Space 1999 #11: Force of Life

A wandering energy force inhabits the body of Alpha technician Anton Zoref, turning him into an energy-absorbing being.
WHEN: The episode first aired on Sept.11 1975, 2nd in broadcast order, though it was the 9th produced.

The French version is called "Puissance de vie", "Power of Life". I don't remember it. I'm starting to think I only committed Season 2 to memory storage on account of Maya.

REVIEW: Force of Life gives us some insight into the lives of some of the Alphans who don't work in Main Mission, but they're not treated like "little people" (except those that die, I guess). Anton Zoref and his wife Eva (yes, a married couple on Moonbase) have some pretty homey quarters for technicians (well, I don't actually know what Eva does), a little on the retro side, especially that alarm clock, but larger than you'd expect astronauts to live in. Either everyone has such quarters, or being  a married couple allows them to "double up" on space. Certainly makes the endless journey through the void of space (hey, where's the light coming from?) a little more bearable. The Zorefs are played by some quality guest-stars - the intense Ian McShane and the beautiful Gay Hamilton - and you never once wonder why you're following them instead of the regulars. The episode also shows the solarium, which explains why the Alphans don't all look as pale as ghosts.

But while I'm always interested in Moonbase living, the episode must unfortunately have a plot. Alien light possesses Zoref, he starts absorbing heat, and goes around freezing people solid until he can get to the nuclear generator and drink his fill. It's essentially a monster/slasher story, only made interesting by the guest performances and David Tomblin's direction, which uses distorted points of view, moody lighting and slow motion to make those scenes really sing. The scene where a zombified Zoref opens the reactor door is amazingly edgy, like something out of a found footage movie. Well ahead of its time. The script provides some tension on its own of course, particularly through the device of Koenig cutting all power to lure Zoref to the reaction room, people in intensive care immediately dying and the stakes for the rest of the base well spelled out.

But then we have a very strange ending. The zombification is already a bit much, but a big chunk of Moonbase Alpha is shown to explode, the Moon's surface cracking one one spot. That's fine, even if it's possibly problematic for continuity, except the crew is soon celebrating the fact they're all going to be all right. Did the effects people let their enthusiasm get the better of them? Because it looks like they're pretty far from all right. As usual, sensible explanations are hard to come by in the Space 1999 universe, and Victor jumps to the rather amazing conclusion that the satiated ball of energy will become a star or something. Even if he'd collected ANY evidence about the entity during the episode, that's just not how that works. Stars aren't born as little balls of energy that suck in more energy until they're suns. There's a weird poetry to the show's sci-fi plots, but it's, as always, at odds with its more realistic speculative elements.

HEY, ISN'T THAT... Deadwood and Lovejoy's Ian McShane is Anton Zoref; need I go on? Gay Hamilton is his wife Eva; she was Jean on Softly Softly, but the same year this episode went out, appeared in Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. Eva Reuber-Staier is the girl in the solarium; she was General Gogol's secretary Miss Rublevitch in three Bond films. And John Hamill is Dominix; I knew him as the Shrieve in Doctor Who's The Ribos Operation.

- Good guest-stars and direction, but an ordinary monster plot that turns magical the minute you look at it too closely.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like (21) Activities (23) Advice (74) Alien Nation (34) Aliens Say the Darndest Things (8) Alpha Flight (25) Amalgam (53) Ambush Bug (46) Animal Man (17) anime (52) Aquaman (70) Archetypes (14) Archie Heroes (10) Arrowed (20) Asterix (9) Atom (30) Avengers (58) Awards (33) Babylon 5 (140) Batman (677) Battle Shovel (13) Battlestar Galactica (134) Black Canary (22) BnB 2-in1 (40) Books (60) Booster Gold (16) Buck Rogers (12) Buffy (6) Canada (70) Captain America (69) Captain Marvel (55) Cat (156) CCGs (50) Charlton (12) Circles of Hell (6) Class (11) Comics (3959) Comics Code Approved (12) Conan (15) Contest (13) Cooking (15) Crisis (77) Daredevil (33) Dating Kara Zor-El (5) Dating Lois Lane (23) Dating Lucy Lane (13) Dating Princess Diana (11) DCAU (404) Deadman (9) Dial H (128) Dice (10) Dinosaur Island (16) Dinosaurs (67) Director Profiles (9) Doctor Who (1676) Doom Patrol (22) Down the Rabbit Hole (7) Dr. Strange (17) Encyclopedia (28) Fantastic Four (56) Fashion Nightmares (19) Fiasco (14) Films Within Films (6) Flash (83) Flushpoint (86) Foldees (12) French (49) Friday Night Fights (57) Fun with Covers (56) FW Team-Up (37) Galleries (9) Game design (26) Gaming (111) Geekly roundup (762) Geeks Anonymous (47) Geekwear (13) Gimme That Star Trek (60) Godzilla (53) Golden Age (431) Grant Morrison (75) Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction (8) Green Arrow (50) Green Lantern (87) Hawkman (39) Hero Points Podcast (13) Holidays (241) House of Mystery (15) Hulk (44) Human Target (8) Improv (34) Inspiration (45) Intersect (5) Invasion Podcast (44) Iron Man (50) Jack Kirby (87) Jimmy Olsen (74) JLA (94) JSA (25) K9 the Series (30) Kirby Motivationals (18) Krypto (202) Kung Fu (98) Learning to Fly (11) Legion (129) Letters pages (6) Liveblog (12) Lonely Hearts Podcast (21) Lord of the Rings (18) Machine Man Motivationals (10) Man-Thing (6) Marquee (89) Masters of the Universe (9) Memes (39) Memorable Moments (35) Metal Men (5) Metamorpho (65) Millennium (72) Mini-Comics (5) Monday Morning Macking (7) Movies (457) Mr. Terrific (6) Music (73) Nelvana of the Northern Lights (8) Nightmare Fuel (21) Number Ones (59) Obituaries (41) oHOTmu OR NOT? (76) Old52 (11) One Panel (290) Outsiders (165) Panels from Sheena (5) Paper Dolls (7) Play (76) Podcast (488) Polls (5) Questionable Fridays (13) Radio (18) Rants (20) Reaganocomics (8) Recollected (11) Red Bee (26) Red Tornado (10) Reign (563) Retro-Comics (3) Reviews (52) Rom (116) RPGs (539) Sandman (21) Sapphire & Steel (37) Sarah Jane Adventures (70) Saturday Morning Cartoons (5) SBG for Girls (4) Seasons of DWAITAS (100) Secret Origins Podcast (8) Secret Wars (25) SF (30) Shut Up Star Boy (1) Silver Age (368) Siskoid as Editor (34) Siskoid's Mailbox (10) Space 1999 (51) Spectre (20) Spider-Man (100) Spring Cleaning (15) ST non-fiction (19) ST novels: DS9 (8) ST novels: S.C.E. (19) ST novels: The Shat (2) ST novels: TNG (9) ST novels: TOS (13) Star Trek (1711) Streaky (2) Suicide Squad (38) Supergirl (89) Superman (1060) Supershill (11) Swamp Thing (23) Tales from Earth-Prime (7) Team Horrible (4) Teen Titans (83) That Franchise I Never Talk About (53) The Orville (29) The Prisoner (5) The Thing (54) Then and Now (4) Theory (51) Thor (52) Thursdays of Two Worlds (43) Time Capsule (8) Timeslip (7) Tintin (23) Torchwood (62) Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms (5) Toys (65) Turnarounds (7) TV (193) V (6) Waking Life (1) Warehouse 13 (9) Websites (102) What If? (103) Who's This? (203) Whoniverse-B (11) Wikileaked (3) Wonder Woman (82) X-Files (246) X-Men (102) Zero Hour Strikes (26) Zine (5)