Ahhh, the 70s and 80s. It was a simpler time that saw the birth of several franchises that are still popular to this day. With that popularity came an onslaught of merchandising including action figures, playsets and even (I kid you not) underwear sets. That’s right! You too could pretend to be a modern day super hero with your matching Superman t-shirt and brief set! How did I ever survive those times unjaded? One of the more amazing aspects of this time were all the cheap knockoffs that studios were regurgitating targetted at the young tykes who spent their Saturday mornings glued to the TV. While mucking around Hulu I found a true gem that came out in 1978 called Jason of Star Command.
While, yes, this is a knockoff of Star Wars & Star Trek, it originated as spin-off from another show called Space Academy, apart of an action/adventure block involving programs chopped up into 15 minute bits. Most were stand-alone monster of the week episodes but Jason went back to the film serial style. That does not help the fact that the sets, costumes and pretty much everything else was recycled from other TV shows. So was much of the plot. You have a young space hero in Jason with his robot side kick W1K1 and the scientific comic relief Doctor Parsafoot. They represent Star Command. Their job is to…. well that is a bit unclear. They are maybe a space police force or an exploratory crew. It really doesn’t matter since two of the main characters were played by James “No one ever said beam me up Scotty” Doohan as the benevolent commander and Sid “I couldn’t eat fried chicken for two years” Haig as Dragos the evil overlord.
Just watching Haig’s performance makes this TV show more than worthwhile. It’s cheesy and the plot makes no sense, but who cares!? From a nostalgia point of view that is all that matters. There were more than a few things that surprised me this time around that I would have never noticed as a child. First was the use of a strong African American female character named Samantha. She was brought in for the second season to replace the stereotypical damsel in distress. Not only was she given a significant amount of action, but she saved the hero on more than one occasion. For the 70s that was not remotely a common occurrence. Give it a shot over at Hulu. What little surprises will you find?