Monday, January 30, 2006

Space Babe?

The last few weeks here on the blog, readers have been selecting their fantasy spaceship (The Enterprise, NCC-1701-A), and ideal crew members. So far, we've looked at robot sidekicks like R2-D2, Muffit, Twiki and Peeop, and also, last week, irritating kids (including Anakin, Wesley Crusher, Adric and Loki).

Now it's time to pick another team-mate from the shelf of sci-fi TV cliches: our favorite "space babe!" Now, I realize that "space babe" probaby isn't a politically correct term (any more than is "Bond girl"), but over the years so many talented and beautiful women have graced the decks of spaceships. And well, space babe just seems like an easy...uhm... shorthand to describe them. For our purposes, let's define a "space babe" as an officer or crew member of a space vessel, one who is highly intelligent, charismatic, capable, very skilled, and drop-dead gorgeous.

Ground rules: this week, I want to leave out medical officers, because doctors will be the subject for another week, so we're automatically disqualifying Helena Russell, Cassiopiea, and Dr. Beverly Crusher, in case anyone cared to nominate them for "space babe" status. They'll be included during the next go-round (before we select our "enemies" and type of "mission.")

So many gorgeous, capable women have memorably been brought to life as "space babes" on so many programs over the years that I'm sure I'll miss some important ones. The best way to catch as many as I can is to start chronologically and work up to the present. Write-ins are also welcome.

So, first off, waaaay back in 1964, we have our inaugural nominee, the lovely Judy Robinson (Marta Kristen) of the Jupiter 2 on Lost in Space. Not only the ideal big sister and girl next door, she looks great in a silver jumpsuit. Mark Goddard's character, Major Don West, thought so too. Watch out, though, her Dad is an officer too..

Over the years, no franchise has given audiences more lovely ladies than Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. In "The Cage," Majel Barrett's cerebral "Number One" did a bang job as Captain Pike's first officer. Radiant and intelligent, Number One is a great character who disappeared before her time and certainly would have made a terrific regular.

But then, on the original series, two additional lovely Starfleet Officers strutted their stuff for three full seasons. Nichelle Nichols plays the multi-talented communications officer, Lt. Uhura. This officer not only possesses a great singing voice, she can translate Klingon. And, in a pinch, Uhura can also perform a striptease in the desert with nothing but a few palm leaves. Uhura's finest "space babe" moment probably arrived in the second season episode, "Mirror, Mirror" in which she showed off her impressive washboard abdomen (in a fetching two piece Starfleet uniform). The Mirror Sulu sure liked her, but this Uhura was a kitten with a whip!

And I don't know any red-blooded American geek boy who hasn't also fallen head over heels in love with Grace Lee Whitney's beehive-wearingJanice Rand. Janice boasts great legs (and she wishes the Captain would notice 'em more, in "Miri"), and we can understand why Charlie Evans had such a thing for her. Soft, sweet, and infinitely resourceful (she used a phaser to heat up some coffee once...) Rand was the perfect captain's yeoman. Later, she became transporter chief and the Excelsior's communications officer.

After Star Trek came Space:1999 in the mid-1970s. Zienia Merton played Sandra, Moonbase Alpha's data analyst. Sandra Benes' finest moment came in the episode "Full Circle" in which tiny Sahn was abducted by cavemen (!) and forced to wear a skimpy set of animal skins. Yeah, baby!

Year Two of Space:1999 saw the addition to the cast of Maya (Catherine Schell), whom I have already voted for as the "sexiest resident alien" of all time in another post, last summer. A brilliant historian, mathematician and computer expert, Maya also possesses the unique ability to shapeshift. As a Psychon, she can transform into any living being in the universe and hold that form for an hour. So she's pretty useful to have at your side on a mission. She's right at home piloting an eagle, firing stun guns, or turning into a leaping lizard.

In 1978, Battlestar Galactica aired on ABC TV and introduced the world to such lovely women as the TV reporter, Serina (Jane Seymour), the warrior captain from the Pegasus's Silver Spar Squadron, Sheba (Anne Lockhart), and Adama's intrepid daughter, Athena (Maren Jensen). Athena is a bridge officer, a shuttle pilot, and one of Starbuck's many, many girlfriends. She's a pretty good tactician, and has also trained to fly a viper. So Athena is a good solid "tech" choice.

In 1979, Glen Larson gave us another TV series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Colonel Wilma Deering (played by Erin Grey) set hearts afluttering in the tightest red and blue spandex hip huggers you've ever seen. The suits revealed Deering's long, athletic, gorgeous form, and - come on - who can't love a lady in shiny lip gloss? Wilma Deering serves as an agent in the Earth Defense Directorate, and is a seasoned operative in undercover missions (where she frequently disguises herself as a bimbo...). She's good with a blaster, and - with a little confidence-building from Buck - a hell of a starfighter pilot too. Deering is extremely resourceful as well, as revealed in "Planet of the Slave Girls," when she escapes from a boiler room filled with lava. Later, she became an officer aboard The Searcher.

Rounding out the 1970s, we musn't forget two important imports. Blake's 7 featured space smuggler named Jenna Stannis (Sally Knyvette), who donned a Farrah Fawcett haircut, as well as a telepath from Auron named Cally. Later seasons saw new characters board the Liberator and the Scorpio, including a gunslinger named Soolin and a warrior named Dayna. Also, on Doctor Who, there have been lovely companions aplenty inside the TARDIS, from Victoria and Zoe to Sarah Jane, Leela and Romana. Wow, this field is getting crowded!

The 1980s brought the return of Star Trek and a new generation of space babes. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Denise Crosby essayed the role of Tasha Yar for one season. And, in a memorable turn, the actress also graced a Playboy centerfold. Wow! But Tasha is not only a great security chief aboard the Enterprise, she's rather casual about her sex life, which is cool.

I fell in love with Tasha Yar in "The Naked Now" when she inquired about Data's - ahem - full functionality. Tasha died at the hand (puddle?) of a malevolent oil slick in "Skin of Evil," and I always missed her. She'd be a great addition to the crew, manning the phaser banks and photon torpedoes and always urging attack. And just make sure that every now and then she gets that virus that acts like "alcohol intoxication."

Then, of course, there was Marina Sirtis's Betazoid, Troi. I like the actress very much (and she was great in Crash this year), but I never really cared for the concept of the character. In Encounter at Farpoint, Troi looked like a cheerleader of something. Still, it couldn't hurt, I guess, to have an empath around telling us that our enemies are "hiding something."

Deep Space Nine gave us Nana Visitor's Major Kira Nerys, a resistance fighter against the Cardassians during the occupation of Bajor. She's tough, ruthless, and a hell of tactician too. She kicks ass, and I always kind of wished she was in command of DS9. If we get Kira, let's make sure we also get her sexually aggressive "mirror" counterpart, the Intendant...

The same series also introduced the world to two lovely "Dax" women from the far off world called Trill (which is, oddly, the sound my throat made every time either Dax appeared on tv...). Jadzia Dax made spotted skin look good, could go toe-to-toe with Klingon warriors in hand-to-hand combat, and was fun to have around on a vacation to Risa. A gambler and a party-goer, Jadzia was Sisko's confident.


The other Dax is Ezri (for whom I named my cat). She's as cute as a button, and downright adorable, as played by sexy Nicole De Boer. Frankly, people tell me every time I go to a sci-fi convention that my wife Kathryn resembles Ezri Dax, so I have a soft spot for this character and actress. Ezri Dax is a counselor like Troi, but somehow less annoying.

Voyager beamed onto our TV sets in 1995, and half the crew was composed of "space babes." Personally, I've always been very fond of Captain Janeway myself, but I would be court-martialed for calling her a babe. I wouldn't mind serving under her, though, cuz I think she's a good captain. Sh'es my second favorite Captain after Kirk, actually. But anyway...Kes? B'Elanna Torres? That Amazon Borg, Seven of Nine? Who would you pick? Jeri Ryan's Seven is quite a physical specimen, no doubt, and boasts an intellect to match the bod. She would be a helpful crewmember, no doubt, despite some of her social adjustment problems.

If logic is a qualification for our crewmember, than Enterprise's T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) would be another ideal choice. She too, strikes me as poorly socialized, however. But she's a hell of a science officer.

Babylon 5 presented the character of Ivanova, played by Claudia Christian. I've had a thing for Claudia Christian ever since I saw The Hidden in theaters back in high school (back in 1987). In that movie, lest you've forgotten, she plays a stripper who performs a pole dance (and is good with a machine gun.) But Ivanova is a tough officer and a solid, capable XO, but a little neurotic for my tastes. Not that she wouldn't be welcome aboard.

One of my favorite "space babes" from recent years is a character who would probably rip out my throat if I called her that. I'm talking about the hot-blooded, leather-clad Aeryn Sun, the renegade, former Peacekeeper from Farscape. But thinking about Farscape, what about Chiana? Or Zhaan? Not traditional space babes, but totally babe-o-licious, nonetheless.

And then there's Firefly (Zoe! Inara! Kaylee!), and the new Battlestar Galactica (Boomer! Starbuck!). So this week, there are virtually endless choices, and I don't think it'll be easy coming to a consensus.

Personally, I'm leaning towards Maya or Ezri Dax. Although, I can't get Wilma Deering out of my mind...

What about you? And female readers of this blog, if you don't care to choose a space babe, feel free to add a comment below with your choice for space "hunk." This is equal opportunity sexism...

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:54 PM

    Well, I've always been partial to the sexiness of the Borg Queen but I don't think I'd want her on my crew. The same goes for Diana from V. She is hot but she'd always be trying to stab me in the back. Without question my pick would be Slave Leia! There is no female sight in science fiction to compare with Princess Leia in her metal bikini in Return of the Jedi. I really don't need her to perform any official, crew-type function. She would be for the personal entertainment of the captain! A clsoe second would be Susan Oliver from The Cage.

    -Chris

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  2. Somewhere along the line you're going to have to do a "good Bad Girls" piece because some of my favourite "Space Babes" have been on the wrong side from our heroes. I mean who didn't find Servalan hot in a "my God what is she doing to do with that riding crop" sort of way. Then there are Lursa and Baitor, (the Klingon sisters), Seska on "Voyager" and - eventually - Talia Winters (even if she didn't know she was a Bad Girl). Bad Girls are on the whole sexier than Good Girls.

    For good girls I have to say I was in love with Major Kira Nerys practically from the beginning - and that brings up another Bad Girl: The Intendant, whose ultimate sexual thrill would have been to bed Kira so she could make love to herself.

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  3. Having been fortunate enough to welcome both Erin Gray and Claudia Christian to the studio for live shows, I'm really torn between them (although Ivanova being the first Jewish "Space Babe" tends to win her a few more points. However, no one can fault Maren Jensen's Athena for sheer beauty (and her command capability has been shown to great efffect in Richard Hatch's recent Battlestar Galactica novels), Claudia Black's Aeryn Sun for attitude, Jadzia Dax for an amazing combination of looks, brains, and honor, and Maya for the coolest "space babe" power. Can't we just populate the whole ship with women like these?

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  4. I like Howard's idea of a whole ship full of space babes, but then it quickly degenerates into memories of a sketch from 'Saturday Night Live'....

    Since getting back into 'Doctor Who' full time last year thanks to the new version, I've been delving into past Doctors, companions, and stories I never saw before.

    But of all the Doctor's lovely companions, I'll go with one of the first I ever encountered 25 years ago or more - Leela as played by Louise Jameson.

    After that, Zoe Heriot - that sparkly jumpsuit was well rounded when filled out! Then Sarah Jane Smith who had that Mary Richards in Space quality about her. And there are pics out there of Jo Grant - well, Katy Manning, of course - wearing nothing more than a well-placed Dalek!

    As the Tenth Doctor would have said, "Fantastic!"

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  5. Some good choices here, Princess Leia (in slave girl gear, no less!), Ivanova, Leela, Kira and Wilma Deering among 'em.

    Don't worry, I'm going to do an "evil" babe post here at some point too. I've always lusted after both Diana and Lydia on V...and then there's Servalan, and the Borg Queen, as some of y'all have mentioned. And we can't forget Princess Ardala...

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  6. Lee Hansen1:30 PM

    Sorry, but the one space babe I loved is one you did not mention: Sybil Danning as Saint Exmin of the Valkyri in Battle Beyond The Stars. YUM-MY!

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  7. Hey, Lee!! Thanks for the mention of Sybil Danning. She was fine in Conan too, right? And did not this luscious starlet also expose her giant, overripe werewolf breasts (multiple times) in Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf?

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  8. I think you can't leave out Zoe Alleyne Washburne, played by Gina Torres, who was second-in-command onboard Serenity. She was a very take charge woman. By the way I live in Marshville, NC and I think it is very cool that you live in Monroe, NC. We also produce an online comic strip. Check it out at http://www.bitterteastudios.com
    Funny question by the way.

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