40 years ago, Star Wars killed the most promising sci-fi show of all time

In a sci-fi world the place nobody is permitted to reside longer than 30 years, you’d assume the storytelling prospects can be fairly restricted. By all accounts, the 1976 movie Logan’s Run does handle to totally discover and resolve its thrilling idea, however one 12 months later, the Logan’s Run TV present nonetheless managed to make a convincing case for its existence.

This surprisingly compelling and completely underrated retro gem asks a distinct query about this particular dystopia: What if the premise of Logan’s Run was not the story of Logan’s Run? 40 years in the past — on September 16, 1977 — the TV model of Logan’s Run had extra sci-fi writing cred than most new TV reveals have in the present day. So what went improper?

The success of Star Wars created loads of issues for different sci-fi TV and movie of the late Seventies. Because Star Wars was overwhelmingly praised for its visible results, a refined however related backlash emerged in sci-fi discourse: who cares about good particular results anyway?

When you learn a 1977 interview with the Logan’s Run TV present producers, you’ll discover an annoyance with the Star Wars comparisons isn’t subtext. It’s simply textual content. After Logan’s Run was canceled in early 1978, one of many stars of the sequence, Heather Menzies (who performed Jessica 6) additionally blamed Star Wars for the premature finish. As she stated in 2017, “I think they needed to spend more Money on the visuals. Star Wars came out around that time and we couldn’t really compete with that.”

In that very same subject of Starlog, the sequence stars — Gregory Harrison and Heather Menzies — rock the entrance cowl with the headline: “Logan’s Run: This Season’s Most Exciting TV Series.” When you think about the recycled movie costumes and footage discovered on this sequence, you would possibly end up scoffing at such a declare. How may critical sci-fi journalists in 1977 get this present so improper? It seems to be so unhealthy!

But from a writing perspective, the Logan’s Run sequence is definitely wonderful. The script editor was D.C. Fontana — well-known for her work on Star Trek — and a number of other scripts and tales of the present have been written by different massively proficient science fiction authors, together with David Gerrold, Harlan Ellison, and John Meredyth Lucas. The pilot was co-written by novelist William F. Nolan, co-author of the unique ebook, whereas the present was produced by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, who had created the smash-hit Charlie’s Angels the 12 months earlier than.

Does any of this come by within the sequence? If you are affected person and may see past the low-budget manufacturing values, the reply is a giant sure. Logan’s Run the sequence is nearly nothing just like the movie. The film’s central drawback of a society the place persons are murdered at 30 years previous is actually only a backdrop for extra fascinating story-of-the-week sci-fi plots.

Mostly, Logan 5 and Jessica 6 roam a post-apocalyptic Earth. Each week, they encounter a distinct sci-fi puzzle that looks like their very own Black Mirror or Twilight Zone story. They encounter straight-up aliens within the second episode (“The Collectors”). In the fifth episode (“Man Out of Time”), a time traveler from the previous tries to forestall their future altogether.

Logan’s Run seems to be horrible, however the tales it advised have been something however,CBS

Each episode incorporates sufficient materials for a whole mid-range sci-fi sequence in the present day. “Half-Life” imagines a daunting future caste system, whereas “Crypt” explores the hazards of unfreezing people saved in cryogenic sleep for too lengthy.

In the movie model of Logan’s Run, the acquainted sci-fi trope of an ideal society retaining a lethal secret was the complete story. But within the TV present, the writers assumed the viewers was a little bit smarter than that. Logan questions the system and turns into a runner inside the first 5 minutes of Episode 1.

Watching Logan’s Run now, all you may see is wasted potential. Gregory Harrison is okay as Logan however he lacks the charismatic star energy of different ‘70s sci-fi stars — like, say, Dirk Benedict, who later played Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica. Later, Heather Menzies revealed that Benedict did, in fact, audition for the part of Logan, and one can only wonder how that would have turned out if he had gotten the role.

Logan’s Run shouldn’t be an ideal sci-fi TV sequence. It could not even be an incredible one. But it’s significantly better than it will get credit score for. Battlestar Galactica would go on to be reimagined as top-of-the-line sci-fi reveals ever in 2003. Why not Logan’s Run subsequent? If some magic wand may very well be waved, and this sequence may very well be remade with trendy manufacturing values however the identical wealthy sense of story, that present can be an on the spot sci-fi basic, reborn from the ashes of a sequence no one remembered within the first place.

Logan’s Runthe TV sequence — is streaming totally free on Tubi.

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