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The way things are going, every kid is going to go to school wearing bubble wrap and a helmet. Back in the 1970s (and earlier), parents didn’t stress about our health and safety as much as they do today. It’s not that they cared less – they just didn’t worry compulsively about it.
Parents of 2014 need to be reminded of how less restricted, less supervised, less obsessively safety-conscious things were… and it was just fine.
1. JARTS: IMPALING ARROWS OF DEATH
Can your mind comprehend a more deadly toy than a weighted spear that kids hurl through the air like a missile? No one ever obeyed the actual manufacturer’s rules, we just flung these damn things everywhere. We threw them. They stuck where they landed. If they happened to land in your skull, well, then you should have moved.
After roughly 6,700 emergency-room visits and the deaths of three children between 1978 and 1988, they finally outlawed Jarts on December 19, 1988. I suppose it needed to be banned, but a part of me is sad that kids today won’t have the battle scars and Jart survival stories we had. Goodbye Jart – you were an impaling arrow of death, but I loved you anyway.
2. LOST AND NOT FOUND: SEAT BELTS
Cars came with seat belts in the 1970s, but no one used them except maybe out of curiosity to see what it was like to wear one. Of course, you’d have to fish them out of the deep crevice of the backseat cushion where they often came to rest, unwanted and ignored.
The only “click” heard in the 1970s automobile was your dad’s Bic lighting up a smoke with the windows rolled up. (cough!)
I should also mention that, not only were there no seat belts, child seats were nowhere to be found. Whether it was the front seat of your mom’s station wagon or her bicycle, chances are, you were entirely untethered.
3. SEMI-LETHAL PLAYGROUNDS OF HOT METAL
Remember when playgrounds were fun? Sure, there was a pretty good chance you’d be scalded by a hot metal slide, or walk away with tetanus, but that’s what memories are made of.
The ground wasn’t coated with soft recycled rubber or sand as most are today – they were asphalt. Remember being hurled from a spinning merry-go-round, then skidding across the gravel at full speed? Good times.
I remember my school playground had a metal ladder “wall” that I swear went up three stories – it didn’t connect to a slide or anything. It was literally a ladder to the sky. I remember fully believing the oxygen was thinner at the top. One false move and I’d have been a flesh colored stain on the asphalt.
According to the New York Times we are making playgrounds so safe that they actually stunt our kids’ development. So, while blood was spilt and concussions were dealt on the playgrounds of the 1970s, we were at least in a developmentally rich environment – and we had the bruises and scabs to prove it.
4. PRECIOUS LITTLE SUN PROTECTION
“Tanfastic lets the sunshine in. It’s not loaded up with sunburn protection like old folks and kids want. Tanfastic’s for you 15-to-25 year olds who can take the sun. Especially if you want to get superdark. Superfast.”
Back in the 70s, your goal was to get as brown as your skin would permit. Sun BLOCK or sun SCREEN was basically nonexistent. You wanted to AMPLIFY your rays, so women typically lathered on Crisco and baby oil to get that deep baked look.
For the kids, SPF numbers hovered around 2, 4 and 8. The idea that you would spray an SPF of 50 or even 30 wasn’t even an option, except perhaps from medical ointments prescribed for albinos.
5. HELMETS: FOR THOSE WITH MEDICAL CONDITIONS ONLY
Whether you were riding a bike, roller skating, or skateboarding, one thing was for certain: you were not wearing a head protection. You would have been looked at as a sideshow freak by other kids, and parents would assume you had some kind of medical condition.
6. IGNORED AND UNATTENDED ON THE REGULAR
Hey, who’s watching the kid in the stroller? YOU MUST HAVE YOUR EYES ON THE KID AT ALL TIMES OR ELSE HE WILL DIE!
My mother routinely left me alone in the car at a young age while she ran errands. Today, this will literally get you arrested. You see, once upon a time it was okay to leave your kids for long periods without supervision (remember the so-called “latch-key kids” of the 70s?), or let them free roam without constant surveillance. Today, parents won’t let their kids go out to get the mail alone, and any fun with friends has to be scheduled, closely monitored “play dates”.
On summer break or weekends in the 1970s, parents kicked their kids out the front door and didn’t let them back in until the sun went down. “Go play,” were their only words, and you were left to your own devices for hours upon hours. Neighborhoods looked like Lord of the Flies.
7. ROUTINELY ALLOWED TO GET SERIOUSLY HURT
This poor kid is about to get rammed in the nuts by a goat, and the nearby adult isn’t the least bit concerned. In fact, he finds this all incredibly amusing! As hard as this is to believe, but when kids got hurt back then, adults didn’t come running with first-aid kits. More than likely you’d be left alone with your pain, with no alternative but to get over it.
In the 70s, parents watched their offspring fall from trees and fall off bikes with a smile.
8. SECONDHAND SMOKE EVERYWHERE
From airplanes to your family car, it seemed the world of the 70s was shrouded in a haze of cigarette smoke. It wasn’t just the fact that many more people smoked, it was the absolute 100% lack of concern for those that didn’t, including children. Teachers smoked, doctors smoked, your parents smoked…. and they didn’t take it to a secluded smoking area, they did it right in your face.
Please don’t interpret this as condoning it. There’s no question that engulfing your child in a thick carcinogenic cloud isn’t a good idea. I’m just stating facts – this is the world we lived in. It was full of adults who didn’t seem to have anxiety attacks over our safety, and we turned out just fine…. right?
RIDLEY Scott’s Alien (1979) dramatically altered the template for horror films set in outer space. For example, the blockbuster film was among the first (after Dark Star  to suggest that travel in the final frontier would be the purview of “work-a-day” space truckers rather than noble explorers or adventurous astronauts.
And instead of intrepid space travelers fighting men-in-rubber suits inside idealized white-on-white space station environs (as was the case in The Green Slime ) Alien suggested a technological space age marked by endless industrial corridors and aliens of constantly shifting dimension.
The Scott film’s central alien — a bio-mechanoid horror created by H.R. Giger — could also gestate inside a living human host, and this fact ushered in a new era of cinematic “body horror.”
As with any genre blockbuster, Alien almost immediately spawned a host of knock-offs, some terrible and some quite good. These films found much material to imitate and emulate, from the diverse make-up of Alien’s victim pool, to bloody variations on Alien’s famous chest-burster birth scene. Many Alien knock-off films also involved long forgotten derelicts or other structures on alien planetary surfaces, for instance. Inevitably, human crews would discover these Lovecraftian edifices and wake up age-old horrors.
Among the Alien knock-offs of the 1980s were Scared to Death (1981), Forbidden World (1982), The Beast Within (1982), Parasite (1982), The Being (1983), and Biohazard (1985), to name just a handful.
The list below represents five of the best — or at least the most memorable– of the Alien knock-off breed. As is often the case regarding knock-offs, the best such films are invariably those that re-purpose not merely the clichés from one source – in this case — Alien — but also from other literary or cinematic works as well.
Saturn 3 (1980)
The story of a psychotic mad scientist, Captain Benson (Harvey Keitel) who travels to the Experimental Food Research Station on a moon of Saturn during a twenty-two day eclipse and communications black-out called “Shadow Lock,” the much-reviled Saturn 3 might actually be considered, first-and-foremost, a child of the Frankenstein story.
On remote Saturn 3, Benson assists two scientists working to alleviate a famine on overpopulated planet Earth. Major Adam (Kirk Douglas) and his romantic partner, the beautiful and innocent Alex (Farrah Fawcett) are wary, however, of Benson’s form of help: a colossal humanoid robot named Hector, the first of the “Demi God” series. Hector boasts human intelligence, not to mention human tissue. And echoing his creator’s madness, he soon begins lusting mightily after Alex.
Outside the space-age Frankenstein monster tropes, Saturn 3, like Alien, is set in a location where aid and assistance from the authorities is not available. Similarly, Earth in both films is depicted as a used-up dystopia. In Alien, “the company” controls everything on Earth, and in Saturn 3, humans have polluted the planet and resorted to rampant drug use because of the planet’s inhospitable nature.
Hector stands in for the titular alien, as well, and hunts down the film’s Adam and Eve-styled protagonists in the facility’s twisting factory-like corridors.
Finally, in Scott’s film, the Alien is almost entirely a creature of instinct, driven by impulses to reproduce and survive. In Saturn 3, by contrast, the monster is a machine that experiences something “human” beyond programming: psychosis and lust. Hector is ultimately beaten, however, because as a machine he can’t understand the human concept of self-sacrifice.
Galaxy of Terror (1981)
Aliens (1986) director James Cameron served as a production designer on this knock-off from Roger Corman’s New World Studios, and in the process created a universe that is very reminiscent of the Scott film, at least from a visual stand-point. Like Alien, Galaxy of Terror is set in a “lived in” universe (unlike, say the white-on-white minimalism of 2001: A Space Odyssey  or Space: 1999 [1975 – 1977].)
In Galaxy of Terror, a rescue ship, The Quest, heads to the mysterious planet called Morganthus to discover the fate of the Remus, another ship which crashed there. Once on the surface of dark Morganthus, however, the Quest crew discovers a strange alien pyramid. Soon, the crew — including characters played by Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie, and Erin Moran — begins to experience their worst fears made manifest.
In this case — if the plot summary hasn’t given it away already — Galaxy of Terror draws inspiration not only from Alien, but from Forbidden Planet (1956), a film in which another rescue mission (to Altair-4) runs afoul of a “Monster from the Id,” actually the human subconscious. That’s pretty much the case here, only with slimy monsters, doppelgangers, and a scene involving a rape by a giant alien worm.
The alien pyramid in Galaxy of Terror looks like it could have been constructed on Alien’s LV-426, and the slate gray sky above it even looks eerily similar. More trenchantly, perhaps, Galaxy of Terror’s rape scene also reflects the violent sexuality seen in Alien, the harsh re-purposing of the human body for unwholesome breeding purposes.
Also known as Horror Planet, Inseminoid is probably the schlockiest film on this list. The film stars Judy Geeson, Stephanie Beacham and Victoria Tennant as astronaut scientists, and involves the discovery of an ancient alien tomb on a far distant planet.
Before long, one astronaut, Sandy (Geeson), is impregnated by the last living alien in the tomb, and becomes the protective expectant mother of two ghastly alien twins. Her maternal instinct is re-purposed to serve an interloper’s biological imperative.
And just as Kane in Alien gives birth to the chest-burster, here Geeson gives birth to two monstrous tykes who — naturally — nurse on human blood.
Inseminoid’s central conceit is that everything on this distant alien world is “doubled.” The planet orbits twin stars, and the alien mythology is obsessed with twins, and so forth.
Although lacking tact (especially in the flashbacks to Sandy’s impregnation), Inseminoid occasionally features a beautifully composed shot, such as one on the purple surface of the distant planet during a funeral. There was also a funeral (for Kane) in Alien, but this shot of an alien vista grants the hororr film a nice sense of scope and also a visceral sense of place.
Like Alien, Inseminoid also concerns an alien species that co-opts the human race for its own reproductive requirements. Here, the aliens suckle on the (open) wounds of dead humans, and Sandy herself becomes a bit blood-thirsty as her biology is altered to play host to most unwelcome invaders.
A corporate spaceship, the Shenandoah, sets down on Titan to investigate an ancient alien archaeological site. The Shenandoah’s mission is imperiled, however, by the arrival of a ship from a competing corporation, Richter Dynamics, and the presence of its freakazoid captain, played by a scenery-chewing Klaus Kinski.
Before long, the rival crews learn that the archaeological site was actually something akin to an alien zoo or laboratory: a collection of diverse aliens from all over the universe. Unfortunately, one managed to break free from its captivity and is now attacking and brainwashing human beings…
Creature — while ripping off Alien lock, stock and barrel — also offers a number of notable fan touches. The film’s Ripley equivalent is Beth Sladen (Wendy Schaal), and her name seems like a nod to Elisabeth Sladen, who accompanied Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who on several dangerous adventures in space in TV serials such as “Ark in Space” and “Planet of Evil.” The film also quotes dialogue directly from — again – Forbidden Planet.
Additionally, the key to destroying the unleashed zoo specimen in Creature is Sladen’s knowledge of Howard Hawks’ The Thing (1951). She remembers that — in the movie’s last act — the imperiled humans electrocuted an invading alien.
These and other tributes assure that Creature can be contextualized as more than mere Alien knock-off.
Finally, Creature also revives the “corporate” culture social critique underlying the Scott film. In this case, the rival spaceships are involved in what the film’s dialogue calls “a fierce race for commercial supremacy.”
Even in space — with drooling, brainwashing aliens out and about — the ultimate enemy is…big business.
John McTiernan’s 1987 adventure/horror movie is actually part-Rambo (1985) and part-Aliens (1986), and is the best film on this list, by far. Still, much of its energy seems derived from the Alien aesthetic.
Here, we get the remote location (a jungle in Central America instead of outer space), an alien — with a similarly distinctive jaw-line — that cuts down one human at a time, and is a kind of alpha or apex predator.
The alien in Scott’s film was the ultimate survivor, able to breed and survive in any setting. The alien, by contrast, in Predator is the universe’s greatest hunter, a characterization that sets up a conflict with planet Earth’s greatest warrior, Dutch, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But the real commonality between Alien and Predator arises in a mid-story surprise and revelation of conspiracy. In Alien, the Nostromo’s science officer, Ash (Ian Holm), protects the alien all along, and considers the rest of the human crew “expendable,” on secret orders from the Company.
In Predator, Dillon (Carl Weathers), an ambitious military officer, uses the cover of a rescue mission to get Dutch’s men into a position where they can acquire important documents about “the enemy.” As in Alien, the soldiers serving under Dutch are thus considered “expendable.”
Neither Ripley nor Dutch respond well when they expose the secret conspiracy, and the conspirator. In Predator, however, Dillon gets a shot at redemption, and Ash gets…decapitated.
THERE’S no better insight into the teenage girl psyche than those ubiquitous teen magazines. So, let’s step into the mind of early Seventies teenyboppers and take a look at the March 1971 issue of ‘TEEN magazine. It’s chock full groovy advertising and advice, fashion and feminine hygiene. Within its glorious pages we’ll find a plethora of mini-skirts, a cry for the whereabouts of Peter Tork, and how to look fabulous in the jungles of Vietnam. Come take a look!
DYE ADVERT – MAY CAUSE ACID FLASHBACK
This tie-dye painting in combination with that wallpaper is causing a bit of a sensory overload. While I’m sure that wall is nice while gobbling up psychedelics, it would be migraine inducing on a daily basis.
Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: The Secret Life of Babies beat the boring days of BA
I NEARLY skipped The Secret Life of Babies on ITV this week for fear that it could never life up to the greatest documentary on the inner-workings of the baby mind: Rugrats. While the makers of The Secret Life of Babies failed to catch any of their subjects talking or tumbling around on quests, they did reveal a lot most of us probably didn’t know about the bouncing little bundles of joy. One of the most striking scenes was the moment when a baby looked on utterly unperturbed as a leopard pounced at the reinforced glass dividing them. Plants, on the other hand, are babies natural nemeses. The theory is that infants are naturally adverse to foliage in case its poisonous. Quite why nature didn’t instil them with a fear of sharp teeth remain unexplained.
IN preparation for the event of a gorilla escaping from Tenerife’s Loro Parque Zoo, a man pretended to be an escaped primate. He was spotted by a vet who shot the man in the furry suit with a tranquilliser dart containing enough medicine to down a 450lb gorilla.
The shot man, a 35-year-old zoo worker, was taken to the University Hospital of the Canary Islands.
THE England squad has departed to Miami for warm-up games en route to the World Cup finals in Brazil.
Or should that be ‘the England squad has embarked upon its iconic journey to Miami…’?
A recent ‘survey’ conducted among passengers at Heathrow Airport sought to find ‘the top 10 iconic departures that resulted in sporting history’.
The winner, should you happen to be interested, was Sir Ranulph Fiennes flying to conquer Everest and cross both polar ice caps in 2009. The runner-up was Andy Murray flying to America to win the 2012 US Open.
Leaving aside the preposterously tenuous nature of the concept – the plane trip that preceded the historic achievements – one thing in particular stands out: the word ‘iconic’ itself.
THE phrase “Where’s my jetpack?” has become something of a collective outcry in recent years. Since the 1950s, we’ve been indoctrinated with visions of the future full of spaceships, time travel, instant food, laser guns, and best of all, dazzling sci-fi duds.
Instead, here we are in 2014 and things haven’t shaped up to that Utopian model at all. Sure, communication technologies have exceeded our expectations, but the “Jetsons” lifestyle still hasn’t arrived. Thanks to pop culture’s broken promises of delivering robot maids and whooshing Star Trek doors in a timely manner, we are all a little disappointed.
Here’s a list of sci-fi TV shows and movies and the dates they were supposed to take place. Some are reasonable… some way, way off the mark.
1. LAND OF THE GIANTS
Land of the Giants is set in 1983. This is one of the more blatant errors in calculation. Fancy tourist spaceships are still nowhere in sight, and we’re 31 years past the show’s setting.
The TV series UFO. was actually set in 1980. As you will recall, the SHADO facility was one of the grooviest places on earth. Everything was painted mod colors with babes in mini-skirts or unitards strolling the hallways… and there was Moonbase. Well, it’s 34 years past due, and still no purple haired Moonmaidens.
Anyone who watched Space:1999 knows the show should’ve been called Space:1976. Evidently, earth-toned velour track suits were in vogue on Moonbase Alpha.
4. LOGAN’S RUN
Logan’s Run is set in 2274. Even though it features teleportation devices, I guess it’s far enough away in time that I can go along with it.
5. BLADE RUNNER
Blade Runner is set in 2019. We officially have five years to go before we have to start worrying about those pesky replicants.
6. TOTAL RECALL
The year is 2084 in Total Recall. I was kind of hoping that virtual reality thing would come around a bit sooner. Although, the three-breasted mutant women and cars driven by Howdy Doody robots can wait.
7. FORBIDDEN PLANET
Forbidden Planet is set in the early 2200s. Can we reasonably expect interplanetary travel and Robbie the Robot in a couple hundred years? The “plastic educator”, a device capable of measuring and enhancing intellectual capacity, seems doable.
8. THE JETSONS
The original Jetsons was supposed to take place in 2062. If I could pick any science fiction universe to live in, it would be The Jetsons, without hesitation. Sure, you still had to work and deal with overbearing bosses (Mr. Spacely was a dick!), but it was more than compensated by the Utopian awesomeness of it all.
9. PLANET OF THE APES
The crew in Planet of the Apes left earth in 2006 in their spaceship traveling at near light speed. Spoiler alert: They crash landed on Earth in the year 3978.
10. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
The tag line for Escape from New York:
The year is 1997. The Big Apple is the world’s largest penitentiary. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking IN is INSANE.
The 1927 film Metropolis is set in 2026.
12. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
2001: A Space Odyssey was right on the money for a lot of things, but it overshot its wad on artificial intelligence and suspended animation.
Alien is set in 2122. Again, filmmakers have a tendency to underestimate the time it will take to develop this suspended animation thing. It’s the only feasible way to have interstellar space travel, so I understand their motives.
14. BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY
The Buck Rogers TV series is set in 2491. This show was overflowing with sci-fi tropes: lasers, spaceships, groovy fashions, and wisecracking robots. Since it’s still 477 years away, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
15. BACK TO THE FUTURE II
Back to the Future II is set in 2015. Only one more year until the hoverboard!
16. STAR TREK
The best method to avoid having your film or TV show woefully outdated may be to set it far beyond the present date like Dune, which is set thousands of years ahead. Or, opt for the Star Wars plan and have it set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But the best plan of all may have been Star Trek which used “Star Dates”, which kept the timeline purposefully ambiguous.
Sadly, that was all ruined by Star Trek: The Next Generation which was set in 2364, which allows us to extrapolate that the original series was about 100 years prior. This really blows the mystique and pisses me off…. what say you, Dr. Bones?
Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious:
SADLY My Granny the Escort was not a magical fantasy film in which a young boy discovers his dead nan’s spirit has been retained in the family’s old Ford. Instead, Charlie Russell’s documentary followed three older prostitutes, aged 57, 64 and 84 as they made their way at the elder end of the oldest profession. Sheila, the 84-year-old, gave Russell’s show its news hook; in 2010 she found herself splashed across the front page of the News of the World thanks to the more embarrassing revelation that she’s X Factor contestant Katie Waissel’s grandmother.
WHEN he 15, Justin Bieber told a racist joke about black people. Four years on and The Sun is outraged. It’s posted footage of Bieber behaving like a dickhead (which is pretty much all he does) for a documentary called Never Say Never.
The so-called joke goes like this:
Bieber: “What’s the most confusing day for black people?”
He answers his own question: “Father’s Day.”
He then fires another:
Bieber: “Why are black people afraid of chainsaws?
Voice in room:“Don’t say it.”
This, to the Sun, is “Bieber’s N-word shame”.
WITH the play-offs and European finals out of the way, it’s full-on World Cup season in the media.
The BBC has hit the ground running, with its toy-pundit trails, and is now screening the official FIFA World Cup Films – from 1930, when the refs wore suits, to the modern era when they became more famous than some of the players. See them here…
In their day, these were the best available record of the tournaments. They were filmed using state-of- the-art cinema cameras and even given theatrical releases.
BACK in January, we covered The Top Ten Lyrical Low Points of the 1980s. Well, it’s time to tackle another decade – the 1970s. While there were certainly a lot of good songs with good lyrics recorded during this period, there was a metric f**k-ton of bad ones as well. But despite the enormity of the task, we’ve waded through it and plucked out the worst of reasonably well-known songs, and here they are…
WILLIAM Friedkin’s The Exorcist — based on the best-selling novel by William Peter Blatty — quickly became one of the first genre blockbusters of the seventies, and a generational touchstone to boot.
The Exorcist also represented a new brand of horror film, in a sense, because it lacked a familiar “monster” like Dracula, the Wolf Man or The Frankenstein Monster, and it didn’t depend on well-known genre personalities, like Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, or Peter Cushing, either.
ALEX Salmond is the latest politician to succumb to the temptation to pose in public with a football, and, with the sad inevitability of England conceding an injury-time winner, he is the latest to be reminded that the effects are rarely edifying.
The SNP leader was not in fact smacked in the face by a stray shot. He was playing head tennis with Scotland under-21 midfielder Kenny McLean.
IT’S RARE for a product’s logo or package design to stay constant over the years. More often than not, they get a makeover every few years to keep up with the tastes of the times.
Comparing soda cans from decades past to the present, it’s immediately apparent that we no longer prefer simple elegant designs… that we prefer busy, hastily thrown together crap designs instead.
THE INTERNET has created its own slang, saturated with efficient abbreviations and a constantly evolving jargon that only insiders know. As novel as this seems, just a few decades ago there was another trendy lingo sprung from a new technology: CB Slang.
Citizen’s Band radio had been around since the 1950s, but you had to be licensed and had to use a registered call sign. However, once the CB became widely used on the interstates throughout the US, all rules were thrown out the window. Truckers started making up their own handles and things got interesting.
Mods, Rockers, Teds, Irish, Skinheads, Pikeys, Blacks And Jews: The People Banned From Anywhere Decent People Gather
FIFTY years ago, mods and rockers enjoyed the bank holiday weekend by fighting pitched battles at the seaside.
The skirmishes led to public vilification, and sociologists coined the phrase ‘moral panic’ to sum up the hysteria surrounding these modern delinquent ‘folk devils’.
WILLIAM Shakespeare once wrote that “the valiant taste of death but once,” while cowards die “many times” before their actual demise.
Audiences of cult TV classics might also be said to die many times too, especially if they watch and re-watch beloved characters die in their favorite genre programming.
Over the years, a number of beloved series characters have been unceremoniously offed by series writers, only to leave grieving audiences in shock at their passing.
LOTS of chatter about Luis Suarez not being fit to play for Uruguay in the summer’s World Cup. On Talk Sport, jobbing controversialist Andy Durham says it’s all karma for his handball in the 2010 tournament. But to attribute Suarez’s poorly knee to karma is ignorant.
If the celebrated, talented, decorated footballer’s injury is the product of karma, he must have behaved brilliantly when young to have got himself in a World Cup team. If good moral deeds in a past life shape your place in this one, the wonderfully talented Luis Suarez must have a golden soul.
Karma is nothing to be dipped in an out of, as Durham suggests. If it exits, it’s an ever-present force on living things, like gravity.
THE mission: To identify the top 15 science fiction television program themes from eons past. It’s a region of space many Internet listers have gone before… but those were just training exercises. This expedition is for real. Let the countdown begin.
Goes well with martinis, miniskirts and go-go boots. Truthfully, anything that conjures up memories of those purple haired Moon Maidens is going to be top of the list.
2. Star Trek (original series)
How could the Star Trek intro not be in the list? No matter what you think of the show, you’ll have to agree this intro captures the thrill of exploration about as good as can be done. We may spend our days in a cubicle behind a desk, but when this intro plays, the dashing and adventurous Magellan lurking deep inside all of us gets bestirred.
3. Dr. Who
The Tom Baker intro will always be my favorite. Nostalgia aside, for my money, the sound of this track captures the “sci-fi feel” (if there is such a thing) better than any other, and the making of it is an amazing story. Only Star Trek trumps it due to Kirk’s brilliant prose.
4. The Twilight Zone
Is there an intro to any show, science fiction or otherwise, more iconic than this? “Doo dee doo doo, doo dee doo doo” has become a part of our lexicon.
5. The Tomorrow People
Similar to the Dr. Who theme, it has that spine-tingling, creepy vibe, yet is unmistakably science-fiction in sound.
6. The Six Million Dollar Man
“We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.”
Gives me goose bumps to this day.
7. The Outer Limits
“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture.”
Anyone who remembers those ominous words intoned across the airwaves can testify that this belongs on the list.
8. Lost in Space
There were a few versions, but the “countdown version” is the best.
9. Space: 1999
You can’t go wrong when you combine the distinctively Seventies “waka waka” with a Gerry Anderson groove.
However, when it comes to raw Seventies sci-fi vibe, nothing comes close to the next on the list…
10. Star Maidens
For all-around 70s sci-fi awesomeness, the ultimate is, without question, Star Maidens. It would be higher on this list, but the intro is just a boring narration. However, the funktastic closing credits and incidental music was solid 70s gold.
11. Logan’s Run
Catchy and corny, but a fun sci-fi intro nonetheless. Of course, Heather Menzies’ constantly fluttering micro-miniskirt may be contributing to my bias.
12. Sapphire and Steel
“All irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling each dimension. Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available: Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel. Sapphire and Steel have been assigned.”
By the same guy that did the Dr. Who intro, no less.
13. The Starlost
Didn’t think Canada could make a groovy sci-fi theme? Once you get past the sleepy narration, things get hopping.
Thankfully, the series starred a Canadian game show host (Robin Ward) who wasn’t a drooling sexual predator. No idea what the hell I’m talking about? See this post.
Quickly moving right along…
14. Battlestar Galactica
It’s unfortunate that so many sci-fi openers got muddied by lame narration. I suppose a lot of explanation was in order – we wouldn’t want audiences confused. However, unless you have Shatner reading the lines, the theme is in danger of being dull. In the case of Battlestar Galactica, the orchestral part is so sweeping and large sounding, that it washes away the bad memories of Lorne Green’s intro.
15. The Jetsons
Everyone knows the words to this iconic theme song; you simply can’t have a list of top sci-fi themes without it.
I’m sure there are plenty of glaring omissions. (For instance, I nearly included the profoundly awesome Quark theme song, but it’s just too damn similar to Star Trek’s). Please, drop a suggestion in a comment and let’s make this list grow.