Thursday, September 10, 2015

Space: 1999 on Power Records

YouTube has led me to yet another bonanza of science fiction.

If you were a small child during the 1970s, you might remember Power Records. They were basically radio dramas that came on records, accompanied by a comic book where you could read the story as you listened. There would be the customary "ding!" tone to prompt you to turn the page. Best of all, they told continuing stories of just about every genre hero and science fiction franchise of the time. I had Batman, Superman, and The Six Million Dollar Man and must have played each one of them...well, it's difficult to quantify from that far back, but it might very well be a number in the triple digits.

Anyway, a blessed soul has uploaded many of these Power Records to YouTube. Not only do you have the sound, there is video of the comic books so that you can read along, complete with pages turned at designated tone. I've sifted through a few of them, but I decided to concentrate on the records that I did not have. Chief among that crowd is Space: 1999. I thought it fitting to blog about that franchise as September 13th, 1999 is the date given in the show for when the explosion occurred, hurling Moonbase Alpha into the far reaches of space. One of the records is basically a recapitulation of the pilot episode of this series. The one I listened to was...well...

Let's just say it was the oddest choice for a plot since Star Trek V.

It opens with Commander John Koenig and the rest of the Moonbase Alpha crew battening down the hatches against a "space storm" that looks remarkably like an Earth hurricane. They even say so. Anyway, they pass through the storm. Professor Victor Bergman, the base Science Adviser, theorizes that the Moon had passed through a black hole. "But wouldn't that mean we would have been incinerated by a dying star?" asks Commander Koenig.

Let's not get caught up in the science right now, okay?

A planet appears on the viewscreens. It's a dead ringer for Earth. Sensor scans only underscore the similarities. The big difference, however, is that there are no indications of communication signals or even technology of any kind. Ordering up an Eagle, Koenig takes Bergman and Dr. Helena Russell from the medical section down to the planet to investigate. When they land, the parallels to Earth only grow...except that it's Earth from the time of the Old Testament.

"We're going down to the land of Canaan!" Koenig says.

With that, the crew from Moonbase Alpha leave their Eagle and walk down a hill to a village. There, they find people engaged in all manner of revelries and inequities. A man named Noah rails against the decadence, telling people to fear the Lord for there is a storm coming. A call from Alan Carter in the Eagle confirms this assertion. Sensors indicate an earthquake and a massive storm that will unleash a flood across the entirety of the planet. Koenig also tries to warn the people of the coming deluge, saying that unlike Noah, he has scientific data to back up his claims. Nobody cares.

Indeed the flood occurs and the away team from Moonbase Alpha get back to their Eagle just in time to blast off and escape. Back at the base, they determine that they time traveled to the the days of Noah but have since somehow returned to their own timeline. In a sick twist, the castaways did indeed return to their home, just not in the right time.

I have no idea what possessed someone to tell this as a Space: 1999 story. It certainly did not go the way of any mundane science fiction plot, but I don't know what motivated a biblical tale. It's just such an odd choice. Then again I'm looking at this through a contemporary lens. The Bible was mainstream story material for a long time. It's also quirky timing that I should find this on YouTube. I'm teaching a course on Western Civilization and we just finished the Hebrews. Had I known of this record's plot earlier, I might have played it for the class.

Yeah. That really would have puzzled people.

Expect more posts on Power Records as I play through them all.

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