A Century Of Science Fiction
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: D Program: B
Lee hosts the 1996 program A Century of
Science Fiction, a sometimes mixed but always interesting show that breaks
down the Science Fiction genre into sub-topics, all of which are marked by
chapters. They may not always be
scholarly, but they are always entertaining.
Aliens – Focuses on the state of the
genre in the 1950s and has some great trailer clips, often for films you may
not have seen, then jumps to the classic teaser for Ridley Scott’s Alien.
Many greats are missed, but the relation between the two makes sense.
Time Travelers – It begins with the 1960 (and
only respectable) Time Machine, then
Nicholas Meyer’s 1979 Time After Time. After some B-movies, we then get Woody
Allen’s Sleeper, the Buster Crabbe Buck Rogers, the original Planet Of The Apes, Slaughterhouse Five, and even Back To The Future.
Mad Doctors – Bela Lugosi and several Dr.
Moreau films, The Fly films, and
David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers fill
this section. It misses its origins in
German Expressionism and even Fritz Lang’s Metropolis,
but it is good.
Robots and Computers – Metropolis, Forbidden Planet,
Colossus Of New York, Colossus – The Forbin Project, Terminator, Robocop, Day The Earth Stood
Still, Westworld, the infamous
and idiotic Short Circuit, and HAL
9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A
Sci-Fi Lunacy – The few highlights include The Amazing Colossal Man, Village Of The Giants, Empire Of The Ants, the 1976 King Kong, and other “works” that live
up to the category. Some laughs.
Lost Worlds – The 1925 silent Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle Lost World, several Verne/Nemo
films, and an amazing amount of schlock fill this one.
Future Worlds – Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Death Race 2000, Judge Dredd,
Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451,
Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green, Ridley
Scott’s Blade Runner, Paul
Verhoeven’s Total Recall, Five, On The Beach, The Road
Warrior, Escape From L.A., Waterworld, and other items fill this
Weird Worlds – Georges Mélies’ A Trip To The Moon, First Men In The Moon, the Buster
Crabbe Flash Gordon, the “unique”
1980 remake, Destination Moon, Rocketship X-M, Robinson Crusoe On Mars, Barbarella,
Missile To The Moon, Queen Of Outer Space, Abbott & Costello Go To Mars, 2001 (again), Star Wars, Star Crash, Battle Beyond The Stars, the 1936 Things To Come and the wrap-up.
is usually full frame, but is occasionally interrupted by letterboxed (or
partly letterboxed) footage throughout.
Originating on professional analog videotape of the time, some footage
and all the digital graphics tend to show their age, but many clips are not
seen often and many of those are in better shape than expected. The Dolby Digital 2.0 is on the monophonic
side, but Lee is clear enough. There are
recent slap in the face, the conclusion of Lee’s role in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy was
unacceptably hacked out of the film by an ever-obnoxious Peter Jackson. After using Lee to push the first two films,
he was abandoned by the third, relegating his conclusion to a footnote on the
upcoming expanded DVD set. How ignorant
can you get? Lee is a legend who brings
this program up to a higher level than it would otherwise be, which is one of
the most interesting aspects of the whole thing. It is also why it has survived its age. You just can’t beat Christopher Lee. As for Jackson, like Justin Timberlake, he has
yet to apologize!
- Nicholas Sheffo