Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Space Academy: "Hide and Seek" (September 21, 1977)

Our third episode of this 1977 Saturday morning series, Space Academy finds Blue Team racing to meet a crisis.

Commander Gampu (Jonathan Harris), Loki (Eric Greene), Paul (Ty Henderson), and Peepo are on board a Seeker in Sector 5 looking out for passing meteors. But Loki is too busy playing with his "liratron" to notice when a big asteroid flashes by his screen.

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.

When the Seeker returns to the Academy, the hanger bay doors refuse to open. Gampu has Peepo open the doors with the right "auto-lock" 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 the 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. 

I’m not entirely satisfied that “Hide and Seek” makes much sense. In this story, meteor test seems to infiltrate the interior of the Space Academy, but in all likelihood there would be shielding to prevent such an occurrence, right?   How else keep out radiation, or any other harmful substance?

Similarly, the idea -- if I understand it correctly -- is that the crew isn’t gone or missing, just, actually, invisible.  

Why then wouldn’t some smart crew-men (Chris Gentry, or even Commander Gampu, for instance), attempt to contact Laura and Peepo using some sort of non-visual communication earlier, using the command console (which spells out the word METEOR). My point, I guess is that contact should have been attempted sooner.  And if all those people are still there, doing their duties, why aren’t the visible crew people running to them?

And if the crew did actually disappear, where did they go? And what, precisely, is in that magical meteor dust to allow transportation to another dimension?

These questions of logic and narrative make “Hide and Seek” a not entirely satisfactory episode. However, once again, the series is saved by its visual presentation; by its special effects.  In this case, we get to see cadets (and Gampu) actually leave the docking bay, right next to a life-size Seeker.  The life-sized seeker is, in fact, a redressed Ark II (1976), but having it there for reference, next to the actors, creates a tremendous sense of verisimilitude.

There are also some good shots of the Academy control center, in normal mode and frozen-over, in this episode. 

Next week, a much-superior episode: “Countdown.”

1 comment:

  1. John that Filmation would reuse the full-scale ARK II bow section for the lookalike Seeker is extremely impressive for the viewers to enjoy. Agree: "The life-sized seeker is, in fact, a redressed Ark II (1976), but having it there for reference, next to the actors, creates a tremendous sense of verisimilitude."