Blasting off with the "Hypernauts"

hypernautsLike ninety percent of all my great pop culture memories, I stumbled upon “Hypernauts” one very early Saturday morning in 1996. When I say early, I mean five in the morning on ABC TV in the US, and I recall finding it to be a rather entertaining and exciting science fiction series, then. It also helped my excitement that one of the primary stars of this action adventure series was the lovely Heidi Lucas who, kids my age at the time would remember her as one of the stars of the Nickelodeon comedy “Salute your Shorts.” This series is a long departure for her from the “Meatballs” summer camp comedy, approaching a more dramatic and gritty science fiction show that could appeal to young audiences.

“Hypernauts” centers around three cadets Ace, Max, and Sharkey whom are enlisted to take part in an expedition for the Academy of Galactic Exploration. Along the way they end up in a hyper bubble that sends them drifting in to another galaxy entirely and while there they discover a new world seemingly destroyed by war. While exploring they’re shot down by enemy forces and learn that they’re being stalked by the Triad, a war-like alien race who don’t take kindly to their interference. The trio must band together with an alien priestess named Kulai to survive in the middle of the war with the help of their bad ass robotic mech suits and find themselves in a quandary. If they manage to find a way home, they may lead the Triad to planet Earth where they might attempt another takeover, however the Hypernauts must find a way to warn the human race of the Triads while keeping Earth a secret.

Along the way, the Hypernauts meet a friendly monster named Gloose who aides in their expeditions as well Horten, an AI computer in the vein of C3P0 that has had massive experience in war and intelligence. All things considered the performances from the entire cast are solid, with Heidi Lucas providing the more interesting character in the trio who has heart and courage and bonds with Gloose. Carrie Dobro is also entertaining as the mysterious Kulai who hates her race of the Triads and is insistent on mentoring and aiding the Hypernauts in their resistance. There are bits and pieces of series like “Star Wars,” “Babylon Five,” and “Battlestar Galactica” with introductions of alien races and many adventures that involve the trio adapting to this new world and galaxy while trying to survive and mine for resources like food, water, and fuel for their ships.

hypernauts2“Hypernauts” is almost twenty years old, but it still sports a great appeal for science fiction fans and nostalgia buffs like me. And it’s sadly one of the many really good Saturday morning series that never quite had the chance to develop in to something amazing. “Hypernauts” is unfortunately one of the last youth based series that would take the science fiction genre seriously. Around this period “Power Rangers” dominated the entire youth market and sadly ABC Networks never picked up “Hypernauts” for a second season. They didn’t even completely air the entire first season. “Hypernauts” has a really rich premise with some entertaining moments in the series for science fiction fans who appreciate light content that almost never gets too depressing for young audiences to endure.

There are the occasional cheesy moments, but overall “Hypernauts” manages to still be an exciting science fiction series with some slick special effects. Granted, they’re inferior when compared to what was being achieved at the time, but the show’s overall robotic effects and landscape CGI has its charms and melds well with the tone of the series. And for a Saturday morning series, the premise is rather is sophisticated and filled with promise for conflict and dramatic overtones. Sadly, “Hypernauts” has yet to receive a proper DVD or Blu-Ray release in spite of fan demand and can only be found through back door online resources. Re-visiting it, it’s nice to see this experimental series at least try something new and bold with the genre. I hope it gets a polished re-release allowing it a new audience of genre buffs very soon.