Curated by Carl Slaughter: Sci-fi oldies, but definitely not sci-fi goldies:
(1) How can a sci-fi television show fail with the likes of Vincent Price, Earnest Borgnine, Lorne Greene, and a hunk from Dallas? Fail they did.
- Future Cop
- Time Express
- Fantastic Journey
- Invisible Man
- Gemini Man
- Man from Atlantis
- Project UFO
- Beyond Westworld
- Tales of the Unexpected
- Logan’s Run
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
- Battlestar Galactica
(2) Bad and hideously bad failed speculative TV pilots. Including Leonard Nimoy’s Baffled. Try this quote from Clone Master: “I’m working on some very sophisticated cloning experiments. But working on cloning and being a clone are two different things.” And this Morgan le Fay quote: “I am Kali, goddess of destruction! I am Lilith, queen of demons! I am Ishtar, bloody Ishtar!”
- Dr. Strange
- The Man With The Power
- The Archer; Fugitive from the Empire
- The Tribe
- Clone Master
(3) Remember these old, tacky, short-lived sci-fi shows of the 80s?
- The Wizard
- Wizards and Warriors
- Misfits of Science
- Shadow Chasers
- The Phoenix
- Powers of Matthew Star
- The Highwayman
(4) 80s sci-fi gems and duds, mostly duds. Including Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman’s Beauty and the Beast.
- Galactica 1980
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
- Hard Time on Earth
- The Greatest American Hero
- Once a Hero
- Beauty and the Beast
- Max Headroom
- Twilight Zone
(5) Remember these old, tacky, short-lived sci-fi TV shows from the 90s? Including Steven Spielberg’s seaQuest DSV and Stephen King’s Golden Years.
- Space Rangers
- The Flash
- Mann and Machine
- seaQuest DSV
- The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage
- Eerie Indiana
- Nightmare Cafe
- Dark Shadows
- Earth 2
- Touched by an Angel
- Twin Peaks
- X Files
- Golden Years
Misfits of Science had a bit of a cult following in Germany. I have the boxed set, even if some (OK, a lot) of it is really cringe-worthy now.
I know that the authors of LOGAN’S RUN are well liked and have done much better works, but the hype for the book and movie and TV show seemed to a bit over the top. And the comic book (almost forgot that), The story just doesn’t make sense.
I think if you went through some of the older stuff from the BBC, you’d find another handful of titles. Not too many people know about THE STRANGE WOLRD OF GURNEY SLADE.
Twin Peaks was many things, but ‘tacky’ was not one of them. And The X-Files ran for nine seasons, which is hardly short-lived.
Wizards and Warriors was an awesome takedown of fantasy tropes that were tired even back then. Also funny as hell.
I watched all of these at least once. Or at least 90% of them. Some of ’em I watched all the way through and may still own the VHS. (Didn’t see the pilots)
Douglas Berry is absolutely correct about “Wizards and Warriors”. Funny, great deconstruction of tropes. My whole family loved it. And who can forget the villain’s habit of entering the room and saying only “Hi.” (it was all in the delivery) Nor Clive Revill’s wizard revealing “I’m not wearing a hat”.
“100 Lives of Black Jack Savage” was slight but cute, “Eerie Indiana” was good. And I’m not sure how you can call “X-Files” short-lived; the show was on for 8-9 years, had 2 movies, and came back last year! “Twin Peaks” is back right now, weirder than ever.
Golden Years (much like The Lost Room from 2006) was pitched and advertised as a “miniseries”. Many who watched were then surprised and not happy when the ending was basically “hey, we want this to be a continuing series so we’re not going to write a real ending for it”.
And if you’ve included Eerie, Indiana then you should also include American Gothic on that ’90s list…
Yeah, I remember a lot of these. (Born in 1968, so grew up in the 80s.)
Automan… schlocky, usually amusingly bad, and I’m sure Desi Arnaz, Jr. wonders what he was thinking at the time. (Yes, Lucille Ball’s son was the police detective in that.)
Claudia Christian, aka Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, was actually in the Highwayman, at least in the pilot. That was pretty much the last of the ‘super vehicle’ shows of the era, after Knight Rider, Streethawk, Airwolf…
I actually saw the movie of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century with Gil Gerard before the TV show. Like some of the other shows here, the TV show suffered from being a series which meant that they couldn’t actually advance any characterization significantly.
Max Headroom used to be run on a TV station here which put it in a rotating slot they called ‘TV too good for TV’. I still prefer the British pilot (where Max ends up with Big Time Television) in some ways to the American pilot, but enjoyed most of the show itself, where they got a chance to expand out on the world background. If you want to do cyberpunk, Max Headroom should be on the viewing list.
I thought the ’78 Dr. Strange pilot was actually pretty fair for its day. Nor was I alone–I actually discovered it shortly after I got my first DVR (anyone remember Tivo?) and was astonished to see a listing for a Dr. Strange movie with four stars (out of five). So I checked IMDb, which, at the time, was giving it seven out of ten. (It’s down to 5.4 today, but then the standards for comic book movies have gone way up recently.)
The first two-thirds weren’t very comic-book-y, but were surprisingly well-done despite that. And the last third was a bit cheesy and low budget, but the FX and set designs at least paid tribute to Kirby.
Despite its flaws (which I freely admit), I might go so far as to say that it was, for many years, the second-best live-action Marvel adaptation (after the TV version of The Hulk).
They had a guy of Japanese descent (Clyde Kusatsu) playing Wong–but hey, at least they went with the right continent; for the time, that’s moderately impressive. (And I’m going to carefully avoid commenting about the casting of the new Dr. Strange movie here….)
Also, the presence of a young Jessica Walter (Lucille Bluth/Malory Archer) has the potential to inspire some awesome fanfic! 😀
I hope not — Kirby didn’t have anything to do with Dr. Strange.
I think I saw that back when it came out, and I can’t remember much about it. I wasn’t impressed, but that wouldn’t stop it from being “the second-best live-action Marvel adaptation.”
I remember loving what little I saw of The Highwayman, but I was so young I remember almost nothing about it accurately. I think I was just going through a “super vehicle” phase.
I have watched most of these shows and enjoyed many of them. Some I watched even though they were terrible, like The Phoenix. My friends and I all had a crush on Judson Scott, but even by schoolgirl crush standards, it was terrible. Project UFO I watched with my dad, who knew people who worked on Project Bluebook and wanted to see how they dramatized it.
This was a fun trip down memory lane. I’ll have to show this to my roommate.
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