Friday 22 May 2015

1996: DARK STAR Issue 13

From 1996: The thirteenth issue of Rob Dyer's fanzine DARK STAR.  

I found this random issue in a store recently.  I don't remember seeing this particular issue back in '96 but - prior to that - I have a hunch that the Forbidden Planet branch on London's New Oxford Street used to carry copies when they still had a fanzine section in the basement.  Looking back... I wish I'd paid more attention (and had more money) to sample the collective wares. 

I know very little about DARK STAR so there's not a lot of background or context I can add.

I suspect the cover feature comes off the back of the late Michael O'Hare's visit to the UK after he bowed out of BABYLON FIVE after the first season.  I remember him doing the rounds of various stores signing stuff (in these more innocent times he would rock up to one of the organized events and charge a fortune each time he picked up his pen).

He also made a personal appearance at a long-defunct SF cafe just off London's Tottenham Court Road.  They had a lecture theatre/ screening room upstairs and he gave a talk and Q&A.  This was also filmed and later sold on VHS tape.  I think I have a DVD dub of my original VHS somewhere...

O'Hare (who, it seems, had a more troubled private life than anyone was privy to at the time) came across as being more relaxed and likeable than he ever did on screen.  It was always tricky to know whether his performance was because he saw the character as by-the-book and unemotional or whether he just wasn't a terribly good actor.  

I assumed, at the time,  his replacement on the show, Bruce Boxleitner, was drafted in by the studio after season one to raise the show's game. He was a more established acting talent and also able to boost the show's appeal to wavering station managers and groups by parachuting in a known star who had already anchored several network dramas.  

O'Hare suffered from mental illness for some twenty years but died of a heart attack, aged sixty, in 2012.  The B5 cast has been particularly cursed and other talented members who are no longer with us also number Richard Biggs (who was only 44 when he died), Andreas Katsulas and Jeff Conaway. 

1 comment:

  1. thanks for this excellent piece on the enigmatic mr o' hare. I only learned of his passing in INTERZONE, none of the regular sci-fi mags even reported it. I'd say that your assessment of him as an actor is quite accurate but then they said the same of adam west, that he was a stiff actor who was cast in the perfect role i.e batman. I would liken his recasting to Jeffrey hunter being replaced by bill shatner in star trek. There's no doubt that the show improved with the arrival of Boxleitner ( who had previous form in TRON. )
    O' Hare's death made me seek out his splendid interview in STARLOG in which he seemed to master the art of telling no secrets about the plot of Babylon 5. You were very lucky indeed to stumble upon that fanzine, they would be a lot harder to obtain these days, more so than a standard magazine. I remember one fanzine titled 5 TIMES which had a memorable cover of lyta and the vorlon. As for your wish that you had paid more attention to this stuff at the time, that makes two of us.

    I well remember o' hares uk visit as it was extensively covered in mags such as tv zone and starburst. Babylon 5 never really had much longevity as a franchise but at its peak back then it seemed to be everywhere.

    Slow, could you scan a few pages from this fanzine..?


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