Thursday, August 29, 2013

Discuss: Starlog, and That 70's Show

Doug:  Yesterday David_B coyly called us out for leaving stuff in the Suggestion Box.  He's right, y'know -- we have had a few proddings over the past couple of months, and they've just been left sitting there.  Well -- here are a couple of thoughts for today, so have at it -- and thanks to David and to Mike W. for the subjects of today's conversations.


Edo Bosnar said...

I have to admit, I never, ever read Starlog. Saw it quite often on the magazine stands next to the spinner racks, but never picked up an issue, even though the covers often looked intriguing. But then before high school, I didn't really buy magazines, either, except for the occasional issue of Mad, Crazy or Cracked - they were much more expensive than comics. Later I did occasionally read Omni, but only because my older sister often her copies laying around the house.

That '70s Show (by the way, pet peeve of mine - the apostrophe goes BEFORE the number, i.e. '60s, '70s, '80s..): I was never a religious viewer, but I always found the episodes I watched amusing if nothing else. The scenes of the gang getting stoned in that basement are really funny.

Doc Savage said...

never read Starlog. can't imagine there would be enough material for a regular mag about Star Trek, but I guess there must have been. Never watched '70s show so can't comment

Karen said...

Starlog actually covered all sorts of science fiction entertainment, so there was never a lack of material. I read it regularly when it came out and gravitated more to it then mags like Famous Monsters or others of that ilk. It was there that I got my first glimpse of something called "The Star Wars" (as they put it). In the early issues they had articles on science fiction writers and NASA and technology, so it was all stuff I was interested in.

I know I watched the first few seasons of That 70s Show but I don't recall a whole lot about it. I did enjoy the father, Red, a lot.

Edo Bosnar said...

Heh, I think the dad is my favorite character, too.
Otherwise, something I found interesting about That '70s Show was that it was simultaneously sort of an homage to and spoof of an actual '70s show, Happy Days, which was itself rooted in nostalgia for the late 1950s. In fact, I think that's why I find the parents particularly funny: they're such great antipodes of Howard and Marion Cunningham.

Paul said...

Loved Starlog, and its companion mag, Comics Scene. They were required reading at the time. Starlog was the first place that I saw science fiction treated with anything resembling respect. I hated to see its demise.

That 70s Show never did much for me. It was amusing enough, I suppose, but as I and my friends were pretty straight-laced kids, I couldn't really relate to the characters. Besides, my late high school/ early college days were the late 80s. (Even though, ironically, I never saw a single episode of the short-lived That 80s Show.)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I guess I'd better comment since I was name-checked :) I actually don't remember Starlog, but it looks pretty cool, even now. All the issues are available for free at the Internet Archive:

Topless Robot is doing a retrospective of Starlog (only one per month I think); it's kind of hard to find (because the search function over there doesn't work right), but here's the first issue:

Paul, you didn't really miss anything on That 80s was like they just threw a bunch of random elements together and expected it to be a hit...look leg warmers, guys with earrings,'s the 80s! That 70s Show was better because the "70s" stuff was just there for colour, it was the characters that made it interesting.

Mike W.

J.A. Morris said...

I only picked up Starlog when they covered Star Trek or Star Wars. I liked it okay, the behind the scenes photos were usually cool.

I liked 'That 70s Show', like Karen I quit watching after season 3 or so. I thought it was a decent show, just got played out and the kids got too old to play kids.

Speaking of that series(plug time):
My wife & I reviewed 'That 70s' Halloween episode a while back on our Holiday Reviews site, features Fez in a Batman suit (there's your "Bronze Age Comics" tie-in):

Rob Myers said...

I may still have every edition of Starlog, and most of it's sister magazine, Future. They're not mint, of course, since I hung many of the posters in my room, but they are a wonderful source of nostalgia. Remember all the hope we once had for the future?

Unknown said...

I loved Starlog as a kid. I collected it religiously from the 2nd issue on. It was very intelligently written for it's time. Every issue introduced me to new aspects of filmmaking techniques. That's where I discovered what stop-motion, matte painting, and minatures. And yeah, I remember the short article about "The Star Wars" months before it came out. Starlog had a great article later on about the nascent use of computers for camera tracking in Star Wars.

I came back to it briefly in the late 80's, but it wasn't the same. The writing was extremely formulaic. The format for every article was identical. Oh well.

James Chatterton

Steve Does Comics said...

I'm not sure if they've ever shown That '70s Show in Britain. It's main claim to fame over here is that, about 15 years ago, ITV remade it with a British cast and it was one of the most infamous disasters in British TV history. There's nothing less convincing than watching British actors trying to deliver dialogue written for American actors.

I think it disappeared from the airwaves after about two episodes, after ITV had hyped it to skies in advance as the future of comedy.

I hope the American version was better than the British one, is all I can say.

david_b said...

Thanks much for the plug, Doug..

(rhyming not intended..)

Been on a road trip all day with the Mrs to KC, and finally got to the hotel.

Starlog..? I so remember that faithful day I first saw its premiere issue on the stands. As most of you older true believers recall, all you had was low-qual fan or monster mags back then. We had no semi-current sci-fi news reporting, color pics, updates on the 'new Trek movie', nada.

(Dum.. Da Dum.., yes, the 'That's All We Had Back Then' background organ plays..)

Television/Movie/Literature science fiction took a huge leap forward. Starving for anything on Trek conventions, 1999, you name it, this was such an important step in legitimate respect for this artform, this industry, this subculture. My big memories are first reading 1999's cancellation in ish 6, followed by the early announcement of Star Wars in ish 7. It was all so new, hi-qual and innovative, AND it was monthly.

I subscribed for a few years, keeping up until I went to college, around issue 40 or something.. 'Cept for 'Wrath of Khan' and Doctor Who, I had stepped away from nearly all sci-fi and most of the stuff coming out (fantasy like 'Dark Crystal', etc..) I had no interest in. Like James correctly said, it just got too formula-matic and corporate for my tastes. The fun was gone and I basically moved on from that and comics.. I still have my first dozen issues well-preserved in the basement.

'That '70s Show' is perhaps more steeped in BAB-land than some here will admit.

The period rock music, the trends, the fashions, the dream sequences ('Star Wars' and 'Brady Bunch Special'), those painfully-square highschool film sequences, Fez reading Marvel mags in the basement, Eric's 12" GI Joe collection, later his 'Star Wars' collection. Sounds like a healthy cross-section of non-comic columns we had here in the past..

Surreal as this may sound, the relationship between Eric and his dad was very, very similar to the relationship with my stepdad growing up (more similar than not.., actually, minus all the 'boot up your butt' comments..). I recall how the guys were arrested and then the cops let Eric go when they realized he was Red's kid and felt sorry for him. Sure wish I had a neighbor/girlfriend like Donna, but that's for another day.

My fav characters had to have been Hyde and Leo (Tommy Chong). Funny as it is, the guy who first introduced me to the show was also named... 'Steven Hyde'.

The show did seriously shark-jump when Kelso joined the local police the year before Eric left; the 'whats-the-point' aroma permeated each episode like the fumes from the Foreman family basement. It was virtually unwatcheable when Topher Grace and Kutcher left. Funny how Mila and Ashton are actually dating now

Best episodes had to have been the Christmas ones and the rummage sale episode where Hyde showcased his 'special brownies'.

Or 'Vanstock'..: "It's Woodstock but with vans.."

Too Funny.

mr. oyola said...

I never read a Starlog. I remember them mostly as ads in comics.

Recently however while in my wife's childhood bedroom at the in-laws I spied a Starlog sticking out from a pile of old stuff!

My wife has no interest in comics or much sci-fi or whatever. She has never watched Star Trek or similar shows. So I was really surprised!

I asked her about it, she had no idea what I was talking about. When I showed them to her, she laughed! She'd bought those issues because they featured articles/pictures from 30 Rock from the Sun, which is loved as a kid and had a huge crush on Joseph Gordon Levitt!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, my brother had a stack of Starlog mags back in the day. Needless to say, I eventually got my grubby hands on them. My first impression was that it was a magazine created by a bunch of Trekkies (or to use the more politically correct term Trekkers). Although not a rabid Trekker myself, I thought the magazine did a good job covering all the various happenings on the scifi/horror scene. The pullout posters were a nice touch too.

The thing that amused me the most was one interview where a guest star on the original '60s Star Trek series had no recollection of ever doing the series! Actors went from job to job regularly, so a guest starring role on a low budget scifi series with a guy with pointy ears and arched eyebrows wasn't too high on their list of major achievements. If only those Enterprise cardboard walls could talk .....

- Mike 'Cap'n, the engines canna take any more pressure!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

I didn't much like That 70's Show (I hate that that damn Ashton Kuthcer) but I liked the dad, that Red. I also grew up in the 70's and my father called me a dumbass on a regular basis. That part of the show was realistic.

Rip Jagger said...

I bought that first issue of Starlog. Still have it around here somewhere, but I never got into the magazine as a regular thing though. Don't really know why.

As for The 70's Show, my initial thought when I first saw it was what it must've been like for folks decades before to watch Happy Days.

Weird to become nostalgia.

Rip Off

B Smith said...

My story's much the same as david_b's....young 'uns have to understand that back in the day there was nothing, and I mean nothing, that could be relied on to be a reliable source of the kind of sci-fi stuff (as in films and TV show coverage) that we lonely nerds wanted to read about. Sci fi films were rare, and decent ones even my Down Under neck of the woods repeats of TV shows were haphazard (and for me, still in black and white).

So that when Starlog came along, it was more than a breath of fresh air, it was a hurricane! They were impossibly difficult to get hold of for some reason, so much so that the one bookshop in town that seemed to sell it had so few issues that they kept a few instore, and put some comfy chairs in their sci fi book section so that one could sit and read read the newest issue. Things like episode guides, which would be considered old hat nowadays, were supplied, along with big beautiful colour photos. I'll admit I was hooked!

Have to admit it only lasted a couple of years, though. Their seemingly undying devotion to all things Star Trek started to grate (the first issue had actually been an unsuccessful attempt at a one-off Trek magazine), and when I came across the UK Starburst magazine, it was bye bye Starlog. I also picked up the first dozen issues of Future, but the first issue of their new magazine devoted to comics (the name of which escapes me) convinced me that the honeymoon was over.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, speaking to Mr. Smith's point, it's hard to imagine the cultural desert we old farts had to endure in the 70's, compared to now. I mean, there was zip, and you were lucky just to score a comic book or black and white magazine back in those days.
The rarity of these things gave them more of an impact, compared to, say, whatever my nephews are currently into and very blasé about.

fantastic four fan forever said...

I loved Starlog Magazine. I bought it from the first issue and it inspired me to work as a cartoonist and columnist on a magazine called, "The Trekker" from 94' to 96'. It had great interviews, previews of upcoming sci fi films and non-genre films alike. It was the end of an era when that magazine stopped publication in 2009. I never got my work published by them, however the editor, David McDonnell wrote me a long letter on why the Star Trek Magazine magazine line failed to turn a profit and why they had to stop publication. It was a ten page letter! He took the time to write me and care about the fans. Something a lot of magazines don't do today.

david_b said...

Actually, as a snide '70s Show reference to my highschool days, I typically don't waste braincells remembering the names of my real pals.

I just 'off-the-cuff' recall my after-school antics with 'Fes, Hyde, Kelso, and Jackie'..

Didn't everyone have pals like that..? C'mon.

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