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Raumpatrouille or Space Patrol Orion

May 16, 2013

Mario, Cliff, Tamara, Atan and Helga.

As I mentioned previously my friend Terry Frost from the Martian Drive-In and Paleo-Cinema podcasts provided me with access to this 1966 German science fiction series.  It is actually the first German genre tv series ever made.  Space Patrol Orion only lasted for seven hour length episodes and the reason it didn’t continue any further is not terribly clear.  It was likely due to budget issues but there seems to be some disagreement about whether that was truly the case or not.

The show is a standard space based science fiction series centered around the crew of the starship Orion.  It’s actually the Orion seven and the series doesn’t really leave you with any doubt behind the significance of that number.  Major Cliff McClane is the Orion’s captain.  He is a bit of a loose canon but, a very likeable one.  This behavior on his part leads to the introduction of Lieutenant Tamara Jagellovsk, who is a Galactic Secret Service agent assigned to the Orion to keep an eye on the Major and rein him in as necessary.  As such, she is the defacto second in command on the ship.  Hasso is the ship’s engineer and the oldest member of the crew.  Mario is the Orion’s weapons officer and is quite the ladies man himself, however, he imagines himself to be an even greater one that he really is.  From what we see in the series, he is only a touch above McClane in this department.  Finally, Atan is the ship’s astrogator and Helga is the ship’s communications officer.  The set-up introducing Tamara into the crew is a clever one as it immediately creates friction with the regular crew who are all good friends of McClane and, at times, demonstrate extremely fierce loyalty to their commander.

I have heard the series called Germany’s answer to Star Trek which I feel is a largely unfair comparison.  While they are both space based drama and, McLane is a womanizing loose canon like Kirk, those are really the only things the two series have in common.  I personally find McClane a more likable character largely because he does not come across as being pompous like Kirk often does.  One of the biggest differences is the format of the show itself.  While Star Trek was rigidly episodic in nature, Space Patrol Orion has an overall story arc dealing with humanities first contact with an alien species of energy beings that quickly acquire the nickname Frogs.  This should give you a hint about how well this first contact goes with them.  Not well would be a bit of an understatement.  Given this format, Raumpatrouille actually has more in common with modern US drama series than its contemporary Star Trek.

My single biggest complaint with the series would be the wonky science that shows up in the series.  In some cases it may just be the writer letting us figure some stuff out for ourselves as opposed to poorly researched science.  Normally I would ascribe it all to the latter but, because the series does bring up some pretty high end SF ideas for the time it was made, it could be the former in some cases.  Regardless of this, someone did need to explain to the writer of the second episode the difference between a rogue planet and a supernova as one does not like anything like the other.  Apart from this the stories actually still work quite well and the vision of the future created by the series is pretty fascinating if someone restrained by budget.  The music is definitely different as are some of the dances that we see people doing to it.  I also liked the fact that, unlike Star Trek, the Earth government and organizations are not all one big happy family like the Federation.  We actually mostly see Space Patrol and the Secret Service and they behave considerably more realistically than Star Fleet with territorial disputes and infighting breaking out occasionally.

This is another series like Freakylinks that definitely should have a DVD release.  Perhaps I should start a series of article called This Should Really be Available. It wouldn’t be hard to do as a region two DVD is available and a set of fan produced English subtitles already exists.  The biggest hurdle would be convincing a company that there would be money to be made with such an endeavor.  Space Patrol Orion is a fun series that is definitely worth checking out and is something that I can say with absolute certainty that I will be revisiting again in the future.


From → History, Reviews

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