Star Fleet (The redubbed Japanese puppet show X-Bomber) was broadcast in the UK on Saturday mornings – first airing on October 23, 1982 – one day before Star Wars: A New Hope’s UK TV Premiere. Due to its broadcast slot, the advertisements shown before, during and after each episode frequently included children’s Public Information Films.
Drawing heavily on diverse influences such as Star Wars, Japanese Anime and Gerry Anderson’s various “Supermarionation” series, the show ran for twenty-four half hour episodes (twenty-five in Japan – two of the episodes being edited together for the English version). The English version’s theme song was composed by Paul Bliss, and was later covered by Queen member Brian May and Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen. This was released under the name “Star Fleet Project”.
The screenplay was adapted for English by Michael Sloan, who in later years would create the popular TV series The Master and The Equalizer.
The year is 2999 and the Earth is at peace following the Space Wars. The safety of the human race is ensured by Earth Defense Force (EDF). Shortly before the turn of the fourth millennium, the peace is broken by the appearance of a gigantic alien battle cruiser. Powerless to defend itself, the EDF’s Pluto base is completely destroyed and the evil Commander Makara reveals that the same fate awaits the Earth unless the mysterious F-Zero-One is handed over to her.
Unaware of the nature of F-Zero-One and fearing retribution, the EDF presses into action an untested, incomplete weapon, codenamed X-Project, from its hidden moon-base. The X-Project is revealed to be a powerfully-armed spacecraft named X-Bomber.
The series then follows the adventures of the crew of the X-Bomber, namely Doctor Benn, Shiro Hagen, Barry Hercules and John Lee who are joined by PPA, Lamia and her guardian Kirara. They set off to discover the nature of the F-Zero-One and try to protect it from the increasingly desperate Commander Makara and her menacing overlord, the Imperial Master.
Eventually it is revealed that Lamia herself is the mysterious F-Zero-One, a powerful alien destined to bring peace to the galaxy at the turn of the millennium. The series continues with Lamia gradually discovering her true nature and powers while the Imperial Alliance attempts to capture her and destroy the X-Bomber. The series climaxes with the X-Bomber crew destroying Commander Makara and Lamia finally confronting and defeating the Imperial Master and bringing peace to the universe.
Two of the English voice actors, Jay Benedict and Garrick Hagon, had appeared in Star Wars (1977) portraying Deak and Biggs, two of Luke Skywalker’s friends on Tatooine (though Hagon’s role was reduced in editing and Benedict’s scenes were cut altogether). Benedict later went on to appear in Aliens (1986) as Newt’s father, Russ Jordan. Again though, his scenes were cut from the film, but were restored in the extended Special Edition of Aliens which was released on home video in 1992. Mark Rolston also appeared in Aliens as Pvt. Drake.
The English cast list of Star Fleet was relatively small, with most voice actors doing the extra voices in the series as well. Credits were only made based on the main characters who appeared in the first episode, with the credits being reused each episode afterwards. Due to this, viewers are left to speculate whether or not any new voice actors were brought in for other characters as the series progressed or if a member of the main cast provided them.
- Jay Benedict – Shiro Hagen
- Constantine Gregory – Barry Hercules
- Mark Rolston – John Lee
- Peter Marinker – Dr. Benn Robinson
- Liza Ross – Princess Lamia
- John Baddeley – PPA (Perfectly Programmed Android)
- Kevin Brennan – General Kyle
- Garrick Hagon – Captain Carter
- Denise Bryer – Commander Makara
- Sean Barrett – Captain Orion
- Jacob Witkin – The Imperial Master
Categories: Cult TV