Interster Episode Two: Saboteur
The basic story is this. Earth is testing a new Star Cruiser, the SK Woltemade, that has a powerful weapon.
The Krokons are still intent on gaining inroads against Earth.
Buks de la Rey is assigned to personally deliver orders to the Captain of the Woltemade because Professor Zed thinks communications lines are being spied upon. We are introduced to a robot named Pikkie who insists he should accompany De la rey as Lieutenant Buys has come down with Mars Flu. De la Rey tells Pikkie to stay on Earth.
The Krokon Prince goes to that fixer of all things, the slimy Gorman. In exchange for some concessions (as usual!), Gorman agrees to plant a saboteur on the Woltemade, to cause it to plunge towards a nearby star. When the crew have been overcome by the heat, the Krokons can move in and tow the ship away to disassemble it for its secrets.
Pikkie stows away on De la Rey’s ship against orders. Also on board was the saboteur! In a neat little twist later on, the stowaway Pikkie kills the stowaway Saboteur.
Pikkie also winds up doing a spacewalk to save the life of Buks de la Rey.
Now onto over one hundred screensnaps!
I’m not documenting every little bit this time. I’m providing interesting highlights and criticisms. Even so, including the credits at the end, there are over a hundred screensnaps!
Note: The video was smaller this time than last, so these screensnaps are really enlarged and hence have a blur not in the original-size crisp video.
Futuristic Cape Town. An error: no clouds in the sky. This makes the backdrop lack the illusion of depth.
The camera is more level in this episode, but centering here is off.
Look at the contrast in faces. I retract what I said about Professor Zed last time. He is actually the superior sculpture. Buks, with his no-neck look, resembles a dwarf too much.
Professor Zed reminds me of what I recall from the biography of Gerry Anderson. Puppeteer John Blundall disagreed with the new realistic direction the marionettes were taking with Thunderbirds. So he purposefully designed Parker to have the caricatured look of a puppet. Perhaps the same spirit was at work with Professor Zed!
No neck and narrow shoulders was something that plagued the Terrahawks puppets too!
The new lethal weapon on the SK Woltemade.
The direction of this episode was not entirely inept, but very close to it. I have to wonder if this was done by a college kid just out of film school. See above shot? We go to this:
… which is fine. Then this:
… which is also fine. Then this:
Which is strange. And then to this:
WTF? The director never clearly establishes the shot and sticks with it!
Notice that even when it cuts back to a close-up, the shot is different (see above)!
The slimy Gorman’s lair.
The Krokon Prince is there to make a deal.
Again, look at the divergence in shots.
I don’t know that kids would have noticed any of this (looking back at what I watched as a kid, I’m shocked at how much bad stuff got by!), but it’s irritating to an adult with a good eye.
Buks gets his orders.
Another pair of divergent shots:
Buks looks badly dwarfish here. And the shot is too flat.
You can see the photographer is working on the over-the-shoulder depth of field.
Lieutenant Buys’ head is correct proportion. I wonder what happened with Buk’s head?
A nice angled shot. We are introduced to the robot …
Contrast Buks above with …
… Ninestein from Terrahawks. Big head, thin shoulders, no necks.
Poor miniature depth of field. Establishing shot for hangar.
This is ambitious. Rear-screen projection for an illusion of large hangar.
With a 180-degree cut!
To establish a new Rover is ready for the Impala. Tying up the destruction of the original Rover from the first episode. A nice touch.
Inside the Krokon ship cockpit. They moved away from the realistic lighting of the first episode.
Very strange off-center angle shot.
I’m not sure how they did this screen.
A shot of some instrumentation to highlight design and detail.
Buks’ Impala rises. Error: Floor is too clean!
Nicely-angled egress, worthy of the late Derek Meddings!
As you’ll see, they were puppet purists. No human actor hands used!
Vertical lift-off. They tried, but it’s only barely passing.
Pikkie reveals he stowed away!
Then unfortunately a rather flat shot!
The over the shoulder blur problem again.
A very strange angle!
I like the interesting shapes of the cockpit and its design. Some real work went into all of that.
Puppet hand again! Notice the finger is extended to actually push down on a button!
The SK Woltemade — a very impressive miniature with fine detailing deserving of the original Battlestar Galactica model.
Very impressive. A great shot!
Puppet hand: in grip position to pull out a control!
The Impala lands smoothly on an extended deck of the SK Woltemade. Nice realistic space lighting and smooth miniature motion.
Puppet hand again!
SK Woltemade cockpit with bright lighting.
The saboteur! Poor direction implies he came off the Impala. There are no connecting shots to ever establish him on it or emerging from it! Great use of rear-projection again.
The saboteur looks for a specific panel. And the director gets adventurous here.
Hand-held camera with wide-angle lens used!
It’s not entirely successful. I don’t know why. Did the director not supply enough footage or was the editor rushed or just bad?
Still handheld! Almost an Alan Pattillo touch, but not done correctly.
We get a rare shot of legs as the saboteur departs!
Some detail near the wall edge would have helped.
Puppet hand with extended finger to push button!
Detail of instrumentation panels.
They tried to be ambitious here but it failed. There’s no establishing what part of the ship this is. Obviously, these are dolls. The set seems dead because there’s no movement, or even blinking lights. Bad camera level too.
Pikkie wants to take over control of the ship being pulled towards the star.
Puppet hand used to insert cable into a port in Pikkie!
Very nice shot.
The crew succumbing was poorly done.
One of the dolls. Even so, look at the detail on the chair!
The Krokon ship has a magnetic(!) tow on the SK Woltemade.
The Krokon ship towing the SK Woltemade. Well done.
Really excellent work here!
Buks does a last-ditch spacewalk to try to remove the magnetic tow. Excellent work but a continuity error. It was already established earlier that everything is colored yellow by proximity to the star.
Excellent detail and design on this spacesuit helmet.
Buks is thrown into outer space!
Pikkie spacewalks to rescue him!
A rather flat ending to the episode, though. But nice extreme close-up.
One thing Space Patrol, Star Fleet, and now Interster highlight is just how much Barry Gray‘s music added to the drama, humor, and excitement of the Supermarionation productions (as well as the live action UFO and Space:1999 year one)! All three of these other puppet series tend to tack on music without seeing it as another “actor.” The Interster opening and closing themes are great, but the internal music seems just pasted on. It doesn’t add to the pacing and isn’t memorable.
Having seen two episodes now, I’m very impressed by the craftsmanship of the robotic puppets, the sets, and some of the photography. But I really think the writers and directors are very inexperienced. Stories aren’t effectively blocked out and directing tends to be all over the place and sometimes nearly incoherent. There’s also the very strange travel napping in the first episode while in this one, no mention is made of how long the Impala’s trip will take nor if Buks will need to nap.
I doubt many kids would have noticed any of this. However, when I was a kid watching Space Patrol, I did see it as inferior to Gerry Anderson‘s series (and, being a kid, I thought it was a Gerry Anderson series!).
And now the credits:
This blog ends today. This is my last Interster post. Go to the new Interster blog to download this episode and for future information.
I hope some of the people involved in this production will contact the person behind the Interster blog and perhaps provide some rare behind-the-scenes photos and memories from that time. This series deserves to be better known. And I’d still buy it if it was offered on the iTunes Store!
At the old blog: