Fire in the Sky, Pants on Fire

 DATELINE:  Liar, Liar?

Sweeney in Slime  Sweeney in the Slime!

The 1993 movie version of the second-most famous alien abduction story (after Betty and Barney Hill) is certainly intriguing, whether it’s true or not. Fire in the Sky is no wet blanket sending up smoke signals in the UFO sweepstakes.

A group of young men, redneck loggers out in the woods of Arizona in 1975, encounter something mysterious and glowing. One of them seems to be “killed” by a ray—and the others flee. Later, the town suspects they have murdered their friend Travis Walton.

If the UFO segment were not played out in the final minutes of the film as flashback and Post-Trauma Syndrome, you would have a compelling tale of “witch hunt,” as the young men are hounded by media, tormented by police, and maligned as murderers by the community.

Robert Patrick, as the leader of the young loggers, gives a remarkable and nuanced performance as a befuddled man proclaiming his innocence.

On the other side of the equation is James Garner!

Yes, that big star is Detective Watters! He plays again a wry, cynical police detective. If you wanted a tale to have a certain gravitas, Garner’s appearance is perfect. He is the ultimate skeptic about UFO abduction and is the voice that the entire episode is a fraud.

The film has it both ways.

D.B. Sweeney, a boyish leading man of the ‘80s and ‘90s, nowadays mostly a voice-over man, was a handsome and sympathetic victim. His traumatic flashbacks are fairly disgusting and frightful.

Rednecks around him are all rather insensitive to his immediate troubles, calling on UFO experts before an ambulance when Travis returns after five days missing.

The real Travis Walton has since disparaged the movie’s sensational UFO sequence: yet, that is just a small element of a fascinating character study.

The kidnapping sequence resembles being taken by large insects and put into slimy cells for later digestion. And, the tests done to Travis are fairly horrific.

As Garner’s detective points out, he finds a National Enquirer magazine in the truck after the disappearance, with a headline about alien kidnapping.  Yet, he never truly debunks the story told by the young men, including Craig Sheffer as the problematic Dallis.

This film may surprise you by being at odds with the usual sci-fi films of this ilk; this is extremely well-done, whether you buy into the premise or not.

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End of Season 1 on Project Blue Book

 DATELINE: They’ll be Back!

Season Ending 

Let’s end the suspense right now. The History Channel has renewed the series for ten more episodes next year. Phew! We were worried that they’d prefer more gold searches in remote places.

For the ultimate series finale, Project Blue Book goes for the jugular. No, not the aliens: the believers.

If anything has made an impression on us on the show, it has been the variety of uniforms that Air Force captain ‘Mike Malarkey’ as Quinn wears. It seems he has a wide-range to choose from.

Since major male TV characters tend to wear the same clothes every week, we are curious as to the Captain’s military wardrobe. He wears snazzy ‘50s  civilian wardrobe for the final episode. We have recently seen his regulation military underwear (just that white T-shirt) that has remained uncomfortable and ugly, as a fashion statement, since Roswell.

Wherever our two heroes go, space-shot aliens are sure to follow—even to Washington, D.C., where paranoid right-wing military Blue Book honcho Neal McDonough is having space kittens.

We do like the fact that Captain Ramrod Quinn is one of the few characters on television nowadays who smokes and drinks booze. We didn’t realize how much we missed this 1950s foible with political correctness everywhere.

Perhaps it is government budget cuts, but the show all season has had only one Man in Black. Of course, end of season may surprise us. It did not surprise with the lesbian subplot, of the two women watching Lucy and Ethel in a 1952 episode of I Love Lucy.

The Washington incident of 1952 occurred at night when a half-dozen UFOs shocked the United States, but here it is daytime—and Captain Quinn is going up in a jet to shoot them down.  At the same time, a heavy-set President Harry Truman shows up to give’em hell.

He is acquainted with Dr. Hynek. And the series episode is familiar with The Day the Earth Stood Still, which it copies.

After considerable hostilities, the two characters of Quinn and Hynek unbelievably seem to smooth things over. They must have heard there is another season on the horizon.

A small coda was clearly added after a decision to extend the series was made, trying to make a minor cliff-hanger.

Calamity Jane: Other End of 19th Century

DATELINE: Deadwood, or Bust!

Calamity- 2 days before death  At Wild Bill’s gravesite.

The world of manners and civilization of the East and Europe would take 50 years to head out to the Badlands and Deadwood.

With a new TV movie updating the old series with Timothy Olyphant due soon, we figured to find the true story of Calamity Jane: Legend of the West. It’s an effective French-produced film. She was one of those rare women who lived by her own values in the Victorian Age.

The augurs were not sympathetic for Martha Canary, her real name: her mother was an alcoholic and her father deserted the family along the Oregon Trail. Martha was indentured or adopted and began a life of dubious morality.

Though some might hold her up as a transgender model, she never tried to pass as a man: she was always “Jane,” in men’s clothes, hunting, fighting Indians, and carousing. Indeed, sometimes at night she traded her buckskins for petticoats and survived as a sex worker.

She spoke a good game, told great yarns, and found herself the attraction of journalists. Some back east took her name and created a Deadwood feminine cowboy named Calamity Jane.

In reality, she and Wild Bill were only able to tolerate each other, though their love/hate relationship last a few years till his death in a notorious saloon shooting.

From there it was downhill: drinking, arrests, and endless wandering. She was a common law wife on occasion but married one abusive man to be father to her daughter whom she gave to nuns to raise.

Unfit for most jobs, she regularly went into show business, meeting people, selling photos of herself and a pamphlet story of her life. She even Buffalo Bill, but they worked separately at the Pan American Exhibition of 1900.

She had grown most unhappy in the East, and she returned to Deadwood in 1903. She looked like an ancient but was only 47. Hard drinking and hard living took a toll. The West had become gentrified, not to her liking.

Two days before her death, she went up to Wild Bill Hickok’s grave where she had her photo taken. Within a week, the people of Deadwood put her in a grave next to him.

After all, they were legends—and Westerns were about to hit the big screen with the advent of movies. Calamity would ride on forever, even unto a new TV cable movie, Deadwood, this summer. 

 

 

 

 

‘Detour’ on Oak Island

Rare Beefcake on Oak Island

 

DATELINE:  Off Road Sites

With the season six crashing all around them, the Lagina Brothers have nowhere to go but down. Hence, they decide at this late date to make a new entrance to the Money Pit. Yeah, it’s episode 16 on Curse of Oak Island, and time is running out until next season.

If anyone is always running late on Oak Island, it is the Lagina brothers. We noticed again this week how they show up, drive up, or cavalierly drop in on a site at Smith’s cover, or at the bore holes, like they are early birds to do some work. However, there are always other members of the team already hard in labor: Laird, the archeologist, Billy on the backhoe, or Jack Begley, man of all trades.

Our two favorite treasure hunters dominated this episode:  Alex Lagina and Gary Drayton. They seldom work together. If public reaction we have measured is any indication, Gary Drayton is by far the most respected member of the series.

Gary found the seeping red dye in the previous episode while casting an eye over Smith’s Cove, and this time with his trusty metal detector, he found yet another rusty old stabbing tool, which he labelled “very, very old.”  He later found an “inge,” which in American translates to an hinge.

An old blacksmith expert noted that the spear weapons were actually crib spike, used in construction. He thought the hinge was for a heavy door, as on a church, or perhaps on a floodgate. He put it as early as 1600.

As for Alex, he is a certified diver and went looking for the weird objects seen by lidar in the previous week. One was an anchor and a mysterious object that was triangular and pointed toward the island. We had a brief shot of beefcake as he poured into his diving suit.

He also trotted along to the blacksmith to retrieve those findings.

As the summer winds down, so does the season’s episodes. We know there will be no definitive results, and we know that we will have to wait until next November to learn what they are.

 

 

 

 

Moby Dick: What Really Happened?

 DATELINE: Whale of a Story

Essex hit by whale   Moby Rams Essex!

You may have blanched at reading the mammoth novel by Herman Melville—few professors require its reading nowadays: too long, big means Moby Dick.

The true story of what intrigued Melville may be better fodder for the short attention span of a one-hour documentary.  And so, we have come down to Moby Dick: the True Story, made in 2001.

Out of Nantucket, the whaler called Essex sailed in 1819, not long after Frankenstein appeared, and it was its own horror story, all true. Though Melville made the First Mate named Starbuck, that was actually the name of one ship’s owner. The captain was Pollard, and his bossy First Mate was Owen Chase (who wrote the memoir on which Melville based his whaling epic). He is played by Shawn Reynolds in the film.

Yes, the Essex encountered the largest whale ever seen at the time, and he was old and cranky. Though one expert on the documentary insists that whales are basically docile, some old males can be aggressive. To say the least in this case.

Perhaps he knew what the ship’s purpose was: and it infuriated the whale.  According to the reports, he rammed the ship once until he was nearly unconscious and then came at it again to sink it.

Therein lies a novel by Melville. The whale did his worst, and as a force of the universe, sailed off, leaving his Ishmael on Queequeg’s coffin.

In real life, three small lifeboats fled the scene for a horrific sail for months. They resorted to cannibalism, and ultimately drew lots to murder one of their mates for dinner.

Three men chose to get off at something akin to Gilligan’s Island in mid-Pacific, which would have been our choice too. They survived and were rescued months later.

The cabin boy Thom Nickerson (played by Trevor Ralph in re-enacting scenes) was 14, and he survived to write his memoirs too, but they were not discovered until 1980, hidden in an attic.

Other survivors did not fare well: Owen Chase went mad, and the captain became a night watchman on Nantucket. Melville’s book flopped, and he watched a mountain in the distance from his home in the Berkshires that when white-capped with snow reminded him of Moby Dick.

Rita, When She Danced

DATELINE: Abused Beauty

Rita Hayworth

Love Goddess: Rita Hayworth

 Marguerita Cansino danced with her father professionally at the Zeigfeld Follies. She was 13, and her abusive old man passed her off as an adult—and his wife.

She played Mexican dancers and cowgirls in westerns before making it big with red hair and molars extracted to make her face smaller.

So began the career of movie legend Rita whose Gilda electrified film noir in 1946.  The documentary of her life comes from France where she is more appreciated and is called Rita Hayworth: Man Created. More like “man dominated.”

Poor Rita was made by her first husband whom she married to escape the incestuous hands of her father. He pulled back teeth, dyed her hair red and made her lose weight. Thus was born the legendary dancer who partnered with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in musicals.

She was the power behind Columbia Studios, but other men like Harry Cohn tormented her and controlled her. She escaped with Orson Welles who likely treated her better than all the others. He educated her and made her an actress.

She became a World War II pinup girl and then startled returning GIs as Gilda, her seminal role. She often said men fell in love with Gilda but woke up with Rita.

Eschewing movie roles like The Barefoot Contessa, she married Prince Aly Khan and later singer Dick Haymes. Her later films were curios: playing aging women with Gary Cooper and Robert Mitchum and Glenn Ford.

Some thought she faded fast because of alcohol, but later diagnosis discovered a rare form of Alzheimer’s Disease, starting before she was 50, causing her memory loss and disorientation.

She had powerful friends like Glenn Ford and John Wayne who tried to help her, but she ended up in the care of her daughter Yasima Khan in whose home she died too young, at age 68. Tragic tale of a grand symbol of energy and talent.

Madonna & W./E. Against Us!

DATELINE: Material Girl Directs!

Andrea Riseborough Andrea Riseborough as Duchess of Windsor!

If you are looking for Madonna in her 2011 movie W./E., you won’t see her. She was behind the camera, directing it.

The film is everything you might expect—and is also totally unexpected. It may seem like Downton Abbey in Material Girl terms, but it is really a solid case of Woody Allen’s Play It Again Sam meeting Henry James and The Aspern Papers.

Two women named Wallis, 70 years apart, have what appears to be a paranormal encounter.  They are unsympathetic protagonists, but what the world hates, Madonna loves.

Back in 2011, the movie was widely castigated by critics as an overreach and under-achievement. Those tuning in to see the iconic woman will see only her stand-ins: the two Wallys.

Now with a few years passed, we can see W./E. as something far more interesting and poorly judged by audiences and the anti-Madonna contingent. The film is beautifully constructed and under-appreciated.

A modern 1998 woman is obsessed with Wallis Simpson and her husband, the one-time King of England.

Here the legendary singer stretched her wings to make a film about a woman researching the legendary love affair of the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Wallis advises her modern counterpart, as both women are rapacious and obsessive.

Madonna seems intent on showing the Duchess of Windsor sacrificed far more than her husband.

In Madonna’s hands, this tale becomes a curious parallel to the Henry James story called The Aspern Papers. The conceit is that Wallis Simpson has left some letters that explain the affair in more comprehensive terms of the 21st century. It seems the King may not have given up the throne for the woman he loved exactly as advertised. He made his wife a glamorous prisoner.

Madonna’s modern woman is flawed greatly, intense and refusing to be denied: much like the Duchess of Windsor and the Madonna of music.

Intriguing Abbie Cornish is the modern Wally, and Andrea Riseborough is the brilliant version of the Duchess Wally. This is a fascinating film on many levels. You need to re-discover it.

Project Blue Book Plays Games

 DATELINE:  Bye-bye Birdie

Dead Birds  It’s raining dead birds!

Episode called “War Games” reportedly occurred during the Korean War when United States soldiers in a training mission claimed to be attacked by UFO lights. They suffered trauma, both physical and mental.

This is the premise of episode eight of the miniseries Project Blue Book. Where this is headed remains as mysterious as the weekly lights in the sky.

Of course, our intrepid and at-odds duo of oddball detective investigators are called in by their general bosses to solve the mystery. Captain Quinn and Professor Hynek continue to bicker over everything.

Neal McDonough as the house villain is given a bit more to do this time around, demanding that his investigators come up with answers and how to kill these threats to America. The men behind Project Blue Book cover ups even discuss the nuclear option.

One deranged soldier eschews protocol with the general officers, but he is cracking up and heating up. He seems to blow out the light bulbs above and heat the cup of coffee he holds. Yup, those aliens seem to be here.

Mike Malarkey has taken to barking orders at his professorial nemesis Aiden Gillen, who continues to ignore him. Their routine seems to have a begrudging respect, but who can really say?

The Hitchcock Birds seem to dominate this episode when the two men encounter flocks of starlings that do somersaults in midair where the platoon was attacked. Then, abruptly, in a “rain” of terror, dead birds pelt the two researchers.

We immediately thought of the CIA experiments with LSD on unsuspecting soldiers during the 1950s. Though this is never mentioned, it fits the final conclusion of our intrepid heroes.

A Goodie UFO Doc from Timothy Good

DATELINE:  Kennedy & Nixon & UFOs

alien

Timothy Good is a retired British musician who has made a name for himself as a UFO researcher and prolific author (Above Top Secret).

The MUFON group produced a film of one of his lectures a few years ago called UFOs and Military Intelligence.

Like many of these filmed lectures before a hand-selected audience, they are not much cinematically. This one does have the advantage of many cuts to images and film clips as Good makes many of the usual points.

He did provide a bit of info we had never heard before:  In 1962, about a year before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy requested and received permission to view dead alien bodies collected from some unspecified crash site.

Good said the viewing occurred in Tyndall AFB, but that might be disinformation. Kennedy often went to Palm Beach where his family had a compound.

It would be far more likely he made one of his frequent trips to Homestead AFB. He did so shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis under the guise of viewing new weapons.

Indeed, President Richard Nixon reportedly took his pal, UFO fan and comedian actor Jackie Gleason to view alien bodies in “coke freezers,” as Gleason reported privately a decade later.

Gleason also said Nixon escaped his Secret Service protectors and drove them in a private car to the site. Nixon did often elude his secret service agents, and Homestead was about an hour drive from Key Biscayne and Lauderhill, Florida, where Gleason lived.

The drive to Tyndall was 8 hours and 600 miles. It is likely they went to Homestead, if the report is accurate, and it is likely the Air Force would have kept the frozen alien bodies in the same place between 1962 and February of 1973, when Nixon and Gleason visited.

In fact, nowadays, a fleet of presidential jets is kept at Homestead in case of nuclear attack, at the discretion of the President.

Homestead AFB is about an hour’s drive from Mar-a-Lago, the winter home of you-know-who. Whether Trump has been there is not known.

Timothy Good is now unable or unwilling to respond to email or letters (age being a factor), to see what more he can tell about the Kennedy visit in 1962.

Some theorists insist Kennedy’s assassination, one year later, was due to his attempts to reveal secret UFO files.

 

 

Solicitations from Robert Kraft

 DATELINE:  Time to Call a Solicitor General

Mr. Kraft to you Known for Kissing His Players.

No, it’s not quite like receiving an invitation to a Super Bowl party, or even having a greeting from Santa Claus. You are accused of soliciting prostitutes, Mr. Kraft.

Owner and billionaire Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots has been charged by Florida police for entering a massage parlor and wanting more than a happy ending to the Patriots season.

At an age when most of his contemporaries are dead, 77-year old Mr. Kraft has shown a spark of life. We are not sure if we should wink and nod or congratulate him on enjoying whatever days are left to him. Another arrested user of masseuses is pushing 90, according to the published hit list.

Kraft apparently is using a service supplied by Chinese women who are essentially prisoners of the sex trade, kept under lock and key in a massage parlor to do the bidding of a stream of men.

Alas, the entire concept of sex workers is dubious. Unless there is criminal exploitation, we might well wonder why police haven’t found more important work than setting up candid cameras to catch your grandfather in flagrante delicto.

Are there no school shooters? Are there no gun nuts in the Coast Guard? Why are we focused on massage parlors?

Kraft was caught with his pants down on video apparently, according to some. In the tradition of Jussie Smollett, he is denying any transgression.

The massage parlor is only a few miles from the winter White House, and Kraft’s old pal to sex charges, the President of the United States, is even weighing in on the incident. We know Trump prefers to grab women’s crotches without paying by his own admission.

We may well scratch our head at why a billionaire septuagenarian would pay $75 for an hour’s dangerous liaison when he could have someone come to any private place of his bidding for a few more bucks.

We are of two minds: should we praise him and offer a medal for doing what most men his age can only wish?

Or should we prepare for the inevitable tombstone chiseling that will make this his last notorious act in a life of philanthropy and goodwill?

The ultimate profit goes to the media: this is not a game for gentlemen. Call your solicitor if you plan a trip to the massage parlor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sahara: Classic Desert War Movie

DATELINE: Bogie in a Tank

Bogie:Sahara

Seventy-six years old, and still modern. It is called Sahara from 1943. That is the condition of the new HD version of Humphrey Bogart’s best World War II movie.

It was meant to be a throwaway propaganda piece. Director Zoltan Korda made something far more reaching and lasting.

You can take all the clichés here and wrap them up as a gift. Three lost American soldiers in a tank (Bogart as Sgt. Gunn, Dan Duryea and Bruce Bennett) motivate their lone tank, Lulubelle, across the desert south to avoid the Nazi onslaught.

Along the way they meet a bunch of ragtag men without units: South African, Sudanese, Dublin, France, and even an Italian prisoner of war.

The cast is your exemplary second-banana team, including Lloyd Bridges and J. Carroll Naish. Every costar is given a big scene in which he bares a soul to the others and has a moment of glory.

There is plenty of foreshadowing with talk of miracles, and the dirty bunch end up at some abandoned mosque in the middle of nowhere with a dry well. Well, not so dry. There is a trickle of water to give them life and hope.

Rex Ingram, notable black actor and director, has a particularly large role and heroic one as Tambul. When a Nazi officer resists being searched by Ingram, Bogart tells him not to worry: the black won’t rub off on his pretty uniform.

The movie is loaded with timeless bits that were the stuff of a great America.

Korda even films one moment of flowing sand that is a mirage: it looks like cascading water.

The Nazis are ruthless and nasty, demanding “Wasser,” and dying of thirst while a handful of rainbow troops from all manner of places and races holds them off in a kind of Alamo stand. It was filmed at Palm Springs desert, but you’d swear you were in Africa.

You owe yourself to see what a studio could produce in its heyday of glory.

 

John Wayne Revisited, 50 Years Off the Saddle!

DATELINE:  Too Late for Words!

Duke, Duck!Duck, Dodge, and Hide, Duke!

Fifty years after John Wayne gave an interview to Playboy, it has been re-discovered and has become an interesting, revisionist historical document that berates black people, Native Americans, and gays.

Wayne was home on the range but would be shocked by today’s brave new world. He would have punched Trump in the nose for suggesting America is no longer great.

Actors have never been known for their giant brains. You have only to look at stories about Jussie Smollett to learn that hard lesson.

So, it is not surprising that an interview given by Duke Wayne in 1971 is rife with frightful prejudice against black people and Native Americans. You should add women to the list.

Wayne played an array of Union soldiers and military heroes often in defense of America, popular ideas in his movies. He was in real life only one step to the left of J. Edgar Hoover and not much removed from a political Know-Nothing.

If you put his statue in front of a Confederate stronghold, the rebels would have ripped it down.

John Wayne refused to work with “liberal” Dirty Harry Clint Eastwood on a movie.

Well, the shocks mount up like Wayne on a charging steed with the reins in his teeth and six-shooters firing at will.

Young anti-Vietnam war Americans of the “hippie era” hated John Wayne for his backward view of politics. He was right up there with Bob Hope as a supporter of war in its many forms.

Now that generation of youth, regarded as wayward and drug-addled, is older than Wayne when he gave his notorious interview of 1971.

Back in the 1970s, liberals laughed at Wayne and threw snowballs at him when he was in a Cambridge parade and received the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year at Harvard.

He also went on TV to guest star on Maude, Bea Arthur’s liberal bastion series. She promised a shootout with Wayne at High Noon.

Of course, Maude was a half-baked hypocrite and she melted when John Wayne told her he never discussed politics with a woman. They ended up in a waltz.

The problem that faces the old Bernie Saunders liberal types who are pushing 80 (and soon to be pushing up daisies) has more to do with an old Bette Davis quote.

She said of her hated rival Joan Crawford: “They don’t change just because they’re dead.”

People should remember that Davis was only partly correct. She should have said: “You can’t change your mind once you’re dead.”

Star Trek VI, Shakespeare Par-Broiled!

DATELINE:  The Final Undiscovered Country

Butrick recalled Merritt Remembered!

Did we miss this gem the first time around in 1991? We are glad to re-discover The Undiscovered Country, the last original cast movie of the Star Trek series. It is elegantly listed as VI.

This film, directed by Nicholas Meyer, is Shakespearean satire. It is delicious to behold. The sixth in the movie franchise of the original series, perhaps we had run out of steam and avoided it, but the characters had not abandoned their mission.

Christopher Plummer as Chang, the Klingon villain, delivers famous lines and taunts that you have to read Shakespeare in the original Klingon.

The movie is loaded with delights. Spock quotes Sherlock Holmes and mentions he is a distant ancestor. Christian Slater, a devotee and fan of the show, has a cameo.

Merrit Butrick, who played Kirk’s son in two movies, but had died of HIV in 1989, appears as his son again in a photo—and in a major plot device. We think Butrick would have been thrilled.

The Undiscovered Country deserves to have an elevated spot in the canon of Star Trek. As the last entry, it is bittersweet and, so many years after its appearance, meets the end exactly as we might wish.

The movie is loaded with one-liners and the usual attack that leaves the Enterprise in shambles.

Leonard Nimoy came up with the idea for the last film, and he knows how to play off the two main characters and his chemistry with William Shatner.

If you have not discovered the last franchise dedicated to Gene Roddenberry, you are remiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Blue Book to Green Balls of Fire

DATELINE:  Episode 6 of 10

sexy MalarkeySexy Malarkey.

Well, we’re back for nuclear tic-tac-toe with aliens and UFOs. This incident is based on truth that is out there, all you X-file fans. Is it our imagination, or is actor Mike Malarkey growing more attractive with each show? He is compelling as a foil to Aiden Gillen’s professor.

Indeed, in one scene, Hynek seems to break into some Hangar 18 where he has been given keys by Men in Black.  There you will find all kinds of vaults, files, and deposit boxes filled with UFO goodies. Is this based on truth, or other space shot documentaries?

In the meantime, in a subplot in a small corner of the universe, a beautiful Russian agent is trying to build a lesbian tie-in with Hynek’s wife. Is this based on truth too?

Green balls of light, purported meteors from a 1948 incident, were considered Soviet technology by some, and the government used a cover story of meteors to fool the public, yet again. The less fictionalized truth is delivered to us at the show’s coda showing that the real participants were not Hynek and Quinn, but two other, earlier researchers.

There is some fake Secretary of Something again in this episode, at loggerheads with the military, perhaps meant to be a version of Truman’s Secretary of Defense who leaped or was thrown from a secure hospital to his death (that may be a future episode).

He is co-opting Hynek (Aiden Gillen) from the generals and his partner, the ever-arrogant Captain Quinn (Michael Malarkey, too tough, chewing broken glass in most scenes).

If anything, the puzzling relationship of Hynek and Quinn continues to be at the heart of series: their hostility and mistrust of each other seems to be leading somewhere. Or, it could be just hanging there forever.

This episode’s Twilight Zone parallel featured a town of mannequins, weirdly using real people in pose and true mannequins in other scenes. Why?  Just to give us a chill, probably. It was not germane to the plot.

 

 

 

 

The Captains of Star Trek

DATELINE: No Vanity from Shatner!

man in box

When first we saw that William Shatner had produced, written, and directed a movie documentary about the five captains of the Star Trek franchise, we suspected vanity. He calls it The Captains, putting himself into a stew with the others.

How wrong we were about the ego of Captain Kirk’s acting creator. Shatner’s touching and delightful film shows what an erudite, generous, kind man he is. Each conversation with one of his successors in the Star Trek world is careful and insightful.

He talks to Scott Bakula, Sir Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks, and Chris Pine.  He genuinely likes these actors and respects their opinions.

Also around are those who were part of the franchise like Jonathan Frakes (The Next Generation) and even his old friend Christopher Plummer (from The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek VI). Shatner understudied Plummer in Henry V on stage at the beginning of their careers! 

Obvious questions were on Shatner’s mind in a personal way, and he turned it around to find out if playing a Star Fleet captain had an impact on the personal life of the actors. It deals with divorce to mortality. Of course, it is big.

Shatner notes how he might have been embarrassed to leave serious classic acting to do Star Trek, and how often he was denigrated for his work. Yet, talking to the other stars, he becomes more aware of why playing a leader required an attitude.

In the meantime, he shows humor and expresses insight into his own career. There are even clips of him, as a blond in the mid-1950s playing Billy Budd on Canadian TV.

He learns that every star suffered 16-hour work days on the series and movies, and that it had a devastating toll on their personal lives and children.

Yet, this is not a downbeat story: Shatner has come to revel in his role as Captain Kirk, not always something he could claim. Each actor he speaks with shares personal feelings that elicit a growth in Shatner on the screen.

What a marvelous little film, even if you may not have seen some of the Star Trek oeuvre, there is much to savor here.