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Old 03-03-2013, 06:57 AM   #1
The Voice of Voyager One
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Default The Beta Cloud - biggest plot hole of all

An alien cloud that knows everything about Moonbase Alpha even before the base's personnel do is a big plot hole, right?

An alien cloud that demands Alpha's "life support core" for survival (at the expense of Alpha's survival) is a big plot hole, right?

An alien cloud that can build an indestructible robot (one that can survive lasers, rockets, vacuum, poisons, and even high-voltage electrocution) to raid and rip apart the base, but still need to steal someone else's life support apparatus to survive, is a big plot hole, right?

Any of these could be the biggest, and dumbest, plot holes of "Space: 1999", right? Riiiiiight?

Wrong.

The biggest, dumbest, silliest plot hole of "Space: 1999" would have to be that an entire moonbase, isolated from its home planet and left to fend for itself for an extended period of time, is still vulnerable because it cannot survive without one part in its life support system. After all Moonbase Alpha had been through with alien invasions, sabotage, and other forms of attack, the base personnel have seen all they need to see when it comes to confirming the absolute need to rig their base for breakdowns, damage and any other form of loss. They already know they need backup systems for their backup systems. The notion of the base being brought to its knees just because Gorilla-Zilla the brutish robot can break in and steal one little part is patently absurd... and also already been tried in "Earthbound" (I seem to remember Commissioner Simmonds doing the same thing, and all he had was a single stun gun)

"The Beta Cloud" was still fun to watch, in a brain-dead sort of way. It's a great review of all the various facilities on the base, and you finally get to see someone fire one of those AAA laser batteries.

Too bad Tony, Maya and Fraser, scientists and astronauts all three, don't have enough practical smarts and ambition to build a better Gorilla-Zilla trap when their backs are against the wall and they have nothing better to do.

At least we get to see Sandra try to build a better trap. (An electrical barrier? Really? This is the best a moonbase with anti-gravity ships, laser cannons, and forcefields can do? Really?)

In the end, the moonbase is saved by a nasty bee. Would've had more punch if Maya had become a hornet or a wasp. But the bee will do. The Seabees, after all, were responsible for making "those dirty little islands" in the Pacific into "unsinkable carriers" during WW II. We always knew Maya would be Tony's "honey" anyway.
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:17 AM   #2
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Oh my god, this episode is one of the reasons 1999 had taken so many lumps over the years.

Aliens advanced enough to build that robot monster and a ship that can stand up to lasers needs Alpha's life support system? Why can't they build their own?

Those poor security guards Tony sends to stop the monster. Bill Fraser says "We have to help them!" What does Tony do? Sends Maya and Sandra to the Medical Center and has the computer lock the doors. He doesn't even mention the security guards, who are presumingly torn limb from limb (at least Kirk cared when the latest redshirted Ensign Deadmeat got offed on Trek). Granted, the guards were probably beyond rescue, but Tony could have at least said so: "We can't help them now, Bill." Or something like that.

How about the cloud's super villain laugh after Tony tries destroying it with the laser. BWA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

Funny how only at the end, they figure that the monster is a robot. Well, duh, people, it survived everything you could throw at it? Maya couldn't change into it (she can change into any life form she sees). The sensors didn't pick it up on the Eagle.

Tony and Maya getting mushy with each other, with Fraser standing just a few feet away. One wonders what he was thinking: Gag me! Bring on the monster already.

I believe Martin Landau and Barbara Bain were going on holiday in France at this time, thus their reduced appearence in this episode.

At least Sandra was given more to do here. Helena left her in charge of Medical.

Yeah, they should have kept Freiberger away from the writing table. His scripts are considered the worst by many fans of 1999.
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:39 PM   #3
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<<Yeah, they should have kept Freiberger away from the writing table>>

They should have kept Freiberger away from Pinewood!
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:34 PM   #4
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"The Beta Cloud" in specific, and Year 2 in general, get pinned with the blame because of FF's apparent fumbling. But the worst "Space: 1999" outing of all time has to be "The Full Circle". I watched it recently and I have to tell you that I could not stand to hear Sandra scream one more time (or do something stupid).
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:11 PM   #5
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FF just didn't get it. He tried to turn 1999 into Star Trek Mark II. I remember an interview in which Martin Landau said that "too many Americans" got involved in S2.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a Trek fan. However, 1999 was a totally different show, in a different universe. It was fine the way it was.

I think I'm in the majority when I say I prefer the Sylvia Anderson season over the Fred Freiberger one.
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Old 03-03-2013, 11:47 PM   #6
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There are many fans of TOS ("Star Trek" the original series) who fault FF from the show's downfall in 1969.

I don't really see "Space: 1999" Year 2 as being any more or less like TOS.

As far as I am concerned, both Year 1 and Year 2 had their own respective strengths and weaknesses. The real problem with both years is the lack of enough genuinely good, hit-'em-out-of-the-ballpark stories. Goofy parodies like "The Full Circle" and "The Beta Cloud" do not help to sustain a loyal audience. I would also argue with some of the basic underlying premises of the show, but that's another discussion for another time.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
There are many fans of TOS ("Star Trek" the original series) who fault FF from the show's downfall in 1969
I think Six Million Dollar Man got axed on FF's watch as well.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:46 AM   #8
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Oh "The Beta Cloud" one of my favourite episodes for all the wrong reasons.

Personally, I would love to remake that but with Triton (or another Triton probe) from Season One. Call it something like "Triton Rising" or "Triton Unbound". My thinking is that something so powerful would not give up so easily, and would know about Alpha's lifesupport system as to make it a legitimate threat.
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Old 04-03-2013, 12:38 PM   #9
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Anyone notice that this episode and another Freiberger written one, Space Warp, have more or less the same plot, a bug eyed monster stomping around Alpha? I'm surprise when they were making the latter of the two, no one said: "Uh, Fred, we did this a few weeks ago."

Another problem with this episode was the padding (a common problem with the longer Doctor Who stories in the early 70's). Rumour has it that the episode ran short, so they padded it out with that long scene where Tony tries to destroy the cloud with the laser.

The cloud itself as a villain was so flat, more like a comic book super villain (even has an evil laugh).

Freiberger wasn't even trying here.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteQ View Post
Oh "The Beta Cloud" one of my favourite episodes for all the wrong reasons.

Personally, I would love to remake that but with Triton (or another Triton probe) from Season One. Call it something like "Triton Rising" or "Triton Unbound". My thinking is that something so powerful would not give up so easily, and would know about Alpha's lifesupport system as to make it a legitimate threat.
That's actually a rather intriguing idea, PeteQ... would the new Tritonian send a robotic monster to trash Alpha, or would it try the 'posession' style take-over of Alphans like the original Triton probe tried?
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:18 PM   #11
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That's actually a rather intriguing idea, PeteQ... would the new Tritonian send a robotic monster to trash Alpha, or would it try the 'posession' style take-over of Alphans like the original Triton probe tried?
I'm thinking more of the "possession" type take-over. What's struck me most about "Ring Around the Moon" and "The Beta Cloud" is that you get some similar scenes to some of the Star Trek:TNG episodes with the Borg - as in, "We want your technology and we are incomplete until we get all technology ever, ever, ever..."

S:1999 and ST are very different in their handling of metaphysics, however. S:1999 is rather more blatent in throwing these concepts at the viewer (which is why I think a lot of metaphysics was dropped in season 2).

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to dip into my graduate thesis for a moment. I hope Spinoza isn't too ponderous for a Tuesday afternoon

In “On the Nature and Origin of the Mind” from the second book of Ethics, Spinoza opens with the proposition that:

“Thought is an attribute of God, or God is a thinking thing,” Spinoza then outlines a system of interconnectedness between the mind, the body and all other bodies.

In Proposition VII Spinoza states how: “The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things”

So what this means is that "Spinoza's God" is the meta-set of all "things" and "ideas".

This is where Triton comes in - as in "Triton got it wrong". Triton is aware that it is forever incomplete and is forever searching for that completeness.

ST did a fairly good job with the V'Ger cloud in ST: TMP, but we had to wait another ten years for the Director's Cut to explain it to us

We also get a similar idea with the opening dialogue to most of The Prisoner episodes, with: "We want information..."

(In my thesis I was looking at George Eliot - in Middlemarch the character of Dorothea is married to a scholar called Casaubon, and his researches are "forever incomplete" for reasons outlined above. So Casaubon is kind of similar to Triton, V'Ger, the Borg and whatever "The Beta Cloud" was in essence.)
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:50 PM   #12
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S:1999 and ST are very different in their handling of metaphysics, however. S:1999 is rather more blatent in throwing these concepts at the viewer
Which is what made Season One so good. It was a different look at the universe.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:38 PM   #13
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well, whilst i sympathise with you guys, i still think THE RULES OF LEW TON was 1999s FINEST episode!
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:12 AM   #14
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Interesting stuff... S99 Series 1 definitely required some thinking on the part of its audience, and your (PeteQ) bringing up philosophical analasys is in keeping with that.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by The Voice of Voyager One View Post
An alien cloud that knows everything about Moonbase Alpha even before the base's personnel do is a big plot hole, right?

An alien cloud that demands Alpha's "life support core" for survival (at the expense of Alpha's survival) is a big plot hole, right?

An alien cloud that can build an indestructible robot (one that can survive lasers, rockets, vacuum, poisons, and even high-voltage electrocution) to raid and rip apart the base, but still need to steal someone else's life support apparatus to survive, is a big plot hole, right?

Any of these could be the biggest, and dumbest, plot holes of "Space: 1999", right? Riiiiiight?

Wrong.

The biggest, dumbest, silliest plot hole of "Space: 1999" would have to be that an entire moonbase, isolated from its home planet and left to fend for itself for an extended period of time, is still vulnerable because it cannot survive without one part in its life support system. After all Moonbase Alpha had been through with alien invasions, sabotage, and other forms of attack, the base personnel have seen all they need to see when it comes to confirming the absolute need to rig their base for breakdowns, damage and any other form of loss. They already know they need backup systems for their backup systems. The notion of the base being brought to its knees just because Gorilla-Zilla the brutish robot can break in and steal one little part is patently absurd... and also already been tried in "Earthbound" (I seem to remember Commissioner Simmonds doing the same thing, and all he had was a single stun gun)

"The Beta Cloud" was still fun to watch, in a brain-dead sort of way. It's a great review of all the various facilities on the base, and you finally get to see someone fire one of those AAA laser batteries.

Too bad Tony, Maya and Fraser, scientists and astronauts all three, don't have enough practical smarts and ambition to build a better Gorilla-Zilla trap when their backs are against the wall and they have nothing better to do.

At least we get to see Sandra try to build a better trap. (An electrical barrier? Really? This is the best a moonbase with anti-gravity ships, laser cannons, and forcefields can do? Really?)

In the end, the moonbase is saved by a nasty bee. Would've had more punch if Maya had become a hornet or a wasp. But the bee will do. The Seabees, after all, were responsible for making "those dirty little islands" in the Pacific into "unsinkable carriers" during WW II. We always knew Maya would be Tony's "honey" anyway.
I can't completely agree with this. While I think it's silly to expect Moonbase Alpha to just be able to "give" them the core (and how would they be able to use it anyways? - it was made for our technology - we can't even get Macs and PCs to play nice together), I don't think it's fair to say they should have changed things to not be so reliant on their life support systems.

Think about it. How would they do this? They had only the materials they took with them when they broke away from Earth. How would they be able to re-wire and completely change the way their critical life-support systems operated without putting everybody in jeopardy? It's not like they could shut down for 2 weeks while they tried a few things - that needed to be on constantly, providing power and oxygen and stable temperatures and food for their survival. I think it would be wreckless of them to try messing with such a critical system. The best thing I think they did is build the laser weaponry and move as many systems underground as possible as they did in year two.

While I dislike many of the changes they made to year two, and overall I think the stories took a huge dive in quality, and I hated to lose Main Mission, it did at least make some sense given their situation to get critical operations underground and build defenses. I think it would have turned out badly for them if they started messing with their life support systems.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:08 AM   #16
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"...The notion of the base being brought to its knees just because Gorilla-Zilla the brutish robot can break in and steal one little part is patently absurd... and also already been tried in "Earthbound" (I seem to remember Commissioner Simmonds doing the same thing, and all he had was a single stun gun)..."

G-Z had only the mindless brute strength of a machine, while Simmonds' human treachery was far more effective in aid of the same end - when he got what was coming to him. In every way...

I suppose it's not altogether unseemly that Maya would run up against a creature "(whose) molecular structure eludes me" at some juncture; did take awhile, though, for her to figure out just why that was. Psychon she may be, but it doesn't mean she isn't human!

Oh, and a note to Tim:

"...Tony and Maya getting mushy with each other, with Fraser standing just a few feet away. One wonders what he was thinking: Gag me! Bring on the monster already..."

No wondering required. Fraser is a gentlemen - and, he's married!

Last edited by boatshewsd2; 04-07-2013 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:33 AM   #17
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They don't call fred Freiberger 'the show killer' for nothing.
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:31 AM   #18
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The entire second season had more plot holes than the lunar surface! And what is a life-support core anyways? A big charcoal air filter? What do aliens want with an air filter?

One of the great disappointments for me with season 2 is the loss of the amazing Main Mission set. I know the story of how they wanted to convey a feeling of a cramped underground bunker as a defence against alien threats, etc, but it didn't seem to do them any good. It appeared that any alien invading force could just waltz into command center (or materialise there) whenever they felt like it, without much resistance. Main Mission gave the impression the base was huge and sprawling (and matching the exterior models in perceived scale), a far cry from the Command Center set that looked like it was built inside a shipping container. for me, S99 was all about visuals, and Main Mission was part of that design aesthetic. Take that away, and add some truly horrible scripts, and you are left with something not much better than Buck Rogers. I just watched both seasons on DVD, and S1 looks and feels very cinematic and high quality. S2 by comparison is almost unwatchable (terrible music, terrible sets, terrible scripts, even some of the sfx are dodgy).

Hiring FF was one of Gerry Anderson's rare lapses in judgement.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:02 AM   #19
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Default Buck & Wings...

A lot of the 1980s TV-SF was pretty dreadful, and makes Space (yes, even Y2) look pretty classy by comparison. As to Buck Rogers, best to stick to the Buster Crabbe original serial; although - full credit where credit's due - he very definitely put Gil Gerard in his place, in the series episode he guested in ("Young man... I know so!").
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:59 AM   #20
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Well, I'll concede that the 80's Buck Rogers had one or two things going for it...


Last edited by mw12; 05-07-2013 at 04:14 AM. Reason: visuals!
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