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SF in film and TV
May 1999

More on Star Wars

  • Famed art critic Robert Hughes' review was too scathing for Time Magazine, but it appears on New York Daily News Online. [link source: Arts & Letters Daily]
  • Another scathing but funny piece by Rex Murphy that was broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's The National.
  • The review by Anthony Lane in The New Yorker isn't online, but it's too good not to quote for what it says both about the SFnal paucity of Star Wars -- ''Geographically, the 'Star Wars' series may be the most outlandish of sagas; in terms of its emotional politics, however, it remains the most shrinkingly conservative. Every time it sets sail for new worlds, it turns out to be landlocked by attitudes that would have sat snugly in a Western of the nineteen-twenties.'' -- but also about the nature of current movies in general; the review begins:
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, people made movies with people in them, and some of those movies made sense. Then something happened, and the people started to vanish from the movies, along with most of the sense. For a while, the spectacle was fun to observe, but slowly the pictures tipped into insanity, or, at any rate, into the hypnotically bad. The joke was that the number of viewers willing to submit to such hypnosis went not down but through the roof.
  • Slate's James Surowiecki tries to figure out the economics of The Phantom Menace: who's taxing whom, and why is it worth fighting a war over?
  • An MSNBC article claims ''there's still a lot to be learned from the 'Star Wars' sagas, even if the science isn't quite right''.

(Thu 27 May 1999)

Buck Houghton

A.E. ''Buck'' Houghton, Jr., television producer, died Friday May 14th in Los Angeles of emphysema at the age of 84. He was producer of The Twilight Zone for the show's first three seasons, from 1959 to 1962, when most of the series' most famous episodes were made. (The show ran two additional years after Houghton left.) After graduating from UCLA Houghton worked his way from the mail room through other departments in the Hollywood studios during the 1940s and 1950s. Following Twilight Zone Houghton produced other TV series including The Richard Boone Show with playwright Clifford Odets, The High Chaparral, and Hawaii Five-O. In his retirement he wrote What a Producer Does: The Art of Moviemaking (Not the Business) (Silman-James Press, 1992). The Amazon page has reminiscences by Houghton's son about his father.

(Fri 21 May 1999)

Star Wars

Among the interesting reviews and commentaries on the web:

(Fri 21 May 1999)


Opening Friday, May 21st, in the shadow of Star Wars is a documentary about fans of Star Trek. Some reviews online:

  • Roger Ebert's 3 star review, which comments: ''Trekkies and Trekkers evolved from the older, broader-based science-fiction fandom, which began with mimeographed magazines in the 1940s and went on to sponsor gigantic WorldCons and influence the Web (many Web pages are mutated fanzines). Fandom began the tradition of dressing in the costumes of sci-fi characters, and "Star Trek" fandom is deeply involved in such things...''
  • Gene Seymour's review in the Los Angeles Times
  • Lawrence Van Gelder's review in the New York Times
  • Science Fiction Weekly's reviews of both Phantom Menace (grade: A-) and Trekkies (grade: A).

(Fri 21 May 1999)

News from The Onion

New Television Show In the Works

(Fri 21 May 1999)


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