Space: 1999
Episode by Episode

"Black Sun"

From: David Acheson ( Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 02:56:49 PST Subj: Space1999: BLACK SUN

Well, we are now heading to episode three - the one with the plot device that was supposed to push the runaway moon away from the confines of our solar system and into unknown territory. At least the original drafts for the early episodes and the novelisations built it up this way.

Overall, BLACK SUN is an excellent episode that perhaps most lives up to the series reputation as the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY for television. A story that deals with spiritualism and the human condition in an outer space setting. And like 2001 there is no real answer to the questions so we are all left to interpret what happened on our own. No big American-style action and adventure this time around.

Looking back to the time this aired, one can see why the series was jeered by critics who complained of wooden characters, bad science and senseless storylines - nothing like this had really aired before. No one knew what to make of it. As a kid I was bored by this episode (too slow moving) and would certainly have put it at the bottom of my list. 20 years later, I appreciate the philosophical storylines in the series more than the effects so the episode moves up into the "best of year one". (However, it is still not my favourite.) Apparently, the same appreciation is felt by many list members from the postings to this list that I have seen.

Two things strike me about this episode that I want to bring up. First, the "We'll continue to the bitter end" scenario. Everyone accepted the fact that the Black Sun would be the end of them all but the Alphans continued to do the insanely impossible to keep themselves going. Would Bergman's shield really protect the entire moon? It only covered Alpha! And just how long would the 6 passengers in the escape Eagle survive? The Eagle would most likely run out of fuel and supplies before getting anywhere. But if anyone thinks that this is unbelievable behaviour just think of one word - TITANIC. The scenario is astounishingly similar. Paul's guitar playing and Bob and Kano's chess game reminds me of the Titanic's orchestra playing away as the ship was going down. An attempt to keep things going as normal as possible in the face of disaster.

Secondly is the Mysterious Unknown Force that we talk about so much. This episode is the first real indication that there may be something out there watching the Alphans and pushing them towards their destiny. The Black Sun becomes a 2001-style monolith as opposed to a disaster situation by the time the moon enters it. Several episodes that follow in year one seem to indicate that there is indeed some reason that the Alphans are out there. Unfortunately, we never got the chance to put it all together and year two eliminated the concept entirely.

Favourite scenes: 1)Helena and Sandra in the Eagle. Helena confesses that when she was a little girl she was afraid of the dark. Sandra replies that she was afraid of doctors. 2)All the fine moments Koenig and Bergman share before entering the Black Sun and during the time they are in it. The talk with God was rather a friendly chat than a religious experience.(No disrespect meant.)

Problem with the episode. The fact that the Black Sun was the medium by which the moon would be pushed to unknown space. If the Black Sun was so close to our solar system then wouldn't Earth's scientists have discovered it years ago? Wouldn't Earth be in grave danger? The novelisation doesn't address this problem and the filmed version avoided a timeline. Thus it is easier to accept the Black Sun concept if shown later in the season. But we are still left with how the moon could get so far out in a human's life time? Still the fine 2001-style storyline more than makes up for the lack of a timeline.

The most troubling effect concerns the asteroid and Mike Ryan's Eagle as they were pulled towards the Black Sun. 20 years ago they looked like cardboard cut outs being twirled around. So imagine how bad they look today. Thankfully, the rest of the episode's effects makes up for these two scenes.

In all a great directorial finale from Lee Katzin.

Question Time: Who was the female voice in the Black Sun? Its never been credited and I have always wanted to know!

David Acheson

From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 13:55:04 +0000 Subj: Space1999: black sun

In her magnificent analysis of MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH last week, Pat wrote among other things:

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.

In BLACK SUN I feel Helena is given more of a supportive role, much like in BREAKAWAY, although her on-screen appearance is astonishingly effective, the way I see it at least. The scenes building up for the lifeboat theme are extraordinarily well crafted, I feel, the goodbyes between Victor & Helena, and John & Helena, being highlights of the episode.

The focal character in BLACK SUN, as I see it, is Victor. This is an episode which gives very much time for Victor displaying his emotional ups and downs, his boyish fascination with fysics in designing and testing the "Bergman shield", his solitary working hours constructing formulae trying to understand the mathematical aspects of the Black Sun phenomenom, including his irritated comments to computer, his relationship with Kano, his old-age wisdom and more.

Some of the most charming side to the episode, I find, is the scene where Victor arrives with his cigars and bottle of Brandy. His contrast with John is extreme with his high spirits as opposed to John's more calmly depressed mode.

To me this high spirited behaviour seem to indicate an extreme fear of whats going on. Without anything to do, waiting for the final disaster, making toasts for "what has been", he seems to try to convince himself that the right way to end it all is to go down with a smile, be happy for what has been and to help the others to handle the situation with as least stress as possible.

What do people like John and Victor talk about during the last few hours of life? Well, they do not talk about Helena. As John is a "doer" he has made sure that he has "done" something in order to save her. I suppose it didn't really matter whether he believed the chances of survival were greater on the Eagle or on the Moonbase, he just had to do something so at least he had tried.

During their final minutes, John and Victor exchange thoughts on science and religion. Even at this moment of his life, although he is the one the brings the subject up, Victor is extremely caucious of talking of God. Being a scientist all his life, I suppose, one gets the impression that the world of numbers and facts is so inherit in Victor that he feels cumbersome by the mere mention of the word "God".

Nevertheless, when they hear the childlike voice during the trancelike sequence (I've read somewhere it belongs to Zienia Merton, but who knows), one of Victor's first utterenaces is "Are you God?" There is no speak of Cosmic Intelligence at this moment. Fascinating, isn't it?

What is the difference of science and religion? Is science all rational thought while religion is pure emotions? In the mind of David Weir and other writers for SPACE: 1999 the issues seem to be quite heavily related. The relationship between modes and function of thinking and feeling is a theme that occured quite often during Year One, I remember, my favourite episode in this respect perhaps being RING AROUND THE MOON, but the theme does also seem to penetrate episodes like MISSING LINK, COLLISION COURSE and WAR GAMES to name a few.

In THE TROUBLED SPIRIT Victor also show a similar unease while talking about paranormal phenomena, another controversial subject in scientific communities.

In the SPACE: 1999 DOCUMENTARY Barry Morse tells us of his special fondness for this episode, saying, in fact, that he wished the series would be more like BLACK SUN in approach to character.

All of the three episodes we've discussed so for me far rate among the finest episodes of all SPACE: 1999, all three having the 2001 sort of seriousness approach to problems and conflicts. So far the Alphans have experienced strange phenomena, but still nothing that would prevent the episodes from being watched as "serious" drama. There is still a feeling that they are not too far away from earth in respect of character portrayals and plots.

I suppose RING AROUND THE MOON, next episode, with it's surreal images and plot was the first to break the barrier of 2001 realism, and use this efficiently in order to investigate further aspects of the human condition by having a sample of them thrifting into unknown space.

Well, there still lots to be said of BLACK SUN. By the way, I found David's introduction absolutely brilliant, and I've read a preview of Tony's contribution which is a wonderful and thought provoking study of quite a lot of central themes and situations from the episode. I hope you ship it soon, Tony, for all to enjoy.


From: (Anthony J Ritz) Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 09:04:50 EST Subject: Space1999: BLACK SUN

BLACK SUN: Episode 3

Hello All !

This happens to be my favorite episode. BLACK SUN is the episode with the happiest ending, but the happy ending is well deserved considering the darkness and depth of what is explored, having to come to terms with death. There is also an interesting spiritual twist, towards the end. Not many shows have ever explored these topics to this length. It is interesting to see each character, and how they endure in a crises of this magnitude.

Since we have just talked at length on this episode, I am going to take a different angle at discussing it this time. I want to go character by character, discussing their actions and reactions to the crisis at hand. BLACK SUN is very much like the Titanic disaster. There is a certain doom of a sinking ship at hand. There is even a life boat in BLACK SUN. On the titanic there was heroism that is hardly found in day to day life. The crew in the engine room stayed past the point of flooding, the telegraph operator sent messages until the power died, officers made sure women and children were the ones placed in the life boats, the band played until the end, and the captain was last seen on the bridge. BLACK SUN makes us think about, what some would rather just never think about, the end of everything.

Victor is concerned the second he see the Black Sun for the first time. He is later seen making the calculations necessary to figure out what this space phenomena is for sure. He is worried, arguing with computer as he hastily writes his equations.

His plan is a longshot, and he knows it. The odds are against the forcefield holding. In his own words, "It's insane." I'm sure if he had the resources, he would of dumped the forcefield for a better plan in seconds. Time and elements were not on his side though. And doing something is better than doing nothing. As he told Helena, the forcefield is a doctor not giving up on a patient, until he's dead.

In a touching scene, Victor places a coat over Helena. Not a word was spoken, but a kiss goodbye was given. Victor watches as she walks away, then slowly walks the opposite way down the corridor himself. This scene shows the compassion between the crew, and that there are times where there are no words. Sometimes, words just are not necessary to convey emotion.

Towards the end, Victor comes in with a spacesuit for John, and with a joke tries to lighten the mood. He then walks to the window, cleans a space to view through the frost, and on the other side of the window you can see what Victor is really feeling. He is looking eye to eye with the Black Sun, and his expression is grim. His fear and concern are ever so present, as you see him strain to put on a smile before turning back to John. Victor tries to take solace in the fact that they are lucky they had made it that far. John is intrigued but not comforted by Victor's enthusiasm for the past.

Victor then starts to open up a little, he starts to give some insight into his own spiritual beliefs, that he feels somewhat defensive of having John describe them as "god." But he does see John's logic though, what is a cosmic intelligence to him, is God to John. God is relative and specific to each individual, meaning different things to different people. He says the most profound statements I have ever heard. "I suppose we all believe what we want to believe, That is what reality is." He goes on to say "One thing though, the line between science and mysticism, is just a line, and sometimes it can make me feel quite old." Indicating mans never ending struggle to explain the world around him, the universe and life itself.

Alan reaction to the Black Sun is minimal at first. He is seen in the discussion, concerning the forcefield, not saying, but mouthing "Wow," after John's "It's a long-shot" statement. He comes out more when he hears of the survival ship. His confrontation of John in Main Mission is classic. Alan's display is pathetic, even victor turns away and looks down. But how many of us would not feel the urge to plead for our life. Alan couldn't resist, most often being the most emotional, and acting accordingly: The only one to attempt to save Koenig's life in MISSING LINK, as Helena prepared to take him off life support. John knew this about Alan, and during the mission debriefing, Alan goes to say something. John stops him saying, "No goodbyes." Alan nearly in tears, says yes commander. I think he was not going to just say goodbye, but apologize for his plead for life. He didn't realize what he was doing until he got what he wanted, and saw the rest being left to die. His words stuck in his throat, and he wanted to say he was sorry. John knowing he had already embarrassed himself enough, warmly stated no goodbyes, but John's face said, I know, don't worry.

Paul is in denial at first, almost not wanting to hear what Victor is saying about the Black Sun. Paul works his emotions away. He has to figure a launch window for the survival ship, with the power requirements necessary for the forcefield. His concern for Sandra becomes evident as he accompanies her to the survival ship. He gives the mile long stare to Alan, as he tries to paint over the sadness with the fonzi thumbs up. He is the last of the crew to man Main Mission. When he is relieved of duty, he hardly knows what to say to John and Victor. Victor quietly nods goodbye, and Paul goes off into the darkness. He is later seen and heard playing the guitar, but his song is of sorrow. Tanya joins him, and the imaginations ponders the possibilities.

Kano is not a happy camper. "Computer will have to be deactivated for the process, you can cut through fish scales, we have to use minimum power requirements for YOUR forcefield, and what about computer" are just some of the lines giving insight into Kano's personality. He has built a relationship of sorts with the computer, and has to endure this situations without this friend of his. He is later seen playing chess with Dr. Mathias. The doctor gives him a little psyche-out line of "you'll never beat me, you know." Kano just looks at him like "what are you talking about Willis." Does Kano have a girlfriend? He has his arm around Professor Robinson, after the return of the survival ship.

Professor Angela Robinson's only episode that I know of. She had no lines but her scene was incredible. John gives the names over the comm system. Faces are reflecting in the monitors as alpha is glued to every word John is saying. The last name he gives is hers. She is standing in the rear of several people, who stare at her. She is about to speak when everyone simultaneously walks off. She is left there standing speechless like a statue. Her face says it all.

Helena is her typical self, in control, helping Sandra after Mike's death, helping Victor after the power mishap, and showing concern for John and Victor after they had the eagle shoot at them, for the forcefield demonstration. She does not like leaving John on the base, while she leaves on the survival ship. She almost goes so far as to say she wanted to die with him. John wouldn't have it, so she was back to comforting Sandra on the survival eagle.

John hold the base together till the end. He doesn't fool himself, and accepts the fate from the very beginning. "What can we do? We'll all be dead in three days." He implements the forcefield for moral, and risks the two percent to have Alan shoot at him and Victor, through the forcefield, to better reinforce that everything is being done. He stands in the faces of the other alphans, making decisions that affect everyone, shutting down computer, and implementing a survival ship. He decided on that survival ship, in spite of having to say goodbye to Helena. He can surround himself with work and decisions only so long. As the base shuts down he is seen more and more looking out the window, and sitting at his desk.

I will always remember the first time I saw him look out at the departing survival ship. The eagle lifts off so slowly. The person he loves is leaving and there is no reversing fate. It had to be this way. Then after the take off he sits on the stairs of his office. He seems so small, in the left of the screen. His office seems so empty, which is what he is feeling at that exact moment, as he sits with his hands folded and head down. Profound emptiness, there is no more command decisions to make, and the base is now quiet. When Victor comes in and starts to smoke, John asks him what the hell he's doing. Victor tosses it off, knowing it doesn't matter. Then John gets the idea. The struggle is over and it is time to accept fate.

John and Victor's spiritual experience is quite interesting. They don't even recall it after waking. They look quite old during the spiritual encounter. The adage old and wise comes to mind, as the two are connected to pure spiritual in-lightenment, for a moment in time. They share in the presence of something wonderful, that Victor can use the word God without flinching. This is truely unknown ground, and where no other television show has dared to go.

BLACK SUN is about the double edged sword called life. Life is hardly simple, but a multidimensional array of emotions and feeling that make it up. In the darkened corner of life we store the aspects we most rather not deal with, fear, sadness, and despair. But not experiencing theses emotions, from time to time, would not be experiencing life either. It is the bad times, after all, that make the good times what they are.

From: Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 19:34:18 -0500 Subj: Space1999: Black Sun

For the quibbles that I have been adding to this weekly discussion, I found very little in this episode. It is simply one of the best of the series.

However, here we go:

I noticed for the first time that the episode is "Black Sun", and not "The Black Sun."

The meteor swinging over Alpha at the last second was very dramatic and completly ridiculous. For it to have gotten that close to the base, and then been pulled away, the moon would also have been effected.

I think it is the greatest character writing to have Bergman say to hell with Main Computer and figure out his calculation errors on his own. I'm surprised he didn't pull out a slide rule.

This is a series mechanics complaint along the lines of the inside of the eagle not fitting the outside of the eagle: It has always bugged me that the boarding tube can extend quite far out, and yet inside the travel tube car it is a very close connection from the car to whatever the boarding tube has attached itself.

The camera shots made effective use of the huge sets to give a feeling of loneliness when facing this impossible crisis.

This episode did what the seventh BBC radio broadcast of "The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy" later recommended: when faced with an impossible crisis...get drunk. The two of them, the whole time, from Bergman's enterance into Koenig's office until the crisis is past was very nicely done.

And yes the cigar ash flip at the very end capped the episode beautifully.

This episode worked in that I was too busy watching it to write very much down. I thought I would be bothered by the fact that the ship made it back to Alpha, but it was so nicely done that I didn't care. I also have to believe in the mysterious force since that force field might have protected the base, but it was not covering the rest of the moon, which would have been torn to pieces.

I am a little miffed...if the force was able to do everything else...why couldn't it save eagle pilot Mike Ryan? Tanya hot or what?

From: QGMorrow ( Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 01:01:31 EST Subj: Space1999: More BLACK SUN

Hi Friends,

"Black Sun" is one of my favorite episodes, and one that I never grow tired of watching. And from the recent deluge of positive mail, I suspect that many of you like it a great deal as well.

"Black Sun" is meant, I think, to answer some nagging questions of human existence; namely, "Is there a God?" (or an intellegent life force out there that created and watches over all things), "Are we in this alone?", "How do we make sense of the unknown?", etc.

The comparing of the discipline of scinece and theology (or "mysticism" as Victor puts it) is just wonderful. In the end I think the conclusion that the episode reaches nicely is that the pursuit of scientific knowledge and questions about God (metaphysics) are both the same--both are seeking Truth (notice I spelled it with a capital "T"). In our modern Western culture the human psyche has been bifurcated (because of the Enlightenment) into "public knowledge" (scientific, or knowledge provable by the scientific method) and "private knowledge" (knowledge gained through intuition or faith). The former is considered superior in that it is demonstratable and accessible to all. Yet, in this episode, that bifurcation is "healed" in my estimation. The pursuit of God and science are brought closer together, and it is acknowledged that there is indeed a Supreme Being out there managing the affairs of the cosmos. And as one discovers more about the creation, one discovers more about the Creator.

Whether or not you are personally a theist, "Black Sun" at least posits a intellegent force out there managing the affairs (nicely, I might add) of the universe. As a Christian theologian myself, I am tempted to critique the theology of "Black Sun" in light of the revealed Christian religion I practice, but I always resist that temptation (no pun intended). And I do so because the episode is not meant to be a theological treatise about God. Rather, it is simply meant to communicate that a Supreme Being exists, and that the hard line which we think exists between scientific knowledge and intutitive knowledge is a lot "softer" than we heretofore have imagined.

Smashing episode! I especially liked Victor pulling out the cigar prior to the moon entering the black sun and him being chided by Koenig (in an ironic fashion) for it not being good for his health.

Quintin Marrow
Vista, CA, USA

From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 11:12:11 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: More BLACK SUN

You make interesting points here, Quintin. Victor's "private" and "public" beliefs, alternatively speaking of "God" and "Cosmic Intelligence", seem to indicate the dichotomy of religious versus scientific worlds. In the words of Victor it is, however, not a great difference.

Being a mathematician by profession, working with logic and numbers, I feel related to Victor in many ways. Even in the logical world of computers and mathematical thought, we depend more or less completely on faith, intuition and human insight. Science and mathematics is very much like anything else, I believe, except for it's obsessivenes with the precise and the abstract. My understanding of Victor is from this point of view.

The question Victor asks, I feel, more than the question about whether there is a creator or not, is a question about determinism. Is there something out there that look after us in some way? To John this "something" seems to be "God" in the traditional Christian sense (or Jewish, if we are to believe that John is Jewish as some have suggested).

To Victor it seems as though he cannot use the traditional religious terminology, perhaps feeling that there are too many unscientific connotations with the traditional religion after the science and religion split along different paths in the late middle ages.

Nevertheless, my impression is that his lines of thought are in essence very much the same as John's, and in other episodes, like COLLISION COURSE and THE INFERNAL MACHINE, Victor often explain things from a theological point of view. In the case of BLACK SUN, however, I feel a parallell to the birth of Christian existensialism in terms of Nieztsche and Kierkegaard.

Nieztsche, the most controversial of the two, I suppose, was the son of a theologian, and was growing up in the mid 19th century with the emergence of darwinism, marxism and by the end of the century Freud's psychoanalysis, all phenomenae propelled by the industrial revolution, I believe.

In the writings of Nietzsche there is a great concern about the effect of science and technology on society and traditional Christian values. My impression is that he struggled with thoughts concerning how the Christian moral and the religious language should be understood in order to make sense in a scientific and technological society.

This struggle has been going on ever since, I believe, and seems to me to be reflected by Victor in several episodes, but perhaps most clearly in BLACK SUN.

From: Kenetrw ( Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 07:31:08 EST Subj: Space1999: BLACK SUN

Hello Alphans!

My thoughts on the episode Black Sun:

If I'm Paul, I'm pretty unhappy. He asks Sandra if the asteroid will come close. Instead of actual numbers he gets "Close". He asks Kano something and instead gets a "There's no need to Paul". Can't anyone around here get anything?

I thought Mike Ryan's scene was just pitifull. He sounds like a cardboard character and he plays one as well. His "Sir, all it has is a lot of gravity" and "It's big, it's black" lines are just pitiful. Koenig should have yelled back "Yes, Mike. We know it's black".

As the scene switches to Victor's room, did anyone notice the "IQ13" on the top of his communications tower? Also, Victor appears to be recharging his comlock. The entire comlock is placed in some sort of recharger unless it's a holder!

How about Alan yawning as Koenig says "There's nothing else we can do".

Helena looks good as she takes a look at the Black Sun by the window. It is also in this episode that we get a close-up of the wrist watches everyone wears which is supposed to monitor all the life signs of each Alphan.

I noticed some matchups that are taking place by this episode. You obviously have John and Helena, Mike and Sandra, Tanya likes Paul, Paul likes Sandra and Kano likes Professor Angela Robinson (of which the Tubb book says she is romantic with Ted Clifford).

How about Koenig's small piece of architecture in his office. It looks like two black cylindrical containers welded to two rods. Nice shot of the underside of an eagle from this episode.

There is an interesting map on the Main Screen as Koenig and Bergman are drinking their Brandy. I believe this is a grid map which Paul referred to in Episode One.

Sandra again plays her role very well. Her heavy breathing during the entrance into the black hole is another reason why her character is always very much alive to stimuli around her environment.

The ride through the Black Hole should have been rockier. One critical article I read years ago slammed the series for inconsistencies. For instance, how could the survival eagle make it through when Mike Ryan's eagle blew up? After they go through the Black Hole, the lights come up on Alpha as Koenig and Bergman say "It held". How could they have come up? The force field was still engaged. Landau does a good job in this scene. His eyes a teary-eyed.

Finally, Frank Watts and Neil Binney deserve great credit for the photography in this episode!

Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 19:47:45 -0500 From: jhon ( Subj: Space1999: Black Sun

Also, Victor appears to be recharging his comlock. The entire comlock is placed in some sort of recharger unless it's a holder!

This is indeed a holder for his comlock. You will notice it in a later episode, namely, "Alpha Child."

My gripe is:

How did Victor make that plexiglass fishscale dome in only a few minutes.

"Professor, you didn't answer my question," said Paul
"I thought I did," replied Bergman.
fade out to commercial
"A few minuters earlier, Paul asked...," Koenig stated.

From: JSchill824 ( Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 22:50:54 EST Subj: Space1999: Black Sun

There have been such good posts on this episode it's difficult to add anything. Here are just a few things.

BLACK SUN is about the double edged sword called life. Life is hardly simple, but a multidimensional array of emotions and feeling that make it up. In the darkened corner of life we store the aspects we most rather not deal with, fear, sadness, and despair. But not experiencing theses emotions, from time to time, would not be experiencing life either. It is the bad times, after all, that make the good times what they are.

Very Nice Tony! The only thing I'd add is that after hearing Nick Tate talk about his character in this episode I don't believe Alan Carter was "cowarding away" any more. It is still an uncomfortable scene, but Nick seems to think the scene conveyed that Alan wanted to “help” and not just settle on letting death win. "If anyone could get the Alphans to where they were going it would be him!" After seeing him make it back to the base after Breakaway I could believe this interpretation.

In a touching scene, Victor places a coat over Helena. Not a word was spoken, but a kiss good-bye was given.

Another great scene Tony, which I liked too!

Being a big Victor fan I've always loved this episode. The seen where Victor and Koenig talk with God, is priceless. Who knew that Zienia Merton was the creator? Truly, they took a chance with having a womans voice portray God. A nice change from all the old paintings of a white, green eyed, gray bearded old man. This also allowed God/MUF to be a little more mysterious.

There is a wonderful scene where we see Victor open the doors to main computer. It starts with a camera view shot from the floor! We see Victor walk through the doors and the two blue panel walls on either side of him. Its almost like a showdown between mind and computer. Wonderfully shot! Someone mentioned how excellent the camera work was, truly showing the awesomeness of the moonbase interior in this episode. I would have to concur. Lastly I loved chess. Its all shot under the table/chess board, very much like one of the scenes in Hitchcocks North by Northwest as was pointed out by Petter in a past post!

In the writings of Nietzsche there is a great concern about the effect of science and technology on society and traditional Christian values. My impression is that he struggled with thoughts concerning how the Christian moral and the religious language should be understood in order to make sense in a scientific and technological society. This struggle has been going on ever since, I believe, and seems to me to be reflected by Victor in several episodes, but perhaps most clearly in BLACK SUN.

Also very well done Petter! Just think, we are discussing a sci-fic show that has inspired comments about Nieztsche and Kierkegaard. I believe the reason why sometimes we as fans over look the helmet that flipped open on the moon surface or there being no way an eagle could store enough fuel to fly long distances is that S9 talks about big issues that we are all concerned about. Who we are and where do we come from? As Helena says "life and death big questions."

Sorry I'll be missing next week! Happy Holidays to you all! Warm wishes,


From: Barry Scannell ( Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 06:58:30 +0000 Subj: Space1999: Black Sun


On Black Sun. The segment when the Eagle is traveling through space and the passangers are made translucent, is spectacular. The tranquil music and the dramatic use of color to show the vastness of space is a powerfull effect. Another list member noted the scene in JK's office where he is sitting on the landing as the camera pulls up and away to show the aloneness.

The plight of the Alphans is depicted well in this episode. I wonder are Ara's comments on the Alphans insight into the thoughts of the shows eventual conclusion that may have been dropped as the show went in a different direction ( Thanks Fred ). It brings to mind the Lost Episode with the alphans children discussed last year on the list.

(Watch 2001 then Black Sun, interesting to see the similarities.)

From: LKJ1999 ( Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 18:03:52 EST Subj: Space1999: Black Sun

My comment's on Black Sun...

Number of time's the word eagle was said... (5-time's)
Number of eagle lift off's (1)
Number of eagle landing's (1)
Number of eagle's lost (1)


Just as the astroid missed Alpha (Tanya's light FALL'S on her desk. Also I noticed Her smile at John and Victor...)

Also the eagle explosion was not one of the best...

All in all a very good episode ( Number 6 on My list of best liked episode's from year one...

Chas P. LKJ1999

From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 10:55:57 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Black Sun

Victor had a tremendous impact on the series, I feel. I just watched THE CATACOMBS OF THE MOON last night, Terpiloff's continued study of faith vs. logic as in COLLISION COURSE, but also developing ideas from DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION further, adding a touch of Dante and Tutonic/Nordic mythology, like using the images from Ring des Nibelungen, it's all very interesting, but Victor is severly missed.

Watching CATACOMBS OF THE MOON, I was constantly thinking how this might have worked as an episode in the Year One format. Perhaps if Barry Morse was cast instead of Tony Anholt it might have looked interestingly different. What would it have been like if it were Victor that were running things on Alpha in absence of John?

It's seldom we see Victor taking much physical action, but on several occations he was appointed head of Alpha when John was somewhere else, like in MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, WAR GAMES and also GUARDIAN OF PIRI it might seem. In MISSING LINK there was a comment as to who should take over when John died, and there was some murmur about Victor, Alan obviously not being too keen on that idea.

While the trio Helena, John and Tony in episodes like CATACOMBS OF THE MOON almost has a sort of mother-father-child sitcom feel to it, in the case of Year One, Helena, John and Victor seem like real people dealing with real problems, even if the situation almost comes off as surreal.

As Janet also have been pointing out, helmets flipping open, or the consuption of eagle fuel, does not seem to be all that important in the total concept of SPACE: 1999. It's like Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, where he anachronistically lets them play billiards. It really doesn't matter very much to the total impression of the play.

While finding quite a lot of the SPACE: 1999 episodes making interesting philosophical statements, I think BLACK SUN poses many of the most interesting. Very much like BREAKAWAY, with it's view of life as of we are living on a bomb, BLACK SUN is even more black, where the Alphans have only small hopes for survival as the whole world is about to collapse and vanish.

After the three first episodes, BREAKAWAY, MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH and BLACK SUN, all focusing of physical and mental devastation, disillusionment and incapability to do anyting than to except being thrown and trashed, it would be hard for the writers to find new ideas where they could give the Alphans new hopes that would turn into disasters before the end of the episode.

It's almost like Tchaikowsky's work after he had completed his fourth symphony. Believing he was incapable of making anything reaching the emotional impact of this work, he had extreme difficulty in creating his fifth symphony. Realising he had outdone himself on the fifth, he was almost out of strength to make his final sixth, the "pathetique".

Johnny Byrne did some nice tries with episodes like ANOTHER TIME ANOTHER PLACE, but to me, the three first episodes are exceptional in their straight forward non-ironic approach to these kind of disaster epics. Sometimes it seems like the series ows more to AIRPORT (1970), EARTHQUAKE (1974), SOS POSEIDON (1972), THE TOWERING INFERNO (1976) etc. than to STAR TREK.

Also very well done Petter! Just think, we are discussing a sci-fic show that has inspired comments about Nieztsche and Kierkegaard. I believe the reason why sometimes we as fans over look the helmet that flipped open on the moon surface or there being no way an eagle could store enough fuel to fly long distances is that S9 talks about big issues that we are all concerned about. Who we are and where do we come from? As Helena says "life and death big questions."

Thank you very much, Janet. My comments on Nietzsche and Kierkegaard was inspired by Quintin's theological approach to the series. I find it extremely facinating that the mailing list is composed of so many different kind of people. From what I've experienced there are doctors, scientists, policemen, artists, monks, creative writers, technical writers, media people, archologists, computer people, filmmakers, pilots, musicians to name a few professions that seem to be represented.

It's fascinating how SPACE: 1999 has influenced such a diversity of people, and how these different viewpoints make such a wonderful debate of the series.

The idea of discussing SPACE: 1999 on a weekly basis was a brilliant idea, Mateo. I hope you'll have more time to catch in on the discussion in the next weeks.

This was my last letter on BLACK SUN, so far. The concept of this episode being developed and redeveloped so many times during the course of the series, I suppose there will be lots and lots of writing and references to BLACK SUN in our future discussions.

My next letter will be concerned with episode four, RING AROUND THE MOON, I believe, one of my definitive favourites.

Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 20:45:03 -0500 From: Patricia Embury ( Subj: Space1999: Black Sun

This is one of my favorite episodes. I can't add too much to the discussion, it has been wonderful to read the postings. I thought Tony hit it on the head with his character analysis. His analysis of Carter made me see his "lifeboat discovery" scene and confrontation in a different perspective. Because of the acting and the writing, I always found it difficult to watch, because I hate to see the character behave the way I saw him, and how he acts with the Commander in the "farewell" scene. I was curious as to why Carter was left out of the loop. Did Koenig know that Carter would insist on flying?

I love the use of the female as "God". It taps into the pagan "goddess" concept that was very prevalent during the ancient gaelic and English culture before the conversion of Britannia to Chrisitianity. I wonder if there would have been a difference if the episode had been written/shot in the US?

From: MIKE ATL 5 ( Date: Sat, 20 Dec 1997 02:06:23 EST Subj: Space1999: Black Sun - SECOND CUT

It is interesting to note that the episode as we see it is a SECOND cut. The office in America thought the show was too slow - so back it went to the editing room. In the original, once the SURVIVAL SHIP left ALPHA, that was it - you never saw it again. (Actually I kind of like that idea and is how I watch the episode now.) This could also explain some of the choppyness in a few of the early scenes ie when Paul asks if we can survive the Black Sun. When you add footage - to keep the time at the alotment you obviously have to cut something out. But what was cut out?

Being an editor myself I see this happen quite alot. You make the project the best - then someone, somewhere decides well - change this - just for the sake of change. I have 2 Space: 1999 scripts, Devils Planet and Senace Spectre, both final drafts - and you would be supprised at what was shot and what actually aired - two totally different concepts - in both cases I think it came down to time.

If anyone happens to have a final script of Black Sun - I would really be interested to know what was taken out of the episode so the extra scenes could be added.

Don't get me wrong folks - I love this episode - it really is spectacular - my favorite scene is when Alan gives Paul the thumbs up right befor liftoff - so much is said there - yet it is all visual.

Well I think I has said too much - all for now - NEXT EPISODE: RING AROUND THE MOON?


From: David Acheson ( Date: Sun, 21 Dec 1997 04:22:46 PST Subj: Space1999: The Importance of being Mike Ryan

Ever noticed the Guest Artist credit that actor Paul Jones got in BLACK SUN. All for an appearance that lasted only a few minutes. I always wondered what that was all about! Ted Clifford made just as big an appearance in RING AROUND THE MOON and yet the actor only got a small credit during the ending credits and not during the episode credits. Was Paul Jones someone big at the time in Britain?

Much has also been said about Mike Ryan's (Paul Jones' character) relationship with Sandra Benes. Of course year two wasn't in the works when this episode was being filmed. The production crew had no idea someone was going to write that Sandra had a fiance named Peter Rockwell waiting back on Earth. We eventually see some sort of relationship Sandra begins with Paul Morrow as season one wears on. This makes sense as the Alphans need to start new lives now that they are on their own. So what's with the coziness Sandra has with Mike in just the third episode? Fortunately the episode doesn't try to explain in great lengths otherwise a full fledged love affair would yet be another timeline screw up in the series. So we can probably assume Mike was just a real good friend - a brother figure? - to Sandra. Not hard to believe Sandra would faint over his death as she already screamed her way through the first two episodes. Any comments from fellow listmembers?

Its funny that there has been talk about how some of BLACK SUN compares to the Titanic disaster. I said it myself when I wrote my critique earlier this week. Its ironic that the new movie is out this weekend. Well I am off to see it tonight and am keeping my fingers cross that it will be good. Expecting a barrage of negative responses I avoided the reviews but did take a sneak peak from two sources - one Canadian and one American. Both loved the film. I guess I will be my own judge on that.

Remember, starting tomorrow the episode of the week is RING AROUND THE MOON and on New Years' week its EARTHBOUND. So far these episode discussions have gone well.

From: (B J Dowling) Date: Sun, 21 Dec 1997 15:23:36 +0000 Subj: Space1999: Re: Paul Jones

Paul Jones was lead vocalist with Manfred Mann for a couple of years, and it is his voice on their popular hits "Pretty Flamingo" and "Do-wah-diddy". Also he played the role of Joseph in Rice & Lloyd Webber's "Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" on the original soundtrack.

Now he regularly tours the UK with his Blues Band, who are (from reports I've read) worth going to see, as well as the occasional Manfred Mann get together tour. He presents the weekly R&B hour on BBC Radio 2.

From: Date: Sun, 21 Dec 1997 17:27:10 EST Subj: Space1999: Belated Black Sun

Although technically late, I thought I would put in my $1.999 cent worth.

  1. Artwork / Visuals: Special effects are excellent. On a par with 2001 or Silent Running. Still impressive even after 20+ years. There is something to be said for the old fashioned way of doing effects. These days, with computers doing everything and so little model work and animation, the "soul" of effects work has gotten lost.

  2. Dialogue disasters: "It's big, it's round, and it's black." No s*** Sherlock.

  3. Continuity: I love the voice of God (or whatever) being female. Let's face it, a female voice is comforting to men and maybe the female Alphans heard a man (we only saw Koenig and Bergman). Or, perhaps it was Arra's voice. Would certainly tie in with "Collision Course."

  4. Mysterious Unknown Force: This is the episode. I can't say anything that anyone else hasn't already said. For a science fiction show to tread into the existential / metaphysical argument over God's existence is a stroke of brilliance that has not been seen since.

  5. Bottom Line: I hated this episode as a kid. Upon watching it again, I give it an A.

  6. Misc: Characters - Great, absolutely great. What I thought was Carter's sniveling for a chance to save his life was really just his macho arrogance. Paul, who couldn't (or wouldn't) tell Sandra about his feelings for her because of Ryan sees her off to the Eagle. At that point, no doubt thinking that she would never know how he felt about her. The interplay between Sandra and Helena. Smitty and company playing poker for astronomical (pun intended) stakes. John chewing Victor out for smoking. I wanted to yell at the screen, "Hey dummy, you're all gonna be dead soon. Let him have a smoke." Victor and John getting drunk together. And of course, the reunion scene and Victor flicking the ash from his cigar at the camera. And the critics said these were not real people. Baloney.

From: LKJ1999 ( Date: Sun, 21 Dec 1997 18:13:20 EST Subj: Re: Space1999: Belated Black Sun

6. It's big it's round and it's black. No s*** Sherlock.

I agree!!!!! I was glad to see Him go up in smoke. To bad they had to waste an Eagle...

Chas P. LKJ1999

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