Sci-Fi TV Episode Reviews: Space: 1999, episode 3, ‘Black Sun’ (1975)
June 8, 2011 § 22 Comments
One might ask: how do you eviscerate a promising concept/episode? I would answer simply, resolve it with a Cosmic Intelligence. It’s easy! Characters accidentally placed on the other side of the galaxy by the script, just swish them back to square one with Mr. (Mrs?) Cosmic Intelligence.
Did your characters accidentally get scripted into an uncompromising position (let’s say, heading straight for a Black (hole) Sun)? If the answer is yes, douse everyone with liberal smattering of pseudo-philosophical mystical hooey and pop in Mr. Cosmic Intelligence — he’ll find a nice home among the gauzy eddies of the mystical betwixt time zone, the intra-ethereal layer, and telepathic mumblings of men in old people suits amongst the sparkly tears of unfocused camera and cascading sequins…
Mr. Cosmic Intelligence, while you’re resolving the mess the screenwriters have placed everyone in please please just drag Moonbase Alpha (and the Moon) BACK to Earth. It’s all a shame really, this was a promising episode with a lot of positives until the end.
Brief Plot Summary (I’ve already spoiled the end, it was terrible anyway)
Moonbase Alpha observes a nearby asteroid which doesn’t seem to be heading on a collision course. However, it strangely veers towards the base. At the last moment it changes course again and is destroyed by an unknown force/entity. An expendable astronaut is sent to investigate (Moonbase Alpha appears to have an inexhaustible supply of Eagles — a few are destroyed every episode) and he’s pulled into what his collected data later shows to be a massive black sun.
Moonbase Alpha changes course towards the pull of the black sun which begins to drain their energy. Bergman comes up with a forcefield that will use the forces of the black sun to protect the base. Since Koenig and his main officers know that the chances for survival are very slim they come up with a backup plan behind the back of the main crew — a survival ship. Koenig is angrily confronted when the crew discovers the plan since they suspect he’s trying to protect himself. In one of the best moments of the show so far Koenig reads the names of the six crew members to depart on the survival ship selected from the most suitable candidates by the computer — he’s not among them.
The survival ship heads off and Alpha with the majority of the crew heads into the black sun. The shield appears to work — the Cosmic Entity intervenes… And the episode implodes.
This episode did an admirable job of developing characters (Helena Russell is still a stone statue devoid of humanity). One of the positives of putting the entire crew in a dangerous situation with the looming possibility of annihilation is the emergence of the true make-up of the characters. The direction and set design continues to be superb.
After the debacle of the ending of the previous episode — let’s roll back time to fix the situation — this particular ending really bothered me since I was expecting an improvement. I’m convinced that such endings show a poor script devoid of imagination. I hope the show improves or else I’ll have to abandon this project.
In case you missed the earlier posts of this series.