This was a labor of love.
The show Space Cases premiered on Nickelodeon when I was in the sixth grade. It was sort of a combination of Lost in Space and Star Trek, and pretty silly, but something about that show reached out and plucked a string in my little girl’s heart. It only ran for two seasons, but while it remained, it was my obsession. I would spend hours on the swing in the yard, constructing elaborate daydreams about being part of the crew – my first taste of fanfiction, though I wouldn’t learn that term for many years. When it was cancelled, I was shattered, but I didn’t let that stop me. In my own head I finished the story, bringing the crew of the Christa back to the Solar System at last. I left my obsession behind long ago, but a deep fondness for the show lingers on in my heart.
I made a point of not looking up photos from the show, either before or after I painted these portraits. I wanted to capture the characters as they live on in my memory. Colored by my imagination, eroded and changed over the years, but still faithful, I hope, to the lighthearted characters of whom I was so enamored. I don’t want to see now, with adult eyes, what they really were. If the costuming was cheap (probably), if the makeup was ridiculous (almost certainly), I don’t want to know. In my mind they are now as they were in the eyes of my younger self: pristine, and fantastical, and beautiful.
If any of the actors ever happen to Google their names and stumble across this page, I would say: I hope you don’t think those two seasons on a silly sci-fi show for kids were wasted. You were my inspiration then, and you are still an inspiration today. So . . . thanks.
Top left: Catalina. Played by Jewel Staite in the series. I have no idea if the character’s eyes were originally golden, but that’s how I imagine them. This is the first portrait of this set that I completed, and still my favorite. I really wanted to have her hair.
Top row, middle: Harlan Band. Played by Walter Emanuel Jones (yes, of Power Rangers fame) in the series. Holy cow, I had no idea how different painting dark skin would be. I hope I was at least moderately successful. I had a major crush on Harlan in the sixth grade.
Top row, right: Radu. Played by Kristian Ayre in the series. Sweet, troubled Radu. I had a bad moment when I couldn’t remember whether his eyes were brown or blue, but I went with blue. Love those Andromedan ears.
Second row, left: Rosie Ianni. Played by Paige Christina in the series. Extreme skin tones are fun, and excellent practice! I also really enjoyed painting the brow ridges without eyebrows, oddly.
Second row, middle: Bova. Played by Rahi Azizi in the series. Of all the actors, I think my mental image of him is the most clearly preserved in my head. The painting isn’t necessarily accurate to that, but he’s still adorable.
Second row, right: Suzee. Played by Rebecca Herbst in the series. I never really liked Suzee . . . partly because even my sixth-grade self could recognize a Mary Sue, and partly because I always held a grudge against her for "replacing" Catalina in season two. However, she was really pretty. Also, gills.
Bottom row, left: THELMA, TechnoHuman EmuLating MAchine. Played by Anik Matern in the series. I’m very proud of myself for remembering the acronym! I have no idea whether or not the helmet is anything close to accurate, but I like it anyway. “Hello, Harlan Harlan Band.” That never stopped being funny to me.
Bottom row, middle: Commander Seth Goddard. Played by Paul Boretski in the series. Rugged, manly, delightfully snarky, probably my overall favorite character.
Bottom row, right: T.J. Davenport. Played by Cary Lawrence in the series, and somehow I remember that but not what the T.J. stands for. Dang.
Even after all these years, I didn’t have to look up a single character or actor name. And yet I misplace my phone five times a day. Oh, the things my brain chooses to retain . . .
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Space Cases aired on Nickelodeon back in 1996 and ’97. Neither the concept nor the characters nor anything related to the show belong to me.