Space: 1999 – The Mark of Archanon

breakawayWell if you were wondering if The Mark of Archanon would be like Trek’s Mark of Gideon, rest easy: it’s not.  It’s far more tedious.  Actually, growing up, I never liked the Trek episode but as an adult, I’ve come to like it a lot.  Alas, I can’t see this aging as well.

So here’s the deal: Koenig and Maya are off filming the next episode and spend this one in an Eagle dodging aluminum foil balls on their way back, so while time is on their side, Alan Carter and some rank nobody go digging for crystals in the caverns under Moon Base Alpha.  Sounds good so far right?  You no doubt figured out that they’d find something.  As unlikely as it is, buried right below the base is a cryogenic unit where a father and son have been placed for thousands of years.  Pasc and Etric are the father and son; they’ve been stashed their by their own people because they have the… yeah, it’s called this: the killing sickness.  Hopefully one day, a cure can be found…

Helena, normally about as effective as a dollar store umbrella during a monsoon, realizes there’s a cure for this killing sickness.  Dad’s get the disease and if he could just give up his blood, both can be cured.  Unfortunately, this is a race of hemophiliacs.  They can’t give blood because they have no way to reproduce it.  So Etric plunges a knife into his head to get blood.  They find a cure and Posc offers a blood transfusion to save his son and dies in the process.  Their own people come racing in to pick up Etric who then goes home with them.  They also teach lessons about proper grooming which now includes planetary sized hairdos.  Tada.  Not a bad story, but…

the mark of archanon

If only Goldilocks could explain which hairdo was “just right”…

It’s not that I want to see people dying in this series. In fact, quite the contrary: I recognize that these people represent a dwindling species!  But we’ve got two aliens here with the Killing Sickness and no one is killed.  In fact, Pasc refuses to kill people on a number of occasions.  There’s only one person who gets taken down, but I don’t think he died since one of the others were asked to stay with him rather than go after Pasc.  Then there’s the elephant in the room: those hairdo’s.  Ok, this show has some terrible clothing choices and even Julian Glover was made to look terrible in an episode, but nothing compares to Etric’s hair in this story.  Good Lord!!!

On the other hand, kudos for another attempt at the ancient alien approach.  We’re not told exactly when in history they’ve been to Earth, but it can be assumed they were there to influence us at some point.  I like the idea, especially since these chaps dressed a bit like ancient Egyptians, but that doesn’t mean it makes a lot of sense.  I just like the creativity.  There’s also reference to an unseen adventure on the planet Crom II, which helps the series a little bit in that we know we are seeing these episode in “Wack-Order”, which is a term I just came up with to explain the utter psychosis of the storytelling order here.  This story takes place 640 days since the moon left Earth orbit.  That puts this fairly early in their journey, around June of 2001.

The one thing this episode did really well however is that  it explored the nature of friendship between Etric and Alan.  Alan takes an automatic liking to Etric and befriends him, playing football with him and just being his pal.  There’s no rhyme or reason for it and if one wants to be cynical, one might come to an unpleasant thought, but I chose to take it for what I see: a man who is just being good to an alien kid for the sake of it.  To often we can take something innocuous to be something more sinister than it is, but I won’t ignore that it does bear a slightly uncomfortable appearance from time to time.

This show couldn’t be more hit or miss if it were a baseball game played by people wearing blindfolds but there’s still something exciting about each episode.  I have another series that I want to watch but each night, as I debate between the two, I select this one.  I think it’s got a lot to do with the fact that I have no clue what to expect.  I can stomach a lot of poppycock I guess.  If I had one wish for the series, it’s that the writers didn’t suffer from the Wack Order Sickness.  That would up the excitement astronomically; almost to the moon and back!   ML

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1 Response to Space: 1999 – The Mark of Archanon

  1. scifimike70 says:

    I learned to stomach quite a bit myself when it helped me to enjoy the unexpected more on SF shows, certainly Dr. Who during all its greatest difficulties in the 80s. As for how ridiculous an alien fashion sense can sometimes seem, I may still give enough points for the actors if they’re able to work through it somehow. Thanks, ML, for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

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