Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Glen Larson, RIP

Glen A. Larson, creator of many TV shows, died the other day on November 14, 2014.  I was a late fan to many of the hits he created because most of them flew under my radar.  I'm surprised, however, that I let his Battlestar Galactica, or Six Million Dollar Man, or Knight Rider go by without at least watching an episode or two, but that's the way life works at time.  I can only say, I worked a lot of second shifts, meaning 4pm to midnights, primetime as it is also called in TVland.  I didn't have the ways and means or really interest to tape a lot of stuff onto VHS (actually Betamax for me) during that time either.  When you work the daily grind, you get caught up in the grind, and a lot of other stuff gets put on the back burner.  I did watch It Takes A Thief, which my brother enjoyed, and I was pretty easy to let him pick out a program to watch.  It Takes A Thief had sort of a 007 vibe to it, although he was a thief in his former life, he lived a playboyish lifestyle of sorts with babes, nice threads, cool fast cars, and lots of action.

At any rate, I did finally pick up the original Battlestar Galactica DVD set, and watch some of the other programs like Knight Rider and Six Million Dollar Man on retro TV like the Me Network  or the Cozy Channel etc.  Those channels provide a lot of nostalgia for some of us that grew up in those decades, and also introduce a new audience to some of that programming.  I wonder at times what the current young people will look back on in the same way once they get old.  Will they want to see Dancing With The Stars or old Big Brother episodes, or maybe hillbillies wrestling with alligators?  Hard to say....

There are a couple of nice write-ups and obituaries on the man and his career around the web, I suspect there will be a few more.  Here's one that I chuckled at a bit, wherein Harlan Ellison referred to him as Glen Larceny for taking hit movies, and turning them into hit TV series.  Though some, like Harlan, may view that as stealing, I guess others view that as a good idea, it seems a natural and good idea to me.  If a movie had many fans, why not capitalize off that topic or trend when you already have a fan base?  The same thing is more or less still happening today with the zombie hit series, The Walking Dead, and others that mirror popular culture and movie franchises.  Here's a nice overall obit on Larson, with the Harlan Ellison quip:

Here's an hour plus interview I found with Larson talking about some of his television career over on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2WHTAMyYDA#t=811

Still a bit under the weather here.  I figure one of these days, my allergies will clear up.  Boy it's taking it's time for sure, and I'm more than ready to have a clear head.   I did watch a couple of movies lately, as wtih the cold weather, and the allergies, I haven't felt much like getting out.

I caught X-Men: Days of Future Past--Although I didn't know all the mutants that were involved in the storyline, as I haven't read a majority of the comics, it was fun to see them rocking out with all their special powers, I thought the Asian gal throwing those time holes or vortexes was pretty cool, good story too that involves Wolverine having to go back in time to save the future.

Edge of Tomorrow--with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt was way better than I was expecting.  It was a SF action film that at the time of release was compared to the movie Groundhogs Day, which really doesn't do it justice or any favors (although I enjoyed Groundhogs Day--it's sort of comparing apples to oranges), but I guess the recurring time vortex thing is what they are using as the comparison. I really thought the action and battle scenes were constructed really well on this one, at times right up there with some of the action scenes on Aliens and other great SF action film.  The story was engaging and funny at times too.  Whoever thought up this story seemed to have played their share of video games, and thought up a good concept.  I actually enjoyed this one more than the X-Men movie.

Cheap Thrills-- didn't now much about this movie, but it was sort of edgy and suspenseful. It did  keep my interest pretty much all the way through, and it didn't take long to ramp up the storyline.  It's a movie that I don't recommend unless you enjoy this sort of story, however.  Hard to think of a movie that's comparable, but maybe something along the line of a Tarantino movie, or Fight Club, or Seven, something along that line.  It's one of those films that's about what people will do for money and the power of money.

American: The Bill Hicks Story--I wasn't real familiar with this Houston, Texas comedian, but after seeing one of his stand up routines on YouTube, I quickly became a fan.  He works blue, although didn't start out that way, but he's one of those comedians that gets you to laugh, but make you think at the same time.  The film starts out talking about him growing up in high school and wanting to become a comedian before there was really any venue to do that sort of thing.

Joni Mitchell: Refuge of the Roads--is a concert video with Joni performing with the 80's version of a band she put together following her Wild Things Run Fast CD and that era.  The band is top notch too.  It took me a few songs to get into the concert, not because I wasn't engages from the get-go, but I initial thought it was going to be a biography rather than a concert performance.  Once I realized it was a concert, well, I just relaxed to the performance, and it's a good one--rather powerful and fiery in fact.  The band that's performing is terrific and embellishes and punctuates her songs with all that right flourishes that are needed for each song.  I've always been a Joni Mitchell fan going back to the first album I bought by her, Ladies of the Canyon.  After that album I drifted back and picked up her earlier albums with are more folk and acoustic in nature, but still very good, and then just followed her musical path ever since.  Like many of the great artist, she was always progressing and changing her sounds, but the albums always showcased her artistic leanings.  Being both a visual artist, poet, writer, and song writer, it all melds together in her songs. 

The above painting is a self-portrait by her.  A lot of her artwork was turned into some of her album covers.  Last night I started watching an interview of her, that was fairly recent.  She is hard to follow at times as she talks rather fast, and doesn't dumb down her thoughts into bite-sized easy to digest thoughts or whatever.  She talked about many different facets of her career, some of her health problems (she had polio as a child and later it came back), how she views her art process, and just life in general.  I didn't get to finish it as it was getting to late, but I'll try and re-watch it again this week.


At 11:01 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Yeah I don't think Larson always gets the credit he deserves. He brought some really great and influential television series to us. And yes, he also made a fair share of losers, but with the amount of television credits to his name, I think you're going to end up with some dogs.

Glad you liked "Edge of Tomorrow". I really enjoyed it too. Like you said the action scenes were top notch, the story was fun, and I liked the characters. I especially loved the creature design. I hear it is based on a Japanese manga, so that might be worth seeking out.

At 8:17 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Yes, Larson made some series I never got into like Magnum P. I. and Quincy, but I know some people that probably enjoyed them. He had quite a track record and for that reason, I imagine was well respected.

I didn't know EoT was based on a manga, but like you, enjoyed the creatures and other effects. I thought the whole movie was well conceived.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I didn’t know Larson was behind (and wrote for) both “Battlestar Galactica” series. I watched both, though of course the first was more kid-friendly. Yet it was kid-friendly in a curiously ‘70s kind of way. Kid-oriented TV shows today are less likely to script a major sympathetic character (Cassiopeia, played by Lorette Spang) as a prostitute (“socialator”), for example, even though modern shows on broadcast TV aimed at adults are far raunchier than they used to be. The 2004-9 version of the series was simply extraordinary. With his full track record in mind, I guess we can overlook “Manimal.”

Harlan is famously protective of his work, successfully suing to get credit for “The Terminator,” for example, saying it was based on his “Outer Limits” episodes “Soldier” and “Demon with a Glass Hand.” When a friend of mine was still in film school he wrote to Ellison asking permission to adapt one his short stories for a class project. Harlan called him up personally in his dorm to yell at him for asking. That was 20 years ago. Nowadays, though, he actually is making an indie movie (with permission) based on one of Harlan’s stories: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-song-the-zombie-sang

I remember Joni on “The Dick Cavett Show” in ’69. Her agent booked her there that night instead of Woodstock, which, they figured, was just some outdoor concert no one would remember in a month.

At 11:02 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

I wasn't aware that Larson wrote for both either, Richard. I was a latecomer to the original BG, and never could get into the newer series. I'll admit to being a Star Wars geek, so I'm sure that's why I enjoyed the original. One of the reasons I couldn't get into the newer BG was the moving camera technique, which I find irritating. Plus I was also a big fan of Babylon 5, and it seemed to me, at least at the time, they were trying to mimic that type slant on it.

I've wondered how that series would sit with me now, however, as sometimes if I can re-watch some things, I can get a fresh approach on them. The same holds true for music. Some music I might have heard 25 years ago did nothing for me then, but I can appreciate them now.

I met Ellison at a San Diego Con back around '95 or so. He gave a talk on SF, and books and such. He seemed an approachable guy if you weren't a jerk or tried to intimidate him. I wish I had taken something for him to autograph, but didn't. He's in pretty ill health these days.

Funny Joni didn't make it to Woodstock, yet wrote the song, evidently from watching all the news coverage.


Post a Comment

<< Home