Tuesday, November 01, 2005

CULT TV BLOGGING: Logan's Run: "Man out of Time"

Leave it to David Gerrold, the talented creator of "The Trouble with Tribbles" on Star Trek and the story editor for the best year of Land of the Lost, to give us a reprieve here, one of the very best early episodes of Logan's Run: The Series (1977).

Now, I imagine there's probably one heck of a behind-the-scenes story to go with this fourth installment of LR , because David Gerrold also had his name removed from the final episode; replacing it with his pseudonym, Noah Ward (No Award - get it?) Looking back on the episode, I wonder if he regrets not taking credit. I mean, perhaps in the great scheme of the universe, this episode may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but "Man out of Time" is an inarguable high point in the Logan's Run TV canon.

"Man Out of Time" (by Noah Ward and directed by Nicholas Colasanto) begins in December 2118, only a short time before the nuclear war that will destroy the world and lead to the shattered landscape Logan, Jessica and REM are familiar with. A group of scientists are working on "The Sanctuary Project," an experiment with time travel. They can open a time portal to the future for 22 hours, and plan to send scientist David Eakins (Paul Shenar) through to invesetigate the future, determine the cause of the nuclear war, and then come back in time and (hopefully...) prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. Finally, Eakins travels to the 23rd century and meets Logan, as well as the primitive, barbarous descendants of the Sancutary Project...people who worship the project computers and can't even read. While Logan, Jessica and REM try to help these people grow more self-sufficient, David Eakins realizes that if he undoes the future, he'll also be preventing the births of his new friends, Logan and Jessica.

But still, David heads back to the past to see what he can change. His last contact with Logan and Jessica and REM is a shattering message sent to the future. Back in the past, he's discovered the cause of the nuclear war....it's him. David's discovery of time travel and subsequent successful journey through time has spawned a new and deadly arms race, with enemy nations demanding the technology to travel through time. The United States, of course, wants to keep the knowledge as a secret. And that's the beginning of the end...

"Only 12 more shopping days till Armageddon," Eakins quips at one point, and that kind of snappy humor is only a part of this fine episode of Logan's Run. More importantly, all the dramatis personae come across as well-developed individuals for a change (including Logan and Jessica), and each acts according to the strengths and weaknesses of his own unique character, not stepping out that parameter because of plot demands. But more importantly, the episode builds logically and inevitably to the shattering conclusion described here. "History has a way of catching up with mankind," says REM, and he's right...there's no going back, no matter how hard David Eakins attempts to change things.

Sure, "Man out of Time" is a little preachy at times, and the same information is conveyed perhaps one too many times, but hey, this was the seventies! This was before DS9 and story arcs; before we took so much for granted in the genre and brought a wide knowledge to our TV shows. After getting through "The Collectors" and "The Capture" I'm thrilled with a meatier story that actually means something; that boasts a point of view. Still, I bet David Gerrold's version was even better. Wish we could have seen that on Logan's Run!

1 comment:

  1. I definitely have to find that petition I signed somewhere to have the Logan's Run series released to DVD. To see the status, if nothing else, with regards to progress. I'd forgotten about these gems until you blogged them back into memory and now I want to see them again!

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