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Tag Archive: The Twilight Zone


Robby the Robot.  He’s probably the only robot who has his own “Actor” page in the Internet Movie Database.  In the history of robots he is probably the most significant and the most game-changing robot of all time.  In the world of science fiction, few came before who achieved such fame, but many would follow.  Most who created the robots that came after–call them droids, androids and variants like fembots or even cyborgs, like the Terminator T-800, Cylons, and Cybermen, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and K-2So and BB-8–all can point back to Robby as inspiration and a critical step in the evolution of robots in cinema.  Robby would become a household name as a co-star and the focus of publicity for Forbidden Planet in 1956 (the classic sci-fi take on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest), and would go on to have guest appearances along with B-9 in Lost in Space, two episodes of The Twilight Zone, and all sorts of classic TV appearances (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hazel, Dobie Gillis, The Addams Family, Columbo, Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy), and later he can even be spotted in the movies Gremlins and Clueless. 

As pop culture is concerned, there is likely no single, intact, tangible piece of entertainment memorabilia in science fiction that compares to the robot prop itself, which doubled as a costume worn by Frankie Darrow and voiced by Marvin Miller.  The word “iconic” was created for the likes of Robby the Robot.  So no wonder our heads began to spin when it became public this month that the actual robot from the groundbreaking science fiction film Forbidden Planet was going to hit the auction block this year.  And unlike most auctions of original, screen-used, Hollywood memorabilia, Robby the Robot is being sold with a host of original materials used with the Robot throughout his incredible run, and from the auction photos it appears his light-up electronics are still functional.

Bonhams is the lucky auction house that will sell off Robby later this year, presented by Turner Classic Movies.  The auction house posted preview images from its catalog (expected to be available sometime in October) and it’s clear each accompanying production item in the photos could have been auctioned off separately in its own right.  All we know so far is the listing itself and photos, with no idea of the auction estimate or any other details that may be released, including its provenance:   “Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet, together with Robby’s car, his alternative head, his control panel, and original MGM packing cases.  Also 2 rings for his head, 2 additional arms with pinschers, a stand, a harness, another part for the stand.”

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1959.  A gallon of gas cost a quarter.  Movie tickets were a dollar and color was replacing black and white film.  You could buy a new car for $2,000.  In technology the Soviets beat the United States to the Moon, with a hitch, crashing their Luna 2 spacecraft into the lunar surface.  The U.S. selected seven astronauts for their Mercury space program.  Xerox began selling copiers to companies, IBM made headway with its mainframe computer, and Jack Kilby invented the microchip.  Kids first began playing with Play-doh, Etch-a-Sketch, and Barbie dolls.  On one end of the country The Sound of Music opened on Broadway and everywhere music fans faced the day the music died.  The world first witnessed The Twilight Zone.  The gray flannel suit defined the businessman.  And in 1959 the great filmmaker Billy Wilder produced and directed his own screenplay and the film would become the best reviewed comedy of all time, pegging the number one spot on the American Film Institute’s registry of best American comedies.  The film was Some Like It Hot.  And it’s back in theaters this weekend for a limited release.

Some Like It Hot has it all.  Marilyn Monroe in arguably her best performance.  Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon only at the beginning of their long and distinguished careers.  The movie doesn’t take place in 1959–it is set 30 years earlier in the heyday of speakeasies and Depression era mobs.  Tony Curtis is Joe, a ladies’ man and gambler–the sax player.  Jack Lemmon is Jerry, a straight arrow–the double-bass player.  They play in a band in a speakeasy (disguised as a funeral home) run by mob boss “Spats” Colombo (George Raft).  When Joe and Jerry accidentally witness a Valentine’s Day massacre-inspired mob hit, they must go on the run.  They find an all-female band heading to Miami via train and disguise themselves as the original bosom buddies, Josephine and Daphne, befriending the band’s gorgeous and upbeat lead singer and ukulele player, Sugar Kane, played by Marilyn Monroe.  That’s where the laughs begin, and a back-up cast of classic Hollywood staples, including Pat O’Brien and Joe E. Brown, fill in the gaps.

    

Despite the popularity of color film, Wilder shot Some Like It Hot in a steamy black and white.  Wilder had already directed Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, so the pairing was an obvious fit.  Wilder and Lemmon would start a partnership that lasted until 1981.  Wilder was the true King of Comedy.  He worked on nothing but hit movies over the course of his career–serious stuff like Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, The Spirit of St. Louis, and Witness for the Prosecution, in addition to comedies including Sabrina, The Seven Year Itch, The Apartment, Ocean’s 11, Irma la Douce, The Fortune Cookie, and Casino Royale.

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borg-label hall-of-fame-label

Masters of the Universe.  Red Dwarf.  Mortal Kombat.  And we revisit Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek.

Let’s start this year’s borg.com Hall of Fame ceremony by talking a little about who is NOT in the Hall of Fame who might come close if borgs were more loosely defined.  We still haven’t included the non-organic: like automatons, androids, or robots.  Think Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation before he met the queen in Star Trek: First Contact–despite his perfectly life-like appearance.  For the bulk of the series Data was always an android, not a cyborg.  He’s just a highly advanced C-3PO–until First Contact. 

Droids from Star Wars, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, Robot B-9 from Lost in Space or Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, the Autobots and Decepticons of Transformers, the police force of THX-1138, Box in Logan’s Run, the perfectly human appearing kid-like star of D.A.R.Y.L., the several automatons of episode after episode of The Twilight Zone, Beta in The Last Starfighter, Tron and Flynn and the other microscopic, human-like bits of data in Tron, Hellboy II’s Golden Army, the future Iowa Highway Patrolman in Star Trek 2009 (we assume he’s just wearing some police safety mask), Rosie the maid in The Jetsons, Hogey the Roguey from Red Dwarf, Marvin the Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, X-Men’s Sentinels, Lal and Juliana Tainer from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the title character of CHAPPiE, or Iron Giant, despite their human-like or bipedal nature, none are actual borgs because they lack biological matter, living cells, or the like.

The same applies for the robotic hosts in Westworld–Michael Crichton’s original was clear these were merely automaton robots and we’ve seen nothing from 2016’s HBO series to show that has changed (even the NY Times got it wrong).  Which explains why The Stepford Wives aren’t on the list, or Fembots, either from The Bionic Woman or the Austin Powers series, or the Buffybot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So who’s in?

Here is Round 4, the twenty-eight 2016 borg.com Hall of Fame honorees, in no particular order, some from 2016 and others from the past, bringing the roster count to 134 individuals and groups:

First up is Time, yep… Time itself.  From Alice Through the Looking Glass, a powerful Father Time-esque human/clockwork hybrid who rules over Underland–

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From George Lucas’s original Force-wielding character as envisioned by Mike Mayhew: Kane Starkiller from Marvel Comics’ alternate universe story, The Star Wars:

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The Major, from 2017’s Ghost in the Shell:

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Max Steel got his own movie in 2016:

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Steel hails from the Mattel action figure who received multiple super powers due to an accidental infusion of nanobots:

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Cave Carson from the update of the classic DC Comics comic book series spelunker, the new series Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye:

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Although he was a charter member of the borg.com Hall of Fame, Darth Vader returned in Rogue One, providing some new images of the classic borg:

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More of our inductees, after the cut…

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night court

More than fifty years ago Newton Minow, the first FCC commissioner, called television a vast wasteland.  The prospect of 500 channels available and nothing to watch was forecast back in the 1970s and today it sometimes seems like it’s a truism more often than not.  But if you get tired of new programming–and make no mistake plenty of great television shows are airing this year–a few recently added channels to your local line-up may remind fans of classic TV why they jumped onboard in the first place.

Three channels: MeTV, COZI TV and LAFF, are a destination for those who just want to pop in now and then for a dose of the past.  Even pay channel Starz has begun broadcasting classic television series.  No doubt much of the programming may not hold up to current audiences.  Clothes, hairstyles, and stale, formulaic half-hour and hour plots may not keep your 21st century attention.  Yet many shows seem to hold up quite well.  As time goes on two of my favorites, Simon & Simon and Magnum, P.I., seem to drift farther and farther away, yet the comedy of Night Court and Cybill remains laugh-out-loud funny.

Simon & Simon

Classic TV gold, like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, may be a bit much in big doses.  Only a diehard fan would stream these beginning to end.  Yet, try popping in once in a while and it’s like visiting an old friend.  M*A*S*H and The A-Team hold up quite well.  In particular, the formula established by The A-Team, no doubt based on decades of series that came before it, can be found continuing on to this day in series like Leverage and Burn Notice.  Even series like Wonder Woman and Charlie’s Angels can be fun, if you don’t take their 1970s approach to TV too seriously.  And you may find yourself engrossed in Quantum Leap all over again.

So what’s playing, where, and when?

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Hansen Quality of Mercy    Don Carter Nick of Time

Toymaker Bif Bang Pow! has revealed the fourth series of its Kenner style action figure line for The Twilight Zone.  The new series will be sold as San Diego Comic-Con exclusives.  Partnering with online superstore Entertainment Earth, the figures, limited to a run of only 672 pieces each, will first be sold during San Diego Comic-Con next month at the Entertainment Earth booth #2343.

The new figures include color versions of William Shatner’s Don Carter (“Nick of Time”), Jerry and Willie (“The Dummy”), and Leonard Nimoy’s Hansen (“A Quality of Mercy), plus the almost-a-borg female robot Alicia from “The Lonely” and Anne Francis’s Marsha White from “The After Hours.”

Alicia Lonely    Jerry and Willie Dummy

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Ex Machina trailer

Jurassic Park was not only Michael Crichton’s most popular novel, it finally allowed him to synthesize all the elements he had worked out over the course of his career into a perfect story.  Crichton could easily have been the writer behind the examination of man vs. machine that is this year’s big screen release Ex Machina, now in Digital HD and Blu-ray.  Writer-director Alex Garland (28 Days Later) could have taken us on another bland adventure about man’s fascination with technology and mortality, but instead he creates a morality play that is eerily simple yet surprisingly profound.  Behind Ex Machina is a modern Victor Frankenstein complete with a reclusive laboratory and spectacular creations.  Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is Nathan, the uber-wealthy CEO inventor atop a Google-inspired enterprise, who secretly is using his company’s collective search data to create artificial intelligence–and more.  Is he the classic mad scientist?

In the spirit of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, Nathan launches a contest for employees with the prize being a weeklong visit to his own Skywalker Ranch.  The winner is the smart and amiable Caleb, played by Domnhall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).  All is not what it seems.  Someone here is being played and it’s for the audience to figure it all out.  Nathan has really brought Caleb to his lair to test out his new humanoid robot, Ava, played by Alicia Vikander (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Seventh Son), and give her a battery of ad hoc tests to see if she passes the Turing test–to confirm whether Nathan has really created the ultimate intelligent machine.  Loosely inspired by more than one classic fairy tale, the seemingly simple story and strange circumstances quickly grow dark.  Who is manipulating who?

Isaac and Gleeson

Garland doesn’t need to rely on his fascinating, humanoid, robotic creations–arguably cybernetic or borg, and eminently believable–to carry the picture.  Its backbone is a well-paced story with a satisfying payoff.  Fans of Neill Blomkamp will love Garland’s study of class and society in the post-modern future: relations between employee and boss, scientist and subject, and master and servant.  In a world of secrets and locked doors, who can you trust?

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Wayward Pines

“We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” —The Animals

Claustrophobic?  Then maybe the new Fox series Wayward Pines is not for you.  But the previews for the new series make us think you might be miss out on something good.

Wrong place, wrong time.  We’ve all encountered circumstances we wish we could reverse, but most of us haven’t stumbled into an entire town we wished we could escape from, but couldn’t.  In comedy we’ve seen this on television with shows like Northern Exposure and Green Acres.  In classic cinema we’ve seen it with George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.  But that’s not the kind of town we’ll be visiting soon in Wayward Pines.  The obvious comparison is to that quirky Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks–like that cult favorite series, the protagonist is an FBI agent following up on a case in a forested town.  The characters in Wayward Pines don’t appear to be as odd as the Log Lady, but we’ll learn this town is much, much darker.  In fact it might have more in common with the Midwest town in Children of the Corn, the British village in Wicker Man, or Stephen King’s seaside town of Haven.

Wayward Pines Matt Dillon

Somehow the townspeople of Wayward Pines are trapped.  Like a plot pulled from an episode of sci-fi television–think The Twilight Zone’s “Nick of Time” (1960) with William Shatner, The X-Files’s episode “Arcadia” (1999), or the reboot The Twilight Zone episode “Evergreen” (2002) with Amber Tamblyn.  In movies no director knows “trapped” like M. Night Shyamalan, as seen in his moody Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and The Happening (2008).  So it’s no wonder his next director/executive producer project is Wayward Pines. 

After the break, check out the trailer for Wayward Pines:

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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

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New metallic Alien figure   New Ripley figure Funko

Entertainment Earth is now shipping pretty much all of its gigantic, multi-franchise line of action figures inspired by the Kenner line of Star Wars action figures from the 1970s.  Many aren’t aware that Ridley Scott’s Alien had its own line of figures by Kenner, developed and ready to produce until someone realized they were marketing toys to kids based on an R-rated movie most wouldn’t get to see.  Those figures were finally remade by Funko toys and discussed here at borg.com last November.

The success of the Alien line prompted figures from nearly every great sci-fi and horror franchise you can think of except Star Wars:  Firefly, Back to the Future, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Predator, Escape from New York, and Terminator.  Blockbuster horror films including Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and even the cult classic The Crow.  And classic monster films including Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, and The Wolfman.  We previewed all of them here.and here and here.  A similar but unrelated toy line is producing its own line of Six Million Dollar Man and The Twilight Zone figures, too.

Facehugger figure   Kane chestburst figure

Make no mistake, these figures aren’t for the discerning high-end collector of photo-real sculpts.  These figures celebrate all things retro in their dated styling and five-points of articulation in a world of figures made today with far more movement and features.

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TZ01CovExcluMidtown TZ01CovFrancavilla

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you spent any part of the 72 hours this week getting caught up on the best of The Twilight Zone, courtesy of the Syfy Channel’s annual marathon pilgrimage to the land of Rod Serling, you may find that returning to the real world takes a bit of an effort.  A new comic book series by the critically acclaimed J. Michael Straczynski may help you in your transition.  Dynamite Comics’ Issue #1 of The Twilight Zone is in comic book stores this week, and you’re likely to find it in stock because of low turnouts in stores due to the mid-week holiday.

What does it take to make for a classic tale from The Twilight Zone?  Straczynski’s first issue has the story off to the right start.  He includes a well-concocted Serling-esque introduction.  It’s hard to imagine some of the subjects from the original series being current since they are so far removed from today, but in their initial run each episode dealt with some current political, social, or scientific question.  Issue #1 has the required currency–although anti-Wall Street stories are abundant these days, it’s still a worthy subject and the additional twists make for an intriguing set-up.  Trevor Richmond has taken his company and increased profits well above expectations.  So much so that the feds are sniffing around and Richmond’s methods are soon to be uncovered.

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