UFO – Space 1999 – tape 2070

This tape opens with the end of an old Edgar Lustgarten short film Fatal Journey.

Then, an episode of UFO which opens with a relaxed Ed Straker arriving at work. His desk has more paperwork that Donald Trump’s.

Ed Straker's Desk

Colonel Lake tells him that an old case has been reopened, as the witness, who has been in a coma for ten years, and just awakened. Col Lake is, of course, played by Wanda Ventham. Wanda Ventham, of course, is Benedict Cumberbatch’s mother. But that’s just an excuse to run another picture of Wanda Ventham.

Wanda Ventham again

The case clearly evokes memories for Straker. Sepia toned memories.

Sepia Toned Memories

Straker was the one driving the car that knocked her down. That might make interrogation awkward.

The victim, Catherine Frazer, is played by Tessa Wyatt, off of Robin’s Nest. Older readers might remember that she was married to Tony Blackburn, and when she left him, he pleaded for her to come back live on air on his radio show.

Tessa Wyatt

There’s a lovely throw-away establishing shot of Piccadilly Circus.

Piccadilly Circus

Straker’s interrogation technique is very hostile. Especially since he’s the one who ran her down. I hope there’s something more to this that explains his hostility, otherwise he’s a bit of an arse.

Catherine talks about Tim, who was with her on the farm the day the UFO came, and how they met in London. Tim’s a dropout from medical school. “When I was at the hospital, I assisted on a fifteen hour operation on a little kid. And he lived. That same night on television I saw newsreel of men killing each other. Suddenly I lost the urge to become a doctor.”

This Tim is a real catch. “I wanted to prove to him that I wasn’t just a layabout. I wanted to do something that I really believed in. I went on a peace march. Only got as far as Manchester. It started raining.”

This dialogue sounds like it’s written by someone who’s never met a hippy, or a radical, or anyone even vaguely politically motivated.

They’re walking along a canal somewhere. He asks her if she wants to visit the countryside. In the next shot they’re walking past Covent Garden tube station. But they get a lift, and end up at an old farmhouse.

Tim is seriously starting to annoy me. They’re happily smooching away in the hayloft when suddenly he sits up, disturbed by something. “I don’t mind the daylight. I just can’t take the night.”

But then she’s not much more help. “I’ve got some aspirin. It might help you to sleep.”

Angsty teens

But it turns out, Tim has his own pills. Catherine is a bit shocked, but he reassures her “it’s OK, they’re not addictive”. Not that he tells her what they actually do, mind you. I guess this was just after the sixties when people would take anything.

All of a sudden it doesn’t appear to be night any more, and the film has acquired a few more colours, and everything’s in slow motion. Having never taken any kind of mind altering substance in my life, I can only assume this is a true and accurate representation of what it must be like.

Druggy Dancing

This might simply be the programme trying to show the effects of the drugs, but it’s still confusing when Catherine and Tim are poncing around in daylight, but a UFO lands at night.

Then, suddenly, they come across two aliens. I’ve watched a few UFO episodes recently, and as far as I can remember this is the first time I’ve actually encountered the UFO aliens. I’ve always liked their suit design.

UFO Aliens

They were digging a hole and burying something. Catherine and Tim take a cylinder from them and run around, as if it’s a game. Catherine hides it in the farmhouse roof as they climb outside, still thinking it’s all a game.

Farmhouse Roof

Tim takes a dive off the roof, the aliens slap Catherine about a bit and she wakes up in the morning to see them dragging Tim away to the UFO.

She walks for a bit, then gets a lift with the least trustworthy looking driver you can imagine. Nobody’s surprised when he pulls off the road and makes a grab for her. She’s not having any luck with her travelling companions.

Untrustworthy Driver

Here’s where the young Ed Straker enters the story.

Young Ed Straker

His car hitting her is the last thing she remembers. All this time, her testimony has been monitored by an unseen listener. I wonder who it might be.

Surprise. It’s Tim.

Tim

(Not a surprise.)

He’s after the mechanism she took from the aliens. Straker thinks it’s the detonator for a device that will cause an earthquake. She threw it from a bridge onto a narrowboat. Shado’s search operation springs into action.

Foster finds a matching bridge and searches the narrowboat that happened to be there.

Ten years later.

A narrowboat, capable of travelling anywhere on the canal.

And it is, apparently, the one she threw the mechanism into. The owner was freshly killed, obviously by bad old Tim. I guess it serves him right for owning a narrowboat and never actually driving it anywhere.

Incidentally, here’s the bridge.

Bridge 189

And because these bridges are numbered, it’s easy to find out exactly where it is. It’s bridge 189 on the Grand Union Canal,

Grand Union Canal Bridge 189, photo by David Hawgood

Grand Union Canal Bridge 189, photo by David Hawgood

Anyway, after that brief bit of virtual sightseeing, back to the story. Now Tim has the device, it’s even more important to find the farmhouse before the aliens can activate their device. They finally get the location, and rush there to find that Tim has already started the device.

They chase him out of the farmhouse, and he falls down dead in exactly the same place he fell ten years ago, then his clothes turn back to what he was wearing then, and he crumbles to a skeleton – presumably a side effect of whatever the aliens did to him to keep him the same age.

They dig up the bomb and launch it into space, saving Britain from cataclysm.

The tale has a tragic coda, though, as when Straker returns to the hospital, he finds that Catherine has died. Of old age.

Old Catherine

There’s some bollocks about the aliens having stolen the time they gave to Tim from Catherine, but it’s not very convincing. Still, way to pull off a downbeat ending again.

After this, something just as tragic, but for different reasons. It’s Space 1999 and All That Glisters. Let’s start with a lovely shot of an Eagle flying through clouds.

Cloudy Eagle

They’re looking for a rare mineral called milgonite. There’s a new face on the crew in the form of Patrick Mower, sporting a frankly silly Oirish accent, and wearing a cowboy hat. At least the show acknowledges how ridiculous he is through Tony. “A Irish Cowboy?”

Patrick Mower

He’s obviously leching after Maya (to Tony’s disgust) but Maya gives him her best Paddington hard stare.

Maya's Hard Stare

They find a big shiny rock, but it doesn’t appear to be the milgonite they were after. Mower cuts off a sample for analysis, and when Tony’s looking at it he’s zapped by a bright light, and declared dead. But all his organs are ‘still functioning normally’. Dr Russell is so stumped she’s suddenly turned into Dr McCoy. “I’m a doctor, John, not a miracle worker.”

Big Shiny Rock

The rock is alive, and it controls Tony to take another bit of rock back to the eagle, where they fuse together. The rock changes colour, with different colours having different effects. “I wonder which colour means death” muses Koenig.

Dr Russell in the Eagle is menaced by the colour green.

The menacing colour green

I think it’s a Mysteron.

The rock in the Eagle drinks all the water on board. It then starts reading star charts, and tries to fly the Eagle off the planet, but is unable to leave the rest of itself.

Mower doesn’t want to see the rock left behind because obviously his science is more important than anything, so the rock lets Tony go (and miraculously he’s now completely fine) and takes Mower over. Mower goes to collect another bit of rock, but is fooled into taking Maya, who has transformed herself into one of the rocks (because it’s a living thing, so she can do that).

But Something’s wrong, and when she’s put next to the main bit of rock she can’t change back. Her plight is represented by showing Maya trapped in a bad 70s disco lightshow.

Maya trapped in rock

They manage to dehydrate the rock sample and get it off the ship, and take off, but they’re all a bit sad about the rock just dying, so they seed the clouds to make it rain. How this rain manages to get into the cave where the big rock is, I’m not sure.

This episode is a repeat of the first episode of the series I ever managed to record, tape number 6, as a matter of fact, way back in 1984. It was the first time I’d seen the show since the 70s, and it was a horrible disappointment. The story was ludicrous, the characters even more so, and nothing made any real sense.

But the show has a kind of magical hold over me. No matter how plodding and nonsensical the stories are, all it has to do is cut to a shot of an Eagle doing virtually anything and I’m in love with it once again. Oh look, there’s one now.

Another Eagle shot

Next episode, The Taybor, and the show really likes to show off Moonbase’s leisure facilities, doesn’t it? We get another look at the solarium, which is absolutely packed today. I guess getting enough UV for vitamin D production isn’t a totally stupid thing to need on a moonbase, but I wonder if that was the actual justification used by the production team for a scene featuring lots of scantily clad women.

Solarium Area

Strange, shiny objects are appearing all over moonbase. When people touch them they get hurt. Buit they are only supposed to be gifts from someone called The Taybor.

Shiny object

He’s a trader, and he says he has a jump drive that can travel anywhere in the universe. Koenig wants it to get home, but what does Taybor want in return?

The Taybor

He wants Maya. Of course he does. This was the 70s after all, what else would a corpulent old man with ludicrous dyed hair want?

Koenig offers an alternative. A Maya-shaped sex doll.

Maya's head

But Taybor tricks them and takes the real Maya instead. So to escape, when Koenig tells her that Taybor likes to surround himself with beauty, this is what she does.

Ugly Maya

That’s Rita Webb there, a UK TV regular, billed as ‘Slatternly Woman’.

The last episode on this tape is Journey to Where. The base receives a communication by Neutrino transfer, apparently from Earth. Could Earth have developed Neutrino transfer technology so quickly. “We’ve been in space for months” says Tony. “Which in Earth terms is decades” agrees Koenig. Which implies they’re travelling a relativistic speeds, as they’d have to be to keep encountering planets. It doesn’t explain how they’re able to slow down when they reach a planet, though.

The message says that they might have a way to transport everyone back to Earth. Koenig is cautious and asks some trivia questions to test the source of the signal. We learn that the Boston Red Sox won the world series in 1998, and that all competitive sport was banned in the year 2026. This piece of information, which must be new to the Alphans, elicits no surprise or interest whatsoever.

Tony is still trying to brew beer. It’s as boring to me here as it is when people tweet about home brewing. My dad once had all the stuff for home brewing. I can’t honestly remember if he ever managed to produce anything with them. Maya tries a bit, and has a reaction.

Maya drinks beer

After a successful test of the transport mechanism, Koenig, Russell and Carter take the first turn, but Earthquakes on Earth cause the transfer to go wrong.

The trio end up in a wood of some kind – unlikely to be on Earth because everywhere between the cities is now a desert due to air pollution. Almost immediately, Dr Russell starts coughing and running a temperature because they’ve been living in the grem free environment of Alpha. Seems strange that on other planets they can be there for days and show no ill effects.

They’re attacked by a medieval looking bloke with a sword and Helena is taken by a group of them. I guess they might be LARPers.

Medieval cosplayers

Russell’s condition worsens, she thinks it’s viral pneumonia. But they’re tossed in a dungeon. She points at the walls. “Is that fungus?” There’s a certain type of fungus that formed the basis of the only known cure for viral pneumonia, and it just happens to be growing on the walls of their cell. That’s if they can escape, build a fire, cook up some of the cure and take it. This really is just a load of old tosh. But at least it gives us the unintentionally funny moment when, having overpowered the guards, they’re escaping the cell and Koenig barks at Carter “The fungus!” so he remembered to get some off the wall.

Once they get out, Russell is starting to be delirious, and keeps saying “The moon”. This is what she sees.

The Moon

“It’s a moon, Helena, but it’s not our moon” says Koening, ignoring the blindingly obvious fact that it actually is their moon – it’s fairly unmistakable.

They do realise their mistake, though. They must be on Earth, but back in time. That explains the medieval blokes.

Things are looking bad when the LARPers capture them again, and because Russell is unwell, decide to burn them because of plague. There’s plenty of jeopardy in this one, I have to admit.

Burn the Witch

The resolution of the story isn’t bad though – using the health monitors they’re wearing to signal to Moonbase their location and time. Although if they can send health monitoring signals, why not audio? Oh well.

After this episode, there’s the start of an episode of Wild Wild West, and the tape ends.

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3 comments

  1. Darn – I could have used some of “The Wild Wild West” after Gerry Anderson in “This is a Big Serious Adult Series” mode. Although it does tie into “Space 1999” and “UFO” (Fred Freiberger was one of season one producers while Martin Landau chewed much scenery in one episode as a villain. And “UFO”? Well… there was a faked alien landing in one episode…).

    1. So did was that a series that Freiberger didn’t kill off, then? He produced the final series of both Star Trek and Space 1999, and had the nickname ‘the show killer’.

  2. Commander Straker didn’t have much luck with car/vehicle accidents in UFO, did he?

    I know what you mean about Space: 1999, tosh it is, but strangely compulsive viewing. Also, well done to them for calling that episode All That Glisters and NOT All That Glistens, a frequent misquote that irks me for some reason.

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