Monday, October 19, 2020

These Aren’t the Droids You Are Looking for: a review of “Raised by Wolves” (2020)

Raised by Wolves: Season One (2020; ten episodes; created by Aaron Guzikowski; co-executive producer and occasional director: Ridley Scott)

God, I hate these mystery-puzzle-box TV shows! Lost did it, The X-Files wound up doing it, far too many shows have done this!

And now, Raised by Wolves is doing it—after introducing itself as a freebie on YouTube, coming on like a filmed version of a New Wave science fiction book from the late-1960s/early-1970s, something that may have been written by a Robert Silverberg, Samuel Delaney, or Norman Spinrad, or perhaps by authors more on the “fringe,” like Arthur Byron Cover or Chester Anderson....
But it ends like “We Need to Talk About Kevin, Our Hideous Serpent-Leech Metaphor-Monster.”

Such a fucking mess…. (In fact, one commenter at the AV Club called the show “Lost… in space”—a witticism too good not to share!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Kolchak’s Flying Saucer: In Praise of an Oft-Maligned Episode of "The Night Stalker"

“Kolchak is why I got into journalism,” –Peter L., journalist/writer/bon vivant

Back in the autumn of 1974, the American Broadcasting Company (then, as now, Channel 7 in NYC) did me a real solid. On Friday nights, ABC had scheduled The Six Million Dollar Man at 8pm; Kung Fu with David Carradine at 9pm; and then at 10pm, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. It was nerd heaven!

Being allowed to stay up to see these shows was special—until 1975, my bedtime was 7:30pm! It would be summertime, I’d be lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and the sun would still be up, shining bright, and there would be kids screaming in the streets. (I discovered that counting sheep doesn’t work; I imagine a long corridor that is never-ending….) But these shows were on a Friday night, and they were “special:” Genre TV wasn’t as prevalent as it is now—it was quite catch as catch can. And the parental units, themselves of nerdish persuasion, understood. Besides, mom, it’s Friday, and there’s no school on Saturday!

At 10 p.m. EST, Friday, September 27, 1974, the now-considered-a-cult-classic TV show, the horror-themed Kolchak: The Night Stalker, premiered its third episode as an hour-long program: a UFO-centered show titled, “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be… 

The episode’s title was inspired by lines from H.P. Lovecraft’s 1928 story “The Dunwich Horror.” {read it HERE for free!} In it, Lovecraft writes, 
“The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them. They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.”

Other segments from the show are more frightening (like “The Horror in the Heights”—written by Hammer Horror vet Jimmy Sangster, probably the best of the series’ 20 episodes), and to many “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be…”  is a mess.

But I find this episode a thought-provoking low-budget B-movie mélange of neo-noir (an honest reporter in a corrupt town dealing with a cover-up), Lovecraftian elements (the inexplicable cosmic horror of an invisible alien who sucks out our bone marrow—Ewww!), and UFO/conspiracy lore (aliens, contactees, secretive government agencies, “the Men in Black”).

(And if “mélange” is too highbrow for some, perhaps “mish-mash,” if we want to be egalitarian?)