The argument that 1970s-1980s children’s programming wasn’t “educational” might have some validity.
In example, I offer an episode of Spider-Woman entitled “Shuttle to Disaster.” A somewhat prophetic title, in light of later developments.
- Spider-Woman makes a marionette out of a dinosaur skeleton, which she uses to scare off the minions of the bad guy, a man with a steel jaw called imaginatively enough “Steel Jaw.”
- Steel Jaw immobilizes the three pilots of the space shuttle by encasing them in SOMETHING (ice, plastic, who knows?). We assume they aren’t dead, but the only persons who are shown safely landing on earth at the end of the episode are Spider-Woman and her two companions.
- Steel Jaw hijacks the shuttle, taking it to the moon;
- Steel Jaw and his minions have no difficulty flying the shuttle, despite presumably not being astronauts;
- Spider-woman is ejected through an airlock (I say airlock; it might just have been a door) with only a space helmet over her spider suit and is unharmed;
- Spider-woman uses her “venom blast” (Swiss-army-knife magic weapon that can be used to fight anything, even spaceships in one episode) for thrust to reach the shuttle, which she enters by opening an unlocked side door;
- Shuttle is set down on the moon without damage;
- All the passengers (civilians) on the shuttle are forced into spacesuits so they can mine the moon;
- Within literal hours, the passengers have bored a massive tunnel that gives up literal heaps of gems, which they cart in giant skips to the shuttle;
- Characters run at normal speed on the moon (implying gravity is the same as on earth);
- Steel Jaw welds the mineshaft shut with a laser (melting the stone, which instantly solidifies), sealing Spider-Woman inside;
- Spider-Woman creates a diamond-web drill by tying one of her webs to a diamond, cutting through the stone wall;
- Spider-Woman launches herself into orbit with a giant spiderweb slingshot, which enables her to catch the shuttle, which has apparently taken off from the moon (somehow); and
- Steel Jaw attempts to shake Spider-Woman off the shuttle by firing retro rockets. Unshaken, she lets herself in another conveniently unlocked hatch/door.
All this can be a bit hard to swallow, even for someone who isn’t a rocket scientist. The villains on Spider-Woman are all lunatics with elemental motives (Steel Jaw included). You have to ask yourself why this Steel Jaw didn’t just rob a jewelry store some place on earth.
And here’s the funniest bit. There AREN’T any gemstones on the moon because the moon doesn’t have the right geology to create them.
This episode was obviously designed to take advantage of the shuttle craze that was happening at that time. If it hadn’t come out four years before Starflight One, I would say that the writers of this episode had plagiarized this piece of crap. They probably borrowed at least some of the plot from Bond’s Moonraker, which came out the same year. Spider-Woman even calls the villains moonrakers at one point.
They show the U.S. government taking charge of the gemstones at the end of the episode. Maybe they used them to pay for shuttle repairs?by