With the current privatization of space exploration by large corporations and billionaires, the idea of a non-government agency going to the moon seems normal and do-able, but in 1979, I can assure you, that was not the case. To put it into perspective, it was only a decade past the original moon landing. The plot for the 1979 television show, Salvage 1, explores this concept and other impossible salvage jobs.
When Harry Broderick (Andy Griffith), the owner of the Jettison Scrap and Salvage company, sees a news report about all the pieces of NASA equipment left on the moon and how much it is all worth, Harry gets the notion that if there was a way to get to the moon, he could bring back all that junk and sell it. Lucky for him, two of his employees use to work for NASA. Harry enlists former astronaut Skip Carmichael (Joel Higgins) who was let go from the space program for being too reckless, and fuel expert Melanie Slozar (Trish Stewart) who they enlist to create the type of fuel needed for their journey. The first episode has an extended running time and concentrates on the initial plot of getting to the moon. The rest of the series shows other odd salvage jobs, like breaking off a piece of the Artic Shelf and transporting it to California as a source of fresh water, or saving FBI Agent Jack Klinger (Richard Jaeckel) who gets captured during a mission to a Latin American dictatorship.
I was nine years old when this show premiered and more than any plot or detail of the show itself, I remember sitting down to watch it with my family. Revisiting the show now, I see just how well done and wonderfully acted the show was. It is an implausible plot, especially for the time, but they do try to explain, without going into a lot of scientific jargon, how they got around the issues that plagued NASA, like heating up upon re-entry and the amount of fuel consumption. Being a privatized company meant that they could take risks that NASA couldn’t. The casting is spot on with Andy Griffith playing the daring leader whose wild ideas inspire those around him. Like most shows in the 1970s, character development was not the main emphasis, yet there are moments within the program where you can see the depth of Harry and how much what they are all doing really means to him. Some of the camera work and visual composition of the show was also beautifully framed. The large tent that hides the Rocket made from a Texico oil tanker and a cement mixer, billowing in the wind as an example of some really fine visual imagery.
Overall, I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed revisiting this show. It was a treat to watch not only for the nostalgic familial feelings I have for it, but also because it was just a well written gem of a series that many people don’t even know existed. The series ran for 16 episodes on ABC, although 20 were produced. The final four episodes were shown on ”The Nostalgia Channel” in the 1990s.
Salvage-1 can be seen in HD on You Tube.
Forgotten Television: Salvage 1
User Review( votes)