A grim fight for survival takes place between Koenig and Maya and three weird aliens on a planet of living plants.
Koenig, Maya and Tony take an Eagle to investigate a lush planet to see if it would be a suitable new home for the Alphans. As they approach, an alarm goes off warning them of an oxygen leak. Koenig has Tony return to Alpha for another Eagle while he and Maya stay to check out the planet. As Tony lifts off, Maya scans the vegetation and learns that some of the berries where they landed are edible. Koenig picks one and eats it, at the same time Maya picks a flower. Strange screams are heard from all directions. A booming voice declares that they are "cannibals, murderers" and "will be punished as cannibals and murderers deserve to be punished".
Koenig tries to contact Alpha but the voice tells them that they will not be allowed to. Koenig asks what their crime was, and is told that they killed members of the society of Luton. Koenig explains that any crime they may have commited was done out of ignorance. The judges of Luton respond that they have heard that explanation before, but they will be allowed to prove their innocence in the crucible of combat with other aliens who make the same claim. Their opponents, three aliens who also destroyed plant life, are revealed. Whoever survives the battle to the death will win their freedom.
Koenig quickly learns that their stun guns are ineffective against their adversaries, and try to put a little distance between them. Maya suggests trying to talk to them to them instead of fighting, to show that they mean them no harm. Koenig agrees, especially after seeing one rip solid rock apart to make weapons. From a place of relative safety, they try to talk. The strong alien responds by throwing large rocks, so they are forced to keep moving. Back on Alpha, they try to contact Koenig and Maya unsuccessfully. They can't even locate the planet.
Koenig and Maya swim across a small river to get away from the aliens who are tracking them. The aliens appear to be afraid of the water and do not follow. Koenig tries to talk to them again, with no luck. The aliens wander off to find a way across. While looking for some means of defending themselves Koenig and Maya find an animal skeleton that appears to have been killed by vines. Koenig realizes he hasn't seen any living animals on the planet. He tries to reach Alpha again, and gets only the judges of Luton, who tell him that they have provided the other aliens with powers to match Maya's to even the playing field. Koenig has Maya search for the aliens from the air. While she is looking for them, one of the aliens teleports across the river to attack Koenig.
Maya sees this and returns to help. She transforms into a lion to fend off the alien. Startled, he falls into the river and drowns as Koenig and Maya try to talk to him. Maya notices that Koenig has been injured and tries to clean the wound. Now they know two of the powers that the judges of Luton gave to the aliens, strength and the ability to transport. The two remaining aliens find a log to use to cross the river. Meanwhile, Tony is on his way back to where Luton was before it disappeared. Still unable to locate it on sensors, he hopes to make visual contact. Koenig and Maya continue to keep ahead of the aliens tracking them, and find the location of the final battle of plants versus animals.
While Koenig works on a bola to use as a weapon, he and Maya talk a little about their pasts, until they hear a sound nearby. When they look, they don't see anyone, but they do see one of the stone weapons on the hillside below. Koenig thinks he knows the ability that the judges of Luton gave the third alien. They move back so he can finish work on the bola. They hear another noise. Maya turns into a dog and tracks down the invisible alien, he raises a rock to crush her, but stumbles and falls to his death. Koenig becomes delirious and Maya flies off in search of water to clean his wound. When she lands the strong alien, catches her in a cage made from the mesh off his outfit.
Koenig hears the bird's cry and sees that the alien has her captive. Koenig appeals to the judges of Luton to intervene and trade his life for Maya's. They refuse. The alien sits and waits for Koenig with Maya in the cage before him. Koenig descends the hill to rescue her before she reverts, and is crushed. In his weakened state, he stumbles, and the alien laughs. Tony's Eagle gets refueled while he continues to search for the planet. Helena warns him that he is dangerously close to its last recorded position.
Koenig attacks the strong alien and runs. When the alien chases after him, Koenig throws the bola and trips him. The alien falls, hits his head on a rock, and is knocked out. Koenig releases Maya as she transforms back. Koenig returns to his fallen opponent, with his rock lance poised to finish him off. The judges of Luton tell him to kill the "criminal". Koenig refuses. He says they are the criminals for not stopping them before they ate berries and picked flowers.
There is a chattering sound as the plants agree with him. The intensity increases until the judges of Luton tell them they are free to go. The planet materializes before Tony and he manages to pull up without crashing. He lets Alpha know he has "found" the planet, and has them contact Koenig and Maya. Yasko asks for their position to guide Tony to them, but they can see the Tony's Eagle landing near by.
They return to Alpha, and when Koenig returns to Command Centre, he sees a potted plant at Maya's work station. He asks where it came and Maya tells him that Tony though it might cheer her up after her ordeal. Helena says that they lovely and Maya offers her one. Koenig tells her never to pick a flower while he's around, and has Tony return them to Hydroponics.
- Commander John Koenig - Martin Landau
- Doctor Helena Russell - Barbara Bain
- Maya - Catherine Schell
- Tony Verdeschi - Tony Anholt
- Yasko - Yasuko Nagazumi
- Alien Strong - David Jackson
- Alien Invisible - Roy Marsden
- Alien Transport - Godfrey James
- Thunder Voice - David Jackson
- Operative - Annie Lambert
- Command Center operative - Jenny Cresswell
|Belgium (Flemish)||De Wetten van Luton|
|Spain||Las normas de Luton (The rules of Luton)|
|France/Canada||Les directives de Luton (The Rules Of Luton)|
|Germany||Rühr nicht die Pflanze an! (Don't touch the Plant!)|
|Japan||Terror of the Plant Planet LUTON|
|Portugal||A Lei de Luton (The Law Of Luton)|
|South Afric||Die Wette van Lutton (The Laws of Luton)|
- Shooting script dated 15 April 1976. Revised 23, 26, 28 April, filmed 3 May-14 May 1976
- A "Double-Up Koenig" script - while Landau and Schell filmed on location, Bain and the other cast were filming The Mark of Archanon on the studio sets.
- The locations are Black Park (near Pinewood Studios) and H.F.Warner Ltd landfill site in Knowl Hill, Berkshire.
- The script was written by producer Freiberger under a pen name, probably for the specific requirements of a double-up script. He took the name of the planet from a road sign on the way to work (Luton is an unglamorous industrial town outside London). The name caused much amusement to producer Gerry Anderson and the British crew.
- Int. Command Centre
- Int. Eagle Pilot Section
- Ext. Planet Surface: River and Woods area (Black Park location)
- Ext. Planet Surface: Berry Bush area, ravine area, cliff and lower slopes area (Knowl Hill location)
- The image of Luton from space is actually a blue monochrome version of a photograph of Earth, taken by Apollo 11 astronauts. Africa can be seen, with parts of Europe and Asia. The same picture is used as New Earth in New Adam New Eve. Thanks to Marcus Lindroos.
- Luton is a Bedfordshire town with an airport. Freiberger saw it on a roadsign and pronounced it "Lew-ton" instead of "Lut-on". It is very odd to British viewers.
- The Romans used gladiatorial fights between criminals and slaves (often prisoners of war) as religious festivals and public entertainment. Constantine I abolished gladiatorial games in AD 325 although they continued for over a hundred years later. Trial by combat was a Norman legal concept introduced into English common law after 1066. Aggrieved parties could challenge those suspected of felony to trial by combat. God would ensure the righteous was the victor. It was condemned as early as 1190. It continued after 1215 for land law (in criminal law, trial by ordeal was halted by the Pope), declining gradually through the Middle Ages. It was not actually abolished until 1818.
- Plants have no nervous system, so they cannot think, talk, scream, or move rapidly. They cannot create technology (to make the planet disappear).
- In Luton society, all plants from very many species (vines, trees, berry bushes) have the same level of intelligence. This isn't true in the animal kingdom and it isn't likely to be true for plant species. Cannibalism is eating one's own species, so the Alphans are not cannibals.
- All plants are competing for water and sunlight, and they would not be likely to cooperate.
- Many plants are dependent on animals for pollination and seed dispersal. Flowers attract insects and birds to take nectar and transfer pollen. Berries and other fruit are intended to be eaten so animals will disperse the seeds. Without animals, flower and fruit plants will die out in a generation. The plants should encourage the Alphans to pick berries.
- The dinosaur bones have peg teeth indicating they are carnivores (eat other animals). They are therefore no threat to the plants. Their bones are white and scattered, showing scavenger animals have picked their flesh clean.
- Matter transportation, as demonstrated by Alien Transport, is impossible.
- Invisibility is impossible and impractical (dirt would soon reveal Alien Invisible, and as light passes through his transparent retinas he would be blind).
- "American Indians used bows and arrows". Actually every society has since the Mesolithic.
- The planet surface temperature is 73 degrees (ie. 22.2 Centigrade). It is implausible that the entire planet has the same temperature.
- Psychon has one race, one religion, one government and no separation of classes. The absence of diversity suggests an extremely conformist regimented society. The lack of classes, essential to capitalism, indicates Psychon is a communist state that prohibits any division of labour.
- Chronology: 892 days after leaving Earth orbit (Thu 21 Feb 2002). They have just passed through a 42 day space storm (approx. 850 days-start). The episode duration is less than 1 day.
- Alpha Personnel: 0 fatalities.
- Alpha Technology: We see a colour commlock screen. It is also waterproof.
- Eagles: Eagle 1 (Koenig); 4 (replacement). The refuelling arm is also in Space Warp, and was a grab arm in The Exiles. The red pod is 2.5 inches/ 6cm long (it was sold in an internet auction for £255 in 2006).
- Maya transformations: Kestrel, Rottweiler dog, lion.
- Maya can only hold a transformation for an hour. This contradicts The Taybor, when she locks herself in a form, and also The Seance Spectre, when she is in a form for three hours.
- Maya cannot transform directly from one animal into another. This contradicts The Taybor when she transforms directly from a dog into a ferret, plus numerous other episodes (and earlier in the episode she changes directly from the bird into the lion) She may have been working on a way to develop these abilities in secret.
- Maya is very selective about using her transformations. When the injured Koenig carries the lance, she could have transformed into an animal with the strength to easily carry the lance (and Koenig). She may be trying to preserve her energy.
- Planets: Luton
- Aliens: Luton plants; 3 different species of humanoid aliens. The aliens must be advanced enough to develop interstellar spaceflight. All are clothed: boots and gloves are obvious. Alien Invisible has a ragged scarf, Alien Transport's sleeve is seen, Alien Strong's boots are very visible. They are given "abilities" by the judges of Luton to match the Alphans- transport, invisibility and strength.
- The story has the same plot as the Star Trek episode "Arena" by Gene L Coon, a gladiatorial battle at the end of which the victor refuses to kill his opponent. That story was in turn derived by Fredric Brown's 1944 short story Arena. The episode also has echoes of the Lost In Space episode "The Great Vegetable Rebellion", although Freiberger claims not to have seen it.
- At the start of the episode, the oxygen link is stated to be critical in 4 hours. Presumably this is for 3 crew. For 1 crew (Tony) the return journey to Alpha could be up to 12 hours, but is likely to be less than 4 hours. Koenig considers briefly that they abort and return together. The episode clearly takes place within a single day, and Koenig and Maya do not intend to camp overnight until he returns. Thanks to Marcus Lindroos.
- According to Michael Richardson, the stock footage of the lion is from the 1958 movie Nor the Moon by Night, starring Patrick McGoohan (released in the US as Elephant Gun).
- The larger isolated skeleton bones scattered on the floor of the valley are from a diplodocus, a Jurassic sauropod. The prop was created for the Disney film One of our Dinosaurs is Missing (1975, and filmed at Pinewood during the 1974). The skeleton was also used in the Tunisian desert for Star Wars (1977).
- David Jackson on his role:
"They had this outfit for me which looked like a teddy bear and I had this big fight scene. I said 'It doesn't look very menacing. I mean, a teddy bear?' I said 'You've got this one alien who looks like a bird, like Osiris the god, and this other character. Why not make him the teddy bear, because he gets killed very quickly, and I could be... a lizard! So they got a lizard half mask for me, long, green and scaly, a long droopy moustache, long sort of patchy dark hair, and lots of black leather and crocodile skin!"
"I was given the power of speech by the gods of the planet, whom I also played. I said 'If the gods of the planet gave me this voice, I would still have vocal cords that were tuned to whatever a crocodile-like beast's might be tuned to, and it would be rather like a person from Japan trying to speak English. So, the words should come out in a sort of strangulation, trying to get through those strange vocal cords. And I played it like that."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 http://catacombs.space1999.net/main/epguide/t31trol.html
- ↑ http://moonbase99.space1999.net/luton.htm
|The Metamorph X The Exiles I One Moment of Humanity I All That Glisters I The Mark of Archanon I Journey to Where I The Taybor I The Rules of Luton I New Adam New Eve I Brian the Brain I Catacombs of the Moon I The AB Chrysalis I The Beta Cloud I Seed of Destruction I A Matter of Balance I Space Warp I The Bringers of Wonder - Part 1 I The Bringers of Wonder - Part 2 I Dorzak I The Seance Spectre I Devil's Planet I The Lambda Factor I The Immunity Syndrome I The Dorcons|
|Episodes are listed in the order suggested by Andrew Kearley.|