|Space: 1999 episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Tom Clegg|
|Written by||Michael Winder|
|Original air date||1 September 1977|
"Devil's Planet" is the twenty-second episode of the second series of Space: 1999 (and the forty-sixth overall episode of the programme). The screenplay was written by Michael Winder; the director was Tom Clegg. The original title was "Devil's Moon". The final shooting script is dated 9 September 1976. Live-action filming took place Monday 1 November 1976 through Thursday 18 November 1976 and it was first broadcast in the U.K. on 1 September 1977.
It is 2306 days after leaving Earth orbit, and the Moon is passing a solar system containing a pair of potentially habitable planets. John Koenig takes Eagle One on a reconnaissance flight; his co-pilot is Blake Maine, who also serves as a medic on Moonbase Alpha's search-and-rescue team. On approach, one planet is revealed to be much smaller and orbiting the other like a moon. A sensor sweep of the larger world reveals a breathable atmosphere and vegetation. Through the clouds, Maine spies what could be a city. A spectro-scan confirms buildings, roads...and coloured dots that may be people. Sensors, though, register no sign of life—until a single humanoid life-form is detected outside the city.
After landing, the two men follow the life reading, which ceases as abruptly as it appeared. In a neglected, overgrown park, they find a freestanding booth surrounded by dozens of corpses. Maine scans the bodies, which appear free of wounds and show no sign of decay. He consults with Doctor Ed Spencer on Alpha, who asks for a closer examination of a corpse. Maine raises an eyelid, revealing the man's optic blood vessels violently ruptured just prior to death. Spencer suspects either a neurological pathogen or nerve-gas. Humans must be immune to the agent responsible for this mass death.
The investigation is interrupted when a shimmering aura forms around the booth. A man materialises and exits, then drops to his knees in great distress before keeling over dead. Koenig and Maine depart. Flying over the city, they see corpses lying everywhere. Scans of the satellite planet reveal identical atmosphere and botanical life. While making a close pass, the Eagle blunders into a force-field. Koenig manages a quick mayday call to Moonbase before the electronic systems fail. The ship plummets out of control. At the last minute, Koenig conjures a short burst from the retro-rockets to level the ship as it ploughs into a wooded area and crashes.
Koenig drags the semi-conscious Maine from the wreckage. In the forest, they witness a bizarre ritual: a running man pursued by a trio of whip-wielding young women dressed in red catsuits. It is a hunt, with the man trying to reach a sculptural column in a small clearing. The huntresses ensnare their desperate quarry just short of his goal. When Koenig and Maine move to assist him, the medic runs into an invisible energy barrier and is vapourised. As Koenig gapes at his smouldering remains, he is set upon by one of the women and clubbed unconscious with the hilt of her whip.
This small planet, Entra, is a prison for political dissidents sent from the larger world, Ellna. As the huntress-guards carry Koenig to their headquarters, a trial is underway there in a large hall. A prisoner stands accused of plotting an uprising against the ruling authority. Beside him stands Crael, a senior prisoner and 'trusty', pleading his case. The recipient of this plea is a strikingly beautiful woman, the cruel and cunning Elizia, mistress-governor of this penal colony. But this is nothing more than a kangaroo court, and she declares the accused to be guilty.
The proceedings are interrupted by the senior guard, Sares, who reports on the capture of the alien. She presents Koenig's stun-gun to her Mistress—who passes judgment on the accused by shooting him. Merely stunned, he is then sentenced to 'The Hunt'. Crael denounces 'The Hunt' as inhuman, as only one in a hundred survive. Elizia decrees that any prisoner offered the chance to outwit the Hunters and reach the 'Sanctuary Column'—winning instant parole and a return to the home planet—will accept the challenge.
On Alpha, Bill Fraser and Alibe lift off in Eagle Two on a rescue mission. As the two set off for Entra, Elizia goes to observe Koenig's interrogation by her Head of Security. He is still unconscious, and the Interrogator obtains information with a mind-probe. She is dismayed to discover his first-hand knowledge of the plague on Ellna—a secret known only to herself and Elizia. As part of her diabolical agenda, the Mistress of Entra has withheld all knowledge of the disaster from both prisoners and staff. Elizia orders the information extracted, regardless of any brain damage this may cause...
She rejoins Crael to grant an early parole to another inmate. After the transbeamer conveys the man home (and to his death), Crael wishes to discuss topics of concern. The convict population is questioning why the government has stopped sending new prisoners to Entra. They are also unhappy with the recent rules banning live contact with Ellna. Concerned only with preserving the status quo of her personal empire, she responds with plausible lies. When he cites her cruel policies as human rights' violations, a guard lashes him for impertinence. The Mistress smirks, stating he is lucky he amuses her.
The Interrogator informs Elizia the alien anatomy of Koenig's brain is preventing her from erasing the damnable secret. Fancying him, Elizia asks if his species knows passion. The mind probe visualises an intimate moment between Koenig and Helena Russell. Ignoring her Mistress' lust, the no-nonsense Interrogator discusses the growing unrest among the prisoners. She advises telling the truth about the plague. Elizia refuses, knowing the inmates would become ungovernable. The Interrogator predicts Koenig will tell all. Elizia is confident no one will believe him. Putting this to the test, she orders the Alphan man taken to a cell.
Koenig awakens to find himself under the scrutiny of three Entran prisoners. As expected, he soon reveals his knowledge of the mass death on Ellna. The convicts are torn—is this the truth or another of Elizia's mind games? Just then, the 'weekly news' from Ellna is played over the public-address system. (Fabricated by Elizia, this broadcast is the only mode of information available to the prisoners.) As an announcer recounts false news of friends and family, the angry prisoners attack the lying alien. Nearly strung up with an improvised noose, the Commander is saved in the nick of time by the guards.
Elizia openly ogles Koenig like a male sex object. She invites him to stay with her and experience undreamed-of pleasure—until she tires of him. After Koenig refuses her crass offer, further conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Eagle Two in orbit. Koenig is held in a sound-proof force-field as Elizia contacts the ship. She attempts to warn them off, but Fraser is determined to rescue his comrades. To deter him, Elizia lies, saying both men were killed in the crash. Despite the threat of the Entran defence shield, Fraser declares he will come in shooting, if necessary, in order to recover the bodies.
Elizia craftily changes tactics, granting permission to land. She directs Crael to lead a work-party to the clearing near the crash site. By the time the Alphans arrive, all they will find is evidence of two deaths. While Koenig's footprints are swept away, another inmate, Phirly, dons the Commander's uniform. He is told by Crael to leave a trail, walk up to the deactivated energy fence, and strip. To avoid any unpleasantness with his comrades, it must appear that Koenig, too, died on contact with the fence. Trusting Crael, Phirly does as he is told. However, Elizia reactivates the fence early, reducing him to a smoking heap...to give the remains verisimilitude.
Koenig, installed in a private cell, watches from his window (invisible from the outside) as Eagle Two touches down. Elizia and an honour guard greet the Alpha party and they proceed to the crash site. A consummate actress, Elizia radiates sympathy as she relates her version of the tragedy—the two men, having survived the crash, blundered into a boundary fence before help could arrive. Fraser and Alibe are shown the staged footprints and two piles of charred clothing. The grieving Alphans then depart. Koenig watches their ship ascend, then looks down to see Elizia gazing up at him with a triumphant smile.
The Commander is brought to the reception hall where an enticingly-gowned Elizia awaits. A hunter at heart, she finds the thrill of seduction in the chase as well as the conquest and plays cat-and-mouse games with him. In the face of his defiance, she reminds him that, though alive, his people believe him dead. Remaining alive depends on his 'entertainment quotient'...until he irritates or bores her. Koenig seems to capitulate, taking her in his arms and kissing her—then sends her tumbling into her personal guards before escaping outside into the woods.
Giving him a head-start, Elizia gathers an elite posse. Being an alien who has shown contempt for their culture and authority, she says, he must die slowly when captured. While the guards begin tracking him, Koenig comes across the wreckage of Eagle One. His attempt to contact Moonbase is heard by the huntresses. Elizia smirks; while no transmission can penetrate the defence shield, it has pinpointed his location. Koenig sees the women closing in and deploys the ship's laser—which has been sabotaged.
As Elizia and company board the ship, he salvages a homing transmitter and a fire extinguisher before jumping down the command-module escape chute. Three guards soon overtake the fugitive, but Koenig incapacitates them with bursts from the fire extinguisher and right-crosses to the chin. As he activates the transmitter, Sares grabs him, boasting their shield is blocking his signal. Breaking her grip, he flips her over his shoulder. With this new information, he changes tactics and begins walking toward the prison tower. Believing he has surrendered, the guards stand down.
Koenig enters the hall and, before anyone can prevent him, darts into the transbeam booth. Elizia raises a weapon, threatening to disintegrate him. Koenig cagily reminds everyone that if she shoots, she destroys the transbeamer—and their only means of returning home. The Interrogator reminds Elizia that, with no hope of parole, the prisoners will revolt. Crael addresses Koenig regarding his claim of a plague-ravaged Ellna. Not only is it true, Koenig says, but Elizia knows and has been lying to them all. A verbal battle of wits ensues, with Koenig and Elizia each challenging the other's veracity. Upon engaging the transbeamer, Koenig issues her a final challenge—follow and bring him back alive.
On Ellna, he activates the homing device. As hoped, the signal is no longer blocked by Entra's defence field and is received by Eagle Two. On Entra, Elizia's reign of terror ends. The Interrogator will no longer support her lies and the guards' loyalty is broken. She transports herself to Ellna, emboldened by the fact that she will at least kill Koenig before dying. But death comes swifter than expected; she collapses after only two shots at her nemesis. The Eagle arrives, and Koenig grimly walks away from the body of his ruthless adversary...
- Dora Reisser — The Interrogator
- Cassandra Harris — Controller Sares
- Angus MacInnes — Jelto
- Arthur White — Kinano
- Michael Dickinson — Blake Maine
- John Hug — Astronaut Bill Fraser
- Alibe Parsons — Alibe
- Sam Dastor — Doctor Ed Spencer
- Geoffrey Greenhill — Phirly
- Peter Brayham — Garth
- Robert Reeves — Peter
- Del Baker — Hunted Prisoner
- Alan Harris — Accused Prisoner
- With a plot derived from The Most Dangerous Game, set in an alien prison reminiscent of Devil's Island, and showcasing a bevy of catsuited, whip-wielding dominatrices, "Devil's Planet" is the last of the 'Koenig Double-Up' scripts. The episode is unique in that it was intentionally crafted to feature Martin Landau alone. Barbara Bain, Catherine Schell and Tony Anholt, though receiving on-screen credit, would appear only in library footage seen during Koenig's mind-probe; Bain would also be heard narrating Helena's customary status report in the hook. (Bain, Schell, Anholt and Nick Tate were off filming the opposing double-up installment "Dorzak".) This decision made for an odd episode, as the viewer would expect to see the reactions of the regular characters to the news of Koenig's demise.
- Entitled "Devil's Moon" until post-production, the story would undergo other adjustments: (1) The Alphans were to have received a distress signal from Ellna; this was the reason Koenig was flying with a member of the medical rescue team; (2) Significant dialogue between Elizia and Crael was cut. It was inferred that Crael had served his sentence, but remained out of a sense of duty to act as defence counsel for the inmates. More dialogue about the rights of the imprisoned was also excised; (3) A sequence in the security ward was removed where, faced with Fraser's threat of attack, the Entrans view Koenig's knowledge of Earth warfare. Library footage would have depicted the history of war from marching Roman legions to the Hiroshima atomic bomb
- The supporting cast was to include Bill Fraser, Doctor Ben Vincent and Sandra Benes. While John Hug would appear as Fraser, Jeffery Kissoon was no longer available and his role was given to newcomer Sam Dastor, playing Doctor Ed Spencer. Sahn was also replaced, as Zienia Merton was committed to a lead part in the Norwegian film Kosmetikkrevolusjonen. She had intended staying long enough to film this episode, excited that her character would leave the confines of Moonbase. However, delays in the Space: 1999 shooting schedule further pushed back the starting date and Merton was forced to depart for Norway. The role would be given to American actress Alibe Parsons. Parsons, playing Alibe, a communications officer, would be given all the Sahn material through the end of the series.
The episode was adapted in the fifth Year Two Space: 1999 novel The Time Fighters by Michael Butterworth published in 1977. Few changes were made to this narrative when the author chose to blend this story with "The Séance Spectre". Koenig and Maine were scouting ahead of the Moon after its emergence from a space warp. As the ship went down, they observed 'Sandor' and his mutineers overruning Command Centre. Elizia was portrayed as more psychotically sadistic, wanting to fashion Koenig's skin into a whip after he rejects her.
In the reworked omnibus Space: 1999—Year Two, the absence of Helena, Maya, Verdeschi and Carter is rationalised by placing them out of communications range on the Eagle fleet housing the Alphans while repair crews tend to the damage done to Alpha by the waste-pit detonation in "The Séance Spectre".
- Fanderson - The Official Gerry Anderson Website. Original ATV Midlands broadcast date.
- Destination: Moonbase Alpha, Telos Publications, 2010
- List of Space: 1999 episodes
- Heard in voice-over narration and seen only via library footage
- Seen only via library footage
- "Devil's Moon" final shooting script dated 9 September 1976.
- Anecdotes & Armadillos, Lulu Enterprises, 2005
- Space: 1999 - The Time Fighters, Star Publications, 1977
- Space: 1999—Year Two, Powys Media, 2006
- Space: 1999 - "Devil's Planet" - The Catacombs episode guide
- Space: 1999 - "Devil's Planet" - Moonbase Alpha's Space: 1999 page
|List of Space: 1999 episodes||Next produced:
"The Immunity Syndrome"
"The Immunity Syndrome"