Monday, April 14, 2014

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Docking

Docking is the act of joining -- in a mechanical sense -- two craft, either at sea, or in space.

In cult-television history, the visual of two ships “docking” has become a de rigueur part of the genre.  

For one thing, “docking” adds a sense of realism to future-based or space based productions. 

When we see spaceships dock, we understand precisely how supplies are transferred, and how cargo and personnel are moved, for instance.

One notable instances of ship’s docking occurred in Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973), in the episode “The Time Trap.” 

There, the Enterprise docked with a Klingon ship so that their engines could be joined as one, and both ships could escape a kind of outer space Bermuda Triangle.

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s Space: 1999 (1975 – 1977) was really the early king of “space docking” TV programs, perhaps because this universe had no teleporters or transporters to make personnel/cargo transfer easy. Instead, Moonbase Alpha’s Eagles had to join up directly other Eagles, as well as other ships featuring human-built and alien technology.

One of the most memorable episodes off the series, “Dragon’s Domain” features a docking between the Ultra Probe and a ship in an alien graveyard around a mysterious planet.  Delightfully you can see docking “doorways” on the miniatures.

But an Eagle docked with a Kaldorian spaceship in “Earthbound,” and with a large derelict vessel in “Space Warp.”  In episodes such as “Guardian of Piri” and “The Testament of Arkadia,” we witnessed Eagles docking with one another.  In the series' premiere episode, we also saw the Meta Probe docked with a space station or space platform, prepped for launch.

We never saw Captain Kirk’s Enterprise docked on television, but the Enterprise-D often docked at star-bases in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 – 1994), and when it visited Deep Space Nine.

Occasionally, on Blake’s 7, such as in the episode “Ultraworld,” we saw the impressive alien battleship Liberator docking with other vessels.  In the second episode, “Spacefall,” the prison transport carrying Blake and Avon had to dock with the Liberator too.

On the short-lived Firefly (2002), Serenity often docked with wrecked spaceships for purposes of salvage, and also with space stations.

1 comment:

  1. John nice thoughts on sci-fi docking, especially Space:1999.



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