The Survivors Of Zalon

Space AcademyThe young trainees on the man-made planetoid Space Academy go about their observations of the doomed planet Zalon, which may soon explode. Science cadet Adrian spots signs of life on Zalon, which previous surveys of that planet say is impossible. Commander Gampu deems this worthy of further investigation, and orders the Academy cadets to visit Zalon, with Adrian leading the expedition. Unusual crystals are found on the surface, watched over by a young alien child. In keeping with Space Academy procedure, Commander Gampu lifts off and stays in orbit while his students solve their own mysteries on the surface, but an alien entity is following the Seeker at close range, questioning Gampu’s motives and insisting it will protect the child and its own offspring on the planet below with any force it deems necessary.

Space Academywritten by Lynn Barker
directed by Jeffrey Hayden
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself)

Notes: If the nose cone of the Seeker, Space Academy’s shuttle, looks vaguely familiar, you might be a Filmation fan: the expensive-to-build set piece (and other parts of the Seeker) was salvaged from the set of Ark II, the short-lived post-apocalyptic live-action series produced by the makers of Space Academy in 1976. The first episode of that series also featured a guest starring turn from Lost In Space alumnus Jonathan Harris.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Castaways In Time And Space

Space AcademyAs the Space Academy cadets get to know their newest team member, Paul Jerome, Commander Gampu and Laura are investigating a black hole. Chris and Laura try linking their minds, but the link is broken when Gampu’s ship is sucked into the black hole. The last message Laura is able to send to her brother is that Gampu is injured, and the ship is severely damaged. Space Academy launches a calm and orderly search for the missing ship, but Chris is in no mood to take it slow. He takes the Seeker into the black hole to search for Gampu and his sister, even if it means defying orders from Space Academy. But there are three problems: Gampu and Laura have crash-landed on a world guarded by a huge monster, Jerome is a loner who seems reluctant to be part of a team… and nobody’s ever escaped from a black hole before.

Space Academywritten by Samuel A. Peeples
directed by Jeffrey Hayden
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself)

Notes: Strangely enough, although the team seems to know who Paul is in the previous episode, this episode is treated as an introduction. (On the other hand, Paul’s only contact with any of his fellow cadets in the first episode is via radio communications.) Paul defines a black hole as “a blank spot on the celestial charts that reflects no gravitic or magnetic stress lines” – a definition he gives when Adrian says she doesn’t know what a black hole is (some space cadet!) – although certainly a real black hole would have some effect on “gravitic stress lines” due to its immense gravity. Despite the technobabble and just plain bad science, the script is written by Samuel A. Peeples, whose Space Academyprevious genre credits include the second Star Trek pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before, as well as the first episode of Filmation’s animated Star Trek series. The Tic-Tac-Toe game being played by Peepo and Loki was a real live state-of-the-art video game… at least by 1977 standards when this episode was filmed. The game shown was the Tic-Tac-Toe game for the Fairchild Channel F console, a device which first hit the market in 1976 with a price tag of $200; it was also the very first video game to feature a cartridge slot rather than limiting users to a handful of built-in games.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Hide And Seek

Space AcademySpace Academy’s defensive shields are down, so the Seeker has to patrol the space around the Academy to intercept meteors. Loki is given the task of watching sector 5, but Space Academy’s youngest trainee grows bored and takes his eyes off the screen long enough for a large meteor to slip through the perimeter. Under Gampu’s command, the Seeker races to destroy the meteor before it strikes Space Academy, but even when the meteor is wiped out, contact is lost with the Academy. Peepo has to use an override command to open the Seeker’s docking bay, and once inside, Gampu, Loki, Laura and Paul can find no one on board. And then they, too, begin vanishing…

Space Academywritten by Ted Pedersen and Martha Humphreys
directed by Jeffrey Hayden
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Countdown

Space AcademyWhen the Seeker is assigned to a routine mission to clear floating debris from a long-forgotten war from the spacelanes, the crew makes an amazing discovery: part of one of the wrecked ships is intact, and its life support system is still working. Chris, Laura and Loki go aboard to see if there are survivors after all this time, finding a Vegan warrior frozen in a cryogenic container. A thump from outside brings bad news: the Seeker’s movement through the debris zone has reawakened a space mine left intact from the war, and that mine has attached itself to the outer hull and started counting down to destruction. Worse yet, when he is revived, the frozen warrior sets out to neutralize the visitors from Space Academy, since he doesn’t know the war ended centuries ago.

written by Tom Swale
directed by George Tyne
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Space AcademyCooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), George di Cenzo (Roarg), Peepo (himself)

Notes: The war between Earth and the Vegan colony took place 200 years before this episode. Apparently Commander Gampu remembers them well because he’s revealed to be 300 years old. Not nearly as old is the set piece of the cryogenic containers: it was last seen barely a year before this episode, serving an almost identical plot function, in the Ark II episode The Cryogenic Man.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

There’s No Place Like Home

Space AcademySpace Academy is put on high alert when an alien presence is detected trying to get inside. Unknown to Commander Gampu and his students, the alien is capable of changing its shape, and ultimately assumes the guise of a man who claims to be from Loki’s home planet. He claims to know of Loki’s purpose and his destiny, but won’t divulge that information unless Loki obtains a container of a highly volatile chemical for him. Loki remembers his Space Academy training and refuses to steal, but then the stranger who promises to tell the boy where he comes from turns his demands into threats.

written by Martin Roth
directed by George Tyne
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Space AcademyCast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Larry Dobkin (Vicron), Peepo (himself)

Notes: Martin Roth created the previous Filmaction live-action SF-for-kids effort, Ark II, and wrote many of its episodes. Guest star Larry Dobkin (1919-2002) – whose character is named Kane in dialogue but Vicron on screen – appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation as a Klingon, and directed the much-loved Charlie X episode of the original series. He also had an uncredited part in the seminal SF film The Day The Earth Stood Still, and played numerous roles in one of TV’s first-ever science fiction series, Space Patrol.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Rocks Of Janus

Space AcademySpace Academy is put on full alert. Studying a comet with two nuclei, the Academy students must now find a way to keep the comet fragments from colliding with and destroying the Academy. Chris, Paul, Adrian and Laura are sent to land on one of the fragments to sample its surface and find a way to divert or destroy it. But the task becomes much more difficult once on the surface: Adrian’s attempt to cut off a rock sample makes an outcropping of rock “bleed,” and Peepo claims that the comet is communicating with him. Gampu teaches all of his students to respect life, and now they have to choose between the Academy and everyone living there, or the life of a unique, newly-discovered life form – a living planetoid.

written by Samuel A. Peeples
directed by George Tyne
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Space AcademyCast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself)

Notes: Space Academy is a very mobile asteroid: this episode shows, for the first time, that the asteroid upon with the Academy is built can be moved to different locations in space, though it may simply have an irregular orbit through the solar system containing the planet seen at the beginning of the episode (which would explain why, upon learning that the Academy is in imminent danger, our heroes don’t simply move it out of harm’s way.).

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Monkey Business

Space AcademyAn asteroid-based array of mirrors has been knocked out of alignment, depriving an laboratory complex on a neighboring asteroid of heat and energy. Chris is sent to realign the mirrors, but en route he discovers two stowaways: Loki and Jake, a chimpanzee with whom Adrian has been conducting telepathy experiments. When Chris is injured during the intricate repair procedure, there’s no way Loki can safely finish the operation, leaving only Jake – but Adrian’s success in telling the chimp what to do via telepathy hasn’t been encouraging.

Space Academyteleplay by Jack Paritz
story by Marianne Mosner
directed by Jeffrey Hayden
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Arnold S. Soboloff (Prof. Jasper Bolt), Peepo (himself)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Phantom Planet

Space AcademyOn Space Academy, Commander Gampu urges his cadets to monitor the asteroid Proteus IX-B. Instruments and scanners pointed in that direction have spotted a ghostly planet that appears and disappears at random. But Chris and the others have a more serious mission to the asteroid: to eliminate its hazard to the spacelanes, they’re ordered to demolish it with explosives. When the Seeker lands there, the shaking of the ground indicates that the asteroid may be too unstable to plant demolition charges safely. And then Laura and Adrian spot a ghost – one who wants them to follow it through a wall of solid rock.

written by Samuel A. Peeples
directed by Ezra Stone
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself)

Space AcademyNotes: Timed and themed for broadcast just before Halloween 1977, The Phantom Planet is a highly unusual episode of Space Academy, trading in shaky “science” for psychic phenomena (complete with a seance and the Gentry siblings taking a walk on the astral plane). The ghost of Proteus IX-B appears and disappears with a sound effect that would later become the familiar sound of another Saturday morning series: Pac-Man powering up with power pellets. The term “oraco” appears here, and from context it would seem to be analogous to “yes sir” or “I’m on it” (the actual script, included in the Space Academy DVD set, offers no definition). Also ill-defined is the nature of Chris and Laura’s astral walk: if they can do that, why bother to send the Seeker anywhere? And if their physical bodies aren’t at risk, why worry about what’s happened to their spirit forms on the asteroid?

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Planet Of Fire

Space AcademyTee Gar shows off his new invention, the cryotron, which will reduce the temperature of hot, uninhabitable worlds to make them safe for colonization. A small-scale laboratory test yields encouraging results – encouraging enough for Tee Gar to take a break and go on vacation with Loki and Peepo in tow. But Tee Gar also takes the cryotron, intending to perform an unannounced test on a world where no life is known to exist. At the same time, Commander Gampu and the others discover that Tee Gar unwittingly used an unstable element in the cryotron: anything frozen with it will, given time, explode.

written by Susan Dworski and Peter Packer
directed by Arthur H. Nadel
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Space AcademyCast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself), Don Pedro Colley (Dramon)

Notes: Don Pedro Colley appeared in THX-1138, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes and the 1993 direct-to-video feature (and future MST3K fodder) Quest Of The Delta Knights.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Life Begins At 300

Space AcademyA mission to retrieve the precious mineral zolium goes dangerously wrong when the concentration of toxic zolium gas overwhelms Paul’s life support system, leaving him defenseless on the surface of a remote planetoid. Peepo retrieves Paul and returns him to the Seeker, but the effort almost destroys him as well. Back at Space Academy, an self-assured young cadet named Gina insists that she predicted this outcome, since her knowledge of zolium is more up-to-date than Commander Gampu’s. Convinced that he is at fault for putting Paul’s life in danger, Gampu decides to tender his resignation, shocking the students under his command.

written by Jack Paritz
directed by Arthur H. Nadel
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Space AcademyCooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself), Paula Wagner (Gina Corey)

Notes: Paula Wagner, this episode’s special guest star, only made two filmed appearances as an actress, and this is one of them. She’s better known now as a high-powered producer and one of the co-owners of United Artists, along with Tom Cruise. She’s produced numerous films that Cruise has starred in, including Mission: Impossible, War Of The Worlds, The Last Samurai, and Vanilla Sky.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Cheat

Space AcademyA rare professional argument arises between Chris Gentry and another command cadet, Matt Prentiss. Chris argues that Matt’s behavior on their previous assignment put lives at risk, while Matt claims Chris failed to follow his orders. The hearing presided over by Commander Gampu is cut short by an emergency: an unmanned remote power station on an asteroid has malfunctioned, which threatens all of nearby space with a deadly ion storm. Gampu sends the cadets on a high-risk mission to repair the station’s equipment, and puts Matt Prentiss in charge over Chris’ objections. But when Matt issues orders that puts the team’s lives in jeopardy, will Chris stand by and respect the chain of command, or try to take charge?

written by Robert Specht
directed by George Tyne
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself), John Berwick (Matt Prentiss)

Space AcademyNotes: The science in this episode is simply off-the-scale bad. The concept of a remote facility beaming power to a planetary body has actually been studied in some depth, but the notion that it could “cause an ion storm” is far-fetched to say the least. And then there’s that bit about crashing an asteroid into another asteroid, resulting in the creation of a new star – making The Cheat a likely contender for the most scientifically inaccurate episode in Space Academy’s brief run. This is also one of very few epiosdes to show Tee Gar performing a martial arts feat, a slightly stereotypical element which was written into the character in the series bible but seldom exploited by the show’s scriptwriters.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

My Favorite Marcia

Space AcademyThe Seeker sets out to observe a white dwarf star nearing its supernova stage, but the slightly risky mission becomes truly dangerouns when a distress signal is detected on a world perilously close to the soon-to-explode star. The Seeker goes to assist, finding an automated distress beacon from a ship Gampu knows all too well – his old rival (and old flame), prospector Marcia Giddings, has been looking for precious minerals here. Worse yet, Loki and Peepo defy orders to stay put on Space Academy, and have stowed away aboard the Seeker. They find Marcia before Gampu does, discovering that she’s been trapped in this precarious situation by a huge robot. Marcia proposes fighting robot with robot, using Peepo to free herself.

written by Ted Pedersen and Martha Humphreys
directed by Jeffrey Hayden
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Space AcademyCast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Dena Dietrich (Marcia Giddings), Peepo (himself)

Notes: The “galactic distress beacon” siren heard in Academy Control is the same sound effect Filmation used in the animated Star Trek series. The venerable Robbie The Robot prop/costume from Forbidden Planet makes an appearance (having appeared in an early episode of Filmation’s previous live-action SF series, Ark II, a year before), this time with a different head than is usually seen on the prop.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Space Hookey

Space AcademyLoki, looking for any way to avoid what he considers to be boring classes, dares Peepo to rebel and play hookey. In response to the dare, Peepo imitates Commander Gampu’s voice and grants launch clearance for the Seeker, with the two truants aboard. They investigate a comet that seems to be following the Seeker, ignoring Gampu’s orders to return to Space Academy, where two non-corporeal entities get into Loki’s body and return with him. Just as Gampu prepares to dress down his youngest cadet, one of the entities occupies Gampu’s body, and the commander begins issuing irrational orders, namely changing Space Academy’s position and putting it in violation of a volatile territorial peace treaty…

Space Academyteleplay by Samuel A. Peeples
story by Howard Rayfiel and Samuel A. Peeples
directed by Jeffrey Hayden
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Peepo (himself)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Star Legend

Space AcademyA course correction to avoid a piece of fast-moving space junk takes the Seeker into a legendary area of space called the Triangle, where Chris and Paul lose contact with Space Academy. A threatening message is received, though the face on the screen is obviously a mask, and the Seeker is propelled back out of the Triangle. Commander Gampu says this sequence of events has played out before, but downplays the legend of the mysterious Captain Rampo, who supposedly saves ships that drift into the Triangle. Eager to debunk the myth, Gampu takes Space Academy itself into the Triangle. The find the vast starship which, as legend has it, is piloted by Captain Rampo, and they find the man himself inside, claiming to be over a thousand years old. But with such a powerful ship, what’s keeping Rampo in the Triangle?

written by Samuel A. Peeples
directed by Ezra Stone
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Space AcademyCast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Howard Morris (Captain Rampo), Peepo (himself)

Notes: Filmation digs into its own library of in-house music for this episode’s more-dramatic-than-usual soundtrack – music which will be familiar to anyone who watched Filmation’s animated version of Star Trek. Clever re-use of the Space Academy asteroid model (under green lighting) and its sets helped to keep this episode’s budget down. We learn here that a single Seeker could destroy a planetoid the size of Space Academy, provided the planetoid’s shields are down.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Johnny Sunseed

Space AcademyAs the Space Academy cadets are growing accustomed to a new artificially grown vegetable in their meals, Commander Gampu tensely awaits an inspection from someone who he knows would love nothing more than to shut the Academy down: his brother, Johnny Sunseed. With a reputation as an anti-technology crusader, Sunseed is unimpressed with the Academy, and is annoyed that Gampu has assigned Peepo to serve as his tour guide. An outbreak of an unknown condition with intoxicating effects sweeps through the Academy, and Sunseed is quick to pounce on any sign that things aren’t running smoothly.

written by Don Heckman
directed by Ezra Stone
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Space AcademyCast: Jonathan Harris (Commander Gampu), Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura), Ric Carrott (Chris), Ty Henderson (Paul), Maggie Cooper (Adrian), Brian Tochi (Tee Gar), Eric Greene (Loki), Dallas McKennon (Johnny Sunseed), Peepo (himself)

Notes: Although it seems as though Johnny Sunseed is being set up as a new regular at Space Academy, this is the show’s final episode; plans were already underway, in the wake of Star Wars‘ smash success earlier in the year, to use the Space Academy sets, props and models for a more action-adventure-oriented show.

LogBook entry by Earl Green