A look at shows from the past that may not have stood the test of time and/or that are relegated to their era, but many of us still have fond memories of them.
What Is It? This television reboot of the 1976 feature film follows two people fleeing from a society where the population is put to death at the age of thirty. Logan 5 and Jessica 6 escape from the domed city where they have lived most of their lives and search for a mythical place called “Sanctuary”. The city elders, who rule the domes without the knowledge of the younger people, send Francis 7 to bring back Logan and Jessica, promising him a place on their council and the chance to live past 30 if he succeeds.
Aired: CBS, 1977-78, 1 Season Totaling 14 Episodes
Starring: Gregory Harrison, Heather Menzies, Donald Moffat, Randy Powell
Developed By: William F. Nolan, D.C. Fontana
Is it Must-Watch Sci Fi TV? No. It may be worth a look to those nostalgic for some 70’s high-gloss cheesiness or Logan’s Run completists, but otherwise it is only a curio from a past era.
The Skinny: Back in 1976, Logan’s Run became a bit of a phenomenon, especially among the sci fi community. The 1967 novel was already well-regarded and the film that came out in the Summer of 76 proved to be a box office hit. That led to sequels to the original book, a comic book series, and a television show. Unfortunately, each iteration delivered diminishing returns and the television series seemed to be the last gasp for the franchise. It changed the story from the book (where people only lived to the age of 21) and the movie and pretty quickly turned into formulaic sci fi. Logan and Jessica team up with an android and conveniently find an all-terrain hovercraft which carries them to a new society each week living on this post-apocalyptic (though very well groomed) Earth.
The premise itself was not necessarily bad, but it really had very little to do with the source material and the show never really did much with the society-of-the-week format. The stories seemed mostly copy-and-paste and/or dumbed down by the network at a time when challenging television was definitely not championed by TV execs. The main characters acted like they were Starfleet officers because that’s what you expected from sci fi shows at that time. In addition, their perfect clothes and perfect hair fit very much with that image-conscious decade, but seemed rather out of place in a post-apocalyptic world. There were a few decent episodes (most notably Harlan Ellison’s contribution “Crypt”), but even the best eps had a hard time surviving the network over site which pushed most shows on the schedule towards blandness. Fans of the franchise may want to check this one out as a curiosity, but it is much more a piece of nostalgia from its era than a hidden gem.
Cancelled Too Soon? Yes. As with most genre shows during the 70’s, especially those that went heavy on the sci fi look and feel, this one was quickly cancelled by its network. After a decent debut ratings-wise, the curious onlookers bailed from the show as Logan-mania was fading with a little film known as Star Wars having captured the interest of the sci fi community. Logan’s Run could not compete with the highly-rated Little House on the Prairie which it aired against, and it didn’t help that the network frequently preempted the show. It ran for fourteen episodes before the network gave it the ax, and the Logan’s Run phenomenon died out shortly after.
Should It Be Rebooted? A big screen reboot of the franchise has been in the works for a while, and that is really where it belongs. This TV series basically just pasted a formulaic sci fi premise onto a well-known brand and the two did not mix well.
Interesting Fact: Star Trek’s D.C. Fontana wrote for and served as executive producer on Logan’s Run. The season before it debuted, a show called The Fantastic Journey aired on NBC, and Fontana worked on that one as well. It had a similar premise with a group of people encountering a different society each week, though they were traveling through different timezones in the Bermuda Triangle. That show was cancelled after ten episodes, and Fontana along with several others from the creative staff moved over to start working on Logan’s Run.
Where Can You Watch It? The entire series has been released on DVD from Amazon, though it is out of print and you are at the mercy of Amazon Sellers. You can also purchase it on VOD from Amazon which is the more affordable option.