For better or for worse, I love the world of Logan’s Run. Oh I’ll be the first to admit that it is goofy and makes no sense, and in the ’76 movie Michael York clearly should have gone to carousel more than a few years ago … but hey, its fun, and I like the look and feel of it.
For those of you that don’t know, the ’76 film Logan’s Run (based verrrry losely on the 1967 novel of the same name) is about a futuristic society that lives in an underground domed city which has one rule: Life must end at 30. Young people are basically hedonists that go about their days having fun and shacking up with one another consequence free. A crystal imbedded in the palm identifies the age of the individual, and when that crystal turns black, the citizen must report to Carrousel where they are vaporized for the amusement of the public at large. There is an idea that if you go to Carrousel you will be “renewed” and get to live again, but some folks see that as a lie and decide to escape. Logan 5 is a “Sandman,” who hunts down “Runners” that try to escape Carrousel, and kills them. He is tasked to go undercover as a Runner and find a secret base where Runners escape to called “Sanctuary.”
Spoilers! At the end of the movie Logan 5 and his sexpot Runner companion Jessica 6 find that there is no Sanctuary, which somehow crashes the super-poorly programed AI controller of the city and frees the people to live … past 30. Yay? I mean …. yeah living past 30 is great don’t get me wrong, but the computer that provides all the good stuff like food and clothing and fun and enjoyment is gone … so what now? Anyway like I said earlier the movie is fun and has this great 70’s ultra-modern sci-fi look to it and Roscoe Lee Brown plays a shiny silver robot. Also Jenny Aguter looks damn fine in this:
Anyhoo … two years later CBS decides to cash in on the Logan’s Run train by making a TV show. Premiering in Fall 1977 and lasting a whopping (sarcasm) 14 episodes, the show took the basic premise of Logan’s Run, nixed the movies ending, and focused on weird adventures on the surface of the post-apocalyptic world barely seen in the film. In the extended length pilot/mini-movie we find Logan 5 (Gregory Harrison) hunting down runners when he bumps into Jessica 6 (Heather Menzies) who is helping runners escape the city. Jessica 6 … I don’t know, bats her eyelashes at him … and somehow that is enough to cause him to abandon his ways and help her to escape the city and find Sanctuary.
Seriously, he just drops everything to do this within two minutes of meeting her. They don’t even leave the room they met in before he decides to forsake everything and everyone he knows to go galavanting off with her. I can’t really blame him though, Heather Menzies is pretty easy on the eyes. Anyway, Logan’s Sandman partner Francis (7 I think) is called in to meet with a secret cabal of old people who run the city. The old folks council straight up tell Francis that there is no Renewal at Carrousel and that when you are 30 your ass is just vaporized. Bummer. BUT if Francis brings Logan back to the city, they will let Francis live past 30 and he can join their council of Elder(ly)s.
Logan and Jessica make it to the surface, which is a silly place, and immediately find a “hover car” and take off in search of Sanctuary. Francis finds his own hover car(s) and follows in hot pursuit.
Soon Logan and Jessica find a castle full of robots which they think might be Sanctuary but which they soon find out isn’t (a recurring theme). They escape with the help of Rem, and android (played by Donald Moffat) but not before getting Francis and some of his henchmen captured by the robots. Rem joins Logan and Jessica, and the power trio head off in search of the real Sanctuary! So begins or series.
As I said previously, for good or bad, I love the world of Logan’s Run. This show has a lot of good and bad. Some things that you would consider bad, I consider good, and vice-versa. To get into and enjoy this wild hover-car ride, your tolerance for cheese needs to be high, and you absolutely must be able to revel in the weirdness that is 70s sci-fi and television. Don’t expect amazing scripts, or the best acting, or great special effects (I mean did you see that hover car up there?). In fact, don’t expect anything that most people typically consider “good televison.” Don’t do that … just don’t.
However, if you can find joy in weird low budget sets, and brightly colored “futuristic” costume design, you will love this. If you love the type of stories you’ve already seen on other similar sci-fi shows of the era (Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers) you will find a treasure trove of silly fun on Logan’s Run. Hey that rhymed!
Also, you have to be comfortable letting this show do its own thing and get away from the ’76 film. The movie gives the clear impression that the underground domed city of Logan and Jessica is the only civilization left. Above-ground is a world in ruins where only a handful of people live like hobos. In the TV show, the above-ground world is jam packed with Desert Nomads, or computerized fallout shelters, Robots, Bandits, pacifist migrant farmers … hell even space aliens show up twice. Double hell there is even an episode about Ghosts in a haunted house! Not a future haunted house, a regular haunted house! WTF?
The typical episode formula goes like this: Logan and Jessica find some weird people (see above) and immediately think they have found Sanctuary. Rem is a little bit more suspicious. Francis and one or more henchmen show up one of their apparently unlimited supply of hover cars just as Logan realizes that he hasn’t found Sanctuary. Logan, Jessica, and Rem escape (sometimes with the reluctant help of Francis) the not-sanctuary, then must escape Francis and his goons. There are a few episodes that break the mold, but even they contain so many similar story elements that it is hard to even notice at first. The details are usually changed, and that is where you can have fun!
Frankly, I can see why this only lasted 14 episodes. It’s too bad though, because when you are in the right mind set, it’s a fun 14 episodes and I wish that the network would have let it build up more. It makes me pretty mad to think that a network would not give a show like this more time to develop and shine, but “reality” tv or terrible sitcoms go for years and years.
So, final thoughts for now: This is a flawed, but very entertaining show. If you like 70s sci-fi and can enjoy the goofier aspects of that aesthetic, you will have a great time watching Logan’s Run. Good characters and silly stories make this an easy watch, and an easy recommendation. Stay Tuned for part 2, where I’ll get into some specific episodes and favorite moments. Until then: Run Runner!