What does it say about the state of nearly everything that the machines are getting the best lines in pop entertainment of the '70s? "Logan's Run," premiering tonight on CBS, is flesh-and-boneless fare until a dapper android happens along in the last half hour.
The android, called Rem and played by Donald Moffat, obviously owes his existence not so much to science or science fiction as to the success of "Star Wars" and its popular C3PO gentleman's gentlething, whom Rem resembles. He's a pleasant fellow, a sort of robot vivant, and if "Run" keeps running, he'll be largely responsible.
The show, bowing in a 90-minute version at 9.30 on Channel 9, has at least one thing in its favor: It is in all ways better than the theatrical feature it is based on and which CBS recently aired. That "Logan's Run" was a 24th-century snooze, and there was nowhere to run but up.
Unfortunately, some of the people connected with the MGM film are associated with the MGM TV series, so, at least on the opener, most of the piot elements seem borrowed from other sci-fi movies of TV shows. Still, the two leads are attractive, Rem is a gem, and the program offers a visual ambience that differs from most other shows on the air.
Footage from the feature was incorporated into the opening show, with a symbolic alteration. Again we see the arena where, in this year of 2319,200 years after nuclear war has devastated the world, people are spritzed into so much popcorn on the day they reach their 30th birthdays.
But the spritzing has been toned dow+n for the new age of ultra-noviolent TV. Instead of exploding in the air and showering sparks, people now turn a number of pretty colors and then just disappear. It's about as violent as a Levi's ad.
Bucking custom, the actors playing Logan Five and Jessica Six (and baby makes three?) In the TV show are better than the actors in the movie were. Gregory Harrison improves substantially upon the dazed Michael York; worked in the sloppy feature. "Fraternity Row," that he has a big future ahead of him. Whether it's in the 24th century or not is another question.
And Heather Menzies, who escapes with Harrison from the doomed city and out into adventureworld, proves light years beyond the comatose Jenny Agutter of the film. Harrison and Menzies are likable, young, and easy to take.
Originally, the "Logan's Run" airing tonight was a one-hour show, as others in the series will be. Then CBS decided to make a splash with a 90-minute edition, so the producers simply padded out the middle of the show with an additional stop along the trail for the two escapees. ("Logan's Run" is like "The Fugitive" set 342 years hence.)
It's a witless addition, as the pair encounters a passive race of scaredy cats whom Logan encourages to rebel against their masters. After a big, if gentle, broawl, a bearded old gramps declares, "I feel like a man again." A questionable moral for a vapid diversion.
Eventually we wind up at robot city for a hot bath and the introduction of Moffat as Rem. It's a turn for the better, and the last few scenes suggest that, though mechanical and hardly innovative, "Logan's Run" may pick up speed and become a worthy favorite, at least of children and teen-agers. Andmaybe of toasters, blenders and hair dryers too.