REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACITCA (1978)

Starring

Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Dirk Benedict (The A-Team)
Lorne Greene (The Bastard)
John Colicos (Star Trek)
Maren Jensen (Deadly Blessing)
Noah Hathaway (Troll)
Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Black Gunn)
Tony Swartz (Schizoid)
Laurette Spang-McCook (The Secrets of Isis)
Terry Carter (McCloud)
Anne Lockhart (Convoy)
Jonathan Harris (Lost In Space)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lew Ayres (Holiday)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Sarah Rush (Catch Me If You Can)
Carol Baxter (The Incredible Hulk)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Patrick Macnee (The Howling)
Felix Silla (Spaceballs)
Janet Julian (King of New York)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Larry Manetti (Hawaii Five-0)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Red West (Road House)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Christine Belford (Christine)
Richard Lynch (Puppet MAster III)
Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man)
Alex Hyde-White (The Fantastic Four)
Olan Soule (The Towering Inferno)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Lloyd Bridges (Airplane)
Kirk Alyn (Superman 1948)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Fred Astaire (Funny Face)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Lloyd Bochner (The Naked Gun 2)
Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Ana Alicia (Halloween II)

Since the the modern remake of this series rapidly become the next big thing in TV Sci-Fi, many people are going to be tempted to pick up this boxed set to find out how it all began. You can’t go wrong here – this represents astounding value for money, and a great opportunity to discover or rediscover a series that really does deserve its classic status. It even has some decent extras.

Battlestar Galactica was created in 1978 a year after the Star Wars, and was essentially a brazen attempt by ABC television to cash in on the mammoth unexpected success of that film. Under conditions that may never be repeated, it was suddenly considered viable to create a full-blown big-budget epic primetime family-oriented science fiction extravaganza with a budget of $1m per episode (big money in those days). The series ran for a total of 24 episodes before being canned due to its expense and sliding ratings, but it had a huge impact and is remembered with great fondness even by those who aren’t rabid fans.


The story draws inspiration from diverse mythical and religious sources, including Ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the book of Exodus, and the Mormon upbringing of its creator Glen A. Larson. When the 12 colonies of man are annihilated by the robotic Cylons, the only surviving Battlestar, Galactica, assembles a small fleet of dilapidated civilian ships and makes a run for it with the survivors, hoping to find the legendary 13th tribe who may have settled on a distant, mythical planet called Earth.


The series is often criticised for endlessly recycling stock footage, especially during the space battles where this reaches almost unreasonable levels, and for its cheesiness (plenty of cute kids and robots in this one), but on the whole it’s much easier to forgive such faults in retrospect. It also benefits enormously from its arresting premise, strong plotting, and above all its nigh-on perfect casting. It’s worth watching the 24 episodes through as well, because it does improve as it goes along, and is serialised to a degree. Considering it ran for such a short time, it does a surprisingly thorough job of exploring its themes, so it’s debatable what its natural life would have been had it been allowed to continue. Towards the end it becomes more cerebral and interesting, as eventually Galactica moves beyond its own space and begins to encounter worlds and cultures that bear an eerie resemblance to modern Earth.

There are several documentaries on the seventh disc featuring interviews with almost all of the surviving cast and crew. These are fairly entertaining and informative, especially the production footage which reveals how hard the back-projection was to pull off (it’s a shame there isn’t more on the effects). It’s clear that Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict are still bitter that the plug was pulled so early, and they express this with some eloquence. Both campaigned vigorously, independently, to bring it back.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 4

Starring

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)

Bill Bixby and Laurie Prange in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Carol Baxter (The Curse of Dracula)
Rosemary Forsyth (Ghosts of Mars)
William Lucking (Red Dragon)
Robert F. Lyons (Roswell)
John Finn (Cold Case)
Christine Belford (Wonder Woman)
Billy Green Bush (Critters)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Up through the third season the thing that really kept The Incredible Hulk going was solid character development. Though each tale was more or less episodic, traveling with David every week provided a much needed amount of humanity to counterbalance the hulking insanity.

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The third year started a slide in quality with more gonzo episodes leading the way. Unfortunately that trend continues with the eighteen episodes included in this season.Despite the overall lacking nature of the fourth season, there are still plenty of enjoyable adventures for David and his big angry friend.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The most notable episode here is the season opener which is a two-part story that has David getting stuck mid-transformation. The military gets involved as they think David is actually an alien so they take him back to the lab for further examination. Another two-part episode in this season sees David tracking down another “monsters”. This one has plenty to appreciate for fans of the show and it even offers the Hulk something other than a thug, brick wall, or car to beat up on! Other than the extended episodes here this season more or less splits right down the middle in terms of quality.

REVIEW: SWAMP THING: THE SERIES

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CAST

Dick Durock (The Enforcer)
Mark Lindsay Chapman (Lois & CLark)
Jesse Zeigler (Captiva Island)
Carrell Myers (Problem Child 2)
Scott Garrison (Xena)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Kevin Quigley (Sheena)
Anthony Gaide (Just One of The Guys)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Martha Smith (Animal House)
Marc Macaulay (Monster)
Roscoe Lee Browne (Babe)
Jacob Witkin (Hail, Caesar!)
Summer Phoenix (The Faculty)
Sandahl Bergman (Red Sonja)
Patrick Neil Quinn (Days of Our Lives)
David Ackroyd (After Mash)
Kevin Nash (The Punisher)
Christie Lynn Smith (Bones)
Elizabeth Fendrick (Vacation)
Janet Julian (King of New York)
Heather Thomas (The Fall Guy)
Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Cheryl Hines (The Ugly Truth)

I enjoyed the Swamp Thing films but didn’t know what to expect of a weekly show that would have a small budget. Looking back, I feel the series succeeded as often as it failed.

The best episodes were those that focused on Swamp Thing (or ‘Alec’ as he was referred to by the people who knew him). The series started out on shaky footing, and had Swamp Thing act out of character. In the first episode he turns a bad guy into a tree until the writers establish that he would never take a human life. Any episode that had him turn back human was well done.

Most of the episodes made him a Rod Serling of the swamp, taking a back seat to the action. A lot of these weren’t too bad. These boiled down to two plots: bad guys hide out in the swamp, only to have to face their crimes in a nightmareish way, or people with problems wander in the swamp, to become better by facing their fears. The best of these was when Ray Wise (Dr. Holland from the original movie) guest starred as someone who might be an alien and almost kills Swamp Thing.

I enjoyed the show Although it could have been so much more, it was certainly better than many other shows or movies based on comic books.

REVIEW: THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING

 

CAST

Louis Jourdan (Octopussy)
Dick Durock (Stand By Me)
Heather Locklear (Spin City)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)

The Return of Swamp Thing sees evil scientist Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jordan) trying to reverse the extreme ageing that he is undergoing as a result of his experiments. Meanwhile in Los Angeles his stepdaughter Abigail (Heather Locklear) decides to visit him to find out more about her late mother & the events surrounding her sudden death. It turns out that Abigail has the exact genetic make-up that Arcane needs to complete his experiments & give himself eternal life. Arcane also needs a sample of Swamp Thing’s (Dick Durock) DNA to complete the process but getting a sample isn’t going to be as easy as Arcane hoped for as Swamp Thing sets out to put an end to Arcane’s evil experiments…Heather Locklear in The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)I have to say that I really liked The Return of Swamp Thing & for my money just about the best thing Wynorski has ever done (which isn’t saying much in itself). A direct sequel to Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing (1982) it is never actually explained how Arcane survived the events during the climax of the original although it turns out he is suffering from the process that saved him which forms the basis of the plot as he sets out to find a cure & doesn’t care how many people he kills to do just that.The-Return-of-Swamp-ThingBased on the dark Gothic DC comic book character the script by Neil Cuthbert & Grant Morris hasn’t got too much to it & is rather simplistic & underdeveloped but is good fun all the same & you suspect that what the production team were aiming for, a good solid entertaining light hearted fun comic book superhero flick which I think it succeeds at being but like most things in life it’s down to personal opinion. At a little over 90 minutes it’s relatively short, it moves along like a rocket & I was never bored with it which is always a good thing to be able to say.Return-of-STThere are one or two half decent action set-pieces but considering the production team had a budget smaller than the Wes Craven original you could say they worked minor miracles. The character’s are fun although not particularly deep, the dialogue is often amusing & packed full of one-liners & doesn’t take itself too seriously either with Locklear’s character referring to the TV show T.J. Hooker (1982 – 1986) in which she starred. All in all much, much better than I expected & a film that I really liked. Keep watching after the end actor credits as the two kids get an extra little scene.return-swamp-thing-displayOne very impressive aspect of The Return of Swamp Thing is the special make-up effects which are of a very high standard. The Leechman in particularly looks great although he disappears about halfway through, there’s a elaborate Cockroachman & an Elephantman. The Swamp Thing suit is also much better than seen in the original, it’s far more leafy & slimy & more representative of a what a half man half Georgia swamp creature may look like. The Dr. Rochelle mutation at the end also looks good but is dispatched too easily by Swamp Thing & doesn’t put up much of a fight. There are some good fight scenes as well along with a couple of impressive explosions.If you’re a fan of B-movies, as I am, you’re likely to enjoy this. There are plenty of laughs, both intentional and unintentional. The acting is what you would expect, and the effects are really quite good for its day. It’s simply a good Comic Book Movie that will past the time.

REVIEW: SWAMP THING (1982)

 

CAST

Louis Jourdan (Octopussy)
Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
David Hess (Smash Cut)
Nicholas Worth (Darkman)
Dick Durock (Stand By Me)

Ben Bates and Dick Durock in Swamp Thing (1982)In the swamps of Louisiana, Dr. Alec Holland works with his sister Linda on a top-secret bio-engineering project to create a plant/animal hybrid capable of thriving in extreme environments. Government agent Alice Cable arrives just as Holland makes a major breakthrough, and begins to develop feelings for him. However, a paramilitary group led by the evil Dr. Anton Arcane, who is obsessed with immortality, kills Linda while trying to steal the formula for their own purposes.During the attack, Alice escapes and Alec is covered in chemicals, caught on fire, and runs screaming in the swamp, presumably to die. However, he returns as a monstrously mutated plant creature. As the Swamp Thing, Holland battles Arcane’s forces to protect Cable, and eventually takes on Arcane himself, also mutated by the Holland formula.a3ba80290d0168ba313c0cf90d111d904950ba46Swamp Thing doesn’t take itself too seriously but it’s not too tongue-in-cheek to make it look like a camp parody. The production values tend to be a flaky but Swampy’s costume doesn’t look too bad. At the heart of Swamp Thing is a doomed romance which can never fully blossom and the film does have some substance.Swamp-Thing-1982It’s certainly not a rubbish film and fans of the genre will find that this is a stronger film than many others. Swamp Thing himself is an interesting character, a disfigured genius who is very much aware of his sad situation, he isn’t just a green rage machine, he has depth and is a monster capable of great tenderness