Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Preoccupied with 1985


One of the endlessly entertaining aspects of the Internet is that, no matter how obscure your interests, someone else probably shares them. For some reason, I found myself thinking of a short-lived sci-fi TV show a few days ago, called Otherworld. In the show, pitched as a "Lost in Space" on earth, the Sterling family (pictured above) accidentally passes through a portal in the Great Pyramid of Giza into an alternate dimension version of earth. Although the show only ran for 8 episodes in 1985, it turns out there's a fan site, OtherWorldonline.org, where you can watch all eight episodes online. I've been re-watching them this week. A couple of cultural/historical notes about the show:

- The actor who played the Sterling's teenage son, Tony O’Dell, was born Anthony Dell'Aquila. Interesting that he'd change his name to an Irish one, rather than something more generic (why not just "Dell"?).

- The show's second episode, "The Zone Troopers Build Men", reminded me of John Kerry's faux pas about how if you don't do well in school, "you end up in Iraq". In this episode, the character played by Tony O'Dell, Trace Sterling, gets automatically drafted into the Zone Troopers, the alternate dimension's state trooper-like paramilitary organization, when he slacks off in high school and his grades start dropping. Perhaps this episode's writers shared Kerry's attitude toward the military. There were a couple more interesting footnotes about this episode.

- The second episode guest starred the late Mark Lenard, the actor perhaps best known for portraying Spock's father Sarek in various Star Trek episodes and movies.

- Even though a rudimentary idea of Internet hacking was introduced into pop culture by the early 1980s in movies such as Tron (1982) and War Games (1983) (although the term "Internet" wasn't), the second episode of Otherworld takes a more primitive approach. When Trace Sterling's parents want to find out the terms of his enlistment in the Zone Troopers, rather than hacking into the Zone Troopers' computer system remotely, they break in and steal the Zone Troopers' computer.

Below is the title/credit sequence for the show, which summarizes its premise.

4 comments:

Dark Night said...

Hey, Hackensack: nobody cared about this show when it was on. No one cares about it now. How about a post on another show from the eighties? Maybe you can explain the intricacies of Charles in Charge? Compare and contrast it with Mr. Belvedere maybe.

DaveinHackensack said...

That was pretty funny, actually. You ought to start your own blog.

scottstev said...

I totally remember that show and that episode. They trained on these cheesy ultralight plane thingys. Then for graduation they had to actually attack a rebel village.

I was about 9 or 10 at the time. I can't imagine a TV show geared to my tastes doing very well considering my limited spending power at the time.

DaveinHackensack said...

That's right: the ultralights were called "Vampires", and right after graduation -- with their families sitting in the stands, watching on a Jumbotron -- the new Zone Troopers had to mow down some rebels. Great episode.