Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Space Stars (1981)

NBC had a potent lineup in 1981. The Smurfs were introduced to American audiences for the first time. The rest of the lineup, however, was dominated by superheroes for the first time in years. Space Stars was supposed to have aired a year earlier, but was held back because of a writer's strike in Hollywood. The series marked the returns of two of Hanna-Barbera's super adventure series of the 60's, Space Ghost and the Herculoids, plus two new features, Teen Force and a spin-off from The Jetsons, Astro & the Space Mutts. Superherocartoonsite uploaded the open, narrated by Michael Rye (the voice of Green Lantern & Apache Chief on Super Friends):

Unfortunately, there are no Teen Force episodes available on YouTube at present, largely because when Space Stars aired on USA in the late 80's, the segment was deleted from the show, along with Astro & the Space Mutts, for time constraints, more than anything else. The Force, however, would frequently team with Space Ghost, and that was largely due to Kid Comet dating Jan, one of Space Ghost's proteges. You wonder why they didn't try to complete the double date and have Jace paired with Elektra. Boomerang & Cartoon Network have ignored the Teen Force as well, and it's their 30th anniversary year!

Actor Keene Curtis (ex-The Magician, later of Cheers) served as the narrator for all the segments, and to my knowledge it's his only cartoon credit. Regrettably, Space Stars was cancelled after 1 season, and NBC replaced it with The Incredible Hulk the next year, among others. A pity, considering the lack of respect accorded the Teen Force since.

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

As a kid I liked the series!

I'd already been hooked on the original adventures of Space Ghost and the Herculoids that aired during the week in syndication so getting new adventures on "Space Stars" was like manna from heaven!

The "Teen Force" segments were also fun and better still seeing so much cross pollination between all the show's characters.

But if there was ever a "which one of these does NOT belong?" applied to the show it's definitely the Space Mutts segment! Even as a kid I thought it just didn't feel right having a Burt Reynolds clone tagging around with Astro in deep space!!

I had a chance to watch the 1981 segments of Space Ghost on YT and I definitely noticed a difference between the 60s versions and the later ones. A lot of violence was toned down and some feminism creeped into Jan's personality (accusing her brother Jace of being a "male chauvinist" on one occasion!). Some stories had a lot of potential (like the "Haunted Spaceship" and "The Shadow People") but because the segments were only about 10 minutes long, they couldn't be properly fleshed out.

You mentioned in your post about how Jace could have been paired with Elektra... I agree although she seems a bit more mature than he is (at least based on the VA for her character). Jace was definitely interested in her though! In, "The Shadow People", when she and the rest of the SG crew prepare to split up and search the ship, Jace desperately wanted to be paired with her! SG has him assigned to search with Blip instead much to his frustration!! I think the writers were considering them as a potential romantic pair.

hobbyfan said...

Filed under "missed opportunities".

We can think of all the animated hookups that have been ignored, and Jace & Electra would be near the top of the list.