Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Redditor resurrects Star Wars-inspired CBS sitcom pilot from 1979

Illustration for article titled Redditor resurrects iStar Wars/i-inspired CBS sitcom pilot from 1979

The Mos Eisley cantina scene from Star Wars was one of the cinematic sensations of 1977, and a mere two years later it inspired a situation comedy pilot called Starstruck which aired exactly once on CBS and was thereafter forgotten. The proposed series would have followed the plucky McAllister clan as they ran a deep-space hotel with its own built-in bar and restaurant, assisted by various wisecracking robots, homely-cute aliens, and a taciturn, muscular, bald bartender with a penchant for scoop-necked mesh shirts. Crew member Chuck Cirino, who worked on the impressive-for-the-time visual effects, recently revived interest in the long-dormant pilot by posting it to Reddit. In the comments section, he gave a little background info on Starstruck and his involvement therein:

I did the visual effects and supervised the miniature space ships. My good friend Jim Wynorski, a production assistant on this show, went on to direct dozens of B-movies for Roger Corman. I now write the music for Jim’s movies. And many of them play on Syfy. Other people of note are Dick Durock, who plays the villain at the end, who also played Swamp Thing in the film The Return Of Swamp Thing, who was also directed by Jim Wynorski in that film 10 years later. Robert Short, who played Hudson the robot also created and built the robots for the cult classic, Chopping Mall… also directed by Jim Wynorski and music by me. Many of the aliens at the bar were played by actors who also appeared in the cantina band sequence in Star Wars. The masks they wear in this show were of their own personal construction. I could go on and on…

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The pilot itself is more of a well-intentioned curiosity than a hidden gem. While it should play like an interstellar combination of Fawlty Towers and Casablanca, the corny jokes (such as a urinating Tribble-like creature called “Dustball”) make it feel more like a slightly classier, high-end version of The Star Wars Holiday Special, a situation made worse by the relentless laugh track. Though lacking in huge stars, the cast does feature a few familiar folks, including Joe Silver (They Came From Within), Roy Brocksmith (Total Recall, The Hudsucker Proxy) and Lynne Lipton (the voice of Cheetara on Thundercats).

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