Space: 1999 – One Moment of Humanity

breakawayOh, the humanity!?!  Unlike the last episode, this isn’t so much “mind candy” as “mind stale bread”.  It’s an interesting mix of two classic Star Trek episodes: The Mark of Gideon and Day of the Dove.  Actually, let’s also add a hint of What are Little Girls Made Of  for good measure.  But it doesn’t really get the the best bits of any of them!

Getting ready for a party, Maya and Helena – bosom pals that they are – are trying on outfits together when there’s a power drain on the station.  Everyone then freezes mid-dance move – not that the party had started… they just happen to get into dance poses – and a woman, Zamara, appears on the base.  She says she wants two Alphans to go to the latest nearby planet with her.  All they have to do is think it and they can go.  If they don’t comply, there will be no power to the base and everyone will die.  Of course, they go.  Specifically Helena and Tony.  Once they arrive, faceless servitors bring drinks but one whispers to Helena that she should not show violent emotions.  It seems the beings want to learn how to kill!

Okay… this flies in the face of logic immediately.  “If you don’t come with us, you won’t have any power, so you’ll die.  But we have no idea how to kill you.  Because the script was written by someone who didn’t think dying on a base after we turned the power off was the same as being killed…”  Now, you’re probably wondering why the woman didn’t know this already, right.  Enter: What are Little Girls Made Of?  The people who look like people are androids and the android-looking people are wearing masks so their true expressions can’t be seen!  So Zamara concocts a plan: let Helena and Tony “escape”.  They get back to Moon Base Alpha but it’s empty.  Enter: The Mark of Gideon.  They are on a duplicate Moon Base and they are being observed through windows.  Zamara and Zarl (her male counterpart) plan to stage scenarios to get Helena and Tony to kill one another based on mutual distrust.  It takes a while, but they pick up on the plot and start laughing like it’s a big game to draw out the interlopers.  (See?  Day of the Dove!)

This serves little purpose so Zamara goes back to the real Moon Base and starts rummaging through their data discs.  She comes to Julius Caesar and that was the most interesting part of the story and for a totally unreal reason: I happened to watch this on March 15th – the Ides of March!  I swear, you couldn’t plan it!  Anyway, she realizes jealousy is the answer and Tony and Helena don’t love one another, but you know who does?  John loves Helena and Tony loves Maya.  So they bring them to the planet and stage and elaborate and semi-sexy dance between Zarl and Helena to piss off Koenig who spends most of the act staring and getting mad like he doesn’t know what’s happening.  Know why?  Because Koenig is an idiot.  Meanwhile Maya has vanished, transforming into a bird, and no one seems to care.  Oh, that girl we transported over… we’ll get to her later.  Let’s annoy the commander first.  Amazingly Koenig can’t keep it together, belts Zarl in the jaw thus teaching him how to be violent and Zarl is going to kill Koenig.  But Helena reminds Zarl what love is because … why?  They danced together?

As soon as Zarl has the brainwave that oh yeah, love is good, all the androids freeze and the humans in android clothing can step out and live again.  But bear with me here.  These beings have technology that if you think it, you can go there but no one thinks of Earth?  And what was the point?  Learn about humanity?  Dancing isn’t humanity; it’s a thing we do.  Watching Martin Landau sit pensively isn’t exciting any more than watching Barbara Bain dancing in a dress she shouldn’t wear!  (“You decrepit hag!”  No, I’m not being mean: that’s literally a line directed at her!)  Maya looks great, but duh.  Although I did have to wonder what happens to her body mass when she transforms into a cockroach.  It’s not a 1:1 ratio at all!  On the plus side, we’re 4 episodes into the season and no one has died, which is amazing, but considering this episode takes place 515 days since they broke away from Earth meaning who knows what the real body count is anyway!  

Once again I’m left with my head spinning.  I realize I like these episodes despite their shortcomings and I think that’s based on two things.  One: not knowing what to expect at all.  Unlike Trek, there’s nothing formulaic about this.  It’s not necessarily a good thing, but it adds a sense of mystery to the events.  Two: we’re not dealing with an arc.  Today’s stories all seem to be about an arc and it’s nice having individual stories for a change of pace.  Now if we could get a good story or some decent acting, I’d be far more impressed!  ML

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1 Response to Space: 1999 – One Moment of Humanity

  1. scifimike70 says:

    When an episode from another space age SF show mirrors something seen in Star Trek, given how significantly different they try to make it, it’s an easy reminder of the kinship that shows like Space 1999, Battlestar Galactica, and even to some extent Doctor Who felt to what Trek made possible for SF TV. This episode has a good guest cast: Billie Whitelaw, Leigh Lawson, and one of the Doctors of Doctor Who Unbound: Geoffrey Bayldon. Thank you, ML, for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

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