Today we learned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) voiced his support of President Donald Trump’s call for a United States Space Force to protect the interests of the United States, in space, by force. Somebody needs to tell Sen. Cruz to stop worrying about pirates and that We The People already had a Space Force, a pilot for a TV series on NBC back in 1978, and it was an abysmal failure. Learn from the past!
The moment Donald Trump first said “Space Force” I went and looked it up, there was no way there hadn’t been some previous Space Force in the culture, and there it was, on IMDb, the “comic adventures that befall a crew of astronauts assigned to a remote military space station.”
I searched the Internet for a DVD to buy or something I could stream or a YouTube of Space Force, and didn’t have any luck. Then I remembered. The Paley Center For Media! From the true Golden Age of Television, broadcasting pioneer William S. Paley’s legacy of the boob tube! You can go to the Paley Center and view the history of Television, plus the commercials! Countless hours of programs! Maybe they had it, somehow? I did a simple search of their archive: Yes!
No TV show is lost as long as the Paley Center lives! I purchased a membership that would allow me 90 minutes of television viewing per visit to the Center, and I set out on an overpriced but comfortable and convenient Amtrak to New York City to claim my right as a card-carrying member of the Paley Center, one and one-half hours in a teevee-watching room. In search of Space Force! I found it! I watched it! What a crappy show!
Space Force is a shticky Get Smart/Hogan’s Heroes ripoff with a few recycled Star Trek sound effects and the starpower of Fred Willard, as the affable and shady Captain Woods, who in this—OK, the only—episode is diverting money from the proceeds of a Space Force charitable event for a Children’s hospital. Forty-two years ago, a prediction that somebody would be skimming money off the Space Force!
Captain Woods’ foil is the prickly Captain Stoner (Jim Boyd), who joined the Space Force so he could use it. Stoner’s other foil is the Space Force’s wacky supercomputer D.O.R.C. (Digital Omnifunctional Rotisserie Computer), voiced by Richard Paul (television’s Mayor Teddy Burnside of Carter Country, er, fame), and the payoff for that acronym is showing D.O.R.C. cooking ribs inside itself. Also D.O.R.C. speaks with an Albert Einstein-ian German accent.
Here’s some of the joke writing that consigned Space Force to TV-pilot oblivion:
Captain Stoner: “Who are those ribs for?”
D.O.R.C.: “The morale officer, Col. Sanders”
The funniest thing about Space Force is the theme song:
We will fight to keep the planet free
You can say goodbye to tyranny
We can help you out a lot
We’re the Space Force
We’re all you’ve got
Oof! Anyway, Captain Woods and his pals have been selling military gear and illegally using military equipment to transport unauthorized civilians, so they’re in big trouble with Commander Hinkley (William Phipps), befuddled top brass of the Space Force, but of course Woods manages to SPOILER ALERT.
After my return from New York, as I was trying to figure out who owned the rights to Space Force, in case I wanted to use a clip of it (Paley Center materials are donated for viewing on-site only), I did yet another Space Force-based Google search, and found the whole 25 minutes, apparently sitting there since 2013, and yes, I guess I took an expensive trip so I could sit down and Google a thing one more time, but I enjoyed a very nice lunch, I have no regrets.
So you can sit though the whole pilot yourself, thanks to Internet hero “dustsquid,” who states the recording was made right off the broadcast. A salute to dustsquid for being an early adopter of videocassette recording! Enjoy, and let history show the entire planet the perils of a Space Force.