Space 1999 #7: Ring Around the Moon

A giant eyeball from Triton takes control of various Alphans, including Helena, and makes them type real fast on the computer.
WHEN: The episode first aired on Jan.15 1976, 19th in broadcast order, though it was 4th in production order.

The French title is even more mystifying than the English one, "L'anneau de la Lune", or "The Ring of the Moon".

REVIEW: Oof, that was painful. Or rather, soporific. The threat in this episode is not only an intangible force represented by out-of-focus Christmas lights, but its nature isn't particularly clear. Somehow, the Tritonians were in Ancient Egypt and Victor can look at old scrolls and KNOW that's what they're dealing with. Furthermore, their planet is long gone, and Koenig can pull a Kirk on them with that information, so they're... machines? I guess. Machine that produce stodgy video effects and live in a sphere that at once looks like a star, a brain, and an eyeball. Into which they teleport Helena, dressing her up in a golden gown, until she's somehow rescued by Koenig... Look, I know my attention kept drifting, but I wasn't imagining it, the narrative is sometimes disjointed.

We've had dull episode premises before, but they've been rescued by the direction. Not so here. Ray Austin creates a couple of trippy moments, like the shot of Helena inside the topsy-turvy sphere, but more often than not, the pacing is turgid, the music is ridiculous (the astronauts racing to the crashed ship over a funky organ tune, for example), and the fast-typing action made to look silly. Koenig's slideshow to "prove" Triton's destruction so the aliens will stop trying to destroy the Alphans as "possible invaders" shows no understanding of astronomy whatsoever. While some characters' behavior seems unexplainable (Dr. Mathias is strangely cold to Helena, for example), Austin also insists of doing inserts of certain gestures so they are absolutely obvious and without subtlety (Helena gripping Victor's hand calls attention to itself). Perhaps the script couldn't be saved. You're not sure what's happening half the time, and nothing IS happening the other half.

HEY, ISN'T THAT... Max Faulkner as the ill-fated Ted; he was primarily a stuntman often trusted with lines, best remembered by Whovians as the Outsiders' leader Nesbin in The Invasion of Time, though he'd appeared on Doctor Who as guards, rebels and UNIT soldiers all through the 70s.

REWATCHABILITY: Low - Slow and confused, this is Space 1999 at its dullest. Doomed Ted isn't the only one who had his brain melted by the experience.



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