Thursday, December 30, 2010
• Another thing I'd hoped to do in December was post the first Space: 1970 podcast on Christmas day. Again, though, I misjudged how much work I still needed to do on it (and how little spare time I'd have to do it), so, maybe I'll get it up after New Years (assuming I can figure out how to post it to the site). I actually completed a 20-minute "pilot" a while back, but I want to re-record it and smooth out some rough patches before I present it for public consumption.
• As noted below, I received the Season 1 Space: 1999 Blu-Ray set from my wife for Christmas. (Praise the cosmos for holiday sales/discounts!)
I'm truly astounded at the visual improvement and the extensive supplemental material. If you're a HD-equipped Space: 1999 fan and on the fence about picking it up (especially if, like me, you've bought the show on DVD a couple times already), I recommend taking the plunge. The audio and video are vastly improved over the Region 1 DVDs. I hope that A&E and Network will work the same magic on UFO sometime soon.
• As 2010 comes to its end, I'd like to thank everyone who's stopped by Space: 1970, and wish you all a great 2011. Personally, I've had a rough year, but this site has been among its very few joys, and I'm grateful to everyone who visited, and especially those who've commented and/or made a point of following the blog.
If you're on Facebook, please consider "liking" the Space: 1970 Facebook page. If you're interested in supporting the site, there's a Paypal donation button over in the right-hand sidebar (reader donations paid for that Message from Space DVD I reviewed not long ago). Finally, if you're interested in my other work (I write comic books for several publishers as well as short fiction), stop by my homepage at Atomic Pulp and check out my stuff.
Happy New Year, space kids!
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
But, I have to say that the high definition remasters are absolutely gorgeous. In a direct comparison to the A&E DVDs, the new transfers are remarkably, vastly superior.
Colors are truer and perfectly balanced, there is virtually no dirt or debris evident, and the miniature effects - by far the most impressive aspect of the show in the first place - look utterly fantastic, with rock-solid blacks and razor sharp detail. And I don't know if they went in and digitally removed the effects wires that were visible on DVDs, or if the new, high-contrast transfers simply hide them better, but on the handful of episodes I've watched so far, I haven't seen a single one - and I've been looking.
I'm also digging the cleaned-up titles and new audio mix; Barry Gray's opening theme sounds spectacular in 5.1.
I haven't yet made it through all the bonus features, but the featurettes I've checked out have all been entertaining and informative. I'm looking forward to working my way through all of the supplements and re-watching all the episodes again. I had also forgotten that Sseason 2's debut episode, "The Metamorph," was among the extras (It wasn't listed on the package). It also looks beautiful in HD, and I'm eager to see the rest of Year Two make its way to America on Blu-Ray....
ADDENDUM: Amazon currently has the set at more than 50% off: Space: 1999: The Complete Season One [Blu-ray]
Monday, December 27, 2010
To continue with our post-Apocalyptic holiday theme, here's a nice selection of theatrical one-sheets from the most influential CARmageddon film of the Seventies, George Miller's Mad Max. The international success of this genre trailblazer led to the even more influential sequel (known in the States as The Road Warrior), which inspired countless imitations throughout the 80s.
Personally, my favorite is the American-International U.S. poster at the top - it has a great 70's sci-fi paperback cover quality to it that really pushes my buttons.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Here's the trailer to 1971's The Omega Man, the second (official) film adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel, I Am Legend, and the second of Charlton Heston's Space: 1970-era sci-fi triptych (Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Soylent Green). Look for a full-length post on this quintessential Seventies doomsday flick in a day or two....
As a pre-Mad Max/Road Warrior/Escape From New York "aftermath" flick, The Ultimate Warrior is refreshingly free of "punk" haircuts and S&M fashions, and presents a somewhat more believable world than most of the post-Apocalypse actioners that came along in the 80s. The backlot filming does give the movie a slightly claustrophobic/artificial feel, but Clouse manages to keep things moving along a decent clip, and Brynner's charisma holds it all together.
Battle Beneath the Earth/The Ultimate Warrior
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Okay, admittedly, I'm getting off to a bad start with the first Space: 1970 Theme Week: a day late and a re-post at that!, But... I actually intended to re-post some of the more relevant articles from the past year in addition to at least five new ones; I just didn't plan to start the week that way. Unfortunately, I haven't managed my time very well, so... here's my review of the Ark II DVD set from a few years ago, with a few minor revisions and some additional screen captures. With luck, I'll have a brand-new themed post up shortly.
Ark II was a surprisingly bleak and grim premise for a Saturday morning children’s television series. Of course, at the time, it all seemed like a very possible near-future; as a child of the Seventies, I was uncomfortably aware of (even if I didn't understand) the energy crisis, the conflict in Vietnam, and the omnipresent nuclear threat posed by the Cold War.
Damnation Alley for adolescents!
Planet Of the Apes features! And, as I mentioned in my Space Academy review, Bill Malone’s Robby the Robot guest starred in an episode, which is always a plus for me. The earnest young cast manages to play their underwritten roles with conviction, and, thankfully, the chatty chimpanzee (voiced by frugal Filmation head Lou Scheimer) is never all that annoying.
Ark II set contains all 15 episodes on 4 discs. Unfortunately, the transfers are not very impressive. Presented in their original full-screen TV aspect ratio, the source material, originally shot on inexpensive 16mm film stock, is faded and grainy, although relatively free of damage or debris. Still, considering that the show is nearly 30 years old, and was probably shot on a budget of $100 bucks an episode, we’re probably lucky the episodes look as good as they do.
Ark II – The Complete Series comes with an bunch of bonus features, including audio commentaries on two episodes, a full-length "Making Of" documentary, several photo and art galleries (including designs for a proposed animated version of the series), and all 15 scripts, plus the series bible, on DVD-ROM.
Ark II is good kid’s show with a still-timely environmental message and a relatively decent example of 70’s TV sci-fi, and I really enjoyed watching these episodes again. If it’s a fond memory from your childhood, you may want to pick it up, despite the less-than-reference-quality transfers.
Like the other Filmation live-action sci-fi kidvid series Space Academy and Jason of Star Command, Ark II was released a few years ago on DVD by BCI. That original set is out of print – and BCI is out of business – but just before the company closed shop, it released all three series in one box set. Both editions are still available if you look around for them; in fact, here's some links:
• Filmation Sci-Fi Box Set
• Ark II: The Complete Series