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Archive for December, 2012

ONLY SUPERHUMAN annotations are now up!

Only Superhuman by Christopher L. BennettThey’re a couple of months late, but I’ve finally completed and posted the annotations for Only Superhuman on my website. The page-by-page annotations and other background notes, artwork, and interviews can be accessed from the main page for the novel.

More ONLY SUPERHUMAN art: Psyche

December 29, 2012 1 comment

Last year, I posted the design sketches I’d done for Emerald Blair, the lead character in Only Superhuman. These were illustrations I did years earlier, mostly 2002-3, before I wrote the book. Well, I also did sketches of Psyche Thorne, the other leading lady in the book, but I never got around to coloring them and I didn’t want to post them until I did. Which is something I only managed to do recently.

I hesitate to post these at all, since Psyche is supposed to be a woman of staggering beauty and allure, and maybe that’s something best left to the individual reader’s imagination. Also it’s questionable that my limited artistic abilities can come close to capturing that beauty, even with the excellent real-life exemplars I used as references. But Psyche’s looks are also somewhat unusual, an amalgam of ethnicities, so it may be hard for some readers to imagine what I had in mind. (I’m reminded of how many readers of The Hunger Games were surprised that Rue was black in the film, even though she was specifically described as dark-skinned the first three or four times she appeared in the book. Sometimes readers overlook elements of a physical description.) Besides, I went to all the trouble of finishing the drawings, so I might as well share them.

So here are my illustrations of Psyche Thorne, which, while far from perfect, give a reasonable indication of what I envisioned.

psychecolor

Copyright Christopher L. Bennett

(click to enlarge)

I based Psyche’s face on several women of different ethnicities that I found to be otherwise similar in appearance and exceptionally beautiful. Mostly she’s a blend of two friends of mine from college, one a strawberry-blond Caucasian, the other African-American, but otherwise strikingly similar in appearance. I also used a photo of Kristin Kreuk to get some Asian influence in there, mainly in the eyes and nose, though I don’t think it comes across as well as I’d hoped. And she’s maybe a bit more chubby-faced than what I had in mind, though I think that’s mainly a shading issue with the cheeks. I am happy with the expression, though; it captures the blend of warmth and naughtiness I was going for.

I wasn’t very happy with the colored-pencil work I did. It was hard to get smooth texture, something that was more of a problem with Psyche’s rich complexion than with Emry’s pale one, and the colors I had available didn’t match the skin and hair tones I was going for very well. So I did a lot of work in the computer to fix it — superimposing translucent layers of solid color that better matched what I wanted, and softening and blurring the pencil lines as much as I could without losing the shading detail. It’s not perfect, but I think it came out reasonably well, considering.

So for the second, full-length drawing, I decided to do the coloring entirely in the computer, something I have very little experience with. I had a few false starts, but I finally got a handle on it, I think. This depicts Psyche in the outfit she wore for her big introductory scene in Chapter 7.

Psyche full-length

Copyright Christopher L. Bennett

(click to enlarge)

The shading isn’t as nuanced as I could achieve in pencil, but I think it gets the idea across reasonably well. And I like the translucent effect the paint program let me achieve with the outer dress layer. Easier than trying to create that effect in colored pencil would’ve been.

If her pose and proportions look a little exaggerated, rest assured I based it all on photo reference. I chose a slinky, provocative pose to fit the character and the outfit. She’s angled a little to the viewer’s left, which makes her waist look narrower than it is. Also, she’s a full 6 feet tall, which makes her seem skinnier in proportion. I wanted her to be tall, slim and leggy in contrast to Emerald Blair’s mesomorphic physique. Emry’s build is inspired by tennis star Serena Williams, while Psyche’s owes more to Maria Sharapova.

I don’t know if I’ll do any more character art for Only Superhuman. Again, these are sketches I did years ago, when I had more free time for drawing, and I’m rather out of practice. But I wouldn’t be averse to seeing fan art, if anyone were interested.

I’m signing at Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati on January 15!

It’s been announced by Macmillan that I’ll be appearing at the Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati to do a reading from Only Superhuman along with signing that and, presumably, whatever other books of mine they have around. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7 PM, and the address is 2692 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45208.

This isn’t actually up on the J-B site yet, though, so it’s possible the specifics aren’t entirely firmed up yet. If any of this information turns out to need correction, I’ll be sure to post it as soon as I can.

Feeling better

December 21, 2012 4 comments

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how stressed I was from the tight deadline on my Trek novel, anxiety about how Only Superhuman was performing, and pain from over-exercising, and how I was starting to feel better as I got close to the deadline. Well, after the deadline passed, I started to feel worse again. The pain came back, my indigestion kept getting worse, and so the stress returned too. I’d lie awake in the middle of the night feeling this ache in my side and be afraid it was an ulcer or a hernia or a tumor or something rather than just the muscle strain that, in the light of day, I knew it probably was.

So I did a few things. One, I went to the doctor and got reassured that it was just a muscle strain, and got some advice on how to cope with it. That actually caused me a little more pain for a couple of days because of one of the tests he had me do, but that finally cleared up a few days later. Two, on my doctor’s advice, I started to cut back on my food intake a bit in order to lose some of the excess weight I’ve put on over the past year or so — fewer between-meal snacks, smaller portions, less peanut butter, fewer desserts. Although I still try to eat pretty healthy, I may have simply been eating too much, and my peanut butter habit was maybe the worst contributor of excess calories.

Three, I got a new mattress and boxspring. My old ones were getting kind of saggy and I thought maybe they might be worsening the pain in my sides; plus I was often feeling quite sleepy and faint-headed during the day. I actually wasn’t sure at first if the new mattress would help, if I’d gotten the right kind that would give me enough back support and what-have-you, if its “pillow top” was too lumpy for me to get comfortable on it. That was itself a source of stress for a while. For the first couple of nights with it, I was awake in the middle of the night and had to get up and then go back to sleep later, but that was due to the humidity or my side pain or whatever, so I couldn’t specifically pin it on the mattress. Still, it caused me some concern.

And four, although this seemed like a long shot, I got a new bottle of the heartburn medicine I take. My recent digestive problems seemed to begin not long after I bought a new bottle of the generic stuff at a different pharmacy than usual. So I’d begun to wonder if maybe there was something wrong with that particular batch, but it was a pretty big bottle and I’m pretty stingy so I didn’t want to buy a new bottle just on a suspicion. I figured that my digestive upset was probably more due to the deadline pressures and so forth. But since the problems were still getting worse even after the deadline, and since there wasn’t that much left in the bottle anyway, I decided to go ahead and buy a new bottle elsewhere.

So the upshot is, it all seems to be working. I’m still a bit sore in my sides, but it’s gradually improving. I’ve adjusted to the mattress and I’m sleeping better and feeling more rested. And my indigestion seems to be clearing up, though I can’t be positive it’s because of the new bottle; maybe getting a better night’s sleep is just reducing my stress, or maybe eating a bit less is putting less strain on the ol’ pipes. Maybe it’s just a placebo effect. But whatever the reason, I am feeling better at long last. Yesterday afternoon and evening, in fact, I felt more relaxed and content than I have in ages. It’s weird, though, but what really seemed to spark my good mood was going for a walk in the heavy rain yesterday. Maybe there were some good ions in the air or something. Maybe it was because I enjoy the sound of the rain, or because it was pleasing to see the little waterfall that formed on the steps of the walkway on the other end of the apartment complex. Whatever the reason, it felt cleansing. And I’m in a better place now psychologically, and increasingly physically, than I have been all month. Hopefully it’ll last.

Categories: Uncategorized

FORGOTTEN HISTORY reprinted in e-book omnibus THE CONTINUING MISSIONS, Vol. 1

December 18, 2012 1 comment

Simon & Schuster/Pocket is about to put out several e-book omnibuses (yes, that is the correct plural) each combining three related Star Trek novels into one volume. One of them, Star Trek: The Original Series: The Continuing Missions, Volume 1, includes my own DTI novel Forgotten History along with Greg Cox’s The Rings of Time and Dayton Ward’s That Which Divides. In this case, the books aren’t really related, more just a trio of recent standalone TOS adventures, although Rings and FH both involve time travel and there’s a slight bit of cross-reference between them. (Maybe TWD also fits with the general theme of space-time phenomena because it involves a pocket universe, though that’s reaching.) But what the hey, it’s a new edition of one of my books. And the FH cover is being used as the cover for the whole volume:

Continuing Missions v1

I admit, FH is kind of an odd choice for inclusion here, since it’s not entirely a self-contained TOS novel but ties into DTI: Watching the Clock as well. Still, I wrote it so that it could work as a TOS novel guest-starring some guys from the future. And who knows? Maybe this omnibus will help bring the story to at least some TOS readers who didn’t take note of it when it was published under the DTI banner. Again, though, this is only being released in e-book form as far as I know.

And yeah, it looks as if all TOS prose tales from now on are going to be subtitled The Original Series, presumably to distinguish them from the new movies.

UPDATE: Oops, sorry, forgot to mention — the publication date is on or around January 29, 2013.

Actually done! (For now)

December 10, 2012 3 comments

Just a little while ago, I e-mailed the manuscript for Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures to my editor at Pocket. And a great sense of relief descended upon me.

I do wish I’d had a few more days to consider and refine things. But I was able to make some major improvements in the two revision passes I had time to get through. For instance, I realized that one character I introduced kind of disappeared afterward, but I didn’t have room to add another scene with him; but it occurred to me that if I put him in place of an associated character in a certain scene, it would actually make that scene work better in several ways, in addition to giving that character more “screen” time. Also, I realized I’d forgotten to make clear how one key decision in the story was a reaction to an earlier event, so I put in a bit of dialogue to tie them together better. And so on. I also had to trim some extraneous material to make room for all that, but I didn’t find much I could remove. I knew going in that I was under a tight word limit (80,000), so I was pretty concise throughout. Still, I managed to nibble away enough to make it fit, give or take a few hundred words.

And the timing is good, because my Star Trek complete soundtrack box set is out for delivery from my local post office, according to the tracking information, so it should be here within hours! Between that and finally being free from deadlines (at least for now), this is looking like a good day for me.

Interview on The Chronic Rift

Keith DeCandido’s interview of me from New York Comic-Con in October is now up on The Chronic Rift’s webpage:

http://chronicrift.com/node/3136

It’s mainly about Only Superhuman, but also covers my Trek novels, other original stuff, and my reviews on this blog, among other things. Naturally, the Star Trek project I couldn’t talk about then is Rise of the Federation.

Done! (Almost)

December 6, 2012 2 comments

Just a little while ago, I reached the end of the first draft of Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures, with four days to spare before my deadline. That’s not as much time as I’d hoped to have for revision and refinement, but I should be able to make maybe 2-3 passes through the manuscript, get a feel for how it flows as a whole, and smooth out the kinks.

The manuscript comes out to just about the maximum of my target length range, so unless I do some serious trimming in the editing phase, I won’t have room to slip in another couple of things I was thinking about trying to add. But that’s okay; they aren’t strictly necessary, and I don’t have that much time to add things anyway. As it is, I had to streamline some things from the outline here and there — combine some scenes, drop a few others, particularly in the denouement — to get it to the target length. But it still accomplished what was important. In the event that there’s a sequel, maybe I can work some of the abandoned ideas in there.

This has been a very stressful month or two for me, since I was late getting started on the manuscript and at times was having a lot of trouble getting in gear, so I was worried about being able to finish on time. Which combined with my worrying about the performance and critical reception for Only Superhuman, so I was doubly stressed. Even when it became clear to me over the weekend that I would definitely be able to finish with time to spare, I was still feeling pretty stressed out. Once I reached that point, I just gave myself a day off, figuring I had the time — but then the next day I could barely bring myself to get back to work. I felt like I couldn’t even think about the book without anxiety. And I didn’t know why, because by that point I had no more cause for distress. I guess it was just a residual effect. Or maybe it was that I’ve also been dealing with some pain that I caused myself by over-exercising, and which was perhaps itself a consequence of being stressed out. But fortunately I could spare the time, so although I lost another day, I was able to get back to work the day after that, and it’s gone smoothly since then. It always goes faster once I reach the climax, and it’s just downhill through the denouement. Actually there was one major sequence, the climax of one of the main plotlines, that I didn’t really get a handle on until this morning, but I wrote it then, and the rest just kept coming from there. I managed around 5400 words today, which I think is about the maximum I’ve managed in a single day on this project, though I managed to get in nearly as much on the day just before I took that break (which was why I felt it was safe to take the break at that point). That pretty much makes up for the time I lost — although it would be nice if I had more time to refine the manuscript.

And this morning, I felt much better than I have in a while. Perhaps because I realized I was finally in the home stretch, combined with the pain subsiding, but I’ve been in a much brighter mood today. And now I had to go and depress myself again by writing about how stressed I’ve been up to now. Nah, that’s okay. I’m sure it’ll pass. I’ve met my deadline, the burden is eased (aside from revisions), and in a few days I’ll be able to relax and be free of obligations for a little while. And shortly after that, I’ll be receiving my copy of the Star Trek: TOS Soundtrack Collection, aka The Greatest Thing Ever — a 15-CD box set of every note of music ever recorded for the original series, even some that wasn’t used and has never been heard before (or at least everything that counted as soundtrack rather than dialogue; Kevin Riley’s rendition of “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” is regrettably, or perhaps mercifully, absent, but all the other songs and source music are there). And now that the cloud of stress has lifted, I’m finally able to feel giddy and excited about that, as I should’ve felt all along.

I think I’ve earned the rest of the day off, and I have a Netflix DVD to watch tonight, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows — and with Elementary also on tonight, I guess I’m in for a Holmesian evening. Then I’ll start revising the MS tomorrow and continue over the weekend. Revisions always go much faster than the first draft, so I should be able to make at least a couple of passes through the book in that time. All in all, given how much I was delayed getting started, it’s turned out fine.

More vintage cartoons: Filmation’s Lone Ranger and Zorro

Lately I’ve been revisiting two more animated shows from my youth, Filmation’s The New Adventures of the Lone Ranger from 1980 andThe New Adventures of Zorro from 1981, which aired as part of The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour.  Both are available on a combined DVD set (on alternate discs); however, Netflix only has the second Lone Ranger disc in stock at this time, so I’m having to settle for only seeing half the series. These shows date from the two years just after Filmation’s classic Flash Gordon, when their production values became more sophisticated.  They, along with Blackstar, were the final adventure series produced by Filmation under producers Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott together; after 1981, Prescott left and Scheimer continued alone.

As you can see from the titles mentioned above, Filmation at this point was heavily into adaptations of classic adventure heroes, and both Lone Ranger and Zorro were fairly faithful interpretations. The New Adventures of the Lone Ranger starred actor/announcer William Conrad (star of the TV series Cannon) as the voice of the Lone Ranger and the announcer of the opening titles, which faithfully recreated the narration from the original radio and TV shows, and used the standard William Tell Overture as the theme music.  According to the special features, Conrad did the role out of love for the Lone Ranger but didn’t want to be credited by name (perhaps because he was a big star by then and didn’t want to be associated with kidvid, or perhaps as a more benevolent gesture so Filmation didn’t have to pay him as much as his name was worth), so he was billed pseudonymously as J. Darnoc — just his surname in reverse, with the “J.” probably an homage to Jay Ward, producer of shows such as The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right, which Conrad narrated. (At least that’s what I’ve always assumed; one of the people interviewed in the bonus features said it was Conrad’s middle initial. In fact his real name was John William Cann, Jr., so it would’ve been his first initial.)  Tonto was played by Native American actor Ivan Naranjo; Filmation was generally pretty good at inclusive casting, making sure that “ethnic” characters were played by actors of the same ethnicity.  The rest of the cast was… variable.  Again, I’ve only gotten the second half of the series, but in the first few episodes on the disc, all the male voices other than the Ranger and Tonto are by Scheimer himself, and the female voices are by his wife Lane and his daughter Erika.  All the Scheimers often did supporting voices in Filmation shows, but Scheimer was no Mel Blanc; he had a relatively wide repertoire of character voices, but they weren’t different enough that he could really carry an entire cast all by himself, so it quickly grew tiresome.  And the female Scheimers simply weren’t very good actresses, especially the shrill-voiced Erika.  Fortunately, the great Frank Welker took over as the main male “guest” voice after a while — a bit surprising, really, since the prolific Welker didn’t do much work with Filmation over the course of his career, except for a brief period from about 1979-81.  Another few uncredited voices showed up here and there, including Alan Oppenheimer (Ming on Flash Gordon, Skeletor and Man-at-Arms on He-Man).  Some of the Native American characters had a voice I recognize from the ’70s show Lassie’s Rescue Rangers, an actor who played a regular Native American character on that show; IMDb credits Hal Harvey in that role, but I’m not sure how much I trust that attribution.  And there’s one guest role whose voice I’m almost certain belonged to Mission: Impossible star Greg Morris!

Anyway, Ranger followed a formula that probably wasn’t too different from the original television series, with the Ranger and Tonto travelling the West and nonviolently helping people in danger.  The Ranger carried his gun and used his silver bullets, but only for precision shooting of ropes, branches, playing cards, and other inanimate objects.  (In fact, silver bullets would be terrible for precision shots; the soft metal deforms easily and the bullets tend to spin or fragment.)  He’d usually catch bad guys with his lasso.  And the bad guys were often exceptionally bad for Filmation; usually Filmation antagonists tended to be misunderstood and readily reformed when shown a little kindness, but these were unrepentant scoundrels.  In one episode, a pair of cattle rustlers/land thieves get their lives saved by the homesteader they were trying to rip off, and I expected them to apologize and repent their sins, but instead they remained the same lily-livered varmints they’d always been.

So maybe Filmation was a little less determined to be wholesome at this point, but they still strove to make the show educational, by having the Ranger and Tonto constantly get involved with real events and people from the Old West, including Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, Belle Starr, the James brothers, Matthew Brady, Nellie Bly, etc.  I actually learned a lot about history from watching this show back in the day.  The problem is that these events range from the brief run of the Pony Express in 1860-61 to the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1889, and yet the Ranger, Tonto, and their horses remain ageless and unchanging over this span of nearly three decades (which is not presented in any kind of chronological order).  So in the course of teaching history, the show played a bit fast and loose with it.

Filmation’s limited animation at this point had reached the stage where they created some fluidly animated movement sequences — in this case, mainly involving riders mounting, dismounting, and riding horses, horses rearing up, etc. — and kept using them over and over and over again, often several times an episode.  The highlight here is a rather nice shot of the heroes riding away from the camera, with Silver’s and Scout’s tails sweeping in to fill the frame with white and then rather gracefully swishing away while the riders recede into the distance.  It’s a lovely bit of animation, but it does get a bit tired when you see it five times in eleven minutes.  As usual for Filmation, though, the background art is superb — lush vistas of Western landscapes and towns, rendered in a painted-line-art style that’s unusual for Filmation but is quite elegant and beautiful.  Some of the background art looks like it may have been traced from vintage photos or illustrations.

Zorro was a moderately faithful adaptation of Johnston McCulley’s creation, featuring characters from the original book — not just Don Diego/Zorro (one of the models for Batman, a masked hero who hides behind a foppish, dissolute facade), but his corrupt rival Capitan Ramon, the bumbling Sergeant Gonzalez, and his father Don Alejandro.  Although they replaced Diego’s deaf/mute servant with Miguel, who’s basically the equivalent of the Green Hornet’s Kato — a servant who fights alongside the hero and has no nickname of his own (Zorro just calls him “amigo,” leading me to wonder how many non-Spanish-speaking kids thought that Amigo was his hero name). Most of the episodes were written by Arthur Browne Jr., a veteran writer of TV Westerns for decades, including The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, and The Big Valley. They did a good job capturing a classic adventure flavor, and Zorro’s personality as a dashing gentleman thief and Errol Flynn type, though the stories could be fairly simple, and quite repetitive if watched back to back on DVD. The remaining episodes were by Robbie London, who would go on to work on many later Filmation shows (notably He-Man) but who was just starting out here. His first episode, “Fort Ramon,” is an incoherent mess: Ramon takes over a mission and somehow manages to turn it into a fort with high stone walls in a matter of hours; then Zorro and Miguel plant explosives to blow it up but are discovered and driven off, yet it never occurs to Ramon to search the fort and find the explosives in plain sight; etc. Fortunately they weren’t all that bad.

What makes this show unique in Filmation’s canon is that it wasn’t animated in the US.  This was the only time that Filmation gave into the trend of outsourcing the animation work to Asia, since the abundance of other work they had in 1981 required sharing the load. But they had the good sense to go with the best animation studio in Japan, Tokyo Movie Shinsha (who made Akira and did fine work on plenty of other US animated shows including The Real Ghostbusters, Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS, the ’90s Spider-Man, etc.).  The storyboard and layout work was still done in-house at Filmation, though, as is usually the case.  The show thus looks very different from Filmation’s usual work.  On the one hand, the animation is much more fluid and less repetitive, though it still depends heavily on stock rotoscoped animation of swordfighting moves, with different characters traced over the same set of movements in different episodes/scenes.  And it has some of those nifty little touches that make TMS work so expressive, like what I’ve come to think of as “the TMS run.”  Most animation houses give running characters a pretty basic, regular motion cycle, but when TMS characters run, they often move irregularly, flailing and off-balance, their pace syncopated and uneven, and it just gives it such a sense of character and energy and naturalism.  So overall, the animation is a great improvement on Filmation’s usual work. (It was rather amusing to hear Scheimer in the special features complaining that TMS’s work was below Filmation’s usual standard.)  Yet on the other hand, TMS’s drawing and painting style at the time was rougher and messier than Filmation’s — the lines less clean, the background paintings more impressionistic.  It doesn’t work as well for me, and it just doesn’t feel like a Filmation show.

Indeed, despite the fact that Zorro was the only collaboration between two of my favorite animation studios, Filmation and TMS, I’m surprised at how lukewarm I am about it.  The production values are cool, but the stories don’t grab me.  It’s a very straightforward historical series where the threats are things like pirates and floods and the oppressive policies of the greedy governor-general, and I guess that just doesn’t captivate me.  And it has the usual problem of kids’ shows built around swordfighting, in that the fights always have to be inconclusive (see also Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog).  In the show, the fights always end with Zorro or Miguel disarming their opponents — which just makes me wonder why the opponents never just pick their swords back up. Although there are a few times when they do.

And one thing strikes me as odd about Zorro, watching it so soon after the 2012 presidential election. I’ve always thought of Filmation’s shows as socially liberal in orientation — promoting racial tolerance and diversity, peace over fighting, things like that. Yet Zorro‘s narrative of the corrupt government using taxation as a tool of oppression and theft, with the heroic outlaw returning the people’s money to them, feels like kind of a right-wing propaganda message, particularly considering that the show came out right after Ronald Reagan’s massive tax cuts were signed into law. I’m not saying that was the intent, and it probably wasn’t. Scheimer just picked up the rights to Zorro because it was an established property and an easier sell to the networks than an unknown concept, as he explained in the bonus  interviews. And it certainly never occurred to me as a kid watching in ’81 to think of it in those terms. Still, watching it in a 2012 political context, it comes off a little oddly for Filmation.

Still, as with Lone Ranger, Filmation deserves credit for ethnically inclusive casting.  The principal cast here was mostly Latino, headlined by Henry Darrow as Zorro/Don Diego.  Darrow was actually the first Latino to play Zorro, and this was the first of three consecutive Zorro TV series that Darrow starred in, interestingly enough.   Two years later, in the short-lived sitcom Zorro and Son, he played an aging Don Diego trying to train his bumbling son to take his place (yes, nearly the same premise as Anthony Hopkins’s The Mask of Zorro); and in the ’90s, Darrow played Don Alejandro opposite Duncan Regehr’s Zorro in the Disney Channel Zorro.  The rest of the cast consists of people whose names I’m unfamiliar with, though Sgt. Gonzales was played by Don Diamond, who had a recurring role in the 1957 Guy Williams Zorro series as the assistant to Sgt. Garcia, the Gonzales-equivalent character in that show.  So aside from Darrow, the only voice I recognize is Scheimer, who inevitably shows up doing various bit roles.

Both these shows are also from a new era musically; from about ’79 onward, Filmation stopped reusing musical cues from its earlier ’70s shows and its composers Ray Ellis and Norm Prescott (under the pseudonyms Yvette Blais and Jeff Michael) produced lusher, richer scores.  Both LR and Z still used score libraries rather than scoring each episode individually, but each show’s library cues were written specifically for it rather than recycled from earlier shows, though a couple of Lone Ranger cues were recycled in Zorro and both shows cribbed the occasional Flash Gordon cue.  Both scores are in a classy, rich orchestral style evocative of old adventure movies and serials, and are probably the best things about both shows.  Although each show just recycles the same cues over and over (and whoever was editing Filmation’s music around 1980 liked to jump between brief fragments of different cues, which can be quite jarring), the cues themselves are really good, among my favorites of Ellis and Prescott’s work.  Both shows’ scores are very reminiscent of the gorgeous Flash Gordon score, with the flavor of ’30s or ’40s movie and adventure-serial scores, but more tailored to their genres — more Western-sounding and Copland-influenced for LR, more Latin-tinged and Errol Flynn-esque for Zorro.  Repetitive though it is, it’s gorgeous music, and I deeply wish somebody would unearth the original master tapes for all of Filmation’s music, restore and remaster it, and put it all on CD.  Sadly, it’s unclear whether those masters even still exist. And there’s no telling what kind of clearance complications there would be, with so many of the scores written for licensed productions.

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