World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

L Entries
  Elsa Lanchester
  Martin Landau
  Fritz Lang
  Robert Lansing
  Glen A. Larson
  Jack Larson
  Jennifer Lawrence
  Christopher Lee
  Mark Lenard
  John Lennon
  John Lithgow
  June Lockhart
  Robert Longo
  Peter Lorre
  Eugene Lourie
  George Lucas
  Bela Lugosi
  William Lundigan
(1937– ). American producer and writer.

Produced: The Six Million Dollar Man (tv series) (1973–1978); The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (tv series) (and wrote theme music) (1977–1979); Battlestar Galactica (tv series) (and wrote theme music) (1978–1979); Battlestar Galactica (and wrote) (Richard A. Colla and Alan J. Levi, uncredited) (1978) (film constructed from episode of Battlestar Galactica entitled "Saga of a Star World"); Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack (Vince Edwards and Christian I. Nyby II 1978) (film constructed from episode of Battlestar Galactica entitled "The Living Legend"); Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century (and wrote with Leslie STEVENS) (Daniel Haller 1979) (film constructed from episode of Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century entitled "Awakening"); Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century (tv series) (and created with Stevens, and wrote theme music) (1979–1981); Galactica 1980 (tv series) (and wrote theme music) (1980); Conquest of the Earth (and wrote) (video) (Barry Crane, Sidney Hayes, and Sigmund Neufeld, Jr. 1980) (video constructed from episodes of Galactica 1980 entitled "Galactica Discovers Earth" and "The Night the Cylons Landed"); Knight Rider (tv movie) (and co-wrote with Tom Greene) (Haller 1982); Knight Rider (and created and wrote theme music) (tv series) (1982–1986); Manimal (and created) (tv series) (1983); Automan (tv movie) (and wrote) (Lee Katzin 1983); Automan (and created) (tv series) (1983–1984); Cover Up (also known as Masquerade) (tv series) (1984); The Highwayman (tv series) (1988); Knight Rider 2000 (tv movie) (Levi 1991); Team Knight Rider (tv series) (1997); NightMan (tv movie) (and co-wrote with Mark Jones and Nick Daniel and co-directed with Jones) (1997); NightMan (tv series) (and created) (1997–1998); The Darwin Conspiracy (tv movie) (and wrote) (Winrich Kolbe 1999); Millennium Man (tv movie) (and wrote) (Bradford May 1999).

Consulting producer: Battlestar Galactica (tv miniseries) (and based on his work) (2003 ); Battlestar Galactica (tv series) (2004- ).

Wrote: The Six Million Dollar Man: Wine, Women, and War (tv movie) (Russ Mayberry 1973); "Lost Planet of the Gods" (with Don BELLISARIO) (two-part episode), "The Magnificent Warriors," "War of the Gods" (two-part episode) (1978), "Greetings from Earth," "Experiment in Terra" (1979), episodes of Battlestar Galactica; "Galactica Discovers Earth" (three-part episode), "The Super Scouts" (two-part episode), "Spaceball" (with Frank Lupo and Jeff Freilich), "The Night the Cylons Landed," "So This Is New York," "The Return of Starbuck" (1980), episodes of Galactica 1980; "Night of the Phoenix" (two-part episode) (1982), episode of Knight Rider; "Manimal," "Night of the Scorpion" (1983), episodes of Manimal; "Staying Alive While Running a High Flashdance Fever" (1983), episode of Automan; Chameleons (tv movie) (co-wrote with Stephen A. Miller and directed) (Larson 1989).

The only thing Glen A. Larson knew about science fiction was that other people were making money off of it. So, whenever the time seemed propitious, he stepped in to claim his piece of the pie, producing mounds of wretched entertainment to the benefit of no one but himself and members of his immediate family.

Needless to say, this overview does not precisely accord with the authorized version of Larson's biography. Though a previous career of crooning with the Four Freshmen would suggest no interest in or aptitude for writing science fiction, we have been solemnly informed that Larson first demonstrated his authorial talents to television executives in the early 1960s by showing them his original science fiction script, "Adam's Ark," which would eventually engender the series Battlestar Galactica. I possess no evidence to dispute the story, but it might strike any objective observer as a suspiciously self-serving claim, coming from a man who in 1978 faced a huge lawsuit for purportedly plagiarizing George LUCAS's 1977 film Star Wars. Furthermore, the skeptical attorney for the plaintiff might inquire, if Larson had harbored a passionate desire to write science fiction in the 1960s and early 1970s, why didn't he attempt to write for series like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lost in Space, or Star Trek? Why do we instead find his name as writer and/or producer linked only to forgettably mundane series like The Fugitive, The Virginian, Alias Smith and Jones, Get Christie Love, Switch, and Quincy M.E.?

In any event, Larson's first documented association with science fiction, of the most tepid variety, came in his work for the series The Six Million Dollar Man, essentially a routine spy thriller interspersed with two-minute sequences of star Lee Majors performing spectacular stunts in slow motion, with occasional episodes that awkwardly ventured into genuinely speculative territory by featuring aliens or Bigfoot. The series established what would emerge as the major recurring pattern in Larson's producing career: the modestly imaginative superhero mired in astoundingly unimaginative plots and situations.

His next success, the series The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (at times decoupled as separate offerings), is primarily noteworthy because it introduced Larson's habit of drawing upon his musical background to compose mediocre theme music for his series, thus earning himself another undeserved paycheck. Somehow, ABC became convinced that Larson was the perfect person to come up with television's answer to Star Wars for their Sunday night lineup. Larson's brilliant response to the challenge: first, recalling that the most successful Sunday-night drama in television history had been the western Bonanza, he hired its star Lorne GREENE, guessing that the actor had some special gift for attracting Sunday-night viewers. He then hired special-effects artist John DYKSTRA to ensure that all the sets and props would look exactly like those in Star Wars, evidently believing that this in itself would guarantee the series's success, despite the absence of all the other elements—such as an intelligent, well-developed background, inspired plotting, and capable actors—that made the film so popular. The result of his labors, as immediately evidenced by a three-hour premiere that rapidly plummeted from Star Wars-like grandeur to Lost in Space-like inanity, easily qualifies as one of the greatest disasters in the history of television, the series that edges out Gerry ANDERSON and Sylvia ANDERSON's Space: 1999 as the worst science fiction series of all time. In an effort to rescue the series, the inert Greene and Richard Hatch were thrust to the sidelines to focus on the animate Dirk Benedict, but the plots remained as idiotic as ever, and only an unbreakable contract kept the series limping along for a single season. Surprisingly, as evidence of the rampant stupidity, vacuity, and incompetence in contemporary Hollywood, rival factions emerged in 2002 to fight for the rights to relaunch Battlestar Galactica (which was like fighting for the rights to make a sequel to Howard the Duck). Unsurprisingly, the miniseries and series that eventually resulted were, by all accounts, infinitely better than the original—but how could they possibly have been worse?

The unexpected collapse of Battlestar Galactica left Larson with some big bills to pay and a warehouse full of science fiction models and props, prompting some initiatives in recycling that were more creative than anything Larson had displayed on the screen. First, he reedited material from already-aired episodes of Battlestar Galactica into two feature-length films that were rushed in theaters to garner quick profits before filmgoers realized they were watching leftovers. Next, he came up with two new science fiction series to reuse some of the Battlestar Galactica hardware. The first one, a revival of Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century, was by Larson's standards not half-bad; stars Gil Gerard and Tim O'Connor possessed a modicum of acting skill, and the demands of emulating a 1930s serial for children were marginally within the realm of Larson's expertise. When the series attempted the more arduous task of emulating Star Trek in its second season, however, the game was over. The second series, Galactica 1980, artlessly endeavored to continue the storyline of Battlestar Galactica by bringing an older but not wiser Greene to contemporary Earth, accompanied by bland new regulars, where they begin for some reason to chase the nasty Cylons back and forth through time, evidently in order to combine Larson's remaining space-age stuff with historical costumes and props economically retrieved from studio storage rooms. It lasted for half a season, much longer than it deserved to.

While recovering from the debacle of Battlestar Galactica, Larson kept himself busy with listless exercises like B.J. and the Bear, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, and The Fall Guy before finally returning to science fiction with the series Knight Rider, the modestly futuristic saga of a man partnered with a technologically advanced talking car named KITT. While little more than a science-fictional take on the pathetic sitcom My Mother, the Car, the series came together remarkably well, largely due to the accident of what was, for Larson, the unusually appealing cast of the charismatic David Hasselhoff, the urbane Edward Mulhare, and the sardonic William Daniels as the voice of the car. Any suspicions that Larson had reacquired his magic touch, however, were dashed by the rapid failures of his next hapless ventures into gimmicky superheroics starring the changeling Manimal and the computer-created Automan; equally ephemeral were two subsequent series, the spy thriller Cover Up and The Highwayman, which attempted to do for trucks what Knight Rider had done for cars. By the late 1980s, even the densest denizens of the television industry recognized that Larson's projects weren't taking anybody to Easy Street, which is why two other projected series—Chameleons and a revival of Knight Rider—never advanced beyond the pilot/tv movie stage.

Still, suckers are like buses—there's always a new one coming around—and ongoing expansion in the syndication and cable markets of the 1990s created new opportunities for Larson series, though it was not unexpected to learn that another effort to recycle Knight Rider, Team Knight Rider, and another derivative superhero, NightMan, failed to attract many viewers. After two widely panned tv movies in 1999—The Darwin Conspiracy and Millennium Man—fans of quality television might have reasonably hoped that Larson, now in his sixties, would consider retirement. But if Larson has no other virtues, one must credit him with persistence: as part of the Byzantine deal that led to the Battlestar Galactica revival, he negotiated himself the lucrative title of "consulting producer" (although new producer Ronald D. MOORE, who demonstrated his skills in science fiction with work for the Star Trek franchise, has thankfully displayed no inclination to consult with Larson about anything), and he even garnered a writing credit for new episodes vaguely related to his earlier efforts. He also has apparently found financial backers for yet another revival of his greatest triumph, a film currently entitled Knight Rider and scheduled for release in 2006. One derives amusement from this prospect only by imagining what KITT would have to say about it: "You silly humans! You keep making the same mistakes, again and again and again!" And no business other than the entertainment industry would ever be so irrational as to allow a proven incompetent like Glen A. Larson to keep churning out his trademark mistakes.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2018 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art