I snuck into the Teleport City limits once again, this time to contribute to TC’s Space: 1999 series. Where Keith has the whole history of the show down and many sweet jokes–and you should go read the whole series–I focus on one thing. No, it’s not taupe. No, it’s not depression. I mention both, but my piece is all about the aliens.
Here’s a little bit…
Space: 1999 taught me two valuable lessons. The first is that space is depressing and best represented by the color taupe. The second is that, with few exceptions, aliens are jerks. At least in the first season, Space: 1999 captures malaise, chronic low-grade depression and inertia perfectly. Moon Base Alpha itself is unsteerable. It is filled with people who have survived mostly by evaluating their situation and accepting it. Charleton Heston would not last long on Alpha—he would blow up the moon when he attempted seize control of his destiny and the moon by attaching engines to it. As the moon exploded, Commander John Koenig and Dr. Helena Russell would silently turn to one another in a final affectless, unspoken admission of their love.
But despite a vast sense of lonesomeness and isolation, loss and exile, the inability to steer the moon, the universe of Space: 1999 is remarkably populated. The crew of Moonbase Alpha are frequently faced with ageless alien intelligences of tremendous power. And somehow, possibly the Valium, the Alphans are untroubled by them. Aliens are taken for granted. That said, I do appreciate a show that doesn’t have humans freak out because of the epistemological threat aliens pose. In the more action-packed and colorful season two, they even take in Maya, a Psychon, telling her, as her world explodes, essentially, “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met.” Maya is smart, playful, and, best of all, she can transform into alien creatures and monsters—and not just the same three monsters over the course of the season. She turns into all kinds of creatures as often and as playfully as she can. Which, I must warn all of you, I would also do if I could. But Moonbase Alpha should be concerned about the aliens they encounter, because most of the aliens, even other Psychons, are jerks.
I hope you like the rest.
And here’s a gallery of some of the aliens of Space: 1999.