Let's continue our examination of a bunch of old magazines I bought:
No offense to director Jack Clayton, but that surely must rank as one of the most boring covers of Cinefantastique's history.
It's livened up a bit by that tabloid-esque banner about the Twilight Zone tragedy, which is in decidedly poor taste, in my opinion. If this were 1983 all over again, it might put me off of reading the magazine for a while; or at least, it would prompt a strongly-worded letter to the editor.
So, of course, I'm going to just post the relevant page for everyone to see:
This whole thing was unquestionably a shameful piece of Hollywood's history, and if you ever want to read a fascinating book on the subject, I strongly recommend Stephen Farber and Marc Green's Outrageous Conduct: Art, Ego, and the Twilight Zone Case. A used copy will set you back a couple of dozen bucks, but if the case interests you, the money is worth spending.
Not going to go too deep on this one. But a few highlights are worth plucking out:
Not going to go too deep on this one. But a few highlights are worth plucking out:
- Merritt Butrick on the death of his character, David, in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: "It did not distub me that the character died. I did not want to grow up as the son of Shatner. My name is Merritt Butrick and I have my own career. I didn't particularly want to do Star Trek for the rest of my life." How'd that work out for you, Merritt Butrick?
- Grace Jones, co-star of A View to a Kill, on what is more difficult than filming stunts: "I think the hardest thing is when you have to do a love scene with somebody. IT's also the easiest, because it's the funniest. Roger's very funny. I'm very shy sometimes -- you wouldn't believe it! But there are moments when you think about it a lot before you're actually going to do a love scene, thinking of ways to break the ice. So, you end up laughing rather than being serious. I used to hear stories that Roger always played tricks on all the girls with whom he had love scenes, like pulling out dildos and things like that. Maybe. I don't know. So, I decided, during our scene, the get back at him before he got to me." She becomes cagey at this point, and won't elaborate. "Oh, I can't say. I'm not going to tell! They recorded it on film, too. But it won't be shown." The mind quakes at the possibilities.
- Mary Tamm, who played the first Romana on Doctor Who, on the subject of her co-star, Tom Baker: "Tom and I started off with a sort of mutual respect for each other. He has a reputation for being difficult, and he can be very rude. So, from day one, I was equally rude to him, so he knew what to expect -- and after that, we got on famously. We share a great sense of humor. He's a very, very bright guy. I admire his mind tremendously, because he's an articulate, very well-read man, and a genuine eccentric. I think he was the best Doctor, capturing the essence of the character."
- Cocoon director Ron Howard, then a youngster, on whether the age difference between himself and his mostly-septuagenarian cast caused any friction: "If they have felt the age difference to any large degree, they've hidden it from me -- and I really appreciate that. I didn't feel odd about it. I felt respectful, probably more respectful of this group of actors than others with whom I've worked. But, I respect actors in general, and I'm interested in their ideas and input, so that was easy for me. I think I'm going to greater lengths to make sure they're treated with the respect they've earned."
|Ron Howard on the set on Cocoon. On a cocoon.|
This is a fantastic issue, one so dripping with goodness that I'm tempted to scan vast chunks of it and just post them for all to see.
And so I shall, beginning with this soap-box-y interview Gene Roddenberry:
|The novel Roddenberry discusses here, Report From Earth, was never completed. Shame, that.|
Does our pop-cultural landscape currently have anyone akin to Gene Roddenberry? I'm not sure sure it does, and if it does, I don't know who that person is.
Next up, a brief interview with George Lucas:
|Look, I know most people nowadays hate the Ewoks, but in my neck of the woods in the mid-to-late eighties, I don't remember anybody hating them.|
And now, a few words from John Carpenter:
|Sonofabitchin' Starlog and their two-part interviews... It's especially bad form in an anniversary issue.|
Next, we have an interview with Leonard Nimoy:
|I'm always weirded out by how unlike AND alike Nimoy looks to Spock when out of makeup. Seems like a contradiction; isn't.|
We'll round things out with a pair of interviews with genre legends: Harlan Ellison and Richard Matheson.
|And now he's ripping Gremlins apart?!? Mercy, Harlan; mercy! It kind of warms my heart that he enjoyed Cocoon, though; that makes at least two of us.|
|"You don't think the other anthologies will be doing the same thing?" asks the interviewer. "What do we care?" answers Ellison. Take a bow, sir; this is why we love you.|
|Lookit that photo of Karloff and Price, boy. Slice that sucker up, add some cheese and mayo, and you've got ham sandwiches that'll feed hundreds.|
|One of these days, I HAVE GOT to read more Ellison and Matheson. They aren't the only authors on that list, but they're both near the top.|
And there's plenty more where that came from -- Irwin Allen, Peter Cushing, Nichelle Nichols, and Ray Harryhausen, to name a few -- but sadly, this is where we must turn our attentions to the next magazine on the agenda:
Youguysyouguysyouguys, if you love Star Trek, you MUST own this magazine. It is a near-perfect time-capsule of what Star Trek meant at that point in its history; or, at least, as nearly-perfect as a hundred-page magazine was probably capable of. (I say that, but then I think what a double-sized issue of Cinefantastique might have been able to do, and know how wrong I am. But let's ignore that.)
Too much goodness here to even try and pull highlights from, so instead, I'm going to resort to bulletpoints of the contents:
- A two-page editorial by David Gerrold titled "What Star Trek Meant to Me."
- Interviews with Gene Roddenberry, D.C. Fontana, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, and assistant director Charles Washburn (this one is particularly good).
- A conversation with John Meredyth Lucas about the episodes he wrote and directed, including "The Enterprise Incident," "The Changeling," and "The Ultimate Computer."
- A five-page article summarizing every single Trek novel that had been published up to that point. I adore the Trek novels from this era, so this is catnip to me. (I must protest, though: they left out the very first novel, Mission to Horatius!)
- Tons of other shorter sidebar-type pieces, such as little bits about the guy who played Riley, the release of the uncut version of "The Cage" on home video, and so forth.
Fantastic stuff if you're a Trekkie.
Also, there's this:
What more can be said about that?
Well, maybe this: I'd like you to stop for a moment and ponder something. For people younger than, say, 25 -- maybe even 30, but let's go with 25 -- if you were to assemble the collective stars of the original Star Trek, which of them do you suppose would be the most famous and popular? I suspect that the results would be that George Takei would win that poll, and he'd probably win it in a landslide. This is due almost entirely to his social media presence.
Do you find that to be both fascinating and a little satisfying? I certainly do.
And hey, speaking of a Cinefantastique Trek-anniversary issue...
Here it is, and the Star Trek retrospective lasts a mere sixteen pages.
In examining these old magazines, I have found that Cinefantastique took a slight downward turn at some point during its existence, and went from the type of publication that belonged in the "almost unbelievably good" column to the sort that belongs more in the "good, but not as good as it used to be" column. I have not been able to pin down precisely when that shift occurred, but I believe it must have happened at some point prior to this particular issue.
Which is not to say that this is a bad piece of work. It isn't. There is some good Trek stuff, some good photos, good quotes, etc. It just isn't something that verges on being essential, the way issues from the seventies and from earlier in the eighties could at times do.
The best section might well be a several-paragraphs-long bit devoted to "The City on the Edge of Forever," the Harlan Ellison-originated episode that is beloved by more or less everyone not named Harlan Ellison. Ellison hurls invective ("I despise the Star Trek "City on the Edge of Forever"); D.C. Fonatana speaks logically ("You have to read the two" screenplays [i.e., Ellison's original and the revised version used for filming] "and form your own opinions"); and Gene Roddenberry speaks passionately in defense of his ideals ("He had my Scotty dealing in interplanetary drugs and things like that!"). On that last point, Roddenberry is in error (as he would later admit); Scotty does not actually appear in the script. However, having read Ellison's draft, which is very good, I can say that in my opinion, Roddenberry was right to heavily revise it; it was good, but it wasn't exactly Star Trek. Roddenberry took it and turned it into Star Trek, and vintage Star Trek at that. We here at Where No Blog Has Gone Before love ya, Harlan . . . but you ain't always right, and this was one of those times when you were mostly not.
Elsewhere, there is good stuff about assistant art director Matt Jeffries (who designed the Enterprise), makeup artist Fred Phillips, propmaker Jimmy Rugg, composer Alexander Courage, and several screenwriters, including Robert Bloch and Theodore Sturgeon. There is a decided emphasis placed on the behind-the-scenes talent, as opposed to the stars, and in this regard, Cinefantastique's anniversary coverage does, at least, distinguish itself from Starlog's.
The magazine also contains a really good article about the making of Captain Eo, a 3D sci-fi short film that played in several Disney theme parks beginning in 1986. It starred Michael Jackson, was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and was produced by George Lucas, so we're not exactly talking about small-time players here.
I'm not going to delve into the article here, but if you want to read the entire thing, here's a link.
I will however, share with you one photo, which may be the most eighties thing you will see in this life:
I saw Captain Eo once, at Epcot, in 1991. I don't remember anything at all about it. If I am not mistaken, it is playing at Disney World again, and has been since not too terribly long after Jackson's death. I'd like to get down there and check it out before it vanishes back into the Vault Of Discontinued Theme Park Attractions, but will that happen? Hard to say.
I bought this one on account of it being a James Bond cover, but the primary reason we are interested in it for the purposes of this particular post is probably a brief piece about the upcoming premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Bear in mind, now: this is mid-1987. If you are a Star Trek fan, then maybe you've already heard about this new "sequel" television series, but the odds are just as likely that you haven't. And even if you have then you might well not have (pardon the pun) encountered anything tangible about the show. So for a significant number of people, this article by David Gerrold may well have been the very first glimpse of the new crew of the starship Enterprise:
Some fascinating details there, which I cannot resist commenting upon:
- I enjoy Gerrold's note about how "there is no question as to who is in charge of this starship." I suppose the idea is that there must have been some concern that in comparison to the prototypical captain-type that original-series William Shatner played as James T. Kirk, Patrick Stewart's older, balder, Britisher captain might -- at least visually, as represented, as one totally random example, by a black-and-white still photograph in a magazine -- come off as a bit of a nonentity. From what I can remember, I had very little knowledge of the show prior to its premiere, so I had no way or prejudging the character. Even if I had, I wasn't at the age to do so; I hadn't quite learned that trick yet. Either way, I was a Picard fan from the first scene in which he appeared. Who wouldn't have been?
- Of Riker: "His character is still developing in interesting ways. (You'll have to wait and see.)" I wonder what this is referring to? It almost hints at some sort of major arc for the character, but I don't think whatever Gerrold is referring to was ever actually done by the series. Any ideas?
- "Tasha has come a long way since she was named Macha (and for two days, Tanya)." Huh? Am I wrong, or do neither of those things ever appear in the series? I would love to know how Yar would have developed over the course of the seven-season run if Denise Crosby had not left the show.
- "Dr. Beverly Crusher is played by Cheryl McFadden." Huh?!? I immediately Googled this, and discovered that Gates McFadden's first name is, in fact, Cheryl, but that she only bills herself as Cheryl if she is serving as a choreographer. Gerrold's article, however, indicates that people who know her personally might -- as would make complete sense -- generally refer to her as "Cheryl" rather than "Gates."
- "In the opening episode, she has red hair because of a play she's in, but in later episodes, her hair may become a softer brown color." I honestly cannot remember if this came to pass or not. Seems like I would.
- As for Gerrold's ratings prediction, if my research is correct, the premiere episode -- cumulatively, I assume -- attracted some 15.7 million viewers. A different source indicates that the rating itself was a 15.7, which does not necessarily equate to 15.7 million viewers; it would likely have been more (as the "rating" is actually a measurement -- technically, an estimate of a measurement -- of the percentage of total television viewers during a specific time perdiod, meaning that a 15.7 represents 15.7% of the total television audience). By comparison, the #1 show for the 1986-87 season, The Cosby Show, is said to have averaged a rating of 34.9 for the year. So Gerrold's prediction was not entirely accurate. Nevertheless, The Next Generation seemingly was third in terms of syndicated programs for the year, behind only Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, which made it a certifiable hit.
- Notice any missing faces? No Michael Dorn! It's almost difficult to believe from a 2014 perspective -- and would have been even from a 1994 perspective -- but Worf was not initially intended to be a major character, but instead merely a recurring one who popped up only occasionally. He ended up, of course, being one of the best characters on the series, and is arguably THE most prominent character in all of Star Trek, given how many episodes he made (between both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine).
One other item in this issue bears mention, if only for the immense WTF potential it carries:
Can you IMAGINE?!? Comics were once a big enough deal that a couple of fictional characters got married in front of a sold-out crowd at Shea friggin' Stadium! Now, I assume the sell-out was for a baseball game, and not for the marriage . . . but either way, it is downright charming to think that this is the sort of thing 1987 was capable of.
See? The eighties: not all bad.
Fast-forward a couple of months, and it's cover-story time for Star Trek: The Next Generation, which probably means that this issue was hitting newsstands at roughly the same time the premiere episode was airing.
The Next Generation coverage is pretty good, although the tone of much of it is defensive:
- "I've heard all about this brewing controversy about the merits of the new cast vs. the old cast," says LeVar Burton. "I know people want us to compare this cast with the old cast, but we won't. Trekkers are open-minded. I can't imagine these people are going to judge our show without having seen it."
- "I insist on interrupting when people refer to me as the new Captain Kirk," says Patrick Stewart. "It is important to myself as well as to the series that people become familiar with Picard and not view him merely as a clone of Kirk."
- "I'm not getting laid nearly as much as Kirk did in the old show," says Jonathan Frakes.
- "I don't want to come across as having my back up about comparisons to the old series," says Stewart. "Kirk and Spock are a very real part of the Star Trek history and the idea of this being The Next Generation should imply that we look as much to our history as to our future. All I ask is that we be permitted to get on with our extension of the series."
- "Tasha is a woman with problems," says Denise Crosby. "She has been brought up on a ghetto planet in a very aggressive society but she is also a very insecure person; especially when she is around people whom she considers superior to her."
- "This is the eighties," says
CherylGates McFadden, "and, because of that, the series will explore stronger, more relevant relationships and attitudes." She continues, "All the roles for women are intelligent and strong. They are like their male counterparts in terms of their adherence to the mission's Prime Directive. But, because of the length of the mission, we're also dealing with the very real possibility of evolving sexual and romantic relationships. And it goes further than that. My storyline has my husband being killed while on a mission with Captain Picard. Nobody knows the whole story behind that and what kind of relationship may develop between Crusher and Picard. But one thing is certain, the women in this show are not token characters. Their roles are legitimate and substantial."
- "There is no chance of Worf reverting back to his old Klingon ways," says Michael Dorn, who is not ignored like he was in that issue from two months previous. "But it would be kind of funny to have Picard and riker beam down to a planet and have Worf suddenly decide to take the Enterprise on a joy ride to the other side of the galaxy." Silly Michael Dorn; doesn't he know how long that would take, even at maximum warp?
The issue also contains an article about Gary Lockwood, who co-starred in both "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (the second pilot episode of the original series) and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Presented for your approval:
And in the interest of taking a small step toward equality of time at this blog, here's a Doctor Who article:
The Whovians might be slightly irked, but we immediately turn our attentions right back toward Star Trek with another issue of Starlog, this one a Starlog Yearbook (Vol. 1, according to the cover, although the credits page instead lists it -- confusingly -- as Starlog Presents #7).
I'm not going to delve too deeply into this issue, but I wanted to post the cover, because I find it to be interesting. After all, how many promotional images for Star Trek have you ever seen that focused on Captain Kirk, Spock, and Yeoman Rand? Not many, I bet.
I can't do much other than speculate as to the origins of the image, but clearly, it comes from early in the show's first season, prior to Grace Lee Whitney's departure. The last time I rewatched the series, I was really struck by just how present Rand is during those first few episodes. In fact, Rand is arguably the show's third lead, behind Kirk and Spock and ahead of McCoy. This lone image speaks to that idea, and while it would be folly to read too much into it, it certainly does make me wonder if Roddenberry's plan initially was for the show's triumvirate to be Kirk/Spock/Rand, as opposed to Kirk/Spock/McCoy.
Either way, the show's trajectory obviously did not go in that direction. It's intriguing to consider, though.
The contents of the issue itself are pretty great, with all sorts of quality interviews (most of them listed right there on the cover). In most cases, the articles and interviews seem to be reprints from previous issues, so if you've got an extensive collection of the magazine, then much of this is probably reheated hash for you. If not, then you're likely to find much to enjoy.
I'm not going to talk about any of that. Sorry.
Instead, I'm going to post a two-page ad:
Starlog used to run this ad -- or one like it (sometimes the selections would change) -- in more or less every issue of their magazines, and I could not even begin to guess how many times I must have looked at them and yearned to be able to buy any or all of the albums depicted. My parents were always reluctant to buy anything via mail-in, however, so I was mostly out of luck until later in life when I got my own checking account and could do as I saw fit with my money (i.e., squander it on soundtracks and whatnot).
I am convinced that this ad is directly responsible for me becoming a film-music junkie, which I was -- hardcore -- for about five years in my early twenties. When I say "hardcore," I mean that I would buy soundtracks to movies I'd never seen, by composers I'd never heard of, simply because they were movie soundtracks. Eventually, this madness abated somewhat, but I do still have a deep love for film scores, and my biggest individual CD collection is still (pardon the pun) far and away my John Williams collection, which numbers something like 150 titles. Nobody else is even close.
In any case, I can still distinctly recall being in a music shop in Mobile, Alabama, once around Christmas, just browsing the soundtrack section (as I was wont to do), when lo and behold, I stumbled across James Horner's Krull soundtrack on CD. I imagine that there was an audible intake of breath, followed by a quick consultation of my cash funds on hand, and a brisk journey to the nearest cash register. I'd never been able to find that one, and there it was!
It's still on my shelf to this day, too. Fantastic score to a considerably-less-fantastic movie.
Some teenagers spend their days chasing pussy. Others spend theirs chasing the Krull soundtrack on CD. Ah, well. Too late to worry about it now, I suppose.
This fantastic issue is one I must have read dozens of times during the late eighties. Frustratingly, I'm not going to post anything from it except for another advert for soundtracks:
I can't remember the exact circumstances, but I did eventually get the two CDs on either end, and I believe they were among the first CDs I ever owned. (The first was Vol. II of Queen's Greatest Hits.) Never did get the sound-effects disc.
Alright, I lied; I am going to post a few other pages from this particular issue. Why was I frontin' to the contrary? I do not know. Because I could, I guess; because I could.
Mainly, what I want to show you is this article (which originally appeared in Starlog #139, the February 1989 issue):
Prior to buying this issue of Starlog Yearbook, lil' Bryant had no bleedin' clue that there had ever nearly been such a thing as a second Star Trek series with the original cast. I'm sure I'm not exaggerating when I say that my mind was blown upon learning this, and the knowledge came via this here article -- complete with a couple of unbelievably tantalizing photos -- about Xon, the "lost" cast member.
If this article had been the only such piece in the magazine, I think my mind would have been blown. There was one other, though, that positively exploded it:
|This retrospective -- if "retrospective" is the correct word for a series that was never filmed -- first appeared in Starlog #136 from November 1988.|
|Not sure why the center of this scan looks so shitty. Apologies for that.|
So much here to talk about that talk seems more or less irrelevant. However, I feel honor-bound to note that if this "episode" guide has piqued your interest, there is an entire book on the subject -- Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens' Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series -- that is well worth your time and money.
You might also be interested to know that there is a fan-film series that has actually gone so far as to film entire episodes of Star Trek, some of them adaptations of the very stories summarized here. The series is called Star Trek Phase 2, and their website is here. They have made episodes based on both "The Child" and "Kitumba," and both are -- in my opinion -- well worth watching. The show is not perfect, but each episode grows more confident, and the filmmakers' love for Star Trek absolutely shines through.
This seems like a good place to take a break. We'll be back soon, though, with a third -- and final (?) -- post in this series. Until then, second star to the right, and straight on until morning...