The Rules of Luton
A grim fight for survival takes place between Koenig and Maya and three weird aliens on a planet of living plants. ITC summary
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The dinosaur bones are therapods, which 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.
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.
We see a colour commlock screen. It is also waterproof.
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).
Kestrel, lion, Rottweiler dog
- Maya can only hold a transformation for an hour. This contradicts The Taybor when she locks herself in a form, and also 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)
- 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).
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.
- We learn about a global war between races, classes and religions on Earth in 1987. This is not alluded to elsewhere, and the political debates in Breakaway and Dragon's Domain do not suggest much of a "new wonderful civilisation".
As Koenig and Maya swim across the lake, several unusual features are out of focus but just visible on the far bank. Among the items seen are a white post (a sign or life saver), and, marked above, a group of three or four people walking along the bank left to right (unclear in still, but visible in motion), a park bench, and a man in a canoe.
- More observations
- 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.
- 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). See More observations
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). Cinematography is by Harry Waxman. The location is Kruger National Park in South Africa.
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.