Tag Archives: robby the robot

Space Academy 1.12 – My Favorite Marcia

There have been a few episodes of this show that I didn’t like. Most of them have been pleasantly entertaining. This one, however, is just wonderful. It’s so cute! Dena Dietrich, whom we all remember as Mother Nature in Chiffon Margarine’s decade-long ad campaign, plays an old flame of Commander Gampu’s. She’s a treasure hunter who gets stuck on a planet whose sun is about to explode while hunting for diamonds, and she runs afoul of a war machine that has wrecked her ship.

The war machine is played by a slightly modified Robby the Robot, wearing a new head. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this version of Robby before.

Honestly, it would be a fun enough simple story if anybody had played Marcia Giddings, but Dietrich and Jonathan Harris are just electric together. They haven’t seen each other in twenty years – when Gampu was a captain – and they resume bickering instantly, each of them completely convinced that the other was the one who was always getting in trouble. Events on the planet assure each of them they were always right. It’s always the other’s fault.

We never learn much about their history; we don’t have to. They admit their love at the end as Marcia takes her leave and reveals Gampu’s first name as Isaac, much to the cadets’ amusement, and we’re left with a supernova that explodes in seventies disco color – the whole episode impressed our boy, but that effect most of all – and the absolute pleasure of watching two really good actors create lifetimes of backstory, two old sweethearts who crossed paths for one more adventure. The chemistry was absolutely perfect, and the episode a simple joy.

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Ark II 1.10 – The Robot

In 2008, M. Night Shyamalan made a silly movie called The Happening about a gas that puts people into trances and makes them sleepwalk their way into certain death. Darned if the same sort of gas isn’t at play in this episode. Two people are in the process of walking straight off a cliff before our heroes jump them. And Len Janson and Chuck Menville’s story is much, much better than the later horror movie.

But nobody remembers this episode for that odd coincidence; if people remember it at all, it’s because Robby the Robot is in it. This was Daniel’s first time seeing the iconic costume, which was used as a prop in some show or other about twice a year for two decades. There’s a “do not be afraid, little girl, I will not harm you” scene that had him grumbling and hiding under his blanket for a minute, but otherwise he thought the robot was “pretty cool.”

I wonder how many Robby suits there were in the seventies. I guess every production company’s prop guy knew who to call if they needed a big robot suit; the costume had the same effect with some people in the audience as a beloved celebrity making a cute guest appearance. I remember when my dad was watching Wonder Woman with me when Robby showed up once, and he was really pleased to see him. Dad was one of the teenagers in 1956 who had made Forbidden Planet a hit in the first place.

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