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Space Sentinels

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Episode Review
History of Space Sentinels
Quick Facts
Voice Cast

History of Space Sentinels

    "Space Sentinels" was a cool superhero cartoon.  It was a Filmation-original idea.  The company wanted to make shows of their own characters of which they could hold the rights.  They did this a number of times throughout the years.  This series was originally named "The Young Sentinels" and it was aired as such for the first several episodes on NBC.  The network made the name change.  They wanted the name to have something to do with space or sci-fi.  So the series became "Space Sentinels" and all subsequent reruns of the early episodes were re-titled to "Space Sentinels".

    Lou Scheimer is just awesome!  He has publicly admitted that he still likes "The Young Sentinels" name better and still thinks of the series as "The Young Sentinels".  Filmation's founder has gone on to say that he thinks the name change to "Space Sentinels" actually hurt the series.  It did last only one season, and had the potential for many more episodes.  I'm in agreement with Lou.  "Space Sentinels" sounds hokey, and it's not as reflective on what the show is about.  The team often had adventures that were not in the cosmos.  Plus, the show was more about the young heroes than it was about space exploration.  I do think, from a commercial standpoint, little kids would relate more to "The Young Sentinels" title.

    The series ran for only 13 half-hour episodes.  Writing-wise, the concept was worked out much better than some Filmation series.  We know why the heroes are in this place, what they're doing, their personality types...a lot of things are made pretty clear.  All the characters are good, but Astraea is the best character.  It's not just because she's a sexy heroine.  Astraea is the leader, and her powers are more interesting.  Hercules has super-strength, Mercury can run fast, and all three can fly.  However, Astraea can do all kinds of stuff including shape-shifting into other animals.  Plus, she has about the most convincing dialogue.

    Lou Scheimer himself did the voice of M.O., the little robot that helped out the team.  Although Astraea was the leader, the team took its guidance from super-computer Sentinel One.  He talks to the team as a giant, holographic head.  The team is based in a huge, spaceship headquarters, but they go everywhere.  The villains were interesting in looks and personalities, and most of the stories could be played out in longer, live-action features!  The writers could have easily serialized these adventures into two or three parts, but I like it that they did condense them into half-hour shows.

    Next season, fragments of "Space Sentinels" were transferred over into "The Freedom Force".  "The Freedom Force" was a series of short cartoon segments that appeared on the "Tarzan & the Super 7" hour-long cartoon show.  The character of Hercules was put into the Freedom Force team.  The idea that the team was multi-cultural was done again, with even greater success.  You had Isis (Egyptian), Hercules (Greek), Super Samurai (Japanese), Merlin (English), and Sinbad (Arabic).  And once again, the leader was female.  However, "The Freedom Force" didn't seem to capture the imaginations of the audience, network, or Filmation and the series was disbanded after only five episodes.  Too bad, because "The Freedom Force" really had some cool ideas going...it just wasn't given enough of a chance.

    In 2006, BCI Eclipse released the complete series' of "Space Sentinels" and "Freedom Force" together on DVD.  It's an excellent set with loads of extras.  However, the company closed in 2009 and the DVD set is now out-of-print.

Quick Facts:
  •  Astraea was an original character.  Hercules and Mercury were retweaked from Roman mythology.
  •  Hercules was white and assumed to be from ancient Greece or Rome (in Greek mythology, he was known as Heracles, in Roman mythology, he was Hercules, but Hercules is often depicted in media as being from ancient Greece).
  •  Mercury was a real muddling of mythology.  He comes from Roman mythology, like Hercules, but the character in this show was made to be Asian.  Apparently, this Mercury is from ancient China.
  •  The voice actors in this show were purposely meant to somewhat match the ethnicity and general appearance of their cartoon counterparts.  This was a ground-breaking practice that isn't too common today, all these decades later!
  •  Like many Filmation cartoons, there was always one major character plunked in simply for the sake of being funny.  In this series, it was M.O.  Filmation founder Lou Scheimer wanted this because he thought there should be at least one funny character in every cartoon.  Filmation also tended to make the "funny one" a little character that was somewhat out of place with the rest of the cast.  It was felt young children could relate to such characters and find them endearing.
  • Filmation also liked women characters because they wanted to reach out to boy and girls.  The company always tried to put at least one female in their cartoon shows.  The male artists at Filmation got a guilty pleasure from drawing these shapely beauties!  This explains Astraea.
  • The Space Sentinels are supposed to be in their late teens, but they're drawn more to look like their late twenties.

"The Young Sentinels" (1977)
"Space Sentinels" (1977-1978)
Studio: Filmation

Network Aired: NBC

Episode No.
Original Airdate
Morpheus: The Sinister Sentinel
September 10, 1977
Space Giants
September 16, 1978
The Time Traveler
September 23, 1978
The Sorceress
September 30, 1978
The Return of Anubis
October 7, 1978

Episode Review:

1. Morpheus: The Sinister Sentinel: 

Voice Cast:

Dee Timberlake as Astraea
George DiCenzo as Hercules/Sentinel One
Evan Kim as Mercury
Lou Scheimer as M.O. (uncredited)