STAR MAIDENS (1975-1976) – This obscure (only 3 reviews to date on IMDb) British-German television series from the 1970s has the same kind of campy visual appeal as U.F.O., Space: 1999 and every other Gerry & Sylvia Anderson series in history.
A few years back, Balladeer’s Blog reviewed All That Glitters, the 1977 Norman Lear follow-up to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. All That Glitters was a five night per week soap opera parody set on a parallel Earth where women were in charge of everything and men were second-class citizens. Star Maidens was an earlier, 13-episode Euroseries that had cranked such a premise up to eleven AND treated it as serious science fiction.
The futuristic planet called Medusa was ruled by women with an iron fist, with men relegated to the roles of domestic servants or laborers in mines and factories, etc. Men were outrightly owned by women and the “Men’s Liberation Movement” was outlawed and hounded. Gareth Thomas of all people starred as one of two rebellious men who escape Medusa in a stolen spaceship and head for 1970s Earth.
It seems that the comet Dionysus dragged Medusa out of orbit near Proxima Centauri years earlier and left the planet wandering through space. While the surface quickly froze over, the high-tech civilization relocated below ground, where it continued to thrive.
Eventually, Medusa had settled into orbit in Earth’s solar system out near Pluto’s orbit. Scout ships from the planet had visited Earth, accounting for UFO sightings, but upon observing how men seemed to be the ones who ran the Earth it was explored no further and was declared off-limits to space travel.
As for why the Medusans speak English and why their gravity and atmosphere match Earth’s, well, let’s face it – such unlikelihoods are just part of the campy, old-fashioned fun of sci-fi productions like this. Intriguingly enough, though the women run a scientifically advanced civilization, some of their technology calls to mind witchcraft, for one example a Prediction Computer which resembles a crystal ball.
The first episode features two male domestics on Medusa – Adam and Shem (Pierre Brice and the aforementioned Gareth Thomas) – stealing a spaceship from Adam’s owner Fulvia (Judy Geeson) and flying off for Earth, pursued by Fulvia and the militaristic Octavia (Christiane Kruger).
Flying at speeds as high as 375 million miles per hour, the stolen vessel is detected by a space-monitoring lab on Earth. Scientists, including Liz (Lisa Harrow) and Rudi (Christian Quadflieg), realize that the spaceship is under intelligent control and transmit proper landing instructions to it.
The inexperienced Adam and Shem do their best, but because men aren’t allowed to do things like pilot space vessels back on Medusa, they crash-land on Earth. Luckily, they survive by ejecting in a big walking bubble-type device like Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes used in The Avengers.
As the series rolls along, we get Medusans as fish out of water characters on Earth and Earthlings as fish out of water characters on Medusa. The battle of the sexes role-reversals form a large part of the subtext of each episode as the male and female characters grow to love or loathe the way they get treated on the other planet.
Like on All That Glitters, the gender politics is pretty one-note and Star Maidens, because it’s NOT a comedy, is unintentionally funnier than All That Glitters.
By the 13th episode, it becomes clear that a hostile alien race has discovered both Earth AND Medusa and may be planning on conquering both. Presumably, if Star Maidens had had a 2nd season, maybe the men and women of Earth and Medusa would have learned to treat each other as equals in order to survive against the common enemy.
Unfortunately, this program ran for just one season, so we’ll never know for sure. To view episodes of Star Maidens, subscribe to its channel HERE. To try out the first episode to see if you’ll like it see below.
7 responses to “STAR MAIDENS (1975-1976) FORGOTTEN TELEVISION”
Dare I say I see why it failed? Hmm…
Ha! I know what you mean!
I’m now going to severely date myself and say that picture of the Star Maidens city reminds me very much of the domed city from the old Rick Springfield video for his song “Bop ‘Til You Drop”, which, inexplicably, has a science fictional theme. Perhaps it takes place after Medusa and Earth have been conquered by that hostile alien race you mentioned …
Ha! You may very well be right!
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