Clapperboard – Space: 1999

From the annals of 1975 comes this short film on the Gerry Anderson program, Space: 1999. A groundbreaking series that took science fiction to new heights with its high production values and cerebral storylines.

In addition to a glimpse behind the scenes, the pair of documentaries delves into the supermarionation technology with the smooth talking Gerry Anderson walking through the mind-bending technique as well as the history of his past productions.

Read more Space: 1999 articles here.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds Confirmed

Following the success of the inclusion of Captain Pike and Spock in Discovery season two, CBS has confirmed that they will proceed with a spinoff focusing on the original adventures of the starship Enterprise. But what will they be like? Details below.

Via Variety:

“Star Trek” is boldly going back to its roots.

CBS revealed Friday that it had given a series order to “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” a new show that will take place on the starship Enterprise in the years prior to James T. Kirk coming aboard as captain. The new show is set, like other recent “Star Trek” spinoffs, to stream on CBS All Access. But it will, according to co-creator and executive producer Akiva Goldsman, hew more closely to the original Kirk-era “Star Trek” in structure and tone than those other recent additions to the franchise have.

“We’re going to try to harken back to some classical ‘Trek’ values, to be optimistic, and to be more episodic,” Goldsman tell Variety. “Obviously, we will take advantage of the serialized nature of character and story building. But I think our plots will be more closed-ended than you’ve seen in either ‘Discovery’ or ‘Picard.’”

“Discovery,” the first of the All Access series, broke with past “Star Trek” iterations by being the first to tell a highly serialized story. “Picard,” which premiered this year, followed suit, and presented a more skeptical view of the future than its humanist predecessors did.

The original “Star Trek,” in keeping with TV conventions of the late ’60s, told stories so self-contained that events that seemed to traumatize characters in one episode would never be mentioned again in subsequent ones. By the ’90s and early 2000s, a new wave of shows including “The Next Generation,” “Voyager” and especially “Deep Space Nine” introduced elements of serialized storytelling to a structure that was still essentially episodic.

“I imagine it to be closer to the original series than even ‘DS9,’” Goldsman says of “Strange New Worlds.” “We can really tell closed-ended stories. We can find ourselves in episodes that are tonally of a piece.” Of the type of episode that “Strange New Worlds” might attempt that “Discovery” or “Picard” might not, Goldsman says, “It’s hard to do a shore-leave episode in the middle of a long, serialized arc.”

Star Wars: The Phantom Apprentice clip


Maul goes through twisted lengths to draw out Ahsoka Tano in a clip from an upcoming episode of Disney+’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The final stretch of episodes for Star Wars: The Clone Wars are upon us, with the galaxy-spanning conflict now taking place on Mandalore.

In a clip from the seventh and final season’s 10th episode, titled “The Phantom Apprentice,” Ashoka Tano and Clone Commander Rex arrive at the aftermath of a disastrous ambush. There, Ahsoka learns from a gravely wounded Clone Trooper that Maul cut through his unit before taking a hostage and departing into the capital city’s underbelly.

Part 1 of the “Siege of Mandalore” arc saw Ahsoka rejoin the Jedi Order, reunited with her mentor Anakin Skywalker. However, while Anakin left to help Obi-Wan Kenobi drive back a Separatist attack from the planet Coruscant, he tasked his apprentice with helping the Republic liberate Mandalore from Maul’s forces.

Streaming on Disney+, the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars stars Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex and the clone troopers, James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan and Sam Witwer as Maul. New episodes arrive every Friday.

Star Wars Episode IX Animated

Via AVClub: …weeks following The Rise Of Skywalker’s release saw the entire script for Colin Trevorrow’s unmade ending to the trilogy leaked, giving them a glimpse of what could have been.

Fortunately for those who would like to dwell endlessly on roads not taken, YouTube channel Mr. Sunday Movies has turned Trevorrow’s story into an animated summary video that, until we see whatever fan project the most hardcore of Star Wars heads make next, provides the next best thing to actually seeing the fully realized alternate movie.

The Outer Limits – Cold Hands, Warm Heart

“The most brilliant planet in our solar system is Venus, named for the Greek Love-Goddess. It is closer to Earth than any other planet — twenty-eight million miles away. Until sometime in the last half of the twentieth century it is still a planet shrouded in mystery, enveloped in a heavy blanket of clouds and steam. Because its surface temperature was believed to be several times that of Earth’s, it was not thought possible for Man to reach Venus and come back… until one day, somebody did it.”

THE OUTER LIMITS: Cold Hands, Warm Heart

September 26, 1964

As part of Project Vulcan, an ambitious endeavor to colonize Mars, astronaut Jeff Barton has traveled to far off Venus. However, when he returned a celebrity to a ticker tape parade, he was changed. Regular temperatures were far too cold and he had strange visions of his mission. He proclaimed his love for his endearing wife as far greater than any of the planets in the solar system but something was wrong with him.

Seeking the advice of his personal physician proves worthless and Barton continues to experience cold spells and night terrors, recalling glimpses of his Venus mission. It is only when he visits a steam bath and sets the temperature gauge to the limit that he has a reminiscence of falling too close to Venus and actually landing on the surface. A strange wraith-like creature visits him and claws at the exterior of the vessel, trying to get at him.

After the experience in the steam bath, Barton finds that his hands have changed and are now webbed and mottled with raised bumps. His blood tests confirm that he is mutating into something else, something alien. But there is no time for rest and recuperation as Barton is busy preparing for a meeting with top brass to drum up support for Project Vulcan. He is burning the candle at both ends and his sanity is paying the price.

He is apprehended at the military base and placed into a flight simulator to reproduce the mission to Venus and find some way to connect to him. Only his wife’s voice seems to make any impact as Barton once more sees the creature in the mists of Venus, clawing at him. His wife’s voice eventually brings him down and he is stable once more. He even delivers the speech to the top brass and earns the funding he was after. It turns out that for all the dangers and tribulations of his journey and after effects, his heart held the strongest connection to his humanity through his love for his wife.

Starring William Shatner, Cold Hands, Warm Heart is another stellar achievement for the Outer Limits. It once more uses the human element combined with the strange and alien to connect to the viewer. Barton’s relationship with his wife is touching and full of warmth. Shatner delivers a top notch performance of a gifted and devoted astronaut who dreamed of flying as a child. His soliloquies are powerful and full of that rich Shatner charm that we would grow to love on Star Trek.

Part of the magnificent second season of Outer Limits, Cold Hands, Warm Heart is highly recommended.

Flash Gordon (1980)

“He’ll save every one of us!”
Flash Gordon was a phenomenon to my child mind when it was released. An action drama with visuals straight from an induced college experiment and filled with character actors galore, it remains a cult classic. Based on the Kings Features comic strip and serial of the 1930’s, the movie is a classic.

The purring malevolent voice of Max von Sydow opens the film declaring that he, Ming the Merciless, is bored. His deputy Klytus (played by Department S’s Peter Wyngarde) offers up a plaything, the planet Earth. Attacking the planet with natural disasters, Ming chuckles with delight at the chaos and destruction. While on a remote airstrip, Flash Gordon, football player, waits for a private flight home. He encounters news writer Dale Arden on the plane and the pair are catapulted into adventure. The plane crashes at the laboratory of Professor Zarkov (played by Topol). Zarkov has developed a manned rocket and is also a bit insane. He commands Dale and Flash into the rocket to help pilot it off world. The craft enters a warp and lands on the planet Mongo where Ming rules with an iron fist.

Introduced to the mighty Ming, who is receiving bounties from the many moons and civilizations of Mongo, Flash is reluctant to kneel. He makes a stand, something no one has ever done and thereby starts the wheels of revolution (even if slowly at first) turning. Flash is killed via lethal gas, Zarkov is brain drained and Dale is prepared to be Ming’s bride. All seems lost. But there’s still hope for Flash Gordon who seems to have as many lives as a cat. Aided by Ming’s daughter Princess Aura, Flash escapes to the moon of Arboria, kingdom of Prince Barin (played by James Bond Timothy Dalton) where he is coolly welcomed. Standing up to Ming is not a popular move. He must earn the trust of the inhabitants of Arboria who want him dead. It’s not easy to stand up against such tyranny, but Flash has strength of spirit and determination.

Written by King Kong and Batman 1966 scribe Lorenzo Semple, Jr, Flash Gordon is a bit campy to be sure but is also so strange and unlike any other film that I had seen around that time. It doesn’t take itself seriously and the performance of Brian Blessed as Vultan King of the Hawkmen needs to be seen to be believed. Star Sam Jones plays the role of Flash straight with so much sincerity in the face of all the absurdity.

There are plenty of action set pieces but the attack of the Hawkmen on the Ajax ship as Brian May’s guitar squeals is the high point. The soundtrack by Queen is phenomenal and one of the reasons the film has held up so well over the years.
If you are looking for a great film for a party night, you can do no wrong by throwing in a copy of Flash Gordon. In no time you’ll be yelling along with Blessed and singing along with the soundtrack.

Order below:

The Stone Tape by Nigel Kneale

TheStoneTape_By_Rich_Fox“Let’s say it’s a mass of data… waiting for a correct interpretation.”

The master of British science fiction, Nigel Kneale, may be unknown to you, yet I can guarantee that his work has influenced one of your favorite programs or movies. It’s actually unfair to limit his genre of choice to sci-fi as his work contains elements of supernatural thrillers and moody horror, all set within a relate-able context.

One his most influential pieces, 1953’s The Quatermass Experiment, chronicled the launch of a manned space expedition and the unpredictable events when it returned. The unease with which the slow moving plot unravels may be lost on the modern viewer more accustomed with immediate payoff, but Kneale was working on a deeper level. His vision of space was more akin to HP Lovecraft than Ray Bradbury. There were unspeakably mysterious things in the world of the beyond, not just green men but something outside of our understanding. In The Quatermass Experiment, the horror is in actually making the journey into the limitless void. His influence can be seen in TV programs such as Doctor Who and the X-Files and motion pictures such as Life Force and Event Horizon.


I highly encourage readers to seek out Neale’s work. When it was first screened, The Quatermass Experiment was essentially presented as live television and received an unprecedented viewership. In 2005 (the same year Doctor Who returned to TV), The Quatermass Experiment was updated yet retained its raw live-TV style and starred names familiar to readers of this blog such as David Tennant and Mark Gatiss.

The Stone Tape is perhaps on of Nigel Kneale’s lesser known TV dramas, but is well worth a look. Screened during the 1972 Christmas Holiday Season, when it was once a tradition for British TV schedules to be filled with horror and supernatural stories, The Stone Tape bears a resemblance to some of Neale’s equally enthralling radio dramas.

The Stone Tape’s premise revolves around the collision of science and the supernatural. An enterprising technician is developing a new style of audio recording to compete with the foreign market. Much like Quatermass’ British Space Program, national pride is a strong theme here. Electronics executive Peter Brock has chosen an old Victorian mansion for his work, but finds that parts of the structure date back much further. While the crew is setting up shop for a data warehouse, Brock’s girlfriend Jill has an unusual experience when she witnesses the manifestation of a ghost.

After some skepticism, it is revealed that a previously blocked off section of the estate is indeed haunted. Rather than depart, Brock sees this as a challenge. No one has ever recorded a ghost, after all. If his team were to succeed in this endeavor, it would bring great notoriety… followed by financial success, no doubt.

Then things go pear-shaped.

If you are a fan of British TV and cult horror, this should be on your viewing list. While it is unavailable on home media in the US, you can watch the entire film online via YouTube!

Happy Halloween, my gentle readers.

New Trek influenced by classic episode, Balance of Terror


Balance of Terror is not a bad choice as episodes go… but what could it mean? The classic story introduced the secretive Romulans for the first time. A prolonged battle between two starships, Balance of Terror was a challenge of courage, intelligence and cunning.

The Romulan craft was equipped with a cloaking device that allowed the ship to become invisible, yet they could not fire while it was activated. The story fleshed out the identity of the Romulans through the sterling performance of Mark Lenard who would later portray Spock’s father, Sarek. The commander of the enemy vessel and Captain Kirk are both shown in nail-bitingly tense situations, so perfectly mirrored that Kirk gains his enemy’s respect by the end of the episode.

In addition to holding a vital place in Trek lore, the story was also an allegory for the political climate at the time. Like many key Trek stories of the 1960’s,  it serves as a time capsule of the American psyche as well as prompting some compassion toward those we define as enemies. If showrunner Fuller is looking to delve into that part of the nation’s gestalt consciousness, he has a hard yet worthwhile job on his hands.

But it could just mean that the new series will explore the Romulan War, something the previous program Enterprise did not get the opportunity to do.

I was chatting at length with someone the other night who put his finger on a key attribute missing from modern Trek which is not preaching morality or politics (some episodes of classic Trek are very conservative while others are liberal and while Roddenberry was a humanist, he didn’t bash belief systems). So while I am certainly on board for a politically charged liberal-leaning sci-fi program, I think one that promotes discourse and inner exploration could be even better rather than one that promotes further dissension and antagonism.