Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #136, November 1988: Lost Star Treks

This issue has some great background – which I’d never seen anywhere else – about lost or abandoned plans for continuations of the Star Trek franchise. If you read some of these earlier writeups of Starlog from the late 1970s, before Star Trek – The Motion Picture debuted, you’ll see it was a yes-no-yes-no situation where they studio kept switching between producing a feature film or a new TV series. This issues features two articles from Edward Gross on the plans for the TV series – plans that heretofore had not been revealed as having been this extensive.

Frankly, this is Star Trek geek material par excellence. At its low ebb, Starlog did little more at times than publish articles on the current films and TV programs. But it was rare that it didn’t include something that had higher value (not to devalue the need to report on the current projects). This issue is a great example of that, with two articles (one of them an episode guide to the planned series that makes for very interesting reading) on the TV series. In a strange way, it’s even more interesting to read this now than if they’d published it in 1981, before Star Trek: The Next Generation showed that they could do the series (and the movies) again. All in all, a treat.

David McDonnell heralds the release of Starlog’s newest companion publication: the Starlog Science-Fiction Video Magazine, which is a special magazine chock full of reviews of tons of SF films. It was a great idea, and it was well-executed; the company would go on to produce a second edition of this within a year or so, as well as two Fangoria horror editions, all of which are well worth collecting and reading today.

Starlog #136
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

The rundown: AlienNation takes the cover spot, though the biggest call-out on the cover seems to be a Batman movie contest (whoever won that?). In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O’Quinn, the many who wrote multiple articles in the long-defunct sister magazine Future Life about the wonders of computers, comes out of the closet and announces that only now has he actually begun to use a computer; the Communications section includes letters from readers such as Harry Harrison on the U.S. roots of science fiction, many folks commenting on the attempted Starman TV revival, praise for the Ray Harryhausen article on his retirement from films, comments on the many Blake’s 7 articles the magazine has run, and more; David McDonnell’s Medialog includes all kinds of news from the worlds of science fiction media, such as the announcement that the Star Trek: The Next Generation replacement for Dr. Beverly Crusher will be played by Diana Muldaur (who was awesome as the antagonist rain-maker lawyer on L.A. Law around the same time, BTW).

Marc Shapiro explores the new incarnation of The Twilight Zone with a talk with J. Michael Straczynski (who took the magazine to task in a recent letter to the editor); Catherine Hicks – the Earth woman who helped the Enterprise crew rescue whales in 20th century earth’s Star Trek IV film – is interviewed by Ian Spelling and Kim Howard Johnson about her Trek and about her film Child’s Play; the Fan Network pages include Steve Swires on a fan club for John Carpenter, answers to reader queries (such as, "Whatever happened to the Spider-Man movie?" – a question we're still asking today), short items on fan clubs for Beauty and the Beast, and more; Marc Shapiro interviews television director Rob Bowman;  Eric Niderost previews Mac and Me; Carr D'Angelo profiles actor Many Patinkin about his role in AlienNation; Steve Swires checks in with director John Carpenter, who discusses his movie They Live; horror flicks take the lead in David Hutchison's Videolog column.

Edward Gross explores "Star Trek II: The Lost Generation," examining the aborted plans for a TV series before The Motion Picture; Tim Ferrante profiles actor Jock Mahoney (Tarzan, westerns); Michael J. Wolff is back with another theory-filled exploration of a film's world, this time diving into the Terminator lore; Edward Gross is back with an "episode guide" to the unfilmed first season of Star Trek II (which makes fascinating reading, because of how many of the storylines, characters, and situations would be recycled in the Trek movies and in the Next Generation series); Kim Howard Johnson previews Graham Chapman's CBS sitcom Jake's Journey; Edward Gross profiles science-fiction writer Jerry Sohl and his work on the original Star Trek series; and David McDonnell's Liner Notes column provides answers to frequently asked reader questions (such as, "How much are my back issues of Starlog worth?").
"For some time, Barry Diller, then the head of Paramount Pictures, had dreamed of starting a fourth television network to compete with the three majors (a dream Diller would eventually realize with Fox Broadcasting a decade later). To this end, they contacted independent stations throughout the United States and began offering product to fill one night a week, cornerstoned by Star Trek II."
–Edward Gross, writer, "Star Trek II: The Lost Generation"
To read 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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