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UFO TV series

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

UFO is a 1970 British television science fiction series about an alien invasion of Earth, created by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson with Reg Hill, and produced by the Andersons and Lew Grade‘s Century 21 Productions for Grade’s ITC Entertainment company.

UFO was first broadcast in the UK and Canada in 1970 and in US syndication over the next two years. In all, 26 episodes, including the pilot, were filmed over the course of more than a year, with a five-month production break caused by the closure of the MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood, where the show was initially made.

The Andersons had previously made a number of very successful children’s science fiction series using marionettes, including Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Joe 90. They had also made one live-action science fiction movie, Doppelgänger, also known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, and now felt ready to move into live-action television and aim at a more adult market.

UFO was the Andersons’ first totally live-action TV series. Despite the assumption of many TV station executives, the series was not aimed at children but was intended for an older audience; many episodes featured adult themes such as adultery, divorce, and drug use. Most of the cast were newcomers to Century 21 although star Ed Bishop had previously worked with the Andersons as a voice actor on Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons.

Contents

Plot overview

The show’s basic premise is that in 1980 (a date indicated in the opening credits), Earth is being visited and attacked by aliens from a dying planet and humans are being covertly harvested for their organs by the aliens. The show’s main cast of characters are members of a secret, high-technology international agency called SHADO (an acronym for Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation) established to defend Earth and humanity against the mysterious aliens and learn more about them, while at the same time keeping the threat of an alien invasion hidden from the public.

UFOs

The extraterrestrial spacecraft can readily cross the vast distances between their planet and Earth at many times the speed of light (abbreviated and pronounced as “SOL”; e.g., “SOL one decimal seven” is 1.7 times the speed of light), but are too small to carry more than a few crew members. Their time on station is limited: UFOs can only survive for a couple of days in Earth’s atmosphere before they deteriorate and finally explode. The UFOs can survive for far longer underwater; one episode, “Reflections in the Water”, deals with the discovery of a secret undersea alien base, which shows one UFO flying straight out of an extinct volcano, which Straker describes as “a back door to the Atlantic”. A special underwater version of the standard UFO design is seen in “Sub Smash”. In flight they are surrounded by horizontally spinning vanes and emit a distinctive pulsing electronic whine that sounds like a Shoooe-Wheeeh! (produced by series composer Barry Gray on an ondes Martenot).[1] The craft is armed with a laser-type weapon, and conventional explosive warheads can destroy it. The personal arms of the aliens resemble shiny metal submachine guns; these have a lower rate of fire than those used by SHADO. Later episodes such as “The Cat with Ten Lives” show the aliens using other weapons, such as a small device that paralyses victims.

Aliens

Notably for science fiction, the alien race is never given a proper name, either by themselves or by human beings; they are simply referred to as “the aliens”. They are humanoid in appearance, and the autopsy of the first alien captured reveals that they are harvesting organs from the bodies of abducted humans to prolong their lifespans. However, the later episode “The Cat with Ten Lives” suggests that these “humanoids” are actually beings subject to alien mind control, and one “alien” body recovered was suspected of being completely homo sapiens, “possessed” by one of the alien minds. Their faces are stained green by the hue of a green oxygenated liquid, which is believed to cushion their lungs against the extreme acceleration of interstellar flight; this liquid is contained in their helmets. To protect their eyes the aliens wear opaque sclera contact lenses with small pinholes for vision. The show’s opening sequence begins by showing the image of one of these contact lenses being removed from an obviously real eye with a small suction cup, even though the lens is not shown in contact with the eye. The entire lens-removal sequence is shown in the pilot episode.

Only two of the alien suits were made, so at no point in the series are more than two of the aliens seen on screen at any one time. In the episode “Ordeal”, Paul Foster is carried by two aliens while he is wearing an alien space suit, but one of those two aliens is always off-screen when Foster is on-screen.

The alien spacesuit costumes were made of red spandex. At the start of production the alien spacesuits were ornamented with brass chain mesh, as seen in the episode “Survival”. Later this was replaced by silvery panels as in the image. In reality, the dark vertical bands on the sides of the helmets were slits meant to allow the actors to breathe.

SHADO

To defend against the aliens, a secret organisation called SHADO, the Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation, is established. Operating under the cover (as well as under the premises) of the Harlington-Straker Studios movie studio in England, SHADO is headed by Commander Edward Straker (Ed Bishop), a former United States Air Force colonel and astronaut, who poses as the studio’s chief executive.

Establishing the main character as a studio executive was a cost-saving move by the producers: the studio was the actual studio where the series was being filmed, originally the MGM-British Studios and later Pinewood Studios – although the Harlington-Straker studio office block seen throughout the series was actually Neptune House, a building at the former British National Studios in Borehamwood that was owned by ATV. Pinewood’s studio buildings and streetscapes were used extensively in later episodes, particularly “Timelash” and “Mindbender”, the latter featuring scenes that showed the behind-the-scenes workings of the UFO sets when Straker briefly finds himself hallucinating that he is an actor on a TV series and all his SHADO colleagues are likewise actors. In “The Man Who Came Back”, the main set for The Devils, then in production at Pinewood, can be seen in the background of several scenes.

Typical of Anderson productions, the studio-as-cover idea was both practical and cost-effective for the production and provided a ready-made vehicle for the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. It removed the need to build an expensive exterior set for the SHADO base and combined the all-important “secret” cover (concealment and secrecy are always central themes in Anderson dramas) with the trademark ring of at least nominal plausibility. A studio was a business where unusual events and routines would not be remarkable or even noticed. Comings and goings at odd times, the movement of vehicles, equipment, people and material would not create undue interest and could easily be explained away as sets, props, or extras.

Another Anderson leitmotif was the concept of the mechanical conveyor, e.g. the automatic boarding tubes of the Stingray and the Thunderbird craft. In UFO, this appeared in the guise of Straker’s “secret” office, which doubled as a lift (elevator) that takes him down to the SHADO control centre located beneath the studio. The pilots of the space interceptors and the submersible “Sky One” jet interceptor slide down boarding chutes into their craft. The interceptors then rise from their hangar via elevating platforms to a launch pad disguised as a lunar crater. This was a carry-over from the earlier marionette series where it was used due to the difficulty in getting puppets to walk and get them into cockpits.

SHADO equipment

SHADO has a variety of high-tech hardware and vehicles at its disposal to implement a layered defence of Earth. Early warnings of alien attack would come from SID, the Space Intruder Detector, a computerised tracking satellite that constantly scans for UFO incursions. The forward line of defence is Moonbase from which the three Lunar Interceptor spacecraft, carrying nuclear missiles, are launched. The second line of defence includes Skydiver, a submarine mated with the submersible, undersea-launched Sky One interceptor aircraft, which attacks UFOs in Earth’s atmosphere. The last line of defence are ground units including the armed, IFV-like SHADO Mobiles, fitted with caterpillar tracks.

On earth, SHADO also uses a Shadair supersonic jet (e.g., in episode “Identified”), a transatlantic Transporter with a separating Lunar Module (e.g., in episode “Computer Affair”), a Helicopter (actually, a small VTOL aeroplane with large rotating propellers, in episode “Ordeal”), and a Radio-controlled (Space) Dumper (e.g., in episode “The Long Sleep”). Also, the Moonbase has hovercraft that can be deployed for transportation or reconnaissance.

Special effects, as in all Anderson’s marionette shows, were supervised by Derek Meddings, while the vehicles were designed by Meddings and his assistant, Michael Trim.

Stories

The show’s concept was unusually dark for its time: the basic premise was that Earth had not simply been visited by extraterrestrial visitors, but indeed was under brutal alien attack, and that alien invaders were abducting humans to use as involuntary organ transplant donors. A later episode, “The Cat With Ten Lives”, contains a sinister plot point which suggests that the UFO pilots are not humanoid aliens at all, but are in fact human abductees under the control of the alien intelligences, suggesting that, as in Captain Scarlet, the aliens, in the words of the character Dr Jackson, “may have no physical being at all and therefore need a container, a vehicle – our bodies”.

The show also featured realistic, believable relationships between the human characters to a far greater extent than usual in a typical science fiction series of the time, showing the clear influence of American programmes like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek and British action series such as Danger Man. One early episode, “Computer Affair”, suggested an interracial romance between two continuing characters – something that was uncommon in British TV of the period – while others showed the heroes making mistakes with sometimes fatal consequences. Furthermore, relatively few episodes of the series actually had happy or (for the characters) satisfying endings.

The episode “Confetti Check A-OK” is almost entirely devoted to the breakdown of Straker’s marriage under the strain of maintaining the secrecy of the classified nature of his duties. “A Question of Priorities” takes this exploration further, and hinges on Straker having to make the life-or-death choice of whether to divert a SHADO aircraft to deliver life-saving medical supplies to his critically injured son, or allow the aircraft to continue on its mission to attempt a last-chance intercept against an incoming UFO. Two key images from “A Question of Priorities” – Straker’s son being struck down and his ex-wife declaring she never wants to see him again – are repeated in flashback in two subsequent episodes, “Sub Smash” and “Mindbender”, suggesting that Straker remains haunted by these unresolved emotional issues.

Another episode, “The Square Triangle”, centres on a woman and her lover who plan to murder her husband. When they accidentally kill an alien from a downed UFO instead, SHADO intervenes and doses the guilty pair with amnesia drugs. (This was decades ahead of a similar story device in Men in Black, and it was one that was deployed for similar reasons.) Straker realises, however, that the drugs will not affect their basic motivation and, worse, he cannot reveal the truth to local legal authorities. The end credits of this episode run over a scene set in the near future, showing the woman visiting her husband’s grave and then walking away to meet her lover.

Some critics complained that the emphasis on down-to-earth relationships weakened the show’s science fiction premise and were also a means of saving money on special effects. The money-saving argument might have been true to a limited extent, but the Andersons made a virtue of necessity. They had always hoped to direct live-action TV drama, and although the marionette shows helped them develop impressive skills in effects and scripting, they had always considered them as essentially being a way of keeping in work and earning money while they tried to break into “real” TV drama. Others countered that the characters were more well-rounded than in other science fiction shows and that science fiction concepts and special effects in themselves did not preclude realistic action and interaction and believable, emotionally engaging plots. Ultimately, the mix of dark human drama with traditional science fiction adventure is probably the reason for the enduring cult popularity of UFO and what sets it apart from the rest of TV SF series. For example, the time-freeze plot of the episode “Timelash” is similar to The Outer Limits episode “The Premonition”. But UFO adds a drama twist: Straker repeatedly injects a drug (X 50 stimulant) to remain awake during the time freeze, which results in him being hospitalised in SHADO’s medical centre. The ending not only shows him lying in bed recovering from the harmful effects of drug use, but has a subtext that the plot of the episode may, in fact, have been a drug-induced delusion.

UFO confused broadcasters in both Britain and the United States, who could not decide if it was a programme for adults or for children – In the UK, the first series was originally shown in the 5.15pm ‘tea-time’ slot on Saturdays, and on Saturday mornings during an early repeat, by both London Weekend and the-then South-East franchisee, Southern Television, which began broadcasting the first series almost two months before the London area. The fact that the companies associated with the Andersons, such as APFilms and Century 21, were primarily associated with children’s programming did not help matters. This confusion and erratic broadcast schedules are considered contributing factors in its cancellation, although UFO is credited with opening the door to moderately successful runs of later live-action, adult-oriented programming by Anderson such as The Protectors and Space: 1999.

Special effects

The special effects, supervised by Derek Meddings, were of the highest quality and outstanding for their day, given the relatively limited resources at the production’s disposal. In a refinement of the underwater effect developed for Stingray, Meddings’ team devised a disconcerting effect – a double-walled visor for the alien space helmets, which could be gradually filled from the bottom up with green-dyed water. When filmed from the appropriate angle it produced a very convincing illusion of the helmet filling up and submerging the wearer’s head.

Second series and Space: 1999

Two years after the 26 episodes were completed, the series was syndicated on American television and the ratings were initially promising enough to prompt ITC to commission a second season of UFO. As the Moon-based episodes appeared to have proven more popular than the Earth-based stories, ITC insisted that in the new season, the action would take place entirely on the Moon. Gerry Anderson proposed a format in which SHADO Moonbase had been greatly enlarged to become the organisation’s main headquarters, and pre-production on UFO 2 began with extensive research and design for the new Moonbase. These developments were not without precedent in the earlier episodes: a subplot of “Kill Straker!” sees Straker negotiating with SHADO’s financial supporters for funding to build more moonbases within 10 years. However, when ratings for the syndicated broadcasts in America dropped towards the end of the run, ITC cancelled the second season plans. Unwilling to let the UFO 2 pre-production work go to waste, Anderson instead offered ITC a new series idea, unrelated to UFO, in which the Moon would be blown out of Earth orbit taking the Moonbase survivors with it. This proposal developed into Space: 1999.

Merchandise

As with many Anderson productions, the series generated a range of merchandising toys based on the SHADO vehicles. The classic Dinky die-cast range of vehicles featured robust yet finely finished products and included Straker’s futuristic gull-winged gas turbine car, the SHADO mobile and the missile-bearing Lunar Interceptor, though Dinky’s version of the interceptor was released in a lurid metallic green finish unlike the original’s stark white. Like the Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet models, the original Dinky toys are now prized collectors’ items. All the major vehicles, characters, and more have been produced in model form many times over by a large number of licensee companies; the Anderson shows and their merchandise have always had widespread popularity, but they are especially popular in Japan.

DVD release

The complete series was released on DVD in the UK and in North America in 2002 and in Australia in 2007. Bonus features include a commentary by Gerry Anderson on the pilot episode “Identified,” and an actor’s commentary by Ed Bishop on the episode “Sub Smash”. There are also some deleted scenes and lots of stills and publicity artwork.

Characters

UFO had a large ensemble cast, and many of its members would come and go during the course of the series, with a number of actors – most notably George Sewell and Gabrielle Drake – leaving the series during the production break that occurred when the series had to change studios midway through production. It is established early on that SHADO personnel rotate between positions, so the occasional disappearance of characters – some of whom would later return in other positions – fits in with the concept of the series. Also, due to the scheduling of the series, which did not reflect the production order, some episodes featuring departed cast members were not actually aired until late in the series, giving the impression that no major cast changes occurred. Among the major actors, only Ed Bishop appeared in all episodes. These are the major recurring characters in the series:

Commander Edward Straker

Commander in Chief Edward “Ed” Straker, portrayed by Ed Bishop, is a former American Air Force Colonel, pilot and astronaut originally from Boston, Massachusetts, who organised SHADO following a series of UFO attacks in 1970. Straker masquerades as the head of Harlington-Straker Film Studios, SHADO Headquarters being located directly below the studio. He might or might not have been involved with the United States Air Force’s Bluebook Project; this is never made clear in any of the instalments.

He was married to Mary Nightingale in 1970, but they soon divorced after the birth of John, their son. Timeframes are never given for events before the series, but it would be reasonable to presume that their marriage had ended by the end of the flashback presented in “Confetti Check A-OK”. As if perhaps to show her opinion of Straker and his cold attitude, Mary registered their son as John Rutland, after his new stepfather, played by Philip Madoc.

In “A Question of Priorities”, John was later seriously injured when he was hit by a car and Straker, against his own rules, used a SHADO aircraft in order to fly in antibiotic drugs from America. But when his second-in-command, Col. Freeman, was forced to divert the plane in order to investigate some curious UFO-related events in Ireland, Straker’s sense of duty prevented him from informing and over-ruling him as to the plane’s original mission. The drugs arrived too late at the hospital, and John died. His ex-wife blamed him for their son’s death, and in the waiting room spat angrily at him, “I never want to see you again!”

In other sci-fi series, a character must face a challenge and overcome it, though the problem is invariably solved by hour’s end after which all is well. In contrast, the UFO series makes it clear that Ed Straker has had to completely sacrifice his personal life for the organisation, and that although he has learned to live with the fact, he has never forgotten the suffering it has caused to him and people he loved most. Moreover, it is repeatedly demonstrated that there is no realistic prospect of Straker’s circumstances ever improving, though if circumstances were different he would undoubtedly embrace change. Straker’s underlying tension and unhappiness is the foundation of his wounded character, exemplified most powerfully in the “Confetti Check A-OK” episode. The overall effect of Straker’s regularly referenced back story is to transform what could have been a stereotypical sci-fi character into one who is three-dimensional, complex and sympathetic.

One relatively consistent element of Straker’s character is that he refuses to drink alcohol even though he has a fully stocked bar in his SHADO office. The very first instalment, “Identified”, refers to him possessing the willpower to avoid alcohol, yet in “Confetti Check A-OK”, he drinks champagne at his own wedding, and later to commemorate his wife’s pregnancy. Some fans have suggested he might be a recovering alcoholic. Interestingly, his friend Alec Freeman remarks in the episode “Identified”, “Sometimes I think drinking requires more self-control.” However, Straker is fond of cigars, and he can be seen smoking in some episodes. Straker suffers from claustrophobia, a fact known only to the SHADO doctors and Alec Freeman. This was a major sub-plot in the episode “Sub Smash”.

Col. Paul J. Foster

Colonel Paul Foster (portrayed by Michael Billington) is introduced in the second episode, “Exposed”. A former test pilot, his plane was critically damaged when SHADO’s Sky One intercepted and destroyed a UFO in close proximity to Foster’s jet. His subsequent persistent investigation of the incident threatened to expose SHADO’s existence and Straker considered having him killed, but instead was impressed enough with Foster to offer him a position with SHADO. Foster appears to be something of a protégé of Straker’s, as he is shown in a number of major positions. He is Moonbase commander for a time (substituting for Lt. Ellis), is assigned to Skydiver for several months, and also receives a position of authority at SHADO HQ. He masquerades as one of Straker’s film producers in the studio and enjoyed a brief relationship with Col. Virginia Lake. Foster has the unique distinction of having once befriended one of the aliens, though he could not prevent the alien from being killed by SHADO personnel; his overall demeanour became noticeably more cynical after this event, which the instalment “Survival” chronicled.

Lt. Gay Ellis

Most often seen as Moonbase commander during the first half of the series, Lt. Ellis (Gabrielle Drake) is occasionally portrayed as lacking self-confidence, and at other times as a take-charge officer. She is briefly reassigned to SHADO HQ when it is suggested that she may be romantically involved with Interceptor pilot Mark Bradley (“Computer Affair”). She also appears to be attracted to Ed Straker, though nothing comes of this.

Col. Alec E. Freeman

SHADO’s first officer until about the three-quarter point in the series (when actor George Sewell left following the change of studios, being later unavailable when series production resumed at Pinewood studios). In the French-dubbed version, Freeman is Canadian – Straker sometimes calls him amicably “The Canadian.” However, his nationality was never mentioned in the English-language show and his original British accent makes a Canadian origin doubtful. Initially depicted in the pilot episode, “Identified,” as being a cheerful ladies’ man in his early 40s, Freeman is thereafter a much more strait-laced, more serious character who is Straker’s right-hand man and, occasionally, his muscle. Everybody’s pal at SHADO, Freeman takes a sardonic attitude towards some of the things Straker and SHADO must do to survive, and once submitted his resignation in protest over a decision (“Computer Affair”). Straker’s closest friend and best man at his wedding, Freeman was the very first operative recruited into SHADO by Straker, as seen in “Confetti Check A-OK.” His pre-SHADO background includes a history as a combat pilot as well as in air force Intelligence (for which country was unspecified). Freeman finds standing in for Straker difficult in “The Responsibility Seat,” but in other episodes, such as “Close Up,” he has become confident at handling control in Straker’s absence. He appears to have overseen the training of Paul Foster following his recruitment to SHADO in the episode “Exposed” and formed a friendship with the new officer, as they are seen out at dinner in “The Dalotek Affair”. Freeman is a key figure for scenes with Straker in the MGM Borehamwood episodes, but besides the episodes “Identified,” “Computer Affair,” “Flight Path,” “E.S.P.,” “Confetti Check A-OK,” and “Court-Martial,” he is largely a SHADO control-based senior figure, unlike Foster and, later, Straker himself, having no further background character development.

Gen. James L. Henderson

Henderson (Grant Taylor), Straker’s superior officer, serves as the president of the International Astrophysical Commission, which is a front for SHADO and is responsible for obtaining funds and equipment from various governments to keep SHADO operational. Straker and Henderson butt heads frequently over the needs of SHADO and economic realities.

It can be inferred that Straker and Henderson became somewhat estranged after Henderson is injured in the car crash following a UFO attack in the pilot “Identified”. Also, Henderson is ‘passed over’ as first choice for SHADO commander due to his age. Straker also impressed the United Nations delegation committee (especially the French representative, Duvalle) with his presentation as Henderson’s deputy by urging the necessity for SHADO to be set up. Straker is then chosen as the first commander, though Henderson offers him the opportunity to decline, as depicted in “Confetti Check A-OK,” and we are led to believe Henderson effectively rammed the post of SHADO commander down Straker’s throat in “Confetti Check A-OK”. This presumably has the effect of straining their relationship and causing friction between the two men.

Over time Henderson appears more and more resentful of Straker. Episodes such as “Conflict,” “Court-Martial,” and “Mindbender” particularly highlight their personality clashes. However, later episodes such as “Destruction,” where they share a working breakfast in Straker’s office, and “Timelash,” where Henderson refers to Straker as “SHADO’s most important piece of manpower…” suggests a remaining bond of friendship.

Col. Virginia Lake

Col. Virginia Lake (Wanda Ventham) first appears in the opening episode of the series (“Identified”), as a SHADO scientist and a target of Alec Freeman’s romantic attention. A computer specialist, she was a member of the “Eutronics” tracking device design team. Lake, like Paul Foster, is a comparatively-recent addition to SHADO: both Col. John Grey (Gary Raymond) & Col. Craig Collins (guest star Derren Nesbitt) are shown as being of longer experience and senior within SHADO to both Lake and Foster. She was romantically involved with Foster for a time, and later served as Moonbase commander. During the last quarter of the series, Lake returns to take over the post of SHADO first officer, replacing Freeman. She initially has a somewhat tense working relationship with Straker, though by the end of the series they appear to have grown close and she is seen comforting him in the final scene of the final episode, “The Long Sleep”.

Capt. Peter Carlin

During the first third of the series, Carlin (Peter Gordeno) is the commander of the submarine Skydiver and pilot of its interceptor aircraft, Sky One. In 1970, Carlin and his sister found a UFO and were attacked; he was shot and wounded and his sister vanished. He joined SHADO in hopes of finding out what happened to his sister, and eventually learned that her organs had been harvested (“Identified”). Originally intended as a major regular character, Carlin appears only in “Identified,” “Computer Affair,” “Flight Path,” “A Question of Priorities,” “Exposed,” and “Conflict”. It is rumoured Peter Gordeno’s agent decided to pull the actor out of the series; a few scripts such as ‘Ordeal’ were apparently originally written for Carlin but re-drafted to then feature Paul Foster instead. The main role of Skydiver commander and Sky One pilot was passed on to Capt. Lew Waterman thereafter.

Lt. Nina Barry

One of Straker’s first recruits into SHADO (and in the unenviable position of being mistaken for the “other woman” whom Mary Nightingale blamed for Straker’s estrangement from her), Barry (Dolores Mantez) works as a space tracker at Moonbase and later replaces Lt. Ellis as its commanding officer. She also serves aboard Skydiver at one point (“Sub Smash”). One of several women attracted to Straker, she is the second most frequently appearing character in the series, appearing in 23 of 26 episodes. Bishop and Mantez had a relationship in real life.

Capt. Lew Waterman

Initially an Interceptor pilot on the Moon, Waterman (Gary Myers) is later promoted to captain and replaces Peter Carlin as commanding officer of Skydiver and pilot of Sky One. He becomes a close friend of Paul Foster, as suggested in “Ordeal.” Given Gerry Anderson’s business dealings in the 1960s with MCA-owned Universal, his name could well be a parody of that of veteran agent and studio head Lew Wasserman. Despite being described as a ‘main character,’ he is involved in very few episodes.

Lt. Keith Ford

Former television interviewer who became a founding member of SHADO and its main communications officer. Actor Keith Alexander left the series after the production break, so the character disappears at the two-thirds mark of the series.

Lt. Ayshea Johnson

A SHADO headquarters officer in most episodes. Initially seen doing miscellaneous tasks stationed at a computer console, Johnson (Ayshea Brough) is the woman seen turning in her seat to smile and wave at an (offscreen) Col. Alec Freeman in the opening credits, which consisted of stock footage from “Identified;” she later becomes SHADO’s communications officer following the departure of Lt. Ford. In her final appearance, she is stationed at Moonbase (“Mindbender”). Highly observant, she provides crucial information in the episode “The Cat with Ten Lives”. NB: this character’s full name is given in episode scripts but only referred to once on screen, in “The Sound Of Silence”. In the credits she is identified only as Ayshea (as is the actress).

Dr. Douglas Jackson

SHADO psychiatrist and science officer. A somewhat sinister-looking figure who sometimes appears to have his own agenda, Jackson (Vladek Sheybal) serves a number of capacities within SHADO, including acting as prosecution officer during the court-martial of Paul Foster. When Foster escapes custody after falsely being found guilty, Jackson successfully convinces General Henderson to have his guards use tranquiliser darts in their pursuit, rather than shooting to kill. It is implied that “Douglas Jackson” is not the character’s birth name, as he speaks with a strong Eastern European accent. His origins, however, are never explored. In voice overs on the DVD Ed bishop commented that the actor had a much better pedigree than anyone else on camera and he must have wondered what his agent had gotten him into.

Lt. Joan Harrington

Another Moonbase Space Tracker, Harrington (Antonia Ellis) was one of the organisation’s earliest recruits, as seen in “Confetti Check A-OK”.

Miss Ealand

Ealand (Norma Ronald) is a SHADO operative masquerading as Straker’s movie studio secretary. She is the first line of defence against anyone entering SHADO HQ via Straker’s office/elevator. The character is not seen in most of the post-studio change episodes, being replaced in two episodes by a Miss Holland, played by Lois Maxwell.

Lt. Mark Bradley

Bradley (Harry Baird) is a Caribbean-born Interceptor pilot based on the Moon. He becomes romantically involved with Lt. Ellis for a time, leading to a temporary assignment at SHADO HQ on Earth, and later briefly assumes the position of Moonbase commander. Baird left the series after filming four episodes, but appeared in stock footage in several later episodes.

Minor characters

One of the female Moonbase operatives, Joanna, was played by Shakira Baksh, who later married actor Michael Caine. Producer Gerry Anderson later said that he had lost his temper with her so badly on the set of UFO that he always feared the idea of running into Michael Caine at some actors’ function, and being punched on the nose by him.[2]

Steve Minto, one of the interceptor pilots, was played by the actor Steven Berkoff.

Look of the show

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  • It is never explained why female Moonbase personnel uniformly wore mauve or purple wigs, silver catsuits, and extensive eye make-up (although it has been suggested in the novelisation of the show that it was to combat static electricity) and their unusual apparel is never discussed in the series. Gerry Anderson has commented that it made them look more futuristic and that it filmed better under the bright lights, while Sylvia Anderson said she believed wigs would become accepted components of military uniforms by the 1980s. But whenever female Moonbase personnel visited Earth (as Ellis and Barry did from time to time), their lunar uniforms and wigs were never worn.
  • Ed Bishop, who had dark hair in real life, initially bleached his hair for Straker’s unique white-haired look. He later began wearing a white wig when the bleaching began damaging his hair. Straker’s unusual look may have been an attempt to make Bishop look like Captain Blue, the character he voiced in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Bishop, until not long before his death, possessed one of the wigs he wore on the show and took great delight in displaying it at science fiction conventions and on TV programmes. In the episode “Mindbender”, Stuart Damon is seen wearing the same white wig, although deliberately ill fitting, in a dream sequence segment. Bishop also kept a Certina watch that was specially made for his character. Straker’s look was one of the inspirations behind The Fast Show character ‘Jazz Club’s’ Louis Balfour.[3]
  • Many other male characters in the series also wore wigs, again because the Andersons felt that they would become fashionable for both sexes by the 1980s. Early episodes in which Michael Billington does not wear a wig can be identified by his receding hairline and long sideburns.
  • On both Skydiver and Moonbase, SHADO pilots enter their interceptor craft by sliding down tubes. This is an allusion to the Andersons’ earlier series, Thunderbirds, which had the characters reaching their craft in similar fashion. This was due to the difficulty in getting a puppet into a cockpit easily and in a natural way.
  • Ed Straker’s dramatic gas turbine car, resembling somewhat the 1970 Citroën SM, was, in fact, based on the chassis of a humble Ford Zephyr with a specially built aluminium body shell. There appear to have been only two cars made for the series, a prominently featured brown/gold car and a purple car with a larger hood opening. It appears that at some point in production the brown car was damaged because in some shots, it can be seen that one of the headlight openings has been covered in tape, one of the wheels has been replaced by a mismatched wheel, and the lead characters start using the purple car more frequently.
  • The SHADO HQ and Moonbase control consoles, computer units, lighting panels and spacesuits make numerous appearances in later TV shows of the 1970s such as Doctor Who, Timeslip, Doomwatch, The Tomorrow People, The Goodies, The New Avengers, Star Maidens, and Blake’s 7, as well as feature films such as Diamonds Are Forever, Carry On Loving, and Confessions of a Pop Performer. An alien spacesuit can also be seen in the Children’s Film Foundation film Kadoyng.
  • Sylvia Anderson, having had made a pair of very sheer trousers for actor Patrick Allen to wear in the episode “Timelash,” later regretted not having had the nerve to ask him to wear a jockstrap underneath, and commented on the DVD release of the series that “you should not be able to tell which side anybody’s ‘packet’ is on”.
  • The futuristic, gull-winged cars driven by the Ed Straker and Paul Foster characters were originally built for the Anderson movie Doppelgänger (US title: Journey to the Far Side of the Sun). During the shooting of the UFO series, David Lowe and Sydney Carlton raised funds to form a company called “The Explorer Motor Company,” dedicated to the mass production of these cars for sale to the public. A plastic mould was made of the Straker car, in preparation for mass production, but the company never got off the ground.[4]
  • Both Ed Bishop and Michael Billington commented that the futuristic cars were “impossible to drive” (partly because the steering wheel was designed for looks, rather than functionality). Also, the gull-wing doors did not open automatically. Every shot in which the car door was seen to open automatically had to be arranged so that a prop man could run up to the car, just outside the frame, open the door, and hold it open while Ed Bishop stepped out. In certain episodes (most notably “Court Martial”) the prop man can be seen.
  • The show also made limited use of American models, which were unfamiliar to British viewers. These supposedly futuristic vehicles included a 1965 Ford Galaxie station wagon and an Oldsmobile Toronado. American viewers found these appearances rather amusing.
  • The episode “Survival” shows that SHADO’s Moonbase is in the Mare Imbrium, or in the northeast part of it, according to a map that Foster and an alien studied while they were stranded on the surface. The map is a real one.[5]
  • On the Carlton DVD commentary for the first episode, Gerry Anderson noted that perhaps the programme’s most dated aspect was its tobacco and alcohol consumption. To be fair, however, in the 1980 of real life England and America, there was still plenty of smoking indoors, as well as executives with bars in their offices. Straker has a futuristic home bar in his office, which dispenses whisky, bourbon, vodka, etc., from which Col. Freeman partakes fairly regularly. While he himself does not drink, Straker is regularly seen smoking in SHADO headquarters, his tobacco of choice being either a cigarette or what appears to be a slim panatela cigar complete with holder. And despite the high-tech milieu and enclosed environments, smoking is seen throughout the show, as was par for course in 1970s British television drama. As a consequence, some of the sequences in the bunker of SHADO HQ are seen through a slight smoky fog. Similarly many of the medical staff smoke whilst on duty, and smoking is even permitted on board the closed environment of the Skydiver, where Capt. Carlin is shown idly flicking through magazines with a cigarette in hand. Most striking of all, Moonbase personnel also light up frequently.
  • The Trimphone, a British model of telephone designed in the 1960s, was featured prominently in the series.
  • The machine typing out information in the intro is, or is based on, an IBM Selectric electric typewriter (likely a Mag Card or Mag Tape model) in action, using an Orator element. The first Selectric was released in 1961, eight years before the series was produced.

Predictions

UFO, which was filmed in 1969 and 1970, made a number of predictions about what life in the 1980s would be like, some of which have come true. Among the innovations predicted by the series:

  • Spacecraft launched from an aircraft, as in the episode “Computer Affair”.
  • Extensive use of computers in day-to-day life, even to the extent of predicting and analysing human behaviour.
  • Electronic fingerprint scanning and identification against a database.
  • Voice print identification systems; also, vocal analysis used to identify individuals in the same way as fingerprints.
  • Metadata and a space observatory (called an “electron telescope”), as in the episode “Close Up”.
  • The episode “Survival” indicates that racial prejudice will have “burned itself out” on Earth in the mid-1970s, a prediction which did not come true.
  • That cars would drive on the right-hand side of the road in the UK and be converted to left-hand drive, another prediction, which did not come true.
  • UFO also featured episodes dealing with issues that would become topical in later years, such as space junk and the disposal of toxic waste.
  • Cordless telephones. (The three telephones on Straker’s office desk had no cords between the handsets and the base.)
  • Miniature music players – In “Court Martial,” Straker’s secretary has one playing on her desk.
  • Liposuction – In “Ordeal,” the doctor threatens, “When all else fails, I’ll remove that blab around your middle surgically!”
  • Winglets – An aircraft appears with winglets on the nose, in “A Question of Priorities”.

Episodes

Due to the fragmented nature of the ITV “network” in the United Kingdom at the time, the 26 episodes of UFO were shown out of production order, and every broadcaster showed the episodes in a different order. As the list below (loosely based on information from the book The Complete Gerry Anderson) shows, on several occasions during the first run, various broadcasters aired different episodes of the series on the same day. Some UK broadcasters did not air some episodes until 1973; as a result, some episode guides may list these episodes in a different order.

The North American DVD release of the series usually follows the production order, with a few diversions; a website ufoseries.com for the show offers seven viewing order possibilities. According to The Complete Gerry Anderson, the episode “Exposed” was intended to be aired second, but it was produced fifth and appears as the fifth episode in the American DVD release. It was only when the entire series was repeated by BBC Two in 1996–1997 that the series was shown in chronological production order in the UK for the first time.

Episode UK air date Episode title Production order Writer(s) Guest cast Episode summary & notes
1-01 1970.09.16 Identified 1 Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson and Tony Barwick Basil Dignam,
Shane Rimmer,
Michael Mundell,
Gary Myers,
Gary Files
Annette Kerr
After 10 years of planning, SHADO officially goes into operation and encounters its first UFO. An alien pilot is captured and discovered to have transplanted human organs within him.
1-02 1970.09.23 Exposed 5 Tony Barwick Jean Marsh,
Robin Bailey,
Basil Moss,
Arthur Cox,
Matt Zimmerman,
Vladek Sheybal
When civilian test pilot Paul Foster inadvertently witnesses a SHADO operation, he is given a choice: join SHADO or die.
1-03 1970.09.30 Kill Straker! 16 Donald James David Sumner,
Louise Pajo
Foster and his lunar module co-pilot, Captain Frank Craig, are brainwashed by aliens to kill Straker.
1-04 1970.09.30 The Cat With Ten Lives 19 David Tomblin Alexis Kanner,
Geraldine Moffatt,
Steven Berkoff,
Windsor Davies,
Colin Gordon,
Lois Maxwell,
Eleanor Summerfield,
Al Mancini
A SHADO pilot is placed under a hypnotic spell by an alien-influenced Siamese cat.
1-05 1970.10.07 Conflict 6 Ruric Powell Drewe Henley,
Michael Kilgarriff
After Lunar Module 32 is mysteriously destroyed, Straker campaigns to have space junk removed from Earth’s orbit.
1-06 1970.10.07 E.S.P. 15 Alan Fennell John Stratton,
Douglas Wilmer,
Deborah Stanford,
Stanley McGeagh
A man with ESP knowledge of SHADO is co-opted by the aliens.
1-07 1970.10.07 The Sound of Silence 18 David Lane and Bob Bell Michael Jayston,
Susan Jameson,
Richard Vernon,
Gito Santana,
Basil Moss,
Burnell Tucker,
Tom Oliver
A showjumper is abducted by the aliens.
1-08 1970.10.14 A Question of Priorities 8 Tony Barwick Suzanne Neve,
Philip Madoc,
Mary Merrall,
Peter Halliday,
Russell Napier,
Richard Aylen,
Andrea Allan
Straker faces a terrible decision: attend to an alien defector or deliver life-saving medicine to his critically injured son.
1-09 1970.11.11 The Square Triangle 11 Alan Pattillo Adrienne Corri,
Patrick Mower,
Allan Cuthbertson,
Anthony Chinn,
Godfrey James
SHADO and an alien find themselves in the midst of a murderous romantic triangle. End credits video is not typical spacescape, but instead about the aftermath of the triangle.
1–10 1970.11.11 Sub-Smash 17 Alan Fennell Anthony Chinn,
Paul Maxwell,
Alan Haywood,
Burnell Tucker,
John Golightly
Straker must face his claustrophobia when Skydiver is damaged and is unable to surface.

This is the only episode where Sky 1 is launched 10 degrees down. Also, the UFO’s shape differs from those shown in all other episodes.

1–11 1970.12.02 Destruction 20 Dennis Spooner Stephanie Beacham,
Philip Madoc,
Edwin Richfield,
Steven Berkoff,
Jimmy Winston
The aliens attempt to destroy a Royal Navy County class destroyer by dumping toxic nerve gas into the ocean.
1–12 1970.12.09 Computer Affair 2 Tony Barwick Peter Burton,
Michael Mundell,
Nigel Lambert
A SHADO investigation reveals that romance may be complicating Moonbase operations.
1–13 1970.12.16 Close Up 13 Tony Barwick Neil Hallett,
James Beckett,
John Levene,
Alan Tucker
SHADO obtains what may be the first photos of the alien homeworld.
1–14 1970.12.30 The Psychobombs 22 Tony Barwick David Collings,
Deborah Grant,
Mike Pratt,
Tom Adams,
Alexander Davion,
Christopher Timothy,
Hans De Vries
The aliens transform three humans into walking bombs.

This is the only episode that shows a Skydiver with Sky 3 attached, with mention of a Sky 4 jet – indicating a fleet of submarines.

1–15 1971.01.06 Survival 4 Tony Barwick Suzan Farmer,
Gito Santana,
David Weston,
Ray Armstrong,
Robert Swann
Foster is stranded on the Moon, where he befriends a similarly stranded alien.

In this episode, Straker says that racial prejudice burned itself out “five years ago”; this is said on 13 April 1981. In the other Anderson series, Space: 1999, Cmdr. Koenig hints that prejudice was finally ended in a great conflict about 10–12 years prior to 1999.

1–16 1971.01.13 Mindbender 25 Tony Barwick Stuart Damon,
Charles Tingwell,
Anouska Hempel,
Philip Madoc,
Steven Berkoff,
Peter Halliday,
Basil Dignam,
Stephan Chase,
James Marcus,
Stanley McGeagh,
Al Mancini
An alien crystal causes Lieutenant Andy Conroy, Straker and other SHADO operatives to hallucinate.

Ed Straker hallucinates that he is an actor in a television series about UFOs and aliens. He then steps out of the set and onto the real-world sound stage where UFO is filmed, and we can see all the sets that were used to film the series. Also, in Straker’s hallucination, all the actors (except Ed Bishop) are called by their real names: Paul Foster is called “Mike” (as in Mike Billington), General Henderson is called “Grant” (as in Grant Taylor), and so on.

1–17 1971.01.20 Flight Path 3 Ian Scott Stewart George Cole,
Sonia Fox,
David Daker
A blackmailed SHADO operative opens the door for a possible alien attack on Moonbase.
1–18 1971.01.20 Ordeal 9 Tony Barwick David Healy,
Quinn O’Hara,
Peter Burton
The aliens abduct Foster.

Includes “Get Back” by The Beatles at the party, released in 1969 – about the same time this episode was filmed originally.

1–19 1971.02.03 The Man Who Came Back 21 Terence Feely Derren Nesbitt,
Lois Maxwell,
Roland Culver,
David Savile,
Gary Raymond
A SHADO pilot believed dead suddenly turns up alive – much to a SHADO operative’s suspicion.

Straker and his close friend fly to “The Cape” so they can travel in a rocket rather than the usual spaceplane. SHADO seems to have ties to NASA.

1–20 1971.02.10 The Dalotek Affair 7 Ruric Powell Tracy Reed,
Philip Latham,
Basil Moss,
John Breslin,
Clinton Greyn,
Dr. Frank E. Stranges,
David Weston,
Alan Tucker
Communications problems at Moonbase are traced to a non-SHADO mining operation.

The president of the Dalotek corporation speaks to Commander Straker, who is in his office under the film studio. The president of Dalotek does not seem surprised that Straker the film producer and Straker the commander appear to be the same person. This episode features another base on the moon and communication between it and the SHADO base.

1–21 1971.02.17 Timelash 24 Terence Feely Patrick Allen,
Ron Pember,
John J. Carney
Time stands still at the film studio for everyone but Straker, Col. Lake and a mysterious enemy.
1–22 1971.03.03 The Responsibility Seat 10 Tony Barwick Jane Merrow,
Patrick Jordan
Straker is attracted to a reporter who poses a possible security leak for SHADO.
1–23 1971.04.01 The Long Sleep 26 David Tomblin Tessa Wyatt,
Christian Roberts,
John Garrie,
Christopher Robbie
A woman awakening from a decade-long coma sparks a hunt for an alien bomb.

It is often reported that the references to drug use in this episode led to several regional networks dropping it from the original UK run, but this is a fallacy.

1–24 1971.05.01 Court Martial 12 Tony Barwick Jack Hedley,
Pippa Steel,
Louise Pajo,
Georgina Cookson,
Tutte Lemkow,
Paul Greenhalgh
Foster is tried and sentenced to death after a security leak is traced to him.

Foster dives through the display screen behind Straker’s desk and takes another elevator to ground level.

1–25 1971.07.10 Confetti Check A-O.K. 14 Tony Barwick Suzanne Neve,
Shane Rimmer,
Jeffrey Segal,
Tom Oliver,
Donald Pelmear,
Geoffrey Hinsliff,
Jack May,
Alan Tilvern,
Gordon Sterne
A flashback episode focusing on SHADO’s formation and how it caused the failure of Straker’s marriage.
1–26 1971.07.24 Reflections in the Water 23 David Tomblin Steven Berkoff,
James Cosmo,
Richard Caldicot,
David Warbeck,
Anouska Hempel,
Gordon Sterne,
Conrad Phillips,
Gerald Cross
Straker and Foster investigate an undersea alien base.

The massive UFO attack battle scene at the end was almost entirely a compilation of special effects shots from previous episodes. Four interceptor missiles are seen to be launched, implying that a spare craft was launched for the emergency. The terrestrial portion of the battle seemed to suggest that Sky 1 took out 25 UFOs unassisted.

On the website shadolibrary.org, Deborah Rorabaugh puts each episode in order chronologically using a few known dates and facts. For example, Exposed should come before all other episodes featuring Paul Foster, and there are a few definitive dates given (two newspaper dates, a death and script date) so with other clues, it is possible to form a good correlation UFO Episode Timing.

A number of episodes were edited together in the late 1970s to form the feature-length Invasion: UFO, which was syndicated to American and European broadcasters. It primarily consists of approximately 30 minutes each from Identified, Computer Affair, and Reflections in the Water, with the ending taken from The Man Who Came Back. Shorter segments from ESP and Confetti Check A-OK are used to bridge continuity gaps.

UFO stories in other media

Stories set in the Gerry Anderson UFO series have appeared in various media:

  • In 1980 a compilation film was produced by ITC in New York featuring material from the episodes Identified, Computer Affair, Reflections in the Water, The Man Who Came Back and Confetti Check A-OK. It was entitled Invasion: UFO.
  • Two novelisations based upon the series – written by John Burke under the pseudonym “Robert Miall” – were published in the UK and America.[6]
  • In the comics “Countdown” and “TV Action“;[7]
  • In 1991 to 1999 Entropy Express in Brighton, South Australia published seven issues of a periodical called Flightpath, containing 39 text stories set in the UFO scenario. These include a crossover with Bergerac, and a crossover with Predator.
  • There was a hardback annual for the series featuring text stories. There were also hardback annuals for the Countdown and TV Action comics featuring comic strips.
  • Much fan-fiction has been written in this series’s scenario.
  • An Italian-language board game of the race game type was published, called Distruggete Base Luna (= “Destroy Moonbase”), with up to four players, each representing an alien trying to penetrate Moonbase, and one player representing Straker in charge of Moonbase.
  • In video gamesUFO: Enemy Unknown“, known as X-COM: UFO Defense in North America, is heavily inspired by this series.[8] Aliens have attacked planet earth aiming to bio-harvest our organs. You play as the top secret extraterrestrial combat unit, shooting down UFOs after sightings using Interceptors and transporting your men using the Skyranger, rather than Skydiver, to investigate crash sites. The main poster race of the series, the Mutons are bio-engineered humanoids controlled telepathically from the alien homeworld by an unseen race. Later in the game it becomes clear that the aliens can use telepathy to control your soldiers, also as in The Cat With Ten Lives. In the sequel “X-COM: Terror from the Deep” aliens have built liveable environments in the sea forcing you to go on “scuba-diving” missions to find and destroy their main control centre as seen in the finale of Reflections in the Water. Also, Aliens not killed during a crash landing or battle but captured go under autopsy to further your understanding on the aliens’ motives, the best example being Computer Affair. A remake of UFO: Enemy Unknown entitled “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” was released in 2012; it had connections to the original show and featured a bit of easter egg dialogue: “Some nut calling himself “Commander Straker” has been all over the news”.
  • Character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto has admitted inspiration from UFO for the character designs for Gendo Ikari and Kozo Fuyutsuki in Neon Genesis Evangelion (from Straker and Freeman respectively).[9]

Revivals

Several attempts have been made to either revive or remake the series. The first attempt, as mentioned above, evolved into Space: 1999. In the 1990s and early 2000s there were scattered reports of production companies around the world investigating the possibility of producing a new TV series or film, most recently in 2003 when Carlton International Media (current rights holders for the series) announced that an American company was planning to produce a new series, but nothing has yet come of this. Australian company Bump Map run by Albert Hastings pitched a revival of UFO to one of Australia’s major TV production companies in 1995/6. Also in 1996, Ed Bishop briefly corresponded with independent Australian film maker/UFO fan Adrian Sherlock about an unofficial revival called Damon Dark: Shadofall. The project funding fell through but the script has been made into a fan-made audio production and uploaded to YouTube and continues as an independent series.

Film

In May 2009 it was announced that producer Robert Evans and ITV Global would be teaming up to produce a big screen adaptation of the series. Ryan Gaudet and Joseph Kanarek were writing the script, which would be set in 2020.[10] On 23 July 2009, it was claimed that the UFO movie would see visual effects supervisor Matthew Gratzner making his directorial debut.[11] On 23 November 2009, it was said that Joshua Jackson would be playing the role of Paul Foster,[12] and that the spring start of the movie would be in summer 2010.[13] Ali Larter was also linked to the role of Col. Virginia Lake in the movie.

Producers Avi Haas and Matthew Gratzner posted on the official UFO movie website[14] that the film was under development and planned for a summer 2013 release. The UK website Fanderson[15] had a post dated 10 July 2011 repeating the producers’ statement, indicating that in summer 2011 the production was in the planning stages.[16]

Contrary to initial reports that SHADO HQ would be hidden under a Hollywood studio, director Gratzner claimed in an interview that the base would remain in the UK. The extent to which other elements of the TV show (the design of the UFOs, for example) would be replicated in the film was unknown as of early March 2011, though Gratzner did state that the aliens would be humanoid in form.

No film was made and the official movie website is for sale.

Translations

  • French: UFO – Alerte dans l’espace
  • German: Ufo – Weltraumkommando S.H.A.D.O.
  • Japanese: Nazo no Enban Yū-Efu-Ō (謎の円盤UFO, UFO: The Mysterious Saucers)
  • Italian: UFO and UFO film series (formed by this compilation movies: UFO – Allarme rosso… attacco alla Terra!, 1973; UFO – Distruggete Base Luna, 1973; UFO – Prendeteli vivi, 1974; UFO – Contatto radar… stanno atterrando…!, 1974 and UFO – Annientate SHADO… Uccidete Straker… Stop, 1974)
  • Spanish: OVNI (Although the Spanish 2007 DVD release title remains “UFO”)

See also

  • Threshold, an American series broadcast in 2005 with noted similarities to UFO.
  • The Indestructible Man, a Doctor Who novel with a scenario derived from various Gerry Anderson story scenarios, including UFO.
  • X-Com, a computer game series whose plot and basis were heavily influenced by UFO.
  • Attack Squadron: Roswell“, a role-playing game featuring a special unit of the US Air Force defending against an alien invasion in the early 1950s. The author cites “UFO” among other sources as inspiration.

The Persuaders !

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

The Persuaders! is an action/adventure/comedy series produced by ITC Entertainment, and initially broadcast on ITV and ABC in 1971. It has been called “the last major entry in the cycle of adventure series that began eleven years earlier with Danger Man in 1960,” as well as “the most ambitious and most expensive of Sir Lew Grade‘s international action adventure series”.[1] The Persuaders! was filmed in France, Italy and Britain between May 1970 and June 1971.

Despite its focus on the British and American markets, the show became more successful in other international markets.[2] It won its highest awards in Australia and Spain,[3] and Roger Moore and Tony Curtis were decorated in Germany and France for their acting. It persists in the memory of European film-makers and audiences, having been casually referenced in 21st-century productions made in Sweden, France, Britain and Germany.[4]

The show used many of the resources of Moore’s previous show, The Saint. These included locations and the idea of reusing many of the visible vehicles from episode to episode. The most obvious, however, were the many guest stars and second level actors from The Saint showing up in The Persuaders! roles. The highlight being the undertaker role performed by Ivor Dean, who had portrayed police inspector Claud Eustace Teal in The Saint.

Contents

Premise

The Persuaders are two equally matched men from different backgrounds who reluctantly team together to solve cases that the police and the courts cannot.

Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis) is a rough diamond, educated and moulded in the slums of New York City, who escaped by enlisting in the US Navy. He later became a millionaire in the oil business. (Curtis himself suffered a tough childhood in the Bronx, and served in the US Navy. He was 46 when he made The Persuaders, but he performed all his own stunts and fight sequences.)[5] Lord Brett Sinclair (Roger Moore) is a polished British nobleman educated at Harrow and Oxford, a former British Army officer and an ex-racing car driver, who addresses his colleague as “Daniel”.[6]

As a pair of globe-trotting playboys, the men meet on holiday in the French Riviera, instantly disliking each other and destroying a hotel bar during a fist-fight. They are arrested and delivered to retired Judge Fulton (Laurence Naismith), who offers them the choice of spending ninety days in jail or helping him to right errors of impunity. Grudgingly, Wilde and Sinclair agree to help Fulton to solve a case. He then releases them from any threat of jail.

The men develop a sparing affection for each other and soon stumble into more adventures, sometimes by chance, sometimes on commission from Judge Fulton. Although the Judge recurs in the series, he has no formal relationship with his two agents. Eleven episodes depict his finding a way to convince Wilde and Sinclair to act on his behalf. For instance, in “Angie, Angie” he easily convinces one of the pair. In “The Man in the Middle” he endangers his agents so that they must act in his behalf. When they are short of cash he lures them with money. In “Powerswitch” he manipulates events from the shadows, and Sinclair and Wilde do not know that he is involved.

Some episodes rely on Danny being mistaken for other people, usually by some bizarre coincidence. In “Element of Risk” he is mistaken for a criminal mastermind named Lomax, played by Shane Rimmer. In “Anyone Can Play” he is mistaken at a Brighton casino for a Russian spy paymaster.

In episode 12, “That’s Me Over There,” it appears that Sinclair has had a longstanding interest in crime-fighting, as he has had a dedicated telephone line installed for an informer on a master criminal. In episode 17, “Five Miles to Midnight,” Sinclair tells Joan Collins‘s character that he is working for the Judge because it has given him something worthwhile to do after his failed motor-racing career. Wilde never reveals nor explains his reasons.

Signature elements

Besides the premise and the characters The Persuaders is distinguished from other television series by signature elements, notably the title sequence and the cars driven by the protagonists.

Title sequence

The Persuaders! titles and synthesiser theme, by John Barry,[7] establish the background and current identities of the protagonists via split-screen narrative technique:[8] two dossiers, one red, one blue, labelled Danny Wilde and Brett Sinclair simultaneously depict their lives. The younger images of Tony Curtis are genuine, whereas the images of Roger Moore (with one exception) were mock-ups created for the credits. As the biographies approach their current ages, a series of four short sequences combine live footage with torn newspaper clippings, connoting their excitingly peripatetic lifestyles. The conclusion shows them together enjoying a life of sport, drink, women and gambling. The titles were specifically designed so that neither actor would appear to have top billing, something both Moore and Curtis stipulated when they agreed to co-star.

The title sequence retains a certain cachet among professional film editors. In 1995 Peugeot released an advertisement for the 306 car, with the theme of the opening title sequence, the split screen process and even the voice of Michel Roux, who dubbed Tony Curtis in the French broadcast of the original series. In 2007 France 2 satirically used it to introduce a report about relations between the newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his first Prime Minister François Fillon.[9]

Cars

The protagonists drive signature cars. Danny Wilde drives a red left-hand-drive Ferrari Dino 246 GT (chassis number 00810). Brett Sinclair drives a UK-registered Bahama Yellow right-hand-drive Aston Martin DBS (chassis number DBS/5636/R) with V8 wheels and markings. Both cars were provided to the show’s producers courtesy of the respective vehicle manufacturers.

As with Simon Templar (Roger Moore’s character in the television series The Saint), Lord Brett Sinclair’s car has personalised number plates of his initials: Templar’s were “ST 1”, Sinclair’s are “BS 1” (except for one scene in the episode “The Gold Napoleon,” where the car has its original UK registration number PPP 6H instead). The true owner of the plates for Sinclair’s car, Billy Smart, Jr., permitted their use in the series.

The Aston Martin from the show was sold by the factory after filming ended, via HR Owen in London, to its first private owner. It was restored to a very high standard in recent years by the Aston Martin factory, and is presently owned by divorce lawyer and noted art collector Jeremy Levison.[10] Both Moore and Curtis have signed the underside of the car’s boot (rear luggage compartment): Moore at Pinewood Studios in May 2003; Curtis at Cheltenham Racecourse in October 2008. In 2013 the Aston Martin DBS was an invited participant at two of Europe’s most exclusive motoring concours, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, and the Salon Privé Concours in London.

Danny Wilde’s Ferrari Dino bears Italian registration plates, 221400.MO (the ‘MO’ component represents the city of Modena, which happens to be the headquarters and manufacturing base of Ferrari). The exact whereabouts of the Dino today is unknown, but it is reliably believed to be in private ownership in Italy.[11]

Production

The concept of The Persuaders! originated in one of the final episodes of The Saint titled “The Ex-King of Diamonds”, wherein Simon Templar (Moore) is partnered with a Texas oilman (Stuart Damon) in a Monte Carlo gambling adventure. Pleased with that combination, Robert S. Baker and Lew Grade funded the new series. Unusually, production of the series began and continued without contracts among the producers and Moore.[12] Moreover, Moore’s role as producer is not obvious from watching the series, but Curtis confirmed the fact: “Roger was always like the host with the show, because it was his company that was producing it. I would say he was the largest independent owner of it; Roger and his company owned it with Bob Baker, and Sir Lew owned the rest of it.”

Curtis became involved in the series because ITC knew it needed an American co-star to ensure the series would be picked up by US TV stations. Initially the role was offered to Rock Hudson and Glenn Ford but they both rejected the part. ITC then asked the American Broadcasting Company for a list of suitable actors that included Tony Curtis. He eventually agreed and flew to the UK in April 1970 to commence location filming. However, on arrival at Heathrow Airport, Curtis was arrested for possession of cannabis. He was fined £50.

Filming was conducted on location in Europe (such as location filming in France, Spain, Sweden, and Italy) and at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. In total 24 episodes of the The Persuaders! were completed. Each episode cost £100,000, (or approx. £1,800,000 in 2007) to make. Only one series of The Persuaders was made because Roger Moore accepted the role of James Bond in the Bond franchise. In the DVD documentary, “The Morning After”, Bob Baker states that Lew Grade was prepared to finance a second series, despite its failure in America, by re-casting with Noel Harrison, son of Rex Harrison, as a replacement for Moore. Baker states that he convinced Grade that the dynamic that Moore and Curtis had worked out was unique and it was better to leave the series as it stood.

During the series Moore acted – officially and practically – as his own wardrobe stylist. It stemmed from genuine sartorial interests and because he was marketing a line of clothes by bespoke men’s tailors, Pearson and Foster.[13] Every episode carried the closing credit, “Lord Sinclair’s clothes designed by Roger Moore”, with “Roger Moore” written as a large signature.

Curtis and Moore relationship

There is much speculation about the professional relationship between Roger Moore and Tony Curtis on- and off-set. In her autobiography Second Act, Joan Collins detailed how they did not get along when she was a guest star. She cited Curtis’s foul temper as the reason why the set of the “Five Miles to Midnight” episode was tense. Episode director Val Guest, in a 2005 interview to the British Film Institute, confirmed Collins’s assessment of Curtis:[14]

Yes, it was great fun doing The Persuaders, despite Tony Curtis. [laughter] I’ll tell you a funny story about that:

“Tony was on pot at the time, and I used to have to say ‘Oh, go and have a smoke’m’, because he always had some gripe of some kind, and, one day, we were shooting on the Croisette, in Cannes, and we’d been roped off our little thing, and there were crowds all around watching us film and everything, and Tony Curtis came down to do his scene and he was just carrying on at the wardrobe saying, ‘You didn’t do this, and you should have done that… and in Hollywood you would have been fired….’ And dear Roger Moore walked over, took him by the lapels, looked him straight in the eyes and said, ‘And to think those lips once kissed Piper Laurie‘. [laughter] Well, the whole of the Croisette collapsed, the unit collapsed, and, I must say, even Tony had to laugh, but we were asked to do another… we got the award that year for the best TV series, I think it was, and they wanted to do a repeat, and I remember Roger saying, ‘With Tony Curtis, not on your life’, and he went on to become James Bond, so he did all right.”

— Val Guest, Director

In his autobiography, Still Dancing, Lew Grade notes that the actors “didn’t hit it off all that well”, because of different work ethics. According to Roger Moore’s autobiography Curtis’s use of cannabis was so extensive that he even smoked it in front of a police officer while filming at 10 Downing Street.[15] Despite third-party claims, Curtis and Moore consistently maintained they had an amicable working relationship. Moore says: “Tony and I had a good on- and off-screen relationship, we are two very different people, but we did share a sense of humour”.[2]

In a 2005 interview, Curtis referred to Moore with affection and stated that he would not participate in a remake of The Persuaders! without Moore.[16]

Reception

UK and US

Although the series was placed in the 1971 top 20 of most-viewed shows in Britain,[17] Lew Grade wanted it to do well in the profitable American TV market. It followed his earlier series such as Man in a Suitcase, The Champions, and The Baron.[1] But The Persuaders made little impact in America, airing on ABC on Saturday nights opposite Mission: Impossible.[1] Its poor ratings stood out as Mission: Impossible was not one of the US’s top 30 of programs in 1971.[18] ABC pulled the series before all 24 episodes were aired.

ITC tried to salvage its losses by re-editing eight episodes into four individual TV movies for the American market. They were:

  • London Conspiracy from “Greensleeves” and “A Home of One’s Own”
  • Mission: Monte Carlo from “Powerswitch” and “The Gold Napoleon”
  • Sporting Chance from “Someone Waiting” and “Anyone Can Play”
  • The Switch from “The Ozerov Inheritance” and “Angie, Angie…”

International distribution

Despite the overall disappointment in the UK and USA, the series sold well in other international markets, particularly Continental Europe. This success allowed ITC to recoup much of its production costs soon after principal photography was completed.[19] The series has remained popular in Germany, Denmark, France, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Hungary and Italy; episodes are still regularly repeated throughout Europe.[2] For instance, DR2 in Denmark rebroadcast the entire series on weekday early evenings during Spring 2012.

In the UK, the series has had re-runs on Channel 4, Granada Plus, Bravo and ITV4 in the 1990s and 2000s. When the pilot episode, Overture, was screened as part of Channel 4‘s nostalgia strand TV Heaven in 1992, series’ host, comedy writer Frank Muir, said in a Radio Times interview that The Persuaders “must have been the best bad series ever made… absolute hokum”. However, BBC Radio 5 presenter Dave Aldridge later asked: “Was seventies TV really this good?”

Redubbed versions

Die Zwei, the German version of The Persuaders, became a cult hit in Germany and Austria. This was largely because the dubbing was substantively altered creating a completely different program.[12] In France Amicalement vôtre (Yours, Friendly) also became a popular show because it was based on the redubbed German version instead of the English original.

The German dubbing was “a unique mixture of street slang and ironic tongue-in-cheek remarks” and it “even mentioned Lord Sinclair becoming 007 on one or two occasions”.[20] Dialogue frequently broke the fourth wall with lines like “Junge, lass doch die Sprüche, die setzen ja die nächste Folge ab!” (Quit the big talk, lad, or they’ll cancel the series) or “Du musst jetzt etwas schneller werden, sonst bist Du nicht synchron” (Talk faster, you aren’t in sync any more).

Research from the University of Hamburg notes the only common elements between Die Zwei and The Persuaders! is they use the same imagery. Other than “the linguistic changes entailed by the process of translation result in radically different characterizations of the protagonists of the series. The language use in the translations is characterized by a greater degree of sexual explicitness and verbal violence as well as an unveiled pro-American attitude, which is not found in the source texts”.[21]

In 2006 a news story by CBS News on the German dubbing industry mentioned The Persuaders! The report discovered that many German dubbing artists believed that “staying exactly true to the original is not always the highest aim”. Rainer Brandt, co-ordinator of the German dubbing of The Persuaders and Tony Curtis’ dubbing voice, said “This spirit was invoked by the person who oversaw the adaption and also performed Tony Curtis’ role: When a company says they want something to be commercially successful, to make people laugh, I give it a woof. I make them laugh like they would in a Bavarian beer garden.”[22]

Other researchers suggest international versions of The Persuaders! were given different translations simply because the original English series would not have made sense to local audiences. For instance the nuanced differences between the accents and manners of Tony Curtis, the American self-made millionaire Danny Wild from the Brooklyn slums, and Roger Moore, the most polished British Lord Sinclair, would be hard to convey to foreign viewers. Argentinian academic Sergio Viaggio commented “how could it have been preserved in Spanish? By turning Curtis into a low class Caracan and Moore into an aristocratic Madrileño? Here not even the approach that works with My Fair Lady would be of any avail; different sociolects of the same vernacular will not do—much less in subtitling, where all differences in accent are irreparably lost”.[23]

Awards and accolades

  • Winner – Logie Award 1972 Best Overseas Drama (Australia)
  • Winner – TP de Oro Award 1973 Best Foreign Series (Spain)
  • Winner – Bambi 1973 for Curtis and Moore (Germany)

Episode list

Airdate is for LWT London. ITV[24] regions varied date and order. The production number refers to the order on the Network DVD.

Ep # Prod # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate
1 101 “Overture” Basil Dearden Brian Clemens 17 September 1971
Mysterious invitations lead millionaire playboys Danny Wilde and Lord Brett Sinclair to Monte Carlo, where a beautiful girl (Imogen Hassall) holds the key to a crime syndicate that appears to be operating with a dead boss. Olivia Mela is the blonde in the purple bikini.
2 106 “The Gold Napoleon” Roy Ward Baker Val Guest 24 September 1971
The niece (Susan George) of a jeweller (Harold Goldblatt) is marked for death when she discovers that reproduction gold coins are being marketed as real.

Special Note : Toward the end of this episode, at 42m11s and again at 43m20s, you will see Lord Sinclair’s Aston Martin – in a chase across the Italian border – reveal its true identity by way of the front number plate being black characters on a white background, “PPP 6H”.

3 108 “Take Seven” Sidney Hayers Terry Nation 1 October 1971
When a supposedly dead man reappears to claim his inheritance, a beautiful aristocrat (Sinéad Cusack) asks Brett and Danny to expose him as an imposter.
4 111 “Greensleeves” David Greene Terence Feely 8 October 1971
Lord Sinclair is cast to impersonate himself when a mysterious group takes over his long-unused family estate to play host to an African leader (Cy Grant), and finds he must trust to his old school motto: “Consilio et prudentia” (‘translated’ as: sneaky is best!)
5 105 “Powerswitch” Basil Dearden John Kruse 15 October 1971
A mysterious drowning leads Brett to a beautiful dancer (Annette Andre), and a man who appears to be an old business associate of Danny’s.
6 117 “The Time and the Place” Roger Moore Michael Pertwee 22 October 1971
No one will believe that Danny has found a veteran political journalist dead at the country estate of a right-wing British politician (Ian Hendry), when the “corpse” appears to be alive and well.
7 109 “Someone Like Me” Roy Ward Baker Terry Nation 29 October 1971
Danny wants to meet Brett’s reclusive multi-millionaire friend (Bernard Lee), but someone abducts Brett and places him in a mysterious hospital where a deadly operation is planned to create a perfect double of him.
8 116 “Anyone Can Play” Leslie Norman Tony Williamson 5 November 1971
Danny thinks he cannot lose when he plays his new betting system in an English casino, but while there he’s mistaken for the paymaster of a very different system.
9 107 “The Old, the New, and the Deadly” Leslie Norman Brian Clemens 12 November 1971
Danny is mistaken for a blackmailer who is the target of both a cruel French Count (Patrick Troughton) and the beautiful daughter (Anna Gaël) of a disgraced politician. Special Note : In a hotel room scene, Danny rushes from the bathroom to answer the telephone – “Hello … yes long distance … huh. No, this is not Mr Schwartz … you got the wrong room, you” – while a gunman simultaneously knocks at the door.

Bernard Schwartz was the original birth name of Tony Curtis.

10 104 “Angie, Angie…” Val Guest Milton S. Gelman 19 November 1971
Bullets fly on the French Riviera when Danny encounters Angie (Larry Storch), his childhood buddy from the old neighbourhood, whose path to retirement may mean a deadly retirement for Danny.
11 110 “Chain of Events” Peter Hunt Terry Nation 26 November 1971
Danny gets himself chained to an attaché case intended for the British Secret Service (George Baker, Suzanna Leigh), and pursued by deadly Iron Curtain agents (Peter Vaughn et al.) who want the case back and the courier dead.
12 120 “That’s Me Over There” Leslie Norman Brian Clemens 3 December 1971
With Brett kidnapped by henchmen (Allan Cuthbertson, Peter Gilmore, Neil Hallett) of his nemesis (Geoffrey Keen), Danny must impersonate Brett to get key evidence from an endangered informant (Suzan Farmer).
13 118 “The Long Goodbye” Roger Moore Michael Pertwee 10 December 1971
Fulton sends the boys to Scotland, where they find a wrecked plane, a dead scientist, and a formula for cheap synthetic fuel which attracts deadly interest – plus a string of beautiful girls, all claiming to be the late inventor’s heiress.
14 124 “The Man in the Middle” Leslie Norman Donald James 17 December 1971
Fulton persuades Brett to help identify a traitor in British Intelligence; but when Brett and Danny fall foul of MI5 agent Kay (Suzy Kendall), Brett’s untrustworthy cousin Archie (Terry-Thomas) must save the day.
15 114 “Element of Risk” Gerald Mayer Tony Barwick 24 December 1971
Brett must extricate Danny when he’s mistaken for an American criminal mastermind (Shane Rimmer) whose suave confederate (Peter Bowles) is planning a gold heist.
16 119 “A Home of One’s Own” James Hill Terry Nation 31 December 1971
Danny gets more than he bargains for when his newest acquisition, an English country cottage, proves to house a deadly secret. Actress Hannah Gordon guest stars.
17 103 “Five Miles to Midnight” Val Guest Terry Nation 7 January 1972
In Rome, a Mafia hitman is on the run from the Mob after offering to turn state’s evidence. Fulton asks Brett and Danny to get him out of the country, but when a beautiful photographer (Joan Collins) gets involved the boys find themselves in a shooting war.
18 122 “Nuisance Value” Leslie Norman David Rolfe and Tony Barwick 14 January 1972
When the spoiled daughter (Vivienne Ventura) of an immensely wealthy man is apparently kidnapped, Danny and Brett discover the unsuspected perils of double-dating, when suspicion of being behind the kidnapping falls on them!
19 113 “The Morning After” Leslie Norman Walter Black 21 January 1972
Lord Brett wakes up from a wild party in Stockholm with a hangover – and a wife (Catherine Schell)! When the validity of the marriage is confirmed, Danny pursues clues that point to a Scandinavian diplomat (Griffith Jones) and a political conspiracy.
20 121 “Read and Destroy” Roy Ward Baker Peter Yeldham 28 January 1972
When Brett’s friend Felix (Joss Ackland) has woman trouble (with guest star Kate O’Mara), Brett and Danny are drawn into a deceptive game of espionage, as ex-spy Felix tries to publish his memoirs.
21 123 “A Death in the Family” Sydney Hayers Terry Nation 4 February 1972
Someone is killing off Brett’s aristocratic relatives one by one, and unless he and Danny can identify the murderer the next name on the family tomb will be his own. Guest starring Denholm Elliott. (In a homage to Alec Guinness in the 1949 film Kind Hearts and Coronets, Roger Moore plays three different members of the Sinclair family.)
22 112 “The Ozerov Inheritance” Roy Ward Baker Harry W. Junkin 11 February 1972
Grand Duchess Ozerov (Gladys Cooper) seeks Lord Brett’s help in saving her family jewels; but her lovely granddaughter, the Princess Alexandra (Prunella Ransome), is not the only discovery the boys make when doing genealogical research.
23 102 “To the Death, Baby” Basil Dearden Donald James 18 February 1972
Brett and Danny try to save a beautiful heiress (Jennie Linden) who is the target of a slippery con man (Terence Morgan); but there are other potential targets the boys have not considered, including some menacing Spaniards (Roger Delgado et al.).
24 115 “Someone Waiting” Peter Medak Terry Nation 25 February 1972
Pursuing a beautiful ingénue (Penelope Horner), Brett and Danny are drawn into a multi-faceted affair with deadly implications when Brett resumes his motor racing career and an unknown saboteur seeks to wreck the next race.

Lost in Space

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

Lost in Space is an American science fiction[1] television series following the adventures of a family of pioneering space colonists who struggle to survive in a strange and often hostile universe after their ship was sabotaged and thrown off course. It was created and produced by Irwin Allen, filmed by 20th Century Fox Television, and broadcast on CBS. The show ran for three seasons, with 83 episodes airing between 1965 and 1968. The first season was filmed in black and white, with the second and third seasons filmed in color.

Although the original concept (depicted in the unaired 1965 pilot episode) centered on the Robinson family, many later story lines focused primarily on Dr Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris. Smith and the Robot were both absent from the unaired pilot, as the addition of their characters was only decided upon once the series had been commissioned for production.

Originally written as an utterly evil (if careless) saboteur, Smith gradually became the troublesome, self-centered, incompetent character who provides the comic relief for the show and causes much of the conflict and the misadventures.[2] In the unaired pilot, what caused the group to become lost in space was a chance encounter with a meteor storm, but in the first aired episode it was Smith’s unplanned presence on the ship that sends it off course into the meteor field, and his sabotage which causes the Robot to accelerate the ship into hyperdrive. Smith is thus the key to the story.

Contents

Production

In 1962 the first appearance of a space-faring Robinson family occurred in a comic book published by Gold Key Comics. The Space Family Robinson, who were scientists aboard Earth’s “Space Station One”, are swept away in a cosmic storm in the comic’s second issue. These Robinsons were scientist father Craig, scientist mother June, early teens Tim (son) and Tam (daughter), along with pets Clancy (dog) and Yakker (parrot). Space Station One also boasted two spacemobiles for ship-to-planet travel.

The television show launched three years later, in 1965, and during its run CBS and 20th Century Fox reached an agreement with Gold Key Comics that allowed the usage of the name “Robinson” on the tv show; in return, the comic was allowed to append “- Lost In Space” to its title, with the potential for the TV show to propel additional sales of the comic.

The astronaut family of Dr John Robinson, accompanied by an Air Force/Space Corps pilot and a robot, set out in the year 1997 from an overpopulated Earth in the spaceship Jupiter 2 to travel to a planet circling the star Alpha Centauri with hopes of colonizing it.

The Jupiter 2 mission is sabotaged by Dr Zachary Smith — an agent for an (unnamed) foreign government — who slips aboard the spaceship and reprograms the robot to destroy the ship and crew. However, when he is trapped aboard, his excess weight alters the craft’s flight path and places it directly in the path of a massive meteor storm. Smith manages to save himself by prematurely reviving the crew from suspended animation. The ship survives, but consequent damage caused by Smith’s earlier sabotage of the robot leaves them lost in space. In the third episode the Jupiter 2 crashlands on an alien world, later identified by Will as Priplanus, where they spend the rest of the season and survive a host of adventures. Smith, whom Allen had originally intended to write out, remains through all three seasons, as a source of comedic cowardice and villainy, exploiting the eternally forgiving nature of Professor Robinson. Smith was liked by the trusting Will, and tolerated by the women, but he was disliked by both the Robot and the suspicious Major Don West.

At the start of the second season the repaired Jupiter 2 launches into space once more, to escape the destruction of Priplanus following a series of cataclysmic earthquakes, but in the fourth episode the Robinsons crash-land on a strange new world, to become planet-bound again for another season. This replicated the format of the first season, but now the focus of the series was more on humour than on action/adventure, as evidenced by the extreme silliness of Dr Smith amidst a plethora of unlikely aliens who began appearing on the show, often of a whimsical fantasy-oriented nature. One of these colorful visitors even turned out to be Smith’s own cousin, intent on swindling him out of a family inheritance with the assistance of a hostile gambling machine. A new theme tune was recorded by Warren Barker for the second season, but it was decided to retain the original.

In the third season, a major format change was introduced, to bring the series back to its roots as solid adventure, by allowing the Robinsons to travel to more planets. The Jupiter 2 was now allowed to freely travel space, visiting a new world each week, as the family attempt to return to Earth or to reach their original desination in the Alpha Centauri system. A newly built “Space Pod”, that mysteriously appeared as though it had always been there, provided a means of transportation between the ship and passing planets, as well as being a plot device to launch various escapades. This season had a dramatically different opening credits sequence and a new theme tune – which, like the original, was composed by John Williams – as part of the show’s new direction.

Following the format of Allen’s first television series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, unlikely fantasy-oriented adventure stories were dreamed up that had little to do with either serious science or serious science fiction. The stories had little realism, with, for instance, explosions happening randomly, merely to cover an alien’s arrival or departure, or sometimes merely the arrival of some alien artifact.

Props and monsters were regularly recycled from other Irwin Allen shows, as a matter of budgetary convenience, and the same alien would appear on Voyage one week and Lost in Space the next. A sea monster outfit which had featured on Voyage would get a spray paint job for its Lost in Space appearance, while space monster costumes would be reused on Voyage as sea monsters. The clear round plastic pen holder used as a control surface in the episode “The Derelict” turned up regularly throughout the show’s entire run.

Spacecraft models, too, were routinely re-used. The foreboding derelict ship from season 1 was redressed to become the Vera Castle in season 3, which, in turn, was reused in several episodes (and flipped upside down for one of them). The Fuel Barge from season 2 became a Space Lighthouse in season 3, with a complete re-use of the effects footage from the earlier story. The derelict ship was used again in season 3, with a simple color change. Likewise the alien pursuer’s ship in “The Sky Pirate”, which was re-used in the episode “Deadliest of the Species”. Moreover, the footage of Hapgood’s ship launching into space in episode 6 of season 1 was re-used for virtually every subsequent launch in the following three years, no matter what shape the ship it supposedly represented had had on the ground.

Plot

In October 1997, 32 years in the future from the perspective of viewers in 1965, the United States is about to launch one of history’s great adventures: man’s colonization of deep space. The Jupiter 2 (called Gemini 12 in the unaired pilot episode), a futuristic saucer-shaped spacecraft which owed its design to the Fifties sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, stands on its launch pad undergoing final preparations. Its mission is to take a single family on a five-and-a-half-year journey (altered from 98 years in the unaired pilot) to a planet orbiting the nearest star, Alpha Centauri (the pilot show had referred to the planet itself as Alpha Centauri), which space probes have revealled possesses ideal conditions for human life.

The Robinson family, supposedly selected from two million volunteers for this mission, consisted of Professor John Robinson, played by Guy Williams, his wife, Maureen, played by June Lockhart, their children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright), and Will (Billy Mumy). They are accompanied by their pilot, U.S. Space Corps Major Donald West (Mark Goddard), who is trained to fly the ship when the time comes for the eventual landing. Initially the Robinsons and Major West will be in freezing tubes for the voyage, with the tubes opening when the spacecraft approached its destination. Unless there is a problem with the ship’s navigation or guidance system during the voyage, Major West was only to take the controls during the final approach and landing on the destination planet, while the Robinsons were to strap themselves into contour couches on the lower deck for the landing.

Other nations are racing to colonize space, and they would stop at nothing, not even sabotage, to thwart the United States’s effort. It turns out that Dr Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), Alpha Control’s doctor, and later supposedly a psychologist and environmental control expert, is moonlighting as a secret agent for one of those competing nations. After disposing of a guard who catches him onboard the spacecraft, Smith reprograms the Jupiter 2′s B-9 environmental control robot, voiced by Dick Tufeld, to destroy critical systems on the spaceship eight hours after launch. Smith, however, unintentionally becomes trapped aboard at launch and his extra weight throws the Jupiter 2 off course, causing it to encounter a meteor storm. This, plus the robot’s rampage which causes the ship to prematurely engage its hyperdrive, causes the expedition to become hopelessly lost in the infinite depths of outer space.

The Robinsons are regularly placed in danger by Smith, whose selfish actions and laziness endanger the family frequently. After the first half of the first season, Smith’s role assumes less sinister overtones, although he continues to display many character flaws. In “The Time Merchant” Smith shows he actually does care about the Robinsons, when he travels back in time to the day of the Jupiter 2 launch, with the hope of changing his own fate by not boarding the ship, so allowing the Robinsons to start the mission as originally planned. However, he learns that without his weight altering the ship’s course, the Jupiter 2 will be destroyed by an uncharted asteroid. So he sacrifices his chance to stay on his beloved Earth, electing to re-board the ship, thus saving the lives of the family and continuing his role amongst them as the reluctant stowaway.

The fate of the Robinsons, Don West and Dr Smith is never resolved, as the series unexpected cancellation left the Jupiter 2 and her crew literally on the junk-pile at the end of season three.

Characters

  • Dr. John Robinson (Guy Williams): The expedition commander, a pilot, and the father of the Robinson children. He is an astrophysicist who also specializes in applied planetary geology.
  • Dr. Maureen Robinson (June Lockhart): John’s biochemist wife. Her role in the series is often to prepare meals, tend the garden, and help with light construction while adding a voice of compassion. Her status as a doctor is mentioned only in the first episode and in the second-season episode “The Astral Traveler.”
  • Major Don West (Mark Goddard): The military pilot of the Jupiter 2. He is Dr. Smith’s intemperate and intolerant adversary. His mutual romantic interest with Judy was not developed beyond the first few episodes. In the un-aired pilot, “Doctor Donald West” was a graduate student astrophysicist and expert in interplanetary geology, rather than a military man.
  • Judy Robinson (Marta Kristen): The oldest child of the Robinsons. She is about 19 years old at the outset of the series. In the unaired pilot, she is described as having given up a promising career in musical theater to go with her family instead.
  • Penny Robinson (Angela Cartwright): The middle child. A 13-year-old in the first season, she loves animals and classical music. Early in the series, she acquires a chimpanzee-like alien pet with pointy ears that made one sound, “Bloop”. While it is usually referred to by Will and Professor Robinson as the bloop,[3] Penny named the creature “Debbie”. Most of Penny’s adventures have a fairy-tale quality, underscoring her innocence. She is described in the unaired pilot, “No Place To Hide”, as having an IQ of 147 and an interest in zoology.
  • Will Robinson (Billy Mumy): The youngest child. A precocious 9-year-old in the first season, he is a child prodigy in electronics and computer technology. Often, he is a friend to Smith when no one else is. Will is also the member of the family closest to the Robot.
  • Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris): Acting as Alpha Control’s flight surgeon in the first episode, he is later referred to as a Doctor of Intergalactic Environmental Psychology,[4] expert in cybernetics, and an enemy agent (roles that are rarely mentioned after the initial episodes). His attempt to sabotage the mission strands him aboard the Jupiter 2 and results in it becoming lost.
  • The Robot: The Robot is a Class M-3, Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot, which had no given name. Although a machine, endowed with superhuman strength and futuristic weaponry, he often displayed human characteristics, such as laughter, sadness, and mockery, as well as singing and playing a guitar. The Robot was performed by Bob May in a prop costume built by Bob Stewart. The voice was dubbed by Dick Tufeld, who was also the series’ narrator. The Robot was designed by Robert Kinoshita, who was also the designer of the iconic Robby the Robot for the 1956 sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet.[5] Robby appears in LIS #20 “War of the Robots”, and the first episode of season three; “Condemned of Space”.

Development

By the end of the first season, the character of Smith is permanently established as a bungling, self-serving, greedy and manipulative coward. These character traits are magnified in subsequent seasons. His haughty bearing, and ever-present alliterative repartee, were staples of the character. While he and Major West repeatedly clashed over his goldbricking, or because of some villainy he had perpetrated, the Robot was usually the preferred victim of his barbed and acerbic wit.

Despite Harris being credited as a “Special Guest Star” on every episode, Smith became the pivotal character of the series.[6] Harris was the last actor cast, with the others all having appeared in the unaired pilot. He was informed that he would “have to be in last position” in the credits. Harris voiced discomfort at this, and (with his continuation beyond the first few episodes still in doubt) suggested appearing in the last position as “Special Guest Star.” After having “screamed and howled”, Allen agreed.[7] The show’s writers expected that Smith would indeed be a temporary villain, who would only appear in the early episodes. Harris, on the other hand, hoped to stay longer on the show, but he found his character as written very boring, and feared it would quickly bore the audience too. Encouraged by Irwin Allen, the actor “began rewriting his lines and redefining his character”, by playing Smith in an attention-getting, flamboyant style. Mumy recalls how, after he had learned his own lines, Harris would ask to rehearse with him using his own dialogue. “He truly, truly single-handledly created the character of Dr Zachary Smith that we know,” said Mumy. “This man we love-to-hate, a snivelling coward who would cower behind the little boy, ‘Oh, the pain! Save me, William!’ That’s all him!” [6][7]

Episodes

Technology and equipment

Transportation

The crew had a variety of methods of transportation.

Their primary vehicle for space travel was the two-deck, nuclear powered Jupiter 2 flying saucer spacecraft (in the unaired pilot episode, the ship was named the Gemini 12 and consisted of a single deck). On the lower level were the atomic motors (which use “deutronium” for fuel), the living quarters (featuring Murphy beds), galley, laboratory, and the robot’s compartment. On the upper level were the guidance control system and suspended animation “freezing tubes” necessary for non-relativistic interstellar travel. The two levels were connected by both an electric elevator and a fixed ladder. The Jupiter 2 explicitly had artificial gravity. Entrances / exits to the ship were via the main air-lock on the upper level, or via the landing struts from the lower deck, and, according to one season 2 episode, a back door. The spacecraft was also intended to serve as home to the Robinsons once it had landed on the destination planet orbiting Alpha Centauri. In one third season tale the power core of the Jupiter 2 is shown as absolutely enormous; however this may have been due to the plot of the episode, involving the travellers’ fears being amplified to supply nourishment for an alien fear-vampire, causing the crew to lose touch with reality.

Shown only in episode 3 of season 1, “Para-jet” thrusters, a pair of units worn on the forearms, allowed a user to descend to a planet from the orbiting spaceship and, perhaps, back again to the ship.

The “Chariot” was an all-terrain, amphibious tracked vehicle which the crew used for ground transport when they were on a planet. As stated in episode 3 of season 1, the chariot existed in a dis-assembled state during flight, to be re-assembled once on the ground. The Chariot was actually an operational cannibalized version of the Thiokol Snowcat Spryte,[8] with a Ford 170-cubic-inch (3 L) inline-6, 101 horsepower engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission including reverse. Test footage filmed of the Chariot for the first season of the series can be seen on YouTube.[9]

Most of the Chariot’s body panels were clear – including the roof and its dome-shaped “gun hatch”. Both a roof rack for luggage and roof mounted “solar batteries” were accessible by exterior fixed ladders on either side of the vehicle. It had dual headlights and dual auxiliary area lights beneath the front and rear bumpers. The roof also had swivel-mounted, interior controllable spotlights located near each front corner, with a small parabolic antenna mounted between them. The Chariot had six bucket seats (three rows of two seats) for passengers. The interior featured retractable metallised fabric curtains for privacy, a seismograph, a scanner with infrared capability, a radio transceiver, a public address system, and a rifle rack that held four laser rifles vertically near the inside of the left rear corner body panel (“Island in the Sky”).

The then new and exciting invention called a jet pack (specifically, a Bell Rocket Belt) was used occasionally by Prof Robinson or Major West.

Finally, the “Space Pod” was a small mini-spacecraft first shown in the third and final season, modeled on the Apollo Lunar Module . The Pod was used to travel from its bay in the Jupiter 2 to destinations either on a nearby planet or in space, and the pod apparently had artificial gravity and an auto-return mechanism.

Other technology

For self-defense, the crew of the Jupiter 2 — including Will on occasion — had an arsenal of laser guns at their disposal, both slings-carried rifles and holstered pistols. (The first season’s personal issue laser gun was a film prop modified from a toy semi-automatic pistol made by Remco.[10]) The crew also employed a force field around the Jupiter 2 for protection while on alien planets. The force shield generator was able to protect the campsite but in one season 3 episode was able to shield the entire planet.

For communication, the crew used small transceivers to communicate with each other, the Chariot, and the ship. In “The Raft,” Will improvised several miniature rockoons in an attempt to send an interstellar “message in a bottledistress signal. In season 2 a set of relay stations was built to further extend communications while planet-bound.

Their environmental control Robot B-9 ran air and soil tests, was extremely strong, able to discharge strong electrostatic charges from his claws, could detect threats with his scanner and could produce a defensive smoke screen. The Robot could detect faint smells (in “One of Our Dogs is Missing”) and could both understand speech as well as speak. In episode 8 (“Invaders From The Fifth Dimension”), the Robot claims the ability to read human minds by translating emitted thought waves back into words.

The Jupiter 2 had some unexplained advanced technology that simplified or did away with mundane tasks. The “auto-matic laundry” took seconds to clean, iron, fold, and package clothes in clear plastic bags. Similarly the “dishwasher” would clean, wash, and dry dishes in just seconds.

Some technology reflected recent real-world developments. Silver reflective space blankets, a then new invention developed by NASA in 1964, were used in “The Hungry Sea” (air date: October 13, 1965) and “Attack of the Monster Plants” (air date: December 15, 1965). The crew’s spacesuits were made with aluminum-coated fabric, like NASA’s Mercury spacesuits, and had Velcro fasteners, which NASA first used during the Apollo program (1961-1972).[11]

While the crew normally grew a hydroponic garden on a planet as an intermediate step prior to cultivating the soil of a planet, they also had “protein pills” (a complete nutritional substitute for whole foods) in cases of emergency (“The Hungry Sea” (air date: October 13, 1965) and “The Space Trader” (air date: March 9, 1966)).

Series history

In 1965 Allen filmed a 50 minute black-and-white series pilot for Fox, which is usually known as “No Place to Hide” (although this title does not actually appear in it). After CBS accepted the series, the characters Smith and the Robot were added. The spaceship, originally named the “Gemini 12”, was redesigned by adding a second deck, interior equipment, and altering some consoles slightly, and was rechristened the Jupiter 2. For budget considerations, a good part of the footage included in the pilot episode was reused, being carefully worked into the early series episodes. CBS was also offered Star Trek at around the same time, but turned it down in favor of Lost in Space.

The Lost in Space television series was originally named Space Family Robinson. Allen was apparently unaware of the Gold Key comic of the same name and similar theme. His series was, as was the comic, a space version of the novel Swiss Family Robinson with the title changed accordingly. Gold Key Comics did not sue Allen’s production company or 20th Century Fox for copyright infringement, as Allen was expected to license the rights for comic book adaptations of his various tv properties (as he already had with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), but instead changed the title of the comic to Lost in Space to take advantage of the series’ prominence.

The first season emphasized adventure and chronicled the daily adventures that a pioneer family might experience if marooned on an alien world. The first half of season 1 included dealing with the planet’s unusual orbit, resulting in extremes of cold and heat, and the Robinson party trekking around the rocky terrain and stormy inland oceans of Priplanus in the Chariot to avoid those extremes, encountering dangerous native plants and animals, and a few reasonably plausible off-world visitors. However, midway through the first season, following the two-parter “The Keeper”, the format changed to a “Monster of the week” style, and the stories slipped, almost un-noticeably, from straight adventure to stories based on fantasy and fairy tales, with Will even awakening a sleeping princess with a kiss in a second season entry. Excepting special effect shots (which were reused in later seasons), the first season was filmed in black and white, while the second and third seasons were filmed in color.

Beginning in January 1966, ABC scheduled Batman in the same timeslot. To compete, Lost in Space Season 2 allegedly imitated Batman’s campy style humour, in order to compete against that show’s enormous success. Bright outfits, over-the-top action, outrageous villains (Space Cowboys, Pirates, Knights, Vikings, Wooden Dragons, Amazon Feministas and even Bespectacled Beagles) came to the fore, in the most outlandish stories in television history. The Robinsons were cloned by one colorful critter in a interestingly plodding story, and even attacked by a civilization of “Little Mechanical Men” resembling their Robot who wanted him for their leader in another far-out tale. All this possibly made viewers wonder whether the writers were now utilizing psycheledic substances for inspiration.[6] To make matters worse, stories giving all characters focus were sacrificed, in favor of a growing emphasis on Smith, Will, and the Robot – and Smith’s change in character was not appreciated by the other actors. According to Billy Mumy, Mark Goddard and Guy Williams both disliked the shift away from serious science fiction.[12]

The third season had more straight adventure, with the Jupiter 2 now functional and hopping from planet to planet, but the episodes still tended to be whimsical and to emphasize humour, including fanciful space hippies, more pirates, off-beat inter-galactic zoos, ice princesses and Lost in Space’s very own beauty pageant.

One of the very last episodes “The Great Vegetable Rebellion”—with actor Stanley Adams as Tybo, the talking carrot, took the show into pure fantasy. (Called “the most insipid and bizarre episode in television history”, Kristen recalls that Goddard complained that “seven years of Stanislavskimethod acting had culminated in his talking to a carrot.) A writer Irwin had employed to script a planned crossover between Lost in Space and Land of the Giants noted that Irwin seemed scared of the vegetable story, for it got pushed further and further to the back of the schedule, as the filming of season 3 progressed. The episode’s writer, Peter Packer, who was one of the most prolific writers for Lost in Space and had penned some of the series best episodes, apologized to Harris for the script, stating he hadn’t “one more damned idea in my head”. During filming, Guy Williams and June Lockhart were written out of the next two episodes, at full pay, for laughing so much during the production. Astute viewers will notice the smirks as the actors, notably Mark Goddard, tried to contain themselves during the filming of the story. It’s no wonder the show ended up on the Junk Planet a few episodes later. Interestingly, an earlier draft had a much more sensible storyline, and an attempt to film a Llama in the episode was cetainly made, for Jonathan Harris once stated in an interview that he was unable to work with it because of its spitting. This seems verified by the listing of “Willoughby the llama” in the credits, so Irwin may have actually attempted to introduce his new series 4 regular here (see below). Incredibly, The Great Vegetable Rebellion appears to have directly inspired the “Rulers of Luton” episode on Space 1999 season 2. Shockingly, in 1977, TV Guide listed “The Great Vegetable Rebellion” at position #76 in its list of the ‘100 Best Episodes of All Time’.

The planned Season 4 may have kept up the fantasy trip, as it intended to introduce a telepathic purple alien llama called Willoughby (see above), as a new character, which apparently was to speak with an educated British accent, judging from a script written for the intended season 4, called “Malice in Wonderspace”.

During the first two seasons, episodes concluded in a “live action freeze” anticipating the following week, with the cliff-hanger caption, “To be continued next week! Same time — same channel!” For the third season, the episode would conclude, immediately followed with a vocal “teaser” from the Robot (Dick Tufeld), warning viewers to “Stay tuned for scenes from next week’s exciting adventure!” which would highlight the next episode, followed by the closing credits.

There was little ongoing plot continuity between episodes, except in larger goals: for example, to get enough fuel to leave the planet. However, there were some arcs in the show that allowed a small amount of continuity… occasionally. The first half of the first season had an overall arc, as the Robinsons slowly got used to Smith, and as the robot began his journey to being a thinking and self-aware character.

There were only 4 true sets of arc stories

  • The initial 5 episode “Mini-series”.
  • “The Keeper” 2 parter.
  • The “Blast off into Space” / “Wild adventure” duo.
  • The “Ghost Planet” / “Forbidden World” duo.

Additionally there were two arcs of “Linked” stories.

  • ‘My Friend Mr Nobody’, ‘Invaders from the 5th Dimension’ and ‘The Oasis’ are all directly linked together in narrative flow.
  • ‘Attack of the Monster Plants’ and ‘Return From Outer Space’ are linked through Smith’s comments in the latter about Prof Robinson taking revenge on him for his actions in the former.

There were also sequels to some episodes (‘Return from Outer Space’ follows from events in ‘The Sky is falling”), and some recurring characters including Space Pirate Tucker, the android Verda, the Green Dimension girl Athena, and Farnum B (each of whom appears in 2 episodes), and Zumdish (who appears in 3 episodes).

In an odd moment of referential continuity ‘Two Weeks in Space’ re-used the “Space Music” angle first shown in ‘Kidnapped in Space’, while the “Celestial Department Store Ordering Machine” appeared in two episodes.

After cancellation, the show was successful in reruns and in syndication for many years, appearing on the USA Network in the mid-to-late 1980s, most recently on FX, Sci-Fi Channel, and ALN. It is currently available on Hulu streaming video, and is seen Saturday nights on MeTV.

There are fan clubs in honor of the series and cast all around the world, and many Facebook group pages connecting fans of the show to each other and to the show’s stars.

Ratings, awards and popularity

Although it retains a following, the science-fiction community often points to Lost in Space as an example of early television’s perceived poor record at producing science-fiction.[13] The series’ deliberate fantasy elements, a trademark of Irwin Allen productions, were perhaps overlooked as it drew comparisons to its supposed rival, Star Trek. However, Lost in Space was a mild ratings success, unlike Star Trek, which received very poor ratings during its original network television run. The more cerebral Star Trek never averaged higher than 52nd in the ratings during its three seasons,[14][15] while Lost in Space finished season one with a rating of 32nd, season two in 35th place, and the third and final season in 33rd place.

Lost in Space also ranked third as one of the top five favorite new shows for the 1965-1966 season in a viewer TVQ poll (the others were The Big Valley, Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie and F Troop). Lost in Space was the favorite show of John F. Kennedy, Jr. while growing up in the 1960s.[16]

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenbery insisted that the two shows could not be compared. He was more of a philosopher, while understanding that Irwin Allen was a storyteller. When asked about Lost in Space, Roddenberry acknowledged: “That show accomplishes what it sets out to do. Star Trek is not the same thing.”

While Lost in Space was still reasonably successful, the show was unexpectedly cancelled in 1968 after 83 episodes. The final prime-time episode to be broadcast over CBS was a cast and crew favorite, a repeat from the second season, “A Visit to Hades”, on September 11, 1968.

Lost in Space received a 1966 Emmy Award nomination for “Cinematography-Special photographic effects” but did not win, and again in 1968 for “Achievement in visual arts & makeup” but did not win. In 2005, it was nominated for a Saturn Award “Best DVD Retro Television Release”, but did not win. In 2008 TVLand nominated and awarded the series for “Awesomest Robot.”

Catchphrases

Lost in Space is remembered, in part, for the Robot’s oft-repeated lines such as “Warning! Warning!” and “That does not compute”. Smith’s frequent put-downs of the Robot were also popular, and Jonathan Harris was proud to talk about how he used to lie in bed at night dreaming them up for use on the show. “You Bubble-headed Booby!”, “Cackling Cacophony”, “Tin Plated Traitor”, “Blithering Blatherskyte”, and “Traitorous Transistorized Toad” are but a few alongside his trademark lines: “Oh, the pain… the pain!” and “Never fear, Smith is here!” One of Jonathan Harris‘s last roles was providing the voice of the illusionist praying mantis “Manny” in Disney‘s A Bug’s Life, where Harris used “Oh, the pain… the pain!” near the end of the film.

The catchphrase “Danger, Will Robinson!” originates with the series, but was only ever used once in it, during episode 11 of season 3 (“The Deadliest of the Species”), when the Robot warns young Will Robinson about an impending threat. It was also used as the slogan of the 1998 movie, whose official website had the address www.dangerwillrobinson.com.[17]

Cancellation

In early 1968, while the final third-season episode “Junkyard in Space” was in production, the cast and crew were informally made to believe the series would return for a fourth season. Allen had ordered new scripts for the coming season. A few weeks later, however, CBS announced a list of television series they were renewing for the 1968-69 season, and Lost in Space was not included. Although CBS programming executives failed to offer any reasons why Lost in Space was cancelled, there are at least five suggested reasons offered by series executives, critics and fans, any one of which could be considered sufficient justification for cancellation given the state of the broadcast network television industry at the time. As there was no official final episode, the exploring pioneers never made it to Alpha Centauri nor found their way back to Earth.

The show had sufficient ratings to support a fourth season, but it was expensive. The budget per episode for Season One was $130,980, and for Season Three, $164,788. In that time, the actors’ salaries increased; in the case of Harris, Kristen and Cartwright, their salaries nearly doubled. Part of the cost problems may have been the actors themselves: director Richardson saying of Williams’ demanding closeups of himself:

“This costs a fortune in time, it’s a lot of lighting and a lot of trouble and Irwin succumbed to it. It got to be that bad.”[18]

The interior of the Jupiter 2 was the most expensive set for a television show at the time, about $350,000.[19] (More than the set of the U.S.S. Enterprise a couple of years later.)

According to Mumy and other sources, the show was initially picked up for a fourth season, but with a cut budget. Reportedly, 20th Century Fox was still recovering from the legendary budget overruns of Cleopatra, and thus slashed budgets across the board in its film and television productions.[20] Allen claimed the series could not continue with a reduced budget. During a negotiating conference regarding the series direction for the fourth season with CBS chief executive Bill Paley, Allen stormed out (of the meeting) when told that the budget was being cut 15% from Season Three, his action thereby sealing the show’s cancellation.[21]

Robert Hamner, one of the show’s writers, states (in Starlog, #220, November 1995) that Paley despised the show so much that the budget dispute was used as an excuse to terminate the series. Years later, Paley stated this was incorrect and that he was a fan of “the Robot”.

The Lost in Space Forever DVD cites declining ratings and escalating costs as the reasons for cancellation.[22] Even Irwin Allen admitted that the Season 3 ratings showed an increasing percentage of children among the total viewers, meaning a drop in the “quality audience” that advertisers preferred.[23]

A contributing factor, at least, was that June Lockhart and director Don Richardson were no longer excited about the show. Lockhart said in response to being told about cancellation by Perry Lafferty, the head of CBS programming, “I think that’s for the best at this point”, although she goes on to say that she would have stayed if there had been a fourth season. Lockhart immediately joined the cast of CBS’ Petticoat Junction upon Lost in Space’s cancellation. Richardson had been tipped off that the show was likely to be cancelled, was looking for another series, and had decided not to return to Lost in Space, even if it continued.

It was also no secret that Guy Williams had grown embittered with his role on the show, as it became increasingly “campy” in Seasons 2 and 3 while centering squarely on the antics of Harris’ Dr. Smith character. Whether Williams would have returned for a fourth season or not wasn’t revealed, but he never acted again after the series, choosing instead to retire to Argentina.[24]

Music

Album cover of Lost in Space Original Television Soundtrack, Volume 1 CD, with music by John Williams (ASIN B000001P1R).

The open and closing theme music was written by John Williams, the composer behind the Star Wars theme music, who was listed in the credits as “Johnny Williams”.

The original pilot and much of Season One reused Bernard Herrmann‘s eerie score from the classic sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

For Season Three, the opening theme was revised (again by Williams) to a more exciting and faster tempo score, accompanied by live action shots of the cast, featuring a pumped-up countdown from seven to one to launch each week’s episode. Seasons 1 and 2 had animated figures “life-roped” together drifting “hopelessly lost in space” and set to a dizzy and comical score that Bill Mumy once described in a magazine interview as “sounding like a circuit board”.

Much of the incidental music in the series was written by Williams who scored his four TV episodes with the movie soundtrack quality that not only helped him gain credibility and a boost towards his later success but also gave Lost in Space its distinctive musical style that is instantly recognizable by all of the shows fans. Other notable film and television composers included Alexander Courage (composer of the Star Trek theme), who contributed six scores to the series. His most recognizable (“Wild Adventure”) included his key theme for “Lorelei” composed for organ, woodwinds, and harp — thus cementing this highly recognizable theme with Williams’ own “Chariot” and main theme for the series. The dramatic music of the show served the serious drama episodes well while highlighting the whimsy of later episodes when the deadly serious tunes were used to underscore comical and laughable fantasy threats.

Lost In Space Vol. 1

GNP Crescendo released the first album in 1997 as part of The Fantasy Worlds Of Irwin Allen, featuring music from “The Reluctant Stowaway” (tracks 2-5), “Island In The Sky” (tracks 6 and 7) and “The Hungry Sea” (tracks 8-10).

All music composed by John Williams.

  1. Lost In Space Main Title (:56)
  2. Smith’s Evening/Judo Chop/On The Pad/Countdown (8:54)
  3. Escape Velocity/Robot Control/Meteor Storm/Defrosting (7:58)
  4. The Weightless Waltz (2:30)
  5. The Monster Rebels/A Walk In Space/Finale (7:49)
  6. Suiting Up/Stranglehold/The Landing/Search For John (12:20)
  7. Tractor Play-on/Electric Sagebrush/Will Is Threatened (2:30)
  8. The Earthquake (2:44)
  9. Chariot Titles/Fahrenheit A Go-Go/The Chariot Continues/Sunstorm (3:41)
  10. Morning After/The Inland Sea/Land Ho/Strange Visitor (7:54)
  11. Lost In Space End Title (:50)

Lost In Space Vol. 2

GNP Crescendo released the second album in 1997 as part of the abovementioned set, featuring music from “Wild Adventure” (tracks 2-4), “The Haunted Lighthouse” (tracks 5 and 6) and “The Great Vegetable Rebellion” (tracks 7 and 8).

Tracks in bold contain themes composed by John Williams.

  1. Lost In Space Main Title: Season 3 – John Williams (1:03)
  2. Million Miles/Dust Ball/Episode Titles – Alexander Courage (2:36)
  3. Pushy Fellow – Alexander Courage (2:40)
  4. Flying “A” Statin/Floating Lady/The Big Whew/Irwin Van Belt – Alexander Courage (8:48)
  5. Opening Scene/J-5/Take-Off/F-12/Colonel Fogey/Penny And J-5/A Zaybo For Smith/Turkey Dinner/Act-Out on J-5 – Joseph Mullendore (10:30)
  6. J-5 Listens to Penny/J-5 to the Rescue/Last Scene – Joseph Mullendore (4:22)
  7. A Plant Planet – Alexander Courage (2:39)
  8. Episode Titles/Howling Hyacinths/The Vegetable/Sprouting Smith/Vic’s Smithy/Judy’s Goat/The Dry Boys/Caught by a Carrot – Alexander Courage (11:43)
  9. Lost In Space End Title: Season 3 – John Williams (:51)

Lost In Space Vol. 3

GNP Crescendo released the third album in 2000, featuring music from “The Derelict” by Richard LaSalle, Herman Stein and Hans J. Salter (tracks 1 and 3-11) and “My Friend Mr. Nobody” by John Williams (tracks 12-17).

Single-asterisked cues by Richard LaSalle. **by Herman Stein. ***by Hans J. Salter.

Tracks in bold contain themes composed by John Williams.

  1. Rescued From Space*/The Comet Cometh** (8:36)
  2. Lost In Space Main Title: Season 1 – John Williams (:58)
  3. Derelict Title**/Don Rescues John and Maureen* (5:30)
  4. The Road Performs* (1:19)
  5. Writing In The Log*/Family** (1:58)
  6. The Treatment*/Swallowed** (4:18)
  7. Flashing Lights***/Frontal Robotomy*** (:39)
  8. Filmy Spider Web***/Crystalline Power Source*** (3:30)
  9. Smart Kid***/Bubble Monster* (5:30)
  10. Lift Off*** (4:21)
  11. New Planet*/Continued Next Week** (01:34)
  12. Wonderland Discovery (2:58)
  13. Hairstyle Book/Penny’s Friend/Diamonds/Penny/Diamond Play Off (4:13)
  14. Penny’s Cave/To The Cave/Gathering Wild Flowers/Moving Rocks (5:44)
  15. Mother & Daughter/Penny’s Problem (5:54)
  16. Storm Coming Up/A New Galaxy (3:57)
  17. Lost In Space End Credits: Season 1 – John Williams (:53)
  18. Lost In Space Unused 2nd Season Main Title – Warren Barker (:48)

Lost In Space 40th Anniversary Edition

In 2005 La-La Land Records released a two-disc set covering many of the series’ composers. Cues in bold are previously unreleased.

Disc 1: “The Reluctant Stowaway” (tracks 2-7), “Island In The Sky” (tracks 8-15), “The Hungry Sea” (tracks 16-19) and “My Friend Mr. Nobody” (tracks 20-21); all music by John Williams. Although all four episodes were represented on the previous albums, not all of the music is replicated here.

  1. Lost In Space Season 1 Main Title (:53)
  2. Smith’s Entrance (2:45)
  3. Final Countdown (4:33)
  4. Escape Velocity/Meteor Storm (5:41)
  5. Weightless Waltz (3:37)
  6. Monster Rebels (3:40)
  7. Walk In Space/To Be Continued (7:35)
  8. Strange Planet/John’s Descent (1:30)
  9. Helmet It (1:19)
  10. Strangle Hold/Landing (6:24)
  11. Lil’ Will And The Robot (1:29)
  12. Search For John (4:13)
  13. Monkey’s Doo (4:52)
  14. Operation Rescue (1:16)
  15. Personal Chauffeur/Electric Sagebrush/Will Is Threatened (2:34)
  16. Earthquake (2:45)
  17. Temperature Rising/Boring Company/Don’s Rays (4:08)
  18. Warming Rays/Sun Storm (3:00)
  19. Land Ho/Kid’s Play-Off (2:36)
  20. Wonderland Discovery/Penny’s Problem/Gathering Wild Flowers (9:33)
  21. New Galaxy (2:26)
  22. Lost In Space Season 1 End Title (:50)

Disc 2

  1. “CBS Presents This Special Program In Color” (:08)
  2. Lost In Space Season 3 Main Title – John Williams (1:02)
  3. “The Derelict”: Derelict Title (Herman Stein)/Frontal Robotomy (Hans J. Salter)/Family (Herman Stein)(2:00)
  4. “There Were Giants In The Earth”: Microscope/Pod Almighty – Herman Stein (1:49)
  5. “Welcome Stranger”: Stranger/Friend Or Foe/Permission/Spore Sprayer/The Robinsons/Upper-Ration/Hapgood/Star Charts (Frank Comstock)/Tall Tail/Blast Off (Frank Comstock) – Herman Stein except where indicated (17:33)
  6. Lost In Space Season 3 Bumper – John Williams (:05)
  7. “Blast Off Into Space”: The Family/Quake/Mine Entrance/Galaxies Wins/Spilled Cosmonium/It’s Alive/Cosmonium Fiend/One Last Check/Family/Blast Off/Thruster Control Short/Thruster Control Continued/Freeze Frame – Leith Stevens (15:58)
  8. “The Curse Of Cousin Smith”: Mississippi Shuffle – Robert Drasnin (1:28)
  9. “The Curse Of Cousin Smith”: Little Joe’s Yes – Robert Drasnin (1:22)
  10. “Girl From The Green Dimension”: Mulberry Bush/What A Knight – Alexander Courage (4:26)
  11. “Cave Of The Wizards”: Mummy’s Boy/Draconian Anthem/King Queen – Alexander Courage (5:16)
  12. “Collision Of Planets”: The Aliens/Sampson March/1st Blast – Gerald Fried (3:27)
  13. “The Promised Planet”: Space-A-Delic – Pete Rugolo (3:50)
  14. Senior – from “The Sky Pirate” (Leigh Harline)/Introduction – from “Ghost In Space” (Leigh Harline)/The Search – from “The Sky Pirate” (Lionel Newman) (3:58)
  15. “The Sky Pirate”: A Nice Little Bank/Investigation (Cyril Mockridge) (2:52)
  16. “Space Circus”: Terror Stinger/Another World/Ominous Signs/Awful Monster/Silly Monster – Fred Steiner (8:02)
  17. “Forbidden World”: Space Walk – Robert Drasnin (:39)
  18. Lost In Space Season 2 Main Title (unused) – Warren Barker (:58)
  19. Lost In Space Season 3 End Title – John Williams (1:09)

“Space-A-Delic” was previously released as part of the bonus CD in the box set The Fantasy Worlds Of Irwin Allen.

Lost In Space: 50th Anniversary Soundtrack Collection

In 2015 La-La Land Records issued a 12-disc boxed set of music from the series, featuring all the episode scores and the tracked-in music for the unaired pilot “No Place To Hide” (which used music by Bernard Herrmann, Leigh Harline and Lionel Newman).

Legal questions

In 1962, Gold Key comics (formerly Dell Comics), a division of Western Publishing Company, began publishing a series of comic books under the title, Space Family Robinson. The story was largely inspired by The Swiss Family Robinson but with a space-age twist. The movie and television rights to the comic book were then purchased by noted television writer Hilda Bohem (The Cisco Kid), who created a treatment under the title, Space Family 3000.

In July 1964, science fiction writer and filmmaker Ib Melchior began pitching a treatment for a feature film, also under the title Space Family Robinson. There is debate as to whether or not Allen was aware of the Melchior treatment. It is also unknown whether Allen was aware of the comic book or the Hilda Bohem treatment.

As copyright law only protects the actual expression of a work, and not titles, general ideas or concepts, in 1964 Allen moved forward with his own take on Space Family Robinson, with characters and situations notably different from either the Bohem or the Melchior treatments (none of the three treatments contained the characters of Smith or the Robot).

Intended as a follow up to his first successful television venture, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Allen quickly sold his concept for a television series to CBS. Concerned about confusion with the Gold Key comic book, CBS requested that Allen come up with a new title. Nevertheless, Hilda Bohem filed a claim against Allen and CBS Television shortly before the series premiered in 1965.

A compromise was struck as part of a legal settlement. In addition to an undisclosed sum of money, Western Publishing would be allowed to change the name of its comic book to Lost in Space.

There were no other legal challenges to the title until 1995, when New Line Cinema announced their intention to turn Lost in Space into a big budget motion picture. New Line had purchased the screen rights from Prelude Pictures (which had acquired the screen rights from the Irwin Allen Estate in 1993). At that time, Melchior contacted Prelude Pictures and insisted that Lost in Space was directly based upon his 1964 treatment. Melchior was aided in his efforts by Ed Shifres, a fan who had written a book entitled Space Family Robinson: The True Story (later reprinted with the title, Lost in Space: The True Story). The book attempts to show how Allen allegedly plagiarized Melchior’s concept, with two outlines presented side-by-side.

To satisfy Melchior, Prelude Pictures hired the 78-year-old filmmaker as a consultant on their feature film adaptation. This accommodation was made without the knowledge or consent of the Irwin Allen Estate or Space Productions, the original copyright holder of Lost in Space. Melchior’s contract with Prelude also guaranteed him 2% of the producer’s gross receipts, a provision that was later the subject of a suit between Melchior and Mark Koch of Prelude Pictures. Although an Appellate Court ruled partly[25] in Melchior’s favor, on November 17, 2004, the Supreme Court of California[26] denied a petition by Melchior to further review the case.

No further claim was made and Space Productions now contends that Allen was the sole creator of the television series Lost in Space.

Melchior died on March 14, 2015 at the age of 97.

Guest stars

During its three-season run, many actors made guest appearances, including familiar actors and/or actors who went on to become well-known. Among those appearing in Lost in Space episodes: Joe E. Tata, Kevin Hagen, Alan Hewitt, Warren Oates, Don Matheson, Kurt Russell, Ford Rainey, Wally Cox, Grant Sullivan, Norman Leavitt, Tommy Farrell, Mercedes McCambridge, Lyle Waggoner, Albert Salmi, Royal Dano, Strother Martin, Michael J. Pollard, Byron Morrow, Arte Johnson, Fritz Feld, John Carradine, Al Lewis, Hans Conried, Dennis Patrick, Michael Rennie among many others. Future Hill Street Blues stars, Daniel J. Travanti (billed as “Danny Travanty”) and Michael Conrad, made guest appearances on separate episodes. While Mark Goddard was playing Major West, he had a guest appearance as well. Jonathan Harris, although a permanent cast member, was listed in the opening credits as “Special Guest Star” of every episode of Lost in Space.

Syndication

Despite never reaching the 100 episodes desired for daily stripping in syndication, Lost in Space was picked up for syndication in most major U.S. markets. By 1969, the show was declared to be the #1 syndicated program (or close to it) in markets such as Houston, Milwaukee, Miami and even New York City, where it was said that the only competition to Lost in Space was I Love Lucy.[27] The program didn’t have the staying power throughout the 1970s of its supposed rival, Star Trek. Part of the blame was placed on the first season of Lost in Space being in black-and-white, while a majority of American households at the time had at least one color television receiver. By 1975, many markets began removing Lost in Space from daily schedules or moving it to less desirable time slots. The series experienced a revival when Ted Turner acquired it for his growing TBS “superstation” in 1979. Viewer response was highly positive, and it became a TBS mainstay for the next five years.[23]

Documentaries

In the 1990s Kevin Burns, a long time fan of Irwin Allen’s works, produced two documentaries.

The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen

In 1995, Kevin Burns produced a documentary showcasing the career of Irwin Allen. Hosted by Bill Mumy and June Lockhart in a recreation of the Jupiter 2 exterior set and utilizing the “Celestial Department Store Ordering Machine” as a temporal conduit to show information and clips on Irwin’s history. Clips from Irwin’s various productions as well as pilots for his unproduced series were presented along with new interviews with cast members of Irwin’s shows. Mumy and Lockhart complete their presentation and enter the Jupiter 2, following which Jonathan Harris appears in character as Smith and instructs the Robot once again to destroy the ship as per his original instructions “…and this time get it right, you bubble-headed booby”.

Lost in Space Forever

In 1998, Burns produced a television special about the series, hosted by John Larroquette and Robot B-9 (performed by actor Bob May and voice actor Dick Tufeld). The special was hosted within a recreation of the Jupiter 2 upper deck set. The program ends with Laroquette mockingly pressing a button on the Amulet from “the Galaxy Gift” episode, disappearing and being replaced by Mumy and Harris as an older Will Robinson and Zachary Smith. They attempt one more time to return to Earth but find that they are “Lost in Space… Forever!”

Spin-offs

Comics

Prior to the appearance of the television series, a comic book named Space Family Robinson was published by Gold Key Comics, written by Gaylord Du Bois and illustrated by Dan Spiegle. (Du Bois did not create the series, but he became the sole writer of the series once he began chronicling the Robinsons’ adventures with “Peril on Planet Four” in issue #8, and he had already written the Captain Venture second feature beginning with “Situation Survival” in issue #6). Due to a deal worked out with Gold Key, the title of the comic later incorporated the Lost in Space sub-title. The comic book featured different characters and a unique H-shaped spacecraft rather than one of a saucer shape.

There is an unlicensed comic in which Will Robinson meets up with Friday the 13th character Jason Voorhees.

In 1991 Bill Mumy provided “Alpha Control Guidance” for a Lost in Space revival in comic book form Lost in Space comic book for Innovation Comics, writing six of the issues. The first officially licensed comic to be based on the TV series (as the previous Gold Key version was based on the 1962 concept), the series was set several years after the show. The kids were now teen-agers, with Will at 16 yrs old, and the stories attempted to return the series to its straight adventure roots with one story even explaining the camp / farce episodes of the series as fanciful entries in Penny’s Space Diary. Complex adult themed story concepts were introduced and even included a love triangle developing between Penny, Judy and Don. Mark Goddard wrote a “Don” story, something he never had in the original series (with the possible exception of “the Flaming Planet” which might qualify as a “Don” episode). The Jupiter 2 had various interior designs in the first year as artists were obviously not familiar with the original layout of the ship while Michal Dutkiewicz got it ‘spot-on’. The first year had an arc ultimately leading the travelers to Alpha Centauri with Smith contacting his former alien masters along the way. Aeolis 14 Umbra were furious with Smith for not having succeeded in his mission to prevent the Jupiter 2, built with technology from a crashed ship of their race, from reaching the star system they had claimed as their own. The year ended with Smith caught out for his traitorous associations and imprisoned in a freezing tube for the Jupiter’s final journey to the Promised Planet. Year two was to be Mumy’s own full season story of a complex adventure following the Robinson’s arrival at their destination and capture by the Aoleans. Innovation folded in 1993 with the story only halfway through and it wasn’t until 2005 that Mumy was able to present his story to Lost in Space fandom as a complete graphic novel via Bubblehead Publishing. The theme of an adult Will Robinson was also explored in the film and in the song “Ballad of Will Robinson”—written and recorded by Mumy.

In 1998 Dark Horse Comics published a three-part story chronicling the Robinson Clan as depicted in the Movie.

In 2006 Bill Mumy and Peter David co-wrote Star Trek: The Return of the Worthy, a 3-part story that was essentially a crossover between Lost in Space and Star Trek with the Enterprise crew encountering a Robinson-like expedition amongst the stars, though with different characters.

Novel

In 1967, a novel based on the series, with significant changes to the personalities of the characters and the design of the ship, was published by Pyramid Books, and written by Dave Van Arnam and Ted White (as “Ron Archer”). A scene in the book correctly predicts Richard Nixon winning the Presidency after Lyndon Johnson.

Cartoon

In the 1972–1973 television season, ABC produced The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, a weekly collection of 60-minute animated movies, pilots and specials from various production companies, such as Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and Rankin-Bass – Hanna-Barbera Productions contributed animated work based on such television series as Gidget, Yogi Bear, Tabitha, Oliver Twist, Nanny and the Professor, The Banana Splits, and Lost in Space. Dr. Smith (voiced by Jonathan Harris) was the only character from the original program to appear in the special, along with the Robot (who was named Robon and employed in flight control rather than a support activity). The spacecraft was launched vertically by rocket, and Smith was a passenger rather than a saboteur. The pilot for the animated Lost in Space series was not picked up as a series, and only this episode was produced. This cartoon will be included in the Blu-ray release on September 15, 2015.

Feature film

In 1998, New Line Cinema produced a Lost in Space feature film. It included numerous nods, homages and cameos related to the series, including:

  • Dick Tufeld as The Robot’s voice
  • Mark Goddard played the military general who gives Major West his orders for the mission
  • June Lockhart played the principal of Will Robinson’s school
  • Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen appeared as reporters
  • A CG animated alien primate character, in homage to the original Debbie “the Bloop” space-ape pet
  • The film’s Jupiter 2 was launched into orbit by a vehicle called the Jupiter 1, which closely mimics the series’ spacecraft, complete with rotating propulsion lights
  • Reference is made to the Chariot and Space Pod, both of which are reported wrecked

Additional cameo appearances from the original series were considered, but did not make it to the film: Harris was offered a cameo appearance as the Global Sedition leader who hires, then betrays, Smith. He turned down the role, which eventually went to Edward Fox, and is even reported to have said “I play Smith or I don’t play.” Harris appeared on an episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, mentioning that he was offered a role: “Yes, they offered me a part in the new movie — six lines!”

The film used a number of ideas familiar to viewers from the original show. Smith reprogramming the robot and its subsequent rampage (Reluctant Stowaway), near miss with the sun (Wild adventure), the derelict spaceship (The Derelict), discovery of the Blawp and the crash (island in the Sky) and an attempt to change history by returning to the beginning (The Time Merchant). Also a scene-stealing ‘Goodnight’ homage to the Waltons was included. Something fans of the original always wanted to see happen was finally realized when Don gives Smith a crack at the end of the movie: “That felt good!”

Second television series

In late 2003, a new television series, with a somewhat changed format, was in development in the U.S. It originally was intended to be closer to the original pilot with no Smith, but including a robot, had an additional older Robinson child called David, and Penny was a mere baby. The pilot (titled, The Robinsons: Lost in Space) was commissioned by The WB Television Network. It was directed by John Woo and produced by Synthesis Entertainment, Irwin Allen Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Television and Regency Television.

The Jupiter 2 interstellar flying-saucer spacecraft of the original series was changed to a non-saucer planet-landing craft, deployed from a larger inter-stellar mothership.

The cast included Brad Johnson as John Robinson, Jayne Brook as Maureen Robinson, Adrianne Palicki as Judy Robinson, Ryan Malgarini as Will Robinson, and Mike Erwin as Don West.

In this adaptation John Robinson was a retiring war hero of an alien invasion and had decided to take his family to another colony elsewhere in space. However the ship is attacked by the aliens, David is lost amidst it all, and the Robinsons, along with Don, are forced to escape in the small Jupiter 2 “Space Pod” of the mothership. The series, presumably, would have revolved around the family trying to recover David from the aliens. The one surviving performer from the original series was Dick Tufeld, once again reprising his role as voice of the robot for the 3rd time, in Lost in Space’s 3rd live-action incarnation after the original pilot.

It was not among the network’s series pick-ups confirmed later that year.

The producers of the new Battlestar Galactica show bought the show’s sets. They were redesigned the next year and used for scenes on the Battlestar Pegasus.

Third television series version in development

On October 10, 2014, it was announced that Legendary TV was developing a new reboot of Lost in Space for Netflix with Dracula Untold screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless attached to write.[28][29] On June 29, 2016, Netflix ordered the series with 10 episodes.[30][31]

DVD releases

20th Century Fox has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1. Several of the releases contain bonus features including interviews, episodic promos, video stills and the original un-aired pilot episode.

DVD name Ep# Release date
Season 1 30 January 13, 2004
Season 2 Volume 1 16 September 14, 2004
Season 2 Volume 2 14 November 30, 2004
Season 3 Volume 1 15 March 1, 2005
Season 3 Volume 2 9 July 19, 2005

Fox released a Blu-ray box set of the series on September 15, 2015, a remastered 50th anniversary edition of all three seasons. It included a cast table reading of the final episode, written by Bill Mumy, which brings the series to a close by having the characters return to earth.

Title in other languages

  • Brazilian Portuguese: Perdidos no Espaço
  • Croatian: Izgubljeni u svemiru
  • Finnish: Matkalla avaruuteen
  • French: Perdus dans l’espace
  • German: Verschollen zwischen fremden Welten (= Lost/Missing between strange worlds)
  • Greek: Χαμένοι στο διάστημα
  • Hebrew: אבודים בחלל
  • Japanese: 宇宙家族ロビンソン (Uchuu Kazoku Robinson = Space Family Robinson)
  • Korean: 우주가족 로빈슨 (Uju Gajok Robinseun = Space Family Robinson)
  • Polish: Zagubieni w kosmosie
  • Romanian: Pierduţi în spaţiu
  • Spanish: Perdidos en el espacio
  • Slovenian:Izgubljeni v vesolju
  • Welsh: Ar goll yn y Gofod

The Land of the Giants

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

Land of the Giants is an hour-long American science fiction television program lasting two seasons beginning on September 22, 1968, and ending on March 22nd, 1970. The show was created and produced by Irwin Allen. Land of the Giants was the fourth of Allen’s science fiction TV series. The show was aired on ABC and released by 20th Century Fox Television. The series was filmed entirely in color and ran for 51 episodes. The show starred Gary Conway and special guest star Kurt Kasznar.

Five novels based on the television series, including three written by acclaimed SF author Murray Leinster, were published in 1968 and 1969.[2]

Contents

Show premise

The travelers are trapped in a giant zoo.

Set fifteen years in the future, in the year 1983, the series tells the tale of the crew and passengers of a sub-orbital transport ship named Spindrift. In the pilot episode, the Spindrift is en route from Los Angeles to London, on an ultra fast sub-orbital flight. Just beyond Earth’s boundary with space, the Spindrift encounters a magnetic space storm, and is dragged through a spacewarp to a mysterious planet where everything is twelve times larger than on Earth, whose inhabitants the Earthlings nickname The Giants. The Spindrift crash-lands, and the damage renders it inoperable.

Very little is known about the home planet of the Giants. This is partially because the Spindrift crew very seldom leave the city where their spaceship crashes in the opening episode. Only two other (unidentified) giant societies are ever seen, in the episodes The Land of the Lost and Secret City of Limbo.

No name is ever established for the mysterious planet, but the inhabitants seem to know of Earth, Venus and Mars, referring to them by name in one episode. Exactly where the planet is located is also never made clear. In the episode On a Clear Night You Can See Earth, Captain Steve Burton (Gary Conway) claims to have seen Earth through a set of infrared goggles invented by the giants, implying that the two planets are indeed separate worlds, but near enough to be able to see one from the other. The only established method by which Earth people may reach the giants planet is some sort of high-altitude flight, passing through what one giant calls a “dimension lock” (a term whose meaning is obscure).

Although various episodes establish that at least six other flights have landed on the planet, no episode establishes anyone ever returning to Earth. The first mention of other visitors from Earth was in episode 2, Ghost Town, where another ship was said to have crashed long ago without any survivors. In episode 4, Underground, another Earth ship is described as crashing three years previously, again with no survivors.

Several episodes show crews surviving the initial crash, only to be killed later. The episode Brainwash has a crew of little people surviving long enough to build a radio station that can communicate with Earth. They are killed shortly thereafter. The episodes Golden Cage and The Lost Ones show there have been a few survivors of other crashes. Only the Spindrift crew seems to have survived for long with its party intact.

One continent, or hemisphere, is dominated by an authoritarian government which tolerates broad freedoms within a capitalist system, but it does not tolerate any effort to effect political change. Exactly what the political situation is on other continents is not known, although at least one overseas land has a despotic ruler. The Air Traffic Control tells those who venture out to sea that they should turn back, that nothing beyond that sea has been explored nor is there current contact; whether this is an official government line or the truth is not known.

Culturally, the Giant society closely resembles the contemporary United States of 1968 (in various episodes it has a police force, private hospitals, prisons, a State Governor, radio and television services, a zoo, jazz clubs, even a racetrack – and the giants speak English, drive American cars, attend Vaudeville-style theatres, and even play chess). The Earth people find themselves able to cope, and their efforts to get around are facilitated by the ubiquity of large drains leading directly from interior rooms to the pavement, in an outside wall of most buildings. The Giant government has offered a reward for the capture of the tiny Earth people (who the Giants call the little people).

In spite of the authoritarianism, there are several dissident movements at work that either help other dissenters (such as the Earth people) or are actively working to unseat the ruling party. The government has established the SID, Special Investigations Department, to deal with assorted dissidence but it also takes the lead in dealing with the Earth people. The Giant technology largely resembles mid-20th century Earth, but inconsistently: significantly more advanced in some episodes (e.g. cloning, cybernetics, force fields, magnetic stunners, androids and teleporters) and slightly behind in others (no microelectronics, hearing aids, or manned space flight).

The little people’s objectives are: (1) survival, by obtaining food and avoiding capture by the Giants or attacks from animals, such as cats and dogs; (2) repair of their spacecraft, so they can attempt to return to Earth. They largely manage to survive with the help of sympathizers and stealth, making the most of their small size, plus ingenuity in using their technology where it is superior to that of the Giants.

They do not achieve the second objective, since the primary systems of the craft are badly damaged. Although in some episodes (including The Flight Plan) Burton implies it is only a lack of fuel which prevents the ship lifting off. The secondary systems are insufficient to enable them to achieve the sub-orbital flight required. They are unable to use Giant technology, as it is bulky and less advanced; in one episode an experimental nuclear reactor, provided by an engineering student, produces dangerous side effects and is prone to overloading. They also cannot trust the Giants, who in another episode (Target: Earth) offer the little people a ride home in exchange for technical assistance with their space program, but then doublecross them.

They are aided in the first goal, and at least somewhat hindered in the second, by the leadership of Captain Burton. He behaves as leader, and as protector to the passengers and crew, and his leadership has rescued them from a number of difficulties. But Burton also tries to keep the Giants from ever reaching Earth. In the episode “Brainwash”, Giant police officer Ashim (Warren Stevens) says “Maybe we can find the home planet of these little people. It may be a very tiny planet, but rich beyond our dreams”. In several episodes, Burton puts keeping the Giants away from Earth above the need to get his people home. At the end of those episodes, he destroys devices that would get the Spindrift back to Earth but which would probably enable the giants to journey there too.

Episodes often have the Giants capturing one of the passengers or crew, with the rest having to effect a rescue. The Earth people avoid capture most of the time, because their spaceship is hidden in a wood (in several episodes, described by the Giants as a park) outside the city limits. They also occasionally form alliances with individual Giants for some common beneficial purpose.

The show had no proper conclusion with regard to the humans’ attempts to return to Earth, and the final episode, Graveyard of Fools, was a general tale that could have taken place any time in the second season. The penultimate episode, Wild Journey (guest starring Bruce Dern), has Steve and Dan using alien technology to travel back in time to Earth just a few hours before their ill-fated flight. In a storyline lifted from the Lost In Space episode The Time Merchant, they attempt to alter the time line but only succeed in ensuring that the events of the first episode, The Crash, take place (footage from the pilot, where Spindrift becomes lost, is included in this episode), creating a Twilight Zone-style twist ending, with the impression of a recurring cycle of inevitable events. This episode would have been more effective as the final episode of the season, mirroring Irwin Allen’s earlier series The Time Tunnel, in which the events of the final episode return the characters to their starting point in the pilot episode, Rendezvous With Yesterday; and Land of the Giants makes more sense with Wild Journey switched for Graveyard of Fools in re-runs.

The first season comprised a regular 26 episodes, but season two was left one episode short, having only 25 episodes, giving the impression that neither Graveyard of Fools nor Wild Journey was originally intended as the show’s finale, but that ultimately the intended final episode was not produced. The show thus comprises only 51 episodes (or 52 episodes, including the unaired pilot).

Production

The show was created by Irwin Allen. With a budget of US$250,000 per episode, Land of the Giants set a new record.[1] The actors had to be physically fit, as they had to do many stunts, such as climbing giant curbs, phone cords and ropes. Don Marshall, who played the part of Dan Ericson, credited his previous football, track and pole vaulting work for helping him with the stunts required.[3]

Elements of Allen’s Lost in Space series recur in Land of the Giants, notably the relationship between the foolish, greedy traitor, an on-the-run bank robber named Alexander B. Fitzhugh (Kurt Kasznar), and the young boy Barry Lockridge (portrayed by Stefan Arngrim); paralleling the relationship on Lost in Space between Doctor Zachary Smith and the young Will Robinson. Also, for main cast billing, Kasznar was treated contractually in the same manner as Jonathan Harris had been on Lost In Space: billed in last place on the opening credit sequence, but billed as Special Guest Star (even though he was a series regular). Apart from this, Gary Conway received solo star billing in the opening credits, with the other regulars all receiving also starring billing.

The show was set to premiere as a mid-season replacement in the spring of 1968, and the first 12 episodes were shot in the fall of 1967. This was changed and Giants premiered in September 1968 for a full season. The network screened the episodes in a significantly different order to the production sequence. This caused a disconcerting lapse in continuity, as at first (in the earliest episodes filmed) the Giants moved slowly and hardly spoke. For example, “Ghost Town” was the 14th episode filmed (i.e. was not one of the original 12 episodes), but was the second episode aired.

Large hand in a scene from the second season, which featured Stefan Arngrim as Barry Lockridge.

The cost of production was immense, partly because of the special optical effects needed to matt the little people into shots also showing the giants; and partly because of the gigantic mechanical props needed, for the little people to interact with, in shots depicting the giant-sized world they find themselves in; plus the futuristic spacecraft sets that were needed to represent the Spindrift. Because of the enormous cost, it was more efficient and cost-effective to film episodes in pairs using the same sets; so writers were informed about what giant-size props there were available, which they could incorporate into their storylines. These episodes were filmed back-to-back.[4]

In the unaired pilot of The Crash, there is no end scene with the giant dog in the garbage dump. Once it had been confirmed that Land of the Giants had been picked up by the network, the pilot was reworked and production began on succeeding episodes. However, a break in production occurred after 12 episodes were in the can (enough for a short run as a mid-season replacement), until the show received the green light on the decision to launch it as a full season the following fall.

Cast

Land of the Giants guest stars included many familiar faces from other 1950s and 1960s sci-fi/fantasy and adventure series (e.g. Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Gilligan’s Island, Lost in Space, I Dream of Jeannie). These popular, well-known character actors included Jack Albertson, Chris Alcaide, Michael Ansara, John Carradine, Yvonne Craig, Charles Drake, Alan Hale, Jr, Jonathan Harris, David Opatoshu, Larry Pennell and Warren Stevens.

Episodes

Music

Like Allen’s previous series Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel, the theme music was composed by John Williams. As with Lost in Space, Williams composed two different themes (in this case one for each season). Williams also scored the pilot episode “The Crash,” and was the third composer to be attached to the project – Williams’ work replaced a rejected score and theme by Alexander Courage; Joseph Mullendore composed a second theme that was also thrown out.[5] Mullendore later scored five episodes and Courage did one, with other episodes scored by Richard LaSalle (seven episodes), Leith Stevens (five), Harry Geller (four), Irving Gertz, Paul Sawtell and Robert Prince (one each).

Soundtrack

GNP Crescendo released an album as part of The Fantasy Worlds Of Irwin Allen, featuring both themes, Williams’ replacement score (tracks 2-6) and Courage’s thrown-out score (tracks 9 and 10) for “The Crash.”

  1. Land Of The Giants Main Title – Season 1 (1:02)
  2. Off Course/The Landing/Dense Fog (6:01)
  3. Giant Eyes/Hidden Gun/The Big Cat/Bug Box (8:45)
  4. Fitzhugh’s Gun/Hiding Place (6:57)
  5. Giants Probing/The Rescue (3:35)
  6. Water Drain/More Garbage (2:44)
  7. Land Of The Giants End Title – Season 1 (:31)
  8. Land Of The Giants Main Title – Season 2 (1:01)
  9. Space Storm/Through The Thing/Crash Landing/Giant Ford (6:08)
  10. The Sniveling Sneak (6:45)
  11. Land Of The Giants End Title – Season 2 (:30)

DVD releases

All 51 episodes were released on DVD in Region 1 in a limited-edition 9-disc Complete Series on July 24, 2007 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. This includes the un-aired original pilot, which has some differences (extra scenes but not others later added to the aired version) and score music familiar to Lost In Space fans and interviews with cast members.[6]

In Region 2, Revelation Films has released the entire series on DVD in the UK. Season 1 was released on March 28, 2011 and season 2 on June 13, 2011. They also released a complete series set on March 12, 2012.[7]

In Region 4, Madman Entertainment released season 1 on DVD in Australia on August 20, 2014.[8]

Merchandise & licensing

The pilot episode was the subject of a View-Master reel & booklet set in 1968 (GAF Packet # B494).[9] One notable difference between the aired episode and the reel set is an image of the Spindrift flying through the giant forest in apparent daylight. In the aired episode, the Spindrift arrives on the giants’ planet during the night, and its flight through the forest also occurs that same night. Though the following is unconfirmed, either the daylight shot was a special effects sequence cut from the aired pilot, or a special set up for the View Master photographers.

In 1968, Pyramid Books published an extended novel adaptation of the pilot (Land of the Giants, Pyramid Books, X-1846), written by famed author Murray Leinster. Among notable changes or inventions is that the Spindrift is still an operational, flying ship after the initial crash, with enough “atomic power” to last as much as several months. Another invention for the novel is the knowledge that two other ships, the Anne and Marintha, disappeared via (what will turn out to be) the same mysterious phenomena which sends the Spindrift to the giants’ planet. The Spindift castaways encounter a female survivor of the Anne named Marjorie, who joins the castaways in this novel. Although the TV series featured 3 episodes with other on-screen survivors from previously lost earth-flights, the novel’s character Marjorie and the ships Anne and Marintha do not appear and are not mentioned in the series.[10]

There were two further novels by Murray Leinster: The Hot Spot[11] and Unknown Danger (Pyramid, 1969).[12] The first two Leinster books were reprinted in the UK by World Distributors, with the first given the new title The Trap.[13] World also published two UK only novels, Slingshot for a David[14] and The Mean City[15] (1969). Both were credited to James Bradwell, but as the style of the two books is so dissimilar the name may have been a shared pen-name for two anonymous authors.

A hardback novel for children, Flight of Fear by Carl Henry Rathjen was published in the US by Whitman (1969).[16]

Also in 1968 Gold Key Comics published a comic book version of Land of the Giants.[17] It lasted for five issues.[18] In 2010 all five issues were reprinted together as a hardcover book by Hermes Press.

In 1968, Aurora Plastics Company produced two plastic model kits based on the series: Land of the Giants was the title of a diorama depicting a giant snake attacking the characters Steve Burton, Dan Erickson (using a giant safety pin as a spear) and Betty Hamilton.[19] The second kit was a model kit of the Spindrift (released as Land of the Giants Space Ship, instead of the proper name for the vehicle).[20]

In 1975, Aurora reissued the kit, now renamed Rocket Transport Spindrift, with new box art and photos of the assembled kit.[21] It had a front top section that could be lifted off to reveal a full interior that had to be constructed by the builder, as well as an opening door. Most of the model kit was molded in the same bright red-orange as the ship itself, while the interior was molded in a light green that could be painted.

Deanna Lund co-wrote a series of fan-fiction short stories based on the series, “Valerie in Giantland”.[22]

MeTV began airing Land Of The Giants in September 2016 to compliment its Saturday night Sci-Fi line-up of other Irwin Allen series: Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, Lost In Space and The Time Tunnel. Prior to debuting on MeTV, Land Of The Giants had aired only sporadically in syndication in recent years. The Horror Channel in the UK began airing the series on September 19, 2016.[23]

The Golden Girls

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

The Golden Girls is an American sitcom created by Susan Harris that originally aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992, with a total of 180 half-hour episodes spanning over seven seasons. The show stars Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty, as four older women who share a home in Miami, Florida. It was produced by Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions, in association with Touchstone Television, and Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas, and Harris served as the original executive producers.

The Golden Girls received critical acclaim throughout most of its run and won several awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series twice. It also won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.[1] Each of the four stars received an Emmy Award (from multiple nominations during the series’ run), making it one of only three sitcoms in the award’s history to achieve this.[2][3] The series also ranked among the top ten highest-rated programs for six out of its seven seasons.[4] In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Golden Girls number 54 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.[5] In 2014, the Writers Guild of America placed the sitcom at number 69 in their list of the “101 Best Written TV Series of All Time”.[6]

Contents

Premise

The series revolves around four older, single women (three widows and one divorcée) sharing a house in Miami, Florida. The owner of the house is a widow named Blanche Devereaux (McClanahan), who was joined by fellow widow Rose Nylund (White) and divorcée Dorothy Zbornak (Arthur) after they both responded to a room-for-rent ad on the bulletin board of a local grocery store a year prior to the start of the series. In the pilot episode, the three were joined by Dorothy’s 80-year-old mother, Sophia Petrillo (Getty), after the retirement home where she lived burned down.[7][8]

Pilot

The pilot episode was to feature a gay character named Coco (played by Charles Levin) who worked as a cook for the women, but the role was eliminated from the series before the beginning of the first season. The writers observed that in many of the proposed scripts, the main interaction between the women occurred in the kitchen while preparing and eating food and decided that a separate cook would distract from that friendship. In addition, the character of Sophia had originally been planned as an occasional guest star, but Estelle Getty had tested so strongly with preview audiences that the producers decided to make Sophia a regular character, which made Coco obsolete.[9]

Finale

After six consecutive seasons in the top 10, and a seventh season at number 30, The Golden Girls came to an end when Bea Arthur chose to leave the series. In the hour-long series finale, which aired in May 1992, Dorothy meets and marries Blanche’s Uncle Lucas (Leslie Nielsen), and moves to Hollingsworth Manor in Atlanta, Georgia. Sophia was to join her, but in the end, Sophia stays behind with the other women in Miami, leading into the spin-off series, The Golden Palace. The series finale was watched by 27.2 million viewers. As of 2010, the episode ranked at number 17 of most-watched finales.[10]

Episodes

Season Episodes Originally aired Rank Households
(in millions)
First aired Last aired
1 25 September 14, 1985 May 10, 1986 7[11][12] 18.7
2 26 September 27, 1986 May 16, 1987 5[13] 21.4
3 25 September 19, 1987 May 7, 1988 4[12] 19.3
4 26 October 8, 1988 May 13, 1989 6[14]
5 26 September 23, 1989 May 5, 1990 6[15] 18.5
6 26 September 22, 1990 May 4, 1991 10[16] 15.4
7 26 September 21, 1991 May 9, 1992 30[17] 12.1

Cast and characters

Main

Main characters in the final scene from the season two episode “Big Daddy’s Little Lady” (from left): Estelle Getty as Sophia, Rue McClanahan as Blanche, Betty White as Rose, and Beatrice Arthur as Dorothy
  • Beatrice Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, a substitute teacher: Born in Brooklyn, New York City, to Sicilian immigrants Sophia and Salvadore Petrillo, Dorothy became pregnant while still in high school, resulting in a marriage to Stanley Zbornak to legitimize the baby. Stan and Dorothy eventually moved to Miami, but divorced after 38 years when Stan left her for a young flight attendant. The marriage produced children. According to the timeline presented, Dorothy and Stan would have had three children, with their oldest son or daughter near 40 by the beginning of the series. However, due to a lack of continuity in the writing, it is implied they had three children, but sometimes stated they only had two. Michael and Kate were repeatedly shown as being in their 20s during the run of the show, thus not being old enough to be the child with whom Dorothy got pregnant in high school. In the series’ finale episode, Dorothy marries Blanche’s uncle, Lucas Hollingsworth, and relocates to Atlanta. Arthur also played Dorothy’s grandmother, Sophia’s mother, in a flashback episode to when they lived in Brooklyn.
  • Betty White as Rose Nylund, a Norwegian American from the small farming town of St. Olaf, Minnesota: Known for her humorously peculiar stories of life growing up in her hometown, Rose was happily married to Charlie Nylund, with whom she had five children. Upon Charlie’s death, she moved to Miami. She eventually found work at a grief counseling center, though she later ended up as the assistant to a consumer reporter (Enrique Mas) at a local TV station. In later seasons, Rose became romantically involved with college professor Miles Webber. During season six, Miles was placed into the Witness Protection Program, but returned later in the season. Their relationship continued throughout the series, and shortly into the sequel series, The Golden Palace. In season one, Rose is stated to be 55.
  • Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, a Southern belle employed at an art museum: Born into a wealthy family, Blanche grew up as the apple of her father’s eye on a plantation outside of Atlanta, Georgia, prior to her relocation to Miami, where she lived with her husband, George, until his death. Their marriage produced six children, four sons and two daughters. A widow, Blanche was portrayed as man-hungry, and she clearly had the most male admirers—and stories detailing various sexual encounters—over the course of the series.
  • Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo, Dorothy’s mother: Born in Palermo, Sicily, Sophia moved to New York after fleeing an arranged marriage to Guido Spirelli. She later married Salvadore Petrillo, with whom she had three children: Dorothy, Gloria, and Phil, a cross-dresser, who later dies of a heart attack (episode “Ebbtide’s Revenge“). Initially a resident in the Shady Pines Retirement Home after having a stroke prior to the start of the series, she moved in with Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy following a fire at the institution. During the series’ run, Sophia married Max Weinstock, but they soon separated. Throughout the series, she held a few part-time jobs, mostly involving food, including fast-food worker and entrepreneur of spaghetti sauce and homemade sandwiches.

Recurring

  • Herbert Edelman, as Stanley Zbornak, is Dorothy’s cheating, freeloading ex-husband who first appears in the second episode of season one, and appears in 26 episodes total throughout the series. He also appears in a later episode of The Golden Palace, in which he fakes his death due to troubles with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Harold Gould as Miles Webber (or Nicholas Carbone, Samuel Plankmaker) is Rose’s professor boyfriend, who appears in 14 episodes, starting in season five. Gould also guest-starred in episode three in the first season as Arnie Peterson, Rose’s first serious boyfriend after her husband Charlie’s death. He also appears in two episodes of The Golden Palace.
  • Debra Engle, as Blanche’s daughter Rebecca Devereaux, has a baby girl by artificial insemination and appears in three episodes (seasons five and six). Shawn Schepps played Rebecca in season three, when Rebecca returns from a modeling career in Paris, overweight and engaged to a verbally abusive man. She (Debra) also appears in the series finale of The Golden Palace, in which she is called upon by Blanche for an ovum.
  • Monte Markham as Blanche’s brother Clayton Hollingsworth is in two episodes, first when he comes out in season four and later to introduce his boyfriend in season six.
  • Sheree North as Virginia Hollingsworth Wylde, Blanche’s sister, appears in two episodes, first in season one, then again in season five.
  • Sid Melton as Salvadore Petrillo, Sophia’s late husband, is usually seen in dreams or flashback sequences; he appears in eight episodes. He also appears as Don the Fool, a waiter at a medieval restaurant in season six.
  • Nancy Walker as Angela Grisanti Vecchio is Dorothy’s aunt and Sophia’s sister, with whom Sophia frequently fought; she appears in two episodes in season two.
  • Bill Dana as Sophia’s brother and Dorothy’s uncle Angelo Grisanti appears in seven episodes (seasons three-seven). Dana also appears as Sophia’s father in a season-four episode.
  • Doris Belack as Gloria Mayston, Dorothy’s younger sister in season one, is married to a wealthy man in California and wants Sophia to move in with her. She later loses all of her money and returns in season seven for a two-part episode played by Dena Dietrich, and upsets Dorothy, as she becomes romantically involved with Dorothy’s ex-husband, Stan.
  • Scott Jacoby as Dorothy’s aimless musician son Michael Zbornak appears in three episodes from seasons two, four, and five.
  • Lynnie Greene (credited as Lynn Greene) as a younger Dorothy is in flashbacks in four episodes.
  • Steve Landesberg as Stan’s psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Halperin, appears in three episodes in season seven.

Production

Creation

“I was running all over the house grabbing anybody who would listen. I kept reading scenes to them and saying, ‘God, this is brilliant […] There’s nothing trendy about this show. There are no tricks. It’s a classic.”
—NBC executive Warren Littlefield about reading the pilot script[18]

Ideas for a comedy series about older women emerged during the filming of a television special at NBC‘s Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, in August 1984.[18] Produced to introduce the network’s 1984–85 season schedule, two actresses appearing on NBC shows, Selma Diamond of Night Court and Doris Roberts of Remington Steele, appeared in a skit promoting the upcoming show Miami Vice as Miami Nice, a parody about old people living in Miami.[19] NBC senior vice president Warren Littlefield was among the executive producers in the audience who were amused by their performance, and he envisioned a series based on the geriatric humor the two were portraying.[18]

Shortly afterward, he met with producers Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, who were pitching a show about a female lawyer. Though Littlefield nixed their idea, he asked if they would be interested in delivering a pilot script for Miami Nice instead. Their regular writer declined, so Witt asked his wife, Susan Harris,[18] who had been planning to retire after the conclusion of their ABC series Soap.[20] Fortunately, she found the concept interesting, as “it was a demographic that had never been addressed,” and she soon began work on it.[18] Though her vision of a sitcom about women in their 60s differed from NBC’s request for a comedy about women around 40 years old,[21] Littlefield was impressed when he received her pilot script and subsequently approved production of it.[18] The Cosby Show director Jay Sandrich, who had previously worked with Harris, Witt, and Thomas on Soap, agreed to direct.[22]

The pilot included a gay houseboy, Coco (Charles Levin), who lived with the girls. Levin had been suggested by then-NBC president Brandon Tartikoff based on Levin’s groundbreaking portrayal of a recurring gay character, Eddie Gregg, on NBC’s Emmy-winning drama Hill Street Blues. After the pilot, the character of Coco was eliminated from the series.[23][24]

Casting

Hired to film the pilot, director Sandrich also became instrumental in the casting process for the series. Both Rue McClanahan and Betty White came into consideration as the series Mama’s Family, in which the two co-starred, had been canceled by NBC. Originally, producers wanted to cast McClanahan as Rose and White as Blanche. The thinking for this was based on roles they previously played; White portrayed man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, while McClanahan co-starred as sweet but scatter-brained Vivian Harmon in Maude. Eager not to be typecast, they took the suggestion of Sandrich and switched roles last-minute.[18][24]

Though Harris had created the character of Dorothy with a “Bea Arthur type” in mind, Littlefield and the producers initially envisioned actress Elaine Stritch for the part.[24] Stritch’s audition flopped, however, and under the impression that Arthur did not want to participate, Harris asked McClanahan if she could persuade Arthur, with whom she worked previously on the CBS sitcom Maude, to take the role. Arthur flipped upon reading the script, but felt hesitant about McClanahan’s approach, as she did not “want to play (their Maude characters) Maude and Vivian meet Sue Ann Nivens.” She reconsidered, however, after hearing that McClanahan and White had switched roles.

Estelle Getty, who was younger than both Bea Arthur and Betty White, was the last to be cast as the elderly mother of Arthur’s character. Tony Thomas spotted her playing the mother role on Broadway in Torch Song Trilogy, and asked her to audition.[18] Getty, who went through a three-hour transformation to become Sophia, wore heavy make-up, thick glasses, and a white wig to look the part.[25] The character of Sophia was thought by the creators to enhance the idea that three retirement-aged women could be young. Disney’s Michael Eisner explains, “Estelle Getty made our three women into girls. And that was, to me, what made it seem like it could be a contemporary, young show.”[26] As surprising as it may sound, Estelle Getty continuously battled her stage fright. During an interview in 1988, Getty commented on her phobia and expressed how working with major stars, such as Arthur and White, made her even more nervous. At times, she even froze on camera while filming.[27]

Bea Arthur and Betty White were personally distant when not working. This never came across publicly in press, and both acted as consummate professionals on set, as each knew the importance of the other to the overall success of the show. It also did not dull the experience or the enjoyment of doing the show for either one. Betty White has always expressed nothing but love and admiration for Bea Arthur. Only after Arthur’s death in 2009 did she reveal their differences were real and due to a fundamental personality clash, with Arthur becoming easily irritated by White’s positive, perky demeanor.[28]

Writing and taping

Miami skyline as used for the season one title card

The show was the second television series to be produced by the Walt Disney Company under the Touchstone Television label, and was subsequently distributed by Buena Vista International, Inc. (which holds as the ownership stake in Disney Channel Asia, now Disney–ABC Television Group).[29]

Creator Susan Harris went on to contribute another four episodes to the first season, but became less involved with the sitcom throughout its run; she continued reading all scripts, though, and remained familiar with most of the storylines. Kathy Speer and Terry Grossman were the first head writers of the series and wrote for the show’s first four seasons. As head writers, Speer and Grossman, along with Mort Nathan and Barry Fanaro, who won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing the first season, gave general ideas to lower staff writers, and personally wrote a handful of scripts each season.[30]

In 1989, Marc Sotkin, previously a writer on Laverne & Shirley and a producer on fellow Witt/Thomas series It’s a Living, assumed head-writing responsibilities, and guided the show (to varying degrees) during what were its final three seasons. Richard Vaczy and Tracy Gamble, previously writers on 227 and My Two Dads, also assumed the roles of producers and head writers. Beginning in 1990, Marc Cherry served as writer and producer, years before going on to create Desperate Housewives, which ran on ABC from 2004 to 2012.[30] Mitchell Hurwitz also served as writer for the show in its last two seasons. Hurwitz later went on to create Arrested Development for Fox and later revived for Netflix.

Exterior and interior sets

The house’s address was mentioned as being 6151 Richmond Street, Miami.[31] The outside model used in the shots of the house in the series was part of the backstage studio tour ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This façade—along with the Empty Nest house—was among those destroyed in mid-2003, as Disney bulldozed the houses of “Residential Street” to make room for its “Lights, Motors, Action!” attraction. A hurricane that damaged the sets earlier also contributed to this decision. The façade is based on a real house in Brentwood, California,[32] located at 245 N. Saltair Ave. and was used in the exterior shots during the first season of the show. Later, the producers built a new model at Walt Disney World in Florida.

The kitchen set seen on The Golden Girls was originally used on an earlier Witt/Thomas/Harris series, It Takes Two, which aired on ABC from 1982 to 1983. However, the exterior backdrop seen through the kitchen window changed from the view of Chicago high-rises to palm trees and bushes for the Miami setting.

Format

The Golden Girls was shot on videotape in front of a live studio audience.[33] Many episodes of the series followed a similar format or theme. For example, one or more of the women would become involved in some sort of problem, often involving other family members, men, or an ethical dilemma. At some point, they would gather around the kitchen table and discuss the problem, sometimes late at night and often while eating cheesecake or some other dessert.[34] One of the other girls then told a story from her own life, which somehow related to the problem (though Rose occasionally regaled a nonsense story that had nothing to do with the situation, and Sophia told outrageous made-up stories). Some episodes featured flashbacks to previous episodes, flashbacks to events not shown in previous episodes, or to events that occurred before the series began.[35] Though the writing was mostly comical, dramatic moments and sentimental endings were included in several episodes. One of the actresses on the show, Bea Arthur, actually hated cheesecake.[36]

Reception

Critical reception

An immediate runaway hit, The Golden Girls became an NBC staple on Saturday nights.[37] The show was the anchor of NBC’s Saturday line-up, and almost always won its time slot, as ABC and CBS struggled to find shows to compete against it, the most notable being ABC’s Lucille Ball sitcom Life With Lucy in the beginning of the 1986–87 season. The Golden Girls was part of a series of Brandon Tartikoff shows that put an end to NBC’s ratings slump, along with The Cosby Show, 227, Night Court, Miami Vice, and L.A. Law.

The show dealt with many topical issues, such as coming out and same-sex marriage,[38] elder care and homelessness, AIDS and discrimination against people with HIV, US immigration policy, death and assisted suicide.[39]

Writer and producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason created a sitcom with this kind of image as a “four women” show, which became the hit Designing Women that competed with The Golden Girls in rankings, but CBS pushed up to Monday night line-up.

Awards and nominations

The Golden Girls Disney Legends plaque at Walt Disney Studios

During its original run, The Golden Girls received 68 Emmy nominations, 11 Emmy awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and two Viewers for Quality Television awards. All the lead actresses won Emmy Awards for their performances on the show. The Golden Girls is one of four shows, along with All in the Family, The Simpsons, and Will & Grace, where all the principal actors have won at least one Emmy Award.

As a tribute to the success of The Golden Girls, all four actresses were later named Disney Legends.[40]

Distribution

Syndication

In 1989, American syndicated reruns began airing, distributed by Buena Vista Television (now Disney-ABC Domestic Television), the syndication arm of Disney, whose Touchstone Television division produced the series.

In March 1997, the Lifetime cable network acquired the exclusive rights to repeat the episodes of The Golden Girls in the US for over a decade, until March 1, 2009. The last episode aired on Lifetime, February 27, 2009. Many episodes were edited to allow more commercials and for content. The Hallmark Channel and WE tv began airing re-edited episodes of The Golden Girls in March 2009. As of February 2013, We TV’s rights expired and Viacom networks’ TV Land, home to Betty White’s current series Hot in Cleveland, purchased them[41] and Logo TV.[42] It currently airs on the Hallmark Channel.[1]

In Australia, the show airs every day on Fox Classics.

In Canada, CanWest’s digital specialty channel, DejaView, airs reruns of The Golden Girls.

In Southeast Asia, Rewind Networks began airing reruns of The Golden Girls on its HD channel, HITS, in 2013.

Home media release

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has released all seven seasons of The Golden Girls on DVD in Region 1 and Region 4 with the first four being released in Region 2. On November 9, 2010, the studio released a complete series box set titled The Golden Girls: 25th Anniversary Complete Collection.[43] The 21-disc collection features all 180 episodes of the series as well as all special features contained on the previously released season sets; it is encased in special collectible packaging, a replica of Sophia’s purse. On November 15, 2005, Warner Home Video released The Golden Girls: A Lifetime Intimate Portrait Series on DVD which contains a separate biography of Arthur, White, McClanahan and Getty, revealing each woman’s background, rise to stardom and private life, which originally aired on Lifetime network.[44]

Spin-offs

Upon the success of The Golden Girls creator Susan Harris later devised Empty Nest as a spin-off from The Golden Girls with some character crossovers. Nurses was later spun off from Empty Nest, and the shows occasionally had special episodes in which characters from one show made appearances in the others.[45]

The Golden Palace

After the original series ended, White, McClanahan, and Getty reprised their characters in the CBS series The Golden Palace, which ran from September 1992 to May 1993, and also starred Cheech Marin and Don Cheadle (Bea Arthur guest-starred once, reprising her role as Dorothy).[46] The show never approached the popularity or acclaim of the original, and ranked 57th in the annual ratings. Reportedly, a second season was approved before being canceled the day before the network announced its fall schedule.

Lifetime, which held the rights to The Golden Girls at the time, aired reruns of The Golden Palace in the summer of 2005, and again in December of that year. This was the first time since 1993 that The Golden Palace was seen on American television. Until April 2006, Lifetime played the series as a virtual season eight, airing the series in between the conclusion of the final season and the syndicated roll-over to season one.

Empty Nest

Estelle Getty at the 41st annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 1989

Capitalizing on the popularity of The Golden Girls, creator Susan Harris decided to develop a spin-off, centering on the empty nest syndrome. The initial pilot was aired as the 1987 Golden Girls episode “Empty Nests” and starred Paul Dooley and Rita Moreno as George and Renee Corliss, a married couple living next to the Golden Girls characters, who face empty nest syndrome after their three adult daughters moved out.[47] When that idea was not well received, Harris retooled the series as a vehicle for Richard Mulligan, and the following year Empty Nest debuted, starring Mulligan as pediatrician Harry Weston, a widower whose two adult daughters moved back home. Characters from both shows made occasional guest appearances on the other show, with the four girls guesting on Empty Nest and Mulligan, Dinah Manoff, Kristy McNichol, David Leisure, and Park Overall appearing on The Golden Girls in their Empty Nest roles.[48] After the end of The Golden Palace, Getty joined the cast of Empty Nest, making frequent appearances as Sophia in the show’s final two seasons.

Mulligan and Manoff were alumni from one of Susan Harris’ earlier shows, Soap.

Nurses

Empty Nest launched its own spin-off in 1991 set in Miami in the same hospital where Dr. Weston worked. The series starred Stephanie Hodge and a set of other young female and male nurses and follows their daily slumbers during worktime. As one of the few times in television history that three shows from the same producer, set in the same city, aired back-to-back-to-back on a single network in the same night, the three shows occasionally took advantage of their unique circumstances to create storylines that carried through all three series, such as “Hurricane Saturday“. Starring actress Hodge left the show after two seasons. David Rasche joined the cast at the start of the second season and Loni Anderson was added as the new hospital administrator for the third season.

Adaptations

Stage

The Golden Girls: Live! was an off-Broadway show that opened in the summer of 2003 in New York City at Rose’s Turn theater in the West Village, and ran until November of that year.[49] The production ended because the producers failed to secure the rights and received a cease and desist order by the creators of the original television show. Featuring an all-male cast in drag, The Golden Girls: Live! consisted of two back-to-back episodes of the sitcom: “Break-In” (season one1, episode eight) and “Isn’t It Romantic?” (season two, episode five).

Foreign versions

  • Chile: Los Años Dorados: In 2015 a Chilean remake called Los Años Dorados (The Golden Years) was produced by UCVTV in agreement with Disney, starring famous Chilean actresses Gloria Münchmeyer, Carmen Barros, Ana Reeves, and Consuelo Holzapfel, who live their retirement in the city of Viña del Mar. It was a success for the channel, so there are plans to do the second season in 2016.
  • Greece: Chrysa Koritsia: In 2008, Greek broadcaster ET1 premiered a Greek remake entitled Chrysa Koritsia (Greek: Xρυσά κορίτσια, Gold[en] Girls), which features the four women in Greece.[50] Each of the characters has been hellenized to suit the culture and modern setting. Names were only slightly changed, but more for cultural reasons, as Sophia (whose first name was unchanged, as it is Greek), Bela (Blanche), Dora (Dorothy), Fifi (Rose), and Panos (Stan). The series began airing in mid-January, and features many similar plots to the original. ET1 aired a rerun of the show in the summer of 2008 and managed to take a place in the top-10 ratings chart, presented by AGB Nielsen Media Research. The Greek edition features Mirka Papakonstantinou as Dora, Dina Konsta as Sofia, Eleni Gerasimidou as Fifi, and Ivonni Maltezou as Bela.
  • Netherlands: Golden Girls: A Dutch remake for the RTL 4 network stars Loes Luca as Barbara (Blanche), Beppie Melissen as Els (Dorothy), Cecile Heuer as Milly (Rose), and Pleuni Touw as Toos (Sophia). The show premiered in fall 2012, using essentially the same plots as the U.S. version, along with a Dutch-language version of the original theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend“.[51]
  • Philippines: 50 Carats, O Di Ba? A Philippine version of The Golden Girls (spin-off) aired during the early ’90’s by IBC 13 starred Nida Blanca, Charito Solis, and Gloria Romero.[52]
  • Russia: Bolshie Devochki: A Russian remake was broadcast in 2006, entitled Bolshie Devochki (Russian: Большие Девочки), which in English can literally be translated to: Big Girls. The series featured renowned Russian actresses Galina Petrova as Irina (Dorothy), Olga Ostroumova as Nadejda (Blanche), Valentina Telechkina as Margarita (Rose), and Elena Millioti as Sofya (Sophia). However, the concept never caught on with the Russian viewers and the show was canceled after only 32 episodes.[53]
  • Spain: Juntas pero no revueltas/Las chicas de oro: In 1996, TVE launched a Spanish remake entitled Juntas pero no revueltas (Together, but not mixed) with Mercedes Sampietro as Julia (Dorothy), Mónica Randall as Nuri (Blanche), Kiti Manver as Rosa (Rose), and Amparo Baró as Benigna (Sophia). Low ratings made it disappear after one season.[54] In 2010, another remake with the title Las chicas de oro (The Golden Girls) was announced, again on TVE, this time produced by José Luis Moreno and with Concha Velasco as Doroti (Dorothy), Carmen Maura as Rosa (Rose), Lola Herrera as Blanca (Blanche), and Alicia Hermida as Sofía (Sophia).[55] The series premiered on September 13, 2010 with success.[56] However, after only 26 episodes, the series was eventually discontinued after the end of the first season after receiving generally bad reviews and following dropping ratings.[56]
  • United Kingdom: The Brighton Belles: In 1993, ITV premiered Brighton Belles, a British version of the American sitcom.[57] The show, starring Sheila Hancock, Wendy Craig, Sheila Gish, and Jean Boht was nearly identical to Girls except for character name changes and actor portrayals. The 10-episode series was canceled after six weeks due to low ratings, with the final four episodes airing more than a year later.

The Champions

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

The Champions is a British espionage/science fiction/occult detective fiction adventure series consisting of 30 episodes broadcast on the UK network ITV during 1968–1969, produced by Lew Grade‘s ITC Entertainment production company.[1] The series was broadcast in the US on NBC, starting in summer 1968.[2]

Contents

Overview and premise

The series features Craig Stirling, Sharron Macready and Richard Barrett as agents for a United Nations law enforcement organization called “Nemesis”, based in Geneva. Barrett is a code breaker, Stirling a pilot, and Macready a recently widowed scientist and doctor.

During their first mission as a team, their plane crashes in the Himalayas. They are rescued by an advanced civilization living secretly in the mountains of Tibet, who save their lives, granting them perfected human abilities, including powers to communicate with one another over distances by ESP (telepathy), to foresee events (precognition), enhanced five senses and intellect and physical abilities to the fullest extent of human capabilities.[2][3]

Many stories feature unusual villains, such as fascist regimes from unspecified South American countries, Nazis (a common theme of ITC 1960s and ’70s TV, in part due to both the domestic audience and writers having been the war generation) or the Chinese. The villains’ schemes often threaten world peace – Nemesis’s brief is international, so the agents deal with threats transcending national interests. The main characters have to learn the use of their new powers as they go along, keeping what they discover secret from friends and foe alike. Each episode begins with an advert, followed by the title/theme song. Immediately following that is a post-title sequence vignette in which one of The Champions demonstrates exceptional mental or physical abilities, often astonishing or humiliating others. In one example Stirling participates in a sharpshooting contest. Stirling hears the ticking of his girlfriend’s lost wristwatch in a large field and finds it. In another, Macready’s car is blocked in, two laughing passing drunks try to lift it out but she goes round to the other side and pulls it out of the parking space one-handed. Paradoxically, the narration during these often public demonstrations usually mentions the need to keep the powers a secret.

The only other series regular is the Champions’ boss, Tremayne. He does not know that his agents have special abilities, although he does ask innocent questions about just how on their missions they managed to carry out certain tasks about which their reports were vague.

Cast and characters

William Gaunt, Stuart Damon, and Alexandra Bastedo.

Production

The series was created by Dennis Spooner and its episodes were written by veterans of popular British spy series, including The Avengers and Danger Man. The series used an unfilmed script written for Danger Man.

The series was produced by Monty Berman who had co-produced, with Robert S. Baker, The Saint, Gideon’s Way and numerous B-movies of the 1950s. Berman went on to produce, working with many of the writers, directors and crew, other ITC series including Department S, Jason King, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and The Adventurer.

Because of budget constraints, many sets were reused: three episodes were set on a submarine and three in the Arctic. Stock footage was used. Like most such ITC series much of the exterior action took place in and around the studio lot – usually, as was the case with The Champions, Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Herts. For at least one episode, Desert Journey, foreign filming did take place, but with a second unit, and extras standing in for the main cast.

The theme music to the series was written by Tony Hatch, with Albert Elms and Edwin Astley supplying incidental music.

Further broadcasts and releases

Although short-lived, the series had three repeat runs across the ITV regions up to 1976 and once more on ITV in September–October 1984. It was also regularly repeated in the UK, on ITV’s digital channel ITV4 until January 2011 (making The Saint, the remaining ITC property to premiere on ITV4).[4] The Champions was broadcast on BBC2 in 1995, at about the time when Gaunt was appearing in the sitcom Next of Kin and it had at least three further repeat runs after that.

Episodes were released on DVD in North America,[5] and in the UK, where the full series has been released twice, with the most recent edition seeing Damon, Bastedo and Gaunt reunite to provide a commentary for several episodes (Damon’s continuing role on US series General Hospital meant that Bastedo and Gaunt had to be flown to America for this to occur).[6][7]

The series was shown in Italy in the early 80s in syndication under the title Tris d’Assi (that means in English Three Aces) and more recently (90s) on Canal Jimmy (Sky), but an Italian DVD collection has never been released because in that country The Champions is an almost completely forgotten show, remembered only by few loyal fans.

In 2010 company Network DVD re-released The Champions: The Complete Series” as a complete DVD Region 2 box set of all episodes on 9 discs (including the rare ‘bookends’ version of the first episode). (Also they released the music from the series on 3 CDs.) [8]

Adaptations

Legend of the Champions

In 1983, ITC edited episodes “The Beginning” and “The Interrogation” into Legend of the Champions, a feature-length film intended for overseas markets.[7]

Unusually for such features, the two episodes were not simply joined together, but substantially re-cut and edited, with “The Interrogation” being the framing episode, and the flashback sequences originally used in that episode (principally from “The Beginning”) expanded. Additionally, new credits were filmed, not using any of the original actors but photographs taken at the time.

A notable plot change was the renaming of a character from the original version of “The Beginning” to accommodate a plot device in “The Interrogation”. In “The Interrogation”, Craig Stirling is ostensibly being quizzed on the activities of one Julius Retford, who remains unseen. For the film, the opening credits explicitly identify Retford as the character named Ho Ling (played by Ric Young) in “The Beginning”. This allows the germ warfare theme of “The Beginning” to interlink with the sequences in “The Interrogation”. Confusingly, in the end credits Young is credited as playing ‘Ho Ling’, a name never used in the film version.

This release credited Stuart Damon as the star, with Alexandra Bastedo and William Gaunt receiving co-star credits. This was partly because Damon was a well-established star in the US by this time, and partly because “The Interrogation” is essentially a two-hander between Damon and Colin Blakely, with the rest of the regular cast appearing only briefly.

Legend of the Champions was released on DVD as part of the Network box-set.

Note: ‘Bookend’ sequences were shot for the first episode “The Beginning” showing Richard Barrett (William Gaunt) recording the story on to a tape recorder in Tremayne’s office, this was done so that the episode could be shown out of order on repeat runs without causing any continuity problems, both sequences were included as extras on the Network DVD box-set.

Film

In November 2007, it was reported that Guillermo del Toro would produce and write a film adaptation of The Champions for United Artists.[9] In 2008, Christopher McQuarrie was signed to co-write and co-produce the film.[10] Since then there have been no further developments about it.

Books

Paperbacks based on the TV series include:

  • The Sixth Sense is Death. By John Garforth. London: Hodder Paperbacks, 1969 (a novelisation of the episodes “The Beginning” and “The Experiment”)[11]
  • Lavage de Cerveau. By Pierre Salva. Paris: Presses de la Cité, 1977[12]

List of episodes

# Title Writer Director Guest actors UK airdate
01 “The Beginning” Dennis Spooner Cyril Frankel Felix Aylmer, Burt Kwouk, Joseph Furst 25 September 1968
The three Nemesis agents recover from a plane crash in the Tibetan mountains to find their injuries healed. In the course of the episode, they learn they have new abilities bestowed on them by their rescuers, people from an ancient civilisation, and have to evade capture from the Chinese military.
02 “The Invisible Man” Donald James Cyril Frankel Peter Wyngarde, Aubrey Morris, Basil Dignam, James Culliford, Steve Plytas, David Prowse 2 October 1968
The agents investigate a plot to steal the gold reserves of a bank in the City of London.
03 “Reply Box No. 666” Philip Broadley Cyril Frankel Anton Rodgers, George Murcell, George Roubicek, Imogen Hassall 9 October 1968
The agents are sent to the Caribbean to investigate a newspaper advert asking for “a parrot that speaks Greek”, which Tremayne has worked out, is a signal for participants in an undercover operation.
04 “The Experiment” Philip Broadley Cyril Frankel David Bauer, Nicholas Courtney, Philip Bond, Russell Waters, Madalena Nicol 16 October 1968
Sharron is sent undercover to a training establishment in which a scientist is using new techniques to produce agents who have the same level of abilities as the Champions. Nemesis is interested in the organisation because one of its graduates has tried to break into a military establishment and steal secrets.
05 “Happening” Brian Clemens Cyril Frankel Jack MacGowran, Michael Gough, Grant Taylor, Bill Cummings 23 October 1968
Sharron, Craig and Tremayne are in Australia observing a nuclear test. Meanwhile Richard is trapped at ground zero with amnesia, trying to stop the men who are attempting to sabotage the test.
06 “Operation Deep Freeze” Gerald Kelsey Paul Dickson Patrick Wymark, Robert Urquhart, Peter Arne, Walter Gotell, George Pastell, Martin Boddey, Alan White, Derek Sydney, Dallas Cavell, Michael Godfrey 30 October 1968
Craig and Richard are sent to Antarctica to investigate an unexplained nuclear explosion and discover that an unnamed South America country is using the territory to develop its own nuclear weapon.
07 “The Survivors” Donald James Cyril Frankel Clifford Evans, Donald Houston, Bernard Kay, Stephen Yardley, John Tate, Frederick Schiller 6 November 1968
The trio are sent to investigate the possibility that caches of guns have been left in Austria by the SS and end up discovering a secret Nazi hide out in the local iron mines, complete with surviving Nazis who think World War II is still going on.
08 “To Trap a Rat” Ralph Smart Sam Wanamaker Kate O’Mara, Guy Rolfe, Edina Ronay, Michael Standing, John Lee, Michael Guest 13 November 1968
Using Sharron as a decoy, the agents investigate a drug running racket in London.
09 “The Iron Man” Philip Broadley John Moxey George Murcell, Patrick Magee, Steven Berkoff 20 November 1968
This was one of the more comedic episodes. The trio are detailed to guard the former dictator of a small South American country, La Revada, who is living in exile in the South of France. This is because some of his political opponents are planning to assassinate him, which would destabilise the political situation in the region. El Caudillo (as the former dictator insists on being called) turns out to be a vainglorious, not very intelligent womaniser who likes to prove that he is superior to everyone around him. However, the trio, who are posing as members of his household staff (Barrett as a chef, Macready as a secretary and Stirling as his head of security) manage to save him from the assassins, though their cover is blown in the process and they are revealed as agents of Nemesis.
10 “The Ghost Plane” Donald James John Gilling Andrew Keir, Dennis Chinnery, Tony Steedman, John Bryans, Hilary Tindall, Derek Murcott, Paul Grist 27 November 1968
The Champions investigate a mysterious ‘ghost plane’ which is both faster than anything else in the air and of unknown origin.
11 “The Dark Island” Tony Williamson Cyril Frankel Vladek Sheybal, Alan Gifford, Ben Carruthers, Andy Ho 4 December 1968
The Champions are sent to investigate a tropical island where visitors have a history of disappearing. Coming on shore in two parties, they discover and thwart an international conspiracy to threaten world peace.
12 “The Fanatics” Terry Nation John Gilling Donald Pickering, Julian Glover, Gerald Harper, Barry Stanton 11 December 1968
An unknown organisation is assassinating international leaders. Richard, posing as a convicted traitor, is sent to infiltrate the organisation and try and bring it down from within.
13 “Twelve Hours” Donald James Paul Dickson Mike Pratt, Peter Howell, Henry Gilbert, Rio Fanning 18 December 1968
The Champions are assigned to escort an Eastern European head of state, Dubrovnik, on his visit to Britain. During a dive in a Scottish loch, their submarine is sabotaged and Dubrovnik is injured. Richard and Sharron are forced to face down a mutiny within the crew, who want to surface and save their lives; the submarine cannot be allowed to surface if Dubrovnik is to survive the surgery, which Sharron has performed. Once Dubrovnik is out of danger, Craig conveys instructions to Richard and Sharron on how to work the submarine via the scrambled phone link, which with their abilities, they can decipher.
14 “The Search” Dennis Spooner Leslie Norman Joseph Furst, John Woodvine, Reginald Marsh, Gábor Baraker 1 January 1969
After a nuclear submarine is stolen by ex Nazis who are determined to use it to continue the war the Champions are tasked with hunting it down.
15 “The Gilded Cage” Philip Broadley Cyril Frankel John Carson, Jennie Linden, Tony Caunter, Clinton Greyn, Vernon Dobtcheff 8 January 1969
After burglars break into Nemesis headquarters to access information on Richard, Craig is assigned to monitor him. Richard, however, allows himself to be abducted, leaving a message for his colleague. He finds himself imprisoned in a luxurious room (the “gilded cage” of the title), where his captor (John Carson) threatens him that, unless Richard can decipher a code, a young woman, Samantha (Jennie Linden), will be killed.
16 “Shadow of the Panther” Tony Williamson Freddie Francis Zia Mohyeddin, Donald Sutherland, Tony Wall 15 January 1969
While on holiday in Haiti Sharron investigates a plot to brainwash important figures in the worlds of politics, science and business, apparently orchestrated by a local sorcerer, Damballa. Richard and Craig become involved later, only to discover that Sharron has apparently been discovered by the plotters and brainwashed herself.
17 “A Case of Lemmings” Philip Broadley Paul Dickson Edward Brayshaw, John Bailey 22 January 1969
The trio are sent to investigate when several Interpol agents commit motiveless suicide. They discover that an Italian American gangster forms the only connection between the agents and set up a sting in which Craig threatens him, so as to discover his methodology. This proves almost too successful when Craig is slipped the “suicide drug” responsible and the others have to race against time to find him before he kills himself.
18 “The Interrogation” Dennis Spooner Cyril Frankel Colin Blakely 29 January 1969
Craig is captured after a mission in Hong Kong, and held in a cell where he is subject to interrogation by various cruel means. The unnamed interrogator (Colin Blakely) wants information about Craig’s last mission. Despite nearing breaking point, Craig escapes the room, only to find he is at Nemesis headquarters; the interrogator is a member of Nemesis internal security, charged with finding out how Craig completed his last mission (his report had been less than clear at certain points, which were where his powers had come into play). Tremayne halts the investigation over the interrogator’s protests, but the episode ends with Craig expressing bitterness towards his colleagues for their failure to intervene. All of the three are unhappy with Tremayne due to his part in the interrogation as well.

This episode was unusual for featuring only one extra set (though it included flashbacks to earlier episodes) and for focusing mostly on one character. The last episode in the syndication package, it was intended to be the season finale; the characters are left with little if any mutual trust, which is not reflected in any other episodes.

19 “The Mission” Donald James Robert Asher Anthony Bate, Patricia Haines, Paul Hansard, Robert Russell, Harry Towb 5 February 1969
The trio investigate an operation run by an ex-Nazi doctor who is providing plastic surgery, and hence future anonymity, for international criminals. Craig and Sharron go undercover as an Italian gangster and his moll but Richard is forced to move in and masquerade as a vagrant, in order to provide a matching blood group for them (because vagrants provide the raw biological material for the operation).
20 “The Silent Enemy” Donald James Robert Asher Paul Maxwell, Marne Maitland, Esmond Knight, James Maxwell, David Blake Kelly, Rio Fanning 12 February 1969
The Champions are sent on a mission to recreate the journey of a submarine, which came into port with all of its crew dead from unknown causes.
21 “The Body Snatchers” Terry Nation Paul Dickson Bernard Lee, Philip Locke, Ann Lynn, J. G. Devlin 19 February 1969
Barrett, tipped off by a journalist contact, investigates a project in the Welsh countryside which is experimenting with freezing people at the point of death so that they can be revived once medical technology is advanced enough to help them. Luckily for him (since he is captured by the people running the project and placed in cryogenic storage himself before he manages to escape) Craig and Sharron have been placed on his trail by Tremayne and help him to close the project down.
22 “Get Me Out of Here!” Ralph Smart Cyril Frankel Frances Cuka, Philip Madoc, Eric Pohlmann, Anthony Newlands, Godfrey Quigley, Ronald Radd 26 February 1969
The agents rescue an eminent female scientist who has returned to her home country and been detained against her will by the dictatorship, which runs it. The government want her to do her work there, in order to gain reflected prestige from her medical discoveries. This episode featured a performance from Philip Madoc, as the scientist’s sleazy estranged husband, and a sequence where Stirling and Barrett rescue the scientist from a blacked out police station (not a problem for them, as they can see in the dark).
23 “The Night People” Donald James Robert Asher Terence Alexander, Adrienne Corri, Walter Sparrow, Michael Bilton, Jerold Wells, David Lodge, Frank Thornton 5 March 1969
Richard and Craig investigate Sharron’s disappearance while on holiday in Cornwall and come across rumours of witchcraft. This turns out to be a cover for an entirely different undertaking.
24 “Project Zero” Tony Williamson Don Sharp Rupert Davies, Peter Copley, Maurice Browning, Geoffrey Chater, Jill Curzon, Nicholas Smith, Reginald Jessup, Donald Morley 12 March 1969
The agents are sent to investigate the disappearance of several eminent scientists – the only link is that all of them have theoretically been seconded to a non-existent “Project Zero”. Richard goes undercover as an electronics expert and makes it to the underground base, but is discovered and has to pose as a journalist looking for a story. Craig and Sharron are forced to follow him in. Once they get to the base they free Richard, who has been fitted with an explosive collar, and lead the scientists in an attack on the control room. However, they do not succeed in catching the people running the base and they escape with the super weapon the scientists have been developing. However, Sharron, who escaped earlier to get help, has sabotaged the weapon and the villains are destroyed when it explodes and vaporises their plane as they attempt to destroy the base.
25 “Desert Journey” Ian Stuart Black Paul Dickson Jeremy Brett, Roger Delgado, Reg Lye, Henry Lincoln, Nick Zaran 19 March 1969
In order to restore stability to a small Middle Eastern principality, the agents kidnap the son of the former Bey (played by Jeremy Brett), who is leading a dissolute life as an exile in Rome. Craig and Sharron fly him into the area but are forced to land due to a sand storm and have to cross the desert (the “journey” of the title) to get him to his destination. Meanwhile Richard deals with the politicians in the principality, though it is Craig who saves the new Bey’s life when an assassination attempt is made. This episode features Roger Delgado in a role as the Prime Minister/Vizier of the principality.
26 “Full Circle” Donald James John Gilling Patrick Allen, Jack Gwillim, Martin Benson, Gabrielle Drake, John Nettleton 26 March 1969
A spy is captured at a foreign embassy but manages to dispose of the film, hiding what he was doing there. Craig is placed undercover as his cellmate so that he can arrange an escape, take the man with him, and find out who is employing him.
27 “Nutcracker” Philip Broadley Roy Ward Baker Michael Barrington, John Franklyn-Robbins, William Squire, David Langton 2 April 1969
After a senior figure in British Intelligence is brainwashed into breaking in to his own secure vault (located underneath a tailor’s shop) the Champions are sent to test its security and find out what happened.
28 “The Final Countdown” Gerald Kelsey John Gilling Hannah Gordon, Norman Jones, Morris Perry, Derek Newark, Alan MacNaughtan, Basil Henson 16 April 1969
Tracking an unrepentant Nazi who has been released after years in prison in East Germany, the Champions become involved in an attempt to stop him from obtaining an ex Nazi atom bomb.
29 “The Gun Runners” Gerald Kelsey John Gilling William Franklyn, Wolfe Morris, Nicolas Chagrin 23 April 1969
This was one of the few episodes that did not feature two stories running side by side. The three agents work on bringing a gunrunner to justice and recovering a consignment of World War 2 Japanese rifles.
30 “Autokill” Brian Clemens Roy Ward Baker Paul Eddington, Eric Pohlmann, Harold Innocent, Bruce Boa, Conrad Monk 30 April 1969
Barka (Eric Pohlmann) is using a lethal hallucinogenic drug to brainwash Nemesis agents and use them as assassins. Tremayne is his latest target, leading Craig, Richard and Sharron to work against time to find an antidote. During the course of their investigations, Richard is captured by Barka and subjected to the same treatment; the target he is given to eliminate is Craig. Although Richard’s colleagues track down the villains and seize a sample of the drug from which an antidote can be created, the ensuing fight between them and Richard teaches Craig “a lesson in equality”.

Buck Rogers in the 25th century

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is an American science-fiction adventure television series produced by Universal Studios. The series ran for two seasons between 1979 and 1981, and the feature-length pilot episode for the series was released as a theatrical film,[2] before the series aired. The film and series were developed by Glen A. Larson and Leslie Stevens, based on the character Buck Rogers created in 1928 by Philip Francis Nowlan that had previously been featured in comic strips, novellas, a serial film, and on television and radio.[3]

Contents

Concept and broadcast history

Inspired by the success of Star Wars, Universal began developing Buck Rogers for television, spearheaded by Glen A. Larson, who had a production deal with the studio. Production began in 1978. Initially, Larson and Universal had planned on making a series of Buck Rogers TV movies for NBC. The pilot for Larson’s other science-fiction series, Battlestar Galactica (1978), had been released theatrically in some countries and in key locations in North America, and had done well at the box office. Universal then opted to release the first Buck Rogers TV movie theatrically on March 30, 1979. Good box-office returns led NBC to commission a weekly series, which began on September 20, 1979, with a slightly modified version of the theatrical release.[4]

The production recycled many of the props, effects shots, and costumes from Battlestar Galactica, which was still in production at the time the pilot for Buck Rogers was being filmed. For example, the “landram” vehicle was made for the Galactica series, and the control sticks used in the Terran starfighters in the pilot movie were the same as those used in Galactica’s Viper craft. The Terran starfighters were also concept designer Ralph McQuarrie‘s original vision of the Colonial Vipers.

The new series centered on Captain William Anthony “Buck” Rogers, played by Gil Gerard, a NASA/USAF pilot who commands Ranger 3, a spacecraft that is launched in May 1987. Due to a life-support malfunction, Buck is accidentally frozen for 504 years before his spacecraft is discovered adrift in the year 2491. The combination of gases that froze his body coincidentally comes close to the formula commonly used in the 25th century for cryopreservation, and his rescuers are able to revive him. He learns that civilization on Earth was rebuilt following a devastating nuclear war that occurred on November 22, 1987, and is now under the protection of the Earth Defense Directorate.

The series followed him as he tried (not always successfully) to fit into 25th-century culture. As no traceable personal records of him remained, he was uniquely placed, due to his pilot and combat skills and personal ingenuity, to help Earth Defense foil assorted evil plots to conquer the planet. In many respects, this version of Buck Rogers was more similar to James Bond or Steve Austin than Nowlan’s original character, and Buck would often go under cover on various covert missions. Buck is aided in his adventures by his friend and sometimes romantic interest, Colonel Wilma Deering (played by Erin Gray), a high-ranking officer and starfighter pilot. He is also assisted by Twiki, a small robot or “ambuquad”, as they were known. Twiki was played mainly by Felix Silla and voiced mainly by Mel Blanc (who had previously voiced Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers in spoofs of the early Buck Rogers and other science-fiction serials) using a gruff voice very similar to the one he used for Barnyard Dawg. Twiki became Buck’s comic sidekick and communicated with an electronic noise that sounded like “biddi-biddi-biddi”, but also spoke English (usually after saying “biddi-biddi-biddi-biddi” for several seconds.) Also aiding Buck was Dr. Theopolis or “Theo” (voiced by Eric Server), a sentient computer in the shape of a disk, about 9 inches wide with an illuminated face. He was capable of understanding Twiki’s electronic language, and was often carried around by him. Theo was a member of Earth’s “computer council” and one of the planet’s scientific leaders. During the first season, Buck and Wilma took their orders from Dr. Elias Huer, played by Tim O’Connor, the head of the Defense Directorate. Some episodes suggested Huer was the leader of the entire planet, though this was never made completely clear.

The series’ chief villain (at least in the first season) was Princess Ardala (played by Pamela Hensley), whose goal was to conquer the Earth while making Buck her consort. She was aided by her henchman Kane (played in the pilot film by Henry Silva and in the series by Michael Ansara). All of these characters were featured in the original comic strip, except for Dr. Theopolis and Twiki (whose closest counterpart in earlier versions would likely be Buck’s human sidekick, Buddy Wade). Kane (or Killer Kane as he was then known) was also featured in the 1939 film serial and was actually the chief villain himself, rather than Ardala’s henchman (Ardala did not appear in the film serial).

The pilot film depicted human civilization as fairly insular, with an invisible defense shield that surrounded the entire planet, protecting it from invaders. Civilization was restricted to a few cities; the main city seen in the pilot and weekly series was New Chicago, which was also known as the Inner City. Travel beyond the Inner City was hazardous, as much of the planet was said to be a radioactive wasteland inhabited by violent mutants (as Buck discovered when he visited the derelict remains of old Chicago).

Film

The first made-for-TV movie was released theatrically in March 1979 as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.[2] The film made $21 million at the North American box office, prompting Universal to move ahead with a weekly series later that year. The film, which was also released internationally, featured all of the main protagonist characters who would appear in the weekly series, including Princess Ardala of the planet Draconia, and her henchman, Kane.

Series

The theatrical film also served as a pilot and two-part first episode for the series, entitled “Awakening”. Several scenes were edited, some to remove the more adult dialogue in the film (including when Buck refers to Wilma as “ballsy” and a comment by Twiki about “freezing his ball-bearings off” was altered),, and a scene in which Buck kills Ardala’s henchman, “Tiger Man”, was deleted to allow the character to return in later episodes (the TV version of the pilot for Battlestar Galactica had similarly removed the death of a supporting character (Baltar) to allow the character to become a regular in the TV series). Also, some new and extended scenes were added for the TV version, including several scenes within Buck’s new apartment, which was the setting for a new final scene in which Dr. Huer and Wilma try to persuade Buck to join the Defense Directorate. This scene ends with Buck actually declining their offer, though he opts to join them in an unofficial capacity by the first episode of the series proper, “Planet of the Slave Girls”.

Including the two-part pilot episode, the first season comprised 24 episodes, with four of the stories being two-parters. The tone of the series was lighter than the pilot movie, and showed a more positive picture of future Earth. The Inner City was now known as New Chicago, and it was established that human civilization had spread once again across the planet, and also to the stars. After the movie pilot, no reference to barren radioactive wastelands was made, and in several episodes, the world outside is shown as lush and green. The mutants seen in the pilot film were no longer seen, and Buck sometimes ventured outside New Chicago with no hazards encountered. As opposed to the isolationist planet seen in the film, Earth no longer has an invisible defense shield surrounding it and is shown to be the center of an interstellar human-dominated government, sometimes called “the Federation” of “the Alliance”, with its capital at New Chicago. During the first season, references were also made to other “new” Earth cities such as New Detroit, New Manhattan, New Phoenix, New Tulsa, Boston Complex, and New London. A “City-on-the-Sea” was also seen, mentioned as being the former New Orleans.

Wilma Deering and Dr. Huer were the only Defense Directorate personnel seen in every episode, though several others were seen in individual episodes. Most Defense Directorate personnel regard Buck as being at least an ‘honorary’ captain, in reference to his 20th-century American military rank, but his membership in Earth’s defense forces is unofficial. Nevertheless, Buck often flies with the fighter squadrons, and uses his 20th-century U.S. Air Force background to assist in their training. Dr. Huer regularly meets, greets, and otherwise deals with representatives of other sovereign powers. Huer was also seen in military uniform (at formal occasions), thus indicating he is or was a member of the military.

Travel between the stars was accomplished with the use of stargates: artificially created portals in space (similar in appearance to wormholes), but referred to as “warp” travel on at least one occasion by Wilma Deering. Stargates appear as a diamond-shaped quartet of brilliant lights in space that shimmered when a vessel was making transit. Some people find the transit through a stargate to be physically unpleasant (transit resembling a “spinning” of the spacecraft). Buck’s dislike of them is shown in part one of the episode “Planet of the Slave Girls” and again in part two of the episode “The Plot to Kill a City”.

To portray futuristic-looking buildings on Earth, the show used stock shots of the remaining national pavilions of Expo 67, particularly the French and British pavilions as well as shots of the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Juanin Clay, who played Major Marla Landers in the first-season episode “Vegas in Space”, was originally cast as Wilma for the TV series (Erin Gray had initially opted not to return after the pilot film, but she later changed her mind). A relationship between Buck and Wilma was hinted at, but rarely expanded upon, and in the first season, Buck was involved (to some degree) with a different woman almost every week. Producers demanded that Wilma have blonde hair and dye jobs were needed to lighten Erin Gray’s brunette locks. During the final episodes of the first season, Gray was allowed to return to her natural hair color, and Wilma was dark-haired thereafter. Buck’s best-known enemy during the first season was Princess Ardala, played by Pamela Hensley, whose desire was to conquer and possess both Earth and Buck himself. She appeared in four separate stories, including the pilot film, two single episodes (“Escape From Wedded Bliss” and “Ardala Returns”), and the two-part first-season finale (“Flight of the War Witch”).

The opening title sequence for the series included stock footage from the Apollo 4 and Apollo 6 launches.

The series had an overall budget of $800,000 per hour of air time, according to Starlog issue #32 (March 1980).[5] Former actor Jock Gaynor served as producer for 20 episodes. Although reasonably popular with viewers, the first season failed to receive much critical acclaim. One vocal critic of the series was Gerard himself, who pushed for more serious storytelling and often clashed with the producers and the network (NBC) over the show’s tone and handling. In the November 1980 issue of Starlog, even Gerard said he had hoped the series would not be picked up for a second season because he had no wish to go through another season like the first one.[6]

Second season

Production of the second season was delayed by several months due to an actors’ strike. When production resumed in the fall of 1980, the series had a new set of producers (headed by John Mantley, who had primarily worked on television westerns) and the format of the series was changed. Instead of defending the Earth from external threats, Buck, Wilma and Twiki were now a part of a crew aboard an Earth spaceship called the Searcher. The Searcher, which displayed the Latin mottoPer ardua ad astra” (“through adversity to the stars” or “through work to the stars”) on its side, had a mission to seek out the lost “tribes” of humanity who had scattered in the five centuries since Earth’s 20th-century nuclear war. (This is a theme present in Glen A. Larson’s previous science-fiction television series, Battlestar Galactica.)

Another notable change in the second season was the disappearance of many of the regular characters of the first season, such as Dr. Huer, Dr. Theopolis, Princess Ardala, and Kane. However, several new characters were added:

  • Admiral Efram Asimov (Jay Garner), commander of the Searcher and a descendant of the famous science fiction author Isaac Asimov
  • Hawk (Thom Christopher), an alien character who represents the last of the nearly extinct bird people[7]
  • Dr. Goodfellow (Wilfrid Hyde-White), an elderly scientist with insatiable curiosity
  • Crichton (voiced by Jeff David), a snobbish robot, built by Goodfellow, but who finds it difficult to believe that lowly humans could have ever built him

The character of Wilma Deering was “softened” in the second season as the producers attempted to tone down the militaristic “Colonel Deering” image, who often gave Buck orders, and tried to make her more “feminine”.[8] Another change in the second season was the sound of Twiki’s voice. Mel Blanc left the series after the end of the first season and another actor, Bob Elyea, supplied Twiki’s voice. Blanc returned for the final six episodes of the second season, though no explanation was given for the change in Twiki’s voice.

The opening narrative was also modified for the second season, both in terms of the narrator’s voice and content. In the first season, William Conrad delivered the following opening narrative:

“The year is 1987, and NASA launches the last of America’s deep space probes. In a freak mishap, Ranger 3 and its pilot, Captain William “Buck” Rogers, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life-support systems, and returns Buck Rogers to Earth, 500 years later.”

In the second season, Hank Sims (best known for his announcing work on many of the programs produced by Quinn Martin Productions) delivered the following alternate narrative:

“In the year 1987, NASA launched the last of America’s deep space probes. Aboard this compact starship, a lone astronaut, Captain William “Buck” Rogers, was to experience cosmic forces beyond all comprehension. In a freak mishap, his life-support systems were frozen by temperatures beyond imagination. Ranger 3 was blown out of its planned trajectory into an orbit one thousand times more vast, an orbit which was to return Buck Rogers to Earth, 500 years later.”

These were abbreviated and altered versions of the narrative heard in the original pilot movie, delivered by Conrad:

“In the year 1987, at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, NASA launched the last of America’s deep space probes. The payload, perched on the nosecone of the NASA rocket, was a one-man exploration vessel: Ranger 3. Aboard this compact starship, a lone astronaut, Captain William “Buck” Rogers, was to experience cosmic forces beyond all comprehension: an awesome brush with death. In the blink of an eye, his life-support systems were frozen by temperatures beyond imagination. Ranger 3 was blown out of its planned trajectory into an orbit a thousand times more vast, an orbit which was to return the ship full circle to its point of origin, its mother Earth, not in five months…but in 500 years.”

“For 500 years, Buck Rogers drifted through a world in which reality and fantasy merged into a timeless dream.”

The introduction narrative from the pilot episode (“Awakening”) was also different:

“For 500 years, Captain William “Buck” Rogers has been miraculously preserved, frozen by temperatures beyond imagination. Now, in Earth year 2491, he is rudely awakened by the sinister forces of the Draconian realm.”

The substance of the storylines also changed in the second season. Less emphasis was placed on militaristic ideals and, with a few exceptions, Gerard scaled back the humor in the second season in favor of more serious episodes. Buck’s and Wilma’s relationship became slightly more romantic during the second year, though most romantic activity was implied and took place off-screen.

Moreover, the second season deals with more serious concepts such as evolution, ecology, racism, pollution, war, nuclear power, identity, the self, and religion. It also draws on mythology as exemplified by Hawk’s people, who are variants on the bird people found in mythologies around the world and makes special reference to the moai of Easter Island. An episode also included a story about mythical satyr creatures.

As well as its parallels to Larson’s previous television series Battlestar Galactica, the second season is similar in theme to Star Trek, with the Searcher roaming through space much like the USS Enterprise had, Buck being the maverick explorer true to the style of Captain James T. Kirk, and the serious, rather stoic Hawk being a revamped version of Mr. Spock. Even Wilma had, to some extent, been remodeled after Lt. Uhura from Star Trek, often dressed in a mini-skirt uniform and regularly sat at a communications console on the bridge of the Searcher.

Ratings dropped significantly after the season premiere. NBC canceled the series at the end of an 11-episode strike-abbreviated season. No finale storyline was produced, with the final episode broadcast being a normal standalone episode.

Cast

Guest stars throughout the series included Jamie Lee Curtis, Markie Post, Dorothy Stratten, Leigh McCloskey, Richard Moll, Jerry Orbach, Gary Coleman, Jack Palance, Sam Jaffe, Vera Miles, and Buster Crabbe (who had played Buck Rogers in the 1930s film serial). Joseph Wiseman also appeared in one episode of the series, and was also briefly seen in the theatrical version of the pilot as Emperor Draco (Princess Ardala’s father), but his appearance was edited out of the television version. Several actors who had played villains in the 1960s Batman television series also guest-starred, including Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Roddy McDowell, and Julie Newmar.

Episodes

International broadcast

The series was shown in the UK by ITV, beginning in late August 1980, with the feature-length two-part episode “Planet of the Slave Girls” (the pilot film, which had been released theatrically in Britain in summer 1979, was not actually shown on British television until 1982). ITV broadcast Buck Rogers in an early Saturday evening slot, where it competed against, and beat, the BBC‘s long-running science fiction series Doctor Who, which started its 18th season on the same day. As a similar effect had occurred a few years earlier when several ITV stations screened Man from Atlantis against Doctor Who; this prompted the BBC to move Doctor Who to a new weekday slot for its next season in 1982 (though Buck Rogers had actually been cancelled in the US by that point). The BBC would repeat the Buck Rogers series themselves (on BBC Two) in 1989 and again in the late 1990s.

The series also aired in Canada on CTV, on the same day and time as the NBC airings.

Reception

Contemporary assessments of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century were generally negative. James van Hise claimed the show’s scripts “just never took advantage of what they had at hand” and criticized Larson’s Buck Rogers as a cynical attempt to exploit one of the most loved characters in American popular culture.[9] John Javna’s book The Best of Science Fiction TV included Buck Rogers in the 25th Century on its list of the “Worst Science Fiction Shows of All Time” (along with The Starlost, Space: 1999 and Manimal).[10] Journalist Bill Lengeman also strongly criticized the program, stating “the acting is so wooden that Ed Wood himself (no pun intended) would surely have gone weak in the knees and wept openly upon witnessing it”. Lengemen also called the Buck Rogers episode “Space Rockers” the worst episode of TV science fiction he had ever seen.[11]

However, more recent assessments of the series have been overall more positive, with the general consensus being that the series, in spite of flaws, was nevertheless entertaining and thus accomplished what it set out to achieve.[12][13][14]

Merchandise

Two novels were published by Dell Publishing based on this series, both by Addison E. Steele. The first (ISBN 0-440-10843-8) was a novelization of the pilot film. The second, That Man on Beta (ISBN 0-440-10948-5), was adapted from an unproduced episode script.

A fumetti book entitled Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was published by Fotonovel Publications in 1979.

Gold Key Comics published fourteen issues of a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century comic book based upon the show. The comic book started with issue number two, picking up the numbering from an issue published in 1964 in the style of the old comic strips. Starting with issue five, new adventures were created in the series continuity. The first three issues (two – four) were reprinted in a “Giant Movie Edition” which was distributed by Marvel Comics. Artists on the series included Al McWilliams, Frank Bolle and José Delbo. Ironically, the comic outlived the series by several months. Issue number ten was never published and this comic book series was cancelled after issue number sixteen. The comic book remained within the continuity of Season 1 and did not feature any characters from Season 2.

A strip based on the television series also ran in two publications in the UK: Look-In with 64 weekly installments covering 10 separate adventures between autumn 1980 and early 1982, and TV Tops, which picked up the rights from 1982 for two shorter runs. Both were based on the format of the first year of the series.

Two sets of action figures were produced by Mego, including a 12″ line and a series of 3.75″ figures and scaled spaceships.[15] Milton-Bradley produced a Buck Rogers board game and a series of jigsaw puzzles. Other companies produced a variety of tie-ins, including model kits of the spaceships from Monogram, die-cast toys from Corgi, Topps trading cards, and a painted metal lunch box.[16]

In 2011, Zica Toys began production of a new line of action figures based on the TV series. These 8″ action figures are loosely based on Mego designs, but as noted above, Mego did not produce an 8″ line of Buck Rogers figures, so Zica’s line is actually the first line of 8″, cloth-costumed action figures based on the TV series. Characters planned include Buck Rogers, Hawk, Killer Kane, Tigerman, and Draconian Warriors.

The popularity of the TV series led to the revival of the Buck Rogers newspaper strip, daily and Sunday, drawn by Gray Morrow and written by Jim Lawrence. The strip ran from September 9, 1979 to October 26, 1980, and was reprinted in its entirety, with the Sundays in color, in a large trade paperback.

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment released the complete series on DVD in North America (Region 1) on November 16, 2004. While it does contain every episode (from both seasons), the pilot episode included is the theatrical version and not the TV version. The set contains five double-sided discs.[17][18]

The series was released on DVD in Europe (Region 2), though each season was released separately as opposed to in one set like the Region 1 release. Season 1 was released on November 22, 2004 and season 2 on October 31, 2005, neither of which had the same cover artwork or menu screens as the Region 1 release. Notable differences are the addition of subtitles for various European languages, and translated text sections on the DVD boxes. The back cover of the European season 1 box set also erroneously shows the character Hawk, who did not appear until season 2.

On January 24, 2012, Universal Studios re-released Season One by itself in North America, as a six disc set. The discs were single-sided for this release, in contrast to the double-sided discs released in 2004. Season Two was re-released with single-sided discs on January 8, 2013. As a bonus feature, the second season set includes the television version of the original pilot film, “Awakening”, the first time this version has been released on DVD.[19]

On August 17, 2016, Madman Entertainment (a company that produces titles for release in Australia and New Zealand) released Buck Rogers in the 25th Century on Blu-ray Disc in 1080p True HD. Madman had very limited resources available to them when producing this set. All they had to work with were Universal’s recent HD scans of the syndication masters for each episode in the series. The theatrical film elements have not been scanned in HD by the studio, which means the HD version of the 2-part pilot,Awakening, (a.k.a. the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century film) is the TV version. Although the set is listed as a Region B release, it is in fact multi region. Madman’s set includes both seasons of the series encased in a pair of multi-disc keep cases (Season One includes 5 Blu-rays, while Season Two includes 3 BDs). Their content is:

Season One, Disc One includes the feature-length TV version of the 2-part Awakening pilot and the feature-length TV version of the 2-part Planet of the Slave Girls (both HD and in 1.33:1 original aspect ratio). You also get the feature film version of Awakening (upscaled to HD from 1.33:1 aspect SD PAL). The disc also includes the following extras: The ending credits from Awakening, Part One and opening to Awakening, Part Two (in HD – the portion removed to allow the presentation of Awakening as a feature film), the series’ opening title sequence in HD without actor William Conrad’s voice-over narration (in HD), and both the series opening and closing titles without credit text – just the visuals (again in HD). Finally, that additional audio option I mentioned: You get a music and effects-only track for both versions of Awakening (TV HD and SD film) andPlanet of the Slave Girls in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (such tracks are available for all the other episodes in this set too).

Season One, Disc Two includes the episodes Vegas in Space, The Plot to Kill a City, Part 1, The Plot to Kill a City, Part 2, Return of the Fighting 69th, and Unchained Woman (all in HD and 1.33:1). Extras here include the music and effects-only tracks for every episode in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

Season One, Disc Three includes the episodes Planet of the Amazon Women, Cosmic Whiz Kid, Escape from Wedded Bliss, Cruise Ship to the Stars, and Space Vampire (all in HD and 1.33:1). Once again, you get music and effects-only tracks for every episode in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

Season One, Disc Four includes the episodes Happy Birthday, Buck, A Blast for Buck, Ardala Returns,Twiki is Missing, and Olympiad (all in HD and 1.33:1). Again, you get music and effects-only tracks for every episode in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

And Season One, Disc Five includes the episodes A Dream of Jennifer, Space Rockers, Buck’s Duel to the Death, Flight of the War Witch, Part 1, and Flight of the War Witch, Part 2 (all in HD and 1.33:1). This disc also includes music and effects-only tracks for every episode in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Plus you get the syndicated feature film version of Flight of the War Witch (upscaled to HD from 1.33:1 aspect SD PAL).

Moving on to the next case, Season Two, Disc One includes the feature-length version of Time of the Hawk, the feature-length version of Journey to Oasis, and The Guardians (all in HD and 1.33:1). There are music and effects-only tracks for each episode in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. You also get the second season version of the opening title sequence sans voice over narration, plus text-less opening and closing titles too (all in HD and 1.33:1, though I should note that the version without voice over looks to be upscaled from SD – in fact the opening credits for this whole season appear to be upscaled from SD, though all the episodes are full HD).

Season Two, Disc Two includes the episodes Mark of the Saurian, The Golden Man, The Crystals, The Satyr, and Shgoratchx! (all in HD and 1.33:1). Extras include music and effects-only tracks for each episode in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

And Season Two, Disc Three includes the episodes The Hand of Goral, Testimony of a Traitor, and The Dorian Secret (all in HD and 1.33:1). Extras include music and effects-only tracks for each episode in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. You also get the syndicated 2-part TV version of Journey to Oasis (in HD and 1.33:1).

Finally, virtually every disc in the set has a series of hidden Easter eggs: If you go to the episode selection menu from each disc and highlight any episode, navigating “up” will play in-show text-less elements from that episode. Most of the set’s episodes have them. The set’s box also includes a double-sided A3-size poster, featuring a photo of Buck on one side and Wilma on the other.

Madman chose to upscale the film versions of Awakening and Flight of the War Witch to HD from PAL (576i) instead of NTSC (480i) in order to ensure the highest possible video quality. The compromise is that the result does suffer from PAL audio speed-up (as PAL video has a 25 frames per second frame rate, compared to film’s 24 fps, resulting in a 4% speed increase over film or NTSC, which converts 24 fps to 29.97 fps via 3:2 pulldown). The film version of Awakening includes the footage missing from the syndication HD version, such as Kane’s communication with Emperor Draco, the alternate “sexy” opening credits, the different Conrad opening narration, and more. There’s a bit of more adult language too, which was deemed suitable for theaters but not for TV (including Buck calling Wilma “ballsy” and Twiki saying that he’s “freezing his ball-bearings off”), though the syndication version does have an additional scene at the end (in which Dr. Huer and Wilma offer Buck a job at the Earth Defense Directorate) that’s not in the film version.

There are also two additional “censorship” edits to the HD presentation of Awakening. The first happens when Wilma comes after Buck in old Chicago. When she has her soldier stun Buck, she says “Captain, you got away once, but not this time. Lieutenant?” and he shoots Buck. But there’s a second missing in the HD presentation, so the words “time. Lieutenant?” are gone (along with the actual moment the guy points the gun at the camera and pulls the trigger). The second edit happens when Buck kicks Tiger-Man in the balls near the end of the film. It looks like the actual kick has been trimmed out of the presentation, so the video goes from Tiger-Man facing off with Buck to suddenly howling in pain. These are small things, and they’re not edited in the SD film version, but it’s important to note them. This is not something Madman had control over – these were in the elements as delivered by Universal. (These edits were present in the original NBC TV broadcasts.) [20]

Bewitched

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

Bewitched is an American television sitcom fantasy series, originally broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from September 17, 1964, to March 25, 1972. It was created by Sol Saks under executive director Harry Ackerman, and starred Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York (1964–1969), Agnes Moorehead, and David White. Dick Sargent replaced an ill York for the final three seasons (1969–1972). The show is about a witch who marries an ordinary mortal man, and vows to lead the life of a typical suburban housewife. Bewitched enjoyed great popularity, finishing as the number two show in America during its debut season, and becoming the longest-running supernatural-themed sitcom of the 1960s–1970s. The show continues to be seen throughout the world in syndication and on recorded media.

In 2002, Bewitched was ranked #50 on “TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time“.[1] In 1997, the same magazine ranked the season 2 episode “Divided He Falls” #48 on their list of the “100 Greatest Episodes of All Time“.[2]

Contents

Plot

Dick York, Elizabeth Montgomery (front) and Agnes Moorehead (back) as Darrin, Samantha and Endora

A young-looking witch named Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) meets and marries a mortal named Darrin Stephens (originally Dick York, later Dick Sargent). While Samantha pledges to forsake her powers and become a typical suburban housewife, her magical family disapproves of the mixed marriage and frequently interferes in the couple’s lives. Episodes often begin with Darrin becoming the victim of a spell, the effects of which wreak havoc with mortals such as his boss, clients, parents, and neighbors. By the epilogue, however, Darrin and Samantha most often embrace, having overcome the devious elements that failed to separate them.

The witches and their male counterparts, warlocks, are very long-lived; while Samantha appears to be a young woman, many episodes suggest she is actually hundreds of years old. To keep their society secret, witches avoid showing their powers in front of mortals other than Darrin. Nevertheless, the effects of their spells – and Samantha’s attempts to hide their supernatural origin from mortals – drive the plot of most episodes. Witches and warlocks usually use physical gestures along with their incantations. To perform magic, Samantha often twitches her nose to create a spell. Effective special visual effects are accompanied by music to highlight such an action.

Setting

The main setting for most episodes is the Stephens’ house at 1164 Morning Glory Circle. Many scenes also take place at the Madison Avenue advertising agency “McMann and Tate” for which Darrin works. The Stephens’ home is located in a nearby upper-middle-class suburban neighborhood, either in Westport, Connecticut or Patterson, New York as indicated by conflicting information presented throughout the series. One episode contained the Mills Garage in Patterson, as a neighbor’s son’s soap box derby car sponsor.[3] Elizabeth Montgomery owned a second home in Patterson.

Characters

Cast of Characters
Character Actor(s) No. of episodes
Main Characters
Samantha Stephens Elizabeth Montgomery 254
Darrin Stephens Dick York (1964–1969)
Dick Sargent (1969–1972)
156 (York)
84 (Sargent)
Endora Agnes Moorehead 147
Larry Tate David White 166
Recurring Characters
Tabitha Stephens Cynthia Black (1966)
Heidi and Laura Gentry (1966)
Tamar and Julie Young (1966)
Diane Murphy (1966–1968)
Erin Murphy (1966–1972)
116
Gladys Kravitz Alice Pearce (1964–1966)
Sandra Gould (1966–1971)
30 (Pearce)
27 (Gould)
Abner Kravitz George Tobias (1964–1971) 55
Louise Tate Irene Vernon (1964–1966)
Kasey Rogers (1966–1972)
13 (Vernon)
33 (Rogers)
Aunt Clara Marion Lorne (1964–1968) 28
Serena Elizabeth Montgomery (1966–1972)
(credited as “Pandora Spocks”)
24
Adam Stephens unknown (1969–1970)
Greg and David Lawrence (1970–1972)
24
Phyllis Stephens Mabel Albertson (1964–1971) 19
Dr. Bombay Bernard Fox (1967–1972) 18
Esmeralda Alice Ghostley (1969–1972) 15
Frank Stephens Robert F. Simon (1964–67, 1971)
Roy Roberts (1967–1970)
13
Maurice Maurice Evans 12
Uncle Arthur Paul Lynde (1965–1971) 10

During its run, the series had a number of major cast changes, often because of illness or death of the actors. In particular, the performer playing Darrin was replaced mid-season.

Precursors

Dick Sargent, Elizabeth Montgomery, Erin Murphy and David Lawrence during the show’s final season

According to Harpie’s Bizarre,[4] (a website based on the frequently-depicted “witch magazine” from the series) creator Sol Saks‘ inspirations for this series in which many similarities can be seen were the film I Married a Witch (1942) developed from Thorne Smith‘s unfinished novel The Passionate Witch, and the John Van Druten Broadway play Bell, Book and Candle, which was adapted into the 1958 movie.[5]

In I Married a Witch, Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) is a descendant of people who executed witches at the Salem witch trials. As revenge, a witch (Veronica Lake) prepares a love potion for him. She ends up consuming her own potion and falling for her enemy. Her father is against this union.[5] In the film of Bell, Book and Candle, modern witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) uses a love spell on Shep Henderson (James Stewart) to have a simple fling with him but genuinely falls for the man.[5]

Both films were properties of Columbia Pictures, which also owned Screen Gems, the company that produced Bewitched.[6]

Production and broadcasting

Sol Saks, who received credit as the creator of the show, wrote the pilot of Bewitched though he was not involved with the show after the pilot. Creator Saks, executive producer Harry Ackerman, and director William Asher started filming the pilot on November 22, 1963; it coincided with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Asher felt personally affected by the event as he knew Kennedy; he had produced the 1962 televised birthday party where Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President“. But the show had to go on.[7] The pilot concerned “the occult destabilization of the conformist life of an upworldly mobile advertising man”.[7]

First season producer and head writer Danny Arnold set the initial style and tone of the series, and also helped develop supporting characters such as Larry Tate and the Kravitzes. Arnold, who wrote on McHale’s Navy and other shows, thought of Bewitched essentially as a romantic comedy about a mixed marriage; his episodes kept the magic element to a minimum. One or two magical acts drove the plot, but Samantha often solved problems without magic. Many of the first season’s episodes were allegorical, using supernatural situations as metaphors for the problems any young couple would face. Arnold stated that the two main themes of the series were the conflict between a powerful woman and a husband who cannot deal with that power, and the anger of a bride’s mother at seeing her daughter marry beneath her. Though the show was a hit right from the beginning, finishing its first year as the number 2 show in the United States, ABC wanted more magic and more farcical plots, causing battles between Arnold and the network.

Its first season, Bewitched was the number one show of the American Broadcasting Company and the best rated sitcom among all three networks. It was second in ratings only to Bonanza.[7] Bewitched aired at 9 p.m Thursday evenings. It was preceded on the air by another sitcom, My Three Sons, and followed by the soap opera Peyton Place. My Three Sons finished 13th in the ratings and Peyton Place ninth. The block formed by the three shows was the strongest ratings grabber in ABC’s schedule.[7]

Arnold left the show after the first season, leaving producing duties to his friend Jerry Davis, who had already produced some of the first season’s episodes (though Arnold was still supervising the writing). The second season was produced by Davis and with Bernard Slade as head writer, with misunderstandings and farce becoming a more prevalent element, but still included a number of more low-key episodes in which the magic element was not front and center.

With the third season and the switch to color, Davis left the show, and was replaced as producer by William Froug. Slade also left after the second season. According to William Froug’s autobiography, William Asher (who had directed many episodes) wanted to take over as producer when Jerry Davis left, but the production company was not yet ready to approve the idea. Froug, a former producer of Gilligan’s Island and the last season of The Twilight Zone, was brought in as a compromise. By his own admission, Froug was not very familiar with Bewitched and found himself in the uncomfortable position of being the official producer even though Asher was making most of the creative decisions. After a year, Froug left the show, and Asher took over as full-time producer of the series for the rest of its run.

The first two seasons had aired Thursdays at 9:00, and the time was moved to 8:30 shortly after the third year (1966–1967) had begun. Nevertheless, the ratings for Bewitched remained high and it placed among the top fifteen shows through the 1968-69 season. It was the seventh highest-rated show in both the U.S. 65-66 and 66-67 schedules. Similarly, it was number 11 the following two years.[7] At the time, the show had won three Emmy Awards. William Asher won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series in 1966.

Alice Pearce posthumously won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Gladys Kravitz, and Marion Lorne won the same award posthumously in 1968 for her portrayal of Aunt Clara.[7][8] Producers were faced with how to deal with the deaths of both these actresses. When Pearce died in the spring of 1966, only a few episodes of season two remained to be filmed. Mary Grace Canfield was hired to play Gladys’s sister-in-law, Harriet Kravitz in four episodes. Comedian Alice Ghostley was approached to take over the role of Gladys the next season, but turned it down. Instead, Sandra Gould was hired. Marion Lorne was not replaced, and the character of Aunt Clara was not seen after the fourth season. Rather, beginning in the show’s sixth year, Ghostley was finally used to play the character of Esmeralda, a kind but shy and inept witch.

In another notable casting change, Louise Tate, played by Irene Vernon during the first two seasons, was played by Kasey Rogers thereafter. During the fifth season (1968–1969), Serena (Samantha’s identical cousin, also played by Montgomery) was used more frequently. Filming of scenes involving both Samantha and Serena was accomplished by using Melody McCord, Montgomery’s stand-in.[9]

In this same season, in the most notable of the show’s many cast changes, Dick York became unable to continue his role as Darrin because of a severe back condition, the result of an accident during the filming of They Came To Cordura (1959). Starting with the third season, York’s disability had caused ongoing shooting delays and script rewrites resulting in increasingly frequent episodes without Darrin. After collapsing while filming the episode “Daddy Does His Thing” and being rushed to the hospital in January 1969, York left the show permanently. That same month, Dick Sargent was cast to play Darrin beginning in the sixth season.[10] The remainder of the fifth season was filmed without York and features many episodes where Darrin is away on business. At about the same time, Montgomery and Asher announced that they were expecting another baby and it was decided that Samantha and Darrin would also have another child in the fall of that year. On screen, Samantha tells Darrin over the phone the news of her second pregnancy.

Beginning with the sixth season’s (1969–1970) opening credits, in addition to York being replaced with Sargent, Elizabeth Montgomery was billed above the title, and David White now received billing as well, after Agnes Moorehead’s. During this year, the show saw a significant decline in ratings, falling from eleventh to 24th place.

In mid-1970, the set of the Stephens’ home was being rebuilt due to a fire. In June, the cast and crew traveled to Salem, Magnolia, and Gloucester, Massachusetts to film an eight-part story arc in which Samantha, Darrin, and Endora travel to Salem for the centennial Witches Convocation. These location shoots marked the only times the show would film away from its Hollywood studio sets and backlot. Season seven premiered with eight so-called ‘Salem Saga’ episodes. On June 15, 2005, TV Land unveiled a Samantha statue in Salem to mark the show’s 40th anniversary.[11] On hand were three surviving actors from the show, Bernard Fox, Erin Murphy, and Kasey Rogers, as well as producer/director William Asher.[12] These on-location episodes helped the show’s sagging ratings,[13] but after the Salem episodes, viewership again dwindled. Scripts from old episodes were recycled frequently. The year’s ratings for Bewitched had fallen and the show did not even rank in the list of the top thirty programs.

ABC moved Bewitched ‘s airtime from Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. to Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. at the beginning of the eighth season. The schedule change did not help ratings as the show was now pitted against CBS’s popular The Carol Burnett Show. Fewer recurring characters were used this season, with the Kravitzes, Darrin’s parents, and Uncle Arthur not appearing at all. Filming ended in December 1971, and in January 1972 the show was finally moved to Saturday night at 8:00 P.M., opposite television’s number one show, All in the Family, where it fared even worse, with Bewitched finishing in 72nd place for the year.

Storylines repeated from I Love Lucy

In the episode “Samantha’s Power Failure”, Serena’s and Uncle Arthur’s powers are removed by the Witches’ Council. The impotent duo get jobs in a confectionery factory, with both tossing and hiding an onslaught of bananas from a conveyor belt which are to be dipped in chocolate and nuts, then packaged. This episode mimics the famous chocolate assembly-line episode of I Love Lucy (“Job Switching”), which was directed by Bewitched producer/director William Asher. Serena’s and Arthur’s jokes and physical antics are taken from Lucy’s (Lucille Ball) and Ethel’s (Vivian Vance) playbook.

In the episode “Samantha’s Supermaid” Samantha interviews a maid, and the scene is almost identical to one in Lucy. Season 8 featured a European vacation, but was filmed in Hollywood using stock footage, like the “European” episodes of Lucy. Similar to Endora’s refusal to pronounce Darrin’s name correctly, Lucy’s mother always referred to son-in-law Ricky with incorrect names, including “Mickey”, and in a letter once, “what’s-his-name”.

Timely topics

Some episodes take a backdoor approach to such topics as racism, as seen in the first season episode, “The Witches Are Out”, in which Samantha objects to Darrin’s demeaning ad portrayal of witches as ugly and deformed. Such stereotypical imagery often causes Endora and other witches to flee the country until November. In the second season installment, “Trick Or Treat”, Endora, believing Darrin to be prejudiced against witches, turns him into a werewolf. It is only through Samantha convincing her that Darrin was the one mortal who refused to believe that witches were not ugly or evil does Endora relent and take the spell off him. In a similar episode during the sixth season (“To Trick-Or-Treat or not to Trick-Or-Treat”), feeling that by participating in Halloween customs that Darrin disrespects witches in general, Endora turns him into a stereotypical one. “Sisters at Heart” (season 7), whose story was submitted by a tenth-grade English class, involves Tabitha altering the skin tone of herself and a black friend with coordinating polka-dots so people would treat them equally.[14] In the 1969 episode, “Tabitha’s Weekend”, when offered homemade cookies by Darrin’s mother, Endora asks, “They’re not by chance from an Alice B. Toklas recipe?” Phyllis replies, “They’re my recipe”, to which Endora retorts, “Then I’ll pass”. Toklas’s cookbook was infamous for having a dessert recipe which included hashish.[15]

Sets and locations

The 1959 Columbia Pictures film Gidget was filmed on location at a real house in Santa Monica (at 267 18th Street). The blueprint design of this house was later reversed and replicated as a house facade attached to an existing garage on the backlot of Columbia’s Ranch. This was the house seen on Bewitched. The patio and living room sets seen in Columbia’s Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) were soon adapted for the permanent Bewitched set for 1964. The interior of the Stephens’ house can be seen, substantially unaltered, in the Jerry Lewis film Hook, Line & Sinker (1969). The set was also used several times in the television series Gidget and I Dream of Jeannie, as well as the made-for-television movie Brian’s Song (1971). It was also used, as a setting for an opening tag sequence, for the final episode of the first season of another Screen Gems property, The Monkees and in an episode of The Fantastic Journey.

The house served as Doctor Bellows’ house on I Dream of Jeannie, and was seen in an episode of Home Improvement when Tim Taylor took Tool Time on location to the house of Vinnie’s mother to repair a gas leak in the furnace in the basement, but unknown to Tim there was also a leak at the stove in the kitchen. A clap on-Clap off lamp turned on when Tim clapped and it blew up. The Stephens house was also featured in a Fruit of the Loom Christmas commercial.

On the Columbia studio backlot, the Kravitzes’ house was actually down the street from the Stephens’ house exterior. Both houses’ exterior doors opened to an unfinished eighteen-by-fifteen foot entry, as the interiors were shot on studio sound stages elsewhere. A “front porch” set, replicating the porch of the backlot house was created as well. From 1964 through 1966 the Kravitzes’ house was the same as used for The Donna Reed Show and was later used for the house sets from The Partridge Family.

Production and filming for Bewitched was based in Los Angeles and, although the setting is assumed to be New York, several episodes feature wide-angle exterior views of the Stephens’ neighborhood showing a California landscape with mountains in the distance. Another example of questionable continuity regarding the location can be seen in Season 6, Episode 6: Darrin’s parents drive home after visiting the new baby, passing several large palm trees lining the street.

Nielsen ratings

Cultural context

Feminist Betty Friedan wrote the essay “Television and the Feminine Mystique” (February, 1964) where she criticized the way women were portrayed in television. She summarized their depiction as stupid, unattractive, and insecure household drudges. Their time was divided between dreaming of love and plotting revenge on their husbands. Samantha was not depicted this way and Endora used Friedan-like words to criticize the boring drudgery of household life.[5] Others have looked at the way that the series ‘play[ed] into and subvert[ed] a rich load of cultural stereotypes and allusions’ regarding witches, gender roles, advertising and consumerism.[17]

In the episode “Eat at Mario’s” (May 27, 1965), Samantha and Endora co-operate in using their witchcraft to defend and promote a quality Italian restaurant. They take delight in an active, aggressive role in the public space, breaking new ground in the depiction of women in television.[5]

Reception

Walter Metz attributes the success of the series to its snappy writing, the charm of Elizabeth Montgomery, and the talents of its large supporting cast. The show also made use of respected film techniques for its special effects. The soundtrack was unique, notably where it concerned the synthesized sound of nose twitching.[7]

The first episodes feature a voice-over narrator “performing comic sociological analyses” of the role of a witch in middle class suburbia. The style was reminiscent of Hollywood films such as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957).[5] In a 1991 audio interview with film historian Ronald Haver, Elizabeth Montgomery revealed that her father, Robert Montgomery was originally approached to narrate these episodes but he refused. Instead, the narration was done by Academy Award-winning actor Jose Ferrer, who did not receive credit.

Impact

The series inspired rival show I Dream of Jeannie (1965–1970), a program that, while in first run, was never a major ratings hit.[7]

In popular culture

The magical powers of the characters, and the sudden change of actors playing Darrin have been sources of many popular culture references to Bewitched.

  • In an episode of the 1960s sitcom My Favorite Martian, Martin’s hands are tied so he is unable to utilize his martian powers with his finger. He instead tries twitching his nose, and when successful states that he had seen that technique on an Earth television program. In the French-dubbed version, he states that he “will send a kiss to Bewitched.”
  • In the episode “Trouble with the Rubbles” of Roseanne, new neighbors move in and Jackie asks Roseanne if she knows anything about them. Roseanne jokingly replies, “Well, okay, the husband, Darrin, he’s in advertising, and they have this cute little daughter named Tabitha. But the wife, I don’t know, something’s wrong with her. I think she’s a witch.” In the episode “Homecoming”, daughter Becky returns home after an extended absence from the series, and has been recast with a new actress (Sarah Chalke). In the epilogue, the Connors are watching Bewitched on television, discussing Darrin being replaced, and Becky muses, “Well, I like the second Darrin much better”.[18] In another episode, Roseanne states sarcastically that she tried “twitching [her] nose” to clean up the kitchen, but it didn’t work.
  • The principal of the prep school in the supernatural sitcom Wizards of Waverly Place is named Mr. Laritate, an allusion to the Bewitched character Larry Tate.
  • In the Charmed fourth season episode, “Lost and Bound”, Phoebe worries about her ability to be a good wife and notes the only married witch she can think of as a model is Samantha Stephens. Subsequently, Cole gives her a ring which causes Phoebe to start behaving like Samantha, wearing her hairdo, spending all her time in the kitchen, while alternating between color and black and white.
  • In The Simpsons episode “Duffless“, the advertising agency the feminists are protesting is called “McMahon and Tate Advertising”. In a segment of the Halloween episode “Treehouse of Horror VIII“, Marge Simpson portrays a witch in old Salem who is living as a mortal with her husband, Homer. When she is discovered and returns to her sister witches, one states, “So, you finally left Derwood.” In episode “Mr. Plow“, the “McMahon and Tate Advertising Agency” produces a television commercial for “Homer Simpson“.
  • In the Family Guy episode, “The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire“, Stewie puts on an episode of Bewitched that shows Darrin throwing holy water on Endora as payback for all the spells she’s cast on him.
  • In an episode of “The King of Queens” in which Carrie goes back to school, she arrives home and complains to Doug about being expected to understand the Allegory of the Cave when she can’t even comprehend two Darrins on “Bewitched”.
  • The episode “I Married an Alien” of Roswell begins with Isabel watching the Bewitched episode “Long Live the Queen” on TV. In several subsequent extended fantasy scenes, she imagines a 1960s sitcom version of her married life, complete with Bewitched style animated opening, visual and sound effects, plot, and laugh track.
  • In the “Hands and Knees” episode of Mad Men, which takes place in a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the 1960s, Roger Sterling is told by someone named “Louise” on the phone that “Larry” has died.
  • In an episode of American Dad, Stan wishes life was more like the ’60s after watching an episode of Bewitched. The episode also features the animated intro except Samantha flies her broom into a nearby building, followed by the appearance of an internet address “www.itwaswitches.com”, making a joke about conspiracy theorists who believe 9/11 was done by witches.
  • In the episode “Siege Perilous” of Once Upon a Time, Emma says, “You guys sure you don’t want me to just wiggle my nose, and get him out of that tree?” in reference to Merlin who was trapped inside an enchanted tree.

Spin-offs, crossovers, and remakes

The Flintstones

The 1965 episode of The Flintstones titled “Samantha” (1965), features Dick York and Elizabeth Montgomery as Darrin and Samantha Stephens, who have just moved into the neighborhood. This crossover was facilitated because both series were broadcast on ABC.[19]

Tabitha and Adam and the Clown Family

An animated cartoon made in 1972 by Hanna-Barbera Productions for The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, this featured teenage versions of Tabitha and Adam visiting their aunt and her family who travel with a circus.

Tabitha

In 1977, a short-lived spin-off entitled Tabitha aired on ABC. Lisa Hartman plays Tabitha, now an adult working with her brother Adam at television station KXLA. There were several continuity differences with the original series. Adam and Tabitha had both aged far more than the intervening five years between the two series would have allowed. Adam also had become Tabitha’s older mortal brother, rather than her younger warlock brother, as he was in Bewitched. Supporting character Aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow) says she has been close to Tabitha since childhood, though she had never been mentioned once in the original series. Tabitha’s parents are mentioned but never appear. However Bernard Fox, Sandra Gould, George Tobias and Dick Wilson reprised their roles as Dr. Bombay, Gladys Kravitz, Abner Kravitz, and the “drunk guy”, respectively.

Passions

Bernard Fox appeared as Dr. Bombay in two episodes of the supernatural-themed daytime soap opera Passions. This show also featured a character named Tabitha, a middle-aged witch whose parents were Samantha and a mortal, Darrin, and who names her own child “Endora.”[20]

Theatrical movie

Bewitched inspired a 2005 film starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. The film, departing from the show’s family-oriented tone, is not a remake but a re-imagining of the sitcom, with the action focused on arrogant, failing Hollywood actor Jack Wyatt (Ferrell) who is offered a career comeback playing Darrin in a remake of Bewitched. The role is contingent upon him finding the perfect woman to play Samantha. He chooses an unknown named Isabel Bigelow (Kidman), who is an actual witch. The film was written, directed, and produced by Nora Ephron, and was poorly received by most critics and was a financial disappointment. It earned $22 million less than the production cost domestically. However it earned an additional $68 million internationally. The New York Times called the film “an unmitigated disaster.”[21]

Television remakes

  • Argentina: A remake called Hechizada, produced by Telefé, aired in early 2007. It starred Florencia Peña as Samantha, Gustavo Garzón as her husband, Eduardo, and Georgina Barbarrosa as Endora. This show adapted original scripts to an Argentinian context, with local humor and a contemporary setting. The show was cancelled due to low ratings after a few weeks.
  • Japan: TBS, a flagship station of Japan News Network, produced a remake called Okusama wa majo (奥さまは魔女, meaning “(My) Wife is a Witch”), also known as Bewitched in Tokyo.[22] Eleven episodes were broadcast on JNN stations Fridays at 10 p.m., from January 16 to March 26, 2004, and a special on December 21, 2004. The main character, Arisa Matsui, was portrayed by Ryōko Yonekura. Okusama wa majo is also the Japanese title for the original American series.
  • India: In 2002, Sony Entertainment Television began airing Meri Biwi Wonderful a local adaptation of Bewitched.
  • Russia: In 2009, TV3 broadcast a remake entitled “Моя любимая ведьма” (“My Favorite Witch”), starring Anna Zdor as Nadia (Samantha), Ivan Grishanov, as Ivan (Darrin) and Marina Esepenko as Nadia’s mother. The series is very similar to the original, with most episodes based on those from the original series. American comedy writer/producer Norm Gunzenhauser oversaw the writing and directing of the series.
  • United Kingdom: In 2008, the BBC made a pilot episode of a British version, with Sheridan Smith as Samantha, Tom Price as Darrin, and veteran actress Frances de la Tour as Endora.
  • United States: In August 2011 it was reported that CBS ordered a script to be written by Marc Lawrence for a rebooted series of Bewitched.[23]

Updated version

On October 22, 2014, Sony Pictures Television announced that it has sold a pilot of Bewitched to NBC as a possible entry for the 2015—2016 US television season. However, this version will focus on Tabitha’s daughter Daphne, a single woman who despite having magical powers as her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, is determined not to use it to find a soul mate. The new version of the proposed series, which is being written by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, had been on the radar of several major networks, including ABC, after Sony began shopping the project to interested parties.[24]

Episodes

Episode availability

Syndication history

After completing its original run, ABC Daytime and ABC Saturday Morning continued to show the series until 1973. Bewitched has since been syndicated on many local US broadcast stations, including Columbia TriStar Television as part of the Screen Gems Network syndication package from 1973–82 and then since 1993, which featured by 1999 bonus wraparound content during episode airings.

From 1973 to 1982, the entire series was syndicated by Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures. By the late ’70s, many local stations skipped the black and white episodes or only ran those in the summer due to a perception that black-and-white shows usually had less appeal than shows filmed in color. From 1981 to about 1991, only the color episodes were syndicated in barter syndication by DFS Program Exchange. The first two seasons, which were in black and white were not included and Columbia retained the rights to those. Beginning in 1989, Nick at Nite began airing only the black-and-white episodes, which were originally unedited back then. The edited ones continued in barter syndication until 1992. Columbia syndicated the entire series beginning in 1991. The remaining six color seasons were added to Nick at Nite’s lineup in March 1998 in a week-long Dueling Darrins Marathon. Seasons 1–2 were later colorized and made available for syndication and eventually DVD sales. Cable television channel WTBS carried seasons 3–8 throughout the 1980s and 1990s from DFS on a barter basis like most local stations that carried the show did.

The Hallmark Channel aired the show from 2001 to 2003; TV Land then aired the show from 2003 to 2006, and it returned in March 2010,[25] but left the schedule in 2012. In October 2008, the show began to air on WGN America, and in October 2012 on Logo, limited to the middle seasons only. Channel 9 Australia airs the series on its digital channel GO! Russia-based channel Domashny aired the show from 2008 to 2010. MeTV aired the show in conjunction with I Dream of Jeannie from December 31, 2012 to September 1, 2013.[26] The show now airs on Antenna TV.

The show has been distributed by Columbia Pictures Television (1974–1982, 1988 (black and white ones only until 1990)-1996), DFS/The Program Exchange (1980–1991, 2010–present), Columbia TriStar Television (1996–2002), and Sony Pictures Television (2002–present).

Internet

Selected episodes may be viewed on iTunes, YouTube, Internet Movie Database, Hulu, The Minisode Network, Crackle, and Amazon.com.

DVD releases

Beginning in 2005, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all eight seasons of Bewitched. In regions 1 and 4, seasons 1 and 2 were each released in two versions—one as originally broadcast in black-and-white, and one colorized. The complete series set only contains the colorized versions of Seasons 1–2. Only the colorized editions were released in regions 2 and 4.

On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Bewitched.[27] They have subsequently re-released the first six seasons, with seasons 1 & 2 available only in their black and white versions.[28][29][30]

On October 6, 2015, Mill Creek Entertainment will re-release Bewitched- The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.[31]

Space 1999

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Wikipedia

Space: 1999 is a British science-fiction television series that ran for two seasons and originally aired from 1975 to 1977.[1] In the opening episode, set in the year 1999, nuclear waste stored on the Moon’s far side explodes, knocking the Moon out of orbit and sending it, as well as the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space. The series was the last production by the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and was the most expensive series produced for British television up to that time. The first season was co-produced by the British television ITC and the Italian television RAI, while the second season was produced solely by ITC.

Contents

Storyline

Two series (or seasons) of the programme were produced, each comprising twenty-four episodes. Production of the first series was from November 1973 to February 1975; production of the second series was from January 1976 to December 1976.

The premise of Space: 1999 centres on the plight of the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, a scientific research centre on the Moon. Humanity had been storing its nuclear waste in vast disposal sites on the far side of the Moon, but when an unknown form of electromagnetic radiation is detected, the accumulated waste reaches critical mass and causes a massive thermonuclear explosion on 13 September 1999. The force of the blast propels the Moon like an enormous booster rocket, hurling it out of Earth orbit and into deep space at colossal speed, thus stranding the 311 personnel stationed on Alpha.[2] The runaway Moon, in effect, becomes the “spacecraft” on which the protagonists travel, searching for a new home. Not long after leaving Earth’s solar system, the wandering Moon passes through a black hole and later through a couple of “space warps” which push it even further out into the universe. During their interstellar journey, the Alphans encounter an array of alien civilizations, dystopian societies, and mind-bending phenomena previously unseen by humanity. Several episodes of the first series hinted that the Moon’s journey was influenced (and perhaps initiated) by a “mysterious unknown force”, which was guiding the Alphans toward an ultimate destiny. The second series used more simplified “action-oriented” plots.

The first series of Space: 1999 used a “teaser” introduction, sometimes called a “hook” or “cold open“. This was followed by a title sequence that managed to convey prestige for its two main stars, Landau and Bain (both separately billed as ‘starring’), and to give the audience some thirty-plus fast cut shots of the forthcoming episode. The second series eliminated this montage. The programme would then offer four ten-to-twelve minute long acts (allowing for commercial breaks in America) and finished with a short (and, in the second series, often light-hearted) “epilogue” scene. In 2004, the American science fiction screenwriter Ronald D. Moore stated the style of the first season’s opening credits of Space: 1999 inspired the opening credit sequence for his acclaimed remake of Battlestar Galactica.

Cast

The headline stars of Space: 1999 were American actors Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who were married at the time and had previously appeared together in Mission: Impossible. In an effort to appeal to the American television market and sell the series to one of the major U.S. networks,[3] Landau and Bain were cast at the insistence of Lew Grade against the objections of Sylvia Anderson, who wanted British actors. Also appearing as regular cast members were the Canadian-based British actor Barry Morse (as Professor Victor Bergman in the first season) and Hungarian-born, US-raised Catherine Schell (as the alien Maya in the second season). Before moving into the role of Maya during the second series, Catherine Schell had guest-starred as a different character in the Year One episode “Guardian of Piri“. The programme also brought Australian actor Nick Tate to public attention. Roy Dotrice appeared in the first episode as Commissioner Simmonds, and at the end of the episode it appeared that he would be a regular character; however by the second (transmitted) episode the character vanished, reappearing partway through the first season in the episode “Earthbound“, his only other appearance on the show (in which the character is permanently written out).

Over the course of its two series, the programme featured guest appearances by many notable actors including Christopher Lee, Margaret Leighton, Roy Dotrice, Joan Collins, Jeremy Kemp, Peter Cushing, Judy Geeson, Julian Glover, Ian McShane, Leo McKern, Billie Whitelaw, Richard Johnson, Patrick Troughton, Peter Bowles, Sarah Douglas, David Prowse, Isla Blair, Stuart Damon and Brian Blessed. (Blair, Damon and Blessed each appeared in two different episodes portraying two different characters.)[4][5] The English actor Nicholas Young (who portrayed John in the original version of The Tomorrow People) appeared in an episode of Year Two, “The Bringers of Wonder”. Several guest stars went on to appear in the Star Wars films, including Dave Prowse, Peter Cushing, Julian Glover, Christopher Lee, Brian Blessed, Michael Culver, Michael Sheard, Richard LeParmentier, Shane Rimmer, Angus MacInnes, and Jack McKenzie.

Year One cast

Year Two cast
Actor Role Appearances
Barbara Bain Doctor Helena Russell, head of Medical Section (48 episodes, 1975–77)
Martin Landau Commander John Koenig, leader of Moonbase Alpha (47 episodes, 1975–77)
Nick Tate Alan Carter, third in command, chief pilot (45 episodes, 1975–77)
Zienia Merton Sandra Benes, data analyst (37 episodes, 1975–77)
Anton Phillips Doctor Bob Mathias, Helena’s deputy (24 episodes, 1975–76)
Barry Morse Professor Victor Bergman, science adviser (Year One only) (24 episodes, 1975–76)
Catherine Schell Maya, science officer (Year Two) and guest artist (guardian’s servant in “Guardian of Piri”, Year One) (25 episodes, 1976–77)
Prentis Hancock Paul Morrow, base second in command and Main Mission controller (Year One only) (23 episodes, 1975–76)
Clifton Jones David Kano, computer operations officer (Year One only) (23 episodes, 1975–76)
Tony Anholt Tony Verdeschi, second in command, head of Security and Command Centre controller (Year Two only) (23 episodes, 1976–77)
Suzanne Roquette Tanya Alexander, base operations officer (Year One only) (19 episodes, 1975–76)
John Hug Bill Fraser, Eagle pilot (Year Two only) (9 episodes, 1976–77)
Jeffery Kissoon Doctor Ben Vincent, deputy medical officer (Year Two only) (7 episodes, 1976–77)

Production

Conception and development

Space: 1999 was the last in a long line of science-fiction series that Gerry and Sylvia Anderson produced as a working partnership, beginning with Supercar in the early 1960s and including the famed marionette fantasy programmes Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90 and The Secret Service, as well as the live-action sci-fi drama UFO. Space: 1999 owes much of the visual design to pre-production work for the never-made second series of UFO, which would have been set primarily on the Moon and featured a more extensive Moonbase.

Space: 1999 drew a great deal of visual inspiration (and technical expertise) from the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The programme’s special effects director Brian Johnson had previously worked on both Thunderbirds (as Brian Johncock) and 2001.

In 1972, Sir Lew Grade, head of ITC Entertainment, proposed financing a second series of the Century 21 production UFO to show-runners Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Grade had one stipulation: the new series would be set primarily on the Moon within the environs of an expanded SHADO Moonbase; the ratings indicated the Moon-centric episodes had proved more popular with the viewers. The Andersons and their team would quickly revamp the production, flashing ahead nearly twenty years for UFO: 1999 with Commander Ed Straker and the forces of SHADO fighting their alien foes from a large new Moonbase facility.

However, toward the end of its run, UFO experienced a drop in ratings in both America and the UK; nervous ITC executives in both countries began to question the financial viability of the new series, and support for the project collapsed. In the meantime, Production Designer Keith Wilson and the art department had made considerable progress in envisioning the look and design of the new series. Their work was then shelved for the foreseeable future.[6]

Anderson would not let the project die; he approached Grade’s number two in New York, Abe Mandell, with the proposal for taking the research and development done for UFO: 1999 and creating a new science fiction series. Mandell was amenable, but stated he did not want a series set featuring people “having tea in the Midlands” and forbade any Earth-bound settings. Anderson responded that in the series opener, he would “blow up the Earth”. Mandell countered that this concept might be off-putting to viewers, to which Anderson replied he would “blow up the Moon”.[7]

The Andersons reworked UFO: 1999 into a new premise: Commander Steven Maddox controlled the forces of WANDER, Earth’s premier defence organisation, from Moon City, a twenty-mile wide installation on the Moon. Maddox would view all aspects of Earth defence from Central Control, a facility at the hub of the base and accessible only by Moon Hopper craft, which would require the correct pass-code to traverse Control’s defensive laser barrier. The Commander would also have access to a personal computer called “Com-Com” (Commander’s Computer), which would act as a personal advisor, having been programmed with the Commander’s personality and moral sense.

In the half-hour opening episode “Zero-G” penned by the Andersons, Earth’s deep space probes have discovered an advanced extraterrestrial civilisation. Maddox is kidnapped for an interview with the aliens. Angered by humanity’s innate hostility and WANDER’s defensive posture, they travel to Earth with the intent of isolating mankind within the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere. Having judged Maddox a noble example of mankind, they return him unharmed. They then use a beam to reduce the Moon’s gravitational influence to zero, sending it careening out of orbit into deep space.[8]

The project continued forward. Group Three Productions (a partnership of the Andersons and production executive Reg Hill) would produce the series; ITC Entertainment and RAI Italian TV Broadcasting would provide the funding. Grade, aiming for a US network sale, insisted the series have American leads and employ American writers and directors. George Bellak, a well-known American television writer, was brought on staff. As stated by series writers Christopher Penfold and Johnny Byrne, it was Bellak who created and polished the series’ defining concepts. Bellak wrote a ninety-minute opening episode titled “The Void Ahead”, which was a close forerunner of “Breakaway“. Bellak also set up a writers’ guide defining the three leads, the facilities of the Moonbase and potential storylines.

At this point, the staff seemed to make creative changes that brought the series closer in concept and appearance to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even the title Space: 1999 evoked comparison with Kubrick’s film. (Before, the title of the new series had greatly varied: Space Journey: 1999, Journey In Space, Menace In Space and Space Invaders — the invaders of the last title being the Earthmen trapped on the runaway Moon.)

For the lead characters of John Koenig and Helena Russell, Gerry Anderson approached the husband-and-wife acting team of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. Landau and Bain were high-profile stars in America after three years on the popular CBS espionage series Mission: Impossible. Producer Sylvia Anderson let it be known that she would have preferred British lead actors; since Grade insisted on Americans, she would have chosen Robert Culp (star of the 1960s espionage series I Spy) and Katharine Ross (co-star of 1960s blockbuster movies The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).[6] Lee H. Katzin, a highly respected American television director with a speciality for pilot episodes, was selected to helm the opening segment and brought into the fold as a primary director for the remainder of the series.

Special effects, design and music

The show’s vehicles, including the Eagle space shuttle and the Moon Buggy, were represented with a mixture of full-sized props, photographic blow-ups, and detailed scale models. Dozens of models for the various alien spaceships and the Mark IX Hawk from the “War Games” episode were built by model maker Martin Bower, often at several different sizes to account for the intended use.

Rather than relying on the expensive and time consuming blue screen process, as for Star Trek, Johnson’s team often employed a technique that went back to the earliest days of visual effects: spacecraft and planets would be filmed against black backgrounds, with the camera being rewound for each successive element. As long as the various elements did not overlap, this produced convincing results. In technical terms, the advantage was that all of the elements were recorded on the original negative, as opposed to blue screen, which would have involved several generations of duplication. Another plus was that the camera’s exposed negative contained completed effects—once this film was lab processed—thereby avoiding the costly, in time and money, blue screen “optical” technique. The disadvantage was that the number of possible angles was more limited; for instance, a spaceship could be seen approaching a planet from the side, but could not move in front of it without the elements overlapping.[9]

Special effects director Brian Johnson and most of his team went on to work on Ridley Scott‘s Alien, followed by The Empire Strikes Back.

Space: 1999 used Pinewood Studios sound-stages L and M. Each studio measures 90′ x 105′ (27 m x 32 m), with a floor-to-grid measurement of 30 feet (9 m). For the first series, Stage L housed the “standing sets”; such as Main Mission, the Eagle interior, the travel tube, and a small section of corridor. Due to the limited studio space, other sets depicting Alpha interiors, such as Medical Centre, were assembled as needed. Stage M was the “swing stage” – used for planet exteriors, spaceship interiors, and whatever else was needed for a given episode.

The unisex “Moon City” uniforms for the first series were created by renowned Austrian fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, a personal friend of series star Barbara Bain. Other costumes were designed by Production Designer Keith Wilson, who was also responsible for set design. Wilson’s innovative Moonbase set construction, using 4-by-8-foot (120 by 240 cm) plastic foam-board panels, linked together Lego-like into whatever room configuration was required, made for a uniform and realistic appearance for the Alpha interiors (not to mention being relatively cheap and quickly assembled).[9] A muted colour palette and the integration of recognisable equipment and accessories added to the verisimilitude.

For the second series, the Moonbase uniforms were updated and coloured decorative stitching and turtleneck collars were added, as were various badges and patches. Red, navy, or dark-green jackets also appeared, originally on just the senior staff, then on many of the male extras. The female characters tended to wear skirts and knee high boots throughout the second series, rather than the flared trousers used in Year One. The costumes for Year Two were designed by Emma Porteous, who later designed the wardrobes for several James Bond films.[10]

The Moonbase interiors were also upgraded for the second year, with the existing stock of wall panels, doors, computer panels, etc. (along with some bits from other Anderson productions) being assembled for the first time—on Stage L–into a standing complex of interconnected sets (the first series’ sets had been assembled as needed and the size of the Main Mission/Command Office complex was prohibitive for the construction of a lasting series of rooms.)[9] Vibrant colour was much more evident in this series’ Moonbase sets. Gadgets and equipment with a futuristic appearance typical of contemporary science fiction were also more evident. For example, Helena no longer used a stethoscope, but a little beeping, all-purpose medical scanner similar to Dr McCoy’s whistling medical “tricorder” on Star Trek.

The opening credits for the first series featured a dramatic fanfare composed by long-time Anderson associate Barry Gray, whose scores for the series were his final compositions for an Anderson production. Gray scored five episodes — “Breakaway“, “Matter of Life and Death“, “Black Sun”, “Another Time, Another Place“, and “The Full Circle” — Vic Elms provided a completely electronic score for “Ring Around the Moon“, and Big Jim Sullivan performed a one-off sitar composition for “The Troubled Spirit“. Library music, classical compositions, and score excerpts from earlier Anderson productions augmented the five Gray scores and gave the impression of an expansive musical repertoire.

The second series was scored by jazz musician and composer Derek Wadsworth; American producer Fred Freiberger wanted a more “driving, searing” score for his new action-adventure format.[9] Aside from the new theme music, which was more synthesised than the theme for Year One, Wadsworth also composed original music for the episodes “The Metamorph“, “The Exiles“, “One Moment of Humanity“, “The Taybor“, and “Space Warp“. Much of this music was reused in other episodes.

Other Anderson shows influenced the Space: 1999 spacecraft and elements. The cockpit of the Eagle has a slight resemblance to the cockpit of an earlier Anderson Supermarionation series, Fireball XL5. Thruster and engine sounds were similar to those previously used in Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet. Lighting effects for Moonbase Alpha were comparable to those from UFO, as well as the concept of the elevating spacecraft launch pad.

After almost 30 years, the original Moonbase Alpha model reappeared in the public eye online when a site gained exclusive access to photomap the model and solicit its sale.[11]

Series One

As the November 1973 start date approached, George Bellak fell out with Gerry Anderson over creative issues and left the production. Story consultant Christopher Penfold acted as head writer, bringing in American writer Edward di Lorenzo and Irish poet Johnny Byrne as script editors. Penfold reworked Bellak’s opening episode into a one-hour draft first re-titled “Turning Point”, then finalised as “Breakaway”.[12]

One week before live action filming commenced, Visual Effects Supervisor Brian Johnson and his team began work on the visual effects sequences for the first episode at Bray Studios near Maidenhead, Berkshire on 5 November 1973. For the first six weeks, no usable footage resulted until the team discovered a dragging brake had affected film speed. Studio rehearsals commenced at Elstree Studios near Borehamwood, Hertfordshire on 12 November 1973. During filming of the first episode, it became apparent that the troubled Elstree was under the threat of imminent closure. One weekend, the company secretly relocated sets, props, costumes, etc., to the nearby Pinewood Studios at Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, resulting in a union blacklisting of the production.[7]

Scheduled for ten days’ filming, “Breakaway” overran an additional fifteen days. Lee Katzin was a perfectionist and demanded take after take of scenes; even coverage of reaction shots of the background extras required running a whole scene from beginning to end.[13] His two-hour director’s cut was assembled and sent to ITC New York for a viewing. Abe Mandell was horrified by the finished product. Anderson re-wrote several key scenes and, after three days of re-shoots, re-edited the pilot into a one-hour episode that appeased the fears of ITC. Katzin was not asked back to the programme after the filming of his second episode “Black Sun”, which also ran over schedule.

Scheduled for a twelve-month shoot, the twenty-four episodes took fifteen months to complete, with the production experiencing as many hazards as their fictional creations. Britain’s mandatory three-day work week and the unplugging of the National Grid during the coal shortages of the early 1970s did not delay filming (as Pinewood had its own generators), but it affected film processing (the lab was an off-site contractor).[6]

Group Three’s commitment to its financial partner, Italian broadcasting company RAI, to include Italian actors in the cast also had to be addressed. Originally, two supporting roles were intended for Italian actors; with the casting of Nick Tate and Zienia Merton in those roles, a solution had to be worked out. Four of the later episodes produced (“The Troubled Spirit“, “Space Brain“, “Dragon’s Domain” and “The Testament of Arkadia“) featured Italian guest artists.

The necessity to telex story outlines and scripts to New York for approval caused further production delays. The incessant re-writing this brought about eventually caused Christopher Penfold to resign during the shooting of “Space Brain“, after completing his writing commitment with the script “Dragon’s Domain“. In a later interview, Johnny Byrne stated that “one episode they (New York) would ask us to speed things up, forcing us to cut out character development; then the next episode, they asked for more character moments, which would slow down the action; then they would complain there weren’t enough pretty girls in another.”[7] Years later, Byrne and Penfold would agree that the process they worked under made “good scripts less than they had been” and forced them to waste time re-writing “bad scripts to make them acceptable”.[7] Byrne remained until the end of production; his last task writing filler scenes for the desperately short “The Last Enemy” and a re-shoot for the troublesome “Space Brain“. The scenes re-mounted for “The Last Enemy” concluded principal photography on 28 February 1975.

Countries where the show was popular include France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Poland, Ethiopia, South Africa, Turkey, Iran, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Peru, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. One of the first previews of the series was in Australia on the Seven Network in July 1975, but the station later split the first series into two seasons. The second season was shown in 1979.

Reception

Response to the series varied; some critics praised it as a classic, citing the production values and multi-layered storytelling (“Space: 1999 is like Star Trek shot full of methedrine. It is the most flashy, gorgeous sci-fi trip ever to appear on TV…” and “Space: 1999 is a visually stunning, space-age morality play…”);[14][15] others panned it for poor plotting and wooden acting, especially on the part of Barbara Bain (“the plots and characterisation on Space: 1999 have been primitive…” and “A disappointing collage of wooden characters, boring dialogue and incomprehensible plots…”).[16][17]

Isaac Asimov criticised the scientific accuracy of the series by pointing out that any explosion capable of knocking the Moon out of its orbit would actually blow it apart, and even if it did leave orbit it would take thousands of years to reach the nearest star. He did, however, praise the programme for the accuracy of the representation of movement in the low gravity environment of the Moon, and for its realistic production design (Asimov’s responses were based on the pilot episode only). Subsequent episodes (such as “The Black Sun”, third in production order, and “Another Time, Another Place”, sixth in production order) suggest the Moon reaches the stars by passing through wormholes and hyperspatial tunnels, a plot point made more overt in second-season episodes, notably “The Taybor” and “Space Warp”.[18] This issue is left somewhat enigmatic in the first season as episodes involving other planets invariably begin with the Moon having already reached a planet and in the first few episodes of this kind, such as “Matter of Life and Death” and “Missing Link”, the episodes actually begin with the Alphans on their way back from a planet, an initial Eagle flight having taken place before the episode even begins.

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were surprised and disappointed that the public (and critics) never granted them the suspension of disbelief given to other science-fiction programmes.[19] The characters seem aware of the apparent implausibility of their situation. In “Black Sun”, Victor Bergman asserts the chances of their surviving the explosion which knocked them from orbit are “just about infinite.” In “Matter of Life and Death”, Koenig remarks “many things have happened since we broke away from our own solar system, unexplainable things.” How they survived and are able to travel the Universe seems to be a central mystery to which the Alphans, and the audience, have no concrete answers.

In speaking about the show in 2010, Bain reflected: “We had some very good science fiction people as advisors who knew what they were talking about. For instance, they knew that sound up there wouldn’t travel, and it would just be quiet up there. But then we wouldn’t have a series, so we couldn’t do that. There were various considerations that had to be made, but they were based on what is, or what was, known at the time. For all I know now it’s out of date. I don’t really know.” [20]

She added that some of the technology on Space: 1999 has come to pass: “We made up a scanning device for Dr Russell. Someone would simply be lying on the floor half dead, and I would [scan them] with this funny little thing that was a prop. I could read all his vital signs. They can pretty much do that [with a medical device] nowadays. There were times that we were playing with props that didn’t read anything — I just had a bunch of dialogue to say after. We had the Commlock. All of those things were on the verge of happening anyway. Now we’re way past it. When we made it, 1999 seemed so far away.” [20]

Cancellation and revival

Following the completion of the first series, the production team prepared for a second series to commence production in the autumn of 1975. Gerry Anderson had staff writer Johnny Byrne prepare a critical analysis of the first twenty-four episodes, assessing their strengths and weaknesses in order to mount a new and improved second year.[7] Byrne then commenced writing scripts in an improved first-series format: “The Biological Soul”, “The Face of Eden”, and “Children of the Gods”. He engaged British writer Donald James to develop his first-series format story “The Exiles”.

The largest stumbling block for the staff had been having all material vetted by ITC’s New York office. ITC’s compromise was to hire a high-profile American staff writer-producer. At this time, Sylvia Anderson left her role as producer and as Gerry Anderson’s wife when they formally separated (and subsequently divorced). Fred Freiberger, whom Gerry Anderson had considered for the writing position, was then brought on board to help guide the series as a producer and acted as show-runner. Freiberger had produced the third and final season of Star Trek in 1968–1969 and eight episodes of the first season of The Wild Wild West (including one in which Martin Landau guest-starred) before being dismissed. Immediately after Space: 1999 he would go on to produce what would be the final season of The Six Million Dollar Man. His writing credits included Slattery’s People, The Iron Horse, All in the Family, Petrocelli, and Starsky and Hutch. Though Anderson and Grade were satisfied with this choice, Abe Mandell had concerns about why he was unemployed and available at the time.[6]

Then ITC Entertainment President Sir Lew Grade abruptly cancelled the series’ production in late 1975, when ratings in the United States had dropped during the later autumn months of the year. Grade had already been disappointed by the lack of an American network broadcast sale. Gerry Anderson and Fred Freiberger rallied and pitched the idea of a new series with the addition of an alien character to Moonbase Alpha, who would shake up the dynamic of interaction on the Moonbase and regain viewer interest in the United States. On the strength of Anderson and Freiberger’s proposal of adding an alien character from the planet Psychon named Maya, Mandell approved a renewal of the series for a second year.

In addition to the alien Maya character, to be played by Catherine Schell, numerous other changes were made for what was branded Year Two. The most visible change was the absence of Professor Bergman (Barry Morse). Morse’s departure was due to a salary dispute, but he later claimed that he was glad to leave, and he had told Anderson: “I would rather play with grown-ups for a while.” [21] With Morse gone, the role of the boffin on Alpha was filled completely by Maya, whose people’s science was far in advance of mankind’s. Also, her character was conceived to be able to provide “outside observation of human behaviour” as had been provided by the character of Mr. Spock on Star Trek. Maya shared Spock’s logical approach to problem-solving and advanced intelligence, but differed in that she was a charming, fully emotional person. Most importantly, however, her Psychon abilities as a metamorph with the power of “molecular transformation” allowed her to convert herself into any living thing for an hour at a time, were designed to add a certain “wow” factor to the newly revamped series. Maya had an impish sense of humour. When love-interest Tony Verdeschi offered her some of his home-brewed beer, Maya tried it, then turned herself into Mister Hyde. Schell had previously guest-starred as the Servant of the Guardian in the Year One episode “Guardian of Piri“.

In addition to the cosmetic changes, the characters were “warmed up.” Koenig and Russell went from a barely noticeable courtship to a physically passionate, full-fledged romance, in which the devotion ran so deep that they offered to die for each other (“Brian the Brain”). In addition to Bergman, Year One supporting characters Paul Morrow (Prentis Hancock), David Kano (Clifton Jones) and Tanya Alexander (Suzanne Roquette) were also removed from the cast (Paul and Tanya’s disappearance is explained in the Powys Media book The Forsaken by John Kenneth Muir). Dr Bob Mathias (Anton Phillips) was present in the first two Year Two episodes, was mentioned in the third episode, and then also disappeared without a trace. His character was replaced by several recurring physicians. Alan Carter (Nick Tate) was to have been written out of the series, but he had become so popular with fans that he remained. Sandra Benes (Zienia Merton) remained with the series in an on-again off-again association, but the character only appeared in a fraction of the episodes, albeit more prominently in some than in many of those of the first series.

New characters Maya (an alien from the planet Psychon) and Security Chief Tony Verdeschi join Year Two

Security Chief Tony Verdeschi also joined as a new character, played by Tony Anholt. Verdeschi, who assumed the base’s second-in-command role, neither appeared, nor was ever mentioned, in Year One. However, Moonbase Alpha personnel treated Verdeschi as if he had been in their midst since “Breakaway”. His character was designed to serve primarily as a secondary male action hero, and became a romantic interest for Maya.

No on-screen explanations were offered for the cast changes. One scene in “The Metamorph” mentioning Bergman’s death was scripted and filmed, but cut from the final edit. The Moonbase Alpha Technical Manual produced by Starlog magazine picks up this explanation, stating Bergman died due to a faulty spacesuit per the scripted scene. Likewise, it was mentioned in this publication that Morrow and Kano had died in an Eagle crash between seasons, and explained that Dr Mathias, supposedly Alpha’s psychiatrist (although he seems to be more Russell’s assistant) was on sabbatical doing research. Fred Freiberger felt that these characters were one-dimensional and had no fan support; he told Nick Tate that the audience would not remember them and that, as far as he was concerned, they were just “somewhere else” on Alpha, lost in the crowd of three hundred other people.[6] Freiberger failed to appreciate the value of the supporting characters to the show and its fans.

Other changes included the main titles and theme music. Year One’s opening montage of events from “Breakaway” and the episode about to unfold was dropped in favour of a special-effects sequence depicting the Moon being blown out of orbit into space. With Morse gone, Schell was featured in his place as a regular alongside Landau and Bain, and all three were depicted in action-oriented images as opposed to the mannequin-like stances Landau and Bain had assumed in the Year One main titles. New series composer Derek Wadsworth‘s new theme dropped Barry Gray‘s alternation between stately, orchestral passages and funky rhythmic ones in favour of a more consistently contemporary piece.

Rudi Gernreich‘s minimalist costume was considerably modified from the original unisex design to include an optional skirt and leather boots for women and much more detail work on the tunic portion, including turtleneck collars, coloured stitching, patches and photo ID badges. In addition, colourful jackets (generally red, blue or green) became part of most characters’ ensembles.

The expansive Main Mission set, with its balcony and windows revealing the lunar surface, was replaced by a more compact Command Centre, supposedly deep underground (again, this change was explained in the Year Two Writers’ Bible and Technical Manual as necessary for security, but never explained onscreen). Medical Centre, Generator Section, Life Support and the Alphans’ living quarters became smaller, while the interior of the Eagle command module was updated with additional buttons, flashing lights and television monitors, while the Eagle also lost a section of corridor (the galley/storage area) between the passenger module and the cockpit. (This was to accommodate its placement on Pinewood Soundstage “L”, with the other standing Alpha sets; the Eagle was permanently affixed to the boarding tube/travel tube set and jammed between the travel-tube reception area and the Medical Centre.)[9]

The sombre mood created in Year One by the effective use of light and shadow in the filming of Moonbase Alpha interiors was abandoned in favour of a generally brighter cinematography, and even the lettering used in signage and costuming—most noticeable on spacesuits and Eagle Transporter doors—changed to a simpler, less futuristic style.

Production Designer Keith Wilson stated in an interview in Destination: Moonbase Alpha that he was always being ordered by Producer Fred Freiberger to make sets smaller, taking away the expansive (and expensive) look of the first series’ interiors. Freiberger was very budget-conscious and, despite press releases to the contrary, the production team was working with less money this series.[6][7][22] If there had been a budget increase, the ‘stagflation‘ economy of the seventies would have cancelled it out. When interviewed, many of the actors state they were asked to accept less money, including Landau and Bain (who were the only ones with enough clout to be able to refuse).

Freiberger emphasised action-adventure in Year Two stories to the exclusion of metaphysical themes explored in Year One. Of Year One, he commented, “They were doing the show as an English show, where there was no story, with the people standing around and talking. In the first show I did, I stressed action as well as character development, along with strong story content, to prove that 1999 could stand up to the American concept of what an action-adventure show should be.”[23] Since Year One was quite serious in tone, one of Freiberger’s ways to accomplish this objective was to inject humour into Year Two stories whenever possible, but much of it seemed to the more vocal fans to be forced, especially at the conclusion of an episode, where the Alphans were seen as jovial and light-hearted despite whatever violent or tragic events might have previously befallen them. Freiberger had appropriated this approach from Star Trek; the endings of many of that show’s episodes featured an upbeat discussion among the cast of the lessons learned during the episode and closing on a joke; this approach was copied for Space: 1999 with Koenig, Verdeschi, Russell, Carter and Maya enjoying a laugh in the Command Centre. Given Landau’s intensity and the brooding nature of the Koenig character, the approach did not fit the series.

Members of the Space: 1999 cast were disenchanted with the scripts. Martin Landau: “They changed it because a bunch of American minds got into the act and they decided to do many things they felt were commercial. Fred Freiberger helped in some respects, but, overall, I don’t think he helped the show, I think he brought a much more ordinary, mundane approach to the series.”[24] One particular episode (‘All That Glisters‘, which dealt with the threat of an intelligent rock) was of such allegedly deficient quality that it sparked a confrontation between Freiberger and the cast. Landau disliked the story so strongly that he wrote the following notes on his copy of the script: “All the credibility we’re building up is totally forsaken in this script.”; “…Story is told poorly.”; and “The character of Koenig takes a terrible beating in this script — We’re all schmucks.” Anholt revealed that, “the more the cast complained about a script’s flaws, the more intractable and unyielding Freiberger became.” Dissatisfaction on Landau’s part about scripts was not new to Year Two, though. Sylvia Anderson remembers that he often voiced criticisms of scripts during production of the first series.

Series Two

With the last-minute renewal from Grade, the production team hit the ground running. Byrne’s script “The Biological Soul”, involving the Alphans’ encounter with the unstable Mentor of the planet Psychon and his biological computer Psyche, which drew sustenance from the mental energy of intelligent beings, was re-written to include the new character Maya and the rest of the format changes. Production began on 26 January 1976 and was scheduled to last a mere ten months due to the already-late renewal order.

To fulfil the scheduling requirement, Freiberger came up with the “double-up script” solution. During “double-up” instalments, two first-unit production teams would film two episodes simultaneously. Landau and some of the supporting cast would be given expanded roles and would film an episode on location or on sets constructed for that story in Pinewood’s Soundstage “M”, while Bain and the remaining supporting cast (also in expanded roles) would film their episode in the standing Alpha sets on Soundstage “L”. Landau and Bain would then be given minor roles in the opposing episodes. This cost- and time-saving measure was used to complete eight stories as four pairs: “The Rules of Luton” and “The Mark of Archanon“; “The AB Chrysalis” and “Catacombs of the Moon“; “A Matter of Balance” and “Space Warp“; “Devil’s Planet” and “Dorzak“. A ninth episode, “The Beta Cloud“, was intentionally scripted with only one day’s worth of work for Landau and Bain to allow their planned holiday to the French Riviera not to delay the series’ production; the four supporting cast members (Schell, Anholt, Tate and Merton) were the recipients of much greater than usual exposure.

Relations between new producer Freiberger and the Year One veterans were strained. Landau complained about stories he felt were light-weight or absurd when compared to the previous year’s efforts. His feelings can be summed up from comments written on the cover of a script: “I’m not going out on a limb for this show because I’m not in accord with what you’re (Freiberger) doing as a result … etc. I don’t think I even want to do the promos — I don’t want to push the show any more as I have in the past. It’s not my idea of what the show should be. It’s embarrassing to me if I am not the star of it and in the way I feel it should be. This year should be more important to it, not less important to it … I might as well work less hard in all of them.”[25] Johnny Byrne has gone on record saying that Freiberger was a good man and good producer, but not good for Space: 1999. He had gotten them a second year after the cancellation, but the changes he made did not benefit the programme.[25]

Principal photography came to an end on 23 December 1976 with “The Dorcons“. An article regarding a third series was printed in the trade papers: “Now entrenched in its successful second season boom, ITC is looking forward to a third season with more fantastic events and additions, although mum’s the word at the studio. They will only say that Maya and Miss Schell will be kept in and that the budget may be raised again, but that’s all until final preparations and an official announcement are made.”[6]

Undeveloped Year Three

While the third series of Space: 1999 never actually entered production, the producers and studio had originally intended continuing the show. As filming on Year Two came to its conclusion, it became apparent that this was simply not to be and the series ended with the episode “The Dorcons“. However, during production of the later episodes of the second series, plans for the shape of the third year began to develop:

  • The third year would have been far shorter than the previous two, with only 13 episodes. This was intended as a budgetary compromise between the quantity and quality of episodes.
  • Maya was considered to be the breakout character of the series, and very early on the producers began grooming her for her own spinoff show, which was at one point intended to run concurrently with the third series of Space: 1999. Had this project gone ahead, Maya would have also been absent from Space: 1999. This “Maya” series was also intended to run for 13 episodes a year.[6]

Broadcast

UK

The series premiered in September 1975, on the ITV network but was not simulcast nationally (this remained the case until a repeat airing on BBC2 in 1998). Most ITV regions (including Yorkshire, Grampian, Ulster, Scottish, Border, ATV, and Tyne Tees) premiered the series on Thursday, 4 September 1975 in a 7.00pm slot.[26] The London and Anglia regions screened the first episode two days later on Saturday, 6 September at 5.50pm.[27] The Granada region began showing the series on Friday, 26 September 1975, initially at 7.35pm before moving to 6.35pm a few weeks later.[28] The HTV region did not begin showing the series until October 1975, again in an early Friday evening slot.

The second series premiered on London Weekend Television (LWT) in a non-prime-time slot on Saturday 4th September 1976 at 11.30am, with ATV following on just a few hours later at 5.40pm. The series was not treated well and many of the ITV stations either delayed the series. Granada, Westward and Ulster started to screen the series during the early part of 1977, Grampian, and Tyne Tees pick up the series later in the year. Scottish started to screen the series on 9 April 1978 on Sunday afternoons. HTV (serving Wales and West of England) did not pick the series up until 1984 ( were repeating the series one at this time) and then only showed nineteen out of the twenty-four episodes from Year Two (the last episodes were not screened in Wales until [29]the series was broadcast by Bravo on the Sky Satellite network in the mid–1990s). Southern Television was the other ITV region known not to have broadcast series two. Even its successor broadcaster, Television South, failed to screen any series two episodes when Space 1999 was reshown in the ITV regions between 1982 and 1985. [30]

USA

In the United States, efforts to sell the series to one of the three networks for the 1974–75 or 1975–76 television seasons failed. The networks were uninterested in a project over which they had no creative control, being presented with the accomplished fact of twenty-four completed episodes. Abe Mandell of ITC had secured a ‘handshake’ agreement with a network executive in 1974, but after the man’s termination, all his projects were abandoned.[6] Undaunted, Mandell created what he called his own Space: 1999 Network[7] and sold the completed program into first-run syndication directly to local stations. Much of the publicity mentioned the then-staggering three million pound budget: as a part of the American promotion effort, a glossy magazine-sized brochure was produced, touting Space: 1999 as the Six-and-a-Half Million Dollar Series (an allusion to the then-popular American programme The Six Million Dollar Man) featuring American stars, American writers and American directors.[31]

In the months leading to the beginning of the fall (autumn) 1975 television season Landau and Bain participated in special preview screenings in select cities.[3] Landau is said to have personally contacted editors of the widely read and influential TV Guide magazine in some markets to secure coverage of Space: 1999 in its pages upon learning of ITC’s somewhat poor promotional efforts.

While most of the U.S. stations that aired Space: 1999 were independent (such as powerful Chicago station WGN-TV, Louisville station WDRB-TV, Los Angeles station KHJ-TV, and New York City’s WPIX-TV), a handful were affiliated with the major networks (such as Charlotte, North Carolina’s WSOC-TV, at the time a strong NBC affiliate, and Fresno’s KFSN-TV, at the time a CBS affiliate) and sometimes pre-empted regular network programming to show episodes of the series; most U.S. stations broadcast the episodes in the weekday evening hour just before prime time or on weekends. The series was broadcast in 96 countries, mostly from 1975 to 1979. However, it aired in its entirety in very few countries. Often there were long gaps between the first run and rerun or even within the first run.

Canada

In Canada, CBC Television was the broadcaster of Space: 1999 from 1975 into the 1980s. The first season in 1975–76 was shown regionally on some CBC owned-and-operated stations, the airtime varying. With the start of the second season in September 1976, CBC Television upgraded Space: 1999 to full-network status, airing it Saturdays on all CBC owned-and-operated stations, with affiliated, privately owned stations also offering the show on Saturdays. Most of the country saw Space: 1999 at 5 p.m. on Saturdays, a notable exception being the Atlantic Provinces in which it was broadcast at 6 or 6:30 p.m. (their time) or – as was the case in the summers – sometime earlier in the afternoon to accommodate live sports coverage, the airing of which crossed into or totally over the usual Space: 1999 airtime. After the 1976–77 broadcast year (in which second-season episodes were run and rerun), the show’s ratings were sufficiently high for CBC Television to give the first season a full-network airing – and with further repeats – from 1977 to 1978. The French-language CBC Television, Radio-Canada, showed Cosmos: 1999 several times (both seasons) between 1975 and 1980, first on Mondays (1975–1976), then on Saturdays (1976–1977), then on Mondays (1979), and finally on Wednesdays (1979–1980).

The series fared admirably on CBC Television in Canada, airing in English in a family viewing period, late Saturday afternoons before hockey broadcasts, with a mostly un-disrupted run and rerun of all 24 episodes from September, 1976 through September, 1977. The French version was also broadcast, in early evening on Saturdays. Ratings were sufficient for a full additional year’s transmission of Year One in the English CBC Saturday programming slot in 1977 and 1978. Episodes of both Year One and Year Two were repeated regionally in Canada in English and French through the early-to-mid-1980s. YTV Canada broadcast both seasons with reportedly good ratings from 1990 to 1992, in a late Saturday afternoon airtime closely matching that of the CBC English network in the 1970s.

The full-network English CBC airing began with the series opener, “Breakaway“, on 11 September 1976, then “The Metamorph“, the Year Two opener, on 18 September. “The Exiles“, “Journey to Where“, “The Taybor“, and “New Adam, New Eve” followed respectively in the subsequent weeks. Next were “The Mark of Archanon“, “Brian the Brain“, “The Rules of Luton“, “The AB Chrysalis“, “Catacombs of the Moon“, and “Seed of Destruction“. “Seed of Destruction” aired on 27 November, and then with December there came a month of repeats. And after a pre-emption for New Year’s Day sports, new episodes resumed airing on 8 January 1977 with “A Matter of Balance“, followed by “The Beta Cloud“, “One Moment of Humanity“, “The Lambda Factor“, “All That Glisters“, and “The Seance Spectre“. The two-part episode, “The Bringers of Wonder”, was shown on 19 and 26 February. And then “Dorzak“, “The Immunity Syndrome“, “Devil’s Planet“, and “The Dorcons” followed in March. “Space Warp” would not be shown until 21 May, after many weeks of repeats. By 10 September 1977, except for “The Exiles”, all of the second-season episodes had been repeated. And thereafter, a 1977-1978 run of first-season episodes began with “War Games” on 17 September.

Finland

In Finland the first season was originally aired by the commercial MTV (Mainostelevisio) channel in 1976, but it was withdrawn after couple of episodes on demand of the national programme board as the show was considered too brutal and horrifying. The same thing happened when MTV tried to air the second season in 1978. The complete show wasn’t seen in Finland until the 1990s when a small local channel, TV-Tampere, aired it.

Rest

It was shown in Italy as Spazio 1999 , Argentina, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, francophone Canada, and France as Cosmos: 1999, Denmark as Månebase Alpha, Brazil and Portugal as Espaço: 1999, Germany as Mondbasis Alpha 1, Sweden as Månbas Alpha, Poland as Kosmos 1999 (1977–1979), Finland as Avaruusasema Alfa, Greece as Διάστημα 1999, Hungary as Alfa Holdbázis, Spain, Chile, Venezuela, and Colombia as Espacio: 1999, Mexico as Odisea 1999, Turkey as Uzay 1999 and South Africa as Alpha 1999 (1976, dubbed into Afrikaans). Also transmitted in New Zealand and Australia.

Fan and critics’ responses to the new series varied. Some missed the mystical plotlines, feature-film ambiance and the “British-ness” of the first series. Others embraced the new characters, down-to-earth characterisations and pulsing action beats. Comparisons with Star Trek were inevitable and used by both camps to show how the series had been either saved or destroyed by the format change. Reviewing the show as a whole, science fiction historian John Clute described Space: 1999 as “visually splendid” but criticised what he regarded as the show’s “mediocre acting” and “rotten scripts”.[32]

Message From Moonbase Alpha and planned revivals

Message From Moonbase Alpha (premiered 13 September 1999), starring Zienia Merton as Sandra Benes.

Filmed on 29 August 1999, Message From Moonbase Alpha is a fan-produced mini-episode made with the co-operation and involvement of Space: 1999 script editor Johnny Byrne, who penned the script. Filmed inside a private house on a remarkable working replica of a small section of the Main Mission set and utilising the original prop of Koenig’s Command Centre desk and Sandra Benes‘s original Year Two Alpha uniform, the short film was first shown at the Space: 1999 Breakaway Convention[33] in Los Angeles, California on 13 September 1999—the day the events in episode 1 of the series were supposed to take place. With the permission of (then) copyright owners Carlton Media International, the film included brief clips from seven episodes to illustrate the deserted Moonbase Alpha and the Alphans’ exodus to planet Terra Alpha. Previously unused footage shot for the Year Two title sequence and The Last Enemy was used to create a sequence showing the Moon being affected by a gravitational disturbance and thrown into an unknown solar system. Short excerpts from 12 other episodes appeared in a montage as Sandra Benes recalls her life on Alpha.

The seven-minute film features Zienia Merton reprising her role as Sandra Benes delivering a final message to Earth as the only crew member left on Moonbase Alpha while a massive exodus to a habitable planet, Terra Alpha, takes place with the rest of the crew. The evacuation was also necessitated by the degradation and decay of Alpha’s life support systems. This basically gave the series the conclusion that it never had in its initial run. Taking place twenty five years after the events of “Breakaway”, Commander Koenig and Maya are mentioned during Sandra’s message. It concludes with the termination of the message as Sandra closes down Alpha’s operational systems and transmits the message- which turns out to be the mysterious signal received shortly before the events of “Breakaway”.

Modified versions of Message From Moonbase Alpha are available on the Space: 1999 Bonus Disk in the U.S. and Canada, and on a DVD bonus disc in France and in Italy. The original version appears as a bonus feature on the Space: 1999/UFO – The Documentaries DVD produced by Fanderson. It’s also available on YouTube.

Around the same time ‘Message From Moonbase Alpha’ was being filmed, Johnny Byrne and Christopher Penfold attempted to revive the franchise as a movie series, similar to the way Star Trek had been revived cinematically in the late 1970s. The first film would have picked up the story several years after the series ended, and would have featured a heavily redesigned Moonbase Alpha. Ultimately the project failed, and nothing came of it.[34]

In February 2012, ITV Studios America and HDFILMS officially announced their intention to produce a reimagining of Space: 1999, to be titled Space: 2099.[35]

Home video releases

UK

The series was released on home video in the 1990s, with volume featuring two episodes. In 2001, it was released on DVD in the UK by Carlton Media, both in single disc volumes (each volume contained four episodes) and also as two complete season boxed sets (titled as “Year One” and “Year Two”) comprising six discs each. Each DVD also contained various extra features, including a variety of archive production material, memorabilia, and interviews with the cast and crew from the time the series was being made.

In 2005, Network DVD re-issued Year One in the UK as a Special Edition seven-disc box set. For this release, to coincide with the series’ 30th Anniversary, each episode was digitally restored by creating new 35mm film elements (a new interpositive made from the original negative which is then used to make further copies). High Definition digital transfers were then made from the interpositives using a state-of-the-art Philips Spirit DataCine. This vastly improved the picture quality in comparison to the previous DVD releases, however the restoration process has actually made some of the space scenes (that involve special effects and model work) less realistic due to increased brightness and contrast (a comparison can be viewed here [36]). This box set also included a new set of extra features that were not on the Carlton DVD releases, including featurettes on “Concept & Creation” and “Special Effects & Design” (edited from an earlier “Fanderson” documentary made in 1996), textless and alternative opening and closing title sequences, a two-part Clapperboard special on Gerry Anderson from 1975, and also a brand new 70-minute documentary entitled “These Episodes” in which Anderson, Christopher Penfold, Johnny Byrne, Zienia Merton and David Lane reflect on the making of key episodes from the first series.

Network DVD released Year One on Blu-ray in the UK on 1 November 2010, and simultaneously re-released their Special Edition DVD box set of Year One with new cover artwork at the same time.[37] The Blu-ray set includes all of the extras on the 2005 Network DVD release as well as some of the extras that were on the 2001 Carlton DVD release (including a Lyons Maid ice-lolly commercial, and an SFX segment from the British documentary series Horizon). It also includes several new extras including a “Memories of Space” featurette, a Sylvia Anderson interview (in which she frankly discusses the series and her thoughts about Landau and Bain), an expanded version of the “These Episodes” documentary from the DVD set, several PDF files containing scripts and annuals, an extensive set of photo galleries with hundreds of stills, and the first episode of Year Two, “The Metamorph”, in digitally restored hi-definition.

Network DVD began a similar restoration process for Year Two in 2007, however progress was slow due to higher production costs in comparison to remastering Year One (the audio for Year One was already digitised prior to Network’s restoration, but Year Two was not). In late 2014, Network finally announced that Year Two would be released in 2015. As part of this announcement, Network released a limited edition (of 1999 copies) of a special preview disc of the two-part story “The Bringers of Wonder” on 8 December 2014. This release also contains a restored version of the feature length Destination: Moonbase Alpha film.[38] The remastered Year Two was eventually released on Blu-ray and DVD in September 2015, to coincide with the series’ 40th Anniversary.[39] Again containing a wealth of extra features, the sets include galleries, vintage interviews, a blooper, behind the scenes footage, original source audio recordings, scripts and annuals PDF files, a stock footage archive, a textless opening title sequence, trailers and promos, “music only” options for all episodes, a stop-motion fan film from 1979, and a specially re-edited/rescored version of the episode “Seed of Destruction” as if it were made for Year One.

USA

A&E Home Video has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1 in various incarnations. It was initially released in 8-volume sets between 2001 and 2002. On 24 September 2002, a 16-disc “Mega Set” box set featuring all 48 episodes of the series was released. On 31 July 2007, A&E released Space: 1999 – Complete Series, 30th Anniversary Edition. This is essentially the same as the 2002 “mega set” release (and does not use the 2005 hi-def remasters), but does includes a special bonus disc full of extra features.[40] Year One was released on Blu-ray in the U.S. on 2 November 2010 by A&E Home Entertainment.[41]

Other media

The series has been translated into other media. Originally, all the episodes had been adapted in novelisations, except, for some reason, “Earthbound” (though this may be because E.C. Tubb was working from a different script of “Breakaway” in which Commissioner Simmons was killed when the Moon was torn out of Earth orbit) and “The Taybor” (from Year Two). The authors of these works wrote a number of original stories and have since written new stories and novels which were published after 1999. As well, the original authors participated in the revised versions of their original novels.

At the time of the series’ original run, several comic book series were published and, in the US, a series of audio adaptations were recorded on record albums with the younger audience in mind. After 1999, many of these original comic book stories were revised and reprinted along with new stories. See the list above.

Merchandise

Mattel created a line of Space: 1999 toys to tie into the TV series, including the Eagle 1 Spaceship. Released in 1976, the Eagle 1 is over 2.5-feet long and a foot wide. The Eagle 1 is made mostly of molded plastic and has a number of parts and accessories.[42]

References

  1. “British Film & Television Institute (BFI ScreenOnline)”. Screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  2. Space: 1999 premiere episode, Breakaway
  3. Willey, Martin. Space: 1999 in the USA”. The Catacombs: International Guide. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  4. Willey, Martin. “Catacombs Credits Guide: Guest Cast: B”. The Catacombs. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  5. Willey, Martin. “Catacombs Credits Guide: Guest Cast: D”. The Catacombs. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  6. Destination: Moonbase Alpha Telos Publications 2010
  7. The Making of Space: 1999 Ballantine Books 1976
  8. The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide Reynolds & Hearn
  9. The Making of Space: 1999, Ballatine Books, 1976
  10. “Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style”. Barbican.
  11. Images of the model as it is today can be seen here.
  12. Destination: Moonbase Alpha Telos Publications 2010.
  13. “Breakaway” episode guide at Fanderson — The Official Gerry Anderson Website
  14. Benjamin Stein, Wall Street Journal, 7 November 1975
  15. John Stanley, San Francisco Datebook, 7 September 1975
  16. Arielle Emmett, Science Digest, November 1975
  17. John Javna, Best of SF TV, 1987
  18. Asimov 1975
  19. Destination: Moonbase Alpha, Telos Publications, 2010
  20. Reesman, Bryan (27 April 2011). “Barbara Bain Looks Back But Stays Forward Focused”. Attention Deficit Delirium. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  21. Morse pp. 287–288
  22. In an interview in Destination: Moonbase Alpha, Freiberger is quoted as saying that the second series episodes were brought at US$185,000 each—a significant amount less than the $235,000 budgeted for each first-series episode (and the supposed $270,000 per episode budget ITC promotions indicated as allotted for the second series). Another clue is the lack of an on-screen credit for RAI in the second series; this seems to indicate their one-third contribution ($75,000) to the budget was removed. Left with $160,000, when one adds the reported $25,000 increase from ITC, Freiberger’s claim of $185,000 becomes valid.
  23. Clark & Cotter 1980, pp. 58–61
  24. Hirsch 1986, pp. 44–47
  25. Destination: Moonbase Alpha Telos Publications, 2010
  26. “Television Programme Guide for Thursday, September 4th 1975”. The Guardian. 4 Sep 1975.
  27. “Weekend Television/Radio Guide for Saturday, September 6th 1975”. The Guardian. 6 Sep 1975.
  28. “Television Programme Guide for Friday, September 26th 1975”. The Guardian. 26 Sep 1975.
  29. TV Times
  30. TV Times
  31. The Making of Space: 1999, Ballantine Books, 1976
  32. John Clute, Science Fiction :The Illustrated Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley London, ISBN 0751302023 (p. 114–15). (p. 301)
  33. Willey, Martin. Breakaway: 1999 Convention Report”. The Catacombs: International Guide. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  34. “Interview: Keith Young talks about his Space: 1999 Blueprints and the Revival you never got to see”. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009. The interview also contains a preproduction sketch of the re-designed Main Mission set.
  35. Rose, Lacey. “‘Space: 2099’ to Be Revived for Television”. The Hollywood Reporter.
  36. “Space: 1999 Merchandise Guide: UK DVD”. Space1999.net. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  37. “Bluray release details”. Network DVD. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  38. http://networkonair.com/shop/2090-space-1999-the-bringers-of-wonder-pre-buy-5027626801847.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. “Network ON AIR > Space: 1999”.
  40. “Space: 1999 – 30th Anniversary Edition DVD Information”. TVShowsOnDVD.com. 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  41. “Restored Space: 1999 on Blu-ray”. Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  42. Coopee, Todd. “Space: 1999 Eagle 1 Spaceship”. ToyTales.ca.

Bibliography

  • Asimov, Isaac (28 September 1975). “Is Space: 1999 More Fi Than Sci?”. New York Times. p. 2:1.
  • Clark, Mike; Cotter, Bill (November 1980). “An Interview With Fred Freiberger”. Starlog (40): 58–61.
  • Hirsch, David (July 1986). “Martin Landau Space Age Hero”. Starlog (108): 44–47.

Further reading

  • Bentley, Chris (2005). The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide. Foreword by Gerry Anderson. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-97-8.
  • Drake, Chris (1994). UFO and Space: 1999. Boxtree. ISBN 1-85283-393-9.
  • Morse, Barry (2007). Remember with Advantages. USA: McFarland and Company. ISBN 0-7864-2771-X.
  • Muir, John Kenneth (2005). Exploring Space: 1999: An Episode Guide and Complete History of the Mid-1970s Science Fiction Television Series. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-2276-9.
  • Keazor, Henry (2012). “A Stumble in the Dark: Contextualizing Gerry and Sylvia Anderson´s Space: 1999“, in: Alexander C.T. Geppert (ed.), Imagining Outer Space. European Astroculture in the Twentieth Century, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 2012, p. 189-207. ISBN 0230231721
  • Ogland, Petter (ed.) (2014). Space: 1999 – Episode by Episode. Commentary and Analysis by Online Alpha. Foreword by Henry Keazor. Raleigh, North Carolina: Lulu Press. ISBN 978-1-312-58593-5.
  • Balor, John K. (ed.) (2015). Space: 1999 – the 40th anniversary celebration. A new episode by episode commentary and analysis by Online Alpha. Foreword by Petter Ogland. Raleigh, North Carolina: Lulu Press. ISBN 978-1-329-44815-5.

External links

Nancy Kulp

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Wikipedia

Nancy Jane Kulp (August 28, 1921 – February 3, 1991) was an American character actress best known as Miss Jane Hathaway on the popular CBS television series The Beverly Hillbillies.

Contents

Early life

Kulp was born to Marjorie C. (née Snyder) and Robert Tilden Kulp in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She was their only child. Kulp’s father was a traveling salesman, and her mother was a school teacher and, later, a principal.[4] The family moved from Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, to Dade County, Florida, sometime before 1935.[5]

In 1943 Kulp graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Florida State University, which was then known as the Florida State College for Women, and she started pursuing a master’s degree in English and French at the University of Miami. She was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. Early in the 1940s she worked as a feature writer for the Miami Beach Tropics newspaper, writing profiles of celebrities, including Clark Gable and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.[6][7]

Kulp left the University of Miami in 1944 to volunteer for service in the US Naval Reserve (WAVES) during World War II. While on active duty Ltjg. Kulp received several decorations, including the American Campaign Medal. She left the service in 1946.

Acting career

Kulp moved to Hollywood, California, not long after she married Charles Malcolm Dacus (in April 1951), to work in a studio publicity department, where director George Cukor convinced her that she should work in front of a camera.

She made her film debut as a character actress in 1951 in The Model and the Marriage Broker.[8] She then appeared in other films, including Shane, Sabrina, and A Star is Born. After working in television on The Bob Cummings Show, she returned to movies in Forever, Darling, The Three Faces of Eve, The Parent Trap, Who’s Minding the Store?, and The Aristocats.

Kulp was once described as television’s most homely girl or, as one reviewer put it, possessing the “face of a shriveled balloon, the figure of a string of spaghetti, and the voice of a bullfrog in mating season.” Others described her as tall and prim and praised her comedic skills.[7]

Television appearances

In 1955, Kulp joined the cast of The Bob Cummings Show (Love That Bob) with Bob Cummings, portraying pith-helmeted neighborhood bird watcher Pamela Livingstone.

In 1956, she appeared in the episode “Johnny Bravo” of the ABC/Warner Brothers series Cheyenne, with Clint Walker. Kulp appeared in 1955-1956 as Anastasia in three episodes of the NBC sitcom It’s a Great Life. In 1958, she appeared in Orson Welles’ little known TV series The Fountain of Youth. In 1960, she appeared as Emma St. John in the episode “Kill with Kindness” of the ABC/WB detective series, Bourbon Street Beat, starring Andrew Duggan.

Kulp (center) with Max Baer Jr. and Sharon Tate in The Beverly Hillbillies, 1965

Kulp appeared in one episode of I Love Lucy. In the 1956 episode “Lucy meets the Queen”, Kulp portrayed an English maid, showing Lucy and Ethel how to curtsy properly before the Queen.[9] She also appeared in episodes of The Real McCoys, Perry Mason (“The Case of the Prodigal Parent”, 1958), The Jack Benny Program,[10] 87th Precinct, Pete and Gladys, The Twilight Zone (as Mrs. Gann in “The Fugitive“), and The Outlaws. Kulp played a housekeeper in a pilot for The William Bendix Show, which aired as the 1960-61 season finale of CBS’s Mister Ed under the episode title “Pine Lake Lodge”.

In 1962, she landed her breakout role of Jane Hathaway, the love-starved, bird-watching, perennial spinster on CBS’s The Beverly Hillbillies television series. She remained with the show until its cancellation in 1971. In 1967, she received an Emmy Award nomination for her role.

In 1966, she appeared as Wilhemina Peterson in the film The Night of the Grizzly, starring Clint Walker and Martha Hyer. In 1978, she appeared on The Love Boat in a segment titled “The Kissing Bandit” and she played Aunt Gertrude in a segment titled “America’s Sweetheart”. On April 7, 1989, she played a nun in the Quantum Leap season 1 episode “The Right Hand of God”. Kulp appeared on The Brian Keith Show and Sanford and Son.

She also performed in Broadway productions, including Morning’s at Seven in 1981.

Politics, academia, and retirement

In 1984, after working with the Democratic state committee in her home state of Pennsylvania “on a variety of projects” over a period of years, Kulp ran unopposed as the Democratic nominee for the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district.[11] As an opponent of Republican incumbent, Bud Shuster, in a Republican district, Kulp was the underdog.

Sixty-two years old at the time, Kulp said some people might feel her background as an actress was “frivolous”, but she noted that Ronald Reagan had taken the route from screen to politics and she said anyone who “listens and cares” can do well.[12]

To her dismay, Hillbillies co-star Buddy Ebsen called the Shuster campaign and volunteered to make a radio campaign ad in which he called Kulp “too liberal.”[13] Kulp said of Ebsen, “He’s not the kindly old Jed Clampett that you saw on the show… It’s none of his business and he should have stayed out of it.” She said Ebsen and she “didn’t get along because I found him difficult to work with. But I never would have done something like this to him.” Garnering 59,449 votes, or just 33.6% to Shuster’s 117,203 votes and 66.4%, she lost.[14]

After her defeat, she worked at Juniata College, a private liberal arts college in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, as an artist-in-residence.[15] Later she taught acting.

She subsequently retired, first to a farm in Connecticut and later to Palm Desert, California.

Personal life

Kulp married Charles Malcolm Dacus on April 1, 1951, in Dade County, Florida; they divorced in 1961.[16]

Later in life, Kulp indicated to author Boze Hadleigh in a 1989 interview, that she was a lesbian. “As long as you reproduce my reply word for word, and the question, you may use it…. I’d appreciate it if you’d let me phrase the question. There is more than one way. Here’s how I would ask it: ‘Do you think that opposites attract?’ My own reply would be that I’m the other sort – I find that birds of a feather flock together. That answers your question.”[17]

Death

Kulp was diagnosed with cancer in 1990, for which she received chemotherapy. By 1991, the cancer had spread, and she died on February 3 at a friend’s home in Palm Desert, California.[6][18] Her remains are interred at Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.[3]

Complete filmography

Neil Patrick Harris

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Wikipedia

Neil Patrick Harris (born June 15, 1973)[1] is an American actor, producer, singer, comedian, magician, and television host. He is known for playing Barney Stinson in the television comedy series How I Met Your Mother (2005–2014), for which he was nominated for four Emmy Awards, and for his role as the title character in Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989–1993).

He is also known for his role as the title character in Joss Whedon‘s musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008) and a fictional version of himself in the Harold & Kumar film series (2004–2011). He appeared in the films Starship Troopers (1997), Beastly (2011), The Smurfs (2011), The Smurfs 2 (2013) and Gone Girl (2014).

Harris was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010.[2] He has hosted the Tony Awards on Broadway in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, for which he won several special class Emmy Awards.[3] He also hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2009 and 2013, and hosted the 87th Academy Awards in 2015, thus making him the first openly gay man to host the Academy Awards.[4] In 2014, he starred in the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, for which he won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical.

Contents

Early life

Neil Patrick Harris interviewed by Emily Expo at the Calgary Expo 2015

Harris was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico[1] and grew up Ruidoso, New Mexico, with his elder brother and their parents, Sheila Gail (née Scott; born 1946) and Ronald Gene Harris (born 1946). His parents were lawyers and also ran a restaurant.[5][6][7][8][9] He attended La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, graduating with high honors in 1991.[10]

Career

Harris at the 2008 Comic Con in San Diego, California

Film

Harris began his career as a child actor and was discovered by playwright Mark Medoff at a drama camp in Las Cruces, New Mexico.[11] Medoff later cast him in the 1988 drama film Clara’s Heart, starring Whoopi Goldberg based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Olshan. Clara’s Heart earned Harris a Golden Globe nomination. The same year, he starred in Purple People Eater, a children’s fantasy.

Harris’ first film role as an adult was 1995’s Animal Room, although he portrayed a teenager. His subsequent film work has included supporting roles in The Next Best Thing, Undercover Brother, and Starship Troopers. Harris plays a fictionalized version of himself in the Harold and Kumar stoner comedy films Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.

In 2010, Harris provided voice acting for the role of the adult Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood and the beagle Lou in the film Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. The same year, he played the lead in the indie comedy The Best and the Brightest.[12] On March 7, 2010, he made a surprise appearance at the 82nd Academy Awards, delivering the opening musical number. He starred in the films The Smurfs (2011) and The Smurfs 2 (2013) and David Fincher‘s Gone Girl (2014) with Ben Affleck.

On February 22, 2015, Harris hosted the 87th Academy Awards; it was his first time hosting the ceremony, and the first time an openly gay man hosted the Academy Awards.[4][13]

Stage

Harris has worked on Broadway in both musical and dramatic roles. He played Tobias Ragg in the 2001 concert performances of Sweeney Todd. In 2002, he performed beside Anne Heche in Proof. In 2003, he took the role of the Emcee in Cabaret alongside Deborah Gibson and Tom Bosley. As a result of his critically acclaimed performance in Cabaret, Harris was named the top-drawing headliner in the role of the Emcee by GuestStarCasting.com, outranking fellow celebrity stars John Stamos and Alan Cumming.[14] In 2004, he performed the dual role of the Balladeer and Lee Harvey Oswald on Broadway in the musical revival of Stephen Sondheim‘s Assassins. He also sang the role of Charles (first played by Anthony Perkins) on the Nonesuch recording of Sondheim’s Evening Primrose, and portrayed Mark Cohen in the 1997 touring company of the musical Rent, a role he mockingly reprised on the January 10, 2009, episode of Saturday Night Live, which he hosted.

In 2010, Harris directed a production of the rock musical Rent at the Hollywood Bowl; he cast his Beastly co-star Vanessa Hudgens as Mimi.[15] In 2011, Harris played the lead role of Bobby in Stephen Sondheim‘s Company with the New York Philharmonic in concert, opposite Patti LuPone and others.[16] The same year, he directed The Expert at the Card Table at Broad Stage’s Edye in Santa Monica, California.[17]

Harris has hosted the Tony Awards four times: the 63rd Tony Awards on June 7, 2009,[18] 65th Tony Awards on June 12, 2011, the 66th Tony Awards on June 10, 2012, and the 67th Tony Awards on June 9, 2013. Only Dame Angela Lansbury, with five ceremonies, has hosted the Tony Awards more times.[19] Hosting the Tony Awards has earned him three Emmy Awards; in 2010, 2012 and 2013 for the 63rd, 65th and 66th respectively.[20]

A week after hosting the Tonys, it was announced that Harris would portray the titular role in the first Broadway production of the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which he did from March through August 2014.[21][22]

Television

From 1989, Harris played the title role of a child prodigy doctor in Doogie Howser, M.D., for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. After the show’s four-season run ended in 1993, Harris played a number of guest roles on television series, including Murder She Wrote. From 1999 to 2000, he starred with Tony Shalhoub in the NBC sitcom Stark Raving Mad, which lasted 22 episodes. He has played lead roles in a number of made-for-television features including Snowbound: The Jim and Jennifer Stolpa Story in 1994, My Ántonia in 1995, The Christmas Wish in 1998, Joan of Arc in 1999, The Wedding Dress in 2001 and The Christmas Blessing in 2005.

From 2005 to 2014, Harris played Barney Stinson, a serial womanizer, in the CBS ensemble sitcom How I Met Your Mother. The role earned him Emmy nominations every year from 2007 to 2010.

In 2008, Harris guest-starred on Sesame Street as the Sesame Street Fairy Shoe Person.[23][24][25] In 2009, he hosted the 7th Annual TV Land Awards and appeared as a guest judge on Season 9 of American Idol.[26]

Harris hosted the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards on September 20, 2009. On August 21, 2010, he won two Emmy Awards at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony, one of which was for his guest performance in the television series Glee.[27] Harris hosted the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 22, 2013, marking his second time hosting the event.[20][28][29]

After a preview at the San Diego Comic-Con, a musical episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold featuring Harris as the villainous Music Meister premiered on October 23, 2009 on Cartoon Network. As a character who could make anyone do his bidding by singing, he spent most of the episode singing several original songs.[30]

In 2010, Harris filmed a pilot episode for an American adaptation of the British game show The Cube as host, though it was not picked up to series.[31]

In 2014, Harris turned down the chance to replace David Letterman as host of the Late Show on CBS, stating that he feared he would get bored of the repetition that hosting a nightly talk show would entail. He also rejected the suggestion of replacing Craig Ferguson as host of The Late Late Show on the same grounds.[32]

On September 15, 2015, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, a live variety series hosted by Harris on NBC, made its debut, but was cancelled after an eight episode run.

On January 15, 2016 Netflix cast Harris in their new show A Series of Unfortunate Events, for which he will star as Count Olaf.[33]

Magic

Harris is a fan of magic, like his character on How I Met Your Mother. His character in American Horror Story: Freak Show was also a magician. Harris’ Glee character performed magic as well. He serves as the President of the Board of Directors of Hollywood’s Magic Castle.[34] Harris won the Tannen’s Magic Louis Award in 2006 and hosted the 2008 World Magic Awards on October 11, 2008. Additionally, Harris and partner David Burtka were guests of honor for a Top Chef Masters episode which took place at the Magic Castle. Harris also performed magic in his Emmy-winning performance on Glee.

Other media

In 2007, Harris worked with Mike Nelson on an audio commentary for RiffTrax. The two “riffed” on the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Harris is a big fan of the cult TV series Nelson worked on, Mystery Science Theater 3000. Harris was interviewed for a 1992 Comedy Central special This Is MST3K hosted by Penn Jillette about the series and its fans.[35] In 2008, Harris played the title role in Joss Whedon‘s musical web series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog alongside Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day. The first episode of the series debuted on July 15, 2008.[36] He has also provided his voice for the Disney California Adventure Park attraction California Screamin’.[37]

On December 11, 2010, Harris hosted the Spike Video Game Awards.[38]

Personal life

Harris with his husband David Burtka at his ceremony to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 15, 2011

Harris confirmed that he is gay on November 4, 2006 by saying, “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.”[39]

Harris is an agnostic.[40]

Harris attended the Emmy Awards in September 2007 with his fiancé David Burtka, later confirming the relationship. In an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show,[41] Harris said his relationship with Burtka began in 2004. On August 14, 2010, Harris announced that he and Burtka were expecting twins via a surrogate mother.[42][43] Their son, Gideon Scott, and daughter, Harper Grace, were born on October 12, 2010.[44][45]

Following the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in New York on June 24, 2011, Harris and Burtka announced their engagement via Twitter,[46] stating that they had proposed to each other five years earlier but kept the engagement secret until same-sex marriage became legal.[47] On September 8, 2014, Harris announced on his Twitter page that David Burtka and he were married over the weekend in Italy.[48][49][50][51] Pamela Fryman, the long-time director of How I Met Your Mother, officiated the wedding, while Elton John performed at the reception.[52][53][54]

Harris and Burtka bought a townhouse on Fifth Avenue in Harlem in 2013, the Upper Manhattan, New York City neighborhood where they had been living for many years previously.[55]

Discography

Cast recordings

Year Album title Notes
2001 Evening Primrose Studio Cast
2004 Assassins Revival Cast Recording
2006 Wall to Wall: Stephen Sondheim Concert Cast
2008 Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Original Cast Recording
2009 Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Mayhem of the Music Meister Original Cast Recording
2014 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Original Broadway Cast Recording

Singles

Year Single Peak chart positions Sales Album
AUS CAN IRE UK US
2010 Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit 113 76 50 How I Met Your Mother season 5
Dream On” (featuring Matthew Morrison) 91 24 44 47 26 84,000 (US)[56] Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1988 Clara’s Heart David Hart
1988 Purple People Eater Billy Johnson
1995 Animal Room Arnold Mosk
1997 Starship Troopers Carl Jenkins
1998 The Proposition Roger Martin
2000 The Next Best Thing David
2002 The Mesmerist Benjamin
2002 Undercover Brother Lance
2004 Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle Neil Patrick Harris
2008 Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Neil Patrick Harris
2008 Beyond All Boundaries 1st Lt. David Hettema (voice) Documentary
2008 Justice League: The New Frontier Barry Allen/The Flash (voice) Direct-to-DVD
2009 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Steve (voice)
2010 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Lou the Beagle (voice)
2010 The Best and the Brightest Jeff
2010 Batman: Under the Red Hood Dick Grayson/Nightwing (voice) Direct-to-DVD[57]
2011 Beastly Will Fratalli
2011 The Smurfs Patrick Winslow
2011 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas Neil Patrick Harris
2011 The Muppets Himself Cameo
2012 American Reunion Celebrity Dance-Off Host Cameo
2013 The Smurfs 2 Patrick Winslow
2013 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Steve the Monkey (voice)
2014 A Million Ways to Die in the West Foy
2014 Gone Girl Desi Collings
2017 Downsizing Filming

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1988 Too Good to Be True Danny Harland Television film
1989 Hallmark Hall of Fame Lonnie Tibbetts Episode: “Home Fires Burning”
1989 B.L. Stryker Buder Campbell Episode: “Blues for Buder”
1989 Cold Sassy Tree Will Tweedy/Narrator Television film
1989 Home Fires Burning Lonnie Tibbits Television film
1989–1993 Doogie Howser, M.D. Douglas “Doogie” Howser 97 episodes
1990 The Earth Day Special[58] Doogie Howser Television film
1991 Stranger in the Family Steve Thompson Television film
1991 Blossom The “Charming” Derek Slade Episode: “Blossom – A Rockumentary”
1991 The Simpsons Himself as Bart Simpson (voice) Episode: “Bart the Murderer
1992 Roseanne Dr. Doogie Howser Episode: “Less Is More”
1992 Captain Planet and the Planeteers Todd Andrews (voice) Episode: “A Formula for Hate”
1992 Capitol Critters Max (voice) 13 episodes
1993 Quantum Leap Mike Hammond Episode: “Return of the Evil Leaper – October 8, 1956”
1993 Murder, She Wrote Tommy Remsen Episode: “Lone Witness”
1993 A Family Torn Apart Brian Hannigan Television film
1994 Snowbound: The Jim and Jennifer Stolpa Story Jim Stolpa Television film
1995 The Man in the Attic Edward Broder Television film
1995 Not Our Son Paul Kenneth Keller Television film
1995 My Antonia Jimmy Burden Television film
1995 Legacy of Sin: The William Coit Story William Coit Television film
1996 The Outer Limits Howie Morrison Episode: “From Within
1997 Homicide: Life on the Street Alan Schack Episode: “Valentine’s Day”
1998 The Christmas Wish Will Martin Television film
1999 Joan of Arc The Dauphin 2 episodes
1999–2000 Stark Raving Mad Henry McNeeley 22 episodes
2000 Will & Grace Bill Episode: “Girls, Interrupted”
2001 Static Shock Johnny Morrow/Replay (voice) Episode: “Replay”
2001 Son of the Beach Loverboy Episode: “Queefer Madness”
2001 The Legend of Tarzan Moyo (voice) Episode: “Tarzan and the Challenger”
2001 Ed Joe Baxter Episode: “Replacements”
2001 The Wedding Dress Travis Cleveland Television film
2002 Touched by an Angel Jonas Episode: “The Princeless Bride”
2002 Justice League Ray Thompson (voice) 2 episodes
2003 Boomtown Peter Corman Episode: “Monster’s Brawl”
2003 Spider-Man: The New Animated Series Peter Parker/Spider-Man (voice) 13 episodes
2004 Law & Order: Criminal Intent John Tagman Episode: “Want”
2005 Numb3rs Ethan Burdick Episode: “Prime Suspect”
2005 Jack & Bobby Prof. Preston Phelps Episode: “Querida Grace”
2005 The Christmas Blessing Nathan Andrews Television film
2005–2014 How I Met Your Mother Barney Stinson 208 episodes; directed episode: “Jenkins
2006 Me, Eloise (voice) Episode: “Eloise Goes to School”
2007–2009 Family Guy Barney Stinson (voice) 2 episodes
2008 Sesame Street The Fairy Shoeperson Episode: “Telly’s New Shoes”
2009 Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: “Neil Patrick Harris/ Taylor Swift
2009 Batman: The Brave and the Bold The Music Meister (voice) Episode: “Mayhem of the Music Meister!
2009 Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special Ace (voice) Television film
2009–2012 Robot Chicken Various roles (voice) 3 episodes
2009 7th Annual TV Land Awards Himself (host) Television special
2009 63rd Tony Awards Himself (host) Television special
2009 61st Primetime Emmy Awards Himself (host) Television special
2009 Yes, Virginia Dr. Philip O’Hanlon (voice) Television special
2010 Glee Bryan Ryan Episode: “Dream On
2010–2013 The Penguins of Madagascar Dr. Blowhole (voice) 3 episodes
2010 2010 Spike Video Game Awards Himself (host) Television special
2011 Take Two with Phineas and Ferb Himself “Neil Patrick Harris” (Season 1, Episode 7)
2011 Brain Games Narrator (voice) 3 episodes
2011–2013 Adventure Time Prince Gumball (voice) 2 episodes
2011 65th Tony Awards Himself (host) Television special
2012 66th Tony Awards Himself (host) Television special
2013 67th Tony Awards Himself (host) Television special
2013 65th Primetime Emmy Awards Himself (host) Television special
2013 Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade Himself (host) Television special
2014 Under the Gunn Himself (guest judge) Episode: “Finale”
2014 RuPaul’s Drag Race Himself (guest judge) Episode: “Drag My Wedding”
2015 American Horror Story: Freak Show Chester Creb 2 episodes
2015 87th Academy Awards Himself (host) Television special
2015 Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway Himself (guest announcer) 1 episode
2015 America’s Got Talent Himself (guest judge) 1 episode
2015 Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris Himself (host) 8 episodes; also writer and executive producer
2016 A Series of Unfortunate Events Count Olaf Main role

Theater

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Rent Mark Cohen National Tour
1998 Romeo and Juliet Romeo Montague Old Globe Theatre
2001 Sweeney Todd Tobias Ragg San Francisco Symphony Orchestra concert version
2002 Proof Hal Manhattan Theatre Club
2003 Cabaret Emcee Stephen Sondheim Theatre
2004 The Paris Letter Young Anton / Burt Sarris Roundabout Theatre
2004 Assassins Lee Harvey Oswald / The Balladeer Roundabout Theatre
2005 Tick, Tick… BOOM! Jon Menier Chocolate Factory
2006 All My Sons Chris Keller Geffen Playhouse
2006 Amadeus Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Hollywood Bowl
2010 Rent N/A Directed
Hollywood Bowl
2011 Company Robert New York Philharmonic Concert Version
2011 A Snow White Christmas The Magic Mirror El Portal Theater
2014 Nothing to Hide[59] N/A Director
Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre
2014 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig Belasco Theatre

Web

Year Title Role Notes
2008 Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Dr. Horrible/Billy 3 episodes
2008 Prop 8: The Musical A Very Smart Fellow Short film
2012 Neil’s Puppet Dreams Neil Patrick Harris 7 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer

Video games

Year Title Role
2008 Saints Row 2 Veteran Child (voice)
2009 Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Wallace “Wally” Wellesley (voice)
2010 Rock of the Dead Unnamed character (voice)
2010 Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Peter Parker/Spider-Man (voice)
2013 Saints Row IV Veteran Child (voice)[60]

Bibliography

  • Harris, Neil Patrick (2014). Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. Crown Archetype. ISBN 978-0385346993.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Title Result
1989 Young Artist Award Best Leading Young Actor in a Feature Film Clara’s Heart Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture Nominated
1990 Young Artist Award Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series Doogie Howser, M.D. Won
People’s Choice Award Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Series Won
Favorite Male TV Performer Nominated
Viewers for Quality Television Award Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Nominated
1991 Young Artist Award Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series Won
1992 Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated
2007 Teen Choice Award Choice TV Actor: Comedy How I Met Your Mother Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2008 People’s Choice Award Favorite Scene Stealing Star Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice TV Actor: Comedy Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2009 Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
TCA Award Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice TV Actor: Comedy Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Streamy Award Best Male Actor in a Comedy Web Series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Won
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film How I Met Your Mother Nominated
2010 Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Glee Won
Outstanding Special Class Program 63rd Tony Awards Won
Spike Video Game Award Best Performance by a Human Male Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Won
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film How I Met Your Mother Nominated
2011 People’s Choice Award Favorite TV Comedy Actor Won
Favorite TV Guest Star Glee Nominated
Critics’ Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series How I Met Your Mother Won
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film How I Met Your Mother Nominated
2012 People’s Choice Award Favorite TV Comedy Actor Won
TV Guide Award Favorite Actor Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice TV Actor: Comedy Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Special Class Program 65th Tony Awards Won
2013 66th Tony Awards Won
Webby Award Best Comedy: Long Form or Series Neil’s Puppet Dreams Nominated
People’s Choice Award Favorite TV Comedy Actor How I Met Your Mother Nominated
2014 Nominated
Favorite TV Bromance Nominated
Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award Favorite Movie Actor The Smurfs 2 Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Special Class Special Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade Nominated
Hasty Pudding Theatricals Hasty Pudding Man of the Year Won
Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch Won
Dorian Award TV Musical Performance of the Year 67th Tony Awards Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Special Class Program Nominated
2015 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award Best Depiction of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction Gone Girl Nominated
Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Hedwig and the Angry Inch Nominated
Saturn Award Best Guest Performance in a Television Series American Horror Story: Freak Show Nominated

References

  1. “Neil Patrick Harris profile”. TVGuide.com. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  2. “The 2010 Time 100”. Time. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  3. Mark Kennedy, AP Drama Writer (June 10, 2013). “Neil Patrick Harris once again proves a Tony Awards host with ‘fantastic instincts'”. Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  4. Staff. “Neil Patrick Harris wows as Oscars host”. Mobi.iafrica.com. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
  5. “Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris – Excerpt”. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  6. Keveney, Bill (September 13, 2009). “Host Neil Patrick Harris gives Emmys a bit of awesomeness”. USA Today. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  7. Alpha Chi Omega” Greek Life, uagreeks.uark.edu; accessed November 5, 2015.
  8. “How Neil Patrick Harris Met Himself”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  9. Finding Your Roots, February 23, 2016, PBS
  10. Belcher, David (April 18, 2004). “Killer parts: Albuquerque’s Neil Patrick Harris is back on Broadway with two roles in controversial ‘Assassins'”, Albuquerque Journal. pg. F1.
  11. “Anytime with Bob Kushell feat. Neil Patrick Harris”. Anytime with Bob Kushell. Season 1. Episode 3. January 1, 2009.
  12. “Neil Patrick Harris Lands Two Film Roles”. TV Guide. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
  13. Gray, Tim (October 15, 2014). “Neil Patrick Harris to Host the Oscars”. Variety. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  14. Preston Scott Reed (September 2, 2005). “Neil Patrick Harris and John Stamos Lead Emcee Rankings”. Dime-Co. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
  15. Wada, Karen (April 9, 2010). “Vanessa Hudgens to star in Rent at the Hollywood Bowl this summer”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  16. “Rialto Chatter: Patti LuPone to Join Neil Patrick Harris in NY Philharmonic’s Company in April?”. January 13, 2011.
  17. McNulty, Charles (July 17, 2011). “Theater review: The Expert at the Card Table at the Broad Stage’s Edye”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
  18. Littleton, Cynthia (July 1, 2009). “Neil Patrick Harris Lands Hopping to Emmys”. Variety. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
  19. “Neil Patrick Harris Returning As Tony Awards Host”. NY1. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  20. Keveney, Bill (September 20, 2013). “Neil Patrick Harris is happy to host the Emmys”. USA TODAY.
  21. “Neil Patrick Harris to Star in ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ on Broadway”. Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. June 17, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  22. The Broadway League. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch – IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information”. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  23. Jensen, Michael (July 21, 2008). “TCA Weekend Update: Neil Patrick Harris, “The Starter Wife” and more!”. Retrieved November 28, 2009.
  24. “Sesame Street Enters 39th Season”. Sesame Workshop. Retrieved October 31, 2009.
  25. Graham, Mark (July 23, 2008). “NPH Sweeps The Clouds Away As The Shoe Fairy On Sesame Street. Defamer. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
  26. Martin, Denise (August 25, 2009). “Neil Patrick Harris signs on to guest judge American Idol. Los Angeles Times blogs. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
  27. “Dream On”. Glee. Series 1. Episode 19. May 18, 2010. Fox. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
  28. “65th Primetime Emmy Awards (2013)”. Archive of American Television.
  29. “Emmys: Neil Patrick Harris Explains In Memoriam Changes”. Access Hollywood. September 20, 2013.
  30. Staff (October 23, 2009). “Neil Patrick Harris is on Batman tonight (and he sings!)”. TV Squad. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  31. Adalian, Josef (28 January 2010). “Neil Patrick Harris Steps Into ‘The Cube’ for CBS”. The Wrap. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  32. Randee Dawn (May 15, 2014). “Neil Patrick Harris turned down ‘Late Show’ job, fearing boredom”. Today Show. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  33. Borys Kit,Lesley Goldberg (January 15, 2016). “Neil Patrick Harris to Star in Netflix’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ as Showrunner Exits”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  34. “The Academy of Magical Arts Board of Directors and Board of Trustees”. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  35. “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. RiffTrax. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  36. “Joss Whedon Interview: The Web Has Been Wonderful For “Horrible””. Tubefilter. July 15, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008.
  37. “Hey, That Sounds Like Neil Patrick Harris”. Disney Parks blogsite. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  38. “Neil Patrick Harris To Host Spike TV’s 2010 “Video Game Awards””. Spike Press Center. December 20, 2010.
  39. “Exclusive: Neil Patrick Harris tells People He is Gay”. People. November 3, 2006. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
  40. Rothman, Michael. “‘How I Met Your Mother’ Star Neil Patrick Harris Secretly Marries David Burtka”. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  41. Thomson, Katherine (September 13, 2007). “Watch: Neil Patrick Harris Tells Ellen About Going To The Emmys Since Coming Out”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
  42. Neil Patrick Harris [ActuallyNPH] (August 16, 2010). “So, get this: David and I are expecting twins this fall. We’re super excited/‌nervous/‌thrilled. Hoping the press can respect our privacy…” (Tweet). Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  43. Hartenstein, Meena (August 15, 2010). “Neil Patrick Harris to be dad to twins with fiancé David Burtka, actor announces on Twitter”. New York Daily News. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  44. Neil Patrick Harris [ActuallyNPH] (October 15, 2010). “Babies!! On 10/12, Gideon Scott and Harper Grace entered the Burtka-Harris fold. All of us are happy, healthy, tired, and a little pukey.” (Tweet).
  45. “Neil Patrick Harris Welcomes ‘Happy, Healthy’ Twins”. People. October 15, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  46. June 25, 2011 [ActuallyNPH] (March 4, 2012). “David and I did propose to each other, but over five years ago! We’ve been wearing engagement rings for ages, waiting for an available date.” (Tweet).
  47. “Neil Patrick Harris announces secret engagement”. Digital Spy. June 25, 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  48. September 8, 2014 [ActuallyNPH] (March 4, 2012). “Guess what? @DavidBurtka and I got married over the weekend. In Italy. Yup, we put the ‘n’ and ‘d’ in ‘husband’. pic.twitter.com/R09ibF41rt” (Tweet).
  49. “They’re married! Neil Patrick Harris weds partner of 10 years David Burtka during intimate ceremony in Italy”. Dailymail.
  50. “Neil Patrick Harris dishes about his wedding day”. CBS News.
  51. “Neil Patrick Harris Marries David Burtka”. People. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  52. Leonard, Elizabeth (September 8, 2014). “Neil Patrick Harris Marries David Burtka”. People. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  53. Spero, Jesse (September 8, 2014). “Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka Wed In Italy”. Access Hollywood. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  54. Bueno, Antoinette (September 8, 2014). “Neil Patrick Harris Marries David Burtka”. ET Online. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  55. Jennifer Gould Keil. “Neil Patrick Harris and fiancé purchase stunning Fifth Ave. townhouse”. New York Post. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  56. Caulfield, Keith (May 26, 2010). “‘Glee’ Stops the Show at No. 1, Stones Come in Second On Billboard 200”. Billboard. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  57. “New Batman DVD to peek out from ‘Under the Red Hood'”. Latimes. February 9, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
  58. A Matter of Time: The Unauthorized Back to the Future Lexicon Page 125
  59. Champion, Lindsay. “Magic Extravaganza Nothing to Hide Headed Off-Broadway, Directed by Neil Patrick Harris”. Broadway.com. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  60. “Saints Row”. Retrieved November 13, 2014.

Kirsten Vangsness

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Wikipedia

Kirsten Simone Vangsness (born July 7, 1972)[1] is an American actress and writer. She currently stars as FBI Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia on the CBS drama series Criminal Minds. She portrayed the same character on the spin-off series Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.[2]

Contents

Early life

Vangsness was born in Pasadena, California, the daughter of Errol Leroy Vangsness (born 1938 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and his wife Barbara Mary (née Marconi; born 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). Her paternal great-grandparents were Norwegian,[3] with ancestry from Bergen, Gol, and Oslo.[4] She was raised in Porterville, California, and later moved to Cerritos, California. She graduated from Cerritos High School in June 1990 and attended Cypress College.[5] She later graduated from California State University, Fullerton in June 1995.

Career

Acting

Vangsness got her first big break in the theatre, where she won several awards, including the 15 Minutes of Female Best Actress Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Best Emerging Comic Actress, and the Golden Betty Award.

Writing

Vangsness’ work has been published in the Los Angeles Times. Since 2014, Vangsness has co-written two episodes of Criminal Minds. In 2014 she co-wrote “Nelson’s Sparrow” with Executive Producer, Erica Messer[6] and in 2015 she co-wrote “A Beautiful Disaster” once again with Messer.[7]

Personal life

Vangsness says that she is “not as queer as a unicorn singing Madonna“.[8] She began dating film and television editor Melanie Goldstein in 2006.[9][10][11] They were engaged, but separated in 2013.

In April 2015, she revealed on smashinginterviews.com that she had entered into a relationship with a new boyfriend and was examining that aspect of her sexuality. In November 2015, it was reported that she was engaged to her boyfriend, actor and writer Keith Hanson.[12]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1998 Sometimes Santa’s Gotta Get Whacked Tooth Fairy Short film
2006 A-List Blue
2008 Tranny McGuyver TV News Reporter Short film
2009 Scream of the Bikini Interior Decorator
2010 In My Sleep Madge
2011 Sarina’s Song Party Guest Short film
2011 The Chicago 8 Sketch Artist
2012 Remember to Breathe Vocals for Young Alice Short film
2015 Kill Me, Deadly Mona Livingston
2016 Axis TBA Pre–production

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2004 Phil of the Future Veronica Episode: “Age Before Beauty”
2004 LAX Ticket Agent / Stephanie 3 episodes
2005–present Criminal Minds Penelope Garcia Main Cast; 253 episodes
2010 Vampire Mob Laura Anderson
2010–2012 Pretty the Series Meredith Champagne 14 episodes
2011 Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Penelope Garcia Main Cast; 13 episodes
2011 Second City This Week Herself 1 episode
2011–2013 Good Job, Thanks! Therapist 2 episodes
2016 Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders Penelope Garcia Special Guest; 1 episode

References

  1. Vangsness, Kirsten (2007-07-24). “Kirstens Blog”. CBS. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  2. “Criminal Minds’ Kirsten Vangsness Joins Spin-Off as a Series Regular”. TVGuide.com.
  3. Family tree by Vangsness’ father
  4. “Kirsten Simone Vangsness ancestry profile”. Geni.com.
  5. Cypress College Public Information Office (2012-05-04). “Cypress College @Cypress Newsletter” (PDF).
  6. “CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 – 1013. Nelson’s Sparrow – Press Release”. Criminal Minds Round Table.
  7. “CRIMINAL MINDS Season 11 – 1118. A Beautiful Disaster – Press Release”. Criminal Minds Round Table.
  8. Anderson-Minshall, Diane (November 2011). “The Purple Unicorn”. The Advocate: 42.
  9. Melanie Goldstein at the Internet Movie Database
  10. “Untitled”. Criminal Minds Fanatic. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
  11. Waldon, Dave (2008-09-23). “Kirsten Vangsness Thrives on “Criminal Minds””. AfterEllen.com. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  12. Nicole Sands (November 23, 2015). Criminal Minds Star Kirsten Vangsness Is Engaged: ‘He’s the Perfect Partner'”. People.

Cynthia Nixon

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Wikipedia

Cynthia Ellen Nixon (born April 9, 1966) is an American actress. She is known for her portrayal of Miranda Hobbes in the HBO series, Sex and the City (1998–2004), for which she won the 2004 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She reprised the role in the films Sex and the City (2008) and Sex and the City 2 (2010). Other film appearances include: Amadeus (1984), The Pelican Brief (1993), Little Manhattan (2005), 5 Flights Up (2014), James White (2015), and playing Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion (2016).

Nixon made her Broadway debut in the 1980 revival of The Philadelphia Story. Other Broadway credits include: The Real Thing (1983), Hurlyburly (1983), Indiscretions (1995), The Women (2001) and Wit (2012). She won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for Rabbit Hole. On television, she played Eleanor Roosevelt in Warm Springs (2005), won the 2008 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (2007), and played Michele Davis in Too Big to Fail (2011). She also won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for An Inconvenient Truth. She is set to play Nancy Reagan in the 2016 television film Killing Reagan.

Contents

Early life

Nixon was born in New York City, New York, the daughter of Anne Elizabeth (née Knoll; 1930–2012),[1] originally from Chicago, Illinois, and Walter E. Nixon, Jr., a radio journalist from Texas.[2][3] She graduated from Hunter College High School and attended Barnard College.[4][5] In the spring of 1986, she studied abroad with Semester at Sea.[6]

Career

Early career

Nixon’s first onscreen appearance was as an imposter on To Tell the Truth, where her mother worked.[7] She began acting at age 12 as the object of a wealthy school mate’s crush in The Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid, a 1979 ABC Afterschool Special.[8] She made her feature debut co-starring with Kristy McNichol and Tatum O’Neal in Little Darlings (1980). She made her Broadway debut as Dinah Lord in a 1980 revival of The Philadelphia Story.[7] Alternating between film, TV and stage, she did projects like the 1982 ABC movie My Body, My Child, the features Prince of the City (1981) and I Am the Cheese (1983), and the 1982 Off-Broadway productions of John Guare‘s Lydie Breeze.

In 1984, while a freshman at Barnard College, Nixon made theatrical history by simultaneously appearing in two hit Broadway plays directed by Mike Nichols.[5] These were The Real Thing, where Nixon played the daughter of Jeremy Irons and Christine Baranski; and Hurlyburly, where she played a young woman who encounters sleazy Hollywood executives.[9] The two theaters were just two blocks apart and Nixon’s roles were both short, so she could run from one to the other.[9] Onscreen, she played the role of Salieri’s maid/spy, Lorl, in Amadeus (1984). In 1985, she appeared alongside Jeff Daniels in Lanford Wilson‘s Lemon Sky at Second Stage Theatre.[10]

She landed her first major supporting role in a movie as an intelligent teenager who aids her boyfriend (Christopher Collet) in building a nuclear bomb in Marshall Brickman‘s The Manhattan Project (1986).[11] Nixon was part of the cast of the NBC miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan (NBC, 1988) starring Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey, and portrayed the daughter of a presidential candidate (Michael Murphy) in Tanner ’88 (1988), Robert Altman‘s political satire for HBO. She reprised the role for the 2004 sequel Tanner on Tanner.

1990s

Nixon at the Berlin premiere of Sex and the City: The Movie, 2008

On stage, Nixon portrayed Juliet in a 1988 New York Shakespeare Festival production of Romeo and Juliet,[12] and acted in the workshop production of Wendy Wasserstein‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles,[13] playing several characters after it came to Broadway in 1989. She was the guest star in the second episode of the long running NBC television series Law & Order. She played the role of an agoraphobic woman in a February 1993 episode of Murder, She Wrote titled, “Threshold of Fear.” She replaced Marcia Gay Harden as Harper Pitt in Tony Kushner‘s Angels in America (1994),[14] received a Tony nomination for her performance in Indiscretions (Les Parents Terribles) (1996, her sixth Broadway show) and,[15] though she originally lost the part to another actress, eventually took over the role of Lala Levy in the Tony-winning The Last Night of Ballyhoo (1997).

Nixon was a founding member of the theatrical troupe The Drama Dept.,[16] which included Sarah Jessica Parker, Dylan Baker, John Cameron Mitchell and Billy Crudup among its actors, appearing in the group’s productions of Kingdom on Earth (1996), June Moon and As Bees in Honey Drown (both 1997), Hope is the Thing with Feathers (1998), and The Country Club (1999).

Nixon has contributed supporting performances to Addams Family Values (1993), Baby’s Day Out (1994), Marvin’s Room (1996) and The Out-of-Towners (1999).

Stardom

She raised her profile significantly as one of the four regulars on HBO‘s successful comedy Sex and the City (1998–2004), as the lawyer Miranda Hobbes. Nixon received three Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (2002, 2003, 2004), winning the award in 2004, for the show’s final season.[17]

Nixon, John Hurt and Swoosie Kurtz at the premiere of An Englishman in New York, 2009

The immense popularity of the series led Nixon to enjoy her first leading role in a feature, playing a video artist who falls in love, despite her best efforts to avoid commitment, with a bisexual actor who just happens to be dating a gay man (her best friend) in Advice from a Caterpillar (2000), as well as starring opposite Scott Bakula in the holiday television movie Papa’s Angels (2000). In 2002, she also landed a role in the indie comedy Igby Goes Down, and her turn in the theatrical production of Clare Boothe Luce‘s play The Women was captured for PBSStage on Screen series.

Post-Sex in the City, Nixon made a guest appearance on ER in 2005, as a mother who undergoes a tricky procedure to lessen the effects of a debilitating stroke. She followed up with a turn as Eleanor Roosevelt for HBO’s Warm Springs (2005), which chronicled Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s quest for a miracle cure for his polio. Nixon earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her performance.[17] In December 2005, she appeared in the Fox TV series House in the episode “Deception“, as a patient who suffers a seizure.

In 2006, she appeared in David Lindsay-Abaire‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Rabbit Hole in a Manhattan Theatre Club production,[18] and won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Play). (This part was later played by Nicole Kidman in the movie adaptation of the play.) In 2008, she revived her role as Miranda Hobbes in the Sex and the City feature film, directed by HBO executive producer Michael Patrick King and co-starring the cast of the original series.[19] Also in 2008, she won an Emmy for her guest appearance in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, portraying a woman pretending to have dissociative identity disorder.[17] In 2008, Nixon made a brief uncredited cameo in the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She appears in the background when Jason Segel‘s character mimics characters from Sex in the City at a bar.

In 2009, Nixon won the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album along with Beau Bridges and Blair Underwood for the album An Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore).[20]

2010s

In March 2010, Nixon received the Vito Russo Award at the GLAAD Media Awards. The award is presented to an openly LGBT media professional “who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community”. It was announced in June 2010 that Nixon would appear in four episodes of the Showtime series The Big C.[21]

Nixon in 2013

Nixon appeared in a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode based on the problems surrounding the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Her character is “Amanda Reese, the high-strung and larger-than-life director behind a problem-plagued Broadway version of Icarus“, loosely modeled after Spider-Man director, Julie Taymor.[22]

In 2012, Nixon starred as Professor Vivian Bearing in the Broadway debut of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning play Wit. Produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, the play opened January 26, 2012 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.[23] Nixon received a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play for this performance.[24]

In 2012, Nixon also starred as Petranilla in the TV miniseries of Ken Follett‘s World Without End broadcast on the ReelzChannel, alongside Ben Chaplin, Peter Firth, Charlotte Riley and Miranda Richardson.

In 2015, Nixon appeared in two films, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival; Stockholm, Pennsylvania, and James White. She received critical acclaim for both performances, especially for the latter, which many considered as “Oscar-worthy”.[25][26][27][28]

Nixon played the leading role of reclusive American poet Emily Dickinson in the biographical film A Quiet Passion directed and written by Terence Davies.[29] The film premiered in February 2016 at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. In May 2016, it was announced that Nixon would play Nancy Reagan in the upcoming television film adaptation of Killing Reagan.[30] Filming began in late May and the film is set to air in October 2016.[30]

Personal life

Nixon and wife Christine Marinoni

From 1988 to 2003, Nixon was in a relationship with schoolteacher Danny Mozes.[31] They have two children together, daughter Sam (born 1996) and son Charles Ezekiel (born 2002).[32]

In 2004, Nixon began dating education activist Christine Marinoni.[33] Nixon and Marinoni became engaged in April 2009[34] and were married in New York City on May 27, 2012, with Nixon wearing a custom-made, pale green dress by Carolina Herrera.[31][35] Marinoni gave birth to a son, Max Ellington, in 2011.[36]

Regarding her sexual orientation, Nixon remarked in 2007: “I don’t really feel I’ve changed. I’d been with men all my life, and I’d never fallen in love with a woman. But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. I’m just a woman in love with another woman.”[33] She identified herself as bisexual in 2012.[37] Nixon has taken a public stand supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington State, Marinoni’s home state, hosting a fund-raising event in support of Washington Referendum 74 for that purpose.[38]

In October 2006, Nixon was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram.[39] She initially decided not to go public with her illness because of the stigma involved,[40] but in April 2008, she announced her battle with the disease in an interview with Good Morning America.[39] Since then, Nixon has become a breast cancer activist. She convinced the head of NBC to air her breast cancer special in a prime time program,[40] and became an Ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.[41]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1980 Little Darlings Sunshine Walker
1981 Prince of the City Jeannie
1983 I Am the Cheese Amy Hertz
1984 Amadeus Lorl
1986 The Manhattan Project Jenny Anderman
1987 O.C. and Stiggs Michelle
1988 The Murder of Mary Phagan Doreen
1989 Let It Ride Evangeline
1993 The Pelican Brief Alice Stark
1993 Addams Family Values Heather
1993 Through an Open Window Nancy Cooper Short film
1994 Baby’s Day Out Gilbertine
1996 Marvin’s Room Retirement Home Director
2000 Papa’s Angels Sharon Jenkins
2001 Advice From a Caterpillar Missy
2002 Igby Goes Down Mrs. Piggee
2005 Little Manhattan Leslie Burton
2006 One Last Thing… Carol
2007 The Babysitters Gail Beltran
2008 Sex and the City: The Movie Miranda Hobbes
2009 Lymelife Melissa Bragg
2009 An Englishman in New York Penny Arcade
2010 Sex and the City 2 Miranda Hobbes
2011 Rampart Barbara
2014 5 Flights Up Niece
2015 Stockholm, Pennsylvania Marcy Dargon
2015 James White Gail White
2015 The Adderall Diaries Jen Davis
2016 A Quiet Passion Emily Dickinson

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1982 My Body, My Child Nancy TV film
1988 Tanner ’88 Alex Tanner 10 episodes
1989 Gideon Oliver Allison Parrish Slocum Episode: “Sleep Well, Professor Oliver”
1989 The Equalizer Jackie Episode: “Silent Fury”
1990 The Young Riders Annie 2 episodes
1990 Law & Order Laura di Biasi Episode: “Subterranean Homeboy Blues
1991 Love, Lies and Murder Donna Miniseries
1993 Murder, She Wrote Alice Morgan Episode: “Threshold of Fear”
1996 Early Edition Sheila Episode: “Baby”
1998–2004 Sex and the City Miranda Hobbes 94 episodes
1999 The Outer Limits Trudy Episode: “Alien Radio
1999 Touched by an Angel Melina Richardson/Sister Sarah Episode: “Into the Fire”
2004 Tanner on Tanner Alex Tanner 4 episodes
2005 ER Ellie Episode: “Alone in a Crowd”
2005 Warm Springs Eleanor Roosevelt TV film
2005 House Anica Jovanovich Episode: “Deception
2007 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Janis Episode: “Alternate”
2010–2011 The Big C Rebecca 10 episodes
2011 Too Big to Fail Michele Davis TV film
2011 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Amanda Rollins Episode: “Icarus”
2012 World Without End Petronilla 7 episodes
2012 30 Rock Herself Episode: “Kidnapped by Danger
2013–2014 Alpha House Senator Carly Armiston 6 episodes
2014 Hannibal Kade Prurnell 4 episodes
2016 Broad City Barb Episode: “2016”
2016 Killing Reagan Nancy Reagan TV film

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1981 Theatre World Award The Philadelphia Story Won
1987 Young Artist Awards Exceptional Performance by a Younger Actress in a Supporting Role The Manhattan Project Nominated
1995 Tony Awards Best Featured Actress in a Play Indiscretions Nominated
2000 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Sex and the City Nominated
2001 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2002 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
2003 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2004 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
2005 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Warm Springs Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Sex and the City Nominated
2006 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Warm Springs Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated
Tony Awards Best Actress in a Play Rabbit Hole Won
2008 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Won
2009 People’s Choice Awards Favorite Cast Sex and the City: The Movie Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Spoken Word Album (with Beau Bridges and Blair Underwood) An Inconvenient Truth Won
2011 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Actress Sex and the City 2 Won
2012 Tony Awards Best Actress in a Play Wit Nominated
2015 Critics Choice Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Limited Series Stockholm, Pennsylvania Nominated
2015 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress[42] James White Nominated
2015 Detroit Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress[43] James White Nominated
2015 Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress[44] James White Nominated
2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female[45] James White Nominated
2016 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film[46] Stockholm, Pennsylvania Nominated

References

  1. Nixon Breast Cancer Awareness accessed 12-3-2015
  2. Tallmer, Jerry (March 18–24, 2009). “Cynthia Nixon brings focus to “Distracted””. The Villager. 78 (41). Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  3. Stated on Who Do You Think You Are?, July 22, 2014
  4. “Cynthia Nixon Addresses Hunter College High School Graduates”. Hunter College High School. June 24, 2004. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  5. “Cynthia Nixon”. Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo!. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  6. “Prominent SAS Alumni & Lecturers”. Semester at Sea. Institute for Shipboard Education. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  7. Witchel, Alex (January 19, 2012). “Life After ‘Sex'”. The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  8. Ambinder, Evan (April 19, 1990). “The Cynthia Chronicles: BC’s very own Broadway star”. Columbia Daily Spectator. CXIV (116): 5. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  9. Galanes, Philip (January 17, 2014). “Allison Williams and Cynthia Nixon Talk About ‘Girls’ and ‘Sex and the City'”. The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  10. Rich, Frank (December 12, 1985). “Theater – ‘Lemon Sky’ by Lanford Wilson”. The New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  11. Considine, Bob (May 30, 2008). “‘Sex’ star Cynthia Nixon on her cancer, girlfriend”. Today.com. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  12. Rich, Frank (May 25, 1988). “Review/Theater; ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the Shakespeare Marathon”. The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  13. Prose, Francine (August 26, 2011). “What Wendy Wasserstein Wrought”. The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  14. Weber, Bruce (April 8, 1994). “On Stage, and Off”. The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  15. Gioia, Michael (May 29, 2012). “Tony Winner Cynthia Nixon Marries Christine Marinoni”. Playbill. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  16. “Actress Cynthia Nixon”. NPR. August 22, 2002. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  17. “Cynthia Nixon”. Emmy Awards. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  18. Dominus, Susan (January 22, 2006). “A Career After ‘Sex,’ but Still in the City”. The New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  19. Freeman, Hadley (May 12, 2008). “Sex and the City movie: will the wait be worth it?”. The Guardian. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  20. “Cynthia Nixon’s Grammy win puts her on third base of awards grand slam”. Los Angeles Times. February 9, 2009. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  21. Stanhope, Kate (June 23, 2010). “Cynthia Nixon to Take on The Big C with Four-Episode Arc”. TV Guide. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  22. Ausiello, Michael. “Law & Order: CI Exclusive: Cynthia Nixon Set For Episode Inspired by Spider-Man Musical”. tvline.com. Retrieved April 30, 2001.
  23. Brantley, Ben (January 26, 2012). “Artifice as Armor in a Duel With Death: Cynthia Nixon in ‘Wit,’ at Manhattan Theater Club”. The New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  24. Eggenberger, Nicole (May 1, 2012). “Tony Awards 2012: Andrew Garfield, Cynthia Nixon Nominated”. Us Weekly. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  25. Eric Kohn (January 24, 2015). “Sundance Review: Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon Tri – Indiewire”. Indiewire. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  26. Brent Lang. “Sundance: Cynthia Nixon, Christopher Abbott on Love, Death and ‘James White'”. Variety. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  27. Peter Debruge. “‘Stockholm, Pennsylvania’ Review: A Claustrophobic Kidnapping Tale – Variety”. Variety. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  28. Rodrigo Perez (January 24, 2015). “Sundance Review: ‘Stockholm, Pennsylvania’ Starring Saoir – The Playlist”. The Playlist. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  29. Ryan Lattanzio (May 5, 2015). “Terence Davies’ Long-Awaited Emily Dickinson Biopic Is Re – Thompson on Hollywood”. Thompson on Hollywood. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  30. “Tim Matheson and Cynthia Nixon join Killing Reagan as Ronald and Nancy”. Entertainment Weekly.com. May 6, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  31. Nudd, Tim (May 28, 2012). “Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni Get Married”. People. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  32. Silverman, Stephen M. (April 16, 2008). “Cynthia Nixon’s Latest Role: Breast Cancer Advocate – and Survivor”. People. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  33. Hiscock, John (May 13, 2008). “Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon: ‘I’m just a woman in love with a woman'”. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  34. “Cynthia Nixon Announces Engagement”. Access Hollywood. May 18, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  35. Bauer, Zoe (December 4, 2012). “Celebrity Weddings: Brides Who Wore Colored Dresses in 2012”. Yahoo! Celebrity. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  36. Jordan, Julie (February 8, 2011). “Cynthia Nixon & Christine Marinoni Welcome a Son”. People. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  37. Grindley, Lucas (January 30, 2012). “Cynthia Nixon: Being Bisexual “Is Not a Choice””. The Advocate. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  38. Dickie, Lance (September 24, 2012). “Ref. 74: Separate but equal does not work”. The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  39. Sterns, Olivia; Periera, Jen; Trachtenberg, Thea; Zaccaro, Laura (April 15, 2008). “Cynthia Nixon Beats Breast Cancer, Becomes Advocate”. ABC News. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  40. “Celebrities Inspiration Roundup”. American Breast Cancer Guide.
  41. Hooper, Duncan (April 17, 2008). “Cynthia Nixon describes breast cancer treatment”. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  42. ZWECKER, BILL (14 December 2015). “MAD MAX’ LEADS PACK WITH MOST NOMINATIONS FROM CHICAGO CRITICS”. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  43. http://cinemanerdz.com/the-2015-detroit-film-critics-society-awards-nominations/
  44. http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2015/12/ofcs-2015-awards-nominees-announced.html
  45. http://deadline.com/2015/11/film-independent-spirit-award-nominations-announced-live-1201637064/
  46. http://www.pressacademy.com/award_cat/2015/

Sara Gilbert

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Wikipedia

Sara Gilbert (de son vrai nom Sara Rebecca Abeles, née le à Santa Monica en Californie) est une actrice américaine, connue pour avoir incarné Darlene Conner-Healy dans la série sitcom Roseanne de 1988 à 1997.

Sommaire

Biographie

Ses parents sont Barbara Crane (née Cowan) et Harold Abeles. Avant d’épouser son père, Barbara, sa mère, était mariée à l’acteur, Paul Gilbert avec qui elle a adopté Melissa Gilbert et Jonathan Gilbert, les deux stars de la série La Petite Maison dans la prairie. Cependant, Paul Gilbert décède d’une hémorragie cérébrale en 1975. Ses parents, Barbara et Harold ont divorcé peu de temps après la mort de ce dernier. Sara a changé son nom de famille Abeles en Gilbert afin de devenir actrice en 1984.

Carrière à la télévision

Sara a décidé de devenir actrice à l’âge de 6 ans, juste après que sa sœur aînée, Melissa Gilbert, a eu son étoile sur Walk of Fame (Hollywood). Après avoir fait plusieurs apparitions dans des séries télévisées puis dans des publicités, Sara obtient à l’âge de 13 ans le rôle de Darlene Conner-Healy, l’enfant sarcastique du milieu, dans Roseanne. Elle a joué dans cette série pendant neuf ans (19881997), elle a même écrit le scénario d’un épisode de la quatrième saison de la série.

Elle est apparue ensuite dans plusieurs séries télévisées, dont notamment 24 heures chrono (cinq épisodes), Urgences (quinze épisodes) et The Big Bang Theory (huit épisodes).

Vie privée

Depuis son adolescence, elle est végétarienne1, et même végane2.

En 1992, à l’âge de 17 ans, Sara a fréquenté pendant six mois l’acteur Johnny Galecki – rencontré sur le tournage de Roseanne. Sara a déclaré en 2013 qu’elle a réalisé qu’elle était lesbienne pendant qu’elle fréquentait l’acteur3.

En 2001, Sara a commencé à fréquenter la productrice de télévision Allison Adler, mais ce n’est qu’en 2010 qu’elle déclare publiquement être lesbienne4. Ensemble, elles ont eu deux enfants ; un garçon prénommé Levi Hank qu’Allison a mis au monde en , et une fille prénommée Swayer que Sara a mise au monde le 5,6. Sara et Allison se sont séparées en au bout de dix ans de vie commune7.

Depuis , Sara est en couple avec la musicienne Linda Perry8. Après s’être fiancées en 9, elles se sont mariées le 10. Le , Sara a donné naissance à leur fils, prénommé Rhodes Emilio Gilbert Perry11.

Filmographie

Cinéma

Télévision

Stephen Fry

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Wikipedia

Stephen John Fry (born 24 August 1957)[1] is an English comedian, actor, writer, presenter and activist. After a troubled childhood and adolescence, during which he was expelled from two schools and spent three months in prison for credit card fraud, Fry secured a place at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he studied English literature. While at university, he became involved with the Cambridge Footlights, where he met his long-time collaborator Hugh Laurie. As half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, he co-wrote and co-starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie and also took the role of Jeeves (with Laurie playing Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster.

Fry’s acting roles include a Golden Globe Award–nominated lead performance in the film Wilde, Melchett in the BBC television series Blackadder, the title character in the television series Kingdom, a recurring guest role as Dr Gordon Wyatt on the crime series Bones, and as Gordon Deitrich in the dystopian thriller V for Vendetta. He has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award–winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, which saw him explore his bipolar disorder, and the travel series Stephen Fry in America. He is also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI.

Besides working in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines and written four novels and three volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot, The Fry Chronicles and More Fool Me. He also appears frequently on BBC Radio 4, starring in the comedy series Absolute Power, being a frequent guest on panel games such as Just a Minute, and acting as chairman for I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, where he was one of a trio of hosts who succeeded the late Humphrey Lyttelton.

Fry is also known for his voice-overs, reading all seven of the Harry Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings, narrating the LittleBigPlanet and Birds of Steel series of video games, as well as an animated series of explanations of the laws of cricket,[6] and a series of animations about Humanism for the British Humanist Association.[7]

Contents

Early life and education

Fry was born in Hampstead, London, on 24 August 1957,[1] the son of Marianne Eve Fry (née Newman) and Alan John Fry, a British physicist and inventor.[8][9][10] The Fry family originates in Dorset, at Shillingstone and Blandford; in the early 1800s, Samuel Fry (second son of James Fry, of Shillingstone and Blandford) settled in Surrey, with his descendants residing in Middlesex.[11]

Fry’s mother is Jewish, but he was not raised in a religious family.[12] His maternal grandparents, Martin and Rosa Neumann,[10] were Hungarian Jews, who emigrated from Šurany (now Slovakia) to Britain in 1927. Rosa’s parents, who originally lived in Vienna, Austria, were sent to a concentration camp in Riga, Latvia, where they were murdered.[10][12][13] His mother’s aunt and cousins were sent to Auschwitz and Stutthof and never seen again.[10] Fry’s father is English, and his paternal grandmother had roots in Kent and Cheshire.[14][15]

Fry grew up in the village of Booton near Reepham, Norfolk, having moved from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, at an early age. He has an elder brother, Roger, and a younger sister, Joanna.[16]

Fry briefly attended Cawston Primary School in Cawston, Norfolk,[17] before going on to Stouts Hill Preparatory School in Uley, Gloucestershire, at the age of seven, and then to Uppingham School, Rutland, where he joined Fircroft house, and was described as a “near-asthmatic genius”.[18] He was expelled from Uppingham when he was 15 and subsequently from the Paston School.

Fry, upper right, rehearsing a student production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in 1975

At 17, after leaving Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, Fry absconded with a credit card stolen from a family friend.[19] He had taken a coat when leaving a pub, planning to spend the night sleeping rough, but had then discovered the card in a pocket.[20] He was arrested in Swindon, and, as a result, spent three months in Pucklechurch Prison on remand. While Fry was in Pucklechurch, his mother had cut out the crossword from every copy of The Times since he had been away, something which Fry said was “a wonderful act of kindness”. Fry later stated that these crosswords were the only thing that got him through the ordeal.[19]

Following his release, he resumed his education at City College Norwich, promising administrators that he would study rigorously to sit the Cambridge entrance exams. He scored well enough to gain a scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, Fry joined the Cambridge Footlights, appeared on University Challenge,[21] and read for a degree in English literature, graduating with upper second-class honours.[22][23] Fry also met his future comedy collaborator Hugh Laurie at Cambridge and starred alongside him in the Footlights Club.

Career

Television

Comedy

Fry signing autographs at the Apple Store, Regent Street, London, on 3 February 2009

Fry’s career in television began with the 1982 broadcasting of The Cellar Tapes, the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue which was written by Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery. The revue caught the attention of Granada Television, who, keen to replicate the success of the BBC’s Not the Nine O’Clock News, hired Fry, Laurie and Thompson to star alongside Ben Elton in There’s Nothing to Worry About!. A second series, retitled Alfresco, was broadcast in 1983, and a third in 1984; it established Fry and Laurie’s reputation as a comedy double act. In 1983, the BBC offered Fry, Laurie and Thompson their own show, which became The Crystal Cube, a mixture of science fiction and mockumentary that was cancelled after the first episode. Undeterred, Fry and Laurie appeared in an episode of The Young Ones in 1984, and Fry also appeared in Ben Elton’s 1985 Happy Families series. In 1986 and 1987 Fry and Laurie performed sketches on the LWT/Channel 4 show Saturday Live.

Forgiving Fry and Laurie for The Crystal Cube, the BBC commissioned, in 1986, a sketch show that was to become A Bit of Fry & Laurie. The programme ran for 26 episodes spanning four series between 1986 and 1995, and was very successful. During this time, Fry starred in Blackadder II as Lord Melchett, made a guest appearance in Blackadder the Third as the Duke of Wellington, then returned to a starring role in Blackadder Goes Forth, as General Melchett. In a 1988 television special, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, he played the roles of Lord Melchett and Lord Frondo.

Between 1990 and 1993, Fry starred as Jeeves (alongside Hugh Laurie’s Bertie Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster, 23 hour-long adaptations of P. G. Wodehouse‘s novels and short stories.

Towards the end of 2003, Fry starred alongside John Bird in the television adaptation of Absolute Power, previously a radio series on BBC Radio 4.

In 2010, Fry took part in a Christmas series of short films called Little Crackers. His short was based on a story from his childhood at school.[24] He appeared as the Christian God in 2011’s Holy Flying Circus.

In January 2016 it was announced that Fry would be appearing as the character “Cuddly Dick” in Series 3 of the Sky One family comedy Yonderland.[25]

In October 2016, Fry will have a lead role in the American sitcom The Great Indoors. He will portray an outdoor magazine publisher helping to ease his best worldly reporter (Joel McHale) into a desk job.[26]

Drama

Fry has appeared in a number of BBC adaptations of plays and books, including a 1992 adaptation of the Simon Gray play The Common Pursuit (he had previously appeared in the West End stage production); a 1998 Malcolm Bradbury adaptation of the Mark Tavener novel In the Red, taking the part of the Controller of BBC Radio 2; and in 2000 in the role of Professor Bellgrove in the BBC serial Gormenghast, which was adapted from the first two novels of Mervyn Peake‘s Gormenghast series. In 2011, Fry portrayed Professor Mildeye in the BBC adaptation of Mary Norton’s 1952 novel The Borrowers.[27]

Fry narrates the first two seasons of the English-language version of the Spanish children’s animated series Pocoyo.[28]

From 2007 to 2009, Fry played the lead role in (and was executive producer for) the legal drama Kingdom, which ran for three series on ITV1.[29] He has also taken up a recurring guest role as FBI psychiatrist Dr. (later chef) Gordon Wyatt in the popular American drama Bones.

In 2010, having learned some Irish for the role,[30] he filmed a cameo role in Ros na Rún, an Irish-language soap opera broadcast in Ireland, Scotland and the United States.[31][32][33]

In 2014 he began starring alongside Kiefer Sutherland and William Devane in 24: Live Another Day as British Prime Minister Alastair Davies.[34]

Documentaries and other factual programmes

Fry’s first documentary was the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive in 2006.[35] The same year, he appeared in the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing his maternal family tree to investigate his Jewish ancestry.[36] Fry narrated The Story of Light Entertainment, which was shown from July–September 2006.[37] In 2007, he presented a documentary on the subject of HIV and AIDS, HIV and Me.[38]

On 7 May 2008, Fry gave a speech as part of a series of BBC lectures on the future of public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom,[39] which he later recorded for a podcast.[40]

His six-part travel series Stephen Fry in America began on BBC One in October 2008, and saw him travel to each of the 50 US states.[41] In the same year, he narrated the nature documentaries Spectacled Bears: Shadow of the Forest for the BBC Natural World series.

In the 2009 television series Last Chance to See, Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine sought out endangered species, some of which had been featured in Douglas Adams‘ and Carwardine’s 1990 book and radio series of the same name.[42]

In August 2011, Stephen Fry’s 100 Greatest Gadgets was shown on Channel 4 as one of the 100 Greatest strand.[43] His choice for the greatest gadget was the cigarette lighter, which he described as “fire with a flick of the fingers”.[43] In the same month, the nature documentary series Ocean Giants, narrated by Fry, premiered.

In September 2011, Fry’s Planet Word, a five-part documentary about language, aired on BBC HD and BBC Two.[44][45]

In November 2011, an episode of Living The Life featured Fry in an intimate conversation discussing his life and career with Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman.[46]

At the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards shown on ITV on 30 October, Fry, along with Michael Caine, Elton John, Richard Branson and Simon Cowell, recited Rudyard Kipling‘s poem “If—” in tribute to the 2012 British Olympic and Paralympic athletes.[47]

In November 2012, Stephen Fry hosted a gadgets show called Gadget Man, exploring the usefulness of various gadgets in different daily situations to improve the livelihoods of everyone.[48]

In October 2013, Fry presented Stephen Fry: Out There, a two-part documentary in which he explores attitudes to homosexuality and the lives of gay people in different parts of the globe.[49]

On Christmas Day 2013, Fry featured with adventurer Bear Grylls in an episode of Channel 4‘s Bear’s Wild Weekends. Over the course of two days, in the Italian Dolomites, Fry travelled on the skids of a helicopter, climbed down a raging 500-foot waterfall, slept in a First World War trench and abseiled down a towering cliff face.[20]

In June 2015 Fry was the guest on BBC Radio 4‘s Desert Island Discs. His favourite piece was the String Quartet No. 14 by Beethoven. His book choice was Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot and his luxury item was “canvasses, easels, brushes, an instruction manual”.[50]

QI

In 2003, Fry began hosting QI (Quite Interesting), a comedy panel game television quiz show. QI was created and co-produced by John Lloyd, and features permanent panellist Alan Davies. QI has the highest viewing figures for any show on BBC Four and Dave (formerly UKTV G2).[51][52] In 2006, Fry won the Rose d’Or award for “Best Game Show Host” for his work on the series.

In October 2015, it was announced that Fry would retire as the host of QI after the “M” series.