Saturday, November 07, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Jason of Star Command: "Chapter 6: Planet of the Lost" (October 14, 1978)

In “Planet of the Lost,” Chapter 6 of the first season of Jason of Star Command (1978-1980), Jason and Allegra find themselves trapped on another strange planetoid. This one, alas, is inhabited by a fearsome alien (rendered with stop-motion photography).

Jason (Craig Littler), Nicole (Susan Pratt) and Allegra (Roseanne Katon) bicker over what to do, with Allegra resenting Jason’s orders, and Jason angry at the princess’s imperious nature. 

They reconcile, however, when Allegra is threatened by the monster, and Jason proves himself in a forgiving mood.  “We all make dumb moves from time to time…even little princesses,” he says.

Meanwhile, in space, Wiki is trapped by a drone interceptor tractor beam, but Star Command intervenes and saves the droid. 

Unfortunately, as Commander Canarvin (James Doohan) realizes, the base is too weak to take on Dragos (Sid Haig) directly. Instead, Professor Parsafoot (Charlie Dell) uses a new experiment to simulate an ion storm, and this tricks Dragos into withdrawing from the field of battle.

Left with some time to breather, Parsafoot heads to the planetoid to save Jason and Allegra. But on the return voyage, Dragos returns and casts the star fire into the limbo of the lost,” a universe of lost souls, in some ways like a cosmic Bermuda Triangle.

Perhaps more than any other story so far, “Planet of the Lost” is brimming with action.  In particular, Jason and Allegra encounter a strange alien, and must battle it.  The creature looks great, in terms of stop-motion animation, and it is always amazing to me that a series created so quickly and so cheaply could feature such effects.  It is amusing, however, that this monster has an electrically-charged tongue!

What seems bafflig, perhaps, about this episode, is that Jason and Allegra -- who have worked side-by-side together seamlessly in previous episodes -- suddenly start bickering and sniping at one another.  

One gets the feeling that the writers were aiming for a Han Solo/Princess Leia vibe or rivalry here, but it absolutely doesn’t work. Jason is far more earnest than Solo, for one thing. 

For another, Allegra has spent her last several months as a “monster,” transformed by Dragos, and doesn’t really demonstrate many outbreaks of attitude or haughtiness.  She's not a spoiled brat princess, for sure.

As a result, both Jason and Allegra seem woefully out of character in this installment.  And Jason’s response (excerpted above) to her bad behavior is paternalistic at best, and patronizing at worst.

Next week: “Marooned in Time.”

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