The Catacombs Episode Guide

Message From Moonbase Alpha

Year 3 - Episode 1

Screenplay by Johnny Byrne
Directed by Tim Mallett
Guest Artist Zienia Merton

Background

Message From Moonbase Alpha

Filmed 29th August 1999, this 7 minute short film was shown at the Space: 1999 Breakaway Convention in Los Angeles on September 13th, 1999. The original licensing deal from Carlton did not allow it to be shown in public -or private- again. However, in 2002 it was released to DVD in France.

The plot:
A picture emerges from static: it is Sandra Benes, speaking to camera. "This is Moonbase Alpha with our last transmission to the people of Earth." It is 20 years since they lost contact with Earth. The Moonbase life support systems are slowly failing. They are in range of a habitable planet, named Terra Alpha, for 6 days, insufficient for a thorough survey. It has been decided to abandon Alpha for the planet. Sandra is the last to leave the base. A slingshot effect may return the Moon to the planet in 25 years. Computer will encode Sandra's message using a device designed by Maya, to enable it to navigate time and space to reach Earth. Sandra signs off, her voice heavy with emotion: "Remember us."
The signal we see in the final shot is the Meta signal.

Message From Moonbase Alpha
Images thanks to Kindred/ Fanderson

Sets

Int. Technical Section
The set was built from replica Year 1 panels and an original Command Centre desk.

SFX

Stock effects from other episodes was used: see list. Note the use of unused SFX footage from The Last Enemy and the Year 2 titles.

Footage of Ariel from The Last Sunset and Retha from Full Circle were coloured green to represent Terra Alpha.

Guardian Of Piri Message From Moonbase Alpha
The Full Circle Message From Moonbase Alpha
Message From Moonbase Alpha Message From Moonbase Alpha
Gravity effect- stock shot from year two opening titles, unused shot from Last Enemy
Images thanks to Kindred/ Fanderson

Music

There are two versions: one version has no music (on the TF1 disc), the other has Barry Gray's closing theme and incidental tracks (on the A&E bonus disc). The license to use Gray's music is separate from Carlton's license to Space 1999, and the difficulties in negotiating the separate music license gave rise to the two versions.

Science

The moon has a slingshot trajectory. These trajectories are used to accelerate space probes, using the gravity of a planet. Hence the Cassini probe flew first to Venus, then again past Earth, to accelerate it to reach Saturn. The slingshot here may involve Terra Alpha, other planets in the solar system, Terra Nova's sun or nearby stars. Unfortunately it may be travelling too fast for the Alphans to catch it in 25 years time.

Continuity

Chronology:

Message From Moonbase Alpha

Alpha Personnel:

0 fatalities.

Alpha Technology:

Eagles:

Various seen in evacuation

Planets:

Terra Alpha, a blue-green planet (similar to Ariel)

Aliens:

None

Footage:

GRAVITY EFFECT
OPERATION EXODUS
DESERTED BASE
FLASHBACKS
THE END

Errors/ Questions

Observations

Message From Moonbase Alpha
Message From Moonbase Alpha

The plot establishes new directions for a new series of Space: 1999, which were proposed to Carlton and other backers. As the film says, in 25 years the Moon will return to this planet. Johnny Byrne notes conditions are difficult for the Alphans on the new planet- much like the scenes in the unfilmed script Face Of Eden (which eventually turned into Immunity Syndrome). The survivors will be split; some will return to the Moonbase while others, led by Koenig, will remain on the planet (Koenig will not leave the grave of Helena). The new series would follow the adventures of the new Alphans returning to the Moon, with a new generation of characters as well as some returning from the original series. The series may start with a movie-length or multi-part story establishing which Alphans stay on the planet and which return to the base. The remainder of the series would, like the original series, feature the Moon travelling through space encountering alien planets and civilisations.

This scenario allows some of the original cast to return or be written out depending on their availability. For instance, with Martin Landau's age and movie career he is not likely to want to return to head a TV series (although it is hoped he might be in the initial story). Neither is Barbara Bain likely to return (having Helena die does give Koenig a powerful motivation in the initial story, however). Catherine Schell has retired from acting, so Johnny Byrne speculated the new series might feature a child of Maya and Tony.

The original cast would be portraying characters much older than themselves: if Koenig was 40 in 1999, he would be 60 at the time of this film and 85 at the start of the new story. Sandra was 30 in the original series; 50 at the time of this film and 75 at the start of the proposed series.

The technology and sets could be updated as the original Moonbase was gutted of most facilities and must be rebuilt with equipment from Terra Alpha.

2014: There is a proposal for a sequel series called Moonbase Alpha Legacy, set when the Moon returns to Terra Alpha, 40 years after the events of Message From Moonbase Alpha.

Merchandise:

An Italian dub was created for the Italian Pulp Video release.

Links

External Links


Contents copyright Martin Willey
Images thanks to Kindred and Fanderson