September 8th, 2005

krazy koati

Step right up, you won't believe your eyes

I'm a bit curious that except on I haven't seen mention of Bob Denver's other great role, or at least the role that comes up ... second, anyway ... when I think of him. Yeah, I watched a lot of Gilligan's Island growing up and don't mind it yet, but I really got fascinated early on by the Sid and Marty Krofft shows. At least the more science fiction shows, Land of the Lost and Far-Out Space Nuts. Bob Denver was in the latter, admittedly rather comic-by-intention show, but still ... guys in a spaceship, going around to different planets. Of course I'd love this show.

Although ... it really bugged me, when I was six, that Bob Denver as Junior, and Chuck McCann as Barney, were flying around in a Lunar Module. I knew quite well that it couldn't land on a planet with an atmosphere, and wouldn't have enough fuel to land on a planet with gravity like Earth's, and it couldn't -- as depicted -- take off again. Not with the descent stage attached. Plus, with the rocket capacities available flying from one star system to another would take tens of thousands of years. And the module interior was far too big. Plus there was the careless mixing of Saturn V and Saturn I-B footage of liftoff (a weirdly chronic problem; it even plagued HBO's From the Earth To The Moon, for crying out loud).

I also noticed one episode where (for reasons too intricate to explain) they're riding in their off-model lunar rover, following computer-voice directions that got stuck in a loop, telling them to turn 45 degrees right ... which they do ... and turn 45 degrees right ... which they do ... and turn 45 degrees right ... which they do ... and so on; after six times of this Barney notices they've made a complete circle. I noticed that wasn't so, and while I accepted it for the sake of the plot point/joke, I noted that as something else they got wrong. More irritating to me was -- I believe that same episode -- Barney and Junior's Lunar Module was stolen, but they had access to a device that could make a duplicate of anything, and they have a picture of the spaceship on hand, so give it to the duplicating device and say they want a big one. They got a giant picture of the Lunar Module, to their dismay. I wondered what the characters thought they were going to get from it.

So really, that would have to mark the beginnings of my technical fandom, watching a show lovingly and yet tearing it to pieces over factual errors and plot holes. And Bob Denver and Chuck McCann taught me an important lesson, that I was smarter than at least some of the people on TV. And, well, thanks, Bob. It was a lot of fun.

Trivia: On 26 May 1978 John F Yardley, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Transportation Systems, recommended the name Enterprise be given also to Orbiter Vehicle 105, if it were ever built, carrying on the name given OV-101 which would not fly into space. Source: Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions, Dennis R Jenkins.

Currently Reading: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, Barbara W Tuchman.