Thursday, September 29, 2016

SF BSer: The Wrong Hugo

During my last year of college I belonged to a science fiction fan club.  The group was small but the members knew the basics about SF.  There was no need to explain that the Hugo Awards were named after Hugo Gernsback who popularized science fiction through his Amazing Stories pulp magazine.

One time I was hanging around a bar and another student asked me if I was into science fiction.  I said yes.  He brought over a friend who was supposedly a SF authority.

This expert with his nose up in the air started bloviating, mentioning the Hugo Awards.  I asked him where the name Hugo came from.

The self-proclaimed authority cooly replied: "The awards are named after Victor Hugo who wrote the science fiction novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame."

Hugo Gernback wearing his TV glasses
Early VR

(From Ray X X-Rayer #125)

Tunnel Vision

Can you name all 49 states of the United States of America?

You know that there are 50 states?  Apparently you missed the 240 time storm.

Back in 2002 someone envisioned a new take on the 1960s TV series Time Tunnel.  The original series followed the adventures of two scientists lost in time.  In the original pilot film the viewer is taken inside Project Tic-Toc, a Department of Defense base hidden below an Arizonan desert.

Producer Irwin Allen wanted to impress viewers with the size of Tic-Toc.  It's 800 stories deep with 36,000 personnel.  During the following episodes we only saw the control console used by scientists tracking the lost travelers through time; no mention of the 36,000 other personnel.

With the population of a small city I wonder what all those people did.  How did the US government supply the hidden base with food, water and other necessities?  How was garbage and waste disposed?  I would hate to see what happened if everyone flushed the toilets at the same time, 800 stories of discharge.

The 2002 remake did away with the impressive but useless scale of the original.  The time travel operation is smaller, operated by the Department of Energy.  In the original pilot Tic-Toc was set up to discover a way to time travel.  In the remake the discovery is by accident.   DOE is screwing around with nuclear fusion and it creates a time storm.  For 240 minutes history is changed outside the DOE facility.  Only the people near the fusion tunnel remember a world with 50 US states.

I've complained the theatrical version of the 1960s TV series The Man From UNCLE changed the set-up so much it had nothing to do with the original.  With the 2002 Time Tunnel pilot the same thing happens but unlike the UNCLE movie most of the changes were for the better.

In contrast to the original TT the new version allows for changes in history.  The main character, Doug Philips, has a wife and two children.  Lurking in the background is the possibility he might badly influence history and his family would no longer exist when he returns to his own time.

In the first adventure former Marine Doug Philips is recruited, joining a team traveling back to World War II to the scene of a key battle.  Apparently the time storm has screwed things up by transporting someone forward from 1520 to 1944.  The team has to find the displaced person and fix the changes his presence causes.

To blend in the team are disguised as US soldiers -- including two attractive women.  They arrive during the daytime and no one notices how feminine these two pseudo-soldiers appear.  Hard to buy that detail.  It would be like if the team had to return to WW II disguised as WACs.  A real drag for the guys.

Despite this flaw the pilot did merit a series but the Fox TV network gave it a pass, never airing it.  But Fox did air godawful pilots for Doctor Who, Generation X, and even Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD with David Hasselhoff as the lead. (The best way to watch Hassellhoff‘s portrayal of Fury is with two eyepatches, one for each eye.)

The 2002 Time Tunnel can be viewed courtesy of YouTube.  It's worth a look.  Better than watching a Boston Yankees game.

(From Ray XX-Rayer #125.)