The Day After Tomorrow (TV special)

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The Day After Tomorrow
In the upper half of the image, "The Day After Tomorrow" is superimposed in bold white letters on top of a background of stars. In the lower half, "Into Infinity" is superimposed in bold white letters on top of a close-up shot of the exterior of a futuristic space station.
Opening titles, featuring "Into Infinity" subtitle
Also known as Into Infinity
Genre Science fiction
Drama
Created by Gerry Anderson
Johnny Byrne
Written by Johnny Byrne
Directed by Charles Crichton
Starring Brian Blessed, Joanna Dunham, Nick Tate, Katherine Levy, Martin Lev, Don Fellows
Narrated by Ed Bishop
Composer(s) Derek Wadsworth
Steve Coe
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Production
Producer(s) Gerry Anderson
Editor(s) David Lane
Cinematography Frank Watts
Running time 47 minutes
Production company(s) Gerry Anderson Productions
Distributor NBC
Broadcast
Original channel NBC (United States)
BBC1 (United Kingdom)
Audio format Mono
First shown in United States
Original airing 9 December 1975 (US)
11 December 1976 (UK)

The Day After Tomorrow (also known as Into Infinity in the United Kingdom) is a 1975 British science-fiction television drama produced by Gerry Anderson between the two series of Space: 1999. Written by Johnny Byrne and directed by Charles Crichton, it stars Brian Blessed, Joanna Dunham and Nick Tate, and is narrated by Ed Bishop. It aired in the United States on NBC, as an episode of the children's science education series Special Treat, in December 1975. In the UK, it was broadcast on BBC1 as an independent special in December 1976 and December 1977; it was repeated on BBC Four 37 years later, in November 2014. The plot of The Day After Tomorrow concerns the interstellar mission of Altares, a science vessel of the future that can travel at the speed of light. Departing from its original destination, Alpha Centauri, Altares moves deeper into space and her crew of three adults and two children encounter phenomena such as a meteor shower, a red giant star and, finally, a black hole, which pulls the ship into another universe.

Originally commissioned to produce a child-friendly introduction to Albert Einstein's special relativity theory in the form of an action-adventure, Anderson and Byrne conceived The Day After Tomorrow as the pilot episode of a TV series. To this end, writer and producer proposed the alternative title "Into Infinity", although their limited budget precluded the production of further episodes. With a cast and crew that included veterans of earlier Anderson productions, filming on The Day After Tomorrow ran from July to September 1975 and consisted of ten days of principal photography and six weeks of special effects shooting. The visuals of Space: 1999 influenced both special effects technician Martin Bower, the designer of the scale models that appear in the programme, and production designer Reg Hill, who re-used set elements from various episodes of Space: 1999 to construct the Altares interiors. Newcomer Derek Wadsworth collaborated with Steve Coe to compose the theme and incidental music.

Reception to The Day After Tomorrow remains mixed. Although the model effects and music have been praised, critics have offered both favourable and unfavourable comparisons of the programme's "psychedelic" images to the visual style used by film director Stanley Kubrick. While Byrne's scriptwriting has been described as "lyrical", and it has been suggested that The Day After Tomorrow includes allusions to the 1960s TV series Lost in Space, the plot has been criticised for a lack of suspense, generally attributed to the fact that The Day After Tomorrow is primarily a children's science education programme. Further criticism has been directed at the acting, with Martin Lev's performance in particular being poorly received. Home video releases of The Day After Tomorrow are limited to one VHS and one DVD, both of which are available only to members of the official Gerry Anderson appreciation society, Fanderson. Author Douglas R. Mason's novelisation of The Day After Tomorrow remains unpublished.

Plot[edit]

On a future Earth, pollution and environmental damage, combined with the depletion of the planet's natural resources, has resulted in an increased probability of human extinction.[1] The Narrator (Ed Bishop) describes Space Station Delta as the "jump-off point for humanity's first momentous journey to the stars"; he then introduces Altares, the first Earth space vessel to "harness the limitless power of the photon", by which it can travel at the speed of light: "This could create the effects predicted by Einstein's Theory of Relativity – effects that could shrink the very fabric of space, distort time, and perhaps alter the structure of the universe as we understand it."

Altares prepares to depart from Space Station Delta on a mission of scientific discovery beyond the Solar System. Arriving in a United Nations shuttle, Doctors Tom (Brian Blessed) and Anna Bowen (Joanna Dunham) board the ship with their son, David (Martin Lev). Jane Masters (Katharine Levy) relinquishes the care of her dog, Spring, to Commander Jim Forbes (Don Fellows). Her father, Captain Harry Masters (Nick Tate), initiates Altares's "photon drive" and the vessel commences its 4.3-light year journey to the star Alpha Centauri,[2] the first scheduled stop of the mission. As Altares nears the edge of the Solar System, Jane and David observe how Pluto appears to change colour from blue to red due to the shortening and lengthening of light waves caused by the Doppler Effect. Arriving at Alpha Centauri, the crew launch a series of satellites to transmit their scientific data back to Earth. Their main assignment complete, both the Masters and Bowen families agree to push deeper into space.

When Altares encounters a star cluster, Anna relates to Jane the accomplishments of the physicist Albert Einstein in the areas of special relativity theory and the unified field theory. The ship is subsequently hit by a meteor shower that damages its systems and causes the photon drive to re-activate, hurling Altares through space at such high velocity that the travellers are rendered unconscious. A failsafe cuts out the drive, but the vessel is left without power in the gravitational field of an ancient red giant on the point of supernova. Donning a heat suit, Captain Masters subjects himself to lethally high temperatures inside the reactor core in an attempt to repair the photon drive. He ultimately succeeds, and Anna and Jane pilot Altares beyond the blast radius of the star before it explodes.

Detecting a signal from Space Station Delta, which has taken the equivalent of 15 Earth years to reach Altares due to the effects of time dilation, the lost travellers are able to determine their position and Tom plots a course for the journey home. However, disaster strikes when the ship is caught in the powerful gravity of a black hole that has formed from the core of a collapsed star. Although Altares is unable to achieve the faster-than-light speeds required to break free, Anna suggests that the crew should not abandon all hope: from the black hole's rotation, she theorises that the object could be a gateway to another universe. Passing the black hole's event horizon, the vessel is wracked by space-time distortions; as Anna predicted, it is ejected into a parallel universe, from which escape is impossible. As Altares and her curious crew approach a planet, the Narrator concludes, "One thing is sure – this is not the final word. Not the end, but the beginning. A new universe, a new hope? Only time will tell."

Production[edit]

In the spring of 1975, with filming on the first series ("Year One") of Space: 1999 complete, NBC agent George Heinemann contacted Group Three producer Gerry Anderson with a proposal for a new science-fiction TV series, to be titled Special Treat.[3][4] It would consist of seven[1][5] one-hour episodes, each to educate child viewers about a science subject in the more entertaining format of an action-adventure.[3][4] NBC would distribute information leaflets to schools to publicise Special Treat.[3] Heinemann engaged Anderson to produce a special that would discuss, as its primary topic, the physicist Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity, which holds that the speed of light cannot be exceeded and that its speed is constant regardless of whether or not an object is in motion.[3][4]

Writing[edit]

In 1975, Group Three Productions had received no assurance from its distributor, ITC Entertainment, that a second series of Space: 1999 would be commissioned.[1] In view of the possibility of cancellation, Anderson and his scriptwriter, Space: 1999 script editor Johnny Byrne, conceived the special that would become The Day After Tomorrow as the prospective pilot episode of a new series.[1][3] If successful, the pilot – to be titled "Into Infinity" – would result in further episodes, and the series itself would be titled The Day After Tomorrow.[1][3] Ultimately, no funding could be secured for the production of additional episodes, and The Day After Tomorrow: "Into Infinity" remains a self-contained science-fiction drama.[1]

In preparation, Anderson researched Einstein's work, although he admits that he did not understand his theories.[3][4] In his script, Byrne proposed that E=mc2, the Einsteinian formula that relates mass to energy, should appear on-screen at intervals. Of the ending, the script commented that, "it's a universe not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine."[6] Although special relativity is its main scientific and educational focus of the programme, The Day After Tomorrow also examines time dilation, an effect whereby time decelerates at a rate proportional to that of the acceleration of an object.[5] For the crew of Altares, a ship capable of reaching the speed of light, the mission to Alpha Centauri is measured in years, while whole decades pass on Earth.[5] To encourage children to explore the subjects discussed in their own time, and develop their researching skills, Byrne scripted the characters to provide only partial explanations of special relativity and other theories.[5]

Casting[edit]

Cast
Actor Role Actor Role
Brian Blessed Dr Tom Bowen Martin Lev David Bowen
Joanna Dunham Dr Anna Bowen Don Fellows Cmdr Jim Forbes
Nick Tate Capt Harry Masters Ed Bishop Narrator
Katherine Levy Jane Masters Bones the Dog Spring

Most of the cast of The Day After Tomorrow had appeared in or otherwise contributed to earlier Anderson productions.[3] Nick Tate, who had starred as the supporting character of Alan Carter in Year One of Space: 1999, featured as the Captain of Altares, Harry Masters.[2] His contract awarded him third place in the credits.[5] Brian Blessed and Joanna Dunham, starring as the husband-and-wife team of Doctors Tom and Anna Bowen and billed above Tate, had both had guest parts: Blessed had appeared in the episode "Death's Other Dominion", Dunham in "Missing Link".[2]

Don Fellows, starring as Delta Space Station Commander Jim Forbes, had contributed an uncredited voice part to the pilot of Space: 1999, "Breakaway".[2] Ed Bishop had voiced the character of Captain Blue in the Supermarionation series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons before performing in the lead role of Commander Ed Straker in his live-action series UFO.[2] Neither Martin Lev nor Katherine Levy had any previous acting experience, although the Pinewood Studios filming for The Day After Tomorrow ran alongside that for the Alan Parker musical comedy Bugsy Malone, in which Lev had the role of gangster Dandy Dan.[2] Byrne's dog, Bones, appeared as the Masters' pet, Spring.[2]

Filming[edit]

The image depicts a futuristic spaceship docked to a structure that represents part of a space station.
Drawing inspiration from designs that had been used in Space: 1999, special effects technician Martin Bower constructed a six-foot (1.8 m) scale model of Altares (depicted here above the model representing Space Station Delta).[1] His designs have received critical praise.[7][8]

With a budget of £105,000,[1][3] principal photography for The Day After Tomorrow ran for ten days in July 1975 at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.[3][4] Special effects sequences required an additional six weeks of filming at Bray Studios in Berkshire, and production concluded in September.[1][4] During the production of "Year Two" of Space: 1999, Group Three Productions re-used a number of props that had appeared in The Day After Tomorrow for the purposes of reducing costs.[1] The production staff for The Day After Tomorrow included Anderson veterans who had worked on Space: 1999, among them special effects director Brian Johnson, editor David Lane and cinematographer Frank Watts.[1][3] Charles Crichton, with credits including eight of the 24 episodes for Year One of Space: 1999, returned to direct The Day After Tomorrow. Since Barry Gray had other professional commitments, the role of composing the theme music passed to newcomer Derek Wadsworth, who collaborated with Steve Coe to produce the incidental music and later composed for Year Two of Space: 1999.[5][9] Professor John Taylor served as scientific adviser on the production.[2]

In the absence of Bob Bell and Keith Wilson, who had transferred to the series The New Avengers (1976–77) and Star Maidens (1976), the role of production designer fell to Reg Hill.[1] The concepts for the Altares interior were the first set designs that Hill had submitted to Anderson since 1961, during the making of the Supermarionation series Fireball XL5.[1] To realise the designs, production staff re-dressed parts of the Ultra Probe set from the Space: 1999 episode "Dragon's Domain", along with set elements that had appeared in other episodes.[7] Mistakenly assuming that his commissions would feature in Space: 1999, uncredited[2] special effects technician Martin Bower designed and built scale models of Altares to imitate the appearance of Earth spaceships seen in the earlier series.[1] Long shots used a smaller, three-foot (0.91 m) model.[1] Meanwhile, a larger, six-foot (1.8 m) model, equipped with gas-powered rocket jets to simulate propulsion and a high-powered light for the Photon Drive, appeared in close-up shots.[1] Bower revamped the SS Daria prop that had featured in the Space: 1999 episode "Mission of the Darians" to construct the ten-foot (3.0 m) model of Space Station Delta.[1] The United Nations shuttle model measured two-point-five-foot (0.76 m) in length.[1]

Broadcast[edit]

In the United States, The Day After Tomorrow aired on 9 December 1975 on NBC as the third episode of Special Treat.[1] In the United Kingdom, it was first broadcast on 11 December 1976 on BBC1.[1]

Determining that the appearance of both the "Day After Tomorrow" and "Into Infinity" titles would be confusing to British audiences (since The Day After Tomorrow was to air as a special, rather than a pilot, on UK television), the BBC edited the opening titles to delete the series title.[1] In the event, the removal of "Into Infinity" would have been more difficult; while the "Day After Tomorrow" title is static, the episode title is superimposed on a moving model shot of the lift that transfers the Bowen and Masters families from Space Station Delta to Altares in the programme's opening scenes.[1] Consequently, The Day After Tomorrow was listed in Radio Times magazine and other British media under the "Into Infinity" banner only.[1]

The Day After Tomorrow was repeated for the first time in the UK on BBC1 on 6 December 1977.[10] In 1997, the BBC deleted the master tape from its archives; an edited copy was retained for possible additional repeats.[5] Clips of The Day After Tomorrow (as well as the Space: 1999 episode "Black Sun") were featured in "Black Holes", a 1997 edition of the Channel 4 documentary series Equinox.[2]

Under the title The Day after Tomorrow: Into Infinity, the special received its second UK repeat on 9 November 2014 on BBC Four.[11] The screening was introduced by Professor Brian Cox of the University of Manchester, a fan of The Day after Tomorrow since childhood, who praised the programme for its scientific accuracy.[12]

Reception[edit]

The premise is a good one, offering scope for a potential series, although it lacks the originality of previous Anderson series and is perhaps too close to Lost in Space in that it features a family crew with a malfunctioning spaceship (but without the robot and talking carrot).

Vincent Law[8]

Chris Bentley, author of The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide, notes plot similarities between The Day After Tomorrow and the Fireball XL5 episode "Faster Than Light", whose plot relates to the problems that a crew encounter when their spaceship accelerates to light speed.[1][2] Elizabeth Howell, a science journalist, argues that the programme is remarkable for its depiction of space exploration "in the colonisation sense, rather than Star Wars and its descendants who show space as a spot to be conquered."[13] She comments further that the themes are "strangely timeless ... the true, unknown part hits you at the very end."[13] In a review published in TV Zone magazine in 2002, Andrew Pixley praised the acting, music and direction in general, writing that the film "oozes with the charm associated with the golden era of Anderson."[14] However, criticising other aspects, he argued that "it is the fundamental concept that falls flat. Rather than making physics a palatable piece of escapist hokum, the format is dragged down to the level of a scantily-illustrated physics textbook ... something isn't quite right."[14]

Vincent Law, in a review published in the Gerry Anderson-centric fanzine Andersonic, considers The Day After Tomorrow an "oddity" and an "uncharacteristically lacklustre entry in the Anderson canon", commenting that the programme "cracks along at a fair old pace, but the educational content does tend to deaden the first half of the story and limits the room for character development."[8] Although he credits the production for "getting its science lesson across in a superficial way", he expresses a negative view of the narration, remarking that "at times Ed [Bishop] comes across like a presenter of one of those old schools programmes from the 70s, just imparting a string of dry facts."[8] Of the characters, it is his view that Jane alone is substantially developed.[8] Meanwhile, the adults onboard Altares are "pretty much peripheral", and David is a "miniature Spock" who "lurks around the ship either brandishing his slide rule, threatening to calculate something, or staring out of the porthole (a nice touch!) dribbling about pulsars."[8]

The image depicts a futuristic spaceship moving past a brightly-coloured planet, with a nebula and stars in the background and the formula E=MC2 superimposed in bold white letters over the planet surface.
The special effects have received a mixed critical response, and inspired comparisons to film director Stanley Kubrick.[6][8] The appearances of the mass-energy equivalence equation have been seen as confusing.[8]

Law believes that the general standard of production design and special effects is lower than that of Space: 1999, expressing satisfaction with the scale model effects but suggesting that "the slow-motion filming and wobbly mirror effects are more in keeping with Blake's 7."[8] He views the "info dump" opening titles as a weak imitation of the Space: 1999 introduction, and the multiple appearances of the E=mc2 equation as confusing.[8] Certain props, such as the slide rule, and design elements, such as punched cards, are also objects of criticism for Law, who questions whether a futuristic spaceship that can travel at the speed of light would be equipped with such relatively primitive technology.[8] Although he suggests that the plot device of the accident-prone Altares reflects the shifting public perception of space exploration in the 1970s, "a time when optimism in the space programme was on the wane", Law considers such design elements to be indicative of the manner in which The Day After Tomorrow "has stood the test of time less well than other series."[8]

In an internet blog retrospective, literary critic John Kenneth Muir lauds Johnny Byrne's "lyrical" scriptwriting, refers to Brian Johnson's special effects as "top-notch for the era", and considers Frank Watts' filming "stunning".[6] To him, the message of the special implies a "high-tech, science-minded update of the whole Lost in Space format", while the plot effectively mixes elements of the "claustrophobic" and "action-packed" with "psychedelic" elements such as the descent into the black hole, a subject on which he alludes to the work of film director Stanley Kubrick: the sequence is "a Kubrickian wonder, a montage dominated by double images, slow-motion photography and the use of a creepy distortion lens. Pretty powerful stuff for a kids' show."[6] Law, on the other hand, considers the faster-than-light shots to be the best special effects, and compares the black hole sequence unfavourably to the closing act of Kubrick's 1968 science-fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey: "Kubrick's Star-Gate it is not."[8]

Arguing that The Day After Tomorrow is "kinda like Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey ... for kids", science-fiction writer and reviewer Christopher Mills expresses disappointment with the effect of the black hole itself, but describes the fall into the anomaly as "very colourful".[7] However, in contrast with Muir, he views the sequences set inside Altares during the descent as "a bit of a hoot", directing particular criticism at the use of gesticulations on the part of the actors.[7] Commenting of the script that the plot contains "plenty of wonky pseudo-science and insanely improbable coincidences", Mills also recalls his fascination at "how 'British' ... the characters were, facing each new peril with remarkable calm and 'stiff upper lip' stoicism. By the time they're caught in the clutches of the ominous black hole, they're apparently so resigned to being jerked around by the universe that they just hold hands and calmly await their fate."[7]

Despite the mostly cold and inexpressive characters, lack of dramatic conflict, or really, even much of a narrative, "Into Infinity" is still entertaining. The sets are convincing (if familiar), the design of the Altares is fantastic, and the passage through the black hole is appropriately psychedelic.

Christopher Mills[7]

Muir comments that the feel of The Day After Tomorrow is "a little more colourful (less minimalist) in colour and costume than Space: 1999's sterling Year One", with such elements as Wadsworth's "hard-hitting, hard-driving musical score" livening up the proceedings.[6] The music has also received praise from Law, who notes a "dynamic pace",[8] and from Anderson himself.[15] Muir summarises the final product as a "Year One-style 'awe and mystery of space' narrative, but one conveyed in the more colourful-looking or -sounding Year Two fashion", and a "time capsule of once-state-of-the-art science fiction".[6] To Law, it is "half-forgotten experiment which is now perhaps only of interest to aficionados", but "an interesting look at what might have been" if Anderson had produced further episodes.[8] Mills interprets it as a "solid little piece of 70s juvenile sci-fi" that is "maybe not quite as 'scientifically accurate' as it pretends to be, but fun".[7]

Other media[edit]

In 1997, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) certified The Day After Tomorrow as U.[16] Fanderson, the official fan club dedicated to the productions of Gerry Anderson, holds all the home video distribution rights.[1][17] Licensed releases of The Day After Tomorrow are limited to a 1997 VHS and a 2002 DVD, both of which are exclusive merchandise available to Fanderson members only.[1][17] Space Police (a pilot that inspired the series Space Precinct) is included on the DVD, which presents both films in a digitally remastered format.[18] In addition to Region 0 and dual PAL-NTSC coding, it contains special features such as production and design photographs.[18] Both the VHS and the DVD include the opening titles as originally presented prior to the 1976 BBC edits.[1] In his 2002 review, Andrew Pixley praised Fanderson for the professionalism of the release, which he described as "excellent".[14]

Science-fiction writer Douglas R. Mason, an author of original Space: 1999 novels, produced a novelisation of Johnny Byrne's script for The Day After Tomorrow.[2] Mason's publisher, Futurama Publications, had intended to distribute further books, since Anderson had conceived The Day After Tomorrow as the pilot episode for a prospective TV series.[2] When Anderson abandoned this idea, Futurama cancelled Mason's novelisation, which remains unpublished.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Bentley, p. 315.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Bentley, p. 316.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Archer and Hearn, p. 226.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Archer and Nicholls, p. 174.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Fanderson Presents a Gerry Anderson Production: The Day After Tomorrow: 'Into Infinity'". fanderson.org.uk. Bradford: Fanderson. 2004. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Kenneth Muir, John (10 December 2008). "Cult Movie Review: The Day After Tomorrow (1975)". reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on 14 December 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Mills, Christopher (9 September 2010). "Revisiting The Day After Tomorrow: 'Into Infinity' (1975)". space1970.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Law, Vincent (Spring 2006). "Into Infinity". Andersonic (2). Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  9. ^ Archer and Nicholls, p. 179.
  10. ^ "BBC One London – 6 December 1977: Listings". Radio Times (London: BBC Magazines) (2,821): 47–9. OCLC 0033-8060. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "BBC Four Schedule". BBC Online. BBC. 9 November 2014. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  12. ^ Cox, Brian (presenter) (2014) [1975]. The Day after Tomorrow: Into Infinity (TV production). BBC. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Howell, Elizabeth (13 February 2011). "Review: The Day After Tomorrow: 'Into Infinity'". pars3c.com. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c Pixley, Andrew (June 2002). "Into Infinity and Star Laws". TV Zone (London: Visual Imagination) (152). ISSN 0957-3844. OCLC 226121852. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  15. ^ Archer and Hearn, p. 232.
  16. ^ "The Day After Tomorrow: 'Into Infinity' Rated U by the BBFC". bbfc.co.uk. London: British Board of Film Classification. 24 April 1997. Archived from the original on 14 December 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  17. ^ a b Archer and Hearn, p. 242.
  18. ^ a b "Fanderson Sales". fanderson.org.uk. Bradford: Fanderson. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
Bibliography

External links[edit]