Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Next Generation’s Best: The Starlog Project, Starlog #195, October 1993

This issue, Starlog presents the results of a reader poll of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This, despite the fact that the show wouldn’t end for another six months or so (and with a highly regarded finale, at that). Nonetheless, I am surprised to see that I agree with many of the choices, including the top two episodes: “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I.”

“Yesterday’s Enterprise” was the episode that made me a viewer of Next Generation. I had been turned off by the suffocating political correctness of the first season, not to mention Captain Picard’s penchant for abandoning ship at the drop of a hat.

But then one day I was with some friends at one of their apartments. She was a big Next Generation fan (and a Starlog reader, for what it’s worth), and she never missed an episode. So she made us watch the episode, which turned out to be “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” I quickly saw that the show had matured brilliantly, that it was willing and able to tackle complex issues of morality and duty, that it allowed its storylines to follow the logic of their plots to their conclusions, without trying to tidy up everything by the end of the episode, and that Captain Picard had become a wise and powerful leader.

After that, I rarely missed an episode of the series.

So, Starlog’s readers were smart with their selections. You’ll have to dig out a copy of the October 1993 issue to see the other 23 selections – and whether you agree.

Starlog #195
92 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

In the realm of Starlog merchandising, this issue includes an ad on page 73 heralding the newest product: Starlog trading cards. You can buy them in packets, like baseball cards, at stores, or you can buy a complete commemorative set of 100 cards in a binder covered in “Corinthian leather.” It even comes autographed by the company's publisher and editors. Or you could buy a set of the cards on uncut press sheets, or uncut hologram sheets. You can still find packages and boxes of these Starlog trading cards on eBay, which is how I finally got a hold of a complete set.

The rundown: The multi-photo cover highlights the Star Trek reader’s poll, while the contents page features the Trek art of David Mattingly. In his Medialog column, David McDonnell notes that Land of the Giants and Lost in Space are both headed for the big screen, and he writes that that leaves only two major Irwin Allen science fiction series awaiting revivals, The Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, “an area soon to be visited by Steven Spielberg’s new TV series seaQuest D.S.V.” That’s an interesting comment, considering that one of the best (well, snarkiest) cracks made by a critic after seeing the eventual pilot for seaQuest was that it should be called Voyage to the Bottom of the Ratings. And in Gamelog, Michael McAvennie reviews Batman Returns (a Super Nintendo game, not the eventual motion picture), King of the Monsters, Traveler: The New Era, and others.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is featured in Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile, and Communications’ letters to the editor include comments on race and Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Lost in Space, and more. David Hutchison’s Videolog announces the release of Animation Legend Winsor McCay, among other videos. A four-page Booklog section reviews Harvest of Stars, The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Tenth Annual Collection, Core, Ring of Swords, Dream of Glass, The City Who Fought, Golden Trillium, Rainbow Man, Forests of the Night, High Steel, Testing, The Honor of the Queen, The Galaxy Game, Days of Blood and Fire, If I Pay Thee Not in Gold, Alien Bootlegger and Other Stories, Future Earths: Under South American Skies, First Action, and Burning Bright. And Scott Briggs’ directory of fan clubs and publications, plus the usual convention listings and some cartoons, fill up the Fan Network pages.

Joe Nazzaro interviews painter David Mattingly. Marc Shapiro visits the soundstage of Demolition Man to preview the Sylvester Stallone/Wesley Snipes science fiction action flick. Jean Airey talks with actor Michael Praed, who discusses his work in Robin of Sherwood, Riders, and other projects. Over six pages, Starlog reveals its readers’ choices for the 25 best Next Generation episodes. Ian Spelling inteviews Trek’s executive producer, Michael Piller, who says that at this point he and co-producer Rick Berman leave most of the day-to-day running of The Next Generation to producer Jeri Taylor (and there’s a sidebar by Spelling focusing on Piller’s work on Deep Space Nine).

Bill Warren profiles actor Roy Brocksmith, who discusses his work in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Total Recall, and “The Switch” episode of Tales from the Crypt, which was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s directorial debut.

Before Chris Evans made the role his, actor Jay Underwood suited up as the Human Torch in a 1994 Roger Corman produced The Fantastic Four film, which you’ve in all likelihood never seen. That’s probably all to the best, because Evans was great. But Underwood has quite a career under his belt, too, and he tells Marc Shapiro about his Fantastic Four duties, as well as his work in Not Quite Human, The Boy Who Could Fly, and other films. Tom Weaver talks with Ann Robinson about acting in George Pal’s classic The War of the Worlds, as well as in Space Ranger. In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn discusses Sharyn McCrumb’s book Zombies of the Gene Pool. And editor David McDonnell wraps it all up in his Liner Notes column by chatting about the Trek top 25, and revealing what numbers 26 through 50 were.
"... I ran off to Mexico in 1957 and blew my career out of the water – I married a famous Mexican matador and had two children. When I got back home, Hollywood had passed me by. I blew it. I should have stayed around and paid more attention. Now I realize why they call it ‘the business’ – because it is a business. I thought it was all fun and games and glamour, and I didn’t take care of it as a business. … After my second son was born in 1963, I did a Gilligan’s Island and that was about it. Motherhood suddenly took over.”
–Ann Robinson, actor, interviewed by Tom Weaver: “In Martian Combat”
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.
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