Space 1999 - Devil's Planet
Gerry Anderson, Fred Freiberger for ITC
directed by Tom Clegg
starring Martin Landau, Hildegard Neil, Roy Marsden, Dora Reisser, Cassandra Harris, Angus MacInnes, Arthur White, Michael Dickinson, John Hug, Alibe Parsons, Sam Dastor, Del Baker
screenplay by Michael Winder, created by Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, music by Derek Wadsworth, special effects by Brian Johnson
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Moonbase Alpha on earth's runaway moon has discovered a planet to
support life, so Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) and pilot Maine (Michael
Dickinson) take a trip there to investigate. The planet's highly
developed, but everybody on there seems to be dead. Upon leaving though,
Koenig and Maine's shuttle is drawn into the gravitational pull of the
planet's moon and crashes. Fortunately they come out of this unfazed, and
fortunately as well, that planet has earthlike atmosphere and vegetation -
but unfortunately this moon is the planet's penal colony ruled by ruthless
Elizia (Hildegard Neil) where whip-wielding female jailers in silly costumes
(including helmets reminiscent of Roman leggionaires) keep the
male prisoners in check. The jailers kill Fraser pretty much on the spot
but take Koenig prisoner. On Moonbase Alpha, Koenig's crew gets worried
about his whereabouts, so they send another Eagle to the planet and
ultimately to the prison moon, but Elizia fakes it so it looks both Koenig
and Fraser have died in the crash - so the Alphan Eagle leaves again.
Koenig makes an escape attempt but ultimately fails, but he manages to
plant a seed of doubt into those in the colony, that their home planet,
the one the prisoners hope to return to when pardoned and the jailers want
to return to once their turn here is up, is no longer habitable for their
kind, and ultimately he escapes to the planet via a telportation chamber,
to radio for the Eagle, while Elizia goes after him to prove to hers that
the planet is still habitable, but she collapses and dies while Koenig's
picked up by his crew.
The interesting thing about this episode
is that it features none of the regulars other than Koenig, and even the
few crewmembers shown when Koenig radios to Alpha are complete unknowns to
the audience. That's due to this episode shot at the same time as Dorzak
- in which Martin Landau did not feature - thus none of the other leads
was available for this one. A very logical logistical move of course, that
comes off as very odd for the audience.
As a whole, this is an
episode with its ups and its downs: While the miniature work is good as
usual, the uniforms of the jailers and the prison suits are pure camp, and
the story doesn't really have too much to offer as the premise is reduced
to jump-and-run routines while the more interesting questions that seem to
pose themselves, like what happened on the planet, and how did it develop
its own penal colony, are pretty much glossed over. It's fun to watch for
sure, but not exactly a piece of great science fiction.