Did you know that 1979’s Moonraker was made into a book and record? I certainly did not until I stumbled across an auction the other day. In the interest of full disclosure, it was the Projectionist who discovered it. He was kind enough to call me into the control room, down here in the Vault. The auction was for a complete set of 1985 Kid Stuff book and records featuring James Bond. Dr. No, A View to a Kill, The Spy Who Loved Me as well as Moonraker. Not just the book and record sets but the “deluxe talking storybook” with cassette tapes too.
I, of course, wish I could tell that we won the auction. The sad fact of the matter is that someone in Germany took the prize. Outbid us by a long shot. I suppose whomever got the set was a bigger James Bond fan than ourselves. Maybe it was Blofeld?
Anyway, I am quite willing to bet you are as surprised as I was. I mean, Kid Stuff tackled all manner of popular properties, back in the day. James Bond however is a far cry from the likes of Garfield, Transformers, and Knight Rider, right?
What I would love to know is how they picked which films to adapt into “children’s stories”? Obviously A View to a Kill marked the swan song of Roger Moore as 007. In fact it was the seventh film with Moore portraying James Bond. Moonraker lends itself to an exciting tale, plus it too starred Moore. I think that Dr. No is the odd choice, breaking the trend of Moore films and of course tackling a Sean Connery version. Imagine what they would have done with 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service!
Obviously the folks at Kid Stuff have condensed much of Moonraker. They naturally had to since it had to tell a tale in a little over ten minutes. But I would point out that it’s pretty obvious it was still a little more violent than you might think.
Let us hop back to 1985 and sit back as we listen and read Moonraker on Retro Records!
ReBoot blew me away when it debuted on ABC one Saturday morning in 1994. With my love of all things video games and computer related, Mainframe Entertainment, Alliance Communications and BLT Productions certainly captured my attention. In that year I was working a full time job but I made sure I was up and watching ReBoot every week. Which is why of course the news of a…reboot… took me by surprise. As well as the fact that ReBoot: The Guardian Code is totally going live on Netflix on March 30th!
When I think about the original series, I generally recall the humor and winks to popular culture the show managed to include in almost every episode. Whether that be throwbacks to the popular video games of the day. Or even film franchises such as the James Bond series, including a fantastic song intro from the third episode of Season three. Firewall!
Granted the animation might seem a little dated by today’s standards. I can assure you though it was pretty amazing stuff back in ’94. Of course it was the characters and story line that made so many fans. I think it is safe to say that the show borrowed a few elements from the likes of 1982’s TRON. A lone Guardian named Bob, whose mission was to protect the inhabitants of a city called Mainframe. Not just from the wicked deeds of Megabyte and his Sister, Hexadecimal. But from those of us playing video games, the Users.
Now then, we have a new series. Entitled Reboot: The Guardian Code. Immediately upon watching it I paused the official trailer. Some things have certainly changed in this updated version…like it has live action elements!
That took me quite but surprise. Granted this show is being aimed at an audience younger than myself. I will admit I am okay with this as it also appears to possibly have ties to the original series. At the very least it looks like Megabyte has been resurrected by the series’ mysterious villain.
Much like the first series did with borrowing elements of TRON it seems that ReBoot: The Guardian Code will do the same. Although in this case it is a mix of TRON: Legacy, Pacific Rim and even Ready Player One.
Which seems quite appropriate, friends. As Ready Player One of course hits theaters on March 30th. Which I am sure that Netflix is very well aware of. Will it be any good? I have no idea but I am certainly going to at least give it a chance. Things always change and I for one won’t begrudge a new generation their own joy of being introduced to ReBoot.
I’ve talked a bit about the first series, so without further ado, check out the trailer for ReBoot: The Guardian Code!
It’s 1972. Missions to the moon are still being launched. A space station is about to go into orbit. Live television broadcasts and telephone communications via satellite are becoming commonplace, as are computers capable of handling and sorting immense amounts of information. In this context, the idea of one man, an Aston Martin, and a martini (shaken, but not stirred) standing between the free nations of the world and domination by evildoers seems quaint.
At least that’s the idea in NBC’s Search, a short-lived “spy-fi” series dreamed up by Leslie Stevens, the producer who had brought us The Outer Limits in its original 1960s incarnation. Search involves the top-secret World Security Corporation, evidently a commercial entity with connections in all the right (high) places. Deep inside World Security’s office building lies PROBE Control, a kind of “mission control” guiding the activities of an elite handful of special agents around the globe.
Sitting in the big chair at the center of PROBE Control is V.C.R. Cameron (the simply amazing Burgess Meredith), a veteran at the spy game who now turns his expertise toward guiding younger agents in the field. Surrounding “Cam” is a circle of specialists in data retrieval and analysis who, together with PROBE’s amazing computer power, can piece together information on the fly to help agents in the field.
Those agents are themselves called Probes. Each agent has been fitted with an implant that allows them to hear and speak to PROBE Control via satellite, and each agent has a tiny camera, worn either as a pendant or as a ring, allowing PROBE Control to see what they say, analyze things or even people at the spectroscopic level, and monitors and records the agent’s vital signs.
Perhaps most importantly, there’s more than one agent, and an acknowledgement that each Probe needs time off to recover from each taxing adventure. One of three agents leads the charge in each episode: Hugh O’Brian as Lockwood, a.k.a. “Probe One”, the best and brightest of the agents; Anthony Franciosa as Nick Bianco, a.k.a. “Omega Probe”, a former cop with deep knowledge of the criminal underworld; and Doug McClure as the carefree C.R. Grover, the Backup Probe, who gets the assignments no one else wants – or inherits hazardous assignments from Probes who die in the line of duty. (On a purely logistical level, this arrangement would allow for multiple filming crews to be filming multiple scripts at multiple locations, and future-proofs the show against such real-world incidents as a star being hurt…or demanding a larger salary.)
The action starts with the pilot movie PROBE, which aired early in 1972, starring Hugh O’Brian and no less a guest star than Sir John Gielgud. Introducing the show’s jetsetting international scope, flashy stunt work, and the seemingly vast PROBE Control set, the movie can’t have been cheap, but it sets up the concept and some of the characters – and hooked enough viewers to get a go-ahead as a series.
There’s just one problem: PBS was airing a documentary/news series called Probe at the same time, and the producers were asked to change the name of the series when it returned in the fall, hence its rebirth as Search. O’Brian and Burgess Meredith were still aboard, along with many of the same actors who played the PROBE Control computer operators, but O’Brian began rotating episodes more or less evenly with Franciosa and McClure, and the settings changed drastically from week to week.
Search is fun in that early ’70s gotta-have-a-car-chase-if-it’s-on-TV kind of way. Each of the leading men have their own quirks and charms (though Franciosa, as Nick Bianco, emerges as an early favorite just for his character’s Rat-Pack-worthy swagger), and Burgess Meredith anchors each episode, providing his trademark good-natured crankiness.
And that awesome spy tech? The funny thing is, in this world of the internet and cell phones (and, yes, cell phones that can get on the internet), Search’s technology is just now landing this side of the “plausible” line. In 1972, the technology depicted, and its abilities, were pure science fiction, an attempt to transplant the NASA technology that everybody had seen get men to the moon into a spy thriller setting.
After decades of obscurity and being forgotten, Search is back, with the full series available on DVD. PROBE is available on its own disc. It may not be worthy of binge watching as we now know it, but it’s fun to watch an episode now and again. And how did Search fans enjoy the show after it played on their local NBC stations? Believe it or not…there was an official set of Search ViewMaster reels…because nothing is more fun for kids than reliving Hugh O’Brian stoically putting down a terrorist plot!
As cool as that is, however, Search – and its whistle-able theme song and neat spy tech – signed off after a single season. Over the course of its months on the air, the expense of mounting weekly international spy capers (even if “international” meant “Hollywood backlot”) was evidently getting to be a bit much, as PROBE Control shrinks noticeably as the show wears on.
Had the show stayed on for a second year, it would seem like getting the three leading men together, either for a one-off mission to save the world, or as part of an all-hands PROBE effort to stop some global scheme, would’ve been a no-brainer for a sweeps month – kind of like doing Doctor Who’s celebrated Five Doctors episode in year two instead of year 20.
Is this one of those underground classics that needs a modern reboot? Should the Search continue? Seek out the original and judge for yourself.
When I was growing up I was always a fan of comic books. Captain America and Batman being two of my favorites as a kid. So is it any real surprise that when my Father told me about the 1957 Walt Disney Zorro TV series that I totally became interested in all things regarding “Zorro, the fox so cunning and free.”?
Thankfully for myself I was eventually able to see that wonderful TV series when the Disney Channel had one of their free weekends back in the early ’80s. I honestly loved it, Guy Williams (Lost in Space) performance as the leisurely Don Diego de la Vega is fantastic, especially considering his very real athleticism and skill with a blade as Zorro that was on display each episode.
So imagine my delight when I learned back in 1990 that the Family Channel was bringing a new Zorro series to television, one that starred Duncan Regehr (Dracula from 1987’s The Monster Squad) as both Don Diego and his costumed alter ego. Batman had come out just a year earlier so the timing was perfect to bring to a new audience Johnston McCulley’s 1919 literary character…one that obviously had an influence in the creation of Batman.
Which leads us to this clip from the fourth season episode entitled “Death and Taxes” that originally aired on January 16, 1993 that just happens to feature future James Bond star, Daniel Craig, as the villainous Lt. Hildago.
This video says that it’s Daniel Craig’s first role but that actually was in 1992 when he appeared in The Power of One, I also need to point out that in that same year he appeared in the pilot episode of Covington Cross…as a guard on the walkway. At least in that role he didn’t get the sign of the Z carved into his clothing!