Space 1999 – The House – Earth 2 – ER – tape 2336

This tape opens with a recording from Bravo, and a trailer for Weekly World News. 

The first programme here is an episode of Space 1999.

I still love Space 1999, but it’s a love tempered with a clear understanding of its flaws. Which are manifold. It’s slow, preachy, relies a lot on quasi-religious themes, the science doesn’t make a lick of sense, and some of the performances can be on the hammy side.

But look at the production design. Didn’t everyone want to live on Moonbase Alpha? Sleek, shiny, white. Doors which opened with a click of your comlok, the ultimate gizmo which doubled as a video communicator. It had a TV built in to it! A thing that fitted in your hand, and which could do video-communications. Imagine having such a thing. What a world that would be.

Comlok

Selfie 1999

 

This episode is called Dorzak and was directed by Val Guest, a veteran director who notably made The Day The Earth Caught Fire, and less notably, wrote the screenplay to The Boys in Blue.

Director Val Guest

 

this is an episode from the less successful second series, but the one which I like better. The awful costumes were massively improved by the addition of cool looking jackets, Catherine Schell appears as the metamorph Maya. I even like Derek Wadsworth’s disco-tastic theme, although that’s heresy since it replaced Barry Gray’s epic first season score.

Actually, this episode is quite a good one. A ship broadcasting the ‘universal plague ship signal’ (something they presumably learned after leaving Earth) asks to land on the moon. Its captain is a beautiful blonde woman who naturally wears a slinky off-the-shoulder dress, as all ships captains must.

Captain's Uniform

She claims that the plague warning is because of her prisoner, Dorzak, who is a Psychon, like Maya, and who tried to seize power on her planet, so he was being banished. But Maya knows Dorzak, and swears he’s peaceful. So it’s a nicely set up mystery. Tony Verdeschi is naturally on Maya’s side, and Alan Carter goes a bit swoony over the alien captain, so he’s on her side.

This is one of the better episodes from Season Two. It plays like a traditional mystery, gives the regulars a bit to do, and its SF underpinnings are perfectly OK. Now if only they could learn to dress women in something other than wispy almost-nightdresses, they might be onto something. At least the aliens *are* women.

After this, recording continues for a time, giving us part of an episode of the series Alien Nation. “Hey look, we can tell stories about racism now, without offending racists.”

Just as the credits stop, recording switches to Compo in bed. No, wait a minute, it’s just Bill Owen, in an episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads. How weird that Bob & Thelma have separate beds. Morecambe and Wise had no qualms about sharing a double.

Single Bed

Then we have an episode of The House, the BBC Documentary looking behind the scenes at the running of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This one is High Hopes. It opens during a performance of Die Meistersingers von Nuremburg, a show so long that the trumpeters get two hours off during act II, and the stage crew have time to knock off to the pub next door.

Negotiations to radically change the hours and working conditions of the stage crew are looked at. Sadly, nobody asks for use of the swivel chair at future negotiations.

The young dancers at White Lodge are auditioning for a part in an upcoming production.

White Lodge

For some reason, when I hear the name White Lodge, all I can think of is Twin Peaks.

The union negotiations are interesting, as there’s a definite subtext there. The management negotiator (described by a union member as a ‘hatchet man’ by reputation) seems to have a sneering disrespect for the process. Even from this brief glimpse, it’s clear he just wants his changes to happen, and is uninterested in anything else.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 6 February 1996 21.30

After this, recording switches to Sky, for another episode of Earth 2. I should stop watching these out of order, because they’re incomprehensible. There’s a future version of a kid who dreams back in time to contact his mother so she’ll send him into an area where the aliens are, otherwise bad future things will happen. This might be great if you watched it in order, but just dipping in doesn’t really work.

Recording continues into the next show, which looks like Picket Fences, but then switches to Channel 4, and the end of the credits for a short film in the Short and Curlies series which doesn’t seem to show up on iMDb.

Then there’s an episode of ER – Days Like This.

After this, the beginning of an episode of Friends. The tape ends after five minute.

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  • Radiohead – The Bends
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3 comments

  1. The main problem with series 2 of Space: 1999 was Maya’s chocolate button eyebrows. Very distracting. But there was never a Gerry Anderson programme with a bad theme tune.

    OK, Space Precinct (have you reviewed that?) wasn’t very memorable, but everything else sounded great.

      1. Must admit even though I saw every episode, very little has stayed with me other than a general sense of mediocrity (wasn’t there a prison riot episode that was OK?), and on checking out the theme tune on YouTube I can well understand why it didn’t stick in my mind. For an Anderson show, that’s not right at all!

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