The Nostalgia Effect – Otherworld

OtherworldThe Nostalgia Effect can make you love shows that suck, sometimes it makes you love shows that you KNOW suck. This is one of those shows.

Show: Otherworld

Original Run: January 1985 – March 1985

No. of Episodes: 8

This is likely the shortest lasting awesomely bad television show I’ll ever write about in this series. When I was on the cusp of 13-14 years old this show came on the air and I saw it the day it premiered. The story begins with a picture perfect family of five, vacationing at the Giza Plateau in Egypt. They are taking a tour of the Great Pyramid, something I’ve wanted to do ever since I saw this show. Well it turns out that by sheer coincidence, at the very same time they are in a chamber deep in the pyramid, there is a planetary conjunction taking place. Their tour guide senses something isn’t right and takes off, leaving them stranded in the pyramid, just long enough for the whole family to be transported magically to another world.

I know what you’re thinking… You’ve heard this story before, or is it after? No this isn’t Stargate. Though there are many parallels. The place they end up is called Thel, and it is unsure if it is a parallel earth in another dimension, or if it is just an alien planet, but either way, it is entirely populated by humans, and human like androids. There are plenty of references to Earth around, it seems that several of the people they run into in Thel tell stories of how their ancestors came from Earth in the same way our protagonists did.

otherwcast2The series basically consists of the Sterling family traveling from one province to another trying to find  a way home, and each province is completely and totally different than every other, different governments, different society, different social structures. One province, called Emar, where women rule and men have no rights, is reminiscent of a certain episode of Star Trek TNG. In another province, the teenage son and daughter of the Sterlings introduce the province to rock and roll, cause they just happen to be talented rock stars of course, and the Thel religious organization takes issue with the disruptive influence rock and roll causes on the society.

Banks.KrollThrough all of this the main antagonist is a “Zone Trooper” named Kroll. Zone Troopers are an oppressive police force that have suspect allegiances and over the top delusions of power. It’s their job to patrol the zones between provinces, where no one is allowed to travel (because apparently each province must be self sustaining and xenophobe). On the first day the Sterling family was in Thel, they made Kroll look like a fool and stole his “zone crystal” which is a pass that allows travel between zones. So Kroll is really, really pissed at the Sterling family.

Until 2005, I hadn’t seen an episode of the series since it first aired. Then one day it popped into my head and an internet search began. I couldn’t even remember the name so it took quite some time for me to find it, eventually I did find the name of the show, and unfortunately it was not available on DVD. I have of course managed to see it again.  It has played a few times in syndication on various cable channels.

It seems that the farther on the series went, the more ridiculous it got, why one of the last episodes was a Beauty and the Beast episode…almost scene for scene. This move to the absurd was surely the cause of the series’ demise, though I would like to have been able to see a full season of it, just in case it got better with time. Either way, even though it must have been terrible to have only lasted eight episodes, I still love it. The Nostalgia Effect is strong with this one. If you ever notice it scheduled on some retro TV station you should give it a  try. Or you can find it on DVD from certain nefarious sources that will remain nameless, for the sake of legality.


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