It’s 2:18 pm
In 1973 acclaimed novelist Michael Crichton wrote and directed the now classic “Westworld” starring Yul Brynner,James Brolin and Richard Benjamin. It was sort of like a early Jurassic Park..the Delios Corp. has recreated a tourist park where folks can feel like they are back in the Old West. Advanced robots populate the park and guests can throw down with a gunfighter,run a saloon,rob a bank. There were two other parks but Westwold was where this film is set in.
But when the robots suddenly go rogue,things go terribly,terribly wrong and those same guests are being killed. Yul Brynner’s turn as The Gunfighter once and for all cemented his place as a Hollywood legend. It’s was Crichton’s first movie that he directed. As mentioned,he would revisit this theme again with the Jurassic Park novels and once again would find tremendous success.
My biggest impression when I watched “Westworld” for the first time was actually watching one of two main stars be killed onscreen and it wasn’t wasn’t who you would think would die. Of course that now pretty common place and isn’t nearly as shocking as it was to a 11 year old kid.
Then because “Westworld” was such a huge hit back then,we got a sequel called “Futureworld” starring Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner. It wasn’t as well received but still did enough business that in 1980 CBS decided to revisit the premise in the series “Beyond Westworld”.
The show recounts what happened in the original “Westworld” and establishes the fact that mad scientist Simon Quaid (James Wainright) has stolen 200 androids from Delos and is going to use them to take over the world,he is taking them beyond Westworld.
Delos,the company behind the parks and androids,decides to send their security chief John Moore (Jim McMullan) along with the lovely Linda Garvey (Judith Chapman) to try and stop Quaid. They in turn would be backed by the creator of the Delos androids,Dr. Joseph Oppenheimer (William Jordan). Quaid was once Oppenheimer’s right hand man so we can see why Oppenheimer has a personal interest in stopping Quaid.
So how good was “Beyond Westworld”? I asked our streetwise informant at Warner Brothers Archives and all he would say was it was a “MGM Studios put this out,WB had NOTHING to do with this.”
Most TV shows that get ordered to series get at the very least 13 episodes,this means no matter how bad the ratings are,a show will get 13 episodes,if the show is a hit,they get the order for a full season which was between 22-26 episodes back in 1980.
“Beyond Westworld” got pulled after FIVE episodes of which only three were ever aired.
It was that bad according to the ratings and to CBS. So you are wondering,was it really THAT bad? Oh hell yes….other then Judith Chapman’s turn as in Linda Garvey in the first episode,there is precious little to recommend about “Beyond Westworld”.
As for Judith Chapman,well her role was replaced by Connie Sellecca as special agent Pamela Williams who once had a “past” with Moore.
What hurt “Beyond Westworld” the most? For me,it was two things….the plot line for the show and that was the show looked cheap as hell. Everything screamed “LOW BUDGET” in worst kind of way. From Simon Quaid’s “high tech” headquarters to submarine set in the pilot episode,”Westworld Destroyed”,nothing was convincing. Several choppy and badly edited scenes were sprinkled about as well…..Moore being tied up in a straight jacket one scene,taking it off in another and then BACK in the jacket the next!! Or dashing off in a race car and driving off at full speed and yet having time in the next
The stories were half baked as well….for being such a “creative genius”,Simon Quaid comes across as a total incompetent fool with some of the corniest “plans” this side of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers series. Quaid even does two critical elements that every cheesy bad guy does,he monologues and instead of just shooting Moore when he has a chance,he leaves a android rattlesnake to do the job so it appears to look like a “accident”.
But the good guys don’t get any better….think about it: A company already under incredible pressure losing 200 androids under the control of a madman and you only send 2 people out into the field to stop them? No federal government help? No android of their own for back-up? Pamela Williams is a “special agent” but for whom? Its never stated who she was working for.
The cast does it best with such tired and worn out stories. James Wainwright was always a effective heavy and he does the best he can with what he was given. McMullan was a well known character actor with for over 150 credits on both film and TV. Again,he does what he can with the scripts. Connie Sellecca looked completely bored and had zero chemistry with McMullan’s Moore with whom she once shared a romantic past.
William Jordan wasn’t given a lot to do as Oppenheimer other then unspool lots of fried cassette tape and wires. Judith Chapman might have been the luckiest actor in the fact she escaped this series after just one episode!!
The one bright light in this series were the guest stars….”Beyond Westworld” had a nice little bundle of talented guest stars to pop up….George Takei,Monte Markham,Russell Johnson,Michael Cole,Christine Belford and Christopher Connelly were some of the known faces to show up.
Lou Shaw was the mind behind “Beyond Westworld” and I’m sure he wasn’t pleased with having his creation reduced to cheetahpoo like this. Shaw had a strong history in Hollywood as he had written and produced a lot of well known shows. Lucky for us all,he didn’t allow “Beyond Westworld” to sour him as he later co-created with Glen A. Larson the great show,”Quincy” with Jack Klugman.
Sometimes you hear folks bitch and complain about a favorite being given the hook waaaay to soon,”Beyond Westworld” will never be talked in that way,trust us.
The cheetah and I gave this one two thumbs down and a furball.
“Beyond Westworld” runs for 5 episodes and has a run time of 243 minutes.
This release has no bonus extras and you can purchase it at the Warner Brothers Archive website.