Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Race Against Time Experiment

Sci-Fi on TV for the week of February 20 - 26, 1955, (that I can get my hands on) is a single episode of Flash Gordon. They changed the opening character intros a little. I must have missed something because they are now using a new rocket that looks like the original, called the Sky Flash II. Something I haven't mentioned before, even though it's really bizarre, is the parrot Flash Gordon keeps on his ship. He isn't on this new one now. I've gotta find that missing episode from yesterday.

Flash Gordon and the Race Against Time- I'm getting used to the opening narration on each episode, as it tends to fill in the blanks the writers won't bother to cover in the main story. This episode starts to get into the geopolitical (galacti-politcial?) of the Milky Way in 3063 AD. The Galaxy Bureau of Investigation keeps the peace with member worlds by hiding secret weapons. I think the implication is if a planet steps out of bounds the GBI can wipe them out. However, if a majority of the member worlds want to pull out of the treaty, the GBI has to share its state secrets with all planets. There apparently has been a large scale war between much of the galaxy in the past, and the creation of the GBI helped broker a peace. This would explain more of the backstory to The Lure of Light as well (just not the science). Mars wants to go back to war and has been convincing others to join. Most member planets do what Earth does, so the leadership of Mars uses some underworld contacts to intercept Earth's representative on his way to the conference. When the Sky Flash II, with Flash, Dale, and the Earth Rep, are near Epsilon 30, they are hit with a planetary ray that shuts down its fusion engines. With horrible special effects, Flash manages to land near the people responsible, capture them and steal their ship. They make it to the conference in time as Earth wants to stay with the GBI, thus saving the galaxy from another war.

Not a bad episode only marred by the Sky Flash II's crash on Epsilon 30. During the landing Flash tells the Earth Rep to strap in. As the bridge is shaking he staggers to an equipment locker, finds some belt buckles and ties himself to the floor of the bridge. Really undignified. The director did a really good job of filming a shaky bridge that I actually think might have been on gimbals.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Rains of Death Experiment

Sci-Fi on TV for the week of February 13 - 19, 1955, is only a single episode of Flash Gordon. My Time DVR once again failed to grab this piece of Sci-Fi TV, but odds are it would have infuriated my Science Bone. Here what Wikipedia can tell you about it:

The Rains of Death- "The galaxy is threatened by torrential rains and flooding. Zarkov suspects the rains are a plot and the crew sets out to foil it."

That about says. The galaxy can't rain on planets, unless it's a metaphor for something. I want to watch it now, just to see how aggravated I'll become.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Lure of Light Experiment

Sci-Fi on TV for the week of February 6 - 12, 1955, is only a single episode of Flash Gordon. I actually have this episode from a set of DVDs called "Classic Sci-Fi TV". It has 14 episodes of Flash Gordon, and 136 episodes of other things you've probably never heard of. On with the review:

The Lure of Light- An interesting story that shows a complete lack of understanding about the principles of space travel. I'm accepting for the moment that everyone travels in rockets with flame shooting out the back. This allows them to travel to the stars in what I have to pretend is a chemical reaction-based FTL Drive. At least Rocky Jones was constantly refueling and he only left the solar system after acquiring new engine technology. The Sky Flash is even said to go to other galaxies without going faster than the speed of light. A scientist has invented a technique for faster-than-light travel. He wants to test it on the Sky Flash with Flash aboard. There is even a hint of Flash being from the 20th century as he talks about the breaking of the sound barrier. No one knows what will happen to a human that surpasses the speed limit. There's a neat animation the scientist shows as a rocket is stretched to infinity then snaps back, mirroring a little of what we'll see of Warp Drive in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Galactic Bureau of Investigation won't allow Flash to risk his life, but some evil despot queen of planet Diana kidnaps Dale Arden, because she also knows how to use a special ore (I think that's what it is) to modify rockets. Apparently there is a theory that is not well supported that says if you go faster than 186,000 miles per second time will go backwards. The Queen of Diana lost a great war some time ago and wishes the technology to send her back in time and be victorious. Flash also thinks this might happen and knows the queen will kill Dale for the formula. The Sky Flash arrives too late on Diana, with Dale tortured to death. Flash uses his ship, now outfitted with the drive, and breaks the Light Barrier, going back in time far enough to save Dale. Mission accomplished.

I'm still hung up on how the writers never considered how far stars are from each other and that they weren't using the staple of space opera technology, an FTL Drive. But, we are still a couple years from Sputnik so maybe I should give them a break. Nah.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Mission to Masca Experiment

Much of the free time I have used to watch lots of Sci-Fi TV shows has come to an end. I will however change my viewing habits from a months worth of TV every day to one week per day. Today, which is the birthday of Star Trek way back in 1966, I will be covering the week of January 30 thru February 5, 1955. The only show for the week is Flash Gordon and my Temporal DVR didn't record it, but here is what I can dig up:

Mission to Masca- "Flash and company travel to Masca, a silent planet."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Sound That Walked Experiment

January, 1955, at the beginning of the new year had two new Flash Gordon episodes. I have neither, so here is what my Temporal DVR missed:

The Sound Gun- "The Sky Flash falls under attack by a powerful sonic weapon."

The Weapon That Walked- "The GBI crew faces a woman who can turn humans to stone with a single look."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Return of 1984 Experiment

Five new episodes of Flash Gordon debut during December, 1954. Unfortunately (or not) I only have one of them. In England, a live broadcast on BBC of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. This is one of Peter Cushing's first major roles. It first aired on December 12th, but not recorded. The version I have is from the December 16th live broadcast that was recorded on 35mm. I love the fact that Britain is essential doing plays for TV. If you see it great, if not, we didn't really record it, so sorry. This is how early TV was. America was slowly moving away from it to shows they could syndicate, but England at the time was still doing stuff live. See my previous rant about losing The Quatermass Experiment. Finally, the Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was released in theaters. Captain Nemo is fantastic, the Giant Squid battle was epic, and the song & dance number between Kirk Douglas and a seal was really uncomfortable. This movie is one of the great ideas of Science Fiction, a man at war with the world for being at war. Does it need mentioning he has a nuclear submarine to hunt the enemies of civilization? The success of the Disney version has never been replicated and I think is due for an update. The Black Hole is very close in mood and that was also made by Disney.

The Great Secret- I blame my Temporal DVR for missing this one: "Zarkov's experiments to return life to dead worlds are endangered."

Return of the Androids- I take some liberties with names in this episode, it's hard to hear what the characters are saying. 400 years before "present day", King Lazarene of Scipio locks away the power to use androids, because he feels it makes humans lazy. There are three secrets to the resurrection of androids, and each is held by a different member of the current Galaxy Bureau of Investigation, Commander Richards knows where the android vaults are (Earth, Saturn, Uranus, Livy, Scipio, Minos, Plius, Helio), Dr. Zarkov knows what the operation frequency to tune them to (Sign Omega Sign Omega Cosign Epsilon), and Flash knows where the power source is (under a mountain range on Scipio). Quenn Thubia of Scipio has made a pact with Trydorn, of the renegade planet Petura. The two will learn how to activate all the androids and take over the galaxy. Flash holds the key, and after torturing Dale Arden by spinning her around really fast on a table, he gives that key up. Androids are activated on all the vault planets, but Flash manages to get to the Cobalt Core power source and destroy, permanently destroying all the androids in the galaxy. An okay episode marred by the fact the "androids" were just actors in radiation gear. They even have a stiff walk which is horrendous.

Nineteen Eighty-Four- This is the most subversive and terrifying dystopian future story ever told. Acted out live from the BBC somehow makes it even scarier. You can see that V for Vendetta was drinking from this well. The long scenes lend a lot of authenticity to the TV movie as well.

A Man is slowly turning against a dominant and controlled society of Big Brother. Every moment of every day tries his resolve to hide his disdain for the world; a disdain brought on by being an censor of information. Knowing there are lies all about and the people who feed on them because there is nothing else, drives him to move against the system and fall in love. No one fights the system for long and he is taken to the Ministry of Love, to be tortured. He eventually converts to the party line and turns in his lover, who also turns him in when she is tortured. Both go back to fulfilling their roles in controlled, mind-slave society.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is the blueprint any clear-thinking individual should hold their government up to and hope nothing lines up. The ability to constantly monitor everyone without a clear idea who that might be, the constant push to watch your neighbors and countrymen in case their ideals start to change, a new form of language that limits the mind, the ability for truth to be edited in such a way that everyone accepts it with blind faith, a constant war with no end in sight but a clear desire to continue, propaganda aimed to insite hatred against people that may not exist, children brought up to hate the old and destroy what they fear, torture to realign ideology, etc. As a geek I joke about Sky Net and Hal 9000 destroying the human future, but this story is already happening in so many ways. Information can change on the internet with a blink of an eye. Mobile phones can do so much to track our movements and communications; it just takes flipping a switch for it to become threat. Texting has become a fascinating shorthand for thought that keeps our brains thinking in short phrases and useless acronyms. Read the book, watch the movies, educate yourself on this story because it is more powerful than you think, a certainly more relevant. It makes me wish for a alien invasion just to slow things down.

The Frightened King- My Temporal DVR missed this one, too: "Flash and his GBI colleagues protect the king of the planet Xerxes, who is being plagued by terrible phantoms."

The Deadly Deception- Temporal DVR failed again: "A robot loaded with atomic bombs is launched into space. Flash must retrieve it before it's too late." (I seem to recall this plot from Star Trek: Voyager)

Duel Against Darkness- My Temporal DVR is useless this month: "A planet whose culture resembles the Middle Ages is ruled by a despotic magician. Can Flash, Dale and Zarkov end his evil reign?"

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Trial of Akim the Claim of Death Experiment

November, 1954, is the end of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, but Flash Gordon continues on, with four new episodes. As before if I don't have an episode I will just include the WikiPedia description. I have read much debate on the internet about the proper viewing order of the Rocky Jones story arcs. I watched them all in "air date" order, not "production" order, and I found nothing contradictory, so I endorse my viewing order. A Sci-Fi motion picture came out this month that I unfortunately don't have, Target Earth. I think the title says it all. Robots attack Chicago and a small group of humans, left after an evacuation, try to survive. Sounds like Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

The Trial of Rocky Jones, part I- Rocky, Biff, Vena and Bobby are on their way to Ankapore (last seen in Rocky's Odyssey), a subterranean world for those wanting to live off the grid. Some of Rocky's enemies have been carving out a life for themselves, because there is no extradition treaty there. After the Silver Moon lands, they visit the leader, La Volga, who tells them to eat at the Ankapore Cafe. While eating they see Griff, Dr. Reno, and Rudy DiMarco, all on their wanted list. Pinto Vortando has become a beggar on the streets, who Rocky gives a medal for helping out at the end of The Cold Sun. It is learned that the territorial limits of Ankapore end at the 1000 mile limit, anyone outside of it can be arrested by the Space Rangers. Later, DiMarco gets Vortando drunk, and beats him up outside of City Cave. Rocky happens by to save him. While Rocky and DiMarco fight, Griff takes Vortando away at gun point. Guards are called and DiMarco has Rocky arrested for assault and attempted murder. Since Vortando is out of the picture, La Volga has Rocky thrown in prison awaiting a trial. The Silver Moon crew are confined to their ship without any explanation. Someone pretending to be with Vortando helps break Rocky out, but it was just a trap for Griff to have his men beat the piss out of Rocky. Unconscious, they put him in Griff's rocket, YC47, and set him up for Grand Theft Rocket Ship. La Volga and Griff chase after him, and as Rocky wakes up, he is re-arrested. Back on Ankapore a trial starts with all the cards stacked against Rocky, and his crew (Biff, Vena, Bobby) are present as witnesses. TO BE CONTINUED. The legal system of Ankapore is terrible, but it is the equivalent of Tortuga, just a lot less drinking and violence. It's no wonder they hate Space Rangers.

Akim the Terrible- A narrator explains Charom (and especially its capital city Trantum) is a lawless planet run by Akim (who looks like a glitter Gumby). It is so lawless there are cops that arrest you for doing good. In other words, not a well thought out plot. The Galactic Bureau of Investigation sends an agent, Flash's best friend from his training days. The agent is captured and mind controlled into killing Flash. Flash is at GBI headquarters in his office when the assassination attempt occurs. Flash's office has a giant map of star systems across two walls, a schematic for the Sky Flash and a screen mounted high in a corner. Dale happens by to warn Flash and they capture the agent. Dr. Zarkov determines the agent to be suffering from mind control and possible lobotomy. He is able to do this with a portable scanner sending images to Flash's screen. Flash and Dale are ordered to have their hair cut off, a Selenite Band implanted in their heads and for them to wear wigs. They head to Charom after their hair styling and storm Akim's throne room. They are immediately captured and placed in the mind control machine. It is eventually explained that it only works two weeks. This is why police look for people, so they can be re-mind controlled. Flash and Dale pretend to be under the influence, learn all they can, then stun everyone in sight. They successfully arrest Akim. I like the stun guns. They actually freeze the target in place. I don't think it has a kill setting. Of note are actually pistols used by some of the people in the story. Not everyone has Stunners or Ray-Guns. The effects of rocket travel are improved from the pilot.

The Trial of Rocky Jones, part II- The biggest crime I can think of in a TV series is to have a "clip show". It frees up the writers to not actually have to write. You can tell this is the beginning of the end. Biff is appointed Defense Attorney and Dr. Reno is Prosecution. Defense calls Pinto Vortando to make a point he's missing. Then some technical legal stuff about off-worlders being able to call any witness that can add substance to a trial. As you can guess the witnesses called all retell a story from the past, including flashbacks. Nothing is resolved and the trial ends for the day. There is a strange, uncomfortable sub-plot about La Volga's daughter, Jonica (actress Melinda Plowman is 13), being attracted to DiMarco and possible marriage. He's been going along with it for now. After everyone leaves the court Bobby talks to Jonica about how cool he really is and tells more stories of Rocky (with clips and flashbacks). DiMarco interrupts and sees that Bobby is trying to influence La Volga through his daughter. Rocket YC47, commanded by Zandorf (Griff's right-hand man) , is on its way to Negato to hide Pinto Vortando, locked up in the cargo bay. They have to fuel at a space station run by Ranger Clark. Vortando escapes with the help of Clark, explaining to him that Rocky needs help. Biff visits Rocky in prison to say tomorrow is a new day. TO BE CONTINUED.

The Claim Jumpers- The narrator explains that in the future, gold miners spread to Mars, Venus and even the rings of Jupiter. I think they meant Saturn, but Voyager 2 eventually discovers rings around Jupiter in 1979 (25 years later). Gamma Oil is discovered on Venus, and some kind of gas is found in Jupiter's rings. After the space history lesson an APB is put out by GBI for a space pirate ship, run by Fred and Hans. The Sky Flash, with Flash and Dale, land on a radioactive planet and find the pirates by accident. While Flash is out putting an Automatic Bloodhound (a tracking device) on the ship, Fred and Hans board the Sky Flash, tie up Dale and ambush Flash. After the pirates leave, GBI sends out rockets Space Ghost, Starduster and Meteor, to begin searching for them. Dale gets loose, and helps Flash regain consciousness. They blast off for space and follow the trail. Planetary Pete, and his daughter Marie, radio in a claim about something found on the planetoid Maios [sic]. The pirates hear this and land on Maios to steal the claim. The Sky Flash follows them, but Zarkov at headquarters tells Flash not to move in because they need to follow the pirates to their hidden base. Flash realizes their going to kill Pete and Marie, jumps the gun and arrests them on the spot. It turns out one of the other three ships found his hidden base and the pirate operation is shut down.

The Trial of Rocky Jones, part III- Series finale. The "clip show" continues. Vortando is called up as a witness for the defense, while Clark is called as a witness for the prosecution, to ruin Vortando's character. This back and forth goes on for a while. Finally La Volga is ready to make a verdict, but an earthquake (ankaporequake?) hits, devastating the subterranean culture. Dr. Reno, DiMarco and Griff use the distraction as an excuse to escape while Rocky helps La Volga who is trapped under a column. Once the leader is safe Rocky tries to stop the other three and some things happen (i.e. people getting locked up and lots of fist fighting), but nobody gets off the planet. Once the quake stops all the space port ceilings have collapsed, no one can leave. Rocky sits in the Silver Moon trying to call for help and finally raises Drake and Mayberry, who happen to be on their way to Ankapore. They have one Trotanic Missile on board. They fire it and Rocky uses a magnetic tractor beam to direct it. An opening is made and Drake offers assistance to the people of Ankapore. La Volga declares his planet will no longer be a haven for pirates, joins the United Worlds of the Solar System, and signs an extradition treaty for the capture of Griff, DiMarco and Reno. THE END. I really like the characters and the attention to internal details even it it flies in the face of science as it is known today. I would totally buy this series if it was completely restored.

The Dancing Death- My Temproal DVR did not record this one: "The GBI team is held captive in a vibrational device that leads people to commit suicide."

The Breath of Death- Flash Gordon feels like a universe I just stepped into without knowing the politics or geography or anything. I like the stories, because the characters are generally likeable, but they throw a lot at you sometimes without giving you time to digest information, then you miss something. Once again this is an issue with the writers and their desire to narrate everything. One other problem I have is that often times I can't understand the dialog. That goes to the quality of the recording, but this was mostly produced in Germany. Other than the main characters, all the supporting actors are German that are just acting in English. When the start to emote or yell, I know it's in English, but it sounds German and I can't make sense of the technobabble. I love technobabble. Gemini is a prison planet for hardened criminals on the edge of civilized space. Flash has to make a delivery with Dale because she can fix a water purifier for them. One of the most dangerous murderers in the galaxy, wearing the number 34, hates Flash for catching him. 34 sees a moment to escape and takes it, sneaking aboard the Sky Flash. Flash's ship is the most advanced rocket in the "Universe" (read "Galaxy" due to writer misunderstanding of astronomy). After they blast off for 34 makes his move, capturing Flash and Dale. By this point Gemeni knows they have an escaped prisoner and inform GBI who sends Zarko and their boss out to hunt them down and destroy the Sky Flash. This is to keep it out of enemy hands. 34 wants to go to his hideout of Leo, but they need fuel from Ariel first. Ariel was the deadliest atmosphere in the Galaxy (I think Venus' atmosphere is way more deadly and toxic). I don't know how they quantify that since you can go outside without a space helmet, you just have to hold our breath. The Sky Flash lands and 34 has Flash help him run outside to grab fuel. Apparently the Sky Flash doesn't have space helmets. On a space ship? Really? No space suits or anything? These writers suck. A couple criminals get word 34 is on the loose and head to Ariel knowing about the fuel situation. They are afraid of 34 and want him dead. Zarkov is headed to Ariel, as well. Suddenly Flash beats up 34 right when the two criminals shoot him from their rocket. Zarkov sees this and shoots that rocket down. Lots of shooting happens, all the appropriate people die. Flash gets the fuel and they blast off back to GBI headquarters. In the future all prison guards are stupid, there is no space flight protocols about safety equipment, and no one thinks to inspect ships for prisoners on a prison planet.

The Flash Gordon Rocky Jones Experiment

There's a new show in town, that began in October of 1954. Flash Gordon, a joint American, German and French series (no subtitles, all in English). 39 episodes were broadcast between 1954 and 1955, but I could only get a hold of 14 of them. For the rest I will just say that my Temporal DVR failed to record. I will fill in the blanks on Flash Gordon by providing the Wikipedia description of the episode. I want companies to know that I am willing to trade actual money for their TV shows. I'm not going to bit-torrent their stuff, even though it is probably Public Domain by this point. There is also more Rocky Jones, Space Ranger as the series is gearing up to end.

Flash Gordon and the Planet of Death- If I were a kid of the '50s I'm sure I would have been versed in all things Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Captain Video, Commando Cody and Rocky Jones. However I am not. This is not an origin story. Maybe I was supposed to have at least seen the theatrical serials. I was a little lost, but here's what I got out of it. The three principle characters are Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov, and their ship is the Sky Flash. They answer to Commander Richards of the Galactic Bureau of Investigation. Zarkov wants to test a new anti-gravity device on the uninhabited planet of Tarset, but a scientific group who investigated it was all killed off except for one person. Flash, Dale and Zarkov interrogate the survivor who tells a tale of a cursed statue that shines a light, killing anyone it sees. They all head to Tarset on the Sky Flash, and find the dead bodies and the statue in some ruins. The light comes on and Flash ends up hiding with the scientist, who he immediately accuses of lying. They escape a wall crushing trap while Dale and Zarkov are captured by the leader of planet Ebon. Flash learns that Ebon wants to use Tarset as a forward base for attacking Earth. Ebon's leader explains the eye is really a paralysis ray, and tries to torture Dale with it. Flash intervenes and the lone-survivor scientist sacrifices his life so they could escape and stop the people of Ebon. Something like that. My DVD copy is really hard to understand some of the dialog. I couldn't figure out anyone's names. The Sky Flash seems to drift sideways in special effects shots because the FX guys don't know how to shoot space scenes yet. Rocky Jones does a much better job. Not much science to butcher, but the leader of Ebon does describe how his Paralysis Ray excruciatingly effects the human body.

Vena and the Darnamo- Wow, this is not a good episode. Rocky, Biff, Vena and Bobby head for the planet Mandora, an insignificant speck of a place that brings fear to those that land on it. Why does Rocky want to go there? Because he met a smuggler on Apollo Minor who found it by accident, and as proof, gave Rocky an umbrella with a dog headed handle, but made in Cincinnati. They go to this lush tropical planet and are immediately set upon by a German Shepherd. It's injured and Vena helps it. Rocky realizes this whole thing was dumb idea, puts the umbrella back in the ship, but changes his mind and decides to explore just to make a full report to Secretary Drake. They find a dog headed totem and get attacked by sling-shot wielding natives, that howl to communicate. They run back to the ship, but the umbrella is missing and there is noise on the bridge. Rocky rushes in and encounters an old lady, Ms. Pilkington, who wants her umbrella back. They go to her house for tea and learn she comes from a long line of explorers who left Earth in a Sky Wagon and landed on Mandora. Something to do with being inspired by Jules Verne. She gave the natives sling shots and they revere her as a god, but fear her dog, which they refer to as Darnamo. Everything suddenly becomes a Pioneer vs. Indian story as the natives attack, kidnap Vena in her sleep and prepare to sacrifice her. Darnamo saves her by attacking the locals and they all escape Mandora, leaving the old lady behind who just wishes to be a god. THE END. The final stand alone episode. They never explain much of how her family built this house on the planet, and she seems to live as if she can go down to the country store and get more laundry detergent or something. Maybe there is more to this planet than meets the eye, but I think the writers were superficially trying to make a western out of a space western.

Escape into Time- I don't have this one so here is what is known: "Flash and Zarkov must rescue Dale from a mad criminal who seeks to kidnap her with his time machine."

Out of This World, part I- The uninhabited planet Hermes has been pulled out if its orbit and flung into deep space by an unknown force (there's even a sparkle trail). It turns out Hermes is from Earth's solar system (don't ask me where). Professor Mayberry uses some star charts and traces the magnetic effect to Rigalio, in the Alpha Centauri system. It has two moons that, when lined up just right, creates an amplified magnetic beam. In 30 days that event will line up with the Earth. To make matters worse, a parachute of unknown material is found on the East Coast. There are enemy troops on Earth. Rocky gets back to Earth and is brought up to speed. The plan: to set up a base of operations on Herculon (just like Inferno in Space), then launch to Rigalio to visit their ruler, Nizam. To make matters even more worserer, Juliandra is tricked by her twin evil sister Noviandra, who she locked in a secret room of the palace. Her father, Barbaro, used to be Herculon's leader and ran the war with the United Worlds. He had two daughters, Juliandra and Noviandra. When Barbaro lost power, Juliandra locked up her sister and took over Herculon with an agenda for good. But now Juliandra is locked up with her sister pretending to be her. On Earth, Rocky catches a Rigalian infiltrator (who wears a turban), and captures him, while two of his compatriots steal YN2, Secretary Drake's personal rocket. They head for station AW3, take it over and wait for further instructions. Rocky, Biff, Vena and Mayberry head to Herculon. They get jumped by a flying saucer, leaving no doubt that a more advanced culture is causing trouble (the same one from Blast Off). Rocky barely gets a chance to respond, before it zips away at high speed. On arrival at Herculon they are arrested by the fake Juliandra and Biff ordered back into Herculon service. After changing uniforms he comes across the hidden room and saves Juliandra. They recapture Noviandra and the real Juliandra releases the crew of the Silver Moon. Rocky is furious that he was invited to help save Earth, then thrown in prison. Juliandra wants to keep everything secret and just tells him she's a woman and that means she does random things. With Mayberry in tow, they head back to Silver Moon, all the treaties with Herculon signed, and blast back into space, leaving behind Biff, Vena and Bobby. In orbit they get a call from Ranger Clark on AW3 that Drake wants to see them there. Rocky sets course. TO BE CONTINUED. All communications between ship and shore have all been by Astrophone, which is essentially a corded handset. Every race does this, just a different style of microphone. Regalians actually use wireless, handheld radios which almost look like late '80s cell phones. These can directly talk to space and even the home world in real time, orbiting a different star. I really like that the writers got back to the race of people that made the saucer. On the bad side, the Regalian infiltrators stand out stupidly with their turbans. When they steal Drake's ship he never alerts the Space Rangers, so Clark on AW3 blindly lets them land (you'd think there was a special IFF for the Secretary of Space Affairs). He then loses the station. Space Ranger security is terrible.

The Electro Man- I don't have this one either: "Flash and company square off against the Electro Man, a mysterious deity who reigns over a planet where all life is made of metal."

Out of This World, part II- More interstellar running around. The message to see Drake at AW3 is a ruse to call the Silver Moon into the perfect ambush spot for the saucer. Rocky comes up with a good strategy and Mayberry makes the kill. Saucer destroyed! They realize AW3 is a trap, but Rocky docks anyway. He lets himself get captured so he'll be taken to Regalio, his plan all along. The Regalians destroy station AW3 after leaving, but Clark gets away in the Silver Moon. On Regalio, Rocky and Mayberry start to negotiate with Nizam. Regalio never cracked the secret of the atom but they have learned a lot about magnetism. Mayberry offers a truce where there share the secrets of each worlds, mastery over magnetism for the mystery of nuclear fission. Nizam likes what they have to offer but warns them about crossing him. Then then get a tour of the Magnetorium, where two rods have been put through the planet to the core, each one positive and negative. This releases an energy which can be fine tuned to send to any location and power a ship or a factory. But, there is an energy leak at the source so a Robot manages the Magnetorium. When they channel energy into their two moons it sends a heavy attractive magnetic beam that can pull a planet out of its orbit. This is what they threaten Earth with, but no explanation why. Juliandra doesn't realize Rocky had a plan to get captured so makes her own rescue mission. Nizam wants to marry her so she uses this to her advantage. She takes, Biff, Vena and Bobby in her ship to Regalio and courts Nizam. While he's distracted Biff sneaks off to locate Rocky and Mayberry. Juliandra is able to drug Nizam so he doesn't realize Rocky and Biff are beating up every guard he has. They finally get to Juliandra's rocket and take off, but Rocky is still thinking about the Magnetorium, the source of all power. TO BE CONTINUED. Magnetic science isn't great here, but I like what the writers have come up with. I wonder if they know Rocky has one of their saucers. I like the politics, again, but I wanted to see if Rocky could actually negotiate a cease fire. Plus, the saucers have a tactical weakness the Space Rangers can exploit. Think of it as a Top Gun maneuver in space.

The Vengeance of Rabeed- Don't got this one neither: "The mad Rabeed returns after 100 years in exile with plans to destroy the galaxy. It is up to Flash, Dale and Zarkov to stop his evil scheme."

Out of This World, part III- Rocky and friends get back to Herculon. For some plot driven reason Juliandra gives Bobby her special "magic" ring and tells him to pace around the palace with it. Noviandra succeeds in another escape attempt, locking Juliandra and Theba (her caretaker) in another chamber. Once again she posses as Suzerain Juliandra and calls Nizem (I never figured out if that is his name or a title). Nizem wants nothing to do with her after the spiking of his drink. She offers a new truce between them and a gift of Rocky and Mayberry. He accepts. She orders the two locked up in her ship and tells Biff to pilot for her. He's a little suspicious. After they leave Drake arrives but no one has seen Rocky or Mayberry. Nobody can find either one, but Bobby happens down the forbidden corridor where the ring opens a secret entrance. In there he saves Juliandra and Theba, allowing the Suzerain to tell the truth about her rule. On arrival at Regalio, Noviandra sweet talks Nizem, but he soon realizes she isn't the real Juliandra. He had tried to make a deal with Barbaro once, so Noviandra is hoping to take him up on it. He orders them locked up, but she and Biff escape. Noviandra even knifes a guard, Tor, in the heart to escape. Wow. She runs to the Magnetorium and lets the Robot out. All power is lost and the Robot goes on a killing spree. He breaks some necks and spines of Nizem, two of his guards and finally Noviandra, herself. When power was lost Rocky and Mayberry escaped (their door needed power) and they found some explosives. At the Magnetorium Rocky puts explosives all around when the Robot returns. He manage to destroy the Robot and blow up the place. Escaping into space, mourning over the loss of such powerful technology, they head for Herculon again. THE END. The actress who played both Juliandra and Noviandra, Ann Robinson, did a good job of separating their personalities. One had a bunch more make-up on and had crazy eyes. They FX guys even did a split screen so the two could meet each other. She is better known as Sylvia Van Buren from both War of the Worlds movies, and the '80s TV show. The knife stabbing was surprisingly violent for this show. The Robot, itself magnetic, could pull people towards it, making the kill easier. It wasn't knocking people out, it either broke their neck or hugged them until their spine cracked. Take your pick. When it came at Rocky he stripped all the metal off his body. I'm not sure why Regalian scientists would have built a killer Robot then make it an engineer. I guess if it wasn't maintaining a power plant it wanted to kill.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Cold Inferno Experiment

Four new weekly adventures of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger air during September, 1954. Due to cast changes, the show doesn't get renewed past this year. I am so happy to see them get rid of Winky, but the actor went out hardcore on a shooting spree with Mexican police, so he went to jail. I won't be making fun of him anymore. Also in theaters at the time was another kid-oriented Sci-Fi movie, Tobor the Great. Sadly I didn't get my hands on it in time for review here, but maybe one day. All classic Sci-Fi should just be available for streaming on NetFlix. Many are in the public domain to make it easier.

The Cold Sun, part III- This is one of the lowest points of science in the series yet. Dr. Reno helps Pinto Vertando escape Space Ranger jail and the steal the XV9, with Bobby aboard, headed for Herculon. To prevent an immediate pursuit he puts a bomb in on the Silver Moon, which starts a fire in the Trotanic Missile room (i.e. Engineering). Rocky puts the fire out but the ship is delayed a while for more repairs. During the trip, Bobby calls Vertando a coward which for some reason hurts him deeply. Pinto Vertando, who was once a minor warlord in the series, is reduced to this Mongolian arch-typical over-acting bad guy that is meant for kids. He is wasted and really annoying. On Herculon, the wedding is about to proceed but Vertando decides to tell Suzerain Juliandra that her future husband and Olympian Rudy DiMarco is in league with Reno to take over Herculon and continue the fight against the United Worlds. Reno was DiMarco's trainer and wanted him to win the Olympics just to offer him up to Herculon if the need ever arose. And it did. Way to contrive for the story but it gets worse. It turns out before launch the Trotanic Missles weren't armed and only he knows how to set it. There was only time to put one on each rocket, he has one and Rocky has one. Everyone assumes that the Silver Moon is destroyed, and Reno holds the only key to saving the sun. He trades this knowledge for freedom now that his plot is exposed, and they take Bobby back in XV9 for Torita, Mercury's totally made-up moon. On the way, Rocky comes across Reno in space, also heading for Torita (there must be only one flight path). Rocky disables the ship, rescues Bobby, captures Reno and DiMarco, and accidentally sets off a fully armed Trotanic Missile. I want to point out this is meant to have an explosive affect on the sun, but it explodes in space and does little harm to the Silver Moon. They finally land on Torita and see a "crust" covering the sun. Reno has a wrist gun, but Rocky throws a space helmet over his arm (which I think was blown-off), and proceeds to beat up DiMarco. Rocky is in a space suit and still manages to clobber the Olympian, proving he was cheating in their last fight. The Trotanic Missile is fired and it completely breaks up the sun crust. The planets of the United Worlds are saved. THE END. Why is there a crust on the sun? You can see sunlight on Earth. Unless they upped the yield of a Trotanic Missile, which is not in evidence when one blows up while the Silver Moon is in docking range of it, there is frellingly bad science on display. I do like the part where Reno grabs Bobby by the head, knocks him out and throws him in a corner.

Inferno in Space, part I- The Silver Moon comes across a region of space with some kind of atmosphere. It turns all forms of wood on the ship to ash, even going so far as wrecking most of the control console on the bridge. Rocky orders the ship out of the area and heads for Earth. Professor Mayberry explains that there is a moon, Cyrko, out there surrounded by a Planetary Nebula (wrong use of the phrase) of radiation and energy. Some of those cosmic rays had penetrated the ship and effected all the wood-based products on board. The Silver Moon is immediately ordered to have radiation shielding installed (really? this wasn't already in the ship's design?) and all wood-based products removed. A new sensor suite is also installed. Rocky, Biff, Vena and Mayberry head back out to the phenomenon while some nefarious goings on begin to happen involving Agar, last seen in The Forbidden Moon story arc, and played by a new actor. He plans an escape from captivity with an undercover agent, Dorton, posing as a Space Ranger at Space Affairs. Bobby, by the way, is thankfully left behind to watch Mayberry's observatory and lab, which look suspiciously like Griffith Observatory. In space the Silver Moon encounters the energy cloud and dives right in. They find Cyrko which is naturally erupting with nuclear mushroom clouds, spreading all sorts of radioactive material into space. Mayberry claims that not only will this cloud spread farther and farther out but it's on a collision course with Earth. TO BE CONTINUED. This is a similar set up to Crash of Moons, but this moon is super-radioactive, like in The Forbidden Moon. I am displeased with the science again, but that's nothing new. There is a case in the real world for naturally occurring nuclear reactions, involving deposits of Uranium under high pressure for millions of years, but not for over 1.5 billion years. Something to do with the radioactive decay of Uranium 235.

Inferno in Space, part II- Agar is on the loose with Dorton and they steal rocket ship NX7. During this time Mayberry is briefing everyone about a plan to protect Earth. It's not that Cyrko will hit Earth now, it's just that the radioactive halo around the moon will destroy all wood and paper on the Earth. He and Rocky recommend alerting everyone in the world and start using the world's industry to produce giant mirrors as part of Stage 1. These will be mounted around the world to reflect the energy or radiation or whatever it is. Stage 2 will be to send the Silver Moon to Cyrko again and drop off a magnetic liquid which will spread across the planet and attract all the energy in the cloud back to the surface, to prevent it from exploding near Earth. Supposedly Earth should already be feeling these effects but the moon is blocking it for now. Hurculon has become the forward base for Stage 2 because their moon, Alpha 3, permanently shields them. But Herculon is in another Solar System so Cyrko must be moving fast and/or have a big energy cloud. But first, Rocky grabs Biff to chase Agar and Dorton. Agar finds out that his stolen ship has Cold Light installed (from Pirates of Prah). He beats the bejeezus out of Dorton, puts him in a space suit, dumps him out the airlock, and cloaks the ship. Rocky spends valuable time saving Dorton and gets called back to Earth for a new emergency before he can grab Agar. On Earth Dorton spills everything he knows about Agar and his plans. Meanwhile, Agar has been listening to radio chatter and learns about the importance of Herculon during ths crisis. He arrives there and claims to be a Venusian scientist. On Earth, some regions are already experiencing devastation before Rocky's plan can be set in motion. TO BE CONTINUED. The logic of it all doesn't make any sense, but at this point I'm just going with the story. They claim to have a liquid that needs to be mixed to form a metallic skin over Cyrko. It sounds like one liquid is positive and one is negative, which I'm pretty sure can't be done. When you pour them together they form a giant magnet. I give the story a lot of credit for referring to the back catalog of characters and planets, including New Ophiuchus.

Inferno in Space, part III- Hurray, Rocky finally used a brilliant plan to save everyone aboard the Silver Moon. But first, Agar secretly meets with Juliandra's right-hand woman, Shima, to set her up as Suzerain, if she only helps him. Rocky and Biff blast off Earth to Herculon. On arrival Herculonians load up missiles and magnetic liquid and stuff. Shima introduces Agar to Naboro (played by the massive Tor Johnson, who makes many appearances in bad Sci-Fi movies, and by default Mystery Science Theater 3000), his new muscle. The three organize a coup and kidnap Juliandra to the stolen NX7. They learn that Rocky's journey is likely to be a one way trip. Rocky and Biff blast off Herculon of Cyrko. They get a distress call from Juliandra. Thinking they have time to save her and Earth, the Silver Moon diverts to NX7's location. When they dock Agar, Shima, Tor and Juliandra emerge and a big fist fight ensues. Rocky, Biff and Juliandra are knocked out and Agar once again gets away, with Shima and Naboro. When everyone recovers on the Silver Moon they realize Agar set their course for Cyrko and shattered all the controls. Now it is a one-way trip. They proceed as normal, dropping all the liquid while Earth moves all its mirrors into location. Rocky runs to the engine room and straps a rocket to the airlock, thus providing thrust to turn the ship around. Biff fixed the engine on/off button and turns on the engine when the new heading is correct, back to Earth. On NX7 Agar sets course for Medina, but Shima sicks Naboro on him for insolence. Naboro turns into the (incredible) Hulk and smashes all their controls. The ship drifts into the reflected energy from Earth and explodes. THE END. I know Rocky's thrust solution isn't perfect, he would need to correct the flat spin movement he initiated. But it was so cool to see him actually come up with a nearly plausible idea, I gotta give him credit.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Blast Off Cold Sun Experiment

August, 1954, (only 57 years ago) brought us five new episodes of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. This month is the transition from Season 1 to Season 2. Many characters change with little in-story explanation.

Blast Off, part I- This is going to be a rough one. Rocky and Bobby are flying the Orbit Jet on their own when they get caught in an asteroid storm. I'm sure with a little thought it could have been avoided, like looking at the RADAR, but the ship takes damage. They start losing Oxygen and Rocky finds a nearby unexplored planet to land on. Unbeknownst to them it is inhabited by two primitive cultures, and their arrival does not go unnoticed. Apparently Rocky's appearance coincides with a mythological second-coming of the All High. Valley People worship these beliefs and the Hill People don't (or is it the other way around, I can't tell). There has been much strife between the two, but an impending marriage after centuries of conflict is supposed to easy tensions. Then Rocky shows up by accident on their world and screws everything; Hill People resent them, and the Valley People blindly worship them. Rocky opts for First Contact with the primitive cultures (as there is apparently no Prime Directive with the United Worlds). He tries to convince them he is from Earth but they don't listen and show him a plaque saying the All High were destined to return in the future. And, that time is now. The carved face on the plaque is human. Rocky idiotically chooses to become more involved because if he manages to get off the planet it would destroy the religious nature of the people. For the time being he decides to stay and they are taken to a sacred place where they are to live their lives. It is a saucer landing site of an alien race from another star that must have been the inspiration for the current religious movement. Rocky and Bobby head back to the Orbit Jet to send a distress call, because they have no spare parts to repair the oxygen system. TO BE CONTINUED. They're mere presence is provocative enough to start a war on this planet. How are there planets in the solar system that haven't been explored yet? They show a sun rise from the planet and the sun was big enough to be from the distance of Earth's orbit. Instead of using an SOS signal, Rocky sets the distress beacon to repeat "Orbit Jet" in Celestial Code to any passing ship.

Blast Off, part II- On Earth, Space Affairs figures out Rocky and Bobby are missing. Winky is off on his own looking for Rocky so he's out of the picture. Vena, Professor Newton and Ranger Sandy blast off to the last known location reported. Meanwhile, Rocky is contending with fear and suspicion all around him as he tries to make a kiln to heat metal for the Oxygen Compressor repair. While he's distracted the Hill People drop rocks on the Orbit Jet, knocking it over. But not before the rescue ship picks up Rocky's distress signal and lands (stupidly) next to the damaged Orbit Jet. All three are captured climbing out of the rocket. The daughter of the Valley People tries to warn Rocky all this stuff is going down and she is scratched by the Flower of Death. Rocky attends to her instead and misses out on the whole rescue-party-being-captured thing. A shaman is used to prey for anti-poison as Rocky is now being blamed for the "great evil". Then he gets really pissed to find out his friends are held captive. He runs off and negotiates a plan to save the girl, by getting medicine off-planet, and leaving Bobby behind to be sacrificed in case Rocky never returns. These people really don't respect the All High myths at all. After Rocky leaves, Bobby learns that the other three will be sacrificed, anyway, and engineers a jail break. They all run off to the walled garden, cave area the locals had set aside for the All Highs to live in; a place that is taboo to enter. TO BE CONTINUED. Newton explains that the planet has never been discovered before because it's in the outer reaches of the solar system and should be bitter cold. It obviously isn't but no explanation is giving to why this planet is thriving. Netwon also explains there are, like, a hundred unexplored planets out there, kind of like Kuiper Belt Objects, I guess.

Blast Off, part III- Rocky gets all the medicine on Earth he needs, but not any spare parts. He gets back to the primitive planet (he lands next to the wrecked Orbit Jet again) and learns his friends have all escaped. He needs Newton to administer an anti-poison. This time he brought a personal communication device and tells Sandy to get everyone back to the village (Hill or Valley, I can't tell anymore). Newton saves the sick girl but learns the other people wrecked the second rocket. Everyone heads to the flying saucer as the only viable alternative to escape. It needs a bunch of repair, and Rocky makes up something about using gravity as energy. Over the next day or so they are able to sneak to the rockets using a complex cave system to get all the parts they need. They finally get off the ground but have to land again later to recharge something. During this time the locals tried to cause an avalanche on the saucer (Rocky and the crew, didn't even notice), but one of their own was gravely injured. Newton injects him with something that cures him of infection and all the broken bones and crushed organs (with one frakking injection!), and finally all the indigenous people like the Space Rangers. Rocky promises this new planet will be an outpost to explore the outer planets and beyond, then they finally leave in the saucer. THE END. I really want to know what happens when they land on Earth with a saucer that can travel between stars. This could completely shift the balance of power to the United Worlds. This story would have been over in about one episode if Rocky started using his ray-gun against all the hostiles. If Rocky and friends would have stopped parking their rockets in valleys none of their ships would have been destroyed. When Rocky is on Earth he couldn't have brought some Space Marines or some other back-up? I do like the saucer, it has running lights that spin around the edge and a cool sound. That's the best that can come out of this thoughtless story. This isn't a new Sci-Fi story but I do see some ideas here handled much better the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Who Watches the Watchers. This is the end of the original batch of 26 episodes...

The Cold Sun, part I- ... and this is the start of the final 13 episodes; in other words, Season 2. The sun is providing light, but no heat, and might have something to do with sunspot activity. This is also causing interference on all Astrophone calls to and from Earth. Rocky is on his way back on the Silver Moon XV3 with Vena, Bobby, Professor Mayberry and some co-pilot without a name. I think Winky is lost in space from last story as there is no mention of him. Neither is there mention of Professor Newton, who was probably put in a rest home. The new top Olympian on Earth, Rudy DiMarco, is visiting Secretary Drake at the Office of Space Affairs in the hopes of meeting Rocky. Dr. Reno, a civilian adviser, seems to be hatching a scheme with DiMarco. But the real thing going on is an end to the hostilities between the United Worlds and Herculon. It appears an old leader has lost his position and Juliandra, known as the Suzerain of Herculon (sound familiar?) wants to be more friendly. She proposes an exchange of personnel to better learn each others' cultures. Her most trusted officer, Biffen Cardoza, for Rocky Jones. Rocky of course declines, but they offer up DiMarco instead. DiMarco has something to prove and beats Rocky in a boxing match before the exchange. Once they get to Herculon, introductions go all around, but DiMarco sneaks off and meets with a contact to cause a rift in the proceedings. That night Vena is forced under hypnosis to write a fake kidnapping letter for Rocky. He goes out looking for her and gets in over his head, until Biffen shows up and saves him. They complain to Juliandra who has no idea what's going on, then Bobby finds Vena has been asleep in her room the whole time. (Nobody thought to look?) At this point Vena nicknames Biffen as "Biff", better than the name Winky. With everything back to "normal" Rocky calls Ranger Clark on OW9 to relay a message to Space Affairs, but all communications with Earth have been lost. TO BE CONTINUED. It's a nice touch that they no longer have the Orbit Jet since it was wrecked and stripped of parts last episode. The new rocket ship has a better looking dashboard, too. The first look at the Herculon capital is the same as the Ophiuchian capital. There must be a contractor out there building all the same buildings on the Outlaw Worlds. For that matter they also use the same mind control device that Cleolanthe was known for. In the real world of science, sunspots are a sign of a healthy star and become more plentiful during the Solar Maximum. However, during Solar Minimum we no longer see sunspot activity (or very little) and have begun to consider it indicates a cooling trend on Earth. At least heavy sunspot activity can have a huge effect on unshielded communication satellites, so that's not too far off in the story.

The Cold Sun, part II- Space Affairs is in lock-down on Earth because they are the only ones who know anything about the sun being the cause of the cold spell. This includes Drake, Mayberry and Reno. Mayberry has a theory, which isn't too far from something Newton would come up with. The sun's heat is being absorbed by a blanket effect over the surface of it. What ever that effect is the sun is still shining, but all the heat is trapped on the surface. Huh?!? The new plan, is to first get two ships, XV9 and the Silver Moon, loaded with Trotanic Missiles. Since there is no solar heat, Mercury is approachable, something the Space Rangers can't normally do. Mercury has a moon named Torita [sic]. Again, Huh?!? Both rockets are to land on the little moon and shoot four rockets into the sun to overheat it and blow away the blanket effect. Did anyone notice that the eight Trotanic Missiles fired at the moon, Posita, in Crash of Moons had no effect? Rocky leaves Herculon, with a special message for Drake's eyes only from Juliandra, and heads for station OW9. Little does anyone expect but at that moment OW9 is being ransacked by Pinto Vertando, who has turned interstellar pirate. To make his escape, Vertando, shoots a gyro control and the station becomes unstable and shakes a bunch. They leave Ranger Clark stuck on the station when Rocky tries to land. To make matters worse, all visiograph activity and Astrophone use is dead and Rocky has to dock on a moving target blind. He succeeds on manual, rescues Clark, then chases down Vertando. Even blind he disables his ship and captures all three pirates before heading to Earth. When Rocky arrives he hands over his three prisoners to authorities and gives Drake the message. For whatever reason, Juliandra is smitten with DiMarco and plans to marry him, making the Olympian the new ruler of Herculon. All part of some plan I think. Repairs (that aren't explained) are being made to the Silver Moon and all are nearly ready to go to Torita and fix the Sun. TO BE CONTINUED. The Space Rangers must have reversed engineer that saucer Rocky took, because the Silver Moon is able to go to Herculon, which orbits a different star, they call Oona. Even though it looks the same as all the other rockets, Bobby points out a new super-fast XV27, no doubt with more saucer parts, while on Herculon. According to the story, Earth is still getting light, but without heat, from the sun. So in this universe the photon packet of energy that is released from the sun, as light, cannot impact any molecules and vibrate them, thus causing heat. That's just not how light works, there is no light without heat. It's good they understood that the sun effects the Earth's weather but they get the rest wrong. I'm trying to suspend my disbelief for the shows sake, but these scientists have got to go. For payment to help the displaced people of Ophiuchus, Cleolanthe must have shared Trotanic Missile technology with the Space Rangers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Crash of War Experiment

The year was 1954, in the summer month of July. Four new episodes of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger was on the air waves. If you were a Sci-Fi fan with a black and white TV and an antenna, this is what you saw.

Crash of Moons, part I- The Gypsy Moons, from Rocky's Odyssey, are the center of attention, again. Posita and Negato are moving into the inner solar system where most of the habitable planets are. Newton, Vena and Robby take Transport TR14 from Earth to space station OW9 to get close enough for radio contact. Rocky, Winky and Secretary Drake are on Ophiuchus trying to convince Cleolanthe to join the United Worlds. She wants nothing to do with them and kicks them off the planet. In space Rocky talks to Newton on the Astrophone and learns of the Gypsy Moons' movement. Rocky, being way smarter than Professor Newton (a scientist!), calculates that not only will the moons pass near OW9, but the station will be caught in between with the atmosphere chain. (There is a great visual of the two moons floating in space with lightning striking between the two.) Space Stations aren't designed for atmosphere and everyone needs to get off of it. The closest ship is TR14, but it isn't responding. Rocky races the Orbit Jet as fast as it will go, but OW9 is thrown all about. Quickly abusing science again he has Ranger Andrews use the Magnetic Tractor Beam to stabilize them, relative to the station, for a landing. He then pushes the station out of the atmosphere using full rockets and saves everyone. On Posita Bovaro is obsessed with his new child and their culture really has no idea about astronomy or where their moon is relative to anything. He just wants Rocky Jones to see his baby boy and makes everyone learn English. On the Orbit Jet Newton finally steps up his game and learns he better figure out if the Gypsy Moons are going to hit anything else. Even though every character on the ship, including Drake, questions him, Newton declares without a doubt Posita will impact Ophiuchus in one month. The Orbit Jet lands on Posita to deliver the bad news which insanely infuriates Bovaro who just wants people to love his baby. TO BE CONTINUED. Not a bad idea going on. The writers actually almost figured out gravity. Of course Newton was describing things, so it makes little sense. He claims the Gypsy Moons orbit each other (which is surprisingly spot-on science) and randomly move through the solar system. If that were the case then there would be no way to predict that Posita would hit Ophiuchus. He does mention all the planets orbit the sun, so that's something. However, since it used to be a planet in the solar system why isn't it still in the ecliptic plane of the sun, unless its orbit was more like a Kuiper Belt Object. I want the show to work, but I'm asking too much of these writers. Now to Rocky's science abuse: He saves the station by docking with it, then turning on his rockets to move it. That's fine except the docking port is asymmetrically positioned on the station. It would just spin in circles, unless for some reason the center of gravity is the docking port, then I'm not sure it would spin correctly as seen on screen. For that matter, why does the station spin? I thought it was for gravity but when you see the interior, the floor is flat and the walls are curved, not at all what you see in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It also appears that there are no thrusters on the station at all, but it ought to at least have a Reaction Control System to stabilize its position from all the gravitational effects of so many planets in the solar system. So close, yet so far for 1954. NASA won't be able to start advising Sci-Fi writers for another 4 years at the earliest.

Crash of Moons, part II- Bovaro comes to his senses and heads to Negato for to negotiate a total evacuation of Posita to the other moon. They do get in an argument whether or not they should warn Ophiuchus, since they were banished from the planet, but Rocky and Winky take the Orbit Jet to give it a try. On Ophiuchus, Atlasande is preparing for an important audience with Cleolanthe while his wife, Trinka, talks of leaving the planet. Even before landing on Ophiuchus Rocky sits in orbit broadcasting to anyone with an unscrambled Astrophone (something that is illegal on the planet punishable by death) about the impending disaster. Cleolanthe's standing order is to scramble any United Worlds' transmissions that arrive on her planet as she doesn't want her people to learn anything about the outside systems. Trinka has such an Astrophone, and gets his message. Atlasande comes home and catchers her with it, dragging her and the device back to Cleolanthe, to curry more favor. Cleolanthe won't listen to a traitor like Trinka and orders the Orbit Jet destroyed while it's trying to land. Trinka interferes (because she is stupidly left in the "war room") and Rocky safely lands. He runs into the city and captures Atlasande to make Cleolanthe listen to him. She finally believes him, but uses knockout gas on him and Winky while she, Atlasande and her new Lieutnant, Lassbaun, (I guess Darganto is still in prison) plan to destoy Posita with Trotanic [sic] missiles before it becomes a threat. Atlasande had laid out a similar plan that involved destroying the moon after it was evacuated, but Cleolanthe finally shows she is in fact insane and just wants to kill people. They leave at once to destroy Posita. Trinka escapes her super-minimum security holding cell, grabs Rocky and Winky, then run back to the Orbit Jet to chase down Cleolanthe. TO BE CONTINUED. We finally learn that Ophiuchus has been forcibly cut off from the outside and the citizens have no idea what happens off planet. That might explain why the is a communication blackout around the Ophiuchus Formation in Beyond the Curtain of Space. There is reference to a growing resistance movement.

Crash of Moons, part III- I'm impressed with the goings on in this one. Cleolanthe begins firing on Posita, but Rocky is able to disable her ship. Atlasande, who has become disillusioned with her, takes her into custody when she declares him a traitor. Cleolanthe becomes even more insane throught the episode. On Posita there is only 14 days left and evacuation to Negato proceeds using their aircraft. Several days later, the evacuation is complete. Rocky and Atlasande have a new plan, using the Ophiuchian rocket, fire all the Trotanic missiles in the hope of changing its orbital trajectory. Newton declares the bombardment a failure (furthur solidifying Cleolanthe has no idea what she's doing), Rocky leaves Winky and Drake in charge of the Orbit Jet and he heads off to Ophiuchus to warn everyone that the United Worlds will help evacuate the entire planet. When they land they are overrun with military personal trying to take their ship, since they no longer listen to Cleolanthe. Trinka somehow manages to calm everyone and a planetwide broadcast is made. Cleolanthe further complains no one cares about her planet and it's all conspiracy to remove her from power. In good faith the Orbit Jet will be the last one to leave the doomed planet with Rocky, Winky, Vena, Bobby, Professor Newton, Atlasande, and Trinka. Cleolanthe wishes to die on Ophiuchus, but at the last second Atlasande forcibly drags her to the Orbit Jet. Far from planetary orbit they watch Posita slam in to Ophiuchus. On the Astrophone Torvak, leader of the Negato people, explains it's the people that make a culture not to land. THE END. I'm surprised they destroyed an important planet in the story, and the visuals weren't bad either (for the time, that is). There is a good evacuation scene with at least a dozen rockets scattered in a landing field launching one after another. Medina rockets were mixed in with Space Ranger rockets, so they must have offered assistance, too. This three-parter was turned into a movie that appears on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Kip's Private War- Someone has been sabotaging some important pieces of equipment around the Office of Space Affairs. Rocky and Winky come back to Earth on the Orbit Jet to help figure it out. There is an issue with the planet Apollo Minor to contend with as well. A new boy, Kip, has been employed and runs around the place unsupervised. I hate when writers give the audience more of a clue than the characters. It makes them look like idiots. The episode title has Kip's name in it and we see him sneering in the background, so we know way too early that Kip is involved. Has Space Affairs learned nothing from all the Human agents Cleolanthe has working for her? Kip manages to break communication equipment, the gantry system and cars. No excuse. Bobby finds him letting out the air of Drake's car. How does Bobby stop him? He attacks him, totally beating Kip. Rocky and Vena come outside and see the boys fighting, which they break up. Keep in mind Bobby totally idolizes Rocky Jones and goes on lots of missions with him. Rocky usually deals with a problem by beating it up, so it's no wonder Bobby reacted violently. Why does Space Affairs keep employing children? It turns out Kip's dad, Mickey, was a thief who was caught by Rocky and held in jail at headquarters. Kip gets visiting rights and his dad is proud of his chaotic behavior. Instead of restraining Kip for terrorist actions against Earth, he makes Kip live with him and Winky. Kip plays a joke on them using a sound board device he made that keeps the two awake. To further the positive influence Rocky is sure Kip needs, there's the Apollo Minor mission. Apollo Minor has a weak, but legitimate government, that is trying to keep a warlord, Pinto Vortando, from winning a local election. The United Planets want the same thing so they send Rocky there to support the legitimate government. (This sounds like a political Afghanistan story.) So Kip comes along on this important mission and wants attention by using his sound board device to scare Winky. Rocky reads him the riot act, but Kip doesn't care. After landing on Apollo Minor Vortando's henchmen capture Rocky, Winky, Vena, Bobby and Kip. Kip backstabs Rocky and Winky by telling them a lie about the United Worlds. Vena, Bobby and Kip are free to hang out on the planet, but they all go back to the Orbit Jet. Kip is in their face about what he did, but Bobby actually refuses to beat the crap out of him because it ain't worth it. You see, Kip just wants attention. Rocky and Winky escape their cell, and get captured again, this time with the threat of death. Kip uses his sound board to simulate an all out Space Ranger attack on Vortando's compound and they rescue Rocky and Winky. Pinto Vortando is humiliated in front of his own people by two children and he loses power. The government is once again in charge, and the Orbit Jet leaves for Earth. THE END. One of only three stand-alone episodes. This is almost an exact repeat of the episode The Boy Who Hated Superman in The Adventures of Superman. No new tech showed off except Kip's stupid sound board which must have been more than it appeared, because it simulated deep bass and surround sound like a Boze speaker system.