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|Created by||Steven Appleby|
|Starring||Richard E. Grant|
Kate Harper (pilot only)
Enn Reitel (pilot only)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom, Canada|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||13 (and 1 pilot) (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production companies||Cosgrove Hall Films|
|Original network||ITV (United Kingdom)|
|Original release||8 July 1997 –|
27 August 1998
Captain Star was a British/Canadian animated series starring the voice of Richard E. Grant as Captain Jim Star, based on a comic by Steven Appleby: Rockets Passing Overhead. Only 13 episodes of 30 minutes each were produced and aired from 1997 to 1998.
This is the story of Captain Star involves the crew of a rocketship called the Boiling Hell, who have been ordered to a dry planet known as "the Nameless Planet", at the Ragged Edge of the Universe, in order to wait for their next assignment. The ship's crew consists of the deeply egocentric and often paranoid Captain Star, the Dana Scully-esque Science Officer Scarlett, the nine-headed, six-armed mutant Engineer/Stoker "Limbs" Jones, and the fish-keeping milquetoast Navigator Black. They are later joined by a robot, Jim-Bob-Bob, who does laundry duty and several other acts of menial servitude.
Captain Star is introduced in the opening theme as "the greatest hero any world has ever known". A legendary explorer who has hundreds of planets named after him, Captain Star's birthday is a holiday throughout the entire universe. Throughout the program, the characters await further orders from Mission Control which never come, and they seem to have been waiting there so long that Navigator Black has constructed and founded a fish restaurant on the Nameless Planet, which he mainly uses as a giant aquarium. It is unclear whether Mission Control has simply forgotten about Star and his crew, but the implication is that they have put the aging Star out to graze while affording him the indignity of forcing him to retire, and kept him on active duty so that he can continue to be a hero to the public. Events occurring on and off the planet, however, frequently require Star's intervention.
Captain Jim Star (Richard E. Grant) — Groomed from birth to be a starship captain, Captain Star is regarded as the greatest captain in the fleet. He left the Captain's Academy at age 12 to spend a year as a trainee under Captain Ned Nova of the Merry Cheeser, who had named 115 planets after himself, which was the record until Star surpassed him. Captain Star is roughly 127 "space years" old, which appears to make him a man in his 50s in his society. Not humble, though not excessively arrogant, Captain Star believes himself to be a hero and feels deserving of his pervading acclaim. He is often oblivious to danger and to the advice and concerns of his crew. Unquestioningly loyal, Star firmly believes that his orders will eventually come.
First Officer Scarlett (Denica Fairman) — A strong, brave, redheaded woman, and an accomplished scientist, Scarlett often saves the day through her scientific endeavours. Scarlett's logic and investigative mood are a stark contrast to Captain Star's tendency to improvise in an emergency. On The Nameless Planet, where Captain Star has no ship to command or adventures to lead, Scarlett handles most of his command duties.
Atomic Engine Stoker "Limbs" Jones (Adrian Edmondson) — Mutated in an atomic accident, "Limbs" Jones has nine heads and six arms. Each of Jones' heads accommodates a different part of his brain, causing each head to have a slightly different personality. Jones is a good cat lover, having sequentially named pet cats Sputnik 1 through 374. Conversations between Jones' many heads and other members of the crew often lead them to become impatient and annoyed with him.
Navigator Black (Kerry Shale/Gary Martin) — Once the navigator of the Boiling Hell, Navigator Black sets up a small fish-shaped restaurant on The Nameless Planet and becomes the cook. Obsessed with fish, the restaurant is filled with aquariums. Black often swims with his fish, and even creates a brain-computer interface device that depicts their thoughts. Black has a nervous temperament and often panics under pressure. A running gag in the show is Navigator Black's inability to tell his left from his right.
Captain Bloater (Gary Martin)
Jasper Quilt (Gary Martin)
Captain Spratt (Denica Fairman)
Story format and themes
Many episodes begin with a flashback to the Boiling Hell's sublime missions, which is then immediately contrasted with their abandonment on The Nameless Planet as an bygone and over-the-hill crew. These flashbacks set the tone for the episode and foreshadow the story's theme. At the end of each episode, while sitting in his wheelbarrow, Captain Star recites an entry into his Captain's Diary which begins, "Uneventful day", followed by a short witticism which adds up the moral of the story.
A small moon in very close orbit of The Nameless Planet, called The Low-Flying Moon, often flies overhead, lifting objects off of the ground for a few seconds.
For a children's program, Captain Star deals with unusually advanced themes. The primary theme throughout the series is of society's treatment of the aged. While Captain Star appears to be strong and healthy and continues to save the universe, after several years of distinguished service, Mission Control sweeps him under the rug by sending him to the edge of the universe to an unnamed planet and has him remain there without any orders to carry out. Despite continuing to prove his usefulness, there is an ageist undertone that Mission Control assumes that he is no longer a valuable asset because of his age and extensive service.
Many episodes feature a popular TV show called "Star of Space" in which actors portray the crew of the Boiling Hell in many of Captain Star's most heroic missions. Captain Star is presented as a James Bond-like hero, handsome and virile, who saves the day almost effortlessly. The episodes exaggerate his role in events while minimizing the contributions of his crew — most conspicuously presenting strong and scientifically accomplished first officer Scarlett as a bimbo and damsel in distress. Even when watching events that had just occurred earlier in the episode, the entire crew, except for Scarlett, regard the reenactments as mostly historically accurate, emphasizing the role of television as a means to control public perception of people and events.
While Captain Star is removed from the public eye, he continues to be promoted as a hero in public propaganda. Keeping him on active duty, while separated from the public by assigning him to the Ragged Edge of the Universe, the public can keep regard him as a hero who is in his prime forever. His birthday is a public holiday throughout the universe, an occasion which allows him to be presented as a larger than life hero figure and promoted as a role model. While not presenting as dystopian, it is implied that the government is exploiting Captain Star's fame, presumably as a recruitment tool and to encourage patriotism, unity, and support for the government.
115 space years prior to the events of the program, Captain Star's former captain, Ned Nova, was ordered into retirement. Ignoring orders, Nova fled in his ship, the Merry Cheeser. Captain Star was ordered to arrest his former captain and chased the Merry Cheeser to a black hole. Refusing to retire, Nova piloted his ship into the black hole. He was discovered, in suspended animation, in the stomach of a space slug in the present day on The Nameless Planet. Star decided to let him leave in his rocketship and declared that he could never have been Ned Nova because he was only half Ned Nova's age (thanks to his preservation inside the space slug). While an act of loyalty to his former captain and role model, his willingness to preserve an idealized image of Nova by refusing to arrest him and turn him over to Mission Control in disgrace ironically mirrors Mission Control's decision to preserve an idealized image of Star himself by exiling him on The Nameless Planet.
The program frequently presents commercialism in an absurd light. The opening theme reveals that the voyages that made Captain Star the greatest hero any world has ever known were missions in which he travelled to inhabited planets and renamed them after himself (much as explorers during the colonial era would rename and claim inhabited lands for Europe), and sell them things that they do not need, such as a group of aliens who purchase umbrellas before returning to their underwater homes. In the second episode, a "hard sell droid" attempts to sell the crew a carpet and not taking "no" for an answer. The crew are eventually forced to dismantle the droid, revealing that it had a brain the size of a pea. Many episodes feature unlikely Captain Star-themed products and memorabilia, such as a croquet set using a tee and hoops shaped like Captain Star's head, demonstrating the rampant consumerism surrounding Star's identity and likeness.
This section needs a plot summary. (June 2020)
|Title||Original air date|
|"Invasion of the Tasty Morsels"||1992|
Season 1 (1997)
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"The Atomic Alarm Clock"||8 July 1997|
|2||"Day of the Zooties"||15 July 1997|
|3||"The Worm Turns"||22 July 1997|
|4||"No Future"||29 July 1997|
|5||"Nine Heads are Better than One"||5 August 1997|
|6||"Waiting for Sputnik"||12 August 1997|
Season 2 (1998)
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|7||"Rocket to Nowhere"||16 July 1998|
|8||"It's Written in the Stars"||23 July 1998|
|9||"Ned Nova"||30 July 1998|
|10||"The Gravity of the Situation"||6 August 1998|
|11||"The Collector"||13 August 1998|
|12||"The Edge of the Universe"||20 August 1998|
|13||"A Galaxy of Stars"||27 August 1998|
At least one VHS release of Captain Star is known to exist, containing the first three episodes of the series.