Space: The Final Potato

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Water, water everywhere. Water on the moon, water on Europa. Twenty years and a few big drills, and the cold grey moon will be dotted with lake houses and tourist traps, kind of a Catskills for the new millenium. With the International Space Station grounded by delays and budget overruns, we'll certainly need a place to live.

Before we actually tried it, space travel was a whole lot easier. See Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953). So simple a janitor (Bud) and a half-wit (Lou) could stumble onto a big silver sausage of a rocketship, flip a few switches, and go all the way to . . . Mardi Gras. Then Venus, with all the usual misadventures and comic contortions along the way. The code term for this is "classic comedy." It's a warning, because it's dated. Soft spots, stiff acting by supporting players, and yet A & C fans (you know who you are) are watching for a reason. The slapping. The double-takes. Watching Costello bounce off the ceiling, and listening to him banter in zero gravity. The way that you know, when somebody bends over, they're going to get kicked in the butt. Somehow.

Okay, CP knows this one's no Buck Privates (1941). No Andrew Sisters, either. But Venus is still crawling with beautiful women, and they're beautiful women you can watch with the kiddies -- try Sunday morning. How can CP say it? Comedy was simpler then, feminism was simpler then (alive and well on Venus, incidentally) and gosh -- space travel was simpler then. Much simpler, although they never do get to Mars. Now if only Lockheed-Martin would start building silver sausages and fish-bowl space helmets, we'd all have a better place to go on President's Day weekend.

Abbot and Costello were a hilarious moment in time. And if you can't rewind yourself a bit to watch them, at least give them credit for inventing "Seinfeld." But CP, properly incensed when his copy of "Go to Mars" wasn't rewound, warns you now: Be kind, or it's Bang, Zoom -- To the moon! Happy viewing.