Category Archives: Sci-Fi

Auteur Anime

If you only ever watch one Anime feature, it should be The Place Promised in Our Early Days, a science fiction romance by Makoto Shinkai. This is a superb piece of work, and at the moment there is a perfect 720p copy on YouTube. Play it full screen in HD, click the captions button for English subtitles, and see what American animators can’t do.

Close Encounters of the Third Season Kind

If it’s true that the third and final season of Star Trek is the weakest, it’s certainly also true of Lost in Space, which became quite silly toward the end of its run. But I have a fondness for season 3 of LiS, because the month before it started my father bought the family’s first color TV. Another reason for my continued interest in the series had to do with being a boy who had just turned twelve.

Angela Cartwright

I’ve just finished watching a third season episode called Hunter’s Moon, which features my mother’s old friend, Vincent Beck, who I talked about at this link. Vince was never one to turn down a job, no matter how he looked playing the part.

Megazor

Early in the episode, “Special Guest Star” Jonathan Harris as the always insufferable Dr. Zachary Smith exclaims, “We’re doomed! We’re Doomed!” Ten years later, Anthony Daniels would pick up on that expression as C-3PO.

Neverwhere here

In 2011 BBC Radio 4 presented Brian Sibley’s superb radio drama adaptation of Mervyn Peake’s fantasy saga, The History of Titus Groan. The series is available from Amazon as an Audible book. It makes for particularly good listening on headphones.

Radio 4 now has another outstanding adaptation, with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. The series features James McAvoy, who is known to comic book fans as Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class, and Natalie Dorman.

Natalie Dormer in "The Tudors"

Natalie Dormer in “The Tudors”

Neverwhere is available through this week, until March 29. The first episode is an hour long, and for convenience I’ve put it on the audio player. Parts 2-6 are 30 minutes and they’re on the BBC iPlayer.

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Twilight of the greaser zone

Written by Earl Hamner, Jr. of The Waltons, this episode of The Twilight Zone is a favorite of mine. It has a totally wacky premise, about aliens disguised as 50′s greaser bikers moving into a 60′s residential neighborhood, like a sci-fi version of The Wild One. Harvey Lembeck as Eric Von Zipper would have fit right in with these guys.

But it’s Shelley Fabares who makes this episode worth watching. By then, Shelley’s hit Johnny Angel was in the distant past — two years before — and she was making only guest appearances on The Donna Reed Show. Nine days after Black Leather Jackets aired on January 31, 1964, the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

From Shelley to Serenity

After my flu-driven fever broke, from my sickbed (the couch on the porch) I’ve been catching up on old TV shows from MeTV that have been collecting on the FiOS DVR. Mostly The Rifleman, because I like half-hour westerns, and The Donna Reed Show, because I like Shelley Fabares.

A lot of the Donna Reeds are as I remember them from childhood — mostly quiet, a little silly, and sometimes boring — so I scan through them, but one episode that I started scanning today seemed interesting once Shelley made her entrance, so I started it over again and watched it all the way through. It’s episode 29 from the second season, and it’s called “Mary’s Growing Pains.”

The plot has the usual comedies of error, but Mary’s crush on a young doctor is fun, and there’s a reference to Ingmar Bergman, along with a delightfully quirky dream where Mary imagines her life as the doctor’s wife. It starts with music that sounds like the dream sequence in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and at that point I began to wonder who wrote this episode. The dream starts right after the middle commercial break in this Hulu video.

The episode stood out so much compared to the others that were stored on my DVR that I waited for the credits to see the writer’s name. So who wrote it? John Whedon, Joss Whedon’s grandfather.