Total Recall 2070
My love for science fiction can probably be traced back to the time I saw Total Recall when I was eleven years old. I somehow convinced my parents to buy me a VHS copy from Sam’s Club and I think I spent the next two or three days watching it over and over. I liked space stuff before then – I was a huge Star Wars fan – but Total Recall was the first time I remember falling in love with a science fiction idea. I even bought (convinced my parents to buy) the Piers Anthony novelization, a Piers Anthony novelization of a film adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story, and read it to tatters. It actually holds up, if you’re the forgiving type of person.
Anyway, Total Recall is probably my favorite movie of all time. It’s not the best movie of all time, of course, not by a long shot, but there’s so much there that works. So why nine years later someone thought it would be a good idea to use the franchise to make an episodic series that’s more Blade Runner than Total Recall is completely beyond me.
Total Recall 2070 aired in 1999 on Canadian channel CHCH-TV and on Showtime in the US. It’s a sequel of sorts to the film, at least in the timeline. The fact that I had to look that up should tell you how thin the connection is between the film and the series; beyond the presence of the Rekall company (who I couldn’t imagine would still be in business after the Quaid debacle), the concept of memory-implant excursions, and the existence of the planet Mars with people on it, there are really no similarities between the two. Oh, it re-uses some spacecraft shots from the movie. But that’s it.
It really has more in line with Blade Runner – instead of the mutants in Total Recall there are androids, and some of those androids are up to things that shouldn’t be possible given their programming. Programming supplied by Rekall, because they do apparently do that sort of thing. Detective David Hume’s partner is gunned down by a gang of these rogue androids, and his investigation into the case partners him up with a rookie (who, spoiler alert, is secretly an android created by an unknown-to-the-rest-of-the-world manufacturer) and takes him to Mars. What time the series doesn’t spend exploring the nature of android psychology and paying marginal lip service to the world that Total Recall built is spent on flashy gun battles, awkwardly placed cursing and similarly awkardly-placed gratuitous sex scenes.
So not so unlike Total Recall on that last part.
It baffles me that they had a series that really fit so well in the Blade Runner universe but chose instead to shoehorn the idea into Total Recall. The series has a few things going for it – the sets are pretty good, the action’s fine, the effects are decent and the ideas are interesting – but the acting and writing are terrible and the episodes themselves are overlong and dull. It’s not hard to see why it was cancelled after one season, leaving several plot points unresolved.
Here’s an episode. It’s hard to recommend spending the time on it. You’d be better off reading the novelization of the movie. Also, NSFW warning: there’s nudity in this link.
World War III Comic, Part One
This 1950s nuclear-scare comic book really dials up the enthusiasm for atomic weapons of all shapes and sizes (atomic bazooka?), frequently at the expense of common sense or complete sentences!
With such memorable lines as “I’m on fire! Being burned alive! Eeeeeahhh!”, it’s hard to believe this comic didn’t make it into our public school curriculum. Did the US’ Super Atomic Guided Rocket make it to Moscow? Find out next time!
Nuts for Nintendo
This 1988 segment of “20/20” is pretty charming, not because it characterizes the Nintendo craze as a phenomenon – it was – but in the way it illustrates it as something adults just can’t understand, like the children are possessed and speaking a different language.
Freemans Egg Powder
This poor girl’s left arm needs a little help.
Vanguard Atari Commercial
This spot for the Atari game “Vanguard” illustrates the camaraderie of a group of high school boys generated from the game. And their inclusion of poor Luther.
I reckoned that the story behind Total Recall 2070 boiled down to “We wanted to do a Blade Runner TV series, but we couldn’t get the rights,” a lot like how the 1988 “War of the Worlds” TV series kinda seemed like “We wanted to do an Invasion of the Body Snatchers TV series but we couldn’t get the rights”, or the Nerf Rebelle product line’s tagline is “Can you believe we couldn’t get the rights to The Hunger Games?”
I think you’re right, they grabbed the next closest Philip K. Dick-related property that had name recognition and just did the story they wanted to, anyway.