Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Science Fiction

Childhood Science Fiction: Television (Part 1)

I’ve been reading, watching and playing with science fiction media ever since I can remember. In part, that’s from growing up as the manned missions to the moon were happening. I have a distinct memory of my mother getting me up in the middle of the night to watch the Apollo 17 moon landing, models of a Saturn V rocket and lunar lander my father had made, and books and posters of rockets and visions of the future. For me, it was just natural to fall into science fiction.

Most of my pre-teenage years were in the 1970s, a grand time for science fiction television shows, though in New Zealand we often got them a while after the UK and US.

LogansRunLogan’s Run (1977-1978)

I never saw the 1976 Logan’s Run film as a child, but I watched the TV show (and read some of the novels that were produced from the movie). I can’t remember the details of individual episodes, but do remember the ongoing sense of being hunted by the Sandmen that ran from week to week.

Obviously, the show got cancelled before the end of its first season but it was a “must watch” as a child. I seem to remember Logan’s Run toys in the shops, but can’t seem to track any down online now.


tom-baker-4th.jpgDoctor Who (the 1970s)

The first episode of Doctor Who that I can remember watching (in black and white) was part of the the Spearhead from Space storyline with Jon Pertwee introduced to viewers as the new Doctor. That must have been around 1974 when it was broadcast in NZ. This was the first appearance of the Autons – humanoid robots bent on conquering the Earth for the Nestene Consciousness. (These are the same aliens that the rebooted series kicked off with in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the new Doctor.)

As a child, Doctor Who generated regular “hide behind the couch in fear” moments, and I remember trying futilely to sleep in a tent in the back garden after watching one of these “Spearhead from Space” episodes. Tom Baker was my favourite childhood doctor, the scarf, jelly babies and endless battles with the Master, all part of weekly TV growing up. I’d put “Pyramids of Mars” as my top Tom Baker storyline – a creepy manor, Egyptian mummy robots, an evil Egyptian alien god, and life and death puzzles for the Doctor to figure out.

1973-74 title sequence

Pyramids of Mars – the scene is set


STTASStar Trek – The Animated Series (1973-74)

This show was my first exposure to Star Trek and it’s still available through streaming services some 40 plus years on. I remember that even then I was intrigued by Kirk, Spock and McCoy and loved the Enterprise and transporters. Re-watching the episodes now, there’s still some of that magic left, even if the animation hasn’t really stood the test of time.