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Old 26-05-2011, 06:03 PM   #1
cytherians
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Default Space:1999 - major flaws from the very start

When I first watched Space:1999, I was immediately taken by the SFX and models created by Brian Johnson and Martin Bowers. They were top notch for the day. The stories in Season 1 were a bit heavy on the cerebral, which didn't match the already serious stretch of plausibility taken with the show's main premise: the Moon being torn out of Earth orbit by a massive nuclear explosion. The shift to "improve" things in Season 2 only made it worse... and I soon lost interest.


THE MAIN FLAWS WITH SPACE:1999

The idea of taking the moon out of the solar system on a journey through space sounds really intriguing, but it's just plain ridiculous. We all know that space is vast and that habitable planets are many thousands of light years away. If the moon left our solar system, it would be several generations before anyone got a chance to encounter human habitable worlds, let alone possible intelligent life. Plus, there's one MAJOR thing that was completely overlooked: Water. H2O.

Water is the wellspring of life. Without it, there's no possible life as we know it. Back in the 1970's, there wasn't any formal speculation of water being present on the moon. We have detected some presence of it in recent years, but the amount is still extremely small relative to the size of the moon.

The other issue is the means by which the moon was yanked out of Earth orbit. Nuclear waste is not explosive on its own. It is highly radioactive. You need tremendous skill to create an explosive device from it. A pile of radioactive waste is simply poisonous to humans, not explosive.


POSSIBLE CORRECTIONS
Space:1999 could have addressed the needful water issue in a variety of ways. Either they managed to find some vast pools of ice particles beneath the moon's crust that they could mine for water, or a comet impacted the moon and presented significant amounts of ice chunks that could be converted to usable water. SOMETHING like this. With many tons of seeds and fertile soil offloaded from Earth over several years, Moonbase Alpha could have a massive hydroponics garden that would feed the base crew. And with plentiful water, they would be pretty well set. This would set the stage for Moonbase Alpha being sustainable. It could also be a periodic plot device, as aliens they encounter would consider water highly valuable and want to take it from Alpha. Without this, the whole story is just plain wacko.

The means by which the moon's orbit is broken would be something along the lines of a severe radioactive build-up of some kind affects the fabric of nearby space and tears open a kind of wormhole. The moon gets pulled in by the immense gravitational forces. There's nothing they can do. Several spacecraft try to make a run for Earth, but the gravitational pull is too much and they're forced to land on the moon.

Once through the wormhole, the moon is now in another part of the galaxy. From here, ANYTHING is game. You can be near habitable worlds, encounter intelligent species, etc. It has far greater possibilities than a moon drifting out of our solar system at a rate that is simply too slow to get anywhere within a reasonable period of time for good story telling.

Another issue is gravity. It's very light on the moon, and yet everybody moves around like they're on Earth. At the very least, they should have mentioned some gravitation enhancers as a base system, periodically needing attention or partially damaged in an incident.

And what about power? Well, I think we're told that Alpha has some nuclear power plants. This certainly works, but then the question remains as to how much nuclear fuel they have. It would have been a very good move to show solar panel farms of some kind providing electricity. The fact that none existed looks really peculiar, especially given the viability of it even then (all space stations have had them) and the expectation that the science could have been improved by 1999.

Lastly, the Eagle transporter was such a very interesting piece of design work that probably would have actually worked as a spacecraft on the moon or ferrying between the moon and orbital stations on the moon and Earth. But for atmospheric re-entry? C'mon. You have flat forward facing surfaces that would make it simply impossible. Either you streamline the Eagle in a way to make it "believable" as a craft that can penetrate an atmosphere, or you have a separate kind of ship for planetary excursions. The SFX crew were so good at coming up with spacecraft, I'm certain they could have thought of something. Even perhaps based on the Eagle Hawk Mark IV, which was much more streamlined.

They never mention anything about where all the fuel for those Eagles comes from. It is demonstrated as propellant based, so there's some kind of liquid fuel being used. How much do they have? How can they replenish it? They could have mentioned some kind of fuel processing and refinement center... maybe they have some special means of creating it, who knows.

With these matters properly addressed, and I think VERY possibly done given the resources and budget at hand, Space:1999 would have had a foundation for a terrific show. Also, I would have called it Space:2100. I don't know why Gerry Anderson was so overly optimistic on time. UFO was said to take place in 1980, when it was made in 1969. In 11 years you'd have this kind of tech? Ha, right. Space:1999 was a little more forgiving, yet still way overly optimistic. I understand the appeal, the edge of a century as a source of imagination, but c'mon... our technology in the 1970's was still so primitive in comparison to what was proposed in the series. 25 years was still not enough time.

OK, RANT OVER
Anyway, that's my take on it. There were elements of the show I liked a lot... but these glaring problems that wouldn't have been hard to fix just annoyed me. And the turn of events for Season 2 was the end of it all. Very sad, to see such potential wasted.

Last edited by cytherians; 26-05-2011 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 26-05-2011, 08:20 PM   #2
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SARCASM MODE ON... My goodness! I've never realised how bad this show we all like actually is! That's it, I'm out of here, and encourage the rest of you to just stop wasting any more time on it! ...SARCASM MODE OFF.

Well, that's certainly a bold way to approach a dedicated forum! All kidding aside, take a look around here and on other sites like The Catacombs... not only have all those arguments been brought up for many years (often 'parroted' by people who've not even seen the show!), many of us here and in S99 fandom around the world have not only acknowledged those faults, but have attempted to rationalise/explain some of them. We do acknowledge the series' shortcomings/faults, and actually know that suspension of disbelief is required--often times in amounts some people are unwilling to supply--in order to enjoy the series. To each his own, I guess.

But let's address some of the specific things you've brought up... it turns out that several of them actually were addressed in Season 1, although whole episodes were not built up around them. (In spite of its film-quality SFX and large set design, one thing that makes S99 more about story than technology is that the characters weren't always standing around spewing technobabble ad nauseum... some things are merely mentioned once and taken for granted as a standard for other episodes.) Anyway, in no particular order:

Alpha is powered by nuclear generators (three of them: "Force of Life," "Alpha Child"), Alpha internal gravty is mentioned (in that they had to turn it "all the way down" to get a heavy object into the base: "Space Brain"), at least one hydroponics lab is shown (implying that there is a larger 'garden area' for food production: "The Troubled Spirit"; this is also borne out by the presence of a seed store, without which Alpha couldn't survive: "The Testament of Arkadia"), water recycling stores and solar batteries are mentioned ("War Games").

Yes, there could have been improvements in the series (Season 2, in my opinion, was not an improvement), and yes, the moon's travels are unrealistic, unless one presumes space warps--what we would now call wormholes... but wait, there were episodes in both seasons that had those. Plus, there's the whole metaphysical notion (in Season 1 at least) that the moon's journey was being guided by an unknown force.

As for optimism of technology, Anderson deliberately wanted it set in the near future, as opposed to a couple of centuries hence like Star Trek, for relatability purposes.

Finally, a good many of the things you brought up have actually been addressed in a project by Eric Bernard, who is attempting to 'remaster' the series as Space: 2099. There are a couple of threads around here about it... check into it, as it sounds like you might agree with what he is doing!

Last edited by CR; 26-05-2011 at 09:33 PM. Reason: revised & original note for clarity, then fixed typos
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Old 26-05-2011, 08:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cytherians View Post
When I first watched Space:1999, I was immediately taken by the SFX and models created by Brian Johnson and Martin Bowers. They were top notch for the day. The stories in Season 1 were a bit heavy on the cerebral, which didn't match the already serious stretch of plausibility taken with the show's main premise: the Moon being torn out of Earth orbit by a massive nuclear explosion. The shift to "improve" things in Season 2 only made it worse... and I soon lost interest.


THE MAIN FLAWS WITH SPACE:1999

The idea of taking the moon out of the solar system on a journey through space sounds really intriguing, but it's just plain ridiculous. We all know that space is vast and that habitable planets are many thousands of light years away. If the moon left our solar system, it would be several generations before anyone got a chance to encounter human habitable worlds, let alone possible intelligent life. Plus, there's one MAJOR thing that was completely overlooked: Water. H2O.

Water is the wellspring of life. Without it, there's no possible life as we know it. Back in the 1970's, there wasn't any formal speculation of water being present on the moon. We have detected some presence of it in recent years, but the amount is still extremely small relative to the size of the moon.

The other issue is the means by which the moon was yanked out of Earth orbit. Nuclear waste is not explosive on its own. It is highly radioactive. You need tremendous skill to create an explosive device from it. A pile of radioactive waste is simply poisonous to humans, not explosive.


POSSIBLE CORRECTIONS
Space:1999 could have addressed the needful water issue in a variety of ways. Either they managed to find some vast pools of ice particles beneath the moon's crust that they could mine for water, or a comet impacted the moon and presented significant amounts of ice chunks that could be converted to usable water. SOMETHING like this. With many tons of seeds and fertile soil offloaded from Earth over several years, Moonbase Alpha could have a massive hydroponics garden that would feed the base crew. And with plentiful water, they would be pretty well set. This would set the stage for Moonbase Alpha being sustainable. It could also be a periodic plot device, as aliens they encounter would consider water highly valuable and want to take it from Alpha. Without this, the whole story is just plain wacko.

The means by which the moon's orbit is broken would be something along the lines of a severe radioactive build-up of some kind affects the fabric of nearby space and tears open a kind of wormhole. The moon gets pulled in by the immense gravitational forces. There's nothing they can do. Several spacecraft try to make a run for Earth, but the gravitational pull is too much and they're forced to land on the moon.

Once through the wormhole, the moon is now in another part of the galaxy. From here, ANYTHING is game. You can be near habitable worlds, encounter intelligent species, etc. It has far greater possibilities than a moon drifting out of our solar system at a rate that is simply too slow to get anywhere within a reasonable period of time for good story telling.

Another issue is gravity. It's very light on the moon, and yet everybody moves around like they're on Earth. At the very least, they should have mentioned some gravitation enhancers as a base system, periodically needing attention or partially damaged in an incident.

And what about power? Well, I think we're told that Alpha has some nuclear power plants. This certainly works, but then the question remains as to how much nuclear fuel they have. It would have been a very good move to show solar panel farms of some kind providing electricity. The fact that none existed looks really peculiar, especially given the viability of it even then (all space stations have had them) and the expectation that the science could have been improved by 1999.

Lastly, the Eagle transporter was such a very interesting piece of design work that probably would have actually worked as a spacecraft on the moon or ferrying between the moon and orbital stations on the moon and Earth. But for atmospheric re-entry? C'mon. You have flat forward facing surfaces that would make it simply impossible. Either you streamline the Eagle in a way to make it "believable" as a craft that can penetrate an atmosphere, or you have a separate kind of ship for planetary excursions. The SFX crew were so good at coming up with spacecraft, I'm certain they could have thought of something. Even perhaps based on the Eagle Hawk Mark IV, which was much more streamlined.

They never mention anything about where all the fuel for those Eagles comes from. It is demonstrated as propellant based, so there's some kind of liquid fuel being used. How much do they have? How can they replenish it? They could have mentioned some kind of fuel processing and refinement center... maybe they have some special means of creating it, who knows.

With these matters properly addressed, and I think VERY possibly done given the resources and budget at hand, Space:1999 would have had a foundation for a terrific show. Also, I would have called it Space:2100. I don't know why Gerry Anderson was so overly optimistic on time. UFO was said to take place in 1980, when it was made in 1969. In 11 years you'd have this kind of tech? Ha, right. Space:1999 was a little more forgiving, yet still way overly optimistic. I understand the appeal, the edge of a century as a source of imagination, but c'mon... our technology in the 1970's was still so primitive in comparison to what was proposed in the series. 25 years was still not enough time.

OK, RANT OVER
Anyway, that's my take on it. There were elements of the show I liked a lot... but these glaring problems that wouldn't have been hard to fix just annoyed me. And the turn of events for Season 2 was the end of it all. Very sad, to see such potential wasted.
Yeah , and Captain Scarlet would never have happened either ......!
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Old 26-05-2011, 10:52 PM   #4
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And lets face it, every sci-fi series has it's faults. I mean, what's "Warp drive"? Even if it's plausible, you're not going to be able to "warp" around like they do in Star Trek. Let's go to 3 or 4 different planets in one episode??? Right!

Oh, and lets hope the kligons and romulans all understand 1967 english!
And lets hope they all have 2 eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, 2 arms and 2 legs!! Just because you put a squiggly design on a humans forehead, that makes them an alien??! C'mon!

Of course it's not completely accurate! That's part of the fun.

Sit back, relax, crack open a cold one and enjoy!!

It's science FICTION, not science actual!
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Old 26-05-2011, 11:07 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by VTracy View Post
Of course it's not completely accurate! That's part of the fun. Sit back, relax, crack open a cold one and enjoy!!
It's science FICTION, not science actual!
Well said. And as it states on the covers of some of the Space 1999 novels - "ESCAPE INTO WORLDS BEYOND BELIEF" - that's the whole idea
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Old 26-05-2011, 11:21 PM   #6
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http://www.space.com/11797-moon-inte...r-origins.html

Of course, according to this article, there is more water on the moon than the 300 or so Alphans could ever use.

That was one of my theories, that the radiation didn't so much explode and blow the moon out of orbit, so much as heat the water present, therefore turning half the moon into a giant steam engine! (with, of course, some obligatory space warp or worm hole)

See, it all works out!
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Old 26-05-2011, 11:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by VTracy View Post
http://www.space.com/11797-moon-inte...r-origins.html

Of course, according to this article, there is more water on the moon than the 300 or so Alphans could ever use.

That was one of my theories, that the radiation didn't so much explode and blow the moon out of orbit, so much as heat the water present, therefore turning half the moon into a giant steam engine! (with, of course, some obligatory space warp or worm hole)

See, it all works out!
oooopppssss, forgot to mention, this also neatly explains why the moon is completely intact after being "blown" out of orbit!

(VTracy sits back and admires his own work!)
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Old 27-05-2011, 12:08 AM   #8
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Ah, then there's the other recent article ( http://www.astronomynow.com/news/n1105/19floating/ )VTracy linked to in its own thread that says the galaxy is rife with wandering or 'rogue' planets.
Of course, that still doesn't mean that they travel at interstellar velocities, but the 'space warp' thing coupled with the 'mysterious unknown force' comes into play for S99's wandering moon.

Last edited by CR; 27-05-2011 at 12:13 AM. Reason: added link
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Old 27-05-2011, 03:44 AM   #9
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Ah well, please let me start by saying thank you... for really taking a civilized approach in a response to my points. I do realize that I had a rather bold approach, given that this forum has a lot of dedicated Space:1999 fans who'd take exception to some of what I've said. I assumed that these issues must have been raised before, but I couldn't find much through the search mechanism, nor could I find a "sticky" topic.

The advantage Star Trek had was being set so far in the future, that tech could be more imaginative. And that's the basic problem with Gerry Anderson trying to keep it easier to relate to by positioning it only 30 years in the future. It would have to measure up to the inherent limitations.

Well, I've certainly learned a few things. I didn't know there was mention of water recycling plants or solar batteries. I do remember the hydroponics lab, but it appeared to be very small, not representative of the capacity required for Alpha's population. There was also the peculiar "The Testament of Arkadia" episode, where one Eagle is capable of holding a significant majority of Alpha's food supplies. That just didn't make any sense, given the scale of Alpha. But I guess we could imagine that they had some special genetically modified crops that would grow super fast, stowed in very small containers. Interesting that artificial gravity was mentioned, although a shame it was brought up so late in the season.


Thanks for the tips on Eric Bernard's 2099 project. I had caught one or two of his videos on YouTube. I'll have to see what he's been drumming up over here.
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Old 27-05-2011, 06:28 AM   #10
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The fact that Space: 1999 is packed with scientific inaccuracies (and an infinite number of bloopers) is notorious to the fans. However, I think we like the series for other reasons.
Yesterday I watched End of Eternity, one of the most brilliant episodes in the entire series. The fact that, at the end of the story, Balor (whose psycho-brightness is wonderfully portrayed by Peter Bowles) is sucked out to space is a big mistake as he should actually land on the moon surface does not minimise the great entertaining value of the episode where the theme of immortality is explored together with other political and moral issues. That is why the series (season 1 mostly) I think is remembered and appreciated: more for its way to discuss ethical, social and philosophical themes rather than its, undenyable, scientific inaccuracies.
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Old 27-05-2011, 08:09 AM   #11
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l remember as child watching series 1 in awe, easy as an adult to see some flaws etc but at the time good and few special effects were mainly at the cinemas then this rolls royce of a sci-fi show came along on TV and l was hooked. Whatever the show didnt tell me l used my imagination to make up. l was fasinated by the characters and there troubles.
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Old 27-05-2011, 08:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKVIEW View Post
l remember as child watching series 1 in awe, easy as an adult to see some flaws etc but at the time good and few special effects were mainly at the cinemas then this rolls royce of a sci-fi show came along on TV and l was hooked. Whatever the show didnt tell me l used my imagination to make up. l was fasinated by the characters and there troubles.
Well said!
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Old 27-05-2011, 08:59 AM   #13
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Science Fiction. Note the word fiction - designed as entertainment.
The show wasn't intended to be an accurate extrapolation of scientific fact, or rather a vehicle to discuss the results of the moon ripping itself from orbit, in a factual manner.
If it were, then the show would have laster a few minutes into the first episode, and would have consisted of scientific exposition.
As my old mate Asimov said back when it was first shown, as seen at the catacoombs:
http://www.space1999.net/catacombs/press/vxasimov.html
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Old 27-05-2011, 10:31 AM   #14
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It's easy to over-analyse things especially Sci-Fi remember the clue is in the name, Science "Fiction"

As a child shows like Star Trek, Space 1999, UFO, Doctor Who & Blakes 7 opened our minds to new possibilties and concepts that not only entertained us but also changed the way that some of us percieve life in general, even for all the Scientific inaccuracies they should still be applauded for that.

And compared to some of the mindless drivell that's put out in Film & TV today these shows still hold a Very dear place in our hearts.

So much so that we still discuss them even now.

Last edited by ALPHA ONE; 27-05-2011 at 02:14 PM. Reason: Corrections
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Old 27-05-2011, 01:25 PM   #15
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POSSIBLE CORRECTIONS
Space:1999 could have addressed the needful water issue in a variety of ways. Either they managed to find some vast pools of ice particles beneath the moon's crust that they could mine for water, or a comet impacted the moon and presented significant amounts of ice chunks that could be converted to usable water.


We also can't forget that in "The Last Sunset", the aliens made it rain on the moon. Though we're only shown areas around Alpha, we assume from the episode that the atmosphere and the rain happens all over the moon.

Speculating from later in the episode where the moon still appears dry and dusty, I believe most of this water was absorbed into the surface, as Paul later finds and eats a type of fungas or something similar, growing on the surface.

When the moon moves out of orbit, most of this water should freeze just below the surface and be available later for the crew.
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Old 27-05-2011, 01:38 PM   #16
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Lastly, the Eagle transporter was such a very interesting piece of design work that probably would have actually worked as a spacecraft on the moon or ferrying between the moon and orbital stations on the moon and Earth. But for atmospheric re-entry? C'mon. You have flat forward facing surfaces that would make it simply impossible.

In the episode "Ring Around the Moon", they do show that the Eagle is equipped with forward shielding. (Under SPX)

http://www.space1999.net/catacombs/m...e/t04ratm.html

This could be what is used to protect the CM during re-entry, though I must admit, I can't remember them using it that way in the show.
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Old 27-05-2011, 09:50 PM   #17
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Believe me, I do know it's science fiction. What I'm on about is that there are always plausibility considerations. If things are stretched too far, the audience is lost because they just can't believe it. On the one end of it, you can try being "too plausible", and get lost in the details, causing the stories to suffer. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" went overboard on the techno-babble that makes some episodes difficult to swallow, all in the interest of trying to sound "real". All I'm pointing out about Space:1999 is that there were some significant stretches to plausibility that I think really could have been addressed without great expense or suffering to the stories. But anyway...

What's done is done. I was just interested to hear what people had to say about these points and I learned a lot in turn. It does help me step beyond those points and learn to appreciate the series more, by keeping them in mind.


About "The Last Sunset", one can say OK, the alien devices had some curious means of pumping a tremendous amount of gases above the surface, and somehow allowing them not to escape from the weak gravitational forces of the moon. But when... oh man, they opened windows on the moon base buildings, as if they were like windows on Earth with hinges and latches?? Like, who in their right mind would design them like that? I just took it in stride as a kind of comedy stunt.


The forward shielding on the Eagles is an excellent point. One would have to believe it creates a kind of aerodynamic "cone" in front, allowing an Eagle to pass through an atmosphere with minimal friction. Had Koenig or Alan said something like "engage aero-shield for atmospheric re-entry" when entering a planet's atmosphere in a couple of episodes, that would have certainly helped cement that concept.
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Old 27-05-2011, 10:57 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by cytherians View Post
Believe me, I do know it's science fiction. What I'm on about is that there are always plausibility considerations. If things are stretched too far, the audience is lost because they just can't believe it. On the one end of it, you can try being "too plausible", and get lost in the details, causing the stories to suffer. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" went overboard on the techno-babble that makes some episodes difficult to swallow, all in the interest of trying to sound "real". All I'm pointing out about Space:1999 is that there were some significant stretches to plausibility that I think really could have been addressed without great expense or suffering to the stories. But anyway...

What's done is done. I was just interested to hear what people had to say about these points and I learned a lot in turn. It does help me step beyond those points and learn to appreciate the series more, by keeping them in mind.
Yep, tough to defend the "window" scene of the Last Sunset. I'm sure you could find many explanations on this site if you search. But it's so egregious, the Catacombs identifies as an error!

Then again, when you get to the last scene of the episode, with the final sunset, and the Alphans all watching, all is forgiven. That's great Sci-fi.

Last edited by CR; 28-05-2011 at 06:10 PM. Reason: fixed quote tags
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Old 28-05-2011, 12:44 AM   #19
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As VTracy mentions Catacombs reports a script explanation regarding the windows opening under 'errors' on this first link:
http://space1999.net/catacombs/main/epguide/t11tls.html


images at this link:
http://space1999.net/catacombs/main/.../sptls0877.jpg
http://space1999.net/catacombs/main/epimg/titls5.html
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Old 28-05-2011, 04:21 AM   #20
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(Oh, no, look out, everyone! Run! RUN!)
OMG! NOT THAT DAMNED WINDOW THING AGAIN!!!! Seriously, do a search on this forum for The Window Thing. I've gone over this time after time after time, and for a while, actually joked about it. (Hey, cricket, Eagletransporter, et al., I know you're not here all that much anymore, but you can certainly vouch for me, and pick on me once again about it, I'm sure. ) Let me save people the trouble of doing their own homework...

Watch the episode again, paying closer attention to things that occur onscreen. When the first device spews gas into Alpha, a window in the technical lab blows outward, allowing the gasses to escape. Even more blasts upward out of a launch pad lift shaft. Victor announces that "that thing brought us air!" and soon, the moon has its own atmosphere.
Later, Koenig and company are shown in that tech lab opening that very same window that blew out; clearly, it has been replaced to be openable!

The original script actually had a later scene, once the Alphans became aware of the new atmosphere's corrosive effects, where Koenig orders the window re-sealed, as well as the base to run on its own internal air supply. (As Steve Gerard pointed out, see The Catacombs episode guide for reference... and by the way, martin, could you move that from 'Errors' to 'Observations' instead?) Man, I wish they'd left that scene in! They must've thought that audiences didn't need to be told every niggling detail (like ST: TNG), but this is one case where extra detail would have been OK. Nevertheless, it doesn't take mental gymnatics to figure out what's visible right there on screen.

No, I'm not trying to jump all over anyone personally for this, but I've been pointing this out for well over a decade on various fora/message boards, even at places that pride themselves on finding little details like this (but didn't!).

(Sighs, calms down a little bit...)

(Blinks once or twice....)


Wha... what just happened? Man, I'm exhausted! I must've blanked out for some reason. Did I miss anything?



( )

By the way, just found an article about there being more water on the moon than previously thought. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ba...an-we-thought/
No, of course the writers of S99 had no idea about that at the time, but it does kind of neatly act as a real-life retcon! (Retroactive Continuity, something developed/used in script well after established, viewed continuity, but presumed to have been in place all along.)

Last edited by CR; 28-05-2011 at 04:35 AM.
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