Saturday, December 19, 2015
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Jason of Star Command (1978-1980): "Escape from Kesh" (November 25, 1978)
In Jason of Star Command (1978-1980) Chapter 12, “Escape from Kesh,” Jason (Craig Littler), Nicole (Susan O’Hanlon), and Professor Parsafoot (Charlie Dell) continue to languish in the planetoid cave-bound prison of Queen Vanessa (Julie Newmar).
She creates a metal cage around the heroes in a cave, and then reports to Dragos (Sid Haig) that she has secured the captives. While Vanessa is away, the heroes shrink Jason down to tiny size so that he can get out of the cage, and de-materialize it.
After Jason is returned to normal height, he and the others flee to the planet’s surface, and are surprised to see that their Star Fire -- thought destroyed -- awaits. They take off in it, but find that Vanessa has tricked them again.
The Star Fire is her ship, and they are all on course for a rendezvous with Dragos aboard his dragon ship.
“Escape from Kesh” is an even sillier-than-usual entry in the on-going “serial” that is Jason of Star Command. Here, the pulpy (or perhaps, hoary…) idea of shrinking people (see: Dr. Shrinker ) is resurrected to provide the escape of the week.
Exactly how and why Jason gets shrunken and escapes Vanessa’s prison are not questions that should be closely scrutinized. It’s just more phantasmagoria to throw at kids. That fact established, the special effects aren’t bad. In this case, gigantic, Land of the Giants (1968-1970) sized props help sell the illusion that Jason has been reduced to six inches in height.
The episode’s notable high point is Julie Newmar’s over-the-top performance as Vanessa. She plays the character as stark, raving mad. She swirls about, dances, enunciates and chews every syllable of every word with delight. In short, Newmar looks like she is having a hell of a lot of fun, and that’s as it should be. Her character, Vanessa, however, remains undeveloped. She delivers Jason to Dragos in this episode, and then disappears next episode, her piece of the serial puzzle apparently finished.
The writing in “Escape from Kesh” is a little goofy too. Jason, Parsafoot. and Nicole barely escaped the destruction -- and ensuing explosion -- of their Star Fire in the last episode. Here, the ship is intact and ready to launch, and they don’t question this fact at all. They nearly got clocked with debris in Chapter 11! Now, they just board the craft, and head for space.
Ironically, Vanessa takes them where they wanted to go anyway, the Dragon Ship! But the big question goes unanswered: Where did Vanessa get a Star Fire? Did she repair the destroyed one, and if so, how did she accomplish that herculean feat with only one dwarf minion by her side?
Next week: "Return of the Creature."