Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Panic in the Sand

Last week, as I slowly work through my Netflix queue, I watched the 1973 film The Candy Snatchers. It's exploitation, for sure, but not as raunchy as the title might imply. (The film, does, however concern the kidnapping of a 17-year-old schoolgirl named Candy, if that gives you any indication of the plot.) Anyway, the DVD included interviews with the film's female castmembers, including Tiffany Bolling, who recalled how she became involved with the project and what she did with her life aside from Snatchers. Among Bolling's accomplishments was a role on a short-lived Aaron Spelling show that the actress refers to as being "lost" now. I wasn't clear exactly how she meant that, so I looked online.

Turns out Bolling meant "lost" with a capital "L," as she was a regular on a 1969 series called The New People. It lasted for a season, during which viewers could enjoy the exploits of 40-some college students who crashed on a deserted island en route home from a semester abroad in southeast Asia. All the adults died, leaving the students a chance to re-invent society, much in the manner a lot of 60s radicals wanted to: free of the prejudices that marred life before the island. However, such a utopia was elusive, and the show dealt with problems faced by the marooned. Racism reared it head. Someone alleged to have been raped. Somebody brought a gun or something.

the leads, who apparently escaped their wrecked ship with luggage in hand

At its most bare bones levels, the plot resembles Lost's, though clearly Lost has done a better job hooking viewers. The New People is also remarkable in that it was one of the few 45-minute TV shows ever broadcast. (It shared a 90-minute slot with another series, The Music Scene.) For more, check out the page on the Television Obscurities, which includes video clips of the show. The site notes that info on the show is hard to come by, as its been nearly forgotten.
Thankfully, all seventeen episodes of The New People are held at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. A 16mm transfer of the pilot episode is also in the hands of private collectors. A novel and two comic books were published during the show's run back in 1969. A handful of promotional images also survive as well as some promotional records with original music from the series. Additionally, Television Obscurities holds in its archives several reel-to-reel tapes used in the production of the series as well as an original script from September 1969.
One of the few bits of evidence I could find online was a page scanned from an old 16 magazine in what essentially amounts to beefcake photos.

Another good trivia note: When asked by Entertainment Weekly if the Lost creators knew about The New People, executive producer Damon Lindelof said that they didn't.
"I wish we had known about it before,'' says Damon Lindelof, exec producer of Lost, ''so we could've changed Charlie's [Dominic Monaghan] band name to The New People instead of Driveshaft.''
For the record, Driveshaft is a terrible name for a band.

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