So the Dec. update to OurStarBlazers.com appears, with this interesting article:
Well, it got me to thinking again.
One of the sad issues of history is that there are a number of aspects in the creation history of Star Blazers that may never be known. Too much time has passed, too many key people have died, key documents may well be destroyed. We fans are more archeologists than historians at this point, trying to reconstruct a civilization from a few shards of pottery.
And sometimes whole pots are found.
Robert Miller did an excellent job here, and if he reads this I would encourage him to continue digging. I would like to see what kind of presence Claster put forth for Star Blazers at the 1978 NATPE or MIPcon TV, for example. I know for a fact there was an ad in Variety circa 1981 from Westchester Films soliciting the 'expanded' Star Blazers, it was a very small ad.
(aside: the March '81 date soliciting the additional 52 (actually 25) episodes of Star Blazers is still suspect to me. By that time WestCape knew Yamato III was cut from 52 to 25. How did Westchester Films not get the memo? Other than adding only 25 new episodes wouldn't interest many webs, esp. if it was a cash sale and no longer full barter)
I was quite surprised to see PRO Films (Peter Rodgers Org.) as a promoter for 'Star Force'. That ad seems to confirm some thoughts I've had about the physical adaption of Yamato to Star Blazers which I'll detail later. But PRO Film isn't a manufacturer, only a distributor of product. Who were they distributing for?
This is one of the 'lost' items I mention above. The creation, the ownership, the actual chain of events that led to Star Blazers is STILL murky. Who started the ball rolling? Who saw Space Battleship Yamato and said "yeah, I can put that on TV." ? Did Office Academy/WestCape Corp reach out? Was it a deal made at NAPTE?
I don't think PRO had a finished product in 'Star Force'. I think they had, at most, a 'sizzle reel' with a narrator telling everyone how wonderful it was. I think they were trying to sell it to enough stations to get someone else interested in actually funding production, which pretty clearly lead to the Claster/Sunwagon/Hasbro connection and national barter syndication.
So was PRO fronting for Claude Hill's ARP Films? (and that's somewhat a comedic bid for attention, as all five companies listed as 'banding together' were all owned by the same company already. Hill had a lot of little fingers in many pies from what I recall) Was PRO actually fronting for Office Academy/WestCape?
The good news is PRO is still in business, run by the son. I recognized the name from syndication 'sting' logos I saw watching I Spy on Antenna TV. Maybe someone in L.A. can actually call them and find out some stuff.
So, that thought that this article seems to add weight to: One thing that is very apparent is there is a different level or style of production between the first and second 26 episodes of Star Blazers. The first 26 (as alluded to in the 'Star Force' solicitation) seemed to have more time, more effort, more expense put into it. Recall all this was done on film stock, not our easy-peasy digital format world. First Series had a number of 'tricks' played with frame rate, trims, re-use and of course the famous 'run the film reversed' scene for Lysis' 'escape' after 'planting a bomb' on the Argo. There were also a lot of hard burned title cards to cover Japanese title cards and even what I recall appeared to be a few optical enlargements of scenes to cut out something that wasn't wanted. All of that took time and money and planning. When Yamato 2 was Americanized none of this was done, rather frames containing Japanese title cards were trimmed out as well as scenes deemed too violent for late '70s Broadcast Standards. There was also a lot more use of 'dialog covers', the famous off-camera shout of "they're robots!!" . Of course what's even more interesting, they were soliciting the 52 episode package even before Yamato 2 had ended its run in Japan! That 'second series' had to be a real rush job to meet the Sept. '79 air date!
Good article. I hope it leads to more of the same.