Out of the Unknown – Sucker Bait


Story by Isaac Asimov, Adapted by Meade Roberts
Directed by Naomi Capon

An expedition has journeyed out to a distant planet to try and discover why, a century earlier, an attempt to colonise the planet failed – resulting in the deaths of all the colonists.  On-board is Mark Annuncio (Clive Endersby) of the Mnemonic Service.  Mnemonics are special people – isolated from normal human contact from an early age, they are capable of retaining vast amounts of information (something which is impossible for a ordinary person).  In effect, they are human computers.

Although Mark is chaperoned by Dr Sheffield (John Meillon) he still manages to antagonise the majority of the crew – such as the microbiologist Rodriguez (Tenniel Evans) – by telling them that their views are essentially worthless.  Naturally, the experienced scientists have no time for somebody they view as little more than an annoying child.  But this strange, gifted teenager may be the crew’s only hope to save all their lives …..

Sucker Bait, a novella written by Isaac Asimov, was originally published in 1954 across several issues of Outstanding Science Fiction.  The story translates quite well to the OOTU format, although it is one of the lesser stories from the first series.  One of the problems is that Mark Annuncio is a fairly annoying character – this is part of the reason why he’s a gifted mnemonic, but dramatically a slightly more human and engaging personality would have worked better.

The scientists are all fairly one-note as well, although their ranks are swelled by good actors like Tenniel Evans and Burt Kwouk also has a decent role.  It’s a dense, wordy, scientific story that does sag a little towards a rather anti-climatic end.  And there are times when the production shortcomings are very apparent – the surface of the planet appears to be made from polystyrene, for example.

Not the strongest episode then, but the source material from Asimov is sound enough and the mystery of the planet (whilst quite low-key) is reasonably intriguing.

Next Up – Some Lapse of Time

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