Category: Blasts from the Past

Star Trek Costumes Block and Erdmann final cover 2015

Review by C.J. Bunce

The best non-fiction look at Star Trek in years is now available at book stores and online retailers.  Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier, by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann will serve as a companion book to The Art of Star Trek, The Continuing Mission, and Star Trek: The Art of the Film, all previously reviewed here and here at  Together these four books represent the best visual looks at the history of Star Trek.  This new volume includes beautiful, clear, full-color photographs in a colorful hardcover, coffee table edition.

General fans of Hollywood costumes will learn plenty about the variety of major costumes used in the Star Trek universe throughout the past 50 years, and Star Trek diehards will find many interesting tidbits, too.  Highlights include recollections of costume designer Robert Fletcher about his creations for the movies and photos of several of his original costume designs, including his sketches for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk Class B uniform, Scotty’s engineering radiological suit used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the maroon, naval-style officer and crewman uniforms first appearing in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.


William Ware Theiss’s era-defining costumes from the original series receive plenty of coverage, including images of some of Theiss’s often quickly rendered costume designs.  The original hand-drawn artwork from past and present is worth its weight in gold press latinum, including original costume designs for Star Trek: The Next Generation by Durinda Rice Wood (like Counselor Troi’s beautiful, form-fitting, burgundy jumpsuit), costume designs for Star Trek: First Contact by Deborah Everton (like Lily’s 2063 civilian garb worn by Alfre Woodard), Robert Blackman’s original concept art for Star Trek Generations (like the British Naval uniforms), and Sanja Milkovich Hays’ original concept sketches for Star Trek: Insurrection (like the female Tarlac nurse bodysuits) many including photos of corresponding fabric swatches.  While Star Trek Costumes provides only a brief look at the costumes of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise, it provides a nice overview of the revisited designs and variants of Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness, including a focus on the Klingon costumes.

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Alien Nation

In honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the studio, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will celebrate by releasing 100 classics digitally.  Five classic films from the studio will be made available digitally for the first time ever – Sunrise (1927), Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), Man Hunt (1941), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and the original Jimmy Stewart classic The Flight of the Phoenix (1965).  Throughout the rest of this year a total of 100 digital releases will follow from Fox’s film catalog, including 10 films which have never been released in any format – the Raoul Walsh classics The Red Dance (1928), The Cock-Eyed World (1929), The Bowery (1933), Hello Sister (1933) and Sailor’s Luck (1933); John Ford’s Men Without Women (1935), Will Rogers in State Fair (1933), Shirley Temple in Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949), the Marilyn Monroe documentary Marilyn (1963), and Metropolitan (1935), the first film ever from Twentieth Century Fox.

Other films being released include Oscar-winning and nominated favorites from legendary filmmakers F.W Murnau, Frank Borzage and Akira Kurosawa, and movie stars including Henry Fonda, Kathleen Turner, Marlon Brando, Tyrone Power, Jimmy Stewart, Michael Douglas, Betty Grable, Orson Welles, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Joan Fontaine, and Sophia Loren.

Romancing the Stone Douglas Turner

Check out this big list of films to look forward to, including many fairly recent favorites, all available soon, with some of our recommendations highlighted:

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Rebel Blockade Runner

The most expensive Star Wars prop and the most iconic single Star Trek costume sold at auction this past week.  A new record was set for the highest sale price for a television costume, the market proved yet again that even the slightest Star Wars item takes top dollar, and sci-fi again rules the private collectors’ market for screen-used costumes, props and other entertainment memorabilia.  It all happened at auction house Profiles in History’s latest Hollywood memorabilia auction, held in Calabasas, California over three days September 30 through October 2, 2015.

Profiles in History reported that it tolled $7.3 million in sales in the auction.  The biggest news came from a production model of the Rebel Blockade Runner, the first ship seen at the beginning of the original Star Wars, which set the record for the sale of any Star Wars production piece.  It sold for double the catalog estimate at $450,000.  The prior record for a Star Wars item was $402,500, TIE Fighter filming miniature from Star Wars that sold at Profiles in 2008.

George Reeves’ The Adventures of Superman television series earned its rightful place in the history of television, with his supersuit selling for $216,000, the most for any known sale of a television costume.

Superman George Reeves

Star Trek fans saw the most iconic Star Trek costume with the best provenance recorded sell for $84,000.  That was one of Leonard Nimoy’s blue tunics from the original series, accompanied by the documentation whereby a fan won the costume from a studio promotion back in the 1960s.  No other original series piece has sold with better provenance back to the studio.  Other Star Trek items sold included an original series third season McCoy standard blue uniform for $57,000, and an incomplete Class A Spock uniform for $14,000.

Everyone wants to get their hands on original Star Wars items–the most difficult of the major franchises to collect since most items remain with Lucas or Lucasfilm.  A small section of the Death Star barely seen in Return of the Jedi sold for a whopping $39,000.  And even though it wasn’t screen-used, a lot consisting of prototype pieces of the most cosplayed sci-fi outfit ever, Carrie Fisher’s “Slave Leia” outfit from Return of the Jedi, sold for $96,000.  Finally, in the top echelon of sales at the auction, a special effects camera used to film Star Wars sold for $72,000.

Then there’s Indiana Jones.  One of Harrison Ford’s screen-used bullwhips sold for $204,000, a fedora went for $90,000, and one of his shirts and leather jackets each sold for $72,000.

Jurassic Park cane

Other notable, classic, genre pieces sold, including:

From Forbidden Planet, a light-up laser rifle ($66,000), a light-up laser pistol ($27,500), and a Walter Pidgeon Dr. Morbius costume ($24,000).

From Jaws, a Robert Shaw Quint harpoon rifle ($84,000) and machete ($27,000).

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The same agency that taunted James Bond in five classic James Bond films (Thunderball, Dr. No, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice) is the subject of SPECTRE, the 24th in the current franchise and 26th to feature Bond (if you include David Niven’s Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again).  Two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz will star as the next Bond villain, “Oberhauser.”  SPECTRE is also the agency led by fan favorite Bond villain Blofeld, which has led to speculation that Oberhauser is really an alias for Blofeld.  With the last trailer released a few hours ago and the release date almost upon us, we’re that much closer to learning the truth.

Have you voted yet in out our James Bond – Bond Girl poll?  Check it out here.

Skyfall director Sam Mendes again directs Bond in SPECTRE.  New cast members include the BBC Sherlock’s Moriarty, Andrew Scott, as Denbigh, Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour) as the new Bond girls Lucia Sciarra and Madeleine Swann, with Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista as Waltz’s henchman Hinx.  Returning cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, and Ben Whishaw, reprising their roles from Skyfall as well as Jesper Christensen as Mr. White.

Christoph Waltz

Here is the final trailer for SPECTRE:

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Halloween poster

Halloween–the 1978 movie that put both director John Carpenter and actress Jamie Lee Curtis on the map–is coming back to theaters for one night only.  The film was created for only $300,000 and premiered at Kansas City’s downtown Midland Theater 37 years ago this month and then spread by word of mouth across the country to earn $70 million and become the first modern horror blockbuster.  To illustrate the low budget, Nick Castle, the actor that played the story’s villain, Michael Myers, wore a last-minute found $2 William Shatner/Captain Kirk mask.  Now Halloween is Fathom Events’ next big Halloween event.

More than 200 theaters will air Halloween on the eve of All Hallow’s Eve (that’s the night before Halloween).  The movie, co-written by the late, great Debra Hill, will include an introduction recorded by John Carpenter.

Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween

If you make it to the screening, keep an eye out for an already well-known young actress back in 1978 named Kyle Richards, who had been a household name for her recurring role on Little House on the Prairie and the Disney film Escape to Witch Mountain, and would go on to co-star in the great ghost story Watcher in the Woods.

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The X-files trailer 2016

We were getting along fine, reading our issues of one of the best tie-in series around, The X-Files Season 10 and The X-Files Season 11 from IDW Publishing.  For the record, these series are considered canon, and the truth is they’ve earned it.  The writers and artists know the characters and the story.  Following right after the events in the second big screen follow-up to the TV series, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the comic books are as good as the original series and even better than the movies.  But wait, The X-Files is coming back to TV?  What’s next?  A Firefly series?

The first full trailer from Fox (the network, not Mulder) has all the best feel from the original.  It’s David Duchovny’s same craggy Fox Mulder, Gillian Anderson’s same inquisitive Dana Scully, and the cool, calm, and collected Mitch Pileggi as Skinner.  Finally, something to be excited about that is not Star Wars Episode VII!

X-Files series 2016

Plus, the series, which is slated for only six episodes, draws in genre favorites Robbie Amell (The Flash) and Lauren Ambrose (Coma) as new agents.  And even Joel McHale (The Soup, Community) has a main role in the series.

Enough waiting!  Check out the trailer:

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Star Wars 107   Shattered Empire Phil Noto 1 cover

Back in the 1970s it was pretty exciting to anticipate what was going to happen after the original Star Wars aired and Marvel Comics was going to take us on a journey into the further adventures of Luke Skywalker.  With the end of the movie adaptation in Issue #6 of the comic book series, this meant Issue #7 was going who-knows-where in this rich new universe.  The surprise was that once we got the issue in our hands we learned it was to be a Han Solo and Chewbacca adventure, beginning with a Seven Samurai-inspired Western story.  This was before we knew what would happen in The Empire Strikes Back, so the writers and artists could use their imaginations to take the characters anywhere.  The writers proved prescient, creating the title The Empire Strikes for one early issue.

In January 2013 Dark Horse Comics went back to the same time period in the Star Wars saga and gave us a new look at our favorite characters, written by Brian Wood.  It was a good run and a fun story if you thought of it as a separate possible storyline.  The struggle with addressing this time period?  We know specific benchmarks in the future.  We just know without being told anywhere that Luke does not confront certain characters, like say Darth Vader or Boba Fett, between Episode IV and Episode V.  Yet with comic books you can intersperse different story elements, have different encounters, between the bookends of the stories we know.  It is up to the reader to decide which of these encounters work and which don’t.  We discussed the Dark Horse effort back here at back in 2013.

Star Wars 7 Marvel    Star Wars issue 7

This year with a brand new Star Wars monthly comic book series, Marvel writer Jason Aaron has taken on the same time period again–those days, months, and years between the destruction of the first Death Star and the Rebellion being discovered in the Hoth System.  Like Brian Wood, Aaron has written a fun story, full of those main characters fans know and love.  He introduced surprising encounters between main characters we never would have imagined, and even introduced a wife for Han Solo we never knew about.  But the struggle with the concept is the same.  Readers need to see their main characters intermingling–it’s almost a requirement that a Star Wars book include everyone or fans won’t buy it.  And this new series fulfills that need.  Yet maybe readers don’t need that so much, as the best issue and story in this year’s run can be found in a standalone story in Issue #7.  It addresses Obi-Wan Kenobi as he watched over Luke as a boy on Tatooine–something new and different and not dependent on surprising confrontations with old characters–and gives us a hint at the great potential the Marvel Star Wars universe can create for readers.

Enter a new series beginning this month, Star Wars: Shattered Empire, Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, written by Greg Rucka with interior art by Marco Checchetto and a fabulous cover by Phil Noto (who interestingly provides a cover for Issue #1 which is similar to the last of the original Marvel monthly issues–like a jumping off and on point).  Shattered Empire is set immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi.  Now we are back in a world like Issue #7 of the original Marvel Comics Star Wars spin-off.  It really is unchartered territory, and Rucka must have more freedom than writers have with the time between Episode IV and Episode V.

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Big Bird in The Muppet Movie

If you can’t get enough of Sesame Street and The Muppets like this big kid who grew up with these shows and characters, then a 2014 documentary now available on Amazon is just for you.  I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is a feature-length documentary about the original, and only, Muppets puppeteer who has performed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in the 45-year history of Sesame Street.

I Am Big Bird is a love letter of sorts, set to a bittersweet soundtrack.  Filmmakers created an emotional look at a performing artist, his wife, and his relationship with Jim Henson and the cast and performers of Sesame Street from the beginning to the present incarnation of the show.  Spinney comes through as every bit the kindhearted soul of his feathery yellow alter ego.  Highlights of the film include the impact of Big Bird on the world, from teaching little kids from 1969 onward, to being credited in part with the demise of a candidate’s presidential bid.  And nothing is more nostalgic than catching up with original Muppeteer Frank Oz and the original human cast of Sesame Street as they recount working with Caroll, including Bob McGrath (Bob), Sonia Manzano (Maria), Emilio Delgado (Luis), and Roscoe Orman (Gordon).

I am Big Bird poster

Expect to hold back (or not) some tears during the documentary.  Plenty of down moments provide benchmarks in the life and times of Big Bird: the Sesame Street episode featuring Big Bird about the death of Mr. Hooper, an incredibly poised Caroll performing Big Bird singing “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green” at the funeral of Jim Henson, and the segment discussing Caroll’s space travel preparation with NASA when he was asked to be among the Challenger space shuttle crew, only to be rejected when they realized the Big Bird suit was too big (and then teacher Christa McAuliffe took his place), a group of ROTC students nearly destroy his Big Bird costume, and even the replacement by Elmo as most popular character on the show serves as a downbeat event.

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Heroes Reborn banner

The original Heroes provided a stellar cast and a great start to a fantasy world discovering it has superheroes emerging, scattered everywhere, with strange and interesting powers.  It lasted four seasons, the last two only a glimmer of the first two seasons.  Tonight many of our favorite Heroes return in the limited 13-part series Heroes Reborn.

A huge cast of newcomers awaits in the continuation of Tim Kring’s fun series But Heroes Reborn will also briefly bring back many fan favorites, notably Jack Coleman as Noah Bennet, Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, Greg Grunberg as Matt Parkman, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh, and Jimmy Jean-Louis as The Haitian.

New Heroes Reborn

The not-so-surprising news is that all the actors who have since taken off in their celebrity status don’t look like they are coming back, at least as regulars, like Ali Larter (Niki Sanders), Zachary Quinto (Sylar), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet), Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli), Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli), or even Kristen Bell (Elle Bishop).

Will the new series hold viewers’ interest without much of the key members of the original cast–even with the addition of a new character played by Zachary Levi?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Is it because the Muppets don’t age?  Because the writers know their characters so well?  You wouldn’t think the Muppets have been off the air for 17 years after watching last night’s premiere of their new sitcom, The Muppets, on ABC.  Sure, the format is fresh and new, but the core of the show–the rich characterizations of not only the main cast of Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie, but subordinate cast members like Electric Mayhem band members, too–is every bit the same as it was when the acting troupe first appeared nearly 40 years ago in 1976 on The Muppet Show.

The Muppets are back, and as laugh-out-loud funny as ever.

Credit great, punchy dialogue and situational humor appropriate for kids of all ages to the writing staff, who don’t let down fans of the original show or any of its brilliant movie incarnations.  The only travesty of The Muppets?  That the show is in a 30-minute time slot and only airs once each week.  Sigh.

This time the Muppets are seen as they are, behind the scenes in the “real world” of actors and production studio antics in Hollywood.  Kermit is still in charge of the show, but this time the show-in-a-show is not a variety show but in the late night format, with Miss Piggy as host.  Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band sit in where you’d see The Roots on The Tonight Show, with Fozzy in Steve Higgins’ role.  The first guest star is Elizabeth Banks, who gets taken for a ride by assistant showrunner Scooter, with a comical appearance by Dancing With the Stars’ host Tom Bergeron and musical guest Imagine Dragons (we featured their Muppet tie-in video years ago here at  The success of the humans in the show is judged as in the past–the ability to seamlessly interact with the Muppet cast, and both Banks and Bergeron have no problem blending right in.

Fozzy and Becky & family

The show is peppered with one-liners and innuendo, exactly in the style as the original 1970s series.  But in truth, the laughs are probably funnier–the kind of humor you might find in a Tina Fey show or The Office.  You know you have good comedy when guitarist Janice makes a comically timed Imagine Dragons joke and Zoot gets cut off in the middle of an A.A. meeting reference.  As humor goes, The Muppets is the real deal.

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