From: David Acheson (email@example.com) Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 03:32:06 PST Subj: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
Episode two marks the Alphans' first cosmic adventure. It appears at first glance to be a convoluted story but surprisingly holds up well.
Its no secret that BREAKAWAY was a hard story to follow but it appears to some that the first few episodes to follow were "all over the map". It was as if the producers and writers were trying to find out what direction to take the show once the initial premise was set up in episode one. Part of this problem was due to the politics behind the show. The original intention was to have many American directors and writers work on the series but the logistics became a nightmare and personality conflicts got in the way. Episode one was the only episode I believe both written and directed by Americans. Episode two was originally written by an American (Art Wallace) I believe but the executive level felt the episode was a weak follow up to the opener so ITC ordered several changes.
The grand question is whether or not Terra Nova is actually Meta. I understand the original intention was to have MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH to be a direct continuation of episode one. Thus Meta would have been the anti-matter world they would encounter. I seem to remember that the novelisation does it that way. However, ITC executives, feeling it was a weak link in the chain, ordered changes that would only make sense if this episode was shown later in the season which I believe many ITC executives were wishing. The planet became Terra Nova (so named by the Alphans) and a reference was put in Koenig's speech to Helena about many adventures since they left Earth. This last part makes no sense if the series was to be shown in production order.
The confusion of how to handle the episodes following Breakaway also flowed over to the handling of the show's characters. In a strange way the confused state actually makes sense. It has been brought up on the mailing list before that the Alphans themselves would be a confused lot. Losing everything they know and what is considered to be a normal life has left them like lost sheep in the cosmos. Everyone including Koenig is unsure what is going to happen. His uncertainy and his mistakes (especially in this episode) is what makes him human. Kirk is too much of a comic-book superhero for my taste - not realistic. Still Koenig is not stupid and the Alphans realize this and are willing to give him a break over his humaness - at least for the time being.
However, this is one of only a few episodes that we learn about any Alphan's past life which adds to the humaness of the characters. Helena is a space widow so her reluctance to kindle a new romance with Koenig is understandable. One reason why the romance doesn't happen right away despite their apparent fondness for each other.
Helena remains robotic through most of the episode but I love the speech she gives to John after Lee's apparent death while being interrogated. She brings up how she felt the first time she lost Lee - that she didn't think she could survive it. " Now that it happened again I feel numb". Barbara Bain does this scene the way she should be doing it - somewhat removed from everything around her.
MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH was also a great showcase for the minor characters who did not get much to do in episode one. Mathias conducts the autopsy and Paul and Sandra get major screen time on both Alpha and Terra Nova. And of course, David Kano mysteriously appears to replace the mysteriously departed Ben Ouma. Right from this episode we get the feeling of Kano's love affair with Alpha's computer.
The Terra Nova set does look like a soundstage set but its a wonderful one that certainly beats out anything that appeared on the original Star Trek. Its an exotic set and looks as if some effort was put into it rather than "lets put a tree there and one rock there". The orange pool of water is rather neat. SPACE: 1999's version of Oz.
Some ramblings of episode two. Before I go here is a piece of trivia. Stuart Damon had a credited cameo at the beginning of the episode as Eagle Pilot Parks. He would reappear a year later as Tony's brother, Guido Verdeschi in THE BRINGERS OF WONDER. At the time he did these two SPACE: 1999 appearances he was relatively unknown to North Americans. Today, he is a soap opera star appearing in GENERAL HOSPITAL. I can't tell you his character's name as I have never watched GH but I'm sure someone here can recall it.
From: "Ellen C. Lindow" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 18:14:57 -0500 (EST) Subj: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
This is one of my favorite 1st season episodes. Part of the reason is that it gives us some great background on Helena. Someone told me not too long ago that they weren't sure whether the little touches of affection between John and Helena were deliberate or a reflection of the actors' real-life relationship. I think MoL&D shows that those touches were deliberate. Watch Bain's performance in this episode. She is her normal professional self until she sees Lee. Then she's practically zombie-like. You're suddenly watching someone in shock. You practically want to throw a blanket over her to keep her warm. She doesn't hear Koenig's questions, and when she's in the same room with Lee she looks at him like a starving person would look at a feast. She wants this to be her husband so bad. The professional Dr. Russell has left, leaving behind only the bereaved Mrs. Russell. It's this kind of detail that leads me to believe that the other detail is deliberate as well.
Another part of the plot I find interesting is that Lee says Helena called him. The Alphans hopes are obviously running high in this episode, and it's obvious that everyone is thinking of settling down and starting families. It seems logical that Helena might be thinking about what could have been with Lee, someone she obviously loved and had made long range plans with. John and Helena are seen as friends in this episode, not romantically linked as in several later episodes; she even introduces Lee to Commander Koenig, and says he's a friend.
The Alphans attitudes are already beginning to change in this episode. They're not longing to go home to Earth, to jobs, family, friends, a familiar life. They're looking forward, at a new world, with new possibilities. This is the kind of attitude they show in Y2 episodes, their homeland is behind them, they are looking ahead (except for Simmonds, and he doesn't have anything to say in this episode.)
From: Petter Ogland (email@example.com) Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 10:56:00 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
I had another go at MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH again last night. It is a tremendous episode, I feel.
On Dec 8, 3:32am, David Acheson wrote:
... Episode one was the only episode I believe both written and directed by Americans. Episode two was originally written by an American (Art Wallace) I believe but the executive level felt the episode was a weak follow up to the opener so ITC ordered several changes.
From what I've heard, the originial manuscript, THE SIRIEN PLANET, was written by Art Wallace and then re-written by Johnny Byrne as MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH. I have no clue, however, in what manner it was re-written.
While Lee H. Katzin was the only American director during first year, there were several American writers (Bellak, Wallace, di Lorenzo, the Terpiloffs and the Laskys). While it is difficult to get an impression of Bellak and Wallace based on their modest contribution to the series, I find the di Lorenze scripts magnificent, surprisingly "European" with all their focus on exploring the inner human condition as opposed to the more common American style of extrovert adventure.
Terpiloff is also unusual, I believe, but perhaps a bit more traditionally "American", more than di Lorenzo at least, in the morally concious dramas EARTHBOUND and COLLISION COURSE. The directors save the results from being to preachy, I feel, and in particular what Ray Austin does with COLLISION COURSE is incredible, a very fine episode.
The grand question is whether or not Terra Nova is actually Meta.
It seems to me that the name Terra Nova was designated by Computer or somebody feeding it to Computer. In the beginning of the episode Koenig translates Terra Nova to New Earth to himself. Later in the episode Terra Nova is mostly referred to as "the planet", however.
Although some sequences may have been reshot or some last minute changes may have been done to the script before shooting in order to prevent it from becoming a part two of BREAKAWAY, much of the feel of the episode is very similar to BREAKAWAY, I think. At least as I perceive it, it was made with a very different approach than late episodes like LAST ENEMY, INFERNAL MACHINE, DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION etc.
When MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH was in production, it seems realism was still the thing. This also continues with BLACK SUN ,and the first change of direction from this is perhaps with the psychadelic RING AROUND THE MOON, the producers perhaps feeling that the initial premises of BREAKAWAY had been sufficiently explored by the end of the third episode.
In RING AROUND THE MOON, the characters are treated seriously, however, just like in the first three episodes.
When Crichton returned to make EARTHBOUND, the series started slightly to loose some of its tremendous initial impetus, I feel, although EARTHBOUND still captures some of the BREAKAWAY feel, the series was slowly developing into routine, it seemed, perhaps with ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE being the first episode representative for the rest of Year One.
David is asking the question whether Terra Nova was Meta or not. As he explains, this question has to do with wheter ITC, New York, liked MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH or not. It turns out Abe Mandell was not too happy with it. What can have been the reason for this? Was he more happy with the upcoming episodes BLACK SUN or RING AROUND THE MOON?
If it was the pace of the story he didn't like, BLACK SUN is perhaps even slower, I think. I wonder what he thought of BLACK SUN.
The confusion of how to handle the episodes following Breakaway also flowed over to the handling of the show's characters. In a strange way the confused state actually makes sense. [....]
The sequence where Helena and Victor want to speak to John about Lee but he refuses to listen, having his mind locked on the exodus, is quite a highlight of hte episode, I think. It's impossible for Victor even to complete a sentence. Helena and Victor make frustrated eye contact, trying as calmly and persuadingly as possible to inform John who will not listen. Quite fascinating.
The only thing that poissibly top this, I think, is the communication between the Moon and Terra Nova where Victor explains there are problems "but nothing too serious..."
Some of fast build-up of disaster, as experienced from Terra Nova, is magnificent, I think, the paradise turning into a disaster area in matter of seconds, main characters dying of going blind almost before they have time to panic. I remember this as a child, and still think it is wonderfully constructed, both the way it is written, acted and directed.
In some ways MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH is very similar to WAR GAMES, especially during the final half hours where John and Helena are on the planet and Victor is the head of Alpha. Both episodes build up to total disaster to such an extent that it is neccessary to make a "fake" ending in order to make the series continue. Magnificent writing for both episodes, but perhaps I hold MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH even dearer as I feel there is more character in the case of John and Helena, perhaps even Victor too, in this one.
Terra Nova. And of course, David Kano mysteriously appears to replace the mysteriously departed Ben Ouma. Right from this episode we get the feeling of Kano's love affair with Alpha's computer.
I wonder what Johnny Byrne thought of computers and computer scientists at the time. As Quintin also has noted, it almost seems like Kano is inserted for "comic relief", as Freiberger perhaps would state it. Not a bad idea, I suppose, especially the more serious and philosophical side to it, an idea interestingly developed in BLACK SUN and most potently in THE GUARDIAN OF PIRI.
From: Jhon (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 06:42:04 -0500 Subj: Space1999: Stuart Damon Cameo
Stuart Damon has playe Dr. Alan Quartermain on GH for almost 20 years. He's gotten a bit pudgy over time. Still he is a believable actor. Too bad he didn't have more time on Space:1999.
From: Jhon (email@example.com) Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 07:10:01 -0500 Subj: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
My favourite scene is on "the planet" when John and Helena are holding each other after the eagle explodes. Helena points up to the sky and says to him in a rather strange voice, "Jhon...." and then the moon explodes. While they are struggling thru the brambles, they mysteriously lose Sandra.
This episode has many sad scenes: When Lee dies in John's office, when Paul is killed on the planet, the eagle explodes with Alan in it, when the rocks come tumbling down on John, and when Helena cries to herself on a lonely planet.
From: Gordon Burgess & Carol Mason (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 23:15:59 +1100 (EST) Subj: Re: Space1999: Stuart Damon Cameo
Hello all, just de-lurking to add my two penneth, I still prefer Stuart Damon in "The Champions" myself.
From: QGMorrow (QGMorrow@aol44.com) Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 10:48:28 EST Subj: Space1999: A Matter of Life and Death
I must confess that I have had to watch A Matter of Life and Death several times to truly grasp what is going on (perhaps I am just "thick"). Anyway, I do so love the ambiguity of that episode.
To me, it highlights, once again, something far beyond simple science fiction. It speaks to our human condition. The discovery of something beautiful, unexpected and "perfect." Then, upon closer examination, the discovery turns "sour."
What I think is key to the episode is the notion that Terra Nova is a "perfect" planet, only not for humans. Isn't that interesting? Unlike Star Trek with all of its pollyannish optomism about mankind's future, Space:1999 had the courage to exhibit mankind's foibles and limitations.
From: JSchill824 (JSchill824@aol44.com) Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 15:42:09 EST Subj: Space1999: Its Matter
I always love reading Petters notes on S9, so I added to his last post.
When I've watched this episode in the past I often wondered why John wouldn't have listened to his 2 closest friends? However, on re-viewing this the other night, I feel if this was "the Planet" they were hoping to settle on, and they had no other conceivable hope beyond Terra Nova, I guess one may take extreme chances. (?)
As for the developing characters. If this is the 2 episode chronically, when John goes to Helena after she was zapped by Lee, (this is also a cool scene) he sits on her bed and leans in. Very intimate, this is more then a concerned commander. I wish now there would have been more on this developing relationship. From "where looking for answers commander, not heroes ---I didn't know you cared" scene, to "really John I'm all right."
Some of fast build-up of disaster, as experienced from Terra Nova, is magnificent, I think, the paradise turning into a disaster area in matter of seconds, main characters dying of going blind almost before they have time to panic.
Ok so I also really liked this part too. We see our Alphan friends enjoying themselves for once and all of a sudden its all gone. I really love it when Johnís last words to Helena are "... you and I." Wow, true love. Its confirmed with this tragic yet beautiful scene.
Lastly, I noticed a scene last night when John and Helena are trying to talk to Lee. Its a close up shot and while the viewer is trying to listen to the weak voice of better. Right [EDITOR'S NOTE: sic, appears as originally sent] then Victor walks up from behind the three of them framing all four in the camera. Iím sure in this close of a shot to be able to capture all involved must have been difficult, yet scene like this draw the viewer in and I believe calls for a well shot scene. This is one of the reasons I still love watching S9 again and again.
Janet (P.S. To all those who attended the S9 con in Portland, throw another Parrot on the Bar-b please! :-)
From: LKJ1999 (LKJ1999@aol44.com) Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 20:02:15 EST Subj: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
A few note's on Matter of Life and Death...
The number of time's the word Eagle was said (24 TIME'S)
Number of liftoff's (one)
Number of landing's (two)
Eagle's that explode ( one)
My favourite scene. When it show's Moon Base Alpha with Terra Nova in the backgroud. That would make a killer poster!
Not one of My favourite episode's. But still good...
From: David Acheson (email@example.com) Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 20:53:20 PST Subj: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
# of Eagles destroyed in episode? One and none. Smile. Yes we all saw the Eagle on the planet explode but it came back whole because Helena wished it so. Therefore it was never destroyed! I think. How confusing. Could she have wished to return to Earth? Woops - end of series.
Favourite scene in the episode: The ending where Helena is on the balcony in Main Mission and looking out the window at the distancing Terra Nova. The heavily dramatic music adds to Helena's sad face saying it was never meant to be. Yet another loss. One of the most effective endings for a SPACE: 1999 episode.
Should not have done: Despite the exotic set for Terra Nova I find it hard an alien planet has Earth birds (parrots I guess) inhabiting it. I guess they wanted to show the planet had exotic wildlife but they should have went for something less recognizable. Still better than rubber-suited monsters I guess.
From: Kenetrw (Kenetrw@aol44.com) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 00:02:22 EST Subj: Space1999: EPISODE TWO
I grade this episode with a B minus. To me, it falls short. Too much playing around by Lee Russell in getting to the point. If there is anti- matter danger, just tell us! It takes half the episode for him to finally get around to saying "power beyond your imagination". No wonder reviewers came up with their analogies referring to how the show never defines "the mysterious force" which causes this or that. It's about time Kano got yelled at by Koenig ("I know how fine I'm cutting it Kano"). He's always too pushy, as if computer is THE only answer for all of Alpha's problems.
I didn't like how Koenig ignores Bergman's advice. Bergman is a professor and I think Koenig just passed him by. Victor's line about "many unaccountable technical troubles" seems like it might have been thrown in at the last minute by the directors. The weird music helps save this episode from being a total flop as does Sandra's screams-she's great for reactions. Her reactions in Full Circle really help that episode as well. I also like how Paul says the word "Schedule". The weird music can be heard at the end of episode one.
Does anyone know if Helena did that stunt where she bounces off of something hidden on the floor? I know the Making of Space 1999 refers to this. I froze each frame and I honestly can't tell if it's her. The hair gives way to the possibility of a standin. She really hits her head on the floor! Good acting from this husband and wife team. Koenig's holding back as he says "It just doesn't make sense" was great-realizing the shock this must be to her.
I remember my first impressions of the show from the mid seventies and I do remember Bergman's effect on me. He's scary in this episode. I saw FORCE OF LIFE first and as episode two builds up with Victor saying "According to that scan, he's dead. This one says he's alive" had me expecting an even wilder monster! It was very smart of the producers to get Helena's hand in on one of the thermographic scans! However, the color one on the left looks like the profile of a huskier guy!
Everyone seems to be gung ho in this episode. Carter-"Commander we're behind schedule". Paul's in Koenig's face and a little irritated. Kano regarding how fine they are cutting it. Carter again-"Sir, it just can't be Russell". I like Victor's reaction when he's passed up for the eagle crew. Victor is next in line after Paul apparently.
There's a shot of the autopsy room above the doorway. This should have been lit. Remember how Koenig and Bergman came out of travel tube #3 to greet Gorski? The walkway was lit as they got off. In the shot after the doors are closed it is unlit. To me, this room should have been lit since two examiners were doing the autopsy. They also probably used the same "bouncer" for these guys that they used for Helena.
Check out Koenig and Carter's eagle. It's not as detailed as other eagles. The landing pods have no give. The whole eagle looks square. I like all the tackle boxes! My hat is definitely off to the detailers who made the surface look great. Some of the Star Trek planet surfaces were awful-so phoney. The H-5 water analyzer close-up was great. AND it was nice to see a close-up of one of Kano's computer printouts finally! The astro 7 emblems are close to the Alphan ones.
To me, Helena's acting is great. Her facial reaction as she loses her second love was well done-just frozen-speechless. I originally had this episode graded as a B in my database but I changed it to a B-. The impatience of everyone in the episode got on my nerves this watching.
Finally, Kano's feasability study of 3,600 earth types planets at 10 planets for every Alphan gives about 360 Alphans on the base. How could he be off by 50? We are told the population is 311 by the announcer from episode 1?
From: Riccardo Iommi (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 23:18:34 -0700 Subj: Space1999: A Matter Of Life & Death
in my opinion in this episode we begin to realize the main difference between 1999 and other sci-fi series like Star Trek (which I nevertheless love): In the latter, in fact, we're able to see that the approach is merely "american" (the dream of a galactic peace guided by the federation of planets, the ban of money, the skill and smartness of Terrans who beat enemies which are regurarly stronger than them, and so on), in contrast with the "british" approach of 1999: just like in a famous Pink Floyd song, the Alphans "hang on in quiet desperation, the english way", and fight every day against things they just can't understand or dominate; and since the human race is inferior to the mysterious powers of outer space, even an experienced commander can make a big mistake, just like John in "matter of life and death".
See ya. Riccardo
From: "Ellen C. Lindow" (email@example.com) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 10:54:57 -0500 (EST) Subj: Space1999: did you notice...
I really like the scene in the travel tube when the Eagle with Lee first returns to Alpha. The medical team rolls a gurney into the travel tube and everyone sits down. The camera angle is from the floor looking up through the bars on the gurney. Cool shot.
Then they reach the eagle and check out the pilots and roll one away just as Helena is examining Lee. Suddenly there's a matress there on the gurney. Where'd that come from ?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Anthony J Ritz) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 15:05:06 EST Subj: Space1999: MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
Hello All !
The second episode, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, has some very nice parts. But it also seems to raise a couple of questions that I have been unable to answer. I will pose those to the list a little later in this post.
I like how the question "Is Lee Helena's husband?", is not answered right away. Helena is convinced he is, and John wants to convince himself otherwise. I don't think Lee was using Helena for energy, like John pointed out. He only had a hard time touching, relating to, or functioning in general, being anti-matter in a matter environment.
The scene in the commander's office is the point where the viewer realizes Lee is her husband, for real. A very cool scene, and the only like it from both seasons. Lee is drilled by John and Victor. Lee stands his ground and asks "You go down to that planet, whatever I say, isn't that so?" John can only lower his eyes. Lee, with nothing else to prove, sits down, in a longful and voice says "Helena," then he lowers his tearing eyes and dies. That part is emotionally powerful, and evidence enough that he was Lee Russell.
The second thing I like was where Sandra asks John about still going down to the planet. John almost dances up the stairs, arms free in motion, "What can stop us?" he asks her. But then he sits down, looks straight ahead and thinks about it. His smile is replaced with concern. Next he is called to Medical Center where he talks with Helena as she recovers. She asks him the same question, in almost the same fashion. John answer is very different, stating when it is safe to do so.
Some obvious concern for Helena's feelings visible. Dr. Mathias bypasses the chain of command by not showing the scans of Lee to Dr. Russell, giving them directly to Victor and John. Then when Lee died, Victor was sure to question John on Helena's being told. I like to see the crew watching out for each other in this way. It shows closeness and unity of community, not just a cast of characters.
I like the scene where Kano tells John on the communication post, that they were cutting the time line close, then repeating himself to emphasize his concern. John barks at him for doing so, and leaves the comm-post with Kano still on the screen, with his mouth gaping open.
Now here's the question, does John ignore the warnings and dangerous data about Lee, because he wanted this to be the new home so bad, for the Alphans. Or was he in a trick bag, in that not going down to the planet would of left a good amount of the crew questioning his judgement and command. If you look at the scene where he says "At best, it's a calculated risk.", There is a lot of surprised faces after that statement. How would Alpha of taken the unilateral decision by John, not to down there at all?
Another question, why did the atmosphere seals on the base fail, causing the moon to explode? Why did this not happen anyway, from being so close to the anti-matter planet? They were the same distance whether they went down there or not. What was the difference?
And for that VERY astute comment by Ellen: When Helena told Lee that John was a friend, he certainly had become more than a that, by the end. You can see Helena run to John, and how they hold each other while gazing. Very Mushy! Very so, much more than friends....
The ending of this episode may be one of the best of them all, second to LAST SUNSET. John walks in, very much in lament, and Kano approaches. He sighs at first, for cheering up John Koenig looks to be a task, especially after such a let- down. But the scene is done very tasteful. A far cry from the silly beer scenes to come in a later season. Then John walks up the stairs to be with Helena, as she watches the planet, her past, and her husband fade into obscurity over the horizon. The visuals and music generate that feeling of longing she must of had while saying "goodbye" in her mind. Her face said it all, it was not sorrow, it was not joy, just longing.
This episode is a Helena episode. Barbara Bain sure does a good job with her acting here. I don't think the character of Helena Russell needs to fit Patty Perfect like criteria, to be good. She was a female in a position of authority, and executed it admirably, and with concern. The character or Ripley, in the Alien saga is another good example of this. Just because they are not going around and touching everyone on the bottom, doesn't mean the acting is wooden, or they come off like the Heat Miser (no hair insinuations made).
Take Care & Happy Holidays
From: Patricia Sokol (email@example.com) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 11:57:59 -0500 Subj: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
I think, as a second episode, MoLaD really doesn't work, but not for lack of a story, plot or situation. The reason it doesn't work for me is some of the obvious lack of continuity. I realize that some scenes were reshot in order for this to fit as a "later in the series" type of story, but I am interested to know which ones. Judging from what I observed upon rewatching this episode, it would have been an awful lot of scenes, unless many of the original scenes were shot as they were supposed to be shot. In that case, the continuity is a problem. All-in-all, I do like the episode, not finding it plodding at all. It is a reflection of their situation.
Some examples of lack of "flow": When Lee Russell is initially brought into the medical center and John and Helena are talking about whether or not it's really Lee Russell, he comments about having been through so much in the time they've been out there. Like what? We have no idea about how long the first two episodes are supposed to be apart, but it is long enough for them to get "billions of miles from Jupiter." Also, the comment by Alan Quartermain/Guido Verdeschi/Parks about having gotten a winner this time, implies there have been losers. Yet, in contrast this, Koenig makes the announcement about the composition of the phase two landing party with a great deal of aplomb, like this is the first time and so it is something special. At other times, later in the series, Koenig is halfway out of Main Mission he just calls over his shoulder, "Victor. Helena," and they dutifully follow.
Second example is when Kano brings the results of his feasability study to Koenig's attention, naming the number of planets they will encounter on their trajectory and how old they'll be upon encountering them. Logically, this seems like something one would have done early on, and placed later in the series, after they'd already been through a whole bunch of stuff and a few planets, it is out of place.
Third example is the shifing relationship between John and Helena. At the beginning, and indeed throughout most of the episode, there is obviously a great deal of affection between them. When he first comments to her about the planet looking good, she is looking at him with a look that I can't even find a word for. Adoration comes to mind, but I'm not even sure that fits. Later, after she's fainted and is back in her quarters, as he sits beside her, there is a lot of feeling there; like Janet said, it's not the concern of a commanding officer, nor of simply a good friend, but of a friendship that is about to cross the line into a loving relationship. My goodness, he looks as though he's about to lean over an kiss her. If it had been any other circumstances, and certainly had it been Y2, he would have. And, how, if this was so soon after leaving Earth, would he have known that to pass out was "not like her"? For all he knew, she was prone to fainting. The other side of this is when they are down on the planet, and twice she calls him, "Commander." Just doesn't play well. If they've already established they are on a first name basis, then quit the Commander stuff.
As for Koenig's relationship with Lee Russell... I think the aforementioned scene at the very beginning was directed to establish that there was a sort of a "thing" between John and Helena, if only something that was on both of their minds and not yet acted upon. This sets up Koenig's immediate annoyance at its being Lee on the Eagle. Heck, at that point in their relationship, I would think that talk of old boyfriends would even have been an annoyance. So this being has one strike against him. Second strike is the problem with the thermographic scans, and the fact that Lee is obviously only responding like a human being when Helena is around. Third strike is the fact that he can't really remember anything, like how he got there and how long he's been there. We know things, too, which he doesn't, such as the fact that Helena got hurled across the room by some kind of discharge and didn't just faint. That she doesn't remember that is not troubling at all, as people who are struck by lightening often have short-term memory loss. All of this sort of culminates in Koenig and Victor's interrogation of Russell in the office. I never really thought about the lighting/staging of that scene, but upon rewatching it does look something like a torture scene. Other discussions they subsequently had with beings they'd encountered were done in a nicely lit, comfy (or at least official) area, like around the pie-chart conference table. Clearly, either Koenig has firmly made up his mind that this is not a human being, or else he's a really insensitive SOB. There was the time factor, in addition; they only had a few days to make the decision to go to Terra Nova, so this kind of delay was problematic, to say the least.
Other things I see as inconsistancies...Carter's assertion that it can't be Lee Russell, and then you want to go down to a planet that sent this being up as a warning to stay away? The Eagle pilots got knocked out yet the ship came in on automatic, and you want to send more ships? How many times do these thick Alphans need to be warned away from something. The desire to get off the moon is one thing; the desire to throw themselves into a dangerous situation is another.
I think the observation that BREAKAWAY is written to introduce Koenig, MoLaD to highlight Helena, and BLACK SUN to show different sides to Victor, is a good and valid one. This is definately Barbara Bain's episode. From the beginning where she is framed in the center of the desks to the end where she is alone on the balcony, it is her plight, and it reflects the plight of all the Alphans. To be so close to re-attaining something that was lost, and then to have it ripped away in a few moments. Bain has been criticized in her characterization of Helena Russell as being not overjoyed at Lee Russell's appearance. The scene where he is lyng and bed and Koenig comments to her that it doesn't make any sence for it to be Russell perhaps characterizes why she acts as she does. In a moment, she shifts from a woman regarding her long-lost husband to a scientist accepting the incongruity of the situation. Watch that expression change - it's really marvelous. The scene where Helena is talking to Koenig after Lee's death is also well done, and, I think, shot in slightly different light than Barbara Bain is usually shot in. Seems that it is less soft and in sharper focus than she usually gets, a nice emphasis to the cold reality of the situation, and a contrast to the out-of-focus scene where there is some kind of psychic connection between her and Lee.
I think the novelizations were written from early or original scripts. In that case, MoLaD, as novelized, may have translated better to the screen as the second episode. In it, there is an immediate ripping-apart from the known and understood to the unknown and not understood. The past is gone, over and done with. The relationship between Koenig and Helena first flickers, and there is the transition between the Commander and Doctor to the John and Helena. The Alphans very quickly find out that there row is not to be an easy one. Terra Nova would have definatively been Meta, and the chapter of anything happening within the solar system would have been closed. Then, into the Black Sun - or hole - and out into the vast unknown.
There, did I fill up an entire digest volume?
From: "Ellen C. Lindow" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 18:42:06 -0500 (EST) Subj: Re: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
The other side of this is when they are down on the planet, and twice she calls him, "Commander." Just doesn't play well. If they've already established they are on a first name basis, then quit the Commander stuff.
I thought this too, at first. Then I noticed that she calls him "commander" while they are broadcasting the water tasting and fruit tasting back to Alpha. They are definately putting on a show for those back on Alpha. It's a morale thing, just like that scene in Main Mission where Koenig is talking happy to Sandra. Then he shares his true feelings with Helena, much more cautious and .
Koenig does this on two occasions in this episode, then he and Victor do that song and dance in Black Sun with the defense shield. It does give the impression that Koenig's power base is delicate and he needs to keep the masses happy. Since these people aren't idiots (at least they shouldn't be) they should be able to see through some of these smoke screens.
From: Patricia Embury (Patriemb@sprintmail44.com) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 19:14:20 -0500 Subj: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
This was a great vehicle for Barbara Bain, and I felt she carried the episode well. The way she looked at Lee Russell in Medical section, when John asked her if it was her husband said a lot. She was able to portray the conflict between wife and health care professional/clinician/scientist, very well. I also wondered about the reappearing mattress on the stretcher. I was a bit puzzled as to why Helena called John "Commander" when they were alone together on the planet. Their relationship had progressed to a first-name basis, and I think that Paul, Sandra and Alan were aware of that. The ending sequence with Helena at the window was first-rate. Lee had given her the gift of life: a life for her and John by giving Helena the strength to get off the planet. If she remembered, the window scene is even more appropriate.
I thought Koenig acted rather schizophrenic in the episode. First he wants to not send a crew to Terra Nova until he checks out the reason for Lee Russell's appearance, then he tells Sandra that there is no reason they should not do. Although, he could be weighing, as he stated in one dialogue, that the needs of 300 people more heavily than those of a single individual. He may use the principle of benificence (?sp) as the rationale for his interrogation of Lee Russell. Or, Koenig could be caving in to immense pressure from the base personnell who wonder when phase 2 will be carried out. He chews Alan out for asking a question, yet doesn't say a peep when Sandra brings up the same subject later in the episode.
I thought the explanation given by Stuart Damon's character was used to bring people up to speed on the episode, to ensure that people thought this wasn't a second part to "Breakaway." I have to agree with Pat that some of the reactions aren't consistant with the timing, although one might assume from the general dialogue, that this was the first potentially habitable planet they have encountered, therefore, the mixture of early and late appearing activities could be accepted.
From: Kenetrw (Kenetrw@aol44.com) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 19:33:17 EST Subj: Space1999: Episode Two
I must agree with JCG@VH.NET regarding Helena's appearance. I thought she looked awful, especially in the first glimpse we get of her while she's with Bergman as they monitor Steiner and Nordstrom. She is very attractive in every episode and I'm not tearing down her looks at all. She ljust ooks like the whole thing was funny to her in our first glimpse of her. However, she looks very beautiful just before she turns off Sparkman's life support switches.
As for Koenig being the only one to get up under "G" stress, if you look carefully at his facial expression as Alan first radio's in, you'll see that he has a puzzled, hesitant and concentrated look on his face. He knew that Carter had to make a decision fast as to whether he should return to earth or Alpha. Remember, Alan was the only one with a chance to return to earth. Koenig also needed to let him know they were alive! If there was no answer, Carter's out of there. Koenig did not want to lose his best pilot either. He simply had to get up and get to that button. The others didn't realise or perhaps care to struggle. A commander has his mind on his crew and their survival always.
From: Petter Ogland (email@example.com) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 11:41:51 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: A Matter of Life and Death
What I think is key to the episode is the notion that Terra Nova is a "perfect" planet, only not for humans. Isn't that interesting? Unlike Star Trek with all of its pollyannish optomism about mankind's future, Space:1999 had the courage to exhibit mankind's foibles and limitations.
Watching the episode several times in order to find out what's going on, I suppose you are looking for a moral, Quintin, knowing how you read BREAKAWAY, EARTHBOUND and others.
Personally I think one might quite naturally view MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH on existensialist terms, just like BREAKAWAY, BLACK SUN and others. While BREAKAWAY perhaps can be seen as a drama focused on quick adaption in order to survive the present, MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH is much about the past, just like BLACK SUN is about the future, I think.
In MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, just like EARTHBOUND, ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE, THE LAST SUNSET and THE TESTAMENT OF ARKADIA, there seems to be a lot of nostalgia of what life on Earth was like, and how it was to live on earth before the Moon was hurled into space.
In the case of the Byrne episodes (ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE and THE TESTAMENT OF ARKADIA) it almost seems like if it were childhood memories of peaceful green Ireland as opposed to the chaotic world of writing and filmmaking in London and Pinewood, perhaps a quite life of farming opposed to a hectic urban life and modern problems concerning pollution, world scale social disasters, technological alienation etc.
I feel MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH is very much focused on the alienation of the Alphan's just having left Earth's orbit. Moonbase Alpha is not yet home, and as they hear the siren song of Terra Nova, they are so taken with the possibilities of living a traditional Earth life that they are willing to risk all in order to carry out Operation Exodus.
After BLACK SUN, the situation was somewhat different perhaps, that episode ending with John, Helena and Victor talking about Moonbase Alpha as their Home.
There is a nice parallell between Terra Nova and Lee Russell in MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, I think. The Alphans see a mirror of the past on a Tropical Paradise sort of planet, feeding their hopes and wishes on returning to earth. Helena rejoins her late husband, bringing back fond memories of hopes and wishes she had when she was younger perhaps. Hopes and wishes that could be forgotten or supressed as she is growing older in distant space.
Perhaps MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH can be seen as a sort of allegory of development of civilized life on Earth, about how we sometimes have pleasant dreams of the past. I certainly remember the early seventies, the time when I watched SPACE: 1999 for the first time for instance, as a very fine time, and quite often get nostalgic watching films from the sixties and early seventies.
If wanting to find a moral in MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, for me it seems to be concerned with dream (anti-matter) and reality (matter) in terms of living in the past and the present. There are several kinds of deaths, as Lee Russell says, but in our memories the dead ones continue to live.
From: QGMorrow (QGMorrow@aol44.com) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 16:30:57 EST Subj: Space1999: More "Life And Death"
After reading Petter's note about A Matter Of Life And Death, I was struck by the similarities between the Alphans fleeing Terra Nova and the Biblical account of Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden of Eden. In the case of A Matter Of Life And Death, mankind was driven from paradise because of their ontological incompatibility (matter vs. anti-matter). In the Biblical account of the Fall and expulsion from paradise, mankind was expelled not because of who they were, but for what they had done. Interesting.
From: Kenetrw (Kenetrw@aol44.com) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 01:03:27 EST Subj: Space1999: SNEEZE
Guess what? Someone sneezes in the background as Lee Russell staggers out of bed and makes his way over to the mirror before Dr. Mathias comes into the care unit. It's a quick sneeze. And although there are two patients in two beds behind Russell and Mathias, I can hardly believe this sneeze was acted out! It all happens just as Russell stands up erect.
More Observations on Matter Of Life And death:
Enjoy your viewing!
From: LKJ1999 (LKJ1999@aol44.com) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 04:32:47 EST Subj: Re: Space1999: SNEEZE
Kneetrw@AOL.COM Wrote guess what Someone sneeze in the backgroud as Lee Russell stagger's out of bed.
Well I played that scene on laserdisc a few time's and I be darned if I could hear a sneeze!
I really did'nt notice any blooper's in this episode...
See Ya Suday
Chas P... LKJ1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 20:49:12 EST Subj: Space1999: Matter of Life and Death
Using the format Mateo provided, here are some observations on the episode of the week, " Matter of Life and Death".
First time poor Dr. Mathias gets beaten up (if we accept the production order as the proper timeline).
In the novel there is a picture of Martin Landau frolicking with a parrot that I don't remember in the episode.
Everyone refers to medical center as "the care unit" for some reason.
Setting up "Black Sun" for next week. Until then,
David J Lerda, email@example.com
"Just because we haven't experienced something
doesn't mean it doesn't exist" - John Koenig
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sat, 13 Dec 1997 23:06:32 EST Subj: Space1999: Art Wallace
Just saw a rerun of a Star Trek (the original) episode called "Obsession." It was the one about the vampire cloud. I noticed the author was listed as Art Wallace. Does anyone know if this was the same Art Wallace listed on the credits of "Matter of Life and Death?" Just curious.
From: David Acheson (email@example.com) Date: Sun, 14 Dec 1997 13:32:45 PST Subj: Space1999: Art Wallace
It may be possible that the Art Wallace who wrote the original script for MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH is the same man who wrote the STAR TREK episode in question. I believe that M of L and D's Art Wallace was an American who worked on 1999 in the beginning when ITC was hungry to staff American writers and directors on the show. It would be interesting if they were indeed the same person. Any one knows for sure?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 00:50:52 -0500 Subj: Space1999: A Matter Of Life And Death
My random thoughts:
Again the use of rear screen projections in Main Missiion, which allow the camera to move while shooting an actual image on the screen.
The mooncity costumes credit had it's own unique font.
This has been discussed in the past: What is up with the number buttons on Koenig's commlock? Sometimes they are all there, and sometimes a few are missing.
I wonder when in the process they decided to make this a generic episode, rather then specifically the second episode. They would have had to reshoot a great deal of material to make the references non-time specific (although some of them make it seem like a great deal of time has passed.) It's possible they did not make this the required second episode of the run simply because they did not want to break with the tradition of having the episodes generic as far as running order. Also, it might have been a matter of cost. In syndication back then, I don't think stations (or certainly not all of them) were getting the show off of a satellite. Therefore, they had to make sure every station had a copy of the first episode (a lot of copies) and then each station could run a different episode the second week, and then ship it to another station after broadcast...that way they would need less copies of each episode after number one. This is speculation on my part. I don't know what the initial running order was in each city.
If you find a woman unconscious (and bruised) in a medical infirmary, do you take her back to her quarters? No you treat her there in sickbay. So why is Helena in her quarters?
Koenig's speech and melodramatic picking of the landing party was just absurd.
The planet set is one of the cheeseist I've ever seen. It was just hard to take serious.
If this were the intended second episode, I can't decide if they would have the testing equipment they have (like the water tester that can send a signal up to the moon's computer.) That is not equipment they would have before leaving Earth orbit. (I know, someone will say when they approached their first planet they quickly built this stuff.)
When the eagle was about to blow, we saw it on the commlock in two different shots. The first one they matted the shot on Koenig's commlock, but ended up cropping out the hood on the screen. The second one, where we see Alan in the cockpit fighting the smoke, was a large tv monitor, that they put a hood over to make it look like a closeup of a commlock. They had to do this because the 2 inch tv's they used for the commlocks would not have shown enough detail when filmed to be seen. It's alright for closeups of talking heads, but not wide shots of eagle cockpits.
Except for dramatics, why does the moon get affected and blow up? Also, it is a bad explosion...you see there is nothing in the center of that explosion...not one of their better ones.
Koenig dies after saving Helena from the avalanche...and yet we don't see him get hit by even so much as a pebble. Wile E. Coyte should have done so well.
Finally, couldn't Lee Russell have made the speech he made to Helena, explaining the problem, 20 minutes earlier, and saved everyone a lot of trouble? The interrogation scene in the commander's office, though beautifuly lit in red, was frustrating because Koenig would not listen. I was shouting at the screen for him to shut up and listen to Lee. And since we wanted a dramatic ending, the script would not allow Bergman to be any smarter in that scene.
I like the final touch with Kano's computer results...he was fascinated with an idea that was not at all helpful at that point...which I think made him one of the more normal ones (at least in that episode.)
From: email@example.com (Anthony J Ritz) Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 13:30:48 EST Subj: Re: Space1999: A Matter Of Life And Death
What is up with the number buttons on Koenig's commlock? Sometimes they are all there, and sometimes a few are missing.
These are models with stick on numbers. I suppose they didn't do all they could, to make sure this prop was holding up under the use. When shows are filmed, they are not done so under the pretence that the viewer will be able to pick up on certain things. As for the people in main mission, who's only job were to circle the desks, picking up paper from one locating, and depositing it in another. Busy work one can pick up on in multiple viewing.
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