Space 1999 #30: The Mark Of Archanon

Aliens with a violent killing sickness are found under the Moon's surface.
WHEN: The episode takes place 640 days after Breakaway on Jun.14 2001. It first aired on Oct.16 1976.

REVIEW: Can Alpha handle things while Koenig and Maya are out playing Asteroids for the entire episode? Well, how much trouble can a lonely Moon get into? Would you believe digging for minerals (what happens when you essentially have a colony of geologists) unearths (unmoons?) two vaguely Babylonian aliens in a glass case? And they're alive? And carry a disease that makes a symbol flash on their foreheads? (That one I'll chalk up to advanced medicine putting a tell-tale marker right on the defective gene.) This sickness makes them kill, which is ironic because they come from yet another Peace Planet (maybe the others have received Archanon's message and embraced it, who knows).

Of course, the science is dreary, we're used to it by now. Just the idea that the disease is so easily and quickly cured by Alpha's doctors is suspect. But we also have a race that can die if it loses the least bit of blood. And then the episode confuses the serum with a blood transfusion that was also necessary to save young Etrec's life to say, yeah yeah, Archanon always had the cure, but we can't give blood without dying so... But you don't need a blood transfusion to get a serum, that was only true in this specific case! Dumb. Or does the creation of serum require prodigious amounts of blood? I can't even recommend the way the kid loses "all that blood", because the script requires him to cut himself on the forehead, but the direction really wants to scare the audience into thinking he's stabbing Alan. Well, the gesture and sound only matches the latter.

At least there's some kind of emotional core to the story. A father grows violent, and his son recoils and bonds with another father figure, Alan, who plays catch with him, etc. We've known Alan likes kids since Alpha Child, and his overeagerness to chaperone the kid is familiar from that Season 1 episode. When Etrec loses his dad, there's a lot of sniffing to simulate crying, but I don't think it's fair to attack his acting. I mean, this was his first TV credit and he's otherwise fine. Besides, there's a couple of day players in there who don't have that excuse, you know? Strange observation of the day: Alpha has caged birds?!

Pasc is John Standing; am I being topical when I say he was Mr. Brown on the Paddington TV series? John Alkin is Johnson; he was on Doctor Who's Planet of Fire as Lomand.

- Any good will it might garner from focusing on relationships, it tends to lose with its glib solution.



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