The 95 minute documentary traces Allen’s entire career, looking at the films he made in the Fifties, his shift to sci-fi TV in the Sixties and then his disaster epics in the Seventies. The bulk of the program, however, is about the TV shows he produced, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. One revelation--even when a show was shot in black and white, Allen would shoot the effects sequences in color so he could use them as stock later on. The stars who reminisce about working on the shows admit that the writing was not always strong (or, in the case of Land of the Giants, downright confused--the writers had to change the parameters of their premise after a handful of episodes because they’d written themselves into a corner) but point out that the premise and situations they played were often unique. A brief mention of The Swarm near the end does not acknowledge its standing as one of the greatest bad movies ever made. Nevertheless, the show is a legitimate celebration of Allen as a sci-fi showman, with lots of interesting background materials and a strong collection of nostalgic clips.
The color looks super and the mono sound is fine. There is a 54 minute supplement accompanying the program that features outtakes from the show’s introduction (featuring Billy Mumy, Jonathan Harris, June Lockhart and the Lost in Space robot), an affiliate promotion reel for Land of the Giants that includes a lot of storyboard sketches and a summary of the pilot episode, a pre-casting promotional reel for Towering Inferno, again filled with production design drawings and storyboards, that was presented to theater owners, and two promotional reels for failed TV pilots that Allen eventually turned into TV movies, City Beneath the Sea, with a young James Brolin, and The Man from the 25th Century, an oddball sci-fi thing about beings from the future trying to attack present-day Earth, with James Darren. They are all terrific (Allen has substantial screen time in the Towering Inferno piece), but the one that stands out is the 11 minute City beneath the Sea clip. It is worth the proverbial price of the DVD. For one thing, it presents a relatively thorough and coherent summary of the episode using clips, so you feel like you’ve watched a whole show. The production designs are up to Allen’s usual lavish standards and the special effects are great. Finally, on a DVD loaded with great looking colors, the colors on the City beneath the Sea clip are exceptionally glorious. The Technicolor hues are so rich and vibrant that we wanted to leave the segment playing in a loop on our TV all day. If the rest of City beneath the Sea looks like this, we long for it.
The Fantasy Worlds Of Irwin Allen (1995)
95 mins. · Not Rated · Fullframe
Audio: E - DD Mono
’The Fantasy Worlds Of Irwin Allen, ’ recently released by Image Entertainment, pays tribute to one of the last (if not the last) Hollywood ’showman.’ With ’Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’ about to surface on DVD, the documentary about the Seaview’s creator makes an interesting follow-up.
Originally aired on the Sci-Fi Channel, the 95 minute homage documents the man responsible for such ’60s sci-fi TV fare as ’Lost In Space,’ ’Time Tunnel,’ ’Land of the Giants,’ and such disaster films as ’The Poseidon Adventure’ and ’The Towering Inferno.’ ’Space’ alumni June Lockhart and Bill Mumy guide us through generous servings of clips, behind the scenes footage, and reminiscences to paint the portrait of a moviemaker that loved turning dreams into celluloid reality. The list of interviewees read like a ’who’s who’ of baby boomer television addiction: Barbara Eden, David Hedison (Captain Crane from TV’s ’Voyage’ and the only one as far as I’m concerned), Lee Meriwether, Roddy McDowell, James Darren and Robert Wagner, among others. Part of the fun is seeing how Allen (apparently notorious for watching his bottom line) ransacked stock footage to help infuse his shows with high production values or how his high-tech special effects were sometimes nothing more than a model pushed past the camera lens.
The full-frame transfer exhibits good image quality for the shot-on-video interviews and wrap-arounds by Mumy and Lockhart. The archival sources look clean with surprisingly strong color fidelity and detail. As many of his theatrical ventures were widescreen, the clips and trailers in the documentary are similarly letterboxed.
On par for its small screen origins, the Dolby Digital mono audio provides ample levels for clean playback. A welcome touch in the documentary is the use of music cues from Allen’s TV shows and movies, adding a well-produced feel to the proceedings.
Extras include TV show concept featurettes for ’Land of the Giants,’ ’The Man From the 25th Century’ and ’City Beneath The Sea. ’ (Only ’Land’ made it to air.) A promotional reel for ’The Towering Inferno’ shows Allen in a ’typical’ day at the studio, planning his next blockbuster. With an opening menu incorporating John Williams’ zippy theme to ’Lost in Space’ and cursor graphics of the submarine Seaview, the spaceship Jupiter 2, and the capsized S.S. Poseidon, Image has made a fun, polished DVD. Allen would be proud.
’The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen’ focuses on his zeal for imaginative themes and material. It’s an amiable nostalgic journey for those who remember when television was a window to the fantastic and not a washing machine for dirty laundry.
I don't have the extra's mentioned in the DVD reviews, only the main program!
Please don't forget to seed, and enjoy! Thanks!
P.S.: Next I'll start to upload the first season again. It was uploaded two years before on some other sites, but those torrents are very low on seeding power, or have died already, so this is the opportunity for all fans who weren't around 2006 to catch up with the first season!