Space Patrol (1963 – 1968/aka Planet Patrol/British
TV/with Paul Starr pilot/Network U.K.
B-/B Sound: C+ Extras: B- Episodes: B-
PLEASE NOTE: This Blu-ray edition is only available
in the U.K. from our friends
at Network U.K.
and can be ordered from them at the website address links provided below at the
end of the review or
at finer retailers. This is a Region
Free Blu-ray, with extras in HD, so all material will play on all machines.
comes to Science Fiction/Action series with puppets, it is usually the shows of
Gerry & Sylvia Anderson (Thunderbirds,
Captain Scarlet) that come to mind,
but the team of Roberta Leigh and Arthur Provis also were a producing team
doing the same thing, but did not have the hits and heir operations sadly
folded early. Leigh had worked on the
1957 Anderson’s series The Adventures Of Twizzle and later took over Torchy, The Battery Boy (also
1957) from them with Mr. Provis. After
establishing their Wonderama Productions with Sara & Hoppity in 1962, they reached their peak with Space Patrol (1963 – 1964), lasting
three seasons and 39 half-hour episodes.
only two episodes survive and Network U.K. has issued both of them (Mystery On The Moon and The Robot Revolution; both first season
shows) on a new Blu-ray disc that shows how good and how much fun this almost
totally lost show is. Besides trying to
update the 1950s style of Sci-Fi (metal flying saucers as the ultimate way to
fly), the crew of the Galasphere 347 (Col. Raeburn, Capt. Dart, Marla and
Husky) do what they can to enforce truth and justice for the United Galactic
Organization in our part of the universe, but each adventure leads to a creepy
new adventure and battle.
TV classic of some sort, it has its own style and even when the model work is
dated, the designs are still great and this was a very ambitious, smart series
that treated its young audience with respect.
Why this was not imported to the U.S.
and was not a hit beyond the U.K.
is practically tragic, but these shows demonstrate what the series had to offer
and on Blu-ray, manages to remain impressive.
Paul Starr (1964) was an attempt to do their
first full color series and this pilot (also shot in 35mm film) was produced to
sell the show. It included underrated Ed
Bishop (before his hit shows U.F.O.
and Captain Scarlet) voicing the
title character, the always appealing Patricia English as Dr. Leslie Mann and
voice talents Peter Reeves and Dick Vosburgh voicing the rest of the
characters. Despite that talent and
higher production values than the last show, the adventures of the S.B.I.
(Space Bureau of Investigations) was not to be as the Andersons broke through with their
SuperMarionation puppets, but this is a fun show and it is really sad because this
could have developed into a great series.
I liked this every bit as much as the two Space Patrol episodes.
thing happened to the original Astroboy
series, made in black and white, a full color spin-off pilot (with Astroboy’s
first full color appearance) was made and also inexplicably not picked up (see
our coverage of the show in two big tin DVD Australian imports sets elsewhere
on this site) and with the need for color TV shows, makes less sense. Now, an important piece of TV history has been
saved for everyone to see and enjoy.
1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image in both black & white and color cases
is pretty good, though one is a little better than the other. The black and white on both episodes of Space have their moments and you get
some great demo shots, but there are parts of the prints that show their age
(lucky to have survived and all) so that holds back the performance a bit. The color pilot print of Paul Starr is even more impressive with exceptional color reproduction
and even more detail, so this one was likely preserved better and was not
lost. Both will impress, especially for
their age and for being TV productions.
2.0 Mono in both cases are very good with the sound showing its age sometimes,
but other times sounding pretty good, especially as compared to other TV shows
made at the time. Network decided not to
do boosted stereo or 5.1 mixes, but these sound pretty good as they are.
are a great stills section and the Paul
Starr pilot, though I wish someone had created an audio commentary track
for one of the shows or did an on-camera interview with someone about the
puppet shows besides the Gerry & Sylvia Anderson SuperMarionation series
(and a few before those) include the Japanese show Star Fleet X Bomber, which we recently covered in an Australian
import set at this link:
puppets are closer to Space Patrol
and Paul Starr than the Anderson’s series and was
made in the early 1980s, also a space opera that is very enjoyable. In the U.K., The Anderson’s hit Thunderbirds has already arrived on
Blu-ray, though it faces controversy as the 1.33 X 1 image was cut to 1.78 X 1
upsetting purists, despite the impressive picture quality. No U.S. or Australian Blu-ray release
has been set. Most recently, the South Park
team made the underrated feature film comedy Team America with puppets in the Thunderbirds mold and was not the hit it should have been and has
yet to surface anywhere.
with similar puppets turning up in TV ads and even Music Videos (the Hot In Heere remake by Tiga) plus the
continued popularity of the classic shows on DVD, Blu-ray and in older
memorabilia with ever increasing value, there is definitely a serious interest
in such shows despite the influx of digital animation, digital effects and new
media. Space Patrol resurfacing will hopefully be part of the beginning of
a revival of such TV and feature films (two Thunderbirds feature films were produced) overall. They are just too entertaining to miss.
above, you can order this Blu-ray import exclusively from Network U.K.
- Nicholas Sheffo