Saturday, May 26, 2007

30 years and a country far, far away:

Wow, has it really been 30 years since Star Wars came out? It may be hard to believe for some nowadays but during those doldrum years between the demise of Star Trek and the summer of '77, SiFi seemed to be pretty much dead. Sure, after '69 there would be the odd Gene Roddenberry TV movie/pilot for a new series that would go no where, like Planet Earth -- John Saxon didn't help his career with that one -- or the Planet of the Apes sequels or something out of left field like Logan's Run (which was awesome); there was nothing, though, that really captured the public's imagination.


The SIFI world was a vast Tatooinesque desert populated by a small number of diehards like myself who went to Star Trek "conventions" at the Polish American club in Lake Worth FLA where, maybe a hundred, people would gather to contribute a few bucks each to rent a movie projector to watch Star Trek episodes and movies like When World's Collide or The Day the Earth Stood Still. (Those were the days!) There was Space 1999, but that show was all cool space ships and uniforms, nothing else: Nothing to really grab a 13-year old boy by the throat and transport him out of the late seventies.

Until, that is, Star Wars came along.

I remember seeing the ad in the movie section of the newspaper and saying to myself, "hmmm. . . . . . maybe I'll check this out." I was a latch-key kid out of school and bored of my mind. I dipped into the cookie jar where my mom kept her spare change, took 8 quarters out, got on my 10-speed and made my way to the other side of Lake Worth. I paid my money, went into the dark air conditioned theater, and had my mind blown again and again. (I still get goose bumps when I hear that first crash of the opening music.) By the time the violins were lightly lilting and the camera was panning down to Tatooine, before I even saw the colonial ship being fired on, my mouth was already agape: "In a galaxy far, far away!" Sold and sold!

That summer I went every day and sat through every showing, which I think was three a day. Back then, they would let you pay once and just stay all day. And as the summer went on, the air conditioning really became a selling point (it may sound hard to believe now, but not everyone in Florida had AC in 1977).

By the time my mom figured out where all her spare change had gone -- the jar was empty -- the world had changed forever. Right after Star Wars -- well, two years after? -- The first Star Trek movie came out and SiFi geeks all over the country rejoiced. [Though, Robert Wise probably could have waited another year to figure out how to cover up Deforest Kelley's liver spots -- or just passed on that one altogether and gotten right to ---- Khan!!!!!] After Start Wars, I was firmly planted in my TV chair every Sunday night for Battlestar Galactica and I was absolutely in heat over Erin Gray’s tight, tight space pants in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. (Man, its hard being 15 and being hard all the time.)


Those were good times to be a SiFi geek. Every chance we could, my cousins and me used to make it to the local drug store to buy up every magazine that had anything to do with Star Wars. Luckily, also, MAD and Cracked saw what was going on and pretty much had to have an issue every month lampooning the movie. With characters like Luke Skywalker and C3PO, it was a real no-brainer. The perfect combination of two of the world's most important things to a teenage male in American in the late seventies!

And then came Punk Rock: I was outa' there.

I've got to say, though, George Lucas seemed to realize that the little kids that had started out on A New Hope were growing up, to his credit he made the following episodes a little more adult to keep our interest. I was always there on opening day to see the next installment; this is, until after the Empire Strikes Back. This latest stuff holds not the least bit of interest for me. Lucas fiddling with the originals really ruined it for me, I've got to say. Oh well, we'll always have the summer of '77.

Post Script: Bring Firefly back!

Thank God, we now have the new Battlestar Gallactica and the 14 episodes of Joss Whedon's Firefly and the movie Serenity, which we can watch over and over again and never get sick of.

Hey Joss, could you please get on with making Wonder Woman and get back to Firefly? If you do, I'll buy two copies of the box sets just to make it worth your while, ok? Please?

P.P.S. Bring back Book and Wash! I can't believe you killed them off!

Use the standard "temporal anomaly" ruse: The Operative is really the young Book before he went into the Abbey. That explains how Book knows so much about fire arms and knee-capping and get's medical treatment from the Feds with no questions asked. Alan Tudik comes back as another character, very similar to Wash, who initially sports a mustache, and who, incidentally, Zoe also hates. We'll suspend our disbelief, I promise. (That Nathan Fillion is becoming a big star fast, grab him while you can still get him cheap!)


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