Friday, April 23, 2010

Five Years Ago...

...on April 23, 2005, I began writing my "reflections" about film and television in this space.

Some 1,600+ posts later, I'm still having a great time. In fact, my biggest disappointment in 2010 is that my writing deadlines and responsibilities off-line are keeping me from posting more stuff online.

My introductory post, from 2005, began like this:

"Hello everybody, welcome to my blog. And to start us off, I quote the illustrious Admiral James Stockdale: "Who am I? Why am I here?"

Good questions...

My name is John Muir. and I'm a published author who writes under the name John Kenneth Muir, not because I'm pretentious or anything (though I am...) but because - for some reason - there are a lot of writers out there named John Muir.

Specifically, there's the great American naturalist from the last century, and also a fellow who writes about fixing Volkswagens. Others too, I think. In the age of the Internet, I realized I had to distinguish myself a little for Google, Yahoo, Lycos, Ask Jeeves and other search engines, so for the record, I'm the John Muir (the John Kenneth Muir...) who writes about film and television for a living.

And I know nothing about Volkswagens, so don't ask...

To let you know a little bit about my work, I'm the author of fifteen published books and several articles and short stories. I live in Monroe, North Carolina and work out of my home office penning books on film and television.

You may (or may not...) know some of my titles. From Applause Theatre and Cinema Books I've written: An Askew View: The Films of Kevin Smith (2002), The Unseen Force: The Films of Sam Raimi (2004), and Best in Show: the Films of Christopher Guest and Company (2004).

McFarland, a publisher here in North Carolina, has published eleven of my books, including award winners Terror Television (A Booklist Editor's Choice, 2001), Horror Films of the 1970s (A Booklist Editor's Choice, 2002 and ALA "Best of the Best" Reference Book '03), and 2004's The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television.

I've written about prominent horror directors (Wes Craven: The Art of Horror [1998], The Films of John Carpenter [2000], Eaten Alive at a Chainsaw Massacre: The Films of Tobe Hooper [2003]) and several TV series studies, including Exploring Space:1999 (1997), An Analytical Guide to TV's Battlestar Galactica (1998), A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television (1999), A History an Analysis of Blake's 7 (2000), and An Analytical Guide to TV's One Step Beyond (2001)...

That answers the first question, who am I? The second question, why am I here? involves pop culture, film and TV. I hope I can utilize this space to discuss, debate and ponder trends in movies and TV programs...Basically, I just hope to create an ongoing journal about contemporary and classic entertainment."

In the five years since I offered that opening gambit, I've written six additional books (Horror Films of the 1980s, The Rock'n'Roll Film Encyclopedia, Mercy in Her Eyes: The Films of Mira Nair, TV Year, Music on Film: This is Spinal Tap), and updated one (Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film/TV; 2nd Edition).

I've also written essays for published anthologies (Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy, Ken Russell: Re-Viewing England's Last Mannerist), penned short stories (Space:1999 Shepherd Moon), and even created an award-nominated web-series, The House Between, that lasted three seasons and twenty-one episodes. And heck, I'm raising a three year old kid, which feels like a full-time (but wonderful and very rewarding) job.

But through all that, this blog has been a part of my daily creative process. So to celebrate my fifth anniversary, I'm including links to some of my most popular reviews. Again, these are, in a sense, your selections; the links most visited by readers of this site. Interestingly, these most-"read" reviews don't always seem to be the ones that generate the most comments. Not sure why that is.


1. Jaws (1975)
2. The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)
3. Body Double (1984)
4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
5. The Black Hole (1979)

TV programs:

1. Otherworld (1985)
2. Battlestar Galactica (2005)
3. Space:1999: "Dragon's Domain" (1975)
4. The Vampire Diaries (2009)
5. Harsh Realm (2000)


5. Space:1999 Eagle 1 Spaceship


1. An Interview with Chris Carter
2. Don't Tell Them What You Saw: Les Diaboliques vs. Diabolique
The Tao of Michael Myers

My most-requested (by-readers) movie reviews, which I'll be presenting soon are: Blade Runner (1982), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (I've been promising this one for a while...) and Session 9.

The TV series I am most often asked to review is SGU, followed by Caprica. I've got SGU in my queue, and when a full season of Caprica is available, I'll get to that too. Promise.

So -- five years in -- a humble thank you for staying with me and this blog. The best is yet to come.



  1. Anonymous7:59 AM

    Personally - my gateway drug review to the blog was for 'Alien 3'. Awesome stuff.

    Thanks a bunch for putting out such a fun (and yea, even regular) set of commentaries, thoughts, and such. It's always a great read.

    (and... you know... if you run out of things to ramble on, Farscape's always a fun topic too. :D)

  2. Woodchuckgod:

    Thank you for those positive comments.

    And you must be reading my mind -- I just bought Farscape: The Complete Series two weeks ago (there was a sale on and I plan to delve into that too. I have felt bad that I have done over 100 cult tv flashbacks and not featured one of my all-time favorite shows yet...

    I plan to correct that error as soon as I re-watch a few Farscapes!


  3. Oooh, I'm looking forward to the WRATH OF KHAN review!

    Congrats on the milestone, my friend! That is quite an accomplishment and as for someone who has been frequenting your blog for some time, I hope you keep it up. You clearly impart your passion for genre cinema in everything you write and that in turn inspires me (and I'm sure others) to write something equally impassioned on my own blog. Sometimes, when I question my own writing all I have to do is pull up some of my fave reviews of yours and they remind me what it's all about.

    Well done!

  4. Have enjoyed the blog every since I bought and read Horror Films of the 1980s and looked you up. Still have Horror Films of the 1970s to get through, although I was a bit wiped out after finishing the 1980s!

  5. Hey J.D.!

    Thank you for that lovely comment.

    Familiarizing myself with your excellent writing (and research skills too) has been an absolute joy over the last several years.

    Your blog is simply one of the best on the net, and I always enjoy reading it. If I've inspired you on occasion, you've more than returned the favor, my friend.


  6. Hey Slasherfan:

    Thank you so much for writing about your enjoyment of the blog, and for the mention of Horror Films of the 1980s.

    My deadline for Horror Films of the 1990s is just a few weeks away, so don't get too comfortable! I'm sending more reading your way:)

    Thank you for writing, and I've been meaning to tell you that I love your handle. As you can tell from Horror Films of the 1980s, I also find a lot of value in the Slasher Paradigm!


  7. Here;s to the next 5!

  8. Thanks John!

    From another blogger I love, that toast means a lot!


  9. Happy Anniversary!

    Blogs are a dime a dozen so it's great knowing there is a place where you can read thoughtful views from a truly knowledgeable source. Thanks for this oasis away from knee-jerk critiques, it is much appreciated!-Unk

  10. Unk:

    Thank you for the anniversary wishes!

    And you know, your blog is also at the top of my list.

    Your post this week about the "Voluptuous Horror of Alien" was, without exaggeration, absolute genius. I tried to leave a comment, but for some reason could not sign in on wordpress, even after multiple attempts. D'oh!

    But what I wanted to say there was that film is a visual art form, primarily, and my hat is off to you for making your argument about the merits of the filmin entirely visual terms, in this case. It was gorgeous, it was on point, and it was right.

    Seriously, if there were an award for blog post of the year, "The Voluptuous Horror of Alien" should win it, hands down, in my book!



  11. Happy Anniversary, John!

    I actually discovered your blog just last year, and since then I try to make a habit of check it at least once a day.

    As a tv fan in my soul, I admit I prefer the articles about cult tv (though I like everything you write).

    Here is a short list of cult tv series I would like to see reviewed in the future, whenever you'll get to them (I linked a wiki page for each of them) :

    Something Is Out There (1988)

    The Powers of Matthew Star (1982)

    Outlaws (1986)

    Max Headroom (1987)

    Sleepwalkers (1997)

    The Visitor (1997)

    Wolf Lake (2001)

    Jake 2.0 (2003)

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog, and keep up the good job! (-:

  12. That is quite an achievement, John. I think your examinations of film and TV are extraordinary. Your analysis of each within the context of the time period (and current) is what I truly appreciate. Your keen insight really drives me to look past certain aspects of what you review, and that makes it well worth the visit to your blog site. You are a gentlemen and scholar--and that's what the wild, wild west really needs. Let's hope for at least 5 more years of this, my friend. Thanks very much for this.

  13. Thank you for the lovely comments, Nir!

    That's an interesting list of cult tv shows, and I must admit, both Wolf Lake and Powers of Matthew Star have been in my mind of late. I would like to see Sleepwalkers again and evaluate it fairly.

    Something is Out There is definitely on my radar too...I remember it well.

    Great suggestions! (I hope eventually to cover all those titles!)


  14. LeOpard13:

    I have to tell you, it always makes my day when I see that you have left a comment.

    Without fail, your insights are intelligent, well-put, and add something new to the discussion.

    And you are a gentleman too, my friend. You always "thank" me for writing something, and I have adopted that stance as wel -- thanks to you -- in my responses and when I leave comments elsewhere.

    It's just a nice way of stating appreciation, to thank someone for taking the time to present their ideas. I love that!

    And, on top of all that, I have really enjoyed reading your excellent blog as well.

    Thank you!


  15. Congratulations John. That's an excellent milestone.

    I have come along for the journey for almost 2 years, and though I am yet to myself break into the field of writing, your blog and your writing in general have been an inspiration, and are of a caliber to which I have aspired ever since.

    Here's to the road already traveled, and to that which lies ahead.

  16. Henry:

    Your words and your fellowship here mean a lot to me. Thank you so much for everything you said.

    I always appreciate reading your comments (and, on occasion, you have stuck up for me too, when we had a wild commenter in these parts...)

    All my best,

  17. John, congratulations on your milestone anniversary. May you continue to provide us with your insightful commentary for many years to come.
    And, I'm looking forward to your next project that we can discuss on the air.

    Best of all possible Destinies,

  18. Hi Howard!

    Thank you so much for your congratulations. I'm looking forward as well to my next rendezvous with Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction. Especially because I get interviewed by a guy who has been doing this every week for -- what? -- 25 years now?!

    You're the best!


  19. John, actually, I've been hosting the show for 26 years, and continuously for about 19.5. "Destinies-The Voice of Science Fiction" itself will be celebrating its 27th anniversary with a one-hour special this Friday, April 30th, at 11:30 PM on 90.1 FM, WUSB, Stony Brook, NY. The show will include readings by Justin Gustainis, Patrick Thomas, and Gregory A. Wilson; music by The Road, Bear McCreary, Shawn Clement, and Vanessa Mae; and the 100th installment of Christopher DeFilippis' "DeFlip Side."
    Thanks for the chance to plug.

  20. Hey Howard!

    26 years -- that's amazing! Congrats on your upcoming 27th anniversary!

    Like I said, you are the best. Not only a great friend, but a great interviewer and host.


  21. John,

    Sorry I'm late. I've been away. Congratulations. i wanted to take time out to express my thanks for your wonderful writing and your support.

    Each visit I find something new to read that gives me a different, thoughtful take on often misunderstood or intentionally maligned material. You offer me proof that many of the writers out there are either not writers or aren't faithfully assessing the source material. Your review of Sunshine is a case in point.

    Thank you John. May you have many years of wonderful writing ahead of you.

  22. Hey Sci-Fi Fanatic:

    I appreciate your words so much. Thank you!

    Discovering your gorgeous blog a few months ago has been a great pleasure for me. You're an excellent writer, yourself, and I look forward to reading more from you too, in the months and years ahead,