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Director: Albert Barillé
Airing date: March 26?, 1983
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Combat de titans © ProcidisIn the opening scene of this next to final episode, Cassiopeian general Teigneux (Pest) convinces his senate to give an ultimatum for unconditional surrender to Omega. But then he himself gets the same ultimatum from his former ally, Yama…

The general’s reaction is to arrest his senate, taking the final step to become a full dictator at last, and to declare war on Yama. Meanwhile on Omega Pierrot conceives a plan to harm the robot enemy from the inside, which he performs not only with the faithful Psi and Metro, but also Le Petit Gros and his girlfriend, Pierrot’s sister. By trickery, the five manage to be brought inside a Yama cruiser, where Pierrot places a bomb.

Some excitement is added, when after having placed the bomb the five are having difficulties leaving the ship, especially when Metro forgets an important code. Nevertheless, it’s the politics and the depressing battle scenes of Cassopeia’s ill-fated war that impress the most, not the antics of our heroes.

Yama’s might is shown by images literally flooded by space ships, and by battle scenes in which Cassiopeian cruisers are shot to pieces with a frightening ease. Nevertheless Le Teigneux persists almost to the very end, with his subordinates obeying with the motto of ‘Befehl ist Befehl‘. Thus Cassopeia heads to its own mass destruction, similar to Germany and Japan in World War II. Only when Yama threatens to blow up the entire planet of Cassiopeia itself, Le Teigneux gives in, and surrenders unconditionally. Now it will be Omega’s turn…

This episode’s images of war and mass destruction are very disturbing, and in no sense Barillé glorifies war, on the contrary. Although they had been the stock enemy in the past, the viewer is invited to sympathize with the Cassiopeians. Teigneux’s admiral is seen repeatedly in utter distress, torn between the general’s bullheadedness and the sheer hopelessness of his own duty, with his subordinates mourning the loss of human lives. Barillé raises the very question what cause would justify such loss, leaving the answer to the viewer. This is a very different take on war than the heroism of Star Wars, and a much more mature one, despite being aimed at children.

Watch ‘Combat de titans’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is the 25th episode of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’ (Once Upon a Time… Space)
To the 24th episode: Le grand ordinateur (The Great Computer)
To the 26th episode: L’infini de l’espace (The Infinity of Space)

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Director: Albert Barillé
Airing date: January 22?, 1983
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

L’imparable menace © ProcidisIn ‘À Cassiopée‘ the hostile constellation of Cassiopeia had made plans to invade the earth. In ‘L’imparable menace’ it has become clear their plans have changed…

This episode starts with Cassiopeia firing a deadly rocket to Earth in order to make Omega surrender to Cassiopeia unconditionally. So now Omega itself is at stake, with Earth as a hapless pawn in interstellar politics.

Luckily for Omega, our heroes Pierrot, Petit Gros and Psi are still in the neighborhood of Jupiter, and they are the only ones who can stop the doomsday rocket in time. In fact, it’s the androids Psi encountered in ‘Les anneaux de Saturne‘ who had fired the rocket in the first place.

The whole episode is one race against time, which makes it one of the most exciting episodes of the entire series.

Watch ‘L’imparable menace’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is the 16th episode of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’ (Once Upon a Time… Space)
To the 15th episode: Les anneaux de Saturne (The Rings of Saturn)
To the 17th episode: Terre! (Earth)

Director: Albert Barillé
Airing date: December 11?, 1982
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

La planète déchiquetée © ProcidisThe exciting episode ‘La planète déchiquetée’ undoubtedly is one of the highlights of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’.

It starts immediately where ‘À Cassiopée’ had left off. In this episode Cassiopeia leaves the galactic union, an act reminiscent of Japan’s resignation from The League of Nations in 1933. Like ‘À Cassiopée’ this episode starts with politics, with the absent-minded Maestro as a comic relief. Maestro also tells us how a sun explodes at the end of its life, thus adding a small educational touch to this episode.

A dying sun plays a major part in the political scheme of things, threatening a military base Cassiopeia is building nearby. When the sun does explode, Cassiopeia tries to save the material, leaving its own slave-like people behind, leaving them to be rescued by the allies.

Only after 20 minutes we meet our heroes, trying to save the last Cassiopeian people from the threatened planet. The time element and the contrasting goals of Cassopeia and Omega make this episode particularly thrilling. The suspense is supported by Michel Legrand’s exciting score.

At the end, the rescuing vessel The Ursus, with our heroes on board, crashes into another planet, leading to the first real cliffhanger in the series.

Watch ‘La planète déchiquetée’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is the 10th episode of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’ (Once Upon a Time… Space)
To the 9th episode: À Cassiopée (In Cassiopeia)
To the 10th episode: Les naufragés de l’espace (Shipwrecked in Space)

Director: Albert Barillé
Airing date: December 4?, 1982
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

À Cassiopée © ProcidisEpisode 9 of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’ is closely tied to episode 10 and 11, constituting the first episode-exceeding story within the series.

It’s also one of the more political episodes. Indeed, its first half is about politics only. It starts with general Teigneux (Pest) reflecting on the past, how he failed to colonize planets because of Omega, referring to the events in episodes 2-6. Then consul Le Nabot (Dwarf) shows him the tapes from earth he had stolen in the previous episode.

The images of earth shows Barillé’s cynical view on the earth’s future: 30 billion people, many of which overfed, a lot of pollution, age-long traffic jams (reminiscent of those from Halas & Batchelor’s cartoon ‘Automania 2000’ from 1963), and a pride in producing weapons. After watching these images, Cassiopeia plans to invade earth.

After this long introduction, our heroes are sent to Cassiopeia to find out what their plans are, but they’re immediately captured and sent into prison. The second half of this episode consists therefore of a classic prison break, with a starring role for the rather matter-of-factly Metro. Our heroes eventually escape using the same meteor trick the Millennium Falcon did in ‘The Emperor Strikes Back’ (1980), one of the numerous influences of George Lucas’ films on Barillé’s series.

Watch ‘À Cassiopée’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is the 9th episode of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’ (Once Upon a Time… Space)
To the 8th episode: Le long voyage (The Long Voyage)
To the 10th episode: La planète déchiquetée (A Planet Blown to Pieces)

Director: Albert Barillé
Airing date: October 30?, 1982
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Du côté d’Andromède © Procidis‘Du côte d’Andromède’ is the first episode of Il était une fois… l’espace in which Pierrot, his love Psi, and the little robot Metro are presented as a team.

Psi replaces Pierrot’s former co-pilot, Petit Gros, whose star would soon fade away. The trio’s routine inspection flight turns into a disaster when they crash into the planet Clarus, which orbits a dying star. In search of fresh air, our heroes meet a people called Terks, who are outcasts from Andromeda.

They also discover that the Terks are secretly armed by the evil constellation of Cassiopeia in order to invade Andromeda, making Clarus the third of four planets in the Andromeda Galaxy Cassiopeia is trying to use for an invasion. Naturally, the Terks aren’t fond of spies, and our heroes are about to get executed, when their friends from Omega come to the rescue.

Like ‘La planète verte‘, ‘Du côte d’Andromède’ shows Barillé’s love to show and explain political manipulations to children. This episode also introduces the vague, angel-like creature who visits Psi and tells her that evil will never win.

Watch ‘Du côté d’Andromède’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is the 4th episode of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’ (Once Upon a Time… Space)
To the 3rd episode: La planète verte (The Green Planet)
To the 5th episode: Les Cro-Magnons (The Cro-Magnons)

Director: Albert Barillé
Airing date: October 23?, 1982
Rating: ★★★
Review:

La planète verte © ProcidisUnlike the majority of the episodes of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’, ‘La planète verte’ starts with politics: we witness a political conflict between Omega and Cassiopeia.

Like in ‘Les Sauriens‘, Cassiopeia tries to invade a green, primitive planet in the Andromeda section (something they would also try to do in the fifth episode). Only after more than eight minutes our heroes Pierrot and Petit Gros enter the stage. They check the planet, which turns out to be inhabited by intelligent plants, who have captured their invaders, including general Teigneux (The Pest) and ambassador Nabot (Dwarf) themselves.

This episode show us more of Cassiopeia than the two previous episodes. This society turns out to be very militaristic with Nazi-like characteristics. Because of Cassiopeia’s more prominent role, ‘La planète verte’ is more interesting than the previous two episodes, if not too exciting.

Watch ‘La planète verte’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is the 3rd episode of ‘Il était une fois… l’espace’ (Once Upon a Time… Space)
To the 2nd episode: Les Sauriens (The Saurians)
To the 4th episode: Du côté d’Andromède (Towards Andromeda)

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