Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Classic TV Science Fiction A to Z

Astro Boy originated in a 1952 manga.
A - Astro Boy. This Japanese 1960s import about a boy robot was a favorite of mine as a youth. I thought it was cool how his feet turned into jets when he flew! A new version of the series appeared in 2003 and a theatrical film in 2009.

B - Blake's 7. This 1978-81 British cult series about space rebels still has a strong following. I mentioned it on Twitter recently and the comments came flying in.

A lethal blow from a Cybernaut!
C - The Cybernauts from The Avengers. These karate-chopping, killer androids appeared in two episodes with Mrs. Peel & Steed and then popped up a third time in an episode of The New Avengers.

D - The Daleks from Doctor Who. Super-villain Davros created this race of cyborgs, which were introduced in 1963 and have made periodic appearances ever since (to include the theatrical films Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.).

E - The USS Enterprise (of course!). Note that there have been multiple spaceships with that name in the Star Trek universe.

The Great Gazoo.
G - The Great Gazoo, the troublesome alien from Zetox, who appeared in the last season of The Flintstones; he was voiced by Harvey Korman.  (In case you're not a Gazoo fan, there's also Gemini Man, a revamped version of 1975's The Invisible Man with Ben Murphy taking over for David McCallum.)

H - Hymie, the literally-minded robot played by Dick Gautier on Get Smart. If Maxwell Smart told Hymie to "get hold of himself," Hymie would literally take hold of himself. Hymie was originally created by KAOS, but was reprogrammed into a CONTROL agent.

I - The Invaders. No one believed former architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) when he told them about these crafty human-looking aliens bent on taking over the Earth. It didn't help that dead aliens glowed orange and disappeared (in one memorable episode, two aliens swallow cyanide pills to avoid capture). Also worthy of a mention for "I" is the sitcom It's About Time--if only for the catchy song.

J - The Jetsons. After Hanna-Barbera scored a big hit with an animated, prehistoric variation of The Honeymooners, they launched this futuristic take. I always enjoyed it, but its original run only lasted one season.

K - Khan from the original Star Trek. Hey, how many television villains--who appeared in just one episode--were successful enough to be the subject of their own theatrical motion picture? Yep, Khan (as played by Ricardo Montalban) was in a class by himself!

Marta Kristen as Judy Robinson.
L - Lost in Space. The first of three Irwin Allen sci fi series on this list, Lost in Space is probably the mostly fondly remembered. It did feature a spiffy robot with a classic phrase ("Danger, Will Robinson!")--plus Marta Kristen!

M - My Favorite Martian (a slight favorite over My Living Doll). Ray Walston was a delight as Uncle Martin, an anthropologist from Mars who crash lands on Earth and who moves in with the newspaper reporter (Bill Bixby) who discovered him. It lasted for three seasons. As for My Living Doll, it starred curvy Julie Newmar as an android named Rhoda.

N - "Nanu nanu," Mork's famous greeting from Mork & Mindy. Need we say more?
Robert Culp listens to his hand.

O - The Outer Limits. This acclaimed anthology series featured some classic sci fi episodes (check out our post of the The Five Best Outer Limits Episodes). Our favorite was "Demon With a Glass Hand" starring Robert Culp and a prosthetic electronic hand that provides timely guidance as he battles aliens.

P - Captain Christopher Pike, the commander of the Enterprise prior to Captain Kirk. He was played by Jeffrey Hunter in the episode "The Menagerie" (which was actually revamped footage from an earlier Star Trek pilot).

Q - Quark. Richard Benjamin starred in this quirky 1978 series about an outer space garbage collector worked for the United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol). (Another nice choice for "Q" is The Questor Tapes, an intriguing made-for-TV film from Gene Roddenberry.)

R - Red Dwarf. A radiation leak aboard a small mining spaceship killed everyone aboard except Dave, a low-ranking technician, and a cat. Dave emerges from suspended animation three million years the last human in the universe. Oh, and this cult British series is a comedy!

Bain and Landau look concerned.
S - Space: 1999. Originally intended as the second season of UFO (see below), this expensive series never found an audience despite "stealing" stars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain from the hit show Mission: Impossible. Sci fi fans remain mixed towards it, though it has slowly been gaining in popularity.

T - Time Tunnel. As the narrator reminded us weekly: "Two American scientists are lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages, during the first experiments on America's greatest and most secret project, the Time Tunnel. Tony Newman and Doug Phillips now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, somewhere along the infinite corridors of time."

U - UFO (it's pronounced "u-foe"). Unbeknownst to most of Earth's population, a full-blown alien assault is underway. Thank goodness, we're protected by the Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation in Gerry Anderson's imaginative, funky British series.

The Seaview.
V - Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. My favorite TV show as a kid, these exploits of the submarine Seaview were based on a 1961 theatrical film produced by Irwin Allen. While the plots became repetitious during the show's four-year run, the first two years were Allen's best TV work.

W - Doctor Who (could it be anything else?).

X - XL-5, the model of the spaceship in Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's "supermarionation" series Fireball XL-5. Its pilot was Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. By the way, all the character were marionettes!

Y - Yogi's Space Race. Someone come up with another "Y"--please! I like Yogi, but there must be a better choice.

A Zanti convict.
Z - "The Zanti Misfits" episode of The Outer Limits. Were there any aliens on television in the 1960s that were creepier than the insect-like Zantians?

Additions and corrections to our "A to Z" lists are always welcomed!


  1. Fun list and I was thrilled to see Quark on it. Is it just me or does the Great Gazoo look like George Jetson in the face?

    1. Except for the nose shape and the green complexion on Gazoo, they are indeed very similar! What a fun observation!

  2. Okay. Now I can't get the theme to "It's About Time" out of my head!

    I loved "Quark". Could not understand its untimely demise.

    What a swell trip down memory lane. Wish I could help with a "y", but I got nothin'.

  3. CW, to help that catchy theme song stay in your head (and for those unfamiliar with it):
    It's about time, it's about space,
    About two men in the strangest place.
    It's about time, it's about flight.
    Traveling faster than the speed of light.

  4. What a fun post on a very snowy day! I always liked Hymie on "Get Smart" because you anticipated his response the minute someone said something with multiple meanings. "The Invaders" and "The Outer Limits" are two of my favorite sci fi TV choices. Great list, Rick!

    1. Both of those shows had some outstanding episodes. My favorite OUTER LIMITS one was probably "Demon With a Glass Hand." As for THE INVADERS, there was a great outing with Suzanne Pleshette as a "mutant" alien that feels emotions.

  5. Yeoman Janice(or is it Janet) from Star Trek for Y! She had long blonde hair, and I recall one episode where Robert Walker Jr., was a teen with mind-control problems who became obsessed with her. And thanks for including the Great Gazoo. I always thought Harvey Korman did his voice!

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! Yes, that was Yeoman Janice Rand (I remember the tall blonde 'do well) and the episode was "Charlie X" (big scene for Kirk when Charlie sits in the Captain's chair!!).

  6. Yeah, the third season of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is almost unwatchable, and the fourth season only a tad better. Don't know any show that started out so good (the first season is really strong) and then steadily became almost unwatchable. But that sub design is so impressive that if a rerun is on I'll stop and watch.

    1. The flying sub, introduced in season 2, was too cool, too.

  7. Fantastic list! I am ashamed to say that I did not know Harvey Korman was the voice of the Great Gazoo.

  8. Great list! I want to recommend another point of view regarding entry for "B"...for me and other Blue Blaze Irregulars, B has to be for none other than Buckaroo Banzai. If BB hadn't been tied down by studio and network red tape over the years, fans would have been treated to more films and even a rumored TV series. Of course, if those events had come to pass, would BB still be irregular? The deuce you say! :)
    p.s. Loved UFO.

  9. they had some great science fiction|horror type shows in the 60s. all the ones mentioned were great and have stood the test of time. how about land of the giants. not a super show but entertaining especially when I was a kid.