The Catacombs The Production Guide
Writer's Guide
by Martin Willey

6. COMMUNICATIONS

IDX (Temporary name)

The IDX is a multi-purpose communication device, held comfortably in the palm of the hand. At one end is a miniature two-inch TV monitor, and set into it also are microphone and speaker, so that it is first of all a portable videophone. Secondly, it carries an electronic identification code. This emits no audio or visual pulse, but when the IDX is aimed at the key plate beside each door it will electronically signal the door to open. Provided, of course, that the Individual concerned is security cleared to pass through that particular door.

The Central Computer

All of the information, on whatever subject, that concerns the working operations of Alpha is stored in the Central Computer.

Of course, much of this information is classified, and the only person who has access to all the information is the commander.

But everyone on the base has access to the computer to a greater or lesser degree. They get the information simply by asking for it through their IDX, and if they ask for information to which they are not entitled, then the computer will refuse to divulge. Its method of selection is straightforward. The same electronic key that gives people access to specific areas also governs their access to the computer's information. So whenever a request is made the computer knows instantly, by means of the electronic key, who is making the request and the extent of the information to which that particular individual is entitled.

Communications post (Temporary name)

There will be a constant background of audio and visual information of a general nature relating to aspects of life on Alpha. Reports on space conditions, news of the base, progress report on probes, duty schedules - routine chatter about daily fife. And this information is available to everyone through the Communications Posts which are found in every communal area.


7 HEALTH

Dr. Helena Russell, head of the medical section, is not a general practitioner and it is no part of her function to bandage sprained ankles or treat minor wounds. All that routine maintenance will be carried out by the minions of the medical section and we don't particularly want to see it. Helena Russell and the medical laboratory are there because the Alpha Mission has Mankind out on a limb of environmental uncertainty where the frontiers of Physical And psychological normality are frequently crossed.

Helena Russell is on Alpha to observe and analyse unknown mental and physical conditions brought about by the strange environment. After episode one, of course, the situation will be even more acute and on Helena Russell's ability to respond to, and cope with, the strains inflicted by a random and involuntary space journey will depend the survival of the Alpha humans.

As far as the permanent inhabitants of Alpha are concerned, their medical condition will be perpetually monitored as follows:

In the sleeve of everyone's uniform is built a concave lens which gives to the wearer a constant monitoring of his or her physical condition. The data is gathered by printed circuits and electrodes built into the uniform itself, and transmitted constantly, via the IDX, to the central computer.


8 WEAPONS

In the case of an alien intruder or captive who offers violence, the need to preserve him alive is even greater, since he may provide invaluable information about the nature of a hitherto incomprehensible enemy.

So the weapon that Alpha personnel carry with them is small, but multi-purpose - a TSLA. The initials describe the emissions from each of the four antennae; tranquilliser, stun, laser, atomic. There are selections on the grip for purpose and intensity. The first choice is a tranquilliser which will give an opportunity to prevent actual violence but still enable the user to talk to his victim; secondly, a neuronic stun will stop a man instantly and make him unconscious so that he will need medical attention to revive him; thirdly, a laser which will pierce known metals and matter and stop some alien spacecraft without actually destroying them; and lastly, the chain ray which engenders an atomic reaction in any matter that it strikes and so causes a totally destructive explosion.


9 TIME SCHEME

Earth-time for the series is not too far ahead - 1999. Therefore, on Alpha itself we are striving for a combination of futurism (extrapolation from current knowledge) and a connection with a recognisably human and current reality. By which we mean that when a base spaceman goes to sleep at night, it may be in a very modern-shaped, plastic affair which, once into, he switches on his heat light, but he sighs with either tiredness or contentment when he does so.

But a different time-scheme altogether will apply when Alpha, in the course of its random journey, either stumbles across, or is directly accosted by, other forms of life in the Universe. Alien technology need not be Earth-related in any way. Alien beings may take any shape or form (always providing they can be convincingly represented in visual terms) and in relation to Earth, alien development can be as far in advance or retarded as imaginable.


10 THE STORY

Now, having described to some extent the Moon Base Alpha lifestyle, we must immediately state that all of that is true, only for a limited time. Because, in the very first show of the series, the Moon will suffer a massive atomic explosion in an unhappily man made accident. As a result, a chunk of the Moon will be ripped off and flung into space, causing the Moon itself to go careening out of orbit and headlong into the void, with the Moon Base upon it. Communication with Earth will be broken and the Moon Base will be left upon its own to survive, to seek a friendly planet to colonise, and to defend itself against other space-lives, for now they are invading aliens.

We can postulate, by the way, that the very nature of the horrendous accident allows the Moon Base people to survive somewhat because the crater exposed by the Moon chunk being ripped off becomes a source of raw material, necessary to be fashioned into essentials for Moon Base living.


11. THE LEADING CHARACTERS

The leading characters in Space: 1999 are as follows:

John Robert Koenig

John Koenig is not only the American Commander of the Moon Base, but at 40 he is an astrophysicist of very high repute. A man whose interest in science began when he was only in his teens, John Koenig, product of an old Midwestern farming family, went on to gain honours at M.I.T. He eventually became a pilot and an astronaut. His practical and theoretical abilities being recognised, as well as an unquestionable leadership ability, he was responsible for the planning and control of many outstanding space missions. Though something of a maverick, and because of his knowledge and abilities, Koenig was asked to help work on Alpha's designs. He did so and was thus gradually drawn into the project. As we pick ALCOM Koenig up (Spacese for - Alpha Commander), he has accepted the post of new Base Commander, and is making arrangements to take charge.

In most cases, this will be back story, but it should be kept in mind, for story purposes, that Koenig is faced with crises before he has fully absorbed the ordinary routine of the Moon Base operations.

On the personal side, John Koenig is an interesting and somewhat complex -man. He has two streaks in him: one, rather ruthless and efficient, the 'mind-as-computer' aspect; and, on the other hand, a moody and introspective strain. Born in 1959, he is not the total space child. He has had, along with science, more humanities education than some others of his generation. As a matter of fact, he was married for five years to a woman who was a highly gifted artist.

From where John Koenig stood, the marriage was a gratifying one. Not so for his wife. She had submitted some of her own life to his, and at this point, decided to do so no longer. John was exceedingly unhappy over this decision, but loved her enough to make the separation an amicable one.

All this was more than six years ago, but John Koenig carries the scars with him and holds back at relating deeply to other women. As to men, Koenig demands a lot, but he demands a lot of himself too.

He isn't fantastically happy with the current 1999 state of humanity, but he has hope for the future, and feels that the human race can only evolve into any kind of ideal state if it goes on - and so he is dedicated to its survival. Still, having said that, it should be understood that he is a man with one foot somewhat in the past and one foot somewhere in the future.

Dr. Helena Russell, Sp. Med. Ast-Psy

Dr. Helena Russell's cool good looks belie her abilities and her responsibilities. For Dr. Russell is Chief of the Medical Section, and has 25 highly skilled medical personnel under her direction and control.

Helena Russell is a woman in her early 30s (born, say, in 1965) whose father was a West Coast physician of great energy and drive. Influenced by her father, and driven by her own achievement mechanism, not to mention the strong feminist liberating movement of the times, Helena drove through medical school, where she met and married a fellow student.

The man she married, Telford Russell. moved into space medicine, a rapidly expanding specialty. Helena went along with him. Telford became a medical mission man - going out into space. Helena, now in her late 20s, worked at NASA and delved into space disorientation and psychology, becoming an expert in those areas. Then a mission disappeared into space - simply vanished - never heard from again. Telford was on that mission, and Helena to all intents and purposes, was widowed.

Helena grieved and then went on working and living her full and liberated life. She rose in her profession. One year ago, she was offered the post of Chief of Medical Section on Moon Base Alpha, and she accepted. Thus, as we pick Dr. Russell up, she has been on Alpha for 12 months, working and living, and to some extent retiring emotionally in that space womb environment.

Helena Russell is a very responsible person, a fine professional, but she is a woman nonetheless. By which we mean that she has her own side, a very feminine side, apart from the somewhat unisexed ambience of the Moon Base.

Helena creates holographic sculpture. She enjoys all kinds of music. She has a flair with her uniforms. She has a certain style. She is, despite the times, an individual and no one forgets that .

In the ongoing series, she may have to test that individuality more than once.

Professor -- (name to be decided)

This interesting and wise English astrophysicist in his late 50s, comes to Moon Base Alpha as a visitor to take his first look at some of the components a number of his students designed. He remains as an accidental addition to the small colony hurtling through space.

The Professor, born in the early 40s, is a brilliant teacher and theoretician. Rarely involved in worldly things, the Professor nonetheless achieved a reputation as a tremendous Mind in field-force theory. From his conjectures has come much of the space hardware in current use.

John Koenig was one of the Professor's outstanding students years ago. Since then, a bond of affection has grown between them.

The Professor looks upon his times with a somewhat rueful eye. He is more of a throwback - a 19th-century scientist-philosopher-humanist -- and he is an intellectual counterbalance to the 21st century we are about to enter, although physically he is much more a part of it than he appears. For he has a mechanical heart, which responds much more slowly to nervous stimuli than does a normal human heart. This makes him unsusceptible to panic or to emotional stress of any other kind. Unless someone who understands his condition is ruthless enough or desperate enough to interfere with his mechanical heart and so upset his finely tuned metabolism.

Two further characters have yet to be cast:

1. An Italian man of 28 who will be in charge of space reconnaissance.

2. A 23-year-old Italian girl who will be an expert in sensor devices.


Copyright Martin Willey