If there’s anything I love more than a post-apocalyptic quest show based on a film, I’m not sure what it is. In fact, I have a whole treatment written up for a Xanadu-based TV series where two humans and a muse search through the wilds of Sun Valley, CA trying to find a way back to 1983 Santa Monica.
Until that gets made, however, I’ll indulge in my Retro Recaps, starting with one of my faves and an underrated gem … Logan’s Run.
Logan’s Run – Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot”
While I loved parts of the Logan’s Run film and loved the three novels, the bulk of the film underwhelmed me. I didn’t love Michael York or Jenny Agutter and I wanted way more of the City of Domes than I got. Also, the City shouldn’t have destroyed itself in a level of illogic that third season Captain Kirk could only aspire to.
The TV show I loved way more. First of all, Gregory Harrison. Second, Donald Moffat as REM. And third, I am a sucker for the “trio of people wander a post-apocalyptic landscape that looks suspiciously like Griffith Park and meet different tribes of societal commentary each week” trope.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of Logan’s Run, it’s classic. After a nuclear war, society lives in big domed cities. At age 21 (or 30 on TV), your life is over*. You have two options. Try for renewal (read “just plain die”) through a ceremony known as Carousel, or escape the City. Anyone who tries to escape Carousel and head for the legendary sanctuary known as … well, Sanctuary … is called a “runner.” The police who hunt and kill runners (eliminating them AND their chance at any mythical renewal) are called Sandmen. Logan-5**, a Sandman, falls in love with Jessica-6 and decides to run.
* No one explains why until people are just supposed to die until the TV show. Obvs, it’s resources. You can’t keep all these people in a domed city and let them have kids and everyone live to be 80. Food for thought, right-to-lifers.
** I loved the way no one had last names, just numbers. But in two hundred years of people living to 21 (or 30) he’s only the fifth Logan? Does not compute, as REM would say.
Let’s head for Sanctuary, shall we?
Using footage recycled from the film, we get right to the point. A voice-over intro during the credits gives us the briefest of glances of the domes and that gorgeous model of the city interior! Pointy buildings, a clear monorail tube and man-made lakes … I wonder how big that model was in real life.
Cut to Carousel. Logan and Francis (played with some delicious eeeevil by Lucy Ewing’s future beau, Randy Powell) watch and Logan makes some cursory attempt to question the way things are. The Carousel ceremony is toned down … floating people don’t burst into flame, they fade out in a crystally transporter effect.
A runner alert interrupts and the Sandmen go after this runner. As in the movie, Egyptian ankhs are the symbol for Sanctuary. Why not? Cultural appropriation isn’t going to stop any time soon.
Logan catches the runner with Jessica in front of this giant blinky thing that feels like it must be the Guardian of Forever’s irritating younger cousin, but is NOT a portal just a blinky wall. Disappointing.
Francis catches up to them and after the briefest debates over life, Carousel and everything, Francis shoots the runner and Logan clocks Francis.
I don’t know if Gregory Harrison’s Logan was just more decisive than Michael York, but it took 10 minutes for TV Logan and Jessica to get outdoors and Movie Logan took over an hour.
Francis is summoned to White Quadrant One, which is off limits and sounds like a place Trump voters should live. He meets the actual rulers of the City of Domes … a bunch of old white men (the lead councilor is played by the guy who will be Punk Anderson in Dallas!) called the Elders Who Control The City Of Domes. Francis is offered a place on the council if he brings Logan and Jessica back to prove to everyone there is no Sanctuary.
Now. Francis berated Logan for questioning things. Now he is straight-up confronted with a bunch of old white dudes (we are in White Quadrant One) proving his whole life is a lie … and he just says, “Yep. Let me go grab them for you.”
While the black Sandman uniforms with the quilted grey chest stripe remain a classic in my book (but in any reboot, will have the same webby UnderArmour patterning that Superman’s DCEU costume has for no reason at all), the Elders are all wearing the same vaguely military tunics, the head and secondary ones have striped sleeves. Why?
Outside, Jessica and Logan are trudging thru the desert and then find an oasis over a hilltop. Then it rains and they find they are near Capitol Hill. Global warming has not been kind to the Beltway. The discover a map of Washington from 2119 … so we only have 100 years left, people. Just saying.
Logan starts a campfire with his gun and as they sit back to bond, he realizes HE DOESN’T KNOW HER NAME. Sorry, if I am on the run from my former colleagues to a mythical destination outside the City of Domes where I spent my whole life with someone I’ve never met … I’m gonna ask a name first. What if it turned out her name was “Obvious Trap” or something?
And I’m not exactly clear on the time frame, but I think they’ve had HOURS together. Logan was NOT a good Sandman.
They wake up and discover a vehicle. It’s cool and can hover, but trust me, budget constraints will not show a lot of that. It has turbines and sliding doors and it’s solar-powered, so that’s helpful.
While Logan and Jessica flip switches, Francis and the two not-Frances are closing in. Logan uses his blaster (which I presume is NOT solar-powered) to blast open a wall to get the aircar out – and of course … Francis shows up. However, the three Sandmen are no match for a solar-powered aircar and Logan and Jessica get away and drive up what looks suspiciously like the Burbank side of Griffith Park. The steering on the air car does not look that stable, and I wouldn’t trust it after a light rainfall.
They search for an old fallout shelter before being attacked by laser-rifle blasting horsemen. Luckily, the people inside the shelter let Jessica and Logan in and we are about to meet our first Post-Apocalyptic Tribe of the Week.® A little girl with way too much blue lighting on her face leads them into a room full of people who take Logan’s gun. The oldest man in the room remembers other who looked for Sanctuary – but of course the eeeevil Riders have driven this tribe underground and now these fine pacifists can’t fend for themselves or know what’s happening outside.
Jessica recreates a ha-ha moment from the film, feeling Old Man’s wrinkles and asking if the cracks in his face “hurt.” Not as much as watching this scene does.
Francis keeps on tracking Logan while Jessica and Logan get a lesson in Pre-Rider history during dinner. The shelter people have sworn never to spill blood, so we can assume there’s no bacon on the table. However, Jessica’s maternal instincts are blossoming and she has to tell the little blue girl (now lit normally) how great the outside is.
Guess what? The little girl heads outside to get captured by the Riders! Didn’t see that coming. The underground folks trust Logan with his gun to go out and get the girl and Jessica, who’s also managed to get captured. Logan and his gun manage to lead a revolt and save everyone. Everything looks to end happy, but we have 24 minutes left and we haven’t met the third member of the main cast yet. Logan and Jessica head off and the Sandmen show up right after they leave as some ominous music plays.
After driving a while, the air car gets snagged by a strange ray. The Sanctuary-seekers are pulled up to a mountain and some exotic white-robed people tell them they are guests. This place is also NOT Sanctuary AND the white-winged – I mean white-robed woman’s name is Siri, so this opens up a whole bunch of questions about what Steve Jobs’ favorite TV show was as a kid.
They walk through the arena used in Ape City in the Planet of the Apes TV show, and I can only imagine there is a magical storage facility in Hollywood that still houses all these futuristic yet retro landscape pieces. I never saw it when I worked in Hollywood, but I will never give up hope. It’s probably all buried under a Griffith Park cavern.
The Mountain City people have no kids. They did once, now they don’t and there is no explanation, which is sure to be a plot point later. After Logan and Jessica (Lossica? Jogan?) freshen up, they’ll get to meet the Masters. The Masters rule the Mountain City and apparently have ALWAYS ruled it. So, there certainly won’t be any sudden upheaval in this society’s socio-political structure in the next 20 minutes, I’m sure.
FINALLY! Logan in the tub! Sure, we are all jaded with Henry Cavill in his Witcher-cuzzi, but in the 70s, Greg Evigan was prime beefcake. Jessica acts all shy, which feels at odds with the hypersexualized society we saw in the City of Domes.
Siri and Draco bring bath oil and talk about how the Masters “built this city” out of the mountain and I suddenly hear Starship singing “We Built This City.” They head up to the feast and when Bald Guy introduces the Masters, we are all SHOCKED, shocked, I tell you – that they are a bunch of hooded skeletons.
These people don’t understand what “death” means and now as Jess turns to leave, Siri stops her. Jessica pushes Siri down the stairs and we see … SHE’S a ROBOT! The others claim they want to serve Jess and Logan, though their first act is to gas the pair of them. The Yelp reviews for Mountain City’s customer service will not be kind.
They are back in their room and Jessica keeps calling it a city of “robutts” which makes me chuckle more than I should. Meanwhile, the robutts are coming to get the runners for dinner. Logan and Jessica escape through a hidden shaft and finally, meet REM, who’s working on fixing Siri.
REM reveals he is the caretaker of the robots and he too wants to leave. They head out, REM using his sonic pitchfork (well, screwdriver is copyrighted) to shut off the security system. Francis ambushes them and shoots REM in the leg. As Logan and Francis wage a philosophical debate, Draco and a squad of robutts head out and overpower Francis.
REM makes Draco head back inside and Logan and Jessica are shocked to see REM is also an artificial lifeform – the ultimate computer in human form. He’s surprised that Logan and Jessica stayed to help him, even though it doesn’t compute.
With one last look at the City of Domes, we see Francis has transceivered the Elders for help in getting out of the Mountain City. They send reinforcements so he can keep on tracking Logan and Jessica. The runners and REM head into an extremely dusty sunset.
See you next time for the next run to Sanctuary! (Insert the Logan’s Run pew-pew-pew theme music here!)