Savant Column

Wednesday July 26, 2017


TCM’s surprise cablecast last Sunday of Until the End of the World was quite a thrill. Other web-casters with broad audiences, like Tim Lucas, relayed the message so it’s likely that a lot of people that could DVR the 4.5- hour show did.

I was very pleased, as UTEOTW as reconfigured by Wim Wenders looks great. I’ve seen it twice on a screen, and this looks more like that experience than the good but not fantastic European DVDs that were released. I guess the length of the show is no longer an issue. Wenders got rid of the three-movies format, removing the extra ‘Teil 1., 2. and 3.’ opening sequences. I’ll have to check to see if any recap narration was lost. Having English subs for the occasional French dialogue helps too. The amazing thing is the control Wenders retained over his movie, even though he had to wait 25 years to get the rights back. It wasn’t like Warners took the negative from him; he has never cut original negative so even now he could edit a different version and not have technical difficulties. I like the 3-movie version just because it has the subliminal thrill of a road show presentation — there were two intermissions in the theater, where the audience practically congratulated itself at sharing something special.

Back in 1996 the Hollywood screening was just like old times — I had seen something unofficially screened that I’d have to wait a long time before seeing again. In between I met the ex-wife of one of the producers, who told me some stories, and I also met some people who thought UTEOTW to be the worst movie they’d ever seen in their lives. What can one say? It’s like anything else, it either works for you or it doesn’t. The naysayers can’t be discounted, because the short versions certainly bombed in 1991, and received terrible reviews.

The show gives every indication of a Criterion release in the next year or so — not only is there a new Wim Wenders logo, but the Janus Films logo too. Criterion has said it’s releasing the Wenders pictures, and has already done several.

Thanks again, Mike Stubbs, for letting me know that my printed TCM cable guide was wrong — I might have missed this!

Also up today: the finishing Diary Post reports on Gary Teetzel’s Comic-Con experience up today::

Saturday Late:

A pre-‘Good Evening’ announcement . . . I wasn’t able to attend today’s Warner Archives Comic-Con panel, but the news has broken that the Halloween titles are Innocent Blood, The Hidden and The Green Slime.

Early Sunday AM:

Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea. Decided to spend most of the day in Ballroom 20, chiefly for the mid-afternoon panels for Star Trek: Discovery and Supergirl. First up, though, was a panel on Once Upon a Time, which I don’t watch, so . . . yawn. Then a panel on Riverdale. Yawn again.

Next was the panel for The Simpsons. Matt Groening, the showrunners and directors were joined by Nancy ‘Bart Simpson’ Cartwright and Joe Mantegna, who voices Springfield mobster Fat Tony on the show. (Fat Tony will be featured on the cover of the upcoming DVD release of Season 18.) They ran a special Q & A with Bart Simpson, and a spoof of The Exorcist that will be part of this year’s “Treehouse of Horrors” episode. They handed out prizes to audience members who asked questions. When they ran out of prizes, Matt Groening would whip up some sketches on the spot to use as prizes.

Next was a panel devoted to Family Guy and American Dad, so I took the opportunity to go to the bathroom and then grab some food. (They give you passes so you can get back into the hall.)

Finally got to Star Trek: Discovery. The panel included Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman and other producers, plus several cast members: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Jason Isaacs, James Frain (Sarek) and others. (No Michelle Yeoh.) Rainn Wilson, who guest stars as Harry Mudd in the series, moderated. A new trailer was shown, and a fair amount of time was devoted to allaying some of the fears fans have been voicing online.

Next up was Supergirl. The entire regular cast was there except for Chyler Leigh, who was said to be dealing with family issues. A few details for the upcoming season were teased, and a number of fan questions were answered.

After that I left the ballroom and headed to the main floor, which was predictably jam-packed. Went through the Walking Dead display/photo op attraction. It was pretty weak compared to previous years–have your photo taken next to a fake tiger and walk through a hall of junk while zombies try to scare you, unsuccessfully. Watched some of the autograph session for Westworld, which was an absolute madhouse–worse than Friday’s Game of Thrones autograph session. The entire cast was there, save Anthony Hopkins.

Did some more exploring of the main floor. Haven’t bought a thing yet, and frankly am not seeing anything tempting–at least anything that is affordable!

Since traffic is blocked off for two or three blocks in the late afternoon, the Gaslamp District takes on a carnival flavor around dinnertime, with street performers, bands, etc. Call it Nerdi Gras! After dinner, went back for the annual party and viewing of the masquerade.

(The subject of the masquerade reminds of the subject of cosplay. It’s always interest to follow trends in cosplay from year to year, as a sort of barometer of fans’ interest. This year cosplay is mostly devoted to old reliables — superheroes, Star Wars, Game of Thrones. The one new trend this year was Stranger Things. There were a few Demogorgans, and several people dressed as Eleven. I didn’t see anyone who went so far as to shave their head; most dressed as Eleven when she disguised in the blonde wig and Nancy’s old dress. Several incorporated Eggos into their costume; one person went so far as to dress as a box of Eggos. The Eggo people must be delighted by all the free publicity.)

The only interesting panel tomorrow is Doctor Who in Hall H. Even if I could get in, it’s in the mid-afternoon, so I’d waste most of the day waiting for it and sitting through other panels. I could try to go to the Game of Thrones exhibit, but that would also probably take most of the day, unless I got in line at 5 AM! So might just spend the day shopping; I still haven’t fully explored the immense main floor.) — Gary Teetzel

Since I’m not a convention attender-type, I’m always fascinated by Gary’s reports, both the things he has to go through and the pictures he brings back. So I thank him for taking the time for this. And thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson