What did you watch this week in classic TV on DVD(or Blu)?

Jeff Flugel

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Episode Commentary
Star Trek
"The Trouble With Tribbles" (S2E15)

Undoubtedly one of the more classic episodes of the series, this is a respite from the show's normal pretentiousness by making a parody of itself with an absolutely silly premise. So unusual that Wikipedia has a whole treatise on just this one episode. The scene of Capt. Kirk half buried in tribbles has become a universal sci-fi icon of sorts.

The Enterprise is racing through the parsec quadrant that houses deep space station K-7 after receiving word of an attack by Klingons. Upon arrival, Kirk learns this is a false alarm intended to lure the Enterprise to the station to meet with a Federation agriculture bigwig in order to guard the station's storage of a special grain to be grown on nearby Sherman's planet. It's never explained who Sherman is, but he must have been pretty important to have a planet named after him. Kirk is incensed to be handed what he considers to be a frivolous task in relation to his already bloated self ego, but orders are orders.

Spock and Kirk repair to the Station's bar for a snort and to bitch about their assignment. It is here we're introduced to Cyrano Jones (Stanley Adams), an interstellar huckster who distributes anything from Spiken flame gems to Anterion glow water. To interested onlookers, he introduces his newest product--a furry cuddly creature called a 'tribble'. Lt. Uhuru is fascinated by it and purchases one for 10 credits. Back to tribbles in a minute.

The Federation orders Kirk to utilize the Enterprise as a giant UPS truck to safely transport the grain to Sherman's Planet. "Just lovely", grumbles Kirk. It's important to be protected as the Klingons want to sabotage the shipment for some reason. A Klingon warship is suddenly spotted causing Enterprise crew members to frantically scramble through the ship's passageways in search of something to do about the threat. Spock and Kirk beam back onto the space station to meet with smarmy Klingon Captain Koloth (William Campbell) who is requesting shore leave for his crew who's been aboard ship for 5 months and seeking some female companionship. Apparently space station K-7 is considered the Las Vegas of the Quadrant.

Wondering if it can be used as a hair extension; Scotty sucks down some space Scotch; Standing up to the Klingons

Meanwhile, Uhuru's pet tribble has popped out about ten babies. The crew is delighted over the furry little things and everybody wants one. Dr. McCoy soon learns the more you feed a tribble, the more it reproduces. Tibbles upon tribbles upon tribbles. Back at the station's bar, Klingons are taunting the Enterprise crew members by calling Capt. Kirk a "Dilebrium slime devil". Them's fightin' words, and all hell breaks loose so we get to witness an old fashioned interplanetary bar fight. Fortunately, there's no neon Budweiser signs, plate glass windows or Jack Daniel bottles to be broken.

Adding insult to injury, tribbles are taking over the station and the ship. As much as they eat--especially the stores of grain--they reproduce even more. But the tribbles, who have a natural aversion to Klingons, start to mysteriously die off. Well brand my space blaster, those Klingons had poisoned the grain supply. Sabotage occurred as predicted! Kirk, all puffed up righteous, kicks the Klingons out of the quadrant with stern words and shaking finger.

Spock calculates that it will take about 17 years to clean up all the tribble poop. Requests by crew for transfer off the Enterprise increases dramatically.

Notes:
Demand for tribble merchandise explodes:


Slippers, key chains, purses...
Is this your first review of a sci-fi show, Russ? You certainly chose an iconic one. I like this episode, though it's not one of my favorites from The Original Series. William Shatner's bemused expressions in "The Trouble with Tribbles" are priceless.
 

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Is this your first review of a sci-fi show, Russ? You certainly chose an iconic one.
Jeff, unless you consider my last commentary on The Invaders as non sci-fi, then this is my first one in this thread. To be honest, I've never been a big sci-fi fan (yep, kill me now). I guess I could never get over the cheesy sets and obvious scripts. I was having dinner in a nice restaurant with my wife last night and explaining my recent commentaries in here--mostly of which she is completely without knowledge but displays dutiful interest in my efforts--when I brought up a subject which procured a lively discussion. What if as kids in, say, in 1960 we were able to see Jurassic Park on TV through some sort of miraculous transfer of time and space? How would we have reacted after years of shows with simple stop-motion clay monsters and cardboard spaceships but then suddenly confronted with the startling reality of CGI expertise? My wife opined that most of us would have likely fainted in an overload of incomprehensible absorption of what were seeing. I think she's probably right. It's kind of fun to think about.

Heck, I can remember after MTV aired the quick-motion camera techniques in the early 80's that was rapidly picked up by the TV ad industry, I got headaches trying to follow the visuals as they flashed by my eyes. Today, we accept any scene lasting more than 2 seconds as snail-paced and hardly blink at the incredible images generated. What will we think of them 20-30 years from now? Archaic as those old 60's shows?

Sorry, I've digressed from your question. I've got a few more classic sci-fi series, some not so iconic, that I'll wade into--but using my more sophisticated eye today than what was considered "futuristic" back then. Just for fun.
 
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BobO'Link

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To be honest, I've never been a big sci-fi fan (yep, kill me now).
That's it... you're off the Christmas Card list! ;)
I guess I could never get over the cheesy sets and obvious scripts. I was having dinner in a nice restaurant with my wife last night and explaining my recent commentaries in here--mostly of which she is completely without knowledge but displays dutiful interest in my efforts--when I brought up a subject which procured a lively discussion. What if as kids in, say, in 1960 we were able to see Jurassic Park on TV through some sort of miraculous transfer of time and space? How would we have reacted after years of shows with simple stop-motion clay monsters and cardboard spaceships but then suddenly confronted with the startling reality of CGI expertise? My wife opined that most of us would have likely fainted in an overload of incomprehensible absorption of what were seeing. I think she's probably right. It's kind of fun to think about.
When I was watching all those movies as a kid I'd dream of the day when it was possible to actually do those effects/characters "right" so they didn't look so fake (in my early 20s I was absolutely thrilled with Star Wars and what they accomplished and saddened that more SF movies didn't take advantage of what it showcased - Disney's The Black Hole was a huge letdown, with both effects and story). Now that it *can* be done I'm bored silly by it. Sure it looks good, sometimes spectacular, but the *stories* are lacking. Sometimes incredibly so. I've gotten to where I'd much rather watch those old shows and movies with cheesy sets and *sometimes* obvious scripts than most of today's "CGI porn" SF movies. I appreciate the craftsmanship involved in those efforts far more than the ability to "draw" on a computer screen and have it manipulate the object while generating a background. Yes, I know *some* of those effects requires true art ability but it's just not the same. I'm far more impressed with practical effects than anything you can do with computer animation, no matter how realistic it may appear (and, to me, most of it still looks like a high end video game).
 

Doug Wallen

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Holiday season is a wonderful time. My family mashes the two major holidays together since we live in threee different states. We gather at my brothers in Nashville as the most central location (Mom in western Ky. on the Ohio river and I live in Macon, Ga. just south of Atlanta) for our celebration of Thanksmas (Thanksgiving on Thursday and Christmas on Friday). So I get to take advantage of Black Friday deals if I obtain any Christmas cash. Between travel and purchasing cheap movies and viewing same my "classic' viewing is slower. Therefore the shows I will be discussing were all viewed prior to Thanksgiving. Back home and rested, I hope to get back into the swing of things.

The Time Tunnel - Complete Series Bluray
The Death Trap (1.12) Ford Rainey, Tom Skerrit, Scott Marlowe, R.G. Armstrong. Doug and Tony help thwart an assassination attempt on Lincoln with the help of Pinkerton.

The Alamo (1.13) - Jim Davis, Rhodes Reason, John Lupton. This week it's time to "Remember The Alamo"!!!

While neither episode is memorable, the guest casts in these Irwin Allen series are of fairly high quality and the shows are enjoyable. Such excellent transfers.

Tarzan - The First Season Part 1
The Deadly Silence Part 1 and Part 2 (1.8 and 1.9) Jock Mahoney, Woody Strode, Nichelle Nichols, Robert DoQui. The 60's trope of the hero losing one of his senses such as blindness. Here Tarzan loses his hearing while he is trying to escape from a sadistic colonel (former Tarzan Jock Mahoney) by being underwater while grenades are thrown at him. Lots of padding as this played out over two weeks.

Gunsmoke - Seasons 8-9
The Bad One (8.20) Chris Robinson, Delores Sutton, Booth Coleman, Dabbs Greer. An overprotected "spinster" involved in a botched stage holdup, refuses to identify the thief as she believes she can redeem him.

The Cousin (8.21) Michael Forest, John Anderson, Gloria Talbott, James Nusser. Matt's foster brother (who has just been released from jail) is meeting with his partners and explains he wants to visit Dodge. Chance is ambiguous about his future plans and is torn between his affection for Matt and his loyalty to his partners. I liked this one.

Shona (8.22) Robert Bray, Miriam Colon, John Crawford, Roy Roberts. An examination of predjudice and frontier justice brought into Dodge. Quint finds himself drawn into the mix as a "half-breed". A white man is married to a "Squaw" (Shona), Indians are on the rampage and Shona becomes the object of the towns fear of the Indians. Excellent episode.

Ash (8.23) Anthony Caruso, John Dehner, Dee Hartford, Adam West. Two rugged men form a partnership and move freight. All is well until Galt is injured by a huge drum. After he recovers he is obsessed with an engaged woman and dislikes his partner, Ash. A very bittersweet story that tackles the dangers of head trauma and the changes that may become evident. Another strong story.
 

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The Time Tunnel - Complete Series Bluray
The Death Trap (1.12) Ford Rainey, Tom Skerrit, Scott Marlowe, R.G. Armstrong. Doug and Tony help thwart an assassination attempt on Lincoln with the help of Pinkerton.

The Alamo (1.13) - Jim Davis, Rhodes Reason, John Lupton. This week it's time to "Remember The Alamo"!!!

While neither episode is memorable, the guest casts in these Irwin Allen series are of fairly high quality and the shows are enjoyable. Such excellent transfers.
Indeed, you're right but I enjoy the Lincoln plot because of the guest actors: Tom Skerrit, Scott Marlowe.
 

Jeff Flugel

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Jeff, unless you consider my last commentary on The Invaders as non sci-fi, then this is my first one in this thread. To be honest, I've never been a big sci-fi fan (yep, kill me now). I guess I could never get over the cheesy sets and obvious scripts. I was having dinner in a nice restaurant with my wife last night and explaining my recent commentaries in here--mostly of which she is completely without knowledge but displays dutiful interest in my efforts--when I brought up a subject which procured a lively discussion. What if as kids in, say, in 1960 we were able to see Jurassic Park on TV through some sort of miraculous transfer of time and space? How would we have reacted after years of shows with simple stop-motion clay monsters and cardboard spaceships but then suddenly confronted with the startling reality of CGI expertise? My wife opined that most of us would have likely fainted in an overload of incomprehensible absorption of what were seeing. I think she's probably right. It's kind of fun to think about.

Heck, I can remember after MTV aired the quick-motion camera techniques in the early 80's that was rapidly picked up by the TV ad industry, I got headaches trying to follow the visuals as they flashed by my eyes. Today, we accept any scene lasting more than 2 seconds as snail-paced and hardly blink at the incredible images generated. What will we think of them 20-30 years from now? Archaic as those old 60's shows?

Sorry, I've digressed from your question. I've got a few more classic sci-fi series, some not so iconic, that I'll wade into--but using my more sophisticated eye today than what was considered "futuristic" back then. Just for fun.
D'oh! I completely spaced your Invaders review, Russ, my bad...and I now seem to remember a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century review as well...But yes, I can tell that sci-fi is not really your bag. I do hope one time you'll indulge us with an evisceration of one of the dopier episodes of Lost in Space or Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. ;)

I have to say that I often prefer old-fashioned physical special effects, even if creaky, over poorly done CGI. Jurassic Park was a very effective combo of the two, and would indeed have blown people's minds if seen back in the '50s and '60s. But there's a lot to be said for the sheer weight of realistic movement gained from using practical effects. Yes, there was some shoddy effects work back in the day, but also a lot of highly imaginative, cool designs. That's one thing I really appreciate about the newer Disney-era Star Wars movies (and now the TV show The Mandalorian) - the very effective combination of practical puppetry and CGI.
 
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Jeff Flugel

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Holiday season is a wonderful time. My family mashes the two major holidays together since we live in threee different states. We gather at my brothers in Nashville as the most central location (Mom in western Ky. on the Ohio river and I live in Macon, Ga. just south of Atlanta) for our celebration of Thanksmas (Thanksgiving on Thursday and Christmas on Friday). So I get to take advantage of Black Friday deals if I obtain any Christmas cash. Between travel and purchasing cheap movies and viewing same my "classic' viewing is slower. Therefore the shows I will be discussing were all viewed prior to Thanksgiving. Back home and rested, I hope to get back into the swing of things.
Happy (Merry?) Thanksmas to you and your family, Doug! Hope you scored some new-to-you DVDs and Blu-Rays. Thanks also for reminding me that I need to order that Region B Time Tunnel Blu-Ray set (it's one that I don't own on DVD).
 

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Happy (Merry?) Thanksmas to you and your family, Doug! Hope you scored some new-to-you DVDs and Blu-Rays. Thanks also for reminding me that I need to order that Region B Time Tunnel Blu-Ray set (it's one that I don't own on DVD).

If you want to travel into time, watch “The Night of the Lord of Limbo” (season 2) from The Wild Wild West,
guest starring Ricardo Montalban as magician and time master confederate Colonel Noel Bartlett Vautrain
and you will pop up into the Civil War. Ta-ta, Mr. West!
 

Jeff Flugel

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If you want to travel into time, watch “The Night of the Lord of Limbo” (season 2) from The Wild Wild West,
guest starring Ricardo Montalban as magician and time master confederate Colonel Noel Bartlett Vautrain
and you will pop up into the Civil War. Ta-ta, Mr. West!
Oh, yes, great episode, one of the high points of season 2!

 

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Oh, yes, great episode, one of the high points of season 2!



On my top list for season 2 all the way.
This is the second time traveling episode after “The Night of the Man-Eating House”.
In both, the travel takes place in the first floor of a grand mansion.
 

Purple Wig

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I have to say that I often prefer old-fashioned physical special effects, even if creaky, over poorly done CGI. Jurassic Park was a very effective combo of the two, and would indeed have blown people's minds if seen back in the '50s and '60s. But there's a lot to be said for the sheer weight of realistic movement gained from using practical effects. Yes, there was some shoddy effects work back in the day, but also a lot of highly imaginative, cool designs. That's one thing I really appreciate about the newer Disney-era Star Wars movies (and now the TV show The Mandalorian) - the very effective combination of practical puppetry and CGI.
Essentially the way I feel. Old-fashioned special effects were either genuinely good and effective, or fake/corny but still fun. Most CGI things I see look just as fake and are anything but fun. At best I would agree with Howie's take, to not deny the skill involved but that it looks more like a video game than a film.

On the topic of the model kit tie-ins, many of these were still available in the mid-1970's. I remember seeing Star Trek, Invaders, and Lost In Space kits. Of course ST was still actively syndicated, LIS to a lesser extent elsewhere, but LIS and Invaders were rarely or never shown in my area at the time.
 
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Rustifer

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Episode Commentary
Lost In Space
"The Sky Is Falling" (S1E10)

My apologies in advance to any of you reading this who are ardent fans of this series. Lost In Space, however, strains my credulity of reasonable nostalgia TV. I could never quite tell whether the show's creators were striving for out-and-out campy or just embarrassingly inept. In addition, the cast proved to be a dispirit group that never quite jelled as a believably cohesive ensemble.

Jonathan Harris, a fine stage actor, chews up the cardboard and paper mache scenery more than a whale goes through plankton. Guy Williams--after his initial success as Disney's Zorro--was probably ecstatic to get any acting role no matter how inane. June Lockhart looked rather perplexed as to how she graduated from Lassie to this dog of a show. Billy Mumy is the kind of snot-nosed kid whose fingers you want to crush while he's swinging on the monkey bars in the playground. In Hollywood, Mark Goddard is usually referred to as "Who?". Toothy Marta Kristen's heretofore greatest success was as a mermaid in Beach Blanket Bingo, and Angela Cartwright has been on television pretty much since its invention in the past century.

The opening scene in this episode shows a beastly little contraption suddenly entering into to Dr. Smith's morning constitutional among the sparkly fake planet rocks. The devise looks like a roomba dressed up for Halloween. Dr. Smith runs to the ship to alert the rest of the crew, but too late--the device finds its way inside. John Robinson boldly decides to dismantle the thing only to find inside what looks like a box of tic tacs. Pretty sophisticated stuff. The crew wanders to the galley for milk and cake--the recommended diet for space travelers.
upload_2019-12-6_12-28-52.jpeg
upload_2019-12-6_12-29-38.jpeg

A maniacal roomba on the move; the aliens strenuously resists the hairdresser's efforts; it can get a little lonely on the planet...

Following the contraption to the planet is a family of aliens sporting very bad hairdos. Smith takes it upon himself to visit the humanoids, but his snarky self conceit is met with stone cold silence. So we return once again to the Robinsons dining--al fresco--on what appears to be a folding table from a VFW lodge's bridge night. Discussions include topics such as matter dispursement, atmosphere density and what the hell were these damn visitors doing in our neck of the planet? Dr. Smith labels them as hostile enemies, Will hopes they're playful and pretty Judy wonders if any of them has better lovemaking stamina than Major West.

One of the aliens is Will's age and brings him a toy with which to play. In appreciation of his thoughtfulness, Will sneezes on the kid and practically kills him with earth-type germs. In the spirit of saving the child, everyone comes together as friends despite Dr. Smith nearly causing armed conflict among them.

The most entertaining element of this show is Major Don West's ongoing and complete sneering disgust over everything that comes out of Dr. Smith's mouth. That, and the relentless dependence on landscapes that look as though constructed by a third grader's art class.

Notes:
Unbelievably, CBS turned down Star Trek in favor of this opus. Each episode cost around $150,000--mostly spent on cardboard and paste, I guess.

Guy Williams fled to Argentina after the series was cancelled, while Jonathan Harris could only score voice overs for the remainder of his career. Regarding Mark Goddard--"who?"


Billy Mumy's initial cuteness quickly turned to adult nerdiness...
 

Rustifer

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I do hope one time you'll indulge us with an evisceration of one of the dopier episodes of Lost in Space
I gave it a shot, Jeff.

That's one thing I really appreciate about the newer Disney-era Star Wars movies (and now the TV show The Mandalorian) - the very effective combination of practical puppetry and CGI.
As a mostly non sci-fi guy, I've surprised myself and have actually gotten into The Mandalorian. Good stuff.
 
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Your mistake, Russ, was reviewing episode 10 and not episode 1 or 2 (or even better - the original pilot) which were produced before Allen pretty much blew the season's budget in the early episodes. His modus operandi (put lots of money/flash into the first half dozen or so episodes and then cut corners everywhere possible later in the season to make up for the overruns). While he did that on every show bearing his stamp it was never as seemingly pronounced as with this one. He also allowed Harris to pretty much take control of his character as he gradually camped it up in season 1 (in the first few episodes he's quite menacing and not the sniveling idiot he quickly became once Harris was allowed free reign). His character is completely missing from the original pilot and it's better for the omission. That camp factor was ramped up considerably when, the next year, ABC put Batman on opposite the first half hour and the show began its downhill slide into a full blown camp fest monster of the week format.

Some would say CBS made a mistake picking up Lost in Space over Star Trek but the ratings for LIS were consistently higher than those for ST. In the final season rankings, LIS was in 32nd place its first season, 35th the 2nd, and 33rd the last. Star Trek never made it above 52nd place. I don't get it.

I still enjoy LIS but it gets a viewing once every few years (and will frequently skip several episodes). I tend to watch ST:TOS at least once per year (and only occasionally skip a couple of episodes).
 

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The aforementioned LIS kit, inspired of course, by the great season one episode There Were Giants in the Earth (Oct. 6, 1965)...I built this one and painted it as best as I could as the 9 to 10 year old kid that I was...I remember it being among the pricier Aurora kits, I think it was in the $1.98 to $2.49 range, at least in Canadian currency, which was pretty much at par in 1965-66...the great art was by famed illustrator Mort Kunstler, and his artwork really worked to excite kids into wanting these, as you can see...he did two versions of this scene, but this is the one that I remember having...the other was a more affordable version without the chariot...I had to deliver a month's worth of daily newspapers in order to afford this one...



More examples of Aurora kits with Kunstler art from the sixties...I can tell you that I built the majority of these kits...too many in retrospect...Universal movie monsters, medieval knights, etc...



More original unbuilt kits from an auction house...pricey, pricey these days...


The Creature from the Black Lagoon was among the most nicely detailed, along with the other Universal movie monsters...I remember these being in the 98 cent realm...








The Superboy and Krypto release was nicely done...this one was among my favorites...


Among the most expensive Aurora kits were these "Great Moments in Sports" releases...I couldn't afford these ones, but wanted them just the same...there were other ones with Jim Brown, Jerry West, Chuck Dempsey / Firpo prize fight...








The range and variety of Aurora kits in those days was incredible...I built this one too...






Some of the tooling dies from the more popular kits that were still usable were reissued by Monogram...and then sold to Asia, where they re-emerged under the Polar Lights brand...some with newly done tooling for high end collectors...
 

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Those images really bring back memories... I built quite a few of them: The Mummy, The Phantom of the Opera, The Chamber of Horrors Guillotine (which has a person on a board that can be slid under the blade to have their head chopped off! Yes - the blade would drop down and "off with their head!" Quite fun!), Dracula, The Seaview, Superman (that one's really cool - he's breaking through a brick wall), the Cougar, The LIS Chariot, King Kong's Thronester (pictured below), The Munster Koach (pictured below), and more. I'd spend hours in the dime store looking at the model kits trying to decide just which to spend my hard earned money on.

King Kong's Thronester (I even have the box for that one - it's storing a collection of vintage Matchbox cars still in their boxes):



The AMT Munster Koach (I wanted a Drag-U-La too but never got that one):
 
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Good memories Howie! The George Barris and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth novelty cars...Hot Rod Magazine, Rat Fink and Wonder Wart Hog cartoons, ha, ha...The Munsters are about to experience a Renaissance, what with Scream Factory's announcement of Munster Go Home coming out in a new Blu-ray...

I had that Chamber of Horrors Guillotine too! And the Bride of Frankenstein...between all these and the loads of Revell and Monogram 49 cent airplane kits I had, I wonder how I ever found room for all of them in my bedroom!




 
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