Tuesday, November 08, 2005

CULT TV BLOGGING: Logan's Run: "Futurepast"

The early 1970s created a particular breed of horror in the mass media. It was known as "the clips show." In this episode of your average sci-fi series (like Buck Rogers or Logan's Run), no significant new story would be told, and instead the episode would feature a jumble of "flashbacks" of previous adventures -- and masquerade them as something fresh. As late as 1989 and the Star Trek: The Next Generation second season finale, "Shades of Grey," genre programs were still trotting out this terrible convention of television...hurting us all; making us suffer.

The suffering generated by the "clips show" is so great because you tune into your favorite show with the expectation that it is a brand new adventure. Then, to your chagrin - as the clips begin - you realize that you've been set up for an elaborate hoax. You get half a new episode, with the rest of the running time filled by these clips you've already seen. It's like a rerun wrapped up in a new show, and that makes it especially insidious.

Well, you know where I'm going with this, don't you? "Futurepast" is Logan Run's clip show. Here, Logan, Jessica and REM find a "dream clinic" in the woods; one run by an android and "dream reader" named Ariana (Mariette Hartley). Every time REM is near the lovely Ariana, sparks fly out of his body (hey, I've had that happen to me!) In other words, it's android love. But while REM and Ariana court, Logan and Jessica decide to avail themselves of the dream clinic and go to sleep. They begin to experience a high level of nightmares -- actually clips from "The Collector" and "Pilot." Logan dreams he has run into another Sandman, and Jessica dreams she is in Carousel. Then there's some footage thrown in from "The Capture" too, just for good measure. Help!

REM discovers he can't wake up his friends until the cycle of nightmares is over because they're in "Cycle C" sleep and going deeper, towards "Cycle D" -- which means death. And worse, Francis and another Sandman have arrived at the clinic too, creating some false jeopardy from the hapless pursuer.

Well, this is the biggest Logan's Run time waster so far. At one point, Francis tells Logan that Sanctuary doesn't exist, and you know something - I agree with him. Nothing Logan and Jessica have discovered outside supports their belief that an objective "Sanctuary" exists. All I can say is that you know a show is in trouble when you don't believe in the hero's quest anymore...


  1. I've heard these are called "bread and butter shows" because they save the production company money. Most of them are pretty lame, but I remember Voyagers! did a quite good one called "The Trial of Phineas Bogg," in which the pair's "Moriarty," named Drake, was introduced, played with appropriate villainy by Stephen Liska.

  2. Anonymous4:47 AM

    As recently as this year, "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate: Atlantis" are still trotting out the clip shows almost on an annual basis. Of course, those shows, especially SG-1, have become so self-referential, it's almost necessary to do those catch-up programs. I can't understand why a show like "Logan's Run," that had aired, at the time of "Futurepast," only a mere handful of episodes, would have needed to do that, though.
    By the way, John, are you going to blog-review the original "Logan's Run" feature film after you are done with the series?

  3. Hey Howard!

    I do plan to blog the Logan's Run movie after I finish with the TV series...so stay tuned!

  4. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Although it was a clip show, the clips were actually only a minor part - and most of Jessica and Logan's dream (which is eventually revealed as a shared dream) is new footage, during which they finally remember that the two are supposed to be in love with each other. The romance between Ariana and Rem was quite charming (Mariette Hartley tended to specialize in one-off characters the audience fell in love with) and after forgetting about him for a good 5 episodes or so it was good to see Francis back. I think it was one of the stronger episodes, even with the clips. (And the convention has been used more recently than the infamous Shades of Grey which was a very poor episode; JJ Abrams' Alias did one around 2002.


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