The Catacombs These Episodes
The Testament of Arkadia

From the These Episodes documentary originally on the 2005 Network DVD boxset.

The Testament of Arkadia

Johnny Byrne

The Testament of Arkadia, the story is simple in its outline. Simple in it telling, and infinitely complex in its implications. We were at the end of a shooting season, this was the last episode to be filmed. There's very little money. So whatever it was, it had to be cheap. By that I mean, we had to spend as little as we could.

I'd seen Dragon's Domain. And I'd liked very much the way in which the voice over gave it an epic feel of events that happen and could have happened in the long ago. And this to me was an important breakthrough in terms of Space.

Instead of the rather mundane style log entries on Star Trek, you now had a narrative voice over. Driving the whole thing and putting these extraordinary mythological elements into context. And I wanted to carry that forward. Because although it was going to be cheap in terms of money, I wanted Testament of Arcadia to be big, in terms of its epic qualities.

David Tomblin was very insistent that we played Testament of Arkadia for real. It was David and I who decided on the kind of story that we wanted to do. Yes, Von Daniken and all of that stuff had been going, but they've been out for ages. And I think it was a more deeper exploration of who we are and where do we come.

David Tomblin was very excited about the idea of issues of spirituality, and origin, and mythology, and the story of people rediscovering their roots. I obviously broached the main notions of the tale and David amplified it with me. And from that then I went off and wrote the script.

I tried it as straight forward episode to begin. And I felt that it would be enhanced measurably if I'd put the voice over and gave it the epic quality.

Now when you take that episode in terms of what it's saying and what it's doing, the way in which is played out, and you compare it with The Troubled Spirit, Another Time Another Place, and episodes of that kind, where the dream states apply in this strange kind of way. This was a process of self discovery. That the things that have been happening to the Alphans were not totally arbitrary, but there was a certain guiding principal, that was there not necessarily to help them but something for them to wonder at, and something that made them focus on who they were, what their humanity was and what it was that made them people. That's the purpose of that ghost in the machine, at it were, that sort of popped up from time to time, when things would appear to correct themselves, the journey to the black sun. There was something guiding them. We didn't put a name to it. But it was there and it came, I think, full circle and although we didn't know it at the time this would be the final episode of that kind of Space: 1999. And what is was, it's a question of identity, a question of belief.

It gave a certain degree of closure, and it reinforced the idea that, in the context of the first 24 episodes, Space: 1999 was the origin story of a people. If one had to choose from all the episodes to end the series, then we fortuitously chose that one.

Contents copyright Martin Willey