What Was Found

Well, there we go. Ten years of Greatsociety. Archived articles, retrospectives from our Confederate dead, an intensely insular nerdgasm about the 20 best sci-fi films, and now we’re in the home stretch.

I didn’t have anything in mind for this week, really. The days were held in reserve for proposed retrospectives and continuing top 20 sci-fi arguments that didn’t quite materialize, so then I figured I’d just end the anniversary month quietly.

One thing that came up, as retrospectives were being discussed and we were all traipsing around in the archives – the most recent of which can be found here in the GS Tomb – was the dated nature of many of the articles. How have things changed over the years? And I landed on the 2003 article What Was Lost, where I pined for DVD releases of obscure childhood shows.

There are still missing shows even further behind the curtain of lost culture – I’m looking now for Voyagers! and Misfits of Science — but I’ve ended my search for those series with the knowledge that they, too, will soon be released.

Voyagers!, indeed, has been released. Certainly not as watchable and entertaining as I remembered it being when I was seven! Misfits of Science, though, remains elusive. In 2008, it was released in Germany in a boxset that included an unaired episode, but hasn’t made it to Region One yet. If I were ambitious, I’d spend the small amount of money needed to get a DVD player that could handle multi-region discs… But I don’t even own a TV, and I download everything these days anyway. Between Netflix and piracy, stepping down to actually purchase a DVD feels like some sort of quaint, country custom. Put the axe handle under the bed, hang the eggs from the trees, spin three times widdershins, and make that DVD order!

These final missing links are: The softcore flick Young Lady Chatterley starring Harlee McBride, and the sequel with Adam West;  Michael Pataki’s softcore version of Cinderella with Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith; a 15 minute animation sequence set to Ravel’s Bolero that, until recently, was unnamed; a short lived Britcom series titled Phil & Arthur Go Off.

Young Lady Chatterley has seen intermittent DVD releases since, and I did grab a copy, and an old VHS rip of part two – soft core porn with Adam West! – off of a torrent site. Cinderella is, also, available as a weird VHS rip. But it’s a movie that demands a proper release, if only for the Snapping Pussy song. The songs get a nice mention here.

Phil and Arthur Go Off is also something I’ve been hunting down for, oh, 26 years now. Talk about seeking a mythical white stag, eh?

When it comes to white stags, I had thought, so many years later, that the one thing I would never get my hands on would be the animated short that was only ever aired as filler in between late night movies on The Movie Channel (TMC).

… I found myself landing on TMC fairly often.  The channel’s overall taste in movies synced up with what I was looking for.  They insisted on showing films on the hour, though, so they seemed to have an exhaustive library of weird filler to round out the time between movies.
A mesmerizing animated short popped up every month or so.  It not only turned me onto classical music, but it was a mystery.  It was never named, never explained.  My search for it began back there in the 80’s and not until this year did I actually find the source.  In the short, a coke bottle thrown from a spaceship lands in a pool of muck, sparking an evolutionary march across a wild and surreal landscape that starts with slime and ends with the horrors of apocalyptic humanity as a complete version of Bolero rises and, then, pounds along. Strange creatures, constantly marching forward, morph into others along an imaginary evolutionary chain, always haunted by a monkey who swings from back to back, tree to tree, ever observant until it’s his turn to brutally take control. It’s pulse-pounding and mesmerizing.
It’s from Allegro Non Troppo

I’ve since gotten my hands on the full version of Allegro Non Troppo, and it’s generally disappointing. Why just one 15 minute section had been hacked out, and why it was played randomly on TMC without introduction or credits, will remain one of early cable TV’s mysteries, I suppose.

I miss those simple days, though. Where you had only a handful of channels, and that was okay. You stumbled across weird things naturally, surfing through the four, or six, or, if you were well off, 30 or so channels. That’s how I discovered Space: 1999, repackaged in 79 and 80 into a series of TV movies. That’s how I stumbled across Doctor Who, late at night on PBS, and Arthur and Phil on A&E in a slot TV Guide labelled only as  “local programming.” In short order, “Local Programming” on cable channels became something for me to keep an eye on. You never knew what you’d run across.

And, after some Andy Sidaris movie finished at 10:40pm on a Saturday night and while you waited for the next flick to start at 11pm, they’d shoehorn in some weird animated short into the slot. A childhood mind rotted by the Sidaris movie that just aired suddenly taught a love for classical music and weird apocalyptic allegory.

So… Instead of hunting these things down, since I’m sure you haven’t heard of some of them, I’ll give you the same experience I had as a child. Late at night, in front of Greatsociety…and here comes this weird shit thrown up just for the sake of filler.