Cops, Robbers, & Aliens – “Space Precinct”

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Last week we looked back at space law enforcement in the form of Star Cops from 1987, and this week it is the turn of another British TV show that merged “cop show” with science fiction. Known for puppet shows like Thunderbirds, producer Gerry Anderson brought us Space Precinct.

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The series is set in the year 2040 and starred American actor Ted Shackelford as former NYPD detective Patrick Brogan, now a lieutenant with the Demeter City police force on the planet Altor in the Epsilon Eridani system.

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Ted Shackelford as Patrick Brogan

Brogan and his partner Jack Haldane (played by Rob Youngblood) must adjust to living in another solar system, and investigating crimes being committed by aliens as well as humans. Also co-starring was Danish actress Simone Bendix as Officer Jane Castle, Haldane’s love interest (Brogan being happily married with a wife, daughter and son who made the move to Demeter City with him). All other major characters were played by actors wearing complex make-up that also included elements of puppetry in order to depict the different alien races.

Space Precinct was a British-American venture, first broadcast from 1994 to 1995 on Sky One and later on BBC Two in the UK, and in first-run syndication in the United States. Many US stations scheduled the show in late night time slots, which resulted in low ratings and contributed to its cancellation.

The series was created by Gerry Anderson and was a mix of science fiction and police procedural that combined elements of many of Anderson’s previous series such as Space: 1999, UFO and Thunderbirds, but with an added dash of Law & Order and Dragnet. Anderson was executive producer with Tom Gutteridge. One of the series’ directors was John Glen, who had previously directed five James Bond films.

space-precinct-343x258The series was one of the highest-budgeted shows Anderson produced, and was relatively popular in Europe. However, in a repeat of the situation that UFO encountered 25 years earlier, American broadcasters were uncertain what to make of the series that looked on the surface to be aimed at children, yet featured adult-oriented storylines and was usually played straight despite the bizarre storylines and make-up. As a result, Space Precinct was often scheduled in late-night/early morning time slots. It failed to generate sufficient American ratings for a second season to be authorized.


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