Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Ark II: "Omega" (October 9, 1976)



“Omega” is one of those more-interesting-than-usual installments of the 1970s Filmation Saturday morning series Ark II.  

The reason that this episode is more intriguing than most segments is that it -- like “Robot” or “The Lottery” -- features a specific science fiction concept other than just the one featured in the premise; that of a post-apocalyptic world.  In this case, that concept is a villainous, sentient super-computer, a Colossus for the Saturday morning set. 

Here, the Ark II team runs afoul of perhaps the most powerful nemesis it has yet grappled with: a super computer “built by a society that no longer exists.”  The super computer -- re-activated in a primitive village three weeks earlier -- is called a “checkpoint” device, model “Omega.”  And, in addition to its other functions, the machine can easily dominate and control human minds.  Visually, Omega resembles the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).


As the episode begins, a kindly grandfather (played by Harry Townes), realizes that his daughter Diana, portrayed by a very young Helen Hunt, is now under the control of Omega.  Thus, Jonah and his team set out to de-activate the machine and free her from machine enslavement.  Unfortunately, Omega proves so powerful that Samuel begins to fall prey to its commands too.  He rejects Jonah as leader and serves Omega instead.

Jonah attempts to defeat the super computer by executing a series of “chess” moves designed to destroy the device.  Finally, even that strategy isn’t enough, and Jonah himself nearly succumbs to the machine’s wishes.  Finally, it is Adam the chimpanzee – whom Omega has derided as some kind of strange animal – who is able to pull Omega’s plug.


After the computer is defeated, Jonah notes that Omega will never again be able to impose “de-humanizing ideas” upon mankind.  Specifically, he’s referring to the idea that Omega has made all the elders of the local village the slave to youngsters, like Diana.  As Omega reports early on, “young minds are quicker” to accept him.

I enjoyed this episode of Ark II, because drama works better, in my opinion, when heroes are outmatched or over-matched by villains. And that’s the case here. The high-tech Ark II crew is nearly defeated by the high-tech machine.  Omega thus proves a powerful and insidious force and infuses the episode with a welcome sense of menace.  I also enjoyed seeing Harry Townes play a crucial role here -- as a fearful would-be-slave of a super computer -- since he played a similar character in Star Trek’s “Return of the Archons” back in the mid-1960s.

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Bugaloos: "If I Had the Wings of a Bugaloo (October 17, 1970)


In “If I Had the Wings of a Bugaloo,” Benita Bizarre (Martha Raye) becomes obsessed with the act that the Bugaloos possess wings, and can fly.

She hires Funky Rat’s sister, Brumhilda, to make her bat wings, but they fail to give the diva the lift she wants.  She realizes that she must steal the wings of a bugaloo if she wishes to fly.

Benita goes to Tranquility Forest, pretending to be Heddy Ho-Down, and tricks I.Q. (John McIndoe) into coming with her back Uptown to her jukebox.  The other Bugaloos attempt to rescue him, but are trapped in Fly Paper!


The Bugaloos (1970-1971) crosses a threshold this week that Lidsville (1971-1972) also crossed at about the same point during its run. Specifically, the villain here officially becomes the most intriguing personality on the series, and the most-utilized character too.

Here, Martha Raye’s Benita Bizarre motivates all the action, and appears in virtually every scene. The Bugaloos are a practical after-thought, appearing only for the routine (and weekly) capture/rescue business.

What’s intriguing about Benita is that she is not an out-and-out monster, like Witchiepoo or Hoo-Doo. Instead, she’s a (fairly-typical) “D” list celebrity. She’s self-obsessed, narcissistic, and a bit pathetic. She’s a diva, a Norma Desmond-type, who cares only about her own self-glorification.  This week, she motivates the action because she wants wings, and wants to fly.

That desire just hits her, and because she is rich, and infamous, ostensibly -- and surrounded by yes-men -- she tries to get them.

In this way, The Bugaloos is actually about something more than bug-people on a sub-textual level: the quest for continuing fame, and the way that some people can’t let it go. Last week, I mentioned Sunset Boulevard (1950), and yes, The Bugaloos is a Saturday morning version of that story, as seen through the unique eyes of Sid and Marty Krofft.

This week, however, Benita goes from being merely misguided and narcissistic to monstrous, as she tries to cut off I.Q.’s wings, an act which can’t be undone.

The scene of surgery is actually fairly gruesome. I.Q. lays stomach down on a table, wriggling to break free from restraints, while Funky Rat reads from an instruction manual (Do It Yourself Surgery) and takes a giant clipper to the Bugaloo.  Fortunately, the surgery is never completed.

This week, there are two songs to make note of. Benita -- as Heddy-Ho-Down -- sings one for I.Q. before capturing him.

And The Bugaloos sing about “friends…if you need someone to help you…”



Next week: “Lady, You Don’t Look Eighty.”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cult-TV Blogging: Star Maidens: "Escape to Paradise" (1976)



I have selected, for my next Thursday afternoon cult-TV series retrospective a production from one of the less-visited halls of the Valhalla: Star Maidens (1976).

I selected this obscure, thirteen episode series from the disco decade for a few reasons.  

In the first case, I remember watching it on WNEW Channel 5, out of New York, when it originally aired in American syndication. I was six years old at the time, and the series had the look and feel of a state-of-the-art sci-fi series.

Secondly, Star Maidens is (weirdly) related to Space: 1999 (1975-1977), one of my all-time favorite space programs. Star Maidens was designed by Keith Wilson, the genius production designer for the Andersons’ series, and so shares in common a kind of post-2001/pre-Star Wars visual aura.



Similarly, the sound effects on this series are also, largely, ported over from Space: 1999, which was between seasons when Star Maidens was produced at Bray Studios in 1975. Even key performers on Star Maidens -- Judy Geeson and Liz Harrow -- are recognizable from Space: 1999 episodes (“Another Time, Another Place,” and “The Testament of Arkadia,” respectively).

Surprisingly, the premise of Star Maidens has some touches in common with Space: 1999. The central planet in the series, Medusa, is one torn out of its orbit (by a comet named Dionysus), and sent hurtling on an interstellar voyage, like the Earth’s moon in the Landau/Bain series. 


As the series begins, however, Medusa reaches Earth. (So it’s like Space: 1999, but with the rogue space body traveling in the opposite direction.).

Star Maidens is a British/German co-production created by Eric Paice, based on a premise from Jost Graf Von Hardenburg. This short-lived series made the war between sexes its central dramatic issue.  Specifically, Medusa is a female-run planet (one set off its path by a comet named after a male, incidentally), wherein men are second-class citizens. 

The context for such a plot-line is clearly the late-1960's and early 1970’s second-wave feminism in the UK and the USA. For instance, From 1970 to 1978, the National Women’s Liberation Conference was held in England. And the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was re-introduced in 1971, and sent to the states for ratification in 1972. By 1979, the necessary number of states had failed to ratify the amendment.

What is Star Maidens’ point of view on this war of sexes?

I intend to examine it closely in the coming 12 weeks, but I believe the series makes a satirical point about sexism.

It is utterly ridiculous to American, male ears, to hear women discussing how men are too fragile, too childish, to fly space yachts, or do other high level activities.

That’s the point.

When the “tables are turned” – and men are the victims of sexism -- we are able to fully detect how foolish the sexism towards women actually is.  

It’s silly.  

Star Maidens has been described as camp in some circles, in large part because the blatantly sexist dialogue (against men) borders on outright comedic, yet is spoken with straight facet/tone.  Intriguingly, the same jaundiced dialogue, when spoken of women (in series such as Star Trek, for example) is accepted at face value, and not considered funny.

So Star Maidens, it seems to me -- at least at this early juncture -- is all about exposing a ridiculous double standard.


The first episode of Star Maidens, “Escape to Paradise,” written by Eric Paice (Target Luna [1960], Pathfinders in Space [1960]), and directed by James Gatward, sets up the series’ premise via a school-girl’s “historical program.”

This voice over-narration explains the "golden years" of history on the distant planet Medusa. There, in "Proxima Centauri," the planet developed a peaceful, advanced, art-centric culture wherein women were the unquestioned rulers (and thinkers...) and servile, lowly men functioned as "domestics" or servants.

Then, however, the comet called Dionysus swung too close to Medusa and pulled the planet out of her natural orbit. Consequently, the "vast mass" of Medusa was "dragged" into the "frozen infinity of space." 

The surface of the planet grew uninhabitable as it turned to ice (read: frigid), and the survivors of the disaster moved into underground cities, where the female-dominated culture continued and solidified power due to the crisis. Medusa drifted through space for generations until it arrived here...in Earth’s solar system.

What did the Medusans find on Earth? Well, if you ask the female scientists of that world, only a "great disappointment." Because, "in violation of all common sense," men ruled the planet Earth. Accordingly, this backward planet was judged "out of bounds" for all "civilized" space travelers. It is described in the narration as “disease prone,” for instance.

After this exposition/history lesson, “Escape to Paradise” introduces two male slaves, Shem (Gareth Thomas of Blake's 7) and Adam (Pierre Brice), who are planning an escape from the female-managed Medusa.

Adam

Shem

They are tired of being taken for granted. ("Who looks after the kids?" one man asks, citing his importance in Medusa's social strata.) 

However, before Shem and Adam can escape Medusa in Counselor Fulvia's (Judy Geeson) space yacht, Medusa's secretive and hostile-to-men head of security, Octavia (Christiane Kruger) gets a disturbing prediction from the Destiny Computer (think the Oracle at Delphi).

The computer suggests that the illegal men's liberation movement is about to begin again, and that one such insurgent will be Fulvia's domestic: Adam.

Octavia

Fulvi

Adam and Shem barely escape Medusa in the space yacht. Fulvia and Octavia pursue in their spaceship.




But where are Adam and Shem off to? A "paradise," of course, where men rule over women. In other words, the planet Earth.  Specifically, Adam anticipates “a new life, freedom…submissive women.”

"Escape to Paradise" concludes with Shem and Adam crashing their ship on Earth. ("It's too difficult for a man!" cries Shem, worrying over his landing vectors...).  

Meanwhile, on Earth, scientists from the Institute for Radio Astronomy -- Liz (Lisa Harrow), Rudi (Christian Quadflieg) and Professor Evans (Derek Farr)  prepare to meet the extra-terrestrials, 



"Was life really so bad on Medusa?" asks Counselor Fulvia of her escaped domestic, Adam, during a point of high tension in this episode.

That's a loaded question, I suppose. On one hand, the security forces of Medusa are all Amazonian women who wear skimpy two-piece uniforms (exposing bare midriff and muscular abs). 


On the other hand, the sexy women really do lord it over the men. It's all "prepare me something to eat," or "prepare my hypno-mat" (meaning bed...).

Of course, the women also demand sexual service. "Kiss me," Fulvia orders Adam at one point.

This, I admit, is a bit tricky. 

One wonders, during the flirtatious aspects of the episode, if the series is discussing sexism, or reveling in male fantasies about domination by strong, demanding, gorgeous women.

Despite any tongue-in-cheek tone here, the first 30-minute episode of Star Maidens flashes by at warp speed, and proves both entertaining and provocative. 

The production values are remarkable for 1970’s British science fiction, the actors are pretty good, and we get enough glimpses of the Medusan culture (technology and setting...) to get a sense of the alien-ness of the planet. 

Also, despite the war of the sexes premise, it seems that, at least so far, the series attempts to contend with some nuances. 

Judy Geeon's Fulvia, for instance, thinks the best of her rebellious slave, Adam, despite his insurrectionist actions. She may command in a female dominated society, but she has affection, even love, for her “domestic.”  

And Shem’s lack of confidence -- in direct contradiction to his apparent abilities with machines and ships -- can be traced back as a direct result of his indoctrination into Medusan politics.“It’s a woman’s world,” he declares, not so much with defeat, but as a statement of fact. Shem has heard all his life that he, as a man, can never be the equal of a woman, and it’s clear that he has internalized that message and made it a part of himself.  This strikes me as a very realistic character touch

Star Maidens is a strange show. 

It boasts the look, feel, and sound of a 70’s state of the art epic, like Space: 1999, and yet its obsession is not the stars, but the mysteries of human behavior and belief systems. It should be fascinating journey to watch where this series heads, as it explores the clash of a female dominated world, and a male dominated one.


Next week, “Nemesis.”

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Pop Art: Gentle Ben (TV Guide Edition)


Comic-Book of the Week: Gentle Ben (Dell)



Coloring Book of the Week: Gentle Ben (Whitman)


Jigsaw Puzzle of the Week: Gentle Ben (Whitman)


Board Game of the Week: Gentle Ben 3-D Animal Hunt Game (Mattel)


Lunch Box of the Week: Gentle Ben




Theme Song of the Week: Gentle Ben (1967)

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Star Trek 50th Anniversary Blogging: "The Mark of Gideon" (January 17, 1969)


Stardate: 5423.4

The Enterprise engages in negotiations with the planet Gideon, whose government has “consistently refused” delegations and even surveillance scans. The government reports, however, a world of paradise-like conditions. 

Now, led by Ambassador Hodin (David Hurst), the government agrees to a diplomatic delegation of one: Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner).

After beaming down from the Enterprise, however, something goes wrong. Kirk fails to materialize in the Gideon council chambers. 

The xenophobic Gideon leaders blame the Enterprise’s technology, and refuse permission for a search party to look for the missing Captain. In temporary command, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) petitions Starfleet Command for permission to beam down anyway and conduct a search, but Admiral Fitzgerald (Richard Derr) refuses.

Meanwhile, Captain Kirk mysteriously finds himself aboard an almost entirely empty Enterprise. He soon discovers there is one other person aboard, the beautiful amnesiac, Odona (Sharon Acker).

While the Enterprise searches for Captain Kirk, the captain learns the truth of life on Gideon. 

The planet is extremely over-populated, and he has been brought there to infect Odona with a disease he once carried, so that the population problem can be ameliorated.= through contamination.


“The Mark of Gideon” is a fascinating and intriguing episode of Star Trek (1966-1969), though one that contends with some problems in logic and consistency. The tale is significant, in terms of social commentary, since it concerns an issue that was debated greatly at the time, and is still of concern today: overpopulation.

Some context: Author Paul R. Erlich had an unexpected best seller in 1968 with his book The Population Bomb. The title sold over two million copies, and suggested that if the population continued to grow at the same rate, mass starvation and country-wide die-outs would be commonplace events in the 70’s and 80’s.

The book was a touchstone of the turbulent era, though both sides of the political spectrum rejected the author’s suppositions about what the future would hold. Many critics called the book “alarmist” and derided its “predictions.”

“The Mark of Gideon,” by Stanley Adams and George F. Slavin sets the very problem -- overpopulation -- forecast in The Population Bomb on a distant planet, Gideon. 

As described by Hodin, the people there “are incapable of destroying or interfering with the creation of that which we love so deeply: life, in every from; from fetus to developed being. It is against our tradition, against our very nature.”


In other words, he lives in what appears to be a militantly pro-life culture, since birth control is not even permitted on Gideon. Kirk recommends sterilization or contraception to Hodin to re-mediate the problem, and these planning tools are swatted away as incompatible with the Gideon love of life.

This is intriguing for a few reasons.

First, the stance is hypocritical, and this truth reflects real life here on Earth.. Kirk notes that Hodin has no problem killing “a young girl,” meaning Odona. She will be contaminated with a plague that she will then transmit to others, killing, perhaps, millions. This social engineering is interfering with the creation of life, since she will never marry, never create life, never see generations of progeny.

Yet, importantly, we see this brand of contradiction every day, in real life. 

There are factions of the modern pro-life movement who want to make certain that every fetus gets a chance to be born, but then vote for war (in which  people are killed in huge numbers…), or they vote for the application of the death penalty, which ends life, and the possibility of future life too.


Similarly, this faction of the movement might more aptly be termed "pro-birth," because once the fetus is delivered, they don’t want to fund education, health care, or any other support for the individual they demanded be born.  They see life as incredibly important, but not quality of life.

“The Mark of Gideon” perfectly captures the inherent contradictions of this position. The Gideonites are pro-birth, but not pro-life, since they are willing to kill to remake their paradise. What will be the quality of life for their people as they succumb to infection?

In terms of the episode, however, all this social commentary basically comes down to one fascinating (and very well-shot scene) between Kirk and Hodin in the council chambers. 

At times, we are looking through a glass table, up at Kirk, as though we are literally through the looking-glass on Gideon. The self-righteous Hodin explains how he loves all life. But look at his actions, and see how they go against his words: He has abducted Kirk, his people have wounded Kirk’s arm, and he has engineered a pogrom of disease to wipe out his people’s virtual immortality.

The problems with consistency and logic in "Mark of Gideon" arise from the “honey trap” Hodin springs on Kirk, placing Odona and the good captain on a complete-to-the-last-detail, life-sized replica of the starship Enterprise. 

The replica is so perfect in every detail, in fact, that Kirk can’t distinguish it from the real thing.  Let’s ignore the fact that a replica of the Enterprise would take up a lot of space on an overpopulated planet for the moment, and just focus on what the replica means, or represents.

If the people of Gideon can build such a perfect replica of the Enterprise, why not build spaceships and populate other worlds, thus ameliorating their overpopulation problem? 

They could colonize their star system, and beyond. If this is a non-functional model of the Enterprise, why not use similar technology to build space stations, in orbit, again ameliorating (at least in the short term), the overpopulation crisis?

Colonization, or orbit-bound facilities, are not in any way an “interference” with the process of life, and would actually bring significant relief to Gideon. I know the episode states that the people of Gideon are xenophobes. They could go right on being xenophobes, on colonies, or space stations.

The whole idea of a duplicate Enterprise on a world of such limited space/room is pretty far-fetched. If only TOS had holo-technology, because this error could be remedied by noting that the duplicate is just a holodeck, not a full-sized starship.  

Still, Fred Freiberger must have liked the (bad) idea of a duplicate HQ so much that he imported it to his work on Space: 1999 (1975-1977). In the Year Two episode, “One Moment of Humanity,” androids send Dr. Russell (Barbara Bain) and Security Officer Verdeschi (Tony Anholt) to a fully-functioning, complete-to-the-last detail replica of Moonbase Alpha.  

The idea doesn’t work any better in that story than the duplicate Enterprise works in “The Mark of Gideon.”

Still -- and this is one crucial reason I love Star Trek so much -- “The Mark of Gideon” is about something important, and about something timely. 

Still, too much energy is spent on the mystery of the empty/duplicate ship, rather than on the Gideonites’ hypocritical belief system. 

However, the mystery of Gideon possesses has some terrifying moments. The shots of the Gideon people, outside the ship, pressing against windows or view ports, are eerie and disturbing, and an additional example of Star Trek's visual ingenuity.



Also, the Enterprise screen seems to function as a window in this episode (as it does in "Requiem for Methelusah,") which exposes the lie of anti-Discovery fans, who say that view screens were never windows in the original series prime universe.


One final note. Mr. Spock shows considerable disdain for diplomats in this episode, as has often been the case in Star Trek (see: “The Galileo 7,” and “A Taste of Armageddon.”)  

By Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), he is a diplomat!


Next week: “That Which Survives.”

Monday, August 07, 2017

Ask JKM a Question: Are We in the Golden Age of TV?



A reader named Jason writes:


"Every so often someone will report how we live in a Golden Age of TV.  I can see where they're coming from: there are a multitude of series boasting superlative writing, acting, production design, et al. Series are allowed to spread an epic story over the course of a season or two in a grand work of fiction, and it's pretty rad.

And yet... maybe it's my imminent curmudgeon-hood, but I feel like the older series did it better.  

Older series like Land of the Lost or Star Trek or Space:1999 knew how to tell compelling, memorable stories in the space of 30 to 60 minutes (less with commercials!) that have stood the test of time.  

It's a little bit of an apples and oranges argument, but I put it to you: which do you think makes for a better series?  

Would you prefer one long epic story, or a seasons' worth of done-in-one adventures?"


Jason, that is a great question, and one of the defining ones, I believe, of pop culture studies in 2017. 

I, myself, have used the "Golden Age" description for modern TV. Why? In part because the TV landscape is one of plenty for fans. MST-3K is back. Twin Peaks is back. The X-Files is back. Star Trek is returning. Lost in Space is also returning.

Basically, the fact that we have moved into a fractured TV landscape, with niche programming, means that networks (or streaming sites like Netflix) don't need huge audiences to justify reviving a show, or keeping one on the air.  This approach has lead to the creation of remarkably ambitious and unusual programs, such as The O.A., Black Mirror, The Handmaid's Tale, and Stranger Things. 



Those are all positives for modern TV. Similarly, modern series such as Fear the Walking Dead survive on lower ratings, in this new era, than those achieved by hits (like The X-Files) in previous generations. That is also a positive. We have fewer genre shows canceled for low ratings.

On the other hand, would we want beloved series to return, if we didn't have a previous golden age? An age that gave us Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, and so on?  Those series have become the bedrock foundation of genre programming.

Perhaps, we have had two or three Golden Ages at this point. And we musn't forget that nostalgia plays a role in this perception, too.


Still, my answer is going to come at this problem sideways, you might say. I think our feelings of quality or a "Golden Age," may finally come down to how we ultimately engage with the drama.

I agree with you your perception of the new-age, circa 2010-2017, let's say. I love Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, iZombie, Vikings and other modern programs that do all the things you enumerate. They are epic. They are well-written. Their production values are remarkable.  

And yet, frankly, after I finish watching them, I doubt I will return to them in any kind of meaningful way. 

And by contrast, I have returned to Star Trek, Space:1999, Land of the Lost, The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Millennium, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and other "older" series again and again, with fresh eyes, over the years, across the decades. 


Is it because these programs were better? Even without the option for serial storytelling (in some cases), or extravagant production values?

My theory is that the quality doesn't matter so much as the personal choice -- and energy -- to interact with these programs. Growing up, I was -- and I think you were -- at the mercy of local stations. Would they show a Twilight Zone or Space:1999 you had not seen yet?   

Remember when there were still three episodes of Star Trek you had never seen, and you scoured the listing in your paper or in TV Guide to look for them?

In hopes that they would, you would have either had to stay up till 3:00 am to watch, in some cases, or set your VCR.

Even in the DVD age, you had to shell out money for box sets, and seek out those box sets. Perhaps just to see six episodes of a 48 episode series.  

There was an act you had to take, to pursue knowledge, to pursue experience, and follow something you were interested in. It cost something to be a fan of a particular director, or program. And that cost is different than the cost of a "service" like Hulu, or Prime.

In the age of streaming, there is no hard work, and therefore no discovery. You are presented with a menu of possible programs, and you can select what's there.  You can't see what isn't there.

If you choose not to, a world of TV programs will be unavailable to you, that you never see. Since Millennium isn't up on Netflix or Amazon Prime, do curious viewers seek it out?

I try not to be a cranky old man, or curmudgeon, as you say, but two semesters teaching film to college students has deeply rattled me. 

These students have never seen a Hitchcock film. They never saw The Matrix, or Fight Club. They haven't seen Alien, even, or the original Planet of the Apes.  If it's not right in front of them, at the right time, they aren't going to see it.

It isn't that they aren't smart. They are smart. 

It is that they have no curiosity about the history and world of film or TV, beyond what Netflix can offer them, on a moment's menu scan.  They have never seen a silent film. They have never seen a black and white film, at all.  They select only the new and the popular, and I find this fact deeply disturbing.

In my class, I have begun assigning them reviews of older films (like The Gold Rush, and Sunset Boulevard), so they HAVE to watch something outside their limited experience, but this is not enough.  It's a mind-set the culture is battling. I wish they were curious about older shows, older films, but they aren't.

So we might be in a golden age of programs, but we are not in a golden age of viewers.  It may not be about the programs at all, but about how are culture is choosing these programs.


Regarding your final question -- serial vs. standalone storytelling -- my preferred mix is the one exemplified by The X-Files. I appreciate a level of serialized continuity, but too much is exhausting. 

Sometimes, I just want to be "one and done," for example (as in the case of The Twilight Zone, or Space:1999.)  I like arcs, but arcs that go on too long, or travel to improbable places (like the voluntary sacrifice of indoor plumbing, by a technological society on the new Battlestar Galactica) largely make me regret the journey, the time invested.

Don't forget to ask me your questions at Muirbusiness@yahoo.com

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Gliders


A glider is a light aircraft with no engine, and the glider is a vehicle often seen throughout cult-TV history.

One of the creepiest programs to ever feature a glider is the paranormal anthology One Step Beyond (1959-1961) hosted by John Newland.

An episode of the second season is called "Reunion," and the narrative revolves around a glider.  The episode begins in Germany at the start of World War II (just after the invasion of Poland).  A group of friends share a picnic, and fly a glider.

But the glider disappears, with its pilot aboard.

After the war, the friends share a "reunion," and, mysteriously -- after all these years -- the glider and its pilot return.

What is found in the cockpit is genuinely disturbing; the stuff of nightmares.

You can watch the entire episode here:



In 1974, the final episode of the Planet of the Apes TV series, "Up Above the World So High," featured a human genius who invented a hang glider, though it would not fly properly without the knowledge and know-how of the 20th century astronauts Virdon and Burke.  An ape scientist working for Dr. Zaius wanted to get her hands on a functioning glider so as to launch a coup against Central City's ruling council.



In 1997, Star Trek: Voyager's fourth season featured an episode titled "Concerning Flight," which saw thieves steal Starfleet technology in the Delta Quadrant, including Captain Janeway's (Kate Mulgrew) Da Vinci holodeck program.  

Before the episode was over, Janeway and Da Vinci had to flee capture in a fixed-wing glider built by the Italian inventor.



Gliders have also appeared in other series, including Valley of the Dinosaurs (1974; CBS), and other series as well.

One of the most interesting models was a re-entry space-glider, which could ride the dorsal side of Eagle Transporters, in the Space:1999 (1975-1977) episode titled "The Immunity Syndrome."



The Cult-TV Faces of: Gliders

Not identified: One Step Beyond: "The Reunion."

Identified by Hugh: MASH.

Identified by Hugh: Valley of the Dinosaurs

Identified by SGB: Planet of the Apes: "Up Above the World So High."

Identified by SGB: Space: 1999 "The Immunity Syndrome"

Identified by Hugh: CHiPs

Identified by Hugh: Voyagers.

Identified by Hugh: Only Fools and Horses

Not Identified

Identified by Hugh: Star Trek Voyager: "Concerning Flight."