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April 24, 2013

That’s their spaceship Orion in the background.

Unlike most people who seem to keep bucket lists, which are lists of things they want to do before they die, I have a sort of anti-bucket list.  This is a list of things that I fully expect to remain a mystery to me when I die.  Yeah, I know, it’s kind of weird but welcome to my world.  The up side of this method is that occasionally I get a pleasant surprise that will make my day/month/year depending upon how big a surprise it turns out to be.  Specific to genre television, my biggest such surprise to date was the discovery of Loose Cannon Productions.  Being a Doctor Who fan for decades now, I have lived with the knowledge that a number of the first and second Doctor stories were lost and probably would remain so forever.  Then came the knowledge that fan made audio recordings of all of the missing stories existed.  I was happy about being able to at least listen to these lost stories but I also, on some level, found it reassuring that I wasn’t the only person whose childhood was spent recording tv shows and movies with my portable cassette recorder.  I would bet money that every episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus still exists on audio cassette somewhere in my folk’s house.  Then, thanks to the British Invaders podcast I learned about Loose Cannon.  They took these audio recordings and matched photographs from the lost stories to them to create what is as close as we’ll ever get, barring any further episode recoveries, of video versions of the lost Doctor Who.  What helped here was the BBC’s practice of doing telesnap documentation of episodes during this period.  Telesnaps are photographs that were taken every 20 second from a video monitor playing an episode of Doctor Who.  These telesnaps make up the bulk of the Loose Cannon reconstructions but, they also incorporate any surviving video clips, no matter how short, and make creative use of low end computer animation to spruce things up a bit as well.  When I got these on DVD, it was a “make my year” surprise as it took me months to go through all of the first six seasons of Doctor Who including, for the first time in my life, all of the missing episodes I thought I would never see.

More recently for me, although not quite of the same caliber, I found access to another show I didn’t think I would ever really see.  I’ll also have to admit up front that I hadn’t really made a concerted effort to find it as I have more than enough genre tv to keep me busy.  This is a German series called Raumpatrouille.  The most commonly used translated name I see for it is Space Patrol Orion.  This was Germany’s first SF series and it was shown in 1966.  It only lasted seven episodes probably due to budgetary reasons, although there seems to be some disagreement on that point.  How I had initially found out about the series was through my other big hobby, board gaming.  I have been playing games for about as long as I have been watching genre television.  In 1999, a card game called Space Beans came out from a hot new designer named Uwe Rosenberg.  There are seven card suits in the game and they are all based on major genre tv and movie science fiction franchises.  The suit images are space ships with the cards themselves featuring cartoon art scenes from the shows themselves.  I immediately recognized all of them except for one.  Not being one to take an obvious challenge to my genre tv knowledge lightly, I started asking around and ultimately learned that this was from a German show (the game is from a German publisher) called, you guessed it, Raumpatrouille.  I would normally have hunted down the show immediately.  The stumbling block was that I would also need a translation as the only high school teacher who taught German in my school conveniently decided to leave the year that I opted to take a language elective so, Spanish it was.  Anyway, without any sort of translation, the show would largely be unwatchable for me which is why I was never very aggressive about finding it.  Then, along comes my friend Terry Frost from the Martin Drive-In and Paleo-cinema podcasts.  Knowing what a genre tv junkie I am, he conveniently provides me with not just copies but, subtitled copies of all seven episodes of Raumpatrouille.  I’m currently in the middle of season four of Misfits but, once that is done I’ll definitely be checking this series out and letting you all know what I think about it.

  1. I too sat in front of the TV recording every episode of Star Trek on audio cassette. Then, after discovering Doctor Who, I started recording those. Sadly, I threw them all away when my wife (then fiancée) and I moved from Kansas to Texas in ’89. I still lament that decision. I’d love to go back and listen to those episodes if for no other reason that to hear the original bumpers that the Kansas City station still played during the airings in the early 80s.

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