Commander John Koenig -
Dr Helena Russell -
Victor Bergman -
Alan Carter -
OTHER SPACE 1999 SERIES
OTHER GERRY ANDERSON SHOWS
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
New Captain Scarlet
OTHER TREKS THROUGH SPACE
The Next Generation
In the year 1999, the moon has become the dumping ground for all the world's nuclear waste. When those dumps explode, the moon is forced from orbit and out of the solar system, falling through a series of space phenomena until the survivors don't know where, or even when, they are. In their resulting wandering they encounter all manner of strange things.
SPACE: 1999 was an attempt to make a British STAR TREK. Instead of the starship Enterprise, it uses the whole moon as its mode of transport, which is the first of its horrible scientific illiteracies. The setting and special effects are stunning, recreating a convincing space base with its realistic transport system and Eagle spacecraft that impresses throughout the two season run, but the stories do not match the effects crews' skills.
There is one bona fide masterpiece in the episode The Infernal Machine and good work in the likes of Black Sun and Another Time, Another Place, but SPACE 1999 will be remembered more for its look than for its plotting.Top
Commander John Koenig is assigned to Moonbase Alpha following a number of deaths amongst the crew of the probe destined for the rogue planet Meta which is soon to pass close to Earth and which is exhibiting signs of life. The mystery illness, however, turns out not to be an illness at all, but the effects of a dangerous side-effect of the storage of huge amounts of radioactive waste beneath the moon's surface. Something strange is going on the nuclear dumps, something that has turned the moon into the biggest bomb ever created.
This live action Gerry Anderson show benefits from all the technical exertise that we have come to expect. The moonbase is wonderfully realised along with the eagle transporters that are the workhorses of the operation. The characters are a little less well-realised, but this is the first episode after all and it's a bit too soon to be judging that. The acting, though, is stiff in the way that plagued that other Anderson live action space adventure UFO.
Being the first of the series, it's also the set up, the backstory that explains how the moon is ripped from orbit, but leaves hope for the moonbase crew in the shape of the rogue world Meta.Top
A blue light descends on Moonbase Alpha and turns one of the crew into an energy absorbing monster. The only way to stop him appears to be switching off all sources of power, which means, of course, that everyone dies of cold.
Unconvincing is the word for the first non-origin episode of SPACE 1999. The sets are still amazingly detailed and utterly convincing, but the plot leaves a lot to be desired. Ian McShane is the unfortunate guest star who is forced to go from caring, sharing man to cold monster in a few short minutes. There are a couple of scenes of torment,but then it's down to the stalking and the killing. It is also so obvious that the crewman is the responsible party, but it takes the people in the show so long to figure it out that you just want to beat them around the head.
The scenes of destruction at the end are very impressive, but if this is going to happen every week then they're going to run out of moonbase very quickly.Top
Teams from Moonbase Alpha set nuclear charges to annihilate a small body in the way of the careering moon, creating a huge radioactive cloud in the process (these people are really careless with radioactivity). Eagle pilot Carter is lost in the cloud, so Koenig goes after him and finds that the moon is now on a direct collision course with a planet. Investigating a giant spaceship, Koenig meets a being who tells him that the moon's collision will send the planet into a higher state of being and that no evasive action must be taken. Considering the alternatives, the rest of the crew think that he's gone mad, but he is determined to risk all their lives on a matter of faith.
Once again, the modelwork of this show is excellent. The design of the alien ship is suspect (an opening mouth for a docking port?), but the realisation of all of the ships is excellent. The settings of the moonbase also continue to impress, though why the alien's ship should be festooned with cobwebs remains a mystery. Almost as much a mystery as to why Koenig is willing to take the alien at her word when she is unwilling to give him even the slightest confirming fact or proof.
That said, the final moments as the moon and the planet come together are genuinely tense.Top
As the moon approaches an alien planet warships descend and a war breaks out that destroys Moonbase Alpha's ability to support its crew. In desperation, Koenig and Dr Russell travel to the planet to try and negotiate with the inhabitants.
The special effects continue to impress and reach new heights here. The space battles are pretty poor to say the least with the ships barely moving as they blast each other out of the sky, but the devastation of Moonbase and the realisation of the alien planet are quite excellent. The use of stock footage in its destruction is unfortunate and obvious and unnecessary.
The human story is not quite so great.Not much of an advert for the human race this one. Contact with the aliens meets with violence on almost every level. When denied space on the planet because it will destroy an ancient civilisation, the humans decide take it nonetheless. Koenig is willing to smash equipment in order to destroy the alien support mechanism. The aliens exist way beyond our human terms and we are seen to be utterly unworthy.
This is the best of the show to date and shows much promise.Top
Voices from an ice planet bring the Alphan bridge crew to a colony of people made up from a lost earth mission. They have found a way to live forever on the planet and the lead scientist is trying to research the secret. HIs experiments have left several people as vegetables and now he wants to turn his attention to the Alphans.
The shakespearean overtones of this episode (clearly making guest star Brian Blessed feel right at home) undermine an otherwise OK story and make the whole thing a little bit pompous. That said, the sequences out in the snowstorms are well done and the shocking reveal of what happens to the planet's inhabitants if they leave (completely predictable) is gruesome enough.Top
An old Earth probe with a star drive of incredibly poisonous effect, is located on close flyby course. The information it is carrying could be vital to Moonbase Alpha, but the risk it poses it more immediate, until the creator turns up on the crew manifest under another name. Then a race of aliens shows up wanting to annihilate all humans for the damage that the drive has done to two of their worlds.
This is a more interesting episode, but it has rather more plot that it needs. The throwing in of a race that has been damaged by the star drive is bad enough, but then adding in thier plan to avenge their death by the destruction of humanity and it's all a bit too much. We've already had the threat of the drive's effects on the moonbase and the personal effects of the creator's revelation would have been enough, but the pudding gets overegged by the end.
The first baby is born on the Moonbase, but it suddenly leaps forward to being a normal five-year old. An alien spaceship appears shortly thereafter, followed by three more. The child becomes a fully-grown man, an alien that wants over a hundred of the humans to give up their bodies for the human hosts. The arrival of another alien craft then complicates matters.
What starts off as an intriguing tale of the suddenly aged five year old and his effect on the crew, not least his mother and the commander, turns into a fairly familiar and straightforward story of alien possession of the kind that the STAR TREK series has been using for years. Pity, because it could have been more.Top
A member of Moonbase Alpha's crew suffers an attack of fear, believing that he is being brought ever nearer to a creature that wrecked a previous mission and killed his entire crew.
There are some serious problems with this episode that show a lack of belief in the format of the show. There are more than enough stories to be told about the life that the Alphans are forced to live in outer space and yet we are forced to watch flashbacks to a different story about a different place and time all told through flashback. Add to this a quite unnecessary voiceover by Barbara Bain as Doctor Russell and a multi-tentacled monster that is pitifully unconvincing and this is the least of the episodes to date.Top
Answering a distress call from a huge ship adrift in space, the Alphans discover that the inhabitants have evolved into two species over 900 years, one retaining the grace and knowledge of the original shipbuilders, the other regressed to savagery.
Once we get past the impressive modelwork of the opening encounter with the Darian ship, the story becomes a bit of a mess with false gods, gene banks, fear of mutation, the survival instinct and Joan Collins in a very short skirt all thrown into the mix. Mainly to very little effect. The most obvious parallel is with HG Wells' story The Time Machine only this time with the advanced Eloi living off the savage Morlocks.Top
An asteroid explodes and becomes a black sun, a region of space so dense that nothing can escape it, not even light. Alpha is falling into the black sun and nothing can prevent it. A forcefield holds only the slightest hope of survival apart from the six people selected to take off in an Eagle to find some way to survive.
Apart from the horrible scientific illiteracy (an asteroid explodes and becomes a black hole? They can't call it a black hole?), this is the most interesting episode to date. The danger threatening Alpha can't be averted. Death is pretty much certain. How the crew deal with that, and the fact that six of them can be saved and six only, is effective and emotionally the strongest the show has managed to be to date.
When Alpha passes through the phenomenon, things go a bit twinkly, folk get old, hear a voice that might be the voice of God and borrow far too much from 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY, but are all the more intriguing for that. It is unlikely that we will see many episodes with such an odd mix of intelligence, emotion, stupidity and bizarreness - which is a pity.Top
The moon approaches the planet Piri and the main computer is contacted by the planet's guardian, showing a ecosystem of great beauty. A survey eagle is immediately despatched, but fails to return. Commander Koenig goes down to the planet in another eagle and finds the survey crew held in some kind of drug-induced hallucinogenic trance on an otherwise dead planet. On returning to Moonbase Alpha, Koenig finds that the crew have been compromised and a complete evacuation down to the planet's surface has begun.
The modelwork and design of the planet Piri's surface is remarkable and very effective with red skies and large white globes creating something quite beautiful, but certainly very alien. It is one of the most enduring images from the whole show and worth the time taken to watch the episode on its own. It is the main interest in what is otherwise a very pedestrian episode packed with ideas that have been used many times before.
As well as the design of the planet itself, there is an eerie quality about most of the things that happen there, such as the eagle hanging in the sky and the addled looks of the alphans as they laze in hypnotised bliss. Koenig is the only one who can apparently withstand the influence of the planet and it is left to him to save the day alone, which doesn't say a lot for the rest of the crew. The problem is also resolved by the use of brute force and nothing else, hardly the best argument that the show could have come up with.
Catherine Schell appears wearing not very much as the titular Guardian, but proves to be other than she appears. She joined the crew as a very different character in the Season 2, usually wearing more in the way of clothes.
The final shot of the planet also shows a particularly cruel coda that goes some way (but not all the way) to making up for the nonsense that has gone before it.Top
Whilst surveying an asteroid, the humans discover an atmosphere within. Breaking in, they discover a man, apparently dead. A short time later, the man is fully recovered and sets about killing people. His cells reactivate so quickly that it is impossible to kill him. He is, to all intents and purposes, immortal.
This is a nice set up allowing for all kinds of questions to be asked about the nature of life, death, justice, immortality and the like. Unfortunately, it is so turgid and dull that all of that gets lost. Peter Bowles on stilts doesn't make for an imposing alien and when he spends ten minutes explaining how he came to be locked inside an asteroid, the plot grinds to a halt and never recovers. What action there is smothered in 'artistic' camera angles, slow motion and sound effects (silence and music) to diminish its effect.
The conclusion itself is unsatisfying (although it predates the same solution in ALIEN), just leaving the problem to drift until it becomes somebody else's.Top
An Eagle mission to survey a likely planet for colonisation runs into trouble and arrives back at Alpha with an unexpected passenger - Dr Russell's husband. Whilst Koenig tries to figure out who, or what, this man is the planet gets ever closer to slipping away from them.
The storytelling here is muddled to the point of incoherence. The idea that Russell's husband should show up on a planet that they are drifting by (he vanished on a mission to Jupiter) is staggeringly unlikely - but then again hard science hasn't played much part in the show to date. On top of that, the planet seems benign until, for no apparent reason, things start to blow up, storms attack them and electricity kills them. Fortunately, the Doctor's husband is on hand to 'give her the power' to put everything right. How? Don't ask, because they're not telling.Top
A spaceship arrives on Alpha with a group of aliens whose ultimate destination is Earth. They need help with their equipment and offer, in return, space for one single human passenger. Whilst Commander Koenig works out who is best to go, one of the crew takes matters into his own hands.
The redoubtable Christopher Lee stars as the leader of the alien race, but it is such a dull part that he manages to do absolutely nothing with it. The part of the Commissioner determined to leave is equally one-dimensional and thankless. The only real interest here is the startling and original bulbous design of the alien spaceship and an ending that proves to be more chilling than the rest of the story deserves.Top
The alphans set down on a new planet to explore, hoping to find it suitable as a new home. As the two hour long night falls, the landing team move into a mist in search of the commander. The following day, the remaining crewmember finds herself attacked by cavemen - cavemen who have a very strong resemblance to the missing survey team.
For an episode that starts off so well with Eagle spacecraft landing on the planet (along with all the usual excellent modelwork) this falls apart so rapidly and so completely that it is hard to credit. There are so many things wrong with it that it is difficult to think where to start. Oh all right, let's start with the cavemen. They are all so sub - QUEST FOR FIRE and not for one moment even remotely believable. The plot also then gives them nothing to do but scream and fight and generally waste everyone's time.
The crew, even the non-devolved ones, turn stupid on landing it appears. Pilot Carter walks into a big hole too large to hide effectively, he then faces a caveman attack without using the extremely effective stun weapon on his hip. Sandra, a bridge crew member, turns into a scared little girl who squeals at almost everything and seems happiest making breakfast for the men. Her treatment by the writers is unforgiveable.
Then there are the technical mysteries. How does the mist turn people into cavemen? How does it turn their clothes into furs? How does it do it the reverse way as well? How does a complex social structure evolve in the cavemen overnight (especially a night that only lasts two years)? Of course, SPACE 1999 has never been strong on the hard science, but this story is especially stupid.Top
Moonbase Alpha encounters a spatial anomaly that throws the moon billions of miles. Only on crewmember seems badly affected, believing that the entire moon was duplicated. Then sensors detect a planet that is, to all intents and purposes, Earth.
Wierdness abounds in this episode of SPACE 1999, but that is what makes it surprisingly compelling. There are three stories here that don't quite mesh into a full narrative, but that leaves the audience struggling for answers that slowly come, keeping us watching to find out what the hell is going on and what is going to happen next. The story of the troubled crewmember suffering seriously disturbed dreams and turns out to have two brains (there's the show's horrible scientific illiteracy again) seems to be far more significant than it turns out to be. The discovery of the new Earth and the moon's slipping into orbit so neatly seemss utterly ludicrous until it is explained that time is righting itself by bringing the two moons together, but does have the mkment when Koenig and Carter discover their own dead bodies whilst exploring an alternative, abandoned moonbase. Finally, the tale of Helena confronting her own future (or past) self provides the most interesting questions.
On the whole, the story is muddled and confused as to where it is going, but that has the effect of rendering it more intriguing than the usual.Top
A huge spaceship declares an emergency and asks Moonbase Alpha for help. When Commander Koenig, Victor and Helena go aboard, they discover only a dying man who appears to be a slave to the machine. He also appears to be dying. The machine entity has two demands, supplies for its energy matrix and a new companion.
There isn't a story written yet that cannot be improved by the presence of the redoubtable Leo McKern. Here, he appears in the flesh as Companion and voices the giant machine entity. His presence makes the human drama exciting and affecting. He makes the sorrow of the machine believable. It is his turn that makes this the most memorable of the show to date.
Sadly, the rest of the plot isn't up to his quality. All powerful entities with the sprirt of a child are ten a penny in science fiction shows, but there is lots of destruction and the modelwork remains as excellent as ever. The scale of the spaceship's interior is also impressive.Top
A red sphere appears in the sky over the moon and a man dies trying to access the main computer. Soon after, the moon is enveloped in a force field. When Koenig tries to break out with an Eagle spaceship, Dr Russell is taken by the sphere and becomes the new means of accessing the computer. The sphere is a probe from a dead planet and Koenig has to find a way to stop it without killing Helena in the process.
Coming after the somewhat superb The Infernal Machine, this is an especially disappointing effort.Top
Following a crash in an Eagle spaceship, Commander Koenig is left apparently braindead. Whilst the crew of Alpha decide whether to switch off the life support machines, Koenig finds himself in another place and time as part of an experiment being carried out by a scientist who becomes annoyed when his daughter shows an interest in the newcomer.
The presence of Peter Cushing in gold facepaint does nothing to save this mess of an episode. Exactly what is going on? Sometimes not knowing can be interesting, but here it is never properly explained at all. Is Koenig alive? Has he been transported in body, in mind, at all? Is it all a delusion caused by his brain damage? What is the scientist's experiment all about and why does he abandon it after only one short attempt? Why does he let his daughter go anywhere near what is, in effect, a lab rat? Why is Koenig so eager to abandon his post? Why is he so eager to abandon his new love?
Absolutely none of this makes the slightest sense, everyone is forced to act far out of character to drum up a little dramatic tension and the floaty soft focus is merely annoying. A few pointless surreal images do not an insightful episode make.
As the moon approaches another planet, alien machines appear and create an atmosphere on the surface. There is a real chance for the Alphans to make a home on their own small world, but unexpected atmoshpheric conditions leave an eagle stranded in a burning desert with little hope of rescue.
This episode starts off strongly with the creation of a lunar paradise out of the blue (no pun intended), but it descends quickly into just another rescue mission storyline.
Fortunately there are moments of high camp (unintentional) comedy such as the holiday camp scene that is suddenly created and (this is a classic) a handle appearing so that a window designed to keep out the vaccuum of space can be easily slid down to let in the wind.Top
The wandering moon encounters an amorphous energy field that is analogous to a brain. The eagle spaceship sent out to investigate is reduced to a small globe of crushed elements by natural antibodies. If the moon continues on its same course it is likely to meet the same fate.
This is one of the better stories that the series has come up with to date. It's not new stuff with the 'brain' trying to communicate with the base first through the computer and then through a human being, none of which is successful and both of which are misunderstood as attacks. What is interesting is that the threat comes from natural antibodies and so there is no real 'enemy' as such and that the moon itself is a definite threat to the energy phenomenon.
The main problem is that the antibodies take the form of foam - a lot of foam - and foam isn't something that can easily be taken seriously as a major threat. The final sequences are unintentionally funny because it looks more like a rupture in the base laundry.Top
A scientist in Alpha holds a seance-like experiment in an attempt to force mental communication with plants. Instead, he unleashes a force that turns out to be the ghost of both himself and the plants, though neither of them is dead.
This is a seriously odd episode. For once the threat doesn't come from outside the base, but it is a very wierd threat. If the idea of communicating mentally with plants wasn't out there enough the creation of the ghost of a man/plant hybrid is so far out there that it can't even see here any more. Add on top of that the techno indian music that permeates the whole episode and it just screams wierd, but sadly not in an interesting way.
The make up effects of the creature aren't very convincing to say the least, which doesn't help the cause any either.Top
Alpha is pulled into orbit around an unknown world by a strange force that drains half their power. With their continued life on the base put under threat, they descend to the planet where they learn that this was the birthplace of humanity and some of the landing party decide that they are going to bring humanity back to it, whatever the cost to their crewmates.
Nothing actually happens in this episode, something that might explain the horribly portentous voiceover that it is saddled with to try and pad out the story and give it some sort of meaning. The voiceover isn't necessary as there's nothing going on that isn't explained in some of the clunky dialogue. Koenig's actions in the face of the kidnapping of Dr Russell of downright out of character and the fact that it all works out for the best in the end is no real excuse.
The idea of finding the place where human life started (the actual Garden of Eden) should be fascinating, but it is likely that if this was the introduction to the series for a viewer then it would be the last episode that they watched.Top
The moon wanders into a system with two planets on opposite sides of the sun. A giant warship appears from one of the planets and opens fire, not on Alpha, but on the other planet. Immediate retaliation follows and Commander Koenig finds his command in the middle of a war that is likely to see it utterly destroyed.
The opening sequence of this epsiode with Alpha finding the planet inhabited, the ship approaching, wiping out the moon's defences and then opening fire is a very nice piece of misdirection, but after that the plot goes off into all kinds of trouble. For a war, it seems much more like two kids in the playground trading punches until one falls over. Koenig ignores all sorts of obvious security measures when one of the alien commanders comes aboard and the negotiation of a cease fire is so utterly easy to acheive that it is absurd. That it turns out to be a sham on one side desone't make it any the more convincing.
This is the final episode of the season and it really doesn't leave us with any burning desire to get back onto the wandering moon any time soon.Top
If this page was useful to you please sign our