‘Seed of Destruction’
Written by John Goldsmith, directed by Kevin Connor
Transmitted on 11 November 1976
Massive nuclear explosion
The Moon torn out of orbit
Hurled into outer space
The year is 1999. The moon has become unstuck from Earth orbit due to an industrial accident, sending it into deep space where the crew of Moonbase Alpha has encountered mind-bending experiencing and dallied with extinction. Led by the stalwart Commander John Koenig, Alpha is searching for a new home… but mainly bumping into very bizarre entities and killer aliens as it travels throughout space on a doomsday course with the unknown.
Commander John Koenig and Alan Carter are investigating the latest in a series of weird things to land outside the doorstep of Moonbase Alpha. This time around, it’s a diamond-like planet. After landing on the terrain (covered in a fine crystalline dust), Koenig goes solo into a hall of mirrors while Carter works on a random ship malfunction. While in the fun-house cavern, the Commander is overtaken by a creepy mirror image of himself who returns to Moonbase Alpha and wreaks havoc.
It turns out that the diamond planet (which really looks far more like a ball of tin foil) is the restring place of a seed holding the remainder of an entire civilization. The doppleganger Koenig is using the resources of Moonbase Alpha to bring about its rebirth at the expense of all else. It’s worth noting that the Alphans learn this lesson of survival several times over during their journey and the lesson is that there are no rules in the game of life… and it’s no game.
Space is a scary dangerous place, man.
Essentially an evil twin story, Seed of Destruction is remarkable for its trippy visual effects (the swirling kaleidoscope of Koenig’s screaming face while a demonic voice laughs) and strong performances from the cast (both Tony Anholt and Catherine Schell take over the show) make this worth checking out. Additionally, Martin Landau delivers a chilling performance of a mad alien impersonator without going too far over the top.
Even in the world of fandom, Space:1999 is a red-headed stepchild to Star Trek, Star Wars and even Doctor Who. A Gerry Anderson production (the guy who made the Thunderbirds) made with the assistance of Lew Grade (the guy behind the Prisoner and the Muppet Show… figure that out), Space:1999 is mainly known for its slow pace, head-scratching plots and weird tech (the handheld camera/walkie-talkies and knuckle-duster sidearms). However it has recently been released on blu-ray which is causing some to investigate this oddity.
And that’s a good thing because Space:1999 is an amazing program that is well worth a deeper look. A program with an insane premise, Space:1999 nonetheless delivers its message of self discovery in the wake of hopelessness with surprisingly sophisticated maturity (even when there’s a huge rubber monster sucking astronauts into another dimension). It’s part 2001, part Outer Limits.
The second season was helmed by Fred Freiberger (yes, the guy who saw Star Trek off the air in its third season). Like many critics of Space:1999, Freiberger thought that the program needed more life and energy so he injected more humor and new characters such as the home-brewer astronaut (how ahead of his time was he!?) Tony Verdeschi and the shape-leggy shifting alien Maya. The program got more than a little embedded in the rubber monster territory after the production execs said it was the latest thing in the US market, but it’s still a fun watch.
Of course the second series of Space: 1999 is not currently available on blu-ray… but that’s alright. While still visually engaging, it is a poor successor to the first year. If you are unfamiliar with Space:1999 and unwilling to see easily part with your money, check out a sample here: