Original Aired: 1977 – 78
One Seasons: 14 episodes
Available on: Tubi
Far into the future, after the nuclear holocaust, an underground city known as the City of Domes thrives. Its inhabitants, young and innocent, live peacefully and without a care in the world. Each of their whims is cared for. A simply perfect society with one caveat, at the age of 30, each citizen must enter Carousel. Carousel is a spectatorial event celebrating death and rebirth, a time of renewal. Citizens enter Carousel to die so new life can be born. But some citizens don’t believe in renewal and try to escape to a place called Sanctuary. These dissidents are known as runners, and it is the Sandman’s (law enforcement) job to chase and terminate them. One such Sandman dared question the order of things and became a runner himself. This is the story of Logan 5, played by Gregory Harrison, and his campaign runner Jessica 6, played by Heather Menzies.
The TV show is based on the movie Logan’s Run. The TV show differs significantly from the film. The same characters are present, but the story is different. The first episode uses recycled footage from the movie. Logan 5 and his Sandman friend Francis 7, played by Randy Powell, are watching Carousel. They watch as those in Carousel slowly rise into the air. Each Carousel goer glows orange and crystalizes before disappearing upon reaching the top. In the film, Carousel’s participants explode in a shower of sparks. The change was obviously made to appease the TV censors to reduce the violence in the show.
While Logan and Francis are watching Carousel, Logan questions the very nature of Carousel, despite being brought up in Sandman Training from his childhood. Francis scolds Logan for having such thoughts as the two receive a report of a runner in their area. Logan and Francis track the runner but get separated. Logan finds the runner who is with Jessica 6. Jessica and the runner convince Logan that Sanctuary is a real place as Francis arrives and kills the runner. Logan turns on Francis and knocks him unconscious while he and Jessica escape the City of Domes.
Francis is keen on going after the pair when ordered to go to White Quadrant One. Upon reaching White Quadrant One, Francis learns the truth of everything. White Quadrant One is home to the council of elders, the city’s rulers. They are well past the age of 30. Francis is shocked. The council agrees to give Francis a seat on the council if he can bring back Logan 5 and Jessica 6. Francis is given the authority to take a few Sandman with him to pursue.
Right off the bat, the story is very different from the movie. The film is set in 2274, while the TV show is set in 2319. In the film, Logan is given a mission by Central Computer, the city’s main governing body, to find Sanctuary and terminate all the unaccounted runners. In the TV show, the city is ruled by a council of elders. Missing from the show is life clocks. No one has a life clock in their palm to alert them to attend Carousel. It was possibly omitted due to budgetary cuts, but as the majority of the show was about exploring outside life, life clocks don’t have much use.
Once outside, Logan and Jessica travel by foot, finding the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Inside, the two locate a solar-powered hovercraft they use throughout the series to get to different communities. Upon discovering the craft, they are confronted by Francis and a couple of Sandman but manage to escape. This theme is repeated over and over throughout the series. It seems to be a common trope of 70’s TV shows. Our protagonists are constantly on the run. Far enough ahead of their pursuers to have a short adventure before their antagonist catches up with them and attempts to capture them. This trope can be found in 70s shows like the Hulk and Battlestar Galactica.
In Logan and Jessica’s travels, they encounter a mountain city inhabited by androids. There they befriend REM, a friendly android played by Donald Muffet. REM is a repair android and decides to join the two in their search for Sanctuary. REM proves to be a beneficial character. He has knowledge and expertise far beyond the two and often is their savior in many difficult situations. The trio trudges the wastelands of the nuclear holocaust, looking for Sanctuary but never finding it. Instead, they come across a variety of strange human civilizations.
Of the 14 episodes, none really stand out as great. They are mediocre at best. Of the people the trio encounter, there are aliens collecting species from around the universe, a homicidal couple who enjoy hunting sentient prey, a young girl with mental power who falls in love with Logan, a time traveler who’s responsible for the holocaust, a society that physically separates good and evil within themselves, and so much more.
Episode 5, “Man out of Time,” I found the most interesting. A traveler from the past journeys into Logan’s time to locate a computer with the origins of the holocaust. The traveler intends to go back into the past and prevent the holocaust from happening. But in the end, his invention of time travel caused the escalation between nations that brought the destruction of society. With time travel possible, the government saw it as the ultimate weapon. A weapon that could kill a leader before they were even born.
The stories might not have been the best, but the show does have other entertainment value. I found the tech and wardrobe very amusing. For example, the headwear used in Episode 6, “Half Life,” is hilarious. They use clear plastic cones turned upside down to act as brims of a hat. Then in the second episode, the show’s version of digital books made me chuckle. Visual books are stored on 110mm film canisters and inserted into a white half-dome object. The Visual Book is viewed on a circular tv monitor. The image is literally an open book sitting on a busy tile background that is very 70s.
Sandman’s guns in the film had just one setting kill. A Sandman’s gun has three in the TV series: stun, blast, and kill. Each one is selected by twisting the barrel. On the “stun” setting, the target gets enveloped in a blue glow and is frozen in place. Some remain as they are frozen, while some fall over. Vehicles in the show are solar-powered and can not travel at night. The Sandmen have their own vehicles, which is odd for a society that is told the outside air is poisonous. Yet we see Sandman patrolling outside and even leaving their vehicles debunking that myth. One would expect more Sandmen to question the lies they are fed but we don’t.
Nevertheless, we see Sandman’s vehicle used to chase the trio and patrol outside the City of Domes. An interesting bit of trivia. A Sandman’s car is used in Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s 1983 music video “You Got Lucky.” It was seen driving up and away in the opening and at the end of the video.
No matter how many episodes or societies the trio encounters, they never seem to journey very far from home. In Episode 11, “Carousel,” Logan losses his memory and is returned to the City of Domes in what seems to take little time. We also see throughout new Sandman show up on the trio’s tail when only Francis and two others are permitted outside the city. In an age void of video recordings, writers could get away with inconsistencies like these.
I found a few surprising things in the TV show. In Episode 6, “Half Life,” one of the story’s main characters is played by a very young Kim Cattrall. D.C. Fontana of the Star Trek the Original Series fame worked on the show as a story editor and several other writers from that series. What I found most annoying was the theme song. It featured a repetitious musical siren with an orchestral arrangement. It sounded like they took Princess Leia’s Theme from a New Hope, sped it up, and discofied it. I think it is one of the worst theme songs ever.
For all its faults, Logan’s Run wasn’t as bad as some other sci-fi shows put out in the 70s. All the episodes are watchable and mildly entertaining. I didn’t recognize most actors and actresses, though a few were familiar. There is very little to cherry-pick from this series from a gaming perspective. The concept of having the player characters on the run with their adversary just far enough away for a short adventure before needing to continue on is the only aspect I could surmise to use. If you have time and are looking for something entertaining, check out Logan’s Run on Tubi while it is still available.
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4 Comments Add yours
A society were the ruling class doesn’t follow their own edicts? How absurd! : D
> “…a common trope of 70’s TV shows. Our protagonists are constantly on the run. Far enough ahead of their pursuers to have a short adventure before their antagonist catches up with them and attempts to capture them.”
I remember that! So many shows ran on that formula.
How were the post-apocalyptic visuals? Any cool wrecked cityscapes? Or just generic wilderness?
The visuals were pretty poor. The best-looking scenes were appropriated from the film. The sets were sparse like the Original Star Trek series (even used sound effects from the show). The show used a lot of dramatic lighting to fill the voids. I am not 100% sure where the outdoor scenes were filmed but the terrain looks a lot like where they filmed the Planet of the Apes TV show. I’m guessing it was Malibu Creek State Park but in a more desert-looking part of it. Definitely more barren than the green mountains seen in M.A.S.H.
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