Professor Evans -
Adam is the male domestic of Councillor Fulvia on Medusa, a planet that has been roaming through space for generations after being blown out of its own by a comet impact. It is finally approaching our own solar system. Women rule on Medusa and the men are oppressed, given all the menial jobs and never celebrated. Adam and his friend Shem, who happens to be a master mechanic, steal Councillor Fulvia's space yacht and escape to Earth. There, they are pursued by Fulvia and the head of the security corps Octavia as well as the science and security forces of Earth. Two human scientists are taken back to Medusa as hostages and have to come to terms with life on a planet ruled by women.
The best science fiction holds up a distorting mirror to the concerns of the day. The concern of the day being distorted here is the place of women in society, but STAR MAIDENS is far from being good science fiction. The episode plots are trite, the dialogue is frequently stodgy and it is more often than not being delivered by actors for whom english is not their first language, this being an Anglo/German production with French actors thrown into the mix for good measure. The reversal of gender roles (of the period) on Medusa is supposed to make the audience think about how women are second class citizens, poorly portrayed and needlessly oppressed. What the audience are really thinking is 'what country is that accent from', 'who wrote this dialogue' and 'why are the police all dressed in bikinis and thigh length boots'?
The thing that saves the show from utter awfulness is that there is some amusing comedy moments throughout, such as when Adam and Fulvia decide to play house, but with the roles reversed and there is some generally very effective modelwork and impressive sets. The surface of Medusa is bleak and desolate, but peopled with some convincing spaceships, aircraft, cityscapes and robotic guards. The interior sets for the planet are pretty large and certainly futuristic, holding up quite well even now.
Sadly, the gender issues are less current now and they are lost in the swirl of dodgy costumes, awful writing and ropy performances.Top
Escape To Paradise
When the prediction computers identify Adam as a potential malcontent, he enlists the aid of his friend Shem and they steal his mistress' space yacht. Making a dash for Earth, they are pursued by Fulvia and head of security Octavia, but the ship crashes into the atmosphere and is destroyed.
This opening episode of STAR MAIDENS is a mix of impressive (if obvious) modelwork, ridiculous plotting and not very special acting. The city under Medusa's surface is quite well rendered with big, open, spacious sets of nicely futuristic design. The costume design, however, dates it badly with the platform soles and missing panels all over the place. It is also unlikely that a society of women would design a police uniform that is little more than a bikini and helmet.
The performances are variable at best, but none of the cast seem particularly committed. Perhaps the lumpy and not very convincing script wasn't considered good enough for any of them to put in anything resembling a performance. Pierre Brice is called upon to convince the security forces that he is a loving and loyal servant and yet can only manage to look like a surly and obvious rebel. Judy Geeson at least makes an attempt as the spoiled and decadent Fulvia, but the support from Gareth Thomas and Christiane Kruger is little more than adequate.
The half hour running time gives little space for anything more than the set up and the escape and even that seems to be padded out. Things will have to improve drastically.Top
Adam and Shem have escaped the destruction of Fulvia's yacht and are now on the run from the law enforcement agencies of two worlds.
This episode is basically a chase. It has a few nice moments at the start as Adam and Shem try to eat grass because cows seem to like it and run away from a little girl because she's female, but they are quickly located by the earth's police force. Octavia's spacecruiser Nemesis arrives and the fugitives escape with an ease that is beyond embarrassing considering they are surrounded by police officers at the time. There then follows a chase between polcie cars that is not very thrilling.
Whilst the men are on the run, Fulvia and Octavia get up everyone's noses with an arrogant attitude that is well out of place considering that they are relying on human intervention to find their men and it's an attitude that is hard to give credit to in people wearing such silly outfits.
The previously impressive level of the modelwork takes a tumble with the spaceship landing that betrays the limits of the special effects crew.Top
Adam and Shem take refuge in a stately home whose thick walls keep the police at bay. An accidental blinding on the aliens' ship Nemesis gives Octavia some leverage over the human law enforcers and she uses it to bring out the nightmare cannon.
This episode gives us the startling image of the android doctor on board the alien ship. It is part of the impressive production design that is the best thing about this show. In fact, the only good thing. On the minus side of the equation, the images of Fulvia and Octavia matted into two suits of armour are so appalling as to be laughable. What, were the women too proud to actually put on a helmet and be filmed in it?
The plotting remains simplistic and the dialogue just remains horrible. The alien ship is capable of travelling through space and hurling nightmares through thick stone walls, but one good bolt of lightning and it has to run back to its home planet for repairs. What is that about?Top
The Proton Storm
The Medusan ship is forced back to its home planet with its hostages on board because of a nascent proton storm. Fulvia demands an exchange of Shem and Adam for Liz and Rudi. When no agreement is reached, Fulvia takes the ship and heads back towards Earth through the heart of the Proton storm.
This episode has no point whatsoever. The Nemesis goes back to Medusa where Rudi is placed in with the other men waiting to be trained. Five minutes later, Fulvia is back on the ship and heading back to Earth. The flight through the Proton storm is supposed to be filled with tension, but fails to raise much interest.Top
A group of rival scientists at the Institute decide to drug Fulvia with champagne so that they can tap her mind and learn all her knowledge of advanced technology. She, in turn, uses their scheme to show Adam that he still has feelings for her.
The story shoots off in a direction that bears no relation to anything that has gone before it. The rival scientists come out of nowhere and their scheme to have one of their number (Terence Alexander) seduce Fulvia is so laughable that it would be funny if it were, well funny. Unfortunately, the whole thing is either played straight or the jokes fail miserably and the whole affair just grates.Top
Rudi isn't taking his reduction to a menial drone on Medusa very well. Assigned to Octavia's staff, he immediately attempts to access the security information on the computer and falls into Octavia's trap. Exiled to the inhospitable surface, he attempts to organise an escape bid.
The patrol ship that keeps the men on the surface in check is another piece of modelwork, but Rudi manages to destroy it with a small square of tinfoil. This is after he overcame the other security measures with an overgrown screwdriver. The plot is pure nonsense, but it moves along at a good pace and shows that Adam and Shem aren't the only rebels on Medusa.
The titular trial is carried out by computers and is unintentionally funny as they are all apparently programmed to be irritable housewives. Considering that Rudi complains all the time that he is an intelligent scientist being wasted, the ease and speed with which he walks straight into Octavia's trap is surprising.Top
Test For Love
In order to keep her out of trouble, Liz is allowed to pick a profession on Medusa. She chooses to be a spaceship captain and proves to be quite adept at the job, passing all the training with flying colours. She attempts to use her maiden flight as an escape for herself and Rudi, but the council are way ahead of her.
Flying a Medusan spaceship seems to be incredibly easy since Liz can do it after a few short minutes, but her Medusan counterpart fails miserably even after a life on Medusa must have made her more familiar with the controls.
The attraction machine that provides the episode with its title is a silly idea that is part of a silly plot. Liz is trusted with a hugely expensive piece of hardware solely on the basis that she can prove she doesn't fancy any Medusan men. She does this by making the machine blow up with her mind. Apparently being able to conjure up the image of a gorilla is all the qualifications that are needed to fly a Medusan spaceship.Top
The Perfect Couple
In the hope of getting Fulvia to stay on Earth and have the human hostages on Medusa returned without an exchange, Adam talks her into sharing a normal human couple's life, but with the roles reversed. Meanwhile, a group of women supremacists attempt to gain Fulvia's support in making the Earth into a second Medusa.
If there is any sense in this episode at all then it's incredibly hard to find. The storyline of two humans trying to live a human life without actually knowing what a human life is has some mileage in it (whole tv shows have been built on the concept) and this is the most entertaining storyline. The women's rights activists wanting to use Medusan weapons to take over the world is a clear nonsense, however. Fulvia has fully two weapons and yet this seems to be enough for the women to think that they can recreate Medusa's woman-dominated society. Worse than that, the episode actually talks down to women since these activists can't even use the weapons properly and Shem even describes the weapons as being female weapons and therefore temperamental.Top
What Have They Done To The Rain?
The surface of Medusa is wracked with torrential rain, muslides and other geological instabilities. Rudi believes that he has the answer, but since he's a man nobody wants to listen even if the prediction computers are giving out dire warnings of destruction.
It is interesting that the prediction computers can give predictions of doom, but can't give any idea of the factors that lead to them. Surely one can't make a conclusion without the data upon which it is based being known. This is just part of the ridiculous nature of this story. With the surface of the planet visibly falling apart before their eyes, the ruling council refuse to take notice of what they are being told, claiming it to be impossible even though they can see it happening.
Fortunately, Rudi is there to save the day, by finding the technological proces that is causing the ecological disaster, but then they don't want him to switch it off!Top
The End Of Time
The head of the government has been assassinated and the two human hostages are blamed for it. When security chief Octavia isn't immediately convinced of their guilt, she is usurped by an ambitious opponent, but is the leader really as dead as she appears.
Medusan politics is as messy as human political affairs, it seems and the women there are not above using the death of the leader as a chance for advancement, happy to sacrifice innocent humans to gain their aims. Unfortunately, politics is rarely the stuff of great science fiction and since STAR MAIDENS isn't great science fiction at the best of times this turns out to be one of the dullest episodes so far.
The plot actually manages to move along at fair pace, but that's still not enough to save it from its many deficiencies.Top
Fulvia forces the human authorities to put out Adam and Shem's pictures on the television. This leads to Adam's being captured, but Shem manages to take shelter with a human woman who treats him to a whole new view of womankind.
For once, Shem is the focus of attention after his fear causes him to be left behind as Adam attempts to escape. One mixed drink later and he is in the hands of a caring woman with whom he creates an instant. She has had her engagement broken off for less than forty-eight hours and she is utterly in love with Shem. It's hardly likely that one row on the river could lead to such devotion.
It also leads to an action sequence in a rowing boat that may have almost cost Gareth Thomas his life, but still seems less than exciting.Top
Creatures Of The Mind
Something is going on in the all-but-abandoned historical records section on Medusa, something that leaves trained officers in unresponsive comas. Octavia tricks Liz into taking the job of cataloguing the contents and Rudi sees it as a chance to get to an early spaceship. What it really proves to be is a chance for some artificial energy creatures to take over a human body.
This is an attempt to make a spooky story within the confines of the half-hour science fiction format of the show and it fails spectacularly. There are voices coming over the air vents belonging to mobile computer banks, but since we have already seen them, they are not particularly spooky or threatening.
And it doesn't help that Liz, a supposedly resourceful earth woman and scientist spends the entire running time screaming at little things that aren't scary.Top
Now that Adam and Shem are back in custody, the exchange of hostages can go ahead. An intercepted radio message, however, alters things when it is identified as belonging to the alien race that used to prey on the Medusans long ago. Everyone rushes to complete the handover, but the ships all meet in space and Medusan ships carry no weapons.
The normally reliable model work that the show has benefitted from really lets it down here as the alien ship makes the same manoeuvre over and over again so that the same shot can be used and all three ships take part in what has to be the dullest space battle of all times.
Worst of all are the goofy grins that everyone wears as they sail off into the sunset with no hope of a second series.Top
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