May 31, 2020


My new episode on Cocktail Nation is live! This month I introduce the classic Sci-Fi series from Germany, Raumpatrouille (1966) and play the main theme by Peter Thomas. Raumpatrouille (Space Patrol: The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion) made its debut a mere week after Star Trek appeared in the US. The show was set in a future when a unified Earth had evolved into a cohesive government and colonized in space, as well as under the seas, where their main base was located. The Orion was commanded by Major Cliff McLane and his crew, and as it was revealed, defended humanity against The Frogs, an eerie and  mysterious alien threat. The series ran only seven episodes due to budget. Interestingly, scripts really struck a fierce tone of rebellion against bureaucracy and authority, which can tell us something about attitudes in societies around the world by 1966. In fact, the heroes of the Orion began the show with a dressing down by their superiors for bucking orders and were then sent out to a limited region of space with an official observer on board to make sure regulations were followed to the letter. Luckily for viewers, much suspense and adventure ensued!

Perhaps the most memorable element of Raumpatroulle was the show's jaw-dropping set designs. Interiors were highly modern in style, arranging geometric shapes in stark, minimal black and white. Imagine an ingenious Gerry Anderson world for a life-sized, tense, space adventure photographed for Ingmar Bergman! The influential 1963 Czech classic, Ikarie XB-1, had a similar visual style, which I highly recommend checking out. One of the coolest designs in the series was the Starlight Casino, located in the undersea base (I misspoke in my radio intro; I meant to say 'base' rather than 'ship'). This lounge reminded me a bit of Ken Adam designs for 007, with its metallic surfaces and juxtaposition between angular floorspace and a circular ceiling. In this case, the ceiling was a glass aquarium-view with gigantic tropical fish swinging overhead (In fact, the glass ceiling covered other parts of the base, too, including McLane's own pad). See the infamous modern dance scene below for a closer look. The series also made great use of modern furniture designs by Eames, Saarinen, and others. 

Composer Peter Thomas (Jerry Cotton, Edgar Wallace) brought his trademark combination of driving band and avant-garde jazz. He also used a very unusual piece of equipment to create the Orion's computer voice- a vocoder! According to Music in Science Fiction Television, Thomas had access to the vocoder at the studio from an electronics company in Munich called Siemens. Thomas recorded his own voice using the vocoder for the series. The famous countdown (and other computer dialog) appeared in episodes, but only appeared in front of the main title sequence for the soundtrack. Since the vocoder was so rare in those days, I wondered if such a device was also used for the Cybermen and Dalek voices in Doctor Who? I asked Mark Ayres from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who shed some light on the matter: "No. Ring Modulator for Daleks. False Palate with speaker technique for Cybermen (similar to an Electrolarynx or Talk Box these days). Later Cybermen used a pitch-shifter. I cannot think of any monster voice done using the vocoder. Vocoder was used very rarely in Doctor Who. Peter Howell used it (the EMS Vocoder) on his version of the theme music in 1980, and it was also used for the “Thanks be to Ti” bits in Meglos. Those are the only specific instances I can recall, off the top of my head." Thanks, Mark! Outside the world of experimental music, I believe Thomas was a bit of a pioneer by bringing this cutting-edge sound to Raumpatrouille. Spy Vibers can probably find the episodes on-line, although I believe only a feature-cut made later has English subtitles. There are many subtleties to the plot and interactions between characters, so so try to watch it subtitled if possible. Hopefully we'll see an official release in translation someday. Spy Vibers can hear my brief intro and some music from the show at Cocktail Nation. Enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe episodes on Cocktail Nation: Spycatcher J3Phantom Agents, Phantom Agents IILupin the IIIPublic EyeFantomasUpper SevenThe Beatles Help!, plus Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint), and Episode #5 (The Avengers), Episode #6 (The Prisoner), and Episode #7 (The Ipcress File), Episode #8 (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Spy Vibe Radio: UFO, Spy Vibe Radio: Danger DiabolikSpy Vibe Radio: Peter GunnSpy Vibe Radio: Jerry CottonSpy Vibe Radio: Flint, and Spy Vibe Radio: Get Smart.

Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Remembering Richard SalaCrime & Spy Jazz booksSoviet Space GraphicsNuman is FABBruce Lee BluJohn Barry EventRSD Vinyl SpiesJames Bond's DB5UFO CD SetSpy Vibe radio: Phantom AgentsSteranko is Revolutionary!Interview: The Saint I Ain'tDiabolik InterviewNew 007 SongDiabolik FiguresDiabolik SoundsDiabolik Set DesignDiabolik Park RideDanger Diabolik BluCount Arthur StrongHoney West Title CardsBowie DayNew Year CosmonautsNeil Innes R.I.P.Claudine Auger R.I.P.OHMSS at 50Italian Job 50th OSTCharles Schulz ModernPaul DesmondPython 50thRandall Hopkirk 50thThunderbirds DayLazenby Returns to MI6Dr. John R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio: Lupin IIILupin SkaSpy Vibe PrimeZigomar TranslationThe Village: Part 1Monkey Punch R.I.P.Bubble Girl 63ITC SoundtracksSpy Vibe Radio: Public EyeUFO PrimeSpaceship to MarsModesty Blaise CompanionSpy Vibe Radio: FantomasGeorge DayFantomas BluDark Shadows DocBedazzled Blu-rayMary Quant ExhibitLaika CalypsoLost in Space JapanSpy Dust CalypsoAtomic CafeJohn Barry MonoInterview: John Barry BookLand of the Giants ScoreSkyfall ConcertDearest EmmaSpy Vibe Radio: UppersevenOgilvy at ElstreeMabuse PropagandaBond Beatles DaySpy Vibe Radio: LiquidatorDiabolik LPFab DressesEurospy Music CollectionBeetle Bailey in West BerlinWhy Mort Walker?Spy Vibe radio: The Beatles Help!Avengers Critical GuideThe SpotnicksBenny SpiesJames Pond 0017'Satire StonesAnnette Andre BookCat DaySpy Vibe Radio: Get SmartCaine: My GenerationInterview: Ian OgilvyHorror of Party BeachSylvie Vartan RenownRingo At 78Dark Shadows StripsSpy Vibe Radio: FlintArchie Batman 66Paul at 76Beatles Pac-ManSpy Vibe Radio: Jerry CottonThe Invaders007 Horowitz Book TourMcGoohan/Prisoner Event at ElstreeThe Prisoner Interviews Vol 1British Underground PressInterview: Fab4 ManiaBond Cocktail BookBond at BletchleySpy SmasherSpy Vibe Radio: Peter GunnAgent Zero MNew Prisoner ComicDr. No Villains EditionSpy Vibe Radio: Danger DiabolikDr. No 60thOy-Oy-SevenSpy Vibe Radio (UFO)Cold War Comic StripsThunderball EventMission to IndiaMort Walker CelebrationPeter Wyngarde CelebrationBatman 66 ExhibitPrisoner Fifty EventIan Fleming Publications 2017-2018Interview: Ed Hulse PulpAvengers Audio DramaInterview: Callan At 50Interview: Playboys, Spies, Private EyesTWA ReturnsSpy Vibe Radio 8Interview: Ryan HeshkaMid-Century Modern SchulzAgent WerewolfJohnny Sokko 50thInterview: Trina RobbinsEddie IzzardThe Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50thHugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

No comments:

Post a Comment