Space 1999 #41: The Bringers Of Wonder Part 1

Only Koenig can see the rescue party from Earth is really made up of horrible snot monsters.
WHEN: The episode takes place 1912 days after Breakaway on Dec.7 2004. It first aired on Aug.4 1977. Some would call this the start of a third season, seeing as there was an 8-month hiatus between the previous episode (as aired, A Matter of Balance) and this one.

OH THE NOSTALGIA! I have a very strong memory of the monsters only Koenig could see. I even remember drawing them when bored in school.

REVIEW: It's certainly not the first time the show's done a "trust me" story in which Koenig seems to go crazy, and it's true these scripts often try to fit a square peg in a round hole, usually by making Koenig under-explain, seem to act irrationally, etc. So it is with The Bringers of Wonder, which starts with a space-drunk Koenig flying an Eagle dangerously and for no apparent reason. By the time he's the One Man (TM) who can see the truth, no one is ready to believe him, and his screams certainly don't help. That said, Bringers is quite a good episode and a strong start to the post-hiatus mini-season.

When people from Earth show up in a "Super Swift", the Alphans are too giddy to realize it's all too good to be true. All people they know, people even closely associated with them? And flying faster than light from Earth and back? They should be a lot more wary. The truth is that these humans are actually Lovecraftian horrors of the first order. Slightly silly in execution, sure - that's almost unavoidable with creatures that have a single plastic eye that can't close or move - but iconic in their own way. The direction emphasizes Koenig's jarring point of view with monsters in the place of people, in among Alphans who can't see the truth, and close-ups on the gross, green mucus. They're used sparingly, their human forms skulking about and hypnotizing drones with sound design (as you do). And we're otherwise kept interested with strong music cues, hand-held action, and flaming stuntmen.

But while the whole changeling element is eerie, it's also a good chance to get to know the characters better. The new doctor, Ben, gets to show his mettle in a fight, but we also discover he left a fiancée back home (and here she is). Tony's relationship with his older brother Guido is kind of fun, as they naturally compete for girls, in this case, Maya. The Psychon herself feels ill at ease around the rescue party, and while at first you think it's because there's no one else for her there, and she might feel ambivalent about a return to Earth, you later realize it might just be her alien senses going off. She may well be Koenig's only hope. Helena's mentor is there too, as is a possible rival for Koenig's attentions (oh Helena, you needn't have worried), one Diana Morris that was John's childhood sweetheart, but who seems a catty soap opera star now. A weird discontinuity: Sandra also has a fiancé, which only seems odd because the show retconned her boyfriend Paul from the show. Which leaves Alan, who doesn't seem to have anyone there for him, so he hits on everything that moves. It's hilarious even before we know the truth. His consolation prize is winning the lottery for going back to Earth, though he was actually chosen by the aliens. Tony reads out the wrong names. When you can't trust what you see...

HEY, ISN'T THAT... Toby Robins is Diana Morris; she was in For Your Eyes Only as Iona Havelock. Jeremy Young is Jack Bartlett; I know his face well, he was Kal the caveman in Doctor Who's first storyline. Drewe Henley is Joe Ehrlich; Red Leader in Star Wars.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A strong idea that not only has a fair creep factor, but also allows us to explore the characters more. It's my hope now that Part 2 doesn't drop the ball!


snell said...

I may be conflating childhood memories, but I could swear I saw those same monsters on some other show...

Siskoid said...

I have that nagging feeling too, but my research doesn't turn up anything.

LiamKav said...

GELF's from Red Dwarf, maybe? Especially the ones from Camille

Anonymous said...

For me the aliens are reminiscent of the those from the black and white 1953 film 'it came from outer space'. Who's aliens could also mimic humans. It is my belief that the idea for the episodes came from this very film.


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