Space Sentinels (TV Series 1977)
|Creator||Donald F. Glut|
|Genre||Adventure, Animation, Sci-Fi|
Space Sentinels (originally titled Young Sentinels and renamed midway through its only season) is a Saturday morning animated series produced by Filmation which debuted on the American NBC network on September 10, 1977 and ran for thirteen half-hour episodes. The science fiction action series follows a superhero team during missions to protect the Earth.
Three young Earth people were selected many centuries ago and teleported to another planet, where they were given eternal youth and superpowers. They were trained and returned to Earth, where they are tasked with protecting the planet and its vicinity, similar to the Green Lantern Corps. Hercules and Mercury through superhuman feats became the basis for the mythological Roman deities of the same names. They are joined by Astrea, namesake of the Greek deity but with unrelated powers.
Their base of operations and living quarters is a spaceship hidden within the caldera of a dormant volcano. They are supervised by Sentinel One, a member of a series of sentient supercomputers that command and coordinate Sentinel teams, although the race that gave the Sentinels their powers is ostensibly humanoid. For missions anywhere on Earth, the team is launched through vertical tubes and fly to their destination through the use of rocket belts in their suits, which seem to have intercontinental range as well as hypersonic capability (although Mercury can fly even faster). For interplanetary and interstellar missions, Sentinel One transports them within the spacecraft, which has faster-than-light capability.
- Hercules: blond-haired and blue-eyed man possesses superhuman strength and is obsessed with exercise and healthy eating. He was voiced by George DiCenzo, who also voiced Sentinel One and later reprised the role of Hercules in The Freedom Force animated series.
- Mercury: Mercury can run and fly purportedly up to the speed of light. Mercury is Chinese and practices martial arts as a hobby. He is usually the jokester. Although capable of flight like the other Sentinels, he often prefers to run at super high speed on the ground. He was voiced by Evan Kim.
- Astrea: Astrea can morph into any Earth animal and is the de facto field leader of the team. She, along with Super Stretch and Micro Woman and the Super Friends' Black Vulcan, was one of the very few black superheroes in cartoons of the era. She was voiced by Dee Timberlake.
- Sentinel One: Nicknamed S-1, a sentient supercomputer integrated into the spaceship who monitors all situations, alerts the team about threats and provides advice and information during missions. He communicates as a large, hairless, holographic head projected within the interior of the spacecraft. Other Sentinel computers seen in the series include Sentinel Seven (with a female aspect) and the Prime Sentinel, the supreme commander depicted as a bearded, older head.
- MO (Maintenance Operator): "Moe" is a small, boxy service robot in charge of maintaining Sentinel One and the spaceship, similar in purpose to R2-D2 but speaking in colloquial American English, with an appearance somewhat similar to the maintenance drones of Silent Running. He is voiced by Filmation co-founder and executive producer Lou Scheimer. MO is infatuated with Astrea and is often the comic relief.
|1||Morpheus: The Sinister Sentinel||Len Janson, Chuck Menville||9/10/77|
|Morpheus, an earlier Sentinel candidate given the combined powers of the Earth team, returns to steal and replicate the design of Sentinel One in order to attain universal domination.|
|Fake space invaders in the style of The War of the Worlds hide a plot to steal gold from a government depository, but the situation worsens when the giant robots become self-aware.|
|3||The Time Traveler||Kathleen Barnes, David Wise||9/24/77|
|The Sentinels race to undo the sabotage of a time traveler from the future who wants the international moon base to fail so his warlike people can prevail.|
|4||The Sorceress||Kathleen Barnes, David Wise||10/1/77|
|A malevolent supercomputer from another dimension seeks to steal an unstable power source from the military.|
|5||The Return of Anubis||Don Glut||10/8/77|
|Anubis, an extraterrestrial scientist who was imprisoned within a pyramid by superstitious people in ancient Egypt, vows revenge after he is freed in modern times.|
|6||The Wizard of Od||J. Michael Reaves||10/15/77|
|An out-of-control "wish machine" in a dimension where myths and stories are real threatens to alter reality.|
|7||The Prime Sentinel||10/22/77|
|The Earth Sentinels answer a distress call from another Sentinel team that is losing a battle to protect the Prime Sentinel from an alien energy-based entity.|
|8||Commander Nemo||Kathleen Barnes, David Wise||10/29/77|
|The Sentinels must find Commander Nemo, a scientist turned eco-terrorist with an underwater base who threatens to destroy all polluting industries.|
|9||Voyage to the Inner World||Jerry Winnick||11/5/77|
|Herc and Merc try to save Astrea, who was kidnapped by a secret civilization at the Earth's core to power their protective heat shield.|
|Loki, a criminal from a Norse-like dimension, steals the Sentinels' spaceship to return to his own world and conquer it.|
|11||Fauna||J. Michael Reaves||11/19/77|
|An animal attack led by a telepathic teenager raised by wolves on a laboratory researching evolution results in an intelligent man-wolf who plans to eliminate mankind.|
|12||The Jupiter Spore||Kathleen Barnes, David Wise||11/26/77|
|A space probe returning samples from Jupiter releases a plant that threatens to overrun the entire planet. They find an embittered alien scientist on Ganymede who is willing to help.|
|13||The World Ship||Douglas Menville||12/3/77|
|A planetoid on a collision course with Earth is found to be an interstellar colony ship. Its crew, once revived, decides to take over the Earth as their new home.|
The show was originally entitled The Young Sentinels, but retitled Space Sentinels after several episodes had been broadcast in order to emphasize the science fiction aspect and capitalize on the extreme popularity of the then-recently released Star Wars. However, as the entire series had already been produced and the dialogue could not be altered, the characters are sometimes addressed as "Young Sentinels," but never "Space Sentinels," within the episodes.
When casting the lead voice actors, the producers strove to match the actors' ethnicity to that of the characters. Additional, uncredited actors including Alan Oppenheimer and Ted Cassidy provided voices for guest characters.
Like many Saturday morning children's shows in the 1970s, the scripts emphasized morals including tolerance, understanding, environmental awareness, friendship and teamwork, so many of the opponents were simply misguided or misunderstood rather than actual malevolent villains.
As was the case with virtually all Filmation productions of the 1970s, the theme and background music were credited to Ray Ellis and producer Norm Prescott under their pseudonyms Yvette Blais and Jeff Michael, although Prescott's actual creative involvement is unclear.
BCI Eclipse LLC (under its Ink & Paint classic animation entertainment brand) (under license from Entertainment Rights) released all 13 episodes of Space Sentinels on DVD in Region 1 on August 22, 2006, along with all five episodes of The Freedom Force, uncut, restored and digitally remastered. This series featured the character Hercules and originally aired as part of Tarzan and the Super 7. In addition, extras include scripts and Spanish language tracks for all 13 episodes, audition tapes, a gallery featuring original images, early presentation images, trivia and interviews with creators Lou Scheimer, Buzz Dixon, Darrell McNeil, J. Michael Reaves, Robert Kline and David Wise.
As of 2009, this release has been discontinued and is out of print, as BCI Eclipse has ceased operations.