Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jason of Star Command (Arthur H. Nadel, 1978-81)

I have talked about this show before, though I had never seen it. Jason of Star Command was a short-format, serialized space opera starring Craig Littler as the eponymous Jason, James "Scotty" Doohan as Commander Canarvin, and the utterly awesome Sid Haig as the evil Dragos. Appearances by Rosanne Katon and July Newmar come early in the run, as does a whopping twelve episodes with Tamara "Cleopatra Jones" Dobson in season two.

The show bears a lot of similarities to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), and is certainly part of the race to catch up with Star Wars (1976) and Battlestar Galactica (1978). The sets and decor are more similar to Star Trek and perhaps Doctor Who than the others, though stylistically there are similarities. Jason, for example, looks like a Han Solo knock off, and Dragos looks like he could be Princess Ardala's uncle. Also, the whole dragon-theme bad guy smacks of Buck Rogers, but Jason did come out a year earlier... There are also two annoying robots. One who speaks, and one that has an R2-D2 style of communication that everyone but the viewer understands.

I have to say, it is pretty enjoyable. The eleven minute format certainly keeps things moving along. It is not overly original, but hearkens back to old-timey serials nicely. The main reason to watch is for Sid Haig, who automatically ups the quality of anything he is in, be it a movie, television show, or pay toilet. Haig is perfectly suited for an over-the-top megalomaniac, and does all the heavy lifting in this show. Here is his "death" scene from the end of season one:

It is nice to see Haig and other exploitation stars like Katon and Dobson get some mainstream work, not to mention Francine York (The Doll Squad) doing some episodes. Also nice to see Doohan as not Scotty for a change.

In all, it is a pretty enjoyable show. There are some episodes on Youtube, but I have not really watched them so cannot swear to the quality, or legality.


Chad Thorson said...

It's a great show! I've shared it with my kids along with Ark II and Space Academy.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I just barely remember this from my childhood, unless there was another rock with arms spaceship (which I certainly do not doubt). I am pretty sure I remember W1KI.

I am a bit surprised this has not shown up on Adult Swim. It seems right up their alley. 39 episodes, or so, and fits their 11 minute standard.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I rememeber this show so much because it was part of those live action shows on Saturday morning on CBS - Isis, Shazam, Art II and this one especially. I don't know if it will spoil my memories to go back and see them again.

John Sholtz said...

I loved this show as a kid, but like Cal, if I were to watch it I would probably think it was cheesy. However, it may be fun to watch too.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Kal/John, I think it holds up _fairly_ well. Certainly not as bad as some of the things I have returned to from childhood. I think the short format really helps in that regard, as they did not have time to cheese it up too much.

@John, sorry about the delay in your comment. It got in the SPAM section somehow. I was confused as to where it went :-)

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