Thursday, March 30, 2017

Logan's Run 40th Anniversary Blogging: "Night Visitors" (January 23, 1978)



After the relative success of "Carousel," the last Logan's Run episode I blogged about here, I had high hopes that the series was going to finish out its fourteen episode run in decent fashion.

Well, episode twelve, "Night Visitor" terminates that hope like a Sandman shooting Runners.

Instead of delving deeper into character interaction, or the background of the world the protagonists inhabit, “Night Visitors” attempts, sadly, to tell a supernatural story, one of “possession” in the Logan’s Run universe. 

The episode actually possesses the audacity to ape the “devil” craze of the seventies (The Exorcist [1973], The Omen [196]) and then, disappointingly, have REM (Donald Moffat) validate the occult as something real.

The problems with this idea -- at least in universe -- are myriad.  Consider that the denizens of the City of Domes don’t believe in a conventional afterlife with a Heaven and Hell. They believe in a cycle of “Last Day” and “Renewal.”  It isn’t easy to understand how the Devil, spirits, ghosts, or other occult forces would figure into their world view.

In fact, Logan and Jessica should be completely stunned and unfamiliar with the concept of ghosts and hauntings. In their world (City of Domes), nobody ever really dies (or so it appears), and so there is no such things as ghosts.

They wouldn’t even understand the concept.  But “Night Visitors” forgets that fact, either for convenience sake, or because of sheer incompetence.


In this installment of the short-lived 1977 series, Logan, Jessica and REM experience the futuristic equivalent of running out of gas: their solar craft's energy cells power down during a night-time rain storm.

While parked in the rain, Jessica thinks she spies someone: two figures beckoning in the darkness.

Logan, Jessica and REM then find their way to an old Victorian (pre-holocaust) house owned by the very odd duo of Bart (Paul Mantee) and Marianna Clay (Barbara Babcock). They claim to be waiting for the return of someone named Gavin (George Maharis), who apparently disappeared quite a long time ago.

On this very night, the long-missing Gavin does return and decides that Jessica is a gift from Heaven...or in this case, Hell

For long ago, Gavin made a deal with the Prince of Darkness to trade the life of a virtuous woman for that of his comatose wife. Now he wants his wife back, and he wants Jessica to help him conduct a spiritual ritual that will make this transfer complete. Naturally, Jessica is not too keen on the idea. She's transported to a cave-like dwelling under the house for the occult ritual, but Logan and REM are in hot pursuit.


“Night Visitors” is perhaps the weakest Logan's Run episode yet, mixing as it does the post-apocalyptic world with the supernatural or occult world. Again, in lieu of finding and interacting with an interesting post-holocaust society, the writers of Logan's Run choose to have their protagonists encounter just a couple strangers at a Victorian house.

The Victorian House looks great.  The story that occurs within its walls, however, is awful.


As I wrote above, Logan and Jessica should not even understand the concept of ghosts, or the Devil.  This should all be incredibly alien to them.

Even more disturbing is REM's easy acceptance of the existence of ghosts and demons. He even suggests the house is haunted. I don't know how he could possibly back up such an assertion being a creature of “fact and “logic,” but there it is.



Finally, the show relies on its worst trope: Logan blasting something with his flame gun.  He saves the day by destroying the coffin with the body of the dead wife.  That ends the ritual.  Too often, the series relies on him blasting something, whether a computer, a coffin, or anything else.

I understand budgetary limitations, but still, you'd think the series could come up with something more imaginative and interesting than this tale of supernatural possession in a haunted house.

However, there is one good scene in "Night Visitors." Logan and Jessica share a tender moment in her bedroom. 

"It's hard to think of my life without you in it," Logan says. "It's as if we've always been together." 

Then Logan and Jessica actually kiss.

My goodness, for twelve episodes the writers on this program have assiduously avoided suggesting any kind of romantic relationship (even though that was the core of the relationship in the novels and the movie...).

And now they change their minds all of the sudden. Still, it's nice to see that the relationships are developing, at least a little.

Too bad this development came with only two episodes remaining, when there was precious little time to change the character dynamics...


Next Week: “Turnabout.”

2 comments:

  1. John, your review of "Night Visitor" is perfect. The writers were just using the seventies “devil” subject matter. I even wonder if this script was written for another series and just altered to fit Logan's Run. If the series had run longer, then they might have encountered bigfoot too.

    SGB

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  2. I think the Jessica/Logan relationship changed a bit because the show was moved to 9pm instead of it's original 8pm time slot. I thought I read they were going to make it more of a romantic relationship.

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