Once upon a time a junkman had a dream, a dream of salvaging.. the moon!
January 18, 2014 4:38 PM   Subscribe

In January of 1979, ABC premiered a made-for-TV movie called Salvage, featuring Harry Broderick (Andy Griffith) as "the junkman with a dream," which he stated simply: "I want to build a ship, fly to the moon, salvage all the NASA stuff up there, bring it back to the earth, and sell it." His crazy idea isn't so crazy, thanks to the assistance of former astronaut Skip Carmichael (Joel Higgins) and fuel/tech expert Melanie Slozar (Trish Stewart). They managed to build their spaceship and get to the moon and back, thanks to Carmichael's ingenious "Trans-Linear Vector Principle." The movie did so well that the crew's adventures were extended into a total of 18 episodes, split into two seasons.

To date, the entire show hasn't been released commercially, though the two 2-part episodes have been released as discs-on-demand. Otherwise, this archived Salvage 1 fan site is still pretty accurate, and includes an amazing fan-made paper model of the Vulture, including the plans to make your own. Here's another fansite, which is still updated (and is fairly current). And here's the whole series, as recorded from TV to VHS, then digitized and uploaded to YouTube, listed in the originally scheduled air-date order:

Griffith stars as a junkyard owner who builds a space ship from his scrap pile in order to retreive valuable parts left on the moon by American Astronauts.
Season 1
1 "Dark Island"
The Salvage 1 crew become stranded on a remote island off the coast of Africa and are menaced by a gigantic ape.
2 "Shangri-la Lil"
While searching for the B-25 bomber he flew on Doolittle's raid on Tokyo, Harry discovers an old Japanese soldier who is still fighting World War II.
3 "Shelter Five"
When an earthquake traps a small girl in a bomb shelter, the Salvage 1 team tries to rescue her before after shocks collapse the remaining structure.
4 "The Haunting of Manderly Mansion"
The Salvage 1 team befriends a alien creature from Andromeda who has crashed on Earth and assumed Harry's shape. The alien needs Harry's rocket to escape Earth's gravity and resume his journey home.
5 "The Bugatti Treasure"
The Salvage 1 team finds a 16th century map that supposedly points to the location of Cortez's treasure in the Mojave Desert.
6 "The Golden Orbit (Part 1)"
7 "The Golden Orbit (Part 2)"
Harry is hired to launch a satellite into space using his private rocket, but the U.S. government attempts to scuttle the attempt. Meanwhile, Skip, recently rehired as an astronaut, faces deadly cold in outer space when the heater in his space capsule malfunctions.
8 "Operation Breakout"
An African dictator threatens to place Klinger before a firing squad unless Harry gives him Salvage 1's homemade spaceship.
9 "Mermadon"
Harry befriends a mobile robot who, unknown to the Salvage 1 team, has runaway from a secret army base and is programmed to kill anyone who poses a threat.
10 "Up, Up and Away"
Harry survives a plane crash in a remote canyon but must face crooks determined to retrieve counterfeit currency from the wreck.
11 "Energy Solution"
Melanie plan to develop a method to create crude oil literally backfires, resulting in a raging underground inferno.
12 "Confederate Gold"
While trying to locate gold from the Confederate States of America, the Salvage 1 team is captured by greedy townspeople and forced to work for the locals.
Season 2
13 "Hard Water (Part 1)"
A rival salvagers attempts to tow an iceberg results in disaster.
14 "Hard Water (Part 2)"
Harry and the Salvage One team try to direct the iceberg out of the shipping lanes, but the U.S. Navy is determined to blast the berg to smithereens.
15 "Diamond Volcano"
Harry treats the gang to a trip to Hawaii where they find he has other motives. He has arranged for a mining operation into the side of an extinct volcano to retrieve diamonds formed by extreme geologic forces long ago. However, the volcano proves to be more active than they thought.
16 "Dry Spell"
Harry and the Salvage 1 team are hired to bring rain to a drought-stricken farming community.
17 "Harry's Doll"
Melanie hires a scientist to save Michelle's injured horse from blindness with laser surgery.
18 "Round Up"
The Salvage 1 team tries to round up a herd of wild horses before local ranchers can slaughter them.
And if that's not enough, here is the TV Tropes page for the show, which is a pretty short page, but the usual time sink warnings apply.
posted by filthy light thief (37 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks to acroyear for bringing this show to my attention.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:39 PM on January 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

You're more than welcome, flt - it was a well-loved show from my youth. But I'm a little afraid to watch it again since I fear my standards have increased slightly since I was a space-crazy 10 year old. I will, however, admit to still owning the Salvage 1 fold out poster magazine I excitedly picked up on the newstand that year.
posted by acroyear at 4:54 PM on January 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

Episode 19: "The Pressure of Pedants" (Unaired)

The Salvage 1 team is hired by a mysterious group known only as the Historical Stickler's Society to locate the discarded Eagle lander and return it to the moon.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:09 PM on January 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

I've never heard of this show! Looks like I have hours of fun watching ahead of me. So happy you posted this. Thank you!!
posted by zarq at 5:23 PM on January 18, 2014

I remember watching the TV movie some weekend afternoon and chuckling when it was mentioned that there would be no weightlessness. I'm sure the director hugged the writer that came up with that loophole.
posted by ckape at 5:29 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, really, I had dreams about it. Later, not sure how much later, I recognized the genealogy of the show back to Bradbury, Asimov and Heinlein.

As you may know, I have spent several years on a little thing I like to call Strangers. You do the math.
posted by mwhybark at 5:29 PM on January 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, acroyear: love your username. Hope your wrist joints and backpack have held up over the years.
posted by mwhybark at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I recognized the genealogy of the show back to Bradbury, Asimov and Heinlein.

Damnit. I was all set to ignore this too.

(Between this and the giant ape: sold).
posted by Mezentian at 5:32 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I remember being a little kid totally excited to see this and having to do chores instead... ironically taking out a truck sized pile of garbage from the garage.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:37 PM on January 18, 2014

I was nearly convinced this was a hoax, but damn if you didn't find videos of it! Wow!
posted by JHarris at 5:39 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, acroyear: love your username. Hope your wrist joints and backpack have held up over the years.

Yep, but some of my other parts are getting brittle and really starting to yellow. I still think of myself as near-mint though.

For those young whippersnappers scratching their heads... Acroyear!
posted by acroyear at 5:44 PM on January 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

God I loved this show.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:52 PM on January 18, 2014

Forget Sheriff Taylor and definitely forget Matlock; this is how I always want to remember Andy Griffith.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:52 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ok, that Chromecast I bought last week is now going to pay for itself. I remember watching this as a kid and loving it. However, I also watched the Logan's Run tv show, my taste may be a bit suspect.
posted by beowulf573 at 5:52 PM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I read a short story about a couple of guys that found some portal or wormhole or something to the moon, and tried to salvage the old Apollo 11 hardware without any space suits or anything. But I can never remember what it was or who wrote it...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:58 PM on January 18, 2014

I remember his show as being awesome. I'd rattle off some of the sci-fi shows that made tv great around that time, but I'm sure I'd botch up when things were shown. I will tell you that I'm sure there would have been no rag-tag fugitive fleet in the fandom zeitgeist without Salvage 1.
posted by Catblack at 6:00 PM on January 18, 2014

I adored this show as a child. My dad was a huge Andy Griffith fan and I admit that Andy made it so I forgot that he was Sheriff Taylor. So fun.
posted by jadepearl at 6:13 PM on January 18, 2014

Oh wow...I remember learning the phrase "to court disaster" from this show.

Season 2, Hard Water, Part I: Harry goes off on the folks who are going to do business with Harry's rivals in retrieving the iceberg, since (as I recall now 34 years later!) aforementioned rivals hadn't considered the deeper ocean currents that could wrest the 'berg from the tug's grip. "If you do business with these people," warns Harry, "you're courting disaster!"

Cool expression, interesting dramatic dilemma, and an angry Andy Griffith. It made for a vivid memory for a 12-year-old, I guess.
posted by darkstar at 6:23 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was 10 when this was on and I adored it. Count me as another afraid to rewatch for fear it won't live up to my recollections. But I'm stoked to see all this in the blue!
posted by jburka at 6:28 PM on January 18, 2014

So excited to see this here--one of those shows that I thought I might have hallucinated since nobody else seemed to remember it. (Same thing goes with The Highwayman, Gilligan's Planet, and that one cartoon where the Three Stooges were crime-fighting cyborgs.)

Pretty sure I built a Salvage I out of LEGO at one point, along with almost everything else.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:53 PM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

A show for the whole family, truly ... I loved this, but unfortunately mainly because I had an embarrassing crush on Joel Higgins.

I mean, really, 14-year-old me? Really???
posted by allthinky at 7:49 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

dear dirty prometheus,

i could have lived the rest of my life and not remembered this show (although, in hindsight, the original pilot/movie is what i really remember). this just further underlines my ranting that '70's TV and movies were the height of the prole, underdog in American entertainment. there's a whole lineage of filmed artifacts from the era that are in some way descendants of Italian neo-realism. in some small way this is one.

posted by Conrad-Casserole at 8:08 PM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is going to come true, except that the salvage team will be Chinese
posted by Renoroc at 8:53 PM on January 18, 2014

Bah! There's no way they actually filmed that on the moon. The shadows were all at different angles, and there clearly were multiple light sources.


I loved this show as a kid, and I am truly grateful that filthy light thief posted this. It made my evening. Thanks again, FLT.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:47 PM on January 18, 2014

I would love it if someone collected all the obscure scifi of my childhood on a series of dvds. 'Otherworld' 'the phoenix' 'isis' etc. Maybe even a failed tv pilot collection.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:17 PM on January 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

OH yeah, Salvage One. I watched it religiously at age 14. In the SF desert that was late 70s television, Salvage One was an oasis...well, a muddy puddle at least.
posted by happyroach at 11:58 PM on January 18, 2014


I once had your same question, and cgc373 had the answer for me.

It's "The Hole in the Hole", by Terry Bisson.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:06 AM on January 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh wow, this is my madeleine. I never thought of this show since I saw it 30+ years ago and now I am overcome. I have been transported to my parent's home; watching this on avacado-green couches eating my mom's peanut and honey sandwiches. I can taste the Wonderbread.
posted by roquetuen at 12:57 AM on January 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I watched a lot of TV as a kid but I have never heard of this. I must've had Cub Scouts that night or something. Thanks for the post.
posted by zardoz at 1:16 AM on January 19, 2014

This was broadcast on Super Channel or Sky Channel during that one glorious summer in the eighties that my parents had proper cable before they decided that it was a waste of money. Even then I knew it was a silly premise, but when you're jonesing for science fiction anything will do.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:17 AM on January 19, 2014

I remember catching it and the series at the time
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:21 AM on January 19, 2014

Hey, it's something else from my childhood that I haven't thought about since... well, since I was a child. I remember this as being something that I wanted to like more than I did; on the one hand, I really dug DIY-adventure-with-improvised-castoff-tech stories like The Mad Scientists' Club, but on the other, I was just enough of a space nerd to know that Space Travel Doesn't Work That Way. Had no idea that this was made into a series, no matter how short-lived.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:45 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lord love a duck, filthy light thief and acroyear, you are my new best friends. I clearly recall getting with friends when I was a kid and planning our own rocket because of this show.

Thank you for posting this.
posted by mrmorgan at 8:24 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

This show ranks right up their with "Probe" as one of those shows that young Megafly loved and couldn't understand why it was cancelled.
posted by Megafly at 11:29 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mister Moofoo, I remember answering about the Bisson story but was going nuts trying to find it on the site. Turns it it was via MeMail. Whew.
posted by cgc373 at 2:00 AM on January 20, 2014

Oh, man. I remember watching this as a kid and it was the coolest thing ever. Back when there was still more optimism about manned space flight and I was convinced that the High Frontier colonies at L5 were going to be a thing by the time I was old enough to go.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:57 AM on January 20, 2014

Well, cgc373, that's why I didn't link to it. ;)
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:20 AM on January 20, 2014

« Older The Museum With a Bulldozer’s Heart   |   If I die on Monday Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments