Friday 18 June 2004

Space Patrol

Galasphere 347Time for a short trip down Memory Lane...10..20..30..40 years... to 1963.
I grew up with a TV show called ...can you guess... 'Space Patrol'. Now a lot of people did, in the UK, in the USA, in Germany and Japan. Different shows though.
No less than four television series bear the title (though in the case of the German Raumpatrouille and Japanese Hopper Uchu Patrol, these are translations) and a number of totally unrelated items also come under that name.
Space Patrol Merchandise
The one I'm talking about had the following Introduction:
This is Earth - the year 2100. New York is the headquarters of Space Patrol and men from Earth, Mars and Venus live and work there as guardians of peace.
New York 2100

Now even at the age of 5, I wasn't particularly impressed with the quality of the Puppetry. The Robots in particular were totally unconvincing, having the strings visible didn't help. But I was, and for that matter still am, impressed with the sets. The cityscapes in particular.

The Science of 'Space Patrol' was rather better than most of its successors. Remember, it was made in the early 60's, before we had more than the merest inkling what conditions were like on other planets. As the BBC site says :
Eager that 'Space Patrol' should be educational as well as entertaining, Roberta Leigh enlisted the advice of astronomer Colin Ronan to make sure the science in her fiction was as accurate as any television SF could be. So instead of unfeasibly short trips, the crew of Galasphere 347 entered a 'freezer unit' for journeys to Uranus or Neptune that could take months, and Contamination Control ensured germs were not spread from planet to plane.
Like Star Trek, but rather earlier, the World of 'Space Patrol' involved all branches of Humanity, regardless of race, creed, colour (though the series was in Black and White), and planetary origin. The Venusians looked almost Elfin, the Martians... looked and spoke like Babylon 5's Londo Minari, but without the fanlike hairdo. And the amount of Male Chauvinist Piggery was less than average, though still excruciating by today's standards.

Like 2001:A Space Odyssey, but again rather earlier, the scale of the Solar System was brought home. Expeditions to 'Jupiter and Beyond' took months to complete, and the crew were put into suspended animation for much of the voyage.

We could do a lot worse than to produce a children's educational/entertainment show which lived up to these ideals today. But hopefully with better production values. And on that note, may I present.. the cast. From Left to Right : 'Joe' the Jovian, Colonel Raeburn, Marla (his Venusian Secretary who actually ran the place), Larry Dart (Commander of Galasphere 347), LondoHusky(the Martian), Slim(Venusian), Cassie (the daughter of..), Professor Haggarty (Irish predecessor to Hiram Hackenbacker, aka 'Brains'), Gabbler(an annoyingly loquacious Martian Parrot), and an anonymous but ubiquitous Robot.

Space Patrol cast

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