Friday, April 8, 2011

Space Academy - "Castaways in Time and Space"

Spoiler Level: High

Well, that was a plunge straight down in quality.

Commander Gampu and Laura are exploring a black hole, when they get sucked in.  Except here a black hole is simply a blank spot in space that has no reflective properties.  And they don't really get sucked in by gravity so much as they pass through a force field surrounding the black hole which damages their ship.  Anyway, from there they crash land on a planet inside the black hole, and it's up to Laura's brother Chris, Tee Gar and loner Paul to rescue them, but first they have to get past a giant reptile monster.

This episode is written by Samuel A. Peeples, who also wrote the classic second pilot for Star Trek that succeeded in getting the show picked up, as well as an episode of the animated series.  As such, I wouldn't have expected him to fail Astronomy 101, but, well... there it is.  He also does a lot of technobabble which sadly sounds like stuff just being made up without any thought to whether it means anything or not.

What really makes this episode tough to watch, however, is Ric Carrot's acting as Chris.  He's got to show angry determination to not give up the search for his sister, but it just comes across as the actor trying too hard.  He was actually a fairly prolific actor in the 70's, and this show's actually fairly late in his career, so it's kind of surprising that he comes across so poorly.  Brian Tochi, on the other hand, does a very good job as Tee Gar, coming across as sincere and believable. 

Ty Henderson has a lot to do as Paul in this episode, and he does a decent job.  This episode marks Paul's official introduction to Blue Team.  Paul was seen in the previous episode, but he stayed behind in the control room and mostly spoke to Commander Gampu.  He has one scene where he's speaking to the rest of the team, but he refers to himself as just "Academy Control" and his signal is broken up. So even though he was already there, he wasn't part of Blue Team yet. The story of Paul's learning the moral that it's better to be a part of a team than to only care about yourself is played a bit heavy handed, but it's okay for children's fare of the time.

I continue to enjoy the model shots of the Space Academy and the Seeker, and the visual effects for the black hole itself worked well.  The monster is so bad it's good.

But overall, I'm hoping the rest of the series is more like the previous episode and less like this one.

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