Nickelodeon had it’s share of awesome live action television (a lot of it imported from Canada) in the late 80’s and early 90’s. From the anarchic You Can’t Do That on Television, which still lives on in Nick’s slime obsession, to the more conventional kid-friendly sitcom antics of Hey Dude, Salute Your Shorts, or Welcome Freshmen, to the downright surreal Adventures of Pete and Pete, comedies were well represented on the fledgling ‘for kids’ network.
But comedy wasn’t all. Science Fiction drama was also embraced, from The Secret World of Alex Max, to a brief run of an adaptation of KA Applegate’s Animorphs series, to reruns of British series The Tomorrow People. And, one of my favorite shows, despite its brief two-year run, was Space Cases.
Space Cases ran from 1996 to 1997 on Nick and was created by Lost in Space alum Bill Mumy and sci-fi veteran and comic book writer Peter David (who, for the record, has done the best runs of the Hulk and X-Factor ever.) The show chronicles a ragtag group of kids put in charge of a living starship, the Christa, evading the evil alien Spruung along with their somewhat incompetent adult caretakers (the theme song puts it best, with their robotic caretaker Velma always “function[ing] wrong” and Commander Davenport and Ms. Goddard merely “do[ing] the best they can.”) The show is also notable as being a starring vehicle for Walter Jones, earlier and better known for being Zach the Black Power Ranger from Seasons 1 and 2 of Power Rangers.
The special effects haven’t exactly held up (although they’re worlds better than the pilot, where everything with the exception of Catalina’s hair, is absolutely awful looking,) and the show is definitely written for a 7-to-10-year old demographic, but overall, it’s a well-written and generally strongly produced piece of ‘My First Sci-Fi Series.’ It’s only a hop, skip, and a jump, to Star Trek or Babylon Five from here.
Also, I totally didn’t have a ten-year-old crush on rainbow-haired, free-spirited brainiac-cum-weirdo Catalina (played by a young Jewel Staite, who you may also remember from Firefly or Stargate: Atlantis.) That definitely didn’t play any factor into this.