"Once upon a time in a school in outer space, There was a class of misfit kids from all around the place. They snuck aboard a mystery ship, Which soon slipped through a spacial rip, And now they're stuck on a long strange trip."
A live-action science fiction show for children that aired on Nickelodeon. It told the story of a group of Starcademy students from different planets who sneaked aboard a mysterious space ship called The Christa. After two of their teachers come looking for them, the ship takes off with all of them aboard, right through a white hole that drops them off over 7 years from home. They become lost in space.By pure coincidence, Bill "Will Robinson" Mumy of Lost in Space was one of the creators of this show. By less coincidence, Peter David is the other.Has a Character Sheet. Also has an entertaining off-site pictorial series summary.
This show provides examples of:
Adults Are Useless: "Davenport and Goddard do the best they can." Since the Christa won't respond to their commands, they really are.
Aliens Speaking English: For the cadets it's justified as they are all classmates and a teacher speaking half a dozen languages would be inefficient. On the other hand, there's no excuse for the Spung or the other aliens in the far reaches of the universe knowing english.
Dawson Casting: Nicely averted by the actors who played Catalina, Bova, and Rosie, all of whom were 13-14 during the first season. Radu and Suzee were borderline; both actors were 19-20 during the second season. Played deadly straight with Walter Emanuel Jones who, several years earlier, had been too old for his role in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and, well, hadn't gotten any younger since.
Disney Death: Catalina in the first season finale. This was a case of Executive Meddling. Catalina was supposed to die, and be replaced by the recurring character Elmira. Nick thought that she was too alien, and they were forced into Catalina trading places with Suzee.
The original season 1 finale came without the tacked on ending where it is revealed Catalina survived the explosion in another dimension but Nickelodeon demanded they put it in because children can't handle death. Also, it was originally planned for Elmira to officially join the main cast in season 2. However, Nick executives felt she was too "alien" and were afraid fans would find her scary. So, they replaced her with Susie.
Other examples of Nick's meddling was moving Davenport and Goddard into the background in season 2.
Expository Theme Tune: As quoted above. In the first season the original opening theme was orchestral, with a narrator (Harlan Ellison) giving a preamble, and the theme tune was used over the closing credits. The closing theme moved to the opening in the second season, re-recorded to fit Catalina's replacement and new descriptions of the characters. It was further re-recorded for first season episodes after the series ended, but with Catalina featured in, and a new opening sequence was created, according to That Other Wiki, making the original opening a truer example of Keep Circulating the Tapes.
Exty Years from Now: The series never gives an exact date, but judging from Harlan's comments, his ancestors were slaves almost exactly 400 years ago. (Which would put the series somewhere in the 2200's, possibly the early 2300 depending on what direction Harlan rounds in.)
Family of Choice: In the episode "It's My Birthday, Too (Yeah!)", the cadets have to make family trees, but Radu is stymied by the fact that Andromedans were born in group hatcheries with no family ties while enslaved by the Spung. He first tries making up a pretend family, but when that gets exposed, he eventually decides that the cadets and teachers have become as good as family, with a little help from Thelma.
Thelma: Why were you upset at your party?
Radu: Because I lied and they all knew I lied. That's why. I just wanted to have a family. Even a pretend one was too much to ask for. You couldn't understand.
Thelma: I couldn't? My understanding has always been that a family is not only those from whom you are born, but those to whom you belong. [beat] Did I screw up, too?
Humanity Ensues: During the Freaky Friday episode, Thelma was switched with Suzee and became... whatever Suzee is. She was upset about this since the combination of new emotions and being mentally cut off from Christa was too much for her to handle.
I Ate WHAT?: A comedic example, though we never find out what the mystery substance is. The Christa is stranded on a planet and three of the cast are sitting around a fire, where the following exchange occurs.
Harlan: Ugh! What is that?
Bova: Don't know. I found it over there. On the ground.
Harlan: ...Why are you cooking something that's not even food?
Bova: Why are you eating something that's not even food?
Goddard: Our ship is part machine, and part living matter.
Loud of War: Done by the evil twins in The Trouble with Doubles.
Mr. Fanservice: In "Both Sides Now," Radu gets turned into a human. So many girls (and statistically several boys) liked him a lot better that way.
My Brain Is Big: Davenport says almost this exact line when her head swells to 19 times its size and she develops Psychic Powers that can (seemingly) bend the laws of metaphysics. In actuality she figures out how to access the ship's morphing abilities.
Nice Hat: Rosie wore one that helped her regulate her high body temperature in the first season. She ditched it later on as a sign of maturation and better control over one's heat powers for her race.
Noodle Incident: Goddard's "space pirate story." It was what busted his rank, put him on thin ice with the brass and "almost started a war." Reaver—said space pirate—feels that he owes Goddard some payback for what happened.
Out of Order: The episode "It's My Birthday Too" was aired later in the season than it was originally intended to, leading to some characterization backsliding. It doesn't help that it was filmed early, too.
Playing with Fire: Rosie can shoot fire from her hands and mouth because she is a living star.
Put on a Bus: Catalina was sent to another dimension and Commander Goddard was crushed by the ship while taking off from the planet they'd been stranded on and put in some kind of Suspended Animation to heal. His healing completed in the penultimate episode and was present for the it and the finale. He makes up for his absence by single handedly saving the crew from the Doppleganger.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Part of the reason Catalina had to be written out was because Jewel Staite had a commitment to the Disney Channel/Family Channel (CA) series Flash Forward (no relation to the '09 series). Peter David knew this going in; thus the creation of Suzee.
The ship is named for Christa McAuliffe, the schoolteacher who was killed in the Challenger explosion. Also, a few of the kids' names reference famous sci-fi writers; Harlan Band = Harlan Ellison; Bova = Ben Bova.
This one takes some setup: one of the (very few) changes that J. Michael Straczynski wrote into Peter David's episode "There All the Honor Lies" of Babylon 5 involved a bear getting thrown out an airlock. See, JMS hates cute, the bear was a gift from Peter to JMS... it was inevitable. Fast-forward to Space Cases. In the second episode, the kids find a teddy bear floating in space, leading one to ask, "What kind of dope would toss a perfectly good Earth bear into space?" It turns out to have been an evil race called the Straczyn, who wanted to conquer the galaxy, but didn't have the budget, so they tried for shoestring bio-warfare, booby-trapping the bear. There's also a game called Minbar chess.
Being a former cast member of Babylon 5, Mumy also added a little B5 shout out. In the episode The Trouble with Doubles, there's a scene where the evil twins are tormenting their nice counterparts by playing annoying and loud music into the room they're trapped in. In a line of dialogue, it is revealed that the instrument being played is called a Minbari flugel horn.
In one first season episode, Catalina finds herself wrongfully imprisoned. Her prison number? 24601.
Commander Seth Goddard is no doubt named after producer Bill Mumy's own son, Seth Mumy, as well as Mark Goddard, the actor who played Major Don West on Lost in Space which Bill Mumy stared in as a child.
In the episode where Bill Mumy and Mark Hamill play two silver skinned aliens, the robot from Lost in Space can be seen in the background of their ship.
the Christa's crashing in the 2nd season premiere was based on the Enterprise-D crashing in Star Trek: Generations, although unlike the Enterprise, the Christa was able to be repaired.
Space Cadet Academy: The Starcademy that the teachers and cadets start out from. We also meet the principal of the school in "Long Distance Calls".
Star Trek Shake: Lampshade Hanging: everyone BUT Radu is getting knocked around, quite dramatically so, but Radu is standing completely still. This one is justified. Radu has super strength and super hearing, since balance is established in the ears, those two traits would generate a great sense of balance.
The Team: The cadets, the two adults, and Thelma form the crew of the Christa.
Team Mom: Miss Davenport takes over the role of mothering the children once they are stranded.
To the Batpole!: The cast uses a network of unbelievably cool slide-like tubes to travel between areas of the ship. Thanks to TECHNOLOGY they can slide up just as easily as down. One episode even had the ship malfunctioning so two of them got stuck in the tubes all day.
Translator Microbes: Harlan is given a potion by a tribe of aliens who think he's their king to allow him to understand them. Not only was language never an issue before or after but language poses no problem for the others when they show up to rescue him.