Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AstroGnostic: Enter the Phoenix

A reader dropped this link in a recent post and needless to say it blew my mind. This was a very short-lived show from 1982 starring Judson Scott, a face familiar to Star Trek, V and X-Files fans. The ancient astronaut angle was a bit late in the game, considering we were a year and change into Reagan's term. But the Machu Picchu opener is quite ahead of its time, as it would become a New Age hotspot just a few years later.

Believe it or not there's a Phoenix fansite. I found this there, taken from the series' bible:


Erich von Daniken, author of "Chariots of the Gods" and "Gods from Outer Space" says we now have proof. The television special, "In Search of Ancient Astronauts" gave us a glimpse of some of the evidence von Daniken described with such fervor in his books.

Scientists, from time to time in history, have been confronted by fantastic objects and archeological marvels which refuse to fit conventional theoretical molds. The question in their minds: Could these things have been the product of a superior intellect from another world? The world's sacred books are full of descriptions of gods who came down from the sky in fiery chariots and who always promised to return. An ancient Sanskrit text contains an account which can only be a journey in a spaceship, complete with a graphic description of the force of gravity.

We find electric batteries many thousands of years old. We see depicted in ancient bas-reliefs, strange beings in perfect space suits with platinum fasteners. We are confronted by numbers with fifteen digits - something not registered by any modern-day computer. Archeology accepts such mysteries as puzzles. And stops cold.
Pretty impressive rundown of the basic AAT thesis, which may one day become a litany. So given all that, where does our hero fit in?
But landing here, these ancient astronauts, searching for intelligent life, discovered that we had not yet reached the point of our own development where they could help speed up the process. It was still not time to make such a move mutually beneficial.

So they left behind them a watchman, a caretaker: BENNU.

A superior being, like themselves, carefully hidden and suspended in a state of deathlike sleep who awaits the moment he would be awakened to complete his mission.


To make certain that men on this planet would one day be ready for contact with the forms and species of life existing in galaxies of infinite disparity. The mission of this caretaker is to subtly influence Homo sapien toward the peaceful uses of outer space, and to help make this planet, with its multi-spectrum of problems, fall into its proper relation with the cosmic processes.

Bennu is homo superior.

In other words, he is one evolutionary step upward from man as we know him. He is a superior being, intellectually, emotionally and physically. He has supernormal faculties and abilities which only Tibetan monks, Yogis, Buddhist priests, and some futurists might begin to understand.
You see some hilariously obvious symbolism in the opening credits, though I'm quite certain the show itself would be the same inert and formulaic fodder that TV reduced every interesting genre concept to. But the "Bennu" name is only one indication that the producers were a bit more savvy than you'd might expect. The show's villain was named Aiwaz:
But it was also the corruption of this new science which led to the banishment of a man named Aiwaz. Long after the seeding of Bennu on Earth, a struggle for power had ensued between the Luciferian Aiwaz and the elders of the old and wise order. The elders recognized Aiwaz was creating discordant emotion and destructive passions that had been eliminated from their society long ago. He was introducing hatred, lust and fear through sound-discord into the physical bodies of those who disagreed with him, thereby lowering their tone and interfering with their normal functions.

As opposed to the life-giving properties and warmth of the sun which is the symbol and energy source of Bennu, the moon is the source of occult power for Aiwaz. The moon rules over the hidden processes of nature, the hollow spaces of the earth, and the movements of all the fluidic elements within and upon the earth's surface.
Quite timely, given the lunar theme of recent posts here. I'm not sure if I'd have watched this show even if I'd been aware of it. I didn't watch much TV outside of Hill Street Blues back then, since I was locked into my punk rock social realism phase. I wonder if the Religious Right complained about all of the New Age symbolism in it and forced it off the air. It wouldn't surprise me, given how they were on the warpath against pretty much everything back then.

Either way, The Phoenix obviously made an impression on someone since there's not only a fan site but a generous selection of fan fiction.

The symbolism in The Phoenix credits reminded me of A Man Called Hawk, the Spenser: For Hire spinoff which starred Avery Brooks, whose next major role would be playing a character not entirely dissimilar to the Phoenix. We've talked about all of that before, but it bears repeating given how quietly ubiquitous AAT has become in nearly every major sci-fi franchise. Part of an ongoing disclosure/conditioning campaign? I'll have to get a hold of Bruce Rux and ask his opinion.

The Phoenix might have been the right show at the wrong time, like The Man from Atlantis. I'm not sure if that show delved into the AAT angle, but they probably would have gotten around to it. There was an Atlantis episode titled "The Hawk of Mu," just to keep it in the family. Speaking of keeping it in the family, don't forget that there's a tangential link between Atlantis and the Amy Bishop story, though maybe not as direct as the Dallas one.

The problem with all of these shows, however, is that the tired old Hollywood journeymen who worked on them didn't believe in what they were doing. Genre/sci-fi was seen as a ghetto for a very long time on TV, as you can tell by the appalling production values on all of these shows. The Secret of Isis was a perfect example- it was shot in the same bland, dusty neighborhoods every other show was done in with the same inertia and the same lack of conviction. They were always trying to force these concepts to conform to the stultifying norms of network TV, something that reached it's absolute nadir with the ridiculous Captain America TV movies.

I remember watching this through my fingers when I was a kid. I was a huge Captain America fan and this was like watching someone take a piss on my hero. Today I can look back and laugh, particularly at all of the stock riffs like the obligatory car chase on Route 1 in Big Sur, which passed for excitement back in the bad old days of genre TV.

It's really no wonder superheroes were in such disrepute back then- the people putting them on TV obviously hated the genre. But maybe not the producers of The Phoenix. Definitely something I need to track down video of...


  1. Dude, Cap roxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good taste never goes outta Style, join da club, though yeah, shitty shows back then!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    At least their making First Avenger which is looking Solid as is Thor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ahahahahahahS i don't care for the Subtext or Subliminals, that I can discern and Still purely enjoy the Spectacle and forget the hog wash bull, and propaganda & politiks, hahahahahahahahah..............

  2. Chris, I don't understand how you sustain such a consistent level of awesomeness.

  3. Hi Chris, great stuff. I'm not sure if you've covered some of the weirdness in 70s/early 80s kid's TV cartoons but several of them featured AA/Gods/ Lost civilisations themes heavily - quite strange considering the target audience.

    First there's the Space Sentinels:

    And the Seven Cities of Gold:

    Not forgetting Ulysses 31:

  4. Almost forgot - this cartoon tried to do the entire history of the human race from creation of the universe to end of the Earth with the same characters featuring in each episode...

  5. I vaguely remember that show. I always liked Judson Scott so I gave it chance based on his involvement. Unfortunately, I remember being very disappointed with the show itself. You're right, everything was very cheeseball back then.

    It's probably going to be hard to find much of it on tape. That was about a year before VCRs really started proliferating.


  6. Please note this Blog:

    Judson Scott shows up as a look-a-like tall beautiful alien in this woman's real life UFO abduction experience. The author of the post has been dealing with truly profound experiences her entire life.

    She names the angelic being "Ethan" (a nice Irish name)

    Also - There is an odd thing here on this page, simply viewing this page requires signing in an a separate window and where is Judson Scott's photo? There must be some sort of royalty issue and the computer knows it! Very strange.

  7. Interesting how sci/fi mirrors
    edge science like Daniken's.

    I look at our beings and see
    a designed form, made by
    a lesser god.

    Sitchen and Daniken are on the
    right track but get caught in
    details that don't matter.

    We are being trained to make


  8. As dreadful as it was, I loved Isis. It was the one of the few signs that someone out there in the "mainstream" was taking notice of the stuff that interested me.

  9. The history of AAT, and it's cousin philosophy Exocreationism is truly huge on TV. Chris your not alone in not being tuned into intellectually stimulating material at the time, I liked Hill Street Blues, but my main focus was LA Law, I still had unresolved Susan Dey issues left over from the Partridge Family! But as a Star Trek insider we would look at the series mentioned above (except Man From Atlantis) and note that all of them appeared on ABC-TV, NO SERIOUS SCIFI ever appeared on ABC with any sort of quality, except for Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea. I love Richard Baseheart as much as Shatner as an actor. But AAT and Exocreationism is found not only Star Trek: TOS, and TAS, but in other shows as well. For the children in my generation we had the original Johnny Quest, and a show before that called Clutch Cargo, which was dealing with AAT and/or Exocreationism topics in the South Pacific Islands, and South America in the Amazon, and the Incas. Clutch was availible beginning in the early 1960's. Here's a series that had plenty of AAT and Exocreationist references, and was availible to adults, that was a 1970's series that you've not touched upon that was from the Gerry Anderson show factory in England, called "Space 1999". The science, like all Anderson material was highly questionable, BUT the important material is there. I LIKED Space 1999, it had a great peaceful message! The original "Battlestar Galactica" was loaded with references, but was a bit too militaristic for my tastes. Of course Glen Larson is Mormon, and there have been many write ups on that issue, and Mormonism has plenty of AAT/Exocreationist issues in its belief, its nice Roddenberry addressed the possibility that God lives on a specific planet, did we get to see Kolob in Star Trek V?

  10. Since I posted the above, and a bit before, I've been thinking "is there an ancestor legend in the American Culture which would open us to media depictions of AAT and/or Exocreationism"? There is! If you think back to Elementary School, and the American Folklore Unit in English, there's this guy by the name of Johnny Appleseed. This fact-based story involved a guy who literally walked around with a huge gunnysack of apples, eating them, and throwing the cores away. Where ever he threw a core away, an apple tree grew! Was a core of genetic material literally thrown-down as our creation? And was that encoded somehow in our belief structure from folklore? Johnny Appleseed the creator of Exocreationism? The path to theory started there!

  11. Honestly, I have to say that most of the new crop of superhero films and related television (no ordinary family) look pretty cheesy - at least from the images released. I imagine the next Batman movie will retain a mature tone since Nolan is not a children's director, but it certainly seems like the Marvel films and Green Lantern are aiming squarely at the same age range as the Twilight and Potter films.

    John H

  12. Chris you have got me thinking about Monkey that used to be on TV when I was a kid. I just looked it up in wiki...

    "Monkey, the title character, is described in the theme song as being "born from an egg on a mountain top"; a stone egg and thus he is a stone monkey, a skilled fighter who becomes a brash king of a monkey tribe, who, the song goes on to claim, was "the funkiest monkey that ever popped".

    Thinking about it, the whole story about Monkey could be much deeper than I ever realised. Lots of magic. Flying on coulds, and falls from Heaven.
    It was great comedy. Then 'Battle of the Planets', I loved that too. Even though they weren't that well made they were great.

  13. Anonymous wrote: "And the Seven Cities of Gold:"

    It's actually called The Mysterious Cities Of Gold. From the wiki:
    The series is a mix of ancient South American history, archaeology, and science fiction. The travellers encounter the Maya, Inca, and Olmecs during their journey. They discover many lost technological wonders of the Mu Empire, including a solar powered ship (the Solaris) and The Golden Condor, a huge solar-powered ornithopter (mechanical bird), capable of traveling considerable distances under the sun's power alone. They are constantly pursued by antagonists Gomez and Gaspard, who are also in search of the Cities of Gold.

    The Seven Cities of Gold were built by the Emperor of Mu over fear of a global war which would destroy all civilization. Such a war did break out, destroying the Empires of Mu and Atlantis when they used the "Weapons of the Sun". The Seven Cities of Gold hold copies of books in their "Universal Libraries" as well as powerful artifacts, including the "Great Legacy", a portable fusion reactor. Other elements of this technology turn up in unexpected places, like the Solaris in Tao's home island, Esteban's and Zia's medallions as keys to the Cities, or Tao's jar as an important piece of the Great Legacy.

    I really loved this cartoon as a kid. I think it's probably one of the ones that would still hold up today.

  14. ...Also, speaking of AAT in 80's cartoons, there was another one called Mighty Max:

    Max is a typical teenager until he receives a cap which allows him to travel through time and space by way of the "portals" - swirling vortexes of energy located throughout the universe. With the help of Virgil, the last living Lemurian, and Norman, a near-immortal bodyguard, Max must now use his cap to fight evil in all its forms - but especially that of SkullMaster, a demonic warrior-sorceror imprisoned deep within the earth. For Max, the adventure is just beginning, because now... he's called Mighty Max!

    Interesting that Mighty Max hangs out with Virgil, the last living Lemurian, while the kids in Mysterious Cities Of Gold hang out with:
    Tao, the last descendant of the sunken empire of Mu (Hiva in the English dub).

    Anyway, if we look at Max's "list of enemies"
    right at the top of the list we see: Aliens From Sirius B (!!!). Looking further down the list a lot of Max's other enemies seem to be gods and demons from various cultures.

  15. Hi Chris,

    Now I know why I didn't watch a lot of TV during the 80's because much of the programs sucked. Seriously, the premiss & ideas were potentially great but the timeing was off, and much of the writing was crappy. We didn't have the technology for the special effects either. I watched Man From Atlantis and I wasn't empressed.

    As a child growing up in the fifies & sixties...I read most of the great story telling in comic books. Stan Lee was king for me. I read them regularly... Captain America, Thor, Spiderman, Ironman, Fantactic 4, Sub Mariner, etc. I did read DC to, Superman & Batman but always thought that Marvel had the edge.

    Look at the 80's, bad tv, shitty music, goons in the NHL (fighting intentional for the crowds), big hair for the ladies and men were called skinheads (not in a nice way) if their heads were shaven bald. I think that TV was tring to create something that our cutlure wasn't ready for...and knew it.

    They fixed that in the 90's by desensitizing people in accepting visual brutality on TV and movies by slowly (like boiling a frog in cold water) allowing more violence in the news (via wars, beatings & disasters), movies & creative tv programing. It took about ten years and wooooooow...then the 90's.

    Perfect example of this is the fact that James Cameron tabled AVATAR for 10 years because the technology wasn't there yet. He couldn't get the producers to go for a $400mil+ budget to do a movie a decade ago...not thinking the world was ready for that massive of a project.

    The decade of the 90's, the special effects were dramaticly improved, the money was there and people want to see lots of blood & gore...lots of slasher movies, action & thrillers.

    Therefore in 2010..we have the best of these socially accecpted formats. we have Avatar, Star Trek, Ironman, lots of War movies, you name it we got it...etc...not to mention every bullshit thing you can think of & call it reality TV. Sorry, I like the the olds days...they left much more to creative writing and you needed to use your imagination. stare in amazement at the screen and don't have to imagine a damn thing..they show it stone unturned as they say! And they can remake all the old crap because most people won't watch dated movies so they just remake it..about every 20 years (a generation).

    Nuff Said! DS

  16. Thanks for this post on The Phoenix. I totally missed and was unaware of this show since I was seeing the world in the Navy at the time. I hope it makes it to DVD soon. Amazon says it isn't available.

  17. Link:

    Revised link, where Judson Scott's face shows up!
    (see earlier post)

  18. ...Mighty that takes me back.

    Great thread, I love it how some people can instantly recollect their childhood. Now that we're older, unfortunately the underlying truths about TV comes out. So sad. Even naivety and innocence is being stripped from us...


    Some CaribbeanChristianschoolgirldevilpossessioncraziness for yuh.

    Oh, and a 17.

  20. Rox: Yeah, Thor is looking like they're taking a lot from The Eternals, so I'm down.

    Nancy: If you figure it out, let me know.

    935: Awesome! Thanks for the links.

    Deb: You'd be surprised what you can find out there. If someone put up the credits there's probably more of it floating around out there.

    C!: Of course.

    Pete: It certainly seems that way sometimes.

    145: I love Joanna Cameron, that's for sure.

    Doug: Oh yeah, I've been cataloging all of this myself. I didn't realize the thing with Clutch Cargo. I know the new JQ had AAT elements- I'll have to check the original series. And Johnny Appleseed? Well, that takes us smack dab into Joe Strummer territory!

    John H- Interesting, hadn't thought about it like that. Not a fan of Nolan's Batman though.

    Wotie- Monkey? Never heard of that one. British thing?

    Hobus- I hadn't heard of MCoG but it certainly looks interesting. I'll look up Mighty Max as well.

    DarkStar- You're not going to get an argument from me when it comes to 60s Marvel Comics. And I do agree with a lot of other things you're saying here as well. The painful truth is that the ratio of crap to gold is increasing and subsequently I hardly ever rent recent movies anymore. But as I've said art exists to become timeless, so you can always find something out there that rings your bell.

    John: Yeah I really need to see at least a bit of it.

    C!: I read the blog- all the action is in the comments section.

    858: The truth about TV is 99.99% of it is brain-rotting swill. And I'm doubly disturbed that the only stuff I like is struggling.

    Nick: Devil attack. Farking hell. Is this the 21st Century?

  21. Chris Said..."The painful truth is that the ratio of crap to gold is increasing and subsequently I hardly ever rent recent movies anymore".

    Interesting statement. Hmmm...maybe the crap ratio is higher now but it's hard to compare. Years ago in the 50, 60, 70s...we didn't have cable or internet or the broadbase methods to commuicate world wide with the media.

    In my town where I grew up, Sydney Nova Scotia (35,000 people), we had 3 or 4 live broadcasted channels till the 70s, 1 Dive-in theater (only open 3 months) and 3 movie theatres...Therefore what they brought in was the better suff with the businesses want to make money. We use to get movies in theaters weeks or months after the big city's got them. The point being...we didn't get EXPOSED to all the bad crap that was out there. Today they realease almost ever piece of shit out they many diffent ways, knowing some idiot will pay to watch it...but not me or should I say us. :)


  22. I don't actually have a TV. My on-line viewing consists mainly of the Rachel Maddow Show, Weeds (surprise surprise) and Dexter. As a sci-fi geekette, I also tune into Supernatural and Caprica, and when I just want to zone out, re-runs of the Star Trek franchise. (Oh no! The Enterprise is under attack for the 16,432nd time. I wonder if shields will hold, or if everyone will die?)

    As far as movies? Argh. There are so many hours of my life that I want back! I was quite "addicted" to TV and movies two or three years ago. A way to distract from unpleasant real life.

    However, I am finding that recent community involvement more than makes up for the hours once lost to the idiot box

    At the end of the workday I often wanted to retreat from the human species. However, I am finding that engaging in charity and sports in the afterhours is well worth it. Community groups, it seems, bring out more pleasant, interesting, community minded individuals.