Richard Rohmer’s Triad begins:
“In this sequel to Periscope Red, I have elected to use sections of the closing pages of that book. I have done so instead of attempting to condense and summarize because so much of the flow and facts of the critical, key events would be lost…”
… and what the hell, it’s already typed and everything, and I’m late to get a medal from somebody.
In that spirit, Brian and Stan, I’m moving a couple of our private emails to this forum.
To: Brian; Stan
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2014 23:04:13 -0400
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2014 23:04:13 -0400
To: CK, Brian
Date: Sun, Apr 27, 2014 8:54 AM
To: CK, Stan
Date: Sun, Apr 27, 2014 7:50 am
The thing with UFO is like so much of the television we saw as kids. It was on once - then never again. All we were left with were memories of Straker's car, SHADO's armoured vehicles and (mostly) those sexy moon women.
(I remembered the Interceptors as white, but accepted that there might be variations.)
Really, it was all about imagining yourself in that future world - one in which you got to jump down a slide on the moon. Did we play attention to the plot? I think Stan is right that we were thrilled by the simple fact that there was a science fiction show on TV.
It's like Logan's Run. Fantastic at age 13… and at seventeen, 'cause it never played on TV and all you could remember was Jenny Agutter's legs and how much you loved it back then. The romance of dying young and leaving a good-looking corpse was to come. The horror of same was very far off.
YouTube follows Beta, VHS and DVDs in spoiling everything.
I don't dare watch Night Stalker.
Here’s the thing that we didn’t understand about shows like UFO when we were children: They weren’t telling the best stories they could tell; they were telling the best stories they could tell for the money. (There are lots of other reasons old TV shows are slow: They were written so they could be followed by all kinds of people, some of them vacuuming. Unlike today’s quality television, which is written like every hidden Easter egg and background reference to Thundercats is going to be on the goddamn test.) The opening credits of each episode of UFO run almost two minutes. Because they look great and sound great, and because that’s two minutes the producers don’t have to fill that week.
“I have done so instead of attempting to condense and summarize because so much of the flow and facts of the critical, key events would be lost…”
Thus the free market becomes an experiment in figuring out how little the consumer will accept.
Brian, I was thinking about this in re the new book on The Dusty Bookcase, Too Many Women. Why is the copy on the back cover selling a book that has nothing at all to do with the book inside? It wouldn’t cost more to write that other book. But is the problem that writers wanted to write one book – a boring one about a writer who almost has an affair – and publishers and readers wanted to read a different book – man shoots tramp? And the economic trap was that writers would write the first book for less money than the second? Because they enjoyed writing it?
You see what I mean? The customer will pay X for book Y, but the only book an author will write for that kind of money is Z.
The first mismatch comes from poverty – the UFO viewer wants an hour of explosions but Gerry Anderson can only afford three per episode – the second mismatch comes from stubbornness – the author of Too Many Women imagines the reader gives a shit about the time he almost got laid. By a woman who wasn’t even armed.
This problem solves itself with fan fiction. Where the internet lets authors write genre fiction for free. Because the free market works!
I’d be really interested to know what Rohmer thought he was doing in 1981. How were sales?
About Kronstein: Stan, in UFO, Vladek Sheybel plays Dr. Doug Jackson. One of the greatest names for a character ever. (3 AM in the writers room: "What do you want to call the doctor?" "I don't have a shit. Call him Doug Jackson for all I care." And then cast a Polish guy who looks like Goebbels.) Other Bond actors standing around in UFO like they're waiting for a bus: Lois Maxwell, Steven Berkoff, Tracy Reed (Miss Foreign Affairs!) and Shane Rimmer.
About Jenny Agutter: Brian, you’ll be delighted, as I was, to see Jenny Agutter for five (inexplicable) seconds in The Avengers and for 30 (pivotal) seconds in Captain America: Winter Soldier. A subtle piece of casting that takes two years to pay off. I can say no more.
Easter eggs! Yay!