Now, on with the show -
A Pictoral Guide To Space Cases
(because there's no fandom I've needed to expain myself for more)
Once upon a time there was this thing called Snick and it aired Saturdays on Nickelodeon (didja catch that clever wordplay?). It had some really good shows on it, like The Adventures of Pete & Pete, and Are you Afraid of the Dark?
Then the Snick people got a hold of the guy that wrote The Hulk and a bunch of Star Trek and the guy that was on Lost In Space and Babylon 5 and asked the two of them to write a TV show. Since they were good friends and all-around creative guys they said "sure!" (but in unison, of course).
They got themselves a plot, some characters, went to Canada, and had Harlan Ellison to do the introduction; and thus Spaaaaaaceee Caaaaseeees was born!
It had living spaceships.
I mean ... it had a living spaceship.
It had Square Dancing!
And reeeaaaally ugly puppets.
Despite the fact that the show had a budget raised from the sale of somebody's old Gremlin, and had plot holes so large you could drive a Mack truck through them, it was whimsical, fun, bright and hopeful. And it had fans. Perhaps its greatest strength was that it aired at the beginning of the internet age, and had to have been one of the first really active online fandoms.
Then, halfway through it's second season, it was cancelled.
Since it wasn't popular or recent enough to merit a DVD release like Firefly, Wonderfalls or any of our recently departed TV shows, I'll have to run you through the story of Space Cases.
Yes, that is the Black Ranger from Power Rangers. Harlan is the leader of the group, which translates to: "he doesn't have any superpowers, so we gave him that role to compensate". But the show gets mad props for giving the lead role to a black guy, especially when he wasn't conceived as such originally.
Catlina is an engineering genuis, and she works on spaceships a lot. This pretty much makes her the same as her character in Firefly, except that she talks to an
Radu is an Andromedon with the strength of ten men, the hearing of a bat, and the emo of a thousand AFI albums. All the ladies love Radu. However, we're pretty sure he's the gay.
Bova is a twelve year old with the power of a GOD and pessimism that would outdo Eyeore. Because he was so incredibly awesome and powerful, they had to underplay his character. Poor guy. But I think he knew that was going to happen. Also, he is from Uranus. Which would explain why he's so depressed.
Rosie is Bova's complete opposite in everything but power. She would still be cheery if she were facing a firing squad of tenthousand heartless cyborgs. Also understated. But I'm sure that's okay by her. She also has a habit of bringing aboard deadly lifeforms because she thought they were cute.
Seth Goddard is a disenchanted ex-military commander who got stuck teaching the stupid class. Also, he is sexy.
Miss Davenport was the vice principal. She is British. Actually, she's from Mars. But man, she's reeeaally British. She also faints a lot and makes with the hilarity.
The Christa is a living spaceship made by guys named the Lumanians, who are birdlike, so of course their ship would be shaped like a bird (my guess is that it's the equivalent of a mech for them). It also bonds with it's crew and only lets those she bonds with use the controls, which is really just a convoluted way of only letting the kids pilot a big spaceship.
Thelma is the service android for The Christa. Because her data crystal was damaged she mostly malfunctions and square dances. She's da best android EVAIRE.
We Gotta Get Outta This Place; It begins at the Starcademy, which is a Military Smartness School missing an "A" from the middle of it's name for no good reason. We are introduced to the main cast and it soon becomes apparent they are the "special students", and have to stay in detention while all the other kids are doing Neat Space Tests. Then a spaceship shows up. Being the kids from the "special class", they decide it would be a really good idea to board an alien vessel and their teachers have to chase after them. Because of a big deus ex machina, the engines start up and they go really far out into space, where they get sucked through a big hole and end up seven years, four months and twenty-two days away from home. We also learn that shutting down the hyperdrive engines flush all the toilets on the ship.
Who Goes Where?; An evil, glowing teddy bear from Babylon 5 gives Radu a cold that makes him paranoid and internal-dialoguey; we learn that when Andromedans get sick, they snow. Also, Thelma tells the story of the universe and Catalina wears lots of outfits and goes "Zabagabe!" There is a big fun-time happy dance party at the end, in which Bova does not participate.
A Day In The Life; Bill Mumy and Mark Hamill do Liverpool accents and try to blow up the Christa in a very wordy Douglas Adams kind of way. They are defeated with charades. It's funny.
Spung At Heart; A psychic lizard girl named Elmira shows up and ruffles Radu's hormones. Exposition happens about the Spung/Andromedan war and we learn some of the political stuff that makes this universe interesting. Commander Goddard has to be the cook, and we meet Suzee for the first time - sort of. George Takei! shows up as Warlord Shank. He is a Spung, a lizard-like warrior race that really likes to shove people around and take their stuff.
Forever Young; Goddard and Davenport get turned into little chitlins by a suspiciously Doctor Who bad guy named Neinstein. Obligatory food fight ensues when there are no adults around. A really big bolt of electricity fixes everything.
Nowhere Man; Harlan turns invisible 'cause he spills green goo on the engines and gets to hear what people say about him. We learn Thelma solves problems by either ignoring it and hoping it will go away, or by using percussive maintenance. Also, Miss Davenport eats glue.
Desperately Seeking Suzee; Catalina has an argument with her
It's My Birthday, Too (Yeah!); Everybody has to make a family tree and Radu angsts because he was born in a hatchery and doesn't have family. It's Bova's birthday and nobody knows; when they find out Radu says its his birthday too, which it is not because he doesn't have one. Poor Bova is glossed over to make room for Radu/Harlan tension. We also discover Rosie's secret ego. Radu makes up for lying by being sappy. A glowy rock causes lots of trouble. And reaaaaally ugly puppets.
Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Court; There is a big Freudian looking ionic storm and they recieve a message from their future selves. They put Harlan on trial, and several versions of what happened are presented. Davenport and Goddard get all itchy and then turn into Spung. This episode won an award, 'cause it was all clever.
Prisoner of Luff; OH DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN. Some girl whose name could be Sofiana or Sophiana (nobody cares enough to find out) trades places with Catalina to escape a prison, and then hijacks The Christa. That's right. They get bossed around by a fourteen year old girl. But there are Battle Royale exploding collars, mind wipes and stir-crazy inmates, so it's kinda cool.
The Impossible Dram; This is the episode to see if you want to understand what we see in this show. It's quixotic in a perfect form. Catalina meets an old man who believes himself to be a Knight, and that Catalina is his daughter Mirabella. He tries to protect the ship from an evil monster that only he and Catalina believe in. Goddard gets to be the "lord of the vessel", everybody faints, and you cry. OH! And "Excellent idea Pierre. The corn muffins looks scrumptious today!"
Break On Through To The Other Side; Goddard looks sexy in his pajamas, Miss Davenport is teleported into The Christa's computer, and nobody notices the humungous black hole outside the ship until they have to save Thelma from it. We also learn meanacing things about The Christa and OMG Bova saves the day.
On The Road To Find Out; A ship identical to The Christa gets all beat up in a fight with Spung, even though it is teh win at fighting. They poke around to look for stuff and they find George Takei! Elmira is back too, and she rambles all looney-like. Goddard and Shank fight, Bova is awesome again, and the Lumanians are obviously not nice guys.
And now I get to tell you some backstory. Jewel Staite was double-contracted to do both Space Cases and a show called Flash Forward, and so decided to get out of playing Catalina and stick with the other show. So they wrote her out of the series by having her character die. In the final confrontation, Catalina gets stuck on the self-destructing twin ship and perishes along with Warlord Shank. It was actually very well done, emotional, and heartfelt, some of the finest writing on the show.
And so the characters flourished after the emotional loss of one of their crew, and intricate development occured. Elmira joined the crew in her place, and joined the Casers on their travels, her psychic visions helping along the way. Seeing what a good job everybody was doing, the executives gave the writers complete creative control and upped the budget.
do de do de do de do de do de!
doo de doo de doo de doo de doo.
After Peter David and Bill Mumy wrote Catalina's death, the Nick executives decided that children didn't have the copacity to deal with a character death, and changed it so that instead of Catalina being dead, the force of the blast forced her into another dimension, switching places with her invisible friend Suzee. Catalina is not dead at all.
See? They think its stupid too. And right after they done all that good acting.
And what became of Elmira? Well, she was originally planned to replace Catalina, but the Nick execs in their infinite wisdom decided that Elmira was too alien. That's right. Too alien. Goodbye Elmira.
The thing about Suzee is, the decision for her character to be created was so short-notice that they didn't have time to actually give her one. So they just made her beautiful, a genuis, psychic, and gave her multicolored hair streaks, plus the ability to breathe in any atmosphere. She was snarky and flirty, and not in any of the good ways. The other characters took to her immediately, and the boys were totally crushing. This was not a good thing to do.
New Places, New Faces; Everybody has a really hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that this person is really Suzee. The audience shares the feeling. Then Spung show up! Then they fight the Spung! Then Elmira is the Royal Daughter of Warlord Shank! It is all very exciting! Everybody shakes back and forth! Thelma does a Hawaiian dance! It is all so exciting that they have to do a blind hyperdrive jump and end up crash landing on a tropical forest kind of planet. The ship is broken and everybody uses new sets.
The Sporting Kind; More ugly puppets! This time it's called a Rhomby, and if you drink its spit you become psychic. Some poncy Spung lords want it for their games, and once again Rosie totally gets away with endangering the entire crew by bringing it on board. Ambush formation Alpha Gamma One does not work and is never used again. Also features Miss Davenport in a box, and Tongo.
Long Distance Calls; Two words: SPACE. PIRATES. We find out lots about why Goddard was demoted and made a teacher, and it all has to do with this pirate named Reaver. Their conflict screams "ex-boyfriend", and they do lots of subtext. Reaver wants this communication device they found on the planet, but find The Christa in the meantime. Reaver is ruthless, powerful, cool, and the best villian this show has had. Then the writing goes to crap in the last ten minutes and he is defeated by thousand island dressing and plot device vines which are never seen again. Reaver's sidekick is Ubi, who is a big kitty that can teleport. Catalina makes a cameo and we meet Bova's dad (who is played by Peter David. OMG SELF INSERTION!).
King of the Hill; Midget Hill People think Harlan is a great king come to be smoting a big bad monster. He drinks magic plot device juice that gives him the ability to understand their language. They braid Harlans hair to make him cute, then tell him he's all prophecied in the book of Spatzchow. But it's all okay because the big monster is a little kid with lots of noisemakers. While all this is going on Miss Davenport and Bova have to eat their way out of a big piece of produce.
Truth Hurts; This episode is stupid.
Homeward Bound; Radu gets psychic messages from Elmira which do not say "meet me at Denny's at 8" as he would like, but rather "Uh-ohs, Spung are coming!". Goddard comes back from looking for a power crystal, and he is being all rugged. Everybody thinks the UPP (United Populated Planets, which is like the Federation on Star Trek, but it isn't because of the spelling) have come to rendez-vu with them, but they are really Spung, which is like "duh". Suzee reads Radu's mind and finds out he's right, and then finds out a sekrit about Radu, which we apparently will never know. They fix da' ship just in time, escape the Spung and get back into Space, but during the daring escape the ship falls on Goddard and he gets the internal injuries. He is all comatose and healing for the next few episodes, and we don't see him for a while.
All You Can Eaty; Even more ugly puppets! This time it's a small furry thing called Eaty and it ... eats. And gets bigger. And eats. And then they jettison it into space. Also, Little Pete and Nona from Pete & Pete cameo as practical jokers Stewart and AAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!. Suzee is wearing a Starcademy uniform even though she isn't a student, and we are baffled.
Both Sides Now; Also known as: Kristian Ayre Gets Out Of His Andromedan Make-Up And The Fangirls Gush. Miss Davenport somehow gets a giant superbrain and decides to turn all the students into a different species to teach them a lesson about tolerance, omg. Suzee is the worst Robot EVAIRE, Thelma is freakin' adorable, and Radu goes all commando on everybody. Goddard? Still comatose.
Mother Knows Best; In this episode we learn that Miss Davenport's favorite food is waffles with strawberries! This is because an energy force that calls itself "Ma", and is voiced by Peg Bundy, makes everybody feel warm and fuzzy so that they don't notice they are being zapped for their energy. Harlan acts five years old and is really adorable. Goddard? Comatose.
A Star is Boring; Bova becomes a celebrity! Bova gets fed up with everybody so he decides to hang out with Robin Leach for a while. He becomes a media freak and has lots of merchandise because they think he has an immortality potion. This is cool for a while, but then he is imprisoned in a display case and it is not so cool. There is a Vogon Hyperspace Bypass. Goddard is still unconscious.
Runaway; Apollo 13 just got made, so they had to do a "stuck in the middle of nowhere" story. Their teamwork sucks, and Suzee is not so smart as she says she is, so Radu and Bova are left to DIE in a small vessel called a Starling. Suzee almost gets chopped up by obligatory spaceship blades that are in every spaceship ever even though they don't need to be. They learn lessons. They do some problem solving. They have some romance. And Goddard is still NOT AWAKE.
Trouble With Doubles; Goddard comes back, yey! Everybody gets their report cards and are cranky. The crew is trying to make nice with these snooty guys that have a hyperwarp wave (read: shortcut) that'll cut down on three years of travel time, so of course some weird space dust shows up and gives everybody evil twins with heavy makeup and fuzzy eyebrows. Only Goddard knows what's going on 'cause apparently he had evil triplets once. They win against the doppleganger, and they get permission to use the shortcut but can't because their ship is not compatible. Suddenly everybody knows what it feels like to be Bova. Also: "NO! NOT THE JUMPTUBES!"
A Friend In Need; Cardboard Sets! Abandoned outposts! Spung! Aaaaand, GEORGE TAKEI! And hologram George Takei! A crazy fangirl computer suddenly thinks Suzee is really cool and decides she wants to be bestest friends forever with the girl. Of course, when you're trying to make friends with someone you really admire, the first thing you do is periodically exterminate their other friends until there's only the two of you, and you can be together foreeeever. Thelma goes EBIL 'cause of a crazy-making virus. And in the end the crazy computer fangirl decides to play with the Spung instead. Afterwards there is a thorough amount of love triangle establishment between Suzee, Harlan and Radu; Bova gets reeeeejected.
Then it never came back. They stuck it in the Sunday slot of slow and agonizing repeat death, and it was all but forgotten, except by the thousands of fans who did (and some of them still do) send letters to Nickelodeon telling them to bring it back. And we're all totally underdogs, 'cause we will never get a "Serenity"-type movie.
EDIT: Intrigued? Spoiled? If you're one or both of these I encourage you to check out the YouTube Space Cases Channel where you can view full episodes.
Space Cases on YouTube