes of Rat Patrol, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and The Avengers.

8LogBook entry by Earl Green

Alien Lover

StarstruckAfter becoming orphaned and spending three months in a mental institution, Susan arrives at her aunt and uncle’s home to move in with them. Her Uncle Mike is only too pleased to be receiving a slice of Susan’s inheritance to pay her expenses, and when Susan begins mentioning that she’s having conversations with someone named Marc through a television set, Mike sees an opportunity to have Susan committed and legally gain full access to that inheritance. Mike and Marian’s son, Jude, comes home from college with his roommate for a visit, and Susan learns that Jude has seen and spoken to Marc as well – and that he’s scared to death of the handsome man on the TV. Lonely and lovesick, Susan refuses to accept Jude’s disturbing warning that Marc is the leader of an alien invasion force…but if her crush finds a way to step out of the TV, it could be the beginning of humanity’s end.

written by George Lefferts
directed by Lela Swift
music by Robert Cobert

Alien LoverCast: Pernell Roberts (Mike), Susan Brown (Marian), Kate Mulgrew (Susan), Steven Earl Tanner (Jude), John Ventantonio (Marc), David Lewis (Dr. Steiner), Harry Moses (Richard), and Herman

Notes: This was Kate Mulgrew’s first television job, filmed sometime around her 20th birthday, though it was beaten to the punch by her debut in the series regular role of Mary on Ryan’s Hope (a daytime soap which went into production after Alien Lover). Just four years later, she was starring in her own series, Mrs. Alien LoverColumbo. She was later a series regular on the late ’80s hospital series Heartbeat, the short-lived early ’90s James Garner series Man Of The People, 2007’s The Black Donnellys, Cartoon Network’s live-action series NTSF:SD:SUV, and most recently was Red in the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black, though anyone reading this site likely knows her best from her seven-year stint as Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, a role she reprised (with a promotion) in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. Alien Lover was a TV movie-of-the-week aired as part of the NBC Mystery Movie, an anthology series that ran from 1973 through 1978, usually leaning on crime/mystery stories, but occasionally dipping into – as was the case here – the paranormal.

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Into Infinity (Gerry Anderson’s The Day After Tomorrow)

Into InfinityAt Space Station Delta, the starship Altares is preparing for an unprecedented mission: the first manned interstellar mission, utilizing a photonic drive that will create a time dilation effect relative to Earth; any messages the Altares crew sends back from Alpha Centauri will reach the descendants of the mission controllers who helped launch the ship. The Altares is crewed by two families, and even the children are fully trained in the technical and scientific aspects of the mission.

Activation of the photonic drive goes off without a hitch, but contact with Earth is now measured in years instead of minutes or hours. Altares’ visit to Alpha Centauri takes place on schedule, but an unexpected fault activates the photon drive again, throwing the ship off-course at nearly the speed of light and completely out of touch with Earth. With a star threatening to go supernova at any moment, and a black hole that might crush the Altares, the mission and the crew are in jeopardy.

Into Infinitywritten by Johnny Byrne
directed by Charles Crichton
music by Derek Wadsworth and Steve Coe

Cast:

Brian Blessed (Tom Bowen), Joanna Dunham (Anna Bowen), Nick Tate (Captain Harry Masters), Don Fellows (Jim Forbes), Katharine Levy (Jane Masters), Martin Lev (David Bowen), Ed Bishop (Narrator)

Notes: A pilot that never made it to series, Into Infinity first aired in the United States as part of NBC’s occasional “Special Treat” program, and then aired in the UK a year later under the title Gerry Anderson’s Day After Tomorrow). Devised by Gerry Anderson (of Supermarionation, UFO, and Space: 1999 fame) and Space: 1999 script editor Johnny Byrne (also responsible for a few episodes of Doctor Who, including Into InfinityThe Keeper Of Traken and the character of Nyssa), Into Infinity was made between the first and second seasons of Space: 1999. As the Altares plunges into the event horizon of the black hole toward the end of the show, a psychedelic sequence ensues which eerily anticipates – in great detail – the bizzaro ending of the 1979 Disney movie The Black Hole. The producers of the later movie were aiming for something cerebral, quasi-spiritual and ambiguous a la 2001: a space odyssey, but the similarities in the hallucinatory sequences near the end of Into Infinity and The Black Hole are striking.

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Spectre

SpectreDr. “Ham” Hamilton is summoned to the home of his friend and colleague, investigator William Sebastian, where he learns that Sebastian’s latest criminal investigation extends into truly otherworldly territory. Sebastian’s torso is scarred, and he has no detectable heartbeat: the work, he claims, of the devil. A visit from an attractive woman quickly turns horrifying when Sebastian reveals her to be a succubus attempting to thwart his investigation into the unusual behavior of a British business tycoon named Cyon. Sebastian needs Hamilton’s help, and is even willing to do him a favor in exchange: Sebastian’s mysterious assistant Lilith uses a form of magic to cure the doctor of his alcoholism almost instantly.

The trip overseas is eventful, with Cyon’s freewheeling younger brother Mitri piloting Cyon’s personal jet. No sooner have Sebastian and Hamilton arrived in London than Sebastian’s contact in the Cyon case literally goes up in flames. Sebastian salvages a book from the scene, hoping that the clues will help him crack the Cyon case. The Cyon mansion is staffed by beautiful young women, and even Mitri admits that his brother’s “personal magnetism” has increased inexplicably. Sebastian and Hamilton discover a buried cavern beneath the Cyon estate, with evidence of human sacrifices, and indications that a very real demon has broken free. The two men begin planning their endgame against who they believe may be the demon Asmodedus, but they must remain wary: the actions of everyone around them may be ploys to keep them from defeating their supernatural enemy.

screenplay by Gene Roddenberry and Samuel A. Peeples
based on an original story by Gene Roddenberry
directed by Clive Donner
music by John Cameron

SpectreCast: Robert Culp (Sebastian), Gig Young (Dr. Hamilton), John Hurt (Mitri), James Villiers (Cyon), Majel Barrett (Lilith), Ann Bell (Anitra), Lindy Benson (Third Maid), Sally Farmiloe (Fourth Maid), Angela Grant (Butler), Penny Irving (First Maid), Gordon Jackson (Inspector Cabell), Michael Latimer (Co-Pilot), Vicki Michelle (Second Maid), Jenny Runacre (Sydna)

SpectreNotes: A familiar leading man at the movies and on TV, Robert Culp (1930-2010) appeared in such genre fare as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., guest shots as three different characters in the 1960s Outer Limits series (including the Harlan Ellison-written episode Demon With A Glass Hand), and a starring role in The Greatest American Hero. John Hurt (1940-2017) starred as Caligula in the 1976 BBC-TV production of I, Claudius before gaining big-screen fame as the star of The Elephant Man (1980) and as Winston Smith in the 1984 adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. He appeared as Ollivander in the Harry Potter movies, provided the Spectrevoice of the dragon in the 21st century Merlin series, and appeared as a mysterious iteration of the Doctor during the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who (The Name Of The Doctor, Day Of The Doctor). Spectre was one of the final roles for Gig Young, who died in 1978. Director Clive Donner was busy behind the camera on both sides of the Atlantic, having already directed episodes of the 1960s series Danger Man, starring Patrick McGoohan of The Prisoner fame. This was the last of Gene Roddenberry’s 1970s TV pilots before he redirected his attention full-time to reviving Star Trek.

8LogBook entry by Earl Green

Dr. Strange

Dr. StrangeAncient, immortal forces prepare to resume battle, using modern day Earth as their battleground. The witch Morgan le Fay is challenged by the Nameless One to defeat a wizard who has defended Earth from magical forces for hundreds of years; nearing the end of his life, the wizard will be picking and training a successor soon, and if Morgan strikes at the right time, she can eliminate them both. She takes over the body of a mortal woman and tries to kill Lindmer, the old wizard, but he survives the attempt on his life. The woman briefly controlled by le Fay ends up in the hospital under psychiatric care.

It is there that she encounters Stephen Strange, a doctor with a reputation for being popular with the ladies, but somewhat lacking as a physician. Lindmer tracks the woman to the hospital, and notices that Dr. Strange wears a ring with the same design as a unique window in Lindmer’s study. He reveals that he knew Strange’s deceased parents, and that Strange has the latent magical ability to take over as the defender of Earth. But first, he must learn to harness those powers, and to resist the temptation of Morgan le Fay.

teleplay by Philip DeGuere
directed by Philip DeGuere
music by Paul Chihara

Dr. StrangeCast: Peter Hooten (Dr. Strange), Clyde Kusatsu (Mr. Wong), Jessica Walter (Morgan le Fay), Eddie Benton (Clea Lake), Philip Sterling (Dr. Taylor), John Mills (Lindmer), June Barrett (Sarah), Sarah Rush (Nurse), Diana Webster (Head Nurse), Bob Delegall (Intern), Larry Anderson (Magician), Blake Marion (Dept. Chief), Lady Rowlands (Mrs. Sullivan), Inez Pedroza (Announcer), Michael Clark (Taxi Driver), Frank Catalano (Orderly)

Dr. StrangeNotes: “Eddie Benton” is a stage name used through 1980 by actress Anne Marie Martin. Ted Cassidy is the uncredited voice of the demon summoned by Morgan to do battle with Dr. Strange. Ironically, though Stan Lee consulted on this movie – obviously intended to be a pilot – more closely than he did any of the other Marvel-derived TV projects of the late 1970s, Dr. Strange went no further than this pilot movie. The character didn’t get a filmed revival until 2016. Paul Chihara’s music for the early portions of this movie make heavy use of the Blaster Beam, an electronic instrument commonly associated with the soundtrack from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Another television show beat Dr. Strange to the Beam, however: the instrument had featured heavily in the music for an episode of The Bionic Woman aired in January 1978.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Starstruck

StarstruckThe final frontier is the new wild frontier. The exploration of space has given way to settlement and mining, and occasionally lawlessness. Ben McCallister runs a space station “halfway between Earth and Pluto” where he fixes and fuels patrons’ spacecraft as they enjoy the amenities on board before moving on to their next destination. His children are exposed to a wide and wild variety of aliens and humans alike, though he does his best to shield them from the seedier side of things, with the help of the housekeeping robots, “Mrs. Douglas” and “Mr. Hudson”. Talent agent Max, always trying to get McCallister to book his comedy and music acts, tries to get Ben to consider a singer named Amber LaRue, only to be turned down. In need of work, Amber offers to do odd jobs around the station, even if they don’t involve singing. Orthwaite Frodo, a dazzlingly rich space mining magnate, drops by with his handsome pilot, Chance, to sample the McCallisters’ legendary apple pie (using real Earth-grown apples), which leads him to offer to buy out Ben McCallister’s establishment. Ben politely refuses, but Amber lets him in on a secret: Orthwaite Frodo won’t take “no” for an answer, and has brought a hired assassin with him to eliminate any “no” that he might encounter.

written by Arthur Kopit
directed by Al Viola
music by Allan Alper / title song by Mitch Johnson, Kerry Chater & Patricia Goode

StarstruckCast: Beeson Carroll (Ben McCallister), Lynne Lipton (Amber LaRue), Guy Raymond (Ezra McCallister), Meegan King (Mark McCallister), Tania Myren (Kate McCallister), Elvia Allman (Abigail McCallister), Kevin Brando (Rupert McCallister), Robin Strand (Chance), Sarah Kennedy (Delight), Joe Silver (Max), Roy Brocksmith (Orthwaite Frodo), Herb Kaplowitz (Dart), Robert Short (Mr. Hudson), Buddy Douglas (Mrs. Douglas), J.C. Wells (Tashko), Cynthia Latham (Madame Dumont), Forrest J. Ackerman (Alien Astronaut), Jackie O’Brien (Waitress), Billy Scudder (Wolflike Alien)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Countdown To Looking Glass

Countdown To Looking GlassFollowing the collapse of major American banks sparked by the default of several South American nations indebted to the United States, the American embassy in Saudi Arabia is bombed, and the U.S. ambassador and several others are killed. Oman, its economy weakened by the American bank collapse, is “stabilized” by a Soviet military force; in response, Saudi Arabia invites the U.S. to deploy its own military force on Saudi soil. Oman blockades the Strait of Hormuz, demanding a hefty toll for every oil tanker seeking passage. A large U.S. Navy battle group is ordered to the Strait of Hormuz to keep the shipping lanes open, and the Soviets send nuclear submarines there to enforce the blockade. Both sides are prepared for a potential nuclear conflict. Reporters for CVN news cover the story extensively, including a reporter embedded aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz, while their sources among White House staff warn that the President himself is preparing to evacuate…

written by Albert Ruben
directed by Fred Barzyk
music not credited

Cast: Scott Glenn (Michael Boyle), Michael Murphy (Bob Calhoun), Helen Shaver (Dorian Waldorf), Patrick Watson (Dan Tobin), Nancy Dickerson (herself), Eric Sevareid (himself), Matsu Anderson (Matsu Yamada), Barbara Barnes-Hopkins (Mrs. Langhorn), Michael Beattie (Youth #1), Lincoln Bloomfield (himself), Murray Chruchley (James Otis), Richard Comar (Pentagon Spokesman), Faye Dance (Ann Gailmore), Don Dickinson (Unger), Michael Donaghue (Technician), Robert Ellsworth (himself), Don Francks (Don Geller), Newt Gingrich (himself), Rex Hagon (Barry McKay), Seymour Horowitz (Washington Demonstrator), Jerry Hyman (Col. H. Alexander), Ray Landry (Young Announcer), Gene R. La Rocque (himself), Robert Lesko (John J. Bingham), David Lucas (Marty Schindler), David Main (Gordon Scott), Eugene McCarthy (himself), Vincent Murray (Youth #2), David Nichols (Frank Hollander), Maida Rogerson (Barbara Levin), John Thomson III (Commander Pritchard), Murray Westgate (The President)

Notes: Professor Lincoln Bloomfield was also one of the advisors who constructed the fictional geopolitical scenario that plays out over the course of the movie.

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Without Warning

Without WarningIn 1994, three asteroid fragments collide with the Earth’s northern hemisphere, one in France, one in a sparsely-populated area of northern China, and another in an isolated region of Wyoming. A little girl is found by a news crew near the Wyoming impact site, and a man who was on a skiing vacation is recovered from a mountain near the crater in France. Both of them try to say something, but in both cases their words emerge as an incomprehensible string of seemingly random syllables. Within hours, from each impact site, a powerful radio signal is transmitted by an unknown source, jamming all air traffic, satellite communications and ground-based radio signals along the 45th parallel. As the world tries to take in the meaning of these events, a second asteroid is detected on a collision course with Earth. The Air Force launches two F-16 fighter jets to intercept the incoming asteroid with nuclear weapons, and though the mission is a success, the two planes mysteriously vanish. The population of a small town near the Wyoming crater disappears without warning, and the radio signals from the three impact sites cease. Concerned members of the scientific community, some of them defying orders from the White House and the Pentagon, offer the possibility that the geometric precision of the impact sites are a hint that the asteroids were, in fact, launched by an extraterrestrial intelligence. Three new asteroids are detected, aimed with equal precision at Washington, Beijing and Moscow – the capitols of the three Earth powers with nuclear capability. The two survivors of the initial impacts suddenly die, just before analysis of their disjointed words reveals a deadly secret. Another nuclear counterstrike is launched by the military, and the three asteroids are destroyed before they can make contact with their targets – but that action only seals the doom of the entire human race.

teleplay by Peter Lance
story by Jeremy Thorn & Walon Green and Peter Lance
directed by Robert Iscove
music by Craig Safan

Cast: Sander Vanocur (Sander Vanocur), Jane Maczmarek (Dr. Caroline Jaffe), Bree Walker Lampley (Bree Walker), Dwier Brown (Matt Jensen), Brian MacNamara (Mike Curtis), James Morrison (Paul Whitaker), Ashley Without WarningPeldon (Kimberly Hastings), James Handy (Dr. Norbert Hazelton), Kario Salem (Dr. Avram Mandel), Spencer Garrett (Paul Collingwood), Gina Hecht (Barbara Shiller), John de Lancie (Barry Steinbrenner), Patty Toy (Denise Wong), Dennis Lipscomb (Dr. Richard Pearson), Ron Canada (Terrance Freeman), Victor Wilson (Mark Manetti), Phillip Baker Hall (Dr. Kurt Lowden), Jim Pirri (Robert Marino), Alan Scarfe (General Lucian Alexander), Cynthia Allison (Cynthia Allison), Ernie Anastos (Ernie Anastos), Arthur C. Clarke (Arthur C. Clarke), Sandy Hill (Sandy Hill), Michelle Holden (Michelle Holden), Mario Machado (Mario Machado), Warren Olney (Warren Olney), Saida Pagan (Saida Pagan), Richard Saxton (Richard Saxton), Debra Snell (Debra Snell), Randy Crowder (Deputy Anson Peters), Diana Frank (Sylvie Chounard), Marnie McPhail (Donna Hastings), Sherri Paysinger (Pamela Barnes), Robert Peters (Dwayne Haskell), Lou Beatty Jr. (Dr. Jonas Tremblay), Frank Bruynbroek (French Skier), John de Mita (Major Powers), Tyler Cole Malinger (Tyler O’Neal), Marnie Mosiman (Annie O’Neal), Armand Schultz (David Case)

Notes: There are many slight errors which were probably intended to be deliberate clues to the viewer that this was not an actual newscast. For one thing, naturally, the coverage came from a Without Warningnews-gathering organization which no one has ever seen before (though CBS caught much flak for using its own standard news graphics, thus causing some of that genuine confusion and concern that made this movie so much fun!). Numerous actor cameos in the roles of reporters and others are a dead giveaway, particularly the ever recognizable John de Lancie. The “news coverage” is also too smooth by far – there seem to be live audio and video feeds from nearly everywhere the unnamed news network needs to be. How convenient! And absolutely impossible, too! The “interference” which peppers the screen often is actually the faded-in image of out-of-whack tape tracking on a broadcast grade VTR. Without Warning avoided a pitfall to which Countdown To Looking Glass fell prey – stepping out of character to show what was going on behind the scenes. The entire program maintained its constant “newscast” front for two hours in real time, with the singular exception of, at the very end, a shot of…well, that would be telling.

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More

Hamlet

HamletHamlet, price of Denmark, is distraught after the death of his father, to say nothing of the ease with which his uncle has taken the late king’s place both on the throne and in the queen’s bed. The late king’s ghost appears, hinting that his death was no accident and urging Hamlet to avenge him. When the ghost next appears, it tells Hamlet that the current occupant of the throne is the killer. The knowledge sharpens Hamlet’s desire for revenge and slowly begins to drive him mad. He plans to expose his uncle as his father’s assassin, but the new king is too wily to be drawn out so easily. Hamlet becomes more relentless, and soon doesn’t care who pays the price for the truth to be known.

written by William Shakespeare
directed by Gregory Doran
music by Paul Englishby

Cast: David Tennant (Hamlet), Patrick Stewart (Claudius / The Ghost), Penny Downie (Gertrude), Oliver Ford Davies (Polonius), Mariah Gale (Ophelia), Edward Bennett (Laertes), Peter de Jersey (Horatio), Sam Alexander (Rosencrantz / Second Gravedigger), Tom Davey (Guildenstern), Mark Hadfield (Gravedigger), John Woodvine (Player King), Ryan Gage (Osric / Player Queen), Samuel Dutton (Dumbshow King), Jim Hooper (Dumbshow Queen / Priest), David Ajala (Reynaldo / Dumbshow Poisoner), Keith Osborn (Marcelius), Ewen Cummins (Barnardo), Robert Curtis (Francisco / Fortinbras), Roderick Smith (Voltemand), Andrea Harris (Cornelia), Ricky Champ (Lucianus), Riann Steele (Lady-in-waiting), Zoe Thorne (Lady-in-waiting)

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green Read More