Space: 1999
Episode by Episode

"The AB Chrysalis"

From: South Central ( Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 15:38:13 -0700 (PDT) Subj: Space1999: Episode by Episode

THIS WEEK: A B Chrysalis

From: Monday, August 24

TO: Sunday, August 30

"Discuss amonst yourselves, I'm all verklempt...."

Mateo (one of my FAVORITE episodes--one of the few episodes whose basic plot could have worked well in Y1!! Definitely, imagine Victor trying to argue logic with the aliens in this episode (insert better dialogue)--NOT DIFFICULT to imagine at all!)

From: Jeff Doyle ( Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 02:22:47 -0700 Subj: Space1999: A few reflections on the AB Chrysalis

This is definately one of the better year two shows. It had a lovely mystery at the begining, and it remained interesting and exciting throughout. It certainly could have written as a year one show without difficulty. Also Alan is a favorite of mine, and he had some nice bits in this one.

I am throughly entranced by the bouncing ball effect in A B. Outside of the slow-motion, I wonder how it was done.

The only problem I had with this ep. was the way in which Koenig is fallen in love with - it smacks too much of weaker ST moments with Kirk as the intergalactic stud. But thats a minor blemish on a fine episode. I give this one, 4 Main Mission sets out of 5. -Jeff

From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 11:25:16 +0000 Subj: Space1999: AB Chrysalis

Jeff Doyle wrote:

This is definately one of the better year two shows. It had a lovely mystery at the begining, and it remained interesting and exciting throughout.

I agree much with this. To me AB CHRYSALIS is one of the Year Two episodes with content, I feel, much like the Year One episodes. Although the episode is not significantly verbal, like with his previous ONE MOMENT OF HUMANITY, Tony Barwick is investigating the fundamentals of being human.

While the theme was emotions in ONE MOMENT OF HUMANITY, the focus in AB CHRYSALIS seem to be even more socio-biological as the episode interrogates the meaning of life in perspective of the individual versus the group.

Much like ants or insects, a favourite point of view by Chris Penfold in Year One, this episode seem to imply that survival without culture is meaningless. Koenig is hence willing to give his life in order to have Alpha survive.

On the artistic side, things are not all that bad either, I think, Keith Wilson once again showing his hommage to Vasarely and other Op-artists as he seemed to be doing in THE GUARDIAN OF PIRI.

Very nice touch indeed, I think, in artistic terms perhaps not too inferior to the final part of 2001: A SPACE ODDYSEY where Kubrick shows his fascination with psychedelia, or perhaps if one were willing to strech it a bit, abstract expressionism as with people like Jackson Pollock.

I've only seen the German 40 minute edited version of AB CHRYSALIS, and from that perspective I think it is not significantly worse than, say, THE INFERNAL MACHINE, perhaps even better if we disregard the usual bad-taste Year Two essensials.

I agree with Jeff Doyle. Using a Barry Gray score instead of Wadsworth, removing Maya and returning to Year One type of conflicts and characterisations, this could indeed become a very fine episode.

It's a bit sad, really, that Tony Barwick wasn't able to write for Year One. Both his entries in Year Two are definitely among the better contributions the way I see it. Unfortunately I haven't seen UFO, but I understand he had a very great impact on that.


From: Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 11:46:36 EDT Subj: Re: Space1999: A few reflections on the AB Chrysalis


As far as I can tell the scenes with the ball computers were shot backwards. Showing the ball jumping up to it's perch was really it falling down and then played in reverse. Gerry used this same technique for the robots in Terrahawks.


From: "Petter Ogland" ( Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 08:52:32 +0000 Subj: Space1999: AB Chrysalis

On his Catacombs website, Martin Willey writes splendidly on AB CHRYSALIS:

In "The A B Chrysalis" the twist in the story comes as the Voice Probe announces "The intelligent life form on this planet is not yet in existence." It is a marvellous twist, but the episode title gives the game away.

Very nice twist, I agree, and even if the caterpillar/butterfly assosiations one might get from the title, it still is a nice twist I think. I some ways AB CHRYSALIS seems like a response to Johnny Byrne's THE FORCE OF LIFE where the body of Anton Zoref is used as a sort of puba.

Although thematically similar, there are significant differences in the way the theme is investigated by Byrne and Barwick. While Byrne uses his normal catholic descriptive manner of writing, Barwick seem more concerned with existensial elements of the story by Koenig being forced to make a choice.

However, it does not seem too great a choice, at least not in existensialist terms, as he almost without hesitation shows his abilitity to abandon his own life for the sake of Alpha. Either Alpha lives or nothing matters. For Koenig there is obviously no life outside Alpha.

Perhaps there could be some connections with the emotionally crippled robots in ONE MOMENT OF HUMANITY here. In fact, I think his "loyalty is better than logic" etc. could easily have been constructed to reveal a simplistic and emotionally unsophisticated mind, but it could also be a maxim derived from long experience of survival in space and contemplation over life in general.

The philosophy of Koenig in this episode does not seem all that different from Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), the great thinker whose moral philosophy seems like a combination of Preussian military disipline and a strong belief in the individual and humanity.

Furthermore, investigating AB CHRYSALIS in existensialist terms, the father of existensialism, Soren Kierkegaard, would perhaps also nod his head, even if it were a bit hesitatingly, during Koenig's speach. More than anything, however, the type of thinking we are exposed to in this episode is perhaps best assosiated with Herbert Spencer and his social Darwinism that by the time of Penfold, Byrne and Barwick had evolved into social biology.

The social biology aspect of AB CHRYSALIS is what I find the most fascinating with this episode, and it shows that even under the regime of Fred Freiberger, it was still possible to produce good stories. In fact AB CHRYSALIS is one of the episodes the remind me of the glories of Year One with wonderfully social-biology studies in classics like GUARDIAN OF PIRI, WAR GAMES, FORCE OF LIFE, MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH and THE LAST SUNSET. Were it produced in Year One style, AB CHRYSALIS could even have been reminicent of the mother SPACE:1999, probably the finest piece of science fiction ever presented on the silver screen, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

Apart from [...] twists, both episodes are routine adventures, with the Alphans facing and escaping from a succession of crises. Instead of ingeniously outwitting their adversaries as usual in a Barwick plot, the Alphans save their own skins by impressing on the aliens the value of benevolent emotions. The morality is hard to argue with, but it is very simple and general, especially as expressed by Koenig in his "The A B Chrysalis" maxim: "Loyalty is better than logic. Hope is better than despair. And creation is better than destruction."

It's interesting to compare AB CHRYSALIS with WAR GAMES, for instance, which is a similarily philosophical episode albeit with a somewhat different feel to it.

While Chris Penfold exclaimed more or less frustratingly in his script that people are like virus, Barwick's philosophy of people being like ants, as socio-biologist Edward Wilson surely would have put it, seem to be much more easily accepted by Freiberger.

I feel that AB CHRYSALIS is perhaps the closest one comes to explaining the philosphy of Alpha during it's second year in space reflecting the emotions and thoughts of a people who are fairly well adapted, although we see in other episodes, SEED OF DESTRUCTION and SEANCE SPECTRE to name a few, that their worst enemy is their own organisation the results of what they have paid in order to survive.

As the Alphans travel into the future, culturally they travel back to the middle ages, it seems, and it becomes more and more evident that the symbolic last name of John Koenig is becoming more and more literal as they continue their journey. In fact, I think Johnny Byrne's Greek drama pastiche THE DORCONS was a very fitting ending to Year Two just as his semi-religious Christian drama THE TESTAMENT OF ARKADIA was an excellent ending to Year One.

In other episodes Koenig is often very moody and impatient with others, but rarely as impetuous and thoughtless as in these episodes. Maya is even more crudely used by the script: "It's so difficult to remember" she complains when trying to turn into the Kreno creature. Later, as she watches Koenig being electrocuted she has to laboriously explain the situation to Alan: "My orders are to fire on voice command, but they have prevented the commander." A and B deliver especially bad dialogue ("Your decision is clouded by attraction." "Attraction?" "For the commander. It is obvious and futile. You want him to stay, to be your 'lover'.")

It is difficult do argue against the point that Koenig is being displayed as thoughtless in the Barwick episodes. What is more interesting, perhaps, is whether his thoughtlessness is a good or a bad thing for the Alpha community.

While in Year One the Alphans were portrayed as civilised people living in space trying to come to terms with their own situation, understanding their fate and their place in the universe, in Year Two these ideal have clearly degenerated, just as with the group of schoolboys in William Golding's novel, I feel, and the agenda of the day is survival at all cost.

The issue of survival at all cost was investigated by Johnny Byrne in MISSION OF THE DARIANS. One of the central points in that episodes was that the Darians were carriers of culture. Alpha obviously are not. Does this make their fight for survival more sympathetic?

Paradoxically, I think so. As the male alien in WAR GAMES says: "The death struggle of inferior species is very often the finest hour of their existence."

In very many ways, I think AB CHRYSIALIS is an interesting episode.


From: David Acheson ( Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 06:44:41 EDT Subj: Space1999: Of Chrysalis and other stuff

Hi fellow Alphans:

I've not been contributing much over the past few weeks and have actually not said anything during the episode discussions for BRIAN THE BRAIN and NEW ADAM, NEW EVE. Mainly this is because I am burned out and rather down right now but I definitely am staying subscribed to the list. I still manage to give fast read throughs of the messages. In addition BTB and NANE are rather bad episodes that have just been continuing a trend I mentioned that started back with THE TAYBOR - 1999's silly period. For the record, I personally thought this trend was broken by THE AB CHRYSALIS which I hold as one of the better year two episodes. I also agree with those who feel that this could have easily been done as a year one episode. The Val Guest (director) and Tony Barwick (writer) combination was just right.

And nudity! - quick send the children out of the room. Smile. I was a kid myself when I first saw the episode. Its amazing what you can cover with long hair as A and B did in the show. Its interesting to note that B was played by a younger, pre-SUPERMAN Sarah Douglas. She did do some American television afterwards (including a year or so on FALCON CREST) but seems to have disappeared these days.

Thanks to Rene for that Real Audio clip from THE TAYBOR. Listening to that brought back memories and the opening credit song is just as I remember it. For the record, the music played in BRIAN THE BRAIN where Koenig is on Planet D's surface was mentioned earlier. I too agree that this is a wonderful piece and believe Wadsworth used it in additional episodes. Despite Wadsworth being so musically different from Barry Gray, I still think this almost-religious piece could have easily fitted in such year one episodes as BLACK SUN and THE TESTAMENT OF ARKADIA.

Gotta run and get ready for work. Lets all enjoy the last few weeks of summer.

David Acheson

From: Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 22:34:48 -0400 Subj: Space1999: AB Chrysalis

I like this episode so much I found the nits I noticed were very minor and not worth writing down.

People have commented on the effect of the bouncing ball. Sometimes the simplest tricks work the best. Studying some of Chaplin's films you notice the use of reverse filming (even his outtakes had marvelous stuff he discarded.)

Of course the one nit, that they point to a third planet on a drawing that he didn't finish and the alien computer knows they are from Earth...but of course if they didn't do that the episode would have had to go ten hours.

Aliens A & B spent an hour studying english, and the bouncing computer couldn't have translated during that time?

I find more interesting two photos I have from this episode that has Koenig without his jacket. One is of the scene where Maya says "Alpha is beyond Eagle One's reach." The shot is framed exactly the same, except Koenig has no jacket on. The second picture I haven't figured out yet, but it is on the laser disc jacket. I was almost wondering if they filmed it with and without the jacket. I've read there was a heatwave during filming, so maybe they took the stills without the jacket (In fact Landau in several closeups looks like a man who had been sweating a lot.)

It's also interesting that the Image laser disc came out in 1990, and yet the label on the disc itself has the episode's original working title "Chrysalis A. B. C," while the jacket has the filmed title.

From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 10:59:52 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Of Chrysalis and other stuff

David Acheson wrote:

[...] In addition BTB and NANE are rather bad episodes that have just been continuing a trend I mentioned that started back with THE TAYBOR - 1999's silly period. For the record, I personally thought this trend was broken by THE AB CHRYSALIS which I hold as one of the better year two episodes. I also agree with those who feel that this could have easily been done as a year one episode. The Val Guest (director) and Tony Barwick (writer) combination was just right.

While Fred Freiberger wanted a more youthful look to the show, sometimes the older and more experienced directors, such as Val Guest and Charles Crichton, were responsible for some of the better efforts.

As Year Two was originally intended to be a collaboration between four directors, just like in Year One, Ray Austin was perhaps realising the life is short and wanting to do something more rewarding than trying to contribute on the sinking ship, other directors apparently had to be dragged in.

Both Crichton and Guest had made a fair amount of well acclaimed films for the British film industry in the 40s and 50s, so I suppose they didn't mind sleep walking through a year of SPACE:1999 as long as it was enough to butter their daily bread.

While there is a dramatic different in style of directon of the old Crichton and the young Austin in Year One, Crichton still managed to head some of the very best Year One episodes, I think. If Crichtons style seems a bit routine and stale at times, he certainly seem experienced enough and certainly seems like a man who knows his business.

Contrasting Cricton and Guest, Bob Brooks was one of the least experienced directors in the group assigned for working on Year Two. Originally he was assigned to direct about a fourth of the episode, about 6 or 7 I suppose, but ended up only directing two. I have no idea why this was so as I find both THE TABOR and THE IMMUNITY SYNDROM to work quite well on the technical level.

Brooks' prior experience was working with commercials, Tim Heald says in his wonderful book, so one could perhaps expect extravagant visuals here. Not bad in anyway, I was a bit let down that he seem to be using so little of his former experience on the show.

Anyway, once again I feel it is Ray Austin who is the master of trade in SPACE:1999. One of the most impressive episodes of Year Two in visual and kinestetic terms is ALL THAT GLISTERS, I think, perhaps because of its excess camp. While Austin tried to give some dignety to THE EXILES, at the time they were doing ALL THAT GLISTERS he probably was reading the message on the wall and found the most meaningful path of direction under these circumstances was to pay a nice hommage to Ed Wood. Well done too! ALL THAT GLISTERS is a very rewarding episode to watch, I think, made by one of the most impressive TV-directors of the 1970s as far as I'm concerned. ALL THAT GLISTERS is a small jewel, I think, in its peculiar way, and probably one of the episodes that gives best insight on what SPACE:1999 Year Two was all about.

In a way it is sad that Ray Austin never directed any of the Charles Woodgrove episode. The combination Woodgrove/Austin would have been tremendously exciting stuff, I feel, although I would not be very surprised if it turned out that Freiberger was significantly more represented in the final drafts to ALL THAT GLISTERS than welsh author Keith Miles ever was.

Well, from a more positive side, perhaps the combination of Austin, Freiberger and Miles in a way was more representative of what SPACE:1999 was all about, even though one gets the impression of Fred Freiberger being the real John Koenig on the lot. Miles would perhaps have some of the same function as Bergman had in Year One, namely add some dignity and intelligence to the proceedings, while Austin perhaps is the best representative of dr. Helena Russell's function in the series as of being representative of the emotional content.

Before Val Guest contributed with AB CHRYSALIS he directed the, in my opinion, much inferior RULES OF LUTON. As David Acheson pointed out earlier, during his analysis of this episode, the weakest point about RULES OF LUTON is that it is boring. Of the three Woodgrove episodes I also find this to be the least satisfying although I find it hard to pin-point anything in the scripts that would help derive this conclusion.

I think the poor result with RULES OF LUTON must have something to do with lack of inspiration on the behalf of Val Guest. Well, I certainly don't blame him on that, RULES OF LUTON being not much more than Loony Tunes shot with real actors on location, but, nevertheless, the final result of RULES OF LUTON is much much worse than, say, ALL THAT GLISTERS, I think, even though we know that there were problems in the extreme with making ALL THAT GLISTERS.

It is interesting, though, to register that Val Guest does so much better with AB CHRYSALIS, an episode that, at least in the German more quickly edited version, must be considered one of the better Year Two efforts. This is how I value it anyway.

Although much of the reason for the relative success of this epsisode must be due to writer Tony Barwick, the formula with a young writer and older experienced director, as with the Penfold/Crichton collaboration in Year One, proves to work in Year Two as well. Also the Barwick/Crichton episode ONE MOMENT OF HUMANITY is one of the better episodes of Year Two, I think.


From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Sat, 29 Aug 1998 17:25:55 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: AB Chrysalis wrote:

People have commented on the effect of the bouncing ball. Sometimes the simplest tricks work the best. Studying some of Chaplin's films you notice the use of reverse filming (even his outtakes had marvelous stuff he discarded.)

Very appropriate comparison this is, I think. AB CHRYSALIS could perhaps be seen as an effort to visualise our inner life in Freudian term, much like Chaplin and his contemporaries were doing in the 1920s as has been suggested by Salvador Dali and his contemporaries of the Surrealist movement.

While I find the Terence Feely episodes NEW ADAM/NEW EVE and BRINGERS OF WONDER quite fascinating as a probable way of bringing the typical literary inner world of John Fowles and his likes to the screen, Tony Barwick and Val Guest manages to combine this with some kind of moral conclusions that seem more or less hidden in the Feely and Chaplin productions, morals that become much clearer in a Freudian perspective, I think.

From my point of view it seems like A, B and C are supposed to interact as interpreters of the Freudian Id, Ego and Superego, the male representing the Superego and the more spontaneous of the females representing the Id.

The soul of the planet being decomposed into these three components could then suggest reading Alpha in similar terms. The point then, it could be, is that the humanoid structure of Alpha is mirrored into the conciousness of each member of the community as John Koenig is not seeing life outside the community as a possibility and is hence willing to sacrifice himself in order to have the community survive.

In this way AB CHRYSALIS could perhaps be seen as a further development of MISSING LINK, one of the most interesting studies of our emotional structure, I think, by using the SPACE:1999 context.


From: Mike Lynch ( Date: Sun, 30 Aug 1998 19:05:25 -0500 Subj: Space1999: Last minute AB CHRYSALIS tid bits

Gad! It's been nearly three weeks since my last bit of participation in this list. I've been rather busy with work (read as: it was taking up all of my time!), but I have been keeping tabs on what's been going on in the list. The downside to this: I spent very little time with friends and family (social life... what social life?), my fiancee nearly forgot what I looked like, and it took me almost a month to put together an update for my site that should have only taken a week. The upside to this: the overtime I put in at work has offered me the chance to finally get the new computer I've been eyeing up for some time now.

I know we are past NEW ADAM, NEW EVE, but I just want to say: I too rather enjoyed this episode, and felt that even though it came across as a rather comic book-esque rendering of Space:1999 it was still very entertaining. "We're a bit low on sacrificial goats." ...excellent! :)

I do agree with Petter's comparison of Magus with Salvador Dali - even if, for the most part, the similarity is a physical one. I wonder what Dali would have had to say about such a portrayal? I can see him loving it, and at the same time I can see him hating it... but given Dali's propensity towards being eccentric (and at times outlandishly so) I can see him both loving it and hating it all at once.

Just a side note: Petter, you noted that Dali lived from 1904 to 1987... Dali actually died in 1989 (January 23, 1989).

As for the AB CHRYSALIS - I really enjoy this episode. There is a simplicity to this episode that seems to make it stand out among other Y2 episode. And it is in this simplicity, that I think, the episode draws its strength.

There is also a decent amount of scientific accuracy... or at least an attempt to remain more accurate than in other previous episodes. We actually bear witness to shock waves caused by tremendous explosions - something that was lacking in episodes such as THE METAMORPH. Travel time seems to be relatively accurate as well: we aren't zipping from the Moon to a Planet in only 10 minutes, it actually takes several hours.

Perhaps my only problem with this episode is the star chart that Koenig draws. There is no regard for scale or orbital accuracy in his rendering, and he isn't even complete when the computer instantly gleans that they are from Earth. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Taybor point out that the Alphans weren't even in their own galaxy any more? If this is true then how in the world would the computer recognize the Sol system so quickly (complete, or not)?

And I have a feeling that I'm alone in this one, but I really enjoy Maya's Kreno beast. This has to be one of my favorite transformations. Even as a kid I like it. Yes it's cheesy, yes it's rubber skin wrinkles when it rolls around on the floor, but I still like it. It is one of the more original creatures created for a transformation. Of course the production staff couldn't leave well enough alone and brought this creature back in a later episode only to re-color it as black. This, in itself wouldn't be a big deal, but the black version could breath a human atmosphere, which throws any credibility and continuity right out the window. I also like the fact that most of Maya's transformations seem to have respiratory problems: ...most of her reptilian-esque transformations his and rasp very loudly. :)

A few others have mentioned that AB CHRYSALIS would have done well as a Y1 episode, and I would have to agree - however Maya's cool transformation wouldn't have been in it. :) Even though AB CHRYSALIS enters the S99 saga mid-way through the second season I've always had the feeling that it was an earlier episode. It seems to have a similar sensibility as THE METAMORPH and THE EXILES, or even some of the later episodes of Y1. It's writing, action, and even some of the set designs DORZAK, DEVIL'S PLANET, THE IMMUNITY SYNDROME, or THE DORCONS. The use of color in this episode is much brighter and flamboyant that most Y1 episodes, but the use of orange, red, and yellow is strikingly similar to THE METAMORPH (perhaps this is why I often regard this episode as occurring much earlier in the Alphan timeline... this is, of course, disregarding Helena's log dates). Yes, the use of color in this episode is much like that of THE TAYBOR, but unlike THE TABOR the use of color isn't intended to emphasize a character's eccentric and flamboyant qualities, it is to further create an alien environment - as in THE METAMORPH.

Hmmm... does anyone know what emotional effect colors like orange, red, and yellow have on people? I'd be interested to see how (if at all) they tie into episodes such as AB CHRYSALIS, THE METAMORPH, and even Y1 episodes such as VOYAGER'S RETURN and ALPHA CHILD where the panels in Main Mission are back lit green.

On a parting note: I felt that the humor in this episode was well treated. Koenig's jibe about being shocked "Isn't everybody after getting hit with three or four hundred volts?" and the exchange between Koenig and Maya regarding Psychon math and then Koenig and Helena regarding the revealing nature of the aliens.

Overall: A very good episode


From: David Welle ( Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 00:47:17 Subj: Space1999: AB Chrysalis

Okay, yet another one of my long, last minute overviews/reviews, which I'll just launch right into.

The Moon is approaching an alien system from which are emanating increasingly damaging shock waves on precise intervals. Eagles evacuate to behind the Moon's body (good idea!), but some are left behind (not enough Eagles?) to suffer one of the as yet non-fatal hits.

Nice bit of acting by Catherine Schell, clenching and unclenching her fists in nervousness before the hit, and having a bit of a tremble to her voice.

Nit: Why does Helena lean, half-upright, against a wall? She'd be too easily knocked over. Koenig kneels, but is still balancing on his feet. Bill and Maya at least hit the deck, somewhat underneath their consoles too. Others are pretty good too, sitting on the floor, leaning against the hallway walls.

Alan and the Eagle fleet lose contact with Alpha, then return to find dust heaped up on Alpha (the Eagle blasting up dust from the pad is a good touch), some small fires, and minor injuries.

Nit: "They detonate at precise twelve hour intervals," Helena states. Precise .5 day intervals, from an alien planet? Have to call it coincidence or try suspending disbelief.

They then discover an alien planet -- with six moons -- is the source. The planet continues to survive, so it is obviously protected against the blasts it generates, and the blasts are clearly artificial -- a kind of warning system.

Koenig, Carter, and Maya leave on Eagle One, to investigate the system.

Alan: Ringed by moons. [....] That's an almost perfect circle.
John: Maybe too perfect.

It again implies an artificial nature, as if they were constructed or moved to their locations, and maintained in the same orbit (which would normally be an unstable system, it seems to me). The planet is chlorine gas, and the moons are (not surprisingly for their size) airless, but heavily charged. It's a very alien system.

They investigate the source of the excess energy, a station of sorts. The shapes even have that *look* of electrical generators. Koenig goes inside one to investigate, and discovers more spherical shapes inside. Attempting to scan one, he ends up getting shot with a bolt of electricity. (Nit: the angle of Koenig's helmet cam and the scene Maya sees from it are inconsistent.) The scanner is half melted.

In a visually fascinating scene, the first of several such ones, one of the small spheres launches itself off its stand, and begins a slow motion bouncing ballet, baffling the two Alphans, before the commander finally decides its a probe that's checking them out.

Someone mentioned part of the effect is by reversing the film. That fact is subtly visible in this first scene, at the end of the first ball's first stand change: just before mounting the second stand, the stand starts wobbling a bit, before the ball mounts it; an effect of the reversal, though it's still hard to tell how the rest of the effect is done. A puff of air from the stand? But how does it head to the side? A fan? Both?

Regardless, it's visually fascinating, as is the rest of this episode's "grove." I love the riotous colors in the cave, clashing with the perfectly geometrical formations of the spheres and stands, which themselves seem randomly scattered about -- and finally the other odd shape in the cave, which turns out to be a viewscreen. It lights up, displays some simple geometric shapes, waits for another to be drawn. It's an intelligence test.

It's followed by a star chart. Koenig draws one big circle, followed by four equally-sized small circles, and suddenly the device puts up a planetary system. Koenig draws an arrow to his third small circle, and the machine declares (in written form): YOU ARE FROM EARTH. How on EARTH (pun fully intended) did the machine figure THAT out so quickly, from such pathetic evidence? Awful. It would have made more sense for the machine to have figured it out from the words Koenig was saying through his spacesuit's comm system ("Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars") than from just those five circles alone. It also immediately starts using English words, but that only hooks up with the old language issue, which we all have to ignore most of the time.

Probe: I am sorry for the delay. It took some time to align to your language.

This last thing actually turns around and points the language thing in a different, now more interesting and better way, suggesting that aliens and Alphans aren't always able to instantly speak each other's language. Though seemingly ignored in most episodes, this one shows that this alien world has learned at least one Earth language from an independent source. Information has always been important to our world, and is becoming one of THE most important commodities now. This in turn suggests that it's important in space as well, and it seems to me that language would be the MOST important information of all. Without knowledge of -- or at least the ability to quickly learn -- alien languages, little could be done constructively between aliens. Perhaps there's sort of an alien market for language knowledge. Earth's various languages -- at least the ones reaching space in the form of radio and television -- could be picked up. Some people could figure out how to interpret the languages, then start selling or giving the knowledge away to other neighbors, in preparation for perhaps later meeting the emergent culture(s).

So what about the Alphans? Either almost every alien culture they meet is aware of their language, or the Alphans have been quietly "gifted" (by a MUF, or perhaps, as Philippa Sidle once suggested, by Arra of Asteria) with knowledge of languages. The "gift" is incomplete, apparently not encompassing this "Chrysalis" world, one or all of the three aliens in "Rules of Luton," and the Old English (??) in "Journey to Where." The giver, if there was one, didn't know these languages. Another fan's suggestion was that the Alphans learned some languages from interpreting the Voyager tapes.

This is all but speculation, perhaps little more than a flight of fancy or fantasy, but I find it intriguing to speculate about. I liked that Y2 played, at least a little bit, with the language issue, suggesting it without resolving it. Not that I wouldn't have minded a resolution, but I'm happy to see it was at least occasionally noted, even if this particular case came moments after what I consider a nit.

Anyway, Koenig and Carter start speaking with a numbered "Voice Probe," only to be stonewalled by what is a machine.

John: A computer?
Voice: Yes. I can perform no independent action without authority.
John: Then put me in contact with your masters.
Voice: That is not possible.
John: Why?
Voice: The intelligent life form of our planet, my masters, is not yet in existence. I am waiting for the first of them to be born.

Now that is a very interesting statement, one of the most enigmatic I've heard in science fiction; and even after I learned its meaning, I still think it's interesting.

Sci-Fi Channel cut (I won't promise to cover all of them, though): from the moment after the last statement, the uncut episode has a pause (space for a commercial break that SFC didn't want to use), then a re-establishing shot of the planet, its moons, the alien outpost and the Eagle, the cave and balls. Some notes I took clearly indicated a complete lack of a break, instead instantly launching to the Voice Probe's stating "You are in great danger." It wasn't a badly handled cut, actually, though I always *did* think the SFC's version's change of subject a bit abrupt, not giving the viewer a chance to fully absorb the enigma of the last statement.

Rumbling starts up, and just after the Probe's warning, Maya gives her own warning, of a build up of energy. The cave itself fairly crackles with evidence of such, and the Alphans wisely retreat from there. Maya preps the Eagle, and just when the other two get on board, charge begins to sporadically jump between the spheres, then jumps to the Eagle to temporarily interfer with its ignition system, before they use the solar batteries (an interesting sounding backup system) to get ignition and finally launch.

They figure out the connection, that the moons create giant electrical arcs between them, like "thunderstorms" that create powerful shock waves. Hoping to get better answers, they head to the seemingly inhospitable parent planet.

Landing there, they are drawn under the surface by an elevator. (Nit: they just happen to land on just the right spot? I wish some mention of another electrical signal that drew the Alphans to this spot, or something.)

They meet another voice probe, then get a better explanation of the enigmatic statements of the first voice probe. The masters, who breathe chlorine, go through a cycle of birth, aging, chrysalis, rebirth -- and almost all pupate (so to speak) at the same time. Only the "Guardian" remains, but when the voice probe takes them to him (I still love the voice probes' method of locomotion), they discover he is already going into chrysalis. Alan, desperate, tries to prevent that, but only ends up violating the chlorine seals, injuring himself, forcing Maya to transform into a Kreno, which nearly suffocates on oxygen in the process, before she's allowed inside to rescue him. I liked that it took Maya a moment to remember the creature before transforming, that perhaps if it's been a long time, that it might take awhile to dig the memory out, suggesting it's a complex process. As far as "rubber suits" go, the Kreno's well done, and I liked the overlay trick played with its reversion back to Maya. She's first choking on the oxygen filling her lungs as a Kreno, then's choking on the chlorine that remains when she turns back.

They retreat to the Eagle, then Koenig orders Maya that if he give a signal, she is to shoot into the caves holding the "masters." He threatens the voice probes with this, if they don't turn off the explosive shield that's designed to protect the masters during their chrysalis stage. He's demanding an exception, since the Moon cannot be turned to avoid the blasts. Koenig's shot at, twice, and Maya nearly fires, twice, but is prevented, first by the commander, then by a new, female voice. Two have been "reborn," and the Alphans meet them. It is a disturbing meeting.

The "masters" turn out to have human form (wow, that's the most radical example of convergent evolution, considering the different atmospheric needs). One's actually attracted to the commander (which strikes me as a bit campy, in a way, despite their great similarity of form, though I thought the other's response to this, "it's obvious, and stupid" fit perfectly), while the other, not feeling any attraction, and probably offended by Alan's attack, votes no.

"Make a decision, the only one you can," Koenig demands, later repeating this again, in different words. Of course they have a choice, but Koenig argues for "universal decency," albeit being rather "pushy" about it, even though he doesn't have much of a hand, except perhaps for carrying out the attack he earlier threatened.

A: A society that seeks perfection must act democratically. Each has equal rights.

The two alien women cast opposing votes, creating a tie.

With each cycle, they are supposedly reborn more intelligent, closer to perfect. Alpha's now passed the closest point to the planet, but at less than an hour to go, that still puts it considerably closer to the next blast than it was eleven hours before with the last blast.

Koenig's claims they mean no harm, but the argument fails on the deaf ears of the third alien who has emerged from chrysalis. Those three seek perfection, and constantly use a sort of logic that is cold, which doesn't allow exceptions.

Koenig: There are things more precious than safety. Loyalty is better than logic. Hope is better than despair. And creation is better than destruction. I just wanted to tell you that, you seekers of perfection.

A stirring speech, to be sure, though if it were taken out of this context, I've always found the second sentence to be a little oversimplified, considering that in extremes, loyalty can become a dangerous sort of blind loyalty to the wrong thing (examples abound in history and current news), and logic definitely has its place. Yet *within* this context, it still fits perfectly, considering the cold, exceptionless logic the aliens employ, and the kind of loyalty the Alphans have demonstrated towards each other, which they demonstrate and puzzle the aliens with by rejecting their offer of safety on the planet, while the rest of the Alphans will die on the Moon from the aliens' next blast. The only one who seems to understand (in a scene the Sci-Fi Channel cut) is the single alien ('A') who voted for them. Maybe she's not as close to "perfect" as the others think themselves.

(An aside: Funny thing is, I've never been able to shake the impression that 'A' looks a lot like Catherine Schell sans Maya makeup).

Koenig received a similar offer of safety from Mentor of Psychon; but that was, of course, a deceptive offer from a dangerous man, while the offers here seem a lot more honest, even if coldly made. The Alphans leave (in a tricky launch, going up the "elevator" tube).

"Detonation positive." The system goes up, as scheduled. Amazingly, the vulnerable Eagle, though badly buffeted, survives, as does the Moonbase. "They limited it! Controlled it. Stopped it short of destroying us." The aliens made just enough of a partial exception to not only allow the Alphans to live and pass, but to accelerate Eagle One enough to reach Alpha.

In the final scene, Koenig queries Maya on her ability to outcalculate the computer, but gets a headache-inducing explanation of how easy it is to calculate in an "elliptical" based calculation system, instead of a 10-based system (hmmm, a number line is one dimensional, an ellipse implies two dimensions; maybe there are aliens who think with three-dimensional number lines :-). It's of course hard to say what an "elliptical" counting system really means. We have ellipses in trigonometry, which is several mathematical "generations" beyond just counting numbers, but we don't *count* numbers in a numerical system.

My mentioning two dimensional numerical systems isn't entirely meaningless. Some of you probably remember the concept of "imaginary numbers" from high school or college. The square root of -1 is imaginary. The square root of a number is in turn another number that can be multiplied with itself to get the original number. The square roots of 16 are +4 and -4. +4 multiplied with +4 gets 16, and -4 * -4 also equals 16. But what's the square root of -16? No positive number multiplied by itself can result in a negative number; two negative numbers multiplied together also result in a positive number. Yet, -16 does still have square root, namely: 4i

i is defined as the square root of -1, and 'i' stands for imaginary. Our normal number line is in a sense just that: a line. Yet if you start using "imaginary" math, there's a second number line, the imaginary number line, that's perpendicular to the one we know, which implies two dimensions and a grid, that numbers can have both an "imaginary" and a "real" component, such as the number 4 + 7i. 4 is the real component, 7 is the imaginary component. The square of just four is of course 16. The square of just 7i is -49. The square of 4 + 7i, which is a completely different number, is (4 + 7i)(4 + 7i) = 16 + 56i + 49i^2 = 16 + 56i - 49 = -33 + 56i.

In a sense, all our "real" numbers are just a simplification of this system. 4 is 4+0i, -49 is -49 + 0i, and so on.

Different, eh? And I'm not making this up: the 'i' can be found in any calculus book. Sometimes, using imaginary numbers is necessary to complete a real world calculation, but beyond this, no one really thinks in such a "two dimensional" numerical system. I'm not implying any direct connection between this and what Maya talked about, but it does make a good example-by-analogy.

Psychon counting differently -- albeit just made up for the sake of the scene and to remind us that Maya, as similar as she can often seem, still can think very differently -- is still a well done and humorous reminder not to get stuck in any one way of mathematical or scientific thinking. Most of us count by 10, the ancient Sumerians and Babylonians counted by 60 (thus the number of seconds in an minute and minutes in an hour), the Mayan civilization counted by 36, computers count by 2, computer scientists count by 16 (a good way of "abbreviating" a computer's binary notation into something a little easier for us to handle), and so on. It's still just different ways of counting the same number line, yet while we still count the same way (albeit with different "dialects" at times), we have progressed from humanities early start with *just* counting to adding algebra, trigonometry, then calculus. Yet what if we started counting two dimensionally, so to speak? Nonsense? Maybe. It sounds like it. Yet calculus would have seemed like nonsense to early humans whose mathematics still consisted of nothing but simple counting. Or, to use my earlier example, what about the "imaginary" numbering system?

Or in science, how there was little or nothing to explain why objects fall to the ground. Then Newton came up with formulas that "explained" and quantified gravity. Yet his formulas broke down at 90% the speed of light, and weren't even entirely precise in other "slower" realms either. Then Einstein came up with new system which better quantified gravity, showing that Newton's formulas were only an approximation (I want to say simplification too, but that wouldn't be entirely precise). Yet Einstein's, albeit it magnitudes more precise, have their own error range, and can start breaking down in extreme situations, like inside the theoretical boundary of a black hole. So will someone later discover any even more precise calculation? Most people can learn to handle Newton's equations, but few have learned to master Einstein's immensely more complex equations (Stephen Hawing probably understands the best), so imagine how much more difficult an even more complex system would be?

Sure, maybe I'm overcooking the scene here, but I, as a mathematician, however imaginary (pun intended) and made up Maya's system might be, find that it resonates as a suggestion and a reminder.

I could live without the second half of the scene -- Helena, "naked green women" and all that -- though. It's the real corny part of scene, IMO. Oh well.

The story went well, and the characterizations were good too. Koenig and Maya were probably the best characterized among the Alphans, while the aliens were well done too, largely hitting the right notes in their portrayal. I had more -- and bigger -- nits with the plot in this episode, though, than with "New Adam, New Eve."

The dialog had more ambiguities, because Koenig was arguing from a weaker base, considering his people's violence, which made it interesting in its own way. Yet the dialog didn't crackle with as much electricity as it did in NANE, but was still good. A number of concepts were brought up, such as democracy, perfection (what sort of perfection?), emotion, desperation, the potential problems with exceptionless rules.

Ironic that the aliens worked by democracy, while Alpha was sort of ruled by a single commander (albeit one that relied heavily on advice from everyone), which is something that's further explored in "Seance Spectre." Yet three is a small statistical number, and democracy is still as subject to the foibles of the emotional nature (or almost near complete lack thereof) of its citizens. Here, the rather cold logic of the aliens, only enhanced by the Alphan attack, decided one thing, before apparently recasting the vote once they knew more about the true nature of the Alphans. It's almost more like a jury than anything, judging whether the Alphans are worthy of being saved, worthy of being spared an exception to a protective rule. In the end, they vote in favor of the Alphans, and strike a remarkable compromise.

The Alphans operate under desperation, and do or threaten desperate acts; but in the end, demonstrate (re-demonstrate?) the meaning of loyalty and even decency. Koenig could have still shot up the aliens' chamber in revenge, but left in peace, demonstrating that he didn't he did not want destruction.

Alphan desperation went only so far, before it hit the decency that demonstrated the violence of the desperation had limits, and was more bluff than any true destructive intent on the Alphans' part. "Creation is better than destruction." Those were the words that were probably most convincing. Simple, maybe, but apparently something the aliens' had forgotten, and which were reminded of by the primitive, far less than perfect humans. Back to basics? Back to one's ABCs?


In summary, the good outweighed the nits, though there were enough of the latter to exceed suspension of disbelief, and a few other weaknesses, to bring it down a degree. Still a strong entry, enough to get a 3.0 (out of 0-4 range), or an even B (out of A-F system).


P.S. Isn't "elliptical thinking" a phrase already in use?

From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 08:21:31 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Last minute AB CHRYSALIS tid bits

Mike Lynch wrote:

I know we are past NEW ADAM, NEW EVE, but I just want to say: I too rather enjoyed this episode, and felt that even though it came across as a rather comic book-esque rendering of Space:1999 it was still very entertaining. "We're a bit low on sacrificial goats." ...excellent! :)

I agree. In fact I had an extra look at it during the weekend in order to reflect on Roberto Baldasari's comments on Ravel or Holst similarities in the impressionistic library music used during the camp scene.

I don't recognise this piece of music either as something from the standard symphonic/philharmonic reportoire, but I agree very much with Roberto terming it impressionistic, although I find it closer to Debussey than Ravel, less complicated with expressionist elements as of the late Ravel, Holst and Barry Gray than music from the end of the last century which it bears much resemblance to, I think.

My guess is that the music has been lifted from an orchestral piece by one of the more obscure but yet brilliant such as the French composer Serge Lancen whose Appasionata of unknown origin Allan Willis used for THE TESTAMENT OF ARKADIA.

Anyway, I think the music fitted very well in NEW ADAM/NEW EVE, one of the better Year Two episodes in my opinion.

Just a side note: Petter, you noted that Dali lived from 1904 to 1987... Dali actually died in 1989 (January 23, 1989).

Sorry about that, slip of the mind.

At present I'm reading THE MAGUS by John Fowles, and I'm getting more and more the impression that Terence Feely was greatly inspired by Fowles or was inspred by the same type of experiences as Fowles as he wrote both NEW ADAM/NEW EVE and THE BRINGERS OF WONDER, both episodes being about manipulation about alternative universes. I also watched BRINGERS OF WONDER once again this weekend and, apart from the silly bits obviously inserted by Fred Freiberger, the basic story about dream and reality is actually very good I think. I hunger very much for watching or reading other examples of Feely's output after this.

Another thing that struck me rewatching NEW ADAM/NEW EVE was how silimilar to Victor Bergman, Maya was behaving. In a few moments I felt the episode was almost paying hommage to the glorious previous year by having the characters act like human beings for a few seconds. The good quality of the actors must have something to do with having reasonable lines. Although I think THE BRINGERS OF WONDER is fine in many ways, Landau is perhaps giving a surprisingly weak performance, I think, perhaps having something to do with the awfully silly lines he is given by Freiberger.

I wonder if BRINGERS OF WONDER was actually a one-part episode that Freiberger augmented into two episodes? That would certainly explain much of the uneveness of the episode having elements of awfulness and brilliance hand in hand. Feely wasn't very happy with BRINGERS OF WONDER, I understand. Luckily Freiberger seem to have been less involved in NEW ADAM/NEW EVE.

Most of all I think NEW ADAM/NEW EVE stands out because of its brilliant dialogue. In fact, this is one of the episodes that could have easily been produced in the Year One format, I think, Victor being given the lines of Maya without hardly any rewriting at all.

As for the AB CHRYSALIS - I really enjoy this episode. There is a simplicity to this episode that seems to make it stand out among other Y2 episode. And it is in this simplicity, that I think, the episode draws its strength.

I agree. Very good in a GUARDIAN OF PIRI sort of way, I think. In this episode too Maya is more or less insignificant for the development of the story and could have easily been written out.

On the other hand the script does not call for any Victor Bergman either, so if it were to be done in a Year One format, I believe it would have worked best with Victor back on Alpha thinking out some logical plan that is never put to work.

If NEW ADAM/NEW EVE has a sort of MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH feel to it, AB CRYSALIS is perhaps best compared with RING AROUND THE MOON which is also bascially a psychological study of the human mind and the human condition. Perhaps AB CHRYSALIS could be considered something like a RING AROUND THE MOON paraphrase in the language of Year Two?

As our analysis of Year Two gains terrain, I'm getting more and more a taste for the writing of Terence Feely and Tony Barwick. Even though the format for Year Two is beyond hope, sometimes episodes manage to trancend the hopelessness, I feel. Feely and Barwick are in this case good examples, I feel.

I also look very much forward to discussing Anthony Terpiloff, a writer I feel works much more consistenly within the Year Two format than Year One.


From: Stefano Alpa ( Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 19:57:11 +0200 (MET DST) Subj: Re: Space1999: Of Chrysalis and other stuff

One of the most interesting things of the Year 1 has been the different representations of the alien entities.

The episodes I like more are those where the alien don't have a definite form and really that's scares the Alphans so much (have you seen any Loony Tunes in Y1?).

Imagining is often more worrying than seeing anyway. Unfortunately Year 2 has been the opposite.

The monsters, so much dear to Mandell and Freiberger, are, today, the S1999's most aged thing, inclusive also some Maya's transformations (the Space Animals in Space Warp, for example).

Many episodes of the Year 1 has considered excessively boried and slow so Year 2 is more action oriented; paradoxically, twenty years after, the more appreciated episodes are, for me, those with a slower narrative rhythm (and AB CHRISALIS is one of these, with ONE MOMENT OF HUMANITY and DORZAK). The concept of bouncing balls in AB C is simple and slow but extremely effective and suggestive.

Stefano Alpa

From: Clyde Meli ( Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998 10:54:28 -0100 (GMT) Subj: Re: Space1999: AB Chrysalis

Regarding Koenig's speech, quoted below from the original posting:

Koenig: There are things more precious than safety. Loyalty is better than logic. Hope is better than despair. And creation is better than destruction. I just wanted to tell you that, you seekers of perfection.

I saw the italian dubbed version of the episode a few weeks ago before the Space:1999 run ended.

The second line was (translated back into English)

"Faith is better than logic".

I wonder which is correct - I think, to be consistent with similar comments by Koenig in Year 1, this version would be what Koenig would have said... At least to me that's what he said, in the Italian version!



P.S. My Space:1999 and Doctor Who crossover is completed and can be found in my TrekWho-L (Star Trek/Doctor Who) mailing list homepage

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