Monday, July 30, 2012
Cult-TV Theme Watch: The Moon
If you grew up in the late 1960s or early 1970s, Earth’s moon -- our only natural satellite – represented a first step…and a promise of more good things to come.
In other words, the moon was, in those bygone days, the very place where our journey to the stars would begin in earnest, a stepping-stone to the solar system, and then, perhaps, to the galaxy at large.
And no, that idea did not seem at all far-fetched in those days; certainly not with the ongoing missions and developments of the era, like Skylab (1973), Apollo-Soyuz (1975), and the space shuttle (1976). As distant and barren as it was, the moon was the very place where mankind’s future was destined to start.
Shortly before I was born, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and a new era of exploration commenced. There was nothing the human race couldn’t accomplish, no summit we couldn’t reach. An American generation of dreamers grew up with toys like Major Matt Mason, an astronaut whose adventures took place on the moon and in near Earth space.
Alas, today our politics are small, and our politicians are even smaller. Mention a plan to construct a moon-base and it’s a one-way ticket to pop culture mocking and wise-cracks like “you’re fired” from venture-capitalists. These days, we are told, we can’t afford the space program.
We can’t afford, in essence, our very future.
It’s a sad state of affairs, and certainly, in cult-tv history, creative artists have boasted a far bigger vision for our moon than most of our contemporary politicians. In fact, moon bases were practically a guarantee in the future imagined by cult television programming as diverse as The Outer Limits (“Moonstone”), Doctor Who (“The Moonbase,”) The Six Million-Dollar Man (“Dark Side of the Moon”), and The Super Friends (“Giants of Doom”).
Other series -- mostly of British origin, for some reason -- featured the moon base as the central locale for adventure in “the future.” These series were Gerry Anderson’s UFO (1970), Moonbase 3 (1973) and Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977). In all these visions of a better tomorrow, the moon base was indeed a fait accompli. In the 1990s, another series pilot, Plymouth (1991), promised the on-going story of a town or colony transplanted to the Moon.
The other use of the moon in cult-tv history relates to the horror genre, of course. In horror series of all stripes, the cycles of the moon spur the transformation of man into werewolf. This trope occurs in Werewolf (1987), She Wolf of London (1990), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003), Wolf Lake (2001) and the current hit, Teen Wolf (2012), among others.
A new series, Space: 2099 is in the planning stages. I wonder if it will feature a new Moonbase Alpha, or set its adventures elsewhere.
One thing is for certain, however if our race wishes to survive and evolve, we must return to the moon one day, and in a serious effort. At some point, we must stop looking inward and cast our eyes back to the heavens.
I don’t know about you, but I hope that day arrives soon. If not, it's time to make like the late Andy Griffith in Salvage 1 (1978) and make plans for an independent moon journey...in a spaceship made from junk, if need-be.
As Neil Armstrong once famously said, “”
" Why is any object we don't understand always called a thing?" - Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) in Star Trek: The Mot...