|John Kenneth Muir's Retro TV File:
Space Academy (1977)
|Retro TV Files
The Fantastic Journey
Land of the Lost
Star Trek: Animated
|Welcome to the most magnificent achievement in space, the man-made planetoid...Space Academy!...founded in star year 3732.
Here we have gathered young people from the farthest reaches of the known worlds. They have been chosen for their unique abilities, and are being trained to cope with the mysterious, the unknown, the unpredictable dangers lurking in the vast darkness of space.
|Space Academy is a live-action TV program produced by Filmation Studios (and created by Allen Ducovny) in the mid-1970s for the CBS TV network. The series was picked-up for principal photography in late 1976, and first aired in the fall of 1977 (post Star Wars) on Saturday mornings. The series was designed to be morally valuable, and educational, and U.C.L.A.'s Dr. Gordon L. Berry served as the series' technical advisor.
Each episode of the series is 22-minutes in duration (to accommodate 30 minute blocks; with commercials), and Space Academy was shot in 35mm, an unusual choice, since most of its contemporaries were lensed on 16mm.
The series features amazing and elaborate sets for the central locale, the Space Academy, the asteroid-based headquarters for a "Peace Corps of the future," according to series producer, Lou Scheimer in an interview from '77.
|Space Academy highlights the ongoing adventures of a group of young cadets as they complete their "space training" education in the year 3732.
These cadets include Ric Carrot as Captain Chris Gentry, and Pamelyn Ferdin as Cadet Laura Gentry, Chris's telepathic sister. Also Brian Tochi stars as Cadet Tee Gar Soom, a young man who boasts incredible physical strength and is studying to become a physician.
Other cates include Ty Henderson as Lt. Paul Jerome, an African-American cadet with a chip on his shoulder, but who quickly becomes one of the Academy's most valuable students. He's an expert pilot and a brilliant scientist.
Chris's girlfriend on the series is Adrian, played by Maggie Cooper. She occasionally dons a mini-skirt. One of her academy projects involves human-simian communication ("Monkey Business").
Instructing the cadets on the ways of the Federation is the 300 year old father figure, Commander Isaac Gampu, played by Lost in Space star Jonathan Harris. Over the course of the series, Gampu's brother appears ("Johnny Sunseed") as well as his ex-girflriend, Marcia ("My Favorite Marcia). Gampu, feeling old, contemplates resigning at one point, but thinks better of it. His quarters is filled with ancient Earth antiquities (including a NASA spacesuit).
Commander Gampu is also a brilliant scientist and he has constructed Peepo, a small robot (with a screechy voice...) who often goes on missions with the students. Peepo is, by his own definition (in "Space Hookey") a self-determining, Type-A manu-droid. In sci-fi TV history, Peepo has the distinction of being the first remote-controlled robot to appear on a network program.
The last cast-member on Space Academy is Loki, played by Eric Greene. Loki is a trouble-prone child discovered by the cadets in the series' premiere episode, "The Survivors of Zalon." Like Deep Space Nine's Odo during the early seasons of that venture, Loki is an orphan who has no knowledge of his past, his race, his history or his family. Much of his time on the series is spent with Gampu trying to discover the blanks in his past.
The Cadets of the Academy's Blue Team (you can tell them by their blue shirts; as opposed to Yellow Squad ["Life Begins at 300"]) travels about space in fantastic-looking shuttlecrafts called Seekers. The Seekers can achieve the equivalent of light speed, here called star speed ("Castaways in Time and Space") and are armed with photon-torpedo-like devices called spinners, and can also fire gravity rays and presser rays ("Johnny Sunseed"). The incredible Seekers were created by SPFX expert Chuck Comiskey and are highly-detailed miniatures. Often, they are depicted in the series launching and landing in a very impressive-looking docking bay.
The Cadet teams often visit inhospitable planets by donning personal forcefield generators rather than traditional spacesuits. These generators are known as life-support badges.
Regarding terminology, Space Academy attempted to create a lexicon and vocabulary unique to the genre. The cadets often reply ORACO when given a direct order. As per "Rocks of Janus," this word means Order Received and Carried Out. Another frequently uttered exclamation on the show is "Camalopardis!" This word, according to Paul in "Castaways in Time and Space" is derived from the name of a distant star cluster. The flute-like musical instrument that Loki often plays (to the irritation of the other characters) is called a liratron ("Hide & Seek.")
Other technological terms: Zolium is an important mineral that powers the Space Academy ("Life Begins at 300"), technite charges are explosive devices often employed by the cadets on missions ("The Phantom Planet") and MX-5 is an unstable compound ("No Place Like Home"). The Cryotron is an experimental device, built by Tee Gar, designed to "cool down hot planets." ("Planet of Fire").
The curriculum at the Space Academy includes Astrography ("Space Hookey") but also "live missions" to repair energy distributors (on the asteroid BX-3) ("The Cheat), tend to a space farm ("Johnny Sunseed") and mine critical minerals ("Life Begins at 300").
About the history of the Space Academy Universe: According to the episode "Countdown," there were at least three "Star Wars" in the distant past, some of which pitted Earth against the humanoid Vegans. A significant battle in "the Vegan Wars" occurred near "Proxima Centauri."
As far as current enemies, The Denebians are a reclusive race who seed their borders with dangerous, and heavily-armed space drones. Crossing into Denebian Territory could spark a war, according to "Space Hookey."
On Space Academy, the cadets encounter non-corporeal life forms ("The Survivors of Zalon," "Space Hookey"), ghostly guardians of ancient civilizations ("The Phantom Planet"), silicon-based life-forms ("The Rocks of Janus"), and even unfriendly, arrogant cadets ("The Cheat," "Life Begins at 300.")
Guests on Space Academy include Robby the Robot, and in 1976, Woolworth's marketed a series of action figures (and "action" clothing!)
|Space Academy ran for fifteen episodes. Peepo, the asteroid base, the Seekers and many of the interior sets were later re-used on the sequel series, Jason of Star Command (1978-1979). Episodes include:
1. "The Survivors of Zalon" (September 10, 1977)
2. "Castaways in Time and Space" (September 17, 1977)
3. "Hide and Seek" (September 24, 1977)
4. "Countdown" (October 1, 1977)
5. "There's No Place Like Home" (October 8, 1977)
6. "The Rocks of Janus" (October 15, 1977)
7. "Monkey Business" (October 22, 1977)
8. "The Phantom Planet" (October 29, 1977)
9. "Planet of Fire" (November 5, 1977)
10. "Life Begins at 300" (November 12, 1977)
11. "The Cheat" (November 19 1977)
12. "My Favorite Marcia" (November 26, 1977)
13. "Space Hookey" (December 3, 1977)
14. "Star Legend" (December 10, 1977)
15. "Johnny Sunseed" (December 17, 1977)