|While Maintenance Technician Ted Clifford is setting up his tools on the sill of one of Main Mission's windows, an orb appears in the distance over the lunar landscape. It begins to pulse with yellow light, and takes control of Ted Clifford. He walks over to the bank of computer panels, and begins typing furiously.|
|Paul tells Kano to stop him. When Kano tries, Ted picks him up by the neck and tosses him across the room. Paul leaps across his desk and grabs Clifford, who quickly neutralizes him. Koenig appears, and Ted grabs him by the throat and pins him against the computer banks, and continues typing away. Helena|
|tries to free John from his grasp, which loosens, as Ted stops typing. He pleads for them to help him, then suddenly collapses. Before they can react, the Alphans are thrown to the ground by a jarring force. Koenig order Paul to activate the big screen to identify the cause. They see the orb emitting|
|a force-field made of light which completely envelopes the Moon. The picture is lost, but immediately after they realize that they are locked in it's orbit, they receive an audio transmission announcing that they are the captives of the planet Triton. Status reports come in from around the base. They are|
|operating with minimum power, and all but four Eagles are inoperative. All attempts to communicate with the Triton's sphere go unanswered. Koenig thinks it's time to pay them a visit, but Victor doesn't think it will be a surprise. He suspects the Alphans are being watched, which, in fact, they are.|
|After Helena and Bob Mathias perform an autopsy on Ted Clifford. They report their findings to the Commander. They tell him they saw a ball of orange light at the base of his brain, which pulsated briefly then died out. And that their was very little brain tissue to examine, as most of it had melted.|
|Astronauts Carter and Donovan lift off to look over the sphere. En route, their Eagle is engulfed in a force-field which repels their ship, and sends it spinning out of control on a collision course with the Moon. Unconscious, and with their controls set to manual, Paul is unable to land their Eagle.|
|It crash lands about 700 meters from the base. Koenig leads a rescue team out to the downed Eagle. Just over half way there, Paul reports that the scanners have been jammed and suspects an attack. They hurry on towards the Eagle, but Helena is abducted, and John knocked unconscious. Helena materializes|
|within the Triton's sphere, as John wakes in Medical centre. Victor tells him that Helena has been taken. John suggests boosting the anti-gravity shields on one of their Eagles to break through the force-field to retrieve her. Meanwhile, in the darkness of the sphere, Helena tells the Tritonians that the Alphans|
|mean them no harm, and need their help. They reply, that she is the one who will help them. They explain that everything that is, has been, and shall be, is recorded by them. She is to be the servant of the Eyes of Triton, and they program her to that end. Victor tells John that the modifications to the Eagle are|
|ready. John and Alan lift off and head for the sphere. As they come into range, John turns the anti-gravity shields to full power. When the Triton probe projects it's force-field at them, the screens create a tunnel through it. But this success is short-lived, as the force-field is reversed, pulling them towards the|
|sphere, at dangerous speeds. They struggles against tremendous g-forces to cut the engines, and switch the controls from manual to automatic, before they black out. Barely succeeding at this, Paul is able to remotely pilot their Eagle, and they are safely returned to Alpha. Immediately after they touch down,|
|Sandra detects another object approaching the base. Helena appears just outside one of the airlocks, and is brought to Medical Centre for a full work up. Aside from a short bout of dizziness, she feels fine, and appears to be in perfect health... with one exception. According to Dr. Mathias' examination of her|
|optic nerve, she should be blind, but isn't. When John asks her if she can think of an explanation, she responds "Ted Clifford". Victor finds a reference to the Tritonians in the Pyramid Text of the Old Kingdom calling them "the eyes of heaven". Helena tells them that she spoke to a voice in the sphere, and|
|that she wasn't wearing her space suit. Based on the presence of a breathable atmosphere, they surmise that the Tritonians may possibly be humanoid. Suddenly Helena stands up, and with a flash of yellow light, Helena is activated like Ted Clifford. She walks to the door and vanishes. Koenig realizes that she's|
|going to Computer, and orders that no one is to interfere with her. She walks to Main Mission transporting through doors until she's inside. She begins transmitting data to the Triton probe, then suddenly stops. Victor figures that Helena has 132 hours before she exhausts the computers memory cells, which|
|gives them some time to formulate a plan. He and John discuss the Tritonians, and realize that they must limited in someway, making them unable to leave their sphere. Dr. Mathias shows Koenig the results of his tests on Helena. The same ball of light that they saw in Ted Clifford is present, only|
|stronger. Mathias tells Koenig that Helena cannot survive many more activations. After checking his star charts, Victor has discovered that Triton no longer exists. John, figuring that there is a circuit going from the probe to the force-field around the Moon, to Helena, to Computer, and back to the probe, comes|
|up with a plan to jam Computer, and temporarily deactivate the Triton force-field. Kano sets twenty-five key circuits to jam in computer, which will shut down the force-field for thirteen minutes and ten seconds. John explains to Helena that this will allow them to get to the sphere, and if he can|
|convince the Tritonians that their mission is obsolete, perhaps they will release her. The next time she is activated, Koenig, Carter, and a security team lift off. When they encounter the force-field, Kano jams the computer, and the force-field vanishes. They enter the sphere, and land in total darkness.|
|The probe's control of Helena temporarily broken, the Alphans wait for her to be reactivated so she can send the data about Triton's destruction. Inside the probe, Koenig and his security team disembark. But as they begin their search of the sphere, the security team vanishes, leaving him alone in the|
|darkness. After seeing a projection of Helena Koenig is greeted by one of the aliens, who apologize for the deaths of his men. It tells him that they are gathering information for when Earth decides to invade Triton. Koenig tells them that it is two million light years from Earth. It responds that time is an|
|illusion. Koenig argues that it isn't, because Triton no longer exists, and tells it that he can prove it. He contacts Victor to have Helena send the data regarding Triton. Koenig has the acknowledge the incoming information. When it realizes it's home has been destroyed, and it has no further|
|purpose, the probe begins to self destruct. Koenig runs for the Eagle, and the security team reappears. They board the Eagle and lift off as the sphere continues to beak up. On Alpha, Helena is free of the Triton's control. They watch as the Eagle escapes the exploding sphere before it disintegrates.|
|Back on Alpha, Dr. Mathias finishes his examination of Helena, who has survived her ordeal with no ill effects. Koenig sees Victor deep in thought, and asks why he's so pensive. Victor reflects on the destruction of Triton, musing that "Perhaps knowledge isn't the answer". Koenig asks "Then what is?"|
Screenplay...............................................................Edward Di Lorenzo
Ted Clifford.....................................................................Max Faulkner
Triton Probe (voice)........................................................Prentis Hancock
While Ring Around the Moon is generally regarded as one of the lesser first season episodes, I actually like it quite a bit. This is not to say that it is without flaws. But despite them, there is a lot that I find appealing about it. One of the first things that springs to mind, is the design of the aliens. I really like that they went with a non-humanoid design. And along with this, I liked that they illustrated that humans tend to project familiar (human) traits to something that they haven't even seen. This sort of anthropomorphizing really works in the context of humans being trust into a universe that they were not yet ready for. So it makes sense that it took them about two thirds of the episode to consider that the Tritons, may be physically different, making them limited in someway.
The acting is strong all around,
with plenty of nice character moments building the personalities and
relationships between the crew. We get to see Alan as an independent thinker who
is willing to speak his mind to the Commander, but will follow orders, although
not blindly. Koenig obviously respects this about him, as he cares enough to
visit him in Medical Centre to check on his wellbeing after the crash landing.
We see at Paul Morrow's competence, and the respect in the eyes of his fellow Alphans, when he safely lands Koenig and Carter's Eagle after they pass out. It's also nice to see the satisfaction on his face after they touch down.
John and Helena have a nice scene when he asks her to go along with the plan to jam the computer. I'm sure he could have ordered her to go through with it, but instead he took her feelings into consideration. And although Helena appears concerned, she bravely goes along with it.
Building on the relationship between Victor and Helena seen in Black Sun, there is a great scene where she is holding his hand for support while she awaits her final activation.
As much I love the music of Barry
Gray, I really enjoyed the different music in Ring Around the Moon, by Vic Elms
and Alan Willis. Although the music seems far more dated today, I still love the
"waka-chicka waka-chicka" music played during the walk on the lunar surface, as
the Alphans go out to Alan's crashed Eagle, as well as the more somber
variation. Click below for short samples of each.
SAMPLE 1 SAMPLE 2
Now on to the down side of the episode... One of the major flaws of Ring Around the Moon is it's pacing. It tends to feel padded, as though the script were not long enough for a full hour. You really start to feel this during some of the scenes of flights to the sphere, especially by the third trip.
They tried some animated special effects, which was a rarity for Space: 1999. Unfortunately they came off looking extremely two dimensional.
For fun, I tried updating them a little to give them a more dynamic, three dimensional look.
There are plot points that strain credibility too. Like, how was Victor able to locate Triton, a planet two million light years away from Earth simply by hearing it's name? I guess the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom were supposed to have described it's location, which he matched up on his star charts. Ok, I can let that one go. But how do the modifications to Helena, which allow here to hear and see, and transmit information like a computer, allow her to teleport through doors? And even simpler still, if she is transmitting data that she sees and hears, why isn't the data that she's calling up on Computer being displayed on a monitor?
As shown in the episode, it would make more sense for Computer to be transmitting. Otherwise, the Tritonians would only be watching her typing really, really fast.
There is one line of dialogue that always really bothered me. When Helena transmits the data confirming the destruction of Triton, Koenig identifies some images saying "This is Triton's galaxy. This is Triton's star system. This is Triton's universe. This is Triton's sun." "This is Triton's universe"? Isn't there only one... per dimension anyway? I can understand flubs with really difficult scientific concepts, but this seems far too elementary to be problematic. This, as opposed to something like Helena asking if Dr. Mathias checked her middle ear when she suffers from dizziness. If a friend hadn't pointed this out (thanks Barbara!), I would never have realized that dizziness would be caused by damage to the inner ear. In my mind, a somewhat more forgivable mistake, although it would have been ideal if they had a medical advisor to help with these types of issues throughout the series considering the prominent role of Dr. Russell. Another simple medical slip-up (pointed out by Ted Buck) is when Doctor Mathias examines Helena after her return to Alpha. He states that her "blood pressure's normal, 80 over 120" when a normal reading should be 120 over 80. Yes, I think a medical advisor is sounding like a good idea about now!
Then there are minor gaffes like Ted Clifford putting his instruments down where there is supposed to be a pane of glass.
And Helena's Thermographic plate is
held backwards by Dr. Mathias. We shouldn't be able to read her name.
I chose to correct this oversight for the image on this page.
Then there is the matter of the
commlock that Koenig places on his desk while talking to Alan. I don't know why
they chose to change Koenig's picture for that shot, as it doesn't serve the
story in any way. It just stands out as a continuity error.
If you would like to respond to any
comments made here (or any section of this site)
please use the commlock in the Communication Centre to send me an e-mail.
|Ted Clifford is taken over.|
The Alphans become the
captives of the planet Triton.
Doctors Mathias and Russell
explain the death of Ted Clifford.
Alan's Eagle encounters a
force-field, and crash lands.
Helena is abducted from
the lunar surface.
John and Victor try to figure
out why Helena was abducted.
|Helena speaks with the Tritonians.|
Victor tells John about the
modifications to the Eagle.
|Helena is activated for the first time.|
Victor and John discover the
weakest link in the Tritonians
hold on them..
Kano provides Koenig with
the means to break through
|Koenig gets through to the sphere.|
Koenig breaks the bad news
to the Tritonians.
Bob Mathias re-examines
Helena's "baby blues".
|Victor ponders the fate of Triton.|