Friday, June 18, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #124, November 1987: Star Trek: The Next Generation Arrives

Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted when I was working at my university newspaper, The Badger Herald. We had a separate lounge/TV room, and most of us filled the little room to watch the premiere. As I watched subsequent episodes that first year, I thought: That captain sure abandons ship a lot; doesn’t he like it? I stopped watching it regularly for a year or two, until a group of us were at the apartment of a friend who watched the show religiously, and when it came to airtime, she made us all view it. The episode was “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and I was hooked at last. Intelligent, daring, exciting – it was good TV drama and it was good science fiction. The political correctness overkill of the first year had matured into a more realistic series. And Picard showed the best, wisest leadership of any of the Trek series.

But it all started back in the fall of 1987 when the show premiered in syndication, and it would soon grow into a phenomenon even before I rejoined the party. Starlog was there from the beginning – before the beginning, really, considering various articles and David Gerrold’s mini-series of a column, Generations. It would soon begin publishing the official Star Trek: The Next Generation licensed magazine (first as a quarterly and then as a bimonthly). And this issue, #124, is only one of numerous 100-page, super-sized editions that would feature ST:TNG on the cover. Like I’ve said in the past: Starlog and Star Trek: The Next Generation was a match made in heaven.

Staffing news: Remember William Gipp, the production director announced last issue? Not to be found this issue.

Starlog #124
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

Everybody watched or knew about the new Star Trek series. But this issue is also noteworthy to absolutely no one else except me – but since I’m the one writing this, I’ll include the reason here: The letters section features the third letter the magazine has published from me. (Well, possibly kind of the fourth, if you accepted my reasoning about the editorial section of issue #100.) I was responding to Kerry O'Quinn's editorial in #113 about fundamentalist parents trying to censor their children’s textbooks, and I wrote, in part, “[T]o be truthful, those religious groups do have reason to be worried. When O’Quinn writes about humanism, of belief in man’s ability to make his world as he wants, he can change minds. What O’Quinn is doing is not harmless – to them – so they will not even try tolerating his opinion. Just move right on to trying to shut him up.” Ah, yes, wild, youthful ideals and ideas ... which I still believe 23 years later. (BTW, they misspelled my last name, which really just makes it all that much more valuable on eBay, in my calculation.)

Classified ad of the month: “JOIN THE UGSS! news service for all, liason [sic] service for member organizations ...” No, I don’t know what they’re talking about, either.

The rundown: The cast of the new Star Trek: The Next Generation are featured on the cover, along with what I think might be the first photo of the new Enterprise in the magazine. In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn discusses the new Star Trek series and its chances for success; though the Communications section is an instant valuable collectible because of my letter, some folks might be more impressed by the letter from James Randi, the famous debunker of parapsychological claims, who takes issue with recent interviewee Martin Caidin’s claim to be telekinetic – he challenges Caidin to prove it and be paid $120,000: “Put up or shut up.” Caidin declined. In the Medialog section, Daniel Dickholtz gets comics writer Alan Moore’s thoughts on his new Fashion Beast, plus David McDonnell rounds up the latest genre news (such as the terrible reception given to Superman IV, which led to 30 minutes being shaved off its running time and pretty much deep-sixing any plans for a Superman V).

L. Sprague de Camp is back with a remembrance of his early years in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy; the six-page Fan Network section includes an extensive directory of SF and fantasy clubs compiled by Mike Glyer, Richard Gilbert on the fictional Vulcan T’Pau from Star Trek and a real-life T’Pau from the music world, and more; Mike Clark explores Gerry Anderson’s Terrahawks puppet series; Edward Gross interviews Lee Sholem, director of old George Reeves-era Superman tales; Kyle Counts contributes to Starlog for the first time, here with a look at the Kirk Cameron film Like Father, Like Son; Edward Gross talks with writer Samuel A. Peeples; Gross also profiles director James Goldstone, who talks about the Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before” plus Earth*Star Voyager; wait – there’s still more Edward Gross, who interviews actor Gary Lockwood about 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek; Marc Shapiro gives Gross a break and writes the next article, a behind-the-scenes preview of The Next Generation; long before she starred in Friends, Courtney Cox appeared in Misfits of Science and Masters of the Universe, and here she’s interviewed by Marc Shapiro; Steve Swires talks with actor Burt Ward, who recalls his fun by poorly paid days as Bruce Wayne’s sidekick, Dick Grayson, in the 1960s’ Batman series; William Rabkin profiles actress Jami Gertz about her roles in Solarbabies (about which she has mostly bad memories) and The Lost Boys.

Jessie Horsting talks with Australian actor Vernon Wells (The Road Warrior, Innerspace), with a sidebar from Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier on Innerspace co-star Kevin McCarthy; Lee Goldberg checks in with an interview with Jeroen Krabbe, who discusses the James Bond film The Living Daylights; in his Videolog column, David Hutchison notes new video releases from Star Trek and others; Bill Warren previews the film World Gone Wild (don't worry, it's nothing like Girls Gone Wild or Guys Gone Wild, though there is a beefcake shirtless shot of co-star Michael Pare to kick off the article); Marc Shapiro profiles Robert Jaffe about Motel Hell (subject of one of the all-time-classic Fangoria magazine covers, BTW) and Nightflyers; Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman interview actor Ian Marter about his time portraying one of Doctor Who’s companions (which, I realize with A.D. 2010 hindsight, sounds a bit more alternative-lifestyle than it was); Splatter Movies author John McCarty contributes an article and episode guide for the old TV series One Step Beyond; and in his Liner Notes column, editor David McDonnell writes about being fooled by Superman IV.
“The irrepressible Ward especially enjoyed poking fun at the implications of the relationship between millionaire Bruce Wayne and his ward Dick Grayson. ‘It was like a game for me,’ [Ward] states. ‘I would just get in there and take each scene to the nth degree. Naturally, the censors were always on my back. Adam would have to calm me down, by saying,”‘No, Burt, you can’t go that far.” For example, in one scene Bruce and Dick were about to retire for the evening. As we walked up the staircase with our backs to the camera, Adam said: “Well, Dick, it’s time to go to bed.” I said: “You’re right, Bruce” – and I put my arm around him. Geez, did that create an uproar!’”
–Steve Swires, writer: “Holy Sidekick! Burt Ward”
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.
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