Cyberpunk 2077 has made an impact since its release in December 2020. The video game is based on a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Mike Pondsmith, who was involved in the video game. While the video game has had a few problems since release, it is popular. And when something is popular, it gets adapted.
A quick bit of history on Cyberpunk. The first edition of the RPG, Cyberpunk 2013, was released in 1988. 2013 had four supplements, including Hardwired, written by Walter Jon Williams, basing it on the novel he wrote. It was followed up two years later with the second edition, Cyberpunk 220.127.116.11. 2020 expanded the setting, the character roles, and the mechanics; the game was rereleased in 2014. The third edition, Cyberpunk V3.0, released 2005, wasn’t as well accepted; changes to the setting left the fanbase cold and the artwork was controversial. Finally, in conjuction with the video game, Cyberpunk RED was fully released in November 2020, a month before 3077‘s release. The RPG is seeing a renaissance, complete with new miniatures including one of Pondsmith and his dog.
Going back to Cyberpunk 18.104.22.168, the game made Night City the default setting, where the city was a supplement for 2013. Night City was very much inspired by William Gibson’s Chiba City, with dashes of Hardwired and other cyberpunk works plus other sources such as Blade Runner. Night City became a living, breathing city, with gangs and gang wars, corporate headquarters and corporate wars, besieged citizens, besieged cops, and many ways to escape, some of which are legal. Life is cheap, cybernetics expensive, and going about daily business without a subscription to a paramedic service.
In the Cyberpunk setting, there are a few subscription emergency services. The services’ contracts lay out how a recovery team will retrieve the wounded subscriber, though there are added costs to that on top of the monthly subscription fee. Reviving a clone costs even more on top, plus the fees for making a memory backup. They’re the US health care system expanded as US gun violence also expanded. Trauma Team International is the largest of these subscription emergency services, but not the only one. REO Meatwagon, also mentioned in the core rules, is one competitor determined to carve a slice of the pie, even if it means shooting down a Trauma Team aerodyne.
The day-to-day job of a Trauma Team crew sounds like it would make for drama, whether in game or in an adaptation. One part paramedic, one part combat recon, all dystopia. Thus, in September 2020, Dark Horse Comics released the first issue of Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team, then released issues 1-4 as a trade paperback in March 2021. The series was written by Cullen Bunn, with art by Miguel Valderrama, colours by Jason Vordie, and lettering by Frank Cvetkovic.
The series follows Nadia, a young medtech who joined Trauma Team International out of a sense of duty. Even after two years of service, she still had some idealism. However, when a heavily cybered solo manages to kill everyone on her rescue squad except her and the client, she’s taken off duty for psych eval. Her first response after returning to duty is to retrieve a client in an apartment block in gang-controlled territory. The platinum membership client turns out to be the solo who killed her previous team wounded and pinned down by gangers, leading to Nadia having to make difficult choices.
Night City in the four issues is a neon-filled grime even in the nicer parts of the city. The apartment block looks like it should be condemned, except that would mean someone in the city government cared. The solo’s abilities may seem superhuman, but that’s what cybernetics can do in the game. Enhanced reflexes, enhanced strength, and a lack of empathy for humanity; medical science in 2077 has made amazing advances.
In terms of appearance, the comic takes queues from Blade Runner, with neon lights and rain, masses of people wandering through the streets, the forgotten dregs in a desperate fight, and corporate negligence. Nadia’s Trauma Team is kitted out for a war zone, which describes many parts of Night City too well. In game terms, Nadia is a medtech, the client is a solo, the rescue squads are composed of medtechs and solos, and Nadia’s psychologist is a corporate. The story definitely fits in the setting.
Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team fits right into Night City and the Cyberpunk franchise. Idealism is the first thing to die in a dystopia, something Nadia finds out the hard way. While playing a Trauma Team employee is out of the scope of the video game, the comic expands the setting for fans, showing what happens when a rescue squad encounters resistance.
A shift change at work has thrown my schedule off kilter. Lost in Translation will return next week.
There’s been talk about the 1999 film, Galaxy Quest, getting a sequel. The movie was popular with fans of science fiction, particularly of Star Trek. The cast was strong, with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub, Missi Pyle, Darryl Mitchell, Sam Rockwell, and Enrico Colatoni. The plot involved a group of aliens called Thermians who, after watching the fictional series Galaxy Quest came to Earth to get help from the crew, all without realizing that the TV series was fictional.
The Thermians convince Jason Naismith (Allen), who played Commander Taggert on the show, that the special effects they showed him were real. Taggert manages to cajole the rest of his castmates plus Guy Fleegman (Rockwell) who played an extra to hear out the Thermians. The first hurdle is that while the fictional characters know what to do, the actors who played them are clueless. Everything was a set with special effects added in post-production. As the movie contunues, the actors figure out who their characters are and what they meant to fans both earthbound and alien. The moment that Alexander Dane (Rickman), a classically trained actor who is not happy with how his career turned out, figures out how Dr. Lazarus has motives is particularly poignant.
The film made gentle fun of Star Trek, the series’ actors, and the fans. The Thermians built the Protector based on “archival footage”, down to items, like the chompers, that didn’t make any sense to include. On Earth, fans of the series help out as they can, with their encyclopedic knowledge of the old series, knowing the Protector better than the actors do.
The cast had great chemistry. The writing was strong with room for improvisation as needed. The movie had a heart to it that many blockbusters forget about including. The movie wasn’t so much a parody of Star Trek as a love letter to the series, the cast, and the fans. And that’s where an adaptation is going to have problems.
Since the movie was first released, there’s been attempts to either make a sequel or make a TV series. Currently, Simon Pegg is looking at adapting the movie as a TV series. The catch is, how would it work? Would it be the new series that was created in-universe with the same cast? Would the adaptation focus on the actors instead of their characters? Would the series be serial instead of episodic? What will be done about the hole left by the passing of Alan Rickman?
On the plus side, Simon Pegg has the capability to understand the draw of Galaxy Quest to audiences. With Shaun of the Dead, he had a love letter to horror and zombie movies while still being comedic. Likewise, Hot Fuzz was also a love letter, this time to 80s and 90s action movies like Point Break. Pegg also played Scotty in the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot movie, and has made the convention circuit to meet fans of his works. If anyone will be able to create a gentle parody, Pegg is the one. At the same time, there is trepidation.
Galaxy Quest was bottled lightning when it was released. Recreating it will take a deft touch under someone who can pull in the different parts of the movie and maintain the chemistry the cast had. It will be tough.
Ten years. When I started Lost in Translation, I didn’t expect the reviews to last long. I thought I’d run out of material. However, Hollywood insists on adapting everything. Everything. Some adaptations are done well; others, not so much.
The early years, I went after the easier works, the ones that had been around a while. Once I figured out this reviewing thing, I started to get into more complex works and into more complex reviews. There’s very little that is out and out terrible that there isn’t a glimmer of something good inside it. I’m also taking more time when a work needs it. Sometimes, there’s just no getting around dealing with a multi-season storyline and it takes time to watch and to read both original works and adaptations.
The pandemic of 2020-2021 added a new twist. My way of choosing works to review involved going to a music or video store and checking out the offerings. Lockdown prevented that. Online shopping is good when you need something specific but isn’t as good when it comes to browsing. Same goes with streaming services. It made finding works to review a bit more difficult, but I found ways.
Ten years. It doesn’t seem like such a long time, but I can see how I’ve improved since the first review. Time does fly, even 2020 in hindsight. Thank you, everyone, for following, for supporting, and for letting me figure out just how adaptations look. There are some changes coming for Lost in Translation later this year. Details will come out once they’re nailed down.
Lost in Translation continues its retrospective with a fresh look at comic book adaptations.
There has been some uproar in the past few years about the number of adaptations being made by Hollywood. Looking at the past decade, there were no original works among the popular movies, with fourteen adaptations. Of those adaptations, eight came from comic books. Chances are good that if those eight were from a more literary source, which also excludes such genres such as science fiction & fantasy, romance, and all of young adult, there wouldn’t be an outcry.
But comic books are low brow, and thus are looked down on. Comics are for the masses. The studios, though, need the masses to be profitable. Some obscure yet acclaimed literary work just won’t hit screens outside specialty theatres. This isn’t to say that a comic book movie can’t be deep or moving. The issue is accessibility to the general public.
However, superhero movies, separating them from other comic book movies, are spectaculars. They’re big, loud, and filled with explosions. And they’re not going away, not anytime soon. Marvel is having a renaissance with its cinematic universe. DC is having success with the Arrowverse on TV. Until both Marvel and DC have a run of flops, they’re going to keep creating movies and TV series.
The advantage of comic books is that they are already a visual medium. The books can be used as a storyboard; this is what essentially happened with Scott Pilgrim vs the World. There’s no need to hunt through a tome to find descriptions of characters; they’re all there on the page. Superhero comics are built on action and drama with some titles having soap opera levels of inter[character conflict. Everything that a work would want to have.
The disadvantage, though, is that comics have a lot going on that just can’t fit into a 2 to 2.5 hour movie. The more characters there are to spotlight, the less that can be showcased. Finite time requires details to be dropped. With a TV series, there is more time to expand beyond the basics, but the budget per episode can’t match what a studio can throw at a blockbuster. There’s give and take.
One problem that’s starting to creep in that plagues long standing ongoing comics is continuity lockout. New readers can find that details a story leans on is in a hard-to-find long out-of-print issue. Crossovers bring their own problems. A storyline that requires readers to search for the other titles involved is a marketing move to generate more sales by introducing new readers to other titles. The drawback is that if a crossover goes on too long, the regular stories in a title get shunted to the side, especially in a company-wide crossover. Too many interruptions in the regular storyline will drive readers away.
With the Marvel movies, if someone missed a film leading to an Avengers movie, they may not know who a character is and why that character was there. Thanks to some deals made, Marvel Studios doesn’t have access to every Marvel character, most notably mutants related to the X-Men. Yes, there are exceptions, thanks to how fluid teams are in the Marvelverse, which causes headaches in lawyers and writers. Right now, most of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are origin stories, so not knowing how, say, Ant-Man became a hero isn’t important. Missing Captain America: Civil War could affect how a view sees the subsequent Avengers film.
It’s a balancing act. A shared universe means that characters can and will interact. Fans will try to get out to all the films, but it is possible to miss one, either due to timing, budget, or pandemic, and audiences shouldn’t feel like they’re missing a chunk because they weren’t interested in or able to see a specific film.
As with anything, if something is popular, Hollywood will exploit it. Right now, superheroes are big and are in no hurry to leave. They’re filling the role that the Western and the police investigation used to have, with none of the baggage of either. Non-superhero comics can and will slip in with some members of the audience none the wiser. There is plenty of depth to plumb from the medium. We should expect more adaptations and works inspired by comics to keep appearing for some time yet.
Video game adaptations, especially from Hollywood, are given the side eye. Hollywood adaptations have a poor reputation, earned thanks to the likes of Double Dragon and Super Mario Bros. But, Hollywood persisted, because where there is a large enough number of people, studios will exploit. And in 1994, $studio exploited the names of actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, singer/actress Kylie Minogue, and actor Raul Julia along with the video game Street Fighter.
Street Fighter – The Movie did not do well with initial audiences. The tone of the film was not what anyone expected – Van Damme’s acting style was better suited for movies with more action and less acting, the film was almost four-colour at a time when the approach was to go darker and grittier, and the studio got too involved. However, on retrospection, Street Fighter – The Movie isn’t in the same league as the worst video game movies made.
The video game has backstory on who all the characters are, why they are fighting, and why they’re after M. Bison. The game play, though, is a fighting game. That’s the draw of the game, not the backstory. The backstory is there to give a reason for the player to beat up opponents but via the game manual. However, that backstory can be adapted, if loosely.
The movie had a few strikes against it on release. The rep of video game movies and the acting capabilities of the leads, with the exception of Raul Julia. The movie tried to include every character from the video game, even if it was for a brief appearance. The result could be a complete mess.
There are some bright sides that save the movie, beyond just Raul Julia. The supporting cast, which includes Ming-Na Wen, pulled their weight, though, carrying the film. The movie’s writing has a strong pedigree with Lorenzo Semple, Jr, handling the duties. Semple also wrote the 1980 Flash Gordon and was on the writing staff for the 1966 Batman TV series. The humour from Flash Gordon appears in Street Fighter, little things that come naturally in the situation without feeling forced. Watching the movie through the lens of an action comedy, the tone clicks. The four-colour approach works. Raul Julia knew exactly what sort of movie he was in and played M. Bison the same way Leslie Nielsen played Dr. Womack in Airplane!; straighter than straight to the point of being funny. His speech to Chun-Li about him not remembering invading her village is a great example of what he was doing.
Street Fighter – The Movie is a cult classic. Time has given audiences time to figure out what it is without marketing trying to set the genre in minds beforehand. The bright colours turn the film into something timeless, separated from grim and gritty. There are little things to noticed with every viewing, including the Armed Forces radio announcer, Adrian Cronauer, who was the inspiration for Good Morning, Vietnam. Yes, the movie parodied Good Morning, Vietnam with the real AFRS DJ. That’s going the extra step.
It’s such steps that elevate Street Fighter – The Movie. It may not be a great film, but it is a fun movie, well worth the watch.
Lost in Translation is approaching a major anniversary mark, so it’s a good time to look back over the years. Today, let’s start at the beginning, with the first review posted, Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the early days of Lost in Translation, I went after the easier, low-hanging fruit, and ST:TNG was well in reach. I had watched both the original and the then new Trek when TNG first aired in 1987.
When TNG’s pilot episode, “Encounter at Farpoint”, first aired, the original had been in syndication for eighteen years, gaining a fan base that was too young to watch the series when it first aired. In between the last original Trek episode and “Encounter at Farpoint”, there had been an animated series and four films, beginning with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, all with the original cast. TNG, though, guaranteed a weekly hit of Star Trek, thanks to first-run syndication; ratings weren’t going to be an issue, just sales to TV stations.
The first two seasons were rough. TNG re-used some scripts for a proposed but unfulfilled Star Trek II TV series with the original crew of the Enterprise. The Star Trek II series ultimately became ST:TMP, and the mappings of characters can be seen between the movie and TNG. The obvious ones are Kirk and Decker to Riker, Xon, the Vulcan science officer who died in a transporter accident, to Data, Ilya to Troi, and Argyle and MacDougal to Scotty. The mappings aren’t perfect; there was an effort to make the new characters their own selves. With Troi, some of the Deltan culture, such as openness to sex, had to be toned down for television. Data’s quest for humanity mirrors Spock’s quest to balance and integrate his Vulcan and Human halves, but the paths each took are different.
It does take time for a TV series to get settled in, for character to develop to what fans will remember. TNG was no different. Season three was when the characters sorted themselves out. Still, the worst episode of TNG, the second season flashback episode “Shades of Gray”, is still better than TOS‘ worst, the third season’s “Spock’s Brain”. Meanwhile, the best of TNG pushed the envelope of Trek storytelling. “Darmok” explored the language gap in first contact while bypassing the universal translator.
In the time since the last TNG episode, the two-parter “All Good Things…”, in 1994, more Trek has been made. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which began during TNG‘s run and Star Trek:Voyager began the year after TNG‘s end. Star Trek: Enterprise began after Voyager‘s run ended. Today, there are three concurrent Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks. Picard is a direct sequel to TNG while Lower Decks follows the crew of another starship in the same era. At this point, TNG is the more familiar Trek series, thanks to having a longer run and and the subsequent series set in the same era.
Star Trek: The Next Generation is a good example of a successful reboot, matching the original series in quality, both highs and lows, and becoming its own entity.
Some series can be influential on the generations of creators who grew up with them. Anime, which while known prior to 1995, exploded in popularity in the late 90s and continues to have a large audience. Western animation is now taking at least cues from anime, if not fully emulating it the way Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel, The Legend of Korra did. In the realms of fully CG animation, ReBoot is the forerunner.
Released by Mainframe Entertainment in 1994, ReBoot was the first fully CG animated TV series. The series covered the adventures of Bob, Dot, Enzo, Frisket, AndrAIa, and the citizens of Mainframe against the machinations of viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimal and against games sent by the User. The first season and most of the second was mostly episodic. The change to a continuing series had the seeds laid out during the second season and started with the episode “Nullzilla”, where a web creature invades Mainframe. The fight against the web creatures forces Bob and Megabyte to work together. The second season ends Megabyte turning on Mainframe’s defenders and sending Bob into the Web.
Season three breaks down into four four-part arcs. The first arc has Enzo taking over the role of Guardian, fighting off incoming games and Megabyte’s propaganda, both with the help of Dot, AndAIa, and Frisket. The arc ends with Enzo losing a Mortal Kombat-style game. The second arc starts with Enzo, AndrAIa, and Frisket already in a Mars Attacks-style game. When the game ends, the Enzo and AndrAIa having compiled up and him going as Matrix. The arc covers the trio’s search for a way back to Mainframe and Matrix’s growing doubts about his abilities, and ends with the return of a character. The third arc begins with re-introducing the Crimson Binome and the crew of the Saucy Mare, first seen in the first season episode, “The Crimson Binome”. The arc then shows Matrix, AndrAIa, Frisket, and the Saucy Mare reaching Mainframe and seeing the devastation Megabyte made in creating Megaframe. The final arc is the final showdown, as Guardian Bob, Renegade Matrix, and the survivors in Mainframe once and for all put an end to Megabyte’s reign as the virus tries to find a way out to go infect a new system.
The fourth season was done as two movies, each broken into four parts for rebroadcast. The first, Daemon Rising, introduces a new threat, Daemon, while Mainframe tries to get on with normal life. Daemon, as the characters learn, is a cron virus that will destroy the entire Net if not stopped, and ends with a second Bob appearing. The second movie, My Two Bobs is a bit lighter, with Dot trying to figure out which Bob is the real one, a wedding, and ends with the return of Megabyte and him taking over the Principle Office in a still unresolved cliffhanger.
Throughout its four seasons, ReBoot through in what fans call DYNs, for “Did You Notice?” Popular culture references can be found in almost every episode, with several eps based on something specific. Season two’s “Bad Bob” took the premise of Mad Max 2, aka The Road Warrior, and added a plot that was relevant to ReBoot. Season three upped the ante, making a number of direct comparisons to other works, including the *007* franchise in “Firewall” and The Prisoner in “Number 7”. The games themselves often referred to actual video games or films, including Pokémon in My Two Bobs, The Evil Dead in “To Mend and Defend*, and games like Crash Bandicoot and Sonic the Hedgehog with Rocky the Rabid Raccoon in “Between a Rock & a Hard Place” and My Two Bobs.
Of particular note is the use of Star Trek in several episodes. There are binomes based on Captain Picard, Captain Kirk, and Commander Riker that reappear throughout the series. Lines from Trek have come ffrom several characters, including the Crimson Binome and Megabyte. The third season episode, “Where No Sprite Has Gone Before” written by fan and later Trek scriptwriter and script consultant DC Fontana, is a parody of both Star Trek and silver age comics. The destruction of the Saucy Mare in “Showdown” is straight out of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, including the Crimson Binome’s lamentation, “What have I done?” and AndrAIa’s response, “What you had to do. What you have always done.”
In 2018, Mainframe in conjunction with Corus Entertainment1 produced a live-action ReBoot reboot, called ReBoot: The Guardian Code. The series starred Ty Wood as Austin/Vector, Ajay Friese as Parker/Googz, Sydney Scotia as Tamra/Enigma, Gabriel Darku as Trey/Frag, Hannah Vandenbygaart as the Virtual Evolutionary Recombinant Avatar or Vera, Bob Frazier as the Sourcerer, and Timothy E. Brummund as Megabyte, taking over the role from the late Tony Jay. The series is et twenty years after the events of the original ReBoot, with the Net and cyberspace far more developed, like today’s Internet is compared to when the original first aired.
The series begins with Austin, Parker, Tamra, and Trey arriving at the Alan Turing High School, a magnet school for computer science. Tamra is a social media guru. Trey is a basketball star. Parker is a natural at coding. Austin is the son of Adam Carter, who developed new technology that was never released, especially to the Department of Internet Security. The four students get a late notice that their homeroom as been moved to room zero, in the school’s basement. Room zero is hidden behind a hologram of a wall. Inside is Adam Carter’s technology.
Turns out, the four students already knew each other by code names in a video game, which was used to find candidates to become a new type of Guardian. Carter’s technology would let users transport themselves into cyberspace, with Guardian code to keep them safe from the dangers of the Net. Their first mission is to stop the Sourcerer and his dark code locusts, who have caused a power outage.
The Sourcerer realizes the new Guardians are a threat and brings back a virus with experience fighting them, Megabyte. Megabyte is given an upgrade reflecting the twenty years that have gone past since he was last active in Mainframe. However, the Sourcerer has also done his research and adds extra code to the virus, a delete routine. Failure to obey orders and the Sourcerer can delete Megabyte with a press of a key.
Megabyte’s first act of his own volition is to set up his own base of operations, replacing Silicon Tor with a new castle. He sees cyberspace as a realm to be corrupted and brought under his silicon fist. There is a war of wills between the main villains, with the Sourcerer having the upper hand thanks to the delete routine. However, Megabyte does find a way to equal the odds, possibly even give himself the upper hand.
In a brazen act, Megabyte breaks through the outer walls of Mainframe and finds his sister, Hexadecimal, voiced again by Shirley Millner. While tracking Megabyte, Vera and Parker realize that the system he’s infecting is close, as in practically inside room zero. Parker finds an old computer and flips the switch marked “Reboot Mainframe”. The new Guardians go into the old system, only to be stopped by Bob, voiced by the original Bob. Dot and Enzo join the group, explaining what is happening and what, exactly, Lost Angles is and who Hex is. However, the User notices that Mainframe is back online and downloads Starship Alcatraz, last seen in the original season one episode, “The Tiff”. Bob, Austin, and Parker are trapped inside the game and must stop the User from winning. This time around, Austin and Parker use their knowledge of the game as users to squeak out a win.
The Sourcerer, though, has other plans. Ultimately, he wants the destruction of cyberspace. He eventually makes a deal with Megabyte to gain information, removing the delete code from the virus. the Department of Internet Security gets more involved as they recognize both the Sourcerer’s dark code, the Guardian code, Megabyte’s viral code, and how often they appear near each other. And the Guardians have lives outside the Net, including teaching Vera, who transitioned from cyberspace to the real world, how to act human, crushes, academics, and other foibles of existence.
Back in 2018, I did a preview of the series. The trailer then wasn’t promising. Turns out, trailers lie. The series is worth a watch. The question, though, is, “Is it ReBoot?”
The elements from the original that do make it in are done well. Unlike the first glance, Megabyte isn’t an attack dog. He has his own goals, restricted by the Sourcerer’s foresight. Hexadecimal is very much recognizable, helped greatly by having Millner and her cackle return for the role. While Megabyte doesn’t have his heavies Hack and Slash, he does have his army leader, the Alpha Sentinel. He has a series of them; being promoted to Alpha Sentinel usually means being destroyed, most likely by Megabyte.
However, the rest of the series might be better off without the ReBoot label. The idea of users in a computer system isn’t new; Disney did it with Tron in 1982. The Sourcerer’s plot and the fight to stop him doesn’t really touch on Mainframe, though someone had to program the viruses, the sprites, the binomes, everything in the original.
At the same time, the series leans heavily on the ReBoot mythology, using terms like Guardians and using the original series’ iconography. The Sourcerer could have coded his own virus, but instead upgraded an existing one. Sure, a new virus character out to corrupt and dominate cyberspace, but that is Megabyte’s wheelhouse. Why create a pale copy when the original is around. That goes double with Hexadecimal; the Queen of Chaos is one of a kind, and having the pair brings the spectre of Gigabyte, their combined, upgraded form, into the audience’s mind. The reboot brings back two of the greatest viral villains in entertainment.
The cast of the series is strong. The Guardians and Vera have feel like a natural group, despite being thrown together, sort of, at first. The late Tony Jay is a hard act to follow, but Timothy E. Brummund is up to the task. Bob Frazier is creepy as the Sourcerer and puts in a credible work playing two different characters in one body late in the second season. Bringing back Shirley Millner as Hex is the icing on top of the cake.
Still, is it ReBoot? Yes and no. The series does work as a sequel after a gap of twenty years, and if the original split prior to the second season episode, “Nullzilla”, when a web creature infects Hexadecimal. The reboot doesn’t answer the cliffhanger at the end of My Two Bobs. Some fan favourite characters don’t appear at all, but some, like Mike the TV wouldn’t fit the new tone. The action moves from systems into cyberspace, but the Internet has evolved greatly since 1995, and even since 2001. The series also shows what a battle between Guardian and virus in a game looks like from the user’s perspective. It may be up to the individual to decide if ReBoot: The Guardian Code is a proper adaptation.
Apologies for the lack of content this week. The review I’m working on is turning out to be more complex than expected. Lost in Translation will return next week.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Bond: George Lazenby
Release Date: 1963
Original Story: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Publication Date: 1963
Previous Story: The Spy Who Loved Me
Next Story: You Only Live Twice
Villain: Ernst Stavro Blodeld (Telly Savalas)
Heavy: Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat)
Bond Girls: Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), Ruby (Angela Scoular), Nancy (Catherina von Schell). plus ten more unnamed including one played by Joanna Lumley
Other Notable Characters: M (Bernard Lee), Q (Desmond Llewellyn), Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti)
Opening Credits: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service“, composed, arranged, and conducted by John Barry.
Closing Credits: “All the Time in the World“, written by John Barry and Hal David, performed by Louis Armstrong.
Plot of Original: Bond’s hunt for Blofeld since the end of Operation Thunderball, as per the novel Thunderball, is going nowhere. There is no sign of the head of SPECTRE. Bond is getting tired of his job and is thinking of resigning the service, having gone far enough to compose a letter of resignation. Said composition is while he’s driving his Bentley through France, and is interrupted by a young woman who goads him into chasing her through the twisting countryside roads.
Bond does catch up to the young woman at the baccarat tables, where he bails her out of financial problems after she cannot cover a massive bet. He trails her out of the hotel to the beach, where he prevents her from walking into the rough surf and killing herself. However, Bond wasn’t the only man watching her. Others from the Unione Corse, a European crime syndicate, are also on hand and take Bond and the young woman to the offices of Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the Unione and the father of Tracy, the young woman. Draco convinces Bond the only way to keep Tracy safe is for the spy to marry her.
An arrangement is worked out, and Draco uses his connections to assist Bond in his search for Blofeld, placing the villain in Switzerland. Bond returns to England and is informed that a Blofeld is claiming the title of Compte de Bleuville. He works with the College of Arms to learn the details of heraldry and assumes the role of Sir Hilary Bray, with the real one being given a vacation to go hiking in the countryside.
Bond arrives at Piz Gloria, where the would be Comte is waiting. The Comte’s assistant, Irma Bunt, handles the day-to-day business of the site as the Comte himself is busy with a project to help ten young women, all of British or Irish citizenship, overcome allergies. Bond investigates, hooks Blofeld on the possibility of being the heir to the title, and gathers intelligence. He discovers that the young women are being set up to be the vectors of biological warfare, later confirmed when an eleventh had to leave the project early and a large turkey cull was needed due to a virulent disease.
With this knowledge, and with Bunt becoming more suspicious of him, Bond leaves Piz Gloria, though not undetected. He survives the ensuing avalanche and runs into Tracy, who is feeling much better than before. They escape in her car, Bond proposes, and he returns to England.
On consulting M, the plan is to stop the young women as they return to England and raid Piz Gloria. However, going after Blofeld in Piz Gloria will need unofficial assistance; getting Swiss help may delay matters and lose Blofeld. Bond calls Draco to arrange a team from the Unione. They fly in, claiming to be on a medical mission to throw off Swiss air traffic control, then storm Piz Glora. Blofeld escapes down the bobsled run, Bond not far behind, but the villain gets away.
With the mission semi-successful – the lab at Piz Gloria is destroyed but Blofeld escaped – Bond and Tracy get married. As they head out on their honeymoon, they are shot at in a drive-by shooting by Bunt and Blofeld. Bond recovers but Tracy is fatally wounded.
The pre-credits sequence has Tracy’s attempted suicide, though not described as that. Bond meeting Tracy at the casino is after the credits; in the novel, the order is correct but Bond first meets Tracy at the casino, with their initial meeting done as a flashback. This change of order requires Bond to be kidnapped on his own, being taken to meet Draco. The meeting is condensed, but the beats are kept. The change in order makes sense in that 007 movies tend to open on an action sequence to get the audience’s blood going.
Bond does try to resign, though Moneypenny changes the resignation into a request for time off. Bond spends the time with Draco, where he learns of a potential lead instead of just being told outright by Draco. Again, this is to keep Bond as the active character instead of just being given the info. In the novel, Bond takes the info to M and formulate a plan to go undercover as Sir Hilary Bray of the College of Arms, which does happen in the movie, though, again, condensed.
Blofeld’s plot is more or less the same, except instead of targeting Great Britain and Ireland, he’s going after the world’s food supply. The twelve young women, not ten as per the novel, are from around the world, though Ruby remains British. Bond’s escape follows the novel’s version, though details are lost due to the change to a visual medium. Bond does run into Tracy, though the chase scene is more elaborate than in the book; the demolition derby was not in the novel.
Bond’s return to England is cut completely. Instead of reporting to M and getting various departments involved, Bond contacts Draco to get an assault team together to storm Piz Gloria, more or less as per the novel. Again, some details are condensed for time purposes, but once at Piz Gloria, the assault plays out as per the novel.
The movie also dropped a character. Bond’s secretary, Mary Goodnight, isn’t a significant character, but she does handle some of the paperwork needed. Moneypenny instead appears as M’s secretary, as usual, mainly thanks to having Lois Maxwell available. Goodnight will make her film debut in The Man With the Golden Gun.
OHMSS is George Lazenby’s only outing as 007. Sean Connery retired from being Bond after You Only Live Twice, but would return for Diamonds Are Forever in1971, thus having the same problem 007 had in leaving the service. The opening sequence calls out the new 007 with the line, “This never happened to the other fellow.“
Most of the differences between novel and film come from the change to a visual medium. A novel’s pace allows for more introspection by the main character, more details added to explain how the various moving parts work together. However, a movie audience isn’t going to sit still for a discussion on how the various parts of the British bureaucracy fit together. Likewise for an in depth explanation of European organized crime. It’s enough to state that Draco is a crime lord and has connections.
OHMSS is back to basics for Bond. No gadgets, in fact, going undercover as Sir Hilary Bray meant leaving the gadgets and gun behind. With a new Bond, it’s a chance to show another side of Bond. The 007s of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan all paid respect to Tracy in one way or another during their time. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a key film in the EON continuity, despite Lazenby only being a one-time Bond.