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"Moonbase 3" Castor and Pollux (1973)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Tense and exciting episode

Author: benkidlington from North West England
19 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The penultimate episode of Moonbase 3 is in my opinion the best of the bunch so far.

After a computer sends an erroneous thruster command, Tom Hill becomes stranded in space. He's drifting away at high speed inside his spinning space capsule which is jammed into a satellite's docking port at a crooked angle.

Quick action is needed and fortunately the incident had just happened after cordial discussions between Europe and the Soviets on future space mission co-operation. However, the one man qualified to lead the rescue mission, a hot-shot Russian pilot and admiring follower of Tom's career is forbidden to launch by his superior commander.

That doesn't stop him though as Caulder breaks all the rules in the book (diplomatic, political, safety...) in order allow the rescue mission to proceed, despite the many obstacles which make the mission appear almost futile. The impracticality of a rescue mission is highlighted quite starkly as Tom plays with a cyanide capsule as if he is contemplating using it.

Caulder's efforts to mount the highly risky rescue mission result in temporary suspension as commander of Moonbase 3 whilst deputy Michel Lebrun steps into his shoes. On the face of it, Michel is a heartless bureaucrat who appears to place rules, regulations and logic above saving a man's life. Fortunately though, he ultimately saves the day when he gives the order allowing the rescuing cosmonaut to ram Hill's jammed capsule, freeing him and saving his life. Having put his own career at great risk and against the wishes of the superiors on all sides in order to do the right thing, Michel pretended that it was merely a logical decision. Although, really it meant that when it came to the crunch that in fact he did care about those people he works with.

The episode is very tense because Moonbase 3 until this point has conditioned the viewer into thinking that a negative outcome is more likely than a positive one. Unlike many other sci-fi shows, when a regular character is in any possible danger, they seem in all likelihood to end the episode dead.

So then it was a welcome surprise that this episode did end on a high note, with Tom's life saved and a win-win situation to all crew, administrators and politicians from all participating countries. It is good that they threw in this wild-card episode with a happy ending!

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