Classic 70's TV show, The Starlost
August 4, 2003 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Anybody remember that classic sci-fi TV show The Starlost? You're forgiven if you don't, since it barely lasted one season. Dreamed up by Harlan Ellison, he promptly disowned it when it failed to meet his expectations, but he had grand ideas: featuring writers such as Frank Herbert, Ursula Leguin, Philip K. Dick and others, with more help from Ben Bova, The Starlost was a virtual who's who of anything sci-fi. Read all about it in this exhaustive site. Now that your interest has been piqued, buy the series for only $60! I think it should be made into a movie, myself.
posted by ashbury (14 comments total)
The plot is reminiscent of the Robert Heinlein book "Orphans In the Sky". An interstellar ship, designed to travel for thousands of years with descendants of the original occupants hoping to populate a distant planet. With the passing of each generation, the existence of the world outside the ship becomes myth and religion and a holy war develops between the offspring of the crew and the offspring of the passengers. I hadn't heard of Starlost, thanks ashbury.
posted by erebora at 7:44 AM on August 4, 2003

So that's what it was called. I remember seeing a few episodes on CTV in the mid1980's, but all I knew was what the ship looked like (the souped up Valley Forge from Silent Running) and the Dr. Who-meets-Overdrawn at the Memory Bank production skills. As a youngling, I was intrigued by it, but it disappeared fast from the screen before I knew about the talent behind it. Thanks ashbury.
posted by myopicman at 7:51 AM on August 4, 2003

thanks ash, the bible for it is really interesting--i'd love to see one for each of my favorite shows...

I think i may vaguely remember this show, and that most of it took place in metal corridors (the tubes, i guess)...but then i also recall a kid with them, so maybe it was another show...
posted by amberglow at 7:53 AM on August 4, 2003

This impressed me as a kid for the massive use of first generation blue screening in place of sets (often noticeable around the edges), with minimum props. Much looked like it was shot on the set of the movie "Silent Running", starring Bruce Dern, including the giant spaceship itself.
Ironically, with so much writing talent around, the series died because of "lack of plot." It started out with a bang and all sorts of intriguing possibilities, then just petered out. It was like they thought that the set up was so good that you really didn't need a plot.

I especially loved the computer, activated by sitting in a chair, with a human head avatar. So many possibilities...
posted by kablam at 7:53 AM on August 4, 2003

Oh wow.. I've got the first episode novelization sitting around somewhere. Haven't thought about _that_ in a while..
posted by slipperywhenwet at 8:40 AM on August 4, 2003

Supposedly one of the best ways to make Harlan Ellison explode is to tell him how much you admired The Starlost.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:43 AM on August 4, 2003

Oh and BTW:

Your search - "Starlost Fanfic" - did not match any documents.

That seems especially sad, somehow.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:56 AM on August 4, 2003

"Starlost slash" gets 14 hits, but none of them seem to be Starlost slash.

Hard to believe. I thought everything had been slashed.

*goes back to reading Thomas the Tank Engine slash*
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:31 AM on August 4, 2003

If this kind of storyline interests you, try a revenge-flavored twist on the Earth-survivor-ship motif; Greg Bear's "Anvil of Stars" (sequel to "The Forge of God") in which "Eighty-two mortal exiles ride through space in the Ship of the Law, a ship constructed from the fragments of Earth's corpse, determined to punish those responsible for their planet's destruction." Bear is one of my favorite hard sci-fi authors, since my introduction with Eon and Blood Music -- which each also deal with the end of the world as we know it.
posted by Tubes at 10:20 AM on August 4, 2003

Supposedly one of the best ways to make Harlan Ellison explode is to tell him how much you admired The Starlost.

Ellison is the ultimate troll. Don't feed the Ellison.
posted by kahboom at 10:48 AM on August 4, 2003

Much looked like it was shot on the set of the movie "Silent Running", starring Bruce Dern, including the giant spaceship itself

Silent Running Didn't have many put-together sets, except for the forest domes. Most of it was filmed on the decommissioned Essex-class fleet aircraft carrier* Valley Forge, hence the name. It was dressed up and all, sure, but the structures were more-or-less as they found them.

*ie, it was one of the big boys from WW2
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:54 AM on August 4, 2003

Wow, and here I was thinking I was the only person who ever saw this show. Don't quite recall when the show aired (early - mid seventies?) but I was quite young. Nonetheless it was one of the shows that sparked my interest in sci-fi and prompted me to voraciously read everything by the aforementioned writers.

And it had Keir Dullea, a great name to drop when discussing hack B movie actors who had one great role!
posted by elendil71 at 1:31 PM on August 4, 2003

...and the sequel. When they did "2010", they hunted high and low for Keir, finally finding him doing, of all things, driving a taxi in Paris. Now that must have been an interesting conversation:

"Uh, say...aren't you Keir Dullea?"

"Oui, Monsieur."

"Er, are you still acting?"

"What? You're kidding, right?"

"No, we're doing a movie and we were hoping you might be interested in being in it."


"Yeah, a sequel to 2001!"

"YOU! OUTTA MY CAB! *&$(&&^#$!"

"No! Really! I have money! For you! For real!", etc.
posted by kablam at 8:27 PM on August 4, 2003

This was a great lost show and how it got only one season when Space: 1999 got so much more is absurd. Ellison can KMA. I do have a mouth, Harlan.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:15 PM on August 4, 2003

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