First seen in 1977 – and repeated for years afterwards – Space Sentinels was Filmation’s attempt to cash in on the emerging post-Star Wars ‘disco sci-fi’ boom, charting the heroic escapades of teenagers with the powers of gods Hercules, Mercury and Astrea – not to mention their mysterious floating head mentor Sentinel One and his maintenance robot MO – as they battled dastardly intergalactic villains across prog rock album cover-like landscapes to the accompaniment of a funky wah-wah-drenched soundtrack.
Back during the first lockdown, I joined fellow TV Cream alumnus Graham Kibble-White on TV Cream Stays Indoors for a chat about Space Sentinels; although I remember watching it very clearly, I can recall very little actually about the series itself, so it was especially interesting to be watching it as if it was ‘new’ and there was plenty to say about the cacophonous backing music, the late seventies preponderance of Evil James Galway villains, whether every single Filmation cartoon had the exact same storyline every single week, and how Star Wars changed everything that sci-fi meant to space-hungry youngsters literally while Space Sentinels was still on the drawing board. And no, MO hasn’t got any more competent in the meantime.
Incidentally, Graham provided the excellent cover art for a couple of my books as well as the logo for It’s Good, Except It Sucks – if you’re interested in deploying his design skills, give him a shout here!
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You can find plenty more about the strange world of late seventies and early eighties sci-fi, including a feature on Space Sentinels‘ close rival Battle Of The Planets, in my book Can’t Help Thinking About Me, a collection of columns and features with a personal twist. Can’t Help Thinking About Me is available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.
Alternately, if you’re just feeling generous, you can buy me a coffee here. Just please don’t ask MO to deliver it.
The Sci-Fi That Time Forgot is a nostalgic – and not always especially reverent – look back at more of the space-themed entertainment that fans used to keep themselves amused with between Star Wars movies and series of Doctor Who in the absence of any other options; you can find it here.
You can hear me chatting to Rae Earl about Battle Of The Planets in Looks Unfamiliar here. There’s also a Looks Unfamiliar Disco Sci-Fi Spectacular – looking at some of the most ludicrously overdressed examples of the ‘genre’, including the hastily forgotten second series of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century – with Jonny Morris here.
© Tim Worthington.
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