Saturday, October 07, 2017
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Lost Saucer: "The Tiny Years" (September 13, 1975)
The saucer travels through a time warp and lands on Earth in the year 2465 AD. There, the crew finds a culture of “Littleniks,” tiny humans who are the result of molecular cell reduction.
The tiny people capture Jerry after the Dorse accidentally litters near the city of Tiny-apolis. The mayor of the city (Gordon Jump) considers this incident no laughing matter, but rather an invasion by “Biggies.”
Meanwhile, Fi (Jim Nabors) has a case of the mechanical hiccups...
The title of this second episode of The Lost Saucer (1975) -- “The Tiny Years” -- has always seemed a play on Star Trek’s famous “The Deadly Years, only here the subject is tiny people, not aging.
In terms of “tiny” people, this episode is also clearly a callback to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), and the idea of tiny people -- there called Lilliputians -- capturing a normal-sized person and restraining him. In this case, the tiny people tie up one of the travelers, Jerry (Jarrod Johnson), with ropes and stakes.
Since this series is essentially a sitcom, the nature of the “enemy” encountered this story apparently necessitates an endless series of quips about height, or size. “Enough of this small talk,” says one character. “What’s with this Gulliver routine?” says Jerry.
And, unfortunately, this episode repeats a shtick that was big in the seventies: one character constantly repeats what was just said by another character.
I suppose the most surprising element about the episode is that it isn’t really about size, or height, despite all the jokes, but rather a meditation on resources. Basically, the Littleniks dislike the Biggies because they are wasting the energy and resources of the world. At the end, Alice (Alice Playden) sums it all up in one line of dialogue: “We biggies should learn to conserve our natural resources.”
It’s too bad the information has to be spoon-fed to the audience in so simplistic a way, and yet on the other hand, this is a kid’s show. Because of that, hammering home a theme or “moral” is clearly part of the game. What I enjoy, so far, about The Lost Saucer is that the series couples science-fiction imagination and slapstick comedy with these stabs at relevant social commentary.
That’s a lot of lifting to do in a half-hour show, and yet these episodes move by at a quick clip. Some of the insult humor (“You must have been put together with an erector set!”) grows wearisome after a while, but Jim Nabors and Ruth Buzzi sure seem to be having a good time.
In terms of technology, we see in this story that Fi and Fum are equipped with rocket boots that enable them to glide through the air, and run off their energizers. The flying scenes are realized through the ubiquitous technique of chroma-key.
Next Week: “My Fair Robot.”