July 09, 2022

JASON OF STAR COMMAND

JASON OF STAR COMMAND
(CBS, September 9, 1978-December 1, 1979)
 
Filmation Associates

 

CAST:
Craig Littler – Jason
Susan O’Hanlon – Captain Nicole Davidoff (season 1)
Charlie Dell – Professor E.J. Parsafoot
James Doohan – Commander Canarvin (season 1)
Sid Haig – Dragos
John Russell – Commander Stone (season 2)
Tamara Dobson – Samantha (season 2)

 
 
        Jason of Star Command was the final live-action series produced by Filmation. Serving as a sequel to Space Academy, it followed the exploits of space adventurer Jason (Craig Littler) and his colleagues: computer genius Captain Nicole Davidoff (Susan O’Hanlon), Professor E.J. Parsafoot (Charlie Dell), and commanding officer Commander Canarvin (James Doohan), as well as Jason’s mini robot W1K1 (Jane Webb). They worked together to foil the sinister plots of the evil Dragos (Sid Haig), unruly aliens and other assorted villains like Queen Vanessa (Julie Newmar) of the ice planet Kesh.


Star Command: Commander Canarvin, Jason, Nicole and Prof. Parsafoot.


        Created and directed by Arthur H. Nadel, the series made extensive use of Space Academy sets, models such as the Academy’s asteroid (where Space Command was said to be set) and Seeker ship, and even featured appearances by Matt Prentiss (John Berwick) and Peepo the robot (operated and on-set voice by Berwick, voiced by Erika Scheimer). The original plan was to have Jonathan Harris reprise his role of Commander Isaac Gampu as the commanding officer for Jason, but he and producer Lou Scheimer had a falling out over a pay dispute when Scheimer tried to lowball him. Doohan’s role was created as a result. Despite all the connections to Academy, the focus was on adult characters rather than the students, with the Han Solo-inspired Jason front and center.

Dragos.


        Newly created for the show was the Starfire, which was the type of ship Star Command usually employed, and Dragos’ massive Dragonship. Dragos also had a legion of unmanned drones (a fact specifically stated often so as to indicate no pilots were killed in dogfights) called “Red Dragon Interceptors”. Chuck Comisky was retained as production coordinator in charge of special effects from Space Academy, and extensive use was made in advancements in technology. With a team comprised of John Grusd, Paul Huston, Ease Owyeung, Jim Veilleux, Diana Wooten and Michael J. McAlister, they utilized computers to do repeated moves with the ship models and generate mattes of space directly into the camera to make it look as if the stars were moving. Jim Aupperle and Stephen Czerkas worked on stop-motion visual effects for some of the creatures encountered by the heroes. W1K1 also proved temperamental, as its electronics and walking features tended not to work when the cameras were rolling most of the time.

The new blood: Commander Stone and Samantha.



        Jason of Star Command debuted on CBS on September 9, 1978 as part of the package program Tarzan and the Super 7, alongside Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, The New Adventures of Batman, The Freedom Force, Manta and Moray, Superstretch and Microwoman and Web Woman. The first season was made reminiscent of the classic serial format, with an ongoing story carrying on across all 16 15-minute episodes. At $200,000 per episode, it was the most expensive Saturday morning production at the time. The series was written primarily by Samuel A. Peeples along with Don Heckman, Sid Morse, Ted Pedersen, Martha Humphreys, Chuck Menville, Len Janson, Margaret Armen, Lynn Barker, Joe Mazzuca, Jackson Gillis, Michael Halperin and Alf Harris. The theme and score were composed by Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blais) and Norm Prescott (as Jeff Michael).



        The second season saw several changes. Jason was split off into its own half-hour program, and the full-season story format was abandoned in favor of smaller 2-4-episode arcs. O’Hanlon left the show and was replaced by Tamara Dobson as Samantha; a woman found in suspended animation by Jason that had a variety of unique abilities. Additionally, production was moving ahead on Star Trek: The Motion Picture meaning that Doohan was unavailable. He was replaced by John Russell as by-the-book Commander Stone; a blue-skinned alien from Alpha Centauri that often clashed with Jason. John Carl Buechler came on board to handle the live-action creature effects for various alien creatures. And Dragos’ ship got an upgrade with a new 3-foot-long model.

The Starfire.


        Following the conclusion of the second season, Jason was replaced by Filmation’s Shazam! on the schedule and moved to Sunday mornings for the next year; after which it was moved again to Saturday afternoons. In 2007, BCI Eclipse released the complete series on DVD loaded with special features. The following year it was included as part of the collection Filmation Sci-Fi Box Set along with Ark II and Space Academy. As BCI had ceased operations, both sets are currently out of print.
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“Attack of the Dragonship” (9/9/78) – Space Academy is struck by Dragos’ Dragonship, resulting in Jason and Parsafoot having to rescue Canarvin from floating in space.
 
“Prisoner of Dragos” (9/16/78) – Dragos introduces himself to the captive Jason and reveals he’ll be sending an evil duplicate of him into Star Command to aid the evil Canarvin already there.
 
“Escape from Dragos” (9/23/78) – Nicole and Parsafoot deal with the evil Canarvin while the real one and Jason escape from the Dragonship.
 
“A Cry for Help” (9/30/78) – Evil Canarvin disables the Academy’s shields allowing an opening for Dragos to attack while Jason rescues a lovely princess from Dragos’ cells.
 
“W1K1 to the Rescue” (10/7/78) – W1K1 leads Nicole to Jason and the princess, and Jason launches the Starfire into the Dragonship to free the Academy’s controls.
 
“Planet of the Lost” (10/14/78) – W1K1 and Parsafoot manage to get a Starfire to rescue Nicole, Jason and the princess, but Dragos and his minions manage to track them.
 
“Marooned in Time” (10/21/78) – Jason, Nicole and Parsafoot are trapped on a planet trapped in time by Dragons as captives of Captain Kidd.
 
“Attack of the Dragons” (10/28/78) – Parsafoot is able to repair their ship and they escape with Kidd, who agrees to join them in the fight against Dragos.
 
“Peepo’s Last Chance” (11/4/78) – Peepo is captured by Dragos in order to scan his memory banks, which contain vital information about Space Command.
 
“The Disappearing Man” (11/11/78) – Jason must enter a distorted time dimension to rescue Matt Prentiss.
 
“The Haunted Planet” (11/18/78) – While searching for Peepo, a radiation beam forces Jason to land on an ice planet where he and his colleagues are captured by the evil Queen Vanessa.
 
“Escape from Kesh” (11/25/78) – A shrunken Jason frees the heroes from their cell and they steal Queen Vanessa’s ship, not knowing she and her minions are already on board.
 
“Return of the Creature” (12/2/78) – As Dragos renews his attack on the Academy, Jason rescues the heroes and Peepo and steal a spaceship to escape the Dragonship.
“Peepo on Trial” (12/9/78) – Under Dragos’ control, Peepo sabotages the Academy’s engines sending it right into the heart of a galactic typhoon.
 
“The Trojan Horse” (12/16/78) – With the Academy saved, the heroes learn from Peepo that Dragos controls his minions via the medallion he wears.
 
“The Victory of Star Command” (12/23/78) – Once again captured, Jason manages to free himself and confronts Dragos as he attempts to attack the Academy once again.
 
Season 2:
“Mission to the Stars” (9/15/79) – Jason discovers Samantha frozen in suspended animation on a space wreck as Space Command gets a new commander.
 
“Frozen in Space” (9/22/79) – Jason and Samantha discover Dragos is behind a deadly freeze ray that threatens Star Command.
 
“Web of the Star Witch” (9/29/79) – Jason is offered immense wealth to join the ranks of the evil Queen Medusa.
 
“Beyond the Stars!” (10/6/79) – Dragos sends a spy into Star Command in order to capture Professor Parsafoot.
 
“Secret of the Ancients” (10/13/79) – Parsafoot is forced to help Dragos decipher an ancient powerdisk in order to save Jason.
 
“The Power of the Star Disk” (10/20/79) – Jason and The Commander meet a Tantalusian ghost when Dragos banishes them into limbo.
 
“Through the Stargate” (10/27/79) – A ship docks with Star Command for aid, but its cargo ends up sending Jason, Samantha and Parsafoot into another dimension.
 
“Face to Face” (11/3/79) – Jason, Samantha and Parsafoot must rely on each other in order to survive and escape the strange dimension.
 
“Phantom Force” (11/10/79) – Strange incidents befall Star Command shortly after Samantha rescues a young boy.
 
“Little Girl Lost” (11/17/79) – Jason and Samantha discover a little girl with a doll in a crashed spaceship.
 
“Mimi’s Secret” (11/24/79) – Dragos and Star Command both want the secrets contained within the little girl’s doll.
 
“Battle for Freedom” (12/1/79) – Jason sets out to rescue The Commander from Dragos’ clutches.

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