5 February 2009 | Blueghost
And deservedly so, but I think the harshest critics of this show are being overly hard.
The best way I can describe "The Starlost" is as a low-budget version of "Dr. Who". In fact, for the longest time (like someone posted on the BBS) I too thought this was a lost episode of the British TV show that I just needed to it track down.
Through the miracle of Youtube I rediscovered it, then went on to investigate what happened to this show.
As has already been posted, the creative powers were sold a bill of goods. The money people wanted to recapture that low steady audience market share that Star Trek had proved existed, and talked sci-fi types into creating what eventually became "The Starlost". The creative types, seeing that the wool had been pulled over their eyes, walked and put all the blame on the backers.
I think this too is also too harsh. Harlan Ellison and his confederates were duped, of that there is no doubt, but, in my opinion, they should have bucked the money people, shot what they wanted, and pull a page out of the BBC's play-book by making a quality low-budget TV show.
And, believe it or not, this is what they did, though unwillingly and begrudgingly. As other commentators have pointed out the production values are sub-par. The "special" effects are not so special, the supporting cast is hit-and-miss, and the rewritten dialogue should not have been as dumbed down as it was.
But, in spite of all the poor tweakings by the financial powers, and despite the callous and blame-minded psychology that the creative team eventually adopted, the crux of the story still manages to shine.
Poor production values to somewhat hamper this show, but despite marginal execution, the coordination of story and those same low production values help preserve the creative teams' intent.
The SFX are poor (marginal at best), the actor thesping the computer terminal acts like he's in a B-movie, before CGI we're treated to a poorly shot (though magnificently designed) miniature and cheap video animation, and the local theatre groups cast in the support parts have a hard time keeping up with the leads. But, for all that, and for a show produced in the early 70s, it's actually okay for what it is.
Mind you, if I were to helm this thing I would've either stopped production entirely or thumbed my nose at the backers and shot what I wanted. But, I would've made the best of a bad situation, and not cry foul when given the opportunity of a lifetime to shoot what could have been a truly magnificent sci-fi show.