The promise of a return to Earth -but the space-wandering Alphans find themselves lost in the midst of time.
A neutrino transmission is being transmitted to Alpha from an unknown source. When asked to identify themselves, they reply that they are from Texas City, planet Earth! Dr. Charles Logan tells the Alphans that a galactic eclipse is moving between the Moon and Earth in 72 hours, but if they act quickly, and do as he says, a return to Earth is possible. The Alphans are thrilled at the prospect, but Koenig is not sure that the message is from Earth.
When Logan asks if they are ready to start work on the Transference Dome, Koenig tells him no. He asks a few questions to see if he really is from Earth. The rest of the Alphans start to bristle, but Logan answers the questions with no problems, and Koenig agrees to start work on the apparatus. Carla begins to tell them of the the Earth of 2120. Mankind has been forced into domed cities by the pollution of the 21st century, but with the use of their "personal telesensual systems" can create the illusion of spring in the Rocky Mountains or fall in old New England, at the touch of a button. Construction of the Tranference Dome is completed quickly and they are ready to test the procedure. A test package is conctructed to simulate vital signs, and transmit the readings to back to Alpha. The package is transferred back to Earth without a hitch. Now it is time to try the procedure with people. With a limit of three people at a time, Koenig ask for two volunteers to go with him. Helena and Alan join the party. An earthquake strikes as the transfer begins, disrupting the process. Koenig, Helena, and Alan disappear from Alpha, but do not appear in Texas City.
They do, however, appear in a lush wilderness. The question is, if the Earth is uninhabitable outside the domes, where are they? As they explore, Alan is attacked by a man with a sword. Koenig manages to save him, but when they go back for Helena (who is quite ill), they find that she has been captured, and are taken as well. Back on Alpha, they're receiving data from the medical monitors. Knowing that they are alive somewhere, they are trying to locate their lost comrades. Dr. Logan has a team set explosive charges to recreate the conditions that threw off the transfer process. He figures that if they can recalculate their location they can be returned to Alpha by reversing the magnetic field on the projection pods on Alpha's Tranference Dome.
Meanwhile, Helena's temperature is rising. She sees a fungus that is the basis for a cure growing on the wall of their cell, but they need fire to heat it. Koenig and Alan create a ruckus, drawing the gurds into the cell. As Koenig startles them with the light from his medical monitor, Alan jumps one of the guards, then John takes the other. They escape to the woods, and while preparing the medicine, Helena sees the Moon. John thinks that she is delirious and starts to give her the remedy. Alan and John look and realize she is right. They must be on Earth at some point in time before the Moon left orbit.
They are recaptured and brought to the table of the lord of the castle. He asks why three Englishmen would be wandering through the forests of Scotland. When he learns that Helena is sick he assumes that they have been turned out by some English lord because she has the plague. And to prevent the spread of disease to his people, he commands that they be burned. They are shackled to a wall, and a pyre is assembled before them, Koenig tries to send a message to Alpha in morse code by clicking Helena's monitor on and off. The message is recieved on Alpha, the "old" code recognized, and decoded by the computer. The information is then passed on to Logan. He has Carla recallibrate the transport coordinates for Scotland in 1339. As the flames rise, Koenig, Helena, and Alan are transported back to Alpha.
Logan contacts Alpha to tell them all communication channels will be closing. Koenig says goodbye and thanks Logan for trying,just before the eclipse severs all communication between them. John visits Helena in Medical Center. She says it was a shame that, of all times, they landed in 1339 Scotland. John lists a few worse possibilities. Helena says "With a history like that, who wants to go back to Earth anyway?"
|France/Canada||En route vers l'infini||Journeying To Infinity|
|Spain||Viaje a donde||Journey to where|
|Germany||Schottische Geschichten||Scottish Stories|
|Italy||Il ritorno||The Return|
|Japan||タイムトラベル憧れの地球のためにバインドされました||Time travel bound for the longing Earth|
|Portugal||Viagem para Onde?||Journey to Where|
|South Africa||Die Melkewegeklips||The Milky Way Eclipse|
Int. Command Centre Int. Medical Centre Int. Power Room
Int. Texas City Space Station Ext. Wooded Area (location) Int. Dungeon & Tunnel Int. Great Hall Int. Torture Chamber & Tunnel
The domes were built by Ron Burton and Martin Bower (only one is obviously by Bower and it is glimpsed very briefly). The main domes were built with many kit parts (especially tanks, also Saturn V rockets) and were only completed on one side (the side the camera didn't see wasn't finished). The disco lights are particularly obvious. There are at least five major domes and three smaller ones.
For the transference dome exteriors (outside the Moonbase Alpha crater), a new moonbase building was created by Martin Bower linked to a dome section of the Daria from Mission of the Darians. It reappears in several other episodes.
Physics and astronomy
Neutrinos are uncharged elementary particles with (almost) no mass, first discovered in 1956. In the 1960s large scale experiments (using deep underground lakes of chlorine to detect them) were monitoring levels. They are thus incorrect to state "When we left Earth the first neutrino experiments had just begun". They travel at the speed of light (hundreds of thousands of miles per second), not at "billions of miles in seconds". They are thus not instantaneous. If the Moon and Earth are separated by more than the distance of a galaxy (which will move between them), they are millions of light years apart. Neutrinos would thus take millions of years to pass between them.
The time travel suggests the writer probably intended tachyons, not neutrinos. Tachyons are hypothetical particles which travel faster than light, and backwards in time. Hence when they are transported they travel 661 years back in time. Logically when they are returned they should travel another 661 years back.
It is also possible that Koenig, Helena and Alan are in fact moving back to Earth through a "wormhole", i.e. a shortcut through space and time (wormhole like phenomena are also alluded to in Space Warp and The Taybor). In this case, the wormhole "mouth" connected to Alpha would have been rapidly accelerated through space whereas the one leading to Texas City remained almost stationary. Einstein's theory of relativistic time dilation would result in the accelerated wormhole mouth aging less than the stationary one as seen by an external observer (the Alphans have been in space only approx 18 months whereas 121 years have passed on Earth). Thanks to the wormhole, direct communication and travel between widely separated locations in space and time becomes possible. Wormhole "time machines" have been described in "Black Holes and Time Warps" by Kip Thorne, who notes that one significant limitation is that it is only possible to go as far back in time as the initial creation of the machine, i.e. this particular wormhole must have existed since at least 1339. (Thanks to Marcus Lindroos).
Alan calls Copernicus a mountain. It is actually a crater, but it is below the Mare Imbrium.
Just how does Logan locate the Alphans in a distant galaxy?
A "galactic eclipse" begins in 72 hours. It should not occur instantly, but as a gradual worsening of interference as the eclipse begins, since galaxies are not solid (and neutrinos will pass through several light years thickness of lead without effect). Another line calls it "an entire constellation". A constellation is a defined section of the Earth's sky which usually contains a single asterism, an apparent configuration of stars in the sky. It would have made more sense to mention that a particularly dense group of stars with intense radiation emissions would soon obscure Earth from the Moon due to the relative movements of all three.
Environment and Culture
There is stock footage of a 20th century drought which represents 21st century pollution. Pollution awareness became a major political issue with the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962; more than any other book it inspired the ecological movement and led directly to environmental legislation and science research. Consequently since the 1970s most forms of pollution are declining despite economic growth. In most countries there are ever stricter laws to reduce the levels of 21st century pollution. However, in the USA there is deep scepticism of some environmental science and in some cases controls on pollution are being rolled back.
The earthquake is called a "force beta zero". This is an unknown earthquake scale; normal scales are Richter or Mercalli (it appears to be Richter 5 or Mercalli VII). They mention "adverse weather conditions"; earthquakes are not weather, but for historical reasons meterological departments are usually responsible for earthquake monitoring.
The metrocomplexes are all in North America. Has the rest of the world been left to die?
Logan eats a pill from a large box always on his desk. Are these drugs? Probably nourishment - if the people of the year 2120 eat meals, it is possible they use pill nutrition between whatever few meals they still eat; another possibility is "flavoured anti-radiation pills" taken at intervals to protect against ultraviolet light.
A wrist monitor can record pulse, but it is a poor location for other sensors which are better monitored from the main torso. How do they read something that just flashes green, red and blue? Note temperature is 98.6, obviously the Fahrenheit scale (most scientific measurement would be Centigrade). How do Alpha's normal medical monitors transmit across 660 years and millions of light years to Alpha?
Alpha is unlikely to be a germ-free environment. The human body contains about ten times as many bacteria as human cells, and some are essential for life (the bacteria in the digestive tract are able to break down certain nutrients such as carbohydrates that humans otherwise could not digest).
"Damp air? A cold." The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, associated with one or more viruses. They are transmitted by contact or aerosols, from other infected people. They cannot be transmitted by exposure to cold or damp air. An unknown cold virus may be a serious threat, but can only be caught after the Alphans had encountered people. As they are alone at this point, Helena should be able to immediately discount the possibility of a cold infection.
Viral pneumonia is caused by a variety of viruses, including the common influenza viruses. Like the common cold, they are spread through aerosols (coughs and sneezes), physical contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. Helena is exposed to none of these before she shows symptoms.
It is true there is no cure for viral pneumonia. The barmycin range of drugs is fictional (although obviously inspired by penicillin). It seems unlikely that grinding up an unidentified fungus from a Scottish wall will kill the virus.
Alan Shepard's wife is Louise. But despite the claim in this episode, Yuri Gagarin was married when he flew on 12th April 1961 (he married Valentina in November 1957, and they had two children, Yelena born in 1958 and Galya born in 1961).
New Year's Day was March 25th until 1600 in Scotland and 1752 in England (when the Gregorian calendar was introduced). The events take place between 24th March 1338 and 25th March 1339. Fortunately, the episode does not refer to January 1st, only "new years day".
During the 14th century there were 5 different dialects of Middle English and they were mutually unintelligible. Modern English is derived from the London dialect of Middle English as spoken by Chaucer, born 1340. However, the nobility of the time (which Helena is assumed to be) spoke, and were, Norman French, so the French dubbed version of this episode is probably more authentic. English was beginning to become more important during this time, but was not made the official language of English government until the 1362 Statute of Pleadings, replacing French and Latin.
The Scots worry that Helena has the "pestilence" (given the correct contemporary name here), although plague didn't enter the British Isles until June 1348, finally reaching Scotland in 1350. The plague killed a third of the British population in 3 years and led to dramatic social changes, ending the feudal system. Spread by rat fleas there were two forms: the bubonic form produced swollen lymph nodes (buboes), the pneumonic form (which Helena is presumed to have) caused coughing blood from the lungs. Fungal antibiotics such as penicillin kill bacterial forms of pneumonia, not viral forms.
At Bannockburn on June 23-24, 1314, Robert the Bruce dealt a severe defeat on the English army led by Edward II travelling to relieve Stirling Castle. The defeat led directly to the Treaty Of Northampton, guaranteeing Scottish independence. Edward II was deposed and murdered in 1326 by his wife Isabella, who invaded from France with her lover Mortimer. Their son, Edward III, overthrew his mother in 1330 and in 1337 started the Hundred Years War with France. Robert Bruce died in 1329 and his son David II was defeated by the English in 1333 and sent to exile in France. Edward Balloi became king of Scotland.
The MacDonalds were Lords of the Isles and West Scotland from 1164-1497.
The prediction that "Old Morse Code" is nearly forgotten by 1999 is almost accurate. It is rarely used or practised now that radio and mobile phones are so ubiquitous (the coast guard no longer teaches it). However, most people know what it is even if they cannot interpret it.
Chronology: None given.
Alpha Personnel: population 297. 0 fatalities.
Alpha Technology: The Alphans build the capacity to transmit people and communicate across time and huge distances. It is never used again.
Maya transformations: Mr Hyde.
Planets: Earth in 2120 AD and 1338/1339 AD
Props: A red version of an Ariel capsule from The Last Sunset is the transmitter probe. It is also seen in A Matter Of Balance.
Cast: Isla Blair also appeared in War Games. Laurence Harrington appeared as another Alphan, Stewart, in The Dorcons.
Koenig and Alan's wrist monitors are removed, so only Helena (and perhaps a couple of Scots) should be returned to Alpha.
Although the three Alphans leave Alpha standing next to each other, they are scattered some paces apart when they wake on Earth.
The episode claims in the 1998 World Series of American baseball the Boston Red Sox won 4-3 against St. Louis Cardinals. In real life, the New York Yankees beat the San Diego Padres 3-0. The Boston Red Sox faced the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 and 2013, both times winning.
Costumes (which are not authentically Scottish) are from Roman Polanski's 1971 film of Macbeth.
Why is Tony's brewing machine in the Medical Centre? (The scene was intended to be in Verdeschi's quarters, which would have been more logical).
Why were competitive sports banned in 2026? Did the world turn to some anti-competitive value system, rejecting capitalism?
Freddie Jones and Isla Blair have dreadfully fake American accents.
In 1978 the US TV series Wonder Woman included unused footage of Texas City in the episode Time Bomb
The novel Der Stahlplanet (The Steel Planet) by M.F.Thomas ends with a sequel to this episode. After the Moon's course is changed, neutrino transmissions with Texas City are resumed and the Alphans prepare to return to Earth.
|The Metamorph I The Exiles I One Moment of Humanity I All That Glisters I The Mark of Archanon I Journey to Where I The Taybor I The Rules of Luton I New Adam New Eve I Brian the Brain I Catacombs of the Moon I The AB Chrysalis I The Beta Cloud I Seed of Destruction I A Matter of Balance I Space Warp I The Bringers of Wonder - Part 1 I The Bringers of Wonder - Part 2 I Dorzak I The Seance Spectre I Devil's Planet I The Lambda Factor I The Immunity Syndrome I The Dorcons|
|Episodes are listed in the order suggested by Andrew Kearley.|