Space: 1999 (1975) – Mission of the Darians, and Black Sun

Johnny Byrne pens this episode that first debuted on 30 October, 1975, that sees Moonbase Alpha encountering yet another alien life form (something that they take way too easily in stride as a series. There should be wonder and discovery associated with these things, but instead we just dive into the story – although there is a hint of this in the pre-credit sequence).

A miles long spaceship (a pretty cool design) comes close to the travelling moon, and Koenig (Martin Landau) and his fellow Alphans meet a new group of humanoid aliens. Ones who have a very definitive class structure.

Investigating the ship, all the exploratory teams encounter different portions of the ship’s residents, There are some living in luxury, and others, used as slave labour, and forgotten amongst the lower decks. Then there are those referred to as mutants…

Koenig and Bergman (Barry Morse) end up in the upper class, while Russell (Barbara Bain) is captured by the lower class, all while Alan (Nick Tate) traverses the starship (with some nice matte paintings and models) looking for his fellows.

The episode features Joan Collins as one of the aliens, Kara.

It seems Kara and the fourteen surviving pure Darians have created a false mythology to keep the rest of the ‘unclean’ in servitude, and use them as resources.

Kara and the upper-class offer Koenig and Bergman the opportunity to have Alpha join them all on the ship. An offer he considers, until he learns what they are really doing to the rest of the people, and the fate they have planned for the Alphans.

This episode looks great, and the visuals are pretty sweet for the time. They could have changed this into a huge two-parter and made it really epic. After Breakaway, this is my favourite episode that I have screened so far.

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Black Sun was written by David Weir and first aired on 6 November, 1975.

Alpha is tumbling towards a black hole, or black sun, the pull of it increasing moment to moment. Bergman is able to come up with a plan, an energy field to protect the base, but Koenig feels that just won’t be enough, and selects six designated survivors to escape in an Eagle.

Trouble starts when an asteroid first headed for Alpha is pulled off course and destroyed by the black hole, and we are given an emotional arc, when Sandra (Zienia Merton), one of command’s main workers loses her lover when he pilots an Eagle to close to it.

Bergman’s plan is to protect the base… but what about the rest of the moon? I don’t quite understand the logic in that.

And why would Koenig be right, and know more about a black hole (sun) than Bergman?

We do learn, after a short circuit that gives the professor a bit of a jolt, that Bergman has a mechanical heart- interesting character note, and one that may never be revisited again. I think as much as I am enjoying the show, there’s a lack of series continuity, let alone a series long arc. But that’s no detracting from my enjoyment that much.

Koenig selects six people, including Alan, Russell, and Sandra who will be in the Eagle. As the Eagle departs, Koenig and Bergman (and those that remain on Alpha) prepare for the end, and it is Bergman, the scientist that leads a metaphysical discussion.

The rest of the Alphans find solace as they can. while Koenig and Bergman sit in command and discuss possibilities, just as something very odd starts to happen (and honestly, not very scientific).It tries for a very brief moment to go all 2001: A Space Odyssey, with ageing, some pseudo-scientific discussions, some strange visuals… It doesn’t work as well as Kubrick’s film, but that’s okay, the up side is that Moonbase Alpha, and the moon come out the other side of its encounter with the black sun (on the other side of the universe), reunite with the eagle and its crew and continue their interstellar travels.

And we will join them again next week!

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