open with the titles, and the credits. No one I recognize,
although the slight touch of Theremin in the music is a nice touch.
The screenplay was by Warren Wilson—I wonder if that's the same
guy who has a college named after him in Black Mountain, North
Carolina. Directed by Hollingsworth Morse, which sounds like a
department store. Actually, it sounds like a W.C. Fields
pseudonym, but never mind that.
The show proper opens with a slowly rotating space station, a rather obvious model but probably not a bad one by the standards of the day. A small spaceship is backing away from what looks like an entry tube. The music is a bit tense to let us know something's up.
On board the station, a chipper young lady is thanking someone for “the buggy ride” over the radio. With her are some kind of captain-like guy, an old professor type, and a little kid with a hat. We cut back outside, and the small rocket blasts off into adventure, or at least space. The model work is on a par with Toho films—not fooling anyone, but not bad and kind of fun.
Well, enough of outer space, as we cut to some building on Earth. Inside, someone dressed as a queen is giving a press conference. Actually (oops!), it's not Earth, it's Officius, and this is Queen Cleolanta. She's dressing down some Earth people who landed on her planet without permission. They point out that the Solar System is all united now, and everyone helps everyone else out, and they could help her out, too. But she's having none of that, saying that their planet is strong and they don't need nothing from no dumb Earth people.
Rocky Jones himself says that she's depriving her people of benefits; she says that he's arrogant, and she gives them an hour to leave, or they and their ship will be destroyed. She starts a rather Earth-like timer, and dismisses Rocky, an older statesmen guy, and some other guy. Rocky mutters about wasting their precious minutes, but no matter, as we cut to a spaceship lifting off. So long, Officius!
On board, the three of them discuss this bit of business, then they head back to the space station we saw at the beginning. Inside that (I guess), the same four from earlier are opining how “Rocky will be surprised.” Chipper Gal calls Rocky's rocket (using a low, official sounding tone) and asks to speak with Rocky himself.
On board the Rocky rocket, everyone looks kind of puzzled at this, thinking that the captain-like guy from earlier has “a mouth full of crackers,” but Rocky acknowledges the hail. Then the little kid calls as well. Finally, the old professor guy can no longer contain himself and laughs that they've all “befuddled Rocky!”
Winky, the third member of Rocky's crew, guesses that on board the space station are none other than Professor Newton, Vina (Chipper), and Bobby (Kid). The three rocket men wonder what the other three are doing on the space station.
Prof fills them in: “We're here to greet old friends, Rocky. Tunda, Mubaro, and Torbek.”
He then goes on to say that these are “gypsy moons” and that later today, they'll be very close to the space station.
“Not close enough to wave, but close enough to talk,” interjects Kid.
Rocky asks where the station will be in relation to these moons, and Prof says “Directly between them.” I'm not a space ranger, but that sounds dangerous; I might have the Right Stuff, though, as Rocky seems to think so too. He calls to “Andrews” (Captain-looking guy on the station, who is apparently in charge of communication) and tells him to “Stand by,” as he's going to check things out, then get back to them.
Of course, since the title of this is “Crash of Moons,” it's kind of easy to guess where this might go.
One disadvantage I have here, is that this show is culled together from episodes of a television program, “Rocky Jones: Space Ranger.” And I've never seen it before, so I don't really know who these people are. In fact, when Prof named the three moons, I thought he was mentioning more characters to show up, and I wondered if I should be interested in them. That's the disadvantage of coming into the middle of an existing continuity; you don't know where everyone stands. Imagine if your first view of Star Trek was the episode, “Amok Time.” Even though that episode is pretty well-regarded you might think, “You know, this Spock guy is a pain in the rear. Why don't they just lock him in the brig?”
This might also explain the bit with Queen Cleolanta. Maybe that was last week's cliffhanger.
Anyway, on with the show. Rocky orders Winky to head for the space station, then he goes back to his quarters and starts messing around with maps, pencils and protractors. The Statesman guy (again, I'm assuming) asks Rocky what's going on, and Rocky says “Something Professor Newton overlooked. The atmosphere chain which links the two moons.” Apparently, as the moons pass the station, this atmosphere will envelope the station, which wasn't built to withstand anything but the vacuum of space. He's hoping they can get to the station in time to evacuate everyone there.
Back at the station, everyone wonders why Rocky wasn't all thrilled about them being there. Chipper thinks maybe it was because they left Earth without orders, or something, and Prof figures that must be it. Just then, Rocky calls and asks when the next refueling ship is due. Andrews says there's not one due for a while, and Rocky asks him to call the last one (which I guess just left—maybe that was the ship at the beginning) and get them to come back. Chipper asks what's wrong, and Rocky tells her to remind the Prof of “the Atmosphere Chain.”
Chipper asks Prof what Rocky was on about, and Prof, naturally, is one of those absent minded types who forgot all about that atmosphere chain. Usually, absent minded professors just forget to wear pants and harm only themselves; apparently, this one is in another league and might get everyone killed.
Anyway, he realizes what he's done and slaps his hands on his legs. “Of course, of course!” he says. They all ask what he means, but he insists Andrews make the call before he admits he's kind of led everyone into danger. They kind of rehash what Rocky already told us, re: space station vs. atmosphere. Everyone instantly figures out what it took Rocky seconds to figure. Oh well, not everyone can be a genius, right?
Andrews can't get an answer from the refueling ship, but he continues to transmit, adding “Mayday!” for good measure.
On board the Rocky rocket, they all listen to this communication, before Rocky calls and tells the space station that the refueling ship must be out of reach. He then asks if the Prof has rechecked his figure. “Yes, and it doesn't stack up next to Vina's!” the horny old doomed man says. No, you're right, he didn't say that. I'll edit that line out in the Special Collector's Edition of this review.
The Prof confirms that the moons will pass the station at 0600 hours. Rocky says they'll get there before then. Prof asks Rocky to understand his blunder, as he was really excited about seeing the moons. Rocky says he understands, and he'll call every hour on the hour, and he hangs up.
Statesman asks Rocky if he has any ideas, as reaching the station on time seems unlikely.
Winky pipes up and notes that, in the past, they've used missiles to destroy small threatening asteroids, and divert larger ones; but these moons are different, as there are people on them, so missiles would be right out.
The Captain asks Rocky if the folks on the moons know what's about to happen, and Rocky says no, that because they have no fixed position, they've been unable to make astronomy “an exact science.” And we fade to a commercial break.
Next, we fade in to the two moons in question, traveling in tandem with a fog of atmosphere between them. The effects, again, aren't convincing but are earnest enough to be given credit.
We zoom further in to one of these moons, and some kind of walled city, and then, inside a room, an obvious leader-type (he has a cape, and an insignia on his chest) walks into a room that has some apparatus in it. He strides to a table and looks at some stuff on it, but is distracted by a child's cry. He calls out to his wife (who has a name like “Rotunda”) and asks, “What is the matter with our son?” Getting no answer, he strides off to provide his own.
He goes into a room where his wife is fussing over this young child. No one understands why the child is crying. As lighting and thunder crash like moons around outside, King says “He seems to be afraid. Something has frightened him.”
Rotunda wonders what it could be. Um, thunder and lightning, maybe? No, it's probably a psychic link with the upcoming doom-stuff.
Anyway, King dismisses it as just the kid “strengthening his voice, so someday he may rule his people.” He then wonders if Rocky Jones will be finding these swell gypsy moons again, as apparently they're big Rocky Jones fans here on this moon, and they'd like Rocky to meet this crying kid.
Rotunda notes that the child “seems to be trying to tell us something.” Yeah, like he's hungry or afraid or wants a toy or that moons are gonna crash big time. Pick one. What that could be, we don't know, as we fade to the space station.
The station is starting to pick up the moons on radar, and so is Rocky. (They're in communication.) We see a pretty awkward and unusable radar screen, which, I'll assume, shows us dire stuff. Noted.
Rocky rings off, and Prof notes that they can now see the moons on “visiograph.” Andrews obliges, and we see the same approaching twin moon footage from before. Er, yeah, that'd be reassuring. Fade to commercial again.
Fade in on the Rocky rocket, roaring through space. Winky offers that the space station is pretty tough, but Rocky is pretty fatalistic about the station's ability to not explode. Rocky says they'll try to get there in time.
But then we see those moons coming, all inexorable and stuff, and the next shot shows the station enveloped by swirling clouds and lightning and stuff. Inside, everyone who is seated is in chairs with wheels, so they go tumbling (Prof grips the edge of a table). Chipper was standing the whole time (no one offered a lady his seat? You cads—of the future!) so she gets tossed about a bit, but her cape billows beautifully.
The Rocky rocket is still plowing through space. Winky says they're going to miss by minutes, but Rocky says they've got seconds to act, and “let's make them count.” Uh, okay. I mean, there is a difference between seconds and minutes, and while I'm sure Rocky will go the distance, it seems...well, it seems like this is a TV show from the 1950's. Killing a beautiful woman, a kid, and an old guy would be considered beyond the pale back then. So, they're all going to live. But, they're going to live without Rocky's help, so he's kind of smart but impotent (lots of guys like that around).
Man, this pan-cultural stuff is really complex.
Anyway, we see the station buffeted by more clouds. Inside, even the heavy equipment is proving the old adage, “If you put wheels on it, it will roll.” Prof is still grimly gripping the table edge, though, and apparently isn't as absent-minded as we were all led to believe. The others struggle to keep the heavy console from rolling around too much and, perhaps inadvertently, crushing organic life (like themselves).
On board the Rocky rocket, Rocky mutters, “If I could only ram into the landing bay.”
“And push the space station out of the atmosphere chain,” Winky theorizes.
“Yes, or in this weather, we'll have our hands full,” Rocky says. He says “or” but if you read “but” instead, it makes more sense.
They see the station on screen, rolling around in the clouds. Rocky calls Andrews.
On board the station, and I apologize for finding this funny, everyone has their hands full trying to keep the chair from rolling around too much. Prof still has his death grip on the table, though. Rocky wants to try and stabilize the station, so he can dock at the landing area.
Andrews reports that the magnetic lock is on, and at that word, Rocky and Winky head for the landing area. As everyone on board station follows the example of the Prof and grips the table, the chairs and cabinet roll around in the background.
Rocky heads his ship toward the station dock. And he manages to thrust his long, pointed ship into the stations tight, dark cylindrical port. Someone made me type it like that.
Rocky orders Winky to give the ship full power. For a long time, it doesn't seem to work at all, but then both ship and station head out into a clear section of the void, where there are no swirling clouds, and no menacing lightening.
On board the station, everyone grins.
On board the moon, King and Rotunda walk out of the castle, and King notes with some disapproval, “There is a slight disturbance in the atmospheric chain. [Regarduh] recorded it too, but we have no idea what it is.” He asks how the li'l howler from earlier is doing now.
Rotunda says, “Rocky Jones would say, the sleep of the happy.” Which I doubt Rocky Jones would say, but it means here that the li'l tyke's psychic link is all calmed down and the prat is snoring away the remains of dinner.
The two of them go back into their castle. By the way, “lightening bolts” seem to be a recurring theme in the decoration of this moon. I suppose if you have an atmosphere chain, and it's got a lot of lightening in it, you'd probably make that a prominent part of your art schemes.
Back to the space station, now out of danger. The Statesman guy strides on to the deck where Andrews is, and the latter apologizes that the station is all disheveled and stuff. But the Statesman is very kind hearted and says it looks like it'll be good as new, straight away, and Andrews says “Yes, sir.”
Elsewhere, the old Prof (who has released his death grip) says that he and Chipper have started a graph of the gypsy moons' course. (I should note that it is kind of cool that all the calculations, here as well, are done with pencils on pieces of paper.)
Anyway, I'm going to go out on a limb here, since we're less than seventeen minutes in, and bet that the Prof's calculations show hat the “slight disturbance in the atmosphere chain” that King noted means that the two moons have changed course, and are going to crash together. Of course, I am aided in this speculation by the title, “Crash of Moons.” Everything seems to be out of danger now, but we've seen no moons crash.
Anyway, Prof mentions that these moons might be a danger to other stations, or other planets, or they might—get this—crash into each other, in some kind of crash of moons. (Nothing at all like cream of wheat.) Rocky wants to know if Prof can get some exact figures, but Prof's not sure he can, as the other planets revolve around the sun, but the gypsy moons revolve around each other.
Er, but you were able to predict their reappearance, Prof. Oh. Yeah, that whole forgetting the atmosphere thing. Sorry, never mind.
Anyway, Rocky's frustration at the moons' lack of a predictable orbit makes Chipper offer, “Like children on a playground.” She's prodded to continue her analogy, and with Kid's help (joining hands) she shows that the moons are sort of following a kind of square dance move. The two of them spin around a common center. She then shows that if she spins on her own, “I don't cover half as much area.”
Well, this convinces Winky of...er, something. Prof brandishes his glasses and says, “This is my concern. Magnify this by tens of thousands of miles and you see, you see what tremendous danger we're confronted with.”
He then asks the assembled folks to imagine that there's a moon or planet “right over there.” He asks Kid to continue the demonstration.
Well, Kid needs no prodding, he grabs Chipper's hands and begins the spin, and they suddenly slam into Statesman, coming through the doorway. Kid apologizes as Statesman reacts with confusion, but Rocky knows what's what. He informs Statesman that he, Statesman, is an illustration of a galactic phenomenon.
Winky tries to be comic relief, as he says that Statesman is a planet, and Chipper and Kid are the two moons, but—this is the funny part!--he keeps reversing which moon they represent. Isn't that hilarious?
Oh. Okay. Well, nobody better harp on me for laughing at the Aqua Teens, then.
Fade out, and fade in on a star field, with the Rocky rocket traversing the trackless void. On board, Chipper brings Rocky the “corrected” navigation chart, which he asks her to explain. She shows him the points whereby they'll be able to contact the moons by radio. So far, things look good, as the moons' paths will be clear through the “tenth of next month.”
Back in the rest of the ship, though, Prof is telling Kid and Captain, “I don't believe it, I just can't believe it!” And not in a good way. Kid suggests that there's perhaps some “little mistake” and Prof takes this proffered life-saver, and says he'll go back and re-check his figures. Well, cough, since his original figures nearly got most of them killed, I'm not sure I'd put too much stock into his answers. But what the hell do I know, I only write this crap. Well, not this crap, but you know what I mean.
Chipper brings the chart back to Prof, who informs her that he's re-checking. And, I'm gathering that left unsaid is the bit, “and not for the first time, my dear!”
Fade to the Lightning Moon, where Rotunda is cooing over Baby Prince. Over the loudspeaker, Rocky Jones calls, and Rotunda looks pretty pleased about that. She calls the King over, and he briefly tries to tell her the right way to pronounce things, before they notice the director is impatient and they move off to the communication center.
On board the Rocky rocket, the King returns the call. There's some more language talk (I mean, talk about language) and Rocky says they'll be landing on Lightning Moon soon. The King is overjoyed. They're certainly a much nicer people than Queen Cleolanta whom you might recall.
As they ring off, the Professor strides into the control room with a big handful of charts. He shakes his head, sighs resignedly, and shakes his head again. Whoa!
Cut to the ship landing on Lightning Moon. This is pretty visually impressive, as the atmosphere over the distant mountains is all roiling, angry clouds. It's pretty cool looking.
And the King and Rotunda are standing by the gate, waving broadly. Chipper runs down to them and hugs them, while still on board, everyone looks damned grim. “You see how happy she is!” the Prof says with disbelief. “I just could not bring myself to tell her!”
Rocky asks the Prof if he's sure he (the Prof) hasn't made a mistake. Like that would be something new, here. Prof seems pretty sure of himself, but again, he forgot about an atmosphere belt which is pretty big to forget about.
Anyway, Prof expositions that Lightning Moon is definitely going to slam into...Officius! Queen Cleolanta's planet! And we were just talking about her! Statesman guy (who, according to the IMDB, actually some kind of Secretary of the Spaceways or something, so he's not in charge of anyone here) notes how, ironically, the Queen said they didn't need help from anyone. And certainly not some planet-wide redecorating help from a giant moon.
They talk about how Officius will need loads of help now, and how sad King is going to be, and then they decide to go break the bad news.
In the King's baby room, Chipper is now cooing over the baby, and she and the King and Rotunda discuss the baby. More lightning bolts in the windows, here. The door chime sounds, and the King goes to greet Rocky and friends. There's some general chit-chat about who everyone is; the King knows who they all are (except the Secretary) and comments on how his son could have their fine qualities.
They all sit down to chat about this whole crashing-moon problem. They rehash a lot of what we already know about the physics of the thing, while the King kind of looks like, “--and?” during it all.
They finally spill the beans, and the King gets really angry about it. He proclaims that by virtue of the authority vested in him, it will not happen. This is all bluster, though.
Cut to the baby room, where the ladies are sadly looking over Baby Price. Baby Prince keeps spreading his hands wide, then clapping them together, just like the moons due to crash.
Rotunda notes how in some strange way (it's called a psychic link) the baby knew about this tragedy. Uh, I guess that's why he cried, then was happy, and is now unhappy again?
The King, in another room, is bummed how his son won't get this swell Lightning Moon as his heritage. He also notes how Officius must really hate his moon, since they're just minding their own business and sitting still and here comes his moon to bust them up good. He asks if the evacuation of Officius has begun, and he's told that the Queen won't allow her people to know anything about other planets and other life forms.
“Even the possession of an astrophone set is punishable by death,” Rocky adds. If she has that much power, she could simply order her people off the planet at her pleasure, right?
Anyway, Rocky suggests that the King and the Secretary go to the Other Moon to get that king's help, while Prof, Chipper and Kid will “do what you can, here” while Rocky and Winky are going to Officius and, well, certain death.
Kid pipes up and asks if they couldn't just rig up a “space anchor” for Lightning Moon to hold it in place, and “call the whole thing off?”
Rocky chuckles at this impossibility, which I fear is going to be the mechanism by which the day is saved. Anyway, everyone toddles off to their respective tasks. Rocky and Winky take off for Officius in a reverse of the previous cool effects shot. And we cut to that building we saw earlier, which we now (being older and wiser) know is on Officius and is where the Queen holds court.
Inside, some guy is preening a bit in his room, which is decorated with lawn furniture. He calls to his wife and tells her that Cleolanta has told him she has “great plans” for him, asking if she's proud of him. This guy looks so much like Robert Culp that it's unnerving. Anyway, his wife tells him that she and he used to have great plans, too. She says they were going to leave Officius and see how other people lived. I thought they didn't know anything about other people? Man, security on Officius must really suck.
Preener immediately turns cold. “To me, Officius comes first. You talk as foolishly as a child, Trinka.”
He stalks off, she grabs his arm, but he coldly shakes her off. As soon as he's gone, she closes the blinds and opens the desk, and takes out a shoebox sized box. I bet this is one of those storied astrophones! Well, she takes out a headphone, turns it on, and listens so it may just be a radio. But I bet the punishment for having one of those is just as bad! Especially if they crank up the hip-hop really loud when the Queen’s trying to sleep.
Cut to the Rocky rocket streaking through space. They note that Officius is right ahead, and they'll try to call, but they won't get through to the Queen, so they'll try the “underground.”
“See, there's an underground faction in favor of joining the United Worlds,” Rocky explains. “If they have a secret astrophone set, they can relay my message to Cleolanta.”
First off, it would pretty much have to be a secret one, and secondly, how can they relay the message without admitting guilt? “Say, Queen, I bet five dollars there's a moon heading here to smash into us, wanna bet?” No, wait, that's all wrong, because when the planet was destroyed and you'd won the bet, you wouldn't get five dollars, and the Queen would have you beheaded for being right.
Hmm, this is a poser!
As Rocky prepares to make the call, Winky does this hilarious body-language stuff which seems to say, “Well, huh-- I dunno—hey whatever—how about that.”
Rocky calls, and Preener's Wife (Trinka) answers! What are the odds of just that happening! I mean, she only turned it on a moment ago. What luck for Rocky!
Well, it's only a one-way communication, so I got all excited for nothing. (Story of my life.) Rocky broadcasts the whole moon-smashin' thing, and how the Queen really ought to be told.
Winky notes that if they can't get through, “it'll be—landing under fire, eh?” Rocky agrees as the music turns tense, and Rocky repeats his warning. People of Officius, attention. People of Officius, attention. Look to your sun for a warning. Look to your sun for a warning. And on and on.
Trinka, hearing a noise, manages to get the astrophone back into the desk just as Preener walks in. He apologizes, says that he's ambitious and this ambition gets the better of him sometimes. He loves Officius, but he loves her too, etc.
Hey, on the wall is a Picasso cubist reproduction.
Anyway, she takes his apology, just as Rocky's message comes through the desk. Oo, Trinka, you're in trouble now. Sure enough, Preener finds the radio COUGH astrophone and smashes it, despite her pleas that he listen. He grabs her and rushes her through the door to her doom! Well, that's what the law says.
On board the ship, Rocky and Winky discuss whether the message got through. Rocky says that if it had, the Queen would have contacted them with her disbelief or demands for proof, so they think no, it didn't. And they decide to land and risk certain death.
Um, Guys, couldn't you give it a few minutes? It's been about two since you first made your call. Even a guy running really fast is going to take a couple of minutes to get to the palace, and then he's going to be too out of breath to talk, and then he'll need some water for his throat, and maybe he'll accidentally eat some peanut brittle and his teeth will be stuck, etc. Shouldn't you wait fifteen minutes or so?
I'm not saying that should be real-time, either. Just a quick cut elsewhere, and Winky saying, “Rocky, it's been [x] minutes--” and so on.
Cut to the Queen's room, where she asks Trinka who else is in this “underground.” Trinka says there ain't no underground, but you should listen to the message from space.
Queen's not interested in anything other than this underground jazz. (Underground jazz? Did I just type “underground jazz”? Oh wow.)
Trinka maintains she just had this set because she was interested in how other people live. She says she loves Officius just as much as Preener, who grabs her arm and tells her to answer the Queen's questions, “and not another word!”
The Queen looks very smug and self-satisfied at this display. She notes how Preener is getting points for turning in his wife, even though he knows the punishment. Well, it didn't look like he needed any arm-twisting, but blind loyalty is blind loyalty, eh Queen?
The Queen gets a call on her awkward intercom, saying a space ship is landing. Trinka interjects that this is Rocky Jones, “please listen to him!” But without a word, the three of them (Trinka dragged by Preener) scoot off through a hallway to the video room, where they watch the ship descend.
The Queen orders Preener to fire, which he does by patching an old analog synthesizer. Trinka is right there, ready to interfere, I mean, uh, nothing. Queen orders firing, he does, but it's a clean miss.
Winky notes that that is “heavy stuff.” Rocky, having nothing to say, says nothing.
The Queen, looking really vicious, avers that “the next one will do it!” She orders Preener to fire.
But Trinka grabs Preener's gun and points it at the Queen, saying that if she orders Preener to fire, so will Trinka. Way to go, Trinka! Once the Rocky rocket lands, she lowers the gun, which is a bad idea, as another guy grabs her and imprisons her. She calls out to Preener as she's taken away, but, geez, appealing to that guy? Mr. Lickboots? It has the effect you imagine it does, ie, none.
Rocky and Winky descend the ladder from the ship, which is another kind of cool shot, here. They stand there for a while, waiting (remember, they couldn't wait for the radi—er, astrophone message to be answered, but here where they are enemy aliens out in the open and can be shot, it's OK to wait). The Queen, Preener and some other guy watch on TV, the Queen grinning evilly. Rocky and Winky walk off screen, and the Queen issues orders to kill them both, as she doesn't want them inside the city (which is a single building) “spreading lies about the United Worlds.”
Rocky and Winky stop by a closed doorway, and they yell to get in. A voice on the other side asks, “Who is it?” but they don't answer, they climb up two convenient ladder-like structures on either side of the door. When Preener and Other Guy open the door and walk out, Rocky and Winky jump them and beat them up. Good thing the Queen sent a whole two troops, eh? During the fight, two other guys who are even older show up, but Winky and Rocky have the ray guns, so they order the others to escort them to the Queen. Which they do, as Rocky shouts (shouts!) “Hup! Two! Three! Four!”
Good thing this is all the soldiers the Queen has, I'm guessing. They all pile into the Queen's chambers, and she's royally pissed (how many times can I legitimately use that phrase?), especially at Preener.
“Cleolanta, I, uh, don't know what happened, I was going down the corridor--” he lamely begins, before Rocky cuts him off and says that the Queen is going “to sit down and listen to every word I have to say.”
“It's for your own good,” Winky offers as a pallalitive, but I don't think it works. We'll never know, as we fade to black--
--and fade in on the Baby
Prince, smashing his moons together, I mean, hands. He
seems pretty upset. “He's been so happy for days,”
Elsewhere, the Prof is on the space radio (maybe an astrophone) and he says he'll pass along some news he's just been given from the Secretary. And he passes on his greetings to the two Moon Kings, who, in a quick cut, smile and nod how happy they are to be remembered.
Prof tells the ladies that the Other Moon King will gladly welcome the people of Lightning Moon to his world. So that's all okay. Rotunda is worried about the Baby Prince, though, as he's all upset and things.
Back on Officius, Rocky is telling how no time must be wasted, and a committee from the United Worlds is coming to help move the Officials to a new planet, “which will be mutually agreed-upon.”
Queen hates this. “They will tell MY people?” But Rocky says no, they'll only advise. And Rocky and Winky decide it's time for them to go.
But the Queen, extraordinarily transparent in her deception, says she wants a moment alone with her two top lieutenants, Preener and Other Guy.
Sure enough, as soon as Queen leaves the room they were in, she releases a gas which paralyses Rocky and Winky (we don't actually see this though). Preener shows a bit of conscience at this, while Queen worries about the panic the news will cause.
In the room, Rocky and Winky note the gas, but use handkerchiefs and try to cover the vent. They note that the only exit is locked. Well...that was, um, pretty stupid. I mean, you trusted her, eh? And what did it get you? Better, what did you expect it would get you?
As the Queen and Preener leave to make their own plans, we see Rocky and Winky collapse onto the couch and the rug, reverse-respectively. This is in black and white, so I can't tell if the Early Suburban furniture is in good taste or not. Where is James Lileks' phone number? He'd know!
Craig T. Nelson-type Queen Lieutenant, previously (and after this) known as Other Guy, says he's made a thorough study of the space charts, and this crash of moons thing is indeed going to happen on the 19th of the month.
Showing the same hubris that Lightning Moon King was briefly guilty of, Queen says she “won't allow it!”
Other Guy asks if they shouldn't ask the United Worlds for help? Queen says no way. Preener notes that if Lightning Moon was completely evacuated, they could fire missiles at it and disintegrate it, and thus eliminate the problem. But Queen doesn't care if Lightning Moon is evacuated or not. She wants to destroy it before it's evacuated. Even Other Guy gives pause at this, and Preener looks really uncomfortable.
We fade, and see Preener looking in on his wife, who is asleep in a cell like Rocky's. He turns the gas off, and she awakens. He goes in to talk to her. She, still a bit groggy, says she “had such a bad dream. I want to hear you say wake up, forget your bad dream.”
But she wakes up and remembers what went down. He says he only did what he did for the sake of Officius. She asks if Rocky Jones got killed, and he says no, just knocked out.
He then says he has his chance to become one of the great men of Officius. He is in command of the Queen's ship, and he will be the one to fire missiles into Lightning Moon. I hesitate to even guess on this, but if this was made ten or twenty years later, his meaning would be clear: I'm going to destroy the ship with the evil Queen, and me, on it, and my sacrifice will redeem the small petty evils I've done. He's got the Haunted Look down, that's for sure. He says that all he will ask for is a pardon for her.
Trinka points out that there are people on that moon, and he says that can't be helped. The Queen intercoms for him, and he gets up to leave, and tells her goodbye. She argues that he should warn the Lightning Moon, even at great risk, since that's what Rocky Jones did.
He tells her he has to go, and asks her to go back to sleep. He kisses her. But as he leaves, he doesn't turn the sleep gas back on. And he doesn't lock the door either. She goes and opens the door, and he tells her that she is wiser than he is, and she must do as she feels best, but she should be careful. Just then, footsteps sound and they close the door hurriedly, and we cut to the Queen's spaceship taking off.
Back at the Prison, Trinka leaves her cell, but pops back in and pretends to sleep when Other Guy shows up to check. She opens the door when Other Guy is just standing there in front of it, looking the other way; fortunately, “turning around” is apparently one of those alien foreign things Queen Cleolanta wants to stamp out, and Other Guy is trying his best. He moves off to continue his rounds, and she emerges to find Rocky. She finds their cell and turns off the gas. He and Winky quickly revive, and Trinka grabs Rocky and brings him to her room—Trinka, this is no time for that!--just as Other Guy is making another round of her cell. Damn those rounds are short! There's practically no time for escaping and things!
But no matter, Rocky hunkers down by the wall where he can't be seen, and Trinka pops back onto the sofa rapidly, and Other Guy thinks all is well again. (Until he comes back in the next fifteen seconds.)
Trinka introduces herself, and deduces Rocky's identity. Oh come on, like she would have grabbed Winky, please. Rocky asks how long he's been asleep. Trinka doesn't know as she's been asleep as well, but she spills the whole I had an astrophone, Queen and Preener are going to bombard the Lightning Moon with missiles and so on. If Rocky can only get to his spaceship, she suggests, and he ruefully echoes, “Yeah, if.”
Meanwhile, Winky, hearing Other Guy's approach, assumes an expression of utterly ridiculous exhaustion. It's nice that his Comic Relief duties come now, 45 minutes in, rather than bombarding us from the beginning, eh? Well, Other Guy is fooled (not noticing Rocky's absence from the floor, I guess), but he has second thoughts, and Winky assumes another position (“Thank you sir May I have another!”) as the peep door is opened. But Other Guy isn't fooled, and he opens the main door and charges in. He and Winky have a knock down drag out, good for Winky as Other Guy has a foot in height on him and a few pounds as well.
Meanwhile, Rocky cautiously opens Trinka's door (her cell door, you pervs) and trips some old guy running to give the alarm. He then thrashes the old guy. Go Rocky! Trinka dashes off, hopefully to get some weapons. Then some other guy shows up to beat up Rocky, and this seems to tip the tide, believe it or not, in Rocky's favor. He easily overpowers this new foe and finishes off the old guy, and Winky overpowers his opponent as well. Winky rushes out into the hall and meets Rocky. They muse over the fact that they must reach their ship but have no weapons. Another guy shows up, Rocky points him out and says “Hey,” and Winky goes to town on him. Trinka turns on the sleep gas in Rocky's old room and they pile all the foes in there. But won't housekeeping be by in the morning? Then your plans will all lay undone!
Winky gets another bit of Comic Relief, as Trinka accidentally shut him in with the other sleepers, and he's all staggering around not like a man who's about to fall asleep but like a man who's had a few. She grabs him and brings him out to where the air is clear. She, he and Rocky all head to the Rocky rocket. Good thing security on Officius only consists of three guys, but I have to wonder who's going to go after the illegal astrophone owners if all the police are asleep. Queen Cleolanta will be royally pissed when she gets back and anarchy is everywhere!
The three make the ship and climb up the ladder. Trinka's robe has devil-horn shoulders. Just thought you'd like to know.
Rocky tells her to strap in, and her look is pretty priceless, but he doesn't pause, he goes into the control deck where Winky's already warmed up the engines and stuff. Rocky spills the story about what the Queen is up to, and Winky names everyone who'll be killed, but Rocky says “We'll make it,” and Winky, jaw set in determination, says “Sure we will.” But he's not being sarcastic, he MEANS it. He also asks “Who is that luscious trail of stardust back there?”
Rocky has to tell Winky that Trinka is a married woman, and Winky takes this stoically. And the ship lifts off into the starry night.
And we fade to the Lightning Moon, closing in on the camera, and fade to Prof, at his calculation machine, looking rather like Anton Phibes in similar circs. Oops, it's not a calculating machine, despite his up-and-down play motion with his hands; it's the Baby Prince's stroller, and the old geezer is trying to calm the infant's psychic link with his ancient antics. But the tot is having none of these elderly enticements, and continues his wailing.
The Prof, defeated, goes to talk to Rotunda (and Kid thoughtfully closes the door to cut out the loud wailing). He tells her there's nothing wrong with the baby physically (like most movie scientists, he's an expect in every field), but that his wailing must be due to his “sense of danger.”
Rotunda mentions that there are still fourteen days until collision, “he must not be allowed to cry all that time!”
“Perhaps when we're all evacuated,” Chipper says, “when we're all safe on Legato [the other moon], he'll stop.”
Prof admires this scientific grasp of Chipper and agrees. And he suggests that Rotunda see to him til the evacuation is complete.
Kid turns to Chipper. “I don't think it's the crash of moons [he said the title] that's bothering him—it's got something to do with Rocky and Winky!”
How he came to that conclusion is a mystery left to future sages, as we fade to the Rocky Rocket traveling across the firmament. Oh, my mistake, it's actually the Evil Queen Rocket. On board, Preener and the Queen (there's a name for a band) are watching over the instruments. Queen asks Preener why he's so quiet as they're in the middle of glory and all, and Preener admits he cannot explain why he's quiet. She orders some turns and things (for the ship) and he complies. On their viewscreen, well, there's the Lightning Moon. Queen orders Preener to be ready to fire, and he says he is.
Just then, Rocky calls the Lightning Moon, and Kid answers the radio. Rocky tells Kid to listen closely, but Kid says the Baby Price is crying so loudly that radio transmission is being drowned out. Just then, the whole place shakes, as if, I dunno, a missile had struck it. This also cuts off the radio completely. Kid and Chipper rush off to...um, see the Baby Price again.
Rocky and Winky spot the Evil Queen Death Ship. Rocky orders a change of course to intercept.
On board the EQDS, Queen is counting down to fire, and Preener does. A missile blast hits the Lighting Moon. In the Baby chamber, it looks like Rotunda is trapped under some stuff, so they all order Chipper and Kid to go to some safer place with the (still crying) baby. Back on the EQD ship, Queen orders another missile fired. We see a quick shot of Kid, Chipper and King (wait, it can't be him, he's on the other moon—must be one of his look-alikes for the assassins) rushing to safety, and—woah!--the first other inhabitants we've seen on this moon, two faceless flunkies who are, alas, running the wrong way.
Kid, Chipper and Baby make it to the promised safe area. It looks kind of ruined too, but hey, whatever the script says.
Rocky orders Winky to fire on the Queen Ship, and he shoots off a missile, and it goes WHUP right up the tailpipe. Queen wonders what the Hell that was, and Rocky calls and tells her that her ship is crippled and a perfect target, so she's better call off her bombardment.
Queen wonders how Rocky Jones got up here, and Trinka takes the radio and asks her husband not to fire another missile. Queen deduces that Preener, too, is a traitor, and reaches for the missile controls, but Preener's Conscience 2.0 upgrade has kicked in, and he grabs her hands. He ties her up in her chair, and Preener calls the Rocky rocket and says that no more missiles will be fired. But, I bet HE'LL be fired! Oooh yeah, he's fired! Ha ha ha whatever.
Trinka asks what will happen to her husband. Rocky says the Queen ship is crippled, and they'll help it as soon as they've helped the Lightning Moon people, who, it probably needs not be said, haven't fired any missiles at anyone. And we show the Rocky rocket landing on the Lightning Moon, with that same roiling sky. You have to really give it to the special effects folks on this show, they did what they could and didn't compromise.
And Rocky, Winky, Trinka and some Lightning Moon guy are calling out for their friends in the wreckage of the main room the King had. And there's another Lightning Moon guy! Wow, this place is really happening now! Too bad it's like utterly doomed and all, but hey, uh, um...er. Uh. Stuff written here.
They all go into the room where Prof and Rotunda are, and they clear the stuff pinning Rotunda, and Prof tells how everyone else tried to make it to the “Underground Shelter” with the Baby Prince. Rocky orders Trinka to “do what you can for them” and he and Winky go...well, they go leaping through the various uprooted doors with lightning symbols on them. I mean, they leap and leap, quite jauntily.
And we cut to Kid, Chipper and the Baby Prince (thankfully not wailing his damn head off) in the Shelter, being kind of stoic and stuff. And Rocky and Winky find them, and clear the doorway of wreckage. And everyone gets out, and we fade to black, and then everyone is in the main King room again. Trinka tells Rotunda how she envies her, “I wouldn't want a son raised under Queen Cleolanta.”
Elsewhere, Winky and some Lightning Moon guys are repairing the radio, and the Secretary (remember him?) calls for Professor Newton, but Rocky takes the call. The Secy wants to know how the Queen took the news, and if Officius is being evacuated.
Rocky grins in that way that says, Secy, you've got a lot to catch up on, and he mentions how the Queen really screwed everything up. Secy is worried about whether Officius will be evacuated in time, and he then says that housing for the Lighting Moon folks is already set up, and the folks from Other Moon (Legato) are ready to welcome their friends from Lightning Moon (awwwww!).
Rocky takes this good news, and they all sign off, and he calls the Preener/Queen ship. Preener answers, and Rocky gives him landing instructions. While Preener is preparing to land, Queen mentions about how “every day, the shadow of [Lightning Moon] will become blacker on Officius.” Yeah, and so? She tells Preener that he is “a traitor beyond words!”
“I did not command the crash of the moons, Cleolanta,” he says.
“But Officius could have been saved!” she says.
“And all the people of [Lighting Moon] would have died,” he says. “I'm proud of Trinka,” he goes on, and we fade to black.
And we cut to the ships on the surface of Lightning Moon. And inside, Secy is still trying to make Queen see reason. Oh, there's a good role…for an idiot.
Queen says that she wants Officius saved, rather than the people on it. Secy points out that this seems to mean that she doesn't care about the people, and she says that “without a land, there can be no race of Officians,” she says. “My people will separate, drift apart from one land to another.”
King points out that this will happen to his folks, too. But his folks will stay together (unsaid: because they're held together not by terror, but because they like each other). Secy says there'll be a new Officius somewhere.
Rocky butts in to note that Queen's plan of destroying Lightning Moon might save Officius, if King can evacuate his people right away. You can bet that Queen gets a smug look at this news. King says his people are ready.
Queen orders her spaceship to be made ready, but Rocky says, “Oh, no!” and that he'll be on board, and he'll give the order for the missiles to be launched. Nobody's going to trust the Queen with anything important (there's a quick shot of Preener and Trinka in each other's arms).
Kid pops up to ask what his job is, and he's told he'll be in the “orbit jet” and I confess I missed that part. At that moment, Baby Prince starts wailing and Kid goes off to see what he can do, and notes with irony, “If you could only talk!” And we fade to black.
And we fade in as King tells Rotunda that it's time to go, the last transport is leaving. As the three of them (incl Prince) leave, King muses how the baby is “such a fine little prince, without a land to rule.” He then says he has to set off a flare to tell Rocky Jones the evacuation is complete.
On board the Rocky rocket, or maybe it's the Queen's Death Ship, Rocky and Preener are manning the controls. Behind them, completely free, hovers the Evil Queen, just itching to give orders, you can tell. Also on board are Prof and Trinka.
Rocky asks the Prof to check to make sure the orbit of Lightning Moon has been shifted when they're done shooting their missiles. With any luck, Prof can manage that without making hugely bad calculations. And Rocky fires the missiles, two of them to be exact.
He asks Prof if the course has changed, and Prof says no. Queen says to fire again, “and again and again! Nothing can stand against [her planet's] missiles!”
Rocky shoots three more missiles, but Prof (Mr. Unreliable) says there's no change. I'm kind of waiting for him to say, “Oh wait, there has been a change in direction! I thought you meant...prestidigitation! Look at these handkerchiefs!”
Anyway, Rocky called the “orbit jet” and reports that they've fired a lot but just kept firing blanks if you know what I mean.
Winky, Chipper and Secy take this news pretty solemnly. But they say that they'll alert every ship available to evacuate Officius. Queen is worried about her iron control, and avers that this is “a plot of the United Worlds! A trick to make the Officians allow space--” but she's (fortunately) cut off before she can finish that phrase with something that makes sense. “Space—dividers? Space—savers?” It's a secret she'll take to her grave! Mwa ha ha ha!
Rocky takes the mic back and assures Secy that what needs to be done will be done. The whole planet will be evacuated. The Officians will have to be told what the Queen wanted left unsaid, re: total doom. Rocky notes that, “I have a good partner for the job!” and he looks at both Trinka and Preener while Queen fumes. Fade to black--
--and fade in to the space ship hurtling through the void. Preener offers to land the ship, and Rocky says go ahead, and he does do, but Queen is grinning entirely too comfortably. Will it be that she runs to her throne room and continues to rule as her palace collapses around her? I guess we'll find out!
The ship banks and straightens out, and settles on the Offician surface. On that very same surface, in the main control room in fact, Other Guy and the Old Guy and the Other Other Guy are anxiously awaiting the ship's arrival. I'm not going to mention the fact that they were all put in a sleep cell, deeply asleep, except to say this: I've just now mentioned it. They look at the descending rocket and pronounce it their “chance to escape!” and they run off and hide.
On board the ship, the Queen says that she has the right to speak to her people—alone. Nobody seems to mention her paranoid outburst from before, because Rocky agrees and Preener says okey-dokey too. So, the Queen descends the landing ladder to speak upon her native soil, but the other inhabitants—Other Guy, Old Guy, and Other Other Guy—say “Now's our chance!” and the run to the ship, toss Queen off, and scramble up the landing ladder. And they're followed by bunches and bunches of others. Other Guy rushes into the cabin and demands that they be taken “away from Officius!” and there's a bit of a struggle, but Rocky and Friends gain the upper hand and tell the Others to calm down already and stuff. They struggle the mass back into the guest quarters.
On the surface, Queen gets this Oh You Are In SUCH Trouble Now look, and she climbs in and—she tells the rebellious officers to STOP. This has no effect, though. (Credits for trying, though, Queen, collect them at the end of the show.)
Trinka gets on the intercom and tells the struggling folk to stop struggling, as the United Planets are here to help, and everyone will be helped, and nothing bad will happen and stuff like that. She's way more persuasive here than she was with her husband, far earlier in this saga (hey, do I smell a new queen in the offing? Or do I need to change those plug-in things. Cos it kind of smells like New Queen but it might be Pacific Coast. I'll have to check and you know that takes time.)
Well, Trinka's scheme of talking to people works and everyone goes off to be nice, and Rocky and Preener kind of look at one another like, Hey, Our Peoples Are Not All That Different and Queen looks at all of this like, Hey, I Kind Of Hate This, and I look at this like Hey, What Are Those Cats Doing, Because They're Running Around Like Crazy. And Then I Worry. Because It's Impossible To Tell. Yes, that is a long subtitle thing, but that is the privilege of the reviewer, which is one of those things you learn as you pass certain realms. One of which is mine.
Anyway, the next scene shows Queen leading the way into some large empty room, with a filing cabinet and a rolled-up paper and a two tray desk accessory (In tray and Out tray). And Rocky and Trinka and Preener all stride to the video monitor which is where anyone who is anyone will be. And that, for now, includes you, so enjoy the view. It's very nice. It's the scene of Lightning Moon surrounded by clouds and kind of looking doomed with a side of more doomed.
Trinka notes how she feels pretty scared by this scene, and as Rocky notes that there are still five more days, Preener takes Trinka into his arms, indicating that at least on one front, this war is won. The “orbital jet” calls and asks for Rocky, and Rocky answers to the chagrin of the Queen who is standing right there, ignored. Chipper on the Orbital Jet requests landing coordinates for the fleet to evacuate Officius. Rocky gives permission to land to the fleet, but tells them to be careful as (and we see the Queen looking evil) “there's understandable tension here.”
The orbital jet lands. There's the chatter of confused, panicky Officians being confusedly panicked. Trinka gets on the radio horn and tells the Officians that it is time to leave, and they'll get a slip of paper telling them when. To forestall panic, she says that she and her hubby will be on the last ship to leave (under the command of Rocky Jones), so they'll know (I guess) that some folks are working to see that every last Offician gets off (in the planetary sense) before they, themselves, get off (in the planetary sense). In other words, it's not First Come, First Served, but it's going to be fair for everyone, just, you know, let's all hurry up a bit.
And we cut to the Lighting Moon, being all lightening'd, and a moon, too. And then a whole field full of spaceships, all ready for take off. There are basically two designs, an elongated egg shape with single fins, and a slimmer multi-finned ship.
And, at Chipper's noting that it's time, Rocky gives the nod for one of the ships to leave, and it does, and he orders the next one to go, and it goes too, and another one follows the same route, and another one too, and Evil Queen looks on evilly, like, All my power is going away from me.
And we fade to the fact that all of Officius is evacuated now, and the last folk are boarding the last rocket.
Preener stops by Queen, and asks her to come aboard. “No,” she says, “I remain here!”
“I'm sorry, my queen,” he says, and physically grabs her and forces her on board. She struggles all the while. And the last ship blasts off.
And, on board this last ship, Rocky and Winky, the Prof, Kid, and Chipper, Trinka, Preener and Queen all watch, as the crash of moons begins.
“This is the most exciting moment of my life!” Prof declares, heedless of the insensitivity of his remarks. Well, you know, those scientists, eh? Can't even remember atmosphere belts most times!
And Lightning Moon and Officius crash and explode, and fill the cabin with bright light.
Queen turns to Preener and Trinka. “Why should this happen?” she snarls, “why?!”
And King calls from the Other Moon, asking for Rocky. Rocky responds, and asks if he saw the “crash of moons”?
“Yes, Rocky,” says the man who just lost his whole damn planet, “it happened.”
He goes on, though. “But what does it matter, really, to Oliver, here, so wisely.” [Sorry, that's what it sounds like.] “It isn't the land, it's he people who make the country.” Trinka and Preener embrace, as Queen has had enough of this New Age stuff. She rushes forward. She grabs the mic from Rocky, and asks if King really believes that, if it isn't, instead, that the land makes the people and not the other way around?
King responds that he does believe this, and he urges Queen to give it a try. “Thank you,” Queen says, and as she puts the mic down, she turns to Rocky and affirms that she did, in fact, thank an actual other person. “Yes, thank you,” she says to Rocky. “Thank you, very much.” And she grins at Rocky, and Rocky grins back, but he can't grin too much as he has to run the ship—but, no matter. We get the message. This selfless act, on the part of Other Moon, Lightning Moon's King, and Rocky Jones him-very-self, has shone the light of human (gasp) kindness into Queen's heart, and she will rule with kindness herself from this day forward. I'm sure her first acts will be to make Preener and Trinka the Royal Couple or some such thing, so their kindness will temper her deep-rooted evil and she can say “Sorry!” when she orders some people to death and it turns out, it was because it was that time of the month or something.
Who knows? Who knows how kind Queen Cleolanta will now become? We fade out at this point. Actually, we faded out when Queen smiled at Rocky Jones, because a smile is as good as a reformation in most circles. Also, the words “The End” clue in most of us, and that's what we got next.
What can I say? Sure, the performances and effects were stiff, but you could say the same about Star Trek a decade later, and if you do, you'd better not do so in my presence, because I might just come to your house and...lecture you thoroughly in a stentorian voice.
The thing about the effects is quite simple: every generation's cutting-edge effects look crude to the generation that follows. The effects here, though, are done with an ingenuity and an enthusiasm that makes them easily pass muster. Sure, today's anonymous CGI creeps could do better, but not with the kind of organic forgiveness these effects generate. You watch these and instead of thinking, “My God these suck!” you think, “These aren't all that convincing but they bring the flavor of the thing, and that's more important.” If you read (and I hope you do) it's kind of like all that stuff decades ago when Venus was described as a prehistoric swamp. No, it isn't accurate decades later. But they tried, and when they tried hard enough (Ray Bradbury is your hint, here) it doesn't matter what the science says, as the stories weren't about science per se but how people would react to a new environment or situation, given the humanity they share with the reader.
Rocky Jones, Space Ranger has to be given credit for giving it the old college (Warren Wilson?) try. While the performances were either stiff or walking clichés (sometimes both), they were also straightforward and to the point. Those annoyances we can tally up (the tendency of people to speak in exposition, for example) weren’t unknown in either real movies or printed science fiction.
So, no one in today’s
modern world is going to be entranced by “Crash of Moons”
as straightforward entertainment—we’re too sophisticated
quote unquote for its rather naïve charms.
As a measure of historical entertainment, however, it definitely holds its own. The two most potentially obnoxious elements (Winky and Kid) are kept to a minimum. The science, while not accurate, is kept to a low-key believable level; nothing here is so utterly fantastic as to be indistinguishable from magic, and thus beyond the audience’s ability to comprehend or care about.
While “Crash of Moons” is too primitive for me to recommend as pure entertainment, as a way to waste a couple of hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon, you could certainly do far worse with more recent offerings. Watch while eating a bowl of sugar cereal for the full effect.