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Raumpatrouille: Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

German tv series (1966), referred to in English as Space Patrol; its full official title translated into English is "Space Patrol: The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion". Produced by Bavaria Films for the ARD network. Created by Rolf Honold and Hans Gottschalk. Produced by Gottschalk and Helmut Krapp. Writers were Michael Braun, Gottschalk, Honold, Krapp, Theo Mezger, and Oliver Storz. Directors were Mezger and Braun. Most creative personnel were collectively credited as W G Larsen. One season, 7 one-hour episodes. Black-and-white.

In the future, humans have inhabited the Solar System, and authorities regularly dispatch saucer-shaped Spaceships from an undersea base to deal with various problems in space; these spacecraft can land on planetary surfaces, but are also equipped with small shuttlecraft to handle special tasks in space which also require crew members to don bulky spacesuits. To keep heroic but rebellious spaceship commander Cliff McLane (Dietmar Schönherr) under control, his superiors have assigned Tamara Jagellovsk (Eva Pflug) to join and oversee his space missions; though her presence is first resented by McLane and the four-person crew of his spaceship Orion, she is eventually accepted as a crew member and develops a romantic relationship with McLane. Most of their activities involve efforts to thwart mysterious Alien invaders, referred to as Frogs, who can survive in a vacuum and take mental control of certain humans who then serve as their secret allies. Long after the seven-episode series ended, a film version was released, also entitled Raumpatrouille: Die Phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion (2003), which clumsily edited together the episodes using new connecting scenes with a conspicuously different look. The series also inspired a number of tie-in novels and a considerable body of fan fiction.

This series is often described as "the German Star Trek", although the two series appeared almost simultaneously and did not influence each other; Raumpatrouille is also set not quite as far in the future, with a central spaceship that is smaller and less powerful than the Enterprise. Unlike Star Trek, the series acknowledged from the start that space travellers would regularly need to wear spacesuits (see Spacesuit Films); however, because actors complained about their stuffy spacesuits, a visible airhole was added to the large helmets, rather compromising the realism of the scenes in space, and the suits were dispensed with after the third episode. While its plots are not remarkable, the series is unusually creative in visualizing a future world; among other distinctive touches, McLane's spaceship lands by extending a long column to the surface, from which astronauts emerge; the series' Robots are strangely rotund, supported by a slanting platform hovering above the ground; and the undersea base on Earth where episodes begin and end is covered by a clear dome, so that characters surrealistically relax in their lounge while fish swim overhead and extras engage in bizarre dances in the background. While all seven episodes have been released on DVD, no English-language version is yet available, which is regrettable, since this very interesting series deserves a wider audience. [GW]


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