Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jason of Star Command

Jason of Star Command is coming to DVD in May. This is kind of exciting, if a little weird. I watched the show religiously when I was really young. I used to wake up at ungodly hours of the morning on Saturday to see it. Now, I remember almost nothing about it. There were two little robots and there was some kind of rock-covered spaceship, or something. And there was a bad guy. That's about it.

So now, the show will become available again and I'm faced with a dilemma: Do I watch it again and risk losing my good feelings about the show? Anytime I see a show from my childhood that I've completely forgotten, I wonder if it will hold up to the pleasant memories I have for it. For instance, years ago I bought a VCR tape of "Battle of the Planets," an animated show I loved as a child. Even now, I can think of the show I thought I watched when I was a kid and how cool it was. There were superhero-type characters, an evil villain with secrets, and cool science fictiony vehicles, especially the Phoenix. But then I saw it. So much time was spent on an R2-D2 clone with tiny wings that narrated the whole show. And Casey Kasem's voice was all over it (not bad in itself, but it's hard to make a character come alive when it sounds just like that top 40 guy.) The animation was poor. And it was just generally horrible.

I don't expect Jason of Star Command to be very good. It's going to have poor TV special effects. It's not going to take many risks and it's sure to have a moral at the end of every episode. And I'm sure those two little robots I liked so much as a kid will be annoyingly cutesy.

But there's always a chance I will like it anyway. Like Land of the Lost. It's totally cheesy, but it still maintains charm. And its general weirdness keeps it entertaining. But it's got dinosaurs and sleestacks. I don't think Jason of Star Command has anything so cool (and no, James Doohan is not cool enough.)

So, maybe when May rolls around I'll try and rent the DVDs. Give it a chance and see what I was poisoning my mind with at 9 years old.

Now, if only someone would put out Thundarr on DVD. That's a show I would pick up without hesitation.


Chris Roberson said...

Ah, man, but I've got fond memories of Jason of Star Command. I suspect it was actually deeply sucky, but I remember it being terrific. It's one of the few shows I haven't had a chance to go back and rewatch, so I share your hesitation. Land of the Lost? Holds up nicely three decades later, I thought. Ark II? Not so much.

Who am I kidding, though? Of course I'll watch it. How could I not?

Actually watching Jason of Star Command, though, would leave me with only one outstanding I-watched-it-as-a-kid-and-haven't-seen-it-since title. Remember the made for TV flick Bermuda Depths, with Burl Ivves, about the giant mutated turtle and the mermaid with the glowing eyes? I'm *still* occasionally haunted by images from that thing, and haven't seen it in nearly thirty years.

Brian said...

I don't remember Bermuda Depths at all, but now I want to see it. It sounds great.

I still have a few shows from my childhood that I remember but haven't seen since. There was a live action drama called "Whiz Kids," about a young computer programmer who solves crimes with the help of his friends. And there was a show about a family trapped in a hostile, fascist world, I can't remember the name of it. And then there's a couple of cartoons I'm sure I would still love: "Fantastic Voyage" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth", both based on the movie versions. I loved those. I think the opening to Fantastic Voyage is still up on YouTube.

By the way, Chris, I just finished "Here, There & Everywhere." I enjoyed it a great deal. It was a lot of fun. I look forward to reading "Paragea" and I like the excerpts you've posted of the new Sanford Blank story. Thanks for all that.

Chris Roberson said...

I think you may be remembering Otherworld, which was all about a family that got trapped in an alternate dimension dominated by a totalitarian state. A particular standout episode that I recall was the one where the daughter and son of the family introduced rock-and-roll into an uptight high school that made the town in Footloose look like Sodom & Gomorra. Of course, they trotted out some low-rent covers of David Bowie and the like on a synthesizer, dressed in faux-Devo duds. I actually found a torrent of the episodes last month, but haven't had a chance to watch them yet.

Do you remember the short-lived Phoenix, starring Judson Scott? That was another one that stuck with me, but was probably not-very-good, in retrospect (but it did linger in memory long enough to influence my novel Paragaea).

Glad to hear you liked Here, There & Everywhere, and I hope that Paragaea's to your liking, as well!

Brian said...

"Otherworld" is it. I thought it's name was something like that. That link confirms it though, I remember "the Great Pyramid" that was central to the story. I don't remember the rock-n-roll episode, but then I don't think I remember any of the episodes. It's all just jumbles of images and characters with no plotline in my head. Was the show rerun on the SciFi Channel a while back? I think I remember seeing an episode with the son rebelling, and endangering them all.

I googled The Phoenix and the symbol shown on this page looks familiar, but I don't remember having seen the show. According to that site, it was on for one month, how do you remember it? I hope that means it's good.

All right, while we're at it, do you remember the animated Flash Gordon that was shown in prime time? I think it came out just after the movie came out. I remembered liking it a great deal.

Chris Roberson said...

Otherworld may well have been aired on cable recently, which is probably where the torrent I found came from. As for Phoenix being any good, well, I wouldn't bet the farm. Even my dim memories of it suggest it was pretty shaky. But really, anything on TV in the 70s and early 80s that was the slightest bit sfnal or super-heroey immediately caught my attention. And, of course, my experience then was that if you missed the one showing of a lot of these series, you weren't going to see them again. When I watched the pilot of Greatest American Hero, I actually sat down and sketched out what the hero's costume and symbol looked like on a sheet of paper, so I could remember it later, sure that I'd never see the show again. Then, of course, it turned out to be a series that was on the air a bit past its sell-by-date, and now you can get the whole thing on DVD.

As for the animated Flash Gordon, I think you mean this one, that's out on DVD now. It was produced by Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer, who were responsible for scads of well-remembered shows from my childhood that, on later viewing, turned out to be not so great (Ark II, Shazam, Isis, Space Sentinels, Blackstar, etc). I watched the first few episodes of their Flash Gordon recently and, well, it's maybe not as good as you remember. And Blackstar? Well, probably best to stay away from that one alltogether...

Brian said...

I must say, you are a font of knowledge on shows from my childhood. That must be the Flash Gordon I was thinking of. Too bad it doesn't hold up. Maybe I'll give it a rental.

As for the temporary nature of scifi shows in the late '70s, early '80s, I know what you mean. Any show that was on more than one season seems to loom large in my head. When I startd looking back into Battlestar Galactica, oh about 10 years ago, I was surprised to find out the original series (not the godawful Galactica 1980) was only 1 season. In my memories it was a long show full of many changes.

Greatest American Hero I absolutely adored as a kid. I've been torn about getting it now that it's out on DVD. Even as a kid, I thought the humor on the show was silly, though I loved it. What would I think today? Eventually I'll get over that, though, and I'll probably buy it.

I don't remember Blackstar, though the Powersword, Powerstar, etc swords sound vaguely familiar. At least I can watch that one without losing any childhood memories. As for Shazam and Isis, I never thought they'd hold up anyway. (As for Ark II, I never saw much of it. I always seemed to be called out of the house on Saturday mornings when it came on. The Ark - so reminiscent of the Damnation Alley miniseries vehicle - always intrigued me in the commercials.)

Chris Roberson said...

I watched a bit of the first season of Greatest American Hero last year, and thought it really held up nicely. A weird kind of mash-up of a socially conscious show about a teacher and his underprivileged, underperforming students, and an adventure series with alien technology and a spy.

I think that the reason a lot of these things loom large in memory is just the percentage of time they represented. When I was eight or nine years old and watching BSG, that year represented more than a tenth of my whole life! And considering that my memory only went back to when I was three or four, it was closer to a *quarter* of it. I must say, though, that as awful as Galactica 80 was, I still have really fond memories of it. I mean, come on. Kids from the colonial fleet with superpowers, disguised as a troop of scouts? That's just genius...

Brian said...

OK, I'll admit it, I loved Galactica 80 when I was a kid (though, even then I knew something wasn't quite as good about it as the original show.) In particular, I loved the Halloween episode, mainly because I thought Wolfman Jack was the coolest guy in the world. But it was also neat to see the Cylons walking the streets.

As for the Scouts, that didn't work for me. As a kid, I hated when shows used kids as main characters. Usually this was done to help real kids identify with their fictional counterparts. But I just found them annoying. Just think of those annoying teens in the original SuperFriends. (Wonder Twins were a step up, not a big step, but a step.) And the rest of the episode just reminded me of CHIPS, of which I was never a big fan.

As for Greatest American Hero, I always loved the alien angle. I also liked that it was always fairly mysterious (especially because he lost the instructions.)

Which reminds me of the Six Million Dollar Man. I was too young to stay up and watch that show (at least according to my parents) and never saw much of it in its original run (I've caught an episode here or there on the SciFi Channel since). But I used to love the commercials and the snippets of plot I'd learn about. I was continually fascinated by the Bigfoot episodes and the aliens involved in all that. I think my ideas based on those commercials are probably more interesting than the actual episodes.

Chris Roberson said...

I know that I must have watched Six Million Dollar Man at least a handful of times, since I had the action figures and knew who everybody was, but I don't really remember anything about it. I recently watched the original "movie," which was later recut and partially refilmed, and was amazed how slow-moving it was. I remember watching The Bionic Woman, but my memories of that are all mixed up with Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, especially the two parter with Tim O'Connor (Buck Roger's "Doctor Huer") as Andros, an alien sent to judge Earth's civilization. There was a whole "Escape to Witch Mountain" vibe to those episodes that really resonated with me as a kid. I've since watched them as an adult, and found that they're really no more or less cheesy than the rest of the Wonder Woman series. Why my foggy memory keeps wanting to cast Jamie Sommers in that story, I don't know... Oh, wait! Now, I remember. There was an episode of Bionic Woman in which Jamie met up with a young alien girl, played by Helen Hunt, that had a similar "little alien lost" vibe. My unconscious keeps triangulating that to the Witch Mountain, and both with the "Judgement from Outer Space" two-parter on Wonder Woman. Ah, mystery solved!

Brian said...

Wow, that was impressive. So many connections, so many aliens. I didn't realize Helen Hunt was in Bionic Woman, but I do remember that Debra Winger (I believe) played Wonder Woman's young sidekick. Or something like that.