Showing posts with label Star Trek: Voyager. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Star Trek: Voyager. Show all posts

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Five Creepiest Clowns in Cult-TV History

Coulrophobia is the acute fear of…clowns.  

But why be afraid of clowns at all?  

After all, clowns are merely slapstick circus performers garbed in ridiculous accouterments (zany wigs, over-sized shoes, red noses, and pale white pancake-make-up faces…).  They are designed to appeal, through their outrageous behavior, to delighted kids. 


Yet children -- perhaps more than any of us -- often detect something dark and sinister in the clown aesthetic. 

Is it the inhuman skin palette?

The desperate desire to please, or to garner a laugh? 

The unavoidable perception  that -- underneath that painted, gigantic smile -- the performer isn’t really smiling at all?

Certainly, horror movies such as Killer Clowns from Outer Space (1988), Out of the Dark (1989), and Vulgar (2000), among others, have exploited the seemingly universal human fear of clowns.

But movies are not alone in spot-lighting this monster or “boogeyman.”  In cult-television history, scary clowns have also long been a staple of storytelling.  The circus or carnival is a frequent setting of popular genre series (including The Evil Touch, The Fantastic Journey, and Tales from the Crypt), and clowns have appeared again and again to terrorize our slumber. 

Below are my personal selections for the five creepiest cult-television clowns.  Your mileage may vary.

5. The Servants of the Gods of Ragnarok (“The Greatest Show in the Galaxy,” Doctor Who [1988 – 1989])

This story during the era of the Seventh incarnation of the famous Time Lord (Sylvester McCoy), overtly involves coulrophobia. In particular, the Doctor’s young companion, Ace (Sophie Aldred) is terrified of clowns. This is a fear the Doctor -- in his unofficial and ongoing role as her therapist -- hopes to disabuse her of.  Together, the duo decides to visit the Psychic Circus on the planet Segonax.

The truth behind the strange circus, however, is that the malevolent chief clown and his mechanical clowns actually serve the Gods of Ragnarok, beings who feed off of entertainment. 

After encountering these terrifying clowns and defeating the Gods, the Doctor determines that he doesn’t like clowns very much, either…and who can blame him?

4. The Ceiling Clown (“Dead Letters,” Millennium [1996 – 1999])

Chris Carter’s Millennium is a series rife with horror imagery of all varieties, and all of it artistically and beautifully wrought. In the third ever episode of the series, young Jordan Black (Brittany Tiplady) experiences a terrifying nightmare involving a clown.  But this being Millennium, it isn’t your normal, garden-variety clown. 

On the contrary, the briefly-seen clown is creepily perched -- like a hanging spider – from a ceiling in the Black household.  This clown is the stuff of nightmare fodder because though its body is oriented downwards (hanging from the ceiling), its head and face are upside down (or by our perspective, right-side up…).  This final bizarre touch -- the clown head at odds with the positioning of the clown body -- is just incredibly upsetting.

In the case of “Dead Letters,” the clown is almost a throwaway character, and separate entirely from the main story, which involves a serial killer.  But the disturbing dream imagery of the clown makes the viewer aware that there is something very dark and very menacing stalking suburbia.

I remember watching this episode on first run in 1996 (in my mid-twenties) and having visions of that hanging clown before I went to sleep that night.  I would love to see a Millennium movie with a full-grown Jordan experiencing visions of that clown again, and requiring the help of her father, Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) to exorcise them. Or imagine if Jordan’s child suddenly began having a vision of that ceiling clown, and it summoned up a memory in Jordan…

3. Pennywise the Clown (It [1990])

The dreadful Pennywise emerges from the amazing imagination of horror icon Stephen King and his novel It, and is performed in this TV-movie by the legendary and incomparable Tim Curry.

Here, the dreadful clown -- actually some kind of hideous spider-creature -- feeds on the imagination of several youngsters and friends, terrorizing their waking hours and their sleep.  Curry is at his malevolent best in this role, and internalizes the character of this monster to a truly frightening degree.

In fact, when one thinks of evil clowns, Pennywise is perhaps the one name that leaps to mind immediately.  

Many would no doubt place this beast first on this list, but I have reserved the top two slots to TV clowns who disturbed me even more....

2. The Holographic Clown (“The Thaw,” Star Trek: Voyager [1996])

It’s one thing to be confronted with a scary clown in daylight, or even in nighttime. It’s quite another thing, however, to face a clown that can control reality, and re-shape the world to his bizarre, surreal, and disturbing taste.  That’s the very entity (Michael McKean) encountered by The U.S.S. Voyager in this brilliantly-crafted second season episode titled “The Thaw.”

Here, several alien scientists are trapped in a holographic world run by this malevolent clown...formerly but a figment of the computer system, but now sentient.  While their consciousness visits the realm of the clown, however, the scientists’ bodies slumber in suspended animation.  But one “life” impacts the other, as the clown learns, and he boasts the power, quite literally, to scare his victims to death.   Die in the hologram, and you die in reality…of a massive coronary.

Before long, this dark clown gets his hands on two Voyager crew-members -- Torres and Harry Kim -- and Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) must face him on his terrain, where he possesses all the power and all the advantages.  Janeway’s only weapon to fight back against the the capricious, vengeful, monstrous creature is to show no fear whatsoever…no matter what macabre sights he shows her.

If there is such a thing as Hell -- a place where your life is no longer your own and reality can be reshaped to terrify you and make you suffer – then “The Thaw” does a creepy great job of imagining it. Hard to believe this frightening tale is an episode of the family-friendly Star Trek franchise.  It’s one of Voyager’s underrated gems, and worth re-visiting.

1. Pippo the Clown (“The Clown,” One Step Beyond [1960]).

I hadn’t even been born yet when John Newland’s paranormal anthology was broadcast for its original network run.  Instead -- as a teenage insomniac in the mid-1980s -- I encountered reruns of the series at 2:00 am, in syndication on a local channel. 

I remember watching the series during that twilight time -- when the rest of the world slept -- and feeling (in admittedly paranoid fashion…), that I was the only one watching; that somehow these stories were meant just for me.  

One of the most chilling and unnerving One Step Beyond stories was the second season entry, “The Clown,” starring a very young Yvette Mimieux. 

In this tale, a mean, jealous husband, Tom Reagan (Christopher Dark) grew so enraged at his wife’s kindness to a carnival clown that he murdered her…with the clown’s own scissors.  Although Pippo the clown was then framed for his wife’s murder, Reagan faced a new and unexpected terror.  Every time he looked in a mirror, he would see the clown -- still in costume and turned implacably murderous -- looming nearer…

This tale of vengeance and cosmic justice meted actually engenders sympathy for the rotten Tom because his punishment is so terrifying.  Pippo, the buck-toothed, silent clown, appears in rear-view mirrors and the like, and finally threatens to drive the man to an early death.  “The Clown” is visualized in moody black-and-white, expertly directed by Newland, and Pippo never speaks or utters a word of explanation, anger or remorse for his campaign of terror.

Instead, his rage-filled eyes -- seeking their quarry by blackest night -- convey his sinister emotions.  There’s a relentless, inevitable, driving quality about Pippo’s vengeance that, in my opinion, renders him the scariest clown to ever cross our TV screens.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Collectible of the Week: Starship U.S.S. Voyager (Playmates; 1995)

You can read my 2010 critical evaluation and dissection of Star Trek: Voyager (1995 - 2001) here, if you're interested in doing so, but the merits of the TV series aside, Voyager (NCC-74656) herself remains one gorgeous spaceship. 

I fell in love with this Starfleet vessel the first time I watched the program's picturesque, galaxy-spanning opening credits, I suppose.  The ship is absolutely gorgeous in terms of the aesthetics of Star Trek's future. 

I should add, I liked Voyager's lines a lot better than those of the dull Enterprise E design we saw in First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis.  But then again, it's tough to replace the Enterprise D, a beloved ship we all feel we traveled with for seven years.

Playmates released a whole line of Voyager toys in 1995, including this plastic representation of the Intrepid class vessel, "featuring sounds and lights from" the TV show.  

Today, this Voyager mock-up stands as one of the rarer and more sought-out of the Playmates Trek fleet, perhaps in part because many fans had begun to feel ennui with modern Star Trek by 1995 and were no longer buying the toys.  Or maybe fewer Voyagers were made (though mine is # 32,697....). I don't know for sure why, but Voyager seems to have become one of the more collectible Playmates ships in recent years.  On E-Bay the cost of Voyager, even outside the box, is often, well, astronomical.

As you can tell from the box art, Voyager features "automatic pivoting nacelles!" and "Two starship Voyager sounds: photon torpedoes and warp speed."  There's also "authentic Starfleet Detailing" and a "light up navigational deflector." 

In terms of attention to detail, the ship looks terrific, and is very show accurate.  The decals on mine, however, are starting to peel, much to my dismay.  I guess 1995 really was a long time ago...

As you can also see, I couldn't be disciplined and keep my Voyager packaged in the box.  Back in 1995, when Voyager started, I was really quite taken with it, and hopeful about what it could achieve.  So I had to open the toy.  Right?

Today, Voyager is displayed proudly in my home office, right above my First Contact, Borg-centric Trek toys.  Occasionally, Joel asks for  Janeway's starship to come down from its perch for a frantic game of spaceship-fu -- meaning we run up and down the hallways of my house battling with opposing starships -- and that's a good work out for this durable, fine old girl.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Sci-Fi Wisdom of the Week

"Damn it Jim, what the hell is the matter with you? Other people have birthdays, why are we treating yours like a funeral?"

- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), to be reviewed here tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CULT TV FLASHBACK # 104: Star Trek: Voyager - The Early Seasons (1995-1996)

So...I've been wanting to post an article here to celebrate 2010 as the fifteenth anniversary of Star Trek Voyager's premiere on the (now-defunct) UPN Network.

Actually, I can't really believe it's already been fifteen years since Voyager debuted. I vividly recall watching the series for the first time in 1995. I was 25-years old...and met Voyager with great enthusiasm and hope as a continuation of the Star Trek mythos.

The series premise - a solitary Starfleet vessel lost in another quadrant of deep space -- promised an important quality in 1995: accessibility.

At last, general viewers could experience an untangling of the intricate, overlapping, dense mythologies that had transformed Gene Roddenberry's once clear-cut, moral universe into Space Politics 101. Voyager's Delta Quadrant format was thus a restoration of the formula vetted in the Kennedy-1960s: going where no man has gone before on a weekly basis. Voyager also promised the uncertainty of an effort like Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Space:1999 by sending Starfleet officers on an unplanned galactic sojourn without back-up, without infinite resources, and without allies.

Starting out the journey, I was impressed. Voyager was indeed more accessible than the other latter-day Treks (DS9 and Next Gen). It's also the only Star Trek besides the original series that my wife, a novice fan, can stomach. In addition -- strikingly -- Voyager seems far stronger in terms of ensemble acting. In fact, no Star Trek TV cast before or after Voyager gelled quite so quickly or so ably.

Kate Mulgrew's Captain Kathryn Janeway promptly became my favorite Star Trek Captain after James Kirk, and I loved the way that Mulgrew's distinctive voice, -- her command "purr" -- would transform into a sort of guttural tiger's "growl" as her ship faced off against the menace of the week.

I also appreciated Mulgrew's seemingly boundless energy level. Janeway was a captain who hardly ever sat down in her center seat. She was constantly in motion on her command bridge; as though to sit down was to slow down the mind; to miss a vital fact or necessary information.

Mulgrew was, in my opinion, a great anchor. She brought a larger-than-lfe dimension to Janeway on Day One (like Shatner's Kirk) and I appreciated that mythic approach after the more work-a-day performances of Stewart and Brooks in the other programs.

Over the years, my enthusiasm for Star Trek: Voyager waned significantly. Looking back at the first two seasons today, you can see how the writers relied too heavily on fictional Star Trek techno-babble to save the day. Optronic relays, ODN circuits, EPS systems, baryon sweeps, Heisenberg compensators and so all just makes your eyes glaze over. There's no connection between this imaginary tech and the human experience. It's all just jargon.

Simply put, there was no crisis that a good deus ex machina couldn't get the crew out of. Next Gen and DS9 suffer equally from the same affliction, so this malady was hardly unique to Voyager...but it was still disappointing to see it replicated and re-transmitted. In the humanist realm of Star Trek, reshuffling the tech-of-the-week shouldn't have been the solution to so many important crises. Not when you had a woman as strong as Janeway as our moral, emotional guide.

Another problem was that the series never seemed to authentically cope with the very important idea of limited resources. I was deeply disappointed to see Voyager resort to familiar holodeck stories (only here based on Victorian literature rather than 1940s film noir). I mean, in a universe of limitations, was it really prudent to use the holodeck (especially since use of the replicator was rationed)? The series attempted to explain that that holodeck worked on a different kind of energy matrix than the rest of Voyager, and therefore its energy couldn't be harnessed in other realms.

Uh-huh. This was really just a crutch for the writers, and seemed to negate the very premise of the series. I see this failure of creativity as an example of Voyager refusal take real chances, and play it safe instead. I once asked Johnny Byrne, story editor of Space:1999 what he thought of Voyager, since it boasted a similar premise. He said, famously, "Look, when I start to see people with big ridges on their heads, I tune out...Voyager is the antithesis of Space:1999. I think it's dull and formulaic. It's lost any sense of urgency. My problem is that the characters have so much, but accomplish so fucking little."

Then, when Voyager unceremoniously sacked one of the most interesting characters ever created in the Star Trek universe, Kes (Jennifer Lien) -- an alien nymph (Ocampa) who had the limited lifespan of nine years -- for a 7-foot tall Amazon in a cat-suit, Borg babe Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), I knew the series was really and truly on creative life support.

For the character of Kes offered talented writers everything a Star Trek series could possibly require in terms of story lines.

Here, embodied in one package, was a person who could go from childhood to puberty, to adulthood, to old age, to death. Every aspect and stage of "humanity" and the mortal existence could have been examined through Kes alone over a seven-to-nine year series span. Youthful exuberance, teenage rebellion, adult drive, middle-age regret, wise old age...acceptance of death. Just imagine the stories that could have been told.

Finally, here was a character as rich in potential as the logical Mr. Spock had been in the 1960s, but one not in a Spock-imitation mode (like Data or Seven, or T-Pol). Watching Kes age across a seven year span, our crew would have been forced to consider their own human mortality too. And the best part was Kes wasn't suffering from a "disease," and her impending death wasn't was natural. Kes and her friends on the crew just had to "accept" her life-span as a fact of life.

But Kes -- and all her potential -- was dumped for overt sexuality. Ryan was fine as Seven of Nine, but the commercial crassness of her appearance and her sudden prominence in the story lines (to the detriment of the other characters) was hard to forgive in a show supposedly about "human" values. Imagine just for a moment how unforgettable it would have been had Kes stayed with Voyager throughout the series and actually died of natural causes as the ship neared home in the Alpha Quadrant. This character-based story would have granted the final episode, "Endgame," a kind of melancholy, emotional, character-based lift that it clearly lacked. The joyous (a return to Earth) would have been mixed with the sad (Kes's demise), and the episode would have reflected more accurately the essence of our human existence; the way that the good goes hand-in-hand with the bad.

But okay okay, this post isn't supposed to about cursing the darkness, but rather praising the things that were indeed good and memorable about Star Trek Voyager. I can say this with some degree of certainty: the early Voyager years, produced by Jeri Taylor and Michael Piller and featuring Kes, are a great deal stronger than some of the later episodes. Here's a brief survey of some high points from Season 1 and 2.

The first story after the pilot "Caretaker," titled "Parallax" is a techno-babble story in terms of the scientific threat-of-the-week, but the installment nonetheless boasts authentic character fireworks as Chakotay (Robert Beltran) lobbies Captain Janeway on behalf of the volatile half-Klingon, B'Elanna Torres. Chakotay thinks she should be chief engineer; Janeway thinks she's not Starfleet material. This story is written with real passion, and is one of the few Voyager episodes that pays more than lip service to the concept of two unlike crews (Starfleet and Maquis) attempting to blend. Over the course of the episode, Janeway comes to realize that Torres boasts a thirst for knowledge similar to her own, and the rapid-fire theoretical dialogue comes across at warp speed. This show is alive with the possibilities of new discoveries, and since the characters are engaged, so is the audience.

"Prime Factors" is another great episode, primarily because it involves Voyager running afoul of an advanced, peaceful civilization that refuses to share its superior technology (and send Voyager home...)...simply on principle. This is exactly what Starfleet officers do every day with General Order One, or the Prime Directive. They deny those planets more primitive the benefit of their know-how and help. I'll never forget smug Captain Picard condemning a drug-addicted race to a horrible, painful fate in the Next Gen episode "Symbiosis," for instance. In Voyager's "Prime Factors," the shoe is finally on the other foot as Janeway must contend with somebody else's self-righteous sense of morality. Some Voyager crew members ultimately attempt to steal the alien technology in this episode, in a surprisingly real (rather than idealistic) portrayal of human beings.

"Phage," "Faces" and "Deadlock" are three episodes that feature Voyager's best villain: the Vidiians, an alien race dying of a terrible plague. The Vidiians aren't interested in diplomatic relationships or treaties. They show up in space, lock onto your ship, and harvest your seconds (thanks to a weapon/medical device based on transporter-style technology). All the Vidiians care about is their continued survival, and that single-mindedness makes them Star Trek's scariest and most effective villain after the Borg. It also makes them, perhaps, the most tragic. We learn in their introductory episode ("Phage") that the Vidiians were once a race of artists and musicians, for instance, but now their entire economy and culture is geared towards fighting the plague, the phage. In one downright vicious episode ("Deadlock"), we witness the Vidiians overtaking Voyager, and cutting crew members down in the corridors for organ harvest. It's all incredibly nightmarish.

One of my favorite of all Voyager episodes is "Alliances," during which Chakotay urges a "new" way for Janeway, suggesting she makes alliances with races (like the evil Kazon) she finds reprehensible. It's a good episode that could have been the basis for a multi-episode arc in the vein of Coppola's Godfather, since it involves betrayal on an epic scale, and even a mob-like "hit" at episode's end. Alas, the segment ends with utter retrenchment: Janeway would rather have a philosophical ally in Starfleet rules and regulations than an alliance in real life, with flawed partners. If her kind of thinking ruled in the Alpha Quadrant, the Feds would have never made peace with the Klingons...

One of the best episodes of Voyager -- one so good it takes your breath away -- is "The Thaw." It concerns a conceit I hate: holodecks, but manages to do something interesting and new with the concept. In this case, Voyager runs across a group of scientists on an alien world who are wired into their own holodeck/virtual reality environment. To everyone's terror, this computer-generated realm is dominated by a surreal carnivalesque atmosphere and a gruesome clown (Michael McKean), Fear Itself. And the trick of this world is familiar to fans of the Nightmare on Elm Street film series: if you die in the holodeck, you die in real life. And that clown has a nasty habit of putting those who disobey him under the guillotine...

What I admire about this episode is that it deploys all these surreal, bizarre visual compositions to assert the clown's total dominance over the dream scape and ends without bells and whistles, but rather with a one-on-one, intimate battle of the wits between Janeway and Fear. Like I said above, it's just stunningly good and superbly written and orchestrated.

In "Resolutions," Voyager is forced to strand Captain Janeway and Chakotay together on an idyllic forest planet, and -- without regard for the cliches of the genre (evil aliens, etc.) -- the story observes simply how the two characters cope with their sudden marooning. Chakotay finds acceptance quickly, and settles into his new life without looking back or asking questions. Janeway, on the other hand, never stops fighting, and never relaxes. If she's occupied, she believes, she won't feel alone...or left behind. Again, it's just a simple story of two alternate worldviews, but it is handled in a compelling, character-based fashion.

Star Trek: Voyager is clearly not the paradigm shifting sci-fi outer space series that Farscape or Firefly or Battlestar Galactica proved to be. It was just the latest in a familiar concept, tweaked and twisted to seem "new enough." I do believe that if the makers of the series had truly been bold in their choices -- turning off holodecks, featuring arguments between the two crews, and asking the characters to make moral compromises in a world of limited resources -- the series would be remembered today in much more positive terms.

The early seasons of Voyager are strangely inconsistent: one week the series daringly breaks formula and the next week it offers a storyline you've seen on Star Trek a dozen times. A prime example of the latter is Brannon Braga's "Threshold," which involves a galactic breakthrough and an unwelcome twist in human evolution. In other words, it's "Where No Man Has Gone Before," only dumber.

I don't know if you've given Voyager a try in the last fifteen years, but the good episodes are so good ("The Thaw," "Parallax," "Deadlock," "Resolutions") that you really mourn what amounts to a lost opportunity to update and modernize the increasingly-familiar and trite Star Trek universe.

I guess my ultimate statement on Voyager is this: a lifelong Star Trek fan, I stopped watching the series regularly by season six (about the time "The Rock" was guest-starring as an alien gladiator...). I didn't stick around to see the lost crew get home (though eventually I did watch that episode...), because I'd lost faith in the writers to wrap up the show in a novel, exciting and legitimately dramatic fashion.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Johnny Byrne Thought of the Week (#6)

"If the same thing had happened on Alpha, would you have chosen differently?"

-Alan Carter asks Commander John Koenig a question in Space:1999's "Mission of the Darians," by Johnny Byrne.

I've written here before about Space:1999 and how the 1970s outer space series dramatized a universe of limited resources and "limited options for survival" (as critic Dick Adler put it). One of the best episodes in terms of dealing with this struggle for survival in a galaxy lacking plenty is the 22nd episode of Year One, Johnny Byrne's "Mission of the Darians."

In this story, Moonbase Alpha encounters a vast wrecked ship called the Daria, which - 900 years earlier - faced a Three Mile Island-type accident that killed off most of the population and rendered vast swaths of the giant space ark uninhabitable. There is little food, fewer resources on this roaming vessel, and now, the ship 's population lives under a bizarre class stratification. Primitive barbarians inhabit Level 7 and deliver unto their god, Neman, "perfect" beings. Angels (actually men in space suits), come to pick them up and take them back to a Heaven of sorts, another deck. By contrast, imperfect beings...are fed into a booth that is actually a disintegrator. Imperfections are classified as any body deformity or abnormality resulting from the lingering radiation.

What these barbarians (who "cling" to religion, to coin a phrase...) don't know, however, is that Neman is just an invented God doing the bidding of an invisible upper class. And so that upper class of Darians (dwelling in another part of the spaceship) is manipulating the barbarians. The perfect people they find are actually used for body-part replacement surgery so the pure-breed Darians can be immortal. And those "imperfect" people put in the disintegrator? They are actually the food supply for the pure breed Darians. Thus, the upper-class lives in wealth, health and plenty on their deck, while exploiting the lower class.

At the end of the episode, after the Alphans barely survive disintegration, surgical carving and other horrors, Captain Alan Carter asks Koenig the question posed above. If there had been an accident of that magnitude on Moonbase Alpha, would Koenig have resorted to deceit and guile to keep some Alphans alive at the expense of others?

Koenig's response is a political brush-off: "Remind me to tell you some time."

And that's quite the non-answer, isn't it? I had the opportunity to ask Johnny Byrne about this on one of our many occasions, and he said that Koenig did avoid answering the question, because the answer was obviously...affirmative. To keep his people, his Alphans, alive, he would have done the same thing.

That unspoken reality reminds me of another Space:1999 quote, (from Christopher Penfold's "Dorzak"): "Philosophy doesn't win space for people to live. It is the struggle for survival that makes monsters of us all."

This is such a fine and under-examined element of Space:1999; this discussion of the universe as essentially Darwinian, wherein sometimes you have to choose between two bad options, find the lesser-of-two evils. Again, and I don't mean to come off as rabidly Anti-Trek, because I love the original Star Trek so much, I think the comparison is worthwhile. This is where Voyager utterly failed to capitalize on a good idea.

The Starfleet personnel aboard that ship never had to do without anything; they continued to play happy adventures on their holodeck, they continued to manufacture new shuttles (like the Delta Flyer). They continued to materialize food and material wealth out of nowhere (via replicators). All of this "plenty" is - at its core - in diametric conflict with the very premise of Voyager; that it is a ship alone in an alien part of the galaxy. I like the cast of Voyager very much (I often say it is the finest cast of all Star Treks, save for the original), yet I think this failure to capitalize on the premise is what turned me off the program after a season or two. Here - finally - was a chance to see "noble" 24th century man without his wealth, without his riches, without his toys. Would he live up to the values of Star Fleet when he was poor and impoverished? Do grand ideals hold out when the stomach is empty?

That's what Voyager should have been about; and in fact what Space:1999 was about. As Johnny always said to me, it was fascinating to work on a series that operated from the premise that man in space didn't have what he needed to survive, rather then he already had it all. When I look back at Alan Carter's question, and then Koenig's evasive answer in "Mission of the Darians," I see how precarious the Alphan situation is. We don't always make noble choices when we're hungry, or we don't have a home, or when we're desperate. I remember the criticism of Space:1999 by Star Trek fans during the 1970s was that it wasn't optimistic enough; that the characters were too ready to draw guns or confront aliens with violence.

I wonder, however, if they didn't just miss the boat (or moonbase) with that criticism. Voyager, I submit, sort of proves just how ridiculous optimism is in that particular situation. Voyager didn't have the courage to live up to its premise. Space:1999 did.