Monday, April 04, 2016

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Crash Landings

A good landing is any one that you can walk away from, right?   

Well, the crash landings in cult-tv history would definitely not qualify as "good landings," even if some survivors manage to escape them relatively intact.

A crash landing might also be termed an "emergency" landing, but generally a crash landing is defined as a descent that ends with an air craft or space craft reaching terra firma...indelicately.

In terms of sci-fi TV, a crash landing is also an opportunity for special effects artists to strut their stuff. 

One of the greatest "crash landing" stories in cult-TV history, unsurprisingly, comes from The Twilight Zone (1959-1964).  

In "Death Ship," a spaceship crew led by Jack Klugman makes the startling discovery that their ship has already crashed on a desolate planetary surface.  Now, they must unmake that particular (and terminal...) future.

The Robinsons' Jupiter 2 spaceship crashed on a near-regular basis in the fifty-year old Lost in Space (1965-1968): once in black-and-white, and at least twice in color.

The Planet of the Apes (1974) TV series commenced with the crash of a spaceship, as human astronauts Virdon and Burke passed through a time warp and arrived on Earth of the distant Earth populated by intelligent simians.

Space:1999 (1975 - 1977) visualized some of the greatest crash scenes in cult-TV history.  Eagles came to unfortunate, and violent, ends in episodes such as "Breakaway" "Missing Link," "The Last Sunset" and "Devil's Planet," to name just a few. 

Sometimes Eagles went down on the moon, and other times they plowed through planetary surfaces, but the effects always were spectacular.

The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981) episode "Journey to Oasis" commences with a shuttle fro the Searcher going down on a barren world, far short of its destination.

In Galactica: 1980 (1980), the final episode, "Return of Starbuck" tells of Lt. Starbuck's final mission, and crash landing on a distant world.  

In Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), the first season episode "Skin of Evil" involves the rescue of Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) from a downed shuttle-crafted "guarded" by a malevolent entity called Armus. A fourth season episode of the same series, "Final Mission" also involves a crash landing as a key narrative element.

Deep Space Nine (1993 - 1999) features plenty of Runabout crash landings.  The first season episode "Battle Lines" is one example.  A later episode, "The Ascent" also involves such a crash.

In Star Trek: Voyager (1995 - 2001), one spectacular scene in "Timeless" features the crash of the Voyager on an alien arctic shelf.

The X-Files (1993 - 2002) episode "Biogenesis" involves the discovery of an ancient alien saucer that presumably crash-landed on the South African beach at the beginning of life on Earth.


  1. In Futurama the Planet Express ship crashed in the opening credits - and in a lot of the episodes come to think of it!

    I always wondered just how many Eagles Moonbase Alpha had in the hangars. They must have had a lot on hand if they were planning a third season.

  2. Loved the romance of crash-landing since I first saw one as a five-year old boy watching LOST IN SPACE. Also saw a good one on the lip-synchro cartoon SPACE ANGEL.

    Here is an account of an unusual crash landing occurring on Earth in the 17th century -