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The Seance Spectre

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QuoteEdit

"He lied to us all along and he's still lying now. And for that he's got to die!"

Plot SummaryEdit

A new planet is sighted, but is it habitable? By holding a seance, one of Alpha's crew becomes convinced that it is and tries to force Commander Koenig to evacuate all Alphans onto this new, green land.[1]

SynopsisEdit

Prologue:Edit

Alpha has detected a space phenomenon and named it Tora. They have sent out an Eagle to determine if at the heart of the cloud is a habitable planet. In order to avoid false hopes, only a select few know about Tora, and Command Centre has been placed off limits. Meanwhile, in the Recreation Centre, a surface exploration team tries to relax, but Greg Sanderson is restless. When the commpost screens stay blank, he decides to find out why Command Center is off limits, and what they are hiding. His team (Cernik, Stevens, and Eva) follow without question. He suspects a habitable planet is out there, and decides to find out for sure. As Tony, Maya and Sandra are monitoring Koenig's Eagle, Sanderson attacks the guard at the Command Center door and takes his stun gun. He enters Command Center, and immediately stuns everyone. He orders Eva to open the big screen. He sees Tora, and decides they will have a séance to determine if there is habitable planet at it's core. In their trance-state, they do not hear Koenig calling to warn the base that the Moon is heading right for Tora.

Act One:Edit

They remain in their trance until Koenig returns to Alpha. John is furious, but Helena tells him that they have "green sickness" from being away from a natural environment for so long. A condition she feels is worsened because the surface exploration teams spend up to 30 days at a time on the lifeless surface of the moon. She holds herself responsible, but John has a hard time believing that mutiny is a symptom of their illness.

While Helena is with Sanderson, he insists on seeing Koenig. She tells him that he has been confined to Medical Centre. He assaults the guards and heads toward Command Center to confront Koenig, who he thinks is trying to keep them from finding out about the "habitable planet" to keep everyone on Alpha, and maintain his "dictatorship". Koenig agrees to have all data from the Eagle processed, not onboard, but through the base computer on his next flight. Sanderson is escorted back to Medical Center for treatment, but will be able to watch via the monitors. Eva is released as she is not hallucinating. She calls in a medical emergency, to clear Medical Center, then knocks out the guards and frees the rest of her team. They go to the Computer Room to monitor the flight. Alan reports a possible gravity pull. Sanderson shorts out a section of the computer causing the reading to fade. Koenig and Maya are given the OK to go in further. John senses a gravitational pull, but Tony assures him there is none.

Act Two:Edit

As John's feeling gets stronger, he has Tony run a system check on Main Computer. Sandra reports a malfunction, but too late for John and Maya to avoid crashing. Command Center loses audio contact with Eagle 1, but is receiving data about the ship's status. Tony has Alan try to fly it back to Alpha, unfortunately there is not enough oxygen to last the whole trip. John suggests Maya transform into some vegetation to help provide oxygen. The Eagle makes it's three hour trip back to Alpha, and lands safely. When the Alphans board, they are surprised to find plantlife. Maya transforms and tells them that Koenig is suffering from oxygen starvation. Helena revives John, stating that any ill effects will be immediately apparent. As he wakes, She asks if he knows who she is, to which he replies, "I never saw you before in my life... Dr. Russell."

Act Three:Edit

Sanderson and his team leave the computer room, knowing that their sabotage will be discovered, and that security will come for them. They hide in a travel tube, insuring that no one can take them until they are ready. Koenig contacts them in the car to tell them that the Moon is on a collision course with the proto-planet at the heart of Tora. Sanderson clings to his delusions, believing that the Moon will go into orbit around his "habitable planet". He suggests another "astral-prediction" to convince the rest of his team who are, now, becoming uncertain of his judgement. Koenig decides to blow up the nuclear waste dumps to shift the Moon off it's collision course with Tora.

To avoid the predicted loss of life, and damage to equipment, Koenig orders a full evacuation. The Eagles will monitor the situation from a safe distance, then return after the course correction. With time running out, Koenig Tells them that they have to leave before the waste dumps are triggered. Sanderson finally gives in to his team when they ask to be evacuated. But Sanderson does not board one of the Eagles, he returns to Command Center, where only Koenig and Maya are left. He stuns Koenig as Tony tries to warn him that Sanderson never boarded the last Eagle. Sanderson threatens to kill Maya if Tony tries to return to Alpha before Tora goes into "orbit".

Act Four:Edit

Helena asks Eva to talk to Sanderson and help him realize that he really is sick. But this only causes him to become more agitated. He attempts to kill Koenig, but Maya thwarts him. He runs off as Maya is trying to return the, now jammed, switch back to Stun. John and Maya don't have time to find him if they are to set the atomic trigger in place and set off the blast in time to avoid the collision with Tora. When they get out to the nuclear waste area, Tony, who has been scanning the area, locates a moon buggy in their vicinity, and alerts them that Sanderson is waiting for them somewhere in the rocks nearby. John goes out to set the charges to blast the cap off one of the silos, while Maya keeps look out, with the laser turret at the ready.

As Sanderson aims his laser rifle at Koenig, Tony gives his position to Maya. He notices the laser turret turning, and fires on the Eagle just as Maya gets off a shot. The ledge crumbles under Sanderson, and Koenig is free to blast the cap off the silo, but Sanderson attacks as John attempts to set the trigger. Tony can't raise Maya in Eagle 2. No sooner than John gets the trigger in place, then Sanderson attacks again and knocks him into the silo. John catches the side, avoiding a 10,000 foot fall. As Sanderson tries to step on his hands, he grabs Sanderson's leg, and accidentally pulls him over the edge.

Sanderson plunges to his death, and John pulls himself up out of the silo. He rushes back to Eagle 2 to check on Maya. The laser blast to the Eagle damaged the controls to the cockpit door. Maya wakes to Koenig pounding on the door. She has been thrown behind one of the cockpit chairs and can't get out. She transforms a little girl to free herself, and opens the cockpit door. They blast off and put as much distance as they can, between them and the Moon before the waste dumps detonate. They reach a safe distance, and monitor the successful shift in the Moon's trajectory away from Tora.

Epilogue:Edit

When the Alphans return to the base Helena has all the surface teams looking at pictures of nature, believing that saturation equaling boredom, will quell the "green sickness". When she and John return to Command Center, they find Alan and Tony looking at pictures of a different kind of nature altogether, to Maya's chagrin and their amusement.[2]

Cast:Edit

BackgroundEdit

Shooting script titled The Mutiny dated 16th September 1976. Filmed 18th October- 30th October 1976

Wrong credits: Ken Hutchison is incorrectly credited as Ken Hutchinson.

SetsEdit

The Recreation Centre set has windows to the surface, unusual in a Year Two set. It was seen in the previous episode, The Lambda Factor[1]

SFXEdit

The crashed Eagle had a special break-apart leg pod made.

The episode shows massed Eagles in space, created by repeated exposures of the same model.

The cloud is an air-brushed painting.

Tora, glimpsed briefly in the Eagle window, appeared in the original Year 1 title shot (seen on some prints of Matter of Life and Death).[1]

ScienceEdit

"Internal energy. Electrical storms... rain, sleet.. an atmosphere." "There is a planet, but it's in the earliest stages of formation. There's no green grass, no rivers, no trees. We've arrived fifty million years too early." Tora appears to be protoplanet, still hidden in the cloud that formed it (normally when the parent sun ignites, its stellar winds sweep these gases away). The planet is also producing a secondary atmosphere from volcanoes, creating carbon dioxide. The stage is equivalent to the Earth's early PreCambrian period, about 5 billion years ago (50 million years ago was the Eocene, in which modern mammals were dominant).

"If Tora's atmosphere gets into our recycling system, our air will be lethal." The Moonbase recycling system should be closed and well sealed as they are in space (that's what airlocks are for). The danger is more likely to be the physical damage of colliding with the cloud.

"I have a reading on the damage. Pressure hull pierced. Transmission silenced." Obviously some Eagle systems are transmitting this information to Sandra, so she must mean voice transmissions.

The psychology is suspect: saturation does not lead to boredom, and pictures of the countryside are hardly a substitute for being outside.

Greensickness is an old name for what is now called chlorosis. It is an iron-deficiency anemia, primarily of young women, characterized by a greenish-yellow discoloration of the skin. In archaic medicine, it was thought to be caused by sexual frustration among unmarried girls (in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is told "Out you greensickness carrion! Out, you baggage!").

When Maya changes into a plant to create oxygen, her plant form is using the chloroplasts in the leaves to transform light energy into oxygen (photosynthesis). Oxygen is actually created by a water-oxidation process, not from carbon dioxide (although in high carbon dixoide, photorespiration will occur). Using plant oxygen production to offset human oxygen consumption (and carbon dioxide production) in a closed ecological system is not simple. A more practical strategy would have been open the spacesuit air tanks.[1]

ContinuityEdit

Chronology: 2012 days after leaving Earth orbit (Thu 17 Mar 2005)

Alpha Personnel: 1 fatality (Greg Sanderson).

Alpha Technology: Area B7 is explained in the script to be one of the first nuclear waste dumping sites. It is close enough to the Moonbase to drive to in a moonbuggy.

Launch pads 6, 8 and 9 are mentioned. Only 5 are visible around the base, although we know from The Exiles there are more in outlying locations.

The rocket gun is seen (here firing a green laser beam, rather than an explosive shell). It is also used in The Beta Cloud.

For the only time in the series (apart from showing Red Alert), the Command Centre desk screens show a colour image, not black and white

Koenig wears a silver Anti-Radiation suit. This kind of suit is not worn in the nuclear waste disposal areas in either Breakaway or Bringers Of Wonder

We see an evacuation of Moonbase Alpha. Like Another Time, Another Place, desks are removed as well - but not Koenig's desk or the Moonbase computers (one desk and the computers were also left behind in the evacuation in War Games).

Eagles: Eagle 1 (Koenig- 2nd, crashed and damaged); 2 (Koenig- 3rd); 3 (Tony); 4 (Koenig- 1st); 6 (Alan)

The Eagle laser turret is used. It is also seen in The AB Chrysalis and Devil's Planet. The laser control is identical to the Research Station laser control in The Exiles.

The forward view screen is seen. It is also seen in The AB Chrysalis, Seed of Destruction, Space Warp, Bringers of Wonder - Part 2 and Devil's Planet.

One hangar scene is an unused shot from Space Warp. A booster pod is visible.

Maya transformations: Plant, child Maya, lizard-head alien.

Maya changes into a plant for the entire three hour trip. This contradicts Rules of Luton and Space Warp where she can only remain in one form for an hour. Did she change back several times during the flight?

Planets: Tora (proto-planet)

Aliens: None

Footage: Lots of reused Eagle footage (several Eagle evacuation shots are from Guardian of Piri).[1]

ErrorsEdit

Maya says "We'll be swallowed by red dust and toxic gases." (sc 115) Tora is obviously yellow-orange in colour. The script described Tora as red, but the line was not changed at filming.

Wires are seen on the Eagle model in several planet shots, due to the light sky colour. Thanks to James.C

Sanderson's spacesuit visor knocks open during the fight.[1]

ObservationsEdit

The title is obscure: the spectre is the habitable planet that the mutineers see in their astroprediction (seance). The title suggests instead a ghost story. The title is also in British English (the American spelling would be "Seance Specter").

In the script Sanderson is named Sandor. It is never explained what surface exploration teams are looking for or why they have to be isolated for so long.

The models pictured were scripted to be posing by a stream or an oak, to demonstrate they were nature photos.

In the script, Maya turns into one such girl (a black model named Venicia Day). Tony is irritated when Alan comes on to her. The scene was shot but cut from the completed episode.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 http://catacombs.space1999.net/main/epguide/t44tss.html
  2. http://moonbase99.space1999.net/seance.htm


Season 2
The Metamorph I 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.
http://www.eyespider.freeserve.co.uk/space/two/index.html

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