An Appreciation of Time Wasting Space Movies and TV Programs
I just read an article about movies dealing with the Final Frontier. While I enjoy watching the classics like the original Star Wars and the films aimed for the discriminating sci-fi intellectuals like 2001: A Space Odyssey, I am a connoisseur of those cheaply made 1950s space flicks that appear on shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is hilarious looking at special effects that look they came from a grade school pageant. The acting, even from greats like Bela Lugosi (his cameo appearance in Plan Nine from Outer Space is something to be seen to be disbelieved) and B-movie greats like John Agar (for a time, he was Mr. Shirley Temple), is fifty times worse than the hammiest wannabe Oliviers performing Carmen Baby at the backwater campuses of the Obscure Directional State Colleges. Then there is an epic like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I enjoy Santa Claus Conquers the Martians not only because the plot is more nonsensical than when the Three Stooges went to the planet Sunev (Venus spelled backwards, and one of the Sunevans was played by Dan Blocker, who was Hoss Cartwright on Bonanza), it is one holiday film that is not overly saccharine like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.
I admire campy outer space television shows as well. One of the reasons I am a fan of Lost in Space rather than Star Trek is that it is out of this world preposterous than pretentious. The episode in which Dr. Smith wears a Beatles wig while consorting with far-out space hippies is an unintentional comedic masterpiece. So is the episode in which there is a talking carrot, Dr. Smith as a stalk of celery talking New Age gibberish, and an assistant who looks somewhat like John Lennon in Magical Mystery Tour with purple hair. However, for some reason, I am not a fan of the campiness of Dr. Who, though I do like K-9 (the talking canine robot) and Tom Baker’s (Dr. Who #4) coiffure and his choice of scarves. Maybe because it too geeky or maybe because the actors talk in thicker than London fog British accents or maybe because the special effects are too chintzy even for a cheap sci-fi series, but I said “What?” every time I saw an episode of Dr. Who.
I am not one of those sci-fi nerds who believe every movie and TV program set in outer space should be the Final Frontier version of Citizen Kane. Instead, I prefer such cinematic masterpieces as Mars Needs >Women (which featured TV’s Batgirl, Yvonne Craig), It Conquered the World (which starred Peter Graves of Mission Impossible fame as well as Lee Van Cleef, who was the Bad in the Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western epic The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly), Teenagers From Outer Space, and Zontar: The Thing from Venus. True, these movies and programs are cinematic time-wasters, but they are fun time-wasters, which are the best time-wasters of all.
Joe’s Maybe Memorable Quote of the Day
You’re really in outer space when you are lost in outer space.