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

Science Fiction

Childhood Science Fiction: Television (Part 4)

Scary science fiction is back on the agenda today, as well as Greek mythology crashing into science fiction superheroes.

sapphire_steelSapphire and Steel (1979-82)

If Children of the Stones scared kids to death, then Sapphire and Steel nailed their coffins well and truly shut. Many nursery rhymes have gruesome or unpleasant origins, but this took it to the next level with nursery rhymes and time loops trapping people in executions and the Black Death.

The premise of the show was not entirely revealed. We have agents (known by the names of agents or compounds) sent by some external body to make sure that time runs smoothly and the deal with anomalies. The two protagonists, Sapphire (Joanna Lumley) and Steel (David McCallum), deal with a number of these anomalies, then final one of which is a trap that has been set specifically for them. They are joined by other agents – Lead and Silver – at different times, which each agent manifesting different powers. It is unclear whether the anomalies are the product of a deliberate opposition or simply Time itself.

There were 34 episodes in total, broken up into 6 different story arcs, each of which gave off a vibe that was half-horror and half-science fiction. The special effects were low-key, relying more on the music and overall spooky ambience. My favourite story arcs where first two and the final one, with the first one being the most frightening, I think.

Not good for watching before going to bed.


sentinelsSpace Sentinels (1977)

A short series that ran for 13 episodes and which was on television around the 3.30-4.00pm after school. A kind of superhero team show, with a Caucasian Hercules (the strong one), an Asian Mercury (the fast one), and the African-American Astrea (animal morphing powers). Astrea was one of the few African American superheroes I can remember from that time. They were given their powers and immortality by a benevolent alien force, and tasked to promote human flourishing.

Basically, they have a bunch of adventures in which they save the world. There’s a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure. There is, of course, the obligatory cute robot sidekick, and the sentinel who goes bad.

Morpheus: The Sinister Sentinel

There were toys too.

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