The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
Johnny Byrne

Children Of The Gods

There was a great deal of uncertainty at the end of the first series as to what the future was going to be. There hadn't been a firm commitment to make the next series but I was kept on to do various things, like trying to work out how we could improve if we went into a second series. And I was going to be executive story consultant. When we got the go ahead, I think it was around the summer time. In the intervening period I had written two scripts. One was called "The Biological Soul" and the other was called "Children of the Gods."

The second script that I wrote was called "Children of the Gods," which was a remarkable story and, indeed, I distinctly remember Gerry saying when he read it that it was the finest thing that he'd read. I was deeply pleased with it and given what happened, given the nature of the story, it would have been a perfect end to the series had we known that Space: 1999 was only going to be two seasons.

[Freiberger] didn't want to have anything to do with it. It's to my great loss that I haven't even got a copy of it. It got caught up in all the shunting about the studios and that was in the days before word processors so I don't know where it went. I was very disappointed particularly about that.

The story starts with the gradual disappearance of Alpha Moonbase. By the end of the hook it's completely gone to the accompaniment of what sounds like the voices of kids playing some bizarre game.

Now, when we come back after the titles, we discover that Alpha is on some sort of planet. They were in some kind of structure and there are two children, they've got these jewels in their foreheads and they're incredibly evil. [They are] brother and sister, and their super intelligent, civilised, aristocratic companion called Mentor. The kids have stupendous powers at their disposal, and knowledge of other space civilisations, including earth. But they are spoiled, capricious, very tempermental. The kids reveal themselves to be mini Caliguas and put the Alphans through a series of challenges, some deadly, some humiliating, some heart wrenching.

They put Moonbase Alpha personnel through weird time trips. Like Carter comes back, his mind completely cleaned, he believes he's a sort of gladiator from ancient Rome. There's a fight in it between Koenig and Carter and there's a guy who was the heavy.

An Alphan dies and we see that the kids are not unmoved. They are particularly non plussed by the reactions of the Alphans to the loss of one their people. Throughout Mentor indulges their every whim. And in the full knowledge that what the children are doing is unethical, immoral, and often evil. Later again we learn that Mentor and the children have travelled back in time with the sole intention of finding the Alphans.

As the theme develops, we sense Mentor's mixed feeling of distaste and strong, almost unacknowledged love for the kids. And also a deepening sadness as they almost instinctively abuse the miraculous power they have at their disposal . Instinct allied to fabulous power has apparently brought out the very worst in the children's human nature. Presently we learn that this spells doom for Alpha and even the children.

We already know that Mentors advanced and enlightened civilisation is in the far distant future time. Towards the end, we discover that his people are on the brink of making contact with a new expanding race of earth people. They are, in fact, the descendants of the small Alphan colony founded by John Koenig after they had eventually found the perfect world. Time had passed. The earth Alphans grew powerful and colonised space. And, in Mentor's time, they are now on the brink of making their presence known.

Mentor's people fear these encroaching Alphan descended earth people. While willing to coexist with them, they are a people still driven by instinctive forces utterly alien and frightening to Mentor's people. Their solution was to take two Alphan descended earth children at birth and allow their innate natures to develop in a moral and ethical vacuum. They also gave them free access to marvelous technology, which the children were allowed to use as the mood prompted.

The final test was for the children to confront the Alphans. If the nature of the earth children was proved to be irredeemably evil, Alpha Moonbase and everyone on it, along with the children, would be destroyed. In this way, the biological source of the threat now faced by Mentor's people in future time will be removed at a stroke. In essence, the salvation of Koenig et al depends completely on the innate human instincts of the kids.

Throughout the story the children have been engaging with the Alphans. It parks complex and disturbing emotions which the kids find difficult to handle. And all seems lost. By their actions, the children have proved beyond doubt to Mentor that earth Alphans are innately unfit to coexist alongside his people. He's particularly upset at the thought of having to destroy the children through Koenig he learns that the unfamiliar emotions they have aroused is called love.

At the end, the children cause a potentially disastrous situation for both Alphans and Mentor. But through interaction with the Alphans, along with a newly discovered sense of their long suppressed innate humanity, and the knowledge that Mentor loves them, they demonstrate beyond doubt that the earth Alphans are worthy of existence. But by then they are dead, both having instinctively sacrificed their lives so that others may live.

It sounds complex, but, thinking back, it seemed to play out simple on the surface, complex within.

And that, I think, would have been a fitting kind of finale for the season and for the series to have gone out on, because it would have illustrated their survival. They would have survived, they would have proven their worth through all the trials and tribulations which, as a small community of people, they had somehow managed to survive, not with Captain Kirk's endless resources, but simply on account of their humanity.

Comments by Johnny Byrne, abridged from an interview with Tim Mallett and Glenn Pearce and a 1982 interview with Carsten Andresen, plus an email from Johnny Byrne.