The Fell Gard Codices

Well, New to Me

May 11th, 2013

A little note here about sf in the media: last weekend I saw the first episode of Lost in Space. I’d never seen a minute of the show before, I don’t think. It was interesting, in that my expectations had been well and truly lowered years ago — when I was growing up, it seemed that the only way people talked about that show was in sentences like: “Before Star Trek came along, the only outer-space shows on American TV were crap like Lost in Space.” So I wasn’t expecting much. And there were in fact problems with things like, say, gravity. And the dumbest robot ever. And characters doing things for the sake of plot.

But it did have its moments. The special effects weren’t bad at all, even fifty years on. And the set design and staging were fantastic; an exploration of an alien spaceship generated a real sense of atmosphere and suspense. Even a sense of wonder. The alien itself was a nice visual creation, a construction, not a man in a suit or prosthetics. As science fiction the show was fairly basic, and I’m not planning to run off and look for more. But it was of a little more than just historical interest.

(Incidentally, speaking of Star Trek, the same station showed an episode right after — “Mudd’s Women.” Now I find the original show always has at least one really sharp moment in every episode. And while “Mudd’s Women” is certainly interesting as a look at mid-20th-century gender norms and expectations, to me the best moment was an exchange showing why Kirk is the best of all starship captains. The Enterprise, its dilithium crystals busted, limps into orbit over a crystal-mining planet. It has three days of power left before life support goesw out, and has interplanetary pimp Harry Mudd in custody along with three women he wants to sell to lonely male exoplanet settlers. Mudd’s gotten to a communicator and told the miners on the planet about his wares, so when Kirk beams the miners up to open negotiations for new crystals they tell him the price is Mudd and the women. And then point out he’s dead in three days unless he accepts. Without blinking Kirk shoots back “No deal.” Not ‘I’ll take that under consideration,’ not ‘I’ll discuss it with my staff.’ No deal. Then he gets nasty, threatening the miners with cutting off medical supplies and other provisions. It doesn’t work, but it’s a great moment. Nobody puts James T. Kirk in a corner. And if they do — he goddam well ignores the corner.)

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