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Political Commissioner Roy Dotrice ( Beauty and the Beast, B5 ) assigns Commander Koenig to Moonbase Alpha. Koenig's first duty is to discover the source of a mysterious virus that is killing the astronauts.
It turns out that using the moon as a huge dump for all of Earth's nuclear waste is actually a bad idea!
A subspace anomaly flies past Moonbase. Most of the crew are knocked unconscious - but one is cursed with an awful power. Anton Zoref (Ian McShane - John Wick ) freezes to death anyone he touches!
Zoref needs to absorb heat in order to live. However, if he drains the reactor of heat then the moonbase's key systems will suffer irrepairable damage. The Captain orders all sidearms to be worn, and leads a team to hunt down and kill Zoref before he does too much damage.
This is technically the crew's first alien encounter.
An asteroid is about to crash into moonbase. Koenig sends the shuttle codenamed Eagle One to plant a nuke on the asteroid, in the hope of deflecting or destroying it. Unfortunately the shuttle goes MIA during the blast.
Koenig takes the other shuttle, Eagle Four, out in search of the first one. He discovers an alien vessel, with an old humanoid woman aboard. She claims to have psychic powers, with the ability to both read the minds of his command crew and to predict the future millions of years in advance.
Moonbase is attacked by a swarm of alien spacecraft. Coincidentally the Aliens' technology and tactics are identical to those used by the Moonbase personnel! The fighters are the Mark IX Hawk, similar to the Eagle shuttles but with twice the engine (AKA twice the speed) and some weapon pods on the sides.
The Moonbase command crew explores an ice-planet named Ultima Thule. Yes, like the Trek Federation they send their leader into the most dangerous situations!
Luckily the planet is inhabited. Brian Blessed ( Flash Gordon, SWI: TPM ) and a pack of fur-clad cossack-looking people are there, looking for the secret of eternal life. They are all English-speaking caucasians, by the way. It turns out they are survivors of a NASA mission that was lost in 1986. Luckily the command crew on Moonbase are a bit more diverse, with a couple of people of colour aboard.
Blessed is best known for over-acting, and the rest of the cast do their best to keep up with him. His sidekick apparently has precognative ability. It turns out that the survivors have certain unusual abilities.
Voyager, the unmanned space probe, approaches Moonbase Alpha. However, this is not the simple 1970s probe. This is a 1985 probe equipped with an FTL drive!
The FTL drive, AKA the Quellar Drive, is leaking radioactivity. This is a bug rather than a feature, since its FTL capability is based on it spewing out neutrons for propulsion. In other words, it is so dangerous that Eagle Two is destroyed in a fly-past. At least there are Eagles Six, Nine and Ten to cover for the loss.
Voyager must be remotely deactivated before they can recover the info the probe gathered. Luckily for Koenig, the best scientific experts on Earth are aboard Moonbase. One is Dr Quellar himself, who now uses another name because of his invention's infamy. In fact, one of his cow-orkers lost both parents in an accident caused by the Voyager II Quellar drive's malfunction in 1986.
An alien armada is following Voyager. They are survivors of Psidon, the worlds that it contaminated with radiation. They want revenge!
Basically this starts as an environmental issue against nuclear power but becomes a metaphor for the vengeance quests against Nazi war criminals. Should Quellar, a well-intentioned scientist, be held accountable for the mis-use of his technology? Should the people of Earth, whose elected leaders approved that mis-use, be exterminated in revenge for the genocide that occurred as a result?
The good news is that Helena delivers a baby boy to Sue Crawford, a pregnant crew-woman. The bad news is the child has a sudden and massive growth spurt. In reality there are many problems that a child born on a low-gravity moon-base might face, newborn baby turning into a five-year-old in a matter of seconds is not one of them.
The boy, named Jackie, is a dead mute. Alan Carter, the chief pilot, tries to bond with him and teach him sign language. However, the child has a strange vibe - like Damien in The Omen . Scientist Rula Lenska is not much help in solving the mystery.
Moonbase is approached by some mysterious alien ships. The Eagle shuttles are no match for them. However, Koenig plans to send out men in EVA suits armed with hand-held armour-piercing laser weapons to take the ships out.
Jackie has another growth spurt, and becomes Jarak (Julian Glover - For Your Eyes Only (1981) ). He has the ability to tell if someone is lying to him, and telekinesis enough to kill someone (or make them kill someone else). His end-game is a bit perverse, to say the least.
We get a flashback, narrated by Helena ( Barbara Bain ). On the 877th day after moonbase left Earth's orbit, when they were in empty space between galaxies (presumably she means solar systems) ...
In 1996 a manned space probe was sent to a planet named Ultra, the most newly-discovered planet in Earth's solar system, which is only six months away! The crew, led by a pal of Koenig's named Tony Chellini, included Barbara Kellerman and Michael Sheard ( Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back ). But before they got to planet Ultra, they encountered a cluster of abandoned ships. This seems a bit like an episode of Lost in Space (1965) , where the Robinsons uncovered relics of multiple alien species on a regular basis. Anyway, Chellini's crew investigate - and ran into a murderous beastie ...
Koenig's pal Chellini was the sole survivor. After being blamed for the loss of the crew, and treated like a delusional nut-case, he got reassigned to Moonbase Alpha. By incredible coincidence, Helena - one of the doctors who doubted his mental state.
Chellini seems to be having a mental breakdown, as he is now obsessed with the monster. When the Moon drifts near a cluster of abandoned ships, the Dragon-slayer gets a re-match.
This episode shows its roots in UK SciFi TV. one of the Eagles picks up a cargo pod with its middle, revealing the reason there is scaffolding that joins the cockpit and engines ... it is basically designed like one of the Thunderbirds . The other important scenes are the ones with the monster - they are hid-behind-the-cushions scary, like something out of Doctor Who .
The Moon encounters a huge spaceship, a flying city fifty miles long that floats in the void, crippled. Hundreds of passengers are sick, and thousands have already died. Naturally, the senior Moonbase staff (plus a few redshirts) go to explore. Splitting up, of course.
Koenig discovers that Joan Collins , one of the last survivors from a planet named Daria, runs the spaceship. She and her companions have the ability to probe human minds, but they only have limited control of the ship itself.
The others encounter a gang of scraggly rejects from a medieval-era planet. It turns out that all but one of the ship's nuclear reactors exploded nine centuries previously. The vast majority of the ship's inhabitants are mutants. Anyone with any visible physical deformity, such as dwarfism or even a missing finger, is murdered.
Victor discovers that there is no protein stored in the ship's supplies. There is only one source - the other passengers. This seems to have inspired the works of Peadar O'Gullion .
The Moon floats near a gravitational anomaly. Koenig sends Mike Ryan to investigate, aboard Eagle One. Unfortunately Moonbase loses yet another shuttle. This is not as bad as Star Trek: Voyager but there are only about ten shuttles - we have never seen more than three at one time - and by episode ten they have lost at least two.
The anomaly is a Black Sun, which can destroy the moon. This is described as a point of incredible, inescapable gravity. Perhaps they used the invented term to avoid confusion with The Black Hole (1979) .
The crew endure a buildup of tension. Nicely done!
Koenig's plan is to put a gravity-shielding force-field dome around moonbase. While the main crew stay aboard Moonbase, Helena and a few others fly off on a shuttle as a last-ditch backup.
Professor Victor starts to philosophise about some kind of Galactic Intelligence that might be over-seeing the survival of the Moonbase crew. Well, this makes as much sense as the so-called science on this show.
The Moon drifts near a strange planet. When a shuttle flies out to investigate the world, it goes missing. Was it due to a computer glitch or pilot error?
The computer becomes so unreliable that everything has to be switched to manual. However, the crew also become unreliable.
Koenig discovers that the planet is not merely inhabited by a forest of giant mushrooms. There is also a strange glowing light, and a shapely woman clad in tin-foil. Not unlike most other worlds in this show.
The result seems an adaption of an episode of Star Trek: TOS .
Moonbase is three light years from the nearest star system, so an asteroid coming from there must have been on the way for a thousand years. In other words it would have covered one light-day in a year. Nobody wonders why Moonbase has not been travelling at such a speed, rather than at their current faster-than-light velocity. Well, when they met Brian Blessed and discovered he was eight centuries old it might not have been a time-warp ... but just relativity. For Moonbase, it has been twelve episodes - but a thousand years may have passed on Earth.
Koenig leads a team of astronauts to explore a cave in the asteroid. They discover a chamber with an airlock, and a mutilated but living body. When Helena patches the body up in med-lab, she discovers it has a regenerative healing factor. He is a creepy man in black clothes. If he looks somehow familiar it is because he is the young and moustache-less Peter Bowles ( ), an English sitcom actor who became famous for his moustache in the 1980s. The fact that he seems to be walkin on stilts hidden under his long baggy trousers makes him seem even more alien. Also, in the fight scenes his stunt-double looks nothing like him.
Luckily, the man in black can speak English. He claims to be Balor, a citizen of the planet Frodo. His people achieved immortality, and he is over a thousand years old. Unfortunately immortality leads to a breakdown of society. Balor admits he was imprisoned and exiled by his own people.
Koenig does not believe Balor's story, despite his apparent honesty. And with good reason, as we get to see a more sinister side to the stranger. As with the other immortals we have seen on this show, the price of immortality is too high.
Eagle One, piloted by Parks (Stuart Damon - The Champions ) returns from surveying an Earth-type planet code-named Terra Nova. However, Dr Russell's husband (Richard Johnson - ) has appeared aboard the ship. This is more than a little mysterious, because he has been Missing Presumed Dead since the Astro Seven mission to Jupiter five years previously!
The planet is ideal for colonisation. Koenig has a few days to decide whether to land the entire crew there, or to continue floating around in the confines of Moonbase Alpha.
This was directed by Charlie Crichton , famous for the Ealing Comedies and A Fish Called Wanda (1988). He gives us some good shots of the subway train, nice to see because this show has mostly treated the Moonbase crew as pedestrians. There is also a shot of the Eagle on the launch-pad that is reminiscent of Thunderbirds .
After a staff meeting, Koenig is criticised by Political Commissioner Roy Dotrice ( Beauty and the Beast, B5 ) for not trying to return the Moon to Earth. Of course, Koenig tells him that it is impossible. Just then, a mysterious starship arrives from Earth. It travels at speed 3.72 - whatever that means.
Koenig and Dr Russell board and explore the starship. Aboard is Christopher Lee ( Dracula, LOTR, AOTC ) in a wig.
This was directed by Charlie Crichton , like the previous ep.
An Away Team of seven astronauts goes MIA on a jungle planet, Rita. Their shuttle, Eagle Six, is investigated - and contains a cave-man!
Koenig and Dr Russell lead more Away Teams to search for the first one. While Eagle One transports the medical team, Alan takes Sandra on Eagle Two for aerial surveillance of the area within a radius of a hundred miles. This is forty thousand square miles, but apparently Victor has the ability to process the data from that much photography.
More disappearances follow, because a tribe of primitive humans is living in the caves.
What is outstanding about this ep is not the story, which is formulaic and predictable enough, but the locations. The explorers drive about a huge deciduous forest on yellow six-wheel buggies, and the caves look like genuine caves rather than a flimsy studio set made of cardboard! Their walkie-talkies are actually monochrome video-phones, although in other episodes they are generally used as audio-only.
A strange flash renders the crew briefly unconscious. One girl becomes mentally unstable as her grasp of reality goes.
The moon turns up to orbit an Earth-type planet. But there is a parallel Moon already there!
The crew visit the planet where they meet parallel versions of themselves, and get to see an alternate version of what could have happened. After all, there are worse things to happen than being stranded on moonbase, floating into a new solar system every week.
Unfortunately the two moonbase crews cannot co-exist on the same planet. When they confront their parallel selves, one will lose the will to live. Not exactly a twist, but this show
Paul has been hospitalised temporarily, perhaps as a result of the events in Space: 1999 [Season 1, Episode 20] The Last Sunset. A new officer, Winters ( ), is assigned to cover for him.
Moonbase is approached by a starship with an unusual propulsion system. It is apparently powerful enough to control the Moonbase systems. The three main characters are summoned aboard. The sole inhabitant is Companion (Leo Mckern - The Prisoner ).
The habitat is controlled by a living machine, a giant computer that has achieved sentience. Its name is Gwent, and it is also voiced by McKern. Somehow Gwent hacks the Moonbase mainframe, which is voiced by a female.
The moon floats by a new planet. something on the surface takes over the mind of a crewman, and uses his mind to hack the Moonbase computer. The downloading burns out the human mind, however - and after using up a couple of Redshirts it takes over Helena ( Barbara Bain ).
The hacker is actually an AI on a probe from the planet Triton, from a distant galaxy. Somehow the Moonbase scientist knows more about this, including Triton's destruction, than the probe does!
Koenig is involved in a shuttle crash. He encounters an alien species led by Peter Cushing ( Star Wars IV: ANH ).
Koenig's comatose body is recovered. All signs point to him being dead. Will Helena ( Barbara Bain ) switch off his life-support?
A couple of Eagles are sent to explore Planet Ariel, an M-Class world with an atmospheric oxygen content four times that of Earth. An alien missile locks onto Alan's shuttle, which dissuades Koenig from further explorations. Soon, more alien probes arrive - and render settlement of the planet unnecessary.
The alien probes create an oxygen-rich atmosphere on the moon, which thins out at 20,000 feet. This will apparently be enough to protect people from the sun's harmful UV rays. A couple of volunteers from the command crew go for a stroll. Soon everyone is outside, having a picnic. There is even a game of tennis, although at no point is the moon's reduced gravity mentioned. Koenig works out a way to open the Moonbase's windows. Apparently they have handles for that very purpose!
The alien probe changes the weather, so there is enough rainfall to grow crops. Koenig points out that moonbase is in a crater, so it will end up at the bottom of a lake. Helena leads a mission on Eagle Two-Eight, but the atmospheric issues cause it to crash. Eagles One, Twelve and Two-Four are sent on the search-and-rescue mission. This really begs the question of how many Eagles there are. Paul Kano mentions that five or six Eagles need repairs, and Koenig indicates they are less than half the total number.
This deteriorates into a survival story, like Flight of the Phoenix. The crash survivors are basically stuck in a desert, and one of them starts to mentally unravel. At least it gives the supporting cast something to do.
The alien gifts are all a bag of mixed blessings. The new atmosphere means that the moon-dust gets blown everywhere. When the moon leaves the solar system, the atmosphere will freeze into an ice-cap.
The moonbase crew detect a strange energy field approaching.
Moonbase Alpha is smothered in green soapy bubbles. The crew run around in EVA suits.
Moonbase is hunted by a supernatural entity. Not an alien, this time, but perhaps the ghost of a staff member.
Agricultural experiments have been made on Moonbase. The entity kills people who have arguments with the scientist in charge ...
Moonbase floats into a solar system that contains two inhabited planets. They are on opposing sides of their sun, and their orbits match each other so they are never in sight of each other.
One world, peopled by beautiful women sends a ship to investigate. Koenig assumes it is a warship because it is very big - either it has huge firepower, or an army-sized landing party!
Space: 1999 [Season 2, Episode 1]
Reviewed 14th May 2006 [Sunday]
Moonbase is back, with new faces among the crew. It approaches a new planet. An exploration ship is attacked by the natives, and Koenig has to negotiate for the crew's return.
Unfortunately, Big Brian has evil plans for the humans.
Moonbase detects objects floating in space. One is recovered and opened - it is a cryopod containing Peter Duncan ( Flash Gordon ). He says the other cryopods are his people, exiled from a nearby planet three hundred years ago.
Maya's shape-shifting comes in useful. She has an intimate moment with Helena ( Barbara Bain ) and Koenig!
The aliens have psi-powers too. And a hidden agenda.
Moonbase gets a phone call from the future. In the 23rd Century, some Texan scientists have invented a transporter beam that can rescue the Moonbase crew.
Koenig is initially suspicious, but eventually agrees to try the plan. He, his wife and third senior crew-member test the transporter out. Yes, no redshirts on this show!
The three explorers end up on an unknown M-Class planet ... It is full of medieval Scotsmen!
Billie Whitelaw beams aboard Moonbase.
The moon strays off its trajectory.
A stranger appears aboard moonbase. He has a creepy moustache, but claims to be The Creator. Moonbase must select one male and one female, as a new Adam and Eve.
Moonbase astronauts explore the moon's caves in search of Dylonite crystals. They discover two humanoid, a man and a boy, who have been cryogenically frozen. Naturally, they ignore the warning signs, and take them to Moonbase! There are literally warning symbols, in this case similar to ones on the planet Cromm 2.
Turn out the strangers have psychic powers. Wow, never saw that coming.
Helena's official report is dated 640 days after leaving Earth's orbit. The aliens are 91.7 percent of human norm. They quickly learn to speak English.
Koenig and Maya ( Catherine Schell ) destroy some vegetation, a breach of The Rules of Luton. The Judges of Luton, a trio of magical trees, sentence them to be hunted and killed by three super-powered aliens. Koenig gets injured, and Maya has to look after him.
One of the hunters has the power of invisibility. Luckily, Maya can use her superpower to turn into a rottweiler and sniff him out. The resulting fight, between dog and invisible man, takes place off-screen.
Maya's powers have their limitations. When in animal form, she has all the vulnerabilities of that animal. Also, she can only hold that form for one hour. But at least when she changes back she has her own clothes on.
Commander Koenig, supreme leader of Moonbase Alpha, visits a mysterious asteroid. Since he has no bodyguards he is easily overpowered by a doppelganger, who replaces him aboard the Moonbase.
Helena ( Barbara Bain ) and the other officers must work out why their boss is acting strangely. Will they mutiny?
Koenig goes for a joyride in a shuttle, and ends up in a coma. The only treatment is an experimental machine.
An unexpected starship arrives. The pilot is Guido (Stuart Damon - The Champions ), Tony's brother - and the spitting image of Parks in Space: 1999 [Season 1, Episode 13] Matter of Life and Death. His passengers are the crew's next of kin. Apparently a scientist at Harvard built an FTL drive that is safer than the toxically radioactive Quellar drive.
Koenig perceives the newcomers as green slimy monsters. He panics, which is very out of character, and assumes they are evil just because they are ugly. The crew assume he is halucinating.
The alien babe Maya ( Catherine Schell ) feels left out, but does not sense anything unusual about the newcomers, She changes shape a couple of times in the episode. Firstly she turns into an insect, although with regard to the differences in body mass she remains a full-sized humanoid. Then she becomes an insect cockroach to sneak into a room, and a giant lizard-man while inside the room. Finally, while dressed in her normal uniform she turns into a Kendo player (with full body armour and fighting stave)!.
This is part one of a two-part story.
It turns out that Alpha has been invaded by telepathic aliens. They live off radiation. For some reason they cannot just take it from a nearby sun. They need it from Moonbase's radioactive waste - but rather than just asking for it, they fool the pilot into trying to blow it up!
Koenig must prevent the explosion ...
Koenig reminds the others that although they have been in space for months, many years must have passed on Earth. This is the kind of scientific observation that is often neglected in this show.
It turns out that Alpha has a specialist team of explorers. Their leader is unhappy, though. I mean, Koenig always leads the Away Teams and always discovers the planets are uninhabitable. Naturally, this leads to mutinous behaviour. Carolyn Seymour breaks the team out of quarantine.
Turns out that yet ANOTHER uninhabitable world is in their path. The only way to save moonbase is by pushing it onto a new course. Koenig must explode the radiactive waste. He evacuates Moonbase, leaving himself (and an untypically weak Maya) to detonate the waste. This is the very thing they tried to prevent the aliens doing in the previous episode.
Alpha encounters an alien ship from the planet Croton. Luckily its airlock is compatible with the moonbase one. Aboard are a couple of beautiful women, and their prisoner. His name is Dorzak, and he is the last man of Maiya's race.
Dorzak is regarded as a dangerous maniac by the alien women. He does not have Maiya's shapeshifting skill, but he is a powerful telepath instead.
Richard Le Parmentier ( Star Wars: A New Hope ) is one of the moonbase crew.
Koenig's shuttle crash-lands on a prison-planet. The convicts are men, the sadistic guards are beautiful women in skin-tight costumes. More than a little bit reminiscent of The Two Ronnies sketch The Worm That Turned ...
This ep sees Moonbase Alpha encounter a spacecraft of unknown origin. The Earthlings are duely scanned with that mainstay of British 1970s SPFX - the flashlight.
The ship turns out to belong to The Dorcons after whom this episode is entitled. Their leader, Patrick Troughton (one of this reviewer's least favourite Doctor in Doctor Who , but now a rather competent villain) wants Maia the Zykon's brainstem so he can replace his own with it and become immortal. Lucky for Commander Koenig, the Dorcons have a few problems with internal politics.
The idea behind immortality in this episode, that it requires the life of another sentient, appears in Season One of Babylon Five . It appears that Blake's 7 was not the only British 1970s TV show that influenced JMS!