Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fun Finds: Starlog Magazine, November, 1979

Do you know that I am zeroing in on fifty years of age and have never once purchased, or even read, one issue of Starlog magazine. However, this one caught my eye recently at a used bookstore and because of its content, I felt I just had to pick it up! Some of the people featured within have warranted special attention here at Poseidon's Underworld, so perhaps you'll find this of interest yourself!  This was a "Special Fall TV Issue" and I must say that for many, many years (up until the mid-1990s) we lived for the annual debut of new series on network television. TV Guide, of course, always featured THE BEST issues devoted to that topic. But today were focused on Starlog!
I rarely include the Table of Contents pages of the magazines I feature here, but I thought it was kind of fun to see Gil Gerard of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century using a high-tech electric shaver between takes!  LOL His flight suit has a nice fit here, too.
This Editor's Note contains a rather biting indictment of network TV executives and the way they tend to dumb-down material for the masses. The case in point is Buck Rogers, though I feel like the second season of the series is when it really went off the rails versus the first year it was aired.
The series noted at the top of this page, Beyond Westworld did actually make it to the air... briefly. After the pilot, Judith Baldwin was replaced by Connie Sellecca, but only four more episodes were completed before MGM television pulled the plug. Sellecca landed a minor hit, though, the following year with The Greatest American Hero.
Sometimes, given the subsequent success of the Alien (1979) franchise, we forget that it was SEVEN YEARS before Aliens (1986) came out! Nowadays, some films and their sequels are made 2 or 3 at a time. There have been several renditions of Alien since its initial release from an expanded laser disc with bonus features to a Director's Cut by Ridley Scott.
This page heralds the upcoming arrival of some sci-fi/fantasy projects, including the TV-movie pilot The Aliens Are Coming (1980) with Tom Mason and Eric Braeden that did not become a series. The movie "Sum VII" to be made by 20th Century Fox never saw the light of day. (The author's name was typed as "Hurd" in the article!)
The dropping of the 8-hour miniseries of "Atlas Shrugged" is interesting in that a teleplay by Stirling Silliphant had already been commissioned, written and approved by the book's author, but it was the recently-appointed Fred Silverman who ditched the proposed project. Almost 20 years later, TNT was set to do a 4-hour miniseries, but a merger with AOL-Time Warner killed that! A series of poorly-received movies (3 of them) finally came out between 2011 and 2014. The movie described as "The Return of Maxwell Smart" actually hit theaters as The Nude Bomb (1980) and didn't make back its (considerable) cost.
Some of you young'ns may be wondering why on earth a magazine would be interested in publishing an "episode guide" to a TV series. The answer is that in 1979, virtually no one knew of anything called The Internet and sites like imdb.com weren't even a fantasy of anyone's. To find anything out about any show you liked, you needed a book or a magazine which listed information in it. By the way, talk about post-production... The Aftermath didn't see release until 1982 and remains an obscure cult sci-fi film today. And I wonder how many of those USCSS Nostromo hats were sold! (At $7.95)
In this article about the upcoming series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, we learn about some of the production problems that plagued sci-fi series of the time. Fantastic Journey, which was yanked after 10 episodes, was plagued by issues ranging from budget to time constraints to constant meddling from the network (NBC.)
Few teen boys could forget the sight of sultry Pamela Hensley as Princess Ardala in her crazed get-ups, courtesy of French costume designer Jean-Pierre Dorléac.
Erin Gray as Colonel Wilma Deering was initially presented as a capable, decisive character, but by the end of the series had devolved into a mini-skirt-wearing piece of window-dressing. Gil Gerard only wore this flight suit a brief while before opting for the much-preferred skin-tight white suits of the future. (Eventually, he had to augment those with other pieces of clothing, however, due to weight gain.)
It's amazing how much fine print in magazines is wrong. Diminutive actor Felix Silla is listed as Felix Silva! Trivia: Did you know that Silla not only played Twiki on Buck Rogers, but also protrayed Cousin Itt on The Addams Family? The voice of Twiki was performed, for most of the run, by famed voice artist Mel Blanc (who provided the speaking voices of countless Looney Tunes characters from Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig on down!)
How fun! I have to laugh at the writing on the side of the cars, "Universal Studios GlamorTram!"
I guess it was a great way to make use of leftover props & costumes from the short-lived series. (A reboot called Galactica 1980 came and went soon after this with only ten episodes produced. The franchise met with greater success in 2004 with a new rendition.)
In case any sci-fi completists out there wanted to see this two-page spread together, I've made this version.
The article goes in-depth into the creation of this attraction.
This attraction was in place at Universal Studios until 1992 when it was replaced with Back to the Future: The Ride.
After years of rumors, predictions, failed attempts at rejuvenation on television and general fan frenzy, Star Trek: The Motion Picture finally made its debut in 1979. Anticipation was high - and Trekkers (then called Trekkies) helped the movie turn a profit, but the general consensus was that it was too pallid and slow-moving. The sequels would ramp up the villainy and action to a higher degree.
What a fabulous, colorful, full-body pin-up of our girl Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman!
This article tells of some of the tormented backstory relating to the three-season series, which began with the heroine in WWII and then jumped to contemporary times (and to a rival network!) for its final two seasons. One can always tell the pictures from the WWII eps because Carter's costume has full-coverage eagle wings on the breasts while the contemporary ones have more separated gold detailing with red underneath.
Needless to say, we have always adored the beautiful Lynda Carter and you can read her Underworld tribute right here. This dazzling pin-up was included in the magazine as well!
I never watched The Incredible Hulk during its original run. I was always drawn to shows featuring more glitz than this often-gritty, low-key show appeared to offer.
This issue does contain a neat full-page pin-up of Lou Ferrigno in his Hulk guise.
He never seemed as GREEN on the actual show as he did in publicity photos (or the comics, for that matter.)
I remember Ferrigno (and entourage) coming into the Red Lobster where I worked waaayy back in 1986 or '87 after having opened a Moore's Nautilus fitness studio across the street. I was flabbergasted recently to see him in the 2009 movie I Love You, Man as himself, opposite Paul Rudd and Jason Segal, deftly playing with his image in the buddy comedy.
This is a curious article. Fans of Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, UFO, Space: 1999) might find it interesting. This upcoming movie seemed to be on the threshold of filming, yet it never saw the light of day.
Artwork for the movie that never was.
Here's someone you don't see a whole lot about. (Here's Boomer?) Herb Jefferson Jr. was a reliable and amiable supporting player on Battlestar Galactica. In this article, he relays some of the haphazard and slipshod methods of getting the show ready for production.
One last full-page color pin-up from the magazine.
Here, Jefferson relates his early experiences in life and in Tinseltown, including stage work in Streamers and having to give up a part opposite Mary Tyler Moore.
On this last page, he reveals some of the camaraderie that took place on the set of Galactica and how his character was never written as "black," but just as a man. Jefferson was able to work on the secondary series Galactica 1980 and proceeded to a busy career up through the new millennium and beyond. He is seventy as of this writing.
The back cover of this magazine features some fun animation cel art for sale. I really was never too fond of Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973), though it was neat that nearly all of the original actors provided their voices for it (and some fans feel that the storylines exceeded some of the original episodes in quality.) I did love watching Saturday morning cartoons, though, including Bat Man, Tarzan, The Archies and so on.
I wound up truly enjoying this issue of Starlog. I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool sci-fi fan, but I dabble in it from time to time (usually when it's campy, involving some cheesy has-been actors or some spandex costumes!) I will consider buying another issue sometime if the topics covered are interesting to me. I hope you found this edition of Fun Finds diverting!


BloggerJoe said...

For grins and giggles, check out Starlog 65 for and article called I Was Mark Hamill's Stand In. I wrote that one.

Amanda said...

Nice blog...and appraisal...btw magazines are mostly here

Poseidon3 said...

BloggerJoe, how neat!!! I'll have to be on the lookout for that.

Amanda, thanks for the link. I clearly missed out by not being a Starlog reader. So many of the vintage issues are filled with great photos and information. It's amazing that someone has full several full vintage issues up online like that.

Scooter said...

Loved sci fi from the 70's. Thanks for sharing. I have fond memories of a vacation to LA with my parents in 1980. We toured Universal and I remember the Cylon encounter (along with Big Foot's ice tunnel from $6M Man)!

Gingerguy said...

This was fun and must admit I never saw this magazine before (maybe it was next to Fangoria and I was looking for Vogue). I loved the coverage of "Buck Rogers" and from the few episodes I have seen it never disappointed in the costume and choreography department. There was a hilarious dance party in the ship's lounge I remember very well. Erin Gray was a model and locally she did Bloomingdale's commercials on TV. I thought the show was a step up. Lynda Carter is a national treasure. I was reading this and thinking I was not much of a sci fi person, and then it mentioned Gerry Anderson. I am loony for "Thunderbirds" and "Captain Scarlet" and all the other wacky shows from that man. I wish that new one had seen the light of day. Very fun read.