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Alpha has detected a space
phenomenon and named it Tora.
They have sent out an Eagle to
determine if at the heart of the
cloud is a habitable planet. In
order to avoid false hopes, only
a select few know about Tora,
and Command Center has been
placed off limits. Meanwhile, in
the Recreation Center, a surface
exploration team tries to relax,
but Greg Sanderson is restless.
When the commpost screens stay
blank, he decides to find out
why Command Center is off
limits, and what they are hiding.
His team (Cernik, Stevens, and
Eva) follow without question. He
suspects a habitable planet is out
there, and decides to find out for
sure. As Tony, Maya and Sandra
are monitoring Koenig's Eagle,
Sanderson attacks the guard
at the Command Center door
and takes his stun gun. He
enters Command Center, and
immediately stuns everyone. He
orders Eva to open the big screen.
He sees Tora, and decides they
will have a séance to determine
if there is habitable planet at
it's core. In their trance-state,
they do not hear Koenig calling
to warn the base that the Moon
is heading right for Tora. They
remain in their trance until Koenig
returns to Alpha. John is furious,
but Helena tells him that they
have "green sickness" from being
away from a natural environment
for so long. A condition she
feels is worsened because the
surface exploration teams spend
up to 30 days at a time on the
lifeless surface of the moon.
She holds herself responsible, but
John has a hard time believing
that mutiny is a symptom of
 their illness. While Helena is
with Sanderson, he insists on
seeing Koenig. She tells him
that he has been confined to
Medical Center. He assaults
the guards and heads toward
Command Center to confront
Koenig, who he thinks is trying
to keep them from finding out
about the "habitable planet" to
keep everyone on Alpha, and
maintain his "dictatorship".
Koenig agrees to have all data
from the Eagle processed, not
onboard, but through the base
computer on his next flight.
Sanderson is escorted back to
Medical Center for treatment,
but will be able to watch via
the monitors. Eva is released
as she is not hallucinating. She
calls in a medical emergency,
to clear Medical Center, then
knocks out the guards and 
frees the rest of her team.
They go to the Computer
Room to monitor the flight.
Alan reports a possible
gravity pull. Sanderson shorts
out a section of the computer
causing the reading to fade.
Koenig and Maya are given
the OK to go in further. John
senses a gravitational pull,
but Tony assures him there is
none. As John's feeling gets
stronger, he has Tony run a
system check on Main Computer.
Sandra reports a malfunction,
but too late for John and Maya
to avoid crashing. Command
Center loses audio contact with
Eagle 1, but is receiving data
about the ship's status. Tony has
Alan try to fly it back to Alpha,
unfortunately there is not enough
oxygen to last the whole trip.
John suggests Maya transform
into some vegetation to help
provide oxygen. The Eagle
makes it's three hour trip back
to Alpha, and lands safely.
When the Alphans board, they
are surprised to find plantlife.
Maya transforms and tells them
that Koenig is suffering from
oxygen starvation. Helena
revives John, stating that any
ill effects will be immediately
apparent. As he wakes, She asks
if he knows who she is. To which
he replies, "I never saw you
before in my life... Dr. Russell."
Sanderson and his team
leave the computer room,
knowing that their sabotage will
be discovered, and that security
will come for them. They hide in
a travel tube, insuring that no one
can take them until they are ready.
Koenig contacts them in the car
to tell them that the Moon
is on a collision course with
the proto-planet at the heart
of Tora. Sanderson clings to
his delusions, believing that
the Moon will go into orbit
around his "habitable planet".
He suggests another "astral-
prediction" to convince the
rest of his team who are,
now, becoming uncertain of his
judgement. Koenig decides to
blow up the nuclear waste dumps
to shift the Moon off it's collision
course with Tora. To avoid the
predicted loss of life, and damage
to equipment, Koenig orders
a full evacuation. The Eagles
will monitor the situation from a
safe distance, then return after
the course correction. With time
running out, Koenig Tells them that
they have to leave before the
waste dumps are triggered.
Sanderson finally gives in to
his team when they ask to
be evacuated. But Sanderson
does not board one of the Eagles,
he returns to Command Center,
where only Koenig and Maya are
left. He stuns Koenig as Tony tries
to warn him that Sanderson
never boarded the last Eagle.
Sanderson threatens to kill
Maya if Tony tries to return to
Alpha before Tora goes into
"orbit". Helena asks Eva to talk
to Sanderson and help him
realize that he really is sick.
But this only causes him to
become more agitated.
He attempts to kill Koenig,
but Maya thwarts him. He runs
off as Maya is trying to return
the, now jammed, switch back
to Stun. John and Maya don't
have time to find him if they are
to set the atomic trigger in place
and set off the blast in time 
to avoid the collision with
Tora. When they get out to the
nuclear waste area, Tony, who
has been scanning the area,
locates a moon buggy in their
vicinity, and alerts them that
Sanderson is waiting for them
somewhere in the rocks nearby.
John goes out to set the
charges to blast the cap off one
of the silos, while Maya keeps
look out, with the laser turret at
the ready. As Sanderson aims his
laser rifle at Koenig, Tony gives
his position to Maya. He notices
the laser turret turning, and fires
on the Eagle just as Maya gets
off a shot. The ledge crumbles
under Sanderson, and Koenig
is free to blast the cap off the
silo, but Sanderson attacks as
John attempts to set the trigger.
Tony can't raise Maya in Eagle
2. No sooner than John gets
the trigger in place, then
Sanderson attacks again and
knocks him into the silo. John
catches the side, avoiding a
10,000 foot fall. As Sanderson
tries to step on his hands, he
grabs Sanderson's leg, and
accidentally pulls him over  
the edge. Sanderson plunges
to his death, and John pulls
himself up out of the silo. He
rushes back to Eagle 2 to check
on Maya. The laser blast to the
Eagle, damaged the controls
 to the cockpit door. Maya wakes
to Koenig pounding on the door.
She has been thrown behind
one of the cockpit chairs and
can't get out. She transforms
a little girl to free herself, and
opens the cockpit door. They
blast off and put as much
distance as they can, between
them and the Moon before
the waste dumps detonate.
They reach a safe distance,
and monitor the successful
shift in the Moon's trajectory
away from Tora. When the
Alphans return to the base
Helena has all the surface
teams looking at pictures of
nature, believing that saturation
equaling boredom, will quell the
"green sickness". When she and
John return to Command Center,
they find Alan and Tony looking
at pictures of a different kind
of nature altogether, to Maya's
chagrin and their amusement.


Screenplay.................................................................Donald James

Director........................................................................Peter Medak

Guest Stars

Greg Sanderson.........................................................Ken Hutchinson

Eva........................................................................Carolyn Seymour

Additional Cast

Zienia Merton..............................................................Sandra Benes

Cernik.........................................................................Nigel Pegram

Stevens...........................................................................James Snell

Guard..................................................................Christopher Asante

Guard 2....................................................................Quentin Pierre

Woman in 1st photo..................................................Caroline Munro

What can I say? This has to be one of my least favorite episodes. The sad part is, there is so much to like about it. But the character of Sanderson is so repulsive that he takes away any pleasure to be had watching The Séance Spectre. He has to be the least likable character in Space: 1999 since Patrick Osgood in Catacombs of the Moon. Perhaps there is a connection between having "visions" and being truly obnoxious? I think this episode would have benefited from a prologue or flashback showing Sanderson rescuing his team members to establish some positive identification from the audience. This would have made his descent into the mania of "Green Sickness" a little more tragic, and garnered some sympathy.

On the other hand, this episode benefited from some strong direction and creative cinematography.

The acting was generally really strong. I am not sure whether to lay the blame for Ken Hutchinson's performance squarely on his shoulders, the script, or the direction. Perhaps it was a combination of all three. But Eva, as played by Caroline Seymour, was immediately likable, as were Cernik and Stevens. I find it frightening that it took any of Sanderson's lackeys so long into the episode to find fault with, or show surprise at, Sanderson's behavior. I would think that for anyone less far gone into psychosis than Sanderson, his violent acts of brutality, and sabotage, would at least raise an eyebrow. Perhaps these are the kind of weak willed followers that find their way into cults? 

The regular cast was strong as usual. I particularly enjoyed Tony's outburst at Sanderson for beating up the security guards. Who could blame him for being angry? I also enjoyed Helena's subtle use of power when she countermanded his decision to put Sanderson in the Detention Center.

This episode also featured some top notch special effects by Brian Johnson (apparently recovered from whatever illness he had during The Lambda Factor), including; the crash on Tora, the liftoff with the pod falling off, the flight back and landing at Alpha.

there was also a lot of nice miniature work for, and around, the nuclear waster area...

which oddly enough looked nothing like any nuclear waste area previously seen on the show.

Above the silos as seen in Breakaway and The Séance Spectre, below as in Bringers of Wonder.

I have a few issues with some things in the script that make no sense. There seems to be a great deal of concern about toxic gases or dust getting into the recycling system. It seems highly unlikely that a base on an airless moon would have intakes from the outside. It should be a sealed system recycling only materials within the base itself.

I find it curious that when they discuss altering the Moon's trajectory, that they don't even mention creating a shockwave as they had planned to do in Collision course. Although, I personally thought detonating the nuclear waste area was a little more practical than a shockwave anyway. And I particularly liked the evacuation of the base to avoid casualties and damage to equipment. That seemed to be well thought out.

I do have questions about the likelihood of a "weather belt" in space. I am not an astronomer, but I imagine that you would have to have a planet with gravity, in order to have an atmosphere, and an atmosphere in order to have weather. If anyone can either verify or refute this, I would be curious to learn more about it.

There was a little goof during Koenig and Sanderson's fight in the Nuclear Waste Area. As Sanderson falls to the lunar surface, his visor pops open.

I had meant to mention this before, I even had a video capture of it, but apparently forgot all about it when putting the page together. I knew I called this "Random Thoughts" for a reason! Thanks to André Bérubé, for writing and reminding me.

Over all this is a strong episode, and a relatively popular one. With the exception of the Sanderson character, this could have been a personal favorite. One more thing... Could that little Psychon girl have been any cuter?!

Replies to comments made here are always welcome. You can contact me by using the commlock in the Communication Centre.

And yet once again we see the ubiquitous Space Warp Locator, used in: the Maintenance Section in The Lambda FactorBringers of Wonder part 1 in the Records Lab, and on the Eagle in Matter of Balance and, of course... Space Warp.

Click here for downloadable version


Click here to play sound "Moonbase Alpha status report,
2012 days since leaving Earth orbit..."
Click here to play sound Sanderson is upset because nothing is on tv.
Click here to play sound Sanderson goes on a rampage.
Click here to play sound Sanderson's team uses a séance
instead of sensors to investigate Tora.
Click here to play sound Helena makes excuses for Sanderson.
Click here to play sound John, Tony, and Maya discuss the possibility
of a solid core at the middle of Tora.
Click here to play sound Sanderson goes on another rampage.
Click here to play sound Sanderson vents his paranoia.
Click here to play sound Helena tries to talk reason to Sanderson.
Click here to play sound Sanderson sabotages Main Computer
to cover the gravitational pull of Tora.
Click here to play sound Koenig feigns brain damage.
Click here to play sound Koenig tries to talk reason to Sanderson.
Click here to play sound Koenig plans to blow up the waste dumps.
Click here to play sound John Koenig's Philosophy 101.
Click here to play sound Eva, Cernik, and Stevens try talking
sense into Sanderson.
Click here to play sound Sanderson lingers around the base
like a bad odor.
Click here to play sound Eva pleads with Sanderson to listen to reason.
Click here to play sound Sanderson goes further over the edge.
Click here to play sound Tony, Helena, and Sandra locate a
moon buggy on the surface.
Click here to play sound Helena prescribes nature photos, and
 Alan takes a little license with her suggestion.
Click here to play sound Background sound.


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