Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Doctor Who Four to Doomsday (1982)

I watched this recently and whilst it wasn’t as bad as I remember, it wasn’t exactly great either.
Now I do like Peter Davison’s version of The Doctor I just don’t know if I like the early 80’s production values of his tenure all that much. 
The show was a little too style over content back then and certainly a bit of flash and sparkle would take priority over the logic's of the plot.
Which is why we have the Doctor floating around in space in just a space helmet and no suit.
And we’ve also got Adric knocking about in a space suit but never actually leaving the ship. 
There’s also some random space helmet wearing by the remaining crew of the Tardis but for reasons far too spurious to explain
Normally at this point I might recommend purchasing the DVD if you want to know more but there are other Doctor Who stories far more worthy of your time and money than this one.

Thats The Doctor trying to pretend he's in Battlestar Galactica!


Doctor Who The Sontaran Experiment (1975)

A nice little two part story from Tom Baker’s first season as The Doctor and featuring the return of the warmongering Sontarans.
The spacesuits featured here are being worn by the descendants of humanity who have returned to check on the state of the Earth which is recovering from devastating solar flares.
Unfortunately they then run fowl of Commander Styre, the Sontaran, who captures and tortures them with the intention of gauging the species strengths.
And then unfortunately for Styre, The Doctor and his companions turn up and put an end to all of that nonsense and the imminent Sontaran invasion.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Star Wars: A New Hope - Part 1 - BoShek (1977)

BoShek,  I hear you say.  Who’s he when he’s at home?  Well his home is Corellia, according to the
Star Wars Wookieepedia, and BoShek is one of its infamous smugglers, although not of course its most infamous, old Bo might be good but it’s not like he ever managed the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs, is it.
Now being of the original Star Wars generation and one of those kids who actually saw it at the cinema the first time around I have to tell you that in reality, or at least my version of it, BoShek is just that human dude that hooks Obi Wan up with Chewbacca in the Mos Eisley cantina.  He didn’t have a name back then.  They made all that stuff up afterwards, long after I had painted over the wall paper and put the toys up the loft.
Now though, I quite like old BoShek and not because of who he became but because of what he’s wearing.  You see that there is a Windak High altitude pressure suit.  Which is, for those that don’t know; a very real, very British would-be spacesuit that never quite had the rockets to make it in the real world but managed instead to carve out a minor career in both film and television space travel.  Somewhat unfortunately though, to the best of my knowledge, that first Star Wars film was the end of this particular suits career as everything  was loaded onto the back of the big Lucas Films van and carted off never to be seen again.
But just as BoShek must live in the shadow of that more famous Correlian smuggler; Captain Han Solo, then so too must his Windak pressure suit live in the shadow of its slightly more famous and yellower counterpart.  Though a drinking companion in the first film, a second Windak suit would go on to make it all the way to the sequel and to the very front of that film’s action figure list.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Get Smart – Pheasant Under Glass (1969)

Pheasant Under Glass is the 1st episode from the 5th and final season of the long running and much loved American TV show; Get Smart.
Get Smart was a spoof of that staple of 60’s fiction; the secret agent genre.  In its opening scene, that has nothing to do with the plot and everything to do with Neil Armstrong, Max and 99 go to the moon for one of their mission briefing with the Chief who’s already there and waiting for them.
The Chief tells them that it will probably be the last time that they’ll meet there as it’s about to become very busy.  Max says that at least they had a good four years using it.  The show aired September 1969 just a few months after the Eagle had landed.
And when returning to Earth, Max offers the Chief a lift back but apparently he’s not going that way!
It still made me smile and I’m watching some four decades later but maybe I’m easily pleased.
Anyhow, these are those space suits that were first seen in Way... Way Out, then; In Like Flint and, after a whitewashing for Escape from the Planet of the Apes, went on to put in an appearance at the Mos Eisley Space Port.  Interestingly, I’ve a notion that the helmets were also seen in the Star Wars cantina too but we’ll look into that when we get to there. 
It’s also interesting to note, because it’s very easy to see in these pictures, that there is a subtle difference between the helmets seen here, with Don Adams’ having a smaller, rounder visor which is particularly noticeable when viewed sideways on.


In Like Flint (1967)

In Like Flint is the 1967 sequel to the previous year’s; Our Man Flint and is a further parody of the spy genre.
In this one Derek Flint is called back into action to thwart a conspiracy of feminists that are planning to depose what they see as America’s ruling patriarchy.  To achieve their plans they must kidnap the US President, discredit the Z.O.W.I.E. Intelligence Agency and finally - and this is where the spacesuits come into it - commandeer a space platform armed with nukes.
Not unsurprisingly, the film ends up with Flint in space, dispatching the villain, saving the day and ending up in the loving embrace of a couple of Russian cosmonauts, defrosting the cold war, one Commie chick at a time.
And the space suits are the ones first seen in the Gerry Lewis film Way... Way Out.


Way... Way Out (1966)

Set sometime in the future but being more sixties than you can shake Austin Power’s Mojo at.  Way... Way Out is a Gerry Lewis film about America’s moon-base and how it has to keep replacing its crews all the time because of the male astronaut’s unspent frustrations causing them to go a bit mad in the head.
The obvious answer, for the sake of the films plot, is to send a ‘couple’ up but in order to avoid impropriety they insist on them being married first.  And that’s the whole set-up really.  You just have to chuck in the unmarried Russians from a neighbouring moon-base, who pop round to flaunt their godless un-American ways, and you have a comedy of sexual politics set firmly in the midst of the cold war regardless of how far in the future it would like to imagine its self being.

But let’s talk space suits
I’m going to hazard a guess here and say that these particular suits were made for this film as original costumes.  They’re seemingly inspired by the silver NASA Mercury suits although they aren’t exact copies. 
There are at least four of them seen in one scene, as well as a possible fifth suit belonging to the Russian which has a red (well it would wouldn’t it) helmet.  Although it’s highly possible that this could be one of the other suits doubling up with the helmet repainted.
What’s hard to see from these pictures, having come from a blurry old video, is that there’s a slight difference within the helmets design and those worn by the film’s two leads have visors that are a little larger and allow their features to be more visible than the other two cast member.  Logical I suppose but why not make them all the same?  Maybe it’s just one of those things or is that the infamous Lewis ego at work!  We’ll probably never know nor should we really care.
Anyway depending on which order you read these posts in you may or may not know that this is the starting point of a very interesting journey that ends in a galaxy far, far away.  Follow the Way Out Spacesuit link below.