Saturday, November 19, 2005

SATURDAY MORNING CULT TV BLOGGING: Space Academy: "Countdown"

This is an action-packed (but nonetheless goofy...) installment of the 1977 "space adventure" kid's show, Space Academy. "Countdown" begins in silly fashion with each of the main characters showing off their super-human abilities while attempting to move a storage crate. Laura and Chris Gentry demonstrate their PK abilities; Loki flaunts his teleportation skills, and Tee Gar Soom reveals his super-duper strength. Poor Paul and Adrian...they don't have any superpowers, which must be tough for them...

Anyhoo, Commander Gampu contacts the gang from the control room to tell them it's their job to clean up floating space debris leftover from the Vegan Wars, three hundred years ago. Seem the debris poses a "potential danger" to space navigation; but Paul isn't too happy about it. "The Academy isn't here to teach garbage collecting," he whines. Gampu's response? "The Academy is all things to all people." Okay, Gampu, well I think the Academy is a grapefruit...

The team sets out in a Seeker to blow up the offending debris, but stumbles across a chunk of Vegan dreadnought from the "Third Star War" (Revenge of the Sith?), which occurred 200 years ago, near "Proxima Centauri." The Seeker docks with the spinning debris (in a splendidly-realized miniature sequence...) and Laura, Chris and Loki discover a "Frozen Vegan" in a suspended animation chamber. Wonder if he eats meat...

Meanwhile, a small space mine attaches to the Seeker's hull and begins a countdown to destruction. The debris field is a mine trap! (And at this point, I realize that Star Trek: The Next Generation told a suspiciously similar story to "Countdown" in its third season, a dozen years after Space Academy! It was a cool episode called "Booby Trap," but jeez, did Next Gen ever manage an original story?)

While Chris attempts to de-power the mine, the frozen Vegan -- named Roarg -- breaks out of the freezer and goes on a rampage, trapping Tee Gar in cryogenic storage. This part of the plotline reminded me of that old nugget about a Japanese soldier living on a jungle island, not believing the war is over, even when he encounters friendly Americans.

Anyway, now Chris must convince Roarg that the war is indeed over, and he should help them defuse the space mine. Eventually Roarg, a fleet communications officer, agrees, and aids Chris. The experience teaches Tee Gar "a valuable lesson" (oh no!). He tells Gampu that the mission taught him a couple of things: 1. "There's no such thing as an unimportant mission," and 2. "You never know when you'll find a new friend." Oh boy.

As Tee Gar rattled off these remarks, essential the equivalent of Stan on South Park saying "I learned something important today..." (a running joke), my wife groaned and remarked that Space Academy is "really queer." Hey now!!! It's a show for kids, I reminded her...from the 1970s! It was educationally valuable; it taught good morals...

That seemed to settle her down...at least until next week...

2 comments:

  1. John, you wrote, "This part of the plotline reminded me of that old nugget about a Japanese soldier living on a jungle island, not believing the war is over, even when he encounters friendly Americans."

    Which, if I remember, was the plot of a first season episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! I had forgotten that Howard! I think it was also the plot of a Twilight Zone and some other shows, too. But I'm foggy about it. Could it have been a Gilligan's Island?

    ReplyDelete