Logan's Run Television Series

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Vger23, Apr 22, 2020.

  1. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hey all!

    Posting this here, even though this forum seems 95% devoted to superhero discussions...wasn't sure where else it would fit.

    Has anyone seen the old Logan's Run TV series from 1977? I've always been a fan of the film, so I grabbed the 3-disk set off eBay for a good deal. I'm about half way through, and it's a pretty mixed bag thus far. Some of the episodes have been very good, and a couple have been very weak. The acting is not horrible, but Logan and Jessica play it with an innocence that sort of translates very weakly in an action/adventure show. The Francis-7 plotline reminds me of the guy who chased the A-Team around and just sort of showed up every other episode. The visual effects are embarrassing which is unfortunate.

    One of the things of great interest is that it barely hides the fact that it aspires to be Star Trek. The trio of Logan/Rem/Jessica is almost directly lifted from Kirk/Spock/Bones. The "run" is really nothing more than an excuse to have "post-apocalyptic civilization of the week" adventures that are nearly identical to a "planet of the week" format. The thread of the character's histories from The City of Domes and the search for Sanctuary are spoken of in nearly every episode....but it's just background to the Trek-like formula. I know several notable Trek alum wrote for the series (David Gerrold, Harlan Ellison, DC Fontana, and John Meredith Lucas) so this comes as no surprise I suppose.

    Overall, it's actually a FASCINATING experience to watch this as a big fan of both Logan's Run and Star Trek.

    Other Observations:

    There are a bucketload of Trek related guest stars. Leslie Parrish, Kim Catrall and Morgan Woodward have all made appearances thus far. I also saw Jared Martin (Harrison Blackwood from War of the Worlds) in an episode.

    The costume design follows the outrageously 70's approach of the film. The outfits they put on the female characters would make William Ware Theiss proud. Lordy. Heather Menzies skirt is shorter than the Ilia Probe robe from TMP

    The theme song is a bit of a rip-off of the TOS theme, except infinitely worse and highlighted by a repeating "Pew! Pew! Pew!" sound. Unbelievable that someone thought this was a good idea.

    The pilot episode basically takes the first hour or so of the feature film and condenses that into a 15-minute simplified retelling before moving out of the city and off to random adventures. That wasn't a good choice, in my opinion.

    The life clocks, which were such an important part of the lore of both the film and the books is completely absent from the TV series.

    Any other thoughts or experiences regarding this series from anyone?
     
  2. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I saw it first run, and that's the last I saw of it. I wasn't impressed; I found it inferior to both the book and the film.

    I don't remember much, but I have a vague recollection that it played out pretty much like another Ark II, Genesis II, Planet Earth, Planet of the Apes (TV series), etc.

    The car was used in the Tom Petty video for "You Got Lucky," by the way.



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Got_Lucky#Music_video
     
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  3. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's the Sandman pursuit car at 0:19 and the end. Doesn't look like the car Logan and Jessica find is in that video.
     
  4. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Its weird, because it's not good by any standard, but I find myself strangely transfixed to it, mainly because of its similarities to the TOS formula.

    It kind of makes me wonder if this is what Star Trek: Phase 2 would have been like.
     
  5. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Thank you. I should have said "a car" and not "the car." Here is more info (but I can't attest to its accuracy):

    https://logans-run.fandom.com/wiki/Vehicles
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I revisited it last year. It was mediocre, but better than I expected. As 1970s American SFTV shows went, it was one of the better ones, or at least one of the less dumb ones. Certainly Rem was the best part of it.


    As I recall, they seemed to be early experiments with video animation. Crude but novel.


    It reminds me more of Roddenberry's Genesis II and Planet Earth pilots from a few years earlier, attempts to do a Trek-like "world of the week" format in an Earthbound setting. There were a number of similar projects in the '70s. There was the Strange New World pilot movie, a Roddenberry-less attempt to retool Planet Earth one more time, which was horrible. As far as actual series went, there was Filmation's Ark II on Saturday mornings. And the Planet of the Apes series had a similar approach, but without the range of different post-apocalyptic cultures you had in the others, since they were mostly just variations on the same "apes oppressing humans" formula. (Although the animated PotA series that aired the year after the live-action show had some more exotic cultures-of-the-week.)

    And really, it's just a sci-fi variation on the Fugitive/Route 66 formula of protagonists wandering the landscape, winding up in a different town every week and helping people with their problems. It was a common formula in a day when even ongoing series aspired to be anthology-like, both because anthologies were classy and respected and because it made sense in an era before home video when there was no guarantee you'd get to see every episode of a series, so it was better for them to be self-contained. It's not that the show was specifically imitating Star Trek, just that they're both examples of the same larger formula.

    Although I'll grant that Rem was very much a Spock-like character -- though as an android, he was an antecedent of Data as well. I wouldn't say Logan and Jessica bear any significant resemblance to Kirk and McCoy, though. They were pretty generic '70s male and female leads.


    Albeit without using the age-based color coding of the movie's costumes.


    Again, it was in a fairly commonplace style, aside from the electronic sounds. If anything, I'd say it bears a stronger stylistic resemblance to Russell Garcia's theme to George Pal's The Time Machine than to the Star Trek theme. It was something of a throwback to the lush romantic themes of '40s and '50s movies, I'd say. I actually rather like the theme aside from the pew-pew part.


    I kind of appreciate it that they got it out of the way so quickly rather than spending a whole episode retelling the same story as the movie. Although what followed once they got out of the city was rather boring.


    Understandable, since having to glue them to the actors' hands constantly would be a nuisance. And they don't really serve a story function once the characters get out of the city and they stop working. Thus, since nearly the whole series was set outside the city, it made more sense to ditch them.
     
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  7. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As Christopher say, one of the better of the late 70s SF shows, where they basically tried to make Star Trek (with a dash of Fugitive) without the expensive bits like including a starship.
    Man Out of Time sticks in the memory, 40 plus years after I last saw it.
     
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  8. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    The 70s was a great time for sci fi TV shows - except that most of them were really, really really bad. :lol:
     
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  9. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm continuing to enjoy my watch of this. I think a lot of the feedback here is accurate. It's not a Star Trek dupe exactly, but it certainly follows that same generic format.

    I do think that the "trio" of characters was loosely modeled after the TOS trilogy, @Christopher. I agree with you that it's not exact...but it's that same sort of leader/passion/logic combo. And, Logan can be a little Kirk-like at times in terms of how he handles the various messed-up societies he finds along his journey. It's not an exact match...but I think the idea was there to have a "trinity" of character types, much like TOS did.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Again, though, that's a format many shows followed. Star Trek didn't invent it or monopolize it. It had that format because it was already common, because the '60s were a time when anthologies were the most respected dramas and serialization was seen as the stuff of cheesy soap operas and kiddie shows. Thus, many shows with continuing characters were consciously designed to move them from place to place, to put them in a different situation every week dealing with different problems. Look at, say, The Time Tunnel, where the characters jumped to a different era in history every week.

    And as I said, Logan's Run was just about the last of a spate of pilots and short-lived series with the exact same "weird post-apocalyptic enclave of the week" format, or nearly so: Genesis II in '73, Planet Earth and Planet of the Apes in '74, Strange New World in '75, Ark II in '76, and then Logan in '77. The CBS and ABC suits really wanted to make this work (I wonder why NBC didn't try to get on the bandwagon). You could make a case for Battlestar Galactica in '78 being a space-based equivalent, and Buck Rogers in '79 had a post-apocalyptic angle in its pilot that was downplayed in the series, showing that the trend had run its course.


    That is a hell of a reach. You could probably argue that about any set of three leads. And there's nothing McCoy-like about Jessica. She's just your basic "The Girl" character, there to be a nebulous romantic interest for the lead and a frequent damsel in distress.


    Keep in mind that Rem wasn't originally part of the premise. The reason the pilot is 90 minutes and tacks on a shorter second adventure introducing Rem is because it was originally a one-hour pilot with Logan, Jessica, and Francis as the three leads (as in the movie), but the network ordered retooling to make it work better as a series (adding the hovercraft and the council of elders and redefining Francis's mission), and Rem was added to the format at that point. As I've acknowledged, he was surely meant to be a Spock-like character, but that doesn't mean Logan and Jessica were based on Kirk and McCoy in any way; obviously they were based on the movie's Logan and Jessica. And yes, the show's Logan was more conventionaly heroic than the film's, but that was just a stock TV hero type you could find in countless shows. Again, the only reason it resembles Kirk is because Kirk was an example of that wider category of TV hero. He was a richer, deeper, more thoughtful character than a lot of his fellow action leads, but had a lot of the same basic attributes. Logan is just one more generic TV leading man. Leads like him were a dime a dozen, and it's doing Kirk a disservice to equate him with that generic type.

    Here's the thing to keep in mind about TV of the era (and probably this era too): Generally it wasn't the creators who tried to copy old formulas. It was the network executives who told them to copy old formulas (because execs are businesspeople rather than creators and mistakenly assume there are predictable patterns for success), and the creators who tried to find ways to innovate and challenge themselves within those imposed formulas. If anything makes Logan similar to Star Trek, it's that they're both examples of shows where the story editor and writers were talented enough to try to push the envelope beyond the minimal requirements of the stock formula. Although I'm sure both Gerrold and Ellison would agree that ST was far more successful at breaking out of executive-imposed formulas than LR was.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
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  11. Cyrus

    Cyrus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I liked it
     
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  12. Skipper

    Skipper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How was it? This title often comes up when I research about 70s sci-fi tv shows.
     
  13. cylkoth

    cylkoth Commodore Commodore

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    Ark II was a Saturday AM series produced by Filmation. It only ran for a single season-not due to low popularity/ ratings, but the manner in which kids tv shows were treated. Networks would order a show, and if it succeeded, they would typically rerun the thing until near death. If it continued to do well, only then would another season be ordered during it's chronological third year on the air (There were exceptions to this rule-shows that managed to morph formats each season to score a renewal like Scooby Doo and Superfriends).

    The show featured a trio of well scrubbed humans and a talking chimpanzee sidekick traveling around in a very cool high tech vehicle, as they sought to help mankind rebuild after an ecological apocalypse.

    Ark II.
     
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  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't remember. Of all Filmation's live-action shows, it was always the one that interested me the least for some reason, and I haven't revisited it in ages, if ever. So I guess I didn't have a high opinion. I guess it felt like a more bargain-basement version of what Logan's Run was doing while Ark II was still in reruns. Or maybe I was just less interested in it because it wasn't about superheroes (like Shazam/Isis) or space (like Space Academy/Jason of Star Command).
     
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  15. arch101

    arch101 Commodore Commodore

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    Watched it first run - before I even saw the film (I was too young). Been a big fan of the film and books ever since. Finally saw the series again last year on itunes. It’s cheap; but has some good ideas. The fact that the original author was involved makes it more interesting.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Me too. I remember trying to talk my father into taking me, but he wouldn't let me see a PG movie yet. When I finally saw the uncut version decades later, I understood why not. "PG" was more adult back then.
     
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  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, one of them (Nolan). I don't know whether he was involved after the pilot episode.

    The Wikipedia article on the series says this about the pilot [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logan's_Run_(TV_series)#Writing]:

    The pilot episode, which began with a condensed retelling of the original film's concept was written by William F. Nolan, co-author of the original novel, with Saul David, the original producer of the film and the TV series (until he was dismissed), and series producer Leonard Katzman. When the pilot was presented to the network, CBS asked to have part of the pilot re-shot with changes to the plot, including the introduction of a cabal of city elders who secretly ruled over the Domed city. This change alters Francis 7's motivations for pursuing Logan; in the original film, his intent is to kill Logan for betrayal, but due to the introduction of the cabal, Francis is offered by them the chance to live beyond age 30 as a reward for bringing Logan and Jessica back to the city.

    Goff and Roberts were brought on board by MGM when original producer of the TV show (and producer of the film) Saul David was fired from the project and the pilot episode went through reshoots, rewriting and re-editing prior to being green-lit for production as a series. The line producer for the series was Leonard Katzman.​

    Ugh. I remember that my interest in the series was immediately halved when the elders were revealed in the pilot.
     
  18. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Watched it it first run, but was disappointed that the drama and risk of the film was nowhere to be found. Such is the case of many a serious film adapted for TV.

    The best episodes are any that make any references to the film (though they are not in the same continuity) such as the pilot, and "Carousel", where Logan is shot with some sort of dart that erases his memories of life as a runner, willingly returns to the City, and if memory serves, will face Carousel as his parting gift.

    Here's some unintentional CBS/late 70s TV fantasy cross-pollination: Randy Powell (Francis) appeared on The Amazing Spider-Man's two-parter, "The Deadly Dust" (as a classmate of Peter Parker) while Spider-Man himself--Nicholas Hammond--guest starred on this series' "The Judas Goat" as a Sandman surgically altered to appear to be one of Jessica's friends...


    Now that I did not hear; instead of using any of Goldsmith's excellent, memorable motifs composed for the film (or modified, if necessary), they tapped Laurence Rosenthal to work way out of his element and deliver some wild, silly synthesizer-laced piece that did not support the series concept at all.

    Internally, there was some back and forth about the life-clocks; while they were central to the plot of the books and films ( to the extent of being a physical representation of the Thinker's control over citizens), the film rendered them powerless once outside of the City, so in the end--with the series being an off-road chase series--there was no reason to use the Lifeclocks.

    Typical of the entertainment business, they cannot let a success stand on its own; after the film was a success, MGM initially wanted a sequel, and of course, that did not happen, eventually leading to the creation of this TV series. Inexplicably, MGM-TV tapped Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts--at the time, famous for developing Charlie's Angels for Spelling-Goldberg Productions--to bring Logan and Company to TV, and despite the contribution of writers such as D.C. Fontana, et al, this was just another in the long line of the man-on-the-run TV sub-genre.

    Their best option would have been to make a sequel TV movie with a healthy budget (possible, since they recycled so much from the film), and wrap up the entire post-City matter / answering any questions left by the film. To this end, Marvel Comics--after their 5-issue adaptation of the film--tried to address such issues (anarchy among people forced to think for themselves, Sandmen plotting against Logan, etc.), but the comic was cancelled after the publication of issue #7 (July, 1977)..

    The series did have some sort of following, enough to earn the following coverage in popular magazines of the day:
    Look-in (1971-1994) was a weekly UK publication in association with ITV and its local and imported TV series aimed at younger viewers. The Logan's Run TV series inspired an original, serialized comic feature (black and white), which was collected in a hardback annual.
    [LEFT][SIZE=4][COLOR=rgb(20, 20, 20)]
    [​IMG]

    Samples (not in sequential order):
    [​IMG]

    Next...

    Circus #168 (November 10, 1977). The once famous music industry magazine covered nearly all popular movies and TV during its run (1966-2006), and yes, the Logan's Run TV series grabbed a cover, with a fairly in-depth behind the scenes article on the show, which--at the time--might have seemed promising, but...

    Dynamite #43 (December, 1977). Dynamite was a popular monthly kid's media/education magazine published by Scholastic, Inc. from 1974 - 1992, and was distributed for free in U.S. public schools. Jenette Khan created the magazine two years before joining DC Comics as its publisher, (and playing a significant role in the DC rebirth starting at the end of the 70s, after the infamous "implosion") that would shake/change the mainstream comic book industry. More than the 1976 movie, the TV version of Logan's Run was thought to be somewhat kid-friendly, hence its coverage in a monthly aimed at elementary school-aged kids.

    [​IMG]

    Finally,...

    Starlog #9 (October, 1977) and #13 (May, 1978). Of course, Starlog was not going to miss out on the series. with issues eagerly announcing its production, to a cover story (below). Not long after the series' debut, the usually lightweight magazine did have more than a few unkind words dedicated to the series' perceived problems, and by the time CBS cancelled the series in the Spring of '78, Starlog was there to offer their post-mortem and a details-free episode guide.

    [​IMG]

    There were other magazines with coverage of the show, but none of it was ever glowing. It received its best treatment after the preview of the pilot, where the many differences between it and the movie were noted, but some reviewers thought that would not matter...if the series was solid. You know the rest.
    [/COLOR][/SIZE]
    Oh, on the merchandising end, Mego (the toy company famous for their 8-inch action figures of everything from DC & Marvel characters, Star Trek and Planet of the Apes, among other properties) obtained the rights to develop an action figure line based on the TV series, creating prototypes of Logan, Rem and Francis. Obviously, the line would not see the inside of Mego's Hong Kong factories when the TV series suffered an early death, but some Sandman costumes were produced and in a strange turn, ended up used on unrelated, Barbie-like dolls.[/LEFT]

    I guess the producers thought audiences would not see a faceless, emotionless Thinker as threatening as humans?
     
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  19. Skipper

    Skipper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, I have to say it had a cool vehicle :)
    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The front section of the Ark II vehicle's fiberglas shell was remodeled into the Seeker spacecraft in Space Academy a couple of years later.
     
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