In “Web of the Star Witch,” the third episode of Jason of Star Command’ssecond season, Jason’s apparently abandoned Star Fire returns to the Star Command docking bay. Commander Stone (John Russell) is concerned over the strange arrival, and with good reason. In secret, one of Dragos’ minions has infiltrated the base, and is planning to set a time bomb.
All in all, “Web of the Star Witch” is perhaps a bit more exciting than “Frozen in Space,” (which I call “Frozen in Place.”) There’s a little bit more intrigue in this narrative, and in terms of visuals, the episode features a terrific stop-motion alien monster.
Watching Jason and Samantha face off against this unusual star beast, I was reminded immediately of Jason and the Argonauts (1962), and then considered again how the swashbuckling fantasy world of Ray Harryhausen seems to be one of the key inspirations of Jason of Star Command. Consider the similarities: a heroic leader and his courageous team — with Samantha as a kind of female, amnesiac Hercules — facing off against evil creatures and aliens. In the same sense as Jason and the Argonauts, Jason of Star Command is tremendous fun, and filled with surprisingly effective special effects for a Saturday morning TV show.
What seems missing from “Web of the Star Witch” is a larger overall plot-line, or arc. Each Jason of Star Command features a terrible threat to Jason and to Star Command, and yet it all feels terribly random, as though Dragos is just throwing everything (including the kitchen sink…) at his opponents.
Dragos would seem a more effective villain if the audience felt he actually had a multi-piece strategy. On the other hand, if space terrorism is his goal, perhaps Drago is effective in “terrorizing” Star Command.
“Web of the Star Witch” also demonstrates how WiKi has become an easy crutch for series writers. In this story, the tiny robot destroys the chains binding Samantha and Jason, overloads an alien computer, and saves the day again and again. He has become, in short order, Jason’s “Get out of Jail Free” card. He’s virtually indestructible too.
Next week: “Beyond the Stars.”