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Before 'Jurassic World,' there was 'Westworld'

Before this summer’s thrilling dino adventure, Jurassic World, there was another film that dabbled in the theme of science behaving badly at a theme park: 1973’s Westworld.

Now, you might think: What on earth do these two movies have in common? Well, it turns out, a lot. Not only was Westworld the directorial debut of the late, great Jurassic Park author, Michael Crichton, but it also presented a tale of civilians trapped in a theme park trying to escape doom from certain creatures.

I’ll give you a hint: Instead of dinosaurs, Westworld features killer robots that seemingly go out of control. If you’ve never heard of this film, do yourself a favor and check it out because it’s great.

You can almost experience Westworld as an early prototype for what Crichton would do in Jurassic Park. An amusement park called Delos features three themed parks for customers to enjoy: “West World,” “Roman World,” and “Medieval World.” Each park features multiple robots designed to behave according to their respective historical locale.

Yul Brynner in Westworld/Warner Bros.

But the robots start experiencing malfunctions, and soon start to kill the guests. One of the smartest things that Crichton does is that he never tells you what causes the robots to glitch. Toward the conclusion of the film’s main storyline, first-time guest Peter Martin (played by Richard Benjamin) is relentlessly chased by the dangerous Gunslinger (played by the legendary Yul Brynner, in a great allusion to his Western role in The Magnificent Seven).

the Gunslinger is attacked/Warner Bros. The Gunslinger is the clear Big Bad of the film; through him, Crichton explores issues about the dangers of technology, science gone horribly wrong, etc. All of these are themes that he continued to explore in Jurassic Park. You can almost see the Gunslinger character as the film’s stand-in for the T-Rex—or if we’re going with Jurassic World terms, he’s most like the Indominus Rex. It’s a marvel of scientific creation and technology suddenly focused on chasing down our main characters.

As in Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, Crichton also lets us know who the people behind West World are. He shows us glimpses of the technicians discussing the dangers of what would happen if the robots malfunction. One of the scientists even uses the analogy of the malfunction spreading across the different worlds like a virus. The interesting aspect about the technicians is that they themselves acknowledge that the robots are highly complicated pieces of equipment. As one of them explains, “We don’t know exactly how they work.” The same could be said about the dinosaurs in the Jurassic films: These are creations that you shouldn’t really tamper with. It’s a unifying theme in Crichton’s work that explores the nature of technology and science, and what happens when technology collides with nature.

the technicians at Westworld try to discover the meaning behind the malfunctions/Warner Bros.Although not much is known about Delos and they really aren’t the villains, they could almost be seen as Crichton taking a look at a powerful commercial entity trying to create a theme park for the public (very much like InGen), through new breakthroughs in science. InGen and Dellos also are completely invested in giving the public something they really haven’t seen before, and utilizing the best of their resources to the maximum. As was John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) motto in Jurassic Park: “We spared no expense.”

By the way, Crichton was clearly on to something with the idea of an entity using the best of its abilities. He probably loved the Hammond motto because he uses the exact same line in Westworld, when Peter is watching a video guide detailing the attractions.

It would be unfair to say that Westworld isn’t influential within the confines of the science-fiction genre. It clearly influenced Crichton in that he revisited the idea of science gone awry at a theme park with Jurassic Park. This really has come full-circle with the park being fully operational in Jurassic World.

There’s also a lot of discussion about the fear of technology and the idea of humanity playing with science to create something they can’t handle. This is the staple of a lot of classic science fiction, including the works of Crichton himself. Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams even collaborated on an upcoming HBO series based on Crichton’s classic film.

I can’t imagine the creators of The Simpsons not being huge fans of Westworld, since they clearly referenced it in one of their most memorable episodes: “Itchy & Scratchy Land.” Right down to the killer robots trying to kill the Simpsons; it’s impossible to not see the influence of Crichton’s film.

The bar in West World/Warner Bros. If you’re a fan of science fiction and the work of Michael Crichton, then you should without a doubt revisit this ’70s sci-fi classic. If you haven’t seen it, now is the perfect time to catch up on it—since Jurassic World is in theaters now. And if you can, I would recommend having a double-feature day: Westworld (which has a Western theme park with killer robots), and Jurassic World (which also features a theme park, but with giant dinosaurs).

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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