Episode Capsule Reviews

by David Welle

Breakaway A blast in many ways! Really gets a lot rolling, yet still manages to sketch the characters fairly well, is very tightly plotted, sad, and powerful in many ways. Among the top in the series, and a very strong kick-off for any TV series. Breakaway itself, and that drumbeat in its earliest moments, still gives me chills.
Matter of Life
and Death
This one stumbles somewhat, with some dialogue that sometimes makes me feel this is misplaced in time (i.e. episode order), and some acting that seems more catatonic rather than subdued or a characters being in shock. Still some powerful themes and stunning sequences, but still middle of the pack at best, IMO.
Black Sun Very thematic, one where my appreciation grew over the years, into thinking it is one of the stronger episodes, despite some weak points and some more puzzles on dialogue vs. overall timeframe. "Share the music" and especially John and Victor talking to each other and then another, are very memorable scenes.
Ring Around
the Moon
My least favorite episode of the whole series, by pretty far. Almost incoherent in my opinion, repetitive, with dialogue that often seems pulled out of thin air, special effects that just don't work well in my eyes (even considering the 1970's), and mind-numbing keyboard punching. S19's nadir, in my opinion.
Earthbound Among my favorites of S19. Very nice character development for regulars and the two main guests. Poignant, very thematic, and well-acted. The ending is one of the most memorable in a tragic way, for how far one can fall, and others seeming sickened by both his actions and his fate.
Another Time,
Another Place
Despite some clunky points (e.g. "two brains" when "two brainwave patterns" would have worked better, IMO), this was a fascinating episode of alternate reality and time travel, the tragic inability to cope with contacting one's doppelgangers, and Earth in a sad but hopeful state of a new colony. Among my favorites.
Missing Link Seems more fascinated with imagery than clear plot, and characterization is not much better, with a seeming romance (?) where the two leads have no chemistry, that leaves me feeling baffled about the intent (e.g. was John in love with Vana or trying to find a way out?). Among my least favorite of the series as a whole.
of Piri
Very strong theme of how an alien race, seeking not just utopia but perfection, instead created a quiet dystopia and a whimper of destruction, while its surviving computer/android tries to inflect the same on Alpha. Koenig's persistence of vision to see through the outer beauty to the inner death starts showing through.
Force of
Chilling (pun intended), yet sometimes baffling episode, where the dialogue sometimes makes little sense (forgot the blue light?) and where characters are first being very clever and then foolish (warning system). Some strong imagery and plot, and solid theme, muddled by the episode's execution, or something.
Alpha Child Uplifting quickly followed by stunning (creepy) shock, some charming scenes, and a sense of growing dread, attempts to thwart a threat, only to nearly fall to it, but for intervention of otherwise silent aliens Plenty of good characterization, very interesting plot, and solid thematic material. Among my favorites.
The Last
Aliens seeking to avoid contact give atmosphere to the Moon (neat premise!), Alpha's crater threatens to become a lake, the infamous window, volleyball in the moondust, Paul goes off the deep end (with some help), and Helena cleverly blows up an Eagle to get the stranded party rescued. Very good and memorable.
Lots of strong characterization and thematic material wrapped in a solid plot. Tragedy, a secret revealed, whole planets gone, revenge genocide attempt sanctioned by a Chief Justifier, attempts at atonement, single-mindedness, former losses. Among my favorites.
Alpha meets ancient Atheria and its prophetic queen. John looks demented to most Alphans, but under alien influence and with some help, prevents an attempt (one that unfortunately never sounded plausible to me) to avert. Worlds touch, one mutates, and the other goes on. A little suspension of disbelief rewards greatly!
Death's Other
Shakespeare-spouting "mad Jack" is a very effective character, as is Dr. Rowland, as diametrical viewpoints on these lost humans turned apparently immortal. Some uncritical thinking among some Alphans that sometimes bothers me, but it is but a small point against a solidly-interesting episode.
The Full
One of many cases that make me think while the idea of caveman stories is fine, I find it rarely works well. This does have some moments and some good dialogue, but also a lot of cringe-worthy points too, and the premise is rather weak. Even as a "light" episode it just does not work well for me.
End of
I'm not much into heart-of-darkness horror-tending stories, though this one is among the best I've seen of such, so I'll give it credit for that. Among the themes: Immortality, stagnation, a horrific way of trying to avoid the latter. Still not enough to be among my favorites, but thematically strong and well-written.
War Games A "reset" that actually does have some persistent meaning (good); but for some reason other than the "reset," I am very ambivalent about this one, perhaps finding it too self-intrigued by its own imagery, and the dialogue thematic yet wavering wildly between powerful and clunky. Strong action sequences, however.
The Last
From a will-o-wisp war to a battle in an old war, with Alpha as the little guy stuck in the middle, until the latter punches back hard, but still with sadness at the waste of it all. The SFX of the star system are a little odd (scale problems). The scene of Dione flirting with John, and Helena's reaction, is great.
The Troubled
Ghost stories rarely interest, but this one has a most striking feature that raises it up to higher than the bottom third it would otherwise be (though not into favorites territory): being haunted by one's own future ghost, and a causal loop within it as well! Stunning (and fairly unique?) concept!
Space Brain Poignant and sad, but I previously never connected much with other than thinking it was okay. It has grown on me some over time, and even more via the Powysverse. Funny thing is I never had a problem with the soap suds scene. The music: stunning! The communication gap has always been very interesting, though.
The Infernal
A machine intelligence that has overtaken its creator, and has apparently become sentient -- and arrogant. Fighting it costs Alpha more than at any point since Breakaway, yet the death of Gwent in the end still seems sad too, of a lost, wandering mind that learned too late something of the true meaning of life.
Mission of
the Darians
An abject lesson in what not to do after a disaster, and where one finds the seeming but superficially-civilized side is more barbarous than the supposed barbarians, and where near-worship of ancestral DNA blinds them to the potential still remaining in genes of the sum surviving population of the ship.
Dragon's Domain Another horror story, again not my favorite genre, but again S19 manages some startling twists and spins on the ideas that makes this better and more memorable than most such stories, and provides a lot of character backstory at the same time. Plus some imagery that really sticks for a long time.
The Testament
of Arkadia
Rather interesting, and thought-provoking, some linguistic puzzles (in several senses of the word "puzzles" though), interesting characterization, well-framed voice overs, a solid plot, and some interesting themes on death and potential renewal, (re)colonization and mutiny.
The Metamorph My favorite. Alien obsessed with saving his world, to his moral downfall, sad yet smirking, but keeping his daughter away from his dark side. A people with startling power, yet Maya's choice has her losing virtually everything she (thought she) knew, and having to hope for a new home among the aliens her father was just killing.
The Exiles Again a strong premiere episode to a weaker second, but again still with a lot of strong points. Alphans unknowingly meddling in another society's form of justice in helping innocent-looking young adults who are really anything but. Some missed opportunities going into and inside this episode.
One Moment
of Humanity
Interesting premise, fair execution, but a lot of grating parts, including a central "dance" whose execution and music both have me cringing a lot on every viewing. Title's premise did work, and there were a lot of character moments I liked, but one of the weaker episodes of the series in my eyes, nonetheless.
All That
An okay premise (I'll grant the living rock willing suspension of disbelief), okay plotting, okay theme, and some enjoyable characterization make this middling in most ways and one of the lesser episodes of the series. "Red is Death!" ranks as one of my least favorite dialogue lines, and some other hokey bits here too.
to Where
Very enjoyable premise (I'm very partial to time travel stories), good plot, lots of characterization. The "Who needs nature?" line is silly, especially when the Alphans show otherwise a lot. Them wondering at the end if an Earth return (esp. given its condition) is really that desirable is very thematically powerful.
The Taybor Light, very amusing, yet with a more serious side too, and overall a very enjoyable episode. Alpha's continual hope for a way to get off the Moon seems close again but is thwarted when the potential help demands an unacceptable price. The dinner scene is wonderful in its humor and the charm of both of the women. :-)
The Rules
of Luton
Some "Arena" theme here, but that serves it well enough. Maya gets in trouble sometimes too, including here, forcing Koenig to fight on a timetable. Plants running a planet feels rather 1950's, and takes a big piece of suspension of disbelief, but still comes out enjoyable if still just average.
The Mark of
The cannot-lose-a-little-blood idea badly strains suspension of disbelief, but does provide for some sadness. The Catacombs idea is very interesting, and there are some other thematic elements of worth regarding the aliens. Still, this one, I just don't connect to much. One of my least favorites.
Brian the Brain In the vein of "The Taybor" in some ways, but does not work as well. Best line: "I've got a bad feeling about that machine." Probably the weakest humor scene of all, namely the trolley-chasing joke. There are some positives about the episode, and it is entertaining, but little else in my opinion.
New Adam
New Eve
One of my favorites. Sparkling dialogue, great character development, fascinating thematic material, and very strong plot. Earlier, the Alphans wonder about (what we call) a Mysterious Unknown Force, now meet someone claiming to be the Creator! They discover he's a self-deluded genetic engineer, but very powerful.
The AB
An alien defense system inflicting increasing damage. The aliens with an interesting lifecycle, and who take a vote, against Alpha. Yet, there is a surprise compromise. Very interesting thematically, and with a lot of strong plot points and imagery (e.g. the bouncing spheres, electrical discharges).
Catacombs of
the Moon
Too stuck in repetious imagery, and it just does not seem to gel, or at least does not click much with me. Some redeeming features, including a little more character development, but it is swamped out, and just is not enough to prevent it from being my second-least favorite.
Seed of
Plays well on how despite prior doubts about Koenig, he so often saw the right path that the Alphans now find it difficult to counter him, even though they should, and finally do -- because he is just a reflection, in many senses of the word, of aliens whose caretaker fatally lacks the ability to make moral choices.
The Beta
Shooting at that light diamond was intended as a time-wasting distraction, but could have badly used something more interesting as a distraction target than that. Despite this, the plot is very good and entertaining, and with a lot of characterization I like. Enough here that this episode is actually one of my favorites.
A Matter
of Balance
An intriguing premise and some entertaining characterization (if silly costuming). An easily distracted Alphan pulled in by someone with cult-like charisma who is trying to save his people -- but by swapping others into their same dilemma. The entire planet disappearing underneath them is very striking.
Space Warp More of a guilty pleasure than anything, the damage Maya can do while ill was actually a pretty interesting premise and mostly handled well, even if the chase around the rock got silly. I love the "Space: 1899" dig at this episode, even if I do still find the episode likeable if very average.
The Bringers
of Wonder
(both parts)
Strong in characterization, plot, and theme, with the Alphans again finding hope in reaching Earth (or in one case some concern), only to find it is all an elaborate deception by aliens trying to kill with kindness, only wanting energy, not cruelty, but employing deadly deception. Works well as a two-part episode. The struggle to throw off the deception, a step at a time, is well-plotted. Koenig having a sort of accidental immunity that makes him look outright crazy is well-played, both in terms of how the Alphans do act against him but are slowly swayed back to his side with logic and persuasion. One of my favorite stories.
The Lambda
A love triangle spins out of control into a murder mystery where the weapon is an unusual force that gives too much strength to a weak mind while hobbling a stronger mind. The two finally confront each other and the latter, renewed, prevails, though not before someone else is nearly murdered, and all nearly enslaved.
The Seance
Four people tap into something, but it is little more than self-delusion, but which in their mutiny nearly gets several people killed. Others still fight to save them, Maya spares a shot that would have killed Sanderson after he was about to kill Koenig, but while three are saved, he cannot be in the end.
Dorzak Hope yet tragedy in the premise, Maya pleading for someone she later finds repulsive. Lots of good characterization by most, though the acting of Clea is rather weak, in my opinion. Sahala shooting Maya engenders in-temporary-command Tony's anger, but Alan defending Sahala (yet still disarming her later), all works very well.
Devil's Planet Intriguing concepts of justice (mixed with some partial democracy) still being carried out by jailers who refuse to deal with the total extinction on the home planet except by totally repressing it, lead by someone with a "high boredom quotient." Some good dialogue and imagery, though not one of my favorites.
The Immunity
A lonely but powerful being whose very reaching out engenders madness that it fails to recognize across such a gulf. Its title ability to turn a whole world deadly, the fears all feel, the glider flight, Tony driven mad, and sad deaths, provide some good theme, imagery, and character material, and the plot moves well.
The Dorcons Maya is hunted by powerful aliens, but the Alphans defend their own, as they always have, even if not always successfully -- for if they did not, who would they be? The aliens have a fatal flaw in their succession, and the court intrigue is very Roman. Koenig finds and successfully exploits that. A favorite.

Space: 1999 Metaforms

Thank you for your interest.

Click here to visit Online Alpha.

To Space: 1999 MetaForms
Main Page or Thread Pages