SF Obscure: Night Man

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What do you get when you cross light jazz, Taylor Dayne, and questionable costume choices? And then you throw in special guest appearances by Jerry Springer and Donald Trump? Why you get Night Man, a show that surprisingly stayed on air for two seasons.

Night Man(1997-1999) is the story of Johnny Domino, a professional saxophonist, who is struck by lightning and earns a telepathic ability to see evil. It’s loosely based on an original comic. He also teams up with some scientists on the run who provide him with a special suit that allows him to deflect bullets and fly. It actually took a few episodes to figure out exactly what the suit does vs. Johnny Domino’s own ability- and I have the sneaking suspicion it was not entirely developed well by the writers.

Anyhow, most of the Night Man episodes are standard fare-evil bankers, evil corporations, evil scientists etc. It is an action adventure series, though a few episodes are definitely played for humor. And other episodes come across as humorous just because they are kind of silly. Johnny Domino’s father, Frank Domino,  is an ex-cop featured in Season 1 who is probably the best character if only because he does have personality. Whereas the show tries to have a common crime fighting them at the beginning, it starts to unravel a bit as the show goes on. We get a hodgepodge of alien invaders. alien villains, aliens, cursed Chinese ghost soldiers, witchcraft, evil sorceresses, and even a crossover episode with Manimal.

Matt McColm plays Johnny Domino, and he is a professional stuntman who had appeared in quite a few SF films and movies including The Matrix trilogy and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  He had a best friend named Raleigh Jordan, whose character is so replaceable they changed the actor between seasons 1 and 2. The owner of the club where Johnny performs is played by Felecia M. Bell, best known as Jennifer Sisko from Deep Space Nine. Actually, the fun of the show is watching all the guest spots by actors you see around here and there. (Tucker Smallwood, Daniel Dae Kim).

It’s…budget tv. There was a time when the only qualification for a show was to fill up the allotted minutes and get a few sponsors.

SF Obscure: Cleopatra 2525

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Hi out there!

Winter approaches…and so does holiday movie season.  Rogue One! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! Heck, maybe I’ll even go out and watch Dr. Strange. I finally got to see Star Trek Beyond and really enjoyed it. I think it’s the most traditional Trek of the reboot movies. Karl Urban really, really does an excellent job as McCoy. And it was nice to add a tribute to both Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin.

So for this week’s post I decided to cover the half hour, SF/action show CLEOPATRA 2525.

The year is, uh, 2525. Humanity has been driven underground because the surface is controlled by giant floating robot armchairs (That’s what it looks like anyway) called Baileys.  Two fighters Hel(Gina Torres) and Sarge (Victoria Pratt) are resistance fighters who battle the robot overlords. helped by a mysterious voice called ‘Voice’ that taps into Hel’s brain. Anyway, Sarge gets hurt and needs a kidney so they go and get one at the local buy-a-body-part depot. Thus, the meet Cleo (Jennifer Sky), a women cryo-frozen in 2001 when her breast augmentation surgery went awry and she was stored until humanity had the tools to save her life. I am not making this up.

There’s a sexy, android guy who shows off his abs and makes stuff and Sarge is all hot and bothered for him. Hel, Sarge, and Cleo fight for humanity by hanging out in bars with cyborgs a lot. Occasionally, the go to the surface and fight some more Bailey’s. Cleo chips in with 90’s movie references. A  psycho telepath shows up to cramp their style. There is a more involved plot involving a guy named Creegan and the origin of the Bailey’s but this is not a complex show so don’t expect too much on that front.
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Despite all this, I like Cleopatra 2525 mainly because it never takes itself too seriously. It knows exactly what it is…30 minutes of futuristic looking entertainment. The in jokes actually make you chuckle; the costumes have be seen to be believed; and there is a sense of fun about it. The main characters Hel, Sarge, and Cleo are likeable. At the very least, you look at Gina Torres and Victoria Pratt and think, ‘hey, I need to spend more time at the gym.’  And even though it’s often a silly show, I kept watching episode after episode. Maybe part of me wished I could run around with weapons and sexy male bimbo androids fighting aliens. At least, it would be fun for a week or so.

 

SF Obscure: Children of the Stones

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Children of the Stones is a 1977 television drama for children produced by ITV network. I know of this show mainly because of the late Gareth Thomas. So, I decided to watch it because I had heard good things about it.

Astrophysicist Adam Brake and his son Matthew go to a village called Millbury which has a megalithic circle of stones in the middle of it. (It’s filmed on the prehistoric monument of Avebury) Things get strange as soon as they arrive. First of all, the housekeeper and neighbors all seem abnormally happy. Matthew has strange feelings of evil and is immediately hostile towards the new neighbor. His father chides him, but Matthew can’t help but feel something is wrong. We later learn that Matthew has some psychic abilities and this is why he reacts the way he does.

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When Matthew goes to school he soon discovers the other children are doing high level science and math well beyond the school years. Matthew makes a few friends at school who are still ‘normal’ like him. They warn him that the  neighbors are slowly being changed and this is connected to the stones and the mysterious town leader. There is a heady mix of black holes, time paradoxes, and weird paranormal history in a short miniseries. At time, Children of the Stones is frightening. There are only seven episodes but I had a good time watching it.

Sure, it’s rather low budget, (yeah, the clothes are dated) but it’s well-acted and the writing is solid. Plus, this is a show that treats children as if they are capable of understanding complex ideas. There is no dumbing down to sell something. At the same time, the father-son relationship is convincingly done.

There is also a novelization of the story which you can find in paperback and e-book.

SF Obscure: Electra Woman and Dyna Girl

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So, the new trailer is out for the Wonder Woman movie. I plan to see it. I never saw Superman vs Batman and Gal Gadot’s turn as Wonder Woman in it, so I am anxious to see what she does with the character. I am told she was a bright spot in a movie with a rather lukewarm reception. Henry Cavill is a good looking Superman, though I’m still on the fence about the rebooted Clark Kent on the whole. Anyway, thought of superheroes made me think of the original 1976 series Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.

The Krofft Supershow was a variety show aimed at children for saturday mornings. In the 1970’s variety shows were a big thing-for adults they featured comedy skits and musical performances. The Krofft Supershow featured fifteen minute live action shows of which Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was one.These shows were   low-budget, paint by the numbers projects. Cheap costumes. Wooden acting. Cardboard sets. Silly plot lines.  All there in ready abundance.
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Take for example, Bigfoot and Wildboy.  It’s about- you guessed it- Bigfoot who adopts a boy, “Wildboy” and thus they go on adventures. And by adventures, I mean each episode is clearly filmed with a handful of limited sets, one of which looks like a local public park. Bigfoot is obviously a man in a  costume.

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, to be fair, was intended to be a parody. It was a homage  to the original Batman and Robin-and once you know that it does make it more entertaining than the other Kroftt Supershow shows. The premise focuses on two journalists, Lori/Electra Woman (Deidre Hall) and Judy/Dyna Girl (Judy Strangis) who investigate stories and as a result, must turn into their superheroine alter egos Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. The fight villains with names like Spider Lady and the Empress of Evil. They also have a really groovy song.

“Electra Woman and Dyna Girl / Fighting all evil deeds. / Each writes for a magazine / Hiding the life she leads. — Electra Woman and Dyna Girl — Summoned to Electra-base / By Electra-comps they wear. / Lori and Judy dare to face / Any criminal anywhere. — Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.”

I would tell you more about the shows except there really isn’t anything to tell. The plots are not terribly deep and only last fifteen minutes. It’s not building up to much, but it’s fun to watch them run around in costumes and use their ElectraComs. The ElectraComs are multifunctional devices Electra Woman and Dyna Girl wear on their wrists to give them special powers. (Electra-Vison, Electra-Vibe, Electra-Beam etc.)

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl have somewhat of a cult following. There was an attempt to reboot the series in 2001 with an unaired pilot you can easily find online. There are also the 2016 webisodes  starring Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart.