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"Moonbase 3" Outsiders (1973)

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Conway's Game of Death!

Author: benkidlington from North West England
18 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If the last three episodes weren't sombre enough, then rest assured that this one takes the bleakness to a new level! It's a very intense episode though as yet again Moonbase 3 is in serious jeopardy, although this time it's the very real threat of closure due to impending withdrawal of government funds.

As such, the whole crew are under intense pressure to come up with results, in particular to justify the astronomical expenditure by inventing new alloys and fuels with profitable, real-world applications back on Earth. This drives the fundamentally unlikeable Dr Partness to fake his results in order to keep his research and career afloat. Meanwhile, the increasingly detached Dr Conway has a truly significant breakthrough, however finds he does not care whatsoever for modern life and ultimately decides to end it all.

The episode works well though, because the situations depicted are very believable and the we can emphasise quite strongly with the characters' flaws. It is unfortunate though that Dr Conway was killed off at this point as he was perhaps the most interesting and warmest character of all of them.

On the matters of science and engineering though, "Outsiders" gets it right again, as it's repeatedly mentioned that the lower gravity of the Moon is a significant reason for performing new materials science there, which is a valid point. Also, the CAPCOM/pilot verbal exchange on landing of the spacecraft on the moon is more or less word-for-word perfect when compared with a transcript of the actual Apollo Moon landings, so full marks yet again for accuracy. As an aside, it's also interesting to see an early electronic pocket calculator featured around 15 minutes in. :)

In summary though, "Outsiders" is one of the better episodes and keeps up the general feeling of grimness that pervades the series. However, it's is very refreshing that there's a genuine artistic license here to not have to end every story (or any story for that matter) on a high note of victory and it all makes for rather absorbing drama.

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