Thursday, January 19, 2017

Logan's Run 40th Anniversary Blogging: "Capture" (September 30, 1977)

Oh no, 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.

Going back to the beginning, in 1924, Richard Connell's story The Most Dangerous Game (also called The Hounds of Zaroff) appeared in Colliers. Connell's work told the tale of Sanger Rainsford, a hunter from New York stranded on the island home of General Zaroff and his minion, Ivan. 

Rainsford soon learned that Zaroff, also a hunter, had become tired of standard game. Now he only hunted human prey. Where did he get his game? Well, from stranded, ship-wrecked sailors. He often offered them a deal. If they could elude him for three days, they would be allowed to leave the island alive. If not, they would be killed.

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. Series such as Lost in Space and Gilligan's Island also broadcast variations of the oft-told tale.  

Well, I'm sure you know where this is goind. Logan's Run'third episode "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 run 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. This fact makes "Capture" both a Most Dangerous Game knock-off and a "My Enemy, My Ally Story...)

Meanwhile, 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 don't know where to begin them. Like, where do Irene and James get the power to run their house? A portable generator? That they got...where, exactly, in post-apocalyptic 23rd century Earth?

How is that they came to have this house and its collection of fine 17th-through-21st century weaponry in the first place?  Did they rob a museum?

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 star villains. 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.

I must also say, I'm really not impressed with the TV depiction of the Sandmen. Given their pedigree from the novel and the movie, you'd think they'd be impressive killers. Instead, this week they are easy prey. They 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 gun play 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 the superior weapon.

Much like "The Collectors,"  "Capture" 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 (or history...) 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 hunters. That just doesn't feel right.

So not only is this story a formulaic one based on a frequently used source, it is one that makes next to no sense, given the "world" according to the series.

Next week: "The Innocent."

1 comment:

  1. Good honest review of this Logan's Run episode. I am glad you mentioned the other shows that did this hunt story.