by G. Jack Urso
hides in the stars! This is the world of Jason of Star Command. A space-age soldier
of fortune determined to stop the most sinister force in the universe: Dragos,
master of the cosmos. Aiding Jason in his battle against evil is a talented
team of experts, all working together in a secret section of Space Academy.
Jason of Star Command!
Narration to Jason of Star Command
of Star Command is a CBS Saturday morning children’s sci-fi
series that aired in the 1978 and 1979 TV seasons. The show is a spin-off of 1977’s
short-lived Space Academy, which was
often referred to in the series, and used many of the same sets and props. The
first season aired as a 15-minute segment as part of Tarzan and the Super Seven from 10:30 a.m. to 12 Noon, followed by
reruns of Space Academy. For season
two, Jason of Star Command was
expanded to a full 30 minutes and got its own spot at 12 Noon. Both seasons
aired first-run episodes in the fall and in reruns beginning in January,
similar to Space Academy’s run. The complete series is available below. For more information on Space Academy please visit the Aeolus13 Umbra article.
Even though Jason of Star Command takes place “in a secret section of Space
Academy,” none of the regular Space Academy cast makes an appearance nor are they or
the events in the series mentioned. Peepo the robot turns up for six episodes in season two and Lt. Matt Prentiss (John Berwick), who appeared in the Space Academy
episode, "The Cheat," turns up
in the Jason of Star Command episode “The Disappearing Man,”
and that is pretty much it. It was a lost opportunity to exploit the popularity of Space Academy which was still being shown in reruns at the time.
starring role of Jason is Craig Littler, who was active from the 1960s to the
1990s mainly in guest starring and supporting roles on TV, and for whom Jason of Star Command seems to be his
only lead in a series. Jason occasionally demonstrates feats of strength,
though not much about this ability is explored. Jonathan Harris was to continue
his role as Commander Gampu from Space
Academy, but was unable to come to terms with Filmation over his contract. James
Doohan, Lt. Commander Scott on Star Trek:
The Original Series, stepped in as Commander Canarvin, but really isn’t
given much to do and comes across as a bit bland when compared to the
scene-crewing Sid Haig or the very earnest Craig Littler. Doohan left the
series in 1978 to film Star Trek: The
Motion Picture and was replaced in season two by John Russell, more noted
for his Western roles (including Clint Eastwood’s
1985 film Pale Rider) as the
blue-skinned alien Commander Stone. Character actor Sid Haig, who appeared
in many popular TV and film projects starting in the 1960s (including THX 1138), appears as the malevolently
persistent evil space lord Dragos.
|Season two cast.|
Other cast members include Charlie
Dell as the wonderfully eccentric Professor E.J. Parsafoot. Dell pretty much
steals most scenes he appears in. His quirky, yet empathetic, performance as
Prof. Parsafoot makes him a fan favorite. Dell still turns up from
time-to-time, but has spent the majority of his career in small character
roles. Season one included Susan Pratt as Captain Nicole Davidoff. Dobson had a
few roles before Jason of Star Command, and afterwards appeared mainly in daytime soap operas. In season
two, Pratt is replaced by Tamara Dobson as the enigmatic and “powerful” Samantha,
a refugee of Dragos’ war. Dobson was notable for playing Cleopatra Jones in two
Blaxploitation films previous to Jason of
Star Command and helps broaden the appeal of the show. Wiki, Jason’s faithful micro-robot, is in
every episode, and Peepo, the resident R2D2 clone from Space Academy, also turns
up for six episodes in season two.
Sid Haig confirms in the documentary The Adventures of Jason of Star Command
that the budget per episode was US$200,000 in 1978 (approximately US$773,454 in
2018), likely the highest ever for a live-action Saturday morning series. We
can see evidence of this in the expanded range of models and special effects. Nevertheless,
despite the popularity of the series, the high production costs limited how
many episodes Filmation could commit too without it affecting other
|Jason’s Starfire spacecraft in flight.|
Series creator and director Arthur
Nadel provides a single unified vision for the series, establishing a
continuity that would have been impossible to achieve with a contract director
approach. Chuck Cominsky, special effects supervisor for Space Academy, continued his work with Jason of Star Command, providing an added measure of continuity to
the production. New personnel were added to the crew, including directors of
photography who improved the optical effects design, stop-motion artists, and
microcomputers, which gave the capability for repeat moves on spacecraft flight
tracking shots, compositing effects, and coordinated in-camera mattes so
spacecraft and star fields could move together, rather than having a static background.
The line of spacecraft models was
greatly expanded and the shots of planets and flybys have much the same quality
as was being produced on Space: 1999
just a couple years previously. Nevertheless, despite the larger budget,
Filmation still sought to cut corners in sometimes rather obvious ways, such as
reusing background music composed for the company’s earlier Star Trek: The Animated Series, usually to
underscore dramatic moments of crisis.
|Star Command drone fighters race out to defend Space Academy.|
Seasons One and Two
Season one debuted in the Fall 1978 and
is comprised of sixteen 15-minute episodes, much in the same spirit of the
Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers/Commando Cody serials with a cliff-hanger at the end of
every chapter. The segments ran as part of Tarzan
and the Super Seven, 10:30 a.m. to 12 Noon, opposite the 90-minute Scooby's All-Stars Laff-A-Lympics which
started at 10 a.m. on ABC. On NBC, the competition included The Fantastic Four at 10:30 a.m. and The Kroft Supershow hosted by The Bay
City Rollers at 11 a.m. Reruns of Space
Academy followed Tarzan and the Super
Seven at noon.
|Advertisement for the show from period promotional material.|
For season two in the Fall of 1979, Jason of Star Command produced twelve thirty-minute
episodes that aired at 12:00 noon, and, much to my frustration, my local CBS
affiliate WAST (later WNYT) Channel 13—Albany, usually preempted the show
since stations could begin to cutaway at noon for local programming.
Additionally, cable companies at the time had a “blackout policy,” which would
blackout the programming of out-of-area stations if they were running the same
show as a local station. This was to keep the ratings for local stations from
losing share to out-of-market stations. Our local cable company, Capital
Cablevision, offered WCBS, Channel 2 in New York City, which also ran Jason of Star Command at noon; however,
that was blacked out by Capital Cablevision ostensibly to protect Channel 13
who didn’t run the show anyway since it cut away from the network at noon. This prevented me, and many other local fans, from seeing season two
of Jason of Star Command until the
2007 DVD release.
of Star Command and its predecessor Space
Academy are transitional series in the aftermath of Star Wars. Aspects of the cliff-hanger movie serials from the 1930s
through the 1950s remain, but a stronger emphasis on, and a larger budget for,
special effects ramped up the standard for children’s television programming. Members
of the special effects crew went to work on Battle
Beyond the Stars, E.T. The
Extraterrestrial, Raiders of the Lost
Ark, Star Trek: The Next Generation,
as well as the current crop of films from the DC and Marvel Cinematic
|Jason holding his faithful micro-robot W.1.K.1. — aka Wiki.|
The show has its short-comings: Jason
gets captured as often as Lois Lane, the Dragos storyline goes on too long and
gets repetitive, Peepo is a direct rip-off of R2D2, and, despite the increased special effects budget, Wiki (actually W.1.K.1.) comes across as little more than a wind-up,
off-the-shelf toy. Still, the show is an exemplary model of creative children’s
programming while exploiting a current trend in entertainment—in this case the
space opera. While clearly designed for children, it doesn’t talk down to them,
but simply strives to entertain. Lessons of cooperation and responsibility are
integrated into the storylines without devolving into the dreaded “very special
As noted in my article for Space Academy, the
rights to Space Academy, and
consequently Jason of Star Command,
are somewhat undefined right now. Filmation folded in 1989 and the rights to
both shows subsequently went to “Sleepy Kids,” a media company specializing in
children’s programming that coincidently formed in 1989. Sleepy Kids was later
renamed Entertainment Rights who licensed the series to BCI Eclipse for the
2007 DVD release. In 2008, BCI Eclipse went out of business as did
Entertainment Rights in 2009.
There remains a small fandom for both Jason of Star Command and Space Academy. Customized figures and
models turn up from time to time, but they are scattered efforts usually by
dedicated fans themselves. The shows are overshadowed by other sci-fi TV programs
of the era, such as Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Nevertheless, Jason
of Star Command and Space Academy
remains excellent examples of sci-fi written specifically for children and featuring strong women and different races, often in leadership positions. Not
a bad way to raise the kids on a Saturday morning in that or any era.
of Star Command: The Complete Series
by G. Jack Urso. Click on the links below to view the episodes on the Aeolus 13
Umbra Star Command Spaceport YouTube channel!
Season One Cast (left to right): Commander Carnarvin, Jason, Capt.
Davidoff, Prof. Parsafoot.
Commander Canarvin is abducted by
aliens and rescued by Jason, who soon finds himself captured by the evil
While Jason is imprisoned by Dragos, back
at Star Command the recently rescued Commander Canarvin isn’t acting like
At Star Command, Commander Canarvin is
revealed to be a clone created by Dragos. Back at Dragos’ ship, Jason helps the
real Commander Canarvin escape, though Jason remains a prisoner.
When Canarvin’s clone disables Space
Academy’s shields, Dragos attacks! Meanwhile, Jason discovers his cellmate is
Dragos’ massive asteroid headquarters ship.
Jason’s small helper robot Wiki helps
rescue his master and the princess. In order to stop Dragos from destroying the
Space Academy asteroid, Jason launches his spacecraft at Dragos’ ship.
Jason and Nicole protect the princess
and are rescued by Professor Parsafoot and Wiki, but Dragos is on their trail!
In order to save the princess Jason, Nicole, Professor Parsafoot, and Wiki draw off Dragos, but get stranded on the Planet of the Lost!
On the planet called “Limbo of the
Lost,” Jason, Nicole, Professor Parsafoot, and Wiki are captured by the
legendary Captain Kidd! To repair his vessel, Jason needs Captain Kidd’s hoard
of gold and silver, but ends up having to save Kidd himself!
Professor Parsafoot repairs Jason’s
ship and Captain Kidd agrees to join the fight against Dragos and Dragos ship
is left adrift at the end of the episode.
(Left to right): Jason, Capt. Nicole Davidoff, and Dragos.
Reluctant companions Peepo and Wiki
are captured while on patrol on a planet. Jason and Laura help rescue the
wayward robots — but has Dragos reprogrammed Peepo?
In a take from the Star Trek; The Original Series episode,
“The Naked Time,” Jason must rescue a Space Academy officer, Lt. Matt Prentiss, caught in
a time dimension moving faster than his own
Jason and his Star Command crewmates
go out looking for the missing robot Peepo, but are captured by the beautiful
Queen of Kesh.
Professor Parsafoot shrinks Jason down to help them escape from
Kesh, but after stealing the queen’s spaceship, they soon find themselves her
prisoners once again — and this time they’re headed to Dragos!
Pre-flight prep in the A6 launching bay.
Jason escapes Dragos — once again —
while Dragos disables Space Academy’s guidance system and send them towards a
space typhoon! Peepo is rescued, but no one knows that the robot has been
Peepo sabotages Space Academy plunging
the asteroid towards a “galactic storm.”
Space Academy is caught in the space
typhoon, but survives due to the efforts by Jason and Commander Canarvin.
Information from Peepo about Dragos’ crew inspires Jason and Nicole to sneak
back aboard Dragos ship, but — big surprise — they are captured, yet again.
Wow. Totally did not see that one coming.
Dragos begins his attack on Space
Academy, but Jason escapes to confront the evil space lord and manages to destroy
Dragos’ massive spaceship.
and Closing Credits Titles.
|Season Two: Commander Stone in charge!|
Dragos is back, a new commander for
Star Command takes over, and Jason discovers a derelict spaceship with a woman
in suspended animation. Also, Peepo from Space Academy joins the crew.
A freeze ray puts the chill on Star
Vanessa, an ally of Dragos, tries to
lure Jason to her side with promises of riches. Since he gets paid by
Filmation, the offer is probably tempting . . .
One of Dragos’ minions working in
disguise tries to capture Professor Parsafoot.
A Dragoian drone fighter gets ready for launch.
An ancient artifact, the Tantalusian
Power Disk, is key to helping Professor Parsafoot save Jason.
Dragos sends Jason and the Commander
into limbo. Can a Tantalusian ghost help them escape?
A wandering space pilot (secretly
working for Dragos) needs help repairing his ship, and a mysterious device in
the ship’s hold sends Jason, Wiki, Samantha, and Professor Parsafoot into
2 Episode 8: “Face to Face” |
Original Airdate: November 3, 1979
Still caught in another dimension, Jason
must work with an alien to escape.
Dragos’ drone fighters come in for the kill!
Samantha rescues a boy in a lost
spacecraft and a number of mishaps occur on Space Command. Are the two related
and is Dragos responsible? Uh, yeah . . . duh!
A little girl named Heidi and her doll
are recovered from a crashed ship. Dragos and his minions are once again after
Heidi’s doll contains secrets that
both Star Command and Dragos want.
The Commander is captured by Dragos to
lure Jason to rescue him, but Jason figures out a way to rid themselves of
A behind-the scenes look at the series
with interviews with cast and crew.
Dragos’ alien allies stand by to lend support.
● ● ●