Most Dangerous Night on Television? Ha! | Street Jazz

Most Dangerous Night on Television? Ha!

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I have been reading and watching science fiction since I was very young (I’m still waiting for a Fireball X-L5 movie) and, like many other in Fayetteville, was frustrated when the Sci Fi  Channel took so long to appear on our screens.

A lot of folks don’t know this, but the head on the cable company we had at the time told me that as long as he was in charge of the Fayetteville branch, the Sci Fi Channel would never be offered here, since it was mostly informercials after midnight.

Well, he left, the Sci Channel (no the Sy Fy Channel) came, and I am often left wondering why we have the damn thing.

For every good show, we have three or four shows and movies that can only be described as utter tripe.

Mansquito?

Wrestling?

Mega-Shark versus Giant Octopus???

Yet another Children of the Corn?

I say again, Mansquito?

Okay, it does give us Doctor Who, but honestly, Tracy and I probably watch more science fiction movies on Turner Classic Movies than on Sy Fy these days.

And about that Most Dangerous Night on Television that they insist on promoting? Well, it’s only dangerous if your TV is stuck on one channel, I suppose. Otherwise, watching Fox News is a whole lot dangerous.

Well, watching Fox is pretty scary for a whole lot of reasons, actually.

I have this recurring nightmare that one day I’ll be confined to a nursing home, and some attendant will say, “Doesn’t Mr. Mr. Drake enjoy science fiction? Why don’t we just wheel the old fellow out into the lounge and park in front of the TV, and let him watch Sy Fy on Saturday night?”

And I, of course, being incapacitated from a stroke - something equally as serious - will be unable to communicate, save for tears falling down my face, which they will mistake for tears of joy and gratitude.

And then, of course, they’ll park me in front of the damn TV on the next Saturday night as well. Then it really will be the most dangerous night on television.

******

Quote of the Day

A man who boasts only of his ancestors confesses that he belongs to a family that is better dead than alive. - Anonymous

*****

Voyagers: Mucking around in the past . . .

It’s hard to beat a good time travel show. If you begin with the top of the heap ( Doctor Who) and end up near the bottom (Time Tunnel), you find Voyagers, an NBC series that ran from 1982-83 somewhere in the middle.

I’m not sure how I missed this when it first appeared on the air, but once again I have cause to praise the magic circles known as DVDs.

The premise of Voyagers is simple. Phineas Bogg (Jon-Erik Hexum) accidently lands in the bedroom of orphan Jeffrey Jones, who becomes his partner in the time travel business, after Bogg saves from a fall through his apartment window. A Voyager is a sort of time agent who travels through history, nudging things along when they are out of whack.

Of course, as we have seen from so many time travel shows before, history seems to be pretty fragile; it gets out of whack at the drop of a hat.

Bogg has a watch-like device known as an OMNI, which glows red when history is off course, and green when things are on the right track. Most of the time, we are never quite sure exactly how history gets off course in the first place.

Probably one of those other time travelers from some other series, no doubt.

One similarity the series shares with the early years of Doctor Who is the inability of the two travelers to predict when and where the OMNI will take them, once their assignment is complete. One week they may meet Spartacus, and the next end up on the Titanic.

Bogg himself is a sort of odd character - then again, aren’t most time travelers? He seems to have skipped most of the history lessons in Voyager school, so luckily Jeffrey loves history. But like most times travelers, he can kick ass at the drop of a hat - and does, every week.

Interestingly enough, because Voyagers was in the so-called “Family Hour” violence was a tricky subject. Though there were fights aplenty, you never actually saw a punch thrown; Bogg would hurl his opponents across a room, or even do martial arts style kicks - as if those don’t hurt as much as getting punched.

Not to mention the fact that he is dressed like a sort of pirate/lounge lizard, with his shirt unbuttoned down to - well, it ain’t buttoned at all. Naturally, he is the Captain Kirk of chrononauts. Woman throughout history literally throw themselves at this guy.

Just imagine the fun they could have had if it wasn’t in the Family Hour. So yes, gentle reader, our lounge lizard time traveler often found himself in conventional clothes in many of the episodes. In fairness, Bogg was a pirate before he came a Voyager, though. Still, you’d think they might have sort of dress-code.

The series serves two purposes. Under the guise of entertainment (and it is entertaining) it also introduces young people to history in a way that dry textbooks never can. That the history is never one hundred percent accurate shouldn’t bother us; what time travel series is?

Most stories have our stalwarts getting involved in two different time periods, and somehow the stories combine into one. Hence Jeffrey might meet Thomas Edison, while Bogg may get imprisoned with Lawrence of Arabia.

Of course, since there is a glitch in the OMNI, they can not travel in time beyond 1970 - except for one episode when Bogg’s superiors put him on trial for violating the code of the Voyagers.

When you watch too many episodes at once, they sort of meld together, though two in particular stand out from the herd.

Bogg takes Jeffrey to see the Apollo 11 launch, only to discover that the Russians have beaten America to the moon, after Werner von Braun was taken captive in the closing days of World War II. What’s a time travel show without Nazis?

And then there is the Titanic - a ship no self-respecting time traveler seems to be able to stay away from. Even given the generally light-hearted feel of the show in general, there was no sugar-coating of the human disaster that the Titanic represented.

Though NBC canceled the series after one season, it still ran 20 episodes, all of which are on this DVD set. Sadly, so extras are come with it. Still, it’s fun watching.

And you’ve got to love a series that ended every episode with Meeno Peluce (Jeffrey) saying over the end credits, “If you want to learn more about {their subject/person of the week}, take a voyage down to your public library. It's all in books!”

Trivia note: Jon-Erik Hexum died in a freak accident on the set on a spy series a few years later, when a prop gun when off, killing him. Hexum, who had just played Bear Bryant in a movie, had hopes of seeing his career move into high gear.

rsdrake@cox.net

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