Sunday, October 30, 2005

CULT TV BLOGGING: Logan's Run: "The Capture"

Oh no, why'd they do it?! It's yet another TV version of The Most Dangerous Game! We all know that story; it's the one where a hunter decides that the best prey is humankind and sets about hunting nice decent folk on his big estate. It's a great story, but it's also a science fiction TV cliche, alas.

The Most Dangerous Game was done as an episode of The Incredible Hulk on December 7, 1979 ("The Snare") and Space:1999 even took a kind of swipe at it called "Devil's Planet" during Year Two. Well, now, it looks like Logan's Run's third episode "The Capture" is The Most Dangerous Game redux.

In "The Capture (written by Michael Richards and directed by Irving J. Moore), Francis - a.k.a. the Hapless Pursuer - finally captures Logan, Jessica and REM. It's not hard, since they're laying around by the shore of a lake taking it easy. Anyway, Francis plans to take the "criminals" back to the City of Domes. But soon they all runs afoul of a married couple, James Borden (Horst Bucholtz) and Irene (Mary Woronov), who share an unhealthy passion for hunting. They've been hunting Runners lately (you can tell by their trophy board consisting entirely of Ankhs...), but now is their opportunity for some real prey: Sandmen! While Jessica is imprisoned on the grounds of the Borden estate, Logan and Francis are forced to work together to beat the hunter at his own game. But, Borden has planted all kinds of booby traps in the wilderness, including a pit, and a cage that materializes out of nowhere.

I have so many questions about this episode, I almost don't know where to begin. Like, where do Irene and James get the power to run their house? How is that they came to have this house and its collection of fine 17th-through-21st century weaponry in the first place? How did they survive the war? Where did they come from, if not from the City of Domes or one of the primitive settlements? I mean, they must have had parents, right? Then they must have met and married at some point? So where's their underlying social circle? Where were they educated in the history and use of these weapons? There are no answers here.

Lastly, why does it seem that each Logan's Run episode has the budget for precisely two and no more than two "name" guest stars? You'd think they'd do a better job of hiding that deficit, but in each story so far, we've gotten exactly two major guest roles/villains. In the pilot it was Siri and Draco. In "The Collectors" it was John and Joanna. Here, it's James and Irene. Methinks the producers of Logan's Run could be more subtle.

I must also say, I'm really not impressed with Sandmen anymore. Given their pedigree from the novel and the movie, you'd think they'd be impressive killers. You would think that, at least until you get a load of Logan and Francis engaged in an ultra-lame fistfight with each other this week. Jeez! They walk around in a circle, hunched over and pawing at each other like little kids. It's ridiculous. I thought these guys were the best of the best? Then, as if they didn't seem goofy enough, they proceed to fall into pits, get snared in cages, and only manage to survive the hunt at all because Francis is armed. Like the "Riders" segment of the pilot, there's a problem dramatically when gunplay solves all the plot problems. Imagine if on Star Trek, a good blast from a phaser solved the dilemma every week. That's what it's like on Logan's Run, at least so far.

That said, I love the design of the Sandman flare gun (from the movie), and there are several wonderful close-up shots of the gun in action in this episode; flaring in all four quadrants of the nozzle. Very cool, but I would have preferred a solution that didn't again involve the winner possessing only the superior weapon.

I guess the thing that most bums me out about "The Capture" is that, like "The Collectors," it feels as though the makers of this series don't know what the series is about. How realistic is it that a couple living alone in the woods in a post-apocalyptic society would be gun aficionados who want to hunt living prey? There's no underlying basis or reality to these characters, so the whole story just seems ridiculous. Again, Logan's Run should be exploring a messed-up post-apocalyptic world, as Logan and Jessica grapple with the idea of starting over, of seeing what exists outside the Domed City. There could be all kind of savagery and weird civilizations out there, but so far we've seen androids, aliens and now mean old hunters. That just doesn't feel true.

But fear not, Runners, for the series is about to take a turn for the better with a teleplay from none other than David Gerrold! Yes, it's true that he took his name off the episode and was featured under the alias Noah Ward (get it?). Still, his story ain't half bad. But that's a post and an episode for another day!

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