Saturday, October 22, 2016
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Space Stars Episode #11 (November 21, 1981)
The eleventh and final hour-long episode of Hanna Barbera’s Space Stars (1981) opens with the Space Ghost story “Web of the Wizard.”
Here, the Phantom Cruiser is trapped in a cosmic web of illusion. Space Ghost and his friends encounter wacky delusions like killer chairs and dogs in space. Behind these illusions, however, is the Wizard, an evil space criminal. Blip saves the day because he is not impacted by the illusions.
The Teen Force episode in this last episode is called “Pandora’s Warp” and it involves a space station attacked by weird visitors from another dimension. These visitors resemble devils and demons, and are secretly controlled by Uglor, who has punched a hole into “the dimension of magic.” The Teen Force uses magic spells to repel the space invaders.
In “Mindbender,” the Herculoids encounter a weird alien in a suspended animation cylinder. Using a pendant which restores the evil telepath’s power, this interloper sets to awaken his brothers from suspended animation too.
The Herculoids (improbably) trap the villain in his own stasis chamber. It’s ridiculous how they do it. They tell him his missing pendant is in his cylinder, and the dome-headed, ostensibly brilliant alien invader willingly crawls inside to retrieve it. Then the Herculoids slam the door on him and submit him to another eternal deep freeze.
The second Space Ghost episode of the week is “The Shadow People.” In this one, Blip is possessed by an evil shadow bat on Romula Station, an abandoned space facility. There, the people have legends of Shadows, demons from another sector of space. Electra of the Teen Force helps Space Ghost rescue Blip and puzzle out the mystery.
The final “Space Ace” segment of the series is “Revenge of the Zodiac Man.” In the Stardust Constellation Ring, the most valuable gem in the universe is stolen by a criminal named Zodiac Man. Space Ace and his dog partners chase the villain to a galactic amusement park called “Play Station,” and then to the villain’s HQ on a “Zodia-steroid” to retrieve it.
The Space Stars Finale, “The Cosmic Mousetrap” finds the Teen Force and Space Ghost battling Mega Mind, a villain who tests the heroes in combat to the death with three creepy aliens. This episode is a veritable knock-off of the Space: 1999 (1975-1977) episode “The Rules of Luton.”
The Space Magic of this final Space Stars episode involves another lame card trick. The Space Fact finds Space Ace and Astro grappling with a black hole, and the Space Mystery similarly involves a black hole.
Having now watched all agonizing, eleven hours of Space Stars, I can report that it is mindless juvenilia that any self-respecting fan of science fiction -- or superheroes, for that matter -- would find a terrible embarrassment to watch.
The attempt to ape the success (and formula) of The Super Friends fails utterly, and none of the long-lived Hanna Barbera properties featured prominently -- Space Ghost or The Herculoids -- are well-served by the simplistic storytelling and the even more simplistic understanding of the cosmos.