December 28, 2015
Meadowlark Lemon died on Sunday, December 27th. You can read the full story here.
Lemon was a professional basketball player, actor and minister who was best known as the “Clown Prince” on the Harlem Globetrotters for 22 years. As a Globetrotter, his name and likeness was used on Hanna-Barbera’s Harlem Globetrotters, for which he supplied background vocals in the music, as well as all of the team’s appearances on The New Scooby-Doo Movies. He also starred and performed in The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine variety show.
December 26, 2015
STAR WARS CEREAL
Kellogg’s (UK)/General Mills
After Disney acquired LucasFilm in 2012, they quickly set about cashing in on the company’s biggest franchise: Star Wars. Within the next two years, plans were put in place to continue the movie saga with a new trilogy. December, 2015 would see the release of the first new movie, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Directed J.J. Abrams, the film reunited the surviving original cast with a whole new set of characters to continue the struggle for the balance of the force in a galaxy far, far away.
As with Episode II, General Mills and Kellogg’s achieved a shared license to produce a cereal tie-in to the film; General Mills covering North America while Kellogg’s released in the United Kingdom. The Kellogg’s version actually came first, being released in March of 2015. Their cereal featured a dual-faced box with Darth Vader and R2-D2 on either side. The cereal itself was chocolate-flavored whole wheat and rice pieces in the shapes of stars and moons.
General Mills’ version was first announced on May 4th (also known as Star Wars Day) and released in June. The cereal featured berry-flavored corn puffs meant to resemble X-wings and TIE fighters. Also included were marshmallow shapes mostly recycled from their Episode II cereal a decade prior, including red and blue lightsabers, R2-D2, Yoda and a Jedi Starfighter. The Clone Trooper face was redesigned to better resemble a regular Stormtrooper face by changing up the black areas of the otherwise white piece. The boxes came in two varieties at launch: one featured Yoda with a quiz on the back panel, the other Darth Vader with a Star Wars-themed checkers game on the back.
It was announced that new box designs would initially be released in October of 2015 before the movie, but they have been pushed back to February 2016. Instead, General Mills added Star Wars elements to a variety of their other cereals with Droid Viewers inside.
STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES
(NBC, September 8, 1973-October 12, 1974)
Filmation Associates, Norway Productions, Paramount Television
“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before”
These are the words that opened up every episode of Star Trek, highlighting the overall theme of the series. Creator Gene Roddenberry conceived of a program that would subtly deal with present-day issues in an idealized future setting; showcasing what humanity could develop into if it learned from mistakes of the past. At the center of his idea was the United Federation of Planets, or simply “the Federation,” which was a coalition of planets from various galaxies working together for the betterment of all sentient beings--like a space-age version of the United Nations. Their exploratory, peacekeeping and military arm was Starfleet, which employed a wide range of starships to carry out various missions around known space. Advanced technology introduced included energy-based phaser weapons, portable communicators (imagine a precursor to flip-open cell phones), tricorders that could read and analyze anything, transporters that could break anything down to the molecular level and reassemble them in another location, protective deflector shields and a warp drive that allowed starships to travel at great speeds.
|The original Enterprise crew.|
Roddenberry was greatly influenced by Wagon Train, which his pitches for the series often included comparisons to, and by Gulliver’s Travels. He intended each episode to act as a suspenseful adventure and a morality tale. In 1964, he presented a brief treatment proposal to Desilu Productions, and after some reworking the series was pitched to NBC. NBC was interested and commissioned the creation of a pilot. It focused on the adventures of the crew of the USS Enterprise: Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter); first officer Number One (Majel Barrett); Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy); Lt. Jose Tyler (Peter Duryea) and Yeoman J.M. Colt (Laurel Goodwin).
|The novelization of "The Cage."|
The pilot, known as “The Cage,” was finished and screened for NBC in 1965. While they found it “too cerebral,” “too intellectual,” and “too slow” with “not enough action,” they were convinced by Lucille Ball, co-owner of Desilu and believer in the project, to make the unprecedented move of commissioning a second pilot. Roddenberry wrote two outlines, which became later episodes of the series known as “Mudd’s Women” and “The Omega Glory”, and commissioned Samuel Peeples to write a third for consideration. Peeples’ script, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, was selected by NBC to be the new pilot (parts of the original were used in the two-part episode “The Menagerie”).
|The second Enterprise crew.|
The entire cast was replaced save for Nimoy’s Spock, despite NBC’s petitioning for his removal due to his “satanic” appearance brought on by his pointy ears and eyebrows. Originally presented with youthful energy, he was given the emotionless demeanor of Number One and promoted to first officer. Nimoy would go on to craft much of the backstory of Spock and Vulcan culture, including the v-shaped hand gesture accompanying the phrase “live long and prosper.” Hunter was unwilling to reprise his role as he wanted to focus on a movie career, and he was eventually replaced by William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk (initially the “T” was an “R”). Pilot director James Goldstone cast his friend James Doohan as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, who was named after Doohan decided he could best pull off a Scottish accent. George Takei was cast as Lt. Hiraku Sulu, initially the ship’s physicist but changed to a helmsman for the series. Rounding out the cast was Paul Fix as the ship’s doctor, Mark Piper, Paul Carr as navigator Lee Kelso, Lloyd Haynes as Communications Officer Alden, and Andrea Dromm as Yeoman Smith.
|The final Enterprise crew.|
Screened almost a year after the first pilot, NBC was satisfied with the presentation and ordered it to series. The first regular episode, “The Man Trap,” debuted on September 8, 1966. Along with new uniforms for the crew, several cast members were changed. Piper was replaced by Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley, who was originally considered for the Piper role) while Kelso’s duties were taken over by Sulu. Alden was replaced by Lt. Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Yeoman Smith was replaced by Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney). Barrett would go on to rejoin the cast as Nurse Chapel in the 4th episode, “The Naked Time”, as well as portray the ship’s computer voice (a role she had in almost every Trek production that followed), and Sulu would be joined by Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) at the helm in the second season.
Star Trek (later known as Star Trek: The Original Series) enjoyed high ratings at the start of its first season, but they fell dramatically towards its conclusion. It was sufficient enough to warrant a second season, but NBC threatened to cancel it after that year. Science-fiction superfan Betty Jo Trimble (also known as Bjo) led an unprecedented letter-writing campaign to petition the network to keep the show (she also led the campaign to have President Gerald Ford change the name of the first NASA space shuttle to Enterprise, whose dedication was attended by the Trek cast in 1976). It worked, and NBC renewed it for a third season but at a substantially reduced budget. Roddenberry protested by resigning as producer and reducing his direct involvement in the series, leading to Fred Freiberger taking over his duties for the season. Despite another letter-writing campaign, NBC cancelled the show after 79 episodes.
|The fan mail just keeps pouring in.|
Sometime after its cancellation, Paramount Studios bought the show from Desilu and licensed the broadcast syndication rights to recoup production losses. Reruns began airing in the fall of 1969 and reached over 200 domestic and international markets. As a result, Star Trek was discovered by a new fanbase (soon to be known as Trekkies) and gradually achieved a cult following that rivaled its popularity during the original broadcasts. That culminated in the first Star Trek convention in January of 1972. While it was only projected to get a few hundred attendees, it ended up attracting several thousand.
|The animated Enterprise.|
Paramount took notice of the series’ newfound appeal and toyed with the idea of bringing it back. Filmation had originally pitched an idea of adapting the franchise into animation (Lou Scheimer, one of the founders, was a fan of the original series) shortly after the show’s cancellation. While giving assurances that the cartoon would look and feel like original show, Filmation wanted to move the setting to a training ship and pair up all the crewmen with young cadets in order to have a larger appeal to children. Paramount passed on that idea, which later became the basis for Filmation’s Space Academy, but revisited the notion of turning Trek into a cartoon series and contracted Filmation to do it. A deal was arranged where Paramount, Filmation and Roddenberry would each control a third of the program’s rights, leaving the network out of any kind of creative control. NBC, who desperately wanted new Trek, readily agreed to the arrangement, as well as ordering 22 episodes up front.
|Running a starship doesn't really require much movement.|
At Roddenberry’s insistence, original series story editor D.C. Fontana was appointed the story editor of the cartoon to best help maintain the voice of Trek. The writers of the cartoon would follow the same series bible used for the original series, and the use of animation afforded them the opportunity to introduce larger alien landscapes and less humanoid-looking aliens for the crew to encounter. However, like other Filmation projects, budget constraints and the fact they were producing several other shows at the same time often led to extreme cost-cutting measures. These included a liberal use of stock shots both created for the series or from other Filmation shows, or constantly recycling animation from previous episodes. While the majority of the animation quality was only fair with a number of errors, some parts of various episodes would achieve a near-theatrical level of quality. In many instances, the animators would rotoscope over footage from the original show for the actors’ likenesses and the ship, helping to keep them all looking as they should. Typical production turnaround for an episode was three months, and was one of Filmation’s highest-budgeted at $75,000 an episode.
|The animated crew of the Enterprise.|
Filmation planned to only use Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, Doohan and Barrett to reprise their roles and add extra authenticity, with Doohan and Barrett taking over the voices of Sulu and Uhura, respectively. Knowing that his fellow cast members were having trouble finding work since the end of the series and feeling that Sulu and Uhura were crucial for the proof of ethnic diversity in the 23rd century, Nimoy refused to lend his voice to the project unless Takei and Nichols were cast. The budget wouldn’t allow for Koenig to reprise his role, although he was asked to audition for a small part. He did end up making a contribution by writing the episode “The Infinite Vulcan”, becoming the first Trek cast member to write a Trek story. The producers liked his work and invited Koenig to write another episode, but after the arduous process of rewrites demanded by Roddenberry and his own hurt feelings over being excluded from the show (he only learned of its existence during a Trek panel at a convention), he declined.
|Arex (top) and M'Ress.|
In Chekov’s place were two new alien characters: Lt. Arex (Doohan), an Edosian with three arms and three legs, and Lt. M’Ress, a cat-like Caitian (Barrett). The majority of the additional voices were handled by Doohan and Barrett, with Nichols and Takei providing several themselves. A few guest stars from the original series did reprise their respective roles for the cartoon, including Mark Lenard as Sarek, Roger C. Carmel as Harry Mudd, and Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones. While the initial episodes were recorded with an ensemble, other commitments made it so some of the actors—typically Shatner and Nimoy—would have to record their dialogue wherever they were and send them in to be spliced together onto the episode’s soundtrack.
|Cyrano Jones returned with even more Tribbles.|
The series’ writing stable benefited from the Writers Guild of America, West strike of 1973, which didn’t affect animated projects and allowed them to make use of the freed-up writers. This meant that Fontana was able to recruit many of the original show’s writers; either writing new stories or sequels to earlier episodes. Among them were Peeples, Fontana, Marc Daniels, Margaret Armen, David Gerrold and Paul Schneider. Because they no longer had an hour to work with in crafting their stories, many have come to regard the more-focused scripts as some of the best of early Trek. Science fiction author Larry Niven even adapted his short story “The Soft Weapon” into the episode “The Slaver Weapon”. James Schmerer wrote a single episode for the cartoon, “The Survivor”, on the basis that he was made to understand it would be geared towards adults like the original show and not to children as his previous dealings in animation had been strenuous. The scripts for the cartoon featured a lot of call-backs to the original series, as well as maintained the same kind of heady storytelling quality with deep stories and morality tales. Other writers included Larry Brody, Chuck Menville, Len Janson, Joyce Perry, David P. Harmon, Stephen Kandel, Dario Finelli, Russell Bates, David Wise and Fred Bronson (as John Culver).
|Despite the number of women on the show, Kirk's infamous romantic life was on hiatus.|
Star Trek: The Animated Series debuted on September 8, 1973; exactly seven years after the premier of the original series. While “Beyond the Farthest Star” was always intended to be the series premiere, some markets shuffled the airing order to show “Yesteryear” first. The reason behind that was at the time Takei was running for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, and in order to avoid violating the FCC’s equal-time rule (wherein any radio or television station had to provide the same amount of air time for any and all political candidates if they requested it) they chose to stop airing reruns of the original series and aired an animated episode that didn’t feature Sulu.
The series retained the regular Star Trek naming on its title screen (with The Animated Series or The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek added in later references to distinguish the two shows), but Filmation opted to use a new opening theme composed by Ray Ellis (under the pseudonym Yvette Blais) and Norm Prescott (credited as Jeff Michael). It was the first Trek series to also do away with the cold open and began with the opening intro (not counting the United Kingdom airings of the original series, which moved the cold open to after the credits). An anti-pollution public service announcement was created in partnership with Keep America Beautiful and played throughout the series’ run.
|Life support belts.|
Aside from the new crewmembers, the cartoon introduced several unique elements to the Trek mythos. It was the first series to have the holodeck (called the “Rec Room”), a room on the ship that could create three-dimensional and interactive holograms of almost anything that can be programmed. It wouldn’t become a Trek feature until the follow-up live-action series, The Next Generation. There was also personal force field technology located in a life support belt, which allowed the crew to journey out into space. The belt and a glow were added to the character that wore them, saving the animators the trouble of designing and drawing environmental suits for the characters. A version of the belt would be used in an early The Next Generation novel titled The Peacekeepers. It also became the first Trek show to show a different class of Federation starship besides the Constitution class of the Enterprise. “The Time Trap” had the crew come into contact with the first starship to have a warp drive installed, the S.S. Bonaventure (also its class name), which resembled the Enterprise except with bulkier warp nacelles and a shorter saucer section. Although the ship’s design would change in later Trek appearances, the name continued to be used. The cartoon was also the first official use of Captain Kirk’s middle name after Gerrold blurted it out when asked what it stood for at an earlier Trek convention.
|Even giant Tribbles couldn't bring the kids on board.|
Although the series was popular with adults and older teens, the targeted younger demographic that NBC and advertisers wanted wasn’t tuning in. NBC followed-through with the abbreviated 6-episode second season they ordered, which was padded out with reruns from the first, but let the series end at its conclusion. The second season premiere, “The Pirates of Orion”, was written by Howard Weinstein, a fan who adapted it from a short Trek story he had published in the fanzine Probe. The script was taken on by agent Bill Cooper, who was a schoolmate of Weinstein’s father, and sent it to Fontana. However, since she had left the show, it was returned. The script was resubmitted and Weinstein was contacted by Scheimer, who would buy the script if the ending could be modified. Weinstein agreed and the episode was made, making him the youngest Trek writer (19 at the time) and the episode the first to introduce the male Orions It also opened the door for Weinstein to work on future Trek projects. During its run, the cartoon received critical acclaim as well as a Daytime Emmy Award for the episode “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth”; the first of the franchise outside of technical awards.
After the abandonment of an attempt to produce the first Trek movie, The Planet of the Titans, Paramount and Roddenberry began work on a new live-action series called Phase II. It was intended to be the flagship program for Paramount’s new television network, the Paramount Television Service, which was hoped to become the fourth television network (there were only three at the time). However, when the plan fell through the show was ultimately cancelled (Paramount would eventually get their own network from 1995-2006, UPN). When Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind became box office successes in 1977, Paramount revisited the Phase II idea and decided to recycle the pilot’s plot into Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The entire original series cast was reunited in live-action, and would be for five more movies.
|"See? I told you one day they'd love us."|
In the meantime, Roddenberry was hard at work bringing Trek back to television. This led to the creation of The Next Generation in 1987 as a first-run syndicated show following a new crew on a new Enterprise. It would be the first of four new programs, most of them under the stewardship of Rick Berman after Roddenberry’s death in 1991, plus a new series of movies based on The Next Generation. At the completion of The Next Generation’s first season, Roddenberry’s office rendered the animated series non-canonical in Trek lore. However, while events from the cartoon were not explicitly mentioned, elements from various episodes such as character moments, alien races, ship names and characters themselves found their way into the programs, novelizations, video games and movies. In 2007, the cartoon was made part of the official canon when it was included in Star Trek’s official site library, with both Fontana and Gerrold regarding it as the long-desired fourth season of the original series.
|The series novelization, vol. 5.|
All of the episodes were adapted into story form by Alan Dean Foster in ten volumes of Star Trek Logs by Ballantine Books. Initially, Foster featured three episodes per book, but the later books featured singular episodes expanded into full-length novels; sometimes with additional bonus original stories. They have since been republished several times. Tuttle Enterprises would release a series of animation cels taken from the show. “Yesteryear” was reproduces as a View-Master set titled “Mr. Spock’s Time Trek.” In 2003, Rittenhouse Archives released The Complete Star Trek: Animated Adventures Trading Cards set. In 2019, Weldon Owen published Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series by Aaron Harvey and Rich Schepis, containing background information on the show and numerous visual artifacts from its production.
|The DVD tin case.|
The complete series was released to VHS by Paramount across eleven volumes in the United States, while the United Kingdom got theirs across seven volumes in 1992 by CIC Video. An Australian release was planned but never materialized. The complete series was released on laserdisc in 1990, and re-released in 1997. The complete series came to DVD in 2006 in a special tin package, becoming the last Trek series to be released on that format. The international versions soon followed. In 2011, the entire series was available to stream on Netflix.
“Beyond the Farthest Star” (9/8/73*) – Trapped in the orbit of a dead star, the crew discovers an ancient ship trapped there with them.
*Aired 9/15/73 in some markets.
“Yesteryear” (9/15/73*) – Spock travels to the past to rescue his younger self.
*Aired 9/8/73 in some markets.
“One of Our Planets is Missing” (9/22/73) – The crew has to protect Mantilles from a cloud creature that feeds on planetary energy.
“The Lorelei Signal” (9/29/73) – Investigating starship disappearances leads to the discovery of a race of beautiful women.
“More Tribbles, More Troubles” (10/6/73) – The crew has to protect two ships of grain and Cyrano Jones from the Klingons.
“The Survivor” (10/13/73) – The crew discovers a ship manned by a philanthropist who disappeared five years prior.
“The Infinite Vulcan” (10/20/73) – Sulu ends up poisoned by a plant he picks up on an away mission.
“The Magicks of Megas-tu” (10/27/73) – The ship ends up stranded inside an energy/matter vortex until Lucien appears to rescue them and take them to his planet.
“Once Upon a Planet” (11/3/73) – The crew returns to the amusement park planet for some rest.
“Mudd’s Passion” (11/10/73) – The crew is ordered to arrest Harry Mudd for selling fake love crystals.
“The Terratin Incident” (11/17/73) – A message in an ancient code finds the ship while they observe a burnt-out supernova.
“The Time Trap” (11/24/73) – Investigating ship disappearances leads the crew to be attacked by Klingons and sucked into a spacetime vortex with one of the enemy ships.
“The Ambergris Element” (12/1/73) – Argo’s inhabitants turn Kirk and Spock into water breathers, leaving them needing to capture a snake in order to revert back.
“The Slaver Weapon” (12/15/73) – The Kzinti attack the shuttlecraft transporting a stasis box to Starbase 25.
“The Eye of the Beholder” (1/5/74) – The crew investigates the disappearance of a scientific team near Lactra VII.
“The Jihad” (1/12/74) – The crew has to prevent a holy war by investigating the theft of a religious artifact.
“The Pirates of Orion” (9/7/74) – The crew must encounter pirates for the cure to Spock’s illness.
“Bem” (9/14/74) – The crew is taken captive by natives to a newly-discovered planet.
“The Practical Joker” (9/21/74) – The ship’s computer plays practical jokes on the crew, which gradually become more dangerous.
“Albatross” (9/28/74) – Bones is arrested for causing the plague that ravaged planet Dramia.
“How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth” (10/5/74) – The crew has to solve a puzzle or be destroyed.
“The Counter-Clock Incident” (10/12/74) – The ship is pulled into a universe where time runs backwards.
Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2020.
December 19, 2015
STAR WARS EPISODE III CEREAL
With George Lucas’ second trilogy, and possibly the franchise, winding down with the 2005 release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Kellogg’s had one last chance to get out a cereal tie-in related to the franchise. Along with plastering the movie’s name and imagery on their various products as well as offering mini lightsabers and light-up saberspoons, Kellogg’s produced a limited edition Star Wars Episode III cereal.
|The Yoda versions of both boxes.|
The American version of the cereal featured sweetened oat rings intermixed with marshmallows. The marshmallow shapes were similar to General Mills’ previous Episode II cereal effort which also included lightsabers (exchanging a yellow energy blade for the previous blue), R2-D2 and Yoda. New for this edition were the shapes of Darth Vader and C-3PO. The Mexican version of the cereal, however, featured only sweetened corn balls mixed with chocolate TIE fighter pieces. It was offered in 780 and 390 gram boxes and 30 gram bags.
|The November-release box advertising the DVD.|
With both versions of the boxes featured a choice of Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) or Yoda on the face, the American version initially left the Episode III subtitle off of the cereal name everywhere but on the backs of the boxes along with a game. It wouldn’t be until November when the box was redesigned with a new Darth Vader pose to promote the DVD release of the movie that it would gain the Episode III titling, as well as a new game on the back. The Mexican version had a set of 24 collectible trading cards that could be cut out, with Vader and Yoda’s box each having a different batch of 12.
GALAXY HIGH SCHOOL
(CBS, September 13-December 6, 1986)
TMS Entertainment, Ltd.
Hal Rayle – Doyle Cleverlobe
Susan Blu – Aimee Brightower
Nancy Cartwright – Gilda Gossip, “Flat” Freddy Fender
Jennifer Darling – Booey Bubblehead, Myrtle Blastermeier, Wendy Garbo
David L. Lander – Milo de Venus
John Stephenson – Beef Bonk, Harvey Blastermeier, Mister Master, Jim the Gymnasium
Neil Ross – Rotten Roland, James/Mick Maggers, Punk McThruster, James T. Smirk, Flutorian
Guy Christopher – Earl Eccchhh
Guy Christopher – Earl Eccchhh
Danny Mann – The Creep, Mr. Splook
Howard Morris – Professor Icenstein, Luigi La Bounci, various
Pat Carroll – Biddy McBrain, Coach Katrina, Mrs. Unicycle
Pat Fraley – Coach Frogface, Janitor Sludge
Henry Gibson – Doyle’s locker, Aimee’s locker, Al Gatori, blackboard, Dr. Klotz
Gino Conforti – Ollie Oilslick, Reggie Unicycle, Mutie, Milburn Unicycle, Flutorian
When Michael Chase Walker became the Director of Children’s Programs at CBS, he wanted to create a Saturday morning line-up that would resemble an old-fashioned Saturday movie matinee. He had horror with Teen Wolf, comedy with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and a western with Wildfire. To fill the science-fiction requirement, Walker turned to Tokyo Movie Shinsha’s creative director Syd Iwanter.
|CBS Saturday morning promo for the 1986-87 season.|
Iwanter was developing a show concept called High School 2525, which would have taken place in a school in the future. He hired John Kricfalusi to draw a one sheet pitch featuring the main characters, and Kricfalusi served as the character designer for the resulting show. Walker, interested in the idea, bought the show. However, he changed the setting from the future to space, the name to Galaxy High School, and convinced then-up-and-coming screenwriter Chris Columbus to develop it further and attach his name to it for an additional push.
|Doyle and Aimee.|
The show became about two Earth teens in the 21st Century, Doyle Cleverlobe (Hal Rayle) and Aimee Brightower (Susan Blu), who were selected to be the first human attendees of the intergalactic Galaxy High on the asteroid Flutor as part of a grand experiment to bring various species together. On Earth, Doyle was a terrific athlete and very popular as a result, while Aimee was a bookworm and a good student and largely ignored. But, once they got to Galaxy High, their roles became reversed as the student body valued brains over athleticism. Aimee became popular and quickly made friends, was given a full scholarship and a new space car. Doyle was much maligned by his classmates, given a hard time by a temperamental sentient locker (Henry Gibson), forced to take a crummy job at Luigi’s Lunar Pizza Parlor to pay for his tuition, and was given a crappy scooter. In fact, Doyle’s inability to fit in and his failed attempts at trying became the central focus of the series. The show adapted common human conflicts with a space twist, as well as made use of space-themed puns in names like many other similar programs.
|Luigi, Milo, Booey, Creep, Sludge, Wendy, Beef, Gilda, Rotten and Earl.|
The students of Galaxy High were an eclectic collection of various beings of all shapes, sizes and numbered appendages. The class president and official greeter, as well as one of Doyle’s only friends, was Milo de Venus (after the Venus de Milo, voiced by David L. Lander), who resembled a chubby human nerd-type except for the fact he had six arms; Gilda Gossip (Nancy Cartwright) lived up to her name, especially with the four extra mouths on the extensions protruding from her head; Booey Bubblehead (Jennifer Darling) was a girl with a bubble for a head and an extremely absent-minded disposition to match; Wendy Garbo (also Darling), the school flirt who could literally turn green with envy (especially when it came to Aimee) and had a living fur stole around her neck; the Creep (Danny Mann), a flying yellow ball of fluff with a voice like Frank Sinatra and a massive crush on Aimee; “Flat” Freddy Fender (Cartwright), a 2-dimensional boy; Beef Bonk (John Stephenson) resembled a humanoid rooster, was the school bully, leader of the Bonk Bunch, and made a special project out of tormenting Doyle due to his hatred of Earthlings (as proclaimed by his shirt); Rotten Roland (Neil Ross) was one of Beef’s cronies who resembled the thing he loved the most: rotten eggs; and Earl Eccchhh (Guy Christopher), a slimy green blob with a bad temper that often hitched a ride with Earl.
|Icenstein, McBrain, Katrina and Frogface.|
The teachers were also a varied bunch. Ms. Biddy McBrain (Pat Carroll) was the school’s principal and English teacher whose head resembled a brain with large funnel-like ears and a nose; Professor Icenstein (named after Victor Frankenstein, voiced by Howard Morris) was a science teacher made completely of ice; Coach Ferdy Frogface (Pat Fraley) was the boys’ coach for zuggleball (similar to hockey with a living puck), psyche hockey (hockey with psychically-controlled robots) and rocketball (basketball with jetpacks), and resembled a frog (complete with a diet of flies); the girls’ coach for outeraerobics and wateraerobics was Coach Katrina (Carroll), a centaur with a Mohawk; and the school’s janitor was Sludge (Fraley), who resembled a pink puppy but could change into a giant, muscular dog-monster.
|Hot-rodding with Beef.|
The school was a mixture of the familiar with some high-tech space-age technology. Residents could communicate through Vidiphones, which displayed a picture of the person being spoken to. There were sentient blackboards and computerized lockers (all Gibson) designed to help students through their day (although Doyle’s, having been there since the school opened, had a bit of a foul temperament and often took it out on Doyle). Even the gymnasium building, named Jim (Stephenson), had sentience and the ability to change locations. As a means of travel around the building and to the other surroundings, asteroids the students used large pneumatic tubes called wooshers.
A trailer for Galaxy High School was premiered at Boston’s Creation Con a few months before the series debuted on September 13, 1986 on CBS. It was placed between Muppet Babies and Teen Wolf at 10 A.M. Don Felder from the Eagles composed the music for the series, including its theme song. The theme outlined the premise of the series for viewers along with some original animation. However, an alternate instrumental-only version of the intro was created utilizing purely clips from various episodes. Unlike most shows, the story title and credits were displayed on a title card at the end of the intro as the music played out with the series title being chanted, rather than cutting to a shot of a title card. Morris, as well as being one of the actors on the show, served as the series’ voice director. It was written by Larry DiTillio, Ken Koonce, David Weimers, Chris Weber, Karen Wilson, Jina Bacarr, Eric Lewald and Marc Scott Zicree. The episode “The Brain Blaster” was nominated for a Humanitas Award in 1987 for its anti-drug message, although it lost out to The Smurfs.
|Creep tries to woo Aimee.|
Halfway through the season, CBS moved the show to the later 11:30 timeslot between Teen Wolf and CBS Storybreak in order to give PPee-wee’s Playhouse its original slot. As a result, the series began to be preempted by sporting events or other broadcasting obligations by CBS. This made it difficult for the series to gain a significant or consistent audience and it was ultimately cancelled. Had it gone on, the budding relationship between Doyle and Aimee would have been further explored. The series was rerun in 1988 on CBS, and sporadically from 1994-96 on the Sci-Fi Channel where two minutes of each episode were edited out to make room for more commercials.
|Galaxy High School, the book.|
In 1987, Bantam-Skylark Books (now Random House) released a novelized adaptation of six episodes by Ann Hodgman. In 1989, Family Home Entertainment released a VHS with the first three episodes and “Beach Blanket Blow-Up.” In the United Kingdom, Channel 5 Video Distribution produced two VHS collections featuring the first four episodes between them. In 2006, Media Blasters released the complete series across two volumes through their Anime Works division. The box art for Volume 1 featured some early character concept work by Kricfalusi, resulting in their appearing slightly different than they did on the show. The episodes “Pizza Honor” and “The Beef Who Would Be King” were also swapped. In 2008, both volumes were re-released packaged together in a new cardboard sleeve. The series was made available for streaming through Amazon Video and Crunchyroll, and later on The Roku Channel and Amazon’s Freevee.
|Booey laments her cancellation.|
Despite the show’s short life, it has developed a cult following among loyal fans; some of which are employed by Cereal Geek magazine and have made frequent references to the series. In 1996, Walker optioned the rights to a film version of the series to John H. Williams of Vanguard Films, with Columbus attached to help develop. Deals were made with both DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, but ultimately the project had fallen into limbo.
“Welcome to Galaxy High” (9/13/86) – Aimee and Doyle arrive at the school and find their previous roles reversed as Aimee is popular and Doyle is picked on.
“Pizza’s Honor” (9/20/86) – Doyle has to make a delivery to a supposedly haunted planet, and Beef and his crew follow him in order to give him a fright.
“The Beef Who Would Be King” (9/27/86) – Doyle loses out the chance to be king of the planet Cholesterol to Beef, but Doyle has to rescue him when he learns they eat their king.
“Where’s Milo?” (10/4/86) – When Milo loses his friends and job, he ends up signing a contract to unknowingly become a living mannequin for a store.
“Those Eyes, Those Lips” (10/11/86) – Mick Magger is coming to perform at the school, but tickets are sold out before Booey can get in and a pizza monster kidnaps Wendy.
“Doyle’s New Friend” (10/18/86) – Beef is determined to become king of the dance and uses new recruit Wolfgang to switch the ballot boxes in his favor.
“Dollars and Sense” (10/25/86) – Aimee begins dating uber-rich Reginald Unicycle, whom her friends believe has the ability and plans to transform her into a golden statute.
“Beach Blanket Blow-Up” (11/1/86) – Doyle ends up missing the beach party trip due to having to make up an assignment, and ends up learning that sun is going to go supernova.
“The Brain Blaster” (11/8/86) – In order to succeed at psyche hockey and pass his classes, Doyle becomes addicted to a mind-enhancing Brain Blaster.
“The Brat Pack” (11/15/86) – Beef ends up in trouble and has to teach elementary school kids, whom he decides to take on an unapproved field trip to an amusement park.
“Founder’s Day” (11/22/86) – Accidentally activating a time machine sends some of the kids back to the days of the founding of the school.
“Martian Mumps” (11/29/86) – A new Martian exchange student brings the Martian Mumps, which drains everyone’s personalities and makes them only care about rules.
“It Came From Earth” (12/6/86) – Trying to win the big game on his own ends up getting Doyle knocked out and waking up 15 years later—on Earth.
Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2020.
Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2020.