Space 1999 - The Beta Cloud
Gerry Anderson, Fred Freiberger for ITC
directed by Robert Lynn
starring Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Catherine Schell, Tony Anholt, Nick Tate, Zienia Merton, David Prowse, John Hug, Albin Pahernik
screenplay by Charles Woodgrove (= Fred Freiberger), created by Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, music by Derek Wadsworth, special effects by Brian Johnson
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Earth's runaway moon passes a weird space cloud - that makes most of
the crew on Moonbase Alpha, including Commander Koenig (Martin Landau)
fall ill, so its up to a core group under the command of Tony (Tony
Anholt) and resident shapeshifter Maya (Catherine Schell) to keep things
running. Alpha receives a message from the cloud and is asked to give up
the life support system which the beings in the cloud apparently need, but
naturally that's the last thing the base can give up since it would mean
everyone's death, so Tony refuses. An Eagle that was sent to investigate
the cloud returns, but it doesn't carry the original pilot but a space
monster (David Prowse) that's supposed to snatch the life support system.
Of course, the Alphans throw everything they have at the monster, Maya
even turns into a space monster herself to fight it one on one, but
nothing seems to work. It's really only when they're pretty much cornered
that Tony and Maya find out one important detail about the monster, it's
not a living being at all but a robot. So while Tony engages the monster
in hand to hand combat (and gets beaten up badly as a consequence), Maya
turns into a fly, enters the monster through the ear, and disturbs its
circuits to such a degree that the monster shuts down. And with the
monster turned off, the cloud in space just disappears and everybody gets
well again ...
Now what Space 1999 is really good
at is its miniature effects that are really far ahead from anything else
playing at the small screen at the time. What the series is not
particularly good at is monsters - and this episode has little of the
former and much of the latter. And frankly, the monster in this episode
doesn't look very menacing, and is clearly just a man in a rubber suit -
and same really goes for the monster Maya turns into. And yet, this is a
fun episode, as not only is the monster much fun, but the ridiculousness
of the creature aside, the stakes of the story feel real and the thing is
stringently told, with the tension level high throughout. Basically this
one's better than the monster suit suggests it to be ...