HUMAN DECISION REQUIRED
Some personal notes on Space: 1999
by Erkki Rautio
The premises of the series is as follows: Man in the year 1999 had been using the dark side of the Moon as a dump for nuclear waste. A self-maintaining scientific installation, Moonbase Alpha, is a kind of eternal night watchman at the dump, but also has the less routine job of preparing for extensive space exploration. As it happens, a new planet called Meta wanders into the solar system, some signals are received indicating intelligent life on the planet, and, as a result of the mounting pressure to explore it, Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau), is put in charge of Alpha.
Curious disasters begin to occur. Some astronauts on the Moon start dropping like flies, while others, their eyes turning bright green, go insane. Koenig's top officers, Professor Victor Bergman (Barry Morse) and Dr. Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) are baffled. According to Dr. Russell's diagnosis, the radioactive waste has afflicted the victims' brains but Bergman disagrees. He thinks radiation has nothing to do with it since no leaks have been found.
While they attempt to solve the mystery, Koenig is pressured to prepare the Meta flight by his visiting superior officer, unsympathetic, hard-driving Commissioner Simmonds (Roy Dotrice). The cause of the disasters is finally discovered to be magnetic radiation (or is it?), but before any action can be taken, it causes the nuclear wastes to explode, hurtling the moon out of its orbit into the vastness of the galaxy.
Before all signals fade away, the last news they get from the Earth tell that the whole planet is torn by tidal waves and earthquakes, and as the Alphans turn to their computer for advice, all they get as an answer from this apparent little sister of HAL 9000 is: "Human decision required," meaning the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha are now on their own.
So the odyssey begins with the Moon and its three hundred eleven reluctant passengers from Alpha careering in space. (We are never properly explained where the planet Meta originated from, who inhabited it, why it broke into our solar system, and did it have anything to do with the events that led to the Moon to be hurled into outer space - and this is just one of the mysteries that remains unsolved in this series, as we will come to notice later on.)