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.
Also, this article constitutes a supplement to my main autobiography, McCorry's Memoirs. It straddles the boundary between arguably the two most distinctly different sections of my life's story, overlapping my life's Era 2 (1972-7) and Era 3 (1977-82). My documenting of those two life eras contains in itself many a memory of Space: 1999, but this particular compendium of Space: 1999 memories is rather more detailed in remembering the weekly broadcasts of the television series in its first airings and first repeats on television across Canada and my response then to them and to the television show as a whole, though not comprehensive. Every one of my memoirs post-1976 is essential to knowing the full story of my association with the television series known as Space: 1999. I would emphatically advise persons reading this article to also read my entire life's story.
Across Canada, on the English-language Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television network, Space: 1999's second season was shown first, introduced by the Season 1 premiere episode, "Breakaway". The remainder of the first season was run in 1977-8 after Season 2 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 plastic 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 slowly 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.
And from the evidence from my own eyes, that announcer was not exaggerating. The action was gripping in its dynamism. And the look of this upcoming television offering commanded my rapt attention, every time that a promotion for it flashed on the colour television screen in the living room of my parents and I. In those tantalising glimpses of exciting experiences in other worlds, I could perceive a sharpness and contrast of image and a richness and diversity of colour that had not been customary for live-action television. The Adventures of Black Beauty, Adventures in Rainbow Country, Welcome Back, Kotter, and other weekend CBC fare, this certainly was not. I did not comprehend the technical reasons as to why, but Space: 1999 sported a much more fetching look than did anything else, even science fiction (Planet of the Apes, The Six Million Dollar Man), that I had hitherto seen. I was to experience celestial bodies and alien environments in a way that I had not done before; this was not a black-and-white documentary film, or animated cartoon, that would be "blasting me off" to stunning sights of the cosmos. Planets, asteroids, stars, and galaxies were going to look more vivid and at least as realistic as any everyday place on Earth shown on a cathode ray tube. And colourful. Exquisitely colourful.
My mother said that this Space: 1999 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 air 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 of different colours 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 visualisations 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 and his 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.
My awe was as much with the look of what I had seen as with the story developments and nature of phenomena. The brown sands of the surface of Psychon, the red lava pouring from volcanoes, the multi-coloured liquids of Psyche, the oranges of the corridors of Psychon's underground habitat, and the gorgeous orange-pink and blue shades of reconnaissance jackets. I had not before seen such a rich tableau of colour in live-action entertainment. And it promised many a magnificent visual experience in many weeks to come!
During the next week at school, I was in a daze, trying to come to terms with the troubling impressions that I had received, marvelling over the look of what I had seen, 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 2 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. Tube visuals 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 coloured-liquid-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. And the sight of the colourful reconnissance jackets amidst Earth-like surroundings was a delight to the eye, one that I would enjoy again in weeks to come. 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 2, 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 that it was. The same went for "The AB Chrysalis" a week later, with its absorbing visualisations in rooms of bouncing white spheres and the stoicism of the Alphans as they faced what they thought was the end of their existence. "The AB Chrysalis" was replete with visualisations nothing less than utterly fantastic. The green planet and its blue moons, the red cavern walls and floors of shades of yellow, the bouncing balls and their otherworldly sound, a stylised schematic of Earth's solar system, and the green of chlorine gas. Plus Koenig and Carter in their orange and yellow spacesuits. And, most impressive of all, the energy arcs joining the moons and discharging spectacular green luminescent blast waves, and the Eagle of John, Alan, and Maya moving about space with planet and moons in same image. I was in awe of such sights as the end credits were shown, followed by a couple of CHSJ-TV commercials and start of The Muppet Show at 7 P.M.. And 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. All of it delivered with colourful and sharp, rich in contrast visual effects and the very best of vivid film-making with the actors on set. 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.
One of the moving images of "Catacombs of the Moon" that I did think to be impressive was the look of a heat storm. A rotating cluster of glowing yellow circles. I was intrigued at the Heart of Kalthon in "Seed of Destruction" bearing exact resemblance to the "Catacombs of the Moon" heat storm. Two sequentially broadcast episodes with the same visualisation, and it was equally as striking as an impressive sight, second time around, amidst the blues of the asteroid cave and "hall of mirrors". A setting that in its contrast with the beautiful orange-pink jacket of Commander Koenig and his mirrored duplicate, had already proved to be a feast of appreciation for my young eyes. I adored the look of "Seed of Destruction". Including all of the scenes on Alpha with the Koenig replica in that lovely orange-pink reconnaissance jacket, moving about the beige corridors and yellow lighting panels of Moonbase.
On December 4, Space: 1999 was preempted on CBC's English television network as a result of CBC transmission of an American football game, and if it had been shown that day by CBC Television, it would have been unseen in New Brunswick because of CHSJ's telecast of a Saint John Christmas telethon from noon to 8 P.M.. My feeling of loss of a weekly Space: 1999 broadcast was quite acute. That was the first week on which I was denied a broadcast of Space: 1999, since the debut of the television series on the full CBC Television network on 11 September. 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 2 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 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 understand scarcely 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 charismatic, schemingly deceptive anti-matter alien Vindrus constituted the episode, "A Matter of Balance". Sunim was a refreshing, sunny planetary setting, impressively depicted with visual effects and outdoor location filming, and with John, Maya, Tony, and Fraser at the centre of the action, with the future of Alpha very much at stake in a transference between universes of matter and anti-matter, this was a thoroughly engaging story. And Eagles in their superlative "coolness" were very much present in the episode, including two of them parked together on the planet's surface, the also "cool" Alphan laser gun and Commlock were part of the action, and under sunlit skies and amidst leafy vegetation were the lovely reconnaissance jackets of Koenig and Maya and the red jacket of Fraser and the bright yellow garment of the alien, Vindrus. Exquisite stuff. I listened to my audiocassette recording of it 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. It started with a nebulous cloud formation in space, depicted with Space: 1999 flair, with maximum contrast and sharpness, and gorgeous colour, set against a enigmatic, distant star cluster. And not long after the cloud is manifest on all of Alpha's monitor screens, people throughout Moonbase are collapsing into unconsciousness. Alphans including Commander Koenig. Before the viewer can adjust to this condition, the Moonbase is invaded by a creature sent from the cloud. Its mission: to filch Alpha's life-support system. What Alphans who are still on their feet must mount a defense. Some ten minutes into the episode, the battle is joined and the stakes are clear. Grimly clear. Almost every piece of incidental music in the exciting episode was entirely new to my ears. New and very appealing to my taste. The action beats together with the sedate melodies, one of them solemn and tender and the other upbeat and conveying a sense of recovery and belonging, had me smiling with appreciation. There were also new "stings" at end of acts. I loved it all. 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 music combined with the acting yielded that effect, an effect no doubt intended by writer and producer. Although Koenig was sidelined, "The Beta Cloud" was a fast favourite episode of mine. It had non-stop excitement, tenderness, humour, superlative music, a shown large array of parts of Alpha (Command Centre, Medical Centre, Travel Tube Reception, Weapons Section, Life-Support Section, Tech Lab 5, Hydroponics, and a storage compartment), a richly coloured yellow-green space phenomenon (the cloud), and a hair-raising final confrontation between heroes and antagonist. 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.
On Cosmos 1999 on January 15 was "Le Cerveau ordinateur" ("Brian the Brain"). I vividly remember watching Koenig, Helena, and Maya forcing the psychotic robot, Brian, into space on the black-and-white television in my parents' room that evening. I did not know it then, but this would be that last time that I would watch "Brian the Brain" in any version thereof (English or French) until November, 1984, for "Brian the Brain" would become one of the most difficult episodes for me to have occasion to see.
It was around this time, mid-January, 1977, that all grades in our school were regularly being 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.
Airing on January 22 was "The Lambda Factor". A riveting episode with a distraught Commander Koenig troubled by memories of a space station disaster that killed two of his friends and his feelings of guilt at having to leave those friends to die. And one that showed a restive and quarrelsome Alpha populace after over two thousand days adrift in space on a runaway Moon. And an unhinged woman with deadly psychic powers. A woman named Carolyn Powell. A Powell with powers. I loved the similarity in words. And Martin Landau delivered a superlative performance. I would appreciate it rather more later in my life than I did on that frosty Saturday evening in January of 1977. But I still was very impressed by it, then.
I had for some time a false memory of "The Lambda Factor". An image of Koenig stepping outside of Alpha to the Lunar surface, ostensibly to do some sort of analysis of the Lambda cloud. From whence that came, I have but one idea. I might have conflated my experiencing of "The Lambda Factor" on 22 January, 1977 with that of the Cosmos 1999 offering of the same evening of that date, for there was indeed a scene in the latter of Koenig (and others) going outside of Alpha and onto the surface of the Moon. One thing that I do remember accurately, however, is a CBC edit to "The Lambda Factor" to shorten the length of the film print of the episode. In the first act, after Maya asks Koenig if Eagles are being sabotaged and the Commander says, "Could be. Alan's checking it out," there was a conspicuous film splice accompanied by a momentary loss of sound, and a scene with Alan Carter and Chief Engineer Pete Garforth was joined, with Alan saying to Garforth, "You were grounded after your crash." The portion of the episode missing included a full scene of Tony questioning Carolyn Powell about a pressure device in a technical laboratory and the first three lines of dialogue in Alan's conversation with Garforth. I did not know what had been cut by CBC English that evening until I saw "The Lambda Factor" in its entirety in French in late May of 1977.
And on Cosmos 1999 on January 22, I saw the first season episode, "L'Enfant d'Alfa", a.k.a. "Alpha Child". For some reason unbeknownst to me, 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. "L'Enfant d'Alfa"'s broadcast on 22 January was sandwiched between "Le Cerveau ordinateur" of 15 January and "Taybor, le commercant" ("The Taybor") of 29 January. All three were watched by me in black and white on our upstairs television (then in my parents' bedroom).
I had seen "The Beta Cloud" on January 15 all by myself in our living room. Starting with "The Lambda Factor" on January 22 and lasting until mid-March, my parents watched Space: 1999 with me. It was a McCorry family experience, Space: 1999, on all of those Saturday evenings from 6 to 7 P.M.. And I cherish those memories. As I do all of my rememberings of interactions with friends at school, in school year 1976-7, on the subject of Space: 1999.
The broadcasts on January 29 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. The fit of these two episodes with the episode airing on the week before the pair of them and on the week after the pair of 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, discretely differed. 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".
When I saw the "hook" of "One Moment of Humanity" on January 29, I recognised it from my aborted viewing of Cosmos 1999 in the evening of Christmas Day, four weeks earlier. Maya with a weird hair style and in a bizarre "curtain rack" dress, everyone still as statues in a darkened Command Centre, and an alien woman suddenly appearing among them. I was so very pleased to at last be able to see the entirety of that episode, in my mother tongue. I adored it. I fancied the look and the idea of the indoor garden of planet Vega, the sights of that planet's inhospitable, icy surface and how that alien world looked from space (I did not yet know that these sights were recycled footage from another episode), John and Maya's jackets (his the orange-pink reconnaissance anorak, hers an orange parka), and Helena (in a lovely pink party dress) and Tony exploring the planet's enclosed city's gorgeous, fashioned-from-seeming-marble corridors, at back of which was an alien computer technology that was pretty, suitably outlandish, and realistically functional as a piece of fantastic design. There were two "twists" to the story, and for me, they both worked, for I was not expecting them at all until their reveal. Neither were my parents, who were watching the episode with me. One of those two story "twists" involved a duplicate Alpha. I believed that Helena and Tony really were on Moonbase, just the two of them, after some kind of time warp put them there after the Moon moved two light-years from Vega. As Helena and Tony surmised, everyone on Alpha must have transported to Vega. And they, Helena and Tony, were now beyond, far beyond, Eagle reach of the planet. I was riveted by their lonely predicament as it so credibly appeared true. Of course, the awareness of what had really happened soon started to dawn as the aliens Zamara and Zarl were shown to be observing Helena and Tony from outside the vision of the two Alphans, and was a couple of minutes later fully made known to the audience, as Helena said that she and Tony had been placed on an exact replica of Alpha. I loved this "twist" to the story. The audacity of it was marvellous, I thought. And the relief that I felt in knowing that Helena and Tony were not out of reach of their loved ones and everyone else on Alpha, was very, very palpable. And I appreciated the determination of Koenig, in episode's final act, to withstand the aliens' attempt to provoke a violent jealous reaction from him, whilst Maya tries to deactivate the computer on which the aliens, humanoid androids, are dependent for their functionality. And I loved the music throughout the episode, including some of the Second Movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Beethoven was my favourite composer of classical music, and his Ninth Symphony was the one I liked most.
I remember seeing on January 29 a preview for a late-night airing of the movie, A Town Called Hell, in which Martin Landau was one of the actors. That A Town Called Hell broadcast's preview's selected scenes provided to me my first sights of Martin Landau in an actor's role other than that of John Koenig.
When I saw "All That Glisters" in French, back on 11 December, 1976, I viewed it on a black-and-white television screen. Now, with my seeing of it at last in English, on 5 February, 1977, I was experiencing it in full colour, and oh, how lovely the colours in it were! The colours were magnificent in depth and range, the look of the episode very much "popping" on the screen of our living room Zenith floor model television. The red sky and brown and grey sand of the desert world and the yellow-orange glow of the antagonist rock formations of the episode, those "geological marvels" later effecting sudden conversions to blue, green, and, finally, red, were more supremely dazzling to my eyes. And set against all of this were the orange-pink reconnaissance jacket of Koenig, Russell's sky blue reconnaissance jacket, Carter's azure blue parka, Maya's dark green jacket, and the dark khaki of the eccentric "cowboy" coat of Dave Reilly. And then there was the flashing lights of instruments in the Eagle and the dark red and intense violet of the planet as it was viewed from space. Definitely the most lavish colour palette of all of the Space: 1999 that I had seen to that day. And it enhanced to the most exquisite degree one of the most stimulating-of-imagination alien environments and bizarre form of sentient alien life and bewildering of episodic experiences of the Alphan heroes, of the entire television series. I was agape at the visual beauty of the episode. And not only the colours, but the production design of the planet's surface and of the rocks that were perplexing and menacing the Alpha landing party, and even Dave Reilly's "futuristic cowboy" attire. The Laboratory class of Eagle was also a triumph in production design. And the music! Almost every one of my most favourite pieces of incidental music of Space: 1999 could be heard in the episode. And I loved how the Alphans changed their approach to managing the crisis of the hijacking rock in the Eagle as the episode progressed and they became better aware of the sentient rocks' powers, predicament, and purpose.
Also, the title of "All That Glisters" looked so very right as it lit the screen beneath a view of an Eagle coming to a landing on the arid planet. From my experience of its French variant, I had christened the episode as "The Powerful Mineral". "All That Glisters" looked, sounded, to me, so much more poetic. True, I did not know what "glisters" meant, exactly. But it did seem to be part of a futuristic transmutation of the familiar saying, "All that glitters is not gold."
And CBC added a freshness to the episode with some deviation from its usual practice of advertising placement. There was no interval for advertising between "hook" and first act; the episode went from fade-out of its "hook" (i.e. from a view of an aglow rock formation on the planet) direct to episode title. The first interruption of the episode for advertisement, came after Helena pronounced Tony dead, to the astonishment of everyone present, and the rock formation on the planet was seen again. After two promotions of other CBC programming, the episode was back, with an outdoor view of the Eagle. It was an inspired place to position an interval, as a viewer could not have been more incentivised to "stay tuned" than after a regular character beloved by many a viewer, was declared dead. When the episode was repeated months later, however, all intervals were in their standard placements.
Tony was not dead, however. The rock aboard the Eagle had just stopped his heart, and somehow was allowing for all other body functions to continue. An amazing concept, that, I felt. And by end of the episode, Tony was free from the rock's power and fully back to normal.
The thrilling "The Seance Spectre" was shown on CBC English on February 12. The action was fast and furious. Koenig had a mutiny on his hands, a proto-planet of choking atmosphere to reconnoitre, and a collision course to avert. A planet in the early stages of formation. I had not expected to see that in Space: 1999, and, as usual, the production designer and visual effects team delivered something quite wonderful and stunning- and with a spectacular Eagle crash on it, to boot. An Eagle crash and a subsequent re-launch of the damaged Alpha spacecraft. A re-launch from the planet and a flight to Alpha by remote control, together with one of my favourite selections of Space: 1999 action music, as John and Maya struggled to survive in an Eagle cabin with insufficient oxygen supply for the flight. Maya used her powers to extend the available oxygen, turning herself into a plant. I thought that nothing short of awesome. And it was exceeded by a most dazzling glimpse of an Alpha Eagle hangar as a Launch Pad with the damaged Eagle thereon lowered to a cellar level. The realistic-looking visuals for that had me swooning. And there was a cute delivery of dialogue by Helena and John at end of second act as John revived in the Eagle cabin boarded by Helena, Tony, Alan. It evoked an expression of amusement by my mother that my audiotape recorder did not "pick up", as scene faded to black for a mid-episode advertisement interval. The excitement did not "let up" as Alpha was evacuated and Koenig had to set a trigger for a Moon-course-altering atomic explosion on the Lunar surface, fending off attempts by the lead mutineer to kill him. 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. Koenig's gambit for preventing collision of Moon and proto-planet was successful, and Alphans shared an epilogue of genial familiarity and levity to the accompaniment of the same recovery and belonging music used for "The Beta Cloud"'s epilogue.
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.
March 5's provision of Cosmos 1999 was "Une autre terre" ("New Adam, New Eve"). I was able to watch it in colour on the living room television, which my parents were uninterested in using in the 8 P.M.-to-9 P.M. hour on that evening. Why, I do not remember. That was the first Cosmos 1999 broadcast that I viewed in colour, and the episode was a good one. I had not seen it since it had aired in English on October 16. CBC English had run it rather early in episode broadcast sequence, whereas in French it was not seen until around the middle of second season run, betwixt "Les Chrysalides A B C" ("The AB Chrysalis") and "Le Secret de la caverne" ("Seed of Destruction"). I did not know then what "Une autre terre" meant in English, but it was not what I would have expected for a French titling for "New Adam, New Eve". Why not "Nouveau Adam, Nouvelle Eve"? The French titling for "Seed of Destruction" was very odd, also. Definitely not the words, seed, of, and destruction, translated into French.
It was nice to be reunited with the planet of "New Adam, New Eve", but I craved with impatience to see some new planetfall for the Alphans.
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. That episode, having the title of "The Immunity Syndrome", was a veritable tour-de-force. I sat before the living room television, my parents in seats behind me, at 6 P.M. on 12 March. Preceding Space: 1999 that day had been Labatt Brier Canadian curling championships. I was rather anxious that the curling coverage would not finish in time for an non-truncated serving of Space: 1999 But all was good; The Brier was done at a minute before 6 P.M.. And after a couple of CHSJ-TV commercials and television station identification, I enjoyed as I always did the Space: 1999 second season main title sequence, and then was whisked away to an alien world in a distant galaxy, with my new audiocassette recorder already activated for usage in its primary function.
From the TV Guide synopsis, I had been expecting to see just John and Tony in peril on a desolate world. And instead did I find 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- and corroding the Eagles. There was green vegetation and Earth-like blue sky. But the planet had rather a forbidding ambiance to it, and strange, spookish whistling sounds were heard constantly in the distance. The whole first act of the episode, with John's team chasing after a brain-damaged, "flipped-out" Tony, followed by a spectacular Eagle crash in second act, had me both viscerally thrilled and entranced. The entire first half of the episode had been a most exciting ride, and the second half was a more talky affair, but no less engaging, as the Alphans learned the nature of the calamities befalling them and found a solution involving not physical combat but incisive and persuasive conversation. Conversation with an entity capable of mobilising the natural elements of a planet against any comers to planet's surface. My new machine captured every syllable, every note of music, and every sound effect, and, sitting atop the dining room vent to our house's basement heater, I listened to my audiotape-recording again and again on the day thereafter. 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 7-11 convenience store near my grandparents' house, and in said publication found a two-page article on Catherine Schell and Maya, in addition to the exciting synopsis for that Saturday evening's episode- "Devil's Planet". The synopsis told of Koenig crash-landing on a penal colony ruled by whip-wielding "cat-women". A scenario completely outside of my experience and expectation of my now-favourite television programme. Through most of the afternoon hours that Saturday, I sat in my grandfather's living room chair imagining what the penal colony was (was it a planet or a spaceship, or an asteroid turned into a spaceship as had been the case in a Star Trek episode that I had seen?), what the "cat-women" looked like, and what jacket Koenig would be wearing. And another crash-landing. I could not wait to see that. Or indeed all else about the episode. The hours ticked slowly by, and at last it was 6 o'clock. And by myself, with my audiotape recorder activated, I watched "Devil's Planet" on my grandparents' living room television.
And again was I treated to unexpected visualisation and range of featured characters. This time, Koenig was the only Space: 1999 principal cast member to appear (apart from flashback), and the penal colony, name of Entra, on a satellite planet 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 ruthless penal colony warden Elizia in the interesting lavish prison layout was a wonder to behold. It was not what I had expected, with a vast throne room with an ecclesiastical flourish to its upper walls, a checkered interrogation room, and a rather less-than-austere-looking prison cell. Elizia and her underlings were all dressed in scarlet-red leotards, with golden whips and shiny golden collars. And their garments were set against the greenish greys of the prison compound and outdoor green vegetation. Adorning the outside of the compound were what looked like two lion heads facing one another. All told, a dazzling display of imagination. New to me and quite fascinating. I also heard a kind of regal electronic chime in the distance in most scenes in Elizia's throne room. I quite fancied that. It made the penal colony setting all the more appealingly fantastic to me in my youthful fancy. And I loved the story. Elizia was deceiving prisoners and guards in order to retain command, lying to them to "cover up" lethal conditions that had stricken home planet. Koenig had seen the truth and had to convince jailers and inmates of Elizia's treachery in order to usurp her authority and free himself from the penal colony and rejoin Alpha before the Moon is forever out of range. And the dialogue through most of the episode was dripping with sophistication, I felt. And 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".
The Eagle crash was as awesome as that of "The Immunity Syndrome" the Saturday before. However, there was a glitch in CBC's showing of it. During one of the flashes of light in the explosions, the CBC lost telecine image and briefly cut to a Space: 1999 slide that I had not ever seen before. One showing alien Caldorians (of episode "Earthbound") with eggs in their hands. A sight that I was not to behold in an episode-proper for another eight months.
My stay at my grandparents' place continued past March 19 into the following week, on which I saw some late Season 3 episodes of Star Trek ("The Savage Curtain", "All Our Yesterdays") at 6 P.M. on a Bangor, Maine television station available on Fredericton's cable television system. 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 the S.M.T. bus on which I was travelling by myself (my parents had returned home on the preceding Sunday), became caught in a snowstorm ten miles outside of Newcastle. I reached the bus depot in Newcastle about thirty minutes later than scheduled, and my mother met me there and conducted me to our Douglastown abode, where I was snug in my bed that night as blizzard-force winds blew outside my window.
Also was I was snug in my Douglastown house's living room to watch and audiotape-record Space: 1999's episode, "The Dorcons", on Saturday, March 26 at 6 P.M. and marvelled at the visually stunning Dorcon attack on Alpha. And as had been the case with "Devil's Planet", the dialogue in the episode had a strong sense of sophistication about it. Particularly that between the Dorcon elite on their spaceship, and between Consul Varda and Excellency Malic, especially. As Varda explained to Malic why just letting their supreme leader, Archon, succumb to old age, was not an option for the security and well-being of their people, and why utilising Maya's brain stem, killing her, to bestow immortality to Archon, was the right thing to do for their nation, for Varda knew that Malic, selfish heir to the seat of power, was unfit to inherit Archon's position. Koenig judged the sacrifice of Maya to be repugnant and reprehensible no matter what the argued benefit, and he was able to rescue her and expose Malic for the megalomaniacally motivated murderer that he was, Malic having murdered Archon before the brain stem transfer operation could begin. Although "The Dorcons" was devoid of any astral bodies or space phenomena, I judged it to still be quite an impressive episode, the Dorcon attack upon Alpha being its definite highlight. The visual effects in that plus the filmed calamity and tension in sections of Alpha during the attack, were, in my estimation, superlative to the ultimate degree. Famed British thespian Patrick Troughton played Archon but curiously had no mention in any TV Guide reference of "The Dorcons", not even after his work in Doctor Who had become widely known in North America in the 1980s. Only Ann Firbank as Consul Varda would ever be stated by TV Guide as being amongst the persons in the episode. Gerry Sundquist (Malic) did not receive mention either, in TV Guide.
I did not know it then, but "The Dorcons" was the last Space: 1999 episode produced. Even without such knowledge, I did come away from "The Dorcons" wondering how many more episodes of that Space: 1999 second season were left for the CBC to broadcast. This I definitely remember.
And I would begin to intuit 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.
As it was Easter weekend, I spent Sunday and then Monday on a Space: 1999-related project. Constructing Space: 1999 jackets out of my blue and light red over-garments. They were admittedly far, very far, from closely resembling the genuine articles, but I would refine them in weeks and months to come, and they gradually gained comparability to 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. And when the snow was all melted and the trees had sprouted their leaves, and summer weather was upon Douglastown, I wore my Space: 1999 jackets, plus some beige pants and a beige shirt, 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).
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 1 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 1 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 pages 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 with swiftest dispatch of my perambulating feet, to ask my father to conduct me in our car to Chatham. He did, and I hurried into the Continental store and to the bin where Sandy said that my desired product would be situated. And I grabbed it and clutched it tight in my hands. On its cardboard wrapping, it bore the images of Commander Koenig and Professor Bergman. I can still in my mind's eye see our car and the sights of the Chatham Bridge and views from that bridge as we crossed it to return to Douglastown that fine, sunny spring day, with me feeling supremely satisfied to have that toy, that oh, so gorgeous toy, in my hands. I gazed adoringly upon it between my looks at the Miramichi region in the springtime as our car traversed the bridge, then turned onto the ramp that led us to Douglastown's main road, along which we completed the remaining distance to our home, where I sat in our living room in the hour or so before dinner, watching some after-school television and admiring my latest acquisition.
I brought my water "stun gun" with me to school the next day and showed it to Sandy and to all other Douglastown Elementary School enthusiasts of the fabulous opus that was Space: 1999.
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 1 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 2 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, some outdoor adventure material, and some track and field sports. 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 time 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 airing of the Season 1 episode, "Black Sun". Or I should say just the first fifteen minutes of it before my father demanded I move the living room television's dial away from CBC French. A week later, when Season 1's "War Games" was shown on French CBC, my father was even faster to order a changing of the television channel, post-8-P.M., with me not even reaching in my viewing the start of the Season 1 main title sequence. When he suggested that I watch the television programme on the upstairs black-and-white television, spite and petulance reigned in my noggin, and I refused to do so. The Saturday after that was June 4, and when I saw "Un message d'espoir: 1e partie" ("The Bringers of Wonder: Pt. 1" in French) on Cosmos 1999 that evening, I viewed it on the black-and-white cathode ray tube in my parents' bedroom, me having resigned myself to doing so before it began. Happily, that would be the last time that I would be prevented from watching Cosmos 1999 in colour in the living room. My father was not present in our living room during any further Cosmos 1999 telecast over the next ten weeks.
Rain continued for all of the next week, the week after June 4. "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.
I indulged my love for Space: 1999 by other means in those two weeks. I donned my Space: 1999 attire and did some Sunday afternoon cosplay in the area of my home and some adjacent places, including the grounds of a church hall, on which there were trees, shrubs, and a path to the Miramichi River. And on nights in the school weeks, I, reclining on my bed, read novelisations of Space: 1999 episodes. Some of the ones in Lunar Attack and in Planets of Peril. And there was Cosmos 1999 for me to watch on CBC French on those two Saturdays. "Un message d'espoir: 2e partie" ("The Bringers of Wonder: Pt. 2") on June 11, and "Dorzak" on June 18.
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 Mattel Commander Koenig doll and a two-foot-long Mattel Eagle 1 Spaceship 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 pages 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 my old 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 clue 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 hearing a burst of strange music, definitely not that of Space: 1999, while there was a camera pan across the smouldering Eagle, right after Helena had given her Status Report. And also seeing a public service announcement for the Red Cross blood bank sometime between the episode's second and third act.
I was always on the look-out for promotions of Space: 1999 on CBC Television. Thirty-second promotions for upcoming episodes or the television show being adverstised in general with thirty seconds of clips from various episodes. CBC Television offered both of those routinely for television programmes in its schedule. But not since late summer of 1976 had I seen an advertisement, of either sort, for Space: 1999 on CBC Television. However, Cosmos 1999 on CBC French had a lengthy, one-minute promotion, as I discovered early in the summer of 1977. It was comprised of scenes of numerous episodes of the spectacular television series' first season, and the music of the first season's main title sequence. There were many visualisations in that promotion that I had not yet seen in an episode of my new television favourite, in any language. And however speedily they flashed before my eyes, they had me spellbound.
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.
On Radio-Canada at 8 P.M. on Saturday, June 25 was "The Seance Spectre", the title of which in French being "Le Spectre". For some reason unbeknownst to me, the word, seance, a word of French extraction, had been deemed inappropriate for use in the "Seance Spectre" episode title in French. I vividly remember watching Greg Sanderson and his group of dissidents doing their auto-hypnosis in Command Centre that evening, as I was awaiting word on Johnny and Rob's arrival.
After part two of "The Bringers of Wonder" was repeat-telecasted at 3:30 P.M. on CBC Television 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 Cosmos 1999 that evening was "Le Dernier Adversaire" ("The Last Enemy"), an episode hailing from Space: 1999's first production block, i.e. its first season. Quite a lovely-looking episode, especially in its visualisations of the planet Betha and of the Bethan Gunship Satazius. And rather exciting, too, with plenty of action in the capacity of interplanetary warfare, in which the hapless Alphans are caught in the middle. That evening, I audiotape-recorded Cosmos 1999, but only to capture the audio of the first season main introduction sequence, so that I could listen to it at will- and graft it onto one of the Space: 1999 second season episodes, as something of an experiment to see if I fancied the combination. And I did. Yes, I did. Different though the styles of music of the two seasons incontrovertibly were.
I would note that "Le Dernier Adversaire" was missing a scene at the start of its prologue, one in which the Alphans are talking optimistically about two planets on the Big Screen of Main Mission Control. Radio-Canada, which had been dependable in the preceding winter and early spring for showing episodes uncut, was now starting to effect trims. "Le Soleil Noir" and "Ruses de guerre" had lost some of their prologue-starting footage. And other first season episodes airing in weeks to follow 2 July's "Le Dernier Adversaire" were likewise shorn of the first several seconds of their prologues. Second season episodes would be free from the Radio-Canada telecine operator's blades. At least for the balance of their 1976-7 run on CBC French. I was not cognizant of anything being missing from those episodes so-adjusted by Radio-Canada, until I saw them on the English CBC months later.
On Saturday, the ninth of July, the English-language CBC did not air my 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 the Fredericton Regent Mall that Saturday afternoon and discovering at the mall's Radioland store 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 an exaggeratedly hokey fashion, with terrible character voice imitations by non-Space: 1999 people, affectedly clackety-clack shoe sounds, banal music, and rather perfunctory, often hamfistedly goofy efforts at replicating Moonbase klaxons and various other sound effects. "Return to the Beginning" had Commander Koenig and the Alphans encountering Noah and witnessing the Great Flood and sounded in its dialogue delivery like a cloying reading of a children's Bible story. Not the least bit impactful for me, I must say. I gave to it no mind, no cogitation, after having heard it. The vinyl record also had adaptations of a couple of Space: 1999's first season's episodes, but they were scarcely much better in aural presentment than the "made-up" stories ("Return to the Beginning", "It Played So Softly On the Ear") on the vinyl platter. The only really impressive thing about that vinyl record was the cardboard sleeve; I loved the pictures.
A succession of late Season 2 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.
I was in Fredericton with my parents on Friday, July 15, and it was there where I bought the TV Guide issue for July 16-22, with the synopsis for "The Immunity Syndrome" therein. I remember noting that the CBC had skipped "Dorzak", as it had also played leapfrog over the episodes between "The Lambda Factor" and "The Bringers of Wonder" in following in rerun the sequence of episodes initially transmitted in the preceding winter. I was thinking about this while with my parents at a building of real estate lawyers on corner of Queen and Northumberland Streets in Fredericton's downtown.
We were back at home in Douglastown on July 16, on which I watched "The Immunity Syndrome" from 5 P.M. to 6 P.M. on our living room television. And I audiotape-recorded that broadcast too, of course. The CBC memorably cut footage from early in the episode in that summer rerun of the episode. After Koenig said to Dr. Spencer, "Take care of Lustig," and commanded to two security guards, "Let's go," there was a film splice and then a momentary silence. Gone were Tony running, tripping over a tree stump, and firing a laser beam at it, and then a scene with Helena and Maya in Medical Centre, talking about Tony. After the splice, Tony had a tumble as he was stumbling about, and then a landing party member was eating a piece of fruit and saying to Alibe, "It's a hundred percent safe." The deleted footage here mentioned had been fully intact in the episode on its first telecast on March. Different scenes had fallen under the CBC scissors then, including part of the conversation between John and Tony at start of Act 4.
"Devil's Planet" on July 23 was a 3 P.M. engagement for adherents of Space: 1999 in all three eastern Maritime provinces of Canada. That morning, I was accompanying my father on a grocery shopping expedition to Newcastle, to the supermarket behind the Newcastle Dairy Queen, to be precise. While lounging in the passenger seat of our car as I awaited my father's completion of his patronage of the supermarket, I was thinking of the similarities between "The Immunity Syndrome" and "Devil's Planet", especially Koenig wearing his dark blue jacket on Earth-like alien worlds in both episodes. I remarked to myself how unusual that was, as I was looking around our car to the Dairy Queen, to the grocery store, to a business adjacent to both of those, to Newcastle's main road, the King George Highway. It was a rather hot day, that Saturday. Our blinds and curtains were closed at home to keep the place as cool as possible. I remember sitting through an hour-long documentary on CHSJ called Royal Heritage, then CBC Television's The Great Canadian Escape and CFL This Week, in wait of the start that day of Space: 1999.
And then, BAM!!! That music, those planets, the commencement of the main introduction of Season 2 Space: 1999, precisely at 3 P.M.. As I sat before the living room television, my audiotape machine activated. I remember discovering, in the French telecast the preceding Saturday of "Devil's Planet", of "La Planete du diable", some scenes in the fourth act that had been cut on March 19 when "Devil's Planet" first blazed the CBC English airwaves. They were of Elizia giving a "pep-talk" to her minions in advance of "the Hunt" of Commander Koenig and then a scene of Koenig fleeing into the woodland and discovering the remains of his Alpha uniform (that Elizia had a prisoner don, before killing him). I was hopeful of seeing these scenes in English, this second time around for "Devil's Planet" on the anglophone CBC, only to discover them to be cut again. The film splice healding the loss of footage was at the precise same moment.
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.
We moved to Fredericton on Friday, August 19, bidding adieu to the house and the neighbourhood and the New Brunswick Miramichi region that had mainly been my world for some five years. And it is here that my main autobiography transitions from its Era 2 to its Era 3.
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. Including on one afternoon when my father and I were visiting some business in Fredericton South beneath the Princess Margaret Bridge.
The August 20 showing of "La Machine infernale" on Radio-Canada opened with a close-up of Helena in Main Mission Control. Scenes prior to that, Koenig assigning Winters to substitute for Paul Morrow, Koenig going to his living quarters, Gwent being detected by Alpha's sensors, and Winters summoning Koenig to Main Mission, all were excised. Missing from the top of "Cerveau spatial" the Saturday before had been all scenes of Alphans with puzzles and Koenig announcing to Morrow and to Sandra Benes that he is retiring for the Alphan night.
My last few weeks of summer of 1977 in my new community were characterised by loneliness, anxiety over whether I would 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.
And a few days after buying those two books, I returned to Beegie's to acquire The Space Guardians, the third of the six books of Space: 1999 first season episode novelisations. The Pocket Books version of it. It would be some years before I would first set eyes upon the Orbit Books iteration of The Space Guardians. The Space Guardians was the last of the six books of Space: 1999 first season episode novelisations to come into my possession in one edition or another.
I also repurchased Astral Quest (Pocket Books edition; I had not yet encountered its Orbit Books version), 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. The Pocket Books version of Breakaway was proving to be quite elusive, too.
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 would add that for the airing of "The Seance Spectre" on August 27, the CBC trimmed some of John and Maya's approach in their Eagle to the proto-planet in the first act, and also part of the prelude to John's fight on the Lunar surface with Sanderson in Act 4, the Commander working at preparing a detonation of explosive to remove a concrete cap to one of the silos, with Sanderson looming ominously nearby. And "La Mission des Dariens" on Radio-Canada that evening was lacking its entire first scene of prologue, the Alphans in Main Mission looking at the S.S. Daria on their Big Screen and hearing Neman's call for help.
As August was drawing to a close, 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. And while there, watched and/or audiotape-recorded cartoon television series (The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Batman/Tarzan, Fat Albert) on cable television's American feeds, and waited to watch and audiotape-record Space: 1999 on New Brunswick's CBC affiliate television station, CHSJ. CBS' new Space Academy Saturday morning set-in-space half-hour television series, it having premiered September 10, gave an added thrill to the day. I waited impatiently that afternoon of September 17 to enjoy the "War Games" Space: 1999 episode. And once said episode started at 5 P.M., I was transfixed at the television. First season episodes in English. Coming after the norms of the previous twelve months, such 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.
"War Games" on September 17 opened with the first scenes of its prologue, scenes that had been removed from it on its CBC French airing four months previous. I saw scenes entirely new to me, scenes of the Alphans seeing Mark IX Hawks on their Big Screen and Koenig ordering the Moonbase to ready itself for potential combat. And subsequently, nothing was cut from the episode for remainder of prologue and first, second, and third acts. On return to the television show following a set of advertisements for CBC Television programmes such as Man Alive (an episode thereof concrning contraception, whatever that was) after end of Act 3, the episode was joined with Koenig adrift in space and saying, "Ninety-seven minutes of life, and then no oxygen." Missing was a lengthy scene on the planet with Helena talking with the aliens about the nature of their world. The missing scene would be restored to the episode for its repeat the following March, and scenes in Act 3 between Bergman completing his most touching recorded soliliquy in Main Mission, and Carter's Eagle docking with that of Koenig, cut instead.
A short while after "War Games" ended at close to 6 P.M. on September 17, my parents, my grandparets, and I atteded a church service. Sitting in the church pews, I was itching to listen to the audiotape-recording that I had made (on a Radio Shack Realistic Supertape audiocassette) of the spectacular, thrilling, thoroughly impressive "War Games".
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.
I was awestruck by my viewing of "War Games" on September 17. At school in days thereafter, 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. "Ninety-seven minutes of life, and then no oxygen. Hallucination. A slow but peaceful drift through dream and real eternity. Or just nothing. The ultimate negative. Poison and pain, and yet more pain, and then nothing. This body a piece perhaps for some future archaeologist to fit into a historical puzzle. John Koenig from planet Earth. Nineth and last Commander of Moonbase Alpha." I even recalled the accompanying gloomy music.
On the evening of Monday, September 19, 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 there the TV Guide magazine for the next week. Space: 1999 was listed for the upcoming Saturday (that of September 24) 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 1's Professor Bergman character. I promptly located its novelisation amongst the Space: 1999 books that I had. In the approximate last quarter of Collision Course.
I then read the novelisation of the episode in both versions of Collision Course that I possessed, those of Pocket Books and Orbit Books. The Pocket Books version of Collision Course had a section of black-and-white photography of the four episodes novelised on its pages, and I perused it, regarding several tantalising glimpses of the "frozen planet" episode, including pictures of Dr. Russell and Professor Bergman in snowsuits in an Eagle Passenger Section, of Alphans in snowsuits in a blizzard, of Koenig resting on furs, of Koenig, Russell, and Bergman being spoken-to by a bearded man, of people sleeping in furs in a cavern, of a woman smashing electronic equipment, and of a decomposed body in an Eagle chair. I struggled to wait to see the episode on the Saturday to come, Saturday, the twenty-fourth, September, 1977.
I vividly remember reading the novelisation of the "frozen planet" episode in after-school hours on September 20, 21, 22, and through the day on September 23, on which I stayed at home from school with my mother's approval (to avoid a happening that day that I will opt in these memoirs not to reveal), as early autumn sunlight poured through our house's front window and onto the pages of both versions of Collison Course, and as occasional advertisements for new television shows Logan's Run and CHiPs flashed on the screen of our living room television tuned to CHSJ-TV. My anticipation of seeing the Space: 1999 episode on Saturday at 2 P.M. was mounting steadily with each page that I read and with each viewing of the black-and-white photographs in the Pocket Books Collision Course.
In my reading of the "frozen planet" episode's novelisation, I came upon written scenes that I thought would open the filmed and televised episode, scenes of Koenig awakening in his living quarters, of him talking to an Emil Krantz of Hydroponics Section about the taste of Alphan food, and Main Mission personnel discussing the "frozen planet", or ice planet, one of them comparing it to the Antarctic. I did not then know that such scenes were not in the filmed episode. Nor an exciting scene of Alan being attacked by an ox-like creature on the planet. The more that I read of the novelisation of the ice planet episode, the more my impatience for the arrival of Saturday grew.
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 television series, 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 "made it through" another week of school in dismal Fredericton, for nought.
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 store 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.
I promptly listened to my audiotape-recording of "Collision Course", before my parents arrived at my grandparents' place to transport me to our home. I remember feeling exceedingly gratified to have another episode of Space: 1999 in my audiotape holdings after a two-week wait for such after "War Games" on September 17, CHSJ having denied "Death's Other Dominion" to me on September 24.
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 (Ian McShane), turning him into an energy-consuming being. The Space Guardians contained the novelisation for this episode, and I read sections of the specific episode novelisation and from them found the Ian McShane character's name to be Anton Zoref, and that he worked in a Nuclear Generating Area.
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 in the preceding January, was set to air in English at 6 P.M., on all CBC television stations in the three eastern Maritime Canadian provinces, on October 15. The relief that I felt when I saw the notation of such in TV Guide as I was looking at it at the checkout aisle in the grocery store of Nashwaaksis, Fredericton's York Plaza in the evening on Tuesday, October 11, was very palpable indeed. There in print were all of the CBC eastern Maritimes television stations, CHSJ included, alongside Space: 1999. But there was some concern, in that a World Series baseball game was scheduled to air that day on CBC. And if it was to be shown before Space: 1999, there was a possibility of Space: 1999 being joined in progress or lost completely on the day, in the event of the baseball game exceeding allotted airtime. I learned later that week that the Saturday World Series game would be played on the west coast, which would mean that if Space: 1999 was to be shown, it would be before the playing of baseball would begin. And so this was the case. 5 P.M. coverage of the World Series did cause the episode of Alpha's problematical first childbirth to be shown two hours earlier than listed in TV Guide, 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 and audiotape-recorded the events of "Alpha Child", me being in a seating position on floor. Thereafter, I treated myself to some store-bought chocolate wafer 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.
Although "Alpha Child" had been known to me from its French broadcast, by which I had seen it all, and from my reading of its novelisation in the book, Moon Odyssey, my viewing of it that mid-October afternoon still "broke" a fair bit of ground. I could hear all of its English dialogue. And for the first time I was seeing it in colour.
The episodes of Season 1 Space: 1999 did not have the range and depth of colour as those of Season 2 of same television series, it does have to be said. But there was ample compensation for that in a larger scale to some Alpha sections, and in some somewhat more expansive imaginings of alien worlds and alien spaceships, with production design of top-notch creativity and quality. And in some very deft nods to science fiction/horror. And there still was plenty of stunning colour, "War Games", for example, offering orange on the nose cones of Hawks, intense red in the emergency lighting and Red Alert lettering on Alpha, shades of violet in views of the alien planet from space and from within its atmosphere, and multi-coloured alien chambers with Koenig's orange spacesuit therein. The visuals of "War Games" had been lavish, profoundly magnificent on View-Master. All of them. And on colour cathode ray tube, they also delivered a most delectable feast for the eye. "Collision Course" felt yellow for me. And "Alpha Child" gave to me a impression of green. I always have green, and a paricular shade of it, in mind when thinking of "Alpha Child". A majority of first season episodes had, for me, at least one strong colour association, as I was seeing them in colour, many of them for the first time, in the 1977-8 television season.
And there still were Eagles, stun guns, Commlocks, and the distinctive look to the Moonbase Alpha section walls, corridors, Travel Tubes. Yes. These all spanned the two seasons in their aesthetic appeal. I was "over the Moon", as it were, to be having occasion, starting September, 1977, to see first season episodes in their English renditions. And several of them were completely new to me as a viewing experience, my only knowledge of them being their novelisation and some accompanying photographs, most of those in black and white. Once the television show was ensconsed once more in a 6 P.M.-to-7 P.M. airtime, as it was starting 22 October, CHSJ's dependability for airing it was at maximum. Missing prior to that, on account of CHSJ, the ice planet episode and the one with an Alphan technician played by Ian McShane turned into an energy-consuming being, did sting, however. And I could not be sure of another opportunity to see them.
In the following week, i.e. the week after October 15, 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. And it was from that first season episode guide that I learned the titles of all first season episodes that I had not yet seen, or not yet seen in English. And also the title of the television series' opener, a majority of which I had missed on September 11, 1976 (I discovered that its title was same as that for the book containing its novelisation). The first season episodes were in alphabetical order, from "Alpha Child" to "War Games", in the first season episode guide. 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.
Listed in TV Guide for October 22 was a 5 P.M. broadcast of an episode (no synopsis was given) of Cosmos 1999 on CBC French. After "La Mission des Dariens" on August 27, Cosmos 1999 had for several weeks vanished from the Radio-Canada airwaves, preempted on three September Saturdays for various television programmes, and then losing its claim to the 8 P.M. airtime on Saturdays to La Femme Bionique. I had thought it indefinitely gone. But then there it was, listed for 5 P.M. on 22 October, in TV Guide. However, newspaper listings did not accord with TV Guide about a 5 P.M. showing of Cosmos 1999; they indicated only that whatever was to be seen at 5 P.M. on Radio-Canada, was unknown. And since the French CBC was not receivable on television rabbit ears at my 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 uncertain airing of Cosmos 1999, I was not watching Radio-Canada at 5 P.M. on October 22. The episode of Space: 1999 scheduled for 6 P.M. on all CBC English television stations, CHSJ inclusive, on 22 October 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 Cosmos 1999 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 conveyed me by car 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 (of Power Records' making) 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 3 P.M.-to-5:30 P.M. 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, devouring them alive and regurgitating their steaming remains, 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 tentacled people-eater episode and did an audiotape-recorded 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. Michael sat with me before bedtime and tried to avert my thoughts away from that evening's Space: 1999 episode and toward non-nightmare-triggering things. Alas, he was not successful, and a nightmare I did indeed have. But it was very nice of him to try to prevent it.
In addition to joining the episode in progress, the CBC had also cut more minutes from it than would be considered usual for Space: 1999 on CBC Television. A scene at start of Act 3 with Koenig and Bergman on a 1997 Alpha talking about an upcoming meeting with Commissioner Dixon on Earth, was gone completely, the episode instead beginning Act 3 (after television station identification) with Commissioner Dixon stepping through the door to his office. Scenes at start of Act 4 with the Eagle Passenger Module with Koenig's party receiving a new Command Module and thrusters and being lifted off of a Launch Pad, were also gone; Act 4 started with Cellini's Eagle being pursued by Eagles Three and Four. A fourth act scene with Paul Morrow informing Koenig that Cellini is about six minutes ahead of Koenig's party, Carter saying that Cellini could dock the Eagle Command Module with the Ultra Probeship, and Helena and then Paul informing Koenig of no detected life signs in the spaceship graveyard and Koenig cursing, was dropped. As, too, was the start of the epilogue with Helena saying, "The monster was more than any of us could believe. According to our criteria it was never alive. So, how could we be sure it was dead." And also not present was Helena removing a sheet of paper from her typewriter and saying to Koenig, "John, if we ever do find a new place to live, and if we succeed, we're going to need a whole new mythology," and Koenig's response to that and her subsequent reply to him. All of these scenes were in the episode when it was repeated in 1978, while others were removed, including Cellini conversing with Helena after his nightmare and a sizable part of the Ultra Probe's outward journey.
There was more colour in "Dragon's Domain" than I had seen in Space: 1999 since the CBC broadcasts of Season 2 Space: 1999 had ceased on September 10. This was due in no small part to blue and orange parkas and badges thereon. Garments that I had first seen worn in episodes of Season 2, when I had been living in Douglastown. How very apt it was for me to see those parkas and patches again when I was in Douglastown once more! In "Dragon's Domain" worn by Bergman, Koenig, Cellini. And then there was the deep red and rich brown of the office of Commissioner Dixon, against which the blue and orange of those parkas were set. And the orange beams within the Ultra Probeship. And the shade of yellow on lighting panels in Main Mission that was reminiscent of that on lighting panels in Season 2's Command Centre. And the deep blues of Medical Centre. This was an amount of colour that would have been much in its element in Season 2. Not only the colours were the visual attraction of "Dragon's Domain". The Ultra Probe was a magnificent design of spaceship, interior and exterior. The most impressive one, in my estimation, of the entire television series. And the array of technological hardware within it "sold" it to me as a realistic, believable deep space probe. As, too, did the living arrangements for the crew, the stores of supplies, and the acting of everyone in all of the scenes during the Ultra Probe journey. All of it mated with that gorgeous Albinoni Adagio music, which I, at that time, thought to have been written by Barry Gray for the episode. I remember so clearly being in awe of the Ultra Probe's trek across space as I sat with Michael in his living room, struggling not to spoil my audiotape-recording of the episode by proclaiming too loudly my immense esteem for what I was seeing and hearing.
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 19. 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 19. 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 en route to Earth and an obsessive, rather 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".
Cut from "Earthbound" on its CBC November 19 telecast was approximately two minutes between Commissioner Simmonds, the aforementioned antagonist of the episode, saying to Koenig that the alien Caldorians are to be expendable, if Alpha should seize the aliens' space vessel for six persons of Alpha to return to Earth, and a scene of a Travel Tube from which Koenig and Simmonds exit, Simmonds continuing to agitate for a seisure of the alien space vessel. Gone was Captain Zantor talking to Helena about how his people suspend animation for prolonged space journeys. And him telling to Koenig and Simmonds that it would be seventy-five years for the alien spaceship to travel to Earth from Alpha's present location in space, and offering one space on the spaceship for a select Alphan to return to home planet. When "Earthbound" was repeated the following May, these scenes were intact, but a whole scene of Koenig in Main Mission at start of Act 3 was axed. Act 3 therefore began with a view of Helena in the suspended animation cabinet on the spaceship and Zandor saying to Koenig, "Dr. Russell has put into a deeper sleep than is right for the human metabolism." And some of the conversation in Main Mission after Simmonds hijacks the Moonbase Power Room was trimmed.
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 two-foot-long Mattel Eagle 1 Spaceship that my friend, Sandy, in Douglastown had possessed and which I had not been able to find in any store. Moreover, he had the for-me-equally-elusive Mattel 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 an accurate 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 Radioland store in Fredericton's Regent Mall. It was a Power Records effort with the same deficiencies as those of the Power Records vinyl platter that I had in my possession since July of 1977, but it did have in its grooves an adaptation of "Death's Other Dominion", the ice planet episode that CHSJ-TV had denied to me on its CBC telecast of September 24, 1977, and that was something to which I was looking forward to hearing, whatever the quality of Power Records' rendition of its dialogue, music, and sound effects. The newly procured vinyl record also had on it an adaptation of "Breakaway", which I had not yet seen in its entirety- and had not seen at all since its CBC Television broadcast of September 11, 1976.
I would soon also discover- and buy- vinyl-record-and-book publications of Power Records' "Return to the Beginning" and of the Power Records version of "Breakaway". The books consisted of colour comic-book-style drawings together with the sort of dialogue balloons that one would see in comic books, and had a certain polish to them that I appreciated- even if the printed dialogue matching that of the voice performers on the vinyl records was not much to my liking.
I also came upon a toy store at the top floor of a old-fashioned downtown shop building on York Street, a store 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. My mother bought it for me on a snowy day in early December of 1977.
There was no Space: 1999 episode telecast by the CBC on December 3, which was okay for me, as CHSJ was that day airing the annual Saint John Christmas telethon almost all day and would certainly have preempted Space: 1999 if the CBC had scheduled it, thus causing me to miss another episode. Airing on CBC Television in lieu of Space: 1999 on December 3, 1977 was something called Big Henry and the Polka Dot Kid.
On December 10, Space: 1999's episode about Stone Age people on jungle planet Retha, "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 1 episode to be filmed out-of-doors. CHSJ that day continued its mischief in the insertions of its own commercials into the advertisement intervals. I missed almost the whole of the epilogue on account of CHSJ putting one commercial too many in the last pause of episode for advertising, the one between Act 4 and epilogue. Same was true for "End of Eternity" on November 26, and would be the case again on December 17 with "Guardian of Piri".
On the chilly evening of Friday, December 16, I was shopping with my parents at the Fredericton Mall. There, I went into Beegie's Bookstore and, to my delightful surprise, saw a batch of new Space: 1999 books. Second season episode novelisation books, all. They were successors to the book, Planets of Peril, that had been known to me and in my possession since the preceding spring, all of them having the same style of covers, front and back, as that of Planets of Peril. And, like Planets of Peril, they all had a section of black-and-white photographs of episodes novelised. Planet of Peril sat with them that nippy December's evening on the Beegie's shelf. and their titles were Mind-Breaks of Space, The Space-Jackers, The Psychomorph, and The Time-Fighters. I persuaded my parents to buy two of them, The Space-Jackers and The Time Fighters, for me, and with them I left the store in rather a sprightly mood, my two new Space: 1999 books in my hands, both together inside of a bag of very thin, crinkly brown paper, and one of them having Beegie's distinctive thin cardboard bookmark inserted into it between its front cover and first page. I can still see in my mind's eye my effort to peruse the pages of my new books in the light of the mall's signs and street lamps, as my father started our car and moved it to the exit of the mall parking lot.
I spent most of the day on Saturday, December 17 reading my two new books, and remembering episodes "Seed of Destruction", "A Matter of Balance", "The Exiles", "The Beta Cloud", "Space Warp", "Dorzak", "Devil's Planet", and "The Seance Spectre" of Space: 1999's second season. Those were the sum total of episodes novelised in the two new books that I owned. "The Seance Spectre"'s novelisation was very bizarre in that it was Tony Verdeschi, not Koenig, who in it had to contend with mutineers led by Greg Sanderson (named Sandor Knox in the book) whilst Koenig was reconnoitring the Ellna and Entra conjoining of alien worlds in "Devil's Planet". Strange also was the presence of a Simon Hayes in "The Exiles" as it was novelised.
"Guardian of Piri", was shown on the CBC and CHSJ at 6 P.M. on Saturday, 17 December, 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 visuals. I then listened to my audiotape recording of "Guardian of Piri" repeatedly that evening.
And on Wednesday of the following week, the afternoon thereof being one when I was not in school, I persuaded my father to transport me in snowy weather to the Fredericton Mall, and there I purchased at Beegie's Bookstore another newly available book of second season episode novelisations, Mind-Breaks of Space. It had on its pages novelisations of "Brian the Brain", "The Mark of Archanon", "Catacombs of the Moon", and "One Moment of Humanity". And I sat in our living room reading that book, our Christmas tree in one of the corners of the living room, and the television in another, while my ears received the audio of the usual Wednesday afternoon CBC television fare for the last few months of 1977.
One more new Space: 1999 book remained at Beegie's Bookstore for me to buy, and I had to await an accumulation of allowance money, or some mney gifted to me for Christmas, in order to buy that book. I remember wondering if somewhere in Fredericton there was someone who, like me, sought to buy that book at the earliest occasion for so-doing. David B. was not one such person. He had no interest in any of the Space: 1999 paperback books, whether they be first or second season. He had collected none of them. Paperbacks just were not his thing.
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 very inexpensive 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 and CHSJ 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.
Although with "The Infernal Machine" on 24 December, CHSJ inserted its own commercials, yet again, into the CBC's advertisement intervals in the episode, the insertions were not as sloppy as in previous weeks' servings of Space: 1999, and the epilogue was not curtailed by one CHSJ commercial too many, though the CBC did itself remove numerous seconds from the start of the epilogue, those of Koenig talking into his Commlock to Kano. Another CBC cut to the episode was everything in Act 2 up to Koenig saying, "We commit to eternal space the body of Companion." The dropped footage was reinstated into the episode for its rerun in June, while several seconds of dialogue were excised from the other end of Act 2.
Thankfully, the two spaceship battles with Gwent were not truncated. I have always loved "The Infernal Machine" for those battles. And also for the majestic interiors of Gwent and the exquisite fantastic-mechanical-spider look of Gwent on his outside. And Koenig, Helena, and Bergman in their orange spacesuits set against the Gwent interior decor. And Leo McKern's booming, most expressive voice. And the regal electronic chiming of Elizia's throne room in "Devil's Planet" can also be heard inside Gwent. Rather apt recurrence of sound, given that Gwent is intent on becoming a prison to Koenig and Russell, as Elizia's realm is to all who are incarcerated under her wardenship.
CHSJ followed Space: 1999- "The Infernal Machine" with a broadcast of a cartoon Christmas special called A Cosmic Christmas. A Cosmic Christmas was preempting The Muppet Show, which had long been coupled with Space: 1999 on CHSJ-TV's Saturday roster. Mid-January of 1978 would bring something of a shake-up in the CHSJ schedules, and Space: 1999 would behold a new partner in early Saturday evening programming on CHSJ, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. A television series about outdoor living in the American frontiers of the nineteenth century. As much of a departure from the fantastic future of Space: 1999 as could be imagined, I should think. I liked The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. It had some awesome images, especially toward the end of its main introduction, and a heart-warming main title song. But I seldom watched it when it aired post-Space: 1999 on Saturday evenings, usually opting instead to listen to my audiotape-recording of the Space: 1999 episode that had concluded near the end of the previous hour. After The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, at 8 P.M. on the new CHSJ schedule, was CHiPs, a police drama about patrolmen on motorcycles. I would go to The Bionic Woman for 8 P.M. television viewing, by way of CHSJ's rival broadcaster, ATV.
"Guardian of Piri" and "The Infernal Machine" airing consecutively over two weeks was interesting, as both involved a super-computer with a servant. And I was quite aware that episodes were being run in alphabetical order since "Alpha Child" on October 15. The three weeks that would follow would see some deviations from that order, before it returned again for final several weeks of the first season's run on CBC Television.
1977's final day was bright and sunny. At Beegie's Bookstore in the A.M., I made my final purchase of a new Space: 1999 second season novelisations book there, one 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.
My parents were not with me on that evening as I watched Space: 1999. They were celebrating New Year's Eve at my aunt and uncle's place. I watched Space: 1999 by my lonesome on most weeks in the final third of 1977. I did so on September 3, 10, 17 (and if CHSJ had been obliging enough to air Space: 1999 on September 24, it, too, no doubt; ditto, October 8), October 1, 22, November 26, and December 10, 17, 24, and 31. Being by my lonesome was arguably the defining element of my inaugural months as a Fredericton resident.
"The Last Sunset" had its second act trimmed at its start, opening with Helena approaching Koenig at his desk and saying, "John. So far, so good." Missing was the Ariel objects launching off of the Lunar surface, Sandra reporting to Paul that Lunar gravity is increasing, and Helena asking Kano for computer data and remarking that Computer is telling nice stories, with Kano retorting, "Computer never tells stories." Also cut was footage from Act 3, Paul saying, "There must be something we can do," and Alan responding to that with, "Like walk?" and Koenig's Eagle malfunctioning and crash-landing. After the film splice, Bergman was commenting about Koenig's crashed Eagle being a result of rapid corrosion. The actual crash was unseen, but the viewer was able to intuit that Koenig had had trouble in an Eagle based on Bergman's dialogue. All of these cut scenes were reincorporated into "The Last Sunset" for its subsequent CBC airing, in June, 1978. And missing then instead was Paul and Sandra's conversation on the Moon's surface in Act 2 and a conversation, also in Act 2, between Koenig and Bergman about need of rainfall.
1978 was definitely the year that Space: 1999 was on the wane. As the year progressed through its first quarter, 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 1 Spaceship were proving to be 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 B. 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.
January, 1978 was characteristically cold and snowy. And this compounded the morally debilitating effects of my solitary status in the 6A classroom at Park Street School, and the seemingly interminable, tedious school days. I looked forward every Monday or Tuesday to seeing TV Guide and a listing and episode synopsis therein for Space: 1999, as I awaited the end of the afternoon school hours, after which time I would hasten to my home. I remember so vividly the excitement as I opened TV Guide to Saturday and saw three nines and a write-up beneath them, and my thoughts would be with the Space: 1999 episode that the arrival of Saturday and its 6 P.M. hour would bring, as I watched the weekday afternoon television programming on CHSJ-TV (Little Rascals, Scooby-Doo, etc.). If I had not seen the Space: 1999 episode in French and it was going to be entirely new to my eyes, so much the better, when it came to my excitement quotient. On some weeks, between my seeing a synopsis for a previously unseen episode and its Saturday airtime, I read the episode's novelisation and imagined how it looked, sounded, transpired.
My parents and I travelled to the largest Canadian city of Toronto, Ontario for a week in mid-February of 1978. We boarded a passenger train for places west of Fredericton on the evening of Saturday, February 11, leaving our home for the train depot some minutes after Space: 1999's episode, "Ring Around the Moon", had concluded on CBC Television (and CHSJ-TV) at near 7 P.M.. I brought with me onto the train a copy of the Space: 1999 Orbit Book edition of Moon Odyssey bought by me earlier that day at Westminster Books, Fredericton. In Toronto, my father accompanied me in walking up and down Toronto downtown Yonge Street as I searched for Space: 1999 books and toys. Still no joy on finding the Mattel Eagle 1 Spaceship, but I was able to buy the Mattel Commander Koenig doll at a Zellers department store in suburban Scarborough, a Mark IX Hawk toy model at the Yonge Street Eaton Centre, and Orbit Books' version of the Astral Quest book of episode novelisations, seen by me for the first time when a Yonge Street Coles Bookstore clerk opened a stock drawer beneath regular book shelving, to reveal it ensconced there. At a Yonge Street store for used books, I saw, but did not buy, the familiar-to-me Pocket Books editions of Space: 1999 books Lunar Attack and Astral Quest sitting aside one another, with only their spines visible on the shelf. Their condition was not mint, and I declined to buy them for that reason.
Yes, I did experience good fortune in February, 1978 with regard to finding and purchasing Space: 1999 merchandise, and it would prove to be the most successful month of 1978 for me in such pursuits.
As to television broadcasts, episodes were run consistently on all CBC television stations at 6 P.M. through January and February. The runaway Moon became a strategically important element in an interplanetary war in "The Last Enemy" on January 7. Voyager One with its fast-neutrons-spewing Queller Drive engine imperilled Moonbase Alpha on January 14. Dr. Helena Russell's long-lost, suddenly reappearing husband, Lee, and an anti-matter quantity on a beautiful, at first seemingly habitable planet confounded Commander Koenig and the Alphans in "Matter of Life and Death" on January 21. Koenig found that he was to be the object of an anthropological study in an alien scientist's ethereal abode in "Missing Link" on January 28. Then, it was encounters with: the ravaged-by-catastrophe, alien space-ark, the S.S. Daria, and the appalling state of affairs aboard it, in "Mission of the Darians" on February 4; a Tritonian space probe and its people-manipulating and people-destroying information-gathering imperatives in "Ring Around the Moon" on February 11; an intelligence in space exuding Moonbase-inundating, foamy antibodies in "Space Brain" on February 18; and a desolate planet having a past connection with life on Earth in "The Testament of Arkadia" on February 25. And on March 4 was "The Troubled Spirit" and its murderous apparition seeding terror on Alpha. "The Troubled Spirit" was the final episode in the sequence of first season episodes aired by CBC Television from September, 1977 to March, 1978. Of the episodes mentioned in this paragraph, four of them, "The Last Enemy", "Mission of the Darians", "Space Brain", and "The Troubled Spirit", I had previously seen in French. The others were new visual experiences for me as CBC Television aired them that winter.
The cuts to those episodes. "The Last Enemy" had trimming to its first act shortly after the credit to director Bob Kellett, eliminating conversation in Main Mission about the Satazius' approach to Alpha and jumping to Carter and the other pilots in their Eagle cockpits announcing to Paul that they are ready for lift-off, and a shortening of its epilogue, which now started with Koenig and Russell in the midst of their conversation in Koenig's office, a prior scene in Main Mission gone, along with a few seconds of Koenig alone in his office, and Helena entering the office and giving to Koenig a casualty report. "Voyager's Return" had cut scenes of dialogue in Acts 3 and 4 with the Alphans remarking and speculating about the alien spaceships following the Voyager, the Voyager's landing on Launch Pad Four, and some of Linden's conversations with Helena in the Tech Lab and in Medical Centre. "Matter of Life and Death" was missing the Act 1 scene in Medical Centre between Helena identifying the man in the Eagle as her husband and Helena looking at Lee's picture while in her quarters and conversing with Koenig. Helena said, "It's my husband," the film spliced and audio went silent for a fraction of a second, and the viewer then saw the picture of Lee in Helena's hand. Excised also was the scene in Act 2 with Helena in her quarters touching her wedding ring while Lee is in Medical Centre calling out to her. The same scenes were missing again when "Matter of Life and Death" was repeated late in the summer of 1978. "Missing Link" had cuts to its first act to shorten Koenig moving about the duplicate Alpha. "Mission of the Darians" lost a chunk of its fourth act, including everything before Alan and the Survivors encounter the huge chamber of towering Darian machinery. "Ring Around the Moon" was without scenes of Koenig debriefing Carter in Medical Centre in Act 2 and Mathias examining Helena at start of Act 3. Gone from "Space Brain" was Kelly leaving the Eagle for his spacewalk in Act 1, and everything at start of Act 2 before Koenig says, "Kelly, I want to talk to you." "The Testament of Arkadia" had a short cut to the Eagle flight to the planet in Act 1, and a longer cut of most of Helena's conversation with Ferro and Davis in the Eagle in Act 4. "The Troubled Spirit" was short some of a sedated Mateo talking to Helena in Medical Centre in Act 3 and some of Bergman and Koenig's brainstorming conversation in Koenig's office in Act 4.
And with "War Games" at 3 P.M. (3 P.M. because of Labatt Brier curling broadcast later in the afternoon and into the evening) on March 11, episodes of the first season shown from the previous September onward started to be run again. There were two episodes, namely "Death's Other Dominion" and "Force of Life", preempted by CHSJ in the past autumn 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! The excitement and satisfaction that I felt at finally seeing the episodes, the awe that was mine at the visualisations of Ultima Thule, of both its surface and the subterranean habitat of its immortal inhabitants, my nervousness at how gory that the aged-to-death Dr. Rowland would be on screen, my appreciation of every facet of Ian McShane's portrayal of the possessed-by-alien-force Anton Zoref and the look of the Nuclear Generating Area, all are indelibly imprinted on my grey matter, from those broadcasts by CBC and CHSJ in late winter and early spring of 1978.
I remember the broadcasts on those dates in full detail, and all that was missing from the two episodes on those occasions, me later seeing all of those scenes in French in 1979 and thereby gaining thorough knowledge of their existence. I could tell that footage was cut from Act 1 of "Death's Other Dominion" when there was a film splice and momentary loss of sound after Helena, in the blizzard, said that she was sleepy and was laying herself onto the snow. Immediately seen after that was Dr. Rowland and party finding Helena. Missing were Alan signing to keep himself company, an in-vain attempt by Helena to counter her sleepiness, rise, and keep moving, and Dr. Rowland calling out to "Earthmen" in the howling wind, blowing snow, and poor visibility. Cut also was Carter talking to Morrow while with Dr. Mathias in an Eagle and a small portion of a conversation between Koenig and Tanner at the communications and computer section of the cavernous settlement on Ultima Thule, in Act 4. As to "Force of Life", all scenes before start of Act 4 were intact. Then, almost the first couple of minutes of Act 4 were dropped, including Koenig's address to all sections of Alpha with regard to Zoref and all of the scene in Main Mission wherein the Alphans are watching Zoref on the Big Screen and Bergman is plotting Zoref's ultimate destination, Nuclear Generating Area 3. Some of Helena's conversation with Eva Zoref in the epilogue was gone, too.
I was alone at home when I watched, and audiotape-recorded (of course!), "Death's Other Dominion" on March 18. My parents had gone to visit my aunt and uncle. My parents were also not with me when "War Games" blazed onto our television screen on 11 March, them being then at my grandparents' place. They were at home on April 8 when I watched and committed to audiotape "Force of Life" but were not present in our living room. So, "Force of Life" on 8 April was, too, a solitary viewing experience for me. Same was true for a majority of the broadcasts of Space: 1999 in the 1978 months to follow.
Pleased though I was to finally see "Death's Other Dominion" and "Force of Life", frustration was becoming the norm. CHSJ would resume its sloppy insertions of its own commercials into advertisement intervals in episodes of Space: 1999 beginning with CBC telecast of "The Testament of Arkadia" on February 25. A mess that episode was on CHSJ-TV. For "The Troubled Spirit", "War Games", and "Death's Other Dominion" on March's first three Saturdays, CHSJ desisted from disruptive commercial insertion, then resumed it with gusto on the March 25 CBC transmission of "Collision Course", denying New Brunswickers a view of the episode title and special guest star, writer, and director credits, as a result of CHSJ putting one commercial too many in between the Space: 1999 main title sequence and episode title. The epilogue was also adversely affected by CHSJ repeating the same folly with a CBC advertisement interval, i.e. the one between fourth act and epilogue.
"Death's Other Dominion" and "Collision Course" had aired at 6 P.M. on March 18 and March 25, respectively. Space: 1999 was preempted by the CBC on April 1, then returned to the CBC airwaves for "Force of Life" on April 8 at 4 P.M., with The Masters golf tournament following it at 5 P.M.. I sat through a 3:30 showing of an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on CHSJ-TV in wait of my opportunity at last to see "Force of Life", which did not disappoint me. It was awesome. I listened to my audiotape-recording of it many a time in the hours, days, and weeks that followed its April 8 broadcast. And CHSJ refrained from any commercial insertions into the CBC's advertisement intervals in the episode. It was a most welcome reprieve, but, alas, "Force of Life" would be the last episode that CHSJ would allow to air without zealous placement of its own commercials. I will never forget to my dying day what CHSJ did with "The Last Enemy" on June 24, 1978. Cutting into the Space: 1999 main titles as the "This Episode" montage was about to begin, with a Gaetani Circus advertisement that kept New Brunswickers from seeing the remainder of the main title sequence.
Yes, the New Brunswick CBC Television affiliate resumed its disruptive ways for the network rerun of "Alpha Child" on April 15. First by showing it two hours later, at 6 P.M., than the main CBC network's airtime of 4 P.M., and then by 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 New Brunswick newspaper television guides for 6 o'clock (TV Guide magazine correctly had it listed at 4 o'clock on CHSJ and the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island CBC television stations). And CHSJ did its inserting of its own commercials, and almost all of 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.
As I have many times noted, the CBC did itself edit Space: 1999 episodes for broadcast. But care was invested in making cuts that were not injurious to understanding of an episode's developing story. Episode titles were not touched, and nor were Space: 1999 main title sequences. No. That was CHSJ-TV's doing. Approximately two minutes were cut out of each episode as transmitted on CBC Television. Usually, each time that an episode aired, different scenes were cut. This being the case, if a person saw an episode on two separate broadcasts months apart, then he or she knew, will have watched, every scene in an episode. Some notable exceptions to this were "Alpha Child", "Another Time, Another Place", and "Black Sun", of which the same scenes were missing in April of 1978 as had been absent on their broadcast October previous. And the film splices where the edits occurred, were precisely the same. Other episodes in the same category as "Alpha Child", "Another Time, Another Place", and "Black Sun", included "Guardian of Piri", "Matter of Life and Death", and, from 1976-7, "Devil's Planet".
"Another Time Another Place" on both of its CBC Television network broadcasts, those of October 22, 1977 and April 22, 1978, was shorn in its first act of consecutive scenes with Koenig and Russell in Medical Centre talking about Regina's condition and Main Mission personnel discovering that the Moon is in a stellar neighbourhood. And also, there was on both of those telecasts some trimming to Koenig and Carter in Act 3 investigating the crashed Eagle on the future Moon's surface. In the cut episode, the viewer did not see them enter that Eagle and make their way to the Pilot Section. After the film splice, Koenig and Carter were already in the Eagle cockpit wiping dust off of the spacesuit visors of the dead pilots.
Cut from "Black Sun" on CBC Television on both October 29, 1977 and April 29, 1978 was the scene in the fourth act wherein Bergman and Koenig, talking in Koenig's office, posit the intervention of God or some "cosmic intelligence" in Alpha having survived previous crises. The scene was not essential to the episode's internal logic as followed by the viewer. The episode was comprehensible without it as it was with it. Koenig and Bergman believe that they communed with a "cosmic intelligence" in the black sun (Bergman asks of it, without a reply, if it is God), a "cosmic intelligence" that metaphysically preserved Alpha from the destructive forces and pressures inside the black sun and brought to "home", i.e. Alpha, a survival Eagle with six Alphans therein. That much was viewable in the episode as aired on CBC Television. Doubtless, this was why the cut scene was judged by the CBC to be removable. The episode's internal logic can be understood without it. It is meta-textual in that it is applicable, or potentially applicable, to episodes beyond and including "Black Sun". Space: 1999 fandom derives much of its veneration of Space: 1999's entire first season as being a quasi-religious masterwork, from that scene. But the CBC opted to cut it. Both times that "Black Sun" was aired in the 1977-8 television season. I did not see it. My understanding of Space: 1999, both of its two seasons, was that it was entirely self-contained episodes of spatial or extraterrestrial encounters. Sometimes with a metaphysical quantity, but each of them acting with separate, or discrete, agency. The drama of each of the episodes not being cogently dependent on that of any of the others. Such was how I regarded Space: 1999 as it was broadcast on the CBC. I and my parents and my friends. To all of us, it was a space adventure television series. The first season more deliberate, talkier, slower, less pacey, than the second season. But both of them, both seasons, essentially space adventure.
And to this, I think it necessary to add that the CBC also removed the scene in "The Testament of Arkadia" with Dr. Russell and Luke Ferro and Anna Davis in the Eagle and Ferro and Davis talking of Alpha having been guided to the planet Arkadia ever since the Moon's breaking out of Earth orbit. As far as a CBC Television viewer was concerned, then, the mysterious force acting upon the halted-in-space Moon and its Alpha Moonbase in "The Testament of Arkadia" and causing the events of that episode to happen, was a self-contained episode's concept, was local to the Moon's current path through space, was entirely planet-based, affecting the Moon's odyssey only as the runaway Moon was approaching planet Arkadia. Some distillation of the planet's essence, or that of the collective spirit of its inhabitants. Something which somehow endured for millennia on the otherwise desolate and barren planet. Koenig, in his narration in the episode as heard in the CBC's broadcast, does actually infer the mysterious force being situated on the planet, and from that can it be quite rationally extrapolated that the mysterious force in the episode is operating only in vicinity of the planet. There was nothing in the novelisation of "The Testament of Arkadia", in Astral Quest by John Rankine, to contradict any of this. Not as I read it, anyway. And "The Testament of Arkadia" aired only once on CBC Television in 1977-8. Its summer of 1978 scheduled rerun was aborted, as I will chronicle. So, there was no reinstatement then of the cut scene. When friends and I subsequently talked about Space: 1999 and played Space: 1999 in 1978's spring and summer (we, my Fredericton friends and I, did talk about and play Space: 1999 that spring and summer, though not to a great extent), there was no mention or discussion of some quasi-religious story arc in the television show. Again, to us, to all of us, including my much more experienced-in-life parents, Space: 1999, both of its seasons, was a straightforward space adventure television series. Not a many-episode-spanning yarn of recurrent, connected metaphysical interventions overtly (or subtly) purporting a quasi-religion, or parable for religion. Oh, an occasional nod, yes, in a self-contained episode, to Biblical creation myth in the machinations of an alien antagonist, such as those of Magus in Season 2's "New Adam, New Eve". Or perhaps, in another episode, a short scene in which aliens pray for a dead comrade (showing that aliens have their own religion). But not more than that. Not more than that to us.
And furthermore, the word, testament, need not refer to the Bible. Its less lofty, common uses are, firstly, reference to the last wish or wishes of a deceased person as documented, and, secondly, denoting of a witnessing, attestation, or monument to something. Something not necessarily theological or spiritual. The use of the word in "The Testament of Arkadia" may be regarded as indicative of the Arkadians' last wishes that their planet be restored to life, and of an attestation of those wishes. I did not view the "Testament of Arkadia" use of the word in any way other than this. Certainly not as having some connotation to being analogous to one of the Testaments of the Bible. Nor did anyone else in my life at the time. The CBC, in cutting the scenes in "Black Sun" and "The Testament of Arkadia" suggestive of some overarching continuity of a divine-interventionist, religious nature extending across the Space: 1999 first season, had muddled the "message". Sufficiently so for it to not be noticeable with any of the particulars of the episodes as offered in CBC English's 1976-8 Space: 1999 broadcast. It was not noticeable to me, to any of us, and Space: 1999's appeal as a fanciful space adventure was, for me and others, unhampered by such muddling. To this day, my affection for Space: 1999 is in no way founded on the "Mysterious Unknown Force" (as Space: 1999 fandom likes to call it).
I remember the telecast of "Black Sun" on April 29, 1978 being unseen by David B., who was playing outside as I was watching the day's Space: 1999 episode from 4 P.M. to 5 P.M.. David B. later asked me what episode that he had that day missed viewing. And when I told to him that it was "Black Sun", he was not particularly regretful at having not seen it on that day's broadcast. I do not believe that it was a favourite of his.
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", on all CBC Television stations in Canada's eastern Maririmes, but New Brunswick newspaper television guides told 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 constituted 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.
While I was living through mid-1978, however, I was unaware of any plans by the CBC to scuttle Space: 1999 come that autumn. And although CHSJ's inserting of its own commercials into the CBC-broadcast Space: 1999 episodes had become by then a routine intrusion into the sanctity of following Space; 1999 on CBC, I still looked forward to and delighted in the occasions on mid-1978's Saturdays, to watch and to audiotape-record Space: 1999 and its idiosyncratic depictions of most fantastic deep-space adventure. I remember being quite eager to see "The Last Sunset" again, on its repeat broadcast of June 17. So much so, that I did a sketch based on it for Art class at school on the afternoon of the preceding Friday. I on many a day listened to "The Infernal Machine" on audiocassette from my audiotape-recording of that episode on June 10. And "The Last Enemy", as telecast on June 24, was one of the first Space: 1999 episodes whose sounds passed through the magnetic recording heads of a new and quite impressive audiocassette recording-and-playback deck that I bought from Kelly's Stereo Mart, King's Place, downtown Fredericton, on a Friday evening in that month. I also remember buying a SONY C-90 audiocassette, on which to audiotape-record "Guardian of Piri" on June 3, from an electronics store called L & R Sound on King Street, downtown Fredericton, and there having my first sight of a videotape recorder, sitting on a shelf on display. It was judged to be far too expensive for my father to consider buying it. On July 22, my friend, David B., watched "Mission of the Darians" with me at my place (we two later had a sleep-over at his place that day's evening and night, as I recall), and my friend, Michael, from Douglastown, was staying in Fredericton with me on July 29 when "Ring Around the Moon" was rerun on CBC.
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", as I have above said was televisually transmitted on June 10, and "Matter of Life and Death" airing 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. "Voyager's Return" would eventually reappear for rerun, shown on September 2, with a strange placement of one of its advertising intervals, after young technician Jim Haines allows his mentor, Dr. Ernst Linden (formerly named Dr. Ernst Queller), access unaccompanied to the Moonbase Travel Tube to the landed Voyager spacecraft part of the way through the episode's fourth act. 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, and, unlike "Voyager's Return", it would not have an alternative airdate. 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.
"Matter of Life and Death" on August 26. TV Guide had it scheduled for 3 P.M.. All newspaper television listings concurred with that. And during the end credits of one of the weekday afternoon CBC children's television programmes of the preceding week, there was an announcement for the Space: 1999 episode, with a brief synopsis of it, to be coming on the next Saturday afternoon. On that week's sixth day, I sat through Par 27 from 2:30 P.M. to 3 P.M. in a tense and anxious state, bracing myself, with some fretful difficulty, for potential deep disappointment when the minute hand on the clocks reached twelve. Space: 1999 had not been seen since its episode, "Space Brain", had been telecast in rerun on August 5. For it to be preempted three weeks in a row would be unprecedented and devastating in implication (i.e. that Space: 1999 may be judged by the CBC as needing not be shown very much, or at all, for the CBC to maintain good will and dedication of its Saturday afternoon viewers). The relief that I felt when the first glimpses of the first visualisations of "Matter of Life and Death" graced the cathode ray tube before me, was immense. But I was unprepared for the sound problems during the fourth act's windstorm on planet Terra Nova. In response to that, my mother memorably said that I should be grateful that Space: 1999 was airing, howsoever marred the sounds of it may be.
For the rerun of "Voyager's Return" at 3 P.M. on September 2, the CBC did something I had never before seen it do in a broadcast in English of a first season Space: 1999 episode. It allowed episode to proceed, without any interval for advertising, from main introduction to episode title. The first interruption of the episode was not until end of Act 1. And to compensate for the lack of advertisement interval between main introduction and episode title, a stoppage of the episode for advertising was inserted into the middle of Act 4, after Jim Haines agreed for Dr. Ernst Linden to board the Voyager alone and before Mathias informed Russell about Linden being nowhere in the Medical area.
The coming of a new television season would spell oblivion for Space: 1999 as a full CBC Television network offering. First indications of that came with the issue of TV Guide for September 9-15. With CBC Television's premiere of Mork and Mindy on September 9 at 5 P.M. and no Space: 1999 anywhere to be found on the Saturday schedule, or anywhere else during the week, it looked like Moonbase Alpha's time on Canadian television had truly come to an end. I shed several tears when this realisation struck me, having excused myself from a group of friends in my basement when I saw the TV Guide listings.
My friends tried to console me in my aggrieved state, by saying that a Battlestar Galactica television series was imminent that autumn, arguing that it would be more than suitable replacement for my beloved Space: 1999. I did have hopes for Battlestar Galactica, but it could never replace Space: 1999 for me. Nothing could.
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.
Coming out of that two-year odyssey with the people of the turn-of-the-century Lunar colony, I had seen just about all that there was to be seen of Space: 1999, apart from some cut scenes in less than a dozen episodes (first season episodes, mostly), and the more than half of "Breakaway" that I had missed back on September 11, 1976. I would not see that large chunk of "Breakaway" until an airing of it in French in June of 1979, and I would not view that portion of "Breakaway" in English until 1984, by way of a telecast "movie" edit (titled Alien Attack) of both "Breakaway" and "War Games".
Not very long after Space: 1999 disappeared from CBC Television, its merchandise started becoming very, very scarce in retail stores in Fredericton. Space: 1999's presence on the shelves of Beegie's Bookstore started to recede almost immediately, and in early 1979, it was gone from there. An order that I had placed for the elusive Pocket Books printing of Breakaway was still pending. I was expecting a telephone call from Beegie's to the effect of that book no longer being in print and therefore unavailable for sale to me. But no such telephone call came. After many months of no word whatsoever about the order, I concluded that the book would never come. But to my stunned surprise, it did. Almost two years later! I found it sitting on the kitchen table one day when I came home from school for lunch!
After Beegie's, Coles, and other book dealers had liquidated their stock of Space: 1999 paperbacks, I had to turn to the second-hand book market to purchase Space: 1999 books in Fredericton. Provided that the condition of them met my standards. Pristine copies were difficult to find, though not impossible.
Other Space: 1999 merchandise was vanishing even more rapidly from the inventory of retailers. Consumers Distributing dropped the Space: 1999 Utility Belt from its catalogue in 1978. A toy model kit or two could still be found in late 1978 on a back shelf at a store like Leisure World, before those, too, were removed from retail sale. Journeys to places in Maine, U.S.A. might sometimes prove fruitful, for a Space: 1999 Colorforms Adventure Set or a Mattel Moonbase Alpha playset (for which the Mattel Koenig and Bergman dolls were meant to be used as "action figures"). But the well was "drying up" in this regard by late 1979. Toy sections of stores were more and more Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars.
I was not without provision of Space: 1999 on television for very long, happily, as Cosmos 1999 was granted another eighteen months of existence on CBC French, starting January of 1979. But the eastern Maritime provinces of Canada, including mine, received a very, very truncated access to those telecasts, CBAFT only allowing to Canadians of those provinces occasion to view twenty-two of the twenty-four Season 2 episodes, and thirteen of the twenty-four episodes of Season 1, whilst people in all other parts of the country could see two full runs of Season 2 and one full run of Season 1 (albeit with cuts to the episodes in many cases).
All told, the cancellation of Space: 1999 on CBC Television in September of 1978 began, for me, a prolonged time period of difficulty to find and enjoy Space: 1999 on television or in any commercial product bearing its name. And eventually, a near total lack of any opportunity to watch it, in either English or French, as I was in the worst of my school years, Grades 8 and 9, and then in Grades 10 and 11. In that enormous span of time for me, the unpopular wide-eyed youth of suburban Fredericton, I longed so much, so very, very much, for the days when I could sit before the television in the McCorry living room and be weekly transported to "worlds beyond belief" in the fantastic future of Space: 1999. It was an awesome experience while it lasted.