Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #160, November 1990: The Flash – in a Pan

Audiences weren’t exactly enamored of the previous Flash – the Dino De Laurentiis Flash Gordon film from 1980. But 10 years later, in 1990, CBS TV aired a different comics-based hero, The Flash, as a regular series. It starred John Wesley Shipp, and noteworthy guest stars include Mark Hamill. The Flash only lasted one, 22-episode season, and in that respect it resembled various failed attempts to bring science-fiction or comics projects to the small screen in the 1970s. I’m no Flash expert or fan, but from what I gathered from listening to other folks who were Flash-ers, this series was fairly well received and appreciated by comics fans (unlike many of the cheapo 1970s productions alluded to above), if not the network.

So, short-lived but well-loved.

Meanwhile this month, in other Starlog-ish news, Lia Pelosia is now listed as a consultant, along with former publisher Kerry O’Quinn, in the staff box. Also, the company ceased publication of its Bob Martin-spawned real/reel horror magazine Toxic Horror, and one of its other horror film magazines, Gorezone, has switched from bimonthly (six times a year) to quarterly (four times annually) publication. Starlog, Fangoria, and Comics Scene are all chugging along healthily, however. And, after a couple years’ interregnum, the Starlog Festival SF conventions return, with a January 12-13, 1991 event in Anaheim, California, with appearances from Patrick Stewart (Whoopi Goldberg’s boy toy, as you’ll see), Bill Mumy, Denise Crosby, Joe Barbera, and others.

Starlog #160
76 pages (including cover)
Cover price: $3.95

Classified ad of the month: “STAR WARS Can get ya it got me good. I got over stocked with original Star Wars style A posters & Anakins U.S. $80 each ...” Oh, if only people’d pay the extra 30 cents to have correct punctuation in their ads.

The rundown: That’s John Wesley Shipp as The Flash on the cover; Kim Hunter in full Planet of the Apes get-up is on the contents page; Communications letters are overwhelmingly devoted to commenting on various Star Trek topics (such as how to defeat the Borg), with the remainder a grab bag of Land of the Giants, James Coburn, Airwolf, and Quantum Leap commenters; and David McDonnell’s Medialog includes the truly scary news that the people who brought to TV the mind-numbingly boring and annoying series thirtysomething are planning a Robin Hood movie, which (thankfully) never materialized. (For you readers too young and blessed not to have lived through an episode of thirtysomething, just know that it was the show that confirmed in the rest of the population the conviction that Baby Boomers were self-absorbed and whiny. That show, the network suits saw fit to run for four seasons. The Flash could have livened up those characters.)

“Patrick Stewart doesn’t have much hair, but, boy, is that man sexy!” – or so says Whoopi Goldberg in her interview with Marc Shapiro, in which she discusses her recurring guest star role on Star Trek: The Next Generation and her role in Ghost; David Hutchison’s Videolog column notes the release of some Woody Wookpecker cartoons, plus other genre releases; Steve Swires interviews Edward Judd, star of The Day the Earth Caught Fire and First Men in the Moon; Tom Waver and Michael Brunas do a Q&A with actress Kim Hunter about her days as an ape on the Planet of the Apes movies; Marc Shapiro talks with Alien Nation star Eric Pierpoint, who portrays detective George Francisco in that series; Shapiro also has a short talk with actress Lauren Woodlan, who portrays alien kid Emily Francisco on Alien Nation; and Frank Garcia profiles actor Brian Tochi, who guest starred in the original Star Trek episode “And the Children Shall Lead” and also appeared in Space Academy, The Twilight Zone, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Marc Shapiro keeps giving us more this issue: he explores the new superhero TV series The Flash; the Fan Network section includes a directory of fan clubs and the convention calendar; Bill Warren previews Eve of Destruction, which stars Renee Soutendijk and Gregory Hines; in the first of a multi-part article, Edward Gross talks with veteran writer George R.R. Martin about TV’s Beauty & the Beast, about which Martin comments, “To the extent that if your ratings are strong, you earn yourself the freedom to do whatever you want. When your ratings begin to sink, and I experienced this on Twilight Zone too, suddenly you’ve got a lot of ‘help’ from the network and the studio. And it’s not necessarily the help you want. On Twilight Zone, things got so bad at the end that we had two network representatives sitting in on our story meetings. We never got that bad on Beauty & the Beast, but yes, we did go with more action in the middle of the second season and definitely in the third.”; in “Lord of Disaster,” Lowell Goldman talks with director John Guillermin about The Towering Inferno, King Kong, Sheena, and more; in part two of Mark Phillips’ talk with the writers of The Land of the Giants, future Dynasty creator Richard Shapiro notes about his involvement with Giants: “My writing career was not exactly soaring when I got my first script assignment for Giants. I needed the credit, I needed the money and frankly, I would have worked for anybody who offered to hire me.”; Kerry O’Quinn’s From the Bridge column explores his enchantment by total solar eclipses; and ye kindly editor, David McDonnell uses his Liner Notes column to – perhaps oddly, perhaps uniquely – suggest other magazines of interest (from other companies) to which Starlog readers should subscribe.
“Ah! That was great! Jonathan [Harris] and I remained friends years after the show [Space Academy]. Jonathan always had a story to tell. I would just sit with him and marvel at the stories about stage from way back and he would have them all. I remember every morning, he would bring a whole box of Tootsie Pops! He was terrific, so much fun, so clever, so witty, so much arrogance. He was testy. The first time I met him was at a doctor’s office – we were having our medical checkups for insurance purposes. In there were Pamela [Ferdin] and Jonathan Harris! I went up to him and said, ‘How do you do, I’m Brian Tochi, what’s your name?’ And he looks at me! ‘You do not know me, really?’“
–Brian Tochi, actor, interviewed by Frank Garcia: “Star Child”
To see more issues, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit The Starlog Project’s permanent home.
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