The ninth issue of Starlog hit the stands on September 1, 1977, the sixth of the eight-times-a-year issues. The focus is primarily on television, including the surely-going-to-happen new Star Trek series intended to replace the definitely-not-gonna-happen Star Trek feature film, but Star Wars continues to pull focus. And William Shatner tries to walk away from it all.
Wanna see all the stuff I skipped? The full run of Starlog is available over at the Internet Archive, and here are the previous installments of this series.
1. Cover: Logan Runs to Escape the Blob, Evidently.
And, the doughy arm from the cover of Starlog 008 which some Topless Robot readers got cranky about me describing as "doughy" is now replaced by one which can charitably described as "scrawny." There, boys. Happy now? Good.
Meanwhile, the editors have high hopes for the new Logan's Run series.
It did not quite become the most successful TV-SFer since Star Trek; instead, Logan's Run only ran for 14 episodes, making it exactly as successful as the live-action Planet of the Apes TV series, and one episode more successful than the animated Return to the Planet of the Apes series.
2. The Editors Take a Stand.
The "From the Bridge" editorial in this issue discusses examples of diversity, and acceptance of said diversity, in science fiction. Mostly it's about Star Trek, though Star Wars gets snuck in there too, citing one of that film's "great delights" being "the constant parade of alien creatures who truly fascinate us with their diversity."
And then, context:
Hells yeah, Starlog! Granted, I don't personally believe that being into science fiction necessarily makes anyone a better person than, say, being into horror or porn makes them a worse person - one of my early disillusionments about the nature of humanity was the number of truly unpleasant people I encountered at the Mystery Science Theater 3000 ConventioCon ExpoFest-A-Rama 2 in 1996 - but this was still a bold position to take.
Context: in 1977, Dade County, FL passed an ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Anita Bryant, Florida orange juice spokesperson and easy-listening singer, launched a virulently homophobic campaign called "Save Our Children" to overturn the ordinance, saying that the gays were out to recruit kids, and the next stop after giving rights to queers is to also grant rights to prostitutes (gasp!) and to "people who sleep with St. Bernards" (it's always the slippery slope, but that's a curiously specific example, n'est-ce pas?). Also, in a paper entitled "Why Certain Sexual Deviations Are Punishable By Death" (spoiler: Leviticus gets dragged into it, as usual), she not only listed homosexuality, but also "racial mixing of human seed." So, Anita Byrant, a very nice person. Kudos to Starlog for calling her on it, and I'm looking forward to the keep your gay politics to yourself, you gay you! letters in future issues. And, speaking of cranky letters...
3. The Star Wars Nitpickery Begins!
The editors deflect that one nicely.
And, I dunno, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this Maryland gentleman was in no way, shape, or form "afraid" or otherwise distressed to have to reveal this glaring mistake. Just a hunch.
Nice touch, namedropping Time.
Pretty solid defense, that. Here's the glaring mistake (I do not think "glaring" means what they think it means) from the issue in question:
In retrospect, it might have helped if Starlog had also italicized According to Lippincott. But probably not. It's too much fun to kill the messenger.
Meanwhile, 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to be a point of contention, and much like (to use a random example) when the Ben Affleck-as-Batman kerfuffle is compared to the Michael-Keaton-as Batman foofaraw, it bugs people when you bring up 2001 when talking about Star Wars, so please stop doing it.
Another Dover resident, just about done with his first half-decade in Tolkien fandom, is gettin' like Harrison Ford for news about the forthcoming movie...
...and Starlog describes Ralph Bakshi to a T. Or a B.
"Erratically brilliant" just nails Bakshi, though only "erratic" comes close to describing his The Lord of the Rings. I'm still scarred by that movie, but I'll go into more detail next time.
And speaking of both 1970s Tolkien and divisive sci-fi movies, I came across this in the May 19, 1972 edition of The Deseret News.
Oh, Young Romantics of the Tolkien-Vonnegut Generation, where have you gone? Did you ever exist? And where's the three-movie, nine-hour trilogy based on Slaughterhouse-5?
4. Did We Mention the On-Location Footage? Because It Has That!
I'm sure my family watched this when it first aired, and if it was past my bedtime, I probably caught it in repeats. It's evidently included in the Blu-ray box set, which has been one of the the nice things about the Star Wars video releases over the years: this kind of archival material. (Except for anamorphic versions of the theatrical editions, of course.)
The special itself doesn't appear to be on YouTube, but here's the ABC promo for it with the golden throat of Ernie Anderson, and ever-so-slight letterboxing.
And here are the closing credits. I feel like that's the end of a commercial right before the credits actually start; does anybody recognize it? Or are those the final moments of the show itself?
By the way, if you watched ABC anytime from the mid-1970s through the late 1990s, you know Ernie Anderson's voice, and you need to hear this outtake reel of ol' Ghoulardi himself swearing up a blue storm. It's extremely NSFW, and relentlessly hilarious.
5. Space Mountain Arrives in California.
"Zippity-Doo-Dah" seems like an strange choice to dedicate Space Mountain, but 1977 was a strange year, and John Barry's terrific theme to The Black Hole didn't exist yet.
Here's a compilation of all the music used at the various Space Mountain(s) through 2011. The 1977 com chatter that begins at 19:32 should be played in the background of all public places at all times.
And speaking of Disney and space...
6. Wernher von Braun Goes to that Big Paperclip in the Sky.
Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun died on my fourth birthday! He appeared in the "Mars and Beyond," "Man and the Moon," and "Man in Space" episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color in the mid-1950s, and William Shatner namedropped him in the 1970s. Von Braun also designed the V-2 rocket used by the Germans during World War II, but hell, you gotta start somewhere. Starlog's obit glosses over the Nazi angle, but that's what Tom Lehrer is for.
7. Superman v Nobody: The Dawn of Nothing Is Underway!
Okay, first off: I really wanted to like Man of Steel. Superman has always been my favorite primary superhero - I don't think I've ever actually read a Batman comic other than The Dark Knight Returns - and every couple of years I rewatch Superman Returns in the hope that it'll grow on me more. And I would have been okay with the neck-snappin' destructo-porn at the end of Man of Steel were it not for the fact that at no point prior does he just go out and fight regular crime, to foil a bank robbery or even rescue a damn cat out of a tree. Instead, after he gets his suit and learns to fly in, he heads to his mom's house to drink beer and watch football. Bleargh.
Anyway, the production of the first Superman movie was legendarily chaotic - almost moreso than that of the first Star Trek movie - with a prime example being that they were already planning the Mount Rushmore gag in 1977. (By the way, Superman special-effects overseer John Barry is a different John Barry than Black Hole composer John Barry.) That effect did wind up in the Richard Lester cut of Superman II in 1980, but as we know from the 2006 restoration of Richard Donner's cut, it wasn't going to be done at all.
And speaking of scenes that may or may not have been intended for, or ended up in, a given version of a Superman film...
8. FRUIT CART!
This scene was shot by Richard Donner for Superman II, but unused by Richard Lester. You never can tell.