Pathfinders in Space – Luna Bridgehead

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Following a near collision with a mysterious ship orbiting the Moon, Henderson is forced to make an emergency landing.  After a slightly tricky descent, they land safely – although they find themselves some distance from Professor Wedgewood’s rocket.  The Professor, Mary and Dr O’Connell set out to find them, whilst Henderson and the others rig up a signalling beacon.

Jimmy is given the honour of being the first man to set foot on the Moon, but later they discover strange markings in the lunar surface – which indicates that others have been here before them …..

Gillian Ferguson, as young Valerie, certainly dials up the intensity at the start of this episode.  Her film and television career was fairly short lived (her last credit, an episode of Dixon of Dock Green, was broadcast the following year, 1961), so like many child actors she never carried on once she became an adult.  Her playing of Valerie lacks a certain naturalism, shall we say, which possibly isn’t too much of a surprise since the script is pitched at rather a melodramatic level.

Hamlet’s spacesuit is either a mark of genius or the silliest thing ever.  I’m leaning towards the latter at the moment.  As for the humans’ spacesuits, the most noticeable thing about them is that they lack any visors.  This was obviously done for dramatic purposes – otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see or hear the actors – but it does take a few moments before you can put out of your mind the fact they all should have suffocated as soon as they set foot on the lunar surface.

Henderson has a good explanation as to why they’re not bouncing about on the Moon’s surface – their spacesuits help to cancel out the lack of gravity, meaning that they can stroll about just as if they were out for a walk in the park.  That’s convenient of course,  since the studio wouldn’t have been set up to deal with the problem of demonstrating weightlessness!

The model shots of the lunar landscape continue to impress, and if the descent of Henderson’s rocket is a little wobbly then it seems churlish to be too critical.  The full-size lunar landscape is a little less convincing though, but the small budget and technical considerations obviously played a part in this.

I’m quite taken with Pamela Barney as Professor Mary Meadows.  With Dr O’Connell having once again slipped into “doomed, we’re all doomed” mode, she’s called upon to be the sensible voice of reason.  Apart from a role as a nurse in the film During One Night (also 1960) all of her other credits come from the Pathfinders trilogy.

With seven episodes to fill, the serial can afford to take its time.  So in this episode we’re teased with a few more revelations – the strange ship orbiting the Moon seems to have been abandoned, whilst marks in the lunar surface suggest that the inhabitants of the shp landed – but are they still here?  It seems impossible, but you never know.

Young Jimmy falls down a shaft and discovers more evidence of their handiwork.  His gobsmacked expression is a little extreme, but it sets us up nicely for episode four – The Man in the Moon.

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