Thursday, December 11, 2008
Star Trek- The Original Series: Season Three Remastered DVD Edition
Reviewed by- Jennifer Smith & Rob Klein
Star Trek Season Three Remastered Edition is “sauce for the goose, Mr. Saavik.”
Star Trek’s season three looks very different than the previous two seasons, and it wasn’t just because the Starfleet uniform’s fabric was switched from fuzzy velour to “Brady Bunch”-ish polyester. Star Trek suffered from a severely cut budget, due to the shows’ near cancellation at the end of season two. NBC had no faith in the program, and due to the historic letter-writing campaign spearheaded by loyal first generation Trek fans, Star Trek was awarded a third season. Star Trek was not given a fair chance, as its third season time slot of Friday at 10:00 PM was known as the network “dead-zone.” This was the time when the loyal fans that had supported the shows for two years were out of the house being teenagers, and the younger Trek fans were asleep, as 10:00 PM was still past their bedtime, even for a weekend. Additionally, the departure of Gene Roddenberry as the show’s writer/producer due to political posturing over contract disputes also affected the style and feel of the third season. Though the new producers did a great job with what they had to work with, Star Trek’s third season too often gets dismissed as throwaway when compared to the first two seasons. It may not be the strongest of the three, but with episodes like “Spectre of the Gun”, “The Enterprise Incident’, “All Our Yesterdays” and the “The Savage Curtain”, we should thank God for Star Trek’s third season, and this new DVD set celebrates it with style.
In season three, “all bets are off”. There are many far-out premised episodes that affirmed that the show was strong enough to carry controversial stories concerning race and war; subject matter that other shows of the time dared not tackle. Star Trek had the guts of storytelling that would pique the interest of the hardest of Klingons, and it took 60’s television boldly where no other shows had gone before. An excellent example of this is “All Our Yesterdays”, a tour-de-force of acting by Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and DeForest Kelley as Dr. “Bones” McCoy. Sent back in time to a frozen wasteland by mistake, Spock and McCoy encounter the beautiful Zarabeth, marooned there by an evil dictator. McCoy finds a way to return through the time portal, but cannot jump through without Spock. Spock sacrifices his future with Zarabeth for McCoy’s return to the Enterprise, leaving Zarabeth alone in the past. Almost 20 years after the Trek episode was filmed, a brilliant book was released called “Yesterday’s Son,” by A.C. Crispin. In it, Spock realizes that he fathered a son by Zarabeth, and travels back in time to rescue him. How many other television shows have spawned episodes being embellished upon 15 years after the episode premiered? Another example is obvious; the first season episode “Space Seed” that originally starred Ricardo Montalban as “Khan” became the vehicle that generated the best Trek feature film: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Star Trek- The Original Series: Season Three Remastered DVD Edition looks great in spite of the controversial addition of enhanced effects. Though we will always be purists and want to see the original cuts and effects live on forever in reruns, I must admit that it’s fun seeing these new digital effects pop-up from time to time in an episode, especially when you forget you are watching an enhanced version. There is a certain thrill at seeing an episode that you’ve watched dozens of times, and being “wowed” or at least caught off-guard by how cool The CG “U.S.S. Enterprise” looks in orbit.
Sometimes DVD releases get everything right (in this case, except for the absence of a “play all episodes” function). The set is incased in a clear plastic covering which hinges open to reveal a CD-sized clear box, housing the DVDs with a colorful slipcover and neat-o data cards printed on clear red plastic featuring the set’s program. Continuing the typical third season tradition, the episode “The Cage” is included, which was the pilot before William Shatner was the Captain of “The Enterprise”. Some of the extras in the set have been regurgitated from the 2004 Trek DVD release, while a few are recent. “To Boldly Go… Season Three” is a short featurette that covers the highlights of season three. “Star Trek: A Collector’s Dream” explains the re-production of Star Trek props like phasers and communicators. It also coins the hysterical phrase “crapezoid” to refer to Trek’s non-working background phasers. Other mini-documentaries include “Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig”, “Chief Engineer’s Log” and “Captain’s Log with Bob Justman,” about the man who took up producing responsibilities when Gene Roddenberry left. On a lighter note, a little feature called “Collectible Trek” is just about as uncomfortable to watch as the film Trekkies. To those of you who have not seen Trekkies, it may be the best Star Trek film after Star Trek- The Wrath of Khan. On a more serious note, a very moving and informative look into the life of George Takei is shown in “Memoir from Mr. Sulu”, where he poignantly discusses his years in a Japanese Internment camp as a boy during World War WII.
As with the DVD Enhanced releases of seasons one and two, season three comes with the best Trek news of the decade: “Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest.” This is home video gold. Blackburn was on the Trek set five days a week. He provided production support, which is, to say the least, a Trekkie’s dream job. He was a stand-in for DeForest Kelley, stuntman, assistant to Fred Phillips (Star Trek’s resident make-up wizard with prosthetic effects), in addition to helping Bill Thiess with wardrobe. Blackburn took home movies while on the Trek set or while on location, and each Enhanced DVD Trek release reveals new Blackburn home movies never before seen or heard of until now. Part 3 features perhaps the only behind the scenes footage from Star Trek season three in existence (other than the elusive “season three blooper reel”).
The greatest moment of these season three home movies is seeing Spock, McCoy and Kirk on location for the episode “The Paradise Syndrome” hanging out around the giant Indian pylon featured in the story. Fantastic footage of the giant set piece under construction is awesome. Due to the slashed budget for season 3, not many episodes were filmed on location. However, “The Paradise Syndrome” was one of the few that let the crew out of the confines of the small Desilu studios in Hollywood to enjoy the outdoors and green pine trees surrounding the Hollywood Reservoir. The treat of leaving the studio’s gates is perhaps is why Blackburn documented so much material from this particular episode. These moments captured are priceless, and to reveal original series footage this long after everyone thought that the Trek well had run dry is a one in a million opportunity for fans.
The Blackburn footage is truly amazing, though short. Hopefully these sets will sell well, and their success will be attributed to the inclusion of “Bill Blackburn’s Home Movies”, not just to the enhanced effects. Blackburn must truly be commended and compensated for his foresight in capturing these precious moments in television history. His footage may be all that exists…but then again it may not be. Let’s hope that the success of these current DVD sets will spawn the future producers of Trek videos to suss out the “other” forgotten footage that still awaits discovery in the garages of Trek production personnel. The archeology of Star Trek still awaits, ready to be discovered.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures Volume 4
If you enjoyed Walt Disney’s True life Adventures Volumes 1, 2 and 3, then you will probable enjoy Walt Disney’s True-Life adventure Vol. 4, the last volume in the series.
This set may not seem to have as much material as the previous volumes, but it does have rarer films, not often mentioned as The Living Desert or The Vanishing Prarie. The programs running times on vol. 4 are a bit longer than some of the other True-Life Adventure short films. This is the set I would imagine may be the future collectible volume, as I have not seen this set in stores, as often as I have run across volumes 1 and 2 of the True-Life sets.
This set contains the only Disney “True-life Fantasy” called Perri about the adventures of a young female squirrel. Unlike the other Disney nature films, this piece had a predetermined story line, written by Felix Salten who wrote the Disney feature animated masterpiece Bambi (1942). While filming Perri the Disney photographers were witness to a forest fire, and helped douse the flames. Footage of this event was presented on an episode of the Disneyland TV series. Which is presented on this DVD set. Any Disney home video release containing any Disneyland episode excerpts immediately finds a place in my video library.
Secrets of Life, is featured on this set, and contains some of the first stop motion photography of plants growing. Shot using macro photography on insects such as ants, the film is truly quiet remarkable when paired with the incomparable Disney story telling.
All the True-Life Adventures were shot with 16mm cameras, there-fore the prints tend to be scratchy, especially if you viewed one of these films for the first time at school in the 60s or 70s, as so many of us were exposed to the True-Life Adventures in that way. Fortunately, through modern technology these films have been restored and are crisp and clear, looking better than ever.
Disc two continues the tradition of the exceptional bonus features, which have been an essential addition to these True-Life Adventures DVD sets. Included are several enjoyable films: Searching for Nature’s Mysteries, Adventure in Wild Wood Heart and another Academy Award Winning film in 1951 for best short subject: Nature’s Half Acre. The section of the film documenting the habits of bees took over three years to photograph. Which is understandable, as bees probable don’t take direction very well.
Continuing the tradition originating on this series is the “Filmmaker’s Journal”, a look at the making the films featured on this volume and “Collector’s Corner”. In addition to yet another segment of “Backstage with Roy Disney” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, learning about butterflies.
A very special bonus feature is a tribute to Winston Hibler who was the narrorator for all the True-Life Adventures. Mr. Hibler’s voice is that of legend. The volume of work this artist produced while at Disney is truly impressive. This short documentary features his grandsons, Chris Hibler and Winston Murray Hunt Hibler the second, examining their grandfather’s Oscars, archived at the Disney Studios, for the first time. Winston Hibler was a writer, producer and director at Disney. His contributions are vast, and it is surprising he has not been mentioned more as he was a contributor to so many Disney masterpieces. Winston Hibler has story credits on Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan. He wrote Sleepy Hollow, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Johnny Appleseed and Walt’s opening dedication at Disneyland, to name but a few of his contributions. He is perhaps best known for his voice over narration, a fact his family members feel sells him short. He never took any payment for his voice over work. He is a true renaissance artist and was honored as a Disney legend in 1993, though he passed in 1976. It is documentaries such as this, featuring the artists who made up the Disney empire that make these DVDs worth their weight in gold.
Roy Disney appears again throughout this set. He is a welcomed addition as some of his first production experiences were on True-Life Adventure productions. I wouldn’t mind at all if he got more involved with the company these days and became the official company spokes-person. Heck any member of the Disney family is better than some outsider, he was there in person when some amazing events in the companies hstory went down. He is a fascinating individual, as he is a true adventurer himself. The resemblance he has to his uncle doesn’t hurt either. Perhaps now with changes made with-in the Disney Company, we will see more of Roy Disney Jr. I had the pleasure of meeting him while I was documenting a lecture he was giving about his interests in sailing. The vibe he puts out is exciting as he was a part of the era of Disney history that is truly worth studying.
The Traveling Wilburys Collection
-------Rob “Doofus Wilbury” Klein says: “What Happened to Wilburys Vol. 2?”
The Traveling Wilburys made rock n’ roll history immediately upon their debut LP offering, The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. The group consisted of Beatle George Harrison, Jeff (ELO) Lynne, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison: a superstar line-up if there ever was one. The Wilburys came together as if by fate; George Harrison was recording a B-side for a single for his critically acclaimed 1987 offering “Cloud Nine” which was produced by Jeff Lynne. The B-Side, “Handle With Care”, was to be included on the LP’s first single “Got My Mind Set on You”. When the record company heard “Handle with Care” they immediately broadcasted their thoughts that this song was “too good” to be a B-side, and suggested another entire album upon hearing it. The company’s positive outlook for the single was not lost on Harrison, who ultimately produced more work than he had in twenty years. The last three years of the 1980’s were a career renaissance for all of the future members of The Traveling Wilburys. The connections between the artists can be explained by a game of “six degrees of separation” from Jeff Lynne, who would produce everyone’s solo LP’s: George Harrison’s Cloud Nine, Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever and Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl.
Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne met during Petty’s outing one summer afternoon in the Valley, while he was going out to purchase a baseball glove. Petty pulled up next to Jeff Lynne’s car and introduced himself; an instant friendship was formed. Petty then met George Harrison through Lynne. Petty mentioned in a later interview that George Harrison met Petty at his Encino home, then spontaneously stayed for several days after as an unexpected house guest. Petty, Lynne and Harrison began to pal around together, and decided that it would be a good idea to record together. They headed down to Anaheim, California by limo to the Celebrity Theater and asked Roy Orbison to join the mix, to which he answered: “it sounds like great fun.” This led to recording Harrison’s B-side, “Handle with Care”.
The last Wilbury recruited by Tom Petty was Bob Dylan. Petty had a relationship with Dylan through a previous Tom Petty and Heartbreakers Tour, where they had been Dylan’s support band (after the Dylan set Petty performed with the Heartbreakers). Even George Harrison with his legendary Beatle status was giddy with excitement at the idea of Dylan joining the band; he would later secretly from the upstairs at Petty’s Encino house video-tape Dylan playing the piano.
Each band member assumed a Wilbury alias; comically they were all supposed to be half-brothers: Lucky-Boo (Dylan), Otis-Clayton (Lynne), Charlie T. Jr./Muddy (Petty), Nelson-Spike (Harrison), and Lefty (Orbison), even though these names changed on their second Wilburys release, “Vol. 3”. It has been said that those lucky enough to run across Harrison during his Wilbury days would receive a signature as his Wilbury character, “Nelson Wilbury”, a valuable and valid variation of the Harrison autograph. (Though many at the time were confused and pleaded for him to sign his real name).
This new CD / DVD is the first release of any Wilburys work since the initial release of the first and only two albums. (Not including endless UK 12” maxi-singles and 45’s, the most sought-after being a 12” single for “End of the Line”, which included Wilbury stickers). The Traveling Wilburys Collection includes just about every track recorded by the group, and offers both albums: “Vol. 1” and “Vol. 3”. (The group’s second LP was in fact entitled “Vol. 3”, a title cooked up by the group to confound future music historians who would no doubt would pull their hair out trying to find the non –existent “Vol. 2”.)
The third disc in the collection is the debut release of the band’s videos: “Handle with Care”, “End of the Line”, “She’s my Baby”, “Inside Out”, and “Wilbury Twist”. These videos are magical, especially “Handle with Care”, which is the only video featuring all five members. It was during this particular video’s shoot where Bob Dylan walked off the set, for reasons unknown. Another unpublished anecdote concerning the “Handle with Care” video debuting in this very article: The Wilburys used a privately owned Hollywood costume facility to outfit their wardrobe for the video. The entire band was let loose inside the wardrobe house with racks upon racks of Western garments that had been worn by Western legends like John Wayne, Michael Landon and Clint Eastwood. George Harrison picked out the duster that he is seen wearing in the video, and demanded to keep it upon the video’s completion, which did not go over well with the owners of the costume house, who were avid Western collectors themselves. The end result of this story I cannot recall, but had the owners been Beatles fans before Western fans, things may have gone more smoothly.
Vol. 1 and 3 are here in their entirety, and include the elusive bonus tracks, which were the “missing” Wilbury tunes that were virtually unavailable until this release. The highlight of the collection is the cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”, sung by Jeff Lynne. This track was only available as a bonus track on a very rare import CD single of “She’s My Baby”.
The coolest thing on this release is the DVD disc, which features all of the Wilbury videos. The “Handle with Care” video is enough to bring any Beatle fan to tears; it is so poignant to see how vital and hip these legends were in the late 80’s, especially Harrison, whose singing brings the Beatle film Help to mind. Now we have lost two of them, Harrison and Orbison. The videos for the Wilburys’ songs make one wish that Ringo Starr had been included in their little musical endeavor; the historical value of the footage would have been incredible. (With no disrespect to the incredible Jim Keltner who played drums on the Wilburys records, and to which Harrison, Petty and Lynne were all members of his fan club!) As the sales for CDs decline, it is very good that record companies are realizing that a DVD will add interest to any music release. Since videos were made to sell albums, why not use them for the purpose that they were created for?
This will be the definitive Wilburys release for both video and audio. Any fan of these legends must own this collection, whether it is the first time that you discover the Wilburys, or are revisiting a seldom talked-about era of the late 1980’s, where the epilogue to the historic 1960’s musical era was written.
Pop Historian and Wilbury Authority - Author of the forth-coming Wilbury Biography:
“Popsicles, Beer, and Ukuleles”
North Hollywood, California
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Here are some images of the "Star Trek" Season 3 (1969-1969) Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) costume, displayed with an original pair of 1960s Star Trek series pants. 1960s original Trek uniforms are really scarce, and very few have been paired together with a tunic with the original pants, which are harder to find than the Starfleet tunics from any season.
Chekov did not have any rank braid as he was an Ensign, who required nothing on his sleeve. So the sleeves are as they appeared on the show: bare. NOTE: Most often the rank braid had been removed for dry cleaning, as was never added back on, so most characters are missing their rank braid.
Note: This Chekov, he has no braid, therefore this tunic is complete.
(A single strip of braid sells for in excess of $1,500.00 US dollars, if you are lucky enough to find one available.)
The stitches still remain where the insignia patch was removed for dry cleaning by Paramount Pictures Corporation, who had taken over production for “Star Trek” by the 3rd season 1968-1969. Sold to them recently by Desilu.
This Chekov tunic still has the inscription: "Konieg #4" hand written into the "secret" location where ALL the stars names were hand written. Some supposed experts say they never had star names written in the tunics, wrong, wrong an wong !!!!
I have proven them all wrong, their made up stories and theories were total BS, coming from ignorant wanna be self proclaimed Star Trek experts, trying to get attention in anyway they could. These inaccurate statements were started because someone was sold a Kirk or a Spock or another character that did not have a name written into the tunic...well, clearly they were sold an item that was not a star's tunic, so it is not a Kirk or Spock, and they refused to realize they were sold something that was claimed to be different that what it was sold as. These people fail to except the truth. And are idiots for challenging Emerald and Hobbits experts that are on payroll 24/7.
To quote Khan in ST II WOK: "It is very cold in space" and in the world of original historical entertainment artifacts especially when things just don’t add up to equal…authenticity? BLAM!!!!
Please all fellow 60s fans and Trek fans alike....enjoy the silver sparkles on the original Star Trek pants, pretty cool...huh! Once you know they are there, you'll never not notice them again. Look for them gleaming ion the newly converted Blu-Ray DVDs. These sparkles add that bit of bling, bling- BANG! To 1960s Star Trek and reaffirms what it always had, when compared to other Trek shows that went blah! in front of the cameras.
You gotta see this stuff in person to notice these things.
Lit correctly in a museum setting these pants would look spectacular! Details such as these would be “Fabulous darling…to say the very least!!!!”
This tunic could have appeared in classics such as:
"Spectre of the Gun" (one of G. Emerald's favs)
"Day of the Dove"
"Way to Eden"
are also to take note of
If not many, many more examples of third season “Trek”
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Rob Klein reviews the final seasons of I love Lucy, which were also the final years that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were together.
I Love Lucy: The Final Seasons 7, 8 and 9.
The last of the I Love Lucy boxed sets are now available, and contain the never-before released Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. These episodes are long awaited by fans, not only because these films are rarely seen, but also because format is unique and provides a different style than that of the half hour show I Love Lucy. Behind the scenes, the personal life of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz added a fascinating element to these last 13 hour-long episodes.
1957 was a big year for Desilu. Motion Picture Center, the facilities where I Love Lucy was produced, were crowded. Desilu, who owned a controlling interest in the small studio, needed more room to expand. One lunch break, Desi Arnaz went out and purchased all of RKO’s studio property. Lucy and Desi now owned the largest amount of real estate in Hollywood. Interestingly, it encompassed the very same studio that Lucy had been under contract to years before when she first arrived in Hollywood. With their new studio, Desilu expanded and grew. Live long and prosper they did, as Desilu was responsible for later producing a show called Star Trek.
Season 6 of I Love Lucy contains several memorable episodes, including “Lucy Meets Orson Welles” and “Lucy Meets Superman” which features a rare appearance of the legendary George Reeves in costume as the “Man of Steel”. I Love Lucy was, as usual, the number one show on television. Oddly, season 6 was the last of the half-hour episodes produced. The change in format to the one-hour Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour may have been in response to the lack of awards that I love Lucy received. It was the number one show, and not a single person involved with the production, including Lucille Ball, had been honored with an award. Desi had even been the host of The Emmy’s that very year! Lucy and Desi decided to change their hectic weekly production schedule of one half-hour show a week to a single one-hour show a month. This change in format did not sit well with fans, not to mention CBS affiliates and sponsors. I Love Lucy’s main sponsor, General Foods, pulled out of the program. Desi consummated a new sponsorship deal with Ford for the first season of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Three original Ford Motors commercials are included in this set.
Season 8 saw a new sponsor, Westinghouse, and had five shows produced. Each show was rated within the top five specials broadcast that season by all three networks. The format of the hour-long show continued to have celebrity guest-stars featured heavily in the plot. Fred MacMurray, Ann Southern, Maurice Chevalier and Caesar Romero, to name a few, made appearances on the show. The focus on the guest stars affected the screen time of the Mertzes, played by Vivian Vance and William Frawley. Desi offered Vivian Vance a spin-off series, to placate her upset to the change, but she was not interested. William Frawley, not unlike his character Fred, welcomed the change as it allowed an easier workload.
This set features restored prints and they look fantastic, crisp and clear. The bonus features are exemplary and include deleted scenes, bloopers and original titles sequences. If that was not enough disc 2 features a film made for Westinghouse employees. It is shot like an episode of I Love Lucy but Desi and Lucy play themselves along with Vivian Vance and William Frahley. Desi gives a studio tour of all Desilu’s movie studios documenting the studio property by helicopter. Including priceless footage of Motion Picture Center, where I Love Lucy was done, the old RKO Gower lot recently acquired at the time of the filming, and the old David O. Selznick Studios that had been owned by RKO since the 30s. The footage is incredible. In the fly by of the old Culver back lot … as the helicopter reaches the end of the studio property the last facade is positively Tara from Gone With the Wind, which was shot there 20 years earlier. Unfortunately to an untrained eye most will not notice Tara or the Train Station set as it is not pointed out. This DVD set will become that of legend for containing this rare film. Thank you CBS video.
Season 9 provided only three episodes, each with Desi seated in the directors’ chair. This last season is fascinating to watch, as what was going on behind the scenes adds an intrigue to these episodes. Lucy and Desi’s marriage was coming to an end, and the cracks in their relationship added tension on the set. Desi’s role as director also added fuel to the fire. The last episode ends with Desi and Lucy embracing, and Ricky saying: “Lucy, you help me more when you don’t help me”, then a kiss follows. The scene was shot over and over again; all who watched felt the emotion. It was nine years to the day that the very first I Love Lucy pilot episode was produced, a show that had been originally conceived as a vehicle to bring both Lucy and Desi to work together, in hopes to help strengthen an already troubled marriage. The very next day after the last Lucy –Desi Comedy Hour was filmed (“Lucy Meets the Moustache”), Lucy filed for divorce.
The end of The Lucy –Desi Comedy Hour was also the end of Lucy and Desi, and a milestone in television history came to a close.
The Adventures of Superman Seasons 5 & 6.
by Gary Emerald
TV series’ complete seasons release on home video is the gift of the DVD format to fans of episodic television. Could you imagine what the entire 12-season run of Bonanza would look like on VHS? The Adventures of Superman is one of those titles I was looking forward to; once Warner Brother Home Video announced it I was curious about what direction they would take. Season 1 featured 26 episodes, a retrospective documentary, the 1951 Superman feature film (the first production of George Reeves as Superman), a vintage short film “Pony Express Days” featuring George Reeves and audio commentaries over a few episodes. Even a rare Kellogg’s cereal commercial was thrown in, featuring Clark Kent, Perry White and Jimmy Olson at the breakfast table, enjoying a bowl of “Frosted Flakes”. Actresses in the “Lois Lane” role never got to participate in the TV promo as the question of “what is Lois doing at the breakfast table with those three” would be on the mind of any suspicious TV viewer of the 1950s.
Adventures of Superman Season 2, the last black and white season has the benefit of featuring one of my favorite Superman epsisodes “Panic in the Sky”, in which Superman suffers from amnesia. The best scene in the episode is when Clark Kent, who having lost his memory stumbles around his apartment looking for something familiar to jar his memory discovers his closet filled with his Superman costumes. Its funny to see multiple Super-suits hanging together, as each is valued at $150,000.00 these days.
The third release featuring the first look at Superman in color featured seasons 3 and 4 of the series. It was a smart idea to put both seasons on DVD together, and the extras keep on coming. Plus the additional 2 featurettes, A look at the color era of the show, and the special effects, profiling the man behind how Superman flew and all the other special effects on the show, one artist who is not talked about enough Thol “Si” Simonson. The latest Adventures of Superman release, Seasons 5 and 6 is really lacking in the extras department. The one nice bonus is that the last disc has a nice featurette about Jack Larson who portrayed Jimmy Olson. This documentary is important as it discusses Larson’s contributions to the Superman franchise, and his popularity at the time the show was in production. Viewers get a great glimpse of how Larson’s strong acting chops and a natural ability for comedy added greatly to the show’s formula and the popularity of the Jimmy Olsen character, which ultimately demanded a DC comic Book title of his own: “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen”.
Other than this worthwhile look at Jack Larson, the disc has no other special features, which is a bummer. There are several more details that should have been researched and incorporated into the packaging, such as original airdates of each episode and the episode production date. This set does contain three season 6 episodes that were directed by George Reeves. Reeves was aware of the fact that his future acting career could be compromised because of his possible type casting as Superman and wanted to try directing as a fall back plan if his career took a sudden turn for the worse. The three episodes that Reeves directed are “The Perils of Superman”, “The Brainy Burro” and “All That Glitters”, which were last three episodes of the season. In “All that Glitters” Lois and Jimmy end up with the powers of Superman. One could only imagine George Reeves’ delight in putting his co-stars through the same torturous special effects rigging that he endured on a weekly basis.
The upside to this release is that it is available, and it is beautifully packaged with individually silk-screened disks. The sixth season was the end of the series, sadly cut short due to Reeves’ controversial death, as The Adventures of Superman was ready to go into production for a 7th season. Contracts were signed with the cast including George Reeves, who was promised creative input, more opportunities to direct, and an impressive raise in salary. The down side to this release is that there is a lot more material that should have been be documented and included on the last DVD set of The Adventures of Superman.
The Mickey Rooney &Judy Garland Collection DVD
By—Jennifer Smith & Rob Klein
Warner Home Video has released a DVD must have: The Mickey Rooney &Judy Garland Collection. Originally Metro Goldwyn Mayer musicals, these four “Mickey and Judy” films were tailor-made for their two teen-aged leads. Both Rooney and Garland were bona-fide stars on their own by the time their first collaboration Babes in Arms (1939) was released, it was the first of four films that they would co-star in together. Rooney was just eighteen years old when Babes was filmed, Garland was sixteen, but together they presented a professional and seasoned show business façade, each having come from theatrical families, literally born into the business.
Billed as “The Ultimate Collector’s Edition”, this set contains five DVD’s in truly spectacular packaging. It contains a DVD first, an actual hard cover book housing the bonus feature DVD, the book is filled with fun facts and photos of their films, and the back cover has four one-sheet posters beautifully reproduced faithful to their glorious vintage Hollywood graphics. In addition to the book and the standard packaged 4 DVD set containing the feature film, this set has a wonderful photo folder, portfolio with over 20 rare images taken of Judy and Mickey. Reproduced to look like a miniature 8x10 glossy photo. Many of these images I have never seen in print, and these show a behind the scenes look at the fantasy of the glory days of MGM when even an off camera moment is something of feature film. The MGM promotion machine is ever evident while you flip through this folio of fun.
On the bonus disc, Hollywood’s keeper of the faith and classic movie historian, Robert Osborne, interviews Mickey Rooney. It is amusing to see Mickey Rooney telling a story about his blacklisting from Hollywood in the 1950’s, spin yarns about his career and contradict himself, then become mildly irritated toward the interviewer during his attempt to make sense out of the tale. At one point Rooney tells a story with a fascinating footnote: he recalls being pressured to return to a film set by Eddie Mannix, MGM’s “man with the whip”. Mannix would later become suspected by conspiracy theorists of allegedly being involved with George Reeves (TV’s Superman) murder, as Reeves was having a prolonged affair with his wife. It’s great to hear Rooney’s gruff vocal impression of this mysterious man, whom MGM called upon in the 50’s and 60’s when little “personality problems” arose; he was the “muscle” of MGM.
Included in this set are Babes in Arms (1939) Strike of the Band (1940) Babes on Broadway (1941) and Girl Crazy (1943). All gosh-damn delightful to be sure. MGM’s A-list musical director Busby Berkley, whom Rooney heavily praises on the bonus disc, helmed three of these films. The three films also benefit from the input of legendary songwriter/producer Arthur Freed, whose place in MGM’s history will forever be cemented by major movie credits spanning from The Wizard of Oz (1939) to Gigi (1958).
If nothing else it is a delight to see a post Wizard of Oz Judy Garland grow up film after film. She reaffirms us that she was really something special. With these viewings of these movies it is no wonder Mickey can be quoted at telling her ‘Judy, you the biggest star in the world’.
One thing for sure is that any studios archive is probably too big to display all their assets in one exhibit. Unless the studio just decided to began saving their assets and if the studio has any ties back into the old days of Hollywood such as Universal or Warner Brothers, numerous exhibits would be necessary to showcase even a small percentage of the potential collection.
Lucasfilm has been saving their stuff since George Lucas’ first feature film THX 1138. Though Lucas is most known for the obvious favorites such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Lucasfilm Archives has displayed artifacts at all of the Star Wars Celebration Conventions. Though they had an exhibit touring the country with Star Wars stuff at the same time of Celebration IV the Lucasfilm Archives were able to put on an impressive exhibit featuring some Star Wars items never before exhibited.
The highlights were Darth Vader’s burned helmet from Return of the Jedi along with the protocol droid who Jaba the Hutt had destroyed in his dungeon. Two other exceptional pieces were from The Empire Strikes Back: Luke’s severed head from “the Tree” sequence on Dagobah and Han’s Hoth jacket. Now we know what the correct color is: brown, unlike the blue jacket that the 1980 Kenner action figure sported.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
One of the most unique and rarely talked about airings of the Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979) episodes was the syndicated two-hour night broadcast called "Odyssey of the Battlestar Galactica". Airing one two-hour episode each night of the week. Intercut with a brilliant blue logo and an odd choice of selection from Galactica's soundtrack: "Casopea and Starbuck", a haunting, mystical piece of music, largely featuring a melotron (the keyboard used by The Beatles on several of their groovier tracks like Strawberry Fields Forever and Bungalow Bill).
This odd part of Galactica's history has gone largely un-talked about, and forgotten except by Hollywood historian Rob Klein, who has given us a few images to share. The Show was hosted by s
omeone called Don Galloway (who?). He very clumsily explained about how special effects are made and basic facts about the show's production history.
What makes his wrap arounds so unique is that he is holding an original Viper and Cylon Raider during his monologes. These segments were produced and broadcast by Los Angeles' KCOP Channel 13, we are not sure if any other syndicated stations broadcast "Odyssey of the Battlestar Galactica."
Impressively KCOP actually acquired the 6' Galactica Miniature and the full sized Starfighter mock-up from "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" from Universal Studios, who by this time probably had the mock-ups rotting on their back-lot for years. (the full sized Viper Mock-up was probable actually too big to move, as Universal grip Michael Smith (the crew member who BG producer Donald Bellasario only trusted to move it) was not available for a simple LA sydicated TV station shoe-string budget.
We will be featuring posts and historical details from a variety of different TV shows and feature films. Many of these properties we are proud to have been involved in the archeology of these show's legacy and historical preservation. From Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator to Indy 4. We have stories to share, spanning nearly a hundreds years of entertainment history.
Gary Emerald and J. Hobbit are very pleased to announce the formation of their blog. Both artists are eager to post exciting facts and historical commentary about subjects they have found fascinating and / or projects they have worked on. Additionally, The Emerald & Hobbit Archive will be accessed from time to time to share rare and unique images from their vaults. Stay tuned...