SATURDAY MORNING CULT TV BLOGGING: Space Academy: "There's No Place Like Home"

In this installment of Filmation's live-action Saturday morning outer space series from the disco decade, young orphan Loki is despondent because he still doesn't know where his home is; from which planet in all the expansive universe where he hails. "If only I could wish upon a star," muses Commander Gampu, while secretly ruling out systems like Sirius and others. You can't be Sirius...

Meanwhile, something weird is happening in Bay 3, a hydroponics-type dome in the Academy. A strange man has "transphased" there. At first he appears as a giant, hairy Grimace-like creature. Then he transforms into a bunny rabbit, which Adrian adopts and names Jumping Jupiter. But when the alien morphs into a man, we start to understand his strategy. He finds Loki and promptly informs the orphan that he is from Loki's home planet. Furthermore, he seems to have information to back-up that assertion. He notes that Loki wears an amulet which features a holographic coat of arms. The alien promises to take Loki home, but only after the boy has stolen an unstable compound called MX-5 from the Academy science labs.

At first, Loki refuses to steal from his friends, but then the alien (now garbed in a green cape and hood, and played by Larry Dobkin), reveals his power to alter molecular structure. He threatens Loki by turning a table in the boy's quarters to stone. Suitably scared, Loki steals the compound (in a giant glass beaker...), and the alien flees the Academy, a seeker in hot pursuit. When the Seeker with the MX-5 aboard blows out its main battery, the Academy students and Gampu save the alien, and take his problems to the Federation for negotiation...

This episode raises a few questions. For instance, if the alien needs to steal a Seeker to leave the Academy and return to his home planet, how does he "transphase" successfully to the Academy in the first place? It might have been nice to use THAT technology to make quick his escape. Secondly, a rabbit appears out of the blue in an Academy dome, and nobody thinks that's suspicious. As my wife pointed out while watching this show, rabbits don't just grow on trees...especially in deepest space. Maybe the presence of a rabbit in the dome should have been a sign of warning to someone...

It's also quite bizarre that during the rescue operation aboard the damaged Seeker, Chris and Tee-Gar wear no protective gear at all, even though the cabin is filled with gas and smoke and vapour...and Loki has warned them about it. I guess they just figured they'd be quick?

Still, I got a real kick out of the moment at the end of this Space Academy episode when the little robot Peepo began flailing his arms and declaring "Danger! Danger!" This HAS to be a reference to Lost in Space, star Jonathan Harris's (Gampu) previous series...

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