Space Sentinels was a science fiction/superhero cartoon produced by Filmation in 1977, but would have been shown many times by the Beeb during the Eighties as part of their seeming rotation of back catalogue cartoons.
Despite having most of the ingredients of a decent cartoon (three diverse superheroes borrowed from Roman mythology (well, two were anyway), a big holographic head looking after them and a comedy robot named MO) there was just some vital spark missing and it failed to become hugely popular. I think possibly that spark was the fact that it all seemed perhaps a bit wooden and the way the heroes were dressed just didn’t look all that cool. Plus, it lacked a cool theme tune…
The back story starts with alien abduction! Three teenagers from Earth are taken away and given super powers by Sentinel 1, a big holographic head from another planet. They are then returned to Earth to keep order and make sure that us normal Earthlings are kept safe, operating from a spaceship base at the bottom of a volcano crater.
The three youths were Hercules (incredibly strong but perhaps a little dim), Mercury (able to travel at the speed of light) and Astrea (can transform Manimal style into any living creature). These characters were actually quite ground breaking really for the time, as it gave us three racially diverse characters happily working together as a team. Hercules was Vaucasian, whilst Astrea had African roots (and was female to boot!) and Mercury was Asian.
As I recall each of the three were also able to fly Superman stylee. I certainly remember them having transparent perspex missile tubes come down over them whenever they wanted to leave their secret base.
I certainly remember watching this show as a kid in the afternoon after school on BBC1, and I think it also used to be shown in two parts on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, in an attempt to introduce a bit of tension. Space Sentinels closest rival was probably Battle of the Planets, which was way better, if only because that show had that elusive cool factor that Space Sentinels lacked. Put it this way, most kids would have liked to have been one of the characters from Battle of the Planets, but I don’t think many would have wanted to step into the shoes of Hercules, Astrea or Mercury.
I’m sure many of you will have forgotten this show entirely, so here’s the introduction sequence to help jog your memory.