Our totally legit copy of Space Cases episode 1.03 begins mid-sentence, with a bunch of VHS interference.
You know, the lack of a remastered box-set really makes gazing in wonder at Radu’s beautiful face really difficult.
(Luckily, nobody cares about Bova.)
On this ordinary afternoon, Davenport is acting exceptionally British. It seems she wants to impose a schhhhhhhhhhhhedule for the students. She tells THELMA to make it “tip top priority,” because that’s a thing that British people say. Of course, Davenport isn’t British at all. She’s Martian. When we say she speaks “the Queen’s English,” we actually mean the Martian Hive Queen.
Anyway, Her Royal Davenportness hopes this new schhhhhhhhhhhhhhhedule will keep the kids out of trouble. We cut to an external shot, where two dudes made up to look like alien bugs spot the Christa on a monitor. Speaking in faux-Liverpudlian accents, they report that they’re the Planetary Intruder Squad and they need to blow up our intrepid heroes! We cut to theme song, but I’d like to linger on these two lads from SpaceLiverpool.
It’s time to play Famous Guest Star Trivia! Without googling, can you name the famous SF actor below?
A. Brent Spiner
B. Wil Wheaton
C. Luke Skywalker
D. Felicia Day
How about this one?
A. Whoopi Goldberg
B. Danger Will Robinson
C. Ringo Starr
D. Jean-Luc Picard
If you guessed Luke Skywalker and Danger Will Robinson, then you might just be a nerd! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
Now, you might wonder where a show like Space Cases got such illustrious guest stars–after all, Rock Hudson never appeared on Hey, Dude! But Space Cases‘ SF credentials run deep–it was co-created by Peter David (author of the second-best Star Trek novelization, Imzadi II), and Bill Mumy, TV’s Lennier. Not only is Space Cases full of fun little sci-fi nerd references (from character names like Harlan and Bova), but the Christa is also visited by some surprising faces. These are the first two. Expect more Famous Guest Star Trivia next week!
Following the credits, we return to Luke Skywalker and Danger Will Robinson, who are playing here the “Ferna Herna”. They’ve decided to send the “intruders” a warning rather than blowing them up on sight–lucky for us, because otherwise there would be no show, and therefore no recap. They politely offer the Christa crew three Ferna Herna hours (or 10.85 moon-unit zappas) to explain their presence in the sector. Unfortunately, only THELMA receives this message–and she’s been commanded to make the schhhhhhhedule her top priority.
Even though the kids are just supposed to be waking up, THELMA is rocked by a scream–a sonic scream, the kind which would have been nice to have explained last week, before executive meddling got in the way. She continues on to the boys’ bunkroom, where a pyramid-shaped robot roams the refuse-strewn floors. She lifts Radu’s earmuffs and gently wakes him. Amusingly, the pillow sticks to Kristian Ayre’s wig when he bolts upright. His hair is just that strong.
She wakes the rest of the boys (Bova requires a jumpstart), then heads off to the girls’ bunk to deal with Catalina’s shrieking.
Cat enthusiastically explains that trained Saturnians can knock over a building with their screaming. It’s pretty adorable–she’s very enthusiastic about learning to harness her powers. Come to think of it, this is part of both she and Rosie’s arcs. Not only do they have these inherent superpowers, but they have to learn to control them over the course of the show. It makes sense in a “alien life form metaphorical for adolescence” sort of way.
In the galley, Rosie, Harlan, and Radu are shit-talking Catalina (Harlan makes a pretty awful “hooked on sonics” joke) and we get a nice infodump about the way the food dispenser works–which again, would have been great last week. But, you know, executive meddling. Harlan mocks Radu’s choice in breakfast (which looks to me to be just regular ol’ bacon and eggs, but Andromedans are grooosss you guys! < /racism>).
THELMA tries to warn the students of the Ferna Herna attack, but is waylaid by a sonic scream. The Ferna Herna discuss between them how awesome and exciting it might be to blow up the Christa, all in a wry, slightly unsettling tone. They’re like the Beatles if the Beatles were 14 year old boys who thought it was really cool to blow up mailboxes. Only the mailboxes were people. Also they were bugs. And Luke Skywalker.
In the classroom, Davenport encourages the kids to research positions on the ship. Both Catalina (who is losing her voice) and Harlan want to be captain. Rosie wants to be a doctor. Bova doesn’t give a shit is just a nihilist and wants to be in charge of mess. Radu has no aspirations–but let’s be fair, he can just sit there and look pretty and no one would mind. Davenport encourages them to keep SpaceVlogs to figure out their aptitudes.
Harlan’s vlog is about how awesome he is. We see that THELMA wants to keep a journal too–there’s something a little poignant about that. Even she points out that keeping a record of her life is difficult, since she is not, in fact, alive. Radu’s vlog is, of course, even sadder. It’s all about his racial guilt–it seems he learned that Harlan’s dad was killed by Andromedans in THE WAR.
Cat isn’t bothering vlogging. All she cares about is screaming her head off. Gotta love a girl with a mission.
In a nice illustration of the show’s attention to detail, Radu covers his ears each time she screams. Everyone else just winces.
Catalina finally blows out her vocal chords. Her silence gives THELMA the opportunity to tell her of their impending death.
In the ComPost, Goddard sees the approaching Liverpudlian missiles on the viewscreen. He sends Harlan and Radu to their posts. There’s some great, Shatner-esque acting from all involved:
Radu: Take us to the X-axis! 19 degrees!
Harlan: Look, Mr. So-called Navigator, if you’re wrong about this–
Goddard: DO IT!!!!
But no amount of exclamation points can avoid the Ferna Herna. The ship is hit!
Catalina arrives on the bridge and, of course, decides to spell out their predicament in charades. How would you signal “sounds like Ferna Herna”?
You know, writing it down might be easier.
They send a message to the Ferna Herna, but it’s too late–they’ve launched a missile toward the ship. After another spectacular round of charades–THELMA guesses Catalina’s absurd 37-word message (“Try opening a direct frequency link with the missile’s tracking system so you can use a sonic blast to interfere with the guidance programming, forcing the missile’s to lose their tracking lock on us”)–Catalina looses a massive sonic scream. The missiles collide and everyone is safe. Yay! Catalina and THELMA share the most awkward hug ever and I want them to be besties, okay? Okay!
At the end of the day, Catalina and Harlan vlog about themselves. Harlan’s vlog was all about how he was awesome, but of course, he did nothing this episode. Nothing! But he’s a young space captain, talkin’ about himself. He’s gonna break your heart and tell the world about it!
All in all, this is a cute episode. The enemies are a little weird, if famous, and feel disconnected from the main plot. But at its heart, this was a solid introduction to the characters’ daily lives.
Famous Guest Star Rating: 5/10 — Luke Skywalker is pretty famous!
Radu Fangirl Rating: 2/10 — Radu does some heavy lifting this episode, but isn’t much of a sexpot.
Radu Woobie Rating: 6/10 — Aww, Radu is sad that his people killed Harlan’s dad. He wants to be friends so badly it embarrasses me fifteen years later.
Currently shipping: Platonically shipping THELMA and Cat. They’re just so cuuuute! They can country line dance together.
The Space Cases rewatch series will be taking next week off for a Middle Grade Monday review. Tune in in two weeks for episode 1.04, “Spung at Heart,” and until then, ZaBaGaBe!