By Gabriel Neeb

Was 1982 really the greatest geek year ever? Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie-roll pop, the world may never know, but if you were in Room 5AB for the panel dedicated to the four-part CW series 1982: Greatest Geek Year Ever, you might walk out thinking it was.

Moderator and series producer Scott “Movie” Mantz introduced the panel with the trailer for the series.

To the roar of an approving audience, Mantz introduced producers Mark A. Altman and Roger Lay Jr.

(L ro R; Scott Mantz, Roger Lay Jr, Mark Altman)

There was some talk about the labor involved in the series, as it went from a feature documentary to the four-part series it is now. With a guiding principle of telling the story of a different era, the over 100 hours of interviews took on a shape remarkably different from the original conception.

As the interviews took place from March to November 2021 Altman remarked that the interviews lasted from Delta to Omicron COVID variants.

At this, Altman took a few moments to note the presence and help of contributors Scott Tipton, Horace Austin, and John Berry (and even later in the panel Robert Burnett showed up as an audience member).

As the series production progressed, the producers found themselves with interesting problems and material, like when they interviewed Happy Days star Henry Winkler and he contributed Super 8 footage he shot on the comedy Night Shift – which was great, but how do you develop Super 8 footage in 2023?

One of things that surprised the production was that when conducting interviews, a common sentiment was that many of the movies released in 1982 couldn’t get green-lit today.

Another issue was, with 100 hours, how do you turn all of that into a digestible first episode (“The Summer of Spielberg”- which examined ET and the Spielberg produced Poltergeist). You also had to get things like the revelation from the unit publicist of Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan that Paramount had plans to spin off the characters of Lt. Savvik (Kristie Alley) and David Marcus (David Butrick) if that film had failed at the box office.

Mark Altman always said Megaforce was the zenith of the season, and even the film’s star Barry Bostwick agrees: “I love it.”

Among clips presented were ones detailing anecdotes about Rocky III (which Mark described as the first 1980s Rocky movie), the making of Conan the Barbarian (where producer Rafaella de Laurentiis recalled how that film had to try three times to get an ‘R’ rating after receiving an ‘X’ the first few times), Henry Winkler’s Night Shift footage, and… quick, in a year of ET, Blade Runner, Tootsie, and so many other classics… what won Best Picture at the Oscars?

The panel and the audience almost lost their heads at the revelation that the winner was Gandhi. That’s the kind of knowledge that makes you wonder if we live in a twilight zone of culture… but nevermind that

The panel ended with moderator Scott asking the audience to yell suggestions for a few other great geek years, should enough of us watch 1982: The Greatest Geek Year Ever. Answers ranged from 1999 to 1984 to 1987 to 1963 to, and this was Mark’s choice, 1968.

As of this writing, there are two episodes left and the series is available on the CW app.

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