Saturday, September 29, 2007
Ah, yes, 1980s Friday night TV.
Matthew Star was a normal high school student except for the fact that he was an alien prince whose powers included telepathy, telekinesis, astral projection and blow-dried 80s hair.
Louis Gossett, Jr was Walt, his guardian and teacher.
This show was delayed a year due to Peter Barton being seriously burned while filming one of the early episodes. Oddly, one week after after a full season of 21 episodes was run, the pilot episode was then aired which called the main character David Star instead of Matthew and didn't even feature the Walt character.
Friday, September 28, 2007
In the mid 80s there were a number of 'science' themed movies. Weird Science, My Science Project, Real Genius...this show was part of a resurgence of fantasy-themed programming of the same time period.
The Misfits of Science were a team that would drive around in an ice cream truck and fight crime!
Dean Paul Martin played Dr. Billy Hayes, the non-powered yet leader of the team. He was a research scientist at the Humanidyne Institute.
Kevin Peter Hall played Dr. Elvin "El" Lincoln, Billy's colleague and close friend. El was a towering black man who gave himself the ability to shrink to doll size via hormonal treatments. The character struggled socially, and despite being very tall, he played basketball poorly.
Mark Thomas Miller was Johnny B, a rock and roll musician who had electrical powers and some limited superspeed abilities and was vulnerable to water.
Courteney Cox played Gloria Dinallo, a troubled telekinetic teen with a history of juvenile delinquency.
Max Wright (later from Alf) portrayed the director of the Humanidyne Institute. Unlike the other cast members, he was not actually considered to be one of the Misfits.
And in the first episode only, Mickey Jones played Ice Man. The reason they would drive around in an ice cream truck was because Ice Man would die if he got too warm, so they kept him in the freezer. He was a pointless character, so was dropped after the pilot episode.
Following the success of that summers hit film WarGames, CBS aired Whiz Kids starring that kid from Little House on the Prairie, Matthew Laborteaux, as lead character Richie Adler, defacto leader of a group of kids interested in computers. From what I recall, his dad was away in Saudi Arabia for work and would send back castoff computer equipment from the company he worked for. Richie had interconnected different computers and peripherals and built a talking computer, Ralf (would have been a little more realistic if they had left that out.)
Richie was an amateur detective of sorts and was helped by a reporter friend played by Max Gail. Each week the kids would get into some sort of trouble or discover some criminal activity, often involving technology or computers and would use, you guessed it, computers to get the bad guys.
The series ran for 18 episodes.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Continuing the late 70s fantasy era of television, The Fantastic Journey (not to be confused with Fantastic Voyage, a 1966 film) was sci-fi adventure about a group of university scientists whose boat is lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Finding themselves on an uncharted island, they meet other characters from different places and times.
Varian (Jared Martin) was a telepath from the 23rd century (popular century it seems) who wielded a tuning fork at bad guys. He would later use the tuning fork as a memory tool years later in War of the Worlds.
Liana (Katie Saylor) was the daughter of an Atlantean and a space alien!
Scott (Ike Eisenmann) was a 13 year old boy from the present with his father, Dr. Paul Jordan.
If you needed a teenage boy character in the 70s, it was played by either Ike Eisenmann or Lance Kerwin, it seemed. Eisenmann was in no less than 27 tv shows and movies in the 1970s alone.
Roddy McDowall completed the cast as a renegade scientist from the 60s.
Episodes would deal with their encounters with different creatures and civilizations and quickly took on a Star Trek-type plot formula. The group encounter a culture that has been subverted in some way, and they must either defeat the bad guy or show the misguided soul the error of their ways. Lasting only 10 episodes, it was canceled by NBC in April of 1977.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Originally Logan's Run was a fairly decent 1976 movie starring Michael York.
This 1977 TV take-off essentially remade the movie as a 90-minute premiere with Gregory Harrison as Logan5. Each week they would encounter the strange remnants of human civilization located outside the city of domes. As was extremely typical for the time, they were chased Fugitive-style by Francis the Sandman.
The series lasted 13 episodes before being given the boot.