Story: As Jason, Professor Parsafoot and the crew of Star Command deal with the arrival of a new leader, Commander Stone , an ancient evil has returned to the Galaxy. But Dracos, Galactic Dictator from the distant past, isn’t the only surprise in store, as Jason comes across Samantha, a mysterious alien whose origins and motivations are unclear.
Review: For those of you unfamiliar with Jason of Star Command, it was a Saturday morning live-action sci-fi show by renowned production company Filmation. Spun off from (and replacing) their existing show, Space Academy, Jason took on a more serious tone and tried to capture some of the excitement and spectacle of a little film that had been released the previous year, Star Wars. The show was surprisingly good, with special effects far and above anything else seen on TV in 1978. (They honestly put Space: 1999 to shame in that department.) After a season as a fifteen-minute segment on Tarzan and the Super 7, the show was upgraded to a full half-hour standalone show. “Mission to the Stars” is primarily an adaptation of the first few episodes of the second season. But even though it follows the plot fairly closely, it fails to capture the spirit of the show.
Of course, part of that can be blamed on the fact that the book is a slight ninty-five pages long and intended for young readers. But that doesn’t explain why the author seems to have missed fundamental aspects of the show. For instance, he takes a strange stand on the subject of aliens. He specifically devotes significant passages of the book to mentioning Jason and Star Command’s mistrust of aliens (and generally portrays them as universally evil). Hardly an attitude one expects from children’s fare. This is especially odd given the fact that the Commander of Star Command himself is a blue-skinned alien. (Shades of Grand Admiral Thrawn?)
It is also strange that Sobol chooses to portray Dracos as a being from Star Command’s distant past. Although his appearance at the beginning of the second season is a surprise, it is so because Jason believed he had defeated Dracos at the end of season one. He was never portrayed as an ancient evil and it doesn’t really fit him very well. Dracos works best as an old fashioned would-be dictator, as he was on the show.
But the biggest sin of “Mission to the Stars” is the fact that it is boring. In my opinion, the longer episodes of the second season are less exciting than the first season, anyway. Add to that a drab writing style and the whole thing comes off as far too amateurish even to recommend to young kids.
You may have noticed that this book is “Jason of Star Command 1“. But what of “2“? Well, there never was one. “Mission to the Stars” is one of the very few Jason of Star Command collectibles ever created. Although Filmation’s nature as a small, independant production company meant they could shift from Space Academy to Jason of Star Command at practically the drop of a hat, it must have also meant that it was difficult to get merchandising put together in a timely manner (or at all). No toys, no comics. Virtually nothing. It’s too bad that “Mission to the Stars” is practically the alpha and omega of Jason of Star Command materials. The show deserved better.
Author: Ken Sobol
Publisher: Xerox Education Publications