Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #155, June 1990: Threepeat – Back to the Future III

Paving the way for the Matrix sequels and the final Harry Potter installments, the Back to the Future producers deliver the final two parts of their trilogy within a one-year timeframe. Back to the Future II was just on the cover of Starlog #150, and just five issues later, here’s Back to the Future III.

BTTF III is arguably the best of the trilogy. There’s less lazy pop-culture riffing and more storytelling. Plus they set the film in the old West, rather than rehashing the setting and story of the first BTTF. In this issue, writer and producer Bob Gale says, “Are we sick and tired of Back to the Future at this point? In a way, yes. But every time we look at the dailies or some great cut-together sequences, it gets everybody excited again.”

Starlog #155
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

This issue announces the second (and, alas, what would be the last) issue of the Starlog Science-Fiction Video Magazine. Editor David McDonnell says “We’re already at work on volume three, uhh, possibly because we prepared more special features and video reviews for #2 than we had space to print.” But there would never be a third issue. Too bad; the Starlog SF video mags were nicely done and are still enjoyable to read two decades later. Find ‘em on eBay.

Classified ad of the month: “THE OFFICIAL FURRY FOOTBAG GAMEBALL. Resembles a certain furry creature. For info send SASE to ...” Kind of funny, isn’t it, that it’s an “official” product of something it won’t even name. But perhaps I’m tribbling. I mean quibbling.

The rundown: Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox share the cover for the second time in seven issues (the last time was #149); Denise Crosby, out of uniform and in a bikini, is featured on the contents page in a photo from the Seatrek Star Trek fan cruise. Communications letters include reaction to Michael Wolff’s article “Pigment of the Imagination” about racism, plus thoughts on Back to the Future II and TV’s War of the Worlds; and David McDonnell’s Medialog column backtracks on its prediction of a few issues back and announces that Arnold Schwarzenegger will indeed return to the Terminator story in James Cameron’s sequel – apparently some studio shuffling, changes in ownership to the film’s rights, and a mega-million-dollar paycheck for the future California governor changed enough minds to greenlight Terminator 2 (which, in my humble opinion, would tie with The Abyss as James Cameron’s best film).

David Hutchison previews the moon-colony film Plymouth; the Fan Network pages include a directory of fan clubs and the convention calendar (where it becomes clear that the Starlog festivals have dropped by the wayside, but the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors franchise has taken off); Marc Shapiro interviews actress Michele Scarabelli, who talks about portraying Susan Francisco in Alien Nation; in the first of a two-part interview, Will Murray asks writer Philip Jose Farmer about writing the Doc Savage novels; Marc Shapiro talks with Peter Filardi, the writer of Flatliners, a brat-pack scare flick; and Will Murray has another chat with actor Michael Ironside, who discusses his role as Richter in Total Recall, as well as acting in V, Top Gun, Watchers, and more.

David Hutchison highlights some TV shows now on video (such as The Twilight Zone and Doctor Who) in his Videolog column; Marc Shapiro visits the set of Back to the Future III; Mike Clark and Mark Phillips profile the late actor Vic Perrin about The Outer Limits; Kim Howard Johnson interviews actress Nancy Allen, who talks about RoboCop 2 and praises the script by Frank Miller and Walon Green; Mark A. Altman talks with actor Colm Meaney about his time on the Enterprise, portraying Star Trek: The Next Generation's Transporter Chief Miles O’Brien (though at this point the character didn’t yet have a first name); Bill and Jennifer Florence profile actor Paul Carr, who portrayed Lt. Lee Kelso on the original Star Trek’s second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”; there’s more Trek with Kyle Count’s interview of actor Paul Winfield, who discusses Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as well as White Dog and Damnation Alley; David McDonnell and Eddie Berganza went on the Seatrek cruise of fans and Trek actors, and they came back to report on it (which I believe makes this the only issue of Starlog – and perhaps the only magazine ever – in which you can get photos of George Takei in swimming trunks and Denise Crosby in a bikini, so something for everyone); whoa! whiplash – Kerry O’Quinn’s column is called From the Bridge again, after see-saw in titles for the past few issues, but nonetheless he defends his positive approach to life from people who think his ideals are unrealistic; and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes column announces the latest issues of various publications from the Starlog family.
"Because you're on the moon, certain ideas and standards that you take for granted on Earth, change drastically here. In our first story, Cindy Pickett, who plays the lead character Addy Matthewson, the town physician, becomes pregnant by a guy who isn't really part of the town, but is one of Unidac's technical people.  Immediately, we have a multi-level story situation. On one level, she's unmarried, a widow with four kids. But because it all happens here in Plymouth, her actions have implications for everybody in town: If she chooses to have her child on the Moon, the community is morally bound on some level to stay with her, because, in all likelihood, a child raised in the one-sixth gravity field of the moon can never go back to Earth. The community will be committed to the Moon; now they can never just evacuate the base and return to Earth. "
–Lee David Zlotoff, writer/director/producer, interviewed by David Hutchison: "Plymouth Adventure"
To see more issues, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit The Starlog Project’s permanent home.

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