Monday, 22 April 2013

Space 1999: Space Brain

So there’s this big brain out in space, yeah? A massive cerebral cortex that is apparently linked to a myriad of other galaxies, a huge intergalactic noggin nut that gives life and energy and warmth and comfort to millions of life forms, and has done for countless millennia. Yep, the good old space brain. What the space brain hasn’t anticipated, however, is Moonbase Alpha, a giant, drifting rock that cannot be steered and, even if it could, is populated with aggressive, pant suited middle aged people that don’t see why they should get out of the way of this thing that’s been there forever, so lets fire all the lasers they have and send an Eagle to blow the thing up.
That’s the basic premise of Space 1999 episode ‘Space Brain’. It’s one that sums up for me just how poorly the inhabitants of Moonbase are prepared for the unknown and how very human, i.e. moronic, their reactions to anything they don't understand can be. In ‘Star Trek’, Kirk and his crew do everything they can to follow ‘the prime directive’, non-interference with alien races and planets (this obviously does not extend to their women) but, in ‘Space 1999’ if Commander Koening can’t kick it, kill it or cock it into submission he simply drives his detached satellite through it like a drunken Bulgarian lorry driver through a low bridge whilst wild eyed Aussie Alan Carter lobs nuclear charges at passers by. When you think about it (and clearly I do) Moonbase Alpha is a terrible advert for humanity, and fashion, and, most of all, script writing. 
The space brain tries to stop it, of course, taking over personnel, talking to the computer and finally, desperately, filling the base with bubble bath, sorry, cleansing space anti-bodies, but it’s a foregone conclusion: where Alpha goes, death follows. The end result: 300 ‘just passing through’ humans are safe; millions of aliens minding their own business are doomed. Oh, and one totally fucked space brain. The End.
Marvellous stuff. Honest!    


  1. Yeah, Chief. You've finally done the review for which I've been waiting. And in three paragraphs, You have accurately snarked* the timelessly accurate defects which brought about (half-assed) script change from Fred Frieberger. The latter then applied Star Trek sensibilities to a decidedly non-Trek show with all the curative success of treating stage IV cancer with localized surgery: The tumorous stomach is out but the diseased nodes and liver remain.
    Space 1999s perpetually trauma-shocked crew and their inability to rise to a higher understanding (even when doing so could have saved their lives) was continuingly moronic, indeed. Further, the ongoing leadership failures were the sort of thing which could lead to a bloodless coup as normal people re-evaluate the leader's success rate.
    Nonetheless, the show had a distinct style and that, too, went away under Frieberger's script revisions took away much of 1999's charm.

    *And I mean "snarked" in the SM-62 sense; Alan Carter isn't the only one throwing nukes around here. Mk-39 warhead back at ya, Eagle boy.

  2. The penultimate photo shows Mick Taylor and Charlie Watts fleeing the Rolling Stones "It's Only Rock and Roll" video shoot.