This lengthy article recalls a time period of my life pertaining to the 1970s television series, Space: 1999. Readers who are not familiar with Space: 1999 are advised not to read this article without first acquainting themselves with the subject matter of that television series by accessing my Space: 1999 Page.
Across Canada, on the English-language Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television network, Space: 1999's second season was shown first, introduced by the Season One premiere episode, "Breakaway". The remainder of the first season was run in 1977-8 after Season Two had been shown and rerun.
1976 was the year in which I first cast eyes upon Space: 1999. Near or around the end of my fourth grade of school (1975-6), I was developing a rather intensive interest in space.
I had long had a curiosity about the wonders above and beyond the Earth, starting with my viewing, as a pre-schooler, of a Moon landing. The Apollo 15 Moon landing, I believe it was. In Grade 1, I had a pencil case with images of planets on it. And I was an appreciative viewer of Rocket Robin Hood, an animated cartoon television show about fantastic cosmic adventures, and the Marvin Martian cartoons on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, which, for a number of years until 1975, occupied CBC Television's Saturday 6 P.M. Atlantic Time programme slot, the same airtime that Space: 1999 would fill in 1976. The live-action Planet of the Apes television series offered compelling viewing in the autumn of 1974, and my friends and I used to play guns based on the characters and situations of that. I also enjoyed episodes of Spiderman (1967-70) that brought the eponymous super-hero into different times and otherworldly dimensions or which involved fantastic schemes of mad-scientist villains or encounters with benign or malevolent extraterrestrials. And there was the astronaut title character of The Six Million Dollar Man, the green spaceman, the Great Gazoo, on The Flintstones, a surprisingly scary animated cartoon movie called Pinocchio in Outer Space. Etc..
My science teacher in Grade 3, also the principal of our one-class-per-grade, village elementary school, showed to us a black-and-white film in the school library about the planets of the Solar System. I was intrigued. I was captivated. I started drawing planets and imagining their surface conditions. My sense of wonder, my imagination was illuminated, my mind primed for imprinting by things cosmic. But it was not until June or July of 1976, around the time that I was completing Grade 4, that my interest in space started to grow to largely eclipse that in all else. My parents and I would travel 100 miles south from our village of Douglastown, New Brunswick, to Fredericton, New Brunswick's capital city, to visit my grandparents, and I went to the city's bookstores to obtain astronomy textbooks. I spent hours reading about star life, galaxy compositions, the environments of Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Pluto, the density of the asteroid field between Mars and Jupiter, and the enormous sizes of some of the planets. My enthusiasm, as usual, was contagious. One friend, named Johnny, joined me in our house's veranda to talk at length about space. Others participated as I, for a time, turned my family's house's huge, separate garage into a theatre to enact some interplanetary exploits.
My years in Douglastown, from 1972 to 1977, were some of the best of my life. I had more friends there than at any time since. And they were supportive of my interests. The natural settings and openness of the community were congenial. And the neighbouring towns of Newcastle and Chatham provided ample opportunity to enjoy the modern pleasures of life, among them a few fast food restaurants, comic books, and cinema movies. The Miramichi River was a beautiful expanse of blue, and our house was within short walking distance to its shore. There were also vast nature trails across the main village road. The elementary school was just across a dip in the road from our house, and the Douglastown village hall (of which I eventually became appreciative) was built in 1975 directly across the street from McCorry central. Douglastown was, one could say, something of a utopia for me, even though we captured only one television station with crystal clarity on our antenna-tower. A mixture of the CBC and CTV television networks, it, CKCD, always carried the most exciting or amusing television shows!
One Saturday in August, 1976, as my parents and I were watching, I think, a baseball game, a promotional announcement for a coming autumn television show caught our attention. It showed the CBC logo moving from foreground to background as red and blue luminescent patterns of what looked like nebulous gases moved hypnotically to the front of the screen and atop and below the diminishing CBC logo. The announcer invited viewers to, "explore worlds beyond belief," in Space: 1999. There were scenes from the Space: 1999 episode that I would eventually know as "The Metamorph", first of Commander John Koenig shouting, "Evasive action!" to Bill Fraser's Eagle spacecraft, then of the Eagle being enveloped in light, then of Koenig smashing the biological computer Psyche's tubes. Explosion scenes on planet Psychon followed this, interspersed with some planet sphere images, the alien Maya's leaping transformation into a black panther in "The Exiles", and Dr. Helena Russell and a guard holding their ears in pain as a blue light pulsated in the Moonbase Alpha Power Room. There was also a clip of cowboy-hatted geologist Dave Reilly being thrown to the ground in "All That Glisters". The CBC announcer touted this as the most exciting space adventure ever, and said that it would premiere Saturdays at 5 o'clock starting on September 11.
My mother said that it was a television show that I, a space enthusiast, should sample. She compared watching it to her generation's viewing of Buck Rogers serials on Saturdays. I did not need any persuading. I intended to be in front of the television at five o'clock on September 11. School started a few days before then, and my Grade 5 teacher was the same one who had taught to us science in Grade 3. The school principal. I told a few of my friends about the upcoming television series. One of them, Evie, told to me that he had already seen it via his antenna-tower from a distant television station in the previous broadcasting year. I did not realise it at the time, but I had on one night in the previous summer, seen a Space: 1999 episode from that distant channel- with a snowy picture, and I had only caught the last 20 minutes of it. I would eventually come to know it as the episode entitled "The Infernal Machine". In 1976, though, I expected my September 11 viewing of Space: 1999 to be the first, and my friend knew that my introduction to the television show that coming Saturday, September 11, would "hook" me.
September 11, 1976 was a bright, sunny day. Newspaper television guides listed Space: 1999 for five o'clock. I believed them. My father and I were grocery shopping in Chatham at around 1:30, and we arrived at home over an hour later. I walked into the living room and found my mother watching a spaceship crashing into a nuclear waste dump and the Commander of Moonbase Alpha announcing that the Moonbase's inhabitants are sitting on the biggest bomb ever made by man. The CBC had screened the desired television show at 2 P.M., and I had missed over half of "Breakaway", but Koenig's dialogue line was riveting, and I watched in awe as the Moon was blasted out of Earth orbit. Koenig said at episode's end that the Alphans' future might lie on an approaching planet called Meta. That was my cue not to miss any of the next episode.
On a rainy September 18, 1976, I watched our floor-model, living room television in anticipation as 2 P.M. approached. All of the television guides this time had Space: 1999 listed to run at 2 o'clock. It did. The opening image of two moving planets accompanied by the sudden blast of theme music sparked a surge of excitement. I watched Space: 1999 alone this time in a furry, black, living room chair as the events of "The Metamorph" unfolded. The aerial perspective of Psychon was so vivid, so realistic, that my ten-year-old, astronomically-inclined mind was convinced that Psychon existed. The scene of an Eagle passing above volcanoes and the panoramic sweeps of Psychon's landscape gave impressions of an amazing scope, of an extraterrestrial resplendence on a planetary scale. Something very awesome for a 10-year-old who had never seen anything like it before in a live-action television series! From the first scene of approaching planets in the opening credits sequence to the last portion of the end credits with an Eagle spaceship returning to the Moon and a string of enigmatic and compelling planets in the background, this televisual experience was profound. It fused together with astounding precision and effect many of the astral and cosmological impressions that I had received from previous entertainment works, bringing me to a vivid, very real-looking, glorious but somehow precarious alien environment. Earth-like in some respects and quite un-Earth-like and somehow rather disquieting in others. And with the promise of many more and diverse alien worlds to encounter and explore, set against the mind-boggling vastness and grandness of the universe.
I shared Alpha's reactions in the first five minutes of the episode as one of the Moonbase's Eagles and two pilots, Bill Fraser and Ray Torens, were relentlessly chased and enveloped in a blue-green light and pulled down to the infernal planet. Then came a scene of volcanoes blowing their stacks accompanied by a wonderful, first-act-opening melody, followed by perspectives of the Moonbase at red alert. I felt as though I was on Alpha, standing in Command Centre, watching that uncanny Mentor "smooth-talking" the Alphans into believing that his intentions were peaceful. I then saw the laboratory in which he was located, with eerily multi-coloured, pumping tubes of liquid! They reminded me of the chemical workshop of Dr. Jekyll in various Warner Brothers cartoons, containing that formula that changed anyone who drank it into a horrific monster, a scenario that had given to me night terrors since I was six years-old. I also recalled the laboratory of many weird tubes and pumping fluids of an evil scientist named Vespasian in an episode of Spiderman. I was being presented with imagery about which I had always felt immediately and deeply disconcerted. Those Jekyll-esque tubes signalled danger, and I was imploring Commander Koenig to not trust Mentor.
Then, I saw Mentor's cat. A cat on an alien planet! And there was something yet more unusual about it, in the way that Mentor talked to it. As though it understood all that he said. Then, the cat changed into a smiling, young woman with those same weird eyebrows that caused Mentor to look so diabolical. Hers were not as pronounced in unsettling appearance. I did not then know whether she was a woman who could become a cat, or a cat who could become a woman, but having been a cat-lover for many years, I found this concept appealing, despite the daunting and disturbing surroundings. These early impressions stayed with me in all of the years since then, and it only requires an non-distracted viewing of the episode to bring the impressions back, to peel away the years, to put me again in that chair, experiencing for the first time the haunting grandeur of Psychon, the unnerving Grove of Psyche, and the horror of the Alphans when they are forced to discover Mentor's machinations and the ghastly results thereof.
Koenig and company were on their way to rendezvous with Mentor. Everything seemed copacetic, and I found myself feeling relief that Mentor might have been "all right" after all. But what is he doing? He is not going to join the Alphans in orbit of Psychon. That sinister look on his face. Those methodically moving fingers. That ball of blue-green light!
After a thrilling but unsuccessful escape attempt, Koenig's party were captured, their Eagle forced to join Fraser's in a cluster of empty, fantastic spaceships on the planet, amid lava and some smouldering plumes of gas. All combined with bizarre music and the increasing glimpses of subterranean goings-on. Seeing Torens drained of his mind, his identity, and placed among other unfortunate creatures was almost as upsetting as Dr. Jekyll changing into Mr. Hyde. The movement and expressions of those mindless pit denizens had me shaken. It all looked so very real, and Mentor, with his methodical yet maniacal actions in his weird laboratory, exuded menace of a kind I had not experienced since my encounters, via cartoons, with the horror of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde".
Koenig's defiance of Mentor followed by Mentor's attack upon Moonbase was hair-raising, Maya's discovery of her father's victims was empathetic, and the final confrontation in the Grove of Psyche, with Koenig smashing those ghastly tubes, was rather like a triumph in my mind over those Jekyll-and-Hyde nightmares, and Koenig became a hero of the likes I never had before or since. I was at the edge of my seat as Mentor evoked surprising sympathy by expressing his dying wish for Koenig to offer a life for Maya on Moonbase Alpha.
But the three most arresting events were Helena and Fraser trying to rescue the now-monstrous Torens, Maya changing into a gorilla (my discovery that she could change into violent animals, which gave to her abilities a frightening aspect) in an attempt to throw Koenig aside and reach her flame-surrounded father, and Koenig leading the grief-stricken Maya to the Eagle before the convincing explosion of the planet. The Alphans' humanity was inspiring and heart-warming, and the way that John and Helena so compassionately told to Maya that there is a place for her on Alpha denoted a complete and appealing reversal of mood from the horror on Psychon to the congeniality of Alphan life.
I knew in my heart that the Alphans were a special people and that Space: 1999 was a special television series. But I was still somewhat flustered by the Psychon ordeal, the mindless husks, the "obscene" power of Psyche, Maya's ape transformation, and the total, cataclysmic destruction of a whole planet, leaving in the explosion's aftermath a murky mist of expanding gasses. For the remainder of that rainy afternoon, I walked about the upstairs and ground floor of my spacious house, both troubled and awe-struck.
During the next week at school, I was in a daze, trying to come to terms with the impressions that I had received and struggling to patiently await the next Space: 1999 episode, which aired at 2 P.M., as listed, on September 25. That was a bright, slightly cool Saturday in which already yellow or red coloured leaves were starting to fall and others were only just beginning to undergo seasonal change. I was in the house at the hour specified to again watch the opening images of the Season Two title sequence. This time, the episodic events were mostly Alpha-bound, and it was extremely interesting to see Maya on the Moonbase, functioning in an official capacity. I was rather startled by her gorilla transformation to rescue a Moonbase Alpha Weapons Section operative named Petrov, but seeing it put to helpful use eased my anxiety.
Which is not to say that "The Exiles" was not quite as striking a tale as its previous week's predecessor. It was indeed thus, for Cantar and Zova were, like Mentor, mysterious and suspicious at first. But the pathos conveyed in Cantar's voice and his pleas to Koenig for saving the lives of his people evoked tentative sympathy and trust. And then came their diabolical deeds jeopardising the safety of all on Alpha. By far, the most awesome scene in that episode was Cantar's rapid ageing (shrivelling like the leaves descending to Earth outdoors) amid futuristic domes and panels in the multi-coloured, Golosian life-support centre. The entire downfall of the twisted, young Golosians with red spots on their foreheads was played to eerie perfection, and music in the scenes aboard the Eagle before Koenig expels Zova into the cosmic void and on Alpha at the start of the epilogue was spellbindingly effective. So was all of the music throughout the episode. Words cannot satisfactorily describe its effect upon me. Every musical note captured perfectly and enhanced how I felt about what was being visually conveyed to me. The same had been true for "The Metamorph" on the Saturday before.
I spent the remainder of that afternoon outdoors in our side yard, contemplating what I had seen (and heard), breathing the crisp, autumn air. The crinkling and falling leaves were rather correspondent to Cantar's fate! The television show which I was newly experiencing was already making quite an impression, although I had some way to go before I was really, fully, totally "hooked".
First reactions to Space: 1999 were starting to be expressed at school, and practically everybody who watched the television series not only liked it, but talked about how "neat" it was. Indeed, the overwhelmingly positive attitude of my schoolmates, and even of many adults, was crucial to the growth of my fondness for Space: 1999.
Saturday, October 2, 1976 was another beautiful, sunny autumn day in spacious, tree-filled Douglastown. That morning, I was with my father at the downtown Chatham shopping mall and saw TV Guide magazine's synopsis for "Journey to Where", which was listed to air at 2 P.M. on five CBC television stations (including northern New Brunswick's own semi-affiliate of the network) through Canada's eastern Maritime provinces. That Space: 1999 was so widely aired on the CBC television network gave to it a highly prolific feel of distribution and acknowledgement.
Local newspaper television signposts had Space: 1999 scheduled for telecast at 5 P.M., and they were supposed to be more updated and dependable than TV Guide magazine. At 2 P.M., I was walking down the stairs of our house to our living room, and the television at the foot of the stairs showed those familiar planets and played the Space: 1999 title music. Obviously, TV Guide magazine was right, after all. I darted down the stairs and rushed to my chair to watch the Alphans receive a neutrino transmission from Earth and an offer to return thereto via teleportation. I found it a fascinating premise, while the brusqueness of Dr. Logan gave to me that standard initial feeling that this person propositioning the Alphans was not to be trusted. Then came the scene of Tony Verdeschi concocting a dark liquid, and Maya asking him if there has been any progress. When he put the liquid in a cup and tasted it, I inferred that it had to be a beverage of some sort. I was drinking some canned cola. When Maya did her Mr. Hyde transformation gag after sampling Tony's mixture, I almost dropped my drink in shock. It seemed to alarmingly fit with her original scenes in Mentor's Jekyll-esque Psychon laboratory, with what I had sensed to be the import of Mentor's ghastly procedures, and with the monstrous potential in her abilities. Naturally, I was relieved to find that the metamorphosis was a joke, but there was still something decidedly compelling about it, and my mind could not shake impressions of evil in the ostensibly neutral story. Indeed, when Dr. Logan selected a pill of some sort and put it in his mouth, I half-expected him to change into a monster! And again when he later talked about, "escap(ing) from the laboratory." Interesting what a boy's mind will conjure.
Also demanding of keen attention were views of the Earth in 2120, they consisting of panoramic skies and lavish, elevated cities, and eerily pumping tubes (again!) connecting the cities, plus brain-like bubbles with strings of flowing-activation lights within, on the ceiling of the Texas City laboratory. The tube imagery would resurface again in "The Taybor", to the same haunting effect. The autumnal look of Earth as shown and Carla's remark and Helena's question about "fall in old New England" coincided perfectly with the weather that day in my home village. Moreover, the planetary scale of bizarre, ravaged, yet somehow familiar land and skyscape had as much a cogent impression as the visuals of planet Psychon did impart. And of rather a similarly meaningful vein, I felt. Appealing too was the now very evident camaraderie among the Alphans, John and Helena's love, John and Alan's friendship, Tony and Maya's mutual chiding yet close rapport, their stoic acceptance of their lost chance for a planetary repatriation, and the beautiful music accompanying the assembled Alphans in Medical Centre at the epilogue. Again, I spent the remainder of the crisp, sunny autumn afternoon outside, deeply "moved" by what I had seen.
The following Saturday, October 9, was when Space: 1999 settled into its 6 P.M. airtime, which it would occupy, bar one or two weeks in December, until the following April. That was also the first Saturday for which people in northern New Brunswick were being served with CHSJ-TV out of Saint John, New Brunswick, for access to CBC Television programming, as CKCD, our former CBC/CTV aggregate affiliate, became a transmitter solely for the CTV television network and CTV's eastern-Maritime Canada branch, ATV. "The Taybor" was screened by the CBC via CHSJ on October 9. I was not inclined to trust Taybor from the very beginning, if only due to his old-sot, rather Hyde-like appearance. Furthermore, his attire, shifty looks, and covetousness of Maya seemed somehow parallel to the garments, facial aspects, and obsessive behaviour of Mentor on Psychon, as too did the pumping tubes in the S.S. Emporium correspond in my mind to those of Psyche in "The Metamorph". Maya's hag transformation further added to my unease about the monstrous, horrific potential and aspect of her metamorphic powers.
"New Adam, New Eve" on October 16 was perhaps just as cogent in terms of planetary depiction as "The Metamorph", especially when New Earth was ripping apart. The event seemed so real, and it was happening as the Sun was setting outside at near 7 P.M.. The incidental dusk maximised the effect of the viewing experience. I had never seen such fantastic special effects before, and the characters, situations, and hardware were increasingly captivating. Especially the Eagles! Just about everybody at school thought so. Space: 1999 had not undergone a single misstep. Everything about it was so right!
That evening, October 16, I noticed in television listings that the French-language CBC television network, Radio-Canada, was showing Cosmos 1999, francophone version of this exemplary opus, at 8 P.M.. Somehow, CBAFT, the CBC French broadcasting outlet for eastern-Maritime Canada, was usually received quite clearly on the black-and-white television set in my bedroom. When I tuned into CBAFT, I saw a strange episode, with a different credit sequence, music, and characters. An alien spaceship was boarded by the Alphans, and one of said spacecraft's crew was accidentally decomposed. The facially painted alien leader seemed to be attracted to Helena. The episode, of course, was "Earthbound". But I found it strange and slow, and I could not understand what anyone was saying. I also then realised that there had indeed been an earlier season of this television show, but as I still thought that "Breakaway" was the opening episode of Season Two, all of the events of that earlier season would have to have transpired before the Moon was blasted from Earth orbit. Somehow, such did not seem very exciting. So, I switched off the television and went downstairs. For the time being, I decided to keep to the English-language broadcasts of Season 2.
"The Mark of Archanon" on October 23 was the first disappointing episode to air in English, due to the absence of John and Maya and lack of spatial phenomena or focus. But "Brian the Brain" on October 30 more than compensated for that. An adventure focusing on John and Helena and a robot (the first time I had seen a robot in a live-action space television series). Since Halloween was being celebrated on that evening, there were some distractions as trick-or-treaters came to the door, but I remember being awe-struck by the Planet D exteriors and Brian's menacing mental breakdown at the climax. Since most of my friends were out-of-doors celebrating Halloween, and since this was one of the episodes that was not rerun in New Brunswick in the following spring, "Brian the Brain" was practically an unknown episode in Douglastown, and indeed in all of New Brunswick.
Perhaps our village's most well-known story was "The Rules of Luton", which aired a week later, on Saturday, November 6. The notion of intelligent plants and mortal combat with aliens was new to all of us, and the tender conversation between John and Maya was probably the biggest single factor in establishing my total admiration for John Koenig as my favourite character. I could totally empathise with him. And with Maya, too. Any time that she talked about her life on Psychon and showed her sorrow on the loss of her former life, helped to totally comfort me with her transformation powers and origins on that planet that was so horrific on September 18.
Yes, I was becoming accustomed to her molecular changes and their range of forms and was less unnerved by her transmogrification into monstrous creatures. Koenig's heroism at the climax on Luton was riveting. From then, there was no doubt. For me, John Koenig was the key Space: 1999 attraction. He was my hero. Most everybody at school saw this episode and could not stop talking about how exciting and sentimental it was. The same went for "The AB Chrysalis" a week later, with its absorbing imagery in the sphere rooms and the stoicism of the Alphans as they faced what they thought was the end of their existence. At school a few days after "The AB Chrysalis", I overheard my friend and classmate, Kevin MacD., talking with Darryl, our mutual fellow Grade 5 scholar, about the multiple-moon, bouncing balls, electric arcs, chlorine-atmosphere planet, and blast waves visuals and urgent and effectively enacted story of that tremendously exciting and entertaining Space: 1999 episode telecast on Saturday, and their shared praises for the television show of my growing fascination brought a smile to my face.
It seemed that every time I yearned to see a particular astronomic phenomenon, Space: 1999 provided it. Planet with poisonous atmosphere. Sunny planet with lush plant life. Planet with one or more moons. Planet with cold or arid climate. An asteroid. A nebula. Meteors. Everything. And my interest in astronomy seemed to thrive alongside the fictional excitement of Moonbase Alpha. So much so, that my teacher allowed me to bring my Solar System sketches and put them on the classroom pin board, and on June 24, 1977, the last day of of that year of school, he invited a friend and I to teach astronomy to Grade 4 and 5 for the whole morning.
On November 27, I was in Fredericton, visiting my grandparents. In mid-afternoon, I was walking to their house from a nearby convenience store with a copy of TV Guide magazine and reading the synopsis for that evening's Space: 1999 episode. Koenig collapses in a cave on an asteroid and is replaced by a mirror image who returns to Alpha in his stead. The prospect of seeing an asteroid on the extraordinary Space: 1999 television show immediately stirred my curiosity, as did the prospect of viewing another episode with John Koenig after the disappointing "Catacombs of the Moon" of the week prior to this one. I remember watching on the edge of my grandparents' sofa as Koenig was rendered unconscious by his replica, and felt the tension on Alpha as the impostor Koenig frigidly rebuffed Helena, imposed martial law, and sternly reprimanded Maya. I appreciated Maya substantially in that scene, sharing her feeling of humiliation and frustration that was so brilliantly enacted on Catherine Schell's expressive face. The oppressive, engrossing mood in this episode, "Seed of Destruction", was capped by the exciting climactic confrontation of the genuine Koenig with his usurper.
On December 4, Space: 1999 was preempted on the New Brunswick CBC television network affiliate due to a Christmas telethon, and the feeling of loss of a weekly Space: 1999 broadcast was much more acute than was expected. And for the first time, I was fully aware of the extent to which I had become enamoured with this particular television show. Cosmos 1999 was, fortunately, on CBC French, Radio-Canada, at 8 P.M.. I turned channel selector to it on the upstairs television and to my surprise beheld the francophone version of "The Metamorph". For some reason, I was tired and fell asleep about halfway through that telecast, but at least I did not go through a Saturday with no Space: 1999 at all.
On December 11, TV Guide magazine had listing for a repeat of "The Exiles" on CBC Television, but there was instead shown a rerun of "The Metamorph". I could not understand why there were reruns so early in the television season. Was it possible that there were no more Season Two episodes left to see for the first time? Though I enjoyed watching "The Metamorph" again, the CBC's rerunning of it had me quite concerned. I was even more puzzled when I tuned the upstairs television at 8 P.M. to Cosmos 1999. There was the Season 2 opening sequence, followed by unfamiliar scenes of an Eagle going to and landing on a red desert planet, and the Moonbase's landing party- that included a strange man in a cowboy hat- collecting a glowing rock sample that turned hostile when brought aboard the Alphan spaceship, and which put the landing party through a series of weird crises. I did not understand a word, though the story was reasonably comprehensible. That French broadcast of the episode that I would know as "All That Glisters" was as perplexing as the rock itself was to the Alphans. I had not seen that episode in English, and CBC English was now showing repeats. Why was "All That Glisters" shown in French after "The Metamorph" while the English-language CBC had skipped it? Was it never going to be seen in English on the CBC?
My curiosity about this fantastic television series was increasing by leaps and bounds. On Saturday, December 18, "Journey to Where" was slated to rerun on CBC English and that television network's New Brunswick affiliate, and it did. That Saturday was most notable for being the first time that I audiotape-recorded an episode of Space: 1999. Perhaps it was two weeks' past, the week of December 4, of having no episode in English to enjoy that prompted me to start audiotape-recording. Or maybe it was my urge to acquire audiocassette recordings of this seemingly very short-lived television series before it would be removed from the airwaves, possibly early in the following year. That kind of thing had happened to Planet of the Apes in 1974; after 14 episodes, it disappeared. So, I audiotape-recorded "Journey to Where" for personal posterity. That was the first time that the CBC showed the ITC logo before an episode, and I found it beautifully fascinating. And it was fun seeing "Journey to Where" for a second time. When the earthquake commenced at the end of the first episodic act, my mother uttered an "Oh, oh," that registered on the audiotape-recording. I listened to my "Journey to Where" audiocassette immediately after broadcast. Then, at 8 o'clock that evening, the French-language CBC transmitted "The Exiles", and I was delighted to view that. On the following Monday, my mother and I were preparing to be bused to Fredericton to stay with my grandparents for Christmas, and I recall playing my audiotape-recording of "Journey to Where" over and over shortly before we left our home for the bus depot.
December 25, Christmas Day, fell on a Saturday in 1976. My father had arrived in Fredericton on the day before and joined us at my grandparents' house. One would have thought that the television series of my growing fancy would have been preempted in both French and English on so special a day. No. Both Space: 1999 and Cosmos 1999 were on the Christmas television docket. That Christmas was one of my most memorable as I received as gifts a telescope, a new typewriter, a hardcover book on science that I still have today, and several astronomy books. The Space: 1999 episode that ran at 5 P.M. was "The Taybor", an apt one to show on Christmas in that it features a jovial, roly-poly gift-giver. I recall rushing through turkey dinner so that I could view and audiotape-record this repeated episode, only to become distracted half of the way through it and not notice that the audiotape machine had stopped its recording process for some reason midway through the ultra-long first act of said episode. Christmas being what it was, it was quite difficult to focus attention on a television programme for much of a length of time. On Cosmos 1999 at 8 o'clock that evening was another episode as yet unseen in English. I watched as an alien woman wandered through a dark Command Centre while all Alphans around her (among them Maya with a different hair style) were still as statues. "One Moment of Humanity". Again, I was asking myself why the English-language CBC television network skipped this Space: 1999 story while continuing to show reruns of September and October's episodes. About five minutes into CBC French's telecast episode, my aunt, uncle, and cousins arrived at my grandparents' house, and there was then far too much talking for me to continue watching the television set. But nightfall that Christmas remains quite memorable for its strange circumstances on the subject of Space: 1999.
On New Year's Day, excessive football coverage meant that the English-language CBC television network preempted Space: 1999. However, Cosmos 1999 was transmitted, and the episode was "La Planete Archanon", a.k.a. "The Mark of Archanon".
I returned to school from Christmas holidays on the following Tuesday, anticipating the return of Space: 1999 in English on the next Saturday evening at 6 o'clock. TV Guide did not print a synopsis for that occasion. So, I tuned into my television set on January 8, 1977, expecting to see another repeat and was delighted to discover a totally new episode! Tony Verdeschi was brewing his beer in the Moonbase Hydroponics area with a young female botanist, Shermeen Williams, whose experience with anti-matter alien Vindrus constituted the episode, "A Matter of Balance". Sunim was a refreshing, sunny planetary setting, and with John, Maya, Tony, and Fraser at the centre of the action, this was a thoroughly engaging story. I listened to my audiocassette recording immediately after telecast, while my mother skipped rope on our kitchen floor. Then, I dashed upstairs to watch, on my black-and-white, little television, "En Route vers l'Infini" (a.k.a. "Journey to Where") on Cosmos 1999 at 8 o'clock. Above all, I was so relieved to find that this exceptional television show was continuing with its high standard of planetary depiction and exciting story concept and structure.
"The Beta Cloud" followed on January 15, 1977. Enthralled with Tony and Maya's struggle to stop the Cloud Creature from stealing Alpha's precious life-support system, my empathy for the relationship between these two never-say-die Alphans had never been stronger. "The Beta Cloud" had everything. Non-stop excitement, tenderness, humour, and a hair-raising climax. On the following Monday, I had my audiotape-recording and audiocassette machine with me at school, establishing another fondly remembered routine that was to last far into the spring. As fellow pupils arrived in the classroom, they listened to exciting climaxes and exchanged thoroughly positive impressions of the episode aired on the preceding Saturday.
It was around this time that all grades in our school were regularly bused into the nearby town of Newcastle's Sinclair Rink for Friday morning skating. And since we had no school on all Friday afternoons, that last day of classes each week was something to which to look forward. Although I achieved some progress in learning how to skate, most of my time at the rink was spent in the boot-to-skate changing room chatting merrily away with boys from Grades 3 and 4 on the wonders of televised science fiction, especially Space: 1999. To my delight, I found further Space: 1999 enthusiasts in those school grades too. We talked at length about previously shown episodes, in addition to those that had not yet been broadcast in English. Then, over a mid-morning snack of hot French fries from the rink canteen, we continued to converse about the many oddities and mysteries surrounding Space: 1999 (the earlier season, for example, of which none of us had any substantial knowledge at that point in time).
I was also having my first glimpses of Star Trek. CHSJ-TV was airing the third season of Star Trek early Saturday afternoons (at 1 o'clock). Although I found the adventures of the Enterprise interesting, sometimes creepy, and also indeed worthy of discussion with my increasing circle of space and science fiction cohorts, I tended to watch it with one eye on the clock, in anticipation of Space: 1999 in the early evening.
The broadcasts on January 22 and February 5 fostered special cause for eagerness, for those were the weeks when "One Moment of Humanity" and "All That Glisters" finally were telecast in English. Their fit with episodes airing on weeks before and after them, was awkward, for these two episodes came from near the start of that Space: 1999 season. I think that even if I had not seen them in French among other of that Space: 1999 season's early episodes, I would have perceived their difference from the later-produced episodes surrounding them on the English CBC's episode broadcast sequence. The jackets worn, the bearing of characters in relation to each other, the nature of the "otherness" being encountered, indeed the overall mood of the episodes, differed quite discretely. I could see that then. And yet, there were some aspects to story in the juxtaposed episodes that seemed, somehow, to aptly coincide. In a subtle way that I could not as yet "put my finger on".
"The Lambda Factor" aired on January 29, between "One Moment of Humanity" of January 22 and "All That Glisters" of February 5. And on Cosmos 1999 on January 22, I saw the first season episode, "L'Enfant d'Alfa", a.k.a. "Alpha Child". For some bizarre reason, the French-language CBC network was mixing episodes from the two Space: 1999 seasons. I still thought that the events of the former season must have occurred before the supposed "Breakaway" second season opener, because there was nothing in that francophone version of "Alpha Child", or in my understanding of it, that gave to me reason to think differently.
The thrilling "The Seance Spectre" was shown on CBC English on February 12. The action was fast and furious. Koenig's climactic Lunar-surface fight with fanatical dissident Sanderson had my mother and father on edge of their seats, and me in wide-eyed awe less than a foot away from television screen.
On one day of the week after "The Seance Spectre", I carried a little construction project to school. It consisted of an Eagle produced from a milk carton and a launch pad formed out of a cardboard box covered in tin foil and black tape. I was not then aware of the existence of ultra-detailed toy model Eagles; for the time being, the wonders of cardboard afforded to one the opportunity to play Space: 1999 with passable replicas of the spaceships.
Next were replica commlocks. A classmate, Darryl, challenged me to a contest in which we would both spend one evening at our homes in manufacturing a "commlock" to bring to school on the next day. The person with the most realistic commlock would be the winner. I accepted the challenge and set to work that evening with cardboard, tin foil, and magic-marker, to fashion a slick, little, two-dimensional communicator, with the "buttons" in all of the right places. I thought that it looked quite nice, but when I brought it to school on the following morning, I was pleasantly shocked to find that I had been outdone. Darryl had constructed a three-dimensional commlock using a small box, an additional roll of cardboard in the centre and a rolled-up bottom cardboard "nodule". He then had utilised masking tape to cover the whole thing, and drew the necessary "buttons" on all sides. There was no "screen" or belt clip, but I immediately knew that this was a "commlock" that I had to have and duplicate. I nonchalantly threw my piece of work aside and bargained with Darryl to move this dandy replica communicator off of his hands. In the coming days, I laboured with miniature boxes, excess cardboard, masking tape, and magic-markers, to reproduce Darryl's miracle of construction again and again. I went a step further than he, by putting belt clips on the commlock models. This was progressive manufacturing at work! Each of us borrowed ideas from the other, and Douglastown Elementary was alive with Space: 1999-mania.
February 19 was a mild though overcast winter day in Douglastown. TV Guide magazine had Space: 1999 listed for 6 P.M. but had printed no synopsis. What was going to happen to the Alphans that evening? I pondered on this as my closest friend, Michael, and I tobogganed merrily on the hill on the opposite side of the road at its dip between my house and the school. We zoomed down that hill again and again like we had not a care in the world. But I did. I did not want to arrive home late and miss even a minute of Space: 1999. I need not have worried. Supper was eaten by 5:30, and I sat through a half-hour of the sport of curling, awaiting the magical moment when the dynamic theme music of Space: 1999 would begin. Just as my friend and I had had a joyous time on the toboggan, John Koenig was whooping and wheeing at the controls of Eagle Ten. Koenig crashed that Eagle and was hospitalised with a concussion, a faster-than-light Superswift rescue spaceship from Earth landed on Alpha, and the Alphans were reunited with long-lost friends and relatives. The visitors started acting strangely, but somehow, I was still convinced that they were genuine in form. When Koenig revived and went to Command Centre to see the Earth rescue crew, only to be repulsed at the sight of grotesque, one-eyed, jelly monsters, my parents gasped and I started backward in horror. What a totally unexpected and ghastly sight! When it came to shock value, Space: 1999 had the hands-down edge yet again. Koenig was frantically trying to convince his people that they were seeing false images of Earthmen, and no one would listen to him. When the first part of "The Bringers of Wonder" ended with one of the monsters terrorising and threatening to smother Koenig in the dark and otherwise empty Medical Centre, this, the television series' sole cliffhanger, had me on pins and needles more than had any other television show's two-parter had done.
On the week after Saturday, February 19, my friends at school shared their similar impressions about those weird creatures and speculated along with me as to who was going to enter Medical Centre and save Koenig's life. We all thought that it would probably be Tony and Maya as they had been shown on their way to Medical Centre when Sandstrom attacked them. Meanwhile, one friend, David F., drew a "not-so-super Superswift" (as he called it). He was obviously quite impressed by the design of the illusory, faster-than-light spacecraft, but said that his visual memory and drawing skill was limited, hence his comical description.
Part two of "The Bringers of Wonder" aired on February 26. That weekend, my mother and I were visiting my grandparents in Fredericton, and a colleague of my mother's was going to car-drive us from Fredericton to our Miramichi-area home on Saturday afternoon. I recall rushing my mother and her friend to leave for Douglastown at one o'clock for our 2 and 1/2 hour journey, afraid that I would not arrive at home in time to see Space: 1999 four hours later. But we reached destination in plenty of time, and I was there in front of the television set, watching Helena and Maya enter Medical Centre and prevent the alien's ghastly murder of Koenig. Then, I quietly cheered as John learned and quashed the scheme of the creatures, saving Alpha from obliteration and regaining full credibility as Commander of his people. Though I enjoyed "The Bringers of Wonder", I found myself growing impatient, rather like a number of the Alphans were, for another planetary encounter.
On one evening in the following week, as I was wandering through the toy department at the Chatham Zellers department store, a Space: 1999 colouring book caught my eye. My father bought it for me, and as he was visiting his workplace at the Chatham Air Force base, I sat in the base's cafeteria awaiting him and flipping through the colouring book as it "outlined" the story of "Breakaway". Then, we went to the base's library, where I borrowed a few outer space fact books to indulge my astronomic interest which was still strongly complimenting my growing love for Space: 1999. Around this time, I was drawing Solar System maps to be posted on our classroom pin board and designing planetary models suspended on thread from wire hangers; I also cut some of the planets as depicted in the colouring book, out of said book, for me to use in this way.
Discovering the colouring book marked the start of an intensive search for anything and everything on the commercial circuit to do with Space: 1999. About a week later, I came upon a Mattel Professor Victor Bergman doll in the same Zellers store and bought it. Although my experience with the Victor character was extremely sparse at that point in time, having a Space: 1999 doll with those nifty little stun gun and commlock implements was really something!
Within a further five or six weeks, I found more Space: 1999 colouring books at Zellers and bought them. One of the Space: 1999 colouring books had a cut-out "screen" for showing a Space: 1999 "filmstrip" (i.e. pictures on paper in a sequence resembling that of a filmstrip), and I used the "screen" for a "filmstrip" that I made of the first quarter of one of the Space: 1999 episodes ("Another Time, Another Place"; I liked the look of the whirlpool-of-stardust space phenomenon that displaced the Moon in that episode) that I saw in French in early April. And I would note that with the approach of Christmas that year (1977), I was to ask for replacements for the Space: 1999 colouring books that I had ravaged in preceding months for various projects of expression for my Space: 1999 enthusiasm, the "filmstrip screen" having been but one such.
"Dorzak" was transmitted on the CBC English-language television network on March 5. My audiotape recorder stopped functioning just a few minutes before Space: 1999's commencement, and I was frantically trying to reactivate it, only to concede defeat and just watch whatever transpired in that week's episode. Frankly, I found "Dorzak" disappointing, not just because of the total absence of Commander Koenig, but also due to the lack of spatial focus (yet again, no planet or other distinct celestial body is encountered by the runaway Moon). The Alphans shown were as interesting as usual, but Koenig's disappearance reduced this episode's attraction quotient somewhat, and for a time "Dorzak" was my least favourite entry in this whole television series.
My impatience was finally assuaged by TV Guide's synopsis of the Space: 1999 episode to air on March 12. It told of John and Tony being stalked by a creature on a hostile planet. "The Immunity Syndrome" was a veritable tour-de-force. I tuned in to my television, with my new audiocassette recorder ready for usage, expecting to see just John and Tony in peril on a desolate world, and found them as part of a large-scale Alphan landing party (the largest that I had seen) trapped on a lush-but-gloomy, Earth-like planet whose elements were turning deadly. The whole first act of the episode, with John's team chasing after the "flipped-out" Tony, followed by the second act's spectacular Eagle crash, had me entranced. I listened to my audiotape-recording again and again on the day thereafter, and Douglastown Elementary School was abuzz with accolades for "The Immunity Syndrome" during the next week.
School's March Break commenced on March 18, as my parents transported me to Fredericton to stay with my grandparents for several days. On March 19, I bought a copy of TV Guide at the Scholten's convenience store near my grandparents' house and in said publication found an article on Catherine Schell and Maya in addition to the exciting synopsis for that Saturday evening's episode- "Devil's Planet". Another crash-landing, another Koenig story, and one about "cat-women" on a penal colony. And again was I treated to unexpected imagery and range of featured characters. This time, Koenig was the only Space: 1999 principal cast member to appear, and the penal colony and its mother planet were both Earth-like in appearance, with, as in "The Immunity Syndrome" the week before, a doomy ambiance and eerie, distant whistling noises. Koenig's tete-a-tete with Elizia in the interesting majestic prison layout was a wonder to behold. I loved the story. Like in "The Immunity Syndrome", Koenig was wearing his blue sport jacket rather than his orange-pink anorak, which definitely and compellingly set these two planetary surveys apart from the others. That night, I had difficulty sleeping. I crept to my grandmother's kitchen and carted into my little den/bedroom a whole container full of frosted chocolate cupcakes and ate several of them as I listened at low volume to my audiotape-recording of "Devil's Planet".
While I was at the Fredericton K-Mart department store with my grandmother in mid-week, I found and bought a Space: 1999 wall poster showing Koenig, Helena, and Bergman on the Moon with the "Breakaway" explosion behind them. On Thursday, March 24, I returned to home from my nearly-a-week-long visit with my grandparents, but only after my bus became caught in a snowstorm ten miles outside of Newcastle. I was snug in my Douglastown house's living room to watch "The Dorcons" on March 26 at 6 P.M. and marvelled at the visually stunning Dorcon attack on Alpha. I remember wondering how many more episodes of that second season were left for the CBC to broadcast.
And I started intuiting that with "The Dorcons" on March 26 and with the preemption of Space: 1999 on the following Saturday (for a Meet the Toronto Blue Jays hour-long compilation of baseball player interviews), that the post-Christmas, post-New-Year's-Day sequence of first-run Space: 1999 episodes on CBC may have reached its end. Television shows were usually into their spring and summer repeats by early April. And with "The Dorcons", there had seemed to have been a season's worth of Space: 1999 episodes shown (I was as yet unaware of the existence of an episode from somewhere near the middle of the season, that had not been aired). Further, the last batch of episodes of the season had had a common thread running through them, I thought. A psychic quantity had been a distinguishing element of nearly all of those episodes. And the universe and Alpha's reaction to it, seemed different, somehow. Few planets had been encountered, and of those that were, Koenig was not on them in his orange-pink anorak. Nor Helena in her bright blue anorak. The Earth-like worlds visited in the episodes, "The Immunity Syndrome" and "Devil's Planet", had had similar look and same weird background noises, and in both of them, Koenig was wearing his blue sport jacket, which had been most unusual on planetary reconnaissances in earlier episodes. There had seemed to be a cluster of episodes that had "run their course", and it appeared most unlikely that there would be further episodes for which to venture into a different direction, as it were.
I would further say that I had a seminal awareness of a number of the recurring motifs or depictions of Space: 1999, starting with my viewing of "The Metamorph" and proceeding from there. Planets with ravaged or changeable environments. Planets whose ecosystems undergo some transition to a less than amenable state. Orbs and enigmatic star clusters in rather busy parts of space. Many scenes in caves. An as yet indefinable but still rather discernible pattern to the dress sense and the architectural sense of alien races. The occasional sunny and very inviting but still quite alien Earth-like planet. Space: 1999 did have its own way of imagining and visualising space, worlds, and aliens, quite distinguishable from that other work of science fiction which I was experiencing, Star Trek. While I continued to watch Star Trek and enjoy it and have impressions of it, I hewed most definitely to the fantastic universe of Space: 1999. And the spring and summer to follow would further cement that.
I was falling completely in love with every aspect of Space: 1999. Its characters. Its settings. Its spaceships and other hardware. Its music. Its visuals. And its underlying sensibilities (even those that I did not fully comprehend). And eventually, nostalgia would power that love so very much.
The French-language CBC, and CBAFT, the Eastern-Maritime Canada CBC French television station, had been running second season entries interspersed with occasional first season episodes. When "Le Dernier Crepuscule", a.k.a. "The Last Sunset", had been shown on February 12, I was finally forced to realise that the events of the first season had to also transpire after the Earth-Moon split, which meant that "Breakaway", which had aired on September 11 on CBC English, was not the second season opener after all. This certainly put a new spin on things. French CBC (Radio-Canada) broadcasts of "End of Eternity" and "Another Time, Another Place" on March 26 and April 2 respectively, reinforced this inevitable discovery. "Breakaway" must have been the opening episode of that earlier season, almost all of which I had yet to experience in English.
On Saturday, April 9, Space: 1999 returned in English after a one-week absence. TV Guide magazine could not be found, and there were no episode synopses printed in newspaper television listings. So, what was going to be seen on Space: 1999 that sunny April Saturday? As I awaited the scheduled early 4 o'clock afternoon telecast, my mother escorted me to a downtown Newcastle photography and hobby store, where I was pleased to find a View-Master packet for Space: 1999. I prodded my mother to hurry for home so that I could there look at the Space: 1999 reels in my View-Master viewer. The three-dimensional photographs were from a first season episode, "War Games", and to say that they were awesome would be a gross understatement! I was enthralled and nearly missed the four o'clock Space: 1999 broadcast. That broadcast disappointed me in two respects. First, the episode was a repeat, the first such, on CBC English, since December. It had been intuitive- even logical- to expect that the episode shown that day would be a repeat, but I had still entertained a glimmer of hope for new episode. Second, the repeated episode was "The Mark of Archanon", one of my least favourites from the previous autumn. I watched and audiotape-recorded said episode, then listened to it after supper as I "oohed and awed" at the sights in my View-Master apparatus. Cosmos 1999 was preempted that evening due to a showing of the lengthy 1961 life-of-Christ movie, King of Kings.
It being Easter weekend, I spent both Sunday and Monday constructing Space: 1999 jackets out of my blue and light red over-garments- and some weeks later wore them for a "1999 movie" snapshot with my flash camera, the story being that Commander Koenig (me) lands on an Earth-like planet resembling Douglastown, and is menaced by a cat (my pet cat, Frosty). As weeks and months passed, I modified my "1999 jackets", and they gradually looked exactly like Commander Koenig's blue sport jacket and orange-pink anorak, right down to the patches that I drew with a marker on an old fabric sheet, cut out of said sheet, and had my mother sew onto the garments.
Due to CHSJ's airing of coverage of an auction (the Kiwanis Auction, to be precise), the CBC television network rerun of "Brian the Brain" at 5 P.M. on April 16 was not broadcast in New Brunswick. Thus, this was the second time in three weeks that I did not have occasion to enjoy and audiotape-record a Space: 1999 telecast. And for the second consecutive week, there was no Cosmos 1999.
"The Rules of Luton" was rerun in New Brunswick and on the whole CBC English television network on April 23 at 6 P.M. Atlantic Time. I waited eagerly with my audiotape recorder ready. This was an episode that I deeply wanted to see again and to capture on audiotape. Shortly after it started, one of my friends, Evie, arrived unexpectedly at my place, and he watched the balance of the episode with me. There was a commercial for Mrs. Smith's Apple Pies before the beginning of the fourth act of "The Rules of Luton". After "The Rules of Luton" on my SONY 90-minute audiocassette, I added an audiotape-recording of You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown, which was transmitted on the CBC and CHSJ on the following Friday evening, i.e. that of April 29.
The Cosmos 1999 episode on the French-language CBC Television network for Saturday, April 23 was "The Beta Cloud". It was a relief to see Cosmos 1999 back on the French-language CBC Television network after a two-week absence.
On one evening during the next week, my father and I were in a Water Street variety store in Chatham, wherein I noticed a row of Space: 1999 paperback books. My father would only at that time buy one, and I was examining them intently to find the book that I wanted most. As I recall, the books there were Collision Course, Lunar Attack, Astral Quest, and Phoenix of Megaron, all Pocket Book editions. Unaware that most of them had photograph sections and were Season One episode adaptations, I chose Phoenix of Megaron (the only book on the shelf not to contain episode novelisations or photographs) with its back cover reference to a lush, green planet. I resolved that over the next few weeks, I would buy them all. That night, as I laid in bed, I struggled through the difficult-to-read first chapter of Phoenix of Megaron. It was interesting but very cryptic for a Grade 5 youngster. And the Season One Alpha was still rather unfamiliar to me.
On the A.M. of Saturday, April 30, I had my father buy another of the Space: 1999 books for me while he was on a shopping excursion, and he bought Pocket Books' Moon Odyssey (with front cover colour pictures of Helena Russell examining hand-held slides and a spacesuited Koenig in an Alpha airlock) from Gallivan's Bookstore in Newcastle. Flipping through Moon Odyssey, I was delighted to find a photograph section containing pictures from episodes that I had only then seen in French- "Alpha Child", "The Last Sunset", and "Another Time, Another Place". The episode rerun that week in English was "The AB Chrysalis", which I watched and audiotape-recorded.
As the English-language CBC was now showing consistent reruns, I believed that I had seen in English all that there was to see of Space: 1999- Season 2. But the broadcast of Cosmos 1999 on April 30 at 8 P.M. proved this belief to be wrong. To my bewilderment, I watched as a totally unfamiliar episode was shown. Maya was feverish and screaming, the Moon went through some strange space distortion, and Maya was changing uncontrollably into a number of beasts. It was exciting and weird. Why was CBC English "holding out" on showing this episode? Might it have been shown on the television network, with CHSJ declining to telecast it, in December or early January? I was perplexed. This episode appeared to belong somewhere near the middle of the season, and it was airing in French after "The Beta Cloud". Curious, indeed!
The week thereafter, I brought Moon Odyssey with me to school, and one afternoon, as the Grade 4 children were with us in our Grade 5 classroom to watch a film, a number of Grade 4 boys discovered the book on my desk and passed it among themselves, looking at the pictures. They were fascinated by their first glimpses of the earlier season; they had not seen the in-French broadcasts. I was worried that my teacher would discover them looking at the book and confiscate it. Fortunately, he did not.
Weather was becoming pleasant and conducive to outdoor play, and a number of Grade 4 and Grade 3 boys asked me to enact scenarios of Space: 1999 with them on a regular basis during school recess period. A boy named Sandy, who was in Grade 3, seemed to be as intrigued by Space: 1999 as I was. After seeing my Moon Odyssey book, he promptly bought one of the same for himself. I told him of the existence of the other Space: 1999 books at the Chatham variety store.
One day in early May, I was coming back to school after lunch and found Sandy spraying H2O from a Space: 1999 water "stun gun". I asked him where he bought it, and he answered that he had found it in a Continental department store in downtown Chatham- and that there was only one of them left! I counted the seconds that afternoon before school classes were dismissed and went home to ask my father to drive me in his car to Chatham. He did, and I obtained that remaining Space: 1999 water gun from the Continental store.
Some days later, a similar experience. In the morning, before classes, Sandy came to the Grade 5 room to show to me a book he had bought in the downtown Newcastle Gallivan's bookstore- Planets of Peril, the first Space: 1999 second season episode adaptation book. As I looked at the pictures in centre of the book, Sandy told me that there was only one copy of Planets of Peril left at the store, and my father and I rushed to Newcastle that afternoon after school for me buy the book. Over the next couple of weeks, I returned to the Chatham variety store that had Pocket Books' first season novels and purchased Lunar Attack, Astral Quest, and Collision Course. From the listing in Phoenix of Megaron of other titles in the Space: 1999 paperback publication range, I was aware of books which I had not yet seen- Breakaway, The Space Guardians, Alien Seed, and, most interestingly, Android Planet and Rogue Planet. I began an intensive search for those in the Miramichi area, but for the time being "came up empty". From the photograph sections of Astral Quest and Lunar Attack, I had my first unsettling glimpses of the Cellini monster in "Dragon's Domain" and Mateo's ghost in "The Troubled Spirit", two as yet by-me-utterly-unseen Season One stories. When I brought Lunar Attack to school, one of my friends, Kevin MacD., looked at the picture of three Hawk spaceships and said, "If those are Eagles, I'm Peter Pan." I also started a Space: 1999 scrapbook, but it contained only the TV Guide Maya article and various TV Guide Space: 1999 episode synopses. This was in response to a classmate's Charlie's Angels scrapbook which, not surprisingly, contained oodles of photographs of and articles about Farrah Fawcett.
On May 7, the CBC reran "Catacombs of the Moon" at 4 P.M., but for the second time in four weeks, CHSJ did not transmit the television network broadcast, this time in preference for a telethon, the title for which was World Literature Crusade. I recall trying to tune in "Catacombs of the Moon" on my upstairs black-and-white television by bringing into reception a CBC television station from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on Channel 13. But I received almost nothing but snow and noise. At most perhaps some extremely hazy images of the ceiling of a Moonbase corridor seen by Patrick Osgood as he is being wheeled on a stretcher to Medical Centre. The audio-visual signal from the nearly 175-miles-distant Prince Edward Island television station was only known then to drift substantially into my vicinity on rare occasions by way of that upstairs black-and-white television, and this was not one of those occasions.
Happily, CHSJ re-embraced Space: 1999 on the next Saturday, May 14, by showing the CBC rerun of "Seed of Destruction" at 5 P.M.. As I was audiotape-recording that and as the genuine Koenig arrived to confront his impostor in Command Centre, my mother could be heard on the audiocassette as saying in the background, "Johny-wony arrived just in time."
On Cosmos 1999 on May 7 was "A Matter of Balance". There was a memorable commercial interval after the episodic hook faded to black following Shermeen Williams seeing the transparent alien, Vindrus, in her living quarters.
Perhaps the most compelling and exhilarating sequence of events relating to Space: 1999 in my entire life occurred on the weekend of Saturday, May 21, 1977. Again, CHSJ was, according to the television listings, to be of the intention not to air the CBC television network broadcast of Space: 1999. Having gone with my father to downtown Chatham in mid-afternoon on sunny Friday, May 20 and there having bought TV Guide magazine from a variety store already mentioned, I was scanning the magazine's listings for the next day, Saturday, and found that the Space: 1999 episode scheduled to air on Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island CBC television stations at the odd time of 3:30 P.M. was the one in which, "Maya loses control of her metamorphic powers, changing from one creature to another, when she is afflicted by a mysterious disease." So read the synopsis in TV Guide, and the implications were clear. No thanks to my New Brunswick CBC Television affiliate, CHSJ, I was going to miss the one Season Two episode that I had not yet seen in English, the one that the English CBC television network had possibly skipped in December or January, the one that the CBC's French-language division had aired so excitingly on April 30, three Saturdays previous. The way that things looked, I was never going to see and audiotape that episode in English. Nevertheless, my father had previously agreed to purchase a new audiocassette (a Realistic Supertape "compact cassette") at the downtown Chatham Radio Shack store, and we went there and bought one. Just for fun, I labelled the audiotape based on what I had seen of this strange episode in French. On the audiocassette label, I marked the episode title as "Space Warp". Of course, I had no reason to believe that CHSJ would have a "change of heart" at the last minute and telecast the episode. It had not done so surprising a deed before. But I had the new audiocassette and labelled it, anyway.
Saturday, May 21 was a sunny, warm day, heralding a bizarre and fortuitous atmospheric quirk. The black-and-white upstairs television was somehow able on that morning to receive CBCT- CBC Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, with adequate picture and sound reception! I was elated, to say the very least. It looked as though I was going to see and audiotape the desired Space: 1999 episode after all! Thus, I kept a faithful vigil beside the upstairs television as the morning blended into the afternoon and the 3:30 moment of truth edged closer and closer. I positioned my audiotape recorder next to the tiny black-and-white television set and waited impatiently through strange "kiddie" fare, the choir music of Soul Train at 12 o'clock, and some outdoor adventure material. But as the afternoon "dragged on", CBCT's reception deteriorated, and, by 3 o'clock, the picture and sound had practically disappeared! I frantically grappled with the television rabbit ears, to no avail. Defeated, dejected, and helpless, I resigned myself to fate, conceded that I would never see and audiotape-record in English the Space: 1999 episode that I had "branded" as "Space Warp", and at 3:27 turned the channel selector to our New Brunswick CBC television station- CHSJ-TV. Just for the sake of doing it, I activated my audiotape recorder during the two-minute station identification period, endured a lengthy preview for Baretta and some commercials, and waited for CHSJ to frustrate me with its scheduled broadcast of Klahanie, an outdoor nature television show, and Talent Parade, instead of my beloved Space: 1999 and the episode thereof that I yearned so much to see. The CHSJ-TV identification flashed, and then there was a long silence...
Then, to my surprise, the rarely seen ITC Entertainment logo appeared. I thought, "What?! Hey, could it be...? Naah." It was probably going to be The Muppet Show that would be shown, as I knew that The Muppet Show was also distributed by ITC and occasionally sported the same logo. And The Muppet Show was scheduled for broadcast on CHSJ later that day at 6 o'clock. Perhaps it had been bumped ahead by more than a couple of hours. I readied myself to see Kermit the Frog, only to be treated to... those planets, those opening notes of that super-dynamic theme music, that rush of euphoria. All of the television guides were wrong; CHSJ did have a last-minute "change of heart"; and I was going to see the desired episode in beautiful colour on the downstairs television set! I jumped up and down, checked to see if my audiotape recorder was performing its assigned function. It was. Then, I dashed downstairs, activated the colour television, then ran out to the backyard where my parents were in lawn chairs, sitting in the sun. I shouted, "It's on! It's on!" It was amazing that the upstairs audiotape recorder did register my outdoor whoops of joy. My parents accompanied me indoors to the living room to see for themselves, and all of this transpired before the opening theme music had even concluded! The first episodic scenes appeared. This was indeed the long-delayed first broadcast on CBC English of that Space: 1999 television series entry about a fevered Maya and the Moon passing through a space distortion.
Maya was tossing and turning in her feverish state, John and Tony were approaching a derelict spaceship, and Alpha slipped into a chaotic space that hurled it out of sight from John and Tony's Eagle. After a brief advertisement interval, the episode title was shown, and my chin nearly hit the floor when I saw what it was. "Space Warp"! What a fantastic double-surprise! First, to see the episode when every indication had been that I was not going to, and then to find that its title was the one that I had pre-labelled on the audiotape. "Space Warp"'s events continued as the three of us watched in amazement at this sudden and unexplained change of fate. I do not know what happened at CHSJ, but somehow, for once, Space: 1999 was shown in New Brunswick when it was not expected to have been. After so many weeks of repeats, it felt so strange and so wonderful to hear previously unheard dialogue. The episode concluded at 4:30 P.M. before special sports programming. I darted upstairs to check upon my audiocassette recording and was overjoyed to find that it was magnetically enregistered on the spool of the Radio Shack product without a hitch.
That evening, I listened to my audiotape-recording again and again, feeling more exhilarated than ever. It was not just that I played a hunch and it "paid off". I felt as though I was the recipient of an actual miracle. I was in very high spirits for the whole of that long weekend and for over a week thereafter! Michael and I went on a picnic hike in one of the many nearby nature trails on the warm, sunny Sunday, May 22, and I carried with me my battery-operated audiotape recorder and "Space Warp" to which to listen. And on the following, very short, half-day school week, I brought my "Space Warp" audiocassette to school and found, among all of my usual conversation partners, that nobody besides me had seen "Space Warp". I could have been the only person in the whole school to have viewed this amazing episode! I played passages from the audiotape as proof of my claim that an episode previously not transmitted in English on the CBC, had been shown at an earlier-than-usual airtime on Saturday, May 21.
On Thursday of that week, my parents and I went to Fredericton to look at houses for our upcoming August move from Douglastown to Fredericton. Before we surveyed a house in the Burpee Street area in Fredericton's northern half, I went to the Sunset Drive Esso gasoline station and convenience store to obtain TV Guide magazine and found therein the synopsis for "A Matter of Balance", which was to be rerun on May 28 at 5 P.M. on all English-language CBC television stations, including ours in New Brunswick. I arrived back in Douglastown on Saturday afternoon in ample time to watch and audiotape the expected repeated episode. It was something of an anti-climax after the exciting events of the week before, but I enjoyed seeing "A Matter of Balance" again.
When in Fredericton, I bought the Orbit Books versions of Breakaway and Moon Odyssey from Coles Bookstore in Fredericton's Regent Mall. The week after "A Matter of Balance" was repeated in English on CBC Television, I brought Breakaway to school, and one of my new friends who was in Grade 4, not having seen the "Breakaway" episode of Space: 1999, wanted to borrow and read said episode's printed namesake, because it contained a novelisation of the episode. I obliged, and he was prompt; he had the book read in two days! Then, one morning when he and I were part of a group playing Space: 1999 at recess at school, he was insistent that we enact the Lee Russell episode whose novelisation he had read in the same book, with me as both Mr. Russell and my normal "role" as Koenig. And we did.
This was before a long "wet spell" in New Brunswick, a prolonged period of overcast, rainy weather that lasted almost two weeks. When "The Beta Cloud" was rerun on the CBC and CHSJ on June 4 at 4 P.M., an hour earlier than scheduled in TV Guide magazine, rain was pouring outside. I audiotaped this rerun of "The Beta Cloud" and played part of my audiotape-recording of it for my closest friend, Michael, over the telephone. That evening, before "The Bringers of Wonder: Pt. 1" aired on Cosmos 1999, I produced a crude Alphan "tunic" with a purple sleeve (as part of the Security guard uniform).
In May, the month earlier, I had seen the French-language CBC airings of more Season 1 episodes, in particular "Black Sun" and most of the first quarter of "War Games", and enjoyed them, even though I understood little of what was said therein.
Rain continued for all of the next week. "The Lambda Factor", slated to rerun on the CBC English television network at 4 P.M. Atlantic Time on June 11, was preempted by CHSJ (yes, again!) for local programming. I waited with audiotape recorder ready in case a last-minute programme change (a la "Space Warp" on May 21) would happen again. No. The rerun of "The Lambda Factor" was unseen in New Brunswick. And since Space: 1999 was not shown on the entire CBC English television network on the next Saturday, June 18, no episodes could be viewed in English in New Brunswick for two consecutive weeks. This was the first time such a situation was forced upon New Brunswick enthusiasts of the Moonbase Alpha odyssey, and Space: 1999 felt deeply missed my myself and my friends. I decided to write my first letter to our New Brunswick CBC television network affiliate, CHSJ-TV, and register a complaint about the New Brunswick local preemptions of Space: 1999.
My new friend, Sandy, the Grade 3 pupil who bought the water "stun gun" and Planets of Peril book before I did such in early May, lived near another friend, David F., in my Grade 5 class. David F. invited me one afternoon toward the close of that 1976-7 school year, to ride the school bus with him and visit with him at his home for a couple of hours. We paid a brief social call upon Sandy, and I gasped in awe when I saw Sandy's Space: 1999 collection. Amidst the familiar water "stun gun" and Planets of Peril and Moon Odyssey books was a Commander Koenig doll and a 2-foot-long Mattel Eagle sitting big as life on a wooden shelf. That was the first time that I saw such items, and I desperately wanted to stay at Sandy's house and thoroughly peruse his Space: 1999 materials, and enquire as to where I could obtain such toys, but David F. literally pulled me away from Sandy. He insisted that we return to his house, and we did. I did not say much after that because I was in awe at what I had seen. A week later, David F. again invited me to his place after school, and this time he did not consider another visit to our mutual friend with the extensive collection of Space: 1999 items.
Happily, the rain had stopped just a couple of days before June 18, and inhabitants of Douglastown were basking in beautiful sunshine. I recall spending the afternoon of Friday, June 17, wandering around the village for close to two hours after being unable to unlock the door to our house after coming home at noon hour (our school always dismissed us at noon on Fridays). And on the morning of Saturday, June 18, I was inside of our house's separate, two-story garage, listening to Space: 1999 audiotapes, among them "The Rules of Luton" and "Seed of Destruction", on my older audiocassette machine (the one that had gone non-operational on March 5 but which had subsequently been made usable again). My father invited me to go with him into Newcastle, and I left my audiotapes and audiotape recorder still in the garage with the big garage door open. We were only gone for an hour, during which time I discovered and bought the seventh item in the Space: 1999 book series, the title for which being Alien Seed, from Gallivan's Bookstore. I flipped through Alien Seed as my father was grocery shopping near the Newcastle Dairy Queen restaurant and adjacent bowling alley. When we arrived back at home, I was shocked to find my audiotapes and audiotape recorder gone! Someone had doubtless come looking for me in the garage, found the audiotapes and machine there, and stole them. I had no definite idea as to who the culprit was, and to this day, the theft remains a mystery.
The last week of school ending on Friday, June 24 was one of consistent sunshine. June 24 being the final day of school before summer vacation, my Grade 5 teacher turned the classroom over to my friend, David F., and I for the full morning for us to teach astronomy to first the girls of Grades 4 and 5 and then to the boys of both grades as they alternated their respective Physical Education classes. Our teaching experience ended at noon, the Grade 4 children went back to their classroom, and our Grade 5 teacher distributed the year's report cards. Then, we all prepared to leave the Grade-1-to-Grade-5 Douglastown Elementary School for the last time. For me, the finality was even stronger-felt as I was going to move away from Douglastown in August. Whilst I was removing my Solar System drawings from the classroom's "pin-up" board, my friends and classmates of five years approached me and said their good-byes. In many cases, that was the last time that I saw them. I turned and waved as I left the classroom, then went out the doors and down the old concrete steps, through the fence, and down the road from the school to my house for the last time. The sun was shining bright, the sky was blue, and it felt so good to be alive! On that same day, I received a letter from our New Brunswick CBC television station, CHSJ, on the issue of its periodic Space: 1999 non-broadcasts. It promised to insure that the episode already scheduled to air on the following day, June 25, at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, would be broadcast in New Brunswick.
Michael and I were a slumber party duo at my house on that Friday evening, during which the CBC showed another in a long string of Charlie Brown television specials. Since Chico and the Man had gone on hiatus following Freddie Prinze's suicide, the CBC had been running Charlie Brown television specials to fill Chico and the Man's time slot. On the evening of June 24, 1977, offered on CBC was He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, in which Snoopy opts away from his path to obedience school and becomes Peppermint Patty's house-guest so that he can slip in and out of surreal fantasies while luxuriating in Patty's sunny backyard. The surreal element was very strong here, such that the CBC broadcast of it was apt in conjunction with the dreamy unreality within Space: 1999's "The Bringers of Wonder: Pt. 1", that was rerun on June 25 at 5 P.M.. It felt so strange and so wonderful to see and hear Space: 1999 in English for the first time since June 4. Incidentally, I recall seeing a public service announcement for the Red Cross blood bank just before the fourth act of "The Bringers of Wonder: Pt. 1".
Summer vacation was now in "full swing", and as I had plenty of time to indulge my now full-fledged fascination with Space: 1999, I produced several three-dimensional cardboard laser guns, commlocks, and scanners. My garage was turned into Moonbase Alpha, with Command Centre/Main Mission, Medical Centre, Weapons Section. Everything. I created sit-in cardboard Eagles out of grocery boxes, with the small concrete patio next to the garage being an Alpha launching pad. And Douglastown around my home became the planets to be explored as several of my friends joined in my Moonbase Alpha fun. I distributed "laser guns, commlocks, and scanners", dressed in my own "uniform"- jackets and all, and played Space: 1999 with pals- and without a care in the world. Two friends from Ontario, Johnny and Rob, who always came to Douglastown to stay with their grandparents for the summer, arrived late in the evening of Saturday, June 25, and, to my surprise (I had not seen them since August, 1976), they were also aware of the superb spectacle of Space: 1999.
After part two of "The Bringers of Wonder" was repeat-telecasted at 3:30 P.M. on the sun-shiny July 2, 1977, I wrote a letter to ITC Entertainment in Buckinghamshire, England, expressing my intense interest in Space: 1999 and asking for any surplus-to-requirements commlock and stun gun props. Needless to say, there was never a reply to my letter.
On the following Saturday, the ninth of July, the English-language CBC did not air the beloved television show, but as my closest friend, Michael, and I were with my parents in Fredericton staying at my grandparents' house, we saw CBC French's broadcast of the first season episode, "The Troubled Spirit", at 8 P.M. as a thunder storm was rumbling outside. We both found "The Troubled Spirit" quite terrifying, and the fact that it was being shown to us in French, with our understanding of everything that transpired being therefore limited, made our experience of the episode all the more unnerving. I also recall going with Michael to a Fredericton shopping mall that Saturday afternoon and discovering a Space: 1999 vinyl record, with a jacket covered with exciting pictures from "The Metamorph". I bought it and, back at my grandparents' place, eagerly positioned it onto their stereo phonograph. My friend was rolling upon the floor with laughter as I listened in embarrassed disappointment. It was Power Records' "Return to the Beginning", told in hokey fashion, with terrible character voice imitations by non-Space: 1999 people. The only good thing about that vinyl record was the cardboard sleeve; I loved the pictures.
A succession of late Season Two episodes were repeated in English on the CBC on July 16, 23, and 30, each time on a beautiful, bright, summer afternoon. They were "The Immunity Syndrome", "Devil's Planet", and "The Dorcons". And the broadcasts of these episodes in their French-language format had only a one week differential from those telecasts in English. "La Planete du diable", a.k.a. "Devil's Planet", was shown on July 16. Then, "La Syndrome de l'immunite", a.k.a. "The Immunity Syndrome", was seen on July 23.
The CBC's English-language rerun of "The Dorcons" on July 30 had me wondering what would be shown in the next month, in that, with the exception of "Space Warp", "The Dorcons" had been the final of the first-run episodes on CBC English. Several episodes had been skipped in the reruns. I wondered if the CBC would next rerun the episodes that it had skipped. That was what it did. On August 6, when I was in Fredericton at my grandparents' house, "New Adam, New Eve" was broadcast at 5 P.M., with a scene with a giant lizard that had not been shown when that episode was first run on October 16, 1976. In the intervals for commercials were two public service announcements, one for the Mormons, and one for Participaction. The former involved a half-shaven father who asks his son if the garbage had been put outdoors as asked; the boy shakes his head in the negative, and so, the father, still half-shaven, joins his son as they chase the garbage truck. In the latter, two neighbours, one active, one not, are compared. It was quite a thrill to see an episode in English a second time since its initial telecast way back in the previous October. After a supper of tomato soup, we travelled home to Douglastown that evening. I missed Cosmos 1999 but am quite certain that the episode that aired that evening was "Le Retour des Dorcons", a.k.a. "The Dorcons".
My remaining two weeks in Douglastown were spent playing Space: 1999 with friends and trying to make an Alphan utility belt with a holster for my cardboard stun gun and commlock. I often listened to my audiotaped episodes while in my garage. Around this time, I purchased a Star Trek battery-operated phaser from the Chatham Zellers store. I wished to have a similar Space: 1999 toy gun. I was also becoming aware of how established Star Trek was in the marketplace. During one of my visits to Fredericton, I found a model of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Alas, no comparable one for Alpha's Command Centre or Main Mission Control. Not yet, anyway.
On a beautiful, sunny August 13, atmospheric conditions enabled CBC Charlottetown to appear crystal-clear on our downstairs, colour television, and I watched Star Trek on CBCT (the Charlottetown CBC television channel) at 1 P.M.. The Star Trek episode involved pods on a farm planet injecting mutinous happiness into all of the Enterprise crew except for Kirk, who must neutralise the effect of the pods which have compelled every other Enterprise operative to desert the spaceship and go to the planet. I quite enjoyed this episode, "This Side of Paradise", unaware that there was a first season Space: 1999 episode, "Guardian of Piri", with essentially the same story. I was not to see "Guardian of Piri" until December 10. Space: 1999 was scheduled to air on August 13 on all Canada eastern-Maritimes CBC television stations, including New Brunswick's, in the mid-to-late afternoon at 4 o'clock. And on the possibility that CBCT's reception quality might degrade by mid-episode, I chose to watch Space: 1999 on New Brunswick's CBC television station, CHSJ-TV. The episode that aired was the long-anticipated rerun of "One Moment of Humanity". August 13, 1977 would be my final Saturday as a resident of Douglastown. We moved to Fredericton on the Friday (August 19) of the following week.
On Cosmos 1999 in the evening of that day at 8 P.M. was "Cerveau spatial", a.k.a. "Space Brain". Moonbase Alpha being inundated by foam would be among the final depictions within the imaginative universe of Space: 1999 that I would behold in the living room of my 1972-7 Douglastown house.
During Saturday, August 20, we were staying at my grandparents' place while our furniture was being loaded into our new house. Another sunny day graced a further long-anticipated Space: 1999 rerun, that of "All That Glisters", at 5 o'clock. Early in the afternoon, a young neighbour of my grandparents, with whom I was minimally acquainted, visited my grandparents' place as I was playing the audiotape recording of "One Moment of Humanity" from the previous Saturday. After "One Moment of Humanity" on the 90-minute audiocassette tape was Play it Again, Charlie Brown, which I had audiotape-recorded on the prior evening (of Friday, August 19) after my mother, my father, and I had arrived at my grandparents' house. That Peanuts television special focused on Schroeder, the Beethoven enthusiast, and was therefore a very apt companion on my audiotape for "One Moment of Humanity", with its use of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in one of its scenes! The Cosmos 1999 episode for the evening of August 20 was "La Machine infernale", a.k.a. "The Infernal Machine". I was quite intrigued by that episode as I watched it, most particularly because I realised that I had seen it in English back in summer of 1976. And in the week ahead, I read its novelisation in the Astral Quest book repeatedly.
My last few weeks of summer of 1977 in my new community were characterised by loneliness, worry that I would not ever fit into the social milieu, and solitary immersion in my Space: 1999 interest. I did not much care for the neighbourhood, whose unpaved streets, look-alike houses, scattered rocky, empty lots, and lack of lawns in many yards accorded with the general barrenness or aloofness of the people. At least that was my impression, coming from the close-knit, congenial, green and beautiful village of Douglastown. There did not seem to be anyone my age, or anyone at all for that matter, who was interested in coming to meet the "new boy on the block". So, I escaped to Moonbase Alpha, acting out episodes, including some of my own invention, and searched the city bookstores for Space: 1999 printed matter- and found in a store called Beegie's in the Fredericton Mall nearly every first season Space: 1999 book, including Android Planet and Rogue Planet, two original novels based on Space: 1999's first season, in their Pocket Books editions. I snatched those into my hands on sight of them, my father paying the total three dollars to the Beegie's Bookstore cashier, who inserted a bookmark into both books before putting them in a small, brown paper bag.
I also repurchased Astral Quest, for my initial copy of that had depreciated due to an insistent effort by me to utilise the black and white photographs therein for pictures to affix to my manufactured-by-me toy commlocks, but I was unable to find a Pocket Books edition of Moon Odyssey to replace my first copy thereof, which had come apart due to poor binding. And the Pocket Books version of Breakaway was also quite elusive.
On a rainy Saturday, August 27, I went to my grandparents' house early in the morning to watch and audiotape cartoon television shows from American broadcasts received on cable television, which my parents and I did not yet have in our new home. I stayed at my grandparents' place to watch and audiotape the CBC repeat of "The Seance Spectre" at 5 o'clock and to watch Cosmos 1999 at 8 P.M., the episode of which was "La Mission des Dariens", a.k.a. "Mission of the Darians", which would be the final Cosmos 1999 episode that I would see until many months later, in that the French-language CBC was about to replace Cosmos 1999 on Saturdays at 8 P.M. Atlantic Time with La Femme Bionique, francophone iteration of The Bionic Woman. I read the novelisation of "Mission of the Darians" in the Astral Quest book in the days leading to the start of the school year.
Without cable television at our new home and only a rabbit-ear antenna to receive broadcast television in close vicinity, we were only able to receive two television channels, New Brunswick's CBC and CTV affiliates, the former being CHSJ-TV from Saint John, and the latter CKCW from Moncton. We could not receive the French-language CBC or any American television stations. Cable television was needed in Fredericton for these.
I was wondering if Space: 1999 was going to have a new season of episodes in the autumn to come. Unlike in the summer of 1976, I saw no CBC promotionals for my now-favourite television show. None at all. Summer reruns were coming to an end, and it was standard practice for the television networks to announce which television series would be returning for another year. I was also noting, with some annoyance, how Star Trek was eclipsing Space: 1999 in the marketing of merchandise. I could not find a Space: 1999 tunic for sale anywhere and had to have my mother produce one, but Star Trek tunics were available in every colour at a Fredericton store, Tiny Tots. And although there were on the shelves of Beegie's Bookstore several Pocket Books edition Space: 1999 novels, with Coles Bookstore in the other Fredericton shopping centre, Regent Mall, offering the U.K.'s Orbit Books editions of the same novels, both book dealers did have far, far more Star Trek books in their inventory. Star Trek toys were available in plenty in all department stores, and passing references to science fiction by characters on situation comedies were always to Star Trek.
On Saturday, September 3, "Dorzak" was rerun on the CBC at an unusually early 2 P.M.. I was again at my grandparents' house for the watching and/or audiotape-recording of Saturday morning cartoons and stayed there to audiotape the rerun of this Space: 1999 episode, which I quite enjoyed on this, my second viewing of it in its English-language rendering. Since Cosmos 1999 was not scheduled to air on that evening, my parents brought me home at sometime around 3:30 P.M.. In the evening, the movie version of Logan's Run, with Michael York in the lead role, was shown on CTV, and, knowing that a weekly episodic version of Logan's Run was going to premiere later in that month (September), I watched this movie quite intently. It was interesting, and I was eager to see the upcoming television series, but Space: 1999 had won my heart, and by transplanting into a new and at that time seemingly unfavourable community gave to me quite a "die-hard" affinity for the space science fiction television series that I had followed in my old home. My interest in it was a part of my Douglastown life that I brought with me to Fredericton.
On Monday (Labour Day) of the following week, during the closing credits for The Edge of Night, the CBC's announcer stated the story description for the Space: 1999 episode, "Space Warp", to be rerun in English on Saturday, September 10: "Alpha travels through a space warp leaving John and Tony light-years behind." It looked like the CBC was starting to promote Space: 1999 again, possibly in advance of the premiere of a third season of Moonbase Alpha's fantastic travels a week later. The CBC announcer's statement was in my mind for the remainder of that sunny afternoon as I accompanied my mother and father to a dinner at a Mactaquac, New Brunswick restaurant.
On the Tuesday of that week, i.e. Tuesday, September 6, I was with my mother and grandfather at Sunset Drive Esso gasoline station and convenience store in Fredericton North and there bought TV Guide magazine, whose listing, with episode synopsis, for Space: 1999 for the coming Saturday agreed with the CBC announcer that the episode would be "Space Warp".
On Saturday, September 10, for the third Saturday in a row, I went to my grandparents' house to watch and audiotape Saturday morning television and wait through the afternoon for Space: 1999, that week on CBC Television and CHSJ at 5 o'clock. Though I could view Space: 1999 via our rabbit-ear television antenna at home, the picture on cable television at my grandparents' place was somewhat better, and I wanted to view my favourite television show under the best possible conditions. And the episode was, indeed, "Space Warp". With its epilogue removed for advertising time.
In my first days in Grade 6 at Park Street School in Fredericton, I was branded an outsider, an appreciator of something that was already passe. In Fredericton, Space: 1999 had had its heyday, if that, in 1975 during its first season's run on Maine's WAGM-TV received in Fredericton on cable television. The first season had been dismissed as a boring Star Trek wannabe with cardboard characters, and the second season, that had been favourably received in Douglastown, went largely unnoticed by people in Fredericton who had already dismissed Moonbase Alpha's trans-stellar odyssey. My coming into the suburban school scene was for the others in Grade 6, something that could not be assimilated. An absurdity. An anomaly. Star Wars had made its grand entrance on the science fiction stage. Theatres were "holding it over" for additional performances for weeks and weeks, and the merchandising blitz was already under way. I had been almost totally oblivious to the advent of Star Wars when in Douglastown. I had heard Johnny, my friend from Ontario, mention it, but that was all. In Fredericton, Star Wars was winning affections of science fiction adherents and of people who usually looked down upon that vividly and broadly imaginative genre. I was told by one or two peers in my Grade 6 class that Star Wars was leaving Space: 1999 far behind it in time and in impressiveness, that I should "go with the flow" and become an ardent booster of the adventures of Luke Skywalker. But Space: 1999 was a fondly regarded major aspect of my final year in the village that had been my home for most of my childhood. It was a connection in taste and appreciation with my friends there, whom I missed soulfully, especially when my Fredericton peers' ways and attitudes toward me and toward my tastes were distinctly unfavourable.
I was in alien and hostile land. I had no one to visit, no one of my generation with whom to share joys and frustrations. School, with an indiscriminately disciplinarian teacher, who never hesitated to detain the whole class for the misbehaviour of a few, and unsupportive and at times mockingly dismissive peers, was nothing to which to look forward; I did, in fact, dread every day there. Space: 1999 gave solace to my socially barren weeks, a Saturday attraction to joyfully anticipate, as I came home after school on Mondays to read the TV Guide magazine's synopsis for the episode on the coming Saturday.
I saw the TV Guide magazine for the week of September 17 to September 23 on the preceding Tuesday morning. I came home from school for lunch, and my mother handed to me TV Guide as an episode of The Flintstones involving a scientist's time machine at a World's Fair sending the Flintstones and Rubbles ahead in time was being shown on one of the two television channels that our television set's rabbit ears received. The synopsis for Space: 1999 in TV Guide was at once perplexing and uplifting. A new season of the television show was not starting. Rather, a first season episode, "War Games", was listed to air on Saturday, September 17 at 5 P.M.. Was the CBC going to transmit the first season of Space: 1999 in English for the benefit of viewers like myself who had missed it in 1975-6? It certainly looked that way! I felt no disappointment at there not being a third Space: 1999 season. The possibility of a third season, delayed for some reason, kept me optimistic, and even if there was not a third season, I was content to see the entire first season in English. I had only experienced a limited number of episodes in the French language in any case.
I endured my first tortuous week at Park Street School and on Saturday, September 17, as I had done in the previous 4 weeks, I went to my grandparents' house early in the morning to stay for the full day, watching and/or audiotape-recording cartoon series (The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Batman/Tarzan, Fat Albert), and CBS' new Space Academy on cable television's American feeds, then waiting to see and audiotape Space: 1999 on New Brunswick's CBC affiliate television station, CHSJ, at 5 P.M.. I waited impatiently that afternoon to enjoy the "War Games" episode in English, and once said episode started, I was transfixed at the television. It was an entirely different experience with the Space: 1999 television show. Different and wonderful. I did not know that the CBC was going to show the entire first season but was certainly optimistic that it would. And there was no feeling of disappointment over there not being a third season as yet, or perhaps ever.
The CBC ran a half-hour children's special show on the night thereafter (Sunday, September 18) called Haley's Gift, starring Barry Morse, who played Professor Bergman in Space: 1999's first season that I now was going to be able to view in English. I found his reassuring presence on the Moonbase to be truly a plus for the first season. In Haley's Gift, Morse played an eccentric, old man who moves into a house and befriends a young girl, after she and her friends play pranks on him.
On the following Monday evening, at sunset, my parents and I walked to a variety store, the Pic N' Puff in the York Plaza on Main Street in Fredericton North, and I found the TV Guide magazine for the next week. Space: 1999 was listed at the unusual 2 P.M. airtime, and the synopsis referred to a frozen planet whose inhabitants are immortal, with a soothsayer mentioned in the characters-as-played-by-actors-or-actresses list. It was an episode I had not seen in French. I could tell that it was a first season episode with the mention in characters-as-played-by-actors-or-actresses list, of Season One's Professor Bergman character. I found its novelisation in the last quarter of the Space: 1999 book, Collision Course, and read it, eagerly awaiting a viewing of the episode on Saturday, September 24.
But the local newspaper television listings on Friday, September 23 contained a very upsetting contradiction to the TV Guide magazine listing. CHSJ, the CBC television station in New Brunswick, which TV Guide said would show the ice planet episode along with CBC Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island television stations, was referenced in the newspaper television listings as intending to air something else, a musical offering called Canadian Express, while CBC television stations in the other two Canadian eastern Maritime provinces broadcast the desired episode that I was not to see due to CHSJ's capriciousness.
The newspaper contained a double whammy. In the "TV Mailbag" section was a letter asking what had become of Space: 1999, and the reply was that the television series had ceased production after the second season. So, now I knew that a third Space: 1999 season would not be forthcoming, and I was sorrowful, as the premiere of the new Logan's Run was being shown on CHSJ that evening. I still held onto hope that the newspaper listings were wrong, that TV Guide magazine was right, and that the ice planet episode would be shown on CHSJ on the next day at 2 o'clock. I indulged myself by pouring my eyes over every fascinating detail of the black-and-white photographs from said episode that were included in the Pocket Books edition of writer E.C. Tubb's set of episodic novelisations in the fourth item, Collision Course, of the Space: 1999 book series.
I did not go to my grandparents' place at the usual very early hour that Saturday morning. My father and I went to the Fredericton Market to give away two kittens. And there, I accessed another newspaper's listings, which said the same unpromising thing, that Canadian Express, not Space: 1999, would be shown on CHSJ at 2 o'clock. At home after lunch, I waited with still a glimmer of hope that the desired episode would be shown on the local CBC television station, but at 2 P.M., Canadian Express began. The ice planet episode would remain unseen for me, and deeply compelling! It was a bitterly painful day, sunny though it was, after I had withstood another week of school in dismal Fredericton, for nought.
I stayed awestruck by my viewing of "War Games" on September 17. At school, as I wandered around alone on the playground, the despondent words that Koenig uttered as he floated through space after his Eagle spaceship exploded in "War Games" played on my mental tape recorder. Unnoticed by my evidently devil-may-care new schoolmates, I said the words to myself.
With CHSJ's refusal to show the ice planet episode on September 24, I grabbed upon seeing it the TV Guide for the week of October 1 and nervously looked at the Saturday television listings. Space: 1999 was scheduled for 5 P.M. on all CBC English television stations, but as the magazine's listings had been wrong for the New Brunswick CBC affiliate on September 24, I could not be certain of TV Guide's accuracy for October 1. There was no episode synopsis included, which was strange.
On Friday afternoon after school, my mother walked with me to the Pic N' Puff to buy the local newspaper. On our walk home, the suspense overcame me, and I opened the television listings to look at 5 P.M. on Saturday for Space: 1999, and it was listed for CHSJ!
Spending all day Saturday with my grandparents for watching of cable television channels, I waited anxiously as 5 o'clock approached, wondering what episode would air. Another first season episode began, with a nuclear charge placement procedure on an asteroid. I had not seen this episode in French; it was entirely new to me. The episode was "Collision Course", and I sat enthralled at the tension-filled episode in which Koenig's veracity and authority are questioned after he meets and converses with an alien Queen, who tells him to do nothing to avoid a celestial collision, which will not obliterate either the Moon or her planet. As I watched the episode, I realised that I had the novelisation in the book, Collision Course, with me and read it during the advertising intervals in the pleasing television show.
However, October 8 was to be exactly like September 24. Space: 1999 was scheduled for 2 P.M., and New Brunswick's CHSJ-TV was opting again to show Canadian Express. This time, TV Guide magazine listed such correctly, and the synopsis for the episode that I was not going to be able to see was another one that I had not viewed in French, one in which an alien force invades the body of an Alphan technician, turning him into an energy-consuming monster. The Space: 1999 book, The Space Guardians, contained the novelisation for this episode. On Friday, October 7, my school class was at the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium's swimming pool, and as we were boarding the bus to be conveyed back to our school, I heard someone wish another person a good weekend. I thought to myself that it could be a better weekend if I was able to see the CBC television network's broadcast of Space: 1999. At my grandparents' house on Saturday, I waited for 2 o'clock to see if there was going to be a change of plans at CHSJ, but, alas, there was not. My parents arrived at my grandparents' house shortly thereafter and treated me to a McDonald's meal to boost my spirits, but I was increasingly despondent at the tendency of New Brunswick's only CBC television station to opt out of network Space: 1999 broadcasts. It had to stop. Rather than write a letter to the individual television channel, I chose to write to the television network, informing CBC Television that one of its affiliates was opting out of broadcasting one of its full-network television series.
The episode, "Alpha Child", which I had seen in French, was set to air in English at 6 P.M., on all CBC television stations, on October 15, but 5 P.M. coverage of the World Series caused the episode of Alpha's problematical first childbirth to be shown two hours earlier than listed, at 4 o'clock rather than at 6. And it was televised in New Brunswick on CHSJ! My mother was away on some job-related excursion during that rainy mid-October afternoon, and my father reclined on the living room sofa behind me as I watched the events of "Alpha Child" from a floor seating position. Thereafter, I treated myself to some store-bought chocolate cookies and listened in my room to the audiotape-recording that I had made of "Alpha Child", in wait of my mother's arrival at home to cook a late supper.
In the next week were two very interesting developments! On Wednesday afternoon, which was always a Park Street School pupil's holiday, my father brought me with him to the Fredericton Mall, and while in Beegie's Bookstore, my eyes caught delightful sight of a book entitled, The Making of Space: 1999! I bought it and spent the remainder of the afternoon, indeed most of the remainder of that week, digesting the succulent morsels of information in the book. It was a dream come true! There was a complete first season episode guide and a partial one for the second season. There were many, many anecdotes about the production of the television show, interviews with the actors, letters from fans, everything that a young enthusiast of Space: 1999 desired! I remember walking down the slightly hilly Wallace Avenue to the nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet to obtain some supper, thinking intently about returning home to resume reading the book. A day or two later, I received a letter from the CBC in reply to my letter, informing me that the main television network has no control over what a local affiliate does but promising that Space: 1999 would not be preempted on the television network for the next two weeks. A preemption was planned, however, for November 5.
There had been no Cosmos 1999 on CBC French since "La Mission des Dariens" on August 27. La Femme Bionique had claimed the 8 P.M. airtime on Saturdays, but listed in TV Guide for October 22 was a 5 P.M. broadcast of an episode (no synopsis was given) of Cosmos 1999. However, newspaper listings did not agree with TV Guide. And since the French CBC was not receivable on television rabbit ears at home in Fredericton and I did not desire that day to stay at my grandparents' place all afternoon after my routine Saturday morning cable television viewing for an unlikely airing of Cosmos 1999, I chose to come home early in the afternoon. The episode of Space: 1999 scheduled for 6 P.M. on all CBC English television stations, CHSJ inclusive, was "Another Time, Another Place". I watched Moonbase Alpha temporally duplicate (the story concept for "Another Time, Another Place") as I sat alone in the living room at home while my parents were away visiting with my aunt and uncle. As to the episode that may have aired in French at 5 o'clock, it was probably "Le Domaine du Dragon", a.k.a. "Dragon's Domain", since that episode always followed "La Mission des Dariens" on subsequent CBC French runs of the television series.
Happily, Space: 1999 was back to its 6 P.M. airtime on the English CBC. I hoped that it would stay there constantly for the next several months, because it only seemed prone to preemption by CHSJ when it was shown earlier in the day by the CBC television network. I stopped going to my grandparents' house on Saturdays around this time, preferring to stay near home all day Saturday.
"Black Sun" aired on October 29. That day was memorable for two other reasons. I found and purchased a Space: 1999 utility belt from Consumers Distributing. Black and with a Space: 1999 logo on the buckle, it was not at all like the belts worn in the television programme. A projectile-firing stun gun came with it. And as the "Black Sun" episode was nearing its metaphysical climax, I received a telephone call from Michael, my closest friend in Douglastown with whom I was endeavouring to keep in contact. He invited me back to Douglastown to stay with him on Remembrance Day weekend, and, after more than two months of excruciating loneliness, I jumped at the opportunity to revisit what had been my home village and see an old friend again.
On Sunday, October 30, I went with my parents to Fredericton's Gaiety Theatre for a matinee performance of the much-hyped Star Wars. Circumstantially, the viewing experience was far from pleasurable. Wailing toddlers in the theatre and two teenaged girls situated behind our seats and making incessant noise and bumping the back of my chair did not dispose me to look favourably upon the film in this initial viewing, and, after being exposed to so much publicity and to the accolades from my school peers for the film, I failed to see much essence to it beyond its basic swashbuckling-heroes-race-to-save-the-girl theme. The bi-play between the two droids, See-Threepio and Artoo Detoo, was protracted and annoying, and the young cast of leading characters did not command my adulation and awe as Commander Koenig did in Space: 1999. Unlike the Alphans of Space: 1999, these characters were not in an immediate survival situation. Not until they put themselves in harm's way. The universe was teeming with activity; so, there was no sense of the vastness of space. And the one alien planet shown to any extent, Tatooine, was the least interesting one possible, a desert world of minimal landscape. The heroes went on their own volition into an Imperial fortress to rescue a girl from villains who were dressed more stylishly and whose empire was more technologically dazzling than the drab and paltry Rebels' hardware. I did not see any appeal to the film beyond its visual gimmickry, and even that largely made "the bad guys" seem more appealing than the heroes with whom I was expected to identify. The ending of the film was predictable, even to my eleven-year-old mind. I suppose I was conditioned to not derive a liking of the film for the way that it was being used by my peers to invalidate Space: 1999, but I had at least gone to a theatre to see it. I could appear current to my peers at least by knowing what they were talking about and what "May the Force Be With You" on their T-shirts meant.
As the CBC had informed me in its October letter, Space: 1999 was preempted on November 5, 1977 for coverage of a Progressive Conservative Party convention in Ontario. But that day was still notable in terms of Space: 1999 in that in the morning, as my parents and I were shopping at the Fredericton Mall, I found in an obscure toy store, Cardinal, a toy model of Moonbase Alpha. It had to be assembled and painted, but it was a wonderful find! Naturally, I urged my parents to buy it for me and spent the remainder of that day gluing it together. Included in the kit was a model of Main Mission Control with miniature Alphan figures to paint and glue to the Main Mission floor and thumb-sized Eagle spaceships to sit on the tiny launching pads of the model Moonbase. By the evening, I had the Moonbase Alpha toy model completely put together and painted and sitting on my desk in my bedroom.
On Friday, November 11, my father car-drove me to Douglastown for my long-weekend visit with my friend, Michael. While there, I played Space: 1999, of course, with Michael indoors on the dark and damp Friday afternoon. In particular, I wanted for us to enact the ice planet episode I had not as yet seen but had only read in novelisation form in the book, Collision Course. And we did. Knowing that the episode scheduled to be shown on Saturday, November 12 was "Dragon's Domain", which featured a horrible, octopod monster, I brought my Space: 1999 vinyl record that had a rather poor adaptation of the episode and my Astral Quest book that contained the episode's novelisation. We went to Chatham on Saturday afternoon, which was sunny and warm, and returned to Michael's house for a supper of macaroni and cheese, and I awaited with trepidation the start of the monster episode at 6 o'clock.
A college football game exceeded its allotted airtime and cut into that of Space: 1999. The football game ended at about 5 minutes after 6 P.M., and the CBC joined Space: 1999 already in progress, with the episode's prologue and titles missed, coming in on Helena asking the troubled, nightmare-stricken Cellini if he had had a traumatic dream. Though I had read the novelisation and listened to the vinyl record, seeing the episode unfold with my friend and his family was a for-life-memorable and fascinating experience. An early scene of Cellini looking out of a viewport at the stars was very eerie, and the flashback sequence of the voyage of the Ultra Probe, accompanied by Albinoni's Adagio, emphasising the lonely emptiness of space, was haunting and sombrely appealing, giving to this episode a rather mythic grandeur. I do recall during the first stoppage of the episode for CBC advertisements, seeing a thirty-second promotion for the Toronto Santa Claus parade to be broadcast Sunday afternoon on the CBC. Quite appropriate, as Cellini refers to Father Christmas later in the "Dragon's Domain" episode. Knowing in advance about the monster and what it would do to the Ultra Probe crew, I could not bear to watch, but I heard its crazy noises and the terrified screams of its victims, sounds which combined with my knowledge of the monster's appearance to certainly give me nightmares for years to follow!
There was no doubt that experiencing this particular episode in my former home habitat with an old, dear friend after being apart for three months from there and from him, was going to be very, very cogent. But I do not think that my friend or his family really understood how affected I was by the experience. As The Muppet Show was being shown immediately after "Dragon's Domain" on CHSJ, I reread the Astral Quest novelisation of the episode and did an audiotaped interview with Michael in which he asked me what I had thought of the episode which we had just experienced, about the monster with tentacles and an eye, "the size of a plate." And I stated to him my initial, disturbing impressions.
I rode a S.M.T. bus back to Fredericton on the next day, Sunday, November 13, in the afternoon, as rain poured and the windows of the bus kept fogging. It was a particularly busy bus run that day as I had to sit at the very back of the vehicle, which was unusual, next to a man who kept wiping away the fog on the side window. Throughout the journey back to Fredericton, I kept thinking about the episode that I had seen, reading more of the novelisation. I had, as usual, recorded the episode on audiocassette and could scarcely wait to reach my home and to listen to the audiotape recording made at my friend's place.
On Monday, November 14, I listened to my "Dragon's Domain" audiotape before leaving home for school, and for most of that day was almost entirely distracted from the events at school by the dialogue from the horrifying Space: 1999 episode which kept playing in my mental tape recorder. That afternoon, I braved the first snowfall of the season to walk to the Pic N' Puff store after school to obtain the TV Guide magazine for the following week, and in said magazine found the synopsis for the episode, "Earthbound", slated to air at 6 P.M. on Saturday, November 18. For the remainder of that school week, all of the aspects of "Dragon's Domain", the 1996 Ultra Probe that met with ghoulish disaster, the obsession of Tony Cellini with the monster that killed his crew, the widespread doubt of his story, the final confrontation of Cellini with the tentacled creature, replayed again and again in my mind as I endured another lonely five days in my new but not congenial suburban environs. I would come to regard the "Dragon's Domain" episode as a post-move-away bridge with my old Douglastown existence, an episode that I witnessed in my former surroundings with an old, best friend, after many weeks of Fredericton loneliness. Being back in Douglastown again for a few days had emphasised all the more the difference of the two communities, just how alienated I was from my new environment, and how much I hankered to be back in the old place. My fascination with Space: 1999 and with this dark episode that I had viewed in the locale wherein I was now no longer an inhabiting part, filled my unappealing, loner's existence in Fredericton, and the coming of winter only intensified the feelings of desolation. The sombre Adagio music used in "Dragon's Domain" and enregistered onto my audiocassette was coinciding rather handily with my lonesome condition and the increasing bleakness of late autumn amid the unpaved, sand-dusty street and the grassless landscape encompassing most of the houses of Linden Crescent in Fredericton.
"Earthbound" was transmitted as scheduled with no disruptions on November 18. This episode, which I had partially and rather confusingly seen by way of the French-language Cosmos 1999 on October 16, 1976, was fully comprehensible to me now that I was receiving it in English, with the benefit of several viewings of Space: 1999 first season entries and an episode synopsis in The Making of Space: 1999. This episode with benevolent aliens and an obsessive but predictable antagonist on Alpha who wants at any cost to return to Earth was in overall mood quite pleasingly light, something of a relief from the gruesome and ghastly horrors of the week prior. Unfortunately, some weeks later, my audiotape recorder destroyed the audiocassette tape on which I had recorded "Earthbound".
On Wednesday, November 23, as I was walking to the Pic N' Puff store on my one afternoon of the week that was free from school, I encountered a dark-haired, young fellow, named David B., who was riding a motocross-design bicycle, and who had a number of days earlier at school noticed the Alpha Moonbase badge that I had ordered from the toy company that had manufactured the Moonbase Alpha assembly model and which upon receiving in the mail I had my mother sew on my blue autumn-winter jacket. My new acquaintance had told to me that he liked Space: 1999 too, and reiterated his shared fancy as he and I met again on that Wednesday afternoon. A friendship, my first in Fredericton after three long, lonely months, started to form. David B. invited me to his house, which was on the same street as mine, and showed to me his collection of Space: 1999 items, and my chin dropped many inches when I saw that he had the large Mattel Eagle spaceship that a friend in Douglastown had possessed and which I had not been able to find in any store. Moreover, he had the equally elusive Commander Koenig doll and several items that were new to me: black-and-white and colour comic books, bubble gum cards, another vinyl record of Space: 1999 episode adaptations, with "Breakaway", "Death's Other Dominion" (the ice planet episode), and "Mission of the Darians", and a Halloween costume! Compared to what he had, my collection was minuscule.
David and I "paled around" for several days thereafter. On Saturday, November 26, the CBC showed "End of Eternity" at 6 P.M., and we watched the episode in our respective homes and talked about it on the telephone immediately after its broadcast. He had already seen every first season episode in 1975-6, and though I had witnessed a number of them in the French language, many first season episodes were still by me unseen and compellingly mysterious. Episode novelisations were not enough to gain a sense of the feel of many episodes. I had to see them, to experience them with my eyes and ears. "End of Eternity" on November 26 was disappointing in that the New Brunswick CBC Television affiliate, CHSJ, had decided to start inserting its own commercials into the CBC's advertising slots, often very clumsily, cutting into the episode, sometimes by thirty seconds. This annoying practice by CHSJ would persist for the next month and start again in February, 1978.
With the discovery of what my new friend had in his collection, I visited shopping establishments in Fredericton with renewed determination and vigour, and within just a week, I found the other vinyl record that David had, by relentlessly flipping through the vinyl record selections at the downtown King's Place Mall's Kelly's Stereo Mart, and came upon a toy store at the top floor of a old-fashioned downtown shop building on York Street, where, big as life, was a long-sought battery-operated Space: 1999 stun gun like the Star Trek phaser which I had found in Chatham during the previous summer.
There was no Space: 1999 episode telecasted by the CBC on December 3, and the episode on December 10, "The Full Circle", was transmitted at 2:30 P.M.. I was worried that CHSJ might not show it since the CBC's early afternoon, i.e. 2 P.M., airings in September and October, of the episodes, "Death's Other Dominion" and "Force of Life", had been bumped on CHSJ in favour of Canadian Express. But CHSJ promised to me in a letter in response to my pleas for no more local preemptions that it would do everything possible to air the Space: 1999 episode on the tenth day of December.
"The Full Circle", which aired on the CBC and on CHSJ as scheduled, was another episode which I had not seen in French. It was refreshing to view the Alphans walking about on a lush, green planet, something that had not been shown on Space: 1999 on the CBC for months! Though I found the Sandra character's incessant screaming quite tiresome, it was a welcome change of scenery. The only Season One episode to be filmed out-of-doors.
On Friday, December 16, I was shopping with my parents at the Fredericton Mall, when I went into Beegie's Bookstore and saw a batch of new Space: 1999 second season episode novelisation books, Mind-Breaks of Space, The Space-Jackers, and The Time-Fighters. Planets of Peril, which had been available in Newcastle in May and which I had obtained there, was now on the shelf at Beegie's Bookstore with the other Season 2 books. I persuaded my parents to buy two of them, The Space-Jackers and The Time Fighters, and spent most of the day on Saturday, December 17 reading them and remembering such episodes as "Seed of Destruction", "The Exiles", "Space Warp", and "Devil's Planet" from Space: 1999's second season. "Guardian of Piri", was shown on the CBC and CHSJ at 6 P.M., and as it was another first season episode that I had yet to experience in English or French, I awaited eagerly the 6 P.M. broadcast and watched intently, alone in the house whilst my parents were away for an after-dinner visit with my aunt and uncle, as the Alphans all evacuated to the dead but enticing planet Piri, with its hypnotic machine, the Guardian, its purple skies, and its white ball imagery. I then listened to my audiotape recording of "Guardian of Piri" repeatedly that evening.
On Wednesday of the following week, I purchased at Beegie's Bookstore the other then-available book of second season episode novelisations, Mind-Breaks of Space.
Saturday, December 24 was a memorable Christmas eve for three reasons. In the early afternoon, I found, at a grocery store of all places, at the same mini-mall as the Pic N' Puff store, a toy Moonbuggy that ran on its own power when its wheels were stroked several times across a surface. The explosions-filled, exciting episode, "The Infernal Machine", was telecast on the CBC at 6 o'clock. I watched and audiotaped it while at my grandparents' house, where my parents and I had come for supper and to open Christmas presents. It was the only time that we ever opened our presents on Christmas Eve. I received a few Space: 1999 colouring books, and a pair of Star Trek walkie-talkie communicators in lieu of the long-sought Space: 1999 commlock.
1977's final day was bright and sunny. At Beegie's Bookstore in the A.M., I found yet another Space: 1999 book of second season novelisations, entitled The Psychomorph and containing adaptations of "The Lambda Factor" and the two-part "The Bringers of Wonder". The first season episode run on the CBC at 6 o'clock that evening was the thoroughly enjoyable "The Last Sunset", an apt choice of episode to broadcast on a New Year's Eve, its titled reference being to a final sunset.
1978 was definitely the year that Space: 1999 was on the wane. I came across no new episode novelisations, even though there were still five second season episodes not yet adapted into a book. My efforts to locate the Mattel Eagle spaceship were fruitless, even though they included a day's excursion to Presque Isle, Maine. I could not find any of the comic magazines that my new friend, David B., had, at any of Fredericton's book shops, including book shops selling second-hand merchandise. I considered myself fortunate to have found what I had. Still, there were some more surprises "in store". In mid-January, I came upon an Eagle 1 spaceship assembly model kit at the same Fredericton store, Cardinal, that had sold the Moonbase Alpha toy model. I put together the Eagle in one day, but its plastic parts were rapidly perishable as I played with that model Eagle nearly every day. David told to me that he saw a foot-sized toy metal Eagle spaceship at the top floor of a downtown Levene's department store. My father bought it on Monday, February 20 and had it home for me, sitting on the dining room table, when I came home from school that afternoon. I had many months of enjoyment with that metal Eagle as it slowly disintegrated under heavy use.
Episodes were run consistently on all CBC television stations at 6 P.M. through January and February. And in early March, when episodes of the first season shown in the previous September started to be run again, there were two episodes preempted by CHSJ the past autumn, namely "Death's Other Dominion" and "Force of Life", that I hoped that I would finally be able to see. These episodes were rerun, and shown this time in New Brunswick on CHSJ, on March 18 and April 8, to my utter delight!
But frustration had become the norm. New Brunswick's CBC television station, CHSJ, recommenced putting its own commercials into Space: 1999, often inserting one too many 30-second advertisements so that this much time was lost from the episodes. CBC Television network rerun of "Collision Course" on March 25 was affected in this way, and the episode was, in New Brunswick, divested of its title and special guest star, writer, and director credits. Though "Force of Life" aired on April 8 at 4 P.M. without any ill effects, the New Brunswick CBC affiliate resumed its disruptive ways for the network rerun of "Alpha Child" on April 15, showing it two hours later, at 6 P.M., than the main CBC network's airtime of 4 P.M., and inserting commercials of its own into all advertisement intervals in the episode. "Another Time, Another Place", rerun on April 22, was shown at 4 o'clock, despite the scheduling of it in newspaper television guides for 6 o'clock. And CHSJ did its inserting of its own commercials, and the epilogue was lost due to the imposition of one commercial too many. "Black Sun" was rerun on April 29 at 4 P.M., with its epilogue partly lost due to the local television station's mischief.
I looked forward eagerly to the CBC's rebroadcast of "Dragon's Domain", an episode that had been joined five minutes in progress due to an overlong college football game in November past. As episodes were being rerun in the same order as their initial showing, "Dragon's Domain" was due to be repeated on May 6, but I saw scarlet red when I saw the TV Guide listing for that Saturday on the prior Monday. The episode was scheduled to air at 4 o'clock, but not in New Brunswick. CHSJ was going to instead broadcast a provincial Liberal Party leadership convention. I put pen to paper immediately to request to the New Brunswick CBC affiliate that it videotape the CBC's rerun of "Dragon's Domain" for transmission at a later date. No response to that letter was ever received, but on Friday, May 5, the Fredericton newspaper television guide listed Space: 1999 to air at 6 P.M. after the leadership convention. However, according to TV Guide, the convention was to last from 3:30 to 7 o'clock. I, for once, hoped for the newspaper television guide to be correct. But it was not. The convention lasted until almost 7 P.M., and the episode did not air in whole or in part. Not in New Brunswick. How I envied the people in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island!
But "Dragon's Domain" had indeed been videotaped off of the television network by CHSJ for possible broadcast after a short convention. The convention's length meant that the episode could not be shown at 6 P.M. on May 6, but it did air, completely by surprise, on a Sunday, July 16, at 6 P.M., in place of- strangely enough- Walt Disney! Somehow, I think that the sight of the monster devouring and regurgitating its victims would be quite too intense for viewers expecting to see Mickey Mouse. But the sight of the episode starting, an episode whose opening five minutes I had never seen, was exhilarating! I scrambled for my audiotape recorder, which was in my bedroom, tore it free from its power socket, and rushed to place it next to the television. I did this in less than thirty seconds! I watched intently several scenes that I had not seen before, but the part of the episode in which Helena talks to Cellini about his nightmare was eliminated from this particular broadcast, as were some scenes of the Ultra Probe's journey. Still, it was a joy seeing the episode, and at such an unexpected hour and day! On the following morning, Mike J., one of my new Fredericton friends came to me when I was outside with my audiotape recorder and recording of "Dragon's Domain" and said that, "Space: 1999 was on Walt Disney last night!" Thank heavens! I was having extreme difficulty convincing another friend, David B., that the episode did in fact air in place of Walt Disney. I could scarcely believe it myself!
"Earthbound" was rerun on all CBC Television stations on sunny May 13 at 4 P.M.. Eric, a new friend of mine, watched Space: 1999 for the first time that day and said that he was impressed by the maquillage of the Caldorians and the poetically-judicial fate of Commissioner Simmonds. Earlier on that day, I had bought the novelisation of Star Wars from Beegie's Bookstore in the Fredericton Mall and an Artoo-Detoo action toy figure from the Zellers department store in the same mall.
Space: 1999 was listed in TV Guide to return to its 6 P.M. airtime, immediately after golf, on May 20 for the rerun of "End of Eternity", but newspaper television guides told rather a different story. The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, usually shown on New Brunswick CBC station CHSJ at 7 P.M., was scheduled at 6 in the newspaper television guides, and Space: 1999 was nowhere to be seen. For that day, which started sunny but became overcast by early afternoon, my parents and I went to Douglastown for a visit, during which Michael, my closest friend there, and I talked for an hour or two in his front yard. As far as I know, Space: 1999's "End of Eternity" episode was not broadcast on that day in New Brunswick.
The summer of 1978 was Space: 1999's final fling on the full English-language CBC. It moved to 3 P.M. with the repeat of "The Full Circle" on May 27 and with but one exception stayed at that airtime until September, when it disappeared into oblivion in favour of Mork from Ork and increased sports programming.
During its last few months as a CBC television network offering (all first season reruns), Space: 1999 was preempted two weeks in a row Canada-wide for the first time on July 1 and 8- and such happened again on August 12 and 19. In addition, two episodes, "The Infernal Machine" on June 10 and "Matter of Life and Death" on August 26, were marred by sound problems. Not only was the whole windstorm sequence in the latter episode without audio but a "trouble with sound" message was printed at screen bottom. And "The Last Sunset" on June 17 started five minutes late, with a Space: 1999 card (Season 2 Koenig and Helena dressed in anoraks and an Eagle between them) presented for the duration of the delay. The preemption on July 1 was not anticipated. When airtime came, the CBC announcer stated that the episode ("Voyager's Return") scheduled was unavailable for broadcast. Similarly, the August 12 episode, intended to be "The Testament of Arkadia", was bumped from broadcast due to a Papal funeral and the much-hyped Commonwealth Games. In New Brunswick, a golfing television show, Par 27, ran before Space: 1999 during the summer of 1978, and my viewing of Par 27 was always memorably stressful because I never could be sure that Space: 1999 would be shown- even if it was listed to be telecast.
With the CBC television network's premiere of Mork and Mindy on September 9 and no Space: 1999 anywhere to be found on the Saturday schedule, it looked like Moonbase Alpha's time on Canadian television had come to an end. I shed several tears when this realisation struck, having excused myself from a group of friends when I saw the TV Guide listings.
Actually, Space: 1999 was granted a one-week reprieve, appearing once more on September 16 with a 3 P.M. rerun of "The Troubled Spirit". Then, Space: 1999 was gone. No announcement was issued about this, and I hoped for some weeks thereafter that my beloved television show might reappear. It did not, and by the middle of October, I accepted, grudgingly, that my favourite television series had been cancelled. So ended 2 years of exciting cosmic travel with John Koenig and the crew of Moonbase Alpha.