Siskel and Ebert Movie Reviews

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Take 2: Invasion of the Outer Space Movies, 1980

War of the worlds, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Empire Strikes Back, Destination Moon, The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001, Star Wars, Alien, Star Trek, The Black Hole, A Trip to the Moon

14 thoughts on “Take 2: Invasion of the Outer Space Movies, 1980

  • The IMDb has no air date or episode number for this one. We know that it was filmed prior to Siskel and Ebert seeing The Empire Strikes Back, because they didn’t give their opinion of that one, though the trailer (or preview footage) is used. That was the summer (1980) that they curiously didn’t review the new movies for the show, so some of these “Take 2” shows might have run then. This episode is also not at the IMDb, so the master tape might have been lost. Has anyone tried to contact the PBS station in Chicago to see if they have any info about the tapes? Assuming the IMDb acquired the video of these shows from that station, they might be able to provide an episode listing for the season, or an accounting of the “lost” episodes, particularly the Halloween episode which was originally listed at the IMDb as watchable in the video section, but it was actually a Take 2 episode. Presumably someone from the station recently went through all of these tapes before content was sent to the IMDb.

    • My theory on this episode is that this IS the “Take 2: Movie Monsters” episode since that one is totally AWOL and there is no additional information on it. It also places nicely with movies they had recently reviewed.

      This could also be a “lost” unaired episode made around that time, but I kinda doubt it.

      • I think “Movie Monsters” is a different episode because I researched the episode via snippet views on According to the the broadcasting lists, they showed clips of King Kong (I don’t know which version), The Bad Seed, The Exorcist, Jaws, The Omen, Halloween, and Alien. In other words, they talk about how Monster movies started, then they review the monster films of the 1970’s. That was a year before their awful “Women in Danger” episode.

        • Good to know. Hope that episode turns up because it seems like the only blank spot in 1980 for Sneak Previews availability, aside from the missing episode featuring reviews for Borderline and Kagemusha.

          • Who ever has a home recording of the episode, please upload it, NOW!

    • I just happened upon a Facebook group called “Chicago TV Guides” that posts pics of various guides from the past. That is where I sourced this. The description says it was from the Feb. 21, 1980 edition of the Sun-Times TV Prevue. I’m still looking for an online Sun-Times archive that has Sun-Times from 79-82.


      • So if this Take 2 episode was Feb. 21, 1980, and that picture is pretty good proof that it was, this means the episode with Cruising, Hero at Large, and Saturn 3 was most likely broadcast a week earlier. I originally had it as Feb. 21, but I believe all the movies on that show were released Feb. 15th or earlier.

        • I’m sorry I didn’t see these comments until now. I could have solved this for you five years ago.

          For reasons I cannot remember, years back I went through the google archives of the Eugene Register Guard and made screenshots of the listings for all the Sneak Previews episodes. Google is missing numerous issues (even though the microfilm they digitized is complete), and sometimes the Sneak Previews listing didn’t mention the content of the episode. But I did have the one for Feb 20, 1980, and they listed this episode.

          Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have the paper for the week before, or the week after. But FWIW, here’s what I have for the rest of the seaon. It doesn’t match up with the dates on IMDB in several cases, and even lists movies they never reviewed on the show:

          Feb 28 (missing)
          March 6 – behind the scenes going to watch Black Marble
          March 13 – Coal Miner’s Daughter, Leo & Lauree, Night Games
          March 20 – “Cult films of the 70s”
          March 27 – Oscar predictions (IMDB lists this on the 22nd!)
          April 3 – “Monsters in the Movies” – listed as a rerun
          April 10 – (missing)
          April 17 – Turning Points: Movies that Changed the Movies (rerun)
          April 24 – Nijinsky, Serial, Foxes, Changeling
          May 1 – Who’s Funnier: Mel or Woody (rerun)
          May 8 – Ffolkes, Nothing Personal, Where the Buffalo Roam

          After that episode Sneak Previews does not appear on the schedule and is not replaced with anything else. The entire Thursday PBS Lineup is just moved up half an hour and goes off the air earlier.

          I can’t find any articles about why they took the summer off. When they came back on October 2 this was listed as the “Return of Sneak Previews.”

          There was an actor’s strike that summer, but it did not affect the PBS shows and they started the season earlier than the network shows.

  • Interesting episode but Siskel and Ebert contradicted themselves when they reviewed Alien because they actually liked the movie when they reviewed the film on their regular Sneak Previews program. Their review is on IMDb. And for those who might take issue with them reviewing Star Wars as an action film and not talk about the mythology, they actually talk about the mythology in their 1983 Secret of Star Wars episode, though I do agree that Roger should have made it clear that Star Wars is more space fantasy than science fiction.

    • Their opinion of The Alien here is certainly unique given that they originally gave it two rather firm “Yes” recommendations with Ebert calling the monster one of the movie’s most original creations. Then some weeks later Ebert mentions it during his review of Nightwng referring to it as a monster movie with “smart people and a dumb monster” and comparing the monster from Prophecy to the one in Alien. Now by the time this special comes out, they seem to consider the film unoriginal.

      I’m going to assume that over that past year they came to the conclusion that the movie wasted potential shown in the first half the the film, when the alien was on the loose during the second half and the movie started following more familiar horror trappings.

      • 23 years after the special, Roger later wrote a Great Movies essay. So he really did change his mind. The original review, the whole time, was a marginal recommendation. Mostly because of the first half.

      • Oops, I almost forgot that they compared The Amityville Horror to Alien.

  • I know the episode caused controversy with their contrarian views of Alien (even after they gave it a mild positive review). But I wanna focus on their review of Star Wars for this episode. Because they barely talk about the mythology at all. A whole majority of their positive review primarily covers on the special effects and action set pieces, which were revolutionary at the time yes, but it’s the mythology that made Star Wars such a big deal. They later talk about the series mythological aspects in their Star Wars special in 1983, but what’s even more surprising is that Roger himself talked about the mythology and world building in his 1977 print review of the film, 3 years before this episode.

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