Happy 70th Anniversary, “Superman and the Mole Men!”

There are actually a couple of geek milestones being observed today. Getting more notice among my friends and colleagues is the 58th anniversary of the initial airing of “An Unearthly Child,” the first-ever episode of the long-running BBC television series Doctor Who, broadcast on November 23, 1963 and starring William Hartnell as the first of what is now thirteen (and counting!) “official” incarnations of the venerable time-travelling Doctor…plus one more if you count John Hurt’s self-exiled “War Doctor,” and another one if we consider Jo Martin’s “Fugitive Doctor.” Oh, and plus yet another one if you count Peter Cushing’s outings in a pair of theatrical releases).

And I do count all of those.

Meanwhile, I’m going to back you up several more years to this day in 1951, which brought with it the premiere in theaters of Superman and the Mole Men. Already a staple of comics and radio by this point as well as the movie serials starring Kirk Alyn, this “full-length” feature film introduced audiences to actor George Reeves as the Man of Steel and paved the way for a whole new era of Superman stories.

Though serving as something of a trial run for the weekly Adventures of Superman television series which would premiere the following year, Superman and the Mole Men features very few of the trappings which ultimately would become commonplace on the show. George Reeves as Clark Kent/Superman and Phyllis Coates as reporter Lois Lane are the only familiar characters.

The iconic series opening sequence is absent, of course, as is anything resembling the equally memorable theme music. A brief bit at the beginning introduces us to Superman, including a shot of Reeves in costume and standing before a waving American flag which would end up being used in the TV show’s opening. That’s all the exposition we get, though, before we’re hip deep into the “action” as the story unfolds, taking place at an oil field on the outskirts of a small town called Silby. There, the “world’s deepest oil well” has broken through to the subterranean world of the “Mole Men,” who naturally come up to have a look around and see who’s been partying with the music cranked up too loud.

Kent and Lane, sent by the Daily Planet to cover the event of the well having reached its milestone depth, get caught up in the craziness as the local townspeople freak out over the presence of the Mole Men in their midst. They’re organizing with torches and pitchforks to hunt down the little guys, and only Superman can stand in their way. Duhn duhn DUH!!!!!

(Trivia: some of the behind-the-scenes goings-on from this movie and even some filming sequences were recreated in 2006’s Hollywoodland, the pseudo-historical retelling of the investigation into George Reeves’ death in 1959.)

As a standalone film, Superman and the Mole Men really isn’t all that great. It was produced on a very low budget, which is pretty evident in just about everything from the obvious back-lot exteriors to very little in the way of flying or other “super stunts.” Still, its nostalgic value comes from being Reeves’ first turn in the cape and tights, a role which he would make his own in the years to come. However, there’s still a bit to enjoy here. First, I love, love, love black and white TV and movies, and this flick does look pretty darned good.

Next, this movie, like the first two seasons of the ensuing television series (also filmed in B&W), was played straight and aimed at an adult audience, rather than harboring any of the near-camp/kid-friendly tone which would become more prevalent beginning with the series’ third season. Despite the story’s subject matter, there’s still a feel of great old-school mystery/crime drama at work here. The focus is more on Clark Kent (with Lois Lane’s able assistance) delving into the mystery, only to switch to his Superman persona when circumstances require it. That approach would continue into the first year of the series, only to have the balance shift a little more toward “tights and flights” with each successive season.

Phyllis Coates, the actress who portrays Lois Lane in the film, would reprise the role in the TV series’ first season. When she was unavailable to continue with the second season, Noel Neill replaced her, returning to the role she had first performed in the Kirk Alyn Superman serials. Though Neill is the Lois Lane people think of most often when considering George Reeves’ Superman, I’ve always preferred Coates’ take on the character. Of course, it would’ve been nice if they’d given either actress more to do than be the damsel in distress for Superman to rescue.

Superman and the Mole Men would be cut in half to serve as the two-part episode “The Unknown People” to finish out the TV show’s first season, though the original version is included as a special feature on the first-season DVD set. I’d only ever seen the story in its two-part format before picking up the set, so being able to watch the theatrical version was something of a treat.

Although Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the Man of Steel is the definitive screen Superman for me, George Reeves and the Adventures of Superman series are a couple of those fondly remembered bits from my childhood, as the show ran regularly in syndication when I was growing up. After all, he’s the one I portrayed when I tied a towel around my neck and took a leap over a tall building down the stairs in my house.

Happy Anniversary, Superman and the Mole Men!

It’s Jupiter 2 Launch Day!

October 16th, 1997:

“This is the beginning. This is the day. You are watching the unfolding of one of history’s greatest adventures–man’s colonization of space beyond the stars. The first of what may be as many as ten million families per year is setting out on its epic voyage into man’s newest frontier, deep space. Reaching out into other worlds from our desperately overcrowded planet, a series of deep thrust telescopic probes have conclusively established a planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri as the only one within range of our technology able to furnish ideal conditions for human existence.

Even now the family chosen for this incredible journey into space is preparing to take their final pre lift off physical tests. The Robinson family was selected from more than two million volunteers for its unique balance of scientific achievement, emotional stability, and pioneer resourcefulness. They will spend the next five and a half years of their voyage frozen in a state of suspended animation which will terminate automatically as the spacecraft enters the atmosphere of the new planet.”

Lost In Space, “The Reluctant Stowaway”


Hey! 2021 is a big movie “birthday year!”

As something of a movie nerd, I’m usually aware when favorite films celebrate “milestone” birthdays (or anniversaries, if you will). This past weekend, I yammered a bit about Top Gun on the occasion of its 35th birthday, as it was released on May 16th, 1986. Back in April, I found time to wax nostalgic about the classic science fiction film The Thing From Another World, turning 70 this year after being released on April 7th, 1951. I think anyone who’s spent any amount of time here knows I’m pretty reliable so far as remembering things like the various Star Trek films, but there are plenty of other favorites, like the original Alien or Superman movies to name just a couple of prominent examples.

(I also remember to take note of favorite television series, too. This is especially true of older series from days gone yet I still remember with fondness. Alien Nation, M*A*S*H, Planet of the Apes, Space: 1999, and so many others.)

2021 seems to be a banner year for celebrating movie milestone birthdays. I’m not just talking about old black n’ white flicks, though a few of those are marking anniversaries of distinction this year, as well. I don’t even mean to stop with movies I saw first run in a theater as a kid or even a young(er) adult, in many cases before the age of home video and all that jazz. We’re deep into that era, progressing from video tapes, LaserDiscs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs to streaming video, all of which have for more than thirty years allowed us to revisit fondly-remembered films any time we feel like it. However, none of that equals the thrill of my young eyes being glued to one of those giant movie screens all those years ago as the lights dimmed and the music started to ramp up. Even today, with so many options at my fingertips, there are still films – old and new – I want to see on that giant movie screen, just as their creators intended.

So, what have we got? Well, here’s a sampling of what’s still to come in 2021:

On Friday, May 21st, Escape from the Planet of the Apes – the third in the “classic series” of Apes films, turns 50. YOU READ THAT RIGHT.

Celebrating its 40th birthday on Saturday, May 22nd, is Outland, Sean Connery’s low-key, even underrated “High Noon in Space” riff, which opened in 1981. Still one of my favorite 1980s science fiction films.

Also on May 22nd but celebrating its 25th birthday after being released in 1996 is the first Mission: Impossible movie. As I write this, Tom Cruise and company are working to finish that series’ seventh film, with an eighth already waiting in the pre-production wings.

Thelma & Louise. Don’t call them names on the CB radio.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Thelma & Louise embarking on their infamous road trip, which began on May 24th, 1991. On that same date, Ron Howard brought to us his wonderful drama about firefighters, Backdraft, starring Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, and Robert De Niro.

Sweet hat, amirite?

Those are just the things I’ve got for the remainder of May. June and July will bring a whole truckload more, as we remember our first encounters with Ferris Bueller, Snake Plissken, Jack Burton, and Indiana Jones on the occasion of their respective “milestone” anniversaries. We’ll also say “Welcome Back!” to Ellen Ripley, James Bond, and (he says, grudgingly) Robin Hood for similar reasons. And that’s just for starters.

Don’t worry, TV friends. I haven’t forgotten you! On television, May 23rd will mark the 20th anniversary of the Star Trek: Voyager series finale, which saw Captain Kathryn Janeway and her crew make their triumphant return to Earth on this date in 2001.

2021 is also “important” for remembering our first meetings with Jack Bauer, Captain Jonathan Archer, and – if you want to reach even farther back – Colt Seavers, the unknown stuntman who made Eastwood look so fine.

Jack, Jonathan, and Colt….all celebrating milestone “birthdays” in 2021.

I don’t know that I’ll get to individual entries for most or even several of these. I guess it’ll all come down to time available, but I’ll try my best because these sorts of look-backs are fun, and 2021 is a banner year for me and my fellow movie nerds. When it’s not making me feel old, of course. While I ponder that notion, feel free to throw your personal favorites into the comments section.

You! Down in front! The movie’s starting!

Herbert F. Solow, 1930-2020.

In April of 1964, Herb Solow was the vice president in charge of television production at Desilu Studios. It was in this capacity that he took a meeting with a writer/producer looking to pitch his concept for a new television series.

By the end of that meeting, Solow decided to give the writer a shot at developing his premise, after which he convinced NBC to green-light a pilot episode to be produced by Desilu. When NBC studio execs passed on the resulting film, Solow persuaded them to let Desilu try again. NBC liked that second effort enough to commit to a television series order, and the rest is history.

The writer/producer was Gene Roddenberry, and the TV series was, of course, Star Trek.

While there are a large number of people who contributed to the original series, Herb Solow along with Roddenberry, Robert. H. Justman, Dorothy Fontana, Gene Coon, and Matt Jefferies were — as I see it, anyway — the core group of people who laid the foundation upon which rests everything we’ve come to know collectively as Star Trek. Solow, the last of these “Old Soldiers,” passed away on November 19th, not quite a year after we lost Ms. Fontana.

Variety: Herb Solow, Producer Who Sold ‘Star Trek‘ to NBC, dies at 89

Though his role on the series was that of a “suit,” a front-office position which normally did not include input to day-to-day creative aspects of a show’s production, Solow’s ongoing collaboration with Gene Roddenberry and Bob Justman in particular kept him more involved than might be the case on another show. Such was the collaborative atmosphere on the series that Justman even saw fit to honor Solow with his own title card displayed at the end of each episode for the first two seasons, something typically not done for studio executives.

After selling Star Trek to NBC, Mr. Solow shepherded the series through its first two seasons. Along the way, he also oversaw the development of the original Mission: Impossible TV series as well as Mannix for Desilu, both of which aired on CBS. When Desilu was sold to Gulf+Western, the small studio was merged with the television arm of Paramount Pictures. Ultimately dissatisifed with his new role, Solow left Paramount to assume duties as the vice president in charge of television production at MGM, leaving before the start of production on Star Trek‘s third (and final) season. His later television credits include the fondly remembered Bill Bixby series The Courtship of Eddie’s Father and in 1977, he returned to the realm of science fiction TV when he created with writer Mayo Simon Man from Atlantis, the cult series starring Patrick Duffy which ran for a single season on NBC.

Much as been written about the development of Star Trek by writers far more gifted than me. This includes Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, a book Solow himself authored with Bob Justman which was released in conjunction with Star Trek‘s 30th anniversary in 1996. Some might quibble with some of the recollections from 30 years after the events in question – and there are also some straight out factual errors, only some of which were corrected in reprints of the book – but Solow and Justman provide that “first-person” narrative from people there at the beginning that other accounts lack. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. The book makes an excellent companion to The Making of Star Trek, the iconic 1968 tome written by Stephen Poe (as Stephen E. Whitfield) while the show was still in production, as well as David Gerrold’s The Trouble With Tribbles, the book he wrote about the development of his own classic episode of the same name.

Unlike other alumni of the original series, Mr. Solow never worked on any future iteration of Star Trek, but his contributions to what became “the Star Trek franchise” are no less indelible and continue to be felt to this day. May his memory be a blessing.

Herbert Franklin Solow
December 14, 1930 – November 19, 2020

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – 25 years of “Little Green Men!”

“We’re helpless! We’re harmless! We just want to sell you things!”
— Quark

2372: Quark is ferrying his brother, Rom, and nephew, Nog, to Earth to deliver the latter to Starfleet Academy. Nog is set to become the first Ferengi to join that august institution, blazing a path for his people the way Worf did for Klingons a generation earlier. As it approaches Earth, the ship, Quark’s Treasure, encounters a strange malfunction that results in it being sent back through time to the year 1947, after which it crashlands on Earth near the town of Roswell, New Mexico.

Knocked unconscious during the crash, the three Ferengi awaken to find themselves in what appears to be some form of laboratory. Soon, they’re being interrogated by members of the United States Military, who are certain these “aliens” are must be part of an invasion force coming to conquer the world.

Meanwhile, Quark is sure he can be running the entire planet within a year.

Little Green Men,” one of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s most memorable episodes, was delivered on November 13th, 1995 to first-run syndication. Developed as an homage to the great science fiction B-movies of the 1950s (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing from Another World, The War of the Worlds, etc.), the episode delights in sending up the genre. You’ve got your hard-charging general, the no-nonsense Army officer who’s ready to do anything to protect his country from the Commies and his planet from Martians, the academic who wants to understand and communicate with the aliens in order to benefit from their obviously advanced technology, and (of course… :: cringe ::) the nurse who’s tasked with injecting a little empathy while representing the otherwise cold, calculating, and even callous humans around her while doing what she can to avoid harm being visited upon the aliens.

The idea of Ferengi visiting “ancient” Earth and having to interact with “primitive” humans sounds like a concept where the jokes write themselves, and in the early going that’s exactly what seems to happen. Professor Jeffrey Carlson and Captain Wainwright attempting to communicate with Quark, Rom and Nog — with neither group either to understand the other due to the Ferengi’s malfunctioning universal translators — is good for several chuckles at humanity’s expense. Then we turn things up a notch with the reveal that Odo stowed away aboard Quark’s ship, because Rene Auberjonois was always masterful at playing the straightlaced end even stuffy constable for every laugh he could get.

Of course, things start to take a sinister turn when Captain Wainwright threatens to torture and kill the Ferengi if they don’t tell him the truth about their visit here and their motives, but then Carlson and Nurse Garland help free them from the Army’s clutches long enough to make their escape and return to the 24th century.

25 years after its original broadcast, “Little Green Men” remains one of the best episodes from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s seven-year run. It breaks well away from the series’ normal formula, which at this point (in the early 4th season) is starting to take a darker turn as war with the Dominion looms. As a time-travel episode, it ranks up there with the more lighthearted ventures into this realm like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home or even the instant classic episode that will come in DS9’s fifth season, “Trials and Tribble-ations.” If you’re a fan of the movies to which this episode is written as a Valentine (and I am, by golly), then you’ll get most if not all of the subtle nods, winks, and Easter eggs to those 1950s gems.

“Little Green Men” also has the benefit of giving a Star Trek twist to a bit of actual modern-day conspiracy theory. Though accounts of something weird happening at or near Roswell, New Mexico in July of 1947 have existed since the say such weirdness supposedly happened, the folding of “aliens crash at Roswell” into UFO lore didn’t actually happen for decades afterward. Films, TV shows, books, and comics have offered different versions of what they think happened (The X-Files, Dark Skies, and the Roswell TV series being prominent examples), but “Little Green Men” proved to be a fun way to spin the tale in a whole new direction.

As with many stories that leave a lasting impression, the episode has provided fodder for a few other tales told in other media, most notably the Star Trek novels published by Simon & Schuster. Greg Cox was able pick up Professor Carlson and use him rather effectively in his two-part storyline The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh. And hey! I was able to take several threads from this and other episodes and weave them all through a few stories of my own. First, there was “The Aliens Are Coming!” published in 2000’s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds III anthology. Then, in 2013 I went hog wild with the concept of what happened after the episode in my novel From History’s Shadow. That book begat two sequels, 2016’s Elusive Salvation and Hearts and Minds from 2017, which continued fleshing out concepts I introduced in the first novel.

It’s been a while since I last watched this one. May have to rectify that in the coming days.

Until then…keep watching the skies!

Happy 45th Anniversary, Space: 1999!

The totally unforeseen accident on the lunar surface has caused very serious repercussions here on Earth. The gravity disruption, the earthquakes in the United States along the San Andres fault, and in Yugoslavia, as well as Southern France, has caused enormous damage to life and property. The International Lunar Commission, with its new chairman, is in executive conference at this moment, deciding what steps might be taken to rescue the three hundred and eleven men and women on Moonbase Alpha. Little hope is held, however, that there are any survivors. For a short time it was thought a rescue might have been attempted from the Space Dock, until that too was hurled out of orbit. It has now been established that the Moon’s acceleration away from Earth has put it beyond the reach of any Earth launch….

September 13th, 1999: It was a bad day, all around.


Premiering on September 4th, 1975 (in the UK; July 23rd in Australia; all over the place in US first-run syndication), Space: 1999 introduced us to the men and women of Moonbase Alpha, Earth’s first permanent lunar colony, which in the show’s continuity had been established in the early 1980s as a natural progression from the Apollo landings. Things were all hunky-dory for a time, with the base continuing its various research efforts and preparing to launch a manned mission to Meta, a mysterious planet that’s been detected by long range probes and which is believed to support “life as we know it.”

Oh, and they’re also overseeing the disposal of nuclear waste transported from Earth to the Moon’s far side, and dealing with a strange medical condition that’s been affecting numerous base personnel, including the astronauts slated to depart for the Meta mission.

Of course, and as things tend to do, the aforementioned nuclear waste finally decided enough was enough and opted to get back at the Moon by punching a gigantic hole in its taint. The result? Moonbase Alpha and its three hundred-plus colonists (“Alphans,” in moonbase hipster speak) are sent hurtling through space on a lonely quest, boldly going where at least a couple of science fiction shows from the 1960s had kinda sorta gone before.

And all of that happened just in the first episode, “Breakaway.” Dayuuuuum, amirite?

Created by the legendary Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Space: 1999 actually began life as a proposed second series/season to another of their shows, UFO. By the time it was decided UFO would not continue, a great deal of pre-production work had already been completed or was still underway, so the Andersons repurposed that effort into the new series. In addition to containing several hints as to its UFO lineage, Space: 1999 also owes more than a bit of its visual aesthetic to 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, any similarities between the new series and Stanley Kubrick’s landmark science fiction film end pretty quickly.

Often described back in the day as a “successor to” or “son of ” the original Star Trek in particular, Space: 1999 quickly settled into a formula whereby the Moon drifts near or into orbit around an alien world, and Commander John Koenig and an assortment of Alphans proceed to get into some kind of trouble. The clock is usually ticking, as the Moon never hangs around any one planet for any real length of time, and if Koenig and his posse dawdle too long, they’ll be stranded as their home away from home continues on its merry way. Every so often a world offers the possibility of providing a new haven for the wayward travelers, but something always goes wrong and our heroes are left staring out the windows from Alpha as the Moon pulls away.

Then there’s the variation on the formula, whereby representatives from an alien species come calling for one reason or another, and hilarity ensues. Sometimes, just to shake things up, elements from both forks in the Space: 1999 story road are mixed together, and we go all the way to madness run amok, by golly.

At some point, theories begin to emerge that the Moon’s journey through the cosmos may not be random; that it’s being guided by some unseen hand, directed through wormholes or other spatial phenomena that might serve to explain how the Alphans are able to explore a strange new world (Sorry. Not sorry.) each week. This point, which is actually kind of cool on the face of it, is never really explained or exploited, particularly after the series moved to its second season.

Boasting the largest production budget for any British television series to that point, Space: 1999 starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain as Commander Koenig and Dr. Helena Russell. Married at the time, Landau and Bain had previously worked together on Mission: Impossible. Needing a science officer to fill out the Trek-like captain-science dude-doctor triad, veteran actor Barry Morse (The Fugitive) was cast as Professor Victor Bergman, my favorite character of the whole shooting match. So, it figures his was one of the folks not brought back for the second year.

Visually, the show remains impressive in many ways. The model work used to realize Moonbase Alpha in particular is still eye-catching, as are the Eagle transports, which in my mind still rank as one of the coolest space vehicles in all of science fiction. Behold, yo:

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Despite storylines that often stretched “scientific principles” from eyebrow-raising to outright laughable, and performances that sometimes felt as though the actors were store mannequins, I must confess to having a really big soft spot for Space: 1999…particularly its first season. The effort to make the show top-notch is obvious, in everything from the model work to the sets and props and–yes–even the storytelling, which was entertaining more often than not.

I’m less enamored with the second season, which was characterized by simpler, more action-oriented plots, the replacement of key characters, and other little choices that bugged me to varying degrees. Such changes were viewed as necessary following the show’s cancellation after the first year and last-minute renewal. On the one hand, I get having your command center not being in a giant room with a bunch of windows overlooking the lunar surface is probably a good idea when your base is always getting shot at by alien spaceships and death rays and whatnot. That said, the original “Main Mission” from the first season was some pretty kick-ass set design.

Space: 1999‘s television run was accompanied by the usual assortment of toys and other merchandise, including books, comics, models, action figures, and so on. I still have a complete set of the original novels/novelizations from the 1970s, later supplemented by editions of adaptations written years later. There are also a few novels written exclusively for foreign markets. There have been recent efforts to revive the property in novel and comic form, and of course the series is available on DVD and Blu-ray, the latter enjoying a complete series release just last year that is FREAKING GORGEOUS.

More recently, Big Finish has launched an audiobook series that is something of an update of the show’s premise while at the same time presenting it as an “alternate history” of 20th century human space exploration where things went very differently in the years after the Apollo program. The first installment is an updating of “Breakaway,” the TV series’ first episode, and the next entry is slated to be a trio of stories — two updated versions of TV episodes and one all-new tale. As I said in my review for SciFi Bulletin for “Breakaway,” it’s basically a period piece from an alternate history, and it totally works for me.

There’s on again-off again talk of a reboot, but I don’t know if that’ll ever happen. Regardless, we still have the original Space: 1999, which stands alongside Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman as cheesy yet charming 1970s TV sci-fi.

Eagle One, ready for lift-off!

Happy 35th Birthday, Ma-Ma-Max Headroom!

Say, would someone mind checking the ratings? I seem to have an audience of two.”

I don’t know that anyone consciously sets out with a plan to develop a character intended to introduce music videos who ends up getting a dystopian origin story before going on to become a talk show host, Coca-Cola pitch man, and star of a short-lived television series on a whole other continent from the one where he was born and then laying a legitimate claim to being an icon of 1980s pop culture and even somewhat better than average prognosticator.

I think we all have to agree there’s really no formula for that kind of thing. Shit just has to happen in a certain unpredictable order resulting in a perfect storm, and boom. There you are.

Max Headroom? Looking at you.

For those of you who’ve somehow managed to get to the year 2020 without coming across this guy, I applaud you on your ability to remain focused on things that actually matter. At the same time, I can’t help giving you a little side-eye, because come on! It’s Max Headroom, for crying out loud.

Okay, fine. You’re just in time, because as it happens, Max turns 35 today.

Continue reading “Happy 35th Birthday, Ma-Ma-Max Headroom!”

Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na….Bat Book!

A while back, Kevin and I were invited to contribute to a book being put together by author/editor Jim Beard, with whom I’d previously worked and had much fun when he teamed up with author/editor Rich Handley to assemble Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone. Having been allowed to scratch my Apes fanboy itch with a new short story based on that longtime favorite property, I was jazzed at the chance to dig in and yammer a bit about another fond childhood staple, the 1960s Batman television series.


Instead of writing fiction this time, Kevin and I would be would be providing an essay about a specific episode. Two episodes, really, since most of the Batman stories were two-parters, especially during the show’s first two seasons, with the halves split between Wednesday and Thursday evenings each week. This collection would feature essays about each of the first season’s 17 stories (or 34 episodes).

The result of all that writing and whatnot? ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66–Season One.

(Say that three times fast. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here contemplating how sweet it would be to actually write Batman ’66 short fiction.)

Our mission? Attempt to give readers and fans–old and new alike–something new to think about regarding this intentionally campy and oft-dismissed incarnation of the Caped Crusader. Kevin and I join Jim in this endeavor along with these fine folks:

BatBookS1-CoverEd Catto
Joe Crow
Keith R.A. DeCandido
Chuck Dixon
John S. Drew
Pat Evans
Chris Franklin
Bob Greenberger
Dan Greenfield
Rich Handley
Paul Kupperberg
Will Murray
Alan J. Porter
Mark Racop
Peter Sanderson
Steven Thompson

You can read more about this project from this little tease article written by one of the book’s contributors, Dan Greenfield, over at the 13th Dimenion website:

Sneak Peek: Dig the Next Great Batman ’66 Book

This first collection of all-new Batman ’66-inspired essays is coming (I think) this summer, available in trade paperback and eBook formats from the gang over at Crazy 8 Press. More info to share as it becomes available. Stay tuned, citizens!

Happy Birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation!

Tonight…the 24th Century begins…..”

That’s what greeted those of us lounging in front of our televisions 32 years ago tonight, when legendary radio and TV personality and ABC broadcaster Ernie Anderson introduced us to “Staaaaaaaaaar Trek: The Next Generation” with a 90-second teaser just before the premiere of the series first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint.”

Seems like…well, it sure as hell doesn’t seem like 32 years ago that’s for sure.

I’ve told this story before, but on September 28th, 1987, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s premiere in the TV room of my barracks at Camp Pendleton. The room was stuffed with Marines and maybe it was because of the beer, but we all stayed to watch the whole thing.

While we didn’t hate it, it was obvious that this show would go through a growth period as the folks behind and in front of the camera tweaked and pulled at this or that. Still, it was new Star Trek, by golly,  and little did we know at the time what that would come to mean.

Now here we are, 32 years after the series premiere and 17 years since the last time he did so, and Patrick Stewart is preparing to return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard. It’s a helluva fun time to be a Star Trek fan.

And while we’re waiting to see what comes of that? Maybe I’ll run “Farpoint” later tonight. Happy 32nd Birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Go. Go see what’s out there.


Happy 30th Anniversary, Alien Nation the TV series!

That was the scene in California’s Mojave Desert five years ago: our historic first view of the Newcomers’ ship. Theirs was a slave ship, carrying a quarter million beings bred to adapt and labor in any environment. But they’ve washed ashore on Earth, with no way to get back to where they came from, and in the last five years the Newcomers have become the latest addition to the population of Los Angeles.”

Cue funky opening music and credits.


Los Angeles, 1995: Aliens are everywhere.

After their very massive starship crashes on Earth, 250,000 genetically engineered aliens who call themselves “Tenctonese” find themselves forced to assimilate into a world very different from the one to which they’d been heading. The people already living here also find themselves dealing with the very harsh reality that not only is there life “out there,” but there’s actually quite a lot of it. If one ship full of alien slaves can find their way to Earth, what about the people who enslaved them? What about any other enemies they might have? What would such people think of humans, and what if they decide we’re a threat?

Meanwhile, the Tenctonese just want to live, pay their bills, watch crappy TV, and basically take advantage of the unexpected gift of freedom they’ve received, but are they truly free? While many humans have welcomed these “Newcomers,” there are many others who’d be happy to see them climb back into their ship and fly away. Since that’s not really an option, such people are okay with taking more extreme steps to keep “Earth for earthlings.”

Then there’s Matt Sikes, cynical and halfway burnout police detective, who’s kinda sorta okay with the Newcomers, even though his last name when translated into Tenctonese is two words that mean “excrement” and “cranium” or “shit head.”

Then they make a Newcomer his partner. Whoops.

Continue reading “Happy 30th Anniversary, Alien Nation the TV series!”