Red Wine and RATM Anonymous

Editor's Notes:
Originated from one note
in the ExE Afterword thread.

From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 16:51:22 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: ExE: Absolute WORST episode Ariana (Emma) wrote: >Absolute worst episode is easy to pick out for me: > >- Missing Link How strange! This is one of my absolute favourites, not as enjoyable as RING AROUND THE MOON, I admit, but still a highly thought provocative and emotionally exceptionally satisfiable episode. One of my major reasons for liking it has, I assume, the very similar style of direction that Ray Austin used on both this and on RING AROUND THE MOON. MISSING LINK seems to me to be one of the more experimental episodes both in lines of writing and direction, resulting a an absolutely magnificent amalgam of different sorts of high art, literature and visuals in this case. I always think of the work of the Flemish masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer when watching this. Frank Watts in top form, collaborating with Austin in order to achive a close to renaissance style of lightning that is excellently matched by Keith Wilson's choice in renaissance inspired clothing for Vana and Raan. MISSING LINK is SPACE:1999 at its very finest, I must say, at least this is how it works for me. On the music front, however, I think the producers were luckier with the Elms/Willis score RING AROUND THE MOON than the basically Barry Gray recycling on this one, the musical score for RING AROUND THE MOON focusing more on the mysteries aspects of the story and less on the sadness that prevail in the works of Gray. Some of the most incidental musical, in my opinion, is the parts where they use moog synthesizers, or is it organ, apprently from the same musical source as was applied during the sun studio sequence in FORCE OF LIFE. This is extremely fitting in capturing the logic vs. emotions subtext of the story. Remarkably good. Just like in RING AROUND THE MOON, Ray Austin creates an enormous contrast between the life lead by the mind and life lead by emotions. In this case, contrasting RING AROUND THE MOON in a quite remarkable and interesting manner, both Landau and Bain are performing on emotions, especially interesting in the case of Barbara Bain, I must say, while Peter Cushing, one of the most expressive and sensitive actors ever to have appeared on the silver screen or even the TV screen, plays his role as highly complex clockwork, wonderfully underscored by Keith Wilson's painting of the Zenos in gold so they appear more machine-like. >Composing a bottom 10 list isn't all that difficult, but I have a feeling >I'll have some difficulty getting a top 10, as I do like a lot of the >episodes... but more on that later. Here's my bottom 10: > >48. Missing Link Well, one mans poison and so on as Simon often says. While not the ultimate SPACE:1999 episode, it definitely ranges among the ten best in my book. Barry Morse performance as the evil mirror of Victor Bergman, or perhaps a side of Victor that is not all that apparent in other episodes, although very, very convincing, makes this episode a must-view, I must say. Top entertainment, excellent. > 47. Ring Around The Moon > Victor becomes psychic and Helena talks to Christmas lights in her > nightie -- plus that trademark alien-influenced person typing very > fast on those unmarked keys on the computer, a theme reprised in > "Space Brain" (which narrowly missed this list despite the fact > the Moonbase Alpha cleaners obviously put too much Persil in their > washing machines...) Aah, RING AROUND THE MOON, the single best episode of the lot if you ask me. This is where SPACE:1999 meets the highly complex world of Claude Sautet and alike the way I see it, a magnificent episode that can be watched regularily, preferably with red wine. As you point out, Emma, the plot must have put such a remark on Christopher Penfold, the main intellect behind SPACE:1999 who did such a remarkable job of keeping it close to 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY not only by use of music and visuals, but, foremost, in highly intelligent writing, using, as you say, RING AROUND THE MOON as a vital influence on his SPACE BRAIN episode that interestingly enought sums up what appears to be his philosophical input to the series. Magnificent episode, RING AROUND THE MOON. I could go on and on and on describing how this particular installment reflects the heart and soul of SPACE:1999 at its peak level. In fact, as I write this I feel a wonderful need for watching it again. In my opinion this episode cannot be talked about too much. I look forward to many more discussions. > 46. Matter of Life and Death > Just click your heels three times and you'll be back in Kansas... > Helena the robot fails to register any emotion whatsoever at meeting > her dead husband again, and the technobabble is excruciatingly awful. Another classic, in my opinion, an episode that to me represents the essence of Johnny Byrne's contributions to the series. This is, interestingly enough, the only episode, disregarding VOYAGER'S RETURN, another magnificent episode, where Byrne is reworking the script of somebody else. It worked miraculously, I would say. Not only is this one of the profoundly most interesting episodes in the series, in the way it handles human relations and one of the main issues of the series, namely the search for a new and better world, but it is also a remarkable feat in the way it makes such a wonderful use of Barry Gray, this episode being one of the four episodes that he scored and as such containing much of the material that was recycled for the rest of the series. Magnificent visuals also pinpoints this episode, Keith Wilson and Frank Watt perhaps being inspired by Paul Gauguin here with the sumptious Tahiti like paradise that prevails in the final act but which is already presented by use of local colour tone in Medical Centre, the appartment of Helena and during the torture scene. A highly emotional episode that works on every level on me. The only thing that makes it slightly less successful than, say, RING AROUND THE MOON, is the apparent stiff-upper-lip military type of direction given by Charles Crichton which obviously does not make the actors relax enough to do their very best like they did with RING AROUND THE MOON and MISSING LINK. A very interesting episode if one would like to compare the style of direction given by Crichton and Austin, I suppose. > 45. Space Warp > You want cartoonish Y2? Here you go. The production schedule splits > the cast, forcing both halves into pointless run-arounds which even > *I* get tired of! (you all know what *will* be in my top 10 ;) The third and final part of the infamous Woodgrove trilogy. This is cartoon and porno-disco from beginning to end, I have no problem agreeing on that, but, nevertheless, an interestinging episode, no regard of how bad it is, in that it gives fascinating insight to what must have been going on in the mind of Freiberger when on the loose, and, as such, a vital key to the understanding of Y2, I believe. I'm not quite sure how I would range the Woodgrove trilogy. SPACE WARP is, no doubt, one of the most meaningless of the three, running around without any intellectual compensation from first to last frame, but, then again, it does not commit the cardinal sin of RULES OF LUTON in that it is exceedingly boring at the same time. Perhaps this has something to do with the younger and more dynamic direction by Peter Medak rather than the older Val Guest whose main interest in RULES OF LUTON, perhaps, was to depict elements of the nice flora surrounding the Pinewood studios. > 44. The Full Circle > De-evolving cavemen with metamorphic clothes. Nice one. No wonder so > many people hated Space:1999 with rubbish like this around. This was the one of his three contributions as a director that Bob Kellet liked the most, I believe, at least in the SPACE documentary he says it was one of his most pleasant jobs as a director while THE LAST ENEMY was a nightmare from beginning to end. While probably one of the least successful episodes of Y1, I agree on that, I don't think it is significantly worse than the average Y2 output. At least we have Victor whistling Grieg, certainly a point that is well appreciated by the Norwegians on the list. On the whole, however, this is one of the first dissapointments during Y1, Kellett's adaption of an original script by the Laskey's that was made long before BREAKAWAY and had not very much to do with SPACE:1999 the way I see it. Perhaps Johnny Byrne could have made more sense out of it, but the cave-people genre is extremely difficult to make very sublte, I suppose, the best thing is often to add a Rachel Welsh as Hammer did in the 1960s. Zienia Merton is no Rachel Welsh, but she'll do, her running through the woods is close to the only watchable part of the episode. The basic theme of the episode, however, is in the spirit of 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY in that it answers the question about how much man has evolved during the last some 100,000 years in a not too optimistic way. > 43. A Matter of Balance > Shermeen is cute as a bug on a rug, and there's a little interplay > between my favourite characters -- and that's just about all I can > think of to save this episode from the absolute bottom. Aside from > that, this episode is like a broken pencil... pointless. This is the episode I have been considering for ultimate low point in the string of episodes from both series. Perhaps I would have appreciated it more if I had seen what the Bakers had previously written for DOCTOR WHO. I thought one needed a Freiberger in order to write something as bad as this, but, on the other hand, more than the writing, the episodes is perhaps marred mostly by the ultra-cheap sequences on the planet which seems like they or on location between the apple trees on the local Pinewood farm. Even more embarrasing than the location shots for RULES OF LUTON. > 42. All That Glisters > Tony the Zombie vs the Space Cowboy. No wonder Martin Landau nearly > had a nervous breakdown. Still, like Petter, I'll give it points for > camp value and I rather liked the rock. I like this episode for its trying. Everybody involved in it seem to think it is so embarrisingly poor that they have to be forcefully convinced not to leave the set. As Catherine Schell says in an interview with John Kenneth Muir, she was constantly on the point of breaking out in giggles and causing frustration for Ray Austin who tries to hide the hopelessness of the script in extravagant direction. As a contrast to the Woodgrove trilogy, which is not only bad but also devoid of meaning, there is a halfbaked message of environmental concern in this episode, no doubt fragments of what survived from Oxford educated poet and writer Keith Miles in what must be a heavy rewrite by Freiberger. In fact, as far as I've understood the episode was rewritten five times during production. When it comes to ranking, I think this episode, because of the enormous effort made by Austin and the actors to compensate for some of the worst raw material so far, the episode turns out rather enjoyable. It is almost like the script went through the BLACK SUN experience, everybody expecting to die as it was impossible to make sense out of it, by miraculous means, the final product ends up as a tribute to how it pays never to give up, just bite your teeth together and get on with it. ALL THAT GLISTERS was the fourth script to be put into production, and after having made the first four episodes, alternately by Y1 veteran directors Crichton and Austin, Anderson, Freiberger and the rest obviously decided that they had got the grips on Y2 and the new young directors Clegg and Brooks were allowed to make their tries. Interestingly too, Ray Austin obviously found out that enough was enough, and as he understandably did not want to head more ALL THAT GLISTERS projects left production. > 41. Death's Other Dominion > Pointless Shakespeare rip-off with scantily-clad cavewomen and the > usual half-baked technobabble. Every time I see Jack, I'm reminded > of Baldrick hopping around the cemetary in BlackAdder II -- and I > wish someone would push Jack into a puddle too... I agree. While not having all that much against Shakespeare and scantily clad women, the episode is drowned in technobabble and total boredom. The episode was made the week before FULL CIRCLE and is of similar quality, shared by the equally boring INFERNAL MACHINE. In the Terpiloff/Barrow episodes, it is not perhaps the intellectual component that is the greatest problem, Terpiloff's focus on man, science, emotions, humanity and so on are interesting enough, I think, almost similar to Edward di Lorenzo at when they are at their best. It is the style that ruins it all for me. While most of Y1 was set in science fiction mode, the Terpiloff episodes are at best fantasy, although I think fairytale or childrens stories for the pre-school age would be a better term. Total waste of time. > 40. The Troubled Spirit and Voyager's Return > Frankly, I couldn't care less whether Mateo's ghost catches up with > him or Linden is Queller or not. Give me stories about people I care > about: the main characters! They're not bad episodes, just ones I > won't watch again if I can help it. THE TROUBLED SPIRIT is a fairly okay episod, I think, highly typical of the latter Johnny Byrne scripts of Y1 where he gradually left the original premises and ideas of SPACE:1999 in order, perhaps, to find ways of evolving on it. THE TROUBLED SPIRIT was one such episode that used elements of spiritism and eco-politics as was one of the main issues of the day. MISSION OF THE DARIANS was the other script that, not unlike Terpiloff's DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION, moved the Alphans to a different setting that could prove a mirror of the Alphans society without the need of making changes on the locked structure on Alpha. In Y2 writers like Donald James managed to discuss many of the same ideas in episodes like THE SEANCE SPECTRE where he could use internal conflicts on Alpha rather than depending on encounter with aliens. I think the two final Byrne script are okay, beliving that THE TESTAMENT OF ARKADIA was written at an earlier stage although the last to be produced, and, at least, much more filled with blood and guts than other episodes that were being produced at the time, such as THE INFERNAL MACHINE and DRAGONS' DOMAIN. VOYAGER'S RETURN, on the other hand, is an episode that is typical of the full maturity that SPACE:1999 reached during the middle of its Y1 course. This, like its successor THE END OF ETERNITY, deals with the concious of science, and the portrayals of the scientists in both of these episodes are extremely interesting, I think, highlighted by two of the finest guest artists that appeared in Y1 the way I see it. In both of the episodes, the guest character is compared to Victor, our scientist pr se, in some way or another, showing his confusion and internal conflicts when dealing with other scientists. Highly interesting and stunning episodes, I would say, two of my favourites. Petter
From: Jim Small ( Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998 16:01:37 -0600 Subj: Space1999: Re: Serious Addictions, or, RATM Anonymous Petter Ogland wrote: > Aah, RING AROUND THE MOON, ... a magnificent episode that > can be watched regularily,... I'm seriously curious, just how many times have you watched it? > ...preferably with red wine. With red wine??? I enjoy red wine with my wife and/or dinner, both of which are more important to me than a television episode... Umm.... yes... erm.... This seems to prove a theory I have about some fans who take the show FAR too seriously.... > Magnificent episode, RING AROUND THE MOON. I could go on and on and on... Yes. We all know this rather well. > In fact, as I write this I feel > a wonderful need for watching it again. A "need"? Petter, (and I say this with deep sincerity and compassion) you really need to go out more... > In my opinion this episode > cannot be talked about too much. Oh yes it can!!!!!!!!! > I look forward to many more discussions. I think I'll post three messages a day on the virtues of building replicas of 1999 models. Let's see how long I live. -- It's not the time it takes to take the takes, it's the time it takes between the takes that take the time to take! __| _ \ | | / | __| _` | _ | | _ \ | | _ \ _ \ | ( | ( | | __/ | | | | __/ ___| \__,_|\__ | _|\___| ____/ _| _|\___| |__/ E. James Small (or)
From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 11:34:23 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Re: Serious Addictions, or, RATM Anonymous Jim Small wrote: > With red wine??? I enjoy red wine with my wife and/or dinner, both of > which are more important to me than a television episode... Umm.... > yes... erm.... This seems to prove a theory I have about some fans who > take the show FAR too seriously.... I think I've lost the count on how many times I've watched RING AROUND THE MOON. Interestingly, though, it always seems as fresh as new whenever I decide to watch it again. I suppose this is part of the high quality of that particular episode, just like a violin concerto by Mozart or any other work of great quality, it does not seem to become less interesting over time. Quite to the contrary, actually, whenever I watch it I see new aspects, new subtleties. Thanks for wanting to discuss RING AROUND THE MOON, Jim. I too feel that there has been far too little said about the episode recently. You see, to me RING AROUND THE MOON is not only a singular happening along the course of SPACE:1999, for me it is the episode that really helps define what the show was all about, the best part of it anyway. As there have been many interesting suggestions for further discussion in the aftermath of the ExE thread, I should add that if there are people who would like to discuss this particular episode in more depth than what is usually done with an episode on this list, I will certainly participate in such a list, contributing my views and opinions on it. It is nice to see the episode ranging on Mateo's list of top mark episodes, although in this case it was I that was responsible for putting it there. Anyway, RING AROUND THE MOON seem to be a perfect vehicle for creating discussion, no doubt one of the episodes that is the most frequently referred on this list. Petter
From: Atomic Possum ( Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 06:48:10 -0600 Subj: Re: Space1999: Re: Serious Addictions, or, RATM Anonymous -----Original Message----- From: Jim Small ( Date: Tuesday, December 01, 1998 11:26 PM Subj: Space1999: Re: Serious Addictions, or, RATM Anonymous So exactly how MUCH red wine does it take before it becomes a magnificent episode? Perhaps THAT's why I don't get it........ :-) ----------------- Jon "Mr. Wonderful" Stadter
[Editor's Note: The following two emails discuss two threads; and each is thus split between this thread and ExE: Afterword.] From: "Monica M. C. Pereira" ( Date: Wed, 02 Dec 1998 13:42:06 -0200 Subj: Space1999: RATM - again and Always;-) Dear Alphans. Well, sorry, guys (all of you who are sick and tired of discussing RATM); but, again, I'll join Petter. It is a wonderful ep, especially if you have in the same tape EARTHBOUND, as I do. To agree with watch these 2 eps, I would add red wine and my hubby alongside...well, maybe not... he doesn't care much for the show...I think he's not that happy about my 'almost-3-decade-teenager crush' on Martin 'Koenig' Landau. And, hey, PETTER, I think I'll watch Earthb./RATM once again TODAY!!! THANX FOR REMINDING ME. [rest of note in other thread]
From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 10:35:52 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: RATM - again and Always;-) Although I expect there to be many more who enjoy RING AROUND THE MOON than what can be read from the surface value on this list. Nevertheless, I'm happy that there are people who share my enthusiasm for this particular episode. For the record I might add, however, that although I find RING AROUND THE MOON to symbolise the best in SPACE:1999, there are many other fine episodes, and, quite interestingly, I notice that my personal ranging of favourite episodes, apart from placing RING AROUND THE MOON on top rank where some others place DRAGON'S DOMAIN, for instance, the rest of my top ten list is fairly similar to those of Paulo, Mark, Jim and so on. [Rest of note is in other thread.]