RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Space:1999 : "Ring Around the Moon" (Season 1, Episode 4)

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Window Sealer, first class Ted Clifford is possessed by bad special effects and starts punching buttons on the computer and on Moonbase Alpha personnel.  He then conveniently dies as a mysterious orb projects a tractor beam around the Moon.  A raspy, menacing voice informs the Alpans tht they are now the prisoners of the planet Triton.

 

The Alphans quickly figure out that they are in a bad way. No transports, limited power.  Koenig hasn't had his coffee yet, because he's being a raging jerk.  After Ted's autopsy, it's revealed that his brain melted.

 

Koenig sends Alan out on a recon mission, and again, is a colossal jerk about it.  Alan doesn't get very far before his Eagle is encompassed in a force field and is thrown back to the Moon.  John figures that by yelling at the communicator, it will somehow increase the signal.  He's wrong.  The Eagle crashes, and the Moonbase dancers do a little musical number while moonwalking out to rescue the crashed Eagle.  (They're all wibbly-wobbly, like low gravity causes neuromuscular spasms…).  The glowy light zaps Dr. Russell and dresses her in a choir robe.  It also zaps Koenig, who wakes up in sick bay.

 

Bergman tells John that the Tritons have taken Helena.  Specious reasoning follows, for a bit.  

 

Helena is examined by the 'Eyes of Triton' (which sounds much more interesting than it actually is).  She is to become their servant.  

 

Since the previous recon worked so well, John and Alan go for another try.  They think that using anti-gravity shields, they can counter the Triton's forcefield.  Well, it seems to work, but the Tritons apparently speak doubletalk, too and use forcefield jujitsu to send the Eagle out of control.  Good thing that Alpha can bring in Eagles by remote control.  

 

As the Eagle lands, it's being followed by a ball of light that deposits Dr. Russell at the airlock.  After her 1,000,000 mile checkup, she checks out but has unexplicable vision anomalies… but Dr. Bob says that according two her checkup, she should be blind.  

 

Victor, Koenig and Russell engage in more conclusion jumping.  Then Helena get's a halo and a forcefield and the ability to phase through doors.  She makes her way to Main Mission and starts randomly hitting computer buttons.  After she transmits a lot more info,  Bergman and Koenig actually start thinking soundly.  There's some sort of limitiation that the Tritons have, elsewise, they should've wiped them out a long time ago.  Bergman reasons that the ball of light, the 'eyes of Triton', is a reconnassance unit, sent to gather information for the now defunct (as in exploded) planet of Triton.  How he knows this is a mystery.  John thinks that he can reason with it and make it blow up in a puff of logic.  After all, it always worked for that Kirk guy.  Bergman thinks it may be wiser to just cut off the flow of information.  

 

In an incomprehensible plan,  the Alphans jam their own computer to make the forcefield from the Tritons drop.  (Huh?  I wrote it, and I still don't get it)  They manage to get an Eagle to the Eye (of Triton)in the Sky.  

 

John and his team get aboard the Triton probe and wave at back projection screens.  The Triton probe spews the usual tripe about how primitive man is, blah, blah.  John counters with the information that Triton is ka-blooey.  Son of a gun,  that Kirk guy was onto something.  The orb goes explodes nicely, but Victor is depressed.  All the knowledge of Triton proved meaningless in the long run.   Apparently knowledge isn't the answer.

 

OBSERVATIONS:

 

Have you ever wished you could unsee something?  Well, this episode isn't quite THAT bad, but it comes close in places.   The direction is … questionable.  The writing is full of padding and the plot is ripped off from Star Trek.  (Which one?  There were only two Treks at the time, TOS and TAS.  And I'd hate to insult TAS with a charge of bad writing, as it was sometimes better written than TOS…..)

 

The direction was stagey, like a high school production of "The Music Man".  People do not move like the director had them move.  The posture, the posing… it was dreadful.  The moonwalk sequence made me think that Mel Brooks was about to pop out from behind a rock, as with the over exaggerated bobbing and weaving and the over the top wire work, the show had descended into Brooksian self-parody.   

 

In addition, over the past few episodes, we've come to know John Koenig as a thoughtful man, not a tin-plated dictator.  Perhaps it was the direction, perhaps it was Martin Landau trying to hold a tenuous script together and completely overdoing it.  I did not know who this Commander Koenig was, but he needed some variety of stress relief.

 

As usual, the cast of regulars was a great- even though David Kano only got a couple of lines,  he delivered them with the joy of a man who loves his job.  Alan was grumpy and insubordinate.  Paul was super-competent and Sandra screamed appropriately.

 

The thought of the day, delivered in the coda was a good one--- too bad that as a theme for this episode, it was too little, too late.

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