Archive for the GIANTS! Category

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (2013)

Posted in 2013, 3-D, Action Movies, Adult Fairy Tales, CGI, Cinema Knife Fights, Exotic Locales, Family Films, GIANTS!, Heroic Warriors, Michael Arruda Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on March 4, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT:  JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (2013)
By Michael Arruda

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(THE SCENE: The Kingdom of the Giants, high above the clouds.  A GIANT stomps onto the scene, approaching MICHAEL ARRUDA, who sits on a rock counting some beans in his hand.)

GIANT:  Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an English Muffin!

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Don’t you mean Englishman?

GIANT:  No, I mean English muffin.  (pulls out an enormous English muffin).  I love the nooks and crannies.

MA:  I see.  Does that mean you’re not partial to human flesh?

GIANT:  I didn’t say that.  I’m just in the mood for an English muffin right now, that’s all.

JA

MA:  Am I safe to do my review here without worry that you might try to eat me?

GIANT (with his mouth full of English muffin):  I’m not going to eat you.  I prefer to eat meat in the evening, not in the morning.  I’m watching my cholesterol.

MA:  I see.

GIANT:  Start your review.  Don’t mind me.  I’ll just sit here eating my breakfast if that’s okay with you.

MA:  Not a problem.  Welcome everyone to CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT.  I’m riding solo today, as L.L. Soares is on the other side of the clouds reviewing THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2.  I’m here in Giant Land reviewing the latest fairy tale movie, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER ( 2013).

And you know what?

GIANT:  What?

MA:  For the most part, I liked this one.

GIANT:  No kidding?

MA:  No kidding!  It certainly has its share of drawbacks, but it could have been a lot worse.  That being said, I’m also here to tell you it could have been a lot better.

Jack (Nicholas Hoult) lives in a kingdom where the children grow up hearing the legend of the giants who live high above in the sky, and how they were vanquished years ago by the heroic King of the land, who defeated the giants with his magic crown which, upon his death, was buried with him.

Jack is a young farmer who lives with his uncle.  Sent to the village to sell a horse, Jack instead takes in a traveling show where he happens to meet the Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson).  The princess is restless and upset that her father King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) has arranged a marriage for her with the much older Roderick (Stanley Tucci), so she constantly disguises herself and sneaks out of the castle.

When she runs afoul of some aggressive men, Jack jumps to her aid, but before the men rough him up, the king’s guard arrives, led by the head of the royal guard, Elmont (Ewan McGregor), and they whisk the princess back to the castle.

But you can’t keep a good princess down.  She sneaks out again, coincidentally ending up at Jack’s farm (yeah, that’s believable!), when the magic beans Jack had taken for his horse sprout the gigantic beanstalk which rises high into the sky above.  Jack manages to escape the beanstalk, but the princess is trapped and is lifted into the sky.

The king organizes a rescue party, led by Elmont, which also includes Roderick and Jack.  It’s up to these men to climb the beanstalk and rescue the princess from the clutches of the flesh-eating giants.  Things grow more complicated when it’s revealed that Roderick has an agenda of his own, and saving the princess isn’t part of it.

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER has its moments, and the best part of the movie is that everyone involved seems to be taking it quite seriously.  You won’t find goofy camp here.

However, on the other hand, although the material is treated with integrity, it’s handled with kid’s gloves.  This movie is rated PG-13.  It easily could have been rated PG, and in fact felt like a PG movie.  This was not a good thing.  So when the menacing giant takes a human and bites his head off, the camera cuts away long before we see what happens.  When soldiers suffer deadly wounds, not a drop of blood drips from their bodies.

Which makes JACK THE GIANT SLAYER a curious animal.  The actors in the film play things as if they’re in Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, director Bryan Singer, the man behind the first two X-MEN movies, shoots it with the pacing and ferocity of Wolverine, and yet it’s edited in such a way that it is so kid-friendly it makes you wonder if somewhere along the line the folks behind the film changed their minds as to how they wanted to present this thing.

The end result is it’s really nothing more than just a children’s fairy tale.  The kiddos will love it because it’s exciting and action-packed, a bit more serious than their usual fare, but it’s all wrapped in a neat little PG package—sure, the rating says PG-13, but trust me, it’s PG material.

I found it enjoyable in a mild sort of way, but kept wishing it was a darker picture, and by darker, I don’t mean “R” rated, but I mean something along the lines of the aforementioned Peter Jackson LORD OF THE RINGS movies (not THE HOBBIT, which lacked the same intensity).  JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is more akin to a Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movie than LORD OF THE RINGS, only without  Harryhausen’s fun effects.

GIANT:  Speaking of special effects, how were the giants in the movie?  I’m always eager to hear how my cousins are represented on the big screen.

MA:  I’ll get to the giants in a bit.  Not yet.

Jack

Nicholas Hoult, who was one of the few things I liked about the recent zombie romantic comedy WARM BODIES (2013), is very good again here as Jack.  There’s something very likeable and sincere about him, and I found myself easily rooting for Jack.

Eleanor Tomlinson is also very good as Princess Isabelle.  She does a nice job playing both the strong and independent woman, and the vulnerable princess who doesn’t mind having Jack rescue her once in a while.  I bought into her performance as a princess much more than I did Kristen Stewart’s tomboyish take on Snow White in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (2012).

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is also helped along by its veteran cast.  Ewan McGregor as Elmont, the head of the king’s royal guard, shows more passion and exudes more personality here than he did in three movies as the sterile Obi-Wan-Kenobie.  It’s a neat role for McGregor.  He’s not the lead, not the young farm boy, but the seasoned veteran who is single-minded in his purpose to serve the king.  To use another STAR WARS reference, he’s Han Solo to Jack’s Luke Skywalker, although he plays Elmont less like Solo and more like James Bond.

Playing King Brahmwell its Ian Mcshane, a veteran actor who I almost always enjoy watching.  McShane has been in countless movies, and he’s probably most famous for his British TV show LOVEJOY (1986-1994) and for playing Al Swearengen in the HBO series DEADWOOD (2004 – 2006).  Incidentally, McShane was also in last year’s SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, where he played one of the dwarves, but he’s much better here as King Brahmwell.  That’s because in JACK GIANT SLAYER he delivers a performance that’s way above the material.

Stanley Tucci rounds out the veteran cast as Roderick, and surprisingly he was a disappointment.  His performance was fine, but he doesn’t get to do a whole lot.  Roderick should have been a juicy role for Tucci—a no good scoundrel whose secret desire to rule the kingdom leads him to betray just about everyone in his path—and for a while it is, but he never really develops into the kind of villain this movie needs.  I expected more.

And not to nitpick, but since Roderick was in line to marry the princess per order of the king, and was about to inherit the kingdom without having to lift one treacherous finger, the fact that he goes to all this trouble to conquer the king makes little sense when you think about it.

GIANT:  Are you going to talk about the giants now?

MA:  Not yet.  Soon.

Director Bryan Singer brings a lot of energy and zing to this one, imbuing the film with exciting action sequences, colorful sets and costumes, and pacing that keeps the movie rolling.

The screenplay by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dan Studney offers likable characters, enjoyable dialogue, and enough references and tweaks to the original tale to satisfy fairy tale connoisseurs.  McQuarrie also wrote the screenplay for JACK REACHER (2012), VALKYRIE (2008), and, way back when, THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995).

The set-up is all here for a rousing adventure, but somewhere in the editing room, it must have been decided this needed to be watered down.  The final result therefore is a mixed bag, an entertaining story without much bite.

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GIANT:  I’m going to bite you if you don’t start talking about the giants!

MA:  Okay, I’ll talk about the giants.

GIANT: It’s about friggin time!

MA:  What can I say?  I was saving the giants for last.

Anyway, it should come as no surprise where the giants fit in here.  Like the rest of the movie, they run hot and cold.  At times, they look really cool with some neat attention to detail, while other times—actually, most of the time—they look fake and cartoonish, off the set of some old Looney Tunes cartoon.

They’re portrayed as menacing evil beings that’ll bite off a man’s head in an instant, but we never feel their wrath or their enormous hatred of humans.  They’re rarely scarier than a villain in a Disney movie.  In fact, some Disney villains are scarier.

Like other watered-down parts of this movie, had the giants been grittier, the film would have been that much better.

And don’t ask me how the giants procreate.  There’s not a female giant anywhere in the land.

I chose not to see JACK THE GIANT SLAYER in 3D, believing the 3D effects wouldn’t be worth the extra money.

I liked JACK THE GIANT SLAYER, but I certainly didn’t love it.  The acting by everyone involved was very good, the story decent, and the film itself energetic and exciting, but it could have used more of an edge—an adult take to the fairy tale proceedings—as well as some more convincing and frightening giants.

I give it two and a half knives.

GIANT (burps):  That English Muffin was delicious.  But I’m still hungry.  Now what shall I eat?  (Eyes MA and licks his lips.).

MA:  You’re watching your cholesterol, remember?

GIANT:  I know, but it’s so difficult!

MA:  Here, have some magic beans.   (tosses beans up towards giant.)  They’ll put beanstalks on your chest.

GIANT:  I probably shouldn’t eat these.

MA:  No, but you can trade them in for all the food you want.  They’re worth quite a bit.

GIANT:  Gee, thanks!  (Exits)

MA:  Okay, we’re done here.  Time for me to return to the real world.  Now just where is that beanstalk again?  I sure hope the elevator is working this time.

—END—

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives JACK THE GIANT SLAYER ~ two and a half knives!

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Cinema Knife Fight COMING ATTRACTIONS for March 2013

Posted in 2013, Action Movies, Adult Fairy Tales, Body Horror, Coming Attractions, Crime Films, Demons, Exorcism Movies, Fantasy, GIANTS!, Occult with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT – COMING ATTRACTIONS:
MARCH 2013
by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

(The Scene:  The magical land of Oz, outside the Emerald City to be exact.  Munchkins are dancing and singing, good witches are flying about singing cheerful songs, and MICHAEL ARRUDA & L.L. SOARES stroll down the yellow brick road.)

L.L SOARES:  Being here brings back so many memories.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Like the day you met your cousins, the flying monkeys?

LS: That was a special day.  Teaching them how to be scary, and how to beat tin men over the head with clubs.  Ah, memories!  But I was actually talking about watching THE WIZARD OF OZ as a kid. Back in the days before videotape, it only played once on TV every year, and was a really big deal.

MA:  I’ve never liked THE WIZARD OF OZ.

LS:  What?  Was it too scary for you?

MA: I used to find it depressing.  I enjoyed Hammer Films much better.

GOOD WITCH:  Welcome, Cinema Knife Fighters!  Are you here to review OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL?

LS:  Not yet.  We’re here today for our MARCH COMING ATTRACTIONS column.

MA:  That column where we announce which movies we’ll be reviewing in the coming month, and we’re here in Oz, because OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL is probably the month’s biggest movie.

LS:  But it doesn’t open until March 8, and so we have some other films to discuss first.

GOOD WITCH:  Carry on.

MA:  First up in March, we’ll be bringing you reviews of two movies.  I’ll be reviewing JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (2013), and L.L. will be reviewing THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2 (2013).  Both these films open on March 1.

While no fan of the recent rage of fantasy fairy tale movies aimed at adults, films like HANSEL & GRETEL:  WITCH HUNTERS (2013) and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (2012), based on the trailers, I don’t think JACK THE GIANT SLAYER looks half bad.

LS: I think you’ve been eating too many magic beans!

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MA:  It looks like it might be taken seriously enough to be a successful movie.  I know the CGI effects in the previews look pretty good, and the giants look formidable.  Sure, it’ll probably be stupid, but I’m hoping it might have an edge to it, something along the lines of the movies Terry Gilliam used to make.

LS: You said the CGI effects look good and the giants look formidable? I’m not sure we saw the same trailer. The giants I saw looked pretty damn hokey. Incredibly fake-looking giants don’t tempt me to see this movie much.

MA: Nicholas Hoult is playing Jack, and we just saw Hoult in WARM BODIES (2013).  As much as I didn’t really like that movie, Hoult wasn’t bad in it, so hopefully he’ll be decent as Jack.

LS: Another reason I’m glad I’m not seeing it.

MA: The cast also includes Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, and Ian McShane, so there’s some pretty good talent involved here.

It’s directed by Bryan Singer, who directed X-MEN (2000) and X2 (2003) and SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006), a film you liked more than I did, but again, there’s talent involved in this movie, so it just might be good.

LS:  I like Singer, but nothing about the trailers for this one makes me want to see it. Then again, the trailer for THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2 looks like it could be awful, too. This movie really didn’t need a sequel, but the reason why the first movie was so good was because the lead guy, the exorcist Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), made the story compelling. It looks like he’s not even in this second movie. So I don’t have high hopes for it. It just looks like the usual exorcism shenanigans.

I doubt either one of us will see something great, but at least we’ll get two solo reviews out of it.

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MA:  Yeah, THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2 looks like one of those movies that has no business being made.  Now, I liked the first movie a lot, but, like you said, the main reason for liking that one was the main character, the preacher Cotton Marcus, but this second movie isn’t about him, it’s about the young girl from the first movie, Nell (Ashley Bell) and her story just isn’t as interesting.

Plus the trailer for this one makes it look really silly.

LS:  On March 8 it’s the big release of the month, OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL.

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MA:  I have to admit, this one looks really good, but I can’t say I’m overly excited about it, since I’ve never been a fan of THE WIZARD OF OZ.  But it is Sam Raimi at the helm, and I do liked James Franco a lot, and Mila Kunis is nice to look at, so I probably will end up liking this one.

LS: I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like THE WIZARD OF OZ before. You’re an odd gent.

MA: Really?  I know a lot of people who aren’t fans of THE WIZARD OF OZ. I can’t speak for them, but for me, when it was on TV each year when I was a kid, I used to watch it and like it, but eventually found myself sick of the story, especially the final scene where Dorothy’s relatives chuckle at her story about Oz, obviously dismissing her tale as a figment of her imagination.

LS:  What did you want them to do?  Believe her?  Tell me, is it possible this scene bothered you because when you were a child, people didn’t believe your stories?

MA:  Vampires are real and living in my basement!  (suddenly composing himself).  Sorry.  No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Anyway, on March 15 we’ll be reviewing the new thriller THE CALL (2013), starring Halle Berry as a 911 operator who becomes entangled with a serial killer.  Now, if you’ve seen the trailer for this one, you’ve probably seen the entire movie.  It’s pretty extensive, and I feel like I’ve seen the film already, so I’m really not that excited about it.

It also stars Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine herself.

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LS:  Oh boy! Maybe she’ll sing! But seriously, I am not looking forward to this one at all. It looks pretty awful, and you’re right, the trailer makes you feel like you already saw the movie. So why bother?

LS:  On March 22, we’ll be bringing you a DVD review of CELL COUNT.  This one is part of our up-and-coming filmmaker series, where we review new movies by directors who are trying to make a name for themselves. I hope it’s good.

MA:  I don’t know much about CELL COUNT, but I’m looking forward to seeing it.

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We finish the month with two reviews on the same weekend yet again.  I’ll be reviewing G.I. JOE:  RETALIATION (2013), and L.L. will be reviewing THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (2012).  Something tells me you’re getting the better end of this deal!

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION I’m sure will be absolutely stupid.  G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF THE COBRA, which I saw in 2009, was not only one of the worst movies I saw that year, but one of the worst movies I’ve seen period!  Ever!

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Yet, somehow, this one’s got a decent cast— actually more than decent— with the likes of Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Ray Stevenson, RZA, Arnold Vosloo, Byung-hun Lee from I SAW THE DEVIL (2010), and Jonathan Pryce.  So, who knows?  It might be good after all!

Plus, the screenplay was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the same guys who wrote ZOMBIELAND (2009).

LS:  Yeah, I can’t stand G.I. JOE movies, so I’m glad I’ll be missing this one.

MA:  I just don’t get why we even have G.I. JOE movies.  When I hear “G.I. Joe” I think of the popular toy action figure from years back, but is it even still around today?  I’m sure it is, but is it popular?  I don’t get it.

LS:  THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is a mystery starring Ryan Gosling, and it involves some kind of heist, based on the trailer. I’m eager to see this one.

MA:  Yeah, it features Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, two of my favorite actors, so I’d say this one sounds like a winner.

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And that wraps things up for our MARCH COMING ATTRACTIONS column.  We’ll see you next week with reviews of JACK THE GIANT SLAYER and THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2.

GOOD WITCH:  Remember to give OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL a positive review.

MA:  That depends on whether we like it or not, because if we don’t like it, then we can’t in good faith—.

(GOOD WITCH zaps MA with her wand and turns him into a frog.)

LS:  Wow. You’ll have to show me how to do that!  But what’s the idea of turning Michael into a frog?  I thought you were a good witch?

GOOD WITCH:  I am.  When it comes to casting magical spells, I’m good!

LS: I’d ask you to change him back, but that would be so unlike me.  Okay, folks, we’ll see you next weekend!  Don’t worry.  Michael will be back to his normal self in time to review JACK THE GIANT SLAYER.   I know this for a fact, because there’s no way I’m going to see it!

FROG:  Rib-bit!  Rib-bit!

—END—

Remote Outpost: THE SCIENCE FICTION TV SHOWS OF IRWIN ALLEN! – PART 2

Posted in 2012, 60s Television, Aliens, GIANTS!, Irwin Allen, Mark Onspaugh Columns, Remote Outpost, Time Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2012 by knifefighter

Remote Outpost by Mark Onspaugh
This week: A VOYAGE OF THE LOST IN THE TIME OF GIANTS
PART 2 OF 2

Hello from the Outpost, located on a small planetoid that is actually a dead generation starship which is hurtling out toward the edge of the galaxy… And we’re all out of Poptarts™ and peanut butter……And now back to the science fiction shows of Irwin Allen!

Our third entry from Irwin Allen was my favorite show of his, THE TIME TUNNEL. Ironically, it is also his least successful, lasting only one season from September 9, 1966 to April 7, 1967. The Time Tunnel is a secret government installation under the Arizona desert, code named Project Tic-Toc. The only way inside was via a large secret panel in the desert floor; when it opened, a car could descend into the complex. The Tic-Toc base was a futuristic series of complexes 800 floors deep and employing over 36,000 people (“12 thousand people in each of those complexes”). Its design was inspired by the complex of the Krell in FORBIDDEN PLANET.

In the pilot, a senator tours the facility and concludes it is a waste of money—he is going to shut it down. To prevent this, headstrong young physicist Anthony “Tony” Newman, dressed in slacks and a swingin’ green turtleneck, powers up the giant device all alone and plunges in—and lands on the deck of the Titanic. (Ironic horn sound effect here). Tony tries to convince the Captain that the ship is doomed, and is thrown in the brig.  Dr. Doug Philips is outfitted with a suit from the period and sent after Tony. He is successfully placed on the Titanic, armed with a newspaper that shows the Titanic sank (Remember, the DVD with Leo and Kate hadn’t been invented, yet). The Captain (Michael Rennie of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL 1951) throws the newspaper away, and throws Doug in the brig as well.

Tony and Doug do manage to escape and help evacuate the sinking ship—just when it seems like our heroes will perish, the crack team of scientists at the Time Tunnel pluck them from the icy waters and send them tumbling through psychedelic corridors of time, to land in the next historically-vital time and place. They never land somewhere insignificant or devoid of people; they never run into anyone that doesn’t speak English; and their clothes were always clean and fresh (Doug’s even update to a more modern look). And, since Irwin Allen was at the helm, they run into their share of aliens. Allen  seemed especially fond of spray painting people silver and putting them in a spacesuit or metallic garb – voila, alien!

THE TIME TUNNEL starred James Darren as Tony and Robert Colbert as Doug.  James Darren was a handsome fellow who was in a lot of GIDGET movies before becoming lost in time… He later found himself working as a cop on a series called T.J. HOOKER (1982-1986), opposite some unknown named William Shatner.  Robert Colbert (no relation to Stephen) was a workman-like actor who appeared in films like MACABRE (1958) and guest-starred on about a zillion series.

Back at the lab, always reliable Whit Bissell was Lt. General Heywood Kirk, John Zaremba was Dr. Raymond Swain and the lovely Lee Merriwether was Dr. Ann MacGregor. Whit Bissell is best remembered for turning Michael Landon into a Lettermen-jacketed lycanthrope in I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957), but he was also Dr. Frankenstein in the same year’s I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN —clearly, a bad influence on teens. Whit also appeared in THE TIME MACHINE (1960) and SOYLENT GREEN (1973).  John Zaremba appeared in EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS (1956) and 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957).  Lee Merriwether was Catwoman in the BATMAN movie of 1966 (she was neither as sexy as Julie Newmar or Eartha Kitt on the subsequent TV series). She, like the others, did a ton of TV, but I seemed to confuse her with Mariette Hartley, who seduced Mr. Spock in “All Our Yesterdays”.  Sorry, Lee.

Dr. Ann was in love with Doug, but tried to hide her feelings—though very skilled at her job, various men usually pushed her out of the way with impatience to “get the job done.” THE TIME TUNNEL relied on the notion that “the past is immutable and cannot be altered,” a notion that most of us geeks deny. Every week, Dick Tufeld (who voiced the Robot in LOST IN SPACE) would intone: “Two American scientists are lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages, during the first experiments of America’s greatest and most secret project, the Time Tunnel. Tony Newman and Doug Phillips now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, somewhere along the infinite corridors of time.” Not so infinite, THE TIME TUNNEL only lasted thirty episodes, and the finale put Doug and Tony back on the Titanic… How’s that for a nice one finger salute to the loyal audience?

****

Irwin Allen’s final excursion into 60s sci-fi was LAND OF THE GIANTS, a series that ran two seasons from September 22, 1968 to March 22, 1970. LAND OF THE GIANTS takes place in the “futuristic” year 1983. Passengers are flying from L.A. to London on the sub-orbital vehicle The Spindrift. The Spindrift passes through a strange cloud and the group crashes on what is either a parallel Earth or an unknown planet in our own solar system (this is never definitively stated and the science is even sloppier than other Allen productions). Anyway, everything on this unknown planet is twelve times larger than our heroes are used to. (If this were a roast on Comedy Central, now would be the time you’d send your kids out of the room.)  Apparently, other Earth ships have crashed here before, and the Giants (as our heroes call them) are on the lookout for “little people.” It seems our technology is ahead of theirs, yet the Giants seemed to have mastered cloning and teleportation… Huh?

Our heroes consisted of Captain Steve Burton, Co-Pilot Dan Erickson, Stewardess Heather Young, surly engineer Mark Wilson, pretty Valerie Ames Scott, young boy Barry Lockridge (and his dog Chipper) and the somewhat mysterious and villainous Commander Fitzhugh (a bank robber on the lam). Allen really tried to appeal to all markets with this one—all the men except Fitzhugh were handsome, Valerie wore low-cut tops and mini-skirts (a bit impractical for jungle life and adventurin’) and the relationship between young Barry and Fitzhugh was pretty much identical to Will and Dr. Smith on LOST IN SPACE.

Gary Conway was Captain Steve, and he was the pimply monster in I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN, mentioned above.  He also appeared in HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER (1958).  Co-Pilot Dan was played by Don Marshall, who was Boma in “The Galileo Seven” on STAR TREK TOS (the officer who mouths off constantly to stoic Mr. Spock) and was a doctor in THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972), where the head of rich bigot Ray Milland is sewn onto the already-headed body of death row inmate Rosie Grier – why this never became a sitcom, I don’t know. The rest of the cast had many series credits, as actors in Irwin Allen series tend to do, but I would be remiss to all my knife-fightin’ pals if I did not give you a most amazing credit for actress Deanna Lund, who played pretty Valerie Ames Scott.  In 1989 Lund would have a role in the movie ELVES, which has this synopsis on IMDB:

“A young woman discovers that she is the focus of an evil Nazi experiment involving selective breeding and summoned elves, an attempt to create a race of supermen. She and two of her friends are trapped in a department store with an elf, and only Dan Haggerty, as the renegade loose-cannon Santa Claus, can save them.”  Wow.  And again, wow.

(NOTE: By the way, they apparently took a lot of “cheesecake” photos of Deanna Lund with a model of the ship, but nothing of the men—sorry, girls! As far as I can tell—ah, the pains of research—they didn’t do this for any of Irwin Allen’s other shows…)

Beyond the premise that the planet was filled with super-sized people, pets, appliances and breakfast foods, the writers didn’t delve very deeply in the culture, history or politics of the place. The society of the Giants was totalitarian but not very oppressive or militaristic, and most episodes concerned the castaways trying to get home, someone getting caught that had to be rescued, or the Captain preventing them all getting home because the method in question would also allow the Giants access to our world.

The budget per episode was $250,000, which was a record at the time. John “Johnny” Williams wrote the score, which I think may be his worst work—it’s not at all memorable (I could recall the other themes without playing them). The show was cancelled after 51 episodes, and ended without a cliffhanger or the castaways returning home. Despite the presence of Deanna Lund, I grew bored with the series and after just two or three episodes I looked for better fare… I’m sure you did, too. (Looking at the schedule for Sunday nights in 1968, I probably just waited for The FBI, followed by The Smothers Brothers…)

Outpost… out.

****

(Static… garbled swearing… feedback) Just a second! Before we lose contact again, I wanted to comment on a modern-day series, AWAKE, the Jason Isaacs series that was cancelled after one season.

(SPOILER ALERT) As you know, the series concerned a police detective who survived a terrible car accident and lives two realities—in one, his wife survived and his son died. In the other, his wife is gone and his son lived.  He goes to sleep in one reality and wakes up in the other. He has a different partner in each, and a different therapist, each trying to tell him the other world is but a dream.  Often, insights gained in one help him with a different case in the other.  I loved this show—it was creative, well-written and had some wonderful actors.  My wife (the lovely Tobey Crockett) had the theory that Detective Michael Britten was in a coma—I loved that—and someday he would wake to find both his wife and son alive… Perhaps the conspiracy behind the accident (involving heroin and other cops, including his Captain) would be real, and he would have solved the whole thing while unconscious… beautiful.

So what was the conclusion? IT WAS ALL A DREAM!… Both realities were dreams within a dream that he had in one night – he woke to find his wife and son alive, no accident, and presumably no conspiracy.  Show creator Kyle Killen said he always considered one of the realities a dream, but hadn’t decided which one when the cancel order came on down.  Now, I am a forgiving, easygoing feller – I liked the conclusion of LOST while others wanted to hunt down everyone from the creators to the caterers… But this… A dream, really?  Ack—at least give us a dream while the guy is on a ship to Mars, ala the American version of LIFE ON MARS (2006-2007).  I expected more from you, Kyle, who gave us LONE STAR (2010) and who is supposed to reboot Daredevil… A dream—SHEESH!

Outpost… out. (This time for real)

© Copyright 2012 by Mark Onspaugh