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Famous Spaceships from TV & Movies

I enjoy a well-conceived plot and fully fleshed-out characters, but like every science fiction buff, I also enjoy high tech gadgetry. This post is a gallery of some of the best known, nay, iconic spaceships from TV and movies. Enjoy the variety of shapes and sizes!

Enterprise
USS Enterprise (original Star Trek TV series)

“The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is the central starship in the fictional Star Trek media franchise. The original Star Trek series features a voice-over by Enterprise captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner), which describes the mission of Enterprise as “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before”.” — Wikipedia

Millenium Falcon
Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

“The Millennium Falcon is a fictional spacecraft in the Star Wars universe commanded by smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookiee first mate, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). The highly modified YT-1300 light freighter first appears in Star Wars (1977), and subsequently in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983) and in a cameo in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).

According to Star Wars creator George Lucas, the Millennium Falcon’s design was inspired by a hamburger, with the cockpit being an olive on the side. The ship originally had a more elongated appearance, but the similarity to the Eagle Transporters in Space: 1999 prompted Lucas to change the Falcon’s design.” — Wikipedia

DeathStar
Death Star (Star Wars)

“A Death Star is a fictional space station and superweapon appearing in the Star Wars science-fiction franchise created by George Lucas. It is capable of destroying an entire planet with its powerful superlaser.

The original Death Star’s completed form appears in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing), it is the Galactic Empire’s “ultimate weapon”, a space station capable of destroying a planet with one shot of its superlaser. The film opens with Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) transporting the station’s schematics to the Rebel Alliance to aid them in destroying the Death Star. Tarkin orders the Death Star to destroy Leia’s home world of Alderaan in an attempt to pressure her into giving him the location of the secret Rebel base; she gives them the false location of Dantooine, but Tarkin has Alderaan destroyed anyway, as a demonstration of the Death Star’s firepower and the Empire’s resolve.” — Wikipedia

DrWho
TARDIS (Doctor Who TV series)

“The TARDIS; Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is a fictional time machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who and its associated spin-offs.

A TARDIS is a product of the advanced technology of the Time Lords, an extraterrestrial civilisation to which the programme’s central character, the Doctor, belongs. A properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in time and any place in the universe. The interior of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior, which can blend in with its surroundings using the ship’s “chameleon circuit”. TARDISes also possess a degree of sentience (which has been expressed in a variety of ways ranging from implied machine personality and free will through to the use of a conversant avatar) and provide their users with additional tools and abilities including a telepathically based universal translation system.” — Wikipedia

ALiensDropship
UD-4L Cheyenne (Aliens)

While technically more of an orbital assault ship than a spaceship, we’re including the Cheyenne Colonial Marine Dropship because of its cool combination of firepower and troop transporting ability, without which, the Colonial Marines wouldn’t be able to face off against the aliens in, well, Aliens.

FifthElement
Fhloston Paradise (The Fifth Element)

This  Steampunkesque space cruise ship gets shot up pretty badly as Corbin Dallas and Leeloo retrieve the four Element stones from Plavalaguna, and fight off a group of heavily-armed Mangalore mercenaries who also want the stones. Later, the ship is blown to bits, after the cruise ship passengers have fled. The ship’s destruction also helps  the passengers avoid the food poisoning so common on real-world cruise ships…

Thunderbird5
Thunderbird 5 (Thunderbirds TV series)

“Thunderbirds follows the adventures of the Tracy family, headed by American multi-millionaire philanthropist Jeff Tracy. A widower, Jeff’s adult sons – Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan – are named after Mercury Seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Gordon Cooper and Alan Shepard.

Unknown to the public, the Tracys are the force behind International Rescue: a secret organization committed to saving human life, founded and funded by Jeff. Assisting the family in this mission are technologically advanced land-, sea-, air- and space-rescue vehicles and equipment, deployed after conventional rescue techniques prove ineffective. Foremost are five machines called the Thunderbirds, each assigned to one of the five brothers:

  • Thunderbird 1 – a 115 feet-long, hypersonic, variable-sweep wing rocket plane used for fast response and rescue-zone reconnaissance, and as a mobile control base. Piloted by primary rescue co-ordinator Scott Tracy.
  • Thunderbird 2 – a 250 feet-long, supersonic, VTOL, lifting body carrier aircraft, which transports major rescue equipment and vehicles to rescue zones in detachable capsules known as “Pods”. Piloted by Virgil.
  • Thunderbird 3 – a 287 feet-tall, vertically-launched, re-usable, single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft used primarily for space rescue. Manned by astronaut Alan (with Scott as co-pilot).
  • Thunderbird 4 – a 30 feet-long utility submersible used for underwater rescue. Piloted by aquanaut Gordon and typically launched from Thunderbird 2’s Pod 4.
  • Thunderbird 5 – a space station, 296 feet-wide and in permanent geostationary orbit, which monitors SOS transmissions and relays communications within IR. ”
    — Wikipedia

spaceghost
Phantom Cruiser (Space Ghost TV series)

“Space Ghost is a fictional character created by Hanna-Barbera Productions and designed by Alex Toth for CBS in the 1960s. In his original incarnation, he was a superhero who, with his sidekick teen helpers Jan, Jace, and Blip the monkey, fought supervillains in outer space. In the 1990s, the character was brought back as a host for his own fictional late-night talk show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. In the 2000s, he was revamped as a serious superhero once again in a DC Comics mini-series.” — Wikipedia

Futurama
Planet Express Ship (Futurama TV series)

“The Planet Express Ship is a fictional spaceship in the animated series Futurama, which bears the official designation U.S.S. Planet Express Ship. The ship was designed and built by Professor Hubert Farnsworth and is the sole delivery ship of Planet Express, a delivery service owned by the Professor. The ship is typically treated as an inanimate object, though Bender refers to the ship’s autopilot as “him” (and laments being defeated in a martini-drinking contest by same) in “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back”. The later episode “Love and Rocket” shows the ship to have an artificial intelligence, voiced originally by Maurice LaMarche and then (after installation of “new improved ship’s personality software” including “adjustable voice”) by special guest Sigourney Weaver.” — Wikipedia

A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
S.S. Heart of Gold (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

“S.S. Heart of Gold is the first prototype ship to successfully use the revolutionary Infinite Improbability Drive. It is 150 metres long and has been represented in various shapes. The original radio series did not specify a shape. In the novel adapted from the first four episodes of the radio series, it was described as a sleek white running shoe, which the TV adaptation adopted as a basis for its depictions. In the 2005 movie, it is more spherical with a hole and red brake lights on the rear that form the shape of a heart, a shape derived from a teacup in the brownian motion producer that powers the Infinite Improbability Drive. It also features a mural around the hole which depicts the invention of the Drive. It was built as a secret government project on planet Damogran from where Zaphod Beeblebrox, the then-President of the Imperial Galactic Government, stole it at the launching ceremony.” — Wikipedia

Jupiter2
Jupiter 2 (Lost in Space TV series)

“Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series created and produced by Irwin Allen, filmed by 20th Century Fox Television, and broadcast on CBS. The show ran for three seasons, with 83 episodes airing between September 15, 1965, and March 6, 1968. The first television season was filmed in black and white, but the remainder were filmed in color. In 1998, a Lost in Space movie, based on the television series, was released.

Though the original television series concept centered on the Robinson family, many later story lines focused primarily on Dr. Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris. Originally written as an utterly evil but extremely competent would-be saboteur, Smith gradually becomes the troublesome, self-centered, incompetent foil who provides the comic relief for the show and causes most of the episodic conflict and misadventures.” — Wikipedia

Serenity
Serenity (Firefly TV series)

“Serenity is a fictional spaceship that appears in Joss Whedon’s Firefly television series and related works. Set in the 26th century, the series follows the nine-person crew of the Firefly-class vessel, a small transport ship, as they earn a living through various legal and illegal means. The ship is the main setting; it appears in all fourteen episodes, the film, and all of the published comics.

Serenity first appeared in the pilot episode of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, which is set in the year 2517, in a star system humanity migrated to after using all of Earth’s resources. She is the property of Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), a former sergeant who served on the losing side of a civil war that ended six years before the series began. Mal acquires Serenity from a used spaceship yard after the war (as depicted in flashbacks during “Out of Gas”), intending to hire a small crew and take various jobs to support himself and wartime comrade Corporal Zoe Alleyne, while keeping out of the way of the Alliance, the multi-planetary government they were fighting against.” — Wikipedia

BattlestarGalactica
Battlestar Galactica (Battlestar Galactica TV series reboot)

“The story arc of Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant star system, where a civilization of humans live on a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with a cybernetic race of their own creation, known as the Cylons. With the unwitting help of a human named Gaius Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden sneak attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. Out of a population numbering in the billions, only approximately 50,000 humans survive, most of whom were aboard civilian ships that avoided destruction. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the eponymous Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only military capital ship that survived the attack. Under the leadership of Colonial Fleet officer Commander William “Bill” Adama (Olmos) and President Laura Roslin (McDonnell), the Galactica and its crew take up the task of leading the small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.” — Wikipedia

Buckaroo
Black Lectroid Ship (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension)

“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, often shortened to Buckaroo Banzai, is a 1984 American science fiction film. It concerns the efforts of the multi-talented Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician, to save the world by defeating a band of inter-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from Planet 10. The film is a cross between the action/adventure and sci-fi film genres and also includes elements of comedy, satire, and romance.

Banzai prepares to test his Jet Car, a modified Ford F-350 pickup truck powered by a jet engine and capable of exceeding Mach 1. The car is also equipped with a secret device called an “oscillation overthruster”, which Banzai and his associates hope will allow it to drive through solid matter. The test is a success: Banzai stuns onlookers by driving the Jet Car directly through a mountain. Emerging on the other side, Banzai finds that an alien organism has attached itself to the undercarriage.

Hearing of Banzai’s success, physicist Dr. Emilio Lizardo breaks out of the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane, after being held there for 50 years. A flashback shows Banzai’s mentor, Dr. Hikita, was present at Lizardo’s failed overthruster experiment in 1938. Crashing half through the target wall, Lizardo had been briefly trapped in the 8th dimension where his mind was taken over by Lord John Whorfin.

Whorfin is the leader of the Red Lectroids, a race of alien reptiles who wage war against Planet 10. After being defeated by the less-aggressive Black Lectroids, Whorfin and his group were banished into the 8th dimension. Lizardo’s failed experiment accidentally released Whorfin and he soon brings many of the Red Lectroids to Earth in an incident that was reported in 1938 by Orson Welles in his radio broadcast The War of the Worlds, only to be forced by the aliens to retract it all as fiction.” — Wikipedia

Click to Tweet: Famous Spaceships from TV & Movies at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-DV via @Nimpentoad


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Famous Movie Puppets

This post was inspired by Matthew Ponsford’s CNN article at http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/08/showbiz/10-greatest-movie-puppets/index.html. The first ten puppet writeups below are from him. I have added my own commentary and five additional classic movie puppets. Enjoy.

01Kermit

Kermit the Frog
Originally fashioned from a green ladies coat that Jim Henson found in a bin (plus a pair of ping pong balls for eyes), Kermit the Frog has gone on to be one of the world’s few internationally recognized puppets — or, rather, Muppets. He can already count seven hit films, a recording contract, a bestselling autobiography and countless TV appearances among his achievements –and he’s set to appear on the big screen again next year in “Muppets Most Wanted.”

Henry: Superb choice. Kermit and the Muppets are quintessential puppets.

02Yoda

Yoda
Despite being a three foot green alien puppet, Jedi Master Yoda manages to give off a convincing impression of wisdom and deliver some of the “Star Wars” saga’s most crucial lines. George Lucas drafted in legendary Jim Henson-collaborator Frank Oz to bring the elderly Jedi to life, a choice which ensured Yoda had a sense of humor to match his worldly knowledge.

Henry: “Judge me by my size, do you?” Excellent choice.

03ET

ET
When Steven Spielberg chose to create a heart-warming alien story for children, the easy option would have been to cast a cute and cuddly puppet. Instead audiences got waddling, faintly frightening E.T. But Spielberg’s instincts were proven correct again, as the film went on to become the highest-grossing film ever released (at that time).

Henry: “Phone home.” Excellent choice. Plus, he likes Reese’s Pieces.

04Gizmo

Gizmo
Audiences loved “Gremlins” adorable mogwai Gizmo — but the puppeteers did not. The tiny rubber puppet was prone to malfunctioning and so frustrated the crew that they added a scene in which the creature gets strapped to a dartboard and pelted with darts.

Henry: Dry clean only. Excellent choice.

05Pinocchio

Pinocchio
Cinema’s most famous puppet — no strings attached. Animation, rather than puppetry, brought “real boy” Pinocchio to the world — famously in the Walt Disney classic, and later to a new generation (this time CGI) in an oddball turn in Shrek. Live-action adaptations of the classic novel by Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Toro are rumored to be in the pipeline.

Henry: Not a movie puppet per se, but a character that’s a puppet. Well played, sir.

06Chucky

Chucky
Puppets can be terrifying too. Case in point: Chucky, the “Good Guy” doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer in the movie “Child’s Play.” The mixture of childlike puppets and murderous violence provoked controversy — with protesters claiming Chucky made children violent — but the film’s popularity was not damaged. It has since spawned five sequels.

Henry: Arguably the most bad-ass of all movie puppets. Excellent choice.

07Ludo

Ludo
When teenage babysitter Sarah is transported to Labyrinth’s strange maze-world (populated by Jim Henson’s puppet creations), she is helped by kind-hearted hairy beast Ludo, who sees her through the quest to recover her baby brother. The cumbersome puppet was operated by puppeteers underneath the monster suit, who could watch events unfolding on a TV screen inside Ludo’s stomach.

Henry: “Rocks friends.” One of the best characters in this movie, along with the young but already lovely Jennifer Connelly. Excellent choice.

08RedBalloon

The Red Balloon
Not all of cinema’s finest puppetry makes use of such complex animatronics. Albert LamorisseIt managed to turn a helium balloon (with a mind of its own) into the joint-protagonist of his classic short film “The Red Balloon.”

Henry: A classic movie from my childhood. A bit of a stretch calling a balloon a puppet, though. 

09Alien

Alien
It’s just a few seconds of cameo, but makes a big impression and turns the film on its head. Not even the cast members (who were left in the dark about what was about to take place) were expecting the titular “Alien” to burst out of John Hurt’s chest. The shock of the creature’s arrival disguises the fact that what we’re looking at is actually a relatively simple puppet — and a whole load of blood from a butcher’s shop.

Henry: I hate when that happens. They made Alien vs. Predator, so how about Alien vs. Chucky: Battle of the Puppets?

10KimJongIl

Kim Jong Il
Even after the advent of photorealistic CGI, puppetry isn’t dead — in part thanks to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose clumsy marionettes in “Team America: World Police” satirized Hollywood’s slick action blockbusters. But it’s the film’s villain — then Korean leader Kim Jong Il — who steals the show.

Henry: How can you not love a marionette version of one-third of the Axis of Evil? Excellent choice.

I’d like to add the following honorable mentions that failed to make Mr. Ponsford’s list:

Gerry Anderson death

The Thunderbirds
Per Wikipedia: Thunderbirds is a 1960s British science-fiction television series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Filmed between 1964 and 1966, it was produced using marionette puppetry interwoven with scale-model special effects sequences, in the form of a mixed technique dubbed “Supermarionation”.

Henry: I suspect Parker & Stone got some inspiration from The Thunderbirds. Either way, I can tell you is that this was one of my favorite TV shows growing up. The vehicle designs still look fresh after 40 years. THAT is good design work.

11Skeksis

Skeksis
Per Wikipedia: The Dark Crystal is a 1982 American–British fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The plot revolves around Jen, an elflike ‘Gelfling’ on a quest to restore balance to his alien world by returning a lost shard to a powerful but broken gem. Although marketed as a family film, it was notably darker than the creators’ previous material. The animatronics used in the film were considered groundbreaking. The primary concept artist was the fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, famous for his distinctive faerie and dwarf designs.

Henry: The image above is of an evil Skeksis, but the movie is filled with other delightful creatures, including: Mystics, Landstriders, Podlings, Gelfings, Garthim, and Aughra, the lovable ogre-witch with one removable eye.

14Critters

Critters
Per Wikipedia: Critters is a 1986 cult comedy horror science fiction film. The film begins on a prison asteroid in outer space. A group of unseen creatures known as Crites are set to be transported to another station. When the seemingly intelligent creatures cause an explosion that kills two guards and injures three, hijack a ship away from the station, and escape, the leader of the station hires two transforming bounty hunters to hunt the “Critters” down.

Henry: The seemingly contradictory description “cult comedy horror science fiction” aptly summarizes this movie. Definitely worth a rent by any self-respecting horror or sci-fi fan.

15SesameSt

Sesame Street
Henry: Do I really need to explain this one? Bert, Ernie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster belong in the top ten! We were robbed!

13MeetTheFeebles

Meet the Feebles
Per Wikipedia: Meet the Feebles is a 1989 New Zealand black comedy film directed by Peter Jackson. It features Jim Henson-esque puppets in a perverse comic satire. Like Henson’s Muppets, the Feebles are animal-figured puppets (plus some people in suits) who are members of a stage troupe. However, whereas Henson’s Muppets characterize positivity, naïve folly, and innocence, the Feebles present negativity, vice, and other misanthropic characteristics.

Henry: This movie makes the list as a nod to the great Peter Jackson making films before he had 9-digit movie budgets.