Saturday, January 02, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Space Academy "Star Legend" (December 10, 1977)

This week on Filmation's 1977 Saturday morning space adventure, a Space Academy mission "marking the boundaries" of the Alderaan Triangle with "beacons," grows increasingly dangerous. Chris (Ric Carrott) and Paul's (Ty Henderson) Seeker experiences a mysterious power drain after going off course to avoid space junk.

The Seeker is miraculously rescued by a "strange old-fashioned laser beam," which pushes the craft out of the futuristic Bermuda Triangle.

On the view-screen, a strange disembodied head appears and warns the Seeker to stay away.

Meanwhile, back at the Academy, Commander Gampu (Jonathan Harris) comes to believe that the legendary Captain Rampo (Howard Morris), "the flying dutchman of outer space" may be responsible for the incident with the Seeker. 

Gampu describes the legend of how Rampo, captaining an early planetoid spacecraft not unlike the Academy, became lost in space, over a millennium ago. Believing the legend, Commander Gampu flies the Academy in to the Alderaan Triangle's lateral perimeter, and the Academy too is promptly drained of energy...

With the Academy frozen in the Triangle, Gampu takes Blue Team aboard a Seeker to Rampo's space craft, which resembles the Academy, but is lit green. Once on board, a strange specter warns them to "leave...or stay forever" and states that "all visitors here are doomed...doomed!"

Gampu and his cadets laser down a locked door and discover 1,603 year-old Captain Rampo, a funny old man dressed like a train conductor, circa 1910. 

Turns out he's been pulling a Balok strategy (from the classic Star Trek episode, "The Corbomite maneuver.") A thousand years ago, he was establishing a colony on a nearby planet when the sun went nova. A magnetic storm forced him to cross into the Alderaan Triangle, and he and his ship have remained trapped there, orbiting the space trap in an attempt to stop a "scourge of energy vapor" which drains ships of power. He's been pretending to be a fierce specter to keep other ships away...when in reality he's just a kindly old man. 

Gampu and the others decide to give the hungry energy vapor "indigestion." They lure it into the captain's quarters, then return to the Seeker and destroy Rampo's ship...thus ending the star legend, and freeing Rampo from his mission.

I love how "Star Legend" combines aspects of the Flying Dutchman legend with tales of the Bermuda Triangle (a regular 1970s obsession), and then reveals -- in glorious miniature -- a much earlier version of the Academy.  Rampo's "ship" glows green, inside and out, making it appear quite creepy. 

Still, you have to wonder how the builders of the ship could afford to lose it. Also, for being a thousand years old, Rampo's planetoid appears as advanced in terms of technology and production design as the Academy.

Next week: "Johnny Sunseed."

1 comment:

  1. John, I loved this episode back when I saw it as a boy in '77. The production design of both Captain Rampo's starship Hope and the newer Space Academy define that the large starships are built in planetoids. We even see it continued in the sequel series Jason Of Star Command(1978-1980) with Drago's first Dragonship planetoid. Star Trek had the saucer primary hull with secondary engineering hull and nacelles. Here the planetoid is the key to their designs.