Dragon's Domain

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"Dragon's Domain"
Space: 1999 episode
Dragons Domain.jpg
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 23
Directed by Charles Crichton
Written by Christopher Penfold
Original air date 23 October 1975[1]
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Mission of the Darians"
Next →
"The Testament of Arkadia"
List of Space: 1999 episodes

"Dragon's Domain" is the twenty-third episode of the first series of Space: 1999. The screenplay was written by Christopher Penfold; the director was Charles Crichton. The final shooting script was dated 21 January 1975, with blue-page amendments dated 29 January 1975 and yellow-page amendments dated 30 January 1975. Live-action filming took place Monday 27 January 1975 through Monday 10 February 1975.[2]

Story[edit]

It is 877 days after leaving Earth orbit, and the Moon is passing through a stretch of peaceful empty space between galaxies. Doctor Helena Russell is alone in her quarters, typing a report on a World Space Commission Medical Department form regarding the status of one Captain Tony Cellini. Her voice-over narration giving the history of this case leads the viewer into an extended flashback...

Hours earlier, during the simulated 'night-time' on Moonbase Alpha, astronaut Tony Cellini awakens from a fitful sleep in a cold sweat. Sensing danger, he seizes an antique tomahawk from a decorative weapons display. After making several lunges at an imagined enemy (which he perceives as a swirling display of light accompanied by an electronic screeching sound), Cellini ends up hacking the tomahawk deep into the communications post in his quarters.

Medical Computer alerts Helena of Cellini's elevated pulse and metabolic rate. When she contacts him, he assures her that it was just a bad dream. Though not entirely convinced, she bids him a good night. After contemplating the space sky from his window, Cellini leaves his quarters—still in his pyjamas—and makes for the Embarkation Area. His entry into this restricted area while off-duty attracts attention: John Koenig, overseeing the night shift in Main Mission, receives the report from Computer. Suspicious, the Commander orders Cellini's commlock cancelled.

Cellini's progress is halted by his now non-operational commlock. He encounters Alan Carter and renders him unconscious, appropriating his commlock. He uses it to gain access to the stand-by Eagle. By the time Koenig arrives at the launch pad, Cellini is firing up the ship's engines. The Commander overrides the safety protocols and re-connects the boarding tube; the lift-off is automatically aborted by this action. Koenig boards the Eagle and each man grabs a stun-gun from the weapons rack. During the face-off, Cellini says, 'Let me go, John,' and moves for the command module, but is rendered unconscious by the Commander's point-blank stun-blast.

As Helena cares for the unconscious Cellini, she discusses his case with Koenig. She believes that Cellini is mentally unstable and a threat to the safety of himself and others. Koenig will not accept her diagnosis—he is a long-time friend of Cellini, whom he knows to be an accomplished astronaut, athlete and poet. Five years before, Cellini had a traumatic experience during his mission to the planet Ultra. He never recovered. The two quarrel when she reveals that, at the time, she saw Cellini as a patient; her report to the Space Commission may have helped further damage his reputation. As Koenig storms out of Medical, Helena's narration takes the viewer to a flashback within the flashback...

9 March 1996. At Alpha's Technical Section, Astronauts John Koenig and Tony Cellini and Professor Victor Bergman were working out the final details of the Ultra Probe, a high-profile deep-space mission to explore the then-newly discovered planet Ultra. This tenth planet, discovered by Bergman in 1994, showed every indication of being habitable. Both equally qualified, Cellini and Koenig could not decide which of them would command the mission. The two friends left the choice up to a coin-toss. Cellini won.

The Ultra Probe departed from the Interplanetary Space Station on its seven-month journey on 6 June 1996. Cellini and his crew (astrophysicist Doctor Darwin King, radiation expert Professor Juliet Mackie and medical officer Doctor Monique Bouchere) experienced no difficulty during the voyage. On arriving at Ultra, they marveled at its similarity to Earth and preparations were made for a manned landing. While orbiting behind Ultra—out of direct communication with Alpha mission control—the ship encountered a collection of alien spacecraft. No life signs were detected from any of the derelicts. By consensus, the crew decided to dock with one of the silent vessels.

As the airlock opened, there was an unexpected phenomenon—swirling light, raging wind, screeching noise—and King shouted to Cellini to close the airlock. Emitting a deafening electronic scream, a huge, vaguely octopus-like creature with prehensile tentacles, one blazing eye and a fiery maw materialised, filling the aft portion of the main module. When King attempted to seal it off with the emergency bulkheads, its incredibly strong appendages prevented the closure of the doors—which shorted out the ship's auto-systems. The crew's efforts to defend themselves came to naught. One by one, they were hypnotised into inaction by the creature, devoured alive, and their smoking remains regurgitated.

Cellini was trapped in the command module by the system failure. After a hasty repair job, he released the jammed door in time to witness the death of the last of his shipmates: Monique Bouchere. He fired on the creature, the laser beams bouncing off its armoured hide. Cellini retreated to the command module, pursued by the monster. Fending off the creature's tentacles with a fire axe, he sealed the doors. He then blasted the command module free from the body of the probe-ship to use as an escape craft. In a brilliant manoeuvre, Cellini managed to slingshot around Ultra on a return vector for home.

After a six-month journey, he reached Earth barely alive, sustained by survival rations and sheer courage. His accomplishment was soon overshadowed by the world-wide disbelief of his horrific tale of the alien monster. While recuperating in an Earthside hospital, Cellini was visited by one Helena Russell on behalf of the Space Commission Medical Department to evaulate his competency. From the start, the Italian astronaut poured on the charm, discussing diverse topics ranging from Father Christmas to his own sex life. When the conversation turned to the Ultra Probe incident, he became physically and verbally agitated. Helena was forced to order sedation as the hysterical Cellini pleaded with her to believe him.

World Space Commission executive Commissioner Dixon summoned Cellini, Koenig and Bergman to his offices on Earth. He stated bluntly that there was no evidence on the flight recorder of any 'monster'. He judged that Cellini bungled the decompression procedure, killed his crew and refused to accept the blame. When questioned, Bergman and Koenig tried not to implicate their friend, but were forced to admit there were no facts to support his tale—or refute it, Koenig cheekily rebutted. Dixon ended the interview by stating the ultimate fact was that 'space adventuring' was terrifically expensive. His overwhelming priority was protect the space programme from the financial ruin the probe's failure would bring. Dixon grounded Koenig and Bergman as punishment for their 'misguided' support of Cellini. The scapegoat himself was then sent for extended psychiatric assessment.

Time passed, and Dixon's tenure as commissioner ended. Bergman was again welcome on Alpha as a visiting scientist, and Helena was posted there as head of the Medical Section. In September 1999, Koenig was appointed base commander to resolve the Meta Probe crisis, and he transferred his friend Cellini back to Alpha's Reconnaissance Section. After the Moon's breakaway, all memory of the Ultra Probe incident was obliterated by their struggle to survive in a hostile universe—until Cellini's irrational behaviour on this night revived the controversy...

The viewer returns to the present-day flashback as Koenig and Helena reconcile; Koenig apologises for his temper and presents her with a peace offering—a hyacinth he has managed to grow, in spite of his black thumb. As they discuss Cellini, which almost results in another argument, the man regains consciousness. He tells Koenig and Helena that his attempt to depart Alpha was in response to an unconscious feeling that the Ultra Probe monster was near and he needed to go out and face it. Koenig is unsure what to believe.

A summons from Main Mission calls him away from Medical Centre; waiting for him on the big screen is an image of a jumbled assortment of alien craft. Despite five years' time and a distance of uncountable light-years, Koenig uncannily knows it is the spaceship graveyard Cellini had described encountering behind Ultra. Further investigation reveals the main module of the Ultra Probe still docked with one of the derelicts. Koenig agrees to investigate, and Cellini feels redeemed. Helena, though, is concerned by Cellini's unnatural calmness.

Boarding Eagle One, Cellini tells Koenig he is going up front to apologise to Carter for his earlier assault. However, he again knocks Carter unconscious and hijacks the Eagle, leaving the passenger module (and Koenig and company) behind on the launch pad. He radios his old friend, informing him that the beast is his enemy and he must face it—alone.

Koenig orders Eagles Three and Four to pursue Cellini and Eagle Two to pick up his abandoned passenger module. He still supports Cellini—even though his friend's actions could be interpreted as a desperate attempt to destroy evidence. Running three minutes ahead of the posse, Cellini docks Eagle One's command module where the probe-ship's pilot module had been affixed. Taking a knife, a fire axe and rope, he enters the eerie darkness of main module and secures his lifeline to a support girder. His presence causes the monster to materialise in full attack mode. After Cellini lands several telling blows with the axe, the monster gets a stranglehold around his neck.

Koenig's Eagle Two docks with the probe-ship; he and the Security team enter the main module to witness the epic battle. Cellini's lifeline is yanked free by the monster and the astronaut is devoured, his ravaged corpse ejected to lie by those of his fallen comrades. Koenig reckons the monster's weakness could be its massive, exposed 'eye', and retrieves Cellini's axe. Evading the flailing tentacles, Koenig dives in and, hacking away at the eye, slays the monster.

Back on Alpha, after the Moon has drifted out of range of the spaceship graveyard, we return to the present. Helena Russell sits at her typewriter, ruminating that when the Alphans finally settle on their new home, they will need a whole new mythology. She suggests to Koenig the tale of Tony Cellini and the Monster. She then hands him the completed report, closing the case and giving the tortured Cellini final vindication.

Cast[edit]

Starring[edit]

Also Starring[edit]

Guest Artists[edit]

Featuring[edit]

Uncredited Artists[edit]

Music[edit]

In addition to the regular Barry Gray score (drawn primarily from "Matter of Life and Death" and "Another Time, Another Place"), Remo Giazotto's composition 'Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ in G Minor' is played over the flight sequences of the Ultra Probe[3] and the 'space horror music' composed by Vic Elms and Alan Willis for "Ring Around the Moon" is used during the encounters with the monster.

Production notes[edit]

  • The story, a take on Saint George and the Dragon, was originally conceived as a vehicle for Nick Tate with Alan Carter having commanded the Ultra Probe and vindicating himself in this story by slaying the beast.[4] Reports indicate that Martin Landau (always cautious of his male castmates—especially Tate—receiving any significant exposure) influenced the production staff to rewrite the part as a one-off guest role. Script editor Johnny Byrne has suggested the rewriting was performed by Landau and executive producer Gerry Anderson;[2] Byrne himself did not do it, and story consultant Christopher Penfold had already resigned from the show.
  • In the final shooting script dated 21 January 1975, the Tony Cellini character is named 'Jim Calder' and Doctor Monique Bouchere is 'Olga Vishenskaya'. This draft contains no reference to Koenig, Bergman and Dixon mentioning evidence about the spaceship graveyard or the Ultra Probe's docking with the alien ship apart from the scanner contacts and Cellini's testimony. This dialogue must have been part of the last-minute script amendments: in the final cut, it seems a little odd that Dixon says they have only a series of unidentifiable bleeps on the scanner, but then Koenig states that the black box recorded a tight docking seal and a breathable atmosphere inside the alien spaceship.[5]
  • Fulfilling their agreement with RAI, the Italian production company co-funding the first series, Italian actor Gianni Garko would be cast in the role of the tortured astronaut; Jim Calder would be re-christened Tony Cellini. Garko, though a talented actor, was not a fluent speaker of the English language and, in an ironic twist, asked Nick Tate to help teach him his lines in English.[2]
  • The blue quilted nylon jacket worn by Bergman would be used in the second series as Alan Carter's excursion jacket. The orange versions of the jacket seen on Koenig and Cellini would be worn next episode by Security personnel and later, in series two, by Maya and a variety of guest artists. The computer banks seen in the main module of the Ultra Probe ship originated in SHADO Control from the Andersons' previous science-fiction series UFO. Commissioner Dixon's office on Earth was a redress of M's office from the James Bond film series. The signature red-leather padded door can be seen at the top of the scene.

Novelisation[edit]

The episode was adapted in the sixth Year One Space: 1999 novel Astral Quest by John Rankine, published in 1975. In the novel, the characters Tony Cellini and Monique Bouchere retain their original names Jim Calder and Olga Vishenskaya.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fanderson - The Official Gerry Anderson Website. Original ATV Midlands broadcast date
  2. ^ a b c d Destination: Moonbase Alpha, Telos Publications, 2010
  3. ^ "Dragon's Domain" episode guide; Fanderson - The Official Gerry Anderson Website
  4. ^ "Dragon's Domain" episode guide; Space: 1999 website 'The Catacombs', Martin Wiley
  5. ^ "Dragon's Domain" final shooting script dated 21 January 1975
  6. ^ Space: 1999 - Astral Quest, Futura Publications, 1975

External links[edit]

Last produced:
"Mission of the Darians"
List of Space: 1999 episodes Next produced:
"The Testament of Arkadia"
Last transmitted:
"Alpha Child"
Next transmitted:
"Mission of the Darians"