Space Cadets (Channel 4, 1997)
I don’t usually do requests on here, but I was asked recently if I remembered watching this show. I had vaguely heard of it, even if I don’t think that I watched that much of it at the time, but being reminded of it made me think that I might as well give it a review because I am always ready to look back at 90s shows that I think should feature here however successful they were.
Space Cadets (not to be confused with a mid-2000s Channel 4 show with the same name that was hosted by Johnny Vaughan) was a comedy panel game. As there had been successful comedy game shows about sport (They Think It’s All Over), music (Never Mind The Buzzcocks), along with many others, it seemed that someone thought that it would be a good idea to make one of these shows about the genre of science-fiction.
Space Cadets was hosted by High Commander Greg Proops, the American comedian who was best-known at the time for appearing on Channel 4’s comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and, er… those crisp adverts. The team captains were Craig Charles (who by this point had appeared in seven series of Red Dwarf) and Bill Bailey. The name of their team changed every week, one example is “the Things” against “the Blobs”.
They would be joined by two teammates, and the show earned some publicity by having these include people who had appeared in popular sci-fi shows, such as Claudia Christian from Babylon 5, Sylvester McCoy from Doctor Who, and William Shatner from Star Trek. It was a chance to prove that they knew something about the genre they starred in. Also appearing as panellists were various comedians including Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller.
Even though it was another one of those shows that was played more for laughs than points, there were several rounds. These included being shown clips from cliffhangers in not very good B-movies and having to determine what happened next, having to translate phrases in Klingon into English, and trying to guess what a strange alien object is that appeared in a sci-fi show. The final round would be the familiar free-for-all on the buzzer.
The scores were kept by AL the computer (not to be confused with HAL), and Greggles spent most of his time bickering with this all-knowing machine who was trying to deliver the status updates. There should definitely be more sacrastic robots for no reason in game shows. Space Cadets was shown in a primetime slot on Channel 4, but it ran for only one series, maybe it had got a little lost in the big rush of comedy panel games that were on TV around this time, but there were plenty of enjoyable moments before it evaporated from the screen.