Saturday, November 12, 2005


Our third episode of this 1977 Saturday morning filmation kid-vid series, Space Academy finds the gang racing to meet a crisis. Commander Gampu, Loki, Paul and Peepo are on board a Seeker in Sector 5 looking out for passing meteors. But Loki is too busy playing with his "liratron" (a flute) to notice when a big asteroid flashes by his screen. Oopsy.

The meteor approaches the Space Academy planetoid, sending Chris and Tee Gar into a panic, and the Seeker is left with only 2 minutes and 10 seconds to catch up with and destroy the offending space debris. A lucky shot from a "spinner" (Space Academy's equivalent of a photon torpedo) destroys the space rock locked on collision course, but the explosion spreads meteor dust everywhere. Don't you hate it when that happens?

However, the crisis has not passed, for when the Seeker returns to the Academy, the hanger bay doors refuse to open. Gampu has Peepo open the doors with the right "autolock" frequency, and the ship lands safely, but the Seeker crew soon discovers that all the cadets and crew have vanished! Worse, the Seeker crew begins vanishing one at a time, too, starting with Gampu.

Peepo determines that the answer to this riddle involves that pesky meteor dust, and has Loki collect samples from the Seeker's hull. Then, Peepo releases "positive ions" from the dust and everybody re-appears safely. End of story. Where did the crew go, and why couldn't we see them? Don't ask; don't tell...

Okay. Whatever. I just keep reminding myself that this is a kid's show. And truthfully, this installment seems a little less juvenile than the two previous segments. For me, the real fun of Space Academy is grooving on the 1970s-era special effects -- which are quite good for that decade. In "Hide & Seek," for instance, there is not only the opening action sequence involving the Seeker chasing and pulping a meteor, but an elaborate docking sequence at the Academy. I wonder how Filmation afforded effects this good in 1977, when I see how lame the special effects on Logan's Run: The TV Series are. I guess Logan's Run had to pay for better actors...

A nice facet of this episode is that we get to see more of the Academy than ever. Not just Command, the Docking Bay (both miniature and full-scale), but new corridors, Cold Storage and more. Amazingly, these sets are all pretty good.

One thing does puzzle me about "Hide & Seek." Why is the Seeker out in space tracking meteors in the first place? Is this common procedure? If so, why don't we see the crew do it again?

Anyway, it's nice to re-visit the juvenile but sweet Space Academy every Saturday morning, especially with a bowl of Life cereal in hand...

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