On US Network Television


NBC Mondays

Long, long, ago I submitted a script to NBC called “Aries Rising” which got rejected in less than a month. It was the story about a writer who investigates the “bizarre and unusual” often with the help of “psychic friends.” It was a tad like the X Files only he wasn't with the FBI!

In the pilot episode I wrote was a minor characters who was a “medium” and she could sense things, find missing people, see things from handling the evidence.

Well, lo and behold about 25 years later NBC puts out a show about a medium!

No, they didn’t really steal it from me. These “mediums” have been around for years and I lifted the idea from real newspaper stories just like the creator of this new show called “Medium” probably did!

I generally rate my criticism of shows based on my love of CSI and this show captures the flavor of CSI to a vast degree, mostly from the star Patricia Arquette who is really super as the “Medium.”

Allison, her name in the show, has been receiving messages from the dead since she was a young girl and having dreams about the dead and those who murder. She never thought much about these, just assuming they were strange dreams or nightmares. She finds, however, she can “see things” from the evidence, like what order the bullets were fired into a victim just from the photos. She finds herself telling the investigators at the District Attorneys office about this accidentally. She’s an intern there hoping to become a lawyer. They chastise her for saying those things. But on a field trip she is taken to the home of another “medium” who is helping them with a case and the two women have an immediate mental contact, even though Allison shrugs it off and leaves without doing or saying much to the older, more experienced but lesser “medium” who tells Allison that the dead say Allison is “the best around” at doing these things.

She “sees” this abduction and murder of a 6 year old boy in Texas by a 17 year old boy and has her husband send a description of it to the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers call her in and she find the spot where the body is buried and helps them get more evidence to prosecute the 17 year old boy.

She then resigns her internship, but her boss keeps her on as a “consultant” because the predictions she had made on the crime from the photos panned out, plus her recent experience in Texas seems to indicate something. So, she becomes and “unofficial” consultant.

This part was done in typical “televisionese” in which we “dispose of things in 30 seconds” without rhyme or reason. She quits, he hires her, convinced of her potential without much prompting and no more than two “coincidences.” Ah, well. That’s how TV works!

This show is still a dandy show. Witty. Well written. Well acted. Well produced. Check it out! Mondays on NBC!

Photo of Patricia Arquette courtesy NBC TV. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

-- E. R. D

On HBO Cable in America

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Directed by Stephen Hopkins

An excellent production sporting a star (Geoffrey Rush) who’s talented enough to actually be Peter Sellers! Rush does multiple characters in the movie and cops Sellers to a “T!”

This “HBO” movie (actually an English production) takes us on a journey starting with the Goons Show on radio in the late 1950’s, through some of Seller’s early works, with a long look at the Pink Panther series, Dr. Strangelove and Seller’s trials and tribulations getting “the powers that be” to produce “Being There” - which was his last great film and due to have a sequel before Seller’s untimely death in the 1980’s.

Based upon the book by Roger Lewis (and the writers probably also read the book “P.S. I Love You” which was written by one of Seller’s children) the movie concentrates on Seller’s obsession with women (his first wife, who he seemed to love the best, Sophia Loren, who was a fantasy for him, Britt Ekland, played with vigor and gusto by Charlize Theron), among other women in his life, along with the dissatisfaction with his own life (which was generally a very successful one in show business and even in his private he was better than most could ever hope to be, yet he was not “happy” from all these triumphs).

John Lithgow’s portrayal of Panther director-writer Blake Edwards may have been faithful (I’ve never seen Edwards in person or interview) but he didn’t “cop” the look I’ve seen in pictures, nor did the characterization of Stanley Kubrick (played by Stanley Tucci) work for me. I’ve read the bios on Kubrick extensively, seen many pictures of him. He’s an odd sort of “Geek” - much like me! He wears pants too wide and short. He likes to work in his boxer shorts (well him and I have some differences here!).

These are small criticisms of an otherwise terrific movie that steps outside of itself with asides from the characters. Sellers talks to the camera. Kubrick talks to the camera. Seller’s father talks to the camera. We see the sets used in shooting this movie in the background as they sometimes walk and talk with us, giving us deeper insight into Peter Sellers, a very complex person with a method to his madness. A real actor’s actor.

We watch him develop the character of Inspector Clouseau. Originally sporting a full beard and a different attitude, Sellers see the cover of a match book on his plane ride from England to the location site for Panther and he just gets an idea. He goes into the restroom and comes out with the Clouseau mustache and immediately starts acting like the Clouseau we know from the screen. A real boob. A real jerk. He gets into character and doesn’t let go!

The same thing happens with Dr. Strangelove. He tries the character out on him poor “mum” at lunch on the set and she doesn’t know what to make of this wheel chair bound man with blonde hair, wearing sun glasses and leather gloves, who hits and bits his other hand repeatedly while talking in a German accent!

We see him improvising during filming (and apologizing to Stanley Kubrick for jokes) adding funny lines to the script as President Muffly.

We also see Sellers failing at trying to “cop” a persona for Major King Kong. Originally Sellers was to play 5 roles in Dr. Strangelove but ended up only doing 3 after he either broke his foot or got a Doctor to put him into a cast so he could get shelved from the rest of the movie. Sellers tried real hard to come up with a “Texas” kind of voice. His parting from the movie cleared the way for Slim Pickens to take over the role (and he did an outstanding job as Major Kong).

We also see his failed marriages and bi-polar mood swings where on one hand he crushes the toys of his young son and then hours later brings the boy a Shetland Pony. We see him totally in love with new wife Britt Ekland and then get nasty when she announces she’s pregnant, telling her to get an abortion.

He gets directors fired off the set of “Casino Royale” stands up Blake Edwards at a meeting for another in the “Panther” franchise, and at an earlier time putting Edwards down (in the Don Rickels type of manner), although Edwards takes all of this in stride as he seems to understand and even love Sellers as a talented and complex individual.

I saw this film with two people who knew little of Sellers and they liked the movie as much as I did.

Catch it on HBO over the next few weeks and months and later on broadcast television as one network will certainly pick this excellent film up for airing.

-- E.R.D.

Outer Space in Film and Television

Since most of the movies listed here are seen primarily on the "small screen" either on AMC (American Movie Classics) or the Turner network, we include all of them here in TV. Most are available on DVD or VHS tape.

From The Big Screen

A Trip To The Moon
Directed by Georges Melies

Made just around the start of the 1900’s during the infancy of cinema, Melies is considered the great grandfather of special effects. This story is loosely based on the Jules Verne novel about a trip by man to the moon, complete with dancing girls.

Tom Hanks produced (and also performed as an actor, playing the assistant to Melies) a live action history of the films of George Melies as a part of his series for PBS on “Space.”

The Woman In The Moon
Directed by Fritz Lang

Loosely based on concepts by both Jules Vern and H.G. Welles this movie, made in the 1930’s was banned by Adolph Hitler because the three stage rocket ship used by Lang resembled the V-2 project too closely!

Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Commando Cody

Both Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were taken from newspaper comic strips and turned into monthly serials from Republic Pictures, eventually edited into full length features. The effects are cheesy, the acting stilted, the budgets were low, but the sets and costumes weren’t too shabby. At the end of each episode Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers would seem to face death, only to miraculously escaped in the start of the next episode.

Flash Gordon was the not too bright, but very brave, handsome and strong hero (played by swimmer Buster Crabbe), there were two girls, one good (Dale Arden, the love of Flash’s life) and one not so good (Sonya, the daughter of Ming the Merciless). There was the evil villain Ming, the smart scientist Dr. Arkoff and the side kick for Flash, who has a stupid name like Happy. There was Royalty in the form of Prince Baron (who was probably the Earl of some distance land controlled by Ming) who changed sides from evil to good.

Commando Cody was a masked good guy, much like the Lone Ranger, who traveled around using a Rocket Pack that was attached to a leather jacket. He also had a space ship and fought against evil men from outer space, including one space “zombie” played by a young Leonard Nimoy.

Destination Moon
Directed by George Pal

A very good, very credible early 1950’s effort. Loosely based on “Rocketship Galileo” a juvenile novel by premier science fiction writer Robert Heinline.

George Pal made a name for himself in Europe doing wooden puppet theatrical commercial films for Phillips Radio. He immigrated to the United States and began making similar entertainment shorts for Paramount Pictures. He also produced “The War of the Worlds” for Paramount and “The Time Machine” for M-G-M.

Forbidden Planet
Directed by Fred Wilcox

The first really high class and ultra credible film about advanced space travel far off in the future when mankind learns how to “warp” past the speed of light.

The story source was written by a motion picture Art Director (Irving Block, who served as unaccredited production designer on the film) and another craftsman (Alan Alder) from the studios, who took the idea directly to the head of M-G-M. They adapted the classic Shakespeare work “The Tempest” and added a dash of Freudian psychology in the form of “monsters from the Id.” Cyril Hume actually wrote the final screenplay.

The saga is about a space craft sent to explore the Altair system (a star about 16 light years away from Earth) in which all of the crew and ship vanish in a puff of smoke except for Dr. Morbius and his wife. She dies giving birth to their daughter and he and the girl have lived out their lives for 18 years together in a fabulously modern house located in a vast span of garden and desert with their faithful servant Robbie the Robot.

A relief ship is sent from Earth and here the troubles start! Morbius doesn’t want to go home, doesn’t want to let the ship stay and warns them that he can’t be responsible for what happens.

What happens? Monsters from the Id. Monsters from the dark side of the subconscious mind that invisibly attack the ship and crew. Monsters that come from the power of the Krel, a now extinct race of highly advanced people.

Excellent cast with Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Neilsen, Earl Holliman, Warren Stevens, Richard Anderson, James Drury and Jack Kelly.

Very good special effects that stand up to today’s world (include matte painting by Matthew Yuricich, who would go on to be associated with many state of the art science fiction films of the 1970s and 1980s).


A prophetic film in view of the recent happenings with the space station. The storyline: What if a contemporary space ship can’t fire the retro rockets. What if they fail? This is something that has never happened in our history, but it is highly plausible.

Gregory Peck, James Franciscus, Richard Crenna.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, Screenplay by Stanley Kubric and noted sci-fi book author Arthur C. Clarke

Stills stands as one of the most realistic films with some of the best special effects ever done (it won the Oscar for Kurbrick – his only one, even though Douglas Trumbull, Con Pederson and others actually did the special effects creations).

A highly non-narrative film cerebrally written by Kubrick and ace science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke from his short story “The Sentinel” about a monolith planted on the moon that sits and waits for someone to discover and uncover it, establishing that some race of beings has mastered space flight. The Sentinel was planted on the moon by another race of highly advanced aliens who seek out life forms around the universe.

In this movie, these aliens plant three “sentinels” which are large black objects termed a “monolith.” One on primitive, caveman ruled Earth. Once on the moon buried in the crater Clavius and another out near Jupiter.

When caveman touches this object it has a profound (and probably direct) affect on the mind and soul After touching the object man learns to fight and kill using tools. Fight and kill beasts. Fight and kill other cavemen.

After more than 30 minutes of this primitive history lesson we are transported to the near future where a space shuttle that looks very close to our current vehicles travels up to a large space station. Such a station was planned, but budget cuts dropped the size considerably in real life. Kubrick’s view of all this was more than two decades before it actually happened!

The man travelling to the station is Dr. Floyd who is going to the moon for a top secret briefing. One on the moon Floyd is told about the discovery of the monolith buried a million years ago in the crater Clavius and he is taken for a visit where he, like caveman, touches the giant object. Once the sun rises on this object it emits a radio pulse towards Jupiter. To find out what’s up on Jupiter we send out a very big space craft with stars Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea.

These two are baby sitters and hands-on crew members for the flight that will take over a year to complete from the Earth to Jupiter, a very realistic point of view. The rest of the crew is placed in hibernation by cryogenics. Assisting the human crew is HAL 9000, a computer that talks, listens, sees and interacts with the crew and ship. HAL (which, by the way, is a name that is but ONE letter away in the alphabet from IBM -- H/I, A/B, L/M) also has secret briefing information stored in memory that is to be played back to the crew once they reach Jupiter, however HAL, who is programmed to always tell the truth, has also been programmed not to reveal this information prematurely and to deny any existence of such material. This conflict of programming causes HAL to have a psychotic reaction and nervous breakdown. HAL tries to kill every member of the crew to prevent his own existence from ending with the two astronauts decide they might have to “pull the plug” on HAL. Keir Dullea survives and makes it to Jupiter where he discovers another monolith which transports him magically across time and space to a distance planet where he is cared for and nurtured into becoming a new incarnate known as the star child, who is sent back to Earth to watch over mankind.

People nurtured on Star Wars will find 2001 a bit too long-winded and boring, yet 2001 still stands as one of the greatest achievements in pure science fiction film work.

Star Wars

Directed by George Lucas.

This third film, made at a young age with acting provided by a carpenter who used to work with Lucas at Francis Ford Coppola’s San Francisco operation: Harrison Ford. He also picked two other young, more established actors, Mark Hamel and Carrie Fisher, plus seasoned veteran Alec Gunnies.

Star Wars is all action and special effects right from the gate. The first scene is a space ship in a galaxy far, far, away, long, long ago being shot at by another ship. We see the robots R2D2 and 3CPO. We have Royalty in the form of a Princess and the evil Emperor. We have the Royal Guard in the form of the Jedi Knights, we have the evil side kick in the form of Darth Vader, the handsome young pauper hero in the from of Luke Skywalker, the dashingly heroic cad in the form of Hans Solo and mystic magician in the form of Obie Canobie.

The story is simple: Rescue the fair princess, recover the plans for the evil weapon, fight the enemy and destroy the weapon before it destroys you!

George Lucas planned this as 12 episodes and most have already been made. Episode III comes out in the spring of 2005 and basically ends the series. This first movie was termed Episode IV. The saga runs like a serial from the Flash Gordon era of the 1940s.

Solaris (the original Russian version)

Along with 2001 this film stands as truly excellent science fiction dealing with outer space. Solaris is a distant planet that seems to have profound affect on those to visit there. A scientist-astronaut is sent there by the powers that be to find out what is happening and why the crew in the station around Solaris are behaving so strange.

Solaris, it seems, has a planetary consciousness that provides those near the planet with a manifestation of whatever it is they truly want. In the case of our hero, it’s the return of his dead wife who comes to haunt him at the space station.

Directed by Ridley Scott

A truly terrifying film with great high tension. A deep space commercial towing vehicle the Nostromo on route back to Earth take a detour with its hibernating crew who are awakened early and soon realize this. They take a trip down to a very hostile planet with unbreathable atmosphere and find an alien ghost ship. Once inside one of them goes into a deep chamber where “eggs” of an alien creature attaches itself to his face. He is brought back to the ship where a young crewman (Sigourney Weaver, in her first film role) has determined that the signal which brought them there was not a distress call, but a warning. When they try to bring in the injured crewperson she refuses, but the ship’s Doctor (who is an android) opens the door and lets them inside.

After a while the “thing” attached to the face of one crewmember falls off and they think everything is fine, until dinner time when he convulses and something bursts out of his chest and runs away.

The captain, Dallas (played by veteran Tom Skerritt) orders them to track it down and kills it. It seems small enough at only a few inches tall, but eventually they find it has grown to over 8 foot tall and it is killing people and eating through the metal floors with acid blood.

Eventually only Weaver and the cat are left.

A new issue of the film from the original “Director’s Cut” made by Ridley Scott came out late in 2004.

This remains one of the scariest “monsters in space” movies ever made.

The sequel, Aliens, is even better!

The Right Stuff

Hollywood's look at the trials and tribulations of America's first "Mercury" space ship crew in both public and private. Excellent cast.

Apollo 13

Directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks. An excellent look at the ill-fated flight of Apollo 13 that blew part of the engine up millions of miles out in space. A true story and how they got home in one piece!

On the Small Screen

When television was very young and had no budget the powers that be gave us “Space Patrol” in which men in diving suits moved from ship to ship in space with CO2 fire extinguishers strapped to their backs! It was a real hoot, aimed at children in the audience at home.

With a better budget, slightly better writing and acting was “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger” which features star Richard Crane in a white crew neck T-shirt (alright, maybe the budget wasn’t that much better) with an ornamental space badge insignia affixed (Gee! Sounds like what Bill Thesis came up with for the crew of "Star Trek" years later...).

Also aimed at children this show had a young boy in the cast, along with a side kick for Rocky Jones to boss around, a brilliant Doctor who gave them all the important scientific answers, a beautiful ingenue (the “young girl” character) and villains in the form of an evil wicket Queen of a space empire and her male Viceroy.

The first credible show was Men Into Space produced by Mr. Ziv.

Ziv Television was an independent company that came in to fill the void in television as the major studios were boycotting this new medium, which was eating away at their big screen attendance figures. Mr. Ziv saw an opportunity and he took it, bringing shows like “Highway Patrol,” “Sea Hunt,” “Science Fiction Theater” and “Ripcord” to prime-time television audiences. Some of these shows were even shot in color, although only black and white TV existed at that time.

Men in Space took place in a time frame when we (America) was already on the moon with a permanent base. The space ships looked surprisingly like our modern day Space Shuttles, although they had electric doors that opened by push button (we still largely use manual locks and turn cranks).

William Lundegan was the star of this show that ran only one season. He played Colonel McCaully, a big wig astronaut. The producers attempted to show some dramatic and real to life type of situations that might occur in space and on the moon. In one episode they even demonstrated how rocket fuels works by combining two liquids which burst into flames without the need for a spark. Quite impressive for television in the late 1950’s.

Science Fiction Theater was another Ziv masterpiece. This one ran for several seasons. It was an anthology show, which meant each week there was a drastically different topic with a totally new cast of actors. The scripts were far from meeting the name “Science Fiction” as by now sci-fi in books and magazines was quite sophisticated, while this show was rather, well..., television oriented.

The first true classic science show was the infamous Twilight Zone created by Rod Serling (who once rejected my story idea for his second show, Night Gallery).

The primary writer of the best episodes was Serling, himself, and noted author Richard Matheson (who would go on to write scripts for the movie “Somewhere in Time” and “What Dreams May Come”). Matheson’s great writing for this show included on episode starring Agnes Moorehead as an old woman alone in a house invaded by “space aliens” in their flying saucer. The episode was done without any dialog until the very end, after Moorehead smashed the ship with an axe and the last living crew man “phoned home” to warn his planet about the race of giants, telling them not to retaliate. As we move in close on the saucer we see a U.S. Air Force decal that informs us WE were the invading aliens! Wicked!

Matheson also gave us the classic “To Serve Man” about a tall alien who comes to Earth and proposes an exchange of “tourists” to and from his planet. He slaps down a book written in his language that we eventually interpret as the title “To Serve Man” – only in the end we find out it’s a cook book and the Earth tourist going up are the main course! Very wicked!

Not ever show was about space. Some Twilight Zone shows were about war, in the future.

The theme was always about the nature of man, which usually did not paint a very nice picture of mankind!

Following hot on the heels of “The Twilight Zone” was another anthology offering, this one from Joseph Stefano called The Outer Limits.

Stefano was not a fan of sci-fi nor did he intend this show to become sci-fi, but the “powers that be” at United Artists, who distributed the show, made it more sci-fi (and he parted ways with the show after the first season).

This show, like the Twilight Zone, featured a lot of fine actors (Robert Duval, Robert Kulp, Caroll O'Conner, etc.) and some great writers (including Harlan Ellison). One of the best episodes was about two Martians, one who runs an outpost on Earth out of a pawn shop (played by Caroll "Archie Bunker" O'Conner) and one a government functionary (played by Barry Morse, who was Lt. Gerard in the TV series "The Fugitive") to investigate the Earth phenomina of "murder" which is committed by Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Rand in the original Star Trek). The episode ends with them stopping the murder between two lovers, even though the end of the universe is predicted by the Matrian computer before it overheated. The two Martians were named "Phobos" and "Demos" -- which are the names of the two Martian moons. They also enjoyed "Cafeen and nicotine" -- coffee and cigarettes (the show was made long before warnings appeared on cigarette packs).

As with the Twilight Zone, this show was about the nature of man and mankind, and it too, was quite critical.

Star Trek

The first real “outer space” adventure show to have any impact came from a friend of Joseph Stefano and former writer for Mr. Ziv and his name was Gene Roddenberry. The show is know to everyone in the world as: Star Trek.

Originally starring Jeffrey Hunter (ZIV TV "Sea Hunt" alumni Lloyd Bridges was first choice, but turned Roddenberry down), Leonard Nimoy as a pointy eared alien science officer and Majel Barrett (Mrs. Roddenberry) as first officer, NBC rejected the concept as being too liberal. Aliens and women holding important jobs on a space ship! Ha! What person in the year 1966 could buy into that radical concept!

NBC commissioned another pilot. This time the alien (Nimoy) got a second job: First Officer of the ship. Roddenberry, however, snuck in a Japanese man as one of the pilots and black woman as radio operator. Jeffrey Hunter was replaced with former Twilight Zone actor (he did two shows in that series) William Shatner (who got the role because Hawaii 5-0's Jack Lord said no after Roddenberry offered him the role after not picking up Jeffrey Hunter). DeForrest Kelly took the place of the original Doctor in the first pilot. Kelly had worked for Roddenberry before on another failed pilot, so they were somewhat friendly. The rest, as they say, is history.

After the first 12 episodes of Star Trek (in which time Roddenberry had snuck his wife, Majel Barrett -- "Number One" in the first pilot, back in as a nurse) Gene Roddenberry moved to the executive seat (like his former boss and mentor Norman Felton who oversaw “The Lieutenant” which Roddenberry produced, plus “The Man From UNCLE” which Roddenberry’s good friend and former boss Sam Rolfe produced, in addition to “Dr. Kildare”). Roddenberry then hired successful “Wild, Wild, West” producer Gene Coon to take over the daily chores of writing and casting.

Coon and Roddenberry enticed a fantastic group of writers to work with the show, including sci-fi authors Harlan Ellison and Jerome Bixby, both of whom wrote some superb stories for the show. Ellison took us back into time with “Planet on the Edge of Forever” an episode which featured Joan Collins and the first use of the word “Hell” on network television as Captain Kirk would say at the end of the episode “Let’s get the hell out of here!”

Bixby wrote a story about a recreational planet that read your mind and turned your wishes and desires into reality. The crew didn’t realize this and found all sorts of strange things happened to them on the planet from World War II aircraft, to police pistols to Knights in Shinning Armor.

True sci-fi writers are a wiry bunch. In one episode the head librarian of an alien planet was named Mr. Atoz (if that went over your head, don’t worry a lot of people didn’t catch on to “A to Z” or AtoZ... Get it? Librarian? A to Z. Atoz. Mr. Atoz.).

Hot on the heels of Star Wars, producer Glenn A. Larson gave us “Battlestar Galactica” starring Lore Green and introducing Dirk Benedict (who would go on to a very nice career including a stint with the “A-Team”) and Laurette Spang (whom I know, she retired after the series ended to raise her family, doing an occasionally “Magnum PI” in Hawaii along with her actor husband).

The premise of the show goes back to tales of the “Ancient Astronauts” which states that the Pyramids and possibly some Egyptian concepts came from outer space travelers (this also inspired the move “Stargate”).

The show only lasted two seasons and Larson was sued by George Lucas over “look and feel” issues, especially since Larson employed Lucas special effects wizard John Dykstra (who was layed off from the Lucas effort after completing Star Wars and all the equipment assembled by Dystra for this movie was shipped to Northern California) as a producer and effects creator on show (he was in need of a job).

Recently, a theatrical movie was made based on this TV show with Edward James Olmos playing the lead role (Lorn Greene did the original TV show back in the 1980s) and the Sci-Fi channel will be starting this as a new TV series on cable in January of 2005.

Few other science fictions shows other than Star Trek have endured on television. The only other one of significant merit is another Gene Roddenberry creation called “Andromeda” and a cable offering called "Farscape."

Star Trek was franchised off and turned into many theatrical features with the original cast, of which the best was the second and fourth offerings: “The Wrath Of Khan” based on characters from the TV series and “The Journey Home” in which they go back in time to present day Earth to pick up a few hump back whales in a story suggested by Leonard Nimoy.

Star Trek came back to TV with a new cast, set further in the future and that show lasted many years and spawned squeals including “Deep Space Nine” (with a black male lead), “Voyager” (with a white female lead) and the current venture “Enterprise” which is a retro show taking us back before the original to the early development of the “Federation” and “Star Fleet.”

Enterprise is still a very popular series on the UPN stations.


A Tom Hanks production in association with HBO TV. A multi-part series that documents the race from space, largely from the American point of view, of which the episode showing how Georges Melies made the 1900 classic "A Trip To The Moon" -- featuring Hanks as his production assistant -- that particular episode starts off with the theme song from "Fireball XL-5" the children space show produced by ITC and Gerry Anderson.

Fireball XL-5

A children's show done with puppets, lots of smoke and fire, about a group of outer space ranger types. Created by Gerry Anderson and produced by ITC/ATV in England, it ran for a season in syndication. Anderson's other efforts, "Supercar" and "Thunderbirds" were more Earth bound. "Thunderbirds" (about a father and his sons who do rescue work with flying machines and underwater machines) was recently made into a flop of a movie directed by STNG co-star Jonathan Frakes (Captain Pickard's "Number One") using live actors. The recent big hit movie from South Park creators, "Team America," featuring naked puppets having sex was a lampoon of the Gerry Anderson era puppet TV shows. If you can't handle R rated puppet movies, then see if you can find "Fireball XL-5" as it's just as entertaining without the sex (but still had lots of smoke and fire, plus villans).

Our Outer Space Special Continues With The Following From 2005...

Space Special | Rocketing Into Space | India In Space | Europeans In Space
Women Among The Stars | Cosmology and Astronomy | Reaching For The Stars
Antigravity (Fiction) | Not To Go Into Space (Opinion) | Telescopes
Night Skies January-February 2005 | Space in Film, TV, VHS and DVD
Astrology January-February | Cartoons Part 5 (Marvin The Martian) | Books (Space in Print) | Music (Space in Melody)


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