Breakaway

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Breakaway

Post  BoG on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:46 pm

Air Date: 9/4/75  Arrow  written by George Bellak  Arrow  Directed by Lee H. Katzin

This was the inaugural episode, introducing Moonbase Alpha and the regular characters: the date is 9/9/99 and John Koenig (Martin Landau) arrives at the base to take over from the previous commander (Philip Madoc, who appears only in one scene and disappears). Koenig reacquaints himself with Prof. Bergman (Barry Morse) and meets Dr. Helena Russell (Barbara Bain), the chief medical person. Koenig has been sent there by Commissioner Simmonds (Roy Dotrice) to make sure that a space probe is sent as scheduled to a newly-discovered, nearby planet - Meta -  but he's confronted by the alarming problem of personnel becoming affected by some brain-damaging affliction. It turns out to be magnetic radiation, which soon causes the storage dumps of nuclear waste to explode. The dumpsite is located far from the base, so the base survives, but the explosion is so massive that it pushes the moon out of Earth's orbit.
The influence of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is very apparent in the early scenes of the episode: everything from the look of the show to the depiction of Koenig traveling to the base is a blatant copy of similar scenes in the film 2001. This works towards the show's benefit because, for a TV series, it appears to have very high production values and slick, creative production design.  The downside is also there in the 1st episode - it's slow and somewhat dull. Actors Landau and Bain were cast as the leads at the insistence of Sir Lew Grade; he should have probably stuck to the original plan of casting Brit actors. Landau and especially Bain behave as if they'd rather be somewhere else and seem out of place; Bain reminds me of a mannequin, barely registering any emotion. Dotrice does much better as that era's version of the opportunistic politician, the episode's closest version to an outright villain; he would return in one more episode. BoG's Score: 6 out of 10

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