Tv programme (1975; vt Into Infinity). Gerry Anderson Productions for BBC 1 (UK), NBC-TV (US). Produced by Gerry Anderson. Directed by Charles Crichton. Written by Johnny Byrne. Cast includes Brian Blessed, Joanna Dunham, Martin Lev, Katherine Levy and Nick Tate. Narrator: Ed Bishop. 52 minutes; expanded to 80 minutes. Colour.
In the Near Future, humanity is facing possible extinction due to environmental damage from Pollution and the depletion of resources. The Antares is the first Starship capable of traveling at the speed of light, and is set to depart for Alpha Centauri with two families of Scientists aboard. Doctors Tom Bowen (Blessed) and wife Anna (Dunham) along with their son David (Lev) arrive by space shuttle at Space Station Delta. Captain Harry Masters (Tate) and his daughter Jane (Liev) make up the rest of the Antares's crew. The vessel departs using a photon drive, and accelerates to just below the speed of light. Dangers soon crop up including meteor swarms and, more dangerously, an encounter with a red giant Star some light-years from Earth. Escaping this star just before it goes supernova, the Antares is thrown off-course, and eventually encounters a Black Hole through which it successfully passes to emerge into a Parallel-World universe, leaving the explorers to begin searching for a new world suitable for Colonization of Other Worlds.
This programme was originally meant as a pilot for a new series produced between the two seasons of Space: 1999 (1975-1977), and was created by many of the same people who had worked on that series. Funding for the series was apparently withdrawn or failed to materialize, so the pilot was instead broadcast as a special. The US broadcast was as a rare sf instalment of NBC's Special Treat (1975-1986), an occasional afternoon series aimed at teenage audiences. An expanded 80-minute version was re-broadcast in the UK; this apparently no longer exists. Some critics felt the programme's use of a family lost on a space exploration mission was too similar to Lost in Space (1965-1968). A novelization by Douglas R Mason was reportedly written but never published. [GFi]
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