Childhood Science Fiction: Television (Part 5)

This instalment is a smorgasbord of television shows that filled in some of the gaps of childhood viewing but with some pertinent life lessons for the younger viewer.

Things I learned from these shows:

  1. Don’t ever get in a boat;
  2. If you end up in a boat, you will most likely be:
    • Eaten by a dinosaur, or
    • Shot at by laser guns, or
    • Under the sea with the threat/event of nuclear war, or
    • Captured by stone age/future people/primates/lizard people.
  3. You can’t get back in a boat from wherever you ended up.
  4. See also the H.R. Pufnstuf and Gilligan scenarios.


0809-valleydinos1Valley of the Dinosaurs (1974)

This 1974 cartoon show ticked all the boxes for a dinosaur-mad boy. Could there be a hidden valley of the dinosaurs somewhere hidden in South America. This is sort of the kids version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

In this case, the adventurous family are swept from the raft(!) into a whirlpool that sucks them into a new land replete with dinosaurs and stone age people. There is, of course, the family’s pet dog for comic relief etc. and a variety of cultural cringe moments I wasn’t even aware of.

Other media

 


land_of_the_lost_1974_complete_tv_series_1531465996_ac5cc9760Land of the Lost (1974-76)

This 1974-76 animated show ticked all the boxes for a dinosaur-mad boy. Could there be a hidden valley dimension of the dinosaurs somewhere hidden in South America. This is sort of an older kids version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

In this case, the adventurous family are swept from the raft(!) into a whirlpool over a waterfall that sucks them into a new land replete with dinosaurs, and stone age primates, and lizard people. There is, of course, the family’s pet dog brontosaurus for comic relief etc. and a variety of cultural cringe moments I wasn’t even aware of.

43 episodes of two kids and the father (replaced later by their uncle) who’ve slipped through to an alternate universe where dinosaurs roam the earth and the family interact with the Pakuni (primate people) and the Sleestak (humanoid sauran people). Some “interesting” special effects and some genuine “jump scares” and tension made this an engaging watch as an 8 or 9 year old.

The theme tune has banjos! Real life banjos! For a science fiction show!

In the supporting cast we find View Master disks, action figure toys, and even a Little Golden Book.

 


The Fantastic Journey (1977)

In this programme from 1977, the characters get on a boat(!) and sail into the Bermuda Triangle. What could possibly go wrong?

FJ2.jpg

The opening narration from the programme:

Lost in the Devil’s Triangle, trapped in a dimension with beings from the future and from other worlds, a party of adventurers journeys through zones of time back to their own time. Varian, a man from the 23rd century, possessing awesome powers. From 1977, Fred, a young doctor just out of medical school. Scott Jordan, the 13-year-old son of a famous scientist. Liana, daughter of an Atlantean father and an extraterrestrial mother. And Jonathan Willaway, rebel scientist from the 1960s. Together they face the frightening unknown on…the fantastic journey.

I watched this with my siblings while on holiday in the UK. 10 episodes that had us glued to the TV. Some funky laser guns, and some decidedly ordinary sets. And a super-cool, beautiful young alien Atlantian woman.

 


maxresdefaultVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968)

This time our plucky protagonists are in an uber-cool submarine, the S.S.R.N. Seaview, protecting the free world from rogue governments, natural disasters, aliens and sea monsters. Suffice to say, this happens a lot, which is probably the result of a ‘boat-generating space-time anomalies’ effect.

voyagefilmThis is the TV series inspired by the 1961 film of the same name in which human ingenuity saves the planet from solar radiation after the Earth’s van Allen radiation belts were destroyed in a freak natural disaster.

This was broadcast in the mid-70s in NZ, and with 110 episodes spread over four seasons there was never any shortage of an episode to watch. Season 1 had more of a Cold War flavour to it, with later seasons heading down the whole “Monster of the Week” format. (See io9 – The 10 Best ‘Monster of the Week’ Episodes of All Time). It was definitely a kind of “boys-own” adventure (similar to the The Time Tunnel), with no female cast that I can remember.

R bull Creature 4

And the promo for one of the early black and white episodes (colour came later for the show)

I never knew there were model kits or comics – they’d probably done their dash in the 1960s before the show was aired in NZ.

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