Category Archives: TV

No Religious Test

“…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States…” US Constitution Article VI Section 3.

So what was the Rick Warren thing last night with Obama and McCain?

How far have we fallen. Not only is belief in imaginary beings a prerequisite to becoming President of the United States, but you must in addition kowtow to the warped, sadistic, specific belief that the Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniwhatever Ruler of the Universe tortured and killed his own Son because he somehow screwed up despite being Omnieverything and didn’t forsee that Eve would eat some apple proferred by a Talking Snake in some Garden. How do we ever expect to get a rational leader if his mind embraces the psychotic idea that good and evil spirits are running around controlling the world?

No more religious testing of the candidates, PLEASE!!!!

The Outer Limits Season I

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I’m referring to the original series, circa 1963-64. I have never seen the new series, but have heard it is rather lame. When I first saw the original series I was in my formative years of 11-13. I remember reading a review of the series back then that made the point that the monsters weren’t bad, unlike traditional monsters. Indeed the series was not really a monster show, like Chiller Theater from around the same time. Instead it was rather thought provoking, with some good science fiction themes, even if occasionally it’s moralizing would be rather hamhanded. Many of the episodes were quite familiar on second viewing, after so many years. The show clearly made a big impression on me in my younger days. One of the fascinating aspects of watching it again is seeing the unknown actors who later became more famous. An example is Martin Landau and a very young and attractive Sally Kellerman in “The Bellero Shield.” Robert Culp appears in several episodes, including the horrifying “Architects of Fear.” Some episodes are actually quite prophetic, such as “O.B.I.T.”, in which a machine that can spy on anyone at any time is the main plot item — anticipating a world that seems a lot closer to reality now than it was then. Some of the special effects are unique, to say the least. The weird human-faced bugs (realized with stop-motion photography) of “The Zanti Misfits” come to mind. It’s funny that some of the episodes I enjoyed the most as a kid I still find fascinating, even though I recognize as an adult that they are not the best of the series. The bee-girl of “ZZZZZZ” comes across as completely alien without any significant special effects — a creature at once attractive and repellent. The amusement park ride that really is a flying saucer is another one I love (“Second Chance”). I am that kid in the picture below that wants to believe it is all real. The seasons ends with an amazing and chilling gothic episode: “The Forms of Things Unknown.” David McCallum is in this one, as well as the excellent “The Sixth Finger,” in a pre-“Man From Uncle” role. The stark black and white camera work, including weird angles and high contrast lighting, are wonderful in this last episode, as they are throughout the series. Certainly an episode like this and most of the series stand up very well as great television even today.

The bee-girl from “ZZZZZZ”

The Bee girl from ZZZZZZ

The space stewardess (no flight attendants in those days) and one of my contemporaries on the flying saucer amusement park ride from “Second Chance”

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Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea

I am halfway through the second season of the DVD release of the 1960s TV show “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” (VTTBOTS), and taking great pleasure in reliving my teenage years in the process. This was one of my favorite shows at the time, and it is fascinating to see the shows again with 40 years of adult life between viewings. With the aging of the baby boomers, it seems no coincidence that dozens of DVD sets of old TV shows, from “Lost in Space” to “F Troop”, have been released. There’s no doubt that a huge nostalgia factor drives the sales of these old TV shows. In the age of CGI movie special effects, I can’t see my kids ever wanting to see these shows from a frankly simpler time.

VTTBOTS aired from 1964 to 1968. I loved the show as a teen. The submarine Seaview, the coolest submarine ever designed (see the image below) is a scientific research sub (complete with nuclear missiles!) that on a weekly basis explored the depths of the ocean, faced various monstrous and human perils, and in general was the centerpiece of amazing adventures. Set 10 years in the future (i.e. the 1970s!) the technology was fairly believable, at least to a 14 year old boy. Captain Lee Crane and Admiral Harriman Nelson are the two stars of the show (played by David Hedison and the late Richard Basehart), and they are accompanied by a crew of regulars such as exec officer Chip Morton, Chief Sharkey, crew members Kowalski, Patterson, and others. But the real star of the show is the sub itself, much like a few years later the Enterprise was the real star of Star Trek. After all these years many of the special effects are obviously dated, but the shots of the Seaview on the open sea are still amazing. No CGI here, instead an 18 foot model sailing on a lake for the surface shots. Smaller models were used for the undersea shots. The first season was the best, shot in black and white, with 8 windows on the nose of the sub. Later seasons had a redesigned sub, with 4 windows and were shot in color. Many of the first season plots were quite serious, focusing on cold war issues. Later seasons had a lighter tone, gradually morphing into the silliness of the later Irwin Allen show “Lost in Space.” One is impressed by some of the acting, especially Richard Basehart who was an excellent actor. In a sense the show was “beneath” him, but he doesn’t treat the role of Admiral Nelson superficially. Nelson is complex: an idealistic researcher, a great friend to Captain Crane, but also quick to anger, and, jarringly today, but unnoticed by me in my youth, a chain smoker. Again, many of the plots are often naive, even silly by today’s standards, though some, especially from season one, stand up well even today. All this doesn’t really matter though. I just love reliving those old days of my youth: the politically incorrect male-adolescent oriented adventures, the cute 60’s women walking around the submarine with their blonde pageboy hairdos, wearing tight skirts and stilleto heels (so practical on a submarine!), the various monsters, scary then, fake now, the wonderful theme music (I am serious about that) — the whole package.

The first 2 seasons are available on DVD, the 3rd is about to be released. If you’re curious check out the website www.vttbots.com, or take the plunge and check out the first season.

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