Posted: 12/08/2010

 

Gerry Anderson’s Space Precinct: The Complete Series

(1994-95)

by Jef Burnham



Now available from Image Entertainment.


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From legendary animator Gerry Anderson, creator of Space 1999, UFO, and Thunderbirds, comes Space Precinct, a sci-fi police procedural that straddles the line between decidedly adult and children’s television. A British/U.S. co-production, the series initially aired between 1994 and 1995 and most recently aired over November 30th and December 1st of this year in a marathon on Syfy.

The series opens on the year 2040, when Lieutenant Patrick Brogan (Ted Shackleford, Dallas) of the NYPD has been transferred to a new beat on the other side of the galaxy, and finds himself and his family transplanted from the mean streets of New York to the meaner streets of Demeter City on the distant planet Altor. There, along with rookie partner, Jack Haldane (Rob Youngblood, Sliders), Brogan is tasked with investigating all manner of horrible crimes committed by the galaxy’s most sinister felons, that the good citizens of Demeter City may live without fear.

The majority of the cases assigned to Brogan and Haldane feature decidedly more adult situations, with complexities beyond the full comprehension of the children one would initially assume the series was geared toward, given the generally hammy acting and writing. But this is one of the series’ greatest charms— its abilities to transcend the target audience and appeal to adults. Kids will watch it for the impressive, if often hideous, aliens, while the adults can invest in the dram of the individual cases, as incredible make-up techniques, visual effects, and puppetry combine with adult themes to create a series the whole family can watch together.

If I have any problems with the series, it’s first, that each episode begins with a preview of the events to come in the very episode you’re about to watch, which is annoying for obvious reasons; and secondly, that the makeup the actors playing aliens don is so thick and complex that their performances are severely impeded. As such, lest an alien character is portrayed with the utmost care from the designated voice actor, they exhibit almost no emotion whatsoever. This is not to say, however, that none of the aliens are believable characters. There are indeed many throughout. However, the only alien among the main characters whose voice work succeeds in creating a fully fleshed-out being is Brogan’s superior, Captain Podly. Still, Space Precinct is such a visual treat, and so much fun to watch as a result, that I found such setbacks to be easily overlooked.

Space Precinct is currently available from Image Entertainment for digital download and in a 5-DVD set, collecting all 24 episodes of the series.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.



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