The Western Lines

February 10, 2008

Space TV

Filed under: Ralph Buttigieg — ralphbuttigieg @ 3:31 am
Have a look at the popular TV dramas and you will see something very different from a generation ago. Today scientists are heroes, Shows like House, the three CSI’s, Numbe3rs, all feature scientists as their main characters. No longer are scientists just kooks out for world domination, or lonely geeks, but they are out there solving crimes, diagnosing mysterious illness etc. Even the nerdy math boy in Numbe3rs has a hottie girl friend.

Producers have even developed new techniques ,- short animations, to explain the science of the shows (*Anyone out there remembers the first movie to use animation to explain the science of the story?)

These shows certainly have increased interest in the science portrayed, but so far, there has been no successful TV show with a Space theme.( Science fiction shows don’t count). There was the short lived series The Cape, which could best be described as soporific, and the little British production Rocket Man. I can’t think of any other.

The successful science dramas used a proven format, crime solving or medical shows, that’s harder to do with Space. Now, I’m no Hollywood producer , what follows is no more then a bit of brainstorming but I think it shows that a popular Space show is possible. I think there’s a proven format that could be very successfully Space drama.

Fifty years ago a new alien frontier had only been recently opened up for general exploration. A TV producer, Ivan Tors, tried to sell a series to the networks about the new frontier but was turned down until a syndicator took it up.

That frontier was the undersea and the series was Sea Hunt. The network bosses could not see how a TV show about a SCUBA diver could be turned into a series. But they were wrong the show ran for 155 episodes. It worked because the lead character, Mike Nelson (played by Lloyd Bridges) was a free agent who got involved in every type of underwater adventure imaginable. Treasure hunting, stoping drug smugglers, rescuing divers, ex-Navy frogman Mike Nelson did it all. In one episode he even rescued a astronaut from a sunken capsule.

A similar format could be adapted to a space drama. Have an ex NASA astronaut, or properly better astronauts, form a private space consulting company. They could use their skills in all sort of space related dramas. In one episode they could be helping a private company get a sub orbital rocket plane into space, in another they could be trying to solve some space related crime- what if the Mars Meteorite was stolen?. In another they could be trying to solve some UFO mystery etc.

Hopefully there’s a real television producer out there that will give us the Sea Hunt of Space.

* As far as I can tell the first time animation was used to explain the science of a motion picture story was in Destination Moon. A Woody Woodpecker cartoon was used to explain the basics of space travel.


  1. and what about that old tv series tha t had a junk-made space reusable rocket ? does anyone remembers it ?

    Comment by Daniel — February 15, 2008 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

  2. G’day,Yes, Salvage One, with Andy Griffith as the lead, but it hardly qualifies as a space drama, it was more science fiction. But I did like the rocket.taRalph

    Comment by Ralph Buttigieg — February 15, 2008 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

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