20171117

STEELY DAN

In 1972, Donald Fagen (then 24) and Walter Becker (then 22) formed the rock band Steely Dan. The name Steely Dan was borrowed from William S. Burroughs' 1959 book 'Naked Lunch' ("Steely Dan III From Yokohama"). They met in 1967 as undergraduates at Bard College in upstate New York. Ten songs from Steely Dan reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 Hits chart between 1973 and 1981. The 6-minute song 'Do It Again' (peaked at No. 6) was the breakout hit from Steely Dan's first album, 'Can't Buy A Thrill'. 

"We don’t have much of a problem with singles material, because unlike a lot of other basically FM groups, our music tends to be adaptable to really commercial purposes," Donald Fagen told the press at the time. For some singers and listeners, it was hard to make sense of the often hidden meanings in the lyrics of many of Steely Dan's songs. However both advised their music was "based on things we know about." 

'Pittsburgh Post-Gazette' noted, "Steely Dan's relaxed music is offset by dark, sardonic lyrics. All songs loaded with a detail for places and names that calls for a Steely Dan Dictionary on the Web." Donald Fagen explained to the 'Los Angeles Times', "Actually Walter and I are very sweet-natured lads. We were angry kids, there's no doubt about it. To a lot of people, the '60s is now (in 1993) some sort of incredible layer cake invented by the media. But the fact was that we did have the attitude that we were brought up with, inauthentic values, etc., and were trying to find some other kind of alternative values. We were looking for that in a very aggressive way. And as you get older, you're not that angry anymore." 

Speaking to Arthur Lubow of 'New Times' magazine in 1977, William Burroughs made the observation, "These people are too fancy. They’re too sophisticated, they’re doing too many things at once in a song. To write a bestseller, you can’t have too much going on. You take 'The Godfather', the horse’s head. That’s great. But you can’t have a horse’s head on every page. These people tend to have too many horses’ heads."

Arthur Lubow remarked, "Even if you can’t understand some words of a Steely Dan song, the lyrics are usually evocative." 'Do It Again' was described as "a hypnotic tune about a professional loser." One reviewer in 2004 tried to make sense of the song, "The first verse's theme is irony. The second verse is about discord in relationships. The third verse is about the 'bad guys' in the world. All three verses share a common theme of things repeating themselves. With a song titled 'Do It Again', history repeats itself. Bottom line."

Donald Fagen maintained, "It has to do with when we were born and how we grew up. Even though we were really too young to experience a lot of the golden age of jazz in the '50s, nevertheless that's what we were into, through recordings, although we saw live jazz as well at the tail end of that era. And we also had literary aspirations, I suppose. We never try to be obscure. If we're communicating better, that's just another characteristic of sophistication.

"We're not particularly good popular-song writers. I usually come up with germinal musical idea, and then we will arrange to meet. Usually one or both of us won't show up, but I think we generally come to make something out of it. So it is really a collaboration. It's not one of us writing the music, the other lyrics. And it's not like Lennon and McCartney, who as I understand it's usually just wrote a song by themselves and then put both their names on it. It is a collaboration: we think very much the same musically. I can start songs and Walter can finish them. He's a very good editor also. He'll suggest improvements on my original idea, and then we'll work on lyrics together."

Steely Dan stopped touring in 1974 to "concentrate on recording and writing music, which takes a lot of time and thought." In 1981, Steely Dan disbanded but re-formed again in 1993. Arthur Lubow pointed out, "One reason that their material doesn’t appear on other records is that the melodies are hard to sing. A more forbidding handle is the nature of the lyrics."

Donald Fagen insisted, "I think one of the best things about rock and roll as opposed to jazz is precision and a professional sound. That’s what I like about popular music. We strive for that sort of slick sound. It just takes time to get something to be good, to get 8 or 10 songs that are all good. Most rock and roll albums will be padded with less than wonderful material. We want every bar of the album to be good."

Speaking to Bob DiCorcia in 1997, David Palmer stated, "The word 'genius' is bandied about a lot in pop music but those two are the genuine article. Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and a few others I can think of reinvented the medium for the '60s. They spoke to my generation in a way that the 'old guard' songwriters never could by combining their own musical-lyrical sense and created a hybrid that influenced songwriters for three decades (the '70s to the '90s).

"Wasn't it John Lennon who said that all he and Paul really wanted to do was be the next Goffin and King? I also think her pop sensibility runs like a thread through everything she’s ever written, from the Drifters to The Byrds to The Monkees through her 'Latin period' right up until the present — even if the styles changed — her sense of what makes a great pop song never has. I'm a fan of anyone who practices the 'craft' of songwriting and can hold my attention.

"I'm still a sucker for a great 'hook' … be it Smashing Pumpkins, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Patti Loveless, George Strait or Alanis Morrisette. I’m also not one who believes that art and commerce are mutually exclusive. I’ve been broke and I’ve had bread and having is much better. More power to anyone who can sell a zillion CDs."

20171116

MALIBU

"As a writer," the 'Los Angeles Times' observed, "William Murray often wrote about his passions, which included Italy and opera. After serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II, Murray moved to Rome and studied voice for five years before abandoning his dream of becoming an opera singer and turning to writing fiction and journalism. Fluent in Italian, Murray was also known for translating into English the plays of Italian dramatist Luigi Pirandello." 

In 1980, the novel 'Malibu' was published. In 1982, Robert Hamner adapted the William Murray's bestseller for television, first went on air over 2 nights in January 1983 starring Kim Novak, James Coburn, Eva Marie Saint, George Hamilton, Ann Jillian, Chad Everett, Susan Dey and Steve Forrest. Mark Snow composed the music to enhance the scenes and Anthony Newley sung the 'Malibu' song. 

Set in the Colony stretch of Malibu Beach, real estate agent Billie Farnsworth said, "Ambiance, that's what Malibu is all about." Written by Elliott Baker and directed by E.W. Swackhamer, the first part of the 4-hour TV mini-series ended similarly to 'Dynasty' first season with every cast member freeze-framed. Reviewer Bj Kirschner watching 'Malibu' in 2011 made the comment, "The freeze-frame flattering to absolutely none of them is truly the most bizarre ending of a first part I can remember."

It was understood 'Malibu' may become a weekly prime time soap on ABC in the 1983-84 season. The Malibu Racquet Club was reminiscent of La Mirage on 'Dynasty'. Ann Jillian played TV reporter Gail Hessian told 'Soap Opera Digest', "I think they (ABC) just might make this into a full-length series. There is plenty there to warrant it and because there is such a strong premise here, it would be most exciting to do it as a weekly thing. It is kind of like 'Dallas' or 'Dynasty' by the sea, and I've heard through the grapevine that the book was based on people who actually lived in Malibu Colony. When the author moved out, that's when he wrote the book, so the characters are not necessarily fictional. It'll be fun trying to figure out who’s who."

Unlike 'Bare Essence', the mini-series 'Malibu' never became a regular TV series. In the 1983-84 season, Chad Everett appeared on 'The Rousters' (about a carnival roustabout),  Ann Jillian starred in 'Jennifer Slept Here' (about a ghost), Susan Dey co-starred in 'Emerald Point N.A.S.' (about the navy) and the Arthur Hailey's 'Hotel' series occupied the time slot following 'Dynasty'.

Filmed almost entirely on location in Malibu, California, Susan Dey and William Atherton played the outsiders, a couple from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who had just moved to Malibu to stay for 3 months. Stan and Linda Harvey decided to rent a Malibu beach house for the whole 1982 summer for $20,000 (or $7000 a month). In one scene:

Linda Harvey: Stan, the firm has given you $2500 a month housing expenses.

Stan Harvey: Now, wait a minute! That other place is $4000 a month, right? And it was a dump, right? And we would have taken anyway, right? So what we are talking is an additional $8000 for the whole summer.

Linda Harvey: But this place is for the rich, very rich and the very successful.

Stan Harvey: So? Faking it can be fun too!

George Hamilton played a con man named Jay Pomerantz. He offered Billie Farnsworth $750,000 for a $3 million 1920s house belonging to a late movie director Steven Elmer Carey. However according to Billie, the heirs to the largest house in the Colony were fighting for their rightful share of the inheritance, hence about 20 lawyers would need to be informed of the offer which would take a lot of time.

Jay decided to rent, offering $3000 a month. However Billie negotiated for $8500. Jay accepted and proceeded to tell Billie he was in the investment business by "making everybody, but you and me, poorer but wiser." However if the bedroom ceiling "cannot hold a mirror, the deal is off." Jay gave Billie a check for his security deposit and said, "I assume you know how Bahamas banks operate? Don't deposit it before Wednesday (to allow for time to transfer fund)."

Ann Jillian revealed about her hairstyle on 'Malibu', "The studio had first opted for the public image of Ann Jillian to play the part. Two days into shooting with the blond hair, they realized it wasn't going to work, so they appealed to the actress part of me to create a new look for Gail. What's really a killer is that half-way through getting my hair cut - the network came back and said, 'Wait a minute! We're re-evaluating our decision. Is there any way you can blend it together?'"

All in all, Ann Jillian acknowledged, "For the first time in my life, I feel more like a mature woman with this haircut. I still have my bouncy type of spirit and I still feel like me, but there's a far more mature attitude that I've noticed in myself. I guess I felt and was treated like the perennial 'girl' with the other hairdo. Eva Marie Saint said something very interesting, in regard to the parts that we play in the drama; I'm out to get the goods on James Coburn, who plays her husband. With the blond hair, she didn't consider me a threat, since I appeared to be just a 'chickie' going after her man. With the dark, shorter hair, she saw a woman who was an equal and a far more serious threat. That changed her entire outlook on how she approached both her own character and mine."

Chad Everett played a former tennis pro Art Bonnell. In one scene Art Bonnell told Linda Harvey he believed because of "fate – just wan't meant to be (Wimbledon) champion. The trick is to change perspective. Stop looking back (as a player) and be in focus for what's ahead (commentator, coach, business). The hard part is shifting perspective." As an example, Art Bonnell said, "Maybe it's impossible like trying to save a relationship by forgetting too many things that never should have been said. Maybe it's better to start fresh. Try not to make the same mistake all over again. Maybe that's the only way."

'Malibu' Part I on Sunday night averaged 28% audience share against the pilot movie, 'The A-Team' (35% share). 'Malibu' Part II on Monday night against the 4th Annual 'TV Guide' special (TV Guide's 1982 – The Year In Television) featuring candid interviews with the stars of 'Dynasty' (John Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins) attracted 21.0% households ratings and 31% audience share. That week the 'Dynasty' episode 'Two Flights to Haiti' scored its highest ratings since making its television debut in 1981, attracting 40% share of the audience and 26.3% households ratings.

'Newsday' remarked, "Some of the simplest lines give the impression that writer Elliot Baker and no doubt executive producer Robert Hamner really have a feel for the locale." In one scene, Tom Wharton told his associate regarding Gail Hessian exposé of his shady dealings on her local TV newsmagazine program, "It might make a lot of people nervous though for a while. Then there will be some national disaster, earthquake, war in the Middle East, garbage collectors going on strike, it'll be all forgotten." In another scene, Rich Bradley said, "I'll sue him for a million and settle for $300,000."

Chad Everett stated, "I call it ('Malibu') real high-style soap." Chad used to live in Malibu "though not in the Colony. I lived in Saroyan's house. You can be as involved with people as you want to be or you can be as alone. In television movie, everybody wants to be involved. Otherwise we wouldn't have a show. Everybody in 'Malibu' is rotten. I'm the only redeemable guy. This is a more accurate representation of Malibu than 'Dallas' is of Dallas." Of 'Malibu', 'The New York Times' noted, James Coburn "can give a cynical edge to the emptiest line and Valerie Perrine, who brings to her role as the resident gay divorcee as much sex as it calls for and seems to have plenty in reserve."

In his review of the 419-page book in May 1980, Jeff Rivers of the 'Courier-Post' made the point, "William Murray has something to say about America, the declining quality of life and the corporate mentality that has exchanged marketing for creativity. William Murray has something to say about friendship, about love, about modern technology and our ethical struggle to define and restrain that technology. But Murray apparently was afraid the American reader wouldn't buy a book solely about those subjects, so he wrote 'Malibu', about the wealthy residents of the Colony."

Nancy Yanes Hoffman of the 'Los Angeles Times' added, "Murray's 'Malibu' is a carousel that goes round and round; where the riders miss the brass ring and fall off, but the merry-go-round goes on and on and on." Robert Hamner bought the screen rights to William Murray's 'Malibu' novel in October 1980 and initially approached Leonora Thuma to translate the story about the 26-mile exclusive community featuring "houses with upwards of 75 feet of ocean frontage" into a 6-hour TV project.

'The Baltimore Sun' reported, "The story – and there is a story – is to tell all about the people who occupy the Colony. That might keep the minds of a few million Americans off the fact that their car's gasoline is in the process of freezing up. Producer Robert Hamner is totally candid about the artistic goals of this project. He says he thinks 'Malibu' will be a smash because it will show lots of warm, wonderful beach scenes to a nation experiencing the coldest part of winter. The audience can sit there and look at the beach, the ocean and people instead of the scene outside their living room window where Mr. and Mrs. Jones are trying to jump-start their frozen Chevette."

20171108

ACTING

With over 14 million viewers watching 'General Hospital' each afternoon in 1981, the daytime soap opera was declared "a genuine pop-cultural phenomenon." 'Newsweek' discovered the popularity of the show was widespread attracting viewers from airport waiting lounges around the pay TV sections to department stores - TV-appliance sections looking for a free fix. At the time, recaps were available on radio stations and newspapers and "General Hospital Happy Hours" were staged in most local bars. 

The 1981 song 'General Hospi-Tale' by the Afternoon Delight rock band became a hit peaking at No. 33 on the Billboard pop charts with lyrics such as, "Don't call me crazy, I just can't cope without my soap. You're my favorite addiction. Tell me what's goin' on. Did you see it today?" 'Newsweek' reported in September 1981, "With advertising rates that average $26,000 for a 30-second spot - and production costs that are a fraction of prime-time levels - 'General Hospital' earns something on the order of $1 million a week in profit for ABC. By comparison, even as big a prime-time hit as 'Dallas' brings the network only about half as much in weekly profit. 

"Indeed, for all the networks, no other single programing arena is more important than the afternoon serials. The 13 regular soaps broadcast daily by ABC, CBS and NBC bring in upwards of $700 million a year in advertising revenue - roughly one-sixth the networks' total ad income. 'General Hospital' has been particularly successful in attracting younger viewers, who have traditionally regarded soap addiction as a sure sign of senility. A.C. Nielsen estimates that nearly three-quarters of the show's audience falls into the 18-to-34 group so prized by TV advertisers. College students seem particularly susceptible to its appeal." 

Genie Francis was 14-year-old in 1976 when Gloria Monty casted her to play Laura Webber on 'General Hospital'. Speaking to 'TV Guide' in 1997, Genie Francis conceded, "That whole Luke and Laura phenomenon was overwhelming and scary and - speaking for myself - I don't think I ever want to go through that again. It was really hard."

On November 16, 1981, a record 30 million viewers watched Luke and Laura said "I Do". Genie Francis spoke to 'TV Guide' in 2006, "People still mark time with that wedding. They remember where they were, what class they cut to get in front of a TV.... 'GH' moved into the pop culture. Suddenly watching us was no longer just for housewives it was the cool thing for kids to do. It was a social phenomenon."

It was the start of 'The Ice Princess' storyline. John Colicos played Count Baltar in 'Battlestar Galactica' who betrayed the human race - the Twelve Colonies of Man (Council of the Twelve was the Mormon ruling body under the leadership of their Prophet) to its enemy, the robot race of Cylons. However the Cylons ended up betraying the Betrayer, with Baltar facing public execution.

On 'General Hospital', John Colicos played Mikkos Cassadine, a descendant of Russian royalty who family owned a private island in Greece. Mikkos Cassadine planned to rule the world using a weather machine to start a new ice age. The House of Cassadine domination of the civilized world would not be swift but a gradual infiltration.

During 6 weeks on a tropical island in the Caribbean Sea, 10 people (4 were experts in their chosen field) convened mostly in the crystal room of an underground paradise compound to share in a moment of history as Mikkos Cassadine began delegating their new power of authority. The fate of mankind laid in their hands with Mikkos Cassadine holding the key to the new world. The great Mikkos Cassadine would become the supreme commander of a new world society in which all citizens of the world would live by his rules.  Mikkos did not mince words, "You should all know that each of you is expendable. Anyone who stand in the way of our success will be replaced."

After 7 years (1976-1982) on 'General Hosiptal', Genie Francis decided to leave the role of Laura Webber. Although she was on a $150,000 a year salary, Genie Francis had to wake up early to leave for the studio at around 7:30 and often did not return home until around midnight. Then 20, she spoke to 'Orange Coast', "I have a real passion about living and I think not everybody has that. They kind of glide through it , and whatever happens, happens. I'm not that way.

"I like to go out and get things and make things happen and take on new challenges and get scared a little. I like to be a little daring in my life because I'm not the type of person who likes to sit back. That's why I left 'General Hospital' at the peak of its fame. I guess one of the best things 'General Hospital' gave me was discipline ... Having to do the show day after day, you know.

"When doing film, the biggest difference I noticed was in the memorization of lines. On 'General Hospital' we did a 90-page script a day and I was in 30 to 50 pages of that script. With 'Bare Essence', we would shoot a maximum of 7 pages a day, so the work load was a lot less. The difference that I see that I like so much about doing film is that it comes to an end. I mean, I work very, very hard; but it was 9 weeks, you know, and then it was over.

"With a soap opera it was all year round, and you signed 3-year contracts at a time, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. In doing film, you get a chance to do more things for yourself and explore other avenues as far as the career instead of just soap opera, soap opera, soap opera everyday, day after day. A lot of the success of 'General Hospital' was because of Gloria Monty. She came up with a concept that had never been done before on a soap opera.

"So the tremendous fame we had I think a lot of was due to her and how she incorporated fantasy, and something never done on a soap opera before, humor. We gave them something to laugh at, and something to fantasize over, you know, like being locked in a department store overnight. It also had a feeling of hope. Now those are all ideas that were not mine, they were strictly from the producer.

"I feel my contribution was that if I was not capable of making those things believable and real to the audience, then it wouldn't have worked. So, they had the idea and I sold it to the audience along with Tony Geary, because I think we had a magnetic chemistry between the two of us, which they have yet to duplicate. I think I would make an excellent director, if I do say so myself.

"That's just something I want to pursue because I'm really into it. I mean, when I watch movies, I see the angles. The best training you can have as a director is to be on the set and watch another director. I've learned so much from the years I've been in the industry and watching the directors and how they make things work, and then I think of how I would do it. I love it. That's something I really want to do someday."

Donna Mills also starred on 'Bare Essence' with Genie Francis told 'Weekly World News' in 1981, "Actors don't make terrific mates and I would include myself in that. Anybody who is involved with an actor must be willing to give up that person for so much time. Most people can't do that. Particularly men. And particularly with me. They get very possessive."

Of her boyfriend at the time, "We were watching it together (episode 19 of 'Knots Landing' season 2; Richard and Abby in the hot tub) and while I was remembering how cold the water was, and how hard it had been to act romantic, my boyfriend was seeing something entirely different. When it was over, he went kind of silent for a while, then said, 'I wish I hadn't watched that. It has implanted an image in my mind that will be hard to get rid of.'

"He couldn't tolerate the fact that I could go away for two months, and be on a movie set with some gorgeous man, or with a director who, he feared, I would begin to look upon as some kind of god-like figure. He would also get jealous when he saw me in love scenes. This problem can be overcome, but I think two people must work at it. Acting is like no other job. There is no set amount of work, no vacations and no concrete schedule. You can't just come home at night and put it aside. It’s difficult to find somebody who can put up with all that – even understand it."

Of acting, John James told 'Orange Coast', "You know, there are a million ways to say a line, but the trick is saying it the right way. That's the trick of acting. Everyone can see it in their mind. They'll say, 'Hey, this is an interesting way to do it.' But doing it is the hard part. That's what makes for good acting. I think a good actor is someone who takes his work seriously and can entertain an audience, who can capture an audience and hold their attention.

"There is an old saying that goes, 'Boy, they're sure getting their money's worth tonight.' I think the sign of a good actor is somebody who gives them their money's worth. An audience, they've got to sit there and they've got to be entertained. The audience is the world's best critic. They're better critics than I think they're given credit for."

Christopher Atkins was 22-year-old when he joined the cast of 'Dallas' in 1983. Speaking to 'United Press International', Christopher Atkins made known, "For the last couple of years I was seriously considering going to college. But all my friends graduated this year (1983) and are going into the world to establish their lives. I've got a head start in that direction and decided to go on with my life as an actor.

"I thought it would be foolish not to join 'Dallas'. TV is the most important medium in the world today (or at the time). I don't think it is something an actor can ignore. More people will see 'Dallas' in a single night than will see any movie I make ('Dallas' attracted over 250 million international viewers weekly). Right now (in 1983), I think 'Dallas' is the best repertory company on the tube. There's never been anything like it.

"Being a member of the company is an important learning experience for any actor my age. I wanted to expand my career and this was the best way for me to go. Everyone keeps things light and humorous on the set. That's the way I like to work. The cast has been really open and friendly. It helped that I wasn't the only newcomer. Priscilla Presley joined the show this season (1983-84) too." 'People Weekly' reported Christopher Atkins signed to guest star in 27 of the 1983-84 season's 30 episodes at an estimated salary of $25,000 per episode. John Beck observed, "For most of the people on the series, it was their first big break in the business."

As Blake Carrington on 'Dynasty', John Forsythe told 'New York Daily News' in 1983, "Before I took the role I prepared several pages of history on him – his background, what drives him, what school he went to, what his parents were like, his home life, the clothes he likes to wear, and so forth. While I don't reveal these facts, they help me create the role. I've always thought of him as the quintessential American tycoon. I've known a lot of businessmen like him. They're like the Mafia. In the marketplace they can be ruthless, domineering, tough and hard, But at home, like the Mafia, they're devoted to their wives, children and friends. There's a totally different morality involved."

John Forsythe repeated to 'Orange Coast', "If you sat across the desk from a successful businessman, working out a deal, you’d sweat a little bit. But if you sat with him across a coffee table having a drink, it's a different situation. Blake is comparable to that kind of businessman. He's tough in the marketplace yet he has a totally different, gentle side with his family, his friends, and especially his wife. And that's what gives him an interesting complexity." John Beck believed, "When I would go out, people would come up to me and say, 'You're a really great guy but don't take Pam away from Bobby (on 'Dallas'). Why don't you go back to 'Flamingo Road'? You want to keep the audience guessing and preserve the suspense."

20171106

WONDER WOMAN

The subject of thought control missile was explored in the last episode of the 1977-78 season of the TV series 'Wonder Woman'. Written by Dick Nelson and directed by Dick Moder, 'The Murderous Missile' first went on air in April 1978. The network then reran the episode in August of that year. In the episode, Diana Prince was sent to the military testing site, Red Mountain Army Missile Range to witness the launch of the missile Athena (also the name of the war goddess of ancient Greece).

The missile was controlled by the person wearing the control helmet which gathered information from the controller's brain waves then translated the information to the missile which direction to travel through a radio transmitter. Thirty miles from Red Mountain was the small town called Burrogone where impostors were posing as real residents in order to steal Athena. They would do so by jamming communication in and out of Burrogone. The payoff - $1 million cash sale for Athena. However scientist Dr Wonderly had other plan - to build more control helmets in order to hold the whole country to ransom as there was no defense against thought control missile.

In 2015, 'The Guardian' informed readers, "Neuroscientists believe it will soon be possible for humans to control robotic avatars using the power of thought alone, or even to send thoughts or intentions from one person’s mind directly into another – a terrifying prospect for fans of cult sci-fi films such as 'Scanners', where society is controlled by an elite force with mind control and telepathic powers.

"Some even think that people will one day connect their brains together, via the internet, to form an enormous collective super-brain ... Internationally, neuroscientists have gone a step further, sending information from one brain into another to create a brain-to-brain interface, or BBI. Researchers have even made one person move when another person wants them to, all by connecting their brains.

"At the cutting edge of this technology, things get a little weirder. In 2013 researchers from Harvard Medical School announced they had made a device that allowed a human volunteer to move a rat’s tail via thought alone. That same year, neuroscientists from the University of Washington sent brain signals via the internet from one individual wearing an electroencephalography (EEG) headset to another with a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device, remotely controlling the recipient’s hand movements.

"One person, watching a computer game, imagined moving their hand to shoot down an enemy missile. His thoughts stimulated another person’s finger to hit the trigger at the appropriate time ... Rumors that the US military is funding research in this area only add to concerns about frightening potential uses. Could people be forced to move or act against their will, or have their innermost thoughts and feelings extracted from their head? The answer, at the moment, is almost certainly no."

In 2012, Professor Thomas Baldwin told 'The Daily Mail', the US military was actively trying to develop weapons that could be controlled by the thought waves of a soldier thousands of miles away via a computer, "It is not just science fiction. If you really can make contact with thoughts and get devices controlled by them, then you can have funny kinds of warfare. I don’t think it is unrealistic if you have the unlimited funds of the Pentagon to project ourselves towards some kind of Star Wars future."

In what described as human-to-human 'mind control' (or thought control), Michael Millar of BBC News reported in 2013, one researcher at the University of Washington was playing a computer game with his mind while across campus, another researcher carried out the command through sending a signal via the internet. Andrea Stocco told the BBC, "The internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains."

Daniel Wilson wrote 'Robopocalypse' observed, "It has sparked a discussion of how brain-to-brain interfaces (or thought control) might impact society in the future. Although the experimental set-up is too narrow to have practical value, it certainly makes us think." Dr Ian Pearson added, "We are not in the realms of creating zombies. When we have full links into the brain directly and you can control someone like a robot then we might have problems. Whether it turns to slavery or state control - who knows; you could write any number of sci-fi books about that."

'Wired' magazine reported in 2011 scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were able to control the movements of a mouse wearing a mind-control helmet designed by Ed Boyden. The control helmet operated 16 LEDs from wireless power, and could be controlled from a USB base station. In 2015, 'Fairfax Media' reported, "Companies like NeuroSky and Emotiv are selling EEG headsets that connect electrical signals from the brain to desktop and mobile apps. Understanding EEG's limitations, as well as the opportunities it offers to everyday consumers and people with disabilities, requires delving into the intricacies of the brain and why millions of research dollars are being spent to find out how it works.

"After all, the ultimate app is inside our heads, and all the wonders of science have yet to beat it. In one test, the world's fourth-fastest supercomputer at the Okinawa Institute of Technology Graduate University in Japan took 40 minutes to simulate a single second of human brain activity. The brain's amazing processing power is generated by about 100 billion nerve cells called neurons. That's roughly the same number of stars as there are in the Milky Way.

"EEG detects electrical pulses from masses of neurons firing in different parts of the brain. These pulses are not thoughts. They are patterns of brain activity, including alpha, beta and theta waves, that can indicate a person's mood and their levels of relaxation, anxiety or mental alertness.The accuracy of an EEG headset depends on the number of sensors it places on the scalp, how and where they are placed, and the sophistication of the algorithms used to interpret brain waves into digital information for a computer."

20171105

ACTING

"I think one of the most valuable things in life is the exchange of information. I try to live in the flow of information. I like to one way or another exchange with people or with books or movies or art," Pamela Sue Martin told 'Orange Coast' magazine in 1982. "As an actor you're constantly, just by living your life, becoming more wealthy with what you’re going to be able to do. It’s all about expression, people's expressions. So the more you see of that the more you live it, the more you're able to put forth as an actor. The more we live, the more we have to share. 

"When I was first acting, I worked in only films and I was never very interested in television. My managers were the ones that talked me into going out for something like Nancy Drew which I got and did, and I learned a lot from it. I think that was a big turning point for me because I worked so much during that year (1977), and so hard that I really have an enormous backlog of technical ability in not being put off by any of the things we do on the soundstage. I just worked hard and it's set me on a different course. If you're working that much and you're working that hard, you really reap a lot of rewards even if it isn't your ultimate artistic goal.

"I think the process of filmmaking is an exciting process no matter how you slice it. Everyone who works in it is engaged by it, down to the last grip – everybody on stage. No matter how much they might gripe and groan about the hours and the craziness of it, they are all there for a reason. There is a real spirit to it. It's got a life of its own. It's a living thing.

"I don't think of characters in terms of how similar they are to me, I really don't. I think as an actor you play the role and all the ingredients that have been written into that particular character. I leave myself behind. It becomes Fallon (on 'Dynasty') getting angry and Fallon getting upset or Fallon getting romantically involved with somebody. It's an intimate process.

"I deal with it at kind of an emotional level, I say, 'Well this person feels this way' and so I think about feeling that way when I'm acting the role. But I don't think about it in terms of how it relates to Pamela. It doesn't mean that it's me doing it, because I'm playing out part of a plot that has nothing to do with my life – I'm still reading lines that I've never said or possibly would never say. I don't have that sort of identity conflict. It's somebody else.

"When it's about art, you have to take your time and let whatever is going to happen, happen. I feel like when it comes to any kind of art form, you have to take your time. I rush all my life, but when it comes to my work, I don't like to be rushed. What I do now is a sum total of all the things I've done over the years, so it’s hardly a shock to my system. It’s not really an adjustment, it's part of my work. I know my work pretty well because I've been filming for 10 years now (since 1972). It's a cumulative process of knowledge, not an adjustment. I don't feel pressure about my work because I feel I know what I'm doing. I really enjoy it.

"The whole subject of temperament is often times really blown out of proportion simply because entertainment people are so much in the limelight anyway that anything they do often times is bigger than life or heard about and so forth. But I find most of the people I’ve met over the years have not been temperamental and have not been difficult at all."

It was understood for producers, one factor in deciding whether to renew a star's contract was the TVQ (television quotient) which measured recognizability. Pamela Sue Martin elected not to renew her contract at the end of the 1983-84 season of 'Dynasty', "I realized this animal was getting bigger and bigger and swallowing me up. They (the cast) created these monsters for themselves. People were losing their individuality and becoming images.

"I felt that I had a fairly open door to go back for a while. They originally wanted me back before they went and got somebody else, but I told them I really wasn't up to it ... Once I move on from something, as the old saying goes, 'You can't go home again.'" Aaron Spelling remembered, "She asked off the show. It broke our hearts but you know, you do what you have to do to keep people happy."

On 'Dallas', Linda Gray received good TVQ so when she renewed her 2-year contract for the seasons 1985-86 and 1986-87, she asked for an additional role. In March 1986, Linda Gray made her directorial debut, "Acting is like being a child; directing is like being a parent. You call all the shots, make all the decisions. It's definitely a turn-on, but it's a different kind of rush than acting.

"As an actor, you're more concerned with self. Directing encompasses everything. I didn't know how the crews or the actors would accept me. I went into it very open, hoping for the best. The respect came almost immediately. I know that doesn't sound very humble. But I had really done my homework, and it showed. I didn't come on like a star who had to be baby-sat."

For Pamela Sue Martin, "It's not really a problem. When you're working with a director, you work it out. Every once in a great while you run up against somebody who's really strong and really tries to move you around the room and show you exactly how. The worst thing a director can do is tell you how to say the lines. Sometimes they do it without meaning to, they're in a rush or they hear and see it a certain way and they'll try to put the words into your mouth. But that doesn't happen very often.

"Everybody I work with I like working with. Publicity is sort of the nature of the beast. It’s part of the picture. When I was younger, when I first came out here (to Hollywood) I was sort of pushed off into a few PR tours and showed around from city to city doing every interview in every newspaper. I really didn't know what was happening at the time."

Shaun Cassidy played Joe Hardy in 'The Hardy Boys' in 1977 which alternated with 'Nancy Drew' was the son of Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy. Of publicity, "I think I'm better prepared for it than he (half-brother David Cassidy) was when he began (on 'The Partridge Family'). I've seen what he has gone through. I've seen the good things and the bad things. I've seen it in my whole family. I think I've learned from David, in particular. Hopefully, I'm better prepared if it (being mobbed by fans) happens."

Pamela Sue Martin continued, "I try to live within these moments of what I am able to do and the opportunities that I have rather than looking ahead to what it's going to be. I think as actors we learn to live a little bit more from moment to moment than in other careers because we go from job to job. Nothing ever stays the same and there is a lot of expectation and unexpectedness and anticipation.

"We don't know what is going to be next year let alone 10 years from now. You have to adapt to that and it's probably the hardest thing for people to adapt to in business, I think … I don't think in terms of, 'Well, what about 15 years from now?' You have to believe that all that you want will be there. I've always had so much that I don't spend much time wanting."

Ted McGinley was casted to play Clay Falmont on 'Dynasty' but producers weren't certain he was the right type so "I wasn't going to have to read for the thing, but the next day, I went in and read for them ... That way they knew what they're getting ahead of time. If they aren't happy, it's their own fault instead of yours. In my business, you can't be late. That's the way I live my life. I think that's one reason I haven't settled down yet. I'm impulsive. I drive everybody nuts; I don't like planning things. I hate having to plan. It's just not my style."

Catherine Oxenberg told 'People' magazine, "I had to do about 5 readings between casting directors and producers (for her role as Amanda). They told me it was between me and another girl. But when I got the screen test, I asked the makeup person who the other girl was and she said, 'There is no other girl!'" Catherine told 'Orange Coast', "I think my all around capacity to be interesting on screen has improved tremendously. I've learned to take more risks in terms of directions to take in a performance, and I'm much better with my dialog in terms of what I intend to convey. I think as an actress one has to be versatile. We all have a range of emotion inside us; it just takes guts to project it with any intensity, especially those emotions that are socially undesirable."

The daughter of Jelisaveta Karadjordjevic (or Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia), Catherine Oxenberg's maternal grandparents were Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (who served as regent for his cousin's eldest son King Peter II of Yugoslavia) and Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark. As reported, members of the House of Karadjordjevic "were the last kings of Serbia; they were also rulers of Yugoslavia, from its creation in 1918 until Communists took the reins in 1945."

On March 27 1941, Paul Karadjordjevic was forced into exile as 'The Economist' reported in 2013, "the Nazi war machine was massing on the Yugoslav borders; spies and politicians were manoeuvring to unseat their rulers. Tanks circled the White Palace, poised not to protect but to attack. Peering from the palace windows, the Royal family could see enraged crowds. The Prince was distraught - and with good reason. He was forced to flee the country, branded a traitor, never to return."  

Catherine Oxenberg was also the great-great-granddaughter of Karađorđe, who started the first Serbian uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1804 (known in history as the Serbian Revolution). As Elizabeth was the first cousin of the current Duke of Kent and also a second cousin of Queen Sofía of Spain and Charles, Prince of Wales, making Catherine a third cousin of Felipe, Prince of Asturias and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

Catherine Oxenberg's maternal grandmother Princess Olga was the daughter of Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia and Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, himself the son of another Romanov grand duchess, Queen Olga Konstantinovna of the Hellenes and her Danish-born husband King George of Greece, brother of Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom and Empress Maria Fyodorovna.

Princess Olga was the sister of Princess Marina, who married the Duke of Kent (uncle of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom); and also a first cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh (husband of Queen Elizabeth II) through their respective fathers Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark who were brothers.

'The Chicago Tribune' reported in 1990, Catherine Oxenberg was "indeed the first family member sneaked into (the former) Yugoslavia via television. When the Yugoslavs bought the popular American TV series 'Dynasty', no one in (the former) Yugoslavia was aware that one of its stars, actress Catherine Oxenberg, was a Karadjordjevic.

"Within a few months, however, most Yugoslavs knew that Oxenberg, who plays Joan Collins' willful daughter on the show, was granddaughter of Prince Paul, who ruled (the former) Yugoslavia as regent for 8 years before the German invasion in 1941. For the Serbs, who account to slightly more than a third of (the former) Yugoslavia's (then) 23 million people, her success was a source of pride."

Heather Locklear played Samantha Josephine told 'Orange Coast', "If I tape a scene and can go back over it and watch it, then I'm pleased. But if I can't watch, or I see it once and I'm peeking through my fingers through the whole thing, and I can't see it again, then I'm in trouble. I do that a lot. I think you have to keep yourself down to earth.

"I don't think prominent, wealthy people are any better than people who are poor and in slums. But of course a lot of peole think that. I just think it's sad when you start taking advantage of nice things. You're so lucky for what you have, and you should realize it. If you're going to be in a hole about your situation and think it's awful, then try coming back in your next life and make things better."

Lynda Carter told 'Beauty Handbook' in 1981, "Achieving success in the entertainment field is a very individual process. There's no tragic answer. I think that success starts with discipline, though. If you want to do something, then you do what it takes in terms of your own preparation. If you want to sing, then you listen and learn and you sing and you do.

"If you want to model, learn what you can then go out and do it. Modeling today (in the late 1970s) is very individual, free form and natural. You need to develop your own look - your own style (such as Lauren Hutton). The days of affecting a certain image or emulating another's style is over for both models and actresses. You begin with 'you' so that's what you have to work with. Project your own individuality into your work - acting, modeling, singing or whatever."

20171104

DYNASTY

In 1984, the pop-culture phenomenon 'Dynasty' went retailing in a big way offering fans a chance to live the 'Dynasty' fantasy with 5 department-store chains opening the Dynasty boutiques. 'The Chicago Sun-Times' reported some 66 nations including the United States were selling the Dynasty products such as the perfume Forever Krystle ($150 an ounce) and the Krystle and Alexis 16 inches tall dolls wearing Nolan Miller's evening gowns, diamond bracelet, ring and earrings (each doll sold at $10,000).

"'Dynasty' has gone from television show to phenomenon," Chuck Ashman declared. "It was the letters plus the Nielsen demographics that proved to us we had a potential $100 million dollar business. 'Dynasty' has been the most popular show for the last year and a half (or since the fall of 1983) with women of all ages from teenagers to grandmothers." Some 70 million viewers were watching 'Dynasty' each week in America.

Reporter Sharon Barrett noted, "In fact, the 'Dynasty' lifestyle has proven so popular with its audience that the Denver switchboard has been swamped with requests for the telephone number of La Mirage, the show's jet-set (but fictitious) tennis club." Since 'Dynasty' made its debut in January 1981, Nolan Miller had received thousands of letters about the gowns and accessories (hats and gloves) and black tie worn on the show.

Delighted, Esther and Richard Shapiro convinced 20th-Century Fox to set up a worldwide licensing to sell the Dynasty merchandise which included lingerie; tuxedo (rental fee between $250 and $450); furs which sold at prices between $5,000 to $200,000; role-playing game; wine and jewelery (costume jewelery as well as gold, diamonds and platinum).

Chuck Ashman also enthused, "And for Christmas (1984) for the executive who may not have had a good year, there will be a gold-framed stock certificate for shares in Carrington Oil, signed by the chief executive officer, Blake Carrington." However, the 'Los Angeles Times' reported, "The company will also market less-expensively costumed dolls made of porcelain for $700 and of vinyl for $125. And to commemorate the birth of Blake and Krystle Carrington's baby, the firm is offering a baby Krystina doll, complete with a birth announcement, for $40."

On reflection, Linda Evans reminded, "The first year, we were opposite 'M*A*S*H' for 13 weeks and we practically went off the air. It wasn't until the 3rd year that we really began building a strong audience." In 1991, the cast reunited for the mini-series 'Dynasty: The Reunion'. Linda Evans acknowledged, "'Dynasty' gave us each so much. It changed our lives and our careers." Joan Collins conceded, "I enjoy my character. I love playing her. I still love playing Alexis." John James who was once in the middle of the Serengeti, recalled, "I thought this is amazing. We're out with the wildebeast, the hippopotamuses, and here's 'Dynasty' blaring away with the generator banging in the background."

Linda Evans continued, "I really was not prepared for the amount of success all over the world that it has become. It has been amazing to experience it. To think it could be successful and to experience it is a totally different thing … It's very strange to have a life of your own, apart from you. I know that there are a lot of people who cannot live the way that the Carringtons live, but basically the major dramas in 'Dynasty' are all about relationships: homosexuality, mental illness, fathers and sons and daughters, husbands and wives, divorce, people who are divorced and their relationship with each other and in a way, in order to entertain, you can't have it everyday life. You get everyday life at home."

In the 1980s, March marked the pilot season on television. It was the time producers started to "put together the right package for the networks". By 1985, one network executive reportedly told one producer after reviewing the package, "Today, standards have changed. You've got the concept. You've got the writers. But you know what you don't got? You don't got James Garner. Having a personality is essential in television."

Sherryl Connelly of 'New York Daily News' reported, "In television-land, as in no other land, Linda Evans, at 40, is considered fresh and hot. Because on television, what's fresh is what's appealing, no matter how long it has been on the shelf. 'New' is risky, and proven appeal is the exclusive quality of the old-timer who has been around long enough to survive both the failure of a series and what is more threatening, the success of one. The real test of success, though, comes with a winning series.

"Each of TV's special personalities has performed the neat trick of making a role particularly his or her own without becoming trapped in its confines. Audra Barkley on 'The Big Valley' became Krystle Carrington on 'Dynasty'. Captain Tony Nelson on 'I Dream of Jeannie' reappeared as none other than J.R. Ewing on 'Dallas'. In other words, audiences keep these stars coming back for more and more."

Susan St. James made the point, "I feel so sorry for Patrick Duffy, who's going to leave 'Dallas' (for one season 1985-86) to do greater things. I had kind of a snob's idea I was just going to hold out for feature films. And then, because I wasn't making the kind of money I was used to, I started doing TV movies. That started me thinking about what I was doing. Here, television really wanted me. Here, at 35, I was still considered a fresh, hot young property. I came home."

In selecting the right TV personalities, the exec proceeded to tell the producer, "Having looks just isn't enough anymore. Or talent. There must be something to the person, over and above what is there on the screen." Susan St. James believed, "People don't want to feel uncomfortable with you in their living rooms. The television personality is a special but ordinary personality. People feel they can relate to you. They understand you. That's why some of the great film actors wouldn't succeed on TV. Too dynamic. Their personalities are too strong to bring into your home on a weekly basis."

Lloyd Garver of 'Family Ties' concurred, "The very thing that helps them on television hurts them in movies. When people go to the movies they don't want to see the person next door. They want to see someone extraordinary. That's the curse of being a millionaire with a long-running series." Casting director Tony Shepherd expressed, "It's hard to define. In my business, though, you develop a sixth sense for it. There must be something so appealing about the person that everyone likes him. That's it. It's likeability. You know. You just know. It's instinct. It has something to do with a twinkle in the eye."

Geri Windsor of M.T.M. Enterprises added, "These are people you welcome into your living room every week. You must like them to do that." Leonard Goldberg argued, "They have a vulnerability, a quality separate and distinct from talent. It's a certain warmth, an indefinable something that makes you root for them." To find a member of the TV aristocracy, "When it is there, it is obvious. This one person comes in for a reading with a certain intensity or perhaps a focus. And it's as if everyone else has been in black and white and, suddenly, this one is in color."

However "People don't like their archetypes screwed with. Both (Telly) Savalas and (Valerie) Harper were too special, too specific in their roles. (James) Garner, though, moves easily through any dimension." Gary David Goldberg insisted, "We call it the 'X factor. If you don't have someone in your show who has the X factor, then you'll never get the chance to see if the show works."


20171103

WONDER WOMAN

The subject of terrorism was explored in the episode 'Knockout' in the TV series, 'Wonder Woman' first went on air in October 1977. Written by Mark Rodgers and directed by Seymour Robbie, Burr DeBenning played Tom Baker, the assistant agent in charge at I.A.D.C. headquarters in Los Angeles. Artie Kane composed the music to enhance the scenes. 

Viewers learnt from Lt. Col Steve Trevor, Jr., Tom Baker was "a sleeper, a traitor planted years ago by the other side." He had recruited Carolyn Hamilton (played by Jayne Kennedy) who was a SFPD officer from 1971 to 1975 to join the terrorist Movement group, supposedly a genuine independent revolutionary movement. The ex-con and terrorist Angel Velasquez (played by Alex Colon) told Wonder Woman, "The Movement set out to change the world so that those on the top can be taken away from power. Those from the bottom should be set free." 

Tom Baker's plan was to knock out the top level of the I.A.D.C. - Steve Trevor, Jr. and Diana Prince. Then the Movement planned on crashing the Trade conference ceremony to extort $20 million which Tom Baker demanded be drawn from federal and private banks and also a private jet, proclaiming, "In this richest city, in this richest country of the world, in the gathering of the richest nations, we announce today the existence of a movement that someday would change all that forever." 

In one scene Steve Trevor, Jr. told Carolyn, "You talk about vice, narcotic, child abuse. Those are the things an honest cop spend a lifetime fighting. You want to hand the problem over to the other side, let them to solve it? Go ahead, they'll solve it with slave labor camp, secret police." In another scene between the Tall Man played by Frank Marth and Carolyn, he said, "It would bother me doing what you're doing." She snapped, "You don't know what we do." 

He countered, "No, but I imagine it involves changing the world through some form of violence, senseless wasteful violence." She argued, "The world has to be changed." He reasoned, "Maybe. But I doubt very much whether you're the group to do it. You'll make a name for yourself but you'll wind up in some alley prison or county grave." In the end, viewers were told raids by federal and state authorities had knocked out all known groups of the Movement. Carolyn told Wonder Woman, "At least it's ended." Wonder Woman replied, "At least it's begun." 

On CBS the format of 'Wonder Woman' was switched from "period" to a modern setting. Lynda Carter spoke to the press at the time, "'Wonder Woman' was changed this season (1977-1978). It was moved from the 1940s to the present day. Everyone felt we had done enough shows about the Nazis and World War II. I think it was a good idea to update the show. 

"It's still the same show. It's just been moved to a modern setting. The plots have been - and will be - based on domestic and international problems. Some of the guest leads are 'larger than life' in terms of destructive power, and then other shows will be based on a more human interest slant. The scope is wider - from outer space to a child in trouble, perhaps." 

One commentator observed, "The shift to modern times enables the show to deal with this side of the conflict of the '40s with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight." In the episode 'The Starships Are Coming' written by Glen Olson, Rod Baker and Anne Collins, first went on air in February 1979, Andrew Duggan played an ultra-right-wing fanatic Mason Steele. He staged a UFO invasion hoax to manipulate Colonel Robert Elliot (played by Tim O'Connor) to launch a nuclear missile into Red China.

Mason Steele told Diana Prince, "I'm serving my country, even as you, perhaps, except that my hand is not tied with red tape and political expediency. I am free to act, to destroy the enemy of the United States, to do what every freedom loving patriot know what has to be done. We all have our passions. Mine is to see that democracy outlives every other form of government. The others, they play the lead in a magnificent cosmic tragedy."

Diana Prince rebuked, "In a way, for your sake, I almost hope you never realize the truth that you have done more to destroy democracy than any communist country ever dream of doing." Mason Steele fumed, "Put a gag in her mouth. I don't have to hear these obscenities." In closing, Wonder Woman said, "With patriots like you Mr Steele this country doesn't need any enemies."

The show also dropped the camp element and concentrating on straight adventure and more science fiction-oriented plots. Also on CBS, the invisible airplane would be used sparingly and the Wonder Woman's crime-fighting kit would undergo minor changes from the tiara that could be used as a boomerang to the golden belt. The bullet-repelling bracelets would also turn from lead to gold and the magic lasso Wonder Woman would use to rope villains and force them to tell the truth also looked slightly different.

"I have welded the two so much that there are things about myself and the values I have that the character has," Lynda Carter stated. "Diana Prince is probably more me than Wonder Woman is because, obviously, Wonder Woman is a fantasy and Diana is more a human being. And I wear glasses, too." To stay in shape for the show, "I do many kinds of exercises. I swim a lot. I play tennis. I jump on the trampoline, and do leg lifts and push-ups. I run - and for the opening shows this season (1977-1978) I had to take fencing lessons. I hate working out in a gym but I do it. Any exercise where you use your whole body is good. Your body becomes balanced. You become aware of your head, your hands, every part of your body." 

The truth serum was explored in episodes of 'Wonder Woman'. In 2006, the truth serum was mentioned in debates on interrogation techniques in the war on terrorism. As understood, the "truth serum" was discovered in 1916 by obstetrician Robert Housecame. However the first truth-eliciting drugs dated back 2,000 years to the time of the Roman Empire when Pliny the Elder noted "in vino veritas" ("in wine there is truth"), indicating alcohol was an early form of truth serum. Humans were said to be more readily truthful while under the influence of alcohol. Over the millennia, some of the truth serum included scopolamine, pentothal or sodium thiopental (sodium pentothal and sodium amytal were types of barbiturates) and ethyl alcohol (or booze).

In 2013, Michael Mosley of the BBC 'Magazine' reported, "For many years scientists have been working to develop 'truth drugs' - drugs that will make you open up and tell all you know to an interrogator. One of the oldest and best known of these truth drugs is sodium thiopental. I was intrigued but also extremely sceptical about the claims that sodium thiopental, originally developed as an anaesthetic, could make people speak the truth if they chose not to. 

"So I decided, as part of a series I've been making on the extraordinary history of pharmaceuticals, to try it out. Sodium thiopental is part of a group of drugs called barbiturates, drugs widely used in the 1950s and 60s to help people sleep better. They are no longer used for that purpose because they are extremely addictive and potentially lethal - Marilyn Monroe famously died from a barbiturate overdose. 

"Barbiturates work by slowing down the rate at which messages travel through the brain and spinal column. The more barbiturates there are, the harder it is for chemical messages to cross the gaps between one neuron and the next. Your whole thinking process slows down until you fall asleep. With thiopental, that happens very quickly indeed. 

"Although it was originally developed as an anaesthetic, it was soon noticed that when patients were in that twilight zone halfway between consciousness and unconsciousness, they became more chatty and disinhibited. After the drug had worn off, the patients forgot what they had been talking about. It was decided that sodium thiopental might form the basis for a truth drug, an interrogation tool. But does it really work? The truth is we don't have a reliable truth drug yet. Or if there is one out there, nobody's telling."

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