Thursday, February 16, 2017

Logan's Run 40th Anniversary Blogging: "Crypt" (November 7, 1977)


The seventh episode of the short-lived 1977-1978 Logan's Run TV series is also the best. "Crypt" comes from a story by Harlan Ellison (teleplay by Al Hayes), and the installment is directed by Michael Caffey.

In “Crypt,” Logan, Jessica and REM drive their solar craft into an honest-to-goodness destroyed metropolis this time -- a ruined modern city, not just the California countryside.

REM informs his friends that the poison air killed most of the people there, not the bombs. In one of the buildings, the threesome discovers a recorded message from March of 2120. A very sick woman explains that the last survivors of the scientific community -- six chosen people -- are frozen in cryogenic units in the basement.

Though they are alive, they suffer from a plague that arose after the thermonuclear war. Fortunately, there are still two vials of serum left; enough for all six scientists. The staff died and a door malfunctioned before the scientists could be saved. Now, the woman leaving the message begs for the visitors to complete her mission.

After fixing the stuck door, Logan, Jessica and REM head for the crypt in the basement to revive humanity's last hope, only to endure a terrible tremor. In the earthquake, one of the vials of antidote is destroyed, meaning that only enough serum remains to save three of the all-important scientists.

Logan and his friends awaken all six sleepers, but now must decide which three will survive. Among the choices: a robotics expert (Neva Patterson), a bureaucrat/administrator (Liam Sullivan), a telekinetic (Soon-Teck-Oh), a medical doctor (Ellen Preston), an engineer (Christopher Stone), and a young scientist, Sylvia Reynes (Adrienne La Russa).

While Logan and Jessica interview the awakened scientists to determine who should live and who must die, REM discovers an alarming fact from the facility's computers: one of the scientists is actually an imposter.

And then a murder occurs. The administrator, Lyman, is murdered, but the crime is made to look like an accident.

One of the scientific minds of the future is not merely a fake, but a murderer, willing to resort to criminal behavior to survive.

Now, Logan and Jessica's task takes on an even greater significance. If they choose wrongly, a murderer will decide the future of humanity!



No argument about it: "Crypt" the best Logan's Run episode, just nosing out Noah Ward's "Man out of Time." For once, Logan and Jessica actually have something critically important to do: choose the path of the future.

If they choose wrong in this situation, their world could face the repercussions for generations.



More to the point, the writers of this episode put the mission into a kind of personal context for Logan, a world-view which generally seems missing from the series. Here, Logan sees this predicament in very human, very specific terms relating to his tenure in the City of the Domes. There, as he points out, a select handful of people (The council of the Elders) chose who lived and who died, deciding on an arbitrary date of termination (the age of thirty).

Now Logan is put in the position of making such a choice himself, and doesn't want to be arbitrary like that, or choose unwisely. The question here is: do moral obligations still exist (as one character asks)? 

And more importantly, what are those moral obligations? "Crypt" answers that question in a dynamic way that actually seems to reflect how Logan, given his experiences, would feel.



Logan reacts violently and emotionally when he is confronted with the murderer. He is able to contextualize this murder in terms of his own experience. “I left the City of Domes to find a place” without murder as a means to an end, he tells the killer.

It is also clear from this episode that REM, by far, is the character that the writers seemed to enjoy writing for the most. Here, the kindly android not only gets his feelings hurt at one point, but steps into the role of a mechanical Sherlock Holmes in order to solve the locked room (or closed crypt) mystery.

Using deductive reasoning and his intellect (and his understanding of human nature), REM comes to his conclusion about the identity of the killer, and in classic mystery fashion gathers all the suspects together to declare his findings. 


Afterwards, one of the scientists claims that REM's reward for ferreting out the murder should be a city named after him. "REMSville," REM suggests. Or even better, "REMsylvania."

Because it has a sense of humor, because the episode is about more than a straw man society easily toppled, because the episode stops to think about Logan's point of view, "Crypt" is quite an entertaining and valuable hour of this series.  It demonstrates, truly, the potential that this 40 year old series had.

Still, even in its finest installment, the Logan’s Run formula proves limiting. 

Here, Logan and Jessica and REM have a real task to accomplish: to help these scientists rebuild the world. They could serve as their security, their assistants, or even their guides in the post-apocalyptic ruins.  Instead, formula insists that our heroes must run off, drive away, and leave the important task of world-building behind.  For what?

Again, some hazy concept of “Sanctuary.” 

The very format is flawed not only because it requires the three protagonists to go on traveling forever (or until they find Sanctuary). But because requires them to leave people in need, rebuilding society, all in favor of a fantasy. 

It would be nice if Logan and the other started building a Sanctuary for all mankind to prosper from, instead of just running off to a place that is already up and running, that they believe will harbor them.

2 comments:

  1. John, interesting review of "Crypt". It is one of the best episodes and sadly, as you stated, they are trapped in the series formula of departing. If this was done today, then, like The Walking Dead, they would have stood there for at least a couple of seasons to rebuild society. The wandering post-apocalyptic formula of the '70s was used by ARK II, PLANET OF THE APES CBS tv series and this LOGAN'S RUN series. REM was a likable android and seems to be what Next Generation's Data became too.

    SGB

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  2. ARK II "The Cryogenic Man" episode in 1976 also dealt with reviving men (Jim Backus) frozen in cryogenic units too.

    SGB

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