The Day After Tomorrow (TV special)
|The Day After Tomorrow|
Opening titles, featuring "Into Infinity" subtitle
|Also known as||'Into Infinity'|
|Written by||Johnny Byrne|
|Directed by||Charles Crichton|
|Narrated by||Ed Bishop|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||47 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Gerry Anderson Productions|
NBC (United States)|
BBC1 (United Kingdom)
|First shown in||United States|
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 first and second 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. The Day After Tomorrow first aired in December 1975 in the United States on NBC, as an episode of an occasional series of after school specials for children, Special Treat. In the UK, it was broadcast on BBC1 as a TV special in December 1976 and December 1977; 37 years later, in November 2014, a revised version was broadcast on BBC Four. The plot of The Day After Tomorrow concerns the interstellar mission of Altares, a science spacecraft of the future that can travel at the speed of light. From its initial destination of Alpha Centauri, the starship pushes deeper into space; there, her crew of three adults and two children encounter such phenomena as a meteor shower, a red giant and, finally, a black hole, which pulls the ship into another universe.
Originally commissioned to create a child-friendly introduction to Albert Einstein's special relativity theory in the form of an exciting action-adventure, Anderson and Byrne conceived The Day After Tomorrow as a television pilot for a potential series and gave it an alternative episode title of "Into Infinity". Ultimately, Anderson's limited budget prevented additional episodes from being made. With a cast and crew including veterans of earlier Anderson productions, filming on The Day After Tomorrow ran from July to September 1975; this comprised ten days of principal photography and six weeks of special effects shooting. The visuals of Space: 1999 provided inspiration for both Martin Bower, who designed the scale model effects for the special, and production designer Reg Hill, who re-used set elements created for various episodes of that series to build the interiors of Altares. Newcomer Derek Wadsworth collaborated with Steve Coe to compose the theme and incidental music.
Critical reception to The Day After Tomorrow remains mixed. The model effects and music have been praised; however, commentators have been both favourable and unfavourable in their comparisons of the special's "psychedelic" images to the visual style employed by film director Stanley Kubrick. Although Byrne's scriptwriting has been described as "lyrical", and it has been suggested that The Day After Tomorrow contains homages to the 1960s TV series Lost in Space, the plot has been criticised for a lack of suspense, which critics have generally attributed to the fact that the special is primarily a science education programme. Further criticism has been directed at the acting, with Martin Lev's performance attracting a particularly negative response. Author Douglas R. Mason's novelisation of the special remains unpublished, but a new novelisation by Gregory L Norris was released by Anderson Entertainment in September 2017.
In the future, the survival of human civilisation is increasingly threatened by rising pollution, environmental damage and the depletion of the Earth's natural resources. The narrator (Ed Bishop) introduces Space Station Delta and the "lightship" Altares – the latter of which is the first Earth spacecraft to "harness the limitless power of the photon", allowing it to 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 is due to leave Delta on a mission beyond the Solar System to seek out Earth-like planets for possible colonisation. Due to the effects of time dilation, by which astronauts travelling at near-light speed age far more slowly than people on Earth, the ship will be crewed by two whole "family units". Arriving in a United Nations shuttle, Doctors Tom and Anna Bowen (Brian Blessed and Joanna Dunham) board Altares with their son, David (Martin Lev). Meanwhile, Jane Masters (Katharine Levy) leaves her dog, Spring, in the care of station commander Jim Forbes (Don Fellows). Her father, Captain Harry Masters (Nick Tate), engages Altares's "photon drive" and the vessel starts its 4.3-light-year journey to the star Alpha Centauri, its first scheduled stop. 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 relay data back to Earth. Having completed their primary objective, the Masters and Bowen families then agree to push deeper into space.
When Altares encounters a star cluster, Anna tells Jane of Einstein's accomplishments in the areas of special relativity and unified field theory. Shortly after, the ship is hit by a meteor shower that damages various systems and causes the photon drive to re-activate, hurling Altares through space at such velocity that the travellers are knocked out. A fail-safe brings the vessel, now powerless, to a halt within the gravitational field of a red giant on the brink of supernova. Donning a heat suit, Captain Masters risks his life by entering the reactor core in a bid to repair the drive. He succeeds, and Anna and Jane pilot the ship outside the blast radius of the star before it explodes.
Detecting a signal from Delta, which has taken the equivalent of 15 Earth years to reach them, the travellers are able to plot their position and lay in a course home. However, disaster strikes when Altares is caught in the gravity of a black hole that has formed from a collapsed star. The photon drive is unable to provide the faster-than-light speeds necessary to break free; nevertheless, Anna urges the crew not to give up hope, for she suspects that the object may be a gateway to another universe. Her theory is proven correct when, sustaining the various space-time distortions at the event horizon, Altares safely emerges from the black hole – intact, albeit with no way of returning to Earth. As the vessel and its intrepid 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."
In the spring of 1975, after filming on "Year One" of Space: 1999 had been completed, NBC agent George Heinemann contacted Group Three producer Gerry Anderson with an idea for a new science-fiction TV series. This would comprise seven one-hour episodes designed to teach children about scientific subjects in the format of an entertaining action-adventure. To publicise the series, NBC undertook to distribute information leaflets to schools. Heinemann hired Anderson to produce a TV special that would discuss, as its main topic, the physicist Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity, which holds that the speed of light cannot be exceeded and remains constant whether an object is still or in motion.
By 1975, Group Three Productions had received no assurance from its distributor, ITC Entertainment, that a second series of Space: 1999 would be commissioned. With the possibility of cancellation looming, Anderson and his scriptwriter, Space: 1999 script editor Johnny Byrne, conceived the special that would become The Day After Tomorrow as the pilot episode of a prospective new series. If successful, the pilot, titled "Into Infinity", would be followed by additional episodes – the series itself to be named The Day After Tomorrow. Ultimately, Anderson was unsuccessful in securing the funding needed to make a full series, and The Day After Tomorrow: "Into Infinity" remains a self-contained science-fiction drama.
In preparation for his work on the special, Anderson researched Einstein's achievements; in his authorised biography, he admitted that he did not understand any of the physicist's theories. Byrne's script directed that E=mc2 – the Einsteinian formula that relates mass to energy – appear on-screen at intervals. Of the ending, it commented that, "it's a universe not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine." Although special relativity provides the 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. For the crew of Altares, a ship capable of travelling at the speed of light, the mission to Alpha Centauri is measured in years, while whole decades pass on Earth. To encourage children to explore the topics in their own time (and thereby develop their research skills), Byrne wrote the characters in such a way that they provide only partial explanations of special relativity and related subjects.
|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. Nick Tate, who had appeared as the supporting character of Alan Carter in Year One of Space: 1999, played the Captain of Altares, Harry Masters. His contract awarded him third place in the credits. Brian Blessed and Joanna Dunham, starring as the husband-and-wife duo of Doctors Tom and Anna Bowen, and billed above Tate, had both appeared in guest roles – Blessed in the episode "Death's Other Dominion", Dunham in "Missing Link".
In the role of Space Station Delta Commander Jim Forbes was Don Fellows, who had played an uncredited voice part in Space: 1999's first episode, "Breakaway". Ed Bishop had voiced the character of Captain Blue in Anderson's late-1960s puppet series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons before taking on in the lead role of Commander Ed Straker in the live-action UFO. Neither Martin Lev nor Katherine Levy had any previous acting experience, although the filming of The Day After Tomorrow at Pinewood Studios coincided with that of Alan Parker's musical comedy Bugsy Malone, in which Lev played the role of gangster Dandy Dan. Byrne's dog, Bones, appeared as the Masters' pet, Spring.
Principal photography was conducted over ten days in July 1975 at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire on a budget of £105,000. The special effects sequences required a further six weeks' filming at Bray Studios in Berkshire; production ended in September. During the filming of Space: 1999's "Year Two", Group Three re-used a number of props from The Day After Tomorrow as a cost-saving measure. The production staff included several Anderson regulars who had contributed to the earlier series – among them effects director Brian Johnson, editor David Lane and cinematographer Frank Watts. Charles Crichton, whose credits included eight episodes of Space: 1999, returned to direct The Day After Tomorrow. As Barry Gray was busy with other commitments, the task of composing the theme music fell to newcomer Derek Wadsworth, who also collaborated with Steve Coe to produce the incidental music and would subsequently compose for Year Two of Space: 1999. Professor John Taylor served as scientific adviser on the production.
In the absence of Bob Bell and Keith Wilson, who were working on The New Avengers and Star Maidens, the role of production designer was taken up by Reg Hill. The set designs for the Altares interiors were the first that Hill had presented to Anderson since the making of the Supermarionation series Fireball XL5 in 1961. To realise Hill's concepts, the production team adapted parts of the Ultra Probe set created for the Space: 1999 episode "Dragon's Domain", along with various set elements that had appeared in other episodes. Working on the mistaken assumption that his commissions were to appear in Space: 1999, uncredited effects technician Martin Bower took inspiration from the appearance of spaceships featured in the earlier series in designing and building scale models of the lightship Altares. A small, three-foot (0.91 m) model appears in long shots; a larger, six-foot (1.8 m) version, fitted with gas-powered rocket jets to simulate exhaust and a high-powered light to represent the photon drive, was used for close-ups. To construct the 10-foot (3.0 m) model of Space Station Delta, Bower revamped the SS Daria prop first seen in "Mission of the Darians". The United Nations shuttle model was 2.5 feet (0.76 m) long.
Fearing that the use of both the "Day After Tomorrow" and "Into Infinity" titles would confuse British audiences (as The Day After Tomorrow was to air not as a pilot, but as a special on UK television), the BBC edited the opening titles to delete the former. In any case, the removal of the episode title, "Into Infinity", would have been more difficult; while the series title appears against a simple starfield, 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 during the programme's opening scenes. Consequently, The Day After Tomorrow was listed in Radio Times magazine and other British media exclusively under the title of "Into Infinity".
The Day After Tomorrow had its first UK repeat on BBC1 on 6 December 1977. In 1997, the BBC deleted the master tape from its archives but retained an edited copy for possible future repeats. 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.
Under the title of The Day after Tomorrow: Into Infinity, a new version was screened in the UK on 9 November 2014 on BBC Four. This revised version (with edited end credits to facilitate the inclusion of the Anderson Entertainment logo) was introduced by Professor Brian Cox of the University of Manchester, who stated that he had been a fan of The Day after Tomorrow since childhood and praised the programme for its scientific accuracy.
– Vincent Law
Chris Bentley, author of The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide, notes similarities between The Day After Tomorrow and the Fireball XL5 episode "Faster Than Light", whose plot concerns the problems encountered by the crew of spacecraft when it accelerates to light speed. 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." She comments further that the themes are "strangely timeless ... the true, unknown part hits you at the very end." 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." 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."
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." 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." He believes that Jane is the only character who develops over the course of the special. The adults, by contrast, are "pretty much peripheral", while David can be considered 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."
Law believes that the general standard of production design and special effects is lower than that of Space: 1999, expressing satisfaction with the scale models but suggesting that "the slow-motion filming and wobbly mirror effects are more in keeping with Blake's 7." 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. Certain props (such as the slide rule) and design elements (such as punched cards) also come under criticism from Law, who questions whether a futuristic "lightship" would be equipped with such relatively primitive technology. 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 regards such design elements as indicative of the manner in which The Day After Tomorrow "has stood the test of time less well than other series."
Commenting on his online blog, literary critic John Kenneth Muir praises Johnny Byrne's "lyrical" scriptwriting, judges Brian Johnson's effects to be "top-notch for the era", and deems Frank Watts' filming "stunning". For Muir, 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 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." Law, meanwhile, considers the faster-than-light shots to be the special's best effects, and compares the black hole sequence unfavourably to the closing act of Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey: "Kubrick's Star-Gate it is not."
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". 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 actors' exaggerated gesticulations. Commenting that the plot contains "plenty of wonky pseudo-science and insanely improbable coincidences", Mills also recalls his fascination at "how 'British' ... the characters [are], 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."
– Christopher Mills
Muir suggests 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. The music has also received praise from Law, who notes a "dynamic pace", as well as Anderson himself. 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". 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 been able to produce a full series. Mills interprets it as a "solid little piece of 70s juvenile sci-fi" that is perhaps "not quite as 'scientifically accurate' as it pretends to be, but fun".
In 1997, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) awarded The Day After Tomorrow a U certificate. Licensed releases of The Day After Tomorrow are available in a compilation DVD set entitled 'The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson' which is available in the UK and Australia/New Zealand.
Science-fiction writer Douglas R. Mason, an author of several Space: 1999 novels, wrote a novelisation of Johnny Byrne's script for The Day After Tomorrow. Mason's publisher, Futurama Publications, had originally intended to release additional books, since Anderson had conceived The Day After Tomorrow as the pilot episode for a prospective TV series. When Anderson abandoned this idea, Futurama cancelled Mason's novelisation, which currently remains unpublished. However a 2017 novelisation of the story by Gregory L Norris was released by Anderson Entertainment in September 2017.
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