Monday, May 01, 2006

Celebrity Deathmatch: Roddenberry vs Allen

It strikes me that perhaps we're being unkind to Gene Roddenberry. The original Star Trek came close on the heels of Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, both of which were intermittently brilliant anthology series with no continuing casts or characters. At the time Twilight Zone seemed to have the better writing, but it also placed more emphasis on the supernatural and seemed to carry more ghost stories and ironic-surprise-ending stories ("IT'S A COOKBOOK!") than straight-faced SF. Outer Limits was more strongly an SF show, although of the B-movie Monster of the Week variety, and is interesting now mainly for the episodes "Soldier" and "Demon With a Glass Hand," which explain how Harlan Ellison was able to successfully sue James Cameron and end up with a nice six-figure settlement and a small piece of the Terminator franchise.

But after those three shows: what's left? The Invaders? Granted, the producers of X-Files and Invasion must have watched it religiously, but --

And after that, we're down to the curds and wheys of the Irwin Allen cinematic cheese factory: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants. Shows -- in some cases, successful and long-running shows -- distinguished by their sloppy writing, indifferent acting, crappy sets, frequent re-use of stock footage, and utterly idiotic science. "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!"

Really, I don't think we give Roddenberry nearly enough credit.