David Caulder -
Michel LeBrun -
Helen Smith -
Tom Hill -
In 2003 there will be several manned bases on the moon (oh really?) and one of these will be operated by the European Space Agency. This means that a variety of nationalities will be living, sleeping and generally getting in the way of each other in a very tight community locked within tin cans on the surface of the moon.
MOONBASE 3 was an attempt at a believable, scientifically accurate drama set in a real future. It was an ambitious undertaking and it failed miserably due to the fact that it concentrated on the dull minutiae of life in space and dealt almost exclusively with bureaucrats fighting budget cuts and workers cracking under the strain of working in lunar conditions. As a result, the first series of six episodes proved to be the last.
It was worthy, plodding, dull and the scripts creaked badly. Not as badly, however, as the accents.Top
The controller of Moonbase 3 is killed when his favourite shuttle pilot goes into mental meltdown. Instead of the second in command being promoted, a new commander is assigned and his first job is to investigate the incident.
The opening episode of MOONBASE 3 sets out the show's intentions of being serious-minded and scientifically accurate. Unfortunately it also introduces us to a group of very unlikeable characters in some rather unlikely situations stitched together to resemble a plot.
Much of the dialogue is exposition heavy and stilted. It's the opening episode so some of that might be expected, but the writers are established enough to know better.
The special effects vary from pretty good moon landscapes and static moonbase exteriors to some very dodgy shuttle shots.
The characters are somewhat cliché. Michel is an arrogant frenchman with a persecution complex, Tom is an overly familiar smartass and Helen is a changeable female. David Calder is an ebullient man who is clearly more than the image he projects.Top
Two workers go missing in the Mare Figuris region and all work there is temporarily suspended. That doesn't stop one researcher and neither does the approaching solar flare or the force that just destroyed the seismology lab.
Silly accents abound in this episode and even the script is forced to acknowledge it. This undermines an otherwise interesting mystery that turns out to have a rather banal solution. The speed with which supposedly world class scientists jump to a conclusion as absurd as the existence of a hitherto unknown lunar monster is utterly absurd.Top
Adam should have been on the Venus mission, but a slight heart arrythmia put paid to that. Now he is critical to keeping the Moonbase running as a series of costly accidents occur.
Despite the sheer amount of cod psychology that gets thrown around in this episode it is obvious from the outset what the problem in and with whom it lies. That Dr Helen doesn't figure it out sooner suggests she's unfit for her post.
As it's all about the internal workings of the human mind, there's nothing but people talking at each other, which needs a better script than this to be successful.
The moon buggy crash is also unsuccessful as it shows the models up at their least believable.Top
Another bureaucrat is worrying about how much Moonbase 3 costs and is coming to the moon for a tour. The director needs a success to show him and he has two, but one is at the hands of a man who is desperate for success and the other is by a man who really doesn't care.
What will pressure do to a man? Well, it will make him cheat on a test result, in this case coming up with a wonder fuel that isn't a wonder fuel, or at least not yet. The pressure of a modernt world also will drive a man to acts that others could never understand.
Helen Smith once again fails to spot a man in mental and emotional meltdown. She really must be the most ineffectual psychiatrist in the history of science fiction. It's just as well that she's the prettiest member of the cast.
The philosophising about the dehumanising effect of the modern world, however, is pomposity itself.Top
A routine maintenance flight to a satellite goes horribly wrong and leaves Tom stranded in space. His only hope is a space pilot of equal skill, but he's Russian and the Russians don't want him doing anything dangerous that might put their own mission to risk.
What price a man's life? Well it can be measured in roubles if this episode is to be believed. The hard physics and even harder physics of the situation make the rescue attempt undesirable, but it goes ahead anyway and the rest is fairly predictable.
How a daring space rescue in the face of a looming international incident can be made to be so dull is hard to understand. The elements are all there, but it is all so badly handled that it is even less exciting than it is interesting.Top
A venerable scientist visits the moonbase just as an experiment he denounced takes place, rendering the Earth uninhabitable. The survivors on Moonbase realise that they too will die soon and Caulder orders Tom to prepare a euthanasia scenario.
Michael Gough appears in the cast to add weight and gravitas to a show that really doesn't need any more of either. This is actually the most interesting of the scenarios that the series has produced as the various members of the crew go through emotional meltdowns when faced with their hopeless situation.
They are also hopeless scientists. Nobody tries to use the telescope to assess what's going on. Nobody tries to use any sort of scientific method to see if there is any other alternative explanation for what has happened. This is a shame as it could have added some authenticity to the most interesting storyline to make the series worth saving, if the other episodes hadn't already sent it past that point.
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