Episode 902- Phantom Planet

Movie Summary: Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Phantom Planet, one of 270 million cheap sci-fi movies our country churned out during the late-50s and early 60s. And what would a early 60s sci-fi movie be like without a stubborn, chunk-headed American hero? Phantom Planet has that covered in the person of Captain Frank Chapman, who crash-lands on a mysterious planet full of Lilliputian-sized people. Chapman involuntarily undergoes shrinkage and winds up their size before he knows it. From there he gets put on trial by the tiny civilization, gets claimed by a Machievellian young woman, fights another chunk-headed guy, falls in love with a mute girl, and helps the wee folk battle the sluggish, cartoon-dog-faced Solarites who periodically ttack. All in all, a full day.

Prologue: Mike and the 'bots have an "Andy Rooney-off," pitting their respective Andy Rooney imitations against each other. In the end, no one wins - in fact, we all pay dearly.

Segment One: Down in Castle Forrester, Pearl, Observer, and Bobo unpack the Doomsday Machine they ordered from Spiegel. Turns out it requires some assembly. The radioactive core of the device accidentally gets sent to the SOL, where Servo and Crow want to keep it as a pet.

Segment Two: Servo tries to take the advice of the doomed astronaut in the movie, and fix his attention on "the good and the beautiful". He does this by staring at various combinations of delicious food items and photographs of sexy starlets, thereby missing the point entirely, as Servo is wont to do.

Segment Three: On the SOL, Mike takes a space walk and Crow forgets to reel him back in. Down in Castle Forrester, Pearl and Observer continue struggling to put the Doomdsay Device together. They hear ghastly, ghostly noises echoing through the halls and get all scared. And -- what do you know! -- it turns out to be Bobo yawning and accidentally dragging a chain around.

Segment Four: Inspired by the look of the plaent's control panels in the movie, Crow and Servo set up an array of water glasses and practice playing. Mike innocently shows them up with his virtuoso playing, temporarily upsetting the 'bots, what with their fragile self-esteem.

Segment Five: Crow dresses as a Solarite from the movie, sending him into a spiral of existential doubt about what he really is all about.
On earth, Pearl has despaired of ever finishing the device, and her confidence as an evil world conqueror is shaken. But she's cheered by a mob of villagers apparently storming the castle - that must mean she's a threat. Her heart sinks when she learns that the peasants are there merely to welcome them to the neighborhood.

Reflections: For those of you who follow such things, we found Phantom Planet eerily redolent of the beginning of last season. For one thing, it featured Colleen Grey, otherwise known as The Leech Woman (show 802) playing another devious vixen. And it had more than a passing resemblance to The Mole People (show 803) -- the same tiny fake-cavernous set standing in for an entire underground civilization, and the same old-guys-in-robes factor. In this case, the main old guy was played by Francis X. Bushman, who in his younger days was a silent movie star (featured in the silent version of Ben-Hur). Would that Phantom Planet had retained more of a dignified silence.Though a pretty good movie for the show, I think, it had many scenes of non-stop expositional chat, which gives us all here a collective migraine when trying to write the show. On the plus side of this movie, however: John Agar was conspicuously absent! -- Bill Corbett.


Back to Index