About Me

Rob Pincombe is a prolific television writer, recovering comedian and sometime comic artist/storyboard artist who just wasn't satisfied with a single blog. He writes about sci-fi and fandom at rebelalert.com, Canadian comics at comicanuck.com, and shares thoughts and insights on writing at starkravingadventure.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sci-Fi World Tour Stop One: Australia's Phoenix 5

Welcome to the rebellion.

An Imperial informant has brought Micheal Pinto's Fanboy.com to our attention. This spy droid is proving to be a reliable, if extremely opinionated, source for dang funny and fascinating intel from the world of sci-fi and animation going back back decades. He writes well too and I suspect, can fluently make funny, snarky comments in over six million intergalactic languages.

Inspired by his recent intel on those sci-fi loving Australians, we have decided to start our Sci-Fi World Tour of unique sci-fi shows whether incredible and unfortunate.

Take three attractive Aussie actors, dress them up in psuedo-Star Trek uniforms, team them with a walking garbage can, stuff them onto a bridge set so tiny they have to face away from the camera and shuffle just to get by each other (The bridge doors opens up to reveal a long hall set. Why not just use the entire space for the bridge so they breathe?), toss in a jazzy, 70's theme with shots of our heroes running and jumping and then stop everything with a script so slow it creates it's own black hole event horizon, dragging all time in the episode to a slow crawl wherein every minutes feels like an eternity, and you've got...

...Phoenix Five!

The fatherly Captain Roke (that is, if your father was a dick who'd let you blithely walk into near-certain death because you've "got to learn!") presides over a crew consisting of the hot-headed and arrogant (but extremely polite) Ensign Adam Hargreaves, the lovely, sensible (and therefore generally ignored) Cadet Tina Kulbrick and a lumbering, robotic cross between a garbage can and a popcorn popper named Karl (Karl?!) who speaks like a tape recorder with dead batteries.

Truth is, the show seems rather charming, though the entertainment value is a little hard to spot from the episode Pinto found on Youtube and re-posted here. But the opening credits do rock in a groovy kind of way! I dare not to frug in your bell-bottoms on your shag carpet as they play! This definitely goes on my all-night dance party mix CD! If you see spans of black below it means the Youtube vids I've attached are taking their time loading. Give it a minute. It's worth it.

A terrific write-up on Phoenix 5 and its immediate predecessors, The Interpretaris and Vega 4 can be found here at ClassicAustralianTV.com. That's where I got all these pics. They have a list of episodes and synopsis' here along with more photos.

Can we get a shout out for the all the Space Ladies in the house?!

While the budgetary restrictions are evident in the low-fi special effects they do seem to have had a great time with the costumes and make-up effects. Some real imagination is displayed in aliens like the gents below.

I dub thee, Mr. Aspar Gus, Artie Choke, and Dr. Blueberry.

Though Phoenix 5 has yet to be collected on DVD, you can check a small review of it here at Black Hole DVD Reviews.

This show should not be confused with Manny Coto's (Tales From The Crypt, Outer Limits, Star Trek Enterprise, 24) Odyssey 5 series on Showtime starring Peter Weller. According to Sci-Fi Wire by way of Akasha's Guide to Sci-Fi and Horror on the Net, it was Showtime's second highest rated series at the time and their number one show in the male demographic and with adults 25-54. Showtime was so excited buy the seriess performance it didn't bother renewing it for a second season.

There's something a sci-fi show that's so thoroughly a product of its time, budget and cricumstances that you can't help but fall in love with it despite the cheese factor. Phoenix 5 has officially inspired me to take a Round the World tour of unlikely sci-fi shows from across the Globe, with a healthy serving of the old fromage!

Round and round we'll go and where we'll stop not even our astromech droid knows!

Strap yourselves in!


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