Saturday, August 06, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Space Stars: Episode 1 (September 12, 1981)

The first episode of Hanna Barbera’s Space Stars (1981) tells multiple stories of space heroics.

The episode opens with a Space Ghost adventure called “Microworld.”   

Here, Space Ghost must rescue Jann and Jace from planet Cetia 3, which the Toymaker has miniaturized and brought aboard his spaceship.

A tale clearly in the mode of a Batman story -- with Space Ghost as the caped crusader and Jan and Jace as Robin stand-ins -- “Microworld” is so science-free as so as to be absurd.

A spaceship’s hull, for instance, is peeled back like a sardine can, at one point, and there is no worry about explosive decompression.

Later an inhabited planet grows back to full size after being held on a spaceship.  

How was it kept warm without a star to nurture it? Is it returned to the correct orbit?  

I understand that this is a children’s show, but these stories are more accurately fantasy than science fiction.  The universe of Space Stars does not seem governed by any physical laws we would recognize.

The Teen Force story this week is called “Nebulon.” After traveling through Black Hole X, the teen teeam investigates a monster, Nebulon, apparently attacking Uglor’s home planet.  Made entirely from “electrical energy,” Nebulon looks like a big white ghost. He has actually been created by Uglor, and used as a ruse to trap the Teen Force.

Again, science is not the friend of the Space Stars. The heroes ride around, their skin exposed to space, on their space cycles. These cycles have no sealed cockpits, and the heroes don’t wear protective suits.  I admit I find this incredibly distracting.  Even “non” super-beings, like Jan and Jace seem to travel through space unprotected, and yet able to breathe.

My favorite segment of Space Stars -- The Herculoids -- star in “The Firebird” this week. As dawn breaks on Quasar, a terrible force is unleashed by a volcano.  A great firebird emerges from it.  

If memory serves, I think this was actually a plot from an episode of Hanna Barbera’s Godzilla (1978), but no matter. The Herculoids eventually learn that the Firebird was merely protecting its baby egg.  The family learns “an important lesson” from this encounter; that “no animal is wholly evil.”

Because this story is set on an alien world, and not in space, it gets a lot more suspension of disbelief, and at least it possesses a thematic point. The human component of the Herculoids team must deal with alien life forms of all shapes and sizes, so it would make sense that they understand that some animals are “dangerous” because they want to survive, not because they are malicious.

The second Space Ghost story in this hour is “Planet of the Space Monkeys.”  While Uglar enters the Milky Way galaxy causing trouble, Blip runs away from home and visit a planet of space monkeys.  This story features the series’ first cross-over as Elektra helps Space Ghost take care of Uglar, who is “playing in our galaxy” for a change.

In “Will the Real Mr. Galaxy Please Stand Up,” an Astro and the Space Mutts installment, Space Ace traces a robbery at First Galaxy Bank back to Muscle Beach Moon.  There, Space Ace must enter a beauty contest.  The less said about this one, the better.

And the finale this week -- “Polaris” -- sees Space Ghost needing the help of the Teen Force once more, when he plunges through a space warp.

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