April 15, 2005

Does Not Compute

This has been a really busy week - so much so that I'm considering sending my resume to the BBC for an open acting part. But anyway, it's times like this that gear me towards good old fashioned turn-off-your-brain entertainment.

One of the giants of turn-off-your-brain entertainment....well, he was like a child. He had a penchant for monsters, stock footage, and sometimes goofy dialogue. He has a slight cult following, and his name is simultaneously respected and reviled. He also died a few days after Gene Roddenberry.

His name is Irwin Allen.

Although noted more for movies like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, his masterworks are his television shows - Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space (his masterpiece), The Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants. All of these shows are featured on this mega-cool documentary that has gotten significant play here in the Casa de Blog This, Pal! - The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen.

What is amazing about Allen's television work is that it begins so promisingly - Voyage was a spin-off of a major motion picture, and began as a half science fiction/Cold War drama, but gradually turned into a "monster of the week" show. Lost in Space began as a half-earnest science fiction drama, and although the documentary plays this up a little too much, impacted people the same way another classic 1960's science fiction show did - in fact, had Gene Roddenberry not existed, we might be talking about Lost in Space: Deep Space Nine.

(Just a tangential thought - how many people out there think Dark Shadows was an American counterpart to Doctor Who? No one...then it is just me)

But watching Fantasy Worlds, what becomes amazingly apparent is that Allen's work is definitely of its time...and that his ideas were somewhat limited. You can find small pleasures in his later television work, but gradually, both Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants often resulted on "let's-run-away" plots more frequently than you heard the phrase "Run Away" in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Plus, on the disc are two late 1960's/early 1970's series proposals that would have been cutting edge in 1965....in 1970, they just seemed immature, juvenile, and hokey.

(Of course, according to the documetary, English fans have taken to Land of the Giants the same way Mike Sterling takes to Swamp Thing. Maybe Psychbloke and/or Dr. Sordid can explain this - I sure as heck can't).

That's fine, though - Irwin Allen might have thought he was doing serious drama, but sometimes, it takes more talent to write "Rock and Roll All Night" than "Hey Jude".

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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