‘Prisoners of Gravity’ created thoughtful debate in scifi

It’s difficult to believe, with comic book films topping the box office every year and science fiction/fantasy literature being taught in classrooms, geek/nerd culture wasn’t always mainstream. There was a time when discussions of Spider-man’s dual life and the Christ-like imagery of RoboCop were relegated to what some called adolescent entertainment. However, in the late 80s and early 90s, a program aired on Canadian public television that managed to showcase the legitimacy and intelligence behind speculative fiction and fantasy. That show was Prisoners of Gravity.

Commander Rick

Produced by TVOntario from 1989 to 1994, Prisoners of Gravity was a commentary news program that explored the world of speculative fiction and comic books. The wraparound concept of the show is that PoG host, “Commander Rick” (comedian Rick Green) interviews writers and artists in the world of speculative fiction and fantasy about everything from war to fandom, all from a satellite in outer space. Commander Rick is aided by his computer “Nancy” who pulls up interviews and artwork to illustrate the show’s topics. Prisoners of Gravity plays like a mix of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and 60 minutes.

Unfortunately, after running for 139 episodes and winning several awards, Prisoners of Gravity was cancelled in 1994. Fortunately for us, however, it now lives on YouTube and I highly suggest you check it out. The show includes some wonderful interviews with Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Connie Willis, Harlan Ellison as well as many others. The themes of each show are varied and insightful and give a variety of opinions on not just literature but social issues.

Prisoners of Gravity was ahead of its time, airing thoughtful discussions about sexuality and politics through the lens of fantasy literature, genre cinema and the world of comic books. Though there are plenty of video blogs and podcasts nowadays that cover this same material, fans of science fiction and fantasy might do well to remember those that have come before. Commander Rick, we salute you.

Check out several of the episodes on Teddogg3000’s YouTube channel.

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Robert Walker
Robert Walker 152 posts

Rob Walker is a writer and filmmaker in Colorado, and is creator of the comedy web series Victorian Cut-out Theatre. He loves horror films and comic books (American Vampire, Jonah Hex, The Flash, Planetary). Rob has been a Sherlockian since the age of ten, is a Dark Tower junky and believes that Indiana Jones is the greatest cinematic hero ever created. You can follow him on twitter at: @timidwerewolf and see his other writings and videos at robwalkerfilms.com

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