1 9 7 6 (UK/Germany)
13 x 60 minute episodes
Star Maidens was an Anglo-German co-production, shot on 16mm film at Bray Studios in England with a budget of £50,000 an episode.
Though basically a space-bound soap opera, it did provide some interesting science-fiction concepts.
The series introduced the planet of Mendusa where the female of the species reigned supreme (and were all drop-dead gorgeous in very revealing uniforms) while the males took care of domestic chores, nursery duties and other menial tasks.
When Mendusa entered the orbit of planet Earth, and word got around that it was a planet ruled almost entirely by men, two of the most rebellious Mendusan menservants managed to escape.
The first four episodes dealt with the arrival on Earth of the two rebels, Adam and Shem (Gareth Thomas of Blakes 7), and their constant endeavours to remain.
In subsequent episodes the action alternated between the two planets, resulting in each episode having a self-contained storyline within the series.
After narrowly avoiding being killed when they crash-landed on Earth, the two renegade males appealed to the authorities to allow them asylum from the pursuing women – but on board the Mendusan ship Nemesis, Chief Security Controller Octavia and Adam’s mistress (and lover) Grand Councillor Fulvia were already heading for Earth.
Fulvia wanted the return of her runaway servant (who she treated more like a pet) and it wasn’t long before aggressive super-bitch Octavia was ordering several Earth police officers about, expecting them to react like the men on her home planet.
Meanwhile, after trying to communicate with a herd of cows, (and following their lead by eating grass) Adam and Shem found their way to a large castle where they sought refuge.
Unable to resist their curiosity, Earthling Doctor Rudi Schmidt and Liz Becker from the Astronomical Institute explored inside the unattended Nemesis.
Rudi accidentally triggered a device which blinded him, and the panic-stricken Liz turned to the craft’s occupants for help upon their return.
They activated a medical droid who performed a brief operation and a much relieved Rudi made a perfect recovery.
Octavia then piloted the ship to the castle where she had tracked Adam and Shem and activated something called the ‘Nightmare Cannon’ – a weapon that feeds upon a person’s fear – forcing both men outside to plead for mercy.
Unfortunately, before Nemesis could land it was struck by lightning and damaged, and had to return to space for repairs.
Octavia kidnapped the two scientists in the hope of arranging an exchange for Adam and Shem – much to the annoyance of Professor Evans on Earth, who was enjoying picking the alien’s brains in his quest for more knowledge.
Meanwhile, Fulvia was drugged with champagne and kidnapped by a foreign power who wanted the secrets of Mendusa’s advanced technology, while up on Mendusa Dr Rudi Schmidt crossed swords with Octavia and was tried by a jury of computers and sent onto the barren surface of the planet to join a work detail.
While here, Schmidt organised a breakout and destroyed the hovering patrol vehicle by reflecting its own ray back against it with a mirror.
The escape bid was foiled by President Clara, whose pleas worked on the dumb male escapees as their conditioning caused them to obey the women’s orders and open the hatch to admit the red-helmeted female security guards with paraguns – a ray gun that causes temporary paralysis).
Octavia meanwhile ordered Liz Becker to be attached to a bizarre machine called the sexometer, which worked on the mind – On a large video screen we saw a muscle-bound, macho, blond guy, but Liz rebelled and the image changed into a hideous snake.
Octavia boosted the power and restored the hunk until Liz changed it again by sheer willpower. Over and over again it changed back and forth from man to beast until the machine blew a circuit – Shades of Barbarella . . .
Down on Earth, Adam has rescued Fulvia and the pair have decided to try and live together as man and wife (but in reverse, with her working and him staying at home to do the housework), but Adam tired of Fulvia’s jealousy and called it a day.
Packing his bags and leaving her, he rescued the weak-willed Shem who had been dominated by two women’s libbers and forced to show them how to use a paragun (most of this sequence was shot on a Barrat housing estate – a sign that the budget was running out).
Back on Planet Chick, Rudi worked out that the rain was disintegrating Mendusa’s crust and it was only a matter of time before all the Mendusans were killed, but Octavia refused to listen to the good doctor – as their ‘Prediction Computer’ insisted there was nothing wrong. Rudi ultimately had a new air purification system shut down and saved the day.
In the end, Rudi and Liz were returned to Earth in exchange for Adam and Shem (on the way home, Adam shot down an age-old enemy of the Mendusans and saved Octavia’s life. Reluctantly she voiced her gratitude to the MAN who saved her . . . Ironic, huh?
If Mendusa looked in many ways like a discarded Space : 1999 set, this is because the production designer was Keith Wilson (who worked on both seasons of the Gerry Anderson series).
At first glance, the model sets looked quite impressive, but on closer inspection, it was revealed that they were made of everyday items.
Take for instance the model of the Mendusan city; It was built out of everyday objects like table tennis balls, plastic straws and cotton reels.
Unfortunately, it was also obvious that a part of this futuristic engineering feat was nothing more than an egg box!.
Grand Councillor Fulvia
Security Controller Octavia
Dr Rudi Schmidt