Vital Signs

Summer of the Snake

In "Life-Line," a story by Robert A. Heinlein, a scientist describes a man in the present as a "space-time event." He explains, "Imagine this space-time event which we call Rogers as a long pink worm, continuous through the years, one end at his mother's womb, the other at the grave. It stretches past us here and the cross-section we see appears as a single discrete body. But that is an illusion."

For those of us who made it through the summer of 1987, things may have seemed to be an illusion. The spacetime coordinates were out of sync. The feeling was that of reeling back along the "long pink worm," as we snaked back to earlier times on the screen and through the airwaves. One thing is certain: People are longing for a time that is not the present.

Consider what Hollywood offered. There were the two big TV remakes. The Untouchables and Dragnet, both offering an old-fashioned concern with maintaining order. Dan Aykroyd's Joe Friday is something of a buffoon, but he gets the girl. And as for The Untouchables, the main comment must be about its star and new heartthrob, Kevin Costner. His quick smile and normal good looks (the new Gary Cooper?) do not recall Robert Stack so much as Spin and Marty on "The Mickey Mouse Club." It's the same period of history, just a different channel.

Disney, of course, is very much with us, and...

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