About DarlaSueDollman

Darla Sue Dollman has a BA in English and MFA in Creative Writing from Colorado State University where she taught creative writing, literature, composition, and first-year introductory courses. She also taught Composition courses at the University of Northern Colorado and Technical Business Writing at Aims Community College. She has seventeen years experience as a freelance investigative journalist, staff journalist, and editor for numerous newspapers and magazines and wrote restaurant review columns for many years for publications such as The Denver Catholic Register and Albuquerque Living Magazine. She currently has numerous works of fiction and nonfiction available online and in print including 15 short fiction stories as D.S. Dollman on Fictionwise.com.

Dollman is also an amateur wildlife photographer and has photographs on display in Johnson City, Texas. She is particularly interested in photographing large birds, such as vultures, hawks and eagles. She often writes about endangered species. Dollman spent her childhood camping, backpacking, and exploring ghost towns with her family in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and now spends her spare time exploring old mining camps and ghost towns in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. She is a constant student of the history of the American West.

Dollman is also a dedicated fan of silent films and early talkies. She does most of her writing late in the evening to the background sounds of black and white films on the television and these films and their exceptionally-talented actors and actresses often become the subjects of her articles for Suite 101.

Faster Than the Speed of Light

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Is it possible that future spacecraft with “warp drive” could travel faster than the speed of light? Check out this article on Decoded Science and read about NASA’s latest experiment: http://www.decodedscience.com/faster-speed-light-nasa-looks-warp-drive/40698

 

Copper Killed for Orphan Black? BBC America Clearly Does not Like American Viewers!

Kyle_Schmid_March_2008Kyle Schmid at Megacon, Orlando Florida, March 2008. Schmid plays Robert Morehouse in Copper. Photo by Anne Petersen.

I do not watch the BBC on a regular basis. They rarely offer shows that appeal to me, other than Dr. Who. However, when a friend recommended the show Copper, produced by BBC America (and a list of others) I thought I would give it a try. In addition to my obsession with supernatural television, I also study American history and write a popular blog called Wild West History, so the theme of Irish immigrants trying to survive in Five Points New York during post American Civil War Reconstruction in Copper appealed to me.

This is a topic I know, a subject I’ve studied, and coming from a family of Irish immigrants, I connected. Copper premiered on Sunday, August 19, 2012. I truly enjoyed watching the show. I was more than happy with the show, Copper, I was thrilled. I told my friends about the show, my family, posted weekly comments on Facebook, and had lengthy discussions about the episodes.

Then, in mid-September, one of my friends said, “Another great aspect of Copper is the fact that it’s produced by BBC America, so you know they’ll give the show a fair chance.” The next night we watched the show, and when I logged onto Facebook to discuss it with my friends I discovered it was cancelled.

To make matters worse, it was cancelled with open endings! Copper is a show with multiple story lines. The finale introduced a new story line with the assassination of President Lincoln and left all other story lines open. I can’t think of an easier way to disappoint and anger viewers than to leave open story lines.

There are so many aspects of Copper that I could discuss here, such as the representation of the Irish in the show, and the risk of BBC America presenting anything about the Irish without obvious prejudice, but this blog is about Supernatural Television, and the only reason I am discussing Copper here is because it was supposedly dumped due to a supernatural television show that I do not believe has the same quality of writing.

Orphan Black

I was stunned. Finally, the BBC had a show that appealed to many Americans with its honest, brutal portrayal of American history, and it cancelled the show? Not only was it cancelled after only two seasons, but according to Deadline Hollywood, the show was cancelled because it was “overshadowed by “BBC America’s second drama series, the buzzy Orphan Black.

Tatiana_Maslany_(derivative_image)Tatiana Maslany at a barbecue hosted by the Canadian Film Centre founder Norman Jewison. 

As you may recall, I reviewed Orphan Black in May. After only one episode there wasn’t much I could say for the future of Orphan Black, but to be honest, I was too nice. While it’s true that the show has fine acting, particularly with Tatiana Maslany and Jordan Gavaris, I was a bit put off by the graphic sex scene in the first few minutes of the show.

The lead character (there are many lead characters, all played by Maslany), is trying to figure out if she is a clone, or a twin, or a doppleganger, or something else–this is supernatural television, remember–and is raiding the house of a woman who committed suicide in front of her hours before.

The other woman’s husband comes home and starts to question her about her clothing choice so she tries to distract him by attacking him. She pretty much rapes the man in the kitchen (remember, it is not her husband) in one of the most graphic scenes I can recall on television.

It was not the sex that bothered me, it was the writing. There was no need for the graphic sex scene and gratuitous sex is boring and irritating. That moment, that scene is what separated Orphan Black from Copper. As I told my husband, friends, and other Copper fans, one of the many aspects of Copper that I truly enjoyed was its clean writing.

When I say clean I’m not referring to sex. By clean writing I mean that when something happens, although it may seem minor at the moment, you know it is important to the plot. The Orphan Black sex scene did nothing to further the plot. It was gratuitous sex, plain and simply.

The Request

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I’m not the silent type. So, I decided to send an email to BBC America via their website, which they claim is the only way to communicate with them. I explained that I enjoyed the show and was extremely disappointed that it was cancelled, particularly with so many open story lines. I received this response:

Dear Darla,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us  – we appreciate your support of COPPER.  The show, however, concludes at the end of its second season. We recommend visiting the TV Schedule page on our website, BBCAmerica.com/schedule regularly for the most updated information about new and upcoming shows on the channel such as Burton and Taylor on Wednesday, October 16th starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West and Ripper Street which returns this December.

Regards, Robert

Viewer Relations

My Response

BBC America, could you be more cold to your viewers? Seriously? So they call themselves BBC America, but they killed the show about American history and are suggesting we replace it with a history show from the same time period set in England–Ripper Street. (I must say, though, I adore Matthew Macfadyen). In addition to everything else, neither one of these shows is offered by my cable company.

Removing Copper and BBC America’s response is a slap to the faces of Americans, particularly Irish Americans. Frankly, aside from Dr. Who, the BBC has nothing worth watching to offer Americans.

Asking for Copper’s Return

One of my friends told me she tried to post on the Copper Facebook page and her comment was deleted. I found that rather odd since she is not the confrontational type and I felt certain her comment would express nothing more than disappointment. I also tried, repeatedly, to post on the Copper Facebook page and the same thing happened–my comments were deleted. I suspect BBC America is trying to downplay the large number of disappointed viewers.

I am not alone in my feelings about Copper‘s cancellation. There are many people angered by BBC America’s abrupt cancellation of the show, as well as by the way they left so many open story lines. It seems clear to everyone that BBC America could care less about what its viewers wish to see on television and the focus has shifted to trying to convince another network to pick up the show.

There are letter writing campaigns weekly and tweet storms focused on bringing back Copper. If you’d like to learn more and become involved in the effort to bring back Copper there are two Facebook pages–check the Bring Back Copper page regarding a letter-writing campaign that starts tonight, October 17:

Bring Back Copper

Save Copper

You can also contact BBC America and voice your opinion.

There is a Save Copper video on You Tube.

There are also petitions requesting a third season of Copper:

Change.org BBC America to Renew Copper for a Third Season

Change.org BBC America Bring Back the Show Copper

Change.org BBC America Renew Copper TV for Season 3

 

Quantum Leap: Breaking all the Time Travel Rules

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Veteran actor Dean Stockwell plays Al Calavicci , a hologram, in Quantum Leap. Stockwell became famous as a child actor and is still busy with his career, currently working on a new series in his home state of New Mexico. 

The writers of Quantum Leap didn’t care if they broke the rules. Time travel? Change the past? Jump into the bodies of others? Sure! If the audience liked it and they could manage to create a semi-plausible explanation, they did it.

The audience loved it!

Quantum Leap aired on NBC from March 26, 1989 to May 5, 1993 with a stellar cast of Scott Bakula and the impressive veteran actor Dean Stockwell. Although the show was not anticipated to survive, it lasted five years. Quantum Leap was rated number 19 on TV Guide Magazine’s list of “Top Cult Shows Ever.” The shown and its actors also received numerous Golden Globe, Emmy and Edgar Awards.

Donald-bellisario-1993Quantum Leap’s creator Donald P. Bellisario. Photo by Leap Con 1993. Photo by Nancy J. Price.

The Plot

Quantum Leap was created by Donald P. Bellisario, who was inspired by the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan, and its 1978 remake Heaven Can Wait. In both films a man who dies “before his time” is allowed to return to earth in another person’s body, presumably to make the world a better place. In Quantum Leap, Dr. Sam Becket “leaps” into the bodies of other people and helps them correct situations using knowledge of the situation sent by the Quantum Leap Team to Al Calavicci’s hand-held gadget. The information helps Dr. Becket and the hologram keep track of whether or not Becket’s actions are actually making the situation better.

Quantum Leap is accurately titled. In this story, Dr. Sam Becket is a Quantum Physicist who becomes lost in time during a time travel experiment when he steps into the Quantum Leap accelerator. Suddenly, when he looks into a mirror he sees the faces of people whose bodies he has entered. Instead of focusing his efforts on returning to his original location, Becket dedicates his time to restore situations that went wrong for these people, turning pain and heartache into joyful situations. Dean Stockwell plays Al Calavicci, Becket’s hologram and only friend who guides Becket toward problem situations and assists Becket in his efforts to help others. Al can only be seen by Sam, children, animals, and the developmentally challenged. His trademark is his cigar, womanizing behavior, and the comment he makes at the end of the show, presumable before the next episode begins: “Oh boy!”

Time Travel Delimma

Time travel is literature is as old as Hindu mythology. Early time travel stories generally involved moving forward in time. Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” could be considered a time travel story as Rip falls asleep and wakes up 20 years in the future to meet his grown daughter.

One of the problems with writing science fiction is the readers are generally science fans and time travel stories can be controversial depending on how the travel aspects are handled. Although the possibility of forward time travel is generally accepted, traveling back in time is thought to be illogical due to the problems it would cause.

One common example is the possibility that a time traveler could travel to the past, fall in love with a stranger and become his own father, or the “Grandfather Paradox,” where a time traveler hypothetically travels back in time and accidentally kills his own grandfather before his father is conceived, which would make the time traveler disappear, therefore, how could the event take place? Physicist Stephen Hawking, in his lecture “Space and Time Warps,“ suggests that time travel is possible if spacetime is warped in the correct way.

The time travel dilemma in Quantum Leap is conveniently tackled with ignorance–Dr. Becket’s support crew, the Project Quantum Leap Team, has no control over where he will “leap” next or how the leaps work. He generally ends up in random places, but sometimes the episode’s story line places him in celebrity situations, like when he leaped into the body of Marilyn Monroe’s bodyguard, one of my favorite episodes.

Scott_BakulaScott Bakula was nominated for three Golden Globes and won once for his role in Quantum Leap. 

The Stars

I think the acting is one of the reasons this show was so popular. The show has two primary stars with various guest stars. Scott Bakula started his career in 1986 with Walt Disney, then made various appearances on shows such as Matlock and Designing Women, but I first saw him in the hysterically funny 1990 comedy Sibling Rivalry where he played the husband to Kirstie Alley, who cheats on her husband with his older brother who then dies of a heart attack in their hotel room bed.

Bakula’s performance in Sibling Rivalry impressed me, so when I heard he would star in Quantum Leap I was excited to see how he would do, and of course he did a great job. He was nominated for three Golden Globes for his performances and one once. Bakula was also nominated for Golden Globes for his performances in Star Trek Enterprise in 2001.

Dean_Stockwell_in_Gentleman's_Agreement_trailer

Dean Stockwell in a trailer screenshot from Gentleman’s Agreement, 1947.

Dean Stockwell, surprisingly, plays a secondary role in this series. This is surprising because he is a television and film star of some magnitude. His career began when he was nine years old and offered a contract with Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. He appeared in four films in 1945. He was born on March 5, 1936. Therefore, his acting career spans over 65 years, which is impressive. He made frequent appearances on shows such as The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Night Gallery during the television anthology era; and appeared on shows such as Wagon Train and Bonanza during the Westerns era of television; and also made frequent appearances on shows such as Columbo, Ellery Queen, and The Streets of San Francisco during the television mysteries era of the 1970s.

Stockwell made more films as a child actor and television appearances as an adult, but he’s had steady work since his childhood, which does not happen often to child actors, and his career is still going strong. He also appeared on Star Trek Enterprise and episodes of other recent television series, such as Battlestar Galactica. He is currently working on the film Persecuted. Filming of Persecuted began in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2013. Stockwell is also an artist, musician, golfer, and practices martial arts. According to SciFi.com, Stockwell is a golf maniac. “If you want to get on his good side, ask him about golf,” one of his coworkers is quoted as saying on the site, but considering his career record, I’d rather ask about his acting!

Resources:

  • Hawking, Stephen. “Space and Time Warps.” Stephen Hawking: The Official Website. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  • “The Pro: A Conversation with Dean Stockwell.” Quantum Leap: Cast & Crew. SciFi.com. Retrieved September 26, 2013.

Pushing Daisies, the Story of Ned the Pie Maker and Chuck the Living Dead

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Today we are discussing yet another of my all-time favorite supernatural television shows, Pushing Daisies, created by Bryan Fuller, the full-time writer for the Star Trek spin-off Voyager who also wrote all 22 episodes (with co-writers) and created yet another of my favorite supernatural television shows, Dead Like Me.

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Bryan Fuller. Photo by Kristen Dos Santos.

Bryan Fuller is one of my all-time favorite television writers and a remarkably talented man who deserves a post of his own, but we will continue with him later because today we are discussing P for Pushing Daisies!

The Basic Ingredients

Pushing Daisies is a fast-paced comedy-drama that aired on ABC from October 3, 2007 to June 13, 2009, though it is frequently shown in reruns. When discussing this show, emphasis should be placed on fast-paced. I suspect many viewers had trouble with the fast pace when the show first aired as the plot moves quickly, and the actors speak quickly. It is sometimes difficult to follow both the story line and the dialogue. In fact, I always watch Pushing Daisies with Closed Captioning on. Early episodes were the most difficult. However, as the story progressed the writers and actors seemed to find their pacing and the show was a hit, which sadly, we have learned, has little to do with whether or not a show will remain on television, but I’m not surprised by its popularity. It’s a wonderful fantasy/romance with a bit of gore thrown in on occassion for the horror fans.

Lee PaceLee Pace, star of Pushing Daisies at the ET Post-Emmys Party, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Sept. 21, 2008. Photo by watchwithkristen.

Pushing Daisies is the story of a boy, Ned (Lee Pace), and his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel), who live in a town called Couer d’ Couers, which most likely means “heart of hearts,” (although technically “heart of hearts” is spelled Coeur de Coeurs). This is also the adult story of Ned the Pie Maker and his relationship with Chuck, but I’m getting ahead of myself, which is easy to do as the stories run concurrently. Each episode begins by revealing crumbs of childhood history of one or more characters, generally Ned.

anna-friel-66Anna Friel, costar of Pushing Daisies.

When Ned is a boy of nine years, 27 weeks, six days and three minutes old (we know this because the beginning of each show describes  moments from Ned’s childhood narrated by Jim Dale, who also narrated the Harry Potter audio books that my daughter has listened to a dozen times), Ned discovers he has the ability to touch the dead and bring them back to life. He makes this discovery when his dog, Digby, is hit by a truck. Ned reaches down to touch him and Digby is alive again. Unbeknownst to Ned, when Digby came alive, a squirrel died. Ned still doesn’t realize there are rules, or restrictions attached to his special gift.

When Ned’s mother suddenly dies of an aneurysm while baking a pie for Ned, Ned uses his unique ability to bring her back to life. Mom jumps to her feet, removes a hot pie from the oven, turns, pie in hand, and looks out the window in time to see Chuck’s father fall dead across the street. It is a rather traumatic evening. Ned and his mother visit Chuck and her aunts to express their sorrow, then later that night Ned’s mother kisses him goodnight and falls dead once more. Now Ned is the one receiving comfort. 

This time, though, Ned is terribly uncomfortable in addition to feeling broken-hearted and alone because Ned has a secret. He made the connection and realized that when he revives one living being another one dies. His guilt is understandably overwhelming, but he chooses to remain silent, knowing he has caused the death of his best friend’s father. 

Ned realizes there are three rules to his gift. One, he can touch someone and bring them back to life. Two, if the once-dead being stays alive more than 60 seconds, another living being will die instead. Three, if Ned touches the once-dead revived being a second time, death strikes again…forever. Ned would seem to have the power of God, but gradually discovers he has very little power at all to help those he loves, particularly the one woman in the world he loves more than life itself–Chuck, his childhood friend.

Blend the Ingredients

The show skilfully blends the past and present of the characters with the use of narration by Jim Dale. Each episode begins in the past, moves into the present, introduces a mystery, and through solving the mystery also solves a mystery from the past of one of the characters.

In the shows pilot episode, private investigator Emerson Cod is chasing a criminal when he falls from a building, but instead of dying, the criminal lands on Ned the Pie Maker and comes back to life. Emerson Cod proposes a partnership of solving murder or missing person cases for pay–if the person who died was murdered, Ned can touch the person and keep the person alive for 60 seconds, then Ned and Emerson can ask the dead who committed the murder, or in most cases obtain enough clues to eventually track down the killer and collect a reward.

When Ned brings Chuck back to life, she moves into his apartment. She also offers to work in his restaurant, The Pie Hole. Chuck is understandably curious about Ned’s work and eventually figures out how Ned and Emerson collect clues. She wants to help. At first, Emerson is not pleased. During many episodes he refers to Chuck as the “Dead Girl.”

KristinChenowethKristen Chenoweth. Photo by Angela George.

Someone else is also not pleased–Ned’s only employee, Olive Snook, played by Kristen Chenoweth who is an amazing actress and I hope to see more of her on television as she has superior acting and singing talent. In fact, she often sings during the episodes. In one of the later episodes, “Comfort Food,” Chenoweth sings the ballad love song “Eternal Flame,” which was written by Susanna Hoffs and made famous by The Bangles in 1988. Chenoweth’s rendition gave me goosebumps. I really cannot say enough about this woman’s talent.

As Emerson, Ned, and Chuck work on solving their first mystery, and Olive tries to soothe her aching heart, Olive eventually works her way into the investigative circle via Emerson Cod who decides he likes the woman he refers to as “Itty Bitty.” We also learn more about the family lives of Ned and Chuck.

As you’ll recall, both of their parents died on the same day–Ned’s mother died, revived, lived long enough to watch Chuck’s father die, then died again when she kissed Ned goodnight. As Ned stood by the grave of his mother he was also watching Chuck, who stood by the grave of her father, and Ned’s heart was filled with guilt, knowing he was responsible for the death of Chuck’s father. Both children now believed that Chuck was an orphan.

Chuck was taken in by her two spinster aunts, Lily Charles (Swoosie Kurtz) and Vivian Charles (Ellen Greene). Lily and Vivian were once popular performers as synchronized swimming mermaids until Vivian was struck blind in one eye and was afraid to go back in the water. The two women gradually acquired a surprising number of personality disorders and remarkable obsession for cheese. It is gradually revealed that Lily is actually Chuck’s mother who was having an affair with Chuck’s father who was engaged to be married to Chuck’s aunt Vivian.

Chuck’s father is later revived and turns out to be a bit of a villain in his treatment of Ned, in spite of his devotion to his daughter. Surprisingly, the characters seem incapable of understanding that Ned’s murderous behavior as a child was purely accidental and continue to hold him responsible for the pain and suffering caused by his deadly touch, which I find rather depressing. I hoped that at some point, someone other than Chuck would acknowledge the fact that Ned was an innocent child with no knowledge of his deadly powers.

Ned and Chuck are not the only ones with secrets to be revealed. As discussed earlier, each show begins with the past, but sometimes they discuss the pasts of Olive Snook and Emerson Cod. Olive Snook actually plays a big role in this show. Numerous episodes focus on her painful dilemma, the fact that she knows the identity of Chuck’s mother and knows that Ned accidentally killed Chuck’s father, but cannot discuss these situations with anyone and eventually locks herself up in a convent to find peace. Emerson Cod’s secret is that he was once in love with a woman who became pregnant and disappeared with their baby daughter. Cod worked as a private investigator for years alongside his mother, but was unable to locate his daughter, so he writes pop-up books in the hopes that his daughter will see them, make the connection and find him instead. Cod finally reveals his painful secret to Ned and Chuck in Season 2, Episode 12, “Water and Power.”

Once Again, Consume the Goods While They’re Hot

Pushing Daisies received more than the usual phrase “critical claim” implies–the show was a raging hit! Pushing Daisies received 17 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and seven wins, including awards for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series to Barry Sonnenfeld and a well-deserved Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Kristen Chenoweth (Olive Snook).  Pushing Daisies, Lee Pace (Ned) and Anna Friel (Chuck Charles) were nominated for Saturn Awards, and the show was nominated for three Golden Globes, as well as numerous other awards.

So, why did it all end? As usual, the demise of this wonderful show had nothing to do with the actors or story. The show ended due to a writer’s strike in Hollywood. There were rumors of a revival, but at the time of this writing, future episodes of Pushing Daisies are still sitting in the pantry, uncooked.

So, What Makes This Show so Tasty?

Many things. There is the hint of magical realism; the unique settings of the crimes–a food show, a teen who runs away to join the circus, a haunted lighthouse, ghosts, Chuck’s father who is disguised in a way that reminds us of The Invisible Man, a cook-off (of course), a magic show, a Chinese Restaurant/gambling scam, and a nunnery with allusions to The Sound of Music and absolutely hysterically funny references to pop songs.

The show is about dead people. It is gruesome, but not horror. There is very little of the dark elements in this show that one might expect in a horror series. It is light, bright, colorful fun. I think my favorite part of this show is the way Ned looks at Chuck, with so much love and longing. He is dreamy. I wish they would revive the show. Four years have passed, but that’s not too long for a revival. I even read a rumor about a comic book. How could they possibly translate the stunning beauty of Anna Friel and Kristen Chenoweth into comic characters?

The Facts

The facts are these: I have never seen a television show that displays as much creativity and imagination and the realization that this show will never air again is more than heartbreaking. In my mind, it is television crime to offer such talent and perfection to viewers for ten short weeks then rob us of our pleasure. I feel as if someone broke into my home and stole my most prized possession–those few moments in my day when I can smile, laugh, and feel the thrill of  knowing there is still talent and originality in Hollywood. I am beyond disappointed, I am heartbroken.

Source:

  • Pushing Daisies. Creator Bryan Fuller. Perf. Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristen Chenoweth. Jinks/Cohen Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, Warner Bros. Television. Running Time: 43 min. 

Orphan Black, Starring Tatiana Maslany

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Welcome to Supernatural Television’s A to Z Bloggers Challenge! Oh yes, I am behind, and I probably will not catch up before they finish, but I will finish! Thank you for reading my posts. I appreciate your comments and I’ve enjoyed the conversation and comments.

Tonight we are watching Orphan Black, an intriguing sci fi show that premiered at Wondercon. (Wondercon is a yearly comic book, science fiction and motion picture convention held in California.) Orphan Black, developed at the Canadian Film Centre by Graeme Manson was produced by Temple Street Productions and distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide. The ten episode American premiere was on March 30, 2013, and I was watching. I think it’s great.

Tatiana_Maslany_(derivative_image)

Tatiana Maslany stars in Orphan Black. Image by Geo Swan.

The show stars Tatiana Maslany who I recognized immediately. She also played Kit on the Canadian television series Heartland, one of my favorite shows, and I was impressed by Maslany’s performance from her first appearance on that show. I was intrigued when I saw her name connected with Orphan Black, and even more intrigued when I continued to read the list of actors on this show–Maslany stars as Sarah Manning, Elizabeth Childs, Alison Hendrix, Katja Obinger, Cosima, and Helena.

Yes, you read the list correctly. Sarah Manning’s identity is the basis of the plot. Sarah Manning discovers she was cloned. Or perhaps Sarah is a clone. Like all great mysteries, the show begins with more questions than answers.

“Natural Selection”

The premiere episode is “Natural Selection.” From the moment she leaves the train certain clues fall into place. We know that Sarah hasn’t seen her daughter in a year because she stops to make a phone call at the train station and ask to speak to the child. Whoever she speaks to on the phone is crying and refuses access to the child and hangs up on Sarah. Sarah tries to find more coins, then gives up. She picks up her bags and starts to walk through the station then notices a well-dressed woman in front of her has dropped her purse and is removing her shoes. The woman turns to face her. She looks like Sarah’s twin.

The special effects here are fantastic–it is a truly eerie scene. The woman is crying–her makeup is smudged around her eyes. She is clearly distraught. The next train is coming toward the two women and Sarah–and the viewers–realize what the woman intends to do. Sarah rushes forward to stop the woman, but she throws herself onto the tracks in front of the train. Sarah, stunned, keeps walking toward her. The train conductor jumps off the train and stops Sarah, waving her back, then looks beneath the train at the woman’s body.  From the start this show has great tension and nonstop action.

A New Identity

Sarah takes the woman’s clothing, shoes and purse and heads for a local bar where she meets up with Felix (Jordan Gavaris) who spent time with her in a foster home.  Felix examines the identification of Elizabeth Childs and admits the resemblance is uncanny. Sarah mentions her daughter, Kira (Skylar Wexler), and Felix reminds her that she abandoned the child with Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and disappeared for ten months. There is no mention of where Sarah was for the ten months.

Sarah decides to take on Elizabeth’s identity. At Elizabeth’s apartment, she tries on her clothes and searches through her possessions to learn more about her, then she drives Elizabeth’s car to the bank to access her money. She makes arrangements to withdraw $75,000 from the woman’s savings account the next day then finds multiple identification cards in a safe deposit box.

When Sarah leaves the bank she is grabbed by a man who practically shoves her into a car, angry that she is running late for an appointment. The man is her partner, Art (Kevin Hanchard), calls her Beth, and eventually expresses his surprise that she hasn’t referred to him as “dip-shit.” Art drives her to the police station and Sarah makes another discovery, but this one is not as pleasant. Elizabeth is a police officer under suspension for shooting an unarmed person, Margaret Chen.

Before the hearing, she tries to excuse herself to go to the restroom and nearly gives herself away because she walks off in the wrong direction. Her supervisor points her in the right direction and she waits for an officer in the restroom to leave, then drinks soap, which she vomits all over the table before the hearing can begin.

Jordan

Jordan Gavaris plays Felix in Orphan Black 

In the mean time, Felix is at the morgue identifying the body of Elizabeth Childs as Sarah. He does this for two reasons. First, he is trying to convince Sarah’s obnoxious boyfriend, Vic (Michael Mando), that she is dead. He is also trying to help Sarah become Elizabeth Childs. Felix takes Vic to the morgue to prove to him that Sarah has committed suicide and Vic is distraught. Felix convinces Vic that his obnoxious, abusive ways caused Sarah to kill herself. Jordan Garvaris is outstanding in his role as Felix, very impressive.

Pieces of a Life

Felix and Sarah meet, trying to piece together the life of Elizabeth Childs. Felix notices the birth dates on the identification papers found in the safe deposit box are all within a month of each other. Sarah doesn’t see a connection. She is still trying to find a way to see her child and Felix reminds her that she disappeared for ten months. Sarah insists she’s trying to fix it, and Felix comes back with a great line. “Talk to the angels, Sarah,” he says. “You’re already dead.” He has made a great point–how can she see Kira when she has now become Elizabeth Childs?

The irony is fantastic. She has found a woman who resembles her physically in every way, but whose life is completely opposite of her own. She takes on the woman’s identity, and her own life becomes fragmented. In a way, she has become two people, living the life of two people. It is impossible for her to stop being Sarah completely because she still has a child and her foster brother, Felix. On the other hand, she’s already gone too far in taking on the identity of Elizabeth Childs. She is living the life of two women, one who is dead, and one who everyone believes is dead. This has all happened with 24 hours, so quickly that Sarah hasn’t even had time to rest, think, plan. She is also receiving non-stop calls from an anonymous number on Elizabeth’s cellphone.

As if matters couldn’t get worse, Child’s boyfriend, Paul (Dylan Bruce) who was out of town, comes home early to show her support during the hearing. He is surprised to see her at home and asks too many questions about the hearing, so she finally silences him by having sex with him on the kitchen counter–there is a lot of graphic sex, violence, and drug use in this show.

A Funeral

Vic decides Sarah needs a funeral and visits Felix to make arrangements. He needs closure. Felix likes the idea of a wake and promises to make arrangements. Sarah/Beth asks to borrow Paul’s car because she can’t find her keys and he looks confused, reaches into a box and hands them to her. Elizabeth drove a very nice car. However, as Sarah gets into the car we see Al watching her from across the street–either Al is not on the level or he does not trust Sarah/Beth.

Sarah returns to the bank to pick up the $75,000 in cash. She stops by Felix’s apartment and finds notices for the wake. While she’s  inside, Al breaks into the trunk of her car and finds the money.

Sarah shows up at the wake, watching from a distance. Felix is speaking to her on the phone, which is a bit unbelievable. He was her foster brother and the other members of the mourning party would certainly have noticed him chatting, smiling and laughing on the phone. Sarah reveals that her plan is to start over with Kira, Felix and the money.

A Clue

Vic finally asks Felix to shut up. Felix tells Sarah he has to get off the phone and suddenly Sarah notices Mrs. S driving up to the wake with her daughter, Kira. She is stunned. She walks back to her car, crying, trying to figure out what to do when another woman climbs into her back seat asking “Beth” why she hasn’t responded to her calls. She had red hair and speaks with an accent. She introduces herself as Katya and tells Sarah she brought the samples, the suitcase for Beth’s friend. She continues to introduce herself. Sarah says, “Yes, I get it, you’re German, I’ve seen your birth certificate.”

The woman is coughing up blood. She begs to see Beth’s “scientist friend.” Sarah tells the woman she cannot help her and gets back into her car. The woman opens the back door and climbs into the car behind her. Sarah tells her to leave. Katya tells Sarah that Beth’s partner, Al, is following her. Sarah tells her again to leave and she says, “Just one. I’m a few. No family, too. Who am I?” Sarah is stunned and is staring at Katya when someone shoots Katya in the forehead through the front windshield. Sarah ducks down and tries to drive with her head down. Elizabeth’s phone is ringing. She answers the phone, and the episode closes.

The Future of the Orphans

In the next episode, “Instinct,” Sarah of course will be forced to continue the charade, pretending to be Elizabeth Childs, but now she is also trying to stay alive as it is obvious someone is trying to kill her and the other women whose identities were in the safe deposit box as it becomes increasingly clear that one or all of the remaining women are clones. Obviously, eventually, Sarah will question whether or not she is real.

I believe this show will do well. I am impressed by the acting, writing, and plot, though the graphic sex is a bit much for me at times. I am interested to see if it will be picked up for another season.

Source:

  • “Natural Selection.” Orphan Black. Writer: Graeme Manson. Dir. John Fawcett. Perf. Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard. BBC America. Running Time: 60 min.

Night Gallery: “The Sins of the Fathers”

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Welcome to Supernatural Television and the A to Z Bloggers Challenge. I’m glad you’re here–thank you for reading! If you enjoy the post, please leave a comment. I love talking TV!

Tonight we are watching one of the scariest shows I watched as a teenager, and it starred John Boy Walton! It’s true. On February 23, 1972, Richard Thomas starred in a terrifying episode of the Night Gallery: “The Sins of the Fathers,” a show that gave me nightmares for weeks. I was only ten years old the night it aired, and most likely slipped out of bed, crept up the stairs and lay on my belly on the kitchen floor to watch the show (believe it or not, my parents did monitor my television viewing, but I was very sneaky!)

Richard_Thomas_John-Boy_Walton_1973 Richard Thomas who starred in The Waltons, also starred in Night Gallery: “The Sins of the Fathers.” Night Gallery is a supernatural classic anthology that ran on NBC from 1970 to 1973. The show was hosted by Rod Serling and many of the scripts were by Serling, as well, but it lacks the class of his earlier works. Even as a child watching this show I could tell it was often a bit on the ridiculous side.

SerlingZeroHourRod Serling, Creator of Night Gallery

The show opens with Serling walking through an art gallery at night. The works of art are all spooky and macabre. Sometimes the art has a comic book quality, which may have added to the negative criticism of the show. Generally the paintings hint at the plot of the segment, but a few of the paintings actually appeared in the episode.

Serling introduces the show as he walks through the gallery. He does not appear on the scene as in The Twilight Zone. He wrote some of the scripts, but was not allowed control of the content or tone that he was on The Twilight Zone and by the time they show ended its run he was so tired of the criticism of the show that he tried to disassociate himself from it completely.

Series Introduction

The series’ pilot aired on November 8, 1969, and was the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg, as well as the last performance of Joan Crawford. Night Gallery was originally intended to be part of a rotating anthology, or what was called a “wheel series,” rotating with McCloud; San Francisco International Airport (SFX); and The Psychiatrist. Night Gallery did have some outstanding writers, though. In addition to Rod Serling there were episodes by Robert Bloch and Jack Laird and numerous episodes were based on stories by H.P. Lovecraft, who should be considered one of the greatest American horror and science fiction writers. 

“The Sins of the Fathers” is one of the few “Night Gallery”shows I enjoyed watching, even though it’s rather short and was shown in tandem with another short episode. Although Rod Serling is often credited with writing this show, according to the credits (I am watching the show now) the show was actually scripted by Halsted Welles and is based on a story by Christianna Brand, who also wrote the Nanny McPhee book series.

“The Sins of the Fathers”

“The Sins of the Fathers” first aired on February 23, 1972. The story takes place in Wales during the 19th century. There is a famine and the people are starving. However, there is also a common religious practice in this community of eating the food placed around the body of the deceased so the Sin Eater takes on the sins of the person who died, and the deceased can move on to Heaven free of the shackles of his crimes. It is a terrible thought, taking on the sins of others, but starvation is a terrible, painful experience and when a person is starving there is little he or she won’t do for food.

At the beginning of the show we see the wealthy Mrs Craighill (Barbara Steele) arguing with her servant (Michael Dunn) who just returned home after spending three days on horseback searching for someone to eat the food lying on a table beside the deceased Mr. Craighill’s body. The food must be eaten in a sin-eater’s rite in order for Mr. Craighill to be free of his sins and go to Heaven.

Sin-Eating

The practice is considered a form of religious magic performed in Wales, England, and Scotland until the late 19th century. It is also believed that sin-eating was performed in the Appalachian Mountain villages in the United States. The process generally involved finding someone who was starving, a beggar or poor person, but some towns, such as the one in this story, had a village sin-eater who followed a family tradition of taking on the sins of the town so the deceased villagers could rest in peace.

During the ritual, the sin-eater is brought to the bedside of the dying or deceased relative and a crust of bread is placed on the body while a bowl of ale is passed to the sin-eater across the corpse. The sin-eater recites a prayer, drinks the ale, eats the bread, and removes the sin. In wealthier families a variety of foods are placed the body or on a nearby table for the sin-eater, perhaps assuming the more food that is eaten, the greater chance that all sin will be forgiven.

Mrs. Craighill’s Dilemma 

In “The Sins of the Fathers,” Mr. Craighill dies during a time of famine and disease and there are few sin-eaters or even beggars left who are able to consume the food and take his sins upon them. Her servant (Dunn) finally arrives at the farm of sin-eater Dylan Evans, only to find that Evans is also dying.

The servant (who I recognized immediately as the co-star of the Bonanza episode “It’s a Small World” and many other films and television series appearances) describes the feast laid out beside the body in great detail to Mrs. Dylan, played by Geraldine Page (1924-1987), (who was nominated for eight Best Actress Academy Awards during her career and awarded one, and who I also believe is the reason this episode is so eerie. Page is often seen in classic supernatural anthologies.) Mrs. Dylan, who is also starving, is tempted by the feast, but tradition holds that the sin-eater’s task must be handed down to the eldest son. We soon learn, however, that it is not the food that is tempting Mrs. Dylan.

Geraldine-pageGeraldine Page (1924-1987)

Mrs. Dylan has a son, Ian, played by Richard Thomas, who became famous playing John Boy in the popular television series The Waltons. Ian appears to be mentally slow, but he also appears to comprehend the consequences of what he is asked to do. However, his mother (Page) makes an odd request. She specifically instructs Ian to insist that all mourners at the Craighill home leave the room, then he is to hide all of the food in his cloak and bring it back home without eating so much as a crumb in the presence of the corpse. Of course, as a viewer, we assume she is doing this to protect her son from taking on the sins of Mr. Craighill.

Ian is so weak from starvation he can barely stand, but he rides through a misty forest (the atmosphere in this episode is perfect) to the Craighill home on the servant’s horse. Mrs. Craighill suspects Ian is too young to perform the ritual, and in fact he does seem to know the words, so the mourners believe him. They do object when he insists that they leave the room, but he refuses to eat unless they allow him to perform the ritual alone, and Mrs. Craighill, desperate to have her husband’s sins removed, finally obliges.

Ian begins to recite a prayer while he is stuffing the food in his cloak and gagging at the sight of the body of Mr. Craighill. He pauses on occasion to shriek as if he is absorbing the sins of Mr. Craighill. He runs from the house as if he is terrified of the sins he has seen and Mrs. Craighill throws three gold coins after him.

The Feast is Prepared

When Ian arrives homes his mother removes his cloak. Ian is drooling over the food, but she does not offer it to him. Instead, she takes the food into the next room. Ian is confused, but she continues to remove the food and carry it into the next room. Mrs. Dylan finally tells her son that the feast is prepared. Ian walks into the room and finds the food spread out around the corpse of his father.

Ian is terrified. He does understand. He knows that if he eats this food he will take on the sins of his father, and his father’s father. He understands very well, but he is starving. He tries to resist, but his mother–and it is here that Geraldine Page truly shines as an actress–pleads with her son, begging him to consider that unless he eats the food, his father will spend eternity with the sins of the village on his soul. She reassures him that some day he, too, will have a son to eat his own sins, but Ian knows this is doubtful as he is mentally slow and already nearing adulthood.

Ian finally realizes that he is doomed to the life of a sin-eater. He begins to eat the food, shrieking and sobbing as he recites the prayer. Ian’s mother stands proudly in the background, pleased that her beloved husband will pass into the next world with a clean soul, clearly unconcerned by the suffering she has inflicted upon her child. It is a chilling, terrifying scene and I believe it is the best horror scene in the Night Gallery series. Have you seen this episode? If so, tell me what you think. I’d love to hear from you! –Darla Sue

Source:

  • “The Sins of the Fathers.” Night Gallery. Screenwriter: Halsted Welles; story by Christianna Brand. Dir: Jeannot Szwarc. Perf. Richard Thomas, Geraldine Page, Barbara Steele, Michael Dunn. First aired February 23, 1972.  

The Munsters: Typical American Monster Family

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 Welcome back to the A to Z Bloggers Challenge. Thank you for reading–I appreciate having you here! Today we will discuss another monstrously popular 1960s family sitcom, The Munsters! The Munsters were one of many family monster shows aired in the sixties, but according to Butch Patrick’s Munsters.com, unlike other shows, the idea for The Munsters was first suggested to Universal Studios in the 1940s by Bob Clampett who envisioned the show as a series of cartoons. Americans were still obsessed with Westerns in the 1940s, though, and the show was rejected, but a similar project was suggested by the creators of the popular Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons–Allan Burns and Chris Hayward–in the 1960s when supernatural and science fiction shows were replacing the happy homemaker shows of the 1950s.

Universal executives continued to argue over whether or not the show should be a cartoon or live-action. The pilot was finally filmed by MCA Television in Live-Action for CBS, and the show was a hit.  The Munsters, filmed in black and white, was on the air for two years, from September 24, 1964 to May 12, 1966, but we all know that shows are not necessarily cancelled based on a lack of popularity. The Munsters are popular to this day. They still have many fans and a few websites dedicated completely to the show. So today, M is for The Munsters!

 The_Munsters_Cast_1964

The cast of The Munsters in a publicity photo taken in October of 1964. The photo shows Butch Patrick as Eddie Munster seated to the left; Fred Gwynne, who played Herman Munster seated on the chair; Beverly Owen, who played the family’s only “normal” member, oldest daughter Marilyn (she was later replaced by Pat Priest); and standing, Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster; and Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster. 

The Munsters was created as a satire, mocking the Leave it to Beaver-type family shows of the 1950s and the 1960s monster obsession in shows such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. The appeal of The Munsters, however, was quite similar to the appeal of another monster family show that ran at the same time: The Addams Family. Audiences loved The Munsters because this family of monsters view themselves as perfectly normal and the rest of the world as strange!

Meet the Munsters

There are five primary characters in the Munster family: Herman, the Frankenstein-look-alike, hardworking head of the household who clomps about their dark and creepy mansion in big black boots. Herman’s lovely, graceful wife, Lily, with her trademark streak of white highlighting her thick, black hair is the actual head of the household making all important family decisions. Lily’s character is strong, logical, and level-headed, while Herman tends to panic in stressful situations. She is also supposed to be a vampire.

MunstersFred Gwynne and Yvonne De Carlo as Herman and Lily Munster.  Trailer screenshot, 1964.

Herman and Lily have two children. Their oldest daughter, Marilyn, is sweet, compassionate, and as normal as normal can be under the circumstances. She is also the source of quite a few family conflict plots as her beauty tends to attract many young men who her Munster parents disapprove of, mainly because they are too normal, and her father is a bit overprotective of his only, and exceptionally lovely, daughter. Eddie is the youngest member of the family, a bit precocious for his age, who, like his father, tends to get into trouble because he spends too much time with his grandfather, who also lives with the family and creates quite a bit of havoc with his many grand ideas. Grandpa is also a vampire and Eddie is a werewolf.

The_Munsters_Butch_Patrick_1965Butch Patrick as Eddie Munster, the precocious baby of the family who hangs out with his grandpa. 

The episode plots for The Munsters generally involve the troubles that arise when Grandpa comes up with a new invention in his dungeon, or a money-making scheme (remember, this is a typical, middle-class, hardworking family), or some other great idea and he creeps about the house in his black cape trying to convince Eddie to assist, or Herman to go along with the idea. It was rather clever of the producers to cast Fred Gwynne as Herman and Al Lewis as Grandpa since the two had recently appeared together in the Emmy award-winning Car 54 Where Are You?, which ran from 1961 to 1963.

The Munster Mansion

Although the premise behind The Munsters was to have a bunch of monsters living like a typical middle-class family, the Munsters actually lived in a multi-level Victorian mansion with an address that became semi-famous with Munster fan clubs: 1313 Mockingbird Lane in Mockingbird Heights, California. The show was actually filmed at the Universal Studios, but the house used in the show was an actual house built in 1946 for the film So Goes My Love, according to an article on Wikipedia, which also states that the house can be seen as a backdrop in other shows filmed at Universal Studios, such as Leave it to Beaver.

MunsterMansion_Universal-Studios_CA

The Munster Mansion at Universal Studios.

Now for some bedtime trivia: There were rumors when I was a teenager that The Munsters was the first show that implied a married couple shared the same bed–yes youngsters it’s true, 1950s sitcoms showed couples in separate beds. I also believed the first couple shown in the same bed was Dick and Laura on the Dick Van Dyke Show, but apparently there was a series called Mary Kay and Johnny in 1947 that showed a married couple’s bed as a single bed. The first actors who were not actually married to each other in real life, but had one bed in their show, was Samantha and Darrin Stephens of Bewitched, which was discussed earlier on this blog.

The Munster Koach

Another misconception on my part–I always thought the Munsters only had one vehicle. A man named George Barris created two automobiles for The Munsters. The first one, The Munster Koach, was actually a, 18 foot long hot rod that was built out of a 1926 Ford Model T chassis with a hearse body. The vehicle cost $20,000 to build–a lot of money back then.

munsterkoachHerman Munster and the Munster Koach.

However, there was a second family vehicle. Barris also built a car called the DRAG-U-LA (clever!), which was a dragster made out of a real coffin. Grandpa used the DRAG-U-LA in a race to win back the Munster Koach when Herman lost it in another race in the episode “Hot Rod Herman,” which aired on May 27, 1965. (See what I mean? Always scheming!)

Mockingbird Lane

Mockingbird Lane, a semi-remake of The Munsters aired on October 26, 2012. The show was written and developed by Bryan Fuller who also created two of my favorite supernatural television serials, Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies. The show was created with the hopes of convincing NBC to pick it up as a regular series. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and only one episode was filmed.

Sources:

  • Decaro, Frank. “A Neighborhood Where Every day was Halloween.” Television. The New York Times. Published November 19. 2008. Accessed April 10, 2013. 
  • Javna, John. Cult TV. St. Martin’s Press. New York: 1985.
  • Patrick, Butch. “About The Munsters.” Butch Patrick Presents The Munsters.com.
  • The Munsters. Creators: Allan Burns, Chris Hayward. Perf. Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis, Yvonne De Carlo, Butch Patrick, Pat Priest, Beverly Owen. Columbia Broadcasting Systems and Kayro-Vue Productions. Running Time: 30 min.

Lost in Space: Classic Family Science Fiction

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Welcome to day twelve of the A to Z Bloggers Challenge! I hope you’re having fun! Today we’ll take a look at one of my favorite childhood television shows, which also happens to fit perfectly in the supernatural classic television serial category: Lost in Space! Lost in Space first aired on CBS on September 15, 1965. The last show was on September 11, 1968. The show never ranked in the Top 25. (I’m beginning to see a trend here. All of my favorite childhood shows, shows with fan clubs and followings, and pictures on lunch boxes never hit the Top 25! I think this may be because adults voted on the Top 25, or (gasp) the sponsors!)

Lost in Space, like so many of the early supernatural shows, was far from high-tech when it came to the show’s sets. In fact, they were often rather silly looking, but that’s okay because we didn’t watch the show for the set, we watched it for the plot, and this show had a great plot! Imagine your family traveling in a spaceship and becoming lost in space! Cool!

Lost_in_Space_program_premiere_1965

This photo is from the pilot show for Lost in Space. The photo shows the Robinson family and the geologist who traveled with them being placed in suspended animation before beginning their space flight. Shown from left to right are: Angela Cartwright, Billy Mumy, Marta Kristen, June Lockhart, Guy Williams, and Mark Goddard.

The great Irwin Allen was the creator and Producer of Lost in Space. Allen is most famous for The Towering Inferno (1974) and the original The Poseidon Adventure, which was made in 1972 and earned him the title Master of Disaster. Allen won an Oscar for his equally famous documentary The Sea Around Us. In the early days of his career, though, Allen created numerous science fiction shows, including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space. Lost in Space is considered by many to be his best science fiction work, mainly because they thought it was so funny! I just thought it was fun.

Lost_in_Space_Jonathan_Harris_&_Robot_1967

 The robot and the villain, Dr. Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris. Dr. Smith was written into the show at the last minute and not expected to stay on the show more than a few weeks, but the overwhelming amount of fan mail in his defense kept him on the show. This is a publicity photo used by Jonathan Harris to promote his role. 

However, here’s an interesting bit of trivia: Irwin Allen, the creator, believed he was making a serious show, but everyone else was under the impression it was supposed to be funny! According to John Javna’s Cult TV, the original plot consisted of the family and the geologist, but the story editor, Tony Wilson, suggested adding a robot and a villain, which created a comedic element. Allen Irwin and the show’s director, Don Richardson, met with the network executives to watch the pilot. While they were watching the film, the network executives suddenly started laughing hysterically. Irwin, who lacked a sense of humor, was furious and ready to stomp out of the room. Richardson claims he kicked Irwin under the table and whispered, “They’re buying it!” And he was correct, CBS bought the show.

The First Family to Journey Into Space

Well, first you need a spaceship. The original spaceship was called Gemini 12 in the pilot, but the pilot episode never aired because it was missing the villain and the robot. The spaceship was renamed for the first episode.

lost in spaceshipThe Jupiter 2 saucer-shaped space ship, which of course was created to resemble a classic UFO!

It is October 16, 1997 (this was approximately 30 years from the start of the show). The United States is about to make history as they prepare to launch the Jupiter 2, a saucer-shaped ship, into space with a carefully-chosen family on board who will begin a five 1/2 year journey to Alpha Centauri, a nearby star possessing the perfect conditions to sustain human life. There were two million volunteers for this mission, but the Robinson family was selected for the project, so you can assume they all have superior intelligence.

Lost_in_Space_Williams_Lockhart_1965

Guy Williams and June Lockhart play Professor John Robinson and his wife, Maureen, in Lost in Space.

The Robinson family is headed by Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams), an astrophysicist and the father of the Robinson clan. Williams was a male model before the show, but his career took off when he was cast as Zorro in the 1957 Disney television series. His wife, Maureen, a biochemist, is played by June Lockhart, who starred in Lassie, Petticoat Junction, and many other popular television shows and films.

Lost_in_Space_Billy_Mumy_Angela_Cartwright_1965

Billy Mumy and Angela Cartwright who play Will and Penny Robinson in Lost in Space.  

The couple has three children: Judy (Mart Kristen); Penny (who, along with her sister, is one of my favorite childhood actresses, Angela Cartwright); and Will, an electronics whiz kid who is played by Billy Mumy, the young actor who appeared in one of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone, “It’s a Good Life,” a truly freaky show about a boy who terrifies everyone around him because he has the ability to make them disappear. By the time he was 11, Billy Mumy appeared in over 100 TV shows. He was definitely an asset to the show.

Marta_Kristen_Jonathan_Harris_Lost_in_Space_1966Marta Kristen plays the oldest Robinson child, Judy. She is shown here with Dr. Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris, in a trailer screenshot taken in 1966. 

The military pilot of the Jupiter 2 is U.S. Space Corps Major Donald West (Mark Goddard). Although the ship is designed to fly itself, West is trained to take over in case any of the systems fail.  He is Dr. Smith’s foil, dedicated to protecting the family and eventually bringing them safely home. He has no patience for the evil Dr. Smith.

A bit more trivia: Actor Mark Goddard originally agreed to play Major Donald West in the pilot for Lost in Space, but he did not agree to do the show. He was uncomfortable acting in science fiction, but when the show sold, he was stuck. He later became a regular on the soap opera General Hospital.

Wally_Cox_Lost_in_Space_1966

 Actor Wally Cox and Robot. Cox plays an alien who believes his planet is being invaded in an episode of Lost in Space. 

Contrary to popular belief, the robot is not named Robby. Robby was the robot in Forbidden Planet, and the two resemble each other, but the robot on Lost in Space has no name. He is a Class M-3 Model B9 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot with superhuman strength and built-in weaponry. He has human emotions–he laughs, becomes sad, is occasionally sarcastic, and can sing and play the guitar. He is played by Bob May in a costumed designed and created by Bob Stewart.

So, how Does a Family Become Lost in Space?

So, did the system fail? How did the family become lost in space? That’s where the villain comes into the story! There are (of course) other countries trying desperately to sabotage the project. Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), who is a medical doctor and environmental control expert, is also a spy! That’s right folks, he is a secret agent! (I loved secret agent movies as much as I loved science fiction as a kid. Remember I Spy? Mission Impossible? The Man from U.N.C.L.E.? I thought the addition of a spy to the cast was perfect! But I digress–back to the story).

Lost_in_Space_Jonathan_Harris_1966

 Jonathan Harris as Dr. Zachary Smith, the villain on Lost in Space.

The ship goes off course for two reasons. First, Dr. Smith reprograms the Jupiter 2 so it’s critical systems will be destroyed eight hours after the ship is launched. Second, Dr. Smith is accidentally trapped on board (No one said he was a good spy!) and his additional weight, in addition to the weight of his robot, an extra 200 pounds, throws the sensitive timing of the ship off course just enough to send it into a meteor storm. Finally, the robot goes on a rampage and the Robinson family is now hopelessly lost in space.

“Danger, Danger Will Robinson!”

I had to find a way to fit that quote into the post. It’s one of my favorites. I still use it. In fact, I used it often when teaching my five children how to drive, and when I used that line my children would look at me as if to say, “What on earth is she talking about?” but adults my age know (especially if they are teaching their children how to drive!) This is the phrase the robot uses when talking to young Will, warning him that Dr. Smith is creating even more chaos to place Will and his family in danger. He would also say “That does not compute,” a phrase my siblings and I often used on my poor mother.

robot and Will

 Robot and Will. The Robot often warns Will that he is in danger from Dr. Smith by shouting “Danger, danger, Will Robinson!” One of my all-time favorite lines from a television show.

Dr. Smith’s role in this show is to place the Robinsons in danger. In fact, that’s pretty much all he does, which would seem to be rather boring for a man of his superior intelligence, but remember, he is a villain, and he enjoys what he does! In the later shows Dr. Smith’s villainous is less, um, villainy, but in the beginning he is one of the most dangerous men the Robinson family has ever encountered.

An Uncharacteristic act of Compassion

There is one moment in the show’s run where Dr. Smith displays a surprising amount of compassion. In the episode “The Time Merchant,” which aired on January 17, 1968, the last year of the show’s run, Dr. Smith finds a way to travel back in time to the day the ship is first launched, hoping to change his personal history by escaping from the ship before blast off.

Lost_in_Space_Jonathan_Harris_1967

The evil Dr. Zachary Smith played by Jonathan Harris, spends pretty much all of his time devising ways to place the Robinson family in peril, but his devious plans are always thwarted. In one episode, however, “The Time Merchant,” Smith actually stops himself from harming the Robinson family. 

When Smith calculates the results of what will happen without his weight on board, he discovers that without him, the family will die when the ship collides with an uncharted asteroid and explodes. By this time in the show, Smith has become somewhat emotionally attached to the family, particularly young Will. Smith decides to reboard the ship and relive the experience exactly as he did the first time in order to save the lives of the Robinson family. It is a brilliant episode, in my opinion. It shows tremendous strength of character for Dr. Smith to make this decision as he is generally revealed to be a coward.

All Good Things Must Come to an end…

Lost in Space was nominated for an Emmy in 1966 for Cinematography and Special Photographic Effects. It was nominated again in 1968 for Achievement in Visual Arts & Makeup. Perhaps even more importantly, John F. Kennedy, Jr., declared it was his favorite childhood show!

lost in spaceThe cast of Lost in Space were preparing to shoot the fourth season when they were told the show was cancelled with explanation. 

 The cast was preparing to shoot the episodes for the 1968/1969 season when they were told the show was cancelled, and they were never told why it was cancelled. Wikipedia has an article online that speculates on some possible reasons, such as a high budget–the salaries of some of the actors were nearly doubled as the show increased in popularity. The show was also owned by 20th Century Fox, a company that suffered tremendous financial losses from the production cost ($44 million) of Cleopatra and the record-breaking salary ($1 million) of its star, Elizabeth Taylor. The show was also beginning to decline in ratings, which is surprising considering the extreme disappointment of its fans when it was cancelled.

lost-in-space-11

Trailer screenshot from the 1998 film Lost in Space

In 1998, Lost in Space was revived as a blockbuster film with a remarkable cast including Gary Oldman; William Hurt, Mimi Rogers; and Heather Graham. Some of the original cast members were also in the film, such as June Lockhart; Mark Goddard; Angela Cartwright, and Marta Kristen. Although the Internet Movie Database rated the film with a 4.9, I thought it was fantastic and was thrilled to see the show revived, even if it was for a one-time film.

Sources: 

  • Javna, John. Cult TV. St. Martin’s Press. New York: 1985.
  • Lost in Space. Creator Irwin Allen. Perf. Mark Goddard, Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Jonathan Harris, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright. 20th Century Television. Running Time: 60 min.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker

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Welcome to day eleven of the A to Z Bloggers Challenge! Thank you for reading! Today we’ll take a look at the 1970s short-run, but oh so fun news reporter, Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) who somehow managed to find every strange creature and event in Chicago for the Independent News Service in the supernatural television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

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Darren McGavin as Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Carl Kolchak investigates mysterious crimes. He is particularly drawn to crimes that have unlikely causes and appears to the local law enforcement to be a bit ridiculous because he insists on pursuing crimes that they believe are solved. Kolchak, however, is a careful investigator and always finds some piece of evidence pointing to the possibility that there is a supernatural cause for the event.

Kolchak’s character as a reporter is a bit cliched. He drives a sharp-looking yellow Mustang and is always dressed in the same wrinkled suit that looks like he sleeps in it. He wears a reporter’s hat and sometimes has a racing ticket or note in the band. He has a knack for getting the “exclusive” on a story as he is always shown with both his camera and cassette tape recorder, but he often has to try quite a few times throughout the show to catch the evidence he needs because he is so often shocked into dropping his camera or running for his life.

Darrin

Kolchak always solves the crime by exposing some supernatural cause of the crime,but his evidence mysteriously disappears. 

Once he manages to obtain the required evidence it inevitably disappears, along with some local official who is also involved in the story. Thus, the story remains unsolved and only Kolchak and the government know the truth–that the crime was committed by an alien, a zombie, a werewolf, or witch. Kolchak also encounters mummies; Satan; ghosts; the Headless Horseman; Jack the Ripper; a prehistoric man; Helen of Troy; and others that I can’t remember now, but they were certainly scary in 1974!

Quirky Characters

In addition to strange creatures, Kolchak was also forced to deal with some quirky characters on the show, both allies and enemies, or those who aren’t so helpful. In the not-so-helpful category we find Kolchak’s editor, Tony Vincenzo (Simon Oakland) resembles the cliched angry police lieutenant who is constantly arguing with Kolchak about his questionable investigative techniques. These arguments end with Vincenzo ranting about his blood pressure or stomach problems. Kolchak must also cope with the insults and harassment of Captain Mad Dog Siska (Keenan Wynn), the local police officer whose temper and lack of patience rivals that of Vincenzo. And of course, Kolchak has a competing reporter at INS who is his foil, his complete opposite. Ron Updyke (Jack Grinnage) does not wear the same suit every show. He is a sharp dresser who plays the French horn.

Keenan_Wynn_in_Annie_Get_Your_Gun_trailer

Keenan Wynn in a trailer screenshot from Annie Get Your Gun. Wynn plays Captain Mad Dog Siska in Kolchak: The Night Stalker, an irritable police captain who finds Carl Kolchak annoying. 

In the helpful category of characters we find another INS employee is Emily Cowles (Ruth McDevitt) who write the column “Miss Emily.” Emily is Kolchak’s ally. She believes in him, which doesn’t do much for his career as her job is to write puzzles and offer advice to the elderly, but they do have a strong relationship. Monique Mamelstein (Carol Ann Susi), an INS intern who got the job through her Uncle. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, but everyone believes the only reason she’s with the INS is her uncle. There is also Gordy “The Ghoul” Spangler (John Fiedler) who works at the morgue and assists Kolchak in finding some of the morbid pieces of evidence.

How the Show Began

Contrary to what one might think, Kolchak: The Night Stalker was not cancelled due to low ratings, but the usual nasty television politics. Kolchak was originally a character in a novel that remained unpublished until after the show was released.

Kolchak’s character influenced two made for TV films that were combined to create the television show: The Night Stalker, which aired in 1972 and also starred McGavin as a Las Vegas reporter tracking a vampire; and The Night Strangler, 1973, which again stars McGavin as a reporter stalking a chemist who kills women for their blood.

An Unhappy Star Brings a Quick end to Kolchak

Kolchak: The Night Stalker was cancelled after only one year. The series aired at 10 p.m. on Friday nights, which was bad timing for older teenagers interested in horror, but perfect for kids like me who would sneak out of bed after our parents were sleeping and watch late night TV. Darren McGavin was unhappy with the show, though. He was given a tremendous responsibility for the show including work as the show’s producer, work that he was not paid for and finally refused to continue, which brought the show to an end. Frankly, I think the politics in Hollywood are ridiculous. This show could have continued for years and built a huge fan following if they had aired it at a decent hour and given McGavin the support–and financial compensation–he required.

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Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak

However, this was not the end for Kolchak! Kolchak is occasionally seen on reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel and sometimes appears on the Chiller channel, as well. In 2005 the show was revived for a short time. It also spawned fiction books and a comic book. The show has numerous fan pages and fans frequently credit Kolchak: The Night Stalker with influencing the creator of The X-Files, Chris Carter. According to the Screen Spy blog, Walt Disney Productions plans to revive the character of Kolchak starring Johnny Depp, which would be so cool!

Source:

  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Creator: Jeffrey Grant Rice. Perf. Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage. Universal TV Productions. Running Time: 51 min.

“Judgement Night”: The Twilight Zone

J

Welcome to day ten of the A to Z Bloggers Challenge! Thank you for returning to my blog, and thank you for reading! Tonight we will discuss one of my many favorite episodes of the supernatural anthology The Twilight Zone. It is a dark story, intense, fearful.

The Twilight Zone was so popular it has now appeared on television three times. It began in the 1960s, the masterpiece of Rod Serling, one of the most skilled radio and television writers in America. Serling wrote tonight’s episode. “Judgment Night” was Episode 10 in the first season of the show. It aired on December 4, 1959.

This is a supernatural war story, one of many Serling wrote for The Twilight Zone. Serling joined the U.S. Army during World War II and served in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division. He once wrote that he was disappointed to be fighting Japanese as he was more concerned with stopping Hitler. Eventually, Serling was transferred to the 511th’s demolition platoon. His platoon was named “The Death Squad” because it was often sent into the most dangerous areas and suffered heavy losses. After serving in Manila, Serling’s regiment suffered a 50% casualty rate. For his service, Serling received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and the Philippine Liberation Medal.

When I watch this episode, I often wonder if this was Serling’s way of coping with the trauma of war, his way of coming to terms with his experiences in various battles where eventually, 50% of his fellow soldiers were killed. Perhaps this is how he coped with his anger and frustration over a situation he could never change, perhaps still living in his own Hell on earth as do all who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress. So tonight, J is for Judgment.

Rod_Serling_photo_portrait_1959Rod Serling was the creator and writer of many episodes of the 1950s/1960s version of The Twilight Zone. He also wrote tonight’s episode, “Judgment Night,” which first aired in 1959.

Carl Lanser is a nervous man. A bit confused, perhaps even frightened. It is 1942. Lanser is standing on the deck of a British ship, the S.S. Queen of Glasgow, one day out of Liverpool, destined for New York. It is night, and the ship’s steward (Richard Peel) is calling him to dinner–and that is all Lanser knows. He does not remember who he is, or what he does, except for his name. He does not remember how he came to be on board a British ship in the middle of the ocean. Carl Lanser has reason to be nervous. Carl Lanser has entered the Twilight Zone, and unlike other characters in The Twilight Zone episodes, Lanser knows he is in the twilight zone. He senses it, and his heart is filled with terror.

Nehemiah Persoff

 Actor Nehemiah Persoff stars as Carl Lanser in the episode “Judgment Night.” 

Carl Lanser is not the only man who is frightened on this ship. In the words of Rod Serling, the ship itself is consumed with fear, for the S.S. Queen of Glasgow is traveling has lost its convoy, traveling alone in the dark while the captain records her longitude and latitude in the Captain’s Log, but in the words of Rod Serling, “what is never recorded in a log is the fear that washes over a deck life fog and ocean spray, fear like the throbbing strokes of engine pistons, each like a heartbeat parceling out every hour into breathless minutes of watching, waiting, and dreading.”

In this episode, we do not see Serling enter the scene as in later episodes of the show. He narrates the show at the beginning and end, and his introduction is like poetry, writing so fearful it is reminds one of Edgar Allen Poe. Serling speaks of the ship traveling through without its convoy, how it “travels alone like an aged, blind thing groping through the unfriendly dark, stalked by unseen periscopes of steel killers. Yes, the Queen of Glasgow is a frightened ship, and she carries with her the premonition of death.”

Lansing answers the call to dinner. He enters the dining room. He crosses the room and retrieves a doll that a child has dropped. It is a friendly group of passengers, a kind gathering eager to comfort Mr. Lanser. A stranger introduces himself, Jerry Potter (Hugh Sanders), and apologizes for not waiting for Lanser before beginning dinner, but invites them to join them for dessert. Lanser is not hungry, but accepts coffee.

Kewpie_doll

It is an interesting moment when Lanser picks up the fallen doll. It is a moment of compassion from a man who we later learn lacks compassion, as if he is doing more than helping a child retrieve her toy. It is as if he is apologizing for what he senses will happen in the near future. Photo of Kewpie Doll by Lara.

(The coffee is an interesting issue in this episode. Of the 17 episodes Serling wrote for CBS, this particular one was the only one where he had a conflict with CBS, and it was over coffee. Serling knew the British drank tea. He insisted that the serve tea in the dining room as he wanted to emphasize that this was a British ship and Lanser would have been out of place asking for coffee, but CBS wanted Lanser to have his coffee, because one of the sponsors of the show was Sanka.)

Lanser joins Potter and other passengers at their table. He is introduced to Major Devereaux (Leslie Bradley) and his secretary, Barbara Stanley (Deirdre Owens). Potter asks Lanser what he does for a living. He saw his name on the list and thought he might be a professor. Lanser does not answer.

The lights go out, then Captain Wilbur (Bill Wright) enters the room and the lights come on again. (I’m not sure why the lights are turned off when the door is opened, but I have a feeling this has to do with ship safety during war time). Captain Wilbur tells the passengers that it is still foggy outside. The Major says he would feel better if they were still with their convoy, that he can almost feel “those wolf packs” converging upon them.

Lanser’s response is shocking. “There will be no wolf packs converging on a single ship, Major,” he replies. “The principle of a submarine pack is based on a convoy attack.” The captain agrees, but looks at Lanser with a bit of suspicion in his expression. Potter comments that he’d rather be attacked by a ship than a skulking piece of tin and Lanser becomes defensive and tells them that they will see the U-boat if they are actually being followed, that in the thickness of the fog the U-boat will likely rise out of the water and “shell us with impunity and sink us at will.” Now, clearly, everyone is uncomfortable. The captain asks to be introduced to Mr. Lanser, then comments that “you sound rather like a U-boat commander.” Lanser drops his coffee, then becomes irrationally angry when others try to help him.

The captain asks Lanser to sit back down so they can become better acquainted. He apologizes for the fact that the ship was not built to carry passengers. He asks the passengers to introduce themselves and Mr. Potter tells them he is with the War Board, but from Chicago and cannot wait to get back home. Lanser repeats the word home and Barbara Stanley asks him where he’s from. He replies that he was born in Frankfurt, Germany. He wants to tell him more, that is obvious, but this is all that Lanser can remember.

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German ship in the fog, 1966. Photo by Eigene Dateien.

Lanser steps outside for some air, but the atmosphere is so thick with fog it is claustrophobic. He sees Barbara Stanley on deck and stops to speak to her. He tells her she looks familiar. “I know that feeling,” she says. “As if you have been in this place before.” Lanser tells her she is familiar, that he knows her somehow. She asks if he is okay and he replies that he has this “crazy feeling” of doing and saying things before. He tells her he felt as if he knew everyone in the dining room before he met them. Stanley tells him, “I know that feeling, I’ve had it before, being in a room somewhere and you’d swear you’d been there before. Even the conversation seems identical to a time before.” Lanser is even more disoriented. “And the people?” he asks her. “Yes, the people, too!” she replies. “How odd,” Lanser replies. Oh, Barbara, if you only knew!

Lanser tells Miss Stanley that he is not okay, that he still cannot remember how he got on the ship, or anything else, as if he woke up and was standing on the ship. And yet, he knows who he is, he knows he is Carl Lanser, he knows where he was born, he knows he is in the…then he stops. She asks him to continue, but he will not do so. He holds his fingers to his lips as if he is keeping a dark secret held inside. He tells her he doesn’t remember. She suggests that he try to rest so he returns to his cabin, but he replies that he feels he is living a nightmare, he feels a sense of doom, as if they are being stalked.

Lanser does return to his room. A second ship’s steward (Donald Journeaux) is helping him unpack. The steward finds a captain’s hat and asks Lanser if it is a war souvenir. “It’s a Captain’s hat. A submarine captain, to be exact,” the steward tells him. Lanser grabs the hat and tells the steward it doesn’t concern him. The steward apologizes. Lanser looks inside the hat. There is a label sewn onto the silk lining. It reads, “Carl Lanser, Kapitan Lieutenant Kriegsmarine.”

The captain is back in the bridge. The ship is not running well. The tension is building. The captain orders his crew to reduce speed and give the engines a break. He, too, is nervous as he stares out the window . He is concerned about the fog. “They’re out there,” the captain says. “God knows they’re out there, waiting like vultures.”

Lanser is now in the ship’s bar. The bartender (Kendrick Huxhum) reminds Lanser that it is late. Lanser suddenly stares at the floor and tells the bartender that then engine doesn’t sound right. The bartender tells him it’s an old ship, according to the engineer, and they’re probably giving her a break since it’s after midnight. We see the clock on the wall like the Gary Cooper classic High Noon, reminding us of the coming doom. Suddenly, Lanser remembers. Something will happen at 1:15 a.m. and he knows it will be something truly horrible.

clock

Lanser looks at the clock and remembers that something horrible is about to happen!

First Officer McLeod (Patrick Macnee) enters the room and asks for a tray to be sent to the bridge. The bartender tells him it will take a few minutes to prepare…coffee! For a British Captain! Gasp! The bartender and McLeod lean on the bar. Lanser is visibly upset. He begins to rant about how the engines have stopped. McLeod tells him there is a problem. Lanser shouts at McLeod that the problem with the engines have left them defenseless. Lanser walks over to the clock on the wall and touches it as if he is checking to see if it is real.

Patrick Macnee

Actor Patrick Macnee who became famous in The Avengers plays the First Officer in “Judgment Day.” 

We see the engine room. The pistons are moving slowly. We see the captain gazing out into the fog. We see Lanser finish off his drink, then begin to rant once more about how the passengers must get off the ship. “Yes! They must abandon ship!” he shouts.

He looks around. The bar is suddenly empty. He runs onto the deck and he sees no one. He looks out to sea and in the distance, the light of the U-boat is shining. He runs back inside, runs through the halls, bangs on the doors, shouts for the people to leave. “I saw it! It is going to sink us!” he shouts. He turns and sees all of the passengers huddled together in front of a door. They appear to be in a fog. Then they disappear and all he can see is a door.

Lanser falls against the wall. The look of terror on his face is nauseating. He runs to the deck, shouts for Potter and Mrs. Stanley, the Major. He runs down the deck, sobbing, shouting for the captain. The U-boat is shining its lights on the deck. Lanser reaches for binoculars and looks at the deck of the U-boat. He sees himself.

U-Boat

U-Boot Truppentransporter by Altes Gemalde von Willy Stower (1864-1931). The painting was on a postcard and the text reads “Sinking of a hostile armed troop carrier by German submarine in the Mediterranean Sea.” 

The U-boat fires on the ship. The engineer (Barry Bernard) is trapped in the engine room. Mrs. Stanley tries to climb out of her window. Her room is on fire and she is slowly consumed by the flames. It is a horrific sight. She is screaming, her arms flailing as she tries to put out the fire that is burns her clothing. Lanser watches as passengers climb from their cabin windows and leap into the ocean. Potter is trying to make his way down the hallway of the sinking ship when a burning log falls and traps him. Two other men struggle in the dark as they try to escape by life boat, but the U-boat fires on the boat and it crashes into the sea. The captain walks into the flames. Lanser also falls into the ocean and is pulled under by the waves. A lifesaver ring marked U.S.S. Queen of Glasgow is shown floating in the water.

Now we are in the captain’s cabin on the U-boat. The hat, Lanser’s hat, is on his desk. He is writing in his log. Lt. Mueller (James Franciscus), Captain Lanser’s second in command, enters the room. He is wringing his hat in his hands. He is clearly upset. Captain Lanser sees that he is upset and laughs.

James_franciscus_longstreet_photo

James Franciscus, known for his many appearances in films and television shows, including Longstreet, plays the German soldier with a conscience, Lt. Mueller, in “Judgment Day.” 

 Captain Lanser asks Mueller what is bothering him and Mueller reminds the captain that there were passengers on the boat they just destroyed, innocent passengers, civilians. Mueller is upset that there were women on board, children, and that they destroyed the ship without giving them warning. Lanser reminds him that warning the captain would have given him time to call in their coordinates and the British would therefore also know the location of the U-boat.

Then Mueller asks Lanser if he believes they will be judged, in some way, for what they have done. “It makes me wonder if we are not damned now in the eyes of God.”

Lanser is a different man on his own boat. He is calm, and sympathetic toward the younger man, but he understands his duty. He shakes his head. “You are a religious fool now? Perhaps even a mystic?” he says. “Suppose we are damned? What will happen then?” he asks.

Mueller explains that he has dreamed of this before. “Perhaps there a special kind of Hell for people like us,” he replies. “Perhaps to be damned is to have a fate like the people on that ship, to suffer as they suffered, to die as they died.” Captain Lanser tells Mueller that he is a mystic. Mueller will not be deterred. “We ride the ghost of that ship every night,” he tells his captain. “Every night, Herr Kapitan, for eternity. They could die only once, just once, but we could die a hundred million times. We’d ride the ghost of that ship every night, every night into eternity, Herr Kapitan. A ghost of that ship.

There is a look of fear, once again, on the face of Carl Lanser. Lanser is no longer in his quarters on his ship. He is standing on the deck of the S.S. Queen of Glasgow staring out to sea, and once again, we hear the voice of Rod Serling.

“The S.S. Queen of Glasgow, heading for New York. And the time is 1942. For one man it is 1942.” Someone calls out in the distance, “Light in the salon. Let’s blackout down there.” Serling continues. “And this man will ride the ghost of that ship every night for eternity. This is what is meant by ‘paying the fiddler.’” The steward steps onto the deck. We assume he is telling Carl Lanser that dinner is being served. Serling continues to speak. “This is the comeuppance awaiting every man    When his life’s ledger is examined, the tally made, and the reward or the penalty paid. In the case of Carl Lanser,  former Kapitan Lieutenant of the Navy of the Third Reich, this is the penalty. This is the justice meted out. This is judgment night in the twilight zone.”

Source:

  • Serling, Rod. “Judgment Night.” The Twilight Zone. Dir. John Brahm. Perf. Nehemiah Persoff, Dierdre Owens, Patrick Macnee, James Franciscus. Columbia Broadcasting Systems. Running Time: 25 min.