Monday, December 20, 2010

On DVD: Space Angel (1962)

The 60's were a golden time for television animation. However, some producers felt it prudent to cut corners in an effort to present what they felt was the best possible product, and hope the audience didn't notice. As history tells us, however, Cambria Studios' use of "Synchro-Vox" technology, inserting an actor's lips in place of the characters', is regarded as one of the worst ideas in television history.

While Cambria did use full animation for their later New Three Stooges shorts, their more infamous works, Clutch Cargo & Space Angel, lowered the bar, if you will.

I was killing time at a dollar store over the weekend when I spotted a Space Angel DVD on the rack. I have hazy memories of seeing this series when I was but a wee lad in the late 60's, long after the series had ended production. I figured, ok, I'll give this a once-over. Why did I even bother?

The Synchro-Vox is most obvious with Taurus (Hal Smith, The Andy Griffith Show), as opposed to our hero, Scott "Space Angel" McCloud, and Crystal. There isn't a lot of movement, and way too many stock poses. Worse, the 3rd serial in this 1 hour set, "The Gladiators", is incomplete. No screen credits are ever given (each original episode was 5 minutes in length back in its original run from 1962-64), but the closing graphic is the part I remember the most from those halcyon days.

Research reveals that Cambria actually had some A-list talent on the creative end, including Doug Wildey (better known as the creator of Jonny Quest) and Alex Toth, who designed many of Hanna-Barbera's adventure series, from Space Ghost to the original Super Friends, in the late 60's & 70's. Aside from this single disc DVD release from EastWest, Space Angel has largely been forgotten, while Clutch Cargo has become a punch line of sorts. The Synchro-Vox method, though, lives on, as it has been used by musicians Timbuk 3 & Weird Al Yankovic and talk show host Conan O'Brien in recent years. Now, if someone would actually revive Space Angel, preferably in CGI........!

Here's the complete "Incident of the Loud Planet":

Rating: D.

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