Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Starlost (1973)

The Starlost was a sci-fi television series devised by writer Harlan Ellison and broadcast in 1973 on CTV in Canada and syndicated to local stations in the United States.  I'm reasonably certain it never saw the light of day on this side of the Atlantic although with so many regional channels back then I stand to be corrected if any one knows better.
The show's setting was a huge colony spacecraft called The Ark, which had gone off-course. Many of the descendants of the original crew and colonists were unaware of this and that they were even aboard a spaceship.
The series experienced a number of production difficulties right from the start and Ellison ended up disowning it before the first episode had even aired.  16 episode were made in total before the plug was finally pulled.



  1. I keep meaning to read Ben Bova's Starcrossed the novel he wrote inspired his experience with the series. I've seen 'em all I'm afraid, you're right it never made it here when it was made though. How can I describe the production standards? think of a Tom Baker era Who with a 1/3 of the budget. The scripting? a mixed bag, some of it's quite good, good enough to hold my attention but I can say without reservation the first episode is dreadful, a real basket case of a script. There's trouble with the lead cast too, the supporting cast is occasionally brilliant. I would single out Barry Morse and John and John Colicos who's efforts in the face of costumes that look as though they came from a novelty store are nothing short of heroic.

    Yet I watched 'em all, right to the bitter end so I must like something about it. I do occasionally get the urge to search 'em out on youtube where they surface, they never stay up for too long though I think the obvious problems with production standards are too much of an embarrassment for some of the contributors. Rumours abound on why it should look so cheap, dodgy dealings and shady characters, the debacle over Trumbal's Magicam normally get the blame but they couldn't even get the model shot in the title sequence in focus. How is it possible to not to even have someone who can work a camera on staff?

  2. Thanks for that, DSE, invaluable input as ever. I'll see if I can track one down just out of curiosity. I'm drawn to the 70 aesthetic even when the show is shockingly bad. Hence my having watched every episode of the Tomorrow People.

  3. Just remembered another one,the movie Hanger 18 from 1980,one of the first government conspiracy to cover up aliens stories that I can remember,it has a spacewalk scene at the beginning but I could only find this pic
    Theres also the remake of lost in space with the suits that were worn while exploring the alien derelict,I could only find one of major wests helmet
    Space cowboys is another one
    And also fantastic four
    and the dr who judoon suits
    Stargate Universe had these
    The tv series Eureka featured suits
    Heres an interesting vid with a lot of suit helmets
    And heres 2 familiar suits in one the tholian web and prime directive suits guest starring in mork and mindy!

  4. Found some better shots of ben grimms suit from fantastic four
    Heres some more stargate ones tho these are more conventional
    Theres also star trek enterprise
    And theres also this suit from the episode First Flight
    There was also the 2009 reboot
    And these deleted scenes from Star trek the motion picture,the suits in this are quite different to the ones actually used in the final cut

    1. Cheers Tim. Some Christmas home work for me there when I finally break up from work. A quick scan reveals some stuff that's been pending finding better pictures than what I have so far found, confident these will be they.
      Appreciate the research.

  5. I found the series interesting kind of stark, but it kind of lends itself to the story. The acting is fairly bad, I'm guessing that the budget had a lot to do with that. I barely remember the original run of this show, I think it ran on the PBS stations around here since at that time we only had about four stations that we could get. ABC, NBC, CBS and KPBS (local Public Broadcasting System) . As I remember the suits only show up in one or two episodes at the end. John Colicos was an awesome actor that I miss.

    1. Thanks again, always nice when someone that's actually seen the show chips in with an opinion or two.

  6. I remember this show as a kid. It was grudgingly done by CTV when they were forced by the government licensor to have a certain percentage of their programming to be Canadian. Before then they were just an importer network. Nothing original. They probably did them intentionally bad to show that, "see, Canadians just lack talent. We should not even try and just keep importing."
    They had a whole bunch of crappy shows. Comedy shows where they used the same jokes each week, a Hee Haw ripoff, talk shows, etc. This was their sci fi show. It's a neat concept. Some good actors in it too. Some ideas taken from Silent Running and the 1970s concern for the environment.
    CTV produces much better quality shows nowadays.

    1. A big thank you for that insight Clark. Appreciated