Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sunday 10 February 1963

Convict in Space begins with the theft of top secret UN files by extra-terrestrial baddie Grovan Devlis, who breaks into a safe using his oxy-duranic ray gun.  The theft's announced on TV by the mumpy faced chap from the Space Monster episode the other week, who seems to have a new job as a newsreader.  I'm not too keen on his new hipster look.

Steve Zodiac and the crew fly off after Devlis, and manage to catch him, slinging him in Fireball XL5's Space Jail prior to taking him to the Space Pen on the planet Conva.  Devlis is a funny one.  Perhaps to try and compensate for his very spangly outfit (with cape), he sounds like a tough guy from a 1930s gangster film.

"You win, Steve Zodiac... THIS time!"
Unfortunately Devlis isn't the only interplanetary menace about.  The Fireball XL5 crew are being trailed by their old enemies Boris and Griselda, also known as Mr and Mrs Space Spy.  I don't know if this is a title they won in a contest or whether Space Spy is actually their surname.  Either way I'd suggest the name displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of espionage.  Here they are, the adorable pair:

Mr Boris Space Spy
Mrs Griselda Space Spy
The pair disguise their ship, the SS Thor (SS standing for Space Spy, presumably) and send a distress signal to Fireball XL5.  Matt's sent over to investigate and falls victim to the old gun handle on the back of the head trick.

The Space Spys' (no hyphen) plan is to exchange Matt for Devlis, who they plan to extort the UN secrets from and then dispose of, the cads.  Steve and Venus quickly agree to the exchange (I'd have to give it a bit more thought I think, the grizzled old prospector bit's getting rather wearing), but the sneaky couple decide to keep hold of Matt anyway.

The dodgiest Blind Date lineup ever
Devlis suggests disposing of Matt on the planet Voldanda ("But Voldanda!" Griselda exclaims, "Isn't that the planet of volcanoes?").  Indeed it is.

Poor Matt's imprisoned in the tower you can see above .  With XL5's navigation equipment smashed up by Devlis, will Steve arrive in time to rescue him from a flood of molten lava?  I love the little "coo-ee" wave the professor keeps giving from his prison.

Meanwhile, Boris and Griselda are double-crossed by the evil Devlis.  "Stop him, Boris, stop him!" Griselda cries as he makes for their spaceship.  "But how, my love? He has a ray gun," is the eminently sensible response.

The surfeit of ridiculous baddies in this episode makes it splendid fun, and it's also nice to see ship's robot Robert get something to do other than sit in a chair repeating people.  Yes, here he is... sliding open a door!

Here's Convict in Space for you to watch for yourself:

This week's chart: well, Jet Harris and Tony Meehan's "Diamonds" is still in the top spot, with Cliff and the Shadows at number 2 with "The Next Time/Bachelor Boy".  The biggest hit this week that I haven't featured yet is this, from four Liverpool lads who are making a big name for themselves.  It's the Beatles, at number 3 with "Please Please Me".

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