Dick Tufeld, R.I.P.

Tuefeld_robotDick Tufeld (Richard Norton Tufeld) best known as the voice of the Robot on LOST IN SPACE, passed away Janauary 22nd. He was 85.
Starting out in radio, Tufeld’s ability to put great enthusiasm and drama into his readings led to the job of announcing and narrating the ABC radio version of the 1950’s science fiction TV series SPACE PATROL. He would also announce many of the live television program’s episodes.
He was the announcer for DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR, and the ZORRO TV series — which starred Guy Williams, later to star in LOST IN SPACE.
He served as narrator of Irwin Allen’s VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA series, and also did the voice of a disembodied alien brain.
He was the narrator (and voice of Mission Control) on LOST IN SPACE, which would also result in his best known acting work, the Robot (sometimes known as the B-9 Environmental Control Robot). He almost didn’t get the part, as Irwin Allen didn’t care for his line readings when Tufeld attempted to conform with what the producer suggested. Deciding to ignore Allen’s instructions, he went with his own instincts — and that landed him the job.
LIS_robot_SmithOriginally the Robot’s voice was  deep and flatly menacing, as the Robot and Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris)  were at first intended as short-term antagonists. Tufeld lightened his tone slightly and added a great deal more expression to his delivery as the Robot became more humanized.
Sarcastic interplay between the equally  pompous Smith and his metallic adversary became a highlight of the increasingly tongue-in-cheek show.
(Interestingly, the actor inside the Robot, Bob May, provided the Robot’s derisive laughter, as  DickTuefeld didn’t think he did it justice.)
Tuefeled mentioned that the sound mixers never seemed to write down the exact settings used to filter the Robot’s voice, and they would sometimes have to fiddle around for a while to produce the same sound.  
Dick Tuefeld also narrated THE TIME TUNNEL for Irwin Allen.
Continuing as a staff announcer for ABC TV, Tufeld would continue to be a producers’ choice for genre productions, doing announcer/narrator work on cartoons such as THE FANTASTIC FOUR (1978), SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS, and THUNDAR THE BARBARIAN.
In 1998, Dick Tufeld provided the voice of the Robot in the LOST IN SPACE movie reboot, sounding amazingly like he did on the old series, despite the passing of years and vocal cord surgery.

Laserblast, September 7: Supernatural, Smallville, Hatchet

Also this week: FORBIDDEN PLANET, DOCTOR WHO, TOMMY, PHANTOM, TMNT, TCM Hammer Horror Collection, and more!

click to purchase
click to purchase

Tuesday, September 7 is filled with more DVDs and Blu-ray discs than store shelves can possibly hold. Not all of them are new titles – many are re-issues – but there are more than enough worthwhile offerings to make a serous dent in a dedicated collector’s pocketbook. Read on, to see what’s in store…
SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON arrives on 6-disc DVD and a 4-disc  Blu-ray set. Bonus features include “Supernatural: Apocalypse Survival Guides – Bobby’s Exclusive Video Collection,” “Ghostfacers: The Web Series,” Producer-Writer Commentary on Episode 4, The End,” Unaired Scene from Episode 9,The Real Ghostbusters,” and a Gag Reel.
click to purchase

If that’s not enough television for you, this week  offers up SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE NINTH SEASON, which also arrives in a 6-disc DVD set and a 4-disc Blu-ray set. Extras include “Kneel Before Zod” (a look at the Kryptonian criminal), “Justice for All” (the Smallville creative team bring the Justice Society of America to television for the first time), and Cast-Creator Commentaries on episodes “Idol” and” Kandor.”
SyFy Channel’s PHANTOM, an adaptation of the pulp action hero, also makes its way onto home video in the DVD and Blu-ray formats. That’s just about it for high-profile new titles; fortunately, lots of older stuff is resurfacing from the vault.
click to purchase
click to purchase

Horror hounds will now get to see Victor Crowley’s predations in the magic of high-def, thanks to a Blu-ray release of HATCHET; the disc ports over the bonus material from the previous DVD release and adds a new audio commentary from writer-director Adam Green (whose recent film FROZEN arrives later this month). HATCHET 2 is currently appearing at film festivals, so you better catch up with the first one.
click to purchase
click to purchase

Fans of classic cinematic science fiction will want to pick up FORBIDDEN PLANET on Blu-ray. The film has been released on DVD in several forms, including a tin collector’s set, but its lovely production design and colorful special effects demand the image resolution that only high-def can provide.
Three DOCTOR WHO titles arrive on DVD this week: PLANET OF FIRE and THE KING’S DEMONS (starring Peter Davison) and THE CREATURE FROM THE PIT (starring Tom Baker).
click to purchase
click to purchase

Writer-director Ken Russell’s outrageous film fantasy TOMMY, based on The Who’s seminal rock opera, has been remastered and restored in high-def picture and sound for its Blu-ray debut, 35 years after the film reached theatres back in 1975. Unfortunately, the disc lacks featurettes and audio commentary, even though most of the principals are still around, including Russell, Roger Daltrey (who plays the lead), and Pete Townshend (who created the opera and supervised the music).
Previously available titles reappearing on DVD include:

  • TCM GREATEST CLASSIC FILM COLLECTION: HAMMER HORROR (HORROR OF DRACULA, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED)
  • TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: 4 FILM FAVORITES (TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 88, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III, TMNT)
  • A SIMPLE WISH
  • K-PAX (Collector’s Edition)
  • JURASSIC PARK III (Widescreen Collector’s Edition)

Previously available titles arrving in Blu-ray include:

  • STARDUST
  • MARS ATTACKS
  • THX 1138
  • LOST IN SPACE (with William Hurt)
  • MATRIX RELOADED
  • A SCANNER DARKLY

There is also a 6-FILM HORROR BLURAY COLLECTION, featuring the likes of HAUNTING OF WINCHESTER HOUSE and I AM OMEGA. Plus the usual direct-to-video obscurities.
Have fun!
[serialposts]