Monday, August 31, 2009

The wrong Outer Limits on Sci Fi Channel today

Or Syfy as they now style themselves for some stupid reason. I suppose to point out the fact that now instead of showing good SF TV shows and good SF movies, they make their own crap horror movies to show most of the time.

Anyway, checked out the Channel via the Guide feature, and got a thrill to see that they were showing several episodes of The Outer Limits.

Hopes came crashing down as it turned out they would not be of the classic series, but rather of the 2000 version. Yeah, I suppose those eps would be worth watching as well, but I would really have preferred to have people get a chance to see the original "The Inheritors" starring Steve Ihnat and Robert Duvall. And of course to add insult to injury, they're not even showing the remake of "The Inheritors", which removes the meteorite bullets and exchanges them for just actual fragments of a meteorite that strike around a few people and hit a few certain select ones.

Give me the original any day of the week. Please!

(And yes, it, and all original Outer Limits episodes are available on DVD from, or downloadable for $1.99 each from Amazon Unbox (now called Video on Demand.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Derivative-ness of District Nine

I'd never had any intention of going to see District Nine (or District 9, whatever). I prefer my science fiction to be uplifting, thank you. I want to walk out of the theater full of joy and hope for humanity.

But, I read a review of it, from this one reviewer that I read on a regular basis. Not that I actually like this reviewer (he writes for a local, but online publication), I just find it interesting to see what new variations on pretentiousness he can come up with in each new review.

Anyway, he pointed out that one of the lead characters, a human, is injected with something that is slowly turning him into one of the aliens that are incarcerated in District Nine.

And I'm like, how derivative is that? And how silly. You forcibly change someone who hates/fears you, into what you are...and what do you think is going to happen? Will they embrace you with love and understanding? No, they will hate you even more for doing something to them without their consent.

And this has been done before. In one of those X-Men movies, the evil mutants drug one of the anti-mutant politicians and turn him into a mutant. (Bruce Davison as Senator Kelly.) (2003)

And there was a Doctor Who that did the same thing. Tim McInnery, in Planet of the Ood (2008 - David Tennant as the Doctor) is forcibly turned into an Ood.

I suppose it all got its start from the Quatermass Xperiment of 1956, when an astronaut (played by Richard Wordsworth) is turned into a blob, but these later iterations on the trope, as the pretentious would say, just make no sense to me. "You will be assimilated!" Blah.

Let joy and innocence prevail.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Major Tom (Space Oddity)

Shiny Toy Gun's version of Major Tom.

David Bowie version. AKA Space Oddity

Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm beginning to feel like Typhoid Mary...

Several weeks ago, I came across a video on YouTube that used the song Nemo, from Nightwish. I'd never heard the song before - or of the band, and BECAUSE OF THIS VIDEO, I went out and bought the CD. As I'm willing to bet several people do!

But, I shared the information about this video in a story I'd written for a fanfiction site (listen to the song on this video while you read this story), and a day or so later - the video had been taken down for copyright infringement.

And I'm thinking, ya morons! I would never have known about this song except for this video, it gave you a new fan, and would probably have continued to give you new fans, but you take it down because you're not going to get a penny per each time it's played? So short sighted!

Then, just a couple of days ago, I shared here the video of a Star Trek Season 3 blooper reel, because it had like three whole seconds of Steve Ihnat and Yvonne Craig in a blooper. And now, today, I see that that video has been removed. It had been popular, over 48,000 views, so must have been up for at least a year. Yet two days after I share it here, it's gone. Coincidence?

And again, why? It was actually a pretty lousy video - someone had put text in the middle of everyone's faces so you couldn't see anything. (So yeah, obviously whoever originally had it didn't want it shown). But why? Why? Star Trek is over 40 years old, the actors don't get any royalties from the old show anymore, and the people who produced it are getting rich off the new series. Why do they even care about some 9 minute blooper reel? And if they really care that they're missing out on some money, why not put a link on the page to the real thing, sans that stupid obscuring text, and say, "Hey, pay a dollar and you can see this in quality video." People would have been willing to pay to see it!

But no, it's gone. It's just stupid.

Now I can see the point if its what someone has written. This happened to me. I spent hours and hours transcribing a Superman radio episode that had Batman as a gueststar. (The show was from the 1940s and out of copyright, I hasten to add.) I put this up on my site. A year later, I'm surfing the web, and see my entire script, plus the illustrations and annotations I'd made, on someone else's site. Which would have been fine, except they didn't even give me any credit for it! Nor had they changed the URLs for the links - so my server was still getting hits from them. (Not that bandwidth was an issue). But this just infuriated me. Yes, the show was out of copyright and anyone could have taken the time to do what I did, but *I* did it. Use it by all means, but at least do me the courtesy of linking back to my site!

But with music, or videos of old TV shows? There is only good, and no harm, in allowing them to remain on YouTube. They are free publicity. And since a lot of shows are never going to be released because they're not financially viable to do so, a lot of fans are being deprived of some good stuff for no good reason!

Just annoys the hell out of me!

Let joy and innocence prevail.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why See A Movie When You Can See the Trailer?

I went to see Julie & Julia yesterday, and quite enjoyed it. I'm not a cook myself, but I grew up when Julia was in her heyday, and I always enjoyed her shows. And I thought the blog story with Amy Adams was good too.

But what annoyed me, as usual, were the trailers. Three minute trailers, or however long they were, that seemed to tell the entire movie in that three minutes. For example they're making a remake of The Stepfather. A movie I never saw when it originally came out, and now they're doing it again, and of course there's no doubt the guy's a psychotic killer. Thanks - I'll pass.

Then there's The Lovely Bones. Why anyone would want to read a book in which a rape/murder victim narrates her story while the rest of her family gets on with their lives is beyond me. Why anyone would want to make a movie of it...or go to see such a movie? Blech, blech, blech.

We live in a scary world. I'd rather see our theaters - and TV screens - filled with uplifting material, material that will change people's lives for the better. No, I'm not talking about religous type stuff, but bring back the days of The Virginian, or Gunsmoke, when heroes were heroes. Cartoons like Jonny Quest are needed, not crap like Spongebod Squarepants. As for the Suite Life of Zack and Cody, which my 9 year old nephew watches - gag me with a spoon.

Let Joy and Innocence Prevail

Monday, August 24, 2009

Star Trek Bloopers, Third Season

The quality of the video isn't very good, and there's text that pops up in the middle of the screen obscuring people's faces for some annoying reason, but it's all we've got, so we've got to be happy with it.

Steve Ihnat and Yvonne Craig are in it for abut 5 seconds, at the 1.53 mark. Yvonne is quoting her Shakespeare, Ihnat is rolling his eyes, then Yvonne forgets her line and swears, and Ihnat looks at her like he's shocked. Shocked, I tell you! Funny.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Steve Ihnat in Whom Gods Destroy

The Star Trek episode "Whom Gods Destroy" is not my favorite episode by any means -- it is certainly flawed and rather weak, frankly. But it does contain my favorite performance by a guest star in an ST episode, and that of course is Steve Ihnat as Garth of Izar.

Critics of the episode are divided, as you might expect. Some think Ihnat gives a great performance, others think he overacts and wasn't at all frightening. Of course, I'm in the first category.

The problem with the character of Garth of Izar actually comes from William Shatner's portrayal of him in the tantrum scene. Shatner has him pounding on a counter, on his two friends, etc. -- all very well and good, and what anyone who is very, very angry would do. Then he falls to his knees, but instead of pounding on the ground with both hands, pounds with alternate hands, like a child. That's just too childish for Garth, and that's what lessens his ability to be frightening.

What's fun about Steve's portrayal of Garth is that you will never see him play any other role this flamboyant and cheerful, either before or since. However, there are traces of the characterization in his role as Tyler, in the 1965 episode of Daniel Boone, "Perilous Journey", in which he plays a British assassin - who ends up getting shot by Daniel Boone's wife.

I've been surfing the web, and found a few reviews of Steve's performance. One blogger says that
"He reads as very, very gay, too. I'm trying not to stereotype from his flamboyant manner; it's also his indifference to Marta except as a sign of his power, his obsession with winning Kirk over (even to the point of naming him heir apparent), and his dislike of Kirk and Spock's mutual loyalty."

And I disagree completely.

If you keep your eye on Garth's face, in the scene where Marta is dancing, and when she's running her hands over his neck, etc., at all times he's gazing at her like he's really, really, really turned on. When she starts fondling Kirk, he is clearly angry that she's doing so.

Click on the photos for larger views.

Can't quite catch his breath....

(If you were watching the actual episode, you'd see him try to breathe here...)

As for his obsession with "winning Kirk over," um...he's trying to get off the planet, Kirk has the countersign he needs...what else is he supposed to do?

As for "his dislike of Kirk and Spock's mutual loyalty," I'm not sure about that. It seemed like this was put in as a someehat heavy-handed plea for racial tolerance. Kirk regards himself and Spock as brothers... when Spock annoys Garth, he calls him an "animal" - a somewhat humanist/racist thing to say, because it must be remembered that in the original Star Trek, Spock is the first Vulcan to serve with humans on a star ship, and is, indeed, the only alien on board the ship (that we see, anyway.) So although the Federation has integrated mankind successfully, they have not yet integrated the alien species they encountered in their explorations...and Garth was one of those explorers.

Other flaws in the episode have to be explained away by a little "fan-fictionizing."

Since Kirk doesn't know about Garth's shape-shifting abilities, why does he have that "sign, countersign" thing in place? Well, because they're in orbit around an insane asylum, and it was probably standard protocol to have such a password in place at those times, and indeed anytime a starship would be over a planet in the throes of warfare, etc, so that unauthorized personnel couldn't gain access to the Enterprise by threatening the crew.

Since Garth can metamorphosize his molecules, why does his clothes keep changing as well? To me, all you have to do is look at the scenes when he switches from one form to another. The whole screen goes black for a split second. To me this means that Garth is actually controlling people's minds, as well as his own shape. He shifts shapes to whatever he wants to be, and he controls other people's minds so they see him with the appropriate clothing.

Why does Garth turn into Kirk so that Spock won't know who's who, when Garth has a phaser and knows Spock is heading for the command room? Well, because there was only ten minutes left in the episode, and events had to be moved along.

In the filming of the episode, Spock was actually supposed to discern between the two Kirks by asking a question that only Kirk would know, but since a Star Trek episode always had to end with a fight between Kirk and somebody, the writers changed it so that's how this episode would end. (An event that caused Nimoy to complain, but of course to no avail.) And, of course, if Spock had just phasered both of them, the unconscious Garth would have reverted to his true form, without the need for a fight. But perhaps it was simply illegal for Spock to shoot his captain, even if it would only cause unconsciousness. As for the rest, perhaps Spock just clinically wanted to see if Kirk could physically defeat Garth.

And, as an aside, I prefer to think Garth didn't actually kill Marta. Remember we never see her die, the explosion totally obscured her, so she's probably dragged back inside the base and rescuscitated. All Garth was trying to do was make Kirk give up the countersign, but Kirk will not sacrified the many for the needs of the one.

For more, check out Star Trek: Whom Gods Destroy, and fan fiction of the history of Garth of Izar, The Madness of Garth of Izar.

And to see Steve "starring" in a music video, check out "Let Joy and Innocence Prevail."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Starlog #1, August 1976

Soon to be added to The Thunder Child will be information on every SF magazine we possess in our library, to enable researchers to ask questions about an article, an interview, a quote, and so on. We'd also like to create a network of people who have magazines we don't have, so that their info can help others as well.

We begin with what's in Starlog 1, published in August 1976 by O'Quinn Studios. Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise are on the cover.

Log Entries (upcoming movies, tv, media, etc):
The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring DAvid Bowie.
At The Earth's Core, starring Doug McClure and Peter Cushing
Logan's Run completed
SF Expo 76 in New York
Start of production of Meteor.
First annual Star Trek Exposition of Washington DC planned for July 9-11, 1976
When Worlds Collide to be remade
Wonder Woman lives!
Space: 1999 - two vinyl records released
SF Academy Awards
Bernard Hermmann recordings to be released

The Bionic Woman: Creating a Cycorg for the 70s, by Isobel Silden
Space: 1999: Eadical Changes for the 2nd Season, by David Houston
Battle of the Titans: Two New Kongs Challenge the King, by Gary Girani
Squirm: Importing Giant Worms for Maximum Slither, by Kerry O'Quinn
Star TRek: Past, Present and Future, by David Houston
Special Collectors Section - Star Trek in Color (photos of a few episides)
The Conventions as Asimov Sees Them, by Isaac Asimov
William Shatner: Shakespeare to the Stars, by Kirsten Russell
Leonard Nimoy: The Man Between the Ears, by I. K. Lindquist
Complete Guide to Star Trek episodes (brief synopses)

Star Teasers - Puzzles & Word Games:
Star Trek anagrams
Supply the Cation (Kirk and unidentified female actress)
Star Trek match puzzle and word maze
Life Form letter change
Word Builder: Tribbles
Keyword Quiz

Friday, August 21, 2009

Let Joy and Innocence Prevail

This is a very powerful song, which I've always liked. It's the kind of song that needs more play today, as no one is allowed to be innocent these days. Kids as young as 5 years old are being indoctrinated into acting as old and as snotty as possible (as witness every sitcom on TV where the "cute" kid talks back to parents, knows more than parents, ya da ya da. And can teenagers be innocent? Fat chance!)

Anyway, I've done some animation to the song, using some characters from a world called Arveacy - the novel of which I'd worked on long ago...never finished it though. So this will be the first time anyone has ever seen those characters.

For those unfamiliar with the song, the first 51 seconds are instrumental, then she begins singing. Grace Jones has an incredible voice and she does a great job with this song - better I think than anyone else could do.

The Inheritors, Final Scene

Someone has put the last 9 minutes of part 2 of The Outer Limits, "The Inheritors" up on YouTube.

Three of the four mind-controlled men are trying to rebel, at the behest of Adam Ballard, who fears that the aliens controlling them have some dark plans in store for the handicapped children whom they are abducting into a spaceship.

Steve Ihnat, as Lt. Minns, explains what has really been happening.

The children will be the inheritors of a bright new world.

You can purchase the complete DVD set of The Outer Limits from, or download Inheritors Pt 1 and Pt 2 from Amazon Unbox, straight to your computer, for $1.99 each. (Their player is free.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Inheriting the Madness: An Appreciation of the SF Ouvre of Steve Ihnat

Well, the article is done...for now.

I had hoped to include quotes from Yvonne Craig about working with Ihnat, but no luck contacting her, and her interview in Starlog was useless for my purposes.

And I couldn't find any quotes on anyone working with him on The Inheritors...but I'll persevere in that direction.

Anyway, the complete article can be found at The Thunder Child: Inheriting the Madness

However, it must be said that that article is very graphics intensive, so I'm also going to break it up into two smaller articles, one on Star Trek's Whom Gods Destroy, the other on The Twilight Zone's The Inheritors.

For Whom Gods Destroy, check out:

and for The Outer Limits: The Inheritors:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Outer Limits: The Inheritors

Just uploaded screencaps for The Inheritors to the Steve Ihnat site. He works opposite Robert Duvall in this, and the two men will work again about 4 years later in another SF story, the movie Countdown.

The Outer Limits: The Inheritors

The Outer Limits is known for its aliens, or "bears" as the writers called them. "The Zanti Misfits" is a popular episode, as is "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" starring William Shatner, and "Demon With A Glass Hand," written by Harlan ELlison, starring Robert Culp.

The Inheritors has no such trappings. It's a simple suspense story - four men have been shot in the head with fragments made from the same meteor, and they now have genius level IQs and seem to be controlled by an exterior intelligence. Three of them are building a space ship, one of them, Steve Ihnat, is going about recruiting handicapped children.

For what purpose?

Robert Duvall delivers an excellent performance as Adam Ballard, desperate to try to find out what is happening, desperate to save the children from being experimented on, as he thinks is what's going to happen. He begs the mind-controlled men to fight, to resist....

Steve gives a very understated performance as the leader of the mind-controlled. He doesn't know why he's doing what he's doing, it "does matter," as he tells Ballard, but he can't fight it just as they can't fight him.

I won't give away the ending - though if you check the screencaps you'll see.

The casting is multi-racial. Ivan Dixon (of Hogan's Heroes fame) plays one of the new geniuses, and three of the children are also black. TV during the 60s was doing its part to integrate America (indeed, as radio had done before it).

Sand Rock Sentinel now on Twitter

I'm trying an experiment with Twitter. I'll be using it in "real-time" to tell the story of the movie Them!, from the 1950s, and, simultaneously, the complete ouvre of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, starting with 11 Days to Zero.

My hope is that people who see the tweets will be intrigued to visit my website, The Thunder Child, as well as check out these classic movies and TV series on DVD. Today there's so much garbage on don't have any role models to look up - at least, not any good ones. may not work, as the illusion of things happening in real time is destroyed somewhat by my having to put the dates of each event. However, right now I'm just setting the background - nuclear testing in Nevada, Admiral Nelson's Seaview ready for sea trials, and in another few days I'll start dealin eith the movie/episodes proper.

So we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Check out The Face and the Voice

This blog must return to its regularly scehduled programming, which is talking about science and science fiction, so I'm moving my musings on my favorite actors to a new blog, The Face and the Voice.

That's where I'll be sharing my musings on acting styles, alerts on when certain episodes are coming up on TV, and stuff like that there.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Holy Inept Interviewer!

Well, that may be a harsh judgement, but I'm a bit annoyed right now....

Sent off for a copy of Starlog 149, which had an interview with Yvonne Craig, who of course is most famous as Batgirl and as Marta in Steve Ihnat's episode of Star Trek, "Whom Gods Destroy."

Because let's face it, it was Ihnat's episode!

And so I was hoping, and indeed, expecting, that Ms. Craig would talk about him in her interview. But although the interviewer asks her about Nimoy, and Shatner, not word one about Ihnat, who killed her, after all!

I'd really like to know if the interviewer just didn't think to ask her this very important question, or if her comments were edited out for space but either way it's most annoying. According to Tom Weaver (Starlog interviewer extraordinaire), in her biography Ms Craig calls Ihnat a "dear friend," so you'd think shed have shared something about him in that interview!

However, she does reveal some of the background of the making of the episode, so I'll be able to use that in the article I'm writing. Neverthless, it's disappointing.

Also received my copy of Strike Me Deadly today. A low budget film made by Ihnat with friend Gary Clarke, written by Ihnat and director/producer Ted Miklos. It's kind of fun, for all that I've got the sound turned off and am just watching the action out of the corner of my eye while I work on my computer.

Actually, on my left hand side I've got Strike Me Deadly going on my laptop, on my right hand side I've got Ghost Town with Ricky Gervais going on my regular TV set with DVD player, and in the middle I've got my computer where I really should be doing some "real" work for one of my clients, instead of the work I want to do, which is on my THunder Child webzine...

I'll procrastinate for 10 more minutes and then get to work...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BBC Radio

Before the Screaming Begins
Episode 2
6 days left to listen
2/3. Alien abductee Tom Harris is removed to protective custody.
Author Wally K Daly

I am Legend
Episode 2
6 days left to listen
2/9. Earth's last living man discovers his wife's tomb is a lair for vampires.

Who is Wally K Daly, you might be asking yourself:

From Wikipedia:

As well as some minor acting roles include Z Cars, his writing credits include Juliet Bravo, Casualty and Byker Grove. He also wrote the 1984 radio series Anything Legal featuring Donald Hewlett and Michael Knowles.

Before the Screaming Begins, the first part of a science fiction trilogy in 3 thirty minute episodes for BBC Radio. It featured James Laurenson, Donald Hewlett and Patrick Troughton. Part two was entitled The Silent Scream. It too featured James Laurenson and Donald Hewlett and also Hannah Gordon. Originally broadcast as a 90 minute play in 1979, it was rebroadcast in March and December 2008 as 3 thirty minute episodes made from an off air recording by Wally K. Daly as the original mastertape had been lost.

The third part was entitled With a Whimper to the Grave. John Shrapnel replaced James Laurenson and Maureen O'Brien replaced Hannah Gordon. It also featured Donald Hewlett, Angela Thorne, Patrick Troughton and Timothy West. As with the first two parts it was rebroadcast on BBC Radio 7 in March and December 2008 in 3 thirty minute episodes made from an off air cassette recording by Wally K. Daly.

The Mind of Stefan Miklos

It's very annoying... they've got Ironside episodes up on the IMBD (hosted at Hulu), but no Mission Impossible and not enough Perry Masons...

Amazon Unbox, where you can purchase single episodes, also doesn't let you get singles of Mission Impossible, Or Gunsmoke, or Bonanza...or any of the other shows I really, really need, like Then Came Bronson!

Anyway, here's a brief 1.47 second clip of Steve Ihnat as Stefan Miklos in The Mind of Stefan Miklos episode of Mission Impossible.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Whom Gods Destroy...

I've written a piece of fiction on the history of Garth of Izar, as played by Steve Ihnat in the Star Trek third season episode "Whom Gods Destroy" can be downloaded for free at: The Madness of Garth of IZar

Added a new page of screencaps... a very young looking Steve from the movie Date Bait. He's only got two scenes, opposite Gary Clarke, the star of the film.
Date Bait

And I'll end with an appeal to my readers. Anyone who is a fan of Steve Ihnat, who wants to share any reminiscences or opinions on episodes or whatever, get in touch. Even if you're not a fan, but come across his name in a book somewhere (as it might be, when reading a bio of Robert Duvall or somebody), share that tidbit with me so I can follow up on it.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Daniel Boone added to Steve Ihnat site

Daniel Boone ran for 4 seasons, and starred Fess Parker as Boone, Patricia Blair as his wife Rebecca, and Ed Ames as Mingo.

In this particular episode, Boone and wife are heading out via carriage for a honeymoon, when a courier comes to Boone asking for help. He is shot (by you know who) before he can say much. Boone leaves his wife behind and rides for New Orleans. You know who, and his co-hort, befriend Mrs. Boone and travel with her.

In New Orleans, you-know-who is to kidnap Mrs. Boone, to make Daniel do as they want. (When Daniel is told of this by chief baddy, played by Alan Napier, he asks, you only sent one man? and when he receives an affirmative, he is not worried at all.)

At first Steve pretends that Daniel has an accident and wants her to come, but Rebecca is too smart for him. Then Steve just orders her to come along. Rebecca pulls out a gun, but Steve looks at her with amused condescension. He doesn't believe she'll have the nerve to pull the trigger.

She does.

Monday SF at BBC Radio 7

First of 3 parts of Wally K Davy's:
Before the Screaming Begins
Episode 1
1/3. A wedding anniversary celebration is interrupted by an alien invasion.


I am Legend
Episode 1
1/9. Earth's last living man takes on hordes of plague-infected vampires. Read by Angus McInnes

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds: Thunderchild

H. G. Wells describes the sacrifice of the ironclad warship Thunder Child in his book, The War of the Worlds.

A refugee ship is trying to get to the other side of the English channel when a Martian tripod goes after it. The Thunder Child rams the tripod and destroys it, thereby allowing the refugee escape to ship. But another tripod destroys the Thunder Child.

This song, from Jeff Wayne's version of the War of the Worlds, hardly does the subject justice.

There are a couple of versions of this at Youtube, this is the one that seems to be part of the theatrical version, with narration by Richard Burton, instead of a more techno version that is also available there.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Alias Smith and Jones

Finished the screencap page for Steve Ihnat's episode of Alias Smith and Jones, called "Stagecoach 7".

Rather disappointing, as Steve wasn't given very much to do. One wonders if the script was re-worked mid-shoot, because he even disappears halfway through the episode!

This show of course starred Ben Murphy as Kid Curry, and Pete Deuel as Hannibal Hayes. In this episode, there was also Dana Elcar and Keenan Wynn.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Happy Birthday, Steve Ihnat

Today, August 7, 2009, would have been Steve Ihnat's 75th birthday. He died 37 years ago, just a few months short of his 38th birthday, of a heart attack.

As I've blogged a couple of times in the last few days, I had been a fan of his growing up in the 70s. (Yes, his star turns were from the late 1960s, but the shows were all in syndication in the 70s.)

Then, for various and sundry reasons I'd forgotten about him, until I decided to finally watch my Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea DVDs that I'd had for over a year. And they're double-sided, and I accidently put disc 1 in upside down, so my first choice was "The Price of Doom." Even though I like to watch things chronologically, I decided not to correct my mistake, and so just watched the show.

And as the teaser unfolded, with this rather young, handsome scientist in the Antarctic making experiments with some plankton, I thought to myself, this guy looks awfully familiar. I know I've seen him somewhere before. And after the chilling scene ended - his wife was cut off from him by a cluster of man-eating plankton, and he bravely dives into it in an effort to get to her, but fails - I looked it up on the IMDB and it was Steve Ihnat!

Even in that brief scene his talent and charm had shown through, and my interest was kindled once more. The IMDB has 5 of his episodes available for viewing, including Star Trek: Whom Gods Destroy in which he gives a bravura performance as Garth of Izar, and a total change of pace from his deadly serious dramas as St Ben Roberts in I Dream of Jeannie. And there are a few clips of him at YouTube. And of course, TV series on which he guest-starred are available from, including The Outer Limits: The Inheritors which you can buy separately for $1.99 each from Video on Demand.

So I decided that for what should have been his 75th birthday, I'd put together a website for him. It's still in progress. Although I have added to his biography with snippets from Tom Weaver's interview with Steve's best friend, Gary Clarke, and added some other tidbits such as the fact that he had roomed with Dustin Hoffman whlie going to acting class, it is still incomplete, and I'll be working on it in the coming months.

However, there's enough there for people to enjoy, from biography to screencaps to a chronological listing of all his credits.

And here is a Desktop photo of Steve as Garth of Izar. It should space nicely for most computers.

Rest in peace, Steve Ihnat.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Comedy Reveals Acting Skills

I'm still on my Steve Ihnat kick...

And to that end I've been enjoying watching his I Dream Of Jeannie episode, My Master the Rain Maker.

(As an aside...gag me with a spoon! I know I used to watch this show when I was a kid, and I must have liked it, but the male chauvanism rampant in it just makes me want to strangle the actors today. However, that's a rant for another time and place.)

Anyway, I would have to say that 99.9% of Steve Ihnat's roles were in drama. He'd only been guest-star in about 22 TV series before 1966 (plus a couple of movies) when he did I Dream of Jeannie, but each of those was a drama and in probably 90% of those he was the cold-hearted villain.

So I'd really, really like to know how he went about landing the role of Sgt Ben Roberts in this episode of I Dream Of Jeannie. Why would anyone have offered a serious, "villainous" actor such a role? Was it his choice, to show that he could play comedy as well, or did he do it as a favor for a friend when the original actor dropped out, or what?

The episode is rather a silly one. Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman) is supposed to take Jeannie (Barbara Eden) on a picnic. But it's raining. So, she blinks her head and stops the rain. After a bit of conversation with her Master, she makes it snow, but just over their house - and the psychiatrist, Dr. Bellows, shows up at this time. He goes around the base telling people that Tony can control the weather.

Sgt Ben Roberts, played by Steve Ihnat, comes in to Tony's office, very diffidently. His whole persona is that of a diffident, good ol' country boy (he's from Alabama). He has a brother who has a farm, and because of a draught the crops are all withering away. So he wants Tony to make it rain. Tony of course can't. But Jeannie can.

So, some time later, Ihnat returns to Tony's office, happy because it's started raining. And he gives Tony some crops, and the people of the town give Tony some crops.

Then, some time later (but only a minute in screen time) Ihnat returns, begging Tony to stop making it rain because the streets of the small town have turned to rivers and his brother's barn floated away that morning. Dr. Bellows overhears this, and tells the two men to come to his office in ten minutes. He has General Peterson there.

Ihnat says he can't prove Tony can make it rain but it was sure raining in Alabama. He is standing at attention with his head bent forward, and seems rather to be channeling Gomer Pyle (though he is never as stupid as Pyle was!). After he answers General Peterson's question he does this funny thing with his neck - difficult to describe, but amusing to watch - because he knows Tony's in trouble, and exits. Then of course, Bellows demands Tony make it snow, Tony can't, the General shakes his head and tells Bellows to go away for a long rest.

Final scene, Ihnat goes to Tony's home this time, and says that the lake that used to be his brother's farm is now full of trout, and bass, and catfish and his brother and his friends are renting out cabins to tourists and getting rich.

So yes, a very slight episode - but after all, it's a sitcom - but it gives Ihnat a chance to play a happy guy, and smile in a friendly fashion (as opposed to an evil fashion) alot, and just be a regular guy, and because of that it's fun to watch.

Other videos available at the IMDB are his episode of Alias Smith & Jones, "Stagecoach Seven" in which he plays an unpleasant passenger. A supporting villain, not the lead guest star or the lead villain. Also is his episode of To Catch A Thief, "Turnabout" in which he plays a Russian guard, and he is the villian in this one, though of course he's only doing his job as head of a security facility which contains something that Al Mundy's boss has to steal (Al having broken his ankle). Not sure how accurate Ihnat's Alabaman accent was, though he did have some kind of Southern accent!, but he does a good foreign accent - though not a real Russian accent. (I'm sure he could do one, but back in the 70s they probably thought the average audience wouldn't be able to easily understand a Russian accent).

The Big Valley has his ep, "Teacher of Outlaws," another one where he was not the main villain, but a supporting villain under him, although it is only he and the lead villain at the end.

And of course, there is his Star Trek episode, Whom Gods Destroy.

There is also a trailer for a movie called Strike Me Deadly, and this was a movie role when Ihnat first started his acting career, he plays the husband of a wife who is cheating on him, and he sets out in the wilderness to track them down and shoot them. All the trailer is is scenes of the man he's chasing running, running through a path in the woods, and a young, fit-looking Ihnat chasing after him carrying a rifle.

THere's also a trailer for Madigan, in which Ihnat seems to have a small role as a villain. He seems to lose it after Madigan (Richard WIdmark) and an associate break into his apartmetn room while he is having sex with a woman. He gets the drop on them and manages to escape.

It's fun to watch these things, for nostalgia's sake if nothing else. I remember how young I was back in the 1970s, and all my hopes, dreams and aspirations.... then the show is over and I'm back to today.... but that's a post for another time, too!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Steve Ihnat on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

The Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea made its debut in 1964. Its first season was geared for adults, and focused on Cold War themes, with the occasional science fiction episode thrown in. The first "monster" episode was "The Price of Doom", the fifth episode of the season.

A husband and wife scientific team in Antarctica find a new strain of plankton, only to find that stimulated by extra heat, it grows and grows until it eats every human in its the scientists. When the Seaview comes on the scene, they take up the plankton and bring it aboard... with disasterous results.

I was 7 years old in 1969, so I'm pretty sure I didn't see the first run of Star Trek. However, the networks must have started showing reruns almost immediately, because by the time I was ten I must have seen it...and had a crush on Captain Kirk... one day I saw Whom the Gods destroy, which starred Steve Ihnat as Garth of Izar....and thought he was pretty cool too!

Since then I tried to keep track of Ihnat's appearances...he did appear on most of the shows I watched as a teen, Mission Impossible and Mannix and so on...but since I didnt' watch Westerns I probably missed out on a few shows.

And I didn't know he'd been in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea until just a couple of days ago. Although I've had the first season DVDs for a couple of years, I've never had time to watch them until just now. Put in The Price of Doom, and the scientist who appeared in the Antarctic base looked awfully familiar...I looked the episode up at the IMDB and low and behold it was Steve Ihnat!

Unfortunately he had only a brief cameo - he dies, as does his wife, played by Pat Priest, more famous as Marilyn Munster.