November 16, 2019

TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET


TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET
(CBS, ABC, NBC, Dumont, October 2, 1950-June 25, 1955)

Rockhill Productions




MAIN CAST:
Frankie Thomas, Jr. – Tom Corbett
Al Markim – Astro
Jan Merlin – Roger Manning (season 1-4)
Michael Harvey (6 episodes) & Edward Bryce – Captain Steve Strong
Margaret Garland & Pat Ferris (2 episodes) – Dr. Joan Dale
Carter Blake – Commander Arkwright
John Fielder – Cadet Alfie “the Brain” Higgins (season 1-2)
Jack Grimes – Cadet T.J. Thistle (season 5)
Jackson Beck – Narrator (season 1-4)


            Debuting during the Golden Age of television, Tom Corbett, Space Cadet was one of the pioneering programs in science-fiction.

Promo image of Tom Corbett.


            The concept for the series came from a blending of sources. Joseph Greene, a writer for various genres across various media, had conceived of a space-faring hero named Tom Ranger in 1946. He had written the character into a radio script along with his colleagues, Kit Koo and Bob Bradley, and their ship, the Space Arrow. The script was submitted to Orbit Feature Services Inc. under the working title The Space Cadets, and later Space Academy, but it went unproduced. Greene tried again by adapting his characters into a syndicated newspaper strip in 1949, but again it never saw production.

Heinlein's Space Cadet.

            In 1950, CBS was looking to compete with DuMont’s popular series, Captain Video and his Video Rangers. Green saw an opportunity to give his Tom Ranger concept another go, but there was a slight hitch. In the interim, Robert A. Heinlein published a juvenile novel called Space Cadet in 1948 which featured concepts very close to that of Tom Ranger. Rockhill Productions, who Greene submitted one of his scripts to, was interested in developing the concept for their expansion into television. They purchased the rights for the term “Space Cadet” from Heinlein and used the connection to bolster publicity for the project. At the insistence of Rockhill’s Stanley Wolf, the title was expanded to Tom Ranger, Space Cadet. From there Tom Ranger would go on to become Tom Corbett at the last minute.

Space Academy.

            Tom Corbett, Space Cadet was set in the 24th Century, where Earth had become a commonwealth with cities combined into several megalopolis and had established colonies and outpost throughout most of the inner solar system called the Solar Alliance. The peacekeeping force charged with protecting the Alliance was The Solar Guard, who were also tasked with exploring the unknown and conducting scientific research. New recruits, called cadets, enlisted into the Space Academy with the hopes of joining the Solar Guard—provided they can cut the mustard both in skill and meeting the stringent discipline requirements of the Academy.

Tom, Astro and Roger.

            Cadets were grouped into units of threes with an emphasis on teamwork. Tom Corbett (Frankie Thomas, Jr., in his 30s at the time he was cast to play a teen) was the command cadet for his, which also featured Roger Manning (Jan Merlin) and Astro (Al Markim), and were directly overseen by Captain Steve Strong (Michael Harvey for the first 6 episodes, replaced by Edward Bryce when he had difficulty remembering his lines). Astro was an orphan born on the Venus colony with an extensive knowledge on rockets and their engines, making him the power cadet in charge of fueling the ship’s engines with radioactive material. Manning, while being a brilliant astrogator, was a brash and arrogant ladies’ man (an improvised line cemented his smartass personality) who initially harbored racist feelings towards Astro until they eventually worked through their differences. He served as the unit’s radar cadet. A 4th classification, Advanced Science Cadet, would sometimes accompany the unit on missions but typically stayed behind at the Academy doing research. Together, the cadets manned the spaceship Polaris.

Ad featuring Dr. Joan Dale.

            Other characters included Commander Arkwright (Carter Blake), the head of the Academy; Dr. Joan Dale (Margaret Garland, Pat Ferris for 2 episodes), an instructor who developed the Hyper-Drive (a small bit of progressivism at the time); Major “Blastoff” Connell (Ben Stone), an incredibly strict member of the Academy who would had loved to expel the Polaris crew; Cadet Alfie “the Brain” Higgins (John Fielder, in his first role), science cadet; and Cadet Eric Rattison (Frank Sutton), Tom’s rival at the Academy.

Tom in his space suit.

            Tom Corbett, Space Cadet made its debut on CBS on October 2, 1950. The series was written by Art Wallace, Albert Aley, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert, Richard Jessup, Palmer Thompson, Ray Morse, Alfred Bester, George Lowther, Stu Byrnes and Thomas. Unlike Space Patrol, which had debuted months prior, Tom Corbett was more character-driven than action-oriented. Although it would take some liberties, such as creating a “Hyper-Drive” to allow for faster than lightspeed travel to distant locations, the series held closely to scientific accuracy (as established at the time) overseen by technical advisor Willy Ley; a German scientist and writer who became an expert on rocketry. As a result, the Polaris crew didn’t employ things like laser guns and didn’t encounter many aliens. Instead, the series was kept “grounded” with common, everyday situations familiar to the audience but set in space, and themes borrowed extensively from old westerns. The small budget and limited technology were a boon, forcing the scripts to be extremely focused and brisk in their pacing.

A cutaway diagram of the Polaris.

            Tom Corbett became a smash hit, running 5 seasons. It received praise for its mature storytelling and innovative special effects. Tom Corbett had the rare distinction of being the first program to be broadcast across all four major networks during its run. The first season ran on CBS before moving to ABC for the next two seasons. The show was aired 3 days a week, broadcast live for 15 minutes an episode. During the ABC run, three episodes would be repackaged and condensed into a 30-minute show with narration by Thomas to serve as a summer replacement for The Victor Borge Show on NBC Saturday nights. After an 11-month hiatus, Tom Corbett returned airing on the DuMont Network, airing alternate Saturdays. 7 months later, the final batch of episodes would return to NBC on Saturday mornings. Despite the hiatuses, the show’s popularity remained strong.

The diminutive T.J. joins the crew.

            After the DuMont run, Merlin decided he wanted to leave the show to avoid being typecast as a space cadet for the rest of his career. For the final NBC run he was replaced by Jack Grimes as T.J. Thistle; a cowardly cadet who tended to have a chip on his shoulder because of his short stature. The NBC run, sponsored by Kraft, featured a significant reduction to the already miniscule budget, further limiting the amount of sets used and resulting in the removal of Jackson Beck as the long-serving narrator. Popularity for the series did wane, resulting in its cancellation. However, it was strongly considered as late as 1957 to bring the show back to the airwaves.

One of the newspaper strips.

            The show’s popularity led to a wealth of merchandising and spin-off opportunities. A comic strip ran from September 9, 1951 to September 6, 1953 drawn by Ray Bailey and primarily written by Paul S. Newman. Grosset & Dunlap, for whom Greene worked as an editor, published a series of 8 juvenile novels written by the pseudonym Carey Rockwell (believed to have been Greene himself). The books generally featured a lot of inconsistencies when compared to the television show, however Ley did also serve as scientific advisor. Saalfield Publishing Co. released a coloring book in 1952, and Wonder Books published a children’s book in 1953 called Tom Corbett’s Wonder Book of Space. From January 1 to June 26, 1952, a radio program aired adapting television episodes into a half-hour show twice a week with the cast reprising their roles. An album featuring several songs from the series was released by Golden Sound Records in 1951, as well as a recorded adventure in 1952 from Little Nipper Junior Records.

The cover to Dell's Tom Corbett #9.

            Dell Comics began publishing comics based on the show in 1952. The first three adventures were featured in Dell’s tryout book for potential new series, 4-Color, in #’s 378, 400 & 421. Satisfied with audience reaction, Dell spun-off the series into its own title beginning with #4 and in an issue of March of Comics with issue #102. As the show tapered off, Dell cancelled the title with #11 in 1954. Prize Comics took up the license in 1955 and published three more issues. In 1990, Eternity Comics reprinted the Dell/Prize comics as The Original Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, along with two of their own 4-issue limited series in a manga style. The Dell/Prize books were reprinted again in 2017 by PS Artbooks as part of their Pre-Code Classics series. Bluewater Productions (now Tidalwave Productions) went on to published a new 4-issue series in 2009. Bluewater also partnered with The Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air to produce a dramatic radio version of their series.

One of the View-Master slide images.

            Tom Corbett was heavily merchandised during the show’s run. Space Cadet Identification Badges and miniature spacemen, and a Strato-Treasure Hunt Game were made available with purchase of Red Goose Emery Oxford Shoes, one of the show’s sponsors. The spacemen were also available with John C. Roberts Shoes. During Kellogg’s sponsorship, a membership kit was offered through their Corn Flakes brand. They also rebranded their cereal Pep into Pep: The Solar Cereal, which featured cardboard cutouts of space cadet gear and a premium giveaway of goggles. When Kraft took over sponsorship, a Space Cadet Membership Kit was offered for .25 cents and a Kraft tab or wrapper. Among other merchandise was various tin and plastic toys were made by Marx, including a pistol and playsets; metal lunchboxes made by Aladdin; a plastic space helmet from Plasti-Cole Products, Inc.; a costume from Yankiboy Play Clothes; a three-reel View-Master set; and more.

The album.

            Tom Corbett had a lasting impression on science-fiction, as well as introduced the terms “space cadet” and “blast off” into the lexicon that would become closely associated with the genre. Following the conclusion of the series, Rockhill came under possession of the IRS for failure to pay taxes. Direct Recordings, Inc., ended up purchasing Rockhill’s from the IRS, including the rights to Tom Corbett. The remaining artifacts from the show retained by Wolfe were donated to the University of Southern California. In 1984, Greene gave his personal kinescopes of the show to nostalgia merchant Wade Williams, who also possessed a number of the half-hour, 15-minute and radio shows. In 1993, Thomas, Markim and Merlin were reunited to perform one of the old episodes as a radio broadcast for Friends of Old Time Radio. Thomas, who viewed the Corbett role as the role of a lifetime, requested to be buried in his space cadet uniform upon his death in 2006.




EPISODE GUIDE (some information not available):
Season 2/3 (incomplete):      
(11/12/51) – Tom sets out to prove Captain Strong is innocent of ignoring a flight plan filed by Captain Wynn.

(12/26/51) – The Polaris heads for a crash-landing on Mars.

(7/14/52) – A saboteur comes aboard the Polaris disguised as a writer and takes over the ship.

(9/15/52) – The Polaris heads to Titan to administer a vaccine to deal with a plague, and Roger becomes infected when he sneaks away against orders.

(9/19/52) – Infected with the plague, Roger sets the Polaris on the wrong course sending it too close to a comet.

NBC Reruns:
“Space Week” (7/7/51) – A competition between the cadet units at the Academy is marred in controversy when it seems like a member of the Polaris stole an exam paper.

“The Martian Revolt” (7/14/51) – A plan to split up the Space Academy actually masks a deeper plot to destroy the Solar Guard from within.

“Trial in Space” (7/21/51) – Astro appears to have contracted space fever, which could remove him from the unit permanently.

“Graveyard of the Rockets” (7/28/51) – The cadets head on a mission to find a missing scientist in a rocket ship graveyard.

“The Asteroid of Death” (8/4/51) – A stowaway may provide the only way Roger and Captain Strong won’t collide with an anti-matter asteroid.

“The Mystery of Alkar” (8/11/51) – The cadets are menaced by a visitor for Alkar, but an even more deadly threat could destroy the Solar Alliance.

“The Lost Colony of Venus” (8/18/51) – A stowaway commandeers the ship and forces the cadets to help him search for the legendary Lost Colony.

“Summer Space Maneuvers – Part 1” (8/25/51) – The Polaris is damaged on a mission to destroy an asteroid has to land on Jupiter for repairs.

“Summer Space Maneuvers – Part 2” (9/1/51) – Jupiter’s strong gravity and harsh environment make repairing the Polaris a difficult and dangerous task.

Season 4:
“The Million Dollar Patrol” (8/29/53) – While the Space Academy is in danger of closing, the cadets have to rescue the passengers of a crippled rocket liner a million miles away.

“The Trojan Planets” (9/12/53) – The deserted planets orbiting Jupiter turn out to be anything but.

“The Outpost of Danger” (9/26/53) – The cadets are tasked with saving the Minas outpost from a rampant disease.

“Target Danger” (10/10/53) – The cadets find themselves targeted with real weapons during a mock invasion, and a feud between cadets leads to the wreck of the Commander’s flagship.

“The Mountains of Fire” (10/24/53) – The cadets use the Polaris to prevent the destruction of an important agricultural station.

“The Ghost Ship” (11/7/53) – The cadets investigate a mysterious ship that seemingly crashes into other ships accidentally.

“The Beacon of Danger” (11/21/53) – A crooked mechanic disables a beacon in the hopes of causing a treasury ship to crash.

“Spaceship of Death” (12/5/53) – An exploding spaceship threatens an airport.

“The Raiders of the Asteroids” (12/19/53) – The cadets go undercover in order to capture space gangsters.

“The Planet of Doom” (1/2/54) – Two auxiliary cadets crash their spaceship on Jupiter because of negligence.

“Cargo of Death” (1/16/54) – A negligent captain kidnaps Roger for the crew of his next poorly-maintained ship, leading to Tom and Astro going undercover to save Roger and the ship.

“The Iron Major” (1/30/54) – The cadets are forbidden to leave the ship while in port.

“The Space Projectile” (2/13/54) – Tom has to stop the sabotage of a cargo firing tube.

“Rescue in Space” (2/27/54) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The Earth Digger” (3/13/54) – The crew goes to clear a cave-in in the tunnels under the moon’s surface.

“Space Station of Danger” (3/27/54) – The cadets have to rescue a space station from a dangerous compound in the air and a bomb planted by saboteurs.

“Treachery in Space” (4/10/54) – Tom is expelled on the suspicion of treason.

“Comet of Death” (4/24/54) – The crew is put in danger when the Polaris runs into a comet.

“Death Trap” (5/8/54) – A routine flight turns into a rescue mission when a distress signal is received.

“The Runaway Rocket” (5/22/54) – The cadets escort the speed trial of a new rocket that malfunctions and careens towards the sun.

Season 5:
“The Atomic Curtain” (12/11/54) – Two cadets end up trapped behind an atomic curtain.

“Astro’s Trial” (12/18/54) – After Astro’s orders lead to a spaceship crash, Tom has to prove his friend innocent of negligence.

“The Runaway Asteroid” (1/1/55) – The crew sets out to alter the course of an asteroid and transform it into a space station orbiting Jupiter.

“Suit Up For Death” (1/8/55) – Major Bemus refuses to believe that the oxygen tanks on the Academy spacesuits are defective.

“Mystery of the Mothball Fleet” (1/15/55) – The cadets are assigned to the Solar Guard’s fleet anchorage where a crew member was reported dead.

“The Life Ray” (1/22/55) – The crew must restore the life ray.

“A Mighty Mite” (1/29/55) – T.J. feels discouraged about his role in the crew until a fuel leak allows him to prove himself.

“Ace of the Space Lanes” (2/5/55) – Captain Cowan’s reckless desire to break a speed record puts the whole crew in danger.

“The Asteroid Station” (2/12/55) – A reporter comes to investigate the Solar Guard’s asteroid station, a project which his paper was against.

“The Grapes of Ganymede” (2/19/55) – The crew searches for the source of contaminated grapes that are causing sickness throughout the solar alliance.

“Assignment: Mercury” (2/26/55) – A technical error by T.J. puts Tom and Major Connel in danger on Mercury.

“Smugglers of Death’ (3/5/55) – The cadets have to stop smugglers from sending a crystal that breaks down ores from space to Earth.

“The Mystery of the Missing Mail Ship” (3/12/55) – In revenge for his dishonorable discharge, Captain Cowan hijacks the Titan Mail Ship.

“The Gremlin of Space” (3/19/55) – A punishment assignment leads the cadets to deal with transporting a troublesome chip to the zoo at Venusport.

“Terror in Space” (3/26/55) – An accident sends Astro floating away in space, but even when he’s rescued the psychological impact of the ordeal may keep him from space forever.

“Spaceship of Danger” (4/2/55) – The cadets take a ship home from vacation, unaware that its captain plans to scuttle it for the insurance money.

“The Magnetic Asteroid” (4/9/55) – T.J.’s feud with a rival ship may hinder a mission to track and stop an asteroid with a strong magnetic field.

“The Danger in the Asteroid Belt” (4/16/55) – The cadets end up trapped on a training ship as it’s about to enter an asteroid belt.

“False Alert” (4/23/55) – A phony distress call lures the Polaris into a trap.

“The Space Projectile” (4/30/55) – A mission to retrieve data from a robot rocket sees T.J. and Captain Strong ending up careening towards a white star.

“The Outpost of Terror” (5/7/55) – The cadets visit a Triton outpost to discover the body of a radiation victim.

“Exercise for Death” (5/14/55) – The cadets try to impress a higher-up during a training exercise, but they end up sending their target flying into other ships.

“Ambush in Space” (5/21/55) – Roy Cowan escapes from prison and lures the Polaris into a trap to enact his revenge.

“The Stowaway” (5/28/55) – A new reactor test is hampered by the Defense Minister’s daughter, who stowed away on the Polaris.

“A Fight for Survival” (6/4/55) – The cadets fly an old ship to Venusport to be scrapped, but its reactors malfunction and leaves them stranded in a Venusian jungle.

“Space Blindness” (6/11/55) – An eccentric scientist who wants to photograph a nova named for him leads to his escort, Commander Arkwright, going blind from the nova’s intense light.

“Comet of Danger” (6/18/55) – A photographer riding along on the Polaris insists the crew take it through a speeding comet.

“The Final Test” (6/25/55) – The cadets take their final exam which includes a dangerous flight into deep space.

November 09, 2019

SPACE STARS


SPACE STARS
(NBC, September 12-November 21, 1981)

Hanna-Barbera Productions




MAIN CAST:
Gary Owens – Space Ghost
Steve J. Spears – Jace
Mike Road – Zandor, Tundro, Zok, Igoo
Sparky Marcus - Dorno
Darryl Hickman – Kid Comet
David Raynr (as David Hubbard) – Moleculad
B.J. Ward – Elektra
Michael Winslow – Glax, Plutem
Allan Lurie - Uglor
Don Messick – Astro, Gloop, Gleep, various
Lennie Weinrib – Dipper, various
Frank Welker – Cosmo, Blip, various
Michael Bell – Space Ace, various
Keene Curtis - Narrator
Michael Rye – Opening narration


             Taking inspiration from the massive success of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Hanna-Barbera decided to enter the space business with a new program set in the final frontier (as Star Trek would call it). The result was the 60-minute programming block called Space Stars.

The return of old friends: Space Ghost and The Herculoids.


            Space Stars was a mixture of old and new. Hanna-Barbera took it as an opportunity to revive two of their series from the 1960s: Space Ghost and The Herculoids. However, they didn’t just throw up old reruns--they created all-new stories for both programs. Gary Owens, Virginia Gregg, Mike Road and Don Messick all reprised their respective roles from the original shows (with the exception of Frank Welker replacing Messick as Space Ghost’s animal mascot, Blip). Steve J. Spears and Alexandra Stoddart replaced Tim Matheson and Ginny Tyler as the voices of Space Ghost’s young allies, Jace and Jan, respectively, while Sparky Marcus replaced Ted Eccles as the voice of Tara and Zandor’s son, Dorno. Space Ghost, Jace, Jan and Blip continued to patrol the spaceways in a sleeker version of The Phantom Cruiser, encountering some new foes including an evil version of Space Ghost from another dimension, Space Spectre (John Stephenson). The Herculoids, meanwhile, continued to protect their home planet of Quasar (renamed from Amzot) from threats both terrestrial and alien. The anti-technology slant of the original The Herculoids seemed to have been abandoned as the heroes now seemed to possess the ability to summon intergalactic aid, such as Space Ghost.

Astro and his new friends.

            Another classic 60s character made a return appearance in the form of Astro (Messick), the family dog from The Jetsons four years before Hanna-Barbera would launch their syndicated revival. However, Astro had traded in his cushy home life for one of adventure in Astro and the Space Mutts. Astro was one of three dogs, the others being Cosmo (Welker) and Dipper (Lennie Weinrib), who was partnered up with intergalactic police officer Space Ace (Michael Bell) as they bumbled their way into protecting the galaxy from a wide variety of thieves and smugglers.

Kid Comet leads Moelculad and Elektra with the Astromites.

            Completely new was Teen Force. Teen Force was a team of space-faring young superheroes who dwelled in another universe from the other Space Stars characters, but could cross over back and forth easily through Black Hole X. It was comprised of Kid Comet (Darryl Hickman), who possessed super speed; Moleculad (David Raynr), who could alter his molecular structure; and Elektra (B.J.Ward), who had psionic abilities and teleportation. They were joined and aided by a pair of diminutive aliens known as the Astromites, Plutem and Glax (both human sound box Michael Winslow). Typically, Teen Force battled the evil Uglor (Allan Lurie) and his various schemes at conquering the universe.

Uglor and his many attempts to conquer the universe.


            Space Stars debuted on NBC on September 12, 181. Each episode was broken up into several story segments, with two Space Ghost stories opening up both half hours, and followed by Teen Force and The Herculoids in the first half hour and Astro in the second. The final segment was called Space Stars Finale, which featured two or more sets of characters coming together to battle a major threat. However, Finale wasn’t the only place where the characters interacted. It was common for characters to cross-over into each other’s individual segments. For instance, members of Teen Force could be seen helping Space Ghost (it also seemed as if Jan and Kid Comet were dating), or Space Ghost could aid the Herculoids in protecting their planet, or Uglor’s nephew could find himself causing trouble on Space Ace’s beat. At the beginning and half hour interval, a preview montage of the upcoming stories was shown. To mark the halfway point of the program, a set of characters from one of the segments would be shown flying around a black background with colorful stereoscopic lines moving about rendered by Iraj Paran and Tom Wogatzke.

Teen Force and The Herculoids.

            Additionally, there were four interstitial segments starring a rotating roster of each story segment’s characters designed to provide a little interactivity for the viewing audience, as well as fulfill the FCC’s educational mandates. “Space Magic” would have one character demonstrating a magic trick to another, typically involving coins or cards. “Space Fact” gave scientific information about various celestial bodies, the day/night cycle, how astronauts survive in space and more. “Space Mystery” was essentially a short story segment that tied into that week’s “Space Fact”, whose information provided the clue the audience could use to deduce the solution to the presented mystery. “Space Code” was a coded message given to the audience to reveal the identity of the Finale villain or how that villain could be defeated. “Space Code” was broken up into three parts shown between each of the second half hour’s story segments: the first gave the code, the second provided a clue as to how to break it, and the third started the process of decoding it.

Did you know it can rain in space?

            Space Stars was written by Kathleen Barnes, Ray Colcord, Dianne Dixon, Diane Duane, Scott Edelman, Donald Glut, Orville Hampton, Andy Heyward, Len Janson, Earl Kress, Chuck Menville, Frances Novier, J. Michael Reaves, Reed Robbins, Jim Ryan, David Villaire, David Wise and Marc Scott Zicree, with Janson, Menville, Barnes and Wise serving as story editors and Ray Parker serving as story supervisor. Character designs were handled by Judie Clarke, Jean Gilmore, Jesse Santos and comic book legend Jack Kirby, while Hoyt Curtin provided the series with its music. The series’ intro paid homage to its Star Wars influence by imitating the opening crawl that appears in most of their films with the series’ title and outlines of the characters. Although Keene Curtis was the narrator during the program, Michael Rye handled the narration for the intro.

The DVD.

            Space Stars only ran for 11 episodes; however, it stayed on NBC’s schedule until the fall of 1982. When the series entered syndicated reruns on USA Network, it was reduced to 30 minutes with only one Space Ghost, Teen Force and The Herculoids being shown. Cartoon Network and Boomerang would air the all of the story segments except Teen Force as interstitial segments between shows, never airing the complete episodes. In 2013, Warner Archive released the complete series to DVD as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection.



EPISODE GUIDE:
“Microworld / Space Magic / Space Fact / Nebulon / Space Mystery / The Firebird / Space Code / Planet of the Space Monkeys / Will the Real Mr. Galaxy Please Stand Up / Polaris” (9/12/81) – Toymaker takes Certia 3 hostage in exchange for Space Ghost’s power bands. / Space Ace shows Astro a magic trick by pulling a particular name out of a helmet. / Space Ghost explains comets to Jan and Jace. / Uglor is forced to work with Teen Force to stop the energy creature he created. / Space Ghost determines that a comet is really the smuggler ship they’re looking for. / An erupting volcano awakens the firebird that was residing within. / Kid Comet and the Astromites give the audience a clue about the upcoming threat. / Feeling neglected, Blip runs away and finds a planet of space monkeys. / Space Ace and the Mutts have to get the First Galaxy’s bank vault back from Mr. Galaxy. / Space Ghost and Blip have to be saved from a space warp dimension created by Polaris.

“The Starfly / Space Magic / Space Fact / The Death Ray / Space Mystery / The Ice Monster / Space Code / The Anti-Matter Man / Reverso / Dimension of Doom” (9/19/81) – A Starbeast attacks a space transport ship. / Space Ace makes a solid object pass through another. / Space Ace tells Astro about the tides. / Uglor plans to destroy Teen Force’s access to the other universe to destroy them. / Space Ace investigates a fellow officer’s claim about a sea beast that ate his lunch. / An indestructible robot emerges from its icy slumber. / Elektra and the Astromites give the audience a clue about the upcoming threat. / An accident turns a scientist into the Anti-Matter man. / Reverso threatens to reverse everything unless he’s made ruler of the universe. / Space Ghost and Teen Force have to rescue Jan and Jace from Uglor.

“City In Space / Space Magic / Space Fact / Prison Planet / Space Mystery / The Snake Riders / Space Code / The Toymaker / The Education of Puglor / Worlds in Collison” (9/26/81) – Elektra joins Space Ghost in saving a floating city from falling into the sun. / Space Ace shows Astro an alien in a box. / Tara explains stars to Dorno, Gloop and Gleep. / Teen Force goes to Uglor’s prison planet to rescue the Solvanite president. / The Herculoids encounter an alien who promises to bring them to a paradise planet. / The Herculoids have to stop the Snake Riders from conquering Quasar. / Space Ghost and Blip give the audience a clue about the upcoming threat. / Toymaker captures Jan, Jace and Blip while they vacation. / Uglor loans Puglor his tools so he can conquer the resort world of Solar Springs. / Elektra joins Space Ghost and the Herculoids in stopping Uglor’s plan to crash the Ghost Planet into Quasar.

“Nomads / Space Magic / Space Fact / Trojan Teen Force / Space Mystery / The Invisibles / Space Code / The Space Dragons / Wonder Dog / Mindwitch” (10/3/81) – The people Space Ghost saves from a giant space snake may not be the victims they appear to be. / Jan and Blip show Jace their mind-reading trick. / Tara explains traveling at the speed of light to Dorno. / Teen Force must save a royal family from Uglor and keep him from marrying the princess. / An alien comes to Quasar demanding the planet’s minerals and to enslave the Herculoids. / The Herculoids get aid from Space Ghost when a chunk of Magnlilite turns their foes invisible. / Space Ghost learns that one of the Herculoid animals will betray Zandor. / Space Dragons attack mining operations to steal an element to make fuel. / Space Ace is given a new robotic dog partner while Scavenger steals the Aceship. / An evil witch is accidentally revived and sets her sights on conquering Quasar.

“Eclipse Woman / Space Magic / Space Fact / Decoy of Doom / Space Mystery / The Energy Creature / Space Code / Attack of the Space Sharks / Menace of the Magnet Maniac / Magnus” (10/10/81) – Kid Comet helps stop Eclipse Woman from draining planet Halcion’s energy. / Moleculad shows the Astromites a coin trick. / Zandor explains the moon to Dorno. / Uglor lures the Teen Force into a trap so he can steal their powers. / An alien from the moon comes to conquer Quasar. / An energy creature crashes onto Quasar and can assume the form of any being it grabs. / Space Ghost discovers a secret about the alien menacing Quasar. / Space Ghost battles shark-like warships while his associates end up their prisoners. / Space Ace has to stop a rash of metal robberies. / Space Ghost helps the Herculoids deal with Magnus and a childlike alien with dangerous toys.

“Time Chase / Space Magic / Space Fact / Elektra’s Twin / Space Mystery / The Purple Menace / Space Code / The Haunted Space Station / The Night of the Crab / The Crystal Menace” (10/17/81) – Kid Comet ends up sending himself and Jan back in time. / Moleculad shows the Astromites his teleporting coin trick. / Teen Force relies on the international dateline to make it to an Earth party on time. / Uglor uses a double of Elektra to capture Teen Force and keep them from saving the star Helios. / Teen Force has to apprehend a criminal before the statute of limitations on his crimes runs out. / Glowing rocks lead to purple vines becoming a menace to the planet. / Space Ace uses a crystal ball decoder to figure out how to defeat a crystal creature. / Investigating a distress signal from a space station reveals a soul vampire has turned its crew into obedient zombies. / The Crab steals the Space Awards from the Space Palace. / Space Ghost helps the Herculoids deal with Crystal Cyborg to keep all life on Quasar from being crystallized.

“Time of the Giants / Space Magic / Space Fact / Uglor’s Power Play / Space Mystery / The Buccaneer / Space Code / The Sorceress / Rock Punk / The Olympians” (10/24/81) – The Phantom Cruiser goes through a space cloud that shrinks it and its occupants. / Kid Comet shows the Astromites his disappearing wand trick. / Space Ghost tells Jan and Jace about how Earth astronauts survive in space. / Uglor mimics Teen Force’s powers in his latest plot to conquer the galaxy. / Space Ghost and Blip pursue the Tinkerer to a moon. / Space pirates come to Quasar in search of buried treasure. / Elektra and the Astromites get a coded message as to what Uglor wants to steal from Quasar. / The Sorceress plans to control Space Ghost and force him to marry her. / Space Ace has to retrieve Mount Spacemore from Rock Punk. / The Herculoids and Teen Force have to keep Uglor from stealing all of Quasar’s energy rock deposits.

“Space Spectre / Space Magic / Space Fact / Ultimate Battle / Space Mystery / The Thunderbolt / Space Code / The Big Freeze / The Greatest Show Off Earth / Endangered Species” (10/31/81) – Space Ghost must battle his evil double from another dimension. / Dorno challenges Gleep into tying a rope into a knot without letting go of it. / Teen Force explains to Glax why it gets dark at night. / Uglor challenges Teen Force to a battle on a planet full of creatures he’s already turned against them. / Teen Force pursues a bank robber to the arctic region of a planet. / Saiju eats some electrically-charged rocks and is turned into an electrical monster. / Space Ghost detects a threat heading for Quasar. / Feron plans to freeze all the planets in the galaxy to make them inhabitable for his people. / Space Ace has to rescue the Spaceling Brothers Circus from the Cosmic Clown. / Dorno, Zok and the Space Mutts must rescue Space Ace, Sandor and Tara from an alien zoo.

“Devilship / Space Magic / Space Fact / The Space Slime / Space Mystery / Return of the Ancients / Space Code / The Deadly Comet / Jewlie Newstar / The Outworlder” (11/7/81) – Investigating a shuttle leads Jace to fall under the power of The Wizard. / Dorno shows Tundro how to magnetize a stick to attract a straw. / Space Ace explains the sun’s heat to Astro. / Teen Force must stop Uglor’s new biological weapon. / Space Ace pursues a cosmic car thief through the solar system. / The descendants of Quasar’s original inhabitants return to the planet after a 1,000-year mission. / Space Ghost gets a message on how to trap the Outworlder. / Space Ghost asks Kid Comet to help deal with some weaponized comets. / Jewlie Newstar steals the Jupiter Jewel from the interplanetary museum. / Space Ghost and Teen Force deal with an energy vampire while a threatened freighter’s captain recklessly tries to save his ship.

“Spacecube of Doom / Space Magic / Space Fact / Wordstar / Space Mystery / Space Trappers / Space Code / The Time Master / Galactic Vac is Back / Uglor Conquers the Universe” (11/14/81) – A space cube steals all the precious metals in the universe. / Jan shows Blip a card trick. / Space Ghost explains stars to Jace. / Teen Force must stop Uglor from getting a tremendously powerful weapon. / A new alien addresses the United Worlds asking refuge for his people from a dying sun, but Space Ghost learns he’s up to something. / The Space Trappers want The Herculoids for their intergalactic circus. / The code computers go crazy when Teen Force gets a message on how to defeat Uglor. / Time Master turns time back on planet Glax-3 in order to harvest the material needed for his Time Shredder. / Galactic Vac returns to suck up everything in the galaxy. / Teen Force, Space Ghost and the Herculoids have to stop Uglor who has gained omnipotent power by absorbing a neutron galaxy.

“Web of the Wizard / Space Magic / Space Fact / Pandora’s Warp / Space Mystery / Mindbender / Space Code / The Shadow People / Rampage of the Zodiac Man / The Cosmic Mousetrap” (11/21/81) – The Wizard plots to use an illusion to force the Phantom Cruiser to crash. / Jan shows Jace a card trick. / Space Ace explains black holes to Astro. / Uglor summons help from another dimension to destroy a vital power plant. / A smuggler attempts to escape Space Ace through a black hole. / Dorno, Gloop and Gleep accidentally release a member of the race that previously ruled Quasar from his prison. / Space Ghost shares the threat he’ll face with Teen Force. / Elektra joins in the investigation of a hastily-abandoned space refinery. / Zodiac Man steals the Stardust Constellation Ring from the Moona Lisa Museum. / Megamind captures Space Ghost, Jace, Blip and Elektra in order to study their weaknesses.

November 02, 2019

SPACE ACADEMY

SPACE ACADEMY
(CBS, September 10-Decmeber 17, 1977)

Filmation Associates



MAIN CAST:
Jonathan Harris – Commander Isaac Gampu
Pamelyn Ferdin – Laura Gentry
Ric Carrott – Chris Gentry
Maggie Cooper – Adrian Pryce-Jones
Brian Tochi – Tee Gar Soom
Ty Henderson – Paul Jerome
Eric Greene – Loki
Erika Scheimer (as E.C.S., voice) & John Berwick (operator, on-set voice) - Peepo


            Space Academy was a live-action science fiction show produced by Filmation Associates. Set sometime in the 38th Century, the series was centered on the Space Academy built on an asteroid and established in 3732. It brought together the best and brightest cadets from across the galaxy to study and explore the mysteries of space.

The academy.

            Head of the academy was Commander Isaac Gampu (Jonathan Harris). His countless space explorations had retarded his aging, leaving him well over 300-years-old. He personally oversaw the activities of three student teams: the Red, Gold and Blue Team. The Blue Team, the primary focus of the show, was comprised of siblings Chris (Ric Carrot) and Laura Gentry (Pamelyn Ferdin) who possessed a variety of psychic powers and were co-leaders of the team (initially they were meant to be twins, but the actors’ height difference necessitated the change); Adrian Pryce-Jones (Maggie Cooper), the third-in-command on the team who often worked directly with Gampu and was Chris’ love interest; Paul Jerome (Ty Henderson), a highly-intelligent transferee from the Red Team who was raised on an Earth colony; Tee Gar Soom (Brian Tochi), possessor of superhuman strength and continued the martial arts traditions of his ancestors while incorporating new techniques learned from other planets; and Loki (Eric Greene), a young orphan discovered on a mission who could teleport and see on different spectrums others couldn’t. Offering support was a small robot named Peepo (Erica Scheimer, speaking through a pitch-shifter with regenerative delay).

The Blue, Gold and Red teams, as indicated by their shirt colors.

            The series was initially conceived as a radio drama by Allen Ducovny in 1969 while he was a producer for Filmation. When he became the Vice President in charge of children’s programming for CBS, he suggested adapting the idea into a live-action program to producer Lou Scheimer. Production of the show began in early 1977. The Ark II prop from Filmation’s previous series, Ark II, was repurposed as the spaceships commonly used on the series called “Seekers”. Setting the series on an asteroid allowed them to circumvent the expense of trying to duplicate weightlessness, and “invisible force fields” allowed them to traverse inhospitable environments without the need for additional suits. However, production ran down to the wire as when Starlog Magazine writer David Houston visited the set in August, no full episodes or scripts had been completed yet. Only stock special effects and various scenes were finished. This likely led to the early series discrepancy of Loki joining the team in the first episode and being a long-time member in the second, while Soom was a member in the first and just joined in the second.

Piloting the seeker with Laura, Adrian, Paul, Loki, Gampu, Tee Gar Soom and Chris.

            Nonetheless, Space Academy made its debut on CBS on September 10, 1977. The series was largely similar in structure to Star Trek (on which both Tochi and Ferdin appeared together in an episode), with the added morality lessons and educational content Filmation had become known for; overseen by Dr. Gordon L. Berry from UCLA. The series was written by Samuel A. Peeples, Martha Humphreys, Jack Paritz, Ted Pedersen, Lynn Barker, Susan Dworski, Don Heckman, Marianne Mosner, Peter Packer, Howard Rayfiel, Martin Roth, Robert Specht and Tom Swale, with Arthur Nadel serving as producer and story editor. Horta-Mahana Corp. supplied the sound effects while Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blais) and producer Norm Prescott (as Jeff Michael) composed the music. Space Academy had the distinction of being the most expensive Saturday morning program produced at the time, clocking in at around $150,000 per episode.

Adrian and Peepo.

            The series only lasted a single season of 15 episodes, airing in frequent repeats until September of 1979. To continue making use of the sets and special effects already created, Filmation produced a spin-off called Jason of Star Command, which was said to take place in a special section of the Space Academy. Scheimer kept the Peepo robot prop as one of the rare souvenirs he collected from his programs.

The Seeker.

As the show was airing, Aviva Toy Company offered a set of four 8 ½” dolls based on Gampu, Tee Gar Soom, Chris and Loki through F.W. Woolworth, as well as additional adventure outfits for them. In 2007, BCI/Eclipse released the complete series to DVD with uncut, remastered episodes and special features. The following year, they released the series again in a box set along with Jason of Star Command and Ark II. 



EPISODE GUIDE:
“The Survivors of Zalon” (9/10/77) – The cadets discover a small boy with powers on a planet due to explode.

“Castaways in Time and Space” (9/17/77) – Chris has to use his mindlink with Laura to find her and Gampu after they’re pulled into a black hole.

“Hide and Seek” (9/24/77) – After the school is saved from an asteroid, members of the team begin to disappear.

“Countdown” (10/1/77) – The cadets are sent to clean up the remnants from a war, and not only does one of the combatants awaken but a mine attaches itself to their ship.

“There’s No Place Like Home” (10/8/77) – An alien bribes Loki with information about his home planet if he’ll help him retrieve a file.

“The Rocks of Janus” (10/15/77) – When the team investigates two comets headed for the school, they discover they are sentient beings and one of them was coming to warn them about the other.

“Monkey Business” (10/22/77) – When a space mirror stops rotating Prof. Bolt and Tee Gar become in danger of freezing, and their would-be rescuers end up no better off.

“The Phantom Planet” (10/29/77) – The team goes to investigate a phantom sighting at an asteroid due for demolition.

“Planet of Fire” (11/5/77) – Tee Gar brings his new instant-freeze invention with him on a mission to test further, not knowing what he froze has since exploded.

“Life Begins at 300” (11/12/77) – And error that almost injures Paul has Gampu considering retirement.

“The Cheat” (11/19/77) – Despite being investigated for safety violations, Cadet Matt Prentiss is sent to contain a leaking reactor on an asteroid with Blue Team to help him.

“My Favorite Marcia” (11/26/77) – When the team answers a distress call from Gampu’s former flame, a rogue robot war machine traps them all in a solar system whose star is about to explode.

“Space Hooky” (12/3/77) – Skipping class leads Loki to being possessed by two energy beings, who go on to possess Paul and Gampu.

“Star Legend” (12/10/77) – Investigating the Alderan Triangle, Blue Team discovers the millennium-old Starship Hope, whose captain has a warning for them.

“Johnny Sunseed” (12/17/77) – Gampu’s technology-phobic brother must work with Peepo when Paul’s genetically-altered food causes mass hallucinations and strange behavior.