Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #153, April 1990: Quantum Leap into the 1990s

In its early years, every autumn Starlog published a science-fiction television issue, with previews of all of the genre series and specials for the fall season. That tradition died out in the early 1980s, though Starlog would continue occasionally to produce issues with heavy concentrations of TV-related articles and bill the issues as SF-TV specials.

Same with this issue, which is cover-dated April and which therefore came out in March 1990. Not exactly the beginning of the television season. Nonetheless, Starlog #153 features a show that would be iconic for many fans: Quantum Leap, starring a very pre-Star Trek Voyager Scott Bakula as a time-tripping and body-swapping hero.

Starlog #153
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

Odd/intriguing classified ad of the month: “SCREWED BY DWFCA? Join the national club that remembers its members! Send $5.00 to The Friends of Doctor Who, ...”

The rundown: Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell are the Quantum Leap cover boys this month; meanwhile, the contents page image is an SF illustration by artist Darrell K. Sweet. The Communications letters include comics writer Jan Strnad writing about the MPAA and the movie ratings system, a number of readers exploring Trek-analia, and more; and David McDonnell’s Medialog column reports on Disney plans to bring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars stories to the big screen (and there’s also a photo of sometimes-genre star Sean Connery in the un-science-fiction film The Hunt for Red October, which would get its own article in a future issue, un-science-fiction-ishness and all).

Marc Shapiro interviews Alien Nation star Terri Treas; Kyle Counts profiles actress Lee Meriwether, who talks about acting as Lily Munster in The Munsters Today, as Catwoman in Batman, and as Losira in the Star Trek episode “That Which Survives” (which gets a great photo caption, commenting on her character’s ability to kill with a touch: “Meriwether as Losira from ‘That Which Survives’ will go down in Trek history as the one woman Kirk (William Shatner) didn’t want to be touched by.”); interplanetary correspondent Michael Wolff explores the implications of the Gremlins movies (with illustrations by George Kochell); Peter Bloch-Hansen talks with actress Catherine Disher, who portrays Mana in TV’s War of the Worlds; well, there might be dissension among the Doctor Who fan clubs, if the classified ads are to be believed, but the old shows continue to unspool in the video market, as David Hutchison reports in his Videolog column; and Bill Warren interviews “the man in that wonderful ice cream suit,” Ray Bradbury, who talks about USA Network’s Ray Bradbury Theater.

The Fan Network pages include Lia Pelosi’s compendium of fan organizations; Ian Spelling – who would one day write a syndicated science-fiction news column called High Trek – interviews Quantum Leap star Scott Bakula – who would one day star in Trek; Tom Weaver contributes a Q&A with actress Mala Powers, who discusses her roles in Flight of the Lost Balloon, Doomsday Machine, The Wild Wild West, and more; artist Darrell Sweet (illustrator of many genre book covers) is profiled by Erik A. Venema; Kris Gilpin checks in with actress Bibi Besch, who talks about facing The Wrath of Khan with her clueless ex; R. Erwin Kennedy reports on a stage musical version of Plan 9 from Outer Space, arguably the worst movie ever made; Jimmie Hollifield II talks with actor David Frankham about his career on screen, including Return of the Fly, Master of the World, and more; Desire Gonzales profiles actor Edward Albert (yes, the son of Eddie Albert), who discusses his role in Beauty and the Beast; Kerry O’Quinn’s column, anachronistically called From the Bridge again and not just Bridge, views the collapse of European communism through the lens of science fiction; and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes column explores his theories for why he hates making deadlines.
“I’m the most cinematic writer around – all of my short stories can be shot right off the page. If necessary, I wouldn’t do teleplays for the series, I would hand the directors the short stories and say, ‘Mark it with a red pencil.’ Each paragraph is a shot, and by the way the paragraph reads, you know whether it’s a close-up. ‘He said such-and-such-and-such’; that’s a close-up. ‘They were sitting around the room; they were discussing their problem.’ That’s a long shot, obviously. Then when someone speaks, you move in.”
–Ray Bradbury, author, interviewed by Bill Warren: “At Play in the Business of Metaphors”
To see more issues, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit The Starlog Project’s permanent home.

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