Pathfinders in Space – Disaster on the Moon

space 06

Wedgewood and O’Connell, after only a very brief time with the logs of the alien craft, seem confident to tell their story.  Astonishingly, there’s also a film record as well, which shows their (admittedly, very wobbly) craft taking off and heading for the Moon.

The fate of the alien’s planet is a bleak one – two rival factions fought for supremacy and their civilisation was destroyed.  When Jimmy wonders what the invisible death mentioned in the log could be, Geoffrey replies that it must refer to radioactivity from hydrogen bombs.  In the early sixties the shadow of the bomb was never far away – so this would been a highly topical touch, even if it seems an odd inclusion in what, until now, has been fairly light, escapist fare.  It’s an effective parable though which would have left the young audience with food for thought.

Henderson suggests that this other species could also have come from the Earth and after they destroyed themselves millions of years ago in a devastating war, it paved the way for the arrival of homo sapiens.  Although there are one or two problems with this theory, it does help to ground Pathfinders in Space to a certain level of reality – it would have been tempting to introduce little green men from a totally alien civilisation, but Paice and Hulke decided to keep things more down to earth, as it were.

Back on Buchan Island, Jean Cary (Irene Sutcliffe) is starting to feel the pressure.  She’s been a comforting and reassuring presence throughout the serial but now, with the possibility of heavy meteorite showers, she’s becoming much more anxious.

As with other programmes of this era, music and sound effects had to be added during the recording (post-production didn’t really exist).  This explains why the echo effect in the caves is rather inconsistent throughout the serial – at times it’s not really there and at others (as here) it just sounds odd, as if the correct setting hadn’t been made.  But time was at a premium, meaning that the luxury of retakes was a rarity.

As the episode title suggests, things aren’t going well.  The rocket which is due to take them all back to Earth is hit by a meteorite shower.  It’s destroyed in a blaze of stock footage whilst Ian manages to escape with his life. It’s remarkable that when he dives for cover behind a rather wobbly rock just a few feet away he doesn’t suffer any injuries. Clearly Moon rock has strange properties ….

All’s not quite lost. They can use the other rocket, but it’ll only be able to carry one adult and one child.  Cue everybody looking at everybody else as they wonder who’ll be the lucky ones …

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