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I've just started watching the television series Space Patrol (known as Planet Patrol in the US), a wonderful kids program created by a protégé of Gerry Anderson from the early sixties that also used marionettes. What really strikes me about this all but forgotten program is how influential it seems to have been on later sci-fi. From the very first episode you can see how Gene Roddenberry must have been heavily influenced by Space Patrol. The aggressive and masculine Martians with their high foreheads are certainly forerunners of the Klingons while the elfin and logical Venusians must have been inspirational in the creation of the Vulcans. Even some aesthetics like room dividers are very similar to those on the Enterprise. The main plot revolves around a close knit trio of friends and their adventures visiting various planets. While obviously Roddenberry had more inspiration than this kid's show, in some ways Star Trek feels like a grown up version of Space Patrol.
Unfortunately the DVD is OOP and sells for around $500 but if you search around the net... (hint, hint), you can find some episodes. The show is really hilarious both intentionally and unintentionally such as in the first episode when the 'brakes' go out on their spaceship and they almost crash into Jupiter. Or anytime they leave the ship there is a cut-scene of a ridiculous looking robot pacing back and forth behind sliding doors. Notice how the Colonel looks like Larry Tate from Bewitched.
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