Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Space Sentinels (1977)

Filmation's Space Sentinels had one strike against it when it debuted in 1977. The studio had sold the series to NBC, which had bombed out with the last offering from Filmation, The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty. Unfortunately, if NBC was hoping to recapture the sci-fi audience that had helped make the animated Star Trek so successful for 2 years, they were disappointed.

Alternately known as the Young Sentinels, the series focused on a trio of Earthlings transported to a distant world for training. Hercules (George DiCenzo) and Mercury (Evan Kim) took their names from the gods of myth. Astria, an African-American (or was she just African?) shape-shifter, rounded out the team. Apparently, Filmation didn't learn anything from the last team that relied on a computer as its leader (Butch Cassidy, a 1973 Hanna-Barbera entry for----wait for it----NBC), either. Most of the action fans opted to tune to ABC.

Here's the intro:

Had the Sentinels been on another network, like maybe, CBS, there may have been a better chance at renewal, but we'll never know for sure. The series was cancelled after 1 season, just like Waldo Kitty, and would be replaced by The Fabulous Funnies on NBC's schedule the next year.

Rating: B.


R.A.M.'67 said...

The BCI DVD set for this series was a minor revelation of sorts; it was interesting to find out The Young/Space Sentinels could've been a live action show!

An original, decent cartoon that would've had a better chance if it were on CBS. (Not ABC, who was done with Filmation after the Uncle Croc's Block debacle.)

hobbyfan said...

Ah, but in a live-action setting, that would've required adding special effects whenever Astria changed forms. As I recall, Gerry Anderson's Space: 1999 ran into this minor obstacle when they added a shape-shifter to the cast around that same time.

Seeing as how CBS was, IIRC, devoting as much as 90 minutes then to Bugs Bunny, and already had 4 Filmation shows on the schedule, they could've found room for the Sentinels. That they passed was their loss.

R.A.M.'67 said...

I definitely agree with your points, hobbyfan!

The BCI set doesn't go in depth in regards to the live action Space Sentinels screentest included as a bonus feature, unfortunately, but I can guess the SFX budget for a live SS would've been higher than what was put towards Space Academy or Jason of Star Command (which cost more and was very ambitious with its SFX, by comparison).

CBS was loaded with hits back in '77, and I recall appreciating 90 minutes of Bugs Bunny (and his friends)! SS might have thrived better as part of Tarzan and the Super Seven.

hobbyfan said...

Or CBS could've picked up the show to replace elements of Super 7 that were shipped off to NBC in 1980 (i.e. Batman, Web Woman). That would've sparked fresh interest.