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Love him or hate him, there’s no question that Harlan Ellison can write. Over the years he’s served up classic speculative fiction stories such as “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” “Shatterday,” and “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman.” He’s written for TV series such as Star Trek — his original script for “City on the Edge of Forever” earned him a Hugo and a Writers Guild Award — The Outer Limits, and the 1980s resurrection of The Twilight Zone. Non-hardcore fans of Ellison may not know that he worked extensively in television throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, writing for shows as varied as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Flying Nun, and even the TV adaptation of Logan’s Run. It’s that latter one that’s of most interest to us here at GFR, and you can find more about it in the newly released Harlan Ellison’s Brain Movies: Volume 5.
The Brain Movies series has been collecting tons of Harlan’s rare and little-seen stuff for some time now, and die-hard fans will definitely find plenty of drool-worthy Christmas ideas over at HarlanEllisonBooks.com. Volume 5 includes Harlan’s storyline for “The Crypt,” an episode of the 1977 – 1978 Logan’s Run TV series, based on the film from the year earlier and the book by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson from a decade earlier. It’s the first time Ellison’s “Crypt” storyline has ever seen print. Here’s the episode synopsis from IMDb: “The runners find an underground room with six survivors of the nuclear holocaust cryogenically frozen. A series of earthquakes complicate efforts to rescue the frozen humans.”
That’s the only big science fiction item in the collection, but there are plenty of peculiar relics to be found in Brain Movies: Volume 5. You want an unmade Two-Face script penned for the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman series? You got it. You’ll also get Ellison scripts for the World War II action series The Rat Patrol, a “skydiving adventure series” called Ripcord, and two versions of a dark fantasy pilot called The Dark Forces that Ellison pitched to NBC in 1972.
If you’re prefer more science fiction bang for your bucks — and we’re Giant Freakin’ Robot, so we certainly couldn’t hold that against you — then you can still pick up the earlier Brain Movies volumes, which include Eliison arcana such as the Writers Guild Award-winning script Phoenix Without Ashes, a two-hour science fiction/western pilot that beat Firefly to the punch by 15 years, the short story that eventually became the Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand,” and an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea that “resulted in an ABC censor having his pelvis broken by a model of the Seaview.” Doesn’t get any more Ellison than that.
You can read the full press release for Brain Movies: Volume Five below.
JOIN HARLAN ELLISON IN A BATTLE AGAINST THE DARK FORCES: “[The story] steals righteously from Lost Horizon and the marvelous works of H.P. Lovecraft and the caveats of Charles Fort and even the Dr. Strange comics (with a nod to Billy Batson, Captain Marvel, and the old wizard Shazam),” exclaimed Ellison in his 1972 NBC-TV pitch for The Dark Forces, an unproduced fantasy series. Disenchanted attorney Lee Kraiter travels to the roof of the world to learn the meaning of life. Instead, he returns to the Western World to wage a mystical war against the eponymous entities. Two versions of the pilot teleplay — “The Salamander Enchantment” — are included herein.
SEE ELLISON’S FIRST ADVENTURE WITH THE CAPED CRUSADER: Though Harlan’s written numerous comic book scripts for the Dark Knight, his first slide down the Bat-Pole was in 1966 when he pitched an episode to ABC’s Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Tragically — for reasons explained in the editor’s notes — “The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face” was never produced, but now you can read what the Unrepentant Harlequin had in mind for the Dynamic Duo and their Bifurcated Foe.
GO ON THE RUN, BECAUSE LIFE ENDS AT 30: Harlan Ellison was otherwise committed when his segment of MGM’s 1977–8 Logan’s Run television series (based on the 1976 film, itself based upon the 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson) progressed from treatment to teleplay via Roberto Rossellini-collaborator Alfred Hayes (Paisan), but here — for the first time in print — is Ellison’s storyline for “Crypt,” which starred Gregory Harrison as Logan 5.
TAKE ON ADOLF HITLER: Ellison’s unproduced teleplay for World War II action series The Rat Patrol — “The Duel to the Death Raid”—developed from a perfect pitch: What if the Allied soldier protagonists captured der Führer? Read what might have been if Ellison had joined the North African Campaign.
HAVE YOUR FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME: The third of Ellison’s Burke’s Law teleplays — “Who Killed Andy Zygmunt?” finds the titular homicide chief investigating the murder of a an Andy Wharhol-esque pop artist.
READ HARLAN ELLISON’S FIRST-EVER TELEPLAY: Written for the syndicated skydiving adventure series Ripcord, Ellison’s “Where Do the Elephants Go to Die?” was inspired by the then-recent suicide of Ernest Hemingway. With the series newly released on DVD, there’s never been a better time to revisit the show that resulted in Ellison including pronunciation guides in all his future scripts. (The editor’s notes herein explain all, but you really have to hear the original delivery for the full effect…)
BRAIN MOVIES, VOLUME FIVE is a 400-page, 7.5″ by 9.25″ paperback.