This was an interesting surprise. I’ve mentioned before that Saturday morning shows typically didn’t have a planned “final episode” as we’d know them today, but Jason of Star Command comes closer than just about any of its peers. We get a positive bonanza of special effects with a bunch of brand new good guy spaceships – all “unmanned drones,” of course – and Dragos is banished to another dimension where he can either never be seen again if the show wasn’t renewed or brought back if it was, and Professor Parsafoot gets a new sweetheart, played by Udana Power.
Our son absolutely loved it. He had aliens to jeer, and explosions in space to wow, and he got to sneer “ha-ha!” as Dragos fades from the universe, swearing vengeance. What’s not to like?
As it was, the show was not renewed, since CBS figured that they could edit the first season’s 16 chapters into eight half-hours and they had a twenty episode package to rerun in the 1980-81 TV season. And so that brought an end to Filmation’s time producing live-action television. They focused exclusively on animation for the next decade, including the popular Blackstar and He-Man / She-Ra cartoons, and a little-remembered Shazam! cartoon that was a whole lot more faithful to the original funnybooks than their live-action show had been.
(Well, I say “exclusively,” but Shazam! was paired with an Archie-like superhero comedy called Hero High in an hour package with the tortuous name of The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!, and that had these deeply dopey live-action musical segments… oh, just see for yourself.)
Anyway, Jason was Craig Littler’s last starring role, but he was a regular face in guest star parts for the next twenty years when he wasn’t the face of Gorton’s Seafood in commercials. Charlie Dell is also still in the business, and shows up in small parts in all sorts of big movies, including Liar Liar and Fight Club. John Russell and Tamara Dobson have sadly passed away. Dobson left the business in the eighties but was still being interviewed about Cleopatra Jones for decades; Russell, a veteran of TV and movie westerns, was still finding cowboys and tough guys to play until the end of his life.
And Sid Haig… well, the man’s a legend. IMDB says he’s got six more movies awaiting release, and he’s a regular on the sci-fi and horror autograph/con circuit. His career slowed in the early 1990s, but then Quentin Tarantino and Rob Zombie, aficionados of the grindhouse horror and exploitation films where he appeared so regularly in the seventies, revived his career with grisly, modern takes on those sorts of films. House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects brought him a huge new fanbase and, as low-budget horror films took off again eleven or twelve years ago, he started getting more job offers than he had for many years.
I may really dislike these sorts of movies, but I sure do like Sid Haig. Maybe somewhere down the road a ways, our favorite five year-old critic will be a teenager, and he and his no-good teenager friends will watch something like Kill Bill. “Hey,” he’ll shout, “that’s Dragos!”