Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sunday 20 October 1963



Sabotage gets off to a fantastic start when Fireball XL5, on its way back to Earth, suddenly goes haywire.  Smoke billows out of every conceivable place, there are explosions galore, and Matt Matic's revolving chair takes on a life of its own.  And it seems there's a bomb in the heart of the space gyro mechanism (which looks like an upside-down laundry basket)!


Who could be behind all this chaos? Well, you may not be hugely surprised to learn that it's an evil alien.  This one's called an Arcon. He looks like this:


Yes, he's got a gamma ray (which, according to Space Doctor Venus, is "a rare form of anaesthetic radiation").  Having paralysed Fireball, the Arcon uses the gamma ray (which clearly also functions as a sort of tractor beam) to draw the crew out of the ship and towards the planet Electa, lair of the Ultra-Arcon.



It's the  first phase in an Arcon scheme to rule Earth, "the prize of the universe" - and the Arcons have sneakily managed to plant bombs in all of the World Space Patrol's ships (how this feat was achieved is skimmed over).  The Ultra-Arcon is full of glee over his capture of Earth's finest astronauts.


Clearly the Arcons are keen lepidopterists - the other one was going on earlier about the gamma ray drawing the XL5 crew like moths to a flame.  The Ultra-Arcon also insists on rudely referring to his captive Earthlings as flabby pink people (what colour Arcons are we never learn).


But the crew member who suffers most at Arcon hands is neither pink nor flabby: it's poor Robert, who ends up having the inside of his head smashed to pieces by the thoroughly mean Ultra-Arcon.



Eventually our heroes manage to escape in Arcon spaceship, only narrowly avoiding being blasted out of the sky by Commander Zero, who most unusually has left Space City to come and rescue them.  But it all ends well, and you can see how here:


Sabotage is vastly more exciting than the last couple of weeks' episodes, and the Arcons are one of the show's most interesting alien races.  On the one hand, they're the most obvious example of previously used puppets who've been given a new paint job and extra bits added - what looks like strips of card on their nose and under their mouths look ridiculous in close-up.  And yet, particularly in longer shots they look genuinely creepy, helped along by their glowing eyes and - in my case - their vague resemblance to Doomlord from the 1980s version of the Eagle comic, who absolutely terrified me as a young child.


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