The Young Astronauts (partially found unaired animated series; 1986)
Drawn ad from a magazine: this is the only confirmed visual evidence remaining to this day.
The Young Astronauts was an animated series originally meant to air on Saturday mornings on CBS in February 1986.
Premise[edit | edit source]
The protagonist would have been a young boy who was accidentally launched into a space shuttle, and settling in a spaceship in the 21st Century.
Each episode would have "real astronauts" in an educational, live-action segment called "Astro Minute" talking about space-related science facts (including astronomy and gravity).
According to an online comment, a user claimed that someone who worked on the show (Larry Swerdlove https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0842468) uploaded three of the Astro Minute segments to YouTube in 2013 but have since been removed. After much searching, that user located one of the segments online, Astro Minute: Zero Gravity, and can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/75173151
Several sources describe it as being produced by Marvel Productions (This is confirmed if you view the above video clip).
Cancellation[edit | edit source]
Because of its space travel theme, the series was cancelled after the real-life tragedy of the NASA space shuttle Challenger (that disintegrated and caused the death of its crew members) on January 28th, 1986. It was never shown again anywhere, and there are no known/confirmed copies of episodes, cels, images or audio available.
Findings[edit | edit source]
According to an anonymous commenter on a blog, the pilot episode was actually shown on January 26th, 1986 on CBS, two days before the Challenger tragedy. The anonymous commenter claims that they worked on the series at Marvel Productions and there were a total of 13 episodes made, with only the first one that aired.
Considering that other sources claim to have seen the lone aired episode (and provided the loose description of the young boy accidentally sent into space - fitting the character in the drawn ad), it is possible that at least this episode could have been recorded on VHS by someone.
An animation cel attributed to The Young Astronauts has resurfaced among a private collector's gallery; the character looks like an astronaut, and at least fits in the theme of the cartoon.
If it does indeed come from this animated series, then it would be confirmed that animation was done by Toei Animation as it did with other Marvel productions at the time (many western cartoons, especially serialized TV ones, were animated in Japan during the 1980s).
Gallery[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Blog post talking about the cartoons in the ad, and an anonymous blogger's testimony about the one episode airing.
- NYT article describes the show.
- Source of the cel.
- Toei listed as animating one episode of the series for Marvel.