Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: The Year We Make... A Retrospective Post

It's time to ring in the new year with some good old-fashioned robot rock.
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Each and every year at this time, my television is commandeered by The One To Be Pitied and the Girl Wonder for the day long SyFy Channel The Twilight Zone marathon. It's very difficult to break in and watch something outside of that amazing, classic series. I certainly don't mind because it is that damn good. At the crack of dawn The One To Be Pitied immediately requested the SyFy Channel. You won't hear that every day. In fact, you'll hear it just this one time. Can you believe I have to wait until the final day of the year for a little, uncajoled science fiction entertainment?

Obviously The Twilight Zone is vintage science fiction like the best in science fiction literature a la Ray Bradbury. The combination of story ideas and great acting continues to find an audience. It's funny how often as I enter a new year I look back, sometimes waaay back, to honor all that was once great. Obviously there's something comforting in it just like watching The Twilight Zone marathon or A Christmas Story all day long on Christmas day. Besides who doesn't find a revisit with a young Billy Mumy, one of the most adorable child stars on the planet, to be a fine way to spend a little time?
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Since I can't get near that TV I thought I might look back at my own blog over the last year and list some of the entries I enjoyed writing most or, for what it's worth, that I felt were the best I had to offer in 2010. Why not? I've never done this before, but it's nice to look back one last time before turning the page.
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Babylon 5: The River Of Souls or The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10: Babylon 5. After a lengthy journey through the Babylon 5 universe, much effort was put into the Ian McShane-driven The River Of Souls film. Additionally, my top 10 for Babylon 5 was even more fun to assemble after seeing the series in its entirety.
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Jonathan Harris [1914-2002]: Dr. Zachary Smith. Harris was such a colorful character it was alot of fun looking back at the man as I spent time all year revisiting Lost In Space.
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Gojira. The classic Ishiro Honda masterpiece was easily as influential on cinema as Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. The influence of the kaiju genre cannot be discounted and my love affair with all things Japan continues into 2011.
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Space:1999 Y1 Ep9: Force Of Life. Revisiting Space:1999 was a ball and this particular installment of the first ten episodes remains my personal favorite. It was through Space:1999 I was able to discover the writing of John Kenneth Muir in Exploring Space:1999 and getting to know the writer further as a friend and the fine gentleman he is has been a pleasure. I have since picked up the remastered Blu-Ray box set for Year One and hope to get back to some Space:1999 in 2011. Force Of Life just happens to be another Ian McShane star turn. I spent a good deal of focus on the works of Gerry Anderson in 2010 and hope to continue that run into 2011.
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Watership Down. Those of you who know this site know of my love for animation. This is one from outside the world of anime that I adore to this day since first seeing it as a young lad. This is a timeless, beautiful picture based on the book by Richard Adams.
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Lost In Space S1 Ep5: The Hungry Sea or Lost In Space S1 Ep6: Welcome Stranger. It's hard to choose from any serial, but these two Lost In Space entries really capture some of those warm, nostalgic memories I have from this unforgettable series.
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Outlander. The quiet genre picture was a quality diversion.
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The Wish. A short, but fun post concept that offered a bit of conversation amongst friends.
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The Killer. After years of wanting to see the John Woo classic I finally took the time to do it. It was one of my favorite films of 2010. Does that really count?
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The Dead Zone. This look back at the Cronenberg classic took me into recesses of the director's mind I had never really peered. It was a lot of work but gratifying. My thanks to Leopard 13 who referenced this piece over at his wonderful Lazy Thoughts From A Boomer where nothing is ever lazy about his thoughts. Leopard 13 is a great friend and a fine writer.
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Ripping Resident Evil Or Dreaming Of Milla Jovovich. It was good fun venting a little with this commentary on what is probably my favorite new film of 2010, Resident Evil: Afterlife. Now, depending on your perspective, either that says alot about cinema today or once again Resident Evil is sorely underrated and derided as usual. But seriously enough with the 3D already.
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Millennium Actress. On the 2D front, this is a beautiful anime picture by the late filmmaker Satoshi Kon who passed away in 2010. It's simply gorgeous. If 2010 was the year of Gerry Anderson here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic, I hope to make 2011 the year of the very best in science fiction anime [among other things as always].
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S1 Ep1 & 2: The Emissary. The post was inspired by the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine blog-a-thon over at Secure Immaturity. I put alot of effort into the post to complete it on time and I was pleased with the end result. Will's site is an eclectic mix of pop culture posts and is always great food for thought. I've had the pleasure to get to know him over the year and his diverse interests while enjoying a splendid sense of humor.
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Starman. While writing The Emissary, I was simultaneously putting together this contribution for J.D.'s John Carpenter Week over at Radiator Heaven. Once again, I was pleased with revisiting the work of John Carpenter and exploring the director's themes by visiting such places as John Kenneth Muir's The Films Of John Carpenter. Starman is ultimately an unsentimental, but moving love story and who doesn't like a good love story. It was another challenging deadline of fun and who knew deadlines could be fun?
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UFO Ep4: Exposed. A late entry into 2010's FAB FRIDAY run was a lot of fun and demonstrated that Gerry Anderson's UFO was showing signs of becoming a more mature science fiction tale setting itself apart from the wonderful Thunderbirds. It's a good example of the fun I had with FAB FRIDAYS through the first six months of 2010. UFO will continue into 2011.
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Star Trek TOS S1 Ep5: The Enemy Within. It's hard to point to just one episode of ST:TOS. I love them all. Charlie X is a personal favorite, but The Enemy Within is a solid example of the wonders of ST:TOS and my approach on the series. I hope it comes across that way. Stay tuned for more in 2011.
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Farscape S1 Ep5: Back And Back And Back To The Future. Like ST:TOS, Farscape is another exciting, challenging and immensely entertaining series that is difficult to define and narrow down to one. I really enjoyed writing about this particular episode and hope to continue the Farscape journey into 2011.

And last, but not least...

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Science Fiction Images In Techni-COLOR. This post was inspired by an ongoing meme and truth be told felt inspired in general as I put it together. It was a bit of work to assemble, but it was fun and the end result was worth it. I hope to bring you Part II on this theme in 2011.
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Well my friends, there it is, the year in retrospective. Nothing like lifting from yourself, but thanks for taking time to look back with me. This post took the better part of the day here, but it's nice to put it all in perspective. It has been a pleasure to write and bring these postings your way. I hope to bring you some of the best I have to offer into 2011. Thanks for being sci-fi fanatics right along with me. Havremunken, JKM, Leopard 13, J.D., Will, Crowmagnumman, Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein, Siskoid, TFKOP, M, Porky, Spacerguy, Trav28, Steve Miller, Noel, Richard F plus many more and all who just enjoy stopping for a good read [I hope] - All of you make it worthwhile!
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My plans for 2011 include: Ergo Proxy, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Soldier [film], The Six Million Dollar Man, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Lost In Space, Farscape, Space:1999, UFO, Star Trek: The Original Series and much more.
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Thank you for your support and all the best to you in 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Preparedness for 2011

So of course you really can't have enough firepower against those nasty zombies. Well, just ask Milla.

I've been on autopilot a bit of late, but I'm stocking up munitions in preparation for the zombie war in 2011.

In honor of the release of Milla Jovovich's wonderful fourth installment, Resident Evil: Afterlife, from the endlessly maligned Resident Evil franchise I thought it might be fun to usher in the new year by giving away my two Resident Evil DVD classics. Honestly, I love them all. They are the epitome of the guilty pleasure.

Resident Evil by Paul W.S. Anderson is the one that kicked it off and would probably make my Top 10 Science Fiction film classics list, but it would be more like an umbrella [no pun intended] choice to represent all of the terrific chapters in the ongoing saga. In fact, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, is a personal favorite. I love the entire Nemesis thread in the aforementioned film and it is a kind of contemporary tribute to the John Carpenter classic, Escape From New York, in mood and style. So, if you're so inclined, please submit your mailing address and they will be shipped to you free of charge as a small thank you for always visiting. Happy New Year to you all and remember [words to live by] - you can never be too prepared.

Mirror, Mirror


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Space:1999 Y3 Ep24: Home

We sometimes imagine how we would have liked our favorite science fiction shows to end when they were cut short and canceled in their prime. Space:1999, Star Trek, Firefly.

I happened upon this wonderfully detailed image of the Eagle crashed on Earth and thought what a fitting end it could have been after three dark years in space, but of course a proper finale to Space:1999 in a Year Three was never to be.

This image is a testament to our imaginations and it was discovered by accident over at Sci-Fi Air Show. We can imagine what could have been. Perhaps, in the end, it is the void left by the sudden departure of these classics that continues to fuel our love and support for them. It might just be one reason.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lost In Christmas

"Baby it's cold outside... baby it's bad out there."
"God bless us, every one!"
"I must stop Christmas from coming... but how?"
"Happy Birthday."
Thanks so much for taking time to make Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic one of your stops year round. May you all get a little something nice for Christmas and enjoy your families in whatever form they may be. The Robinsons are the perfect choice to visit for Christmas. Perhaps the fact Lost In Space was a family drama makes it a natural choice to doctor photos. Afterall, there's something very comforting and right at home about The Robinsons in that It's A Wonderful Life [1946] kind of way. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

June, Marta & Penny Triple Auto

This beautiful profile featuring the truly gorgeous ladies of Irwin Allen's Lost In Space inspired me to share something from the bowels of the dreaded Fancave... so, ... to the Fancave!

I happened upon this triple threat card, an official triple autograph card from Rittenhouse signed by the lovely June Lockhart, Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright, on ebay. There are a number of other nifty autos from the set and the rare insertion of reprinted original 1966 cards. I don't have them all. It was very hard to pull off. They only came one 1966 card for every eight packs for a total of 110 cards in the set. Ouch! Burn my wallet now!

All of these lovely ladies are fortunately still with us and I prefer to keep it that way. I'm not exactly sure what the going value is on the card and/or how truly rare it is. There are certainly a finite number out there and it was the only triple autograph card released in the card series. I can't imagine there will be many other official card releases to see the union of these three beauties for a signing on one card.

I'm particularly fond of the use of bold colors on the card, the strong marker use on the signatures [I am a geek] and that wonderful image pose selected for the back of the card of Lockhart, Kristen and Cartwright as Maureen, Judy and Penny Robinson in silver space suits. Did I mention the best of life comes in threes?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lost In Space S1 Ep9: The Oasis

The beautifully effective, foreign and lonely terrain surrounding the Jupiter II on Lost In Space. Science fiction today rarely look this genuine.

When we last left our dear family Robinson a boulder was befalling the heads of Norwegian beauty Marta Kristen as Judy Robinson and one Mark Goddard as Major Don West. Here we are with Lost In Space, Season One, Episode 9, The Oasis. There's nothing like waxing nostalgic with one of the many wonderful gems of this series. I couldn't help but have a bit of fun with this particular entry in the series.

Don's leg is caught wedged between some rocks and Professor John Robinson helps break him free. Dr. Zachary Smith, as could only be expected, is a late arrival. "Can I help?" he inquires. How Smith never got a laser shot between the eyes is a minor miracle.

Aboard the Jupiter II, John Robinson writes about their greatest issue, the conservation of water on this currently hot, arid planet. The temperatures run the gamut of extremes. Don and John comment about the lack of water. Don has the best line: "I wouldn't plan on putting a swimming pool in this season" or there's not enough water "to moisten a toothbrush." John calculates they have enough water for fourteen days. The tank is checked and it appears to be missing much more water than first indicated. There's actually enough water for just twenty four hours. Both men don't believe it could have evaporated that quickly. Where has the water gone? Could Smith be involved? No....
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This guy is a beaut!
Sure enough, Dr. Smith is showering with The Robot's assistance. Good grief- he's such a team player. "I oughta kick you clear into orbit for taking a shower at a time like this." John and Don are rightfully pissed. Smith indicates he was losing precious bodily fluids. How this connects with the need for a shower remains a mystery. Their lives are hanging in the balance thanks to Smith misuse of resources.

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Mrs. Maureen Robinson comes to Smith's defense indicating he may not have understood the gravity of their situation. "Thank you dear lady," appreciates Smith. The family will be looking for some water undergound.

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Debbie's back! Where has that little alien monkey been? Will Robinson unintentionally gives Smith a few jabs about his age. Will's hysterical without trying to be hysterical. So Smith is too hot and tired to continue and abandons the family mission. The family stumbles upon a watering hole and big chunks of fruit float to the surface. Why exactly does the fruit float to the surface precisely when John Robinson touches the water? The family grabs a bunch for testing back at the ship. It would appear Debbie is disinterested in waiting and does a little sampling on the side as only a native, wild creature of the planet would do.

Great camera shot. The photography and camera work never fails.
Mrs. Robinson finds Dr. Smith outside of the ship eating all of the untested fruit. She tells Smith they could be poisonous. Smith is a true dimwit. He is a cowardly beast.

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The family reckons all they can do is sit and wait for any symptoms that might appear on Smith. This would be, in my opinion, the episode that really launches Dr. Smith into full on coward mode. He is a blathering reject of a coward that is insulting to cowards.

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It's interesting to see the shadow moving in the background in this shot. There are two moving.

The family looks for Smith. He is now missing. The family try to argue the situation and Judy acts as a devil's advocate of a sort. She wonders if she would have eaten the fruit. There is some good insight here into protocol and family training for their mission.

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Judy Robinson is one fine, special Earth specimen.
Judy is really having trouble with her conscience. She feels guilty for not being kind to Smith. She's also looking rather perky in that tank top. Mrs. Robinson is the voice of reason. "I don't like to speak ill of him, but he wasn't always very likeable you know." It's kind of funny to see the family play into their guilt over Smith's absence. They speak of him like he's been gone for weeks. Everyone seems more than willing to make excuses and take the slimey, snake in the grass back. They all miss him. They are really pining away for him and miss his presence dearly. Crikey! He's just gone missing! I could see if it had been a few weeks maybe. For crying out loud he is the most untrusting dog too. It's written all over his face, but they seem willing to look the other way out of compassion. "Injustice collectors" is how Mrs. Robinson refers to Smith's personality type. Even Debbie misses the doublecrossing agent. All of this love for the guy and yet Smith is out and about plotting their demise. Oh the pain indeed. Go figure. Logic wasn't always a Lost In Space strongpoint of course.

The beautiful ladies of Lost In Space.

Anyway, Smith is busily recording his final words on a reel to reel. Future technology never looked so old or so good! UFO, Lost In Space and a host of others loved the reel to reel. It was certainly the operating mode of storage back in the day.

Don indicates one of the fuel cells is damaged in the water dispenser. Troubling times are ahead. The family needs to pray for rain if they are to survive.

Meanwhile Smith has passed out and night turns into bright, blistering day. As John, Don and Will look for Smith, it is Don who is the only sensible one of the bunch. Will indicates Smith may be dead at this point and Don replies [with the classic], "don't be surprised if I give over three loud cheers." That's cruel says Will. Don is the only one who knows Smith is not a team player and a treacherous fly in the ointment. John checks in with camp and asks Maureen to check the fruit culture. She reports there is "bacterial motion on the slide." There is clumping. This indicates the fruit is not safe to eat.

Debbie is transformed into another of Lost In Space's answers to the Japanese kaijin, a truly frightening man-in-suit beast.
Penny goes to the window and finds Debbie is growing as a result of the fruit. It turns out Debbie is growing hysterically into a man in a monkey suit. Terrible. So funny. I was dying. "At least she seems to be friendly," says Maureen. Really. Debbie looks kind of scary with that plastic mask. As always the cast plays it straight and delivers the drama. As a kid, this was truly bizarre, but horrifying stuff.

Our trio of male heroes happen upon Smith's reel to reel recording. Smith is very much alive. He is now a giant Smith. Lost In Space delivers its version of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Smith is so corrupt and nasty and evil toward the Robinson family that when the trio stumbles upon giant Smith the evil Doctor throws a tree at them. Can you believe Will actually missed this turkey? A laser gun might come in handy at this point. "He's as tall as three men and just as strong." Debbie is equally large, but playful according to Maureen. Have you ever heard of monkey's ripping people's hands and faces off? Yes, we have. I'll pass on the playfully friendly monkey thanks.

Anyway, welcome to the Land Of The Giants. Yes, another Irwin Allen classic in the making that scored with audiences from 1968-1970. Now, as if Smith has somehow transformed into a kind of raging animal beyond sheer height alone, Will rationalizes to his father he can reason with him. What kind of ferocious beast are we dealing with here? There's very little to suggest Smith has done anything more than grow into a very large whiner. Further, there's little evidence to suggest Will can reason with Smith. Professor Robinson has Smith in his laser sight. Hopefully Will can reason with their stowaway beast. I love when Will talks to Smith and Smith is simply looking straight ahead to talk with him. They didn't get the angles right for that scene. It's amusing as many juvenile moments in The Oasis are amusing.

Smith is truly pathetic and becomes increasingly so.
Will tells Smith the fruit he ate made him grow. Now, how exactly wouldn't Smith be aware that he grew to giant proportions? How can Smith not see that Will is as big as a Star Wars figure. I mean, he isn't even playing in the same reality for God's sake. Smith says the sun is toying with his vision. I think the fruit and the sun are toying with the man's mind. Smith grovels with tears further cementing my take on his transition to full, dastardly coward. He calls himself a freak and he's really got things right finally. He sneezes on the family and whips up a good wind. "What a fate," he cries. Smith is a pathetic victim, but he plays the part well.

Back at the Jupiter II, John reckons the pituitary gland is out of control for Smith. Maureen feels he is "a very lonely and frightened man right now." And that's different from the norm how? Maureen would like to see him.

Maureen approaches Smith and he sneezes some shmegma on her. At least when Bill Bixby turned into the Hulk his clothes tore off his body. The inexplicable fact of the matter is, Smith somehow retains his clothes in the growth process. How could the fruit affect non-living tissue? Now, we know the bacteria was growing and the fruit has an adverse affect on the body, but there is no explanation given how he could possibly retain his belt, boots, trousers and valore shirt without a single tear. All items have grown to massive proportions right along with him. The science just doesn't add up on Lost In Space and that's what makes it downright laughable, but deliciously good fun. So Maureen tells Smith he's the same as he always was. No different. She calls him a brave man. He laughs as we do at her attempts to placate him. He thinks only of himself and whines they'll be no bed big enough for him. He sneezes on her again and he figures he may have a cold. She tells him the sooner they get him back to the ship the better. Come again? How do you figure? The man is a disaster. Bringing him to the Jupiter II could be catastrophic, but okay.

Day turns to night and the man in the freaky-looking monkey suit and Smith are sneezing up a storm together. Beeezarre stuff indeed. So a rain storm arrives and our dear friends are shrunken back to normal size by the falling rain.

Debbie and Smith offer up sizable comic relief. He has made a full conversion to Lost In Space court jester with this particular entry.
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At a glance it's not the most intimidating prop, but the accompanying sound effects would put the fear of God in you.
The epilogue finds Robot alerting Smith to the approach of a strange, alien object. It is strange indeed, but not strange enough to cower in fear and get the heck out of dodge. What is wrong with this pathetic man? The Oasis is certainly one of the campier moments from Lost In Space Season One. This is not one of writer Peter Packer's finer moments especially considering he handled chores on Lost In Space, Episode 6, Welcome Stranger. The Oasis looks pretty, but up close this is one of Season One's weaker retreats.

TO BE CONTINUED... Same Time, Same BLOG!

The Oasis: C-
Director: Sutton Roley
Writer: Peter Packer