Space Academy

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Space Academy
Genre Science Fiction
Created by Allen Ducovny
Directed by Various
Presented by Filmation
Starring Jonathan Harris
Pamelyn Ferdin
Ric Carrott
Maggie Cooper
Brian Tochi
Ty Henderson
Eric Greene
Composer(s) "Yvette Blais" and "Jeff Michael"
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English and dubbed into Spanish for Spanish-speaking television markets. (These dubs are an audio option on the 4-DVD set.)
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 15
Production
Executive producer(s) Norm Prescott
Lou Scheimer
Producer(s) Arthur H. Nadel
Editor(s) Stanley Frazen, F. Timothy McAvoy
Cinematography Aldric Edens, A.S.C.
Running time 30 min. (with commercials)
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format 1.33:1 (fullscreen)
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 10, 1977 – (as reruns) September 1, 1979
Chronology
Related shows Jason of Star Command

Space Academy is a live-action sci-fi children's television program produced by Filmation that originally aired Saturday mornings on the CBS television network, from September 10, 1977, to December 17, 1977. (Repeats ran on and off until September 1, 1979.) A total of fifteen half-hour episodes were made.

Cast[edit]

The program starred veteran actor Jonathan Harris, best known as Dr. Zachary Smith of Lost in Space; co-starring were Pamelyn Ferdin, Ric Carrott, Maggie Cooper, Brian Tochi, Ty Henderson, and Eric Greene. The program featured a pint-sized robot called "Peepo", a radio-controlled machine voiced by Erika Scheimer[1] talking through a vocoder.

Guest stars included Lawrence "Larry" Dobkin; Dena Dietrich ("Mother Nature" in the Chiffon margarine TV commercials of the 1960s and 70s); Dallas McKennon; and Howard Morris.

Plot[edit]

Established in 3732, the Space Academy (located on an asteroid, often shown on camera) brought together the best of young minds, along with those having special skills and abilities, to learn about and experience the unknowns of space as Earth people continued to explore it in the distant future. (It is generally assumed that the show takes place in 3732 A.D. However, series star Jonathan Harris's opening narration says that the academy was founded in "the star year 3732" [emphasis added], and the "star year" calendar may not correspond to the Gregorian calendar. Further, the stories could be taking place decades or centuries after the academy's founding; based on this limited information, the actual time frame of the series is impossible to determine.)

Commander Isaac Gampu (Harris) was the head of the academy. His many space explorations, over the course of several years, had exposed him to conditions that immensely slowed his aging process; though appearing to be in his sixties or seventies, his true age was well over 300 years old, giving him a unique perspective on history and some ideal qualifications as a teacher.

Each of the academy students had their own unique aspects:

Chris Gentry (Carrott) and Laura Gentry (Ferdin) were the captain and co-captain, respectively, of the academy's "Blue Team." The siblings (Chris was the elder) had highly developed telekinetic and psychic powers. (A frequent element in stories was the use and display of telekenesis.) Laura was attracted to Matt Prentiss (a pre-Hero High John Berwick), the occasionally seen leader of Red Team. (There was also a Gold Team, but no apparent hierarchy among the three teams.)

Adrian Pryce-Jones (Cooper) was number three in the Blue Team's chain of command (and Chris's love interest).

Paul Jerome (Henderson), a highly intelligent transferee from the Red Team, hailed from an Earth colony. He was number four in the Blue Team's chain of command. (Although Paul appears as a regular academy crewmember in the first episode, with Loki having yet to join them, he is reintroduced in the second episode as if he were a new character, and Loki's already an established member. This was an apparent continuity error, acknowledged in the liner notes booklet of the show's DVD release. However, the mistake can be reconciled because none of the characters introduced to Paul in the second episode had actually met him in the first. In fact, he only appeared in the control room, while the others were away on a mission.)

Tee Gar Soom (Tochi), number five in Blue Team's chain of command, had super-humanoid physical strength and continued the martial arts traditions of his Asian ancestors. He augmented these abilities with newer disciplines, some of which originated in space.

Loki (Greene) was an orphan discovered (in the first episode) on the dying world of Zalon. A playful young prankster - hence his adopted name - Loki could teleport and see infrared or anything on the electromagnetic spectrum. He often used the catchphrase "Camelopardus!"

As with much 1970s children's television fare, lessons and morals were taught in each episode. These included wide-ranging concepts such as that the super-humanoid powers possessed by some academy students fell far short of being a cure-all for problems, and that even the old and wise could make mistakes. As the students encountered members of extraterrestrial races, even mutated descendants of Earth colonists in space, they came to further develop their wisdom and understanding of diversities throughout the universe.

The spaceships commonly seen in the series were called Seekers and used much like a spacebound van or passenger truck. (The Seeker's nose was a re-used prop from the earlier Filmation series Ark II.)

One term of jargon unique to the program was "ORACO" ("Orders Received And Carried Out"), used when orders were acknowledged by academy personnel.

Episode list[edit]

Episode Plot Air Date
1. "The Survivors of Zalon" On a planet which will explode in 48 hours, the cadets find a mysterious young boy with strange powers. Sep 10, 1977
2. "Castaways in Time and Space" Gampu and Laura are on a mission in a Seeker, when they are pulled into a black hole. Chris must use his mind-link with his sister to try to rescue them. Sep 17, 1977
3. "Hide and Seek" When a missile is used to destroy an asteroid that threatens the academy, members of the Blue Team begin to disappear. Loki, Laura and Peepo try to save their friends. Sep 24, 1977
4. "Countdown" The Academy cadets are sent to clean up debris from the Vegan Wars, and an armed mine attaches itself to their shuttle. Then, a Vegan warrior awakens from his cryogenic suspension and is determined to fight the human enemy to the death. Oct 1, 1977
5. "There's No Place Like Home" An alien named Kane infiltrates Space Academy and tries to get Loki to help him steal a file, promising he'll give Loki information about his home planet. But the alien has something sinister in mind and Loki must make a choice. Oct 8, 1977
6. "The Rocks of Janus" A pair of comets code-named Janus are on a collision course for the Academy, but when the Blue Team investigates, they discover that the closest comet is actually a senteint being named Irgo. The commet is dying, and came to warn sentient beings about the other comet, a criminal named Targ. Can the Blue Team revive Irgo and defeat Targ? Oct 15, 1977
7. "Monkey Business" Adrian has been training a chimpanzee named Jake to communicate. When the space mirror aimed at Alturos stops rotating. Professor Bolt and Tee Gar may freeze to death unless help comes soon. Chris, Loki and Jake go to the rescue, but are soon in a hot predicament themselves. Oct 22, 1977
8. "The Phantom Planet" Proteus IX-B, an asteroid that once housed a small mining colony, is about to be demolished. But the appearance of a phantom planet around it leads Blue Team to perform a seance, in which Chris and Laura communicate with a ghostly member of a long-dead civilization, and learn they have to perform a dangerous rescue. Oct 29, 1977
9. "Planet of Fire" Tee Gar invents a new device known as the "cryotron", which can instantly freeze things. Against orders, he takes it to the planet Delius to test it further, unaware that the frozen things he tested at the Academy have since exploded. When a giant named Dramon gains control over the cryotron and freezes Peepo. The Blue Team may not be able to save their robotic friend. Nov 5, 1977
10. "Life Begins at 300" Paul's life is endangered and Peepo shuts down when Gampu makes an error in a Zolium-extraction mission. He's now 300 years old; is it time for him to retire? The frustrated Gina Correy thinks so... but who will save the headstrong cadet when she gets herself into danger? Nov 12, 1977
11. "The Cheat" Despite the fact that he is under investigation for safety violations, Cadet Matt Prentiss is placed in charge of a mission to Asteroid BX-3 to contain a leaking reactor that threatens a nearby colony on Alopek. Blue Team goes with Prentiss - including among them Chris Gentry, who can't stand the headstrong leader - but Prentiss' actions soon put them all in danger. Nov 19, 1977
12. "My Favorite Marcia" A star is going to explode, taking with it the planets around it. But the Academy receives a Galactic Distress Beacon from the Sunbeam, a trading ship run by Marcia Giddings, the past love of Gampu's life. But a rogue robot war machine soon traps Marcia and the Blue Team on the planet. Nov 26, 1977
13. "Space Hooky" Loki skips class, but his body is taken over by two alien children who are balls of energy. The children exit Loki and take over Paul and Gampu, putting the Academy at great risk with their bizarre commands. Dec 3, 1977
14. "Star Legend" Paul and Chris are trapped in the Alderan Triangle, then pushed back out into normal space by an entity that warns them away. But Gampu leads the others into the Triangle, they find the millennium-old Starship Hope, a near-duplicate of Space Academy. Aboard it is the aged Captain Rampo, and he has a warning... Dec 10, 1977
15. "Johnny Sunseed" Gampu's cantankerous technology-phobic brother visits the Academy. Unfortunately, Sunseed and many Academy crew members are affected by genetically-altered food that Paul has grown on a space farm. The hallucinations and bizarre behavior the food causes results in a deadly situation for Sunseed, unless he can work with Peepo, a being he truly despises. Dec 17, 1977

Merchandise[edit]

In 1977, Aviva Toy Company manufactured and F.W. Woolworth distributed a set of four eight-and-a-half inch action figures based on Space Academy characters. The dolls in this set included Issac [sic] Gampu (described as "Instructor in 'Space Academy'"), Tee Gar Soom ("Almost Super Human Strength"), Chris Gentry ("Member of Space Academy") and Loki ("Everybody's Mascot").

Also available for the figures were special "adventure outfits", sold separately.

DVD release[edit]

BCI Eclipse, LLC (under license from Entertainment Rights), released Space Academy: The Complete Series as a 4-DVD (Region 1) box set on January 16, 2007.[2] The collection presented episodes uncut and in order of their original airdates, as well as including special features about the making of the show.

As of 2011, the set had fallen out of print, as BCI Eclipse was closed down by its parent company, Navarre Corporation, in December 2008.[3]

Spin-off[edit]

A spin-off of Space Academy came in 1978: Jason of Star Command (initially, a serialized segment of Tarzan and the Super 7), starring Craig Littler, alongside James Doohan of Star Trek: The Original Series, and versus Sid Haig. Star Command was deemed a special section of the Space Academy, which helped to explain the usage of the same sets, costumes and some special effects on both programs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Note: credited as "E.C.S."
  2. ^ http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Space-Academy/6626
  3. ^ http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Site-News-BCI-Shut-Down/11064

Companion booklet to Space Academy: The Complete Series 4-DVD box set (BCI Eclipse, 2007).

External links[edit]