We celebrate the work of TV producer Glen A. Larson who sadly passed away last weekend.
It came as sad news over the weekend to hear of the death of Glen A. Larson, a TV producer who brought some of the greats we grew up on, and our thoughts go out to his family at this time
Credited with a prolific list of TV classics, Larson, in a long serving writing and producing career on the small screen has left us with a body of works rich with Iconic TV - that despite at times generated some criticism - will remain in the hearts and minds of fans for years to come.
In celebration of Larson’s work we share some of the shows that entertained us during our formative years that deserve to be remembered.
Not all Larson’s shows were enduring hits. the short lived series Manimal, may not be Larson’s most familiar, but we remember it well. Before Transformers, the shape-shifting robots of Cybertron took the world by storm Simon MacCorkindale was shape-shifting into animals, (a common one being the black panther) which involved a lot of knuckle clenching and slow-mo special effects cut into stock footage of animals. By today’s standards, really bad, but at the time inspiring, this show had something of the Hulk, but the main guy can turn into a selection of different creatures to overcome the current situational problem. Can you remember pretending to turn into a panther in the playground? We can.
This series is brought up as one of the shows that caused some to criticise Larson as a producer of TV ‘knock-offs’ of films - In this case the original Tron movie. At the risk of playing devils advocate, I think it was Steven Berkoff who once described TV as the ‘guts’ of the arts and just as with games and movies, when something is successful there will always be imitators, art dosen’t exist in a vacuum after all. Looking back at Automan we’re immediately reminded of that 1980s futurist vision that had a naive yet wide-eyed hopefulness of how computers (in those days ones that required a garage to house them) were going to change our world. Check out the opening, it’s laughable now, but again as kids growing up this was a show that inspired us to get into computers and learn more meaty stuff than how you program a turtle to draw a square with a BBC B.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Again the ‘lit by disco ball’ sci-fi vision of Buck Rogers wasn’t massively original as the series was simply a remake of the original comic book and film serial character. But the show again provided an inspiring futurist vision, this time one inhabited by some of TV’s most Iconic robots in the shape of Twiki and his more mentally-able yet immobile Flavor Flav-style medallion Dr. Theopolis. As soon as the synth toms bring in the main theme in the opening credits we’re taken back to memories of halcyon days. Hit this link to get an idea of what we’re talking about.
Ok, so you can argue the even tones of KITT are reminiscent of HAL from 2001, but what a show this was. David Hasselhoff with 80s footballer perm and short cut leather jacket doing numerous stunt jumps in a Pontiac Trans-Am endowed with super-intelligent AI. One of the 1980s most Iconic TV cars racing around to one of the 1980s most memorable theme tunes, ‘in a world of criminals that operate above the law’ this is quintessential 80s - check it out.
Larson created the original Battlestar and had consulting production rights on the remakes in the early 2000s which were really well done inward and political reimaginings of the more gung-ho originals. Enter the Cylons, curiously similarly adorned with the to and fro of red lights that KITT had, but nonetheless pretty nasty robots -subverting the subservient nature of human ingenuity to become mankind’s own relentless nemesis. The Cylons are up there with Daleks and Cybermen as technological bad guys we need to be wary of, but with the glitz and shimmer of US shows that made the old 80s Doctor Who episodes look low-rent by comparison (which they pretty much were)
Larson’s works extend well beyond the realms of sci-fi. As well as the shows we’ve mentioned above and his executive production duties on The Six Million Dollar Man TV movies, Larson’s name is attached to many more greats: Quincy, Magnum P.I. The Fall Guy, B. J. and the Bear, Alias Smith and Jones and many many more.
Which of the shows Glen A. Larson had a hand in are your personal faves?