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Old 14-06-2009, 06:39 PM   #1
SPACE 1899
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Default Portrayal of Helena

Just read an interesting opinion of the Series 1 portrayal of Helena (www.chud.com), as follows -

"I'm going to go on record myself as saying that the coldest chick ever to hop a spaceship is Bain as Dr. Helena Russell. Russell's emotional range in 1999 makes Vulcans look like a bunch of drunk Klingons on Risa during a Jamaharon orgy. I don't know if Bain deliberately downplayed Russell, but considering that she won three Emmys for her work on Mission: Impossible, I'm thinking it's not due to bad acting, but a badly imagined character. Her demeanor is even colder than that of Seven of Nine or T'Pol, minus the smoldering sexuality. Hell, Russell has the sexual appeal of a dead carp. If she had an orgasm, she'd probably skeet icicles..."

Personally, I disagree - I found her controlled demeanor strangely attractive.
Come to think of it, maybe Seven of Nine and T'Pol copied her acting style ?
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Old 14-06-2009, 06:53 PM   #2
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I'm with you there, Space 1899. Personally I think the (presumably) guy who wrote that thinks that he is god's greatest gift to womankind, and that every woman should be kneeling at his feet begging him to give them a baby and promising to be a complete slut to do so.

Obviously has no experience with real women, and never will do with an attitude like that as by his definitions most of the women on the planet are frigid and sexually repressed. Will miss out completely on 'the thrill of the chase' and seems to require instant gratification. Needs to see a councillor - only would probably say the same thing about Deanna Troi.

Probably lives in his parents cellar, downloading pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar, and normally posting "Mee too!" like some brain dead AOL'er

Apologies for the shameless rip from "Weird Al Yankovic" 's "It's all about the Pentiums"
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Old 14-06-2009, 07:07 PM   #3
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Well put, Weaponsmith.

But wasn't it 'weird' how in Year 2 Helena is suddenly all bubbly and affectionate - ie totally out of character to her previous portrayal - like who suddenly gave her a 'happy' pill (I'm talking to you Freddie !)

I'm thinking particularly of the scene where she and Maya (transformed into a Helena) confront John, and the dancing scene in that dress with the slit, and that scene with the perfume...
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Old 14-06-2009, 10:24 PM   #4
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Helena Russell is my favorite character on S:99. I think Bain's portrayal is interesting. Subtle and nuanced (except in Full Circle).
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Old 14-06-2009, 11:05 PM   #5
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Well even at thirteen, I totally fancied her.
She must've been doing something right!!
She was just so cool.

That is all.


For now.
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Old 15-06-2009, 03:12 AM   #6
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I always wonder which episodes these critics have seen?...In several Year One episodes Barbara portrays Helena expressing various emotions to vaying degrees.

I would suggest they watch A Matter of Life And Death, Black Sun, Wargames, Alpha Child and Death's Other Dominion (just to name a few).

I also have to wonder how exactly they expect her to act? She's a Doctor and a professional....Granted she's dealing with a lot of stress (all of Alpha is), but do they expect her to crack up every episode? Maybe they're just used to Star Trek's over-the-top acting and expect the same in Space:1999.

Dana
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Old 15-06-2009, 03:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blondgod View Post
Helena Russell is my favorite character on S:99. I think Bain's portrayal is interesting. Subtle and nuanced (except in Full Circle).
LOL...In Full Circle and in Guardian of Piri, Helena expressed a great deal of emotion, but in both cases she was "under the influence", one might say...LOL.

Dana
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Old 15-06-2009, 09:11 AM   #8
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The criticisms were around even at the time of the first series... "the Lady Penelope award for acting" and so forth, But I came to respect her portrayal of this woman the more I began to understand what the character was like and had been through. She's actually a really good character and what was done to her by Freddy was a travesty, but you get that.

I remember when doing the "watching S99 for the first time"trip through the seasons that cricket had some really good perspectives on the character so I hope she spots this thread.

The guy who wrote the comment hasn't spent the time to really work out what's going on. The first season takes more brain power than a lot of people were ever going to be bothered to invest... mores the pity for them because there's so much good stuff in it.

Nice to see Helena on the banner at present too.... Ring around the moon.
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Old 15-06-2009, 09:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bishop View Post
The guy who wrote the comment hasn't spent the time to really work out what's going on. The first season takes more brain power than a lot of people were ever going to be bothered to invest... mores the pity for them because there's so much good stuff in it.
Just what I'd say. I often feel 1999's writers and crew had been watching stuff like 2001 and Solaris beforehand (and equally importantly reading SF literature) rather than worrying about Star Trek, and 1999 was the result. Yet lazy critics derided it and its style because it was different to its most well-known TV predecessor, Star Trek. Most of the criticisms, particularly those of the acting, are nothing more than cheap shots, lazy writing or just repetition of received opinion. Barbara Bain won acting awards in the 60s so she couldn't have been that bad; she was playing a different type of character than in Mission Impossible, which I suspect was enough to confuse these critics.

Wasn't there a comment from Shatner at the time, something so lame along the lines of, 'well, it's not Star Trek...' - it's on The Catacombs somewhere - that says it all. No mate, it's something new and different - better stick your head in the sand!
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Old 15-06-2009, 10:08 AM   #10
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Yep, all true. The Catacombs has all the criticisms etc listed. Well worth a read.
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Old 15-06-2009, 10:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
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She's actually a really good character and what was done to her by Freddy was a travesty, but you get that.
Come to think of it, John was also made more "jolly" and "smiling" in Year 2.
Compare and contrast a lot of the endings of Year 1 and Year 2 - the serious philosophical reflections between John and Helena in Year 1 and the jolly frivolous banter between John and Helena in Year 2 - it's like 2 different couples.


Last edited by SPACE 1899; 17-06-2009 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 15-06-2009, 11:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blondgod View Post
Helena Russell is my favorite character on S:99. I think Bain's portrayal is interesting. Subtle and nuanced (except in Full Circle).


Yes - Full Circle was indeed one of the few lapses in her otherwise generally cool restrained Year 1 character !!!

Must have forgotten her Prozack that day for sure...

Last edited by SPACE 1899; 15-06-2009 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 15-06-2009, 01:34 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by dukedexter View Post
Just what I'd say. I often feel 1999's writers and crew had been watching stuff like 2001 and Solaris beforehand (and equally importantly reading SF literature) rather than worrying about Star Trek, and 1999 was the result. Yet lazy critics derided it and its style because it was different to its most well-known TV predecessor, Star Trek. Most of the criticisms, particularly those of the acting, are nothing more than cheap shots, lazy writing or just repetition of received opinion. Barbara Bain won acting awards in the 60s so she couldn't have been that bad; she was playing a different type of character than in Mission Impossible, which I suspect was enough to confuse these critics.
This is very well said.

BB's portrayal in series 1 of a female physician leading a major section in what still appears (despite GA's very laudable casting) to be a male-predominate scientific community is just about spot on. Her cool reserve is just what works in that position, both as a physician and a section head.

Her moments of emotion are all the more 'real' given the overall reserve. One of my favorites is when Helena realizes John has returned to life at the end of 'Missing Link'. The joy on her face is breathtaking.
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Old 15-06-2009, 06:19 PM   #14
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I guess this guy is one of the people that likes to bash Space:1999. For example, one of the main critisicms of the series is Space Brain with the soap sud machine and that is oft cited as a black mark against it. That wasn't the norm though, and often you get ardent Trekkies (not all Trek fans) but the tiny minority that seem to take offence that there is another show on that might even challenge theirs using this as a criticism.
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Old 18-07-2009, 06:43 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Weaponsmith View Post
I'm with you there, Space 1899. Personally I think the (presumably) guy who wrote that thinks that he is god's greatest gift to womankind, and that every woman should be kneeling at his feet begging him to give them a baby and promising to be a complete slut to do so.

Obviously has no experience with real women, and never will do with an attitude like that as by his definitions most of the women on the planet are frigid and sexually repressed. Will miss out completely on 'the thrill of the chase' and seems to require instant gratification. Needs to see a councillor - only would probably say the same thing about Deanna Troi.

Probably lives in his parents cellar, downloading pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar, and normally posting "Mee too!" like some brain dead AOL'er

Apologies for the shameless rip from "Weird Al Yankovic" 's "It's all about the Pentiums"
Graet one Weaponsmith, or dead AOL'er
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Old 22-07-2009, 09:11 AM   #16
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Helena was my favourite character on Space:1999 and my first ever crush!

I don't understand critics who say that the character displayed no emotion (in season one). I thought it was a brave characterisation in that Helena could be perceived as cold and aloof to a lot of the Alphan crew, but she had lost her husband on a space mission and held an extremely responsible position on the base. Of course she is going to close herself off and not risk any more emotional ties.
It's interesting to note that her only close friend on the base up until her slow romantic attachment to John, was with Professor Bergman. Helena and Victor seemed to share a very loving father/daughter relationship and I was sorry to see victor written out of the show.
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Old 25-07-2009, 12:02 AM   #17
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Funny, Helena was always my favourite character too.

British actors in Sci Fi in this (or should that be every?) period seem to find it difficult to resist the temptation to camp it up. Look at B7, well acted in many ways, but very stagey, at times close to panto.

I've always thought of Barbara Bain and Martin Landau as having a "hard" US 50s/60s method style to their performances. Helena was Bain's idea of what a doctor in charge of a medical centre on an international moonbase would be like. Cool, dispassionate, capable, a little humourless...well, it works for me.

I like all her medical schtick too. Whether it is shining an ophthalmoscope at someone's forehead (what is it? She is inducing "neuronic concussion") or looking at Papermate felt tips in three colours and concluding that she has no optic nerve (I can't remember the details!).

Last edited by ashford; 25-07-2009 at 12:04 AM.
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Old 25-07-2009, 01:24 AM   #18
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She never appealed to me because I looked at her and said "she's older than my mother..."
Truth be told Barbara Bain and the term "great actress" should never be used together to describe any role she has ever played in her career. She's always been a lifeless lump mouthing lines at best.

Last edited by Doug_H; 25-07-2009 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 25-07-2009, 01:50 AM   #19
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She never appealed to me because I looked at her and said "she's older than my mother..."
Truth be told Barbara Bain and the term "great actress" should never be used together to describe any role she has ever played in her career. She's always been a lifeless lump mouthing lines at best.
Each is entitled to his opinion, but this does seem unduly harsh, and more than a little out of place in a forum devoted to GA shows.
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Old 25-07-2009, 08:22 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by dukedexter View Post
. I often feel 1999's writers and crew had been watching stuff like 2001 and Solaris beforehand (and equally importantly reading SF literature) !

What is "A Matter of Life and Death" if not Solaris? (sans long travelling shots of the Moscow urban motorway system but with exploding comlocks). The influence of 2001 is everywhere, for example in "Black Sun" "Full Circle" and "Arkadia"
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