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We Gotta Get
Out Of This Place

Season 1, Episode 1

Episode Details

Plot Summary | Ongoing Story and Character Developments
Unanswered Questions | Memorable Lines | Glitches
Trivia, Inside Jokes and References | NotePAD

Plot Summary

Our journey begins with an exterior view of the Starcademy. In one of the classrooms, T.J. Davenport, a stern assistant principal, is taking role in a classroom full of underachievers from various planets. Davenport leaves them unattended for a moment, and the kids notice an unfamiliar alien spacecraft hovering outside their classroom window. The Earther of the group, Harlan Band, decides to make first contact, and talks the others into joining him.

On board the alien ship, the five students simultaneously touch the walls of the ship, and the ship bonds with them, opening her doors for them. They continue to explore the ship. Harlan explores the command post, where he finds Thelma, a humanoid-looking android (and accidentally damages her memory crystal), Cat and Radu explore the engine room, and Bova and Rosie explore the bunkrooms. They find no crew.

Meanwhile, Davenport and the children's teacher, Commander Goddard, board the alien ship in search of the students. They touch the walls of the ship, but the ship clearly rejects them.

Harlan learns that the ship has begun to move away from the Starcademy. Down in the engine rooms, Bova accidentally fires a bolt of electricity and triggers the hyperdrive. Our heroes are now moving away from the Starcademy at faster-than-light speed, and Thelma can't give a coherent answer as to how to get back home.

Cat and Radu are trying to shut down the engines, but not succeeding. On the ComPost, Goddard learns that the ship is being pursued by the white circle, a legendary rip in space that could spit them out anywhere. The Christa can evade it, but only if her hyperdrive engines are still online, and Goddard learns that Cat and Radu are trying to shut down the engines.

Cat and Radu manage to shut down the hyperdrive before Goddard can stop them. Goddard decides to try to maneuver away from the white circle. The kids become the crew of the Christa, but are unsuccessful in avoiding the white circle. They find themselves more than seven years from home.

Goddard is upset, because he was looking forward to ending his stint as a teacher and returning to space with a crew. But the kids convince him to think of the Christa and the kids as his ship and crew, and they begin their long journey home.

Ongoing Story and Character Developments

  • Harlan Band is from Earth.
  • Catalina is from Saturn. She has an invisible or imaginary friend named Suzee. Cat is an engineering genius (or Suzee is, or both).
  • Harlan and Cat have a rivalry for leadership of the group.
  • Radu is Andromedan, and the first of his kind at the Starcademy. He has very sensitive hearing.
  • Harlan doesn't like Andromedans.
  • Rosie Ianni is from Mercury. She is optimistic. She overheats when she gets upset.
  • Bova is from Uranus. He is pessimistic. He can shoot electrical bolts from his antennae.
  • Goddard is a starship commander demoted to teacher of a class of misfits. The reason for this demotion is not revealed until the second season.
  • Davenport is assistant principal of the Starcademy. Though cool and confident in her native environment, she is uncomfortable and panicky in space.
  • Thelma is an android. She doesn't work properly, apparently because Harlan stepped on her memory crystal.
  • It takes 20 minutes to restart the hyperdrive once it has been shut down.

Memorable Lines

Davenport: I believe in regulations and procedure, Mr. Band. If you added those two words to your vocabulary, you could--
Cat: Double it?

Goddard: Can you turn us around?
Thelma: (nods, and physically turns Goddard around)
Goddard: Can you turn the ship around?
Thelma: Oh, I will need much bigger arms.

Goddard: Thelma, what's our position?
Thelma: We're on the floor, sir.

Goddard: For some reason, this ship thinks of you as its crew. You've got to start thinking of yourselves that way too. I saw you do it earlier; I think you can do it again.


  • None discovered.

Trivia, Inside Jokes and References

  • This episode was not the first filmed. It was filmed third. As a result, the characterizations are much better settled than they usually are in first episodes of series.
  • The episode title is the name of a song by The Animals.
  • When the crew finds themselves on the other side of the galaxy, Davenport cries, "We're lost in space!" a reference to Space Cases writer/creator Bill Mumy's best-known role.
  • The Christa is named after Sharon Christa McAuliffe, a high school science teacher who was essentially a passenger on the space shuttle Challenger when it exploded on takeoff on January 26, 1986.
  • The opening credit narration was written and narrated by well-known SF writer Harlan Ellison.
  • David Gerrold, best known for writing the original Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", is credited as Executive Story Consultant on the first season.
  • Harlan Band is named for Harlan Ellison, mentioned above, and Charles Band of Full Moon Pictures.
  • Catalina is named for a woman Peter David (PAD) knew while filming Oblivion in Romania. It's a common Romanian name.
  • Radu is named for a man PAD knew while filming Oblivion in Romania. It's a common Romanian name.
  • Bova is named for science fiction writer Ben Bova.
  • Seth Goddard is named for Bill Mumy's son Seth and his former Lost In Space co-star Mark Goddard, although I always thought it was for Robert Goddard, inventor of the liquid fuel rocket (as in Goddard Space Center), and perhaps it's a little of both.
  • Davenport is named for Veronica Hamel's character in Hill Street Blues.

Unanswered Questions

  1. Why were these kids considered misfits/space cases? Was it just their grades, or was it something more?
  2. What happened to the Christa's previous crew?
  3. Was the Christa sent specifically for these kids? If so, what is so special about these kids?
  4. How did the Christa end up at the Starcademy at the one moment when the kids were unattended?
  5. If Thelma was out of commission, how did the Christa get to the Starcademy?
  6. Why was Thelma's crystal in the floor? Who put it there?
  7. Did Harlan really break Thelma, or was she always like this?
  8. Why was Goddard demoted? (Partially answered in Episode 16, Long Distance Calls: Goddard almost started a war in an incident involving Reaver, the Space Pirate)
  9. Why can't the adults control the ship? If it is because the Christa bonded with the kids, why did the Christa bond with the kids and not the adults?
  10. Why was the Christa (an alien ship) named after Christa McAuliffe (an Earthling)?
  11. Is Suzee real? And who is the real engineering genius, Cat, Suzee, or both?
  12. How do the kids know how to operate an alien spaceship?

(Notes from co-creator Peter A. David)

Originally, Nickelodeon didn't want a straight-up origin episode. They wanted to reserve the right to be able to run the episodes in any ol' order, and wanted what's called the "premise pilot" to be able to be dropped in anywhere into the run. Furthermore, there was no money in the budget to build a Starcademy set, which would certainly have been necessary if we were going to do an episode that began at the chronological beginning.

As a result, this episode was originally titled, "Catalina Explains It All." The show was to open with the crew already aboard the ship, and Catalina--breaking the fourth wall to the viewer--was going to explain everything about how they wound up on the ship. There would have been simply an exterior shot of the Starcademy, and Cat's narration would have explained what happened. Then we would have cut immediately to the kid's arrival on the ship. But somewhere along the way, the PTB (Powers That Be) changed their minds: The money was found for a Starcademy set and we retooled the episode.

Although this is considered the pilot, it was actually the second "pilot." The first, which never aired because of extensive visual redesigns, was called "Breath of a Salesman" and featured David Schramm (Roy Biggins from "Wings") as a space-going salesman. It's the "lost" episode, as it were.

Background notes: The paintings hanging on the wall at the Starcademy were previously used in "Are You Afraid of the Dark" and repainted for our use (an attractive blond was repainted into a Mercurian, for instance).

Our first in-joke in the series is virtually impossible to spot: On the translucent board next to Davenport at the Starcademy, there is a homework assignment for a class taught by "Professor B. Banzai."


Episode Details provided by Tracey Rich.
This page was last updated on July 14, 1997.