The Metamorph

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The Metamorph

Post by Commander Koenig on Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:55 pm

First episode of series 2 for discussion. What did you think of it as an episode? Good introduction to year 2 or not? What are your thoughts on Maya as a new character?

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Re: The Metamorph

Post by s99fan on Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:11 pm

A decent plot, which is not a surprise as it is a 'recycled' series one story. Brian Blessed was gloriously bombastic, and Catherine Schell lovely. The constant glaring orange sets sadly date the episode to the seventies, and the computer 'screens' that were nothing but holes in the wall were just cheap. While a fair episode overall, especially in comparison to what follows, I can only recall my confusion and devastation to find Bergman, Morrow and Kano gone without an explanation. That sinking feeling has never quite left, even now.
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Re: The Metamorph

Post by Senmut on Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:02 pm

I felt the same way, re Bergamn, et al. However, re the computer screens. Why should we expect alien intruments to resemble our own? After all, written language, something that performs a valuable task, takes myriad forms. Why should alien machines look like ours?
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Re: The Metamorph

Post by s99fan on Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:31 am

Except they did the same thing to cute costs in One Moment of Humanity when based on Alpha:



Another example of going from movie-quality production values, to afterschool children's television quality.
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Re: The Metamorph

Post by CHAS1999 on Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:11 am

Metamorph was like nite and day after ending Y1 with TOA episode 24. As a kid i loved the music of Y2 and all the crazy action.

I love Y1 and Y2 for different reasons.

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Re: The Metamorph

Post by CalgaryAlphan on Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:01 am

I shared my review of "Breakaway", so I think I should show the same courtesy to "The Metamorph":

Destined to be one of the finest episodes of the second season, ‘The Metamorph’ marks the return of Johnny Byrne who, along with Christopher Penfold, was more responsible than anybody else for the story direction and the heart and soul of Year One. His contributions to Year Two would unfortunately be lesser.
The immediate introduction of the altered, but engaging, Year Two cast and sets is generally successful. The change from Main Mission to Command Centre is very disappointing, but the new set is certainly functional, if unremarkable. The alterations to the Alphans’ uniforms are effective, especially the incorporation of the identity badges and various jackets. Commander Koenig’s vest, however, is a terrible addition. (Martin Landau later asserted that he gave it away to a fan visiting the set.)
Commander Koenig has survived the season transition with little discernible change, and Landau’s performance is one of the strongest in the episode. The other anchor, Barbara Bain as Helena Russell, has been altered slightly to make her appear and act a little softer and more overtly warm. In fact, she will look marvellous throughout the second season. Her changes are subtle enough to be a natural progression and serve to make the character more easily likeable to casual viewers. Nick Tate continues as Alan Carter and remains one of the most appealing and dependable Alphans. Tony Anholt is well integrated into the cast as Tony Verdeschi, the new hot-headed Italian chief of Moonbase security and Koenig’s new second in command. Verdeschi is essentially the replacement for Year One’s Main Mission Controller Paul Morrow. Zienia Merton returns as Sandra (although her character will be re-named Sahn from the episode ‘Catacombs of the Moon’ onwards), and is given a very strong supporting role. Her presence is an undeniable asset to the series. Pilot Bill Fraser, played by John Hug, is a beneficial addition in a supporting role, with his new wife Annette, played by Anouska Hempel, adding additional depth to his character. Sadly, she will never be seen or mentioned again. However, as her only duty seems to be delivering coffee to Command Centre staff, her presence won’t be greatly missed (except, one assumes, by her husband!).
Catherine Schell’s first appearance as Maya is also one of her most wonderful in the role. She would have other notable opportunities to shine in later episodes, including ‘The Rules of Luton’ and ‘The Dorcons’, but Maya’s introduction works perfectly, providing a rich background and a fascinating home world for the exotic alien. When Maya is introduced, she is lounging about in the form of a lion, immediately demonstrating her ability of molecular transformation. She changes back to herself and then plays with a partial metamorphosis into Commander Koenig. There is a brief and rare sequence that is normally edited out of the episode: after nearly becoming Koenig, Maya completes a transformation into an orange tree. This serves to give additional meaning to Mentor’s next line, ‘I teach you the priceless art of molecular transformation and see how you use it – childish games.’ It’s unfortunate that this orange tree transformation is almost always absent from prints of the episode. Maya is immediately appealing and fascinating, and emerges in this introductory episode as a fully realised three-dimensional character.
Brian Blessed is wonderfully theatrical in his second appearance in the series (the first having been as Dr Cabot Rowland in ‘Death’s Other Dominion’). Mentor is a classic mad scientist, complete with bubbling tubes of coloured liquid all around him and brain-draining glass helmets at his disposal. He has kept his innocent daughter sheltered from his heinous acts, and when she finally learns the truth about her beloved father, she is shocked and visibly saddened.
The father-daughter relationship between Mentor and Maya is truly the heart of the episode. Despite all the action, spaceships, brain drains and explosions, ‘The Metamorph’ is a very personal story.
Moonbase Alpha’s new surface laser cannons are shown for the first time. Apparently Alpha has increased its weapons capabilities since the first season, and a new Weapons Section has been added to the base. All of this is in contrast to the initial intentions of the series, which posited the Alphans as Earthmen unprepared for their journey into deep space. They were meant to be vulnerable, and were purposely not heavily armed. It does, however, set up the atmosphere and style of Year Two. The laser cannons will be featured again in a number of upcoming episodes.
Another aspect that clearly differentiates the style of the seasons is Koenig’s statement to Mentor, ‘We’ll determine our own destinies.’ As mentioned previously, it is a strong statement in direct contrast with Year One’s basic philosophical tenets, and is probably the single sentence that most clearly defines this new series of episodes.
Along with screenwriter Byrne, another major player on this episode who had already made a significant contribution in Year One (directing eight episodes) was Charles Crichton. While his work on the first series was always commendable, and often superior, he didn’t do as well on the second series; ‘The Metamorph’ is probably the finest of the six episodes he helms, while a couple of his others rank among the series’ worst.
Psychon is a once-wonderful world that has now become an ‘environmental hell,’ a world of erupting volcanoes. The special effects of the volcanoes have dated over the years, but still admirably depict a distinctly alien environment. The other ‘hell’ on Psychon is the steaming subterranean caverns that lie beneath Mentor’s laboratory. There he keeps enslaved the vegetative aliens whose minds he has stolen. These are among the many clear parallels with Brian Blessed’s earlier episode, ‘Death’s other Dominion’. Mentor is one of the only Psychons to remain, along with Maya. It was Mentor’s dream to transform his world back to the beauty it once possessed, and his dream blinded him. Obviously his dream was seen as futile by most of the rest of his people, as they left in spaceships to attempt to find new worlds on which to live. As viewers will later learn in the episode ‘The Rules of Luton’, Mentor would never leave Psychon because the grave of his wife was there and he couldn’t bear to leave her. While he began his quest with undeniably good intentions, he became mentally warped by his ambitions, to the point of enslaving and draining the mental energies of other aliens in order to power his biological computer. Unfortunately, and ironically, Psyche’s released energy is also what ends up ultimately destroying the planet.
Psyche itself – referred to in one working title as ‘The Biological Computer’ – is a veiled interpretation of Frankenstein: a creation (whether a computer or a monster) that ends up destroying its maker.
The culminating scenes are exciting and dramatic, finally ending with the destruction of Psychon and the introduction of Maya to Alpha’s crew. The special effects are all impressive, especially the view of Psychon from above, with a remarkably believable display of clouds in the atmosphere. Set design excels with the Grove of Psyche and the striking orange colour scheme evident in the corridors and holding cell. The single aspect that serves to define most strongly the tone of ‘The Metamorph’ – and all of Year Two – is the enjoyable music of Derek Wadsworth, which conveys the new action-adventure orientation of the series.
The finest elements of the episode are those related to the characters, and the show ends on a touching note, with emotions conveyed with realism and validity. Maya begins as a naïve girl, and the most remarkable transformation in the episode is her journey to being a woman, spreading her wings and leaving the nest. Psychologically, as well, Maya alters her view of the world and her father, transitioning from her earlier sheltered naïveté to broad awareness as she moves on with her life in the alien, and undoubtedly scary, universe – the ultimate metaphor for life itself. These are the real metamorphoses with which ‘The Metamorph’ is concerned.
The weakest aspect of the episode is the lack of explanation for the changes between seasons, but the positive side of the missing characters not being killed off is that fans can still imagine that Professor Bergman, Paul Morrow and the others are still somewhere out there in the universe. But it would have been wonderful to see Bergman interact with Maya, not only because of the potential character combination, but also because Barry Morse and Catherine Schell were friends, having worked together on the series The Adventurer, and they had wonderful chemistry together.
Another quibble would concern the ability of one explosive-packed Eagle to destroy the entire planet Psychon, which clearly is in contradiction to the tenets of the first series. Finally, the date of this episode – 342 days since leaving Earth orbit – is too soon. Not only does this contradict the earlier dating of ‘Dragon’s Domain’, it also artificially compresses all of Year One into far too short a time frame. With this, as with other aspects, the two seasons of Space: 1999 seem to inhabit entirely different universes.
‘The Metamorph’ is an outstanding fast-paced introduction to the new series of Space: 1999 and sets a high standard for future episodes to match.
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Re: The Metamorph

Post by Magnus Greel on Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:02 pm

I just watched this again. My tapes have the movie version, with the subtle title "Cosmic Princess"... It starts with some slow s1 mood music, over the s2 title sequence. As the actors' credits pass, they make the sound of someone inhaling on a joint. I swear, that's the only sound it seemed close to....

342 days since leaving Earth orbit. Please someone make a chronology based on all these day numbers, it might be funny....

Heavy yellow tint. I wonder if this is just in the movie version, or if it's on the DVDs too. 297 people on base.... it went up didn't it? The Eagle pads are purple and orange!

Was wondering... can their new laser cannons shoot at the surface of a planet? It seems as if they ought to be able to.

The only thing holding my interest at all is the first season music used, up until the first real new SF idea appears, the zombie-ish workers whose minds have been put into the super-computer. That's a viable and disturbing idea, and it came years before Blake's Seven's "Ultraworld", though the latter was done far better. I wonder what J Byrne's original script was like. As it is, this is a story with the potential for being a lesser but good season one story. They'd have had to use a totally different style, quieting the whole thing down so you could have a chance to appreciate the disturbing aspects. Instead, the show is practically jumping up and down and screaming into your face how exciting it's all supposed to be. I'll make up my own mind whether to get excited, thank you!

Someone must have been screaming in their faces that they had to put ten times more color into things. Greys and whites aren't interesting to some people, but talk about overcompensating.... they just pointlessly and randomly insert clashing colors everywhere... sort of like the spaceship set designs (what few there are) on the new Dr Who come to think of it. Was this their "inspiration"? In the control center, there's one bright yellow computer panel amongst all the black ones, and more purple and orange stuff just as one leaves the room.

Psychon, land of used science project papier mache volcanoes rescued from junior high school dumpsters!

Koenig blows up the planet by knocking stuff over in Brian Blessed's lab. Yes, John, whack that evil with your mighty wrench or whatever's handy! Well it worked beyond his wildest dreams, so I guess you can't argue with success...

My tape (and this movie version) passes straight into "Space Warp" with Maya in Sickbay. It took me a long time years ago to figure out where one episode ended and the other began.

Catherine Schell's always good. I'm glad she never lost enthusiasm, it makes s2 much easier to watch.
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Re: The Metamorph

Post by SPACE 1899 on Sat Nov 28, 2009 5:43 am

Magnus Greel wrote:I just watched this again. My tapes have the movie version, with the subtle title "Cosmic Princess"... Catherine Schell's always good. I'm glad she never lost enthusiasm, it makes s2 much easier to watch.
Agreed - Catherine was superb in Year 2 and was a welcome addition to the cast.
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Re: The Metamorph

Post by astro7 on Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:26 am

A tradgedy that they didn't start the show as 900 days after leaving earth orbit rather than spoil continuity with Dragon's Domain though! Maybe that's why LWT screened Metamorph before Dragon's Domain in their 1982 repeat season!
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