Kolchak Review

Kolchak: The Night Stalker was an American television series. It was created by Jeff Rice during the 70s.  The series had a combination of science fiction, supernatural, horror and thriller elements.   This TV series came after two TV movies, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler in 1971 and 1975, respectively. The Kolchak TV series was then cancelled after one season because of its average ratings.  Originally, the show had 26 episodes, but only completed 20 episodes.  The unexceptional ratings of the show made its star unhappy and so it was cancelled.

The novel “The Kolchak Papers” by Jeff Rice was the inspiration to the two TV movies and the series.  It was opted to have a title “The Kolchak Chronicles”.  Alternatively, the said novel was really intended to be shown on screen, so it was not published until the two movies were shown on TV.  The original novel was then published by Pocket Books as a popular paperback with the title “The Night Stalker”, with Darren McGavin’s photo on its cover.  The second movie was also novelized, written also by Jeff Rice and was based on the original script of Richard Matheson.  The said novel was republished as an anthology edition in 2007 by Moonstone, entitled “The Kolchak Papers”.

Kolchak The Night Stalker

The Night Stalker was then made into a script by Richard Matheson.  It was directed by a theatrical and TV movie veteran, John Llewllyn Moxey and produced by Dan Curtis.  The said movie became the highest rated original movie of ABC.  It was the first ever TV movie that had 54 shares and 33.2 ratings.  The said movie gave Matheson an Edgar Award for Best TV Feature or Miniseries Teleplay in 1973.

The Night Stalker was broadcasted on January 11 1972.  It is a story about an investigative journalist.  A series of murders made Carl Kolchak (the investigative journalist) believe that a serial killer is lurking around The Strip of Las Vegas.  He wrote a story about his suspected serial killings, but the authorities held it back.  Kolchak suspected that the killer was a vampire.  Precisely, his suspicions were real when he saw with his own eyes evidences of a real vampire.  In this movie, he took down the vampire killer by himself. Yet, he lost his job and his girlfriend (who was earning a living as a dancer and was later on blackmailed by the police).

The second movie was aired on January 19, 1973. The second movie was entitled “The Night Strangler”.  In this movie, Carl Kolchak moved in to Seattle since he had no reason to be in Las Vegas. Kolchak was then hired by his old editor, Tony Vincenzo who assigned him to take on a story of another series of killings.  All the victims of the killings were exotic dancers, whose necks were crushed because of strangulation and as well as a few ounces of blood drained from their bodies.

Kolchak together with the help of a researcher named Titus Barry discovered that the murders recur every 21 years.  The killer is an elixir of life and a surgeon in Westside Mercy Hospital during the Civil War, named Dr. Richard Malcolm.  Kolchak found a painting of the doctor who was the living image of a Dr. Malcom Richards, the founder of the clinic where Kolchak went to hoping to find old hospital records. Kolchak was then set to chase the killer before he completes his elixir and disappear again. Due to limitations on time, some scenes on the second movie was cut.

In September 29 2005, the Night Stalker series was aired again on ABC but was cancelled on November 14 2005 because of low ratings.  The series was available in DVD on that same year.  Also, Kolchak’s character was acknowledged in the show by The X-Files creator, Chris Carter.  He mentioned on an interview that 30% of his show was indeed inspired by the Kolchak series.  In order to pay tribute to Kolchak, Carter named a character “Richard Matheson” appeared in several episodes of X-files.  However, McGavin appeared in several episodes of Carter’s series as a retired FBI agent named Arthur Dales as the “father of the X-files”.

Star Trek Review

More often than not, the cancellation of a TV series would be its death. Yet, this was not the case for Star Trek.  After the end of its low rated three-year season on NBC is its unexpected 40-year enterprise success.  In order to compensate the production loss of the original series, Paramount Studios sold the syndication rights to Star Trek and began reruns in 1969.  This created a greater fanbase than it has when it was still on in NBC.

From then on, it made eleven films, six television series, hundreds of novels, dozens of games, countless replicas and toys, two traveling museum exhibits of Star Trek props and even had a themed attraction which opened in 1998 but was then closed in 2008 in Las Vegas.

Star Trek’s The Original Series (TOS) was aired from 1966 to 1969 in NBC. This is a story of the starship Enterprise crew, (both humans and aliens) who works for Starfleet, a scientific exploratory agency of the United Federation of Planets.  The story of Enterprise crew is similarly to that of the controversial issues in the 60s.  TOS got several nominations during its original run in the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and won twice before it was cancelled after its third season.

Star Trek The Original Series

It was then followed by the short-lived Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS).  The voices of the characters in this animated series where performed by its original cast in TOS.  Many of the stories in this series were also written by the original writers, such as Paul Schneider, D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold.  Since the series is in animation form, it allowed the producers to make more exotic life forms and alien landscapes.  Yet it also caused animation errors and insistent reuse of shots and musical cues.  Despite that, TAS won an award in 1975, Star Trek’s first Emmy Award.  TAS episodes were released on laserdisc, VHS and DVD formats.

Star Trek: The Next Generation or TNG was the highest rating Star Trek series.  TNG took place a hundred years after The Original Series.  It featured a new starship called Enterprise-D.  It also had new crew headed by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Commander William Riker.  New alien races like half-Betazoid counselor Deanna Troi and the first Klingon officer Worf in Starfleet were also introduced to the Federation as crewmembers.  TNG ran for seven seasons from 1987 to 1994.  The first two seasons were mainly produced by its creator, Gene Roddenberry.  Rick Berman was the executive producer of the remaining Star Trek series and films which include the cast of The Next Generation.

Deep Space Nine is the fourth among the Star Trek series.  What’s different in this series is that DS9 happened on a space station and not on a starship.  It took place during the years and immediate years of TNG.  This sci-fi series also ran for seven seasons.  It’s religious themes and disagreements between the crew made DS9 different among all Star Trek series.  DS9 was the last series affiliated to Gene Roddenberry.

Star Trek: Voyager presented the first female commanding officer lead by Captain Kathryn Janeway, who was played by Kate Mulgrew, also the first leading role given to a female among all Star Trek series.  The story of Voyager happened about the same period as DS9.  It featured USS Voyager, an Intrepid-class starship on pursuit of a Maquis ship manned by Federation rebels.  The two ships got stranded 70,000 light years away from Earth in Delta Quadrant.  Like in the early seasons of Deep Space 9, the characters in Voyager had major struggles with each other. Marquis rebels and Starfleet crew were forced by their situation to work together in order to overcome their differences and as well as cleverly seek ways on how to shorten their 70-year voyage.

The 6th Star Trek series is a prequel titled Enterprise.  It took place before the Federation was founded and about 90 years after the incident of Zefram Cochrane’s first warp flight.  The first two seasons of Enterprise was like a series of episodes from TOS, TNG and Voyager. The third season had an evil plot and arranged like of DS9 set-up.  The 4th season showed episodes of about two to three mini-arcs.  Enterprise’s last season solved and corrected the persistent vital problems in many Star Trek series.  It also presented the origin of the elements in the earlier series.  The Enterprise ratings rapidly declined despite its strong start. Here are some fun facts about Star Trek:

*Studies show that more children were able to learn more about Science from Star Trek compared to any other source.

*Ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and James Doohan (who played the role of chief engineer from the original Star Trek) were sent to space by NASA rockets.

*The wife of Gene Rodenberry, Majel Barrett is the voice behind the ship’s computer.  She was still able to record for the film in 2009 before her death in 2008.

*Matt Damon rejected the offer to play the role of Captain James T. Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek movie.

*The TNG character’s name Geordi La Forge came from a devoted fan of the original Star Trek series who had muscular dystrophy. His name was George La Forge, who died in 1975.

*Most Vulcans eat their food wearing special gloves and are vegetarians.

*TV Guide ad by RCA quoted Star Trek: The Original Series is the reason why people should buy a color TV in the 60s.

*The character “Spock” played by Leonard Nimoy was rejected at first because of worries about his devilish pointed ears could cause disturbance to some viewers.

*Zachary Quinto dyed his hair and shaved his eyebrows using what he recommended after reading several electric razor reviews to prepare for his role as “Spock” in 2009.

*The fingers of Zachary Quinto who played Spock in 2009 were glued by Star Trek Director J.J. Abrams for him to perfect the Vulcan salute.

*”Nyota” Lieutenant Uhura’s name means “freedom” in Swahili.

*The alien race “Ferengi” is a Persian word for “foreigner”.

*It will take three weeks to watch all 726 episodes, 11 films and spin-offs consecutively.

Brundlefly Review

The Fly (1958)Brundlefly is a fictional character in a movie of a scientist who accidentally altered his DNA into a housefly of his own teleportation experiment.  The original short story of George Langelaan was produced into a film in the year 1958 entitle “The Fly” which was then remade in the 80’s, with the same title and theme but with a more gradual transformation of the “Brundlefly” character.

Kip Ohman, co-producer of 80s film “The Fly” suggested screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue to rewrite Langelaan’s short story.  Pogue was interested of doing the project after he had read and watched the original film.  He then convinced Stuart Cornfeld to help set up the movie’s production.

Cornfeld and Pogue talked to 20th Century Fox executives to help produce the “The Fly” remake and immediately got positive response.  Pogue wrote the first draft of the screenplay after receiving money from the film corporation.  Pogue and Cornfeld both agreed that the movie would have a better outcome if they focused on the slow metamorphosis of the character “Brundlefly”.

Yet the executives of the film corporation were not impressed of Pogue’s script.  Cornfeld, on the other hand closed a deal with 20th Century Fox to still distribute the film provided he would find another financier for the said movie.  So, Cornfeld convinced Mel Brooks of Brooksfilms to finance for them, however, Brooks believed that they should get a different writer.

Though Pogue was replaced by Walon Green, but brought back by Cornfeld to try again and polish the script.  Also, Cornfeld and Brooks are looking for the perfect director for the movie.  David Cronenberg was their first choice, who was then working on another project so was unable to do the remake.  Cornfeld then hired Robert Bierman, a young British director.

But due to some family issues, Bierman was then replaced by Cronenberg as director.  Cronenberg accepted Cornfeld’s offer provided that he will rewrite and pitch in his ideas for the script.  Yet, even with the major changes on Pogue’s script, Cronenberg still insisted that Pogue should share the credit with him for the movie’s screenplay.  This is because he thinks that his adaptation will not be realized if not for Pogue’s script.

After the long preparation, the casting for the movie was put together.  Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis were finally chosen for the lead roles.  Chris Walas was hired to supervise the extensive special effects of the film.  He was also the designer of the creatures in the movie “Gremlins”.  He won an Academy Award for the Best Makeup for this movie.

This 80s remake movie is about the story of a strange but brilliant scientist named Seth Brundle who met a journalist named Veronica Quiafe of Particle magazine at a press conference held by Bartok Science Industries, a company funding the scientist’s experiments.  The scientist invited Veronica to go to his laboratory which also is his home and show her his project that will change the world.

Seth’s project is a set of “Telepods” that instantly teleports an object from one pod to the other pod.  After seeing Seth’s project, Veronica finally agreed to document the scientist’s work.  In the beginning, Seth’s “Telepod” can perfectly transport non-living objects, but still needs reprogramming in order to transport living objects.

The two had a romantic relationship which inspired Seth to improve the “Telepod”.  Seth was very excited to share his success with Veronica, who left immediately before the two even started the celebration.  Veronica’s actions made Seth worried and frustrated. Seth thought that Veronica wanted to revive her old flame with Stathis Borans, Veronica’s editor and ex-lover.  Veronica’s actions led Seth to transport himself using his “Telepod”, oblivious of the fly that was with him in the pod.  After the process, Seth came out of the pod just the same.  He also felt an increase in his stamina, strength and sexual potency in which he thought were advantageous results of the teleportation he went through.

Seth, unaware that he already had a housefly’s genes mixed up in his genetic makeup, slowly began to encounter strange changes to his physical and mental health.  Veronica on the other hand learned that she was pregnant, yet was not sure if she got pregnant before or after the teleportation.  Veronica together with Borans tried to convince a doctor to abort the baby.

Seth tried to stop the two and forced Veronica to transport her and the baby so they could become just like him.  In the end, Veronica shot and killed Seth.

Land of the Giants Review

Land of the Giants was an American TV program that was aired in the 60s. It was created and produced by Irwin Allen, a notable television and film director.  The TV series is an hour long science fiction program which lasted two seasons with 51 episodes and was shown on ABC.  It was released by 20th Century Fox Television.  The entire series was filmed in color and was considered as one of the most expensive television shows produced, costing $250,000 per episode.  Actors portraying the roles in the series were required to be physically fit since they had to do all the stunts featured in the TV series.

Land of The Giants #3Land of the Giants was supposed to be a mid-season replacement but then changed and was aired for a full season in fall of 1968.  The first of its 12 episodes were shot during summer and fall in 1967.  Some episodes of the program were played in an out of orderly manner which caused confusion to its viewers.  An example was the episode “Ghost Town” which was the 14th episode filmed but was aired as the 2nd episode.

The program is about the story of the passengers and crew of the spacecraft called “Spindrift” that was suppose to travel through an ultra-fast route of parabolic trajectory from Los Angeles to London.  But the Spindrift came upon a strange space storm which accidentally transported it to a strange planet.  This planet looked similar like Earth but everything on it is twelve times larger than Earth itself.

The inhabitants of this planet were unbelievably tall, about 72 feet, which caused the crew to call them “the giants”.  The giants resemble humans and in some ways their society is similar to the US government in the 60s.  Having known that aliens have invaded their planet, the giants offered a reward to those who will capture the Earth people.

In almost every episode, the giants try to capture one of the crew or passengers while the rest will have to rescue him or her.  The characters in the TV program were able to avoid being captured most of the time since their spacecraft crashed and is hidden in a forest outside the giant’s city.  Also, the characters tried to build alliances from some giants in exchange for things which were beneficial to both giants and Earth people. Here are more fun facts about the sci-fi TV program Land of the Giants:

*Some cities of the strange planet were named through the series, but the name giants’ planet itself was never revealed.

*Chrysler Corporation was the automaker of the series, so nameplates on cars and trucks were clearly shown and is visible despite that the setting of the story is supposed to be in another planet.

* Spindrift’s flight number and the date of its crash (June 12 1983) is the program creator’s (Irwin Allen’s) birthday.

*The guns and computers used as props in Land of the Giants were also used in The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Batman (1966) and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

*Land of the Giants came from the mystery novel written by Agatha Christie called “And Then There Were None” which was then published in 1939 as “The Ten Little Indians”.

*The actress who played the role of Betty Hamilton was pregnant for most of the shows in the second season.  Most of her shots were filmed from waist up, was taken out of previous episodes or she wore baggy clothes.

*The giants often had alien-sounding names.  Only three of the giants were given creative names which were “Flat Broke”, “Also Broke” and “Lad” spelled backwards.

Lost in Space Review

“Lost in Space” was one of the many successful science fiction television series in the 60s. Irwin Allen created and produced  the series, while CBS aired it. 20th Century Fox Television on the ther hand filmed it.  The series had a total of 85 episodes. This includes “No Place To Hide (the pilot episode that was left unaired). “Lost in Space Forever” is also included, and this was a special 1998 episode.

Originally, the title of the series was supposed to be “Space Family Robinson”, which Allen based on the film “Swiss Family Robinson”, but with space and comic oriented version.  Yet, Allan was unaware of the Gold Key comic that had the same theme and name.  Though Gold Key publishing had all the right to sue 20th Century Fox studio and Allen for infringement, this didn’t happen. To avoid this, Allen made some changes to his series by adding a new character, Dr. Zachary Smith who caused most of the conflicts in the series and the comic relief to the show.

Lost in Space is a story of a family who was chosen to be on a mission to journey to a planet near the star Alpha Centauri.  Space probe shows that this planet has an environment capable to sustain human life. So, the Robinson family together with a military pilot boarded a space craft called Jupiter 2 on a five and a half year exploration.  Yet they were unaware of Dr. Zachary Smith’s plan to sabotage their mission.

As compared to its rival Star Trek, Lost in Space retained a moderate rating success. It even ranked 32nd by the end of its first season.  It was also nominated for Cinematography-Special for photographic effects and “Achievement in visual arts & makeup”, but didn’t win any.  Despite all of this, Lost in Space was unexpectedly cancelled. Though the executives of CBS didn’t state the reason or reasons as to why the show was cancelled, five suggested reasons were presented by series executives, the critics and fans.

First, it was maybe because the budget was too high.  The set used for the interior of Jupiter 2, Lost in Space’s space craft, cost about $350,000, making it the most expensive set for a TV series at that time. Its 1st season budget per episode cost $130,980.  On its 3rd season, the increase on the actors’ salary made its budget shoot up to $164,788.  The actors may have been the cause of series cost issues as well. Actor Williams wanted to have close-up shots of him and Irwin on the other hand gave in to his request, that according to director Richardson.  Yet, taking close-up shots would be time consuming and would need more lightning which in that time would be a big problem.

The series was then going to have a 4th season as claimed by Billy Mumy and other sources.  Allen mentioned that the series could not continue with a cut budget.  So, during the meeting for Lost in Space’s supposedly 4th season, chief executive Bill Paley of CBS mentioned that the budget would be 15% less than the previous season.  Yet, Allen insisted that the series could not continue with a cut budget.  The negotiation on Lost in Space’s 4th season budget led Allen to walk out of the meeting which by that means led to its cancellation.

Another reason was because one of the executives of CBS didn’t like the show, said Robert Hamner.  He said that chief executive Paley really hated the show that he used the excuse of cutting off the budget in order to put the show to an end.

The 4th reason as to why Lost in Space was cancelled was because its cost was increasing yet the ratings were going down.  Allen acknowledged that the show had an evident decrease of adult audiences and an increase in number of children viewers.

Partly responsible for Lost in Space’s being cancelled out was that director Richardson and actress Lockhart were no longer thrilled about the show.  Lockhart unhesitatingly joined Petticoat Junction, another CBS’s series, when she was told about the show’s cancellation by head of CBS programming, Perry Lafferty.  Director Don Richardson was already informed about the probable cancellation of the show.  Should the show still continue, director Richardson has decided to no longer be a part of Lost in Space’s 4th season.

Also, Bob May (the man inside the Robot) and Jonathan Harris may have had some issues that when the series was about to an end, Harris would not allow May to step in his dressing room. Guy Williams was also getting tired of his role that his acting became exaggerated after the first season, and this fact was not a secret to everyone.  Yet, it was not announced if Williams would still be in season four or not.

In the end, the Robinson’s got stuck in space and never returned to Earth.