Criminal Minds: "Amplification"

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I really liked the BUCK ROGERS feature film.  I must have, I saw it in theatres 3 times!  Haven't seen it since.

When they put it on TV, they butchered the thing. Certain bits missing, bits of dialogue missing, certain bits of story re-arranged in different order, and the last 10 minutes or so added as a set-up for the series... it just ruined it for me. Erin Gray talked in an interview about how her best scene had been cut from the feature, and restored for the TV version (when she talks about how Buck has helped remind her that she's a woman), but the addition of that scene doesn't balance out the damage done.

Somehow, I went from really digging the thing, to being VERY turned off in only a few episodes.  I actually quit watching pretty fast... though, I did come back for one of the Ardala episodes.  And I eventually saw the 2-hour season finale.

I decided to give the show another chance, when I read about all the changes they were making for the 2nd season.  OY.  You know, it's funny, buit decades later, I caught a few of those episoes I skipped originally, and they weren't bad. They were WAY better than what I saw in the 2nd season.  GO FIGURE.

One of the things that really stuck in my head, the last time I saw the TV pilot, was that most of the acting in the thing seemed stiff and amateurish. And I'm talking, even from established pros like Tim O'Connor. The ONE actor on the show who really shined, who really showed talent, was Pamela Hensley. No kidding. She was, by a wide margin, the best person on the show.

Awhile back, I did a pair of vinyl transfers of LPs to computer to CD.  I put together a "twofer" of the soundtracks of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and BUCK ROGERS. Ain't that cool?  (Apart from the disco songs, anyway.)



Somehow, I taped this off cable in the 80's, and never watched it until now. Not really a movie, more a compilation of the first 4 episodes of a Japanese cartoon show.

What really surprised me, was, ever since the early-80s, I had the SHOGUN WARRIORS toy that was based on this show-- and never made the connection. It was "Combatra"-- 5 separate vehicles which combined to form a giant robot. In the case of the toy, about 18" tall!!!

While some Japanese cartoons are for all ages (STAR BLAZERS, MACROSS, ULYSSES 31), VOLTUS V, despite its violence, strikes me as an 80's reincarnation of GIGANTOR.  That is, no emotional depth, just action, action, action.  So, I'd say it was a kids' show.  The kind that would NEVER have been seen in America for the whole of the 1970's.

Not right this minute, but ...

I've been watching/recording a fair amount of "American History TV" on C-SPAN3 lately.  Almost every weekend there's at least one or two programs that are worth watching.  I especially like the "Lectures in History" series, in which a C-SPAN camera crew travels to college campuses across the country and sits in on a lecture in an undergraduate American History course.  (That's "lecture" as in "Tuesday in Professor Johnson's History 502 class", not a specially convened lecture or conference for the benefit of the cameras.)  This weekend I watched ... well, this, actually.

I like this sort of thing, but maybe I'm just weird.

I just worked thru a tape of miscellaneous science-fiction shows I taped back in the 80's. Oddly enough, it appears I never watched anything on this tape until this week.  Truly bizarre,  Perhaps the most out-of-place item on the tape is...

TIMESLIP:  "The Block"  (1985)

From the IMDB message boards:

"I have only seen one episode... and I really wonder if that was the only one ever made. More or less it was a show with a really catchy theme song for the '80s and had an opening sequence who was trying to hack a computer system to get a glimpse at the future. Once he had figured out the password (Timeslip) you got to see a bunch of pretty graphics and then the episode would start. Upon the end of the episode, "The Hacker" would give his own narrative on what he had seen as the closing credits rolled."


"Only the pilot episode was made. The story was, as Airwolf4 correctly said, called "The Block" and was about an affair between 2 people who worked in the Block, which was an automated office building surrounded by post apocalyptic world (much like the cyberpunkish Max Headroom world of similar vintage). We only see a glimpse of this world at the beginning as a taxi drops off one of the lovers. The lovers then meet illicitly for a tender love scene with a saxophone backing track, but only after they tell the central computer to remove any record of them being in the building. Their problems start when that very computer tries to exterminate the two when they leave their love nest, as it's records no longer show them to be authorized personnel. The computer tries to "Erase" them by whatever means it has at it's disposal e.g.. Opening lift doors with no lift inside. Taylor wraps up the show by saying computers are much like children in that they will take things literally. It's all very 80's in it's look and if you have some nostalgia for that period's view of the future then this is worth a look."

...and MY response...

"Thanks for the info. I taped this (off of Cinemax, I think) back in the 80's, and I'm not sure I ever watched it until this week!

At first I thought the show would be about the Hacker, but he only appeared at the beginning and end. I came to the conclusion that TIMESLIP was intended as an anthology series-- a sort-of science-fiction variation on THE HITCH-HIKER, which combined horror and sex. The Hacker, therefore, acts as the "host"-- just as did The Hitch-Hiker, or Rod Serling, or "The Control Voice", of The Crypt-Keeper (heehee).

Only one made, eh?

The credits said "The Block" was "based on an idea by Robert Holmes". So, that's what he's up to when he wasn't working on DOCTOR WHO. (Come to think of it, Holmes would have passed away just about the time this aired on TV.)"

Hi, Jerry Orbach and Richard Moll!


So, what have you guys been up to lately?


Cool!  Ummm ... What is that, exactly?


Oh.  Oh my.

Isn't that the cantina scene from Star Wars?

Last night, at ONE in the morning, I put on HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER.  I watched about 75% before I went to sleep.

Tonight, I watched the last part. What a GREAT film. So spooky... and funny... and subtle.

At the IMDB, there must be 20 different threads all discussing the true identity of "The Stranger". How stupid are people to go to a message board, and all start NEW threads instead of responding to existing ones??

Similarly, there's at least 6 threads ALL discussing whether "The Stranger" RAPED 2 women in the film, or not, and if Eastwood is saying that women WANT to be raped.  I mean really.

Meanwhile... damnedest thing last night. I've found a lot of connections reading the IMDB, checking out what different actors appeared in. But last night, just about 1:30 AM, while watching the film, I was looking at this one actress' face, and it suddenly hit me, WHERE I'd seen her before.

Now keep in mind, I've seen this film AT LEAST a dozen times by now.  But the other film I'd seen her in, I've seen AT LEAST 20 TIMES-- and never, ever made a connection.

The character of "Sarah" (wife of the hotel owner) is played by Verna Bloom, who got 2ND BILLING in the film, right after Eastwood. I always wondered why.  She was one of the only 2 people in the town who turned out to be decent-- when the Marshall was killed, she tried to stop it. Later, she's the one who says to The Stranger, "I've heard that the dead can't rest in an unmarked grave. Do you believe that?"

The only other film I've ever seen her in was ANIMAL HOUSE.  She was "Mrs. Wormer"-- the Dean's wife!!


What's funny is, her husband was played by John Vernon, who was in both DIRTY HARRY and THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES.

Buck Rogers: "Flight of the War Witch"

Honestly, can there possibly be anything more fun than watching Julie Newmar and Pamela Hensley trying to out-vamp each other?  This is one of the best written and best acted scenes in the whole history of the show.

I haven't watched a minute of this show since it first aired, and I remembered not being very impressed by Hensley (except on a very ... ummm ... superficial level).

I have to take that assessment back.  On re-watch, it's clear to me that Hensley knows exactly what kind of show she's in and exactly what role she's playing -- she may be more in tune with this than anyone else in the show -- and she's acting the heck out of it. 


I realized that I have moved on to my next DVD project and never gave a "final assessment" of Buck Rogers.  Because, you know, I assume that you're just dying to know what I thought.  {ahem}

Overall, I enjoyed this a good deal more than I thought I would (based on my vague memories of its original airing).  It's not great -- I doubt I would actively recommend it to anyone other than a geek like me -- but all it really aspired to be was light entertainment ('70's sci-fi division), and on that level it works pretty well.  The main cast are reliably good -- often way better than they really needed to be, or than the script deserved -- Gil Gerard made an amiable leading man, and Erin Gray looked great in a catsuit.

So there ya go.

Whoa! Welcome back, Alex Kitty!

Right now I'm watching The Office on my local Fox affiliate. I just finished watching the 2011 CBS coverage of the Big Bang Theory's cast panel at Comicon. I love that show so much.

George Poague said:

"The Fugitive," Season Two (1964-65). One episode is built around a little kid who happens to be Kurt Russell.


I wonder if that's from before or after he was on Gilligan's Island.

He was in a Lost In Space two-parter, too.

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