The way these serials kept people coming back to theaters to see them were by repetition and a steady stream of it. If you can appreciate the kitsch value and camp behind “Commander Cody” you could probably ignore the inherent repetitive storylines that follow it. Commander Cody is doing something top secret. There’s a villain who is spying on him. Commander Cody is also spying on them, oddly enough. The villain’s gun wielding henchmen take Commander Cody’s sidekick, the spunky Joan, hostage. Cody then has to go and save her, and wins the day. These serials deliver what the audience wants, even if it can get kind of tedious; especially since the compilation of “Sky Marshal of the Universe” episodes amount to almost four hundred minutes total.
A precursor to “The Rocketeer,” Commander Cody is a Sky Marshal and very advanced technical genius who works for the government. He has a squad of soldiers helping him out, but he takes to the skies in his large metallic helmet and rocket pack. “Commando Cody” watches a lot like a television show and looks so much like a pulp hero series that was initially set for television, despite the twelve part serial running in theaters. There really aren’t any cliffhangers or major narrators, it’s just twelve twenty five minute long adventures with a fluid narrative that has a beginning and ending. For some folks that might be a fun way to transition in to the other episodes, but for hardcore Serial fans, this might end up being a bit distracting.
Commando Cody is a fascinating hero who oddly enough sports two superhero suits and he’s always ready for battle. He has his mechanical rocket pack suit and then he has a military outfit with a domino mask that conceals his identity, for some reason. The overarching story for the twelve serials is Cody wants to take his inventions in to space, and the villainous The Ruler is hell bent on keeping him from achieving that mission. So Cody and his pals go on various missions to stop the Ruler, who doesn’t have much in the way of bad guys. Save for your usual men in suits and fedoras shooting pistols at people and talking a big game.
The “Commander Cody” serials are obviously very low budget, and limited in scenery, but the concept is a lot of fun, and I wanted to see how Cody would fare every time. Sure, the hero always wins in these movie serials, but it’s still cool to see the good guy prevail. It’s a unique and entertaining series of shorts. I hear Mystery Science Theater 3000 spoofed one of these shorts, which I will have to see eventually. For what’s included here, Olive Films offers up twelve restored adventures with Commander Cody, and it should be a nice treat for fans of the golden age movie serials. I had a good time with it.
Unfortunately, there are no special features, only the episodes in order.