Saturday, September 25, 2010

Me German Tarzan, You French Jane: The Starlog Project: Starlog #172, November 1991

Wolf Larson stars in the new television series Tarzan. The show is shot in southern Mexico; Wolf was born in Berlin; co-star Lydie Denier was born in France; the series is set in Africa; and the audience is in the United States. There aren't many TV programs that are more international than that.

Following many years of Tarzan movies with everyone from Bo Derek to Christopher Lambert, plus television movies and more, this half-hour weekly syndicated series attempted to give the lord of the apes a new lease on life. The series lasted for 75 episodes, going off the air in 1994. It's odd for what is – let's admit it – an odd character, that over the past couple decades, there was almost always a Tarzan series of some sort on the air or in planning stages, whether it's Larson's live actioner, Disney animated series, or other interpretations.

Also funny, but not surprising, is that Tarzan might be the featured show in this issue of Starlog, but the issue has far more to do with Star Trek than the jungle boy/man. Interviews with Trek stars and directors and writers, a look at an abandoned Trek scipt, even an ad on the inside front cover for the newest film, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Even more exciting for the Trek geeks among us, Starlog announces this issue the upcoming publication of its Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, an 84-page color magazine filled with articles, blueprints, photos, and more. It was written by Shane Johnson, who had already made a name for himself with his bestselling Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise, and who would later in the 1990s write Starlog’s mega-popular three-issue Star Wars Technical Journal, which you really must buy if, like me, you always wanted to know the interior layout of the Millennium Falcon.

Starlog #172
80 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.50

This issue, Starlog drops its cover price from $4.95 to $4.50 again, after several consecutive issues of the higher price. Also, the page count drops by four to its pre-increase standard. It still seems odd to me that there was the temporary cover price hike. Inflation was not running high in 1991, and adding four pages to compensate for a 45-cents price increase is just a money grab, because it by no means costs 45 cents per copy for an additional four pages. Even today in 2010, nearly 20 years later, I can get a printer quote for an entire magazine of nearly 100 pages, all color, for less than a dollar a piece. So I hope Starlog's publishers wisely invested the extra 44 cents (or whatever) per copy that they got during their little summer price windfall.

The rundown: Wolf Larson's Tarzan and Lydie Denier's Jane are on the cover, posing with their very serious looking chimp pal; Larson and Denier are in a different pose, sans chimpy, on the contents page. Communications letters include writer Michael Moorcock with a gracious correction of a recent interview with him, other letters commenting on Doctor Who and Trek and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, plus Michael Fisher’s Creature Profile featuring the Metaluna mutant; David McDonnell’s Medialog column notes the upcoming appearance of Leonard Nimoy reprising his Spock character in a two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation; and the Fan Network pages include a note about a national James Bond trivia challenge, plus Lia Pelosi’s directory of fan clubs and the convention calendar.

Edward Gross interviews actress Irina Irvine about her time on the Beauty & the Beast series; David Hutchison’s Videolog column announces the long-awaited home video release of Disney’s Fantasia, plus other genre releases; in his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn chronicles his trek to Mexico to see an eclipse; the Booklog section reviews The Serpent’s Tooth, Mister Touch, The Martian Viking, The Sorceress and the Cygnet, The Exile Kiss, and The Silicon Man; Lynne Stephens interviews actor Walter Koenig about his role in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Jean Airey talks with actor Stephen Greif, who portrayed Travis in the first season of Blake's 7; Edward Gross profiles director Ralph Senensky, whose original Trek episodes include"Bread and Circuses," "Obsession," "Metamorphosis," and others, including "The Tholian Web," from which he was fired after three days for falling half-a-day behind schedule; Dan Yakir talks to actor Wolf Larson, star of the new syndicated Tarzan series; and Edward Gross examines Starfleet Academy, the never-filmed movie that would have served as a prequel to the original Star Trek series (and which bears more than a little resemblance, at least in basic set-up, to the triumphant reimagining of Trek by J.J. Abrams).

In "Bright Lights, Big Zetar," Pat Jankiewicz talks with Shari Lewis – she of Lambchop puppet fame – about "The Lights of Zetar," an original Star Trek episode she co-wrote with her husband, Jeremy Tarcher; Stan Nicholls interviews legendary writer Brian Aldiss, who notes that "many of science fiction's objectives, although the fans are reluctant to acknowledge this, are the objectives of ordinary fiction – to tell a tale that will be entertaining, and preferably enlightening in some little way as well"; David Hirsch, who was a Starlog staffer in the late 1970s and early 1980s, returns with a focus on music, and in this issue, he talks with Leonard Rosenman about scoring Fantastic Voyage, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and others; Tom Weaver checks in with a Q&A with actor William Phipps, who discusses Five, Invaders from Mars, Cat Women of the Moon, and War of the Worlds, among others in his long career; and in his Liner Notes column, editor David McDonnell wraps it all up with more Tarzan information.
"What it was, was a real coming-of-age story. In outline form, it was the story of Kirk and Spock meeting for the first time as cadets at Starfleet Academy here on Earth. We've got a young Jim Kirk, who's kind of cocky and wild. He's not exactly what you might think of as starship captain material. He's like one of these kids who would rather fly hot jets and chase girls. Spock is this brilliant, arrogant, aloof-to-the-point-of-obnoxiousness genius. It's this mask he's hiding behind to cover his own conflicting human emotions. He's an outcast; he left Vulcan in shame against his father's wishes and, like all adolescents, he's trying to find a place to fit in, but he keeps screwing it up."
–David Loughery, writer, interviewed by Edward Gross: "The Undiscovered Star Trek VI"
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.

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