One of the things that I love about You Tube, is its function as a defacto Archive of vintage movies and television. I spent a good part of this winter hunkered down in my snow bunker, searching You Tube for ancient gems. So far I have found more than enough to keep me busy on those cold winter nights. Two of my favorites from my childhood (in the 1950’s) were the 1930’s serial version of Flash gordon and Buck Rogers; incidentally both of these starred Buster Crabbe. I have already watched all of the episodes of both serials
On further examination I have rediscovered some of those great 1970’s and 80’s Sci-Fi TV show that I had forgotten long ago, like Space 1999. However there are some shows that I have never seen before, because they are from the U.K. and were not aired on American television. One of the few Brit Sci-Fi shows that aired on American TV. was and still is Doctor Who, (on BBC America). I am not familiar with British TV from the 70’s and 80’s so when I discovered STAR MAIDENS I was pleasantly surprised. I must admit that it is slightly silly and campy, but in a good way; unlike the laughable and awful Galactica 1980 which was a total flop.
Star Maidens a 1976 British and German production, is one of those rare reflections of contemporary society that in retrospect is quite progressive. It is representative of second wave feminism because it stands gender roles on their heads and highlights the pernicious and banal male attitudes of the time. Some of these attitudes still persist today. The main premise of the story takes the gender role reversal to its logical conclusion; the nightmare of all Macho male misogynist, a Female dominated society.
Plot summary: the Planet Medusa is struck by a roque asteroid and forced out of its own orbit and strays into the orbit of our sun. The remnants of their population have moved underground and developed a matriarchal society. I guess the reason for this mega disaster back story, was solely for the purpose of moving the planet close enough to Earth for the action to take place.
Two lowly male servants, Adam and Shem virtually enslaved by the evil dominating women, discover that they are close enough to another planet to risk an escape. The reason why they want to escape this planet inhabited by oodles of beautiful women, who use them for sex as well as labor, is that they are tired of not being taken seriously and being condescended to. Don’t you worry your pretty little head, let a woman do that for you. Your man brain is too small to comprehend such technical things. These are the kind of attitudes that the women of Medusa have toward their unworthy male domestics and laborers. These are the common complaints of women in our own society and it is hilarious to see the tables turned.
Adam (a male domestic) and Shem (a mechanic) steal a space ship and high-tail it to the big blue marble. The women are incredulous about the escape and don’t believe that the men could actually make the journey without killing themselves. Much to the women’s dismay the bumbling men actually make it to earth alive. The first thing they do upon arrival is try to converse with a cow and then eat some grass. These guys aren’t really the brightest bulbs in the light shop.
The Medusans then dispatch Fulvia and Octavia in the Hunter ship Nemesis to apprehend the two male fugitives. It’s for their own good, men are too stupid to survive on their own. On earth Octavia and Fulvia come head to head with the insolent and arrogant Earth men and start making demands for the return of their property. In the mean time Adam and Shem have turned themselves in, and ask for political asylum.
The women discover that they can’t reason with unreasonable males and kidnap two scientist Liz Becker and Rudy Schmidt and abscond with them back to Medusa. Immediately upon their arrival the pair is quickly separated and begin to learn what is expected of them. Liz is set up in luxurious accommodations, while Rudy is set up in a male barracks with the other sausages. It is soon obvious that Liz loves her new status and that Rudy hates his new life on Planet Medusa. When it is explained to him, how men had mishandled the planet for thousands of years, before the women turned it into a peaceful paradise, (for women) he says that he would rather live on a planet of war and greed than stay on medusa.
I guess that Rudy doesn’t believe in the old adage that, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” The underlying themes of, freedom is relative and empathy is impossible are explored in a light hearted manner. Rudy insulated by his male superiority, feels enslaved, while Liz feels liberated in a matriarchal society; although she claims, she just wants to return to Earth and be Rudy’s assistant.
As the story progresses Fulvia makes her way back to Earth, albeit against orders, to try to retrieve Adam, her domestic who she obviously loves. On earth Fulvia is kinda put in her place but not quite as she learns the quirks of earthly behavior.
This show is a fun diversion full of feminist themes, as well as a a lesson in tolerance and gender parity. As campy as it is, Star Maidens is a satirical denunciation of sexism that’s done in my opinion in a non offensive way. It is worth a watch if you like campy Sci-Fi with intelligent themes.