Saturday, October 01, 2016
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Space Stars Episode #8 (October 31, 1981)
More juvenile space adventuring is the order of the day for Hanna Barbera’s Space Stars (1981), episode 8.
At times, the patronizing, kiddie nature of the adventure is downright distracting. Science-free, thought-free, and maturity-free, the series is a huge disappointment at this point. I can’t imagine being a fan of Star Wars or Star Trek in 1981, and then tuning into this pre-adolescent program on Saturday mornings. It gives science fiction a bad name.
First up is Space Ghost in “Space Spectre.”
This short is a riff on Star Trek’s (1966-1969) famous parallel dimension episode, “Mirror, Mirror.”
Only here, a black hole is the passageway between mirror realities. In one universe, we have Space Ghost, the hero, and in the opposite dimension is Space Spectre, an evil space pirate.
The two heroes cross universes, and Jan isn’t even able to detect that the Phantom Cruiser -- now jet black instead of immaculate white -- has changed colors, before docking with it and immediately being captured.
In the end the counterparts fight, and Space Spectre is defeated because Space Ghost has “friends” and Space Spectre does not.
Second in the roster is the Teen Force with “Ultimate Battle.”
That name is a bit of misnomer since this is yet another story -- the same one we see each week, essentially -- in which our space cycle-bound heroes combat the hapless Uglor.
When Uglor uses a weather control device on the “Free Planets,” the Teen Force surrenders to the warlord. They then suggest to him a contest in which they fight one another. But Uglor chooses the local: “The Evil Island” (which happens to be surrounded by an acid sea).
There, the story takes a weird and derivative turn -- becoming a strange knock-off of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) -- as the Teen Force encounters Uglor’s “humanimals.” These creatures, including a wolf-man and a giant star-fish, rebel against their cruel lawgiver.
The Herculoids story this week is a modest, though not insulting affair called “The Thunderbolt” in which the Herculoids contend with a friendly dinosaur who becomes electrified, and attacks them.
The Herculoids must also save Zandor from a rock collapse.
The second part of the hour opens with another underwhelming Space Ghost story: “The Big Freeze.” The narrator tells us that this tale has a “chilling nature,” and so we are in for ten minutes of bad “ice” puns that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze cringe with embarrassment.
Basically, Space Ghost and his sidekicks must face off against an Insta-Freeze beam controlled by an alien troll in a purple robe, named Pharon.
He is angry because all the inhabited worlds are tropical, but his people can only live in icy conditions. Therefore, he is re-arranging planets to his biological requirements.
Following “The Big Freeze” is an installment of “Astro and the Space Mutts” called “The Greatest Show Off Earth.”
Here, Space Ace and his canine partners attend the Space-ling Flying Circus, but the circus -- and the crew’’s clothes! -- are stolen by a villain called Cosmic Clown. He is literally a clown; one flies in a circus tent spaceship and voices dialogue such as “Hang it up, Turkeys! Nobody catches Cosmic Clown!” The Teen Force has a guest appearance in this segment, when Cosmic Clown is pursued into Uglor’s territory.
The Space Star Finale is called “Endangered Spacies,” and yes, the person responsible for that pun should be ashamed. Here, a spaceship attacks Quasar. The alien who commands it abducts Zandor and wants to add him to the Alien Country Safari, “The Greatest Human Show in the Universe.” Astro and the Space Mutts also get involved, when Space Ace is similarly captured.
The “Space Magic” black-out this week involves the Herculoids, and a rope trick about tying knots. The coda finds Gleep tying himself into a bow tie.
The “Space Fact” of the week features the Teen Force, who discuss why it gets dark at night, and comment on Earth’s rotation.
The “Space Mystery” follows up on that “fact” and features a villain who hides in a planet’s arctic zone that features no night or day. Finally, Space Ghost attempts to decipher the week’s “Space Code.”
Only three more episodes of this terrible series, but I’m going to power through!