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!”

Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

WilliamShatner-UnexplainedToday we celebrate the 89th birthday of the Man himself: Captain Kirk, T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911 Guy, Denny Crane, Priceline Negotiator, and CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS BY GOD KIRK.

:: ahem. ::

We’re talking about a guy who’s been in front of a camera for the better part of seven decades. Seriously, go look at his IMDB entry. I get tired just reading it, and it’s even money you can find him somewhere on your TV right now. He’s currently serving as the host for The UnXplained on the History Channel, and that’s just the latest of his many projects. He shows no signs of slowing down. If the stars align in just the right way, I may even be able to hand him a copy of Kirk Fu later this year, and hopefully he won’t go full Jimmy Wall Banger on me.

The one and only William Shatner: 89 years old, and still running circles around people half his age. I’ll have what he’s having.

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Happy Birthday, sir. May you enjoy many more.

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.

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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:

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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!

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”

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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.

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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.

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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!”

Happy 45th anniversary to Planet of the Apes…the TV series!

Yeah, I can see some of you younger folks out there, giving me that Kevin Hart blinking side-eye GIF. You’ll just have to bear with me as we dive headlong into a nice inviting pool of nostalgia.

I know. Again.

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The success of 1968’s Planet of the Apes film spawned four (Count ’em! Four!) sequels over the ensuing five years. However, as budgets dwindled with each successive installment and returns on investment following suit, the fifth film, 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes, was viewed by many as the franchise finally running out of steam. That said, each of the five films made money, so the idea continuing to do something with the property was still very much a real thing.

Continue reading “Happy 45th anniversary to Planet of the Apes…the TV series!”

Happy 80th Birthday, Lee Majors!

The Six Million Dollar Man himself celebrates his 80th birthday today!

It’s been a bit since I saw him pop up anywhere. He looked great from the photos I saw from the set of Fuller House where he along with Bionic Woman Lindsay Wagner guest-starred last year. They both still look great, and I hope I have half his energy when I’m his age.

Also? I fervently maintain that Lee Majors has the manliest running stride in the history of running men. Fight me.

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Geek Fact: When I was a kid, I so wanted a jacket like the one in this pic.

Geek Fact 2: I kinda still do.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Majors!

A Superman “mystery?”

I don’t typically advertise when I’m away on vacation, preferring instead to surprise readers after I’m back and let you know that HEY! I was on vacation last week.

So, HEY! I was on vacation last week.

It was an epic road trip in which Clan Ward joined forces with two other families with whom we’ve become good friends since our move to Ward Manor 2.0 in 2014. Our kids all go to the same schools, participate in the neighborhood swim team and other local activities, and my wife along with one of the other wives actually works for the third wife, so we find ourselves together in all sorts of weather and circumstances. 😀

This time, it was a 2,100-or so mile excursion: first to Nashville, Tennessee, where we spent mine and Michi’s 28th anniversary and St. Patrick’s Day. We followed that with a jaunt to Destin, Florida for a few days lounging on the beach, checking out local sites, and eating all manner of things plundered from the ocean that was RIGHT THERE. The last couple of days were spent in Hot Springs, Arkansas at the historic Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa, located right in the heart of the action directly across the street from Hot Springs National Park, Bathhouse Row, and all sorts of local coolness.

It was this past Saturday afternoon, as Michi and the girls were availing themselves of the hotel’s embedded Starbucks cafe when the barista started making small talk, which brings us to the reason for this latest blog posting and its title. As she prepared the girls’ triple latte double caff whatevers, the barista pointed to a building across the street and casually mentioned, “They used it for the Daily Planet building in the old Superman TV series.”

Continue reading “A Superman “mystery?””

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Planet of the Apes!

Yep, it’s time for another walk down Nostalgia Lane that you didn’t ask for and probably don’t need. Since that’s the running theme of this entire blog thing of mine, we can at least agree I’m consistent.

Back at the beginning of the year, I decided I would offer up an irregularly-recurring feature that I’d use to revisit favorite movie and TV tie-in books. After taking a fond look back at novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman and knowing I wanted to avoid talking too much about Star Trek novels (at least right away), it seems obvious to me the next old-timey series deserving of some love is Planet of the Apes!

As is true of Star Trek and the “Bionic shows,” Planet of the Apes was another series (of movies and television shows, in this case) I came to love very early on. Though I never saw any of the original five films in theaters, I did watch both of the subsequent television series as best I could during their original broadcasts in 1974-75. Just as I was learning about books based on the other two franchises around this time, so too did I discover the same was true of Apes.

First I found a copy of Pierre Boulle‘s original 1963 novel at the library, after which I found a paperback of Jerry Pournelle’s novelization of Escape from the Planet of the Apes occupying space on a department store book rack. Unlike the Star Trek novels and episode adaptations which seemed to be everywhere, tracking down the books tying into the other Apes films would prove to be much more challenging.

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(Left: the cover that seemed to dominate re-issues of the original novel throughout the 1970s and into the early 80s. Right: The cover on the edition I own.)

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Planet of the Apes!”