Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ghost Busters of Star Command

BCI Eclipse has sent out press releases for two more live-action Filmation Saturday morning shows coming to DVD in the near future: The Ghost Busters and Jason of Star Command.

The Ghost Busters long pre-dated the popular 80's movie of the same name, and starred F-Troop's Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker (also stalwart star of The Crawling Eye and The Abominable Snowman of the Himilayas) as a couple of paranormal investigators/exorcists who worked with a civilized gorilla named Tracy (gorilla man and monster movie fan extraordinaire, Bob Burns). I don't really remember anything about the show other than I watched it and loved Tracy. So I'm looking forward to the DVDs – especially, since in an interview with Burns that ran in Filmfax a few years ago, he stated that the videotape masters of the show had been sold off and erased, and that no copies of the episodes existed any longer. Glad he turned out to be mistaken.

Jason of Star Command, on the other hand, I remember vividly. After Space Academy was cancelled for being "too dull," the Filmation crew decided to recycle as much of that show's expensive sets, props and FX as possible, while giving the network the more Star Wars-ish show they wanted.

So, instead of earnest young cadets learning important lessons about honor, duty and life while exploring space and unravelling the mysteries of the universe, we had a trouble-shooting space hero (bland Craig Littler) in a vaguely Han Solo-ish outfit, a Darth Vader-esque villian (the GREAT Sid Haig as "Dragos!"), and a whole lot of cute robots. Unfortunately, this being 70's network kid's TV, Jason couldn't punch, trip, shoot, or even give a mean look to anybody. "Action" existed only in the form of endless running up and down corridors, swooping model spacecraft, and "drone" ships blowing up.

On the plus side, you had Jimmy Doohan (Star Trek's Scotty) as a space commander, a cute brunette cadet in a skin-tight space suit, and exotic Tamara DobsonCleopatra Jones herself! – in a recurring role as a mysterious alien babe. There were some cool stop-motion monsters on occasion, too, as I recall.

The Ghost Busters DVD set, with a bunch of extras, is expected to hit shelves on April 17th, while Jason of Star Command is scheduled for a May 8th release. If I get review copies, I'll be sure and post my observations here first.


Andy said...

I can only assume that you know that Filmation's "Flash Gordon" was recently released on DVD. Sweet! Now if only "Thundaar the Barbarian" would hit the street then I would be one happy geek.

Christopher Mills said...

Yeah, I've got the Flash Gordon set, and love it (the first, pre-Gremlin season only, of course).

As for Thundarr, well, the Ruby-Spears library (which includes our favorite post-Apocalyptic barbarian) was swallowed up by Warners years ago, which is why the show still occasionally shows up on Boomerang network – or so I'm told.

Unfortunately, aside from the Warners Animation/DC Superhero/Looney Tunes and classic Hanna-Barbera material, Warners seems disinclined to release anything else animated on DVD.

(BTW – you do know that same actor, Robert Ridgley, provided the voices for both Flash and Thundarr, right?)

Andy said...

To me there is NO second season of "Flash Gordon". Flash, Dale and Zarkov saved Mongo and lived happily ever after - The End. And "The End" did not involve Gremlin.

I did not know that Ruby/Spears had been swallowed up by Warner and I find it a shame that Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla are rotting in a studio vault someplace.

I did not know that Robert Ridgley did both voices! I was always impressed that I knew that Nellie Bellflower (Ariel) was also Eowyn in Rankin/Bass "The Return of the King".