Salvage 1

Salvage 1 (1979)

The late 1970s and early 1980s was an odd time for television Science-Fiction. Several different shows appeared dealing with Sci-Fi themes, especially on U.S. television, some more successful than others, but few made any real attempt at scientific veracity. The prime characteristics of these dramas was very much more science fiction than fact. One of the few shows to buck the trend, albeit not very convincingly, was the American network ABC’s ‘Salvage 1’. Running for just sixteen episodes, it began with a surprisingly well-received pilot movie ‘Salvage’, starring TV veteran character actor Andy Griffith (who eventually gained far greater fame in the late 1980s and early ‘90s with the legal series ‘Matlock’). Griffith played ‘Harry Broderick’, owner of the junkyard company ‘Jettison Scrap and Salvage Company’ who dreamed of salvaging discarded equipment from NASA’s Space Program, and who eventually succeed in creating his own team of engineers (a stereotypical burnt-out ex-astronaut included) to build a private manned space rocket.

The basic premise of the show was wholly silly, the homemade rocket being powered by a miraculous fuel called mono-hydrazine (H.G. Wells territory here), and made up of parts welded together from a petrol (gasoline) truck and a cement mixer. The adventures of the team were equally silly, which even the presence of Science-Fiction legend Isaac Asimov, as the show’s scientific advisor, did little to correct. More an ode to American private enterprise and a harbinger of the free market Reaganite philosophies that were soon to engulf the culture and public life of the United States in the early 1980s, ‘Salvage 1’ disappeared into television oblivion within a few years of its first broadcast and has rarely been seen since. Which is perhaps just as well.

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