Advertisements

Tag Archive: Billy Mumy


Review by C.J. Bunce

We’ve seen the unique retro artwork of Juan Ortiz before, first in his episode-by-episode feast of posters in 2013 for the original Star Trek series (reviewed here at borg.com) and then in 2015 he attacked Star Trek: The Next Generation (reviewed here).   With Ortiz’s original series posters, they all rang with a similar nostalgia vibe, applying mid-century retro imagery from advertising, movies, cartoons, and TV shows.  Some of his Next Generation posters followed the rules he created with his first series, but they also veered in more symbolic and subtle representations than for his look at the original series.  Juan Ortiz is back with his next homage to episodes of classic TV in the new oversized, hardcover, full-color artbook from Titan Books, Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Art of Juan Ortiz.

Ortiz’s posters for Lost in Space are likely to appeal to fans of his original Star Trek poster art.  This is likely because Ortiz has commented that he watched both the original Star Trek and Lost in Space before taking on his poster project, but much of Next Generation was new material he needed to watch for the first time.  That passion and familiarity with the material follows through in each of his Lost in Space works–each one pulling something from the episode it honors.  And the animated introduction to each episode (that was backed by John (“Johnny”) Williams classic theme) was tailor-made for Ortiz to incorporate those details, like the ship and the spacesuits, into several of his images.  Better yet, you’ll find many images that feature the Robot.

Definitely among Ortiz’s best work, for fans of the series or not. You may want to cut some pages out of the book and frame a few for your wall.  Who knows what is next for Juan Ortiz, but The Twilight Zone had 156 episodes–less than the 178 Next Generation episodes but more than the 83 episodes of Lost in Space, so maybe someone should talk him into giving those a try next?  Especially because each episode was so vastly different, it would seem perfect for Ortiz’s imagination.  Until then, you’ll want to see how the artist interpreted this great classic science fiction series that starred Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, and Jonathan Harris.  Here is a look at four more posters from the book:

Continue reading

Advertisements

space-ghost-coast-to-coast

Originally a Hanna Barbera character that became the impetus for the animated superhero TV genre that took off in the 1960s, Space Ghost got his own reboot in the 1990s as a has-been superhero hosting his own late night talk show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.  Originally airing on Cartoon Network and later Adult Swim, Space Ghost: Coast to Coast was a series with its very own style of humor, featuring the animated superhero interviewing real-world guests via a television monitor to the right of his desk.

Oddly surreal, Space Ghost often spent more time talking about himself than showing any interest in his guests.  His guests often seriously looked as if they had no idea what the series was about, and seemed genuinely irritated–as if they expected to be interviewed on a real entertainment show.  Cringeworthy moment after moment became the hallmark of the series, yet it all worked for fans of oddball animated TV.  If you want to look at human nature in a different way, and see what celebrities have a sense of humor and who can think on their toes, this may be the series for you.

coast-to-coast-crew

Now you can stream all the episodes here at the Adult Swim website for free.  The Bee Gees, Weird Al Yankovic, Jim Carrey, Alice Cooper, Billy Mumy, Mark Hamill, Lassie, Catherine Bach, Jimmie Walker, Bill Nye, Goldie Hawn, Charlton Heston, Steve Allen, Michael McKean, Tom Arnold, Bob Costas, Conan O’Brien, Tenacious D, Willie Nelson, and William Shatner all appeared in Space Ghost’s interview seat, plus many others.

Continue reading

lost-in-space-cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

It takes a unique brand of personality to pull together the required components to make a hit television series.  It took a bit of a showman to convince Hollywood in 1965 to produce a science fiction series aimed at kids, and before Star Trek, someone had to lay the groundwork for a series taking place in another world.  That someone was the P.T. Barnum of his day, Irwin Allen.  Classic television researcher Marc Cushman has delved into his favorite show from his youth to deliver a full picture of Allen and the first season of the hit series Lost in Space in his latest work, volume one of Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Authorized Biography of a Classic Sci-Fi Series.

What do all these TV series have in common?  Lassie, Bonanza, Zorro, The Danny Thomas Show, The Twilight Zone, Leave it to Beaver, The Sound of Music, Psycho, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents/Hour?  An assemblage of hundreds of TV people in front and behind the camera came together to make an unlikely idea into a success.  At nearly 700 pages, Cushman’s book leaves no rock left unturned, interconnecting a Who’s Who of Hollywood.  He investigates oddball directors like Irwin Allen, who built up his office desk so visitors would be left to look up to him and had his own “yes man” who would repeat conversations to him as he discussed business with people, and Sobey Martin, viewed by the cast as a bad director who would fall asleep during filming, yet he was the only one who seemed to be able to get an episode filmed on time.  The production never seemed to get an episode filmed with the allotted budget.

lost-in-space

Just as Cushman revealed in his similarly-formatted, award-winning three volume chronicle of Star Trek (These are the Voyages, reviewed previously here at borg.com) that Lucille Ball was the mastermind producer behind Star Trek, here we see the influence of movie and TV stars Groucho Marx and Red Buttons on Irwin Allen as he pushed forward to create the first season of Lost in Space.   Where the coming new sci-fi series Star Trek would be a “Wagon Train to the stars,” Allen was orchestrating a “Swiss Family Robinson in space” an idea that would encounter its own breed of intellectual property legal issues along the way.

Cushman pulls archival interviews from the late series star Guy Williams (one of the top TV stars in the 1960s as he came off his successful run as Zorro and would portray astronaut John Robinson), everyone’s favorite TV mom June Lockhart (as pioneer female astronaut Maureen Robinson), Western and true crime TV star Mark Goddard (as scientist Don West), new starlet Marta Kristen (as John and Maureen’s eldest daughter Judy Robinson), Angela Cartwright fresh off her breakout role with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (as Penny Robinson), young Billy Mumy, the versatile child guest star of The Twilight Zone, The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Fugitive, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (as Will Robinson), Bob May (as the guy in the Robot), and the last-minute addition, character actor Jonathan Harris (as the quirky villain Mr. Smith).

Continue reading

Billy Mumy You're a Very Bad Man   Anthony Fremont Its a Good Life Billy Mumy A

Two classic episodes of The Twilight Zone that consistently get rated in the top ten by fans will be featured in new action figures coming this year.  Toymaker Bif Bang Pow! has released new images of the next installment of their 1970s Kenner-inspired retro action figure line.

We first discussed the first wave of figures here at borg.com back in July 2014.  Three of the new figures are based on characters seen in the classic “Eye of the Beholder,” including Billy Mumy’s vile little boy Anthony from fan favorite episode “It’s a Good Life.”  And his accessory?  Erm… his neighbor turned-Jack-in-the-Box.  Oh, Anthony.  You’re a very bad little boy.  Yikes.

Eye of the Beholder Donna Douglas A Eye of the Beholder Nurse A Dr Bernardi Eye of the Beholder A

Donna Douglas, who passed away last month, and was known primarily for her role as Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, gets her image on an action figure finally.  Sort of.  She played the patient whose face was unwrapped to reveal her mutant image in a land of alien-faced folks in “Eye of the Beholder.”  The line of figures also includes the doctor and nurse from that episode.

Donna Douglas Eye of the BeholderEye of the Beholder Nurse BDr Bernardi Eye of the Beholder B

Continue reading

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Borg.com readers, you mostly know me as the TV critic here at the ol’ genre stronghold, but you might have noticed that in my spare time, I’m also an author of novels for young adults.  I don’t normally talk about my reading here on borg.com, but I’ve just finished a critically acclaimed new YA novel–and y’all are really the only folks I can talk to sensibly about it.  But I can’t do it without spoilers, so let’s just come clean straight away.  I honestly don’t know what this is going to do to your experience of reading the book, so proceed at your own risk.

Nova Ren Suma’s gripping new YA novel Imaginary Girls doesn’t start off as science fiction or paranormal, but it slowly, ever so slowly (or, at least, as slowly as a book you devour pretty much in one sitting can do) pulls you over the edge, getting creepier and creepier, until *BAM!* Something You Can’t Explain hits you smack in the face.

And things just get weirder from there.

Sound like your kind of book?  Yeah.  So stop reading RIGHT NOW if you don’t want the spoilers.  You’ve been warned.

Imaginary Girls is a story about sisters, and a bond stronger than reason, stronger than logic, stronger than the laws of physics, and, apparently, stronger than death.  Ruby and her younger sister Chloe are all each other has, growing up together in a small upstate New York town on the banks of a giant reservoir.  There are ghosts in that reservoir, ghosts of the whole towns flooded when the dams were built (an idea also explored brilliantly by suspense master Stuart Woods in his 1987 novel Under the Lake). And ghosts of the summer Chloe was fourteen, when a night on the lake with Ruby’s friends ends in tragedy, the death of Chloe’s classmate London.  Chloe is sent to live with her father in Pennsylvania, but Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, make things just like they were before. Literally anything.

What if the little boy (Billy Mumy) from the classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s A Good Life” grew up, still with the whole town wrapped around his twisted little finger?  What if his powers over reality and life and death grew along with him?  What if there was someone–anyone–in his life he really, truly loved? Like… maybe a little sister?

These are the questions Nova Ren Suma explores (even if she wasn’t aware she was doing it) in Imaginary Girls.  She takes a character like little Anthony Fremont, and spins out the probable trajectory of such a being’s adolescence and young adulthood.  Just like in the Twilight Zone episode (and the undeniably sci-fi 1953 original story by Jerome Bixby, in which “Anthony” is not an adorable Billy Mumy, and the cornfield he wishes his enemies into is a much darker, scarier place), there is horror here, and it seeps in gradually, as the reader–and, ultimately, first person narrator Chloe–begins to understand what Ruby is, what she can do.  What she’s been doing, all her life.  What she did, the summer London died.  And every moment since.

But there’s also pathos, in Chloe’s impassioned and increasingly desperate defense of her beloved sister.  And I think this is where Imaginary Girls becomes so interesting.  Suma doesn’t just give us the premise and the horror of the omnipotent manipulator–she gives us the rest of the story, the pain and the consequences, and the wreckage left behind, when everyone is still trying to figure out what’s happened to them.

This isn’t a comfortable book, by any means, but it’s an un-put-down-able page-turner.  And I’m not alone; Imaginary Girls has scooped up starred reviews and awards buzz all fall.  Watch for it to hit shortlists and Year’s Best roundups soon.

%d bloggers like this: