There is only one week until “This Week in Geek” is taken out into a field and put down for good. In that spirit, this column is dedicated to things of a geeky nature that were taken away from this world a bit too prematurely.
TV – “Heat Vision and Jack” (1999)
You’ve never seen this. I’ve never seen this. But I want to see it. This pilot for FOX was never aired.
A former astronaut named Jack Austin got too close to the sun on an adventure. As a result, he becomes the smartest man alive when exposed to sunlight and becomes dumb as a post when in the dark.
He rides around on a talking motorcycle named Heat Vision, which is actually a combination of his former roommate and his motorcycle.
Yeah, this is a weird plot, but let me rattle off some names. Jack was played by Jack Black. Owen Wilson provided the voice of Heat Vision. Ron Silver played himself, a part-time actor and ex-astronaut whose mission was to take out Jack. And the whole thing was directed by Ben Stiller.
To get your hands on this, you need to get a bootleg copy (I found a couple with Buy-It-Now prices under $10 on eBay). Although the pilot was never aired, it would surely get picked up if it was aired today – and none of those big names would come back for it.
Film – “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” (2000)
Some people love Terry Gilliam’s films, others hate them. For every person I meet who absolutely loves “Time Bandits,” there’s another who can’t sit through five minutes of it.
Still, the man who is responsible for all of the Monty Python animation (and is the sole American in the troupe) is remarkably talented and imaginative, and he was the perfect guy to be in charge of a movie about Don Quixote, starring everybody’s favorite pirate and high school detective, Johnny Depp.
The film had to have been cursed. With torrential rainstorms, the injury of one of the other stars and military jets constantly flying above the set, there was no way it could get off the ground.
If you don’t believe me, the evidence is the documentary “Lost in La Mancha.” That’s right, we didn’t get the actual movie, but we got a documentary about the movie’s problems.
Toys – Indiana Jones action figures
I absolutely love the “Indiana Jones” trilogy, all three of which remain among the best action films ever made.
Rumor has it that we’re getting the long-awaited fourth film next year, but I’m positive that’s not happening.
If it actually goes into production next year, that will be a huge step.
The movies were box office smashes, and the cast of characters and breadth of action sequences naturally lent the characters to toys. But “Indiana Jones” toys never took off.
A very small series of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” action figures were made. They were on the same scale as “Star Wars” and G.I. Joe figures, which allowed for some really cool playsets recreating key scenes from the movie.
For some reason, they did not sell. There was a “Temple of Doom” series too, but there were only three figures (a Short Round figure was planned but never produced, which sucks because Jonathan Ke Quan ruled in 1984-1985).
The small amount of merchandise brings big money on the secondary market, but I guess Indiana Jones is just too mature for kids.
I guess this week’s column proves that even if every geek factor is perfectly aligned, it does not necessarily translate into success.