Thursday, 31 January 2019

MMM: "By The Great Solar Wind!" - Ulysses 37


Alright! The controls are set for the heart of the, er, fun, as we cascade through the final four episodes of Ulysses 31, soaring towards the epic(-ish) grande finale. (Again, bear in kind the 'restored' episodes are numbered in a different order to the UK broadcast/DVD release)....


EPISODE 23

"May he be crushed like the crystal sand."

The Odyssey declares an emergency, detecting a "distress signal on D92" as they are approaching a Crystal Planet that is under attack from Tridents. Despite Yumi sensing that it is a trap Ulysses takes a shuttle and fights off the attacking spaceships, rescuing Calypso (who it has to be said has the galaxy's funkiest crystal hairdo)....



It seems Ulysses is too late as the crystal sun is fractured and the planet will soon be destroyed. With Zeus pressuring her to obey, Calypso tricks Ulysses into repairing the crystal sun using the route back to Earth as bait. Calypso soon has a change of heart as she realises she is deeply in love with Ulysses - again her funky 'fro does its thang! - and she can only bring herself to imprison him....



Again the Gods pressure Calypso and this time, as she attempts to kill Ulysses, she confesses all. With her tears of anguish reviving the Crystal Planet the Gods attack, raining down lightening, sending Tridents and conjuring up great crystal birds. Shirka sends down a shuttle to assist in the battle. Will Ulysses and Calypso - who might just have one more trick up her hairstyle - survive the onslaught....





EPISODE 24

"A curious kind of beggar."

Having landed on a planet the Odyssey is drilling for precious minerals, Shirka warning our heroes that the drilling area has "a high proportion of energy catalyst". The children, who are enjoying playing in the planet's low gravity, accidentally fall down one of the holes. As such Telemachus arrives at "The Place Of Time" and is sent 5,000 years into the distant past by the Gods....



Ulysses arrives and is told that to save him he must also go back in time and seek out the first Ulysses and help him protect the right to his throne - both the first Ulysses and first Telemachus are absent, Penelope fending off the interests of many greedy suitors. Ulysses 31 is captured and Penelope, taken with his cause, sets a challenge for the suitors, a trial of strength - if one can successfully string the bow of Ulysses 01 and fire an arrow then she will marry him. Telemachus 01 returns and attempts to rescue Telmachus 31, only they are captured by the dastardly Antilles(?)....



Fortunately they are saved by a mysterious man dressed as a beggar. Who could this be, and could his teaming up with Ulysses 31 foil the cunning plans of the 100 suitors....



EPISODE 25

"Lotus seeds will make you dreamy if you eat them."

Shirka reports the Odyssey will "soon be moving past the last planet recorded in this system" and that she detects a "trace of intelligent life" as well as imminent "meteoric activity". With the "meteoric density now rising sharply" Trident meteors begin to bombard the Odyssey, damaging the Iris. Ulysses utilises the emergency systems to make repairs, but quickly realises their only hope is to make use of the emerald supplies on the nearby Emerald Planet....



Ulysses and Nono take 2 shuttles down to the surface and proceed to begin their operation. Here they are approached by the planet's inhabitants who lead him to the emerald mines, showing him where to dig, and offering him a Lotus Seed to eat. With a warning of "volcanic activity imminent" Ulysses ignores Nono's protest, dreamily wandering off and wanting to stay....



The children speed to the planet surface, concerned that Ulysses will not answer their communications. There they meet Lota, who warns them of the debilitating effects of the Lotus Seeds - if you eat too many you will disappear! The race is on to find Ulysses and give him Lota's antidote before the volcanic eruption. With Ulysses back to normal the race is on to counter the effects of the plants, saving the young and old and to somehow stop the eruption once and for all....




EPISODE 26

"Full speed to the final point!"

The final episode! The Odyssey comes in sight of the oft-mentioned Galactic Glaciers and our heroes begin to hope that The Kingdom Of Hades (and home) is within their reach. Shirka warns that they are "entering a semi-luminous zone" and they encounter a giant butterfly swarm that threatens to envelop the Odyssey and drain all their energy....



Their escape brings the Odyssey to rest on the Galactic Glaciers where they meet a morose Orpheus who wishes to cross The River Styx into the Kingdom Of Death, and there join his beloved Eurydice. Can Ulysses defy the god of death, save his companions from their potential fate as citizens of Hades, and discover the route back to Earth (and Penelope) in time....

"...to the city, the styx, the darkness perhaps."



I had always assumed Ulysses and company never completed their mission, the (outcome of the) final episode never registering with my childhood self coupled with a perpetuating rumour that an intended second series was never made. Indeed there's no denying it's a genuine "kitchen sink" of a conclusion as they cram their usual mix of space adventure and gloomy lamentation together while racing towards a brisker than brisk finale to this truly excellent series....


Before blasting off one last time a final props to TheAdamAnt - a playlist of his loving and painstaking-ly restored episodes can be found here >> Ulysses 31....

Thursday, 17 January 2019

A Chronicle Of Doom....


A Happy New Y.E.A.R.! ....and a first trip in months to Ice Station Zebra for Agent Rob 'fer to visit' Agent Johnny (fer a decidedly easy does it 'nyoo yeer's' 'View To A Swill'). First footing things first it wiz not before time for Rob to 'retyoon' the 'one-eyed god' so it was able 'fer to receive' The Horror Channel. Of course, with their welcome repeat of The Invaders having since been and gone in its entirety over X-Mas there was nothing for it but to default to The Avengers on ITV4, our Agents enjoying 'The Hidden Tiger' episode, the first beers duly cap twisted and glugged while Ronnie Barker grinned and mugged....


And what would X-Mas be without the 'SALES', Our Man In Pester Wails proudly showin' off his copy of Skull The Slayer 'wot he done bot cheap' from Forbidden Planet - just the sort of 70's MARVEL comic that fires Johnny's rockets....


Being unable to (empty) stomach Kojak it wiz time fer the 'music box' to make an appearance and contented chuntering to take centre stage. Talk - prompted by an auld copy of Shivers magazine - quickly turned to a fascinating 1968 episode of Mystery and Imagination that starred Denholm Elliot in an adaptation of Dracula (all of which was previously completely out of the unknown to Rob)....


Agent Johnny then reminisced about 19060's programme The Magic Boomerang (it stops time!) and how it wiz replaced in the 'tea-time-telly' spot by National Velvet, although presently he confused this with the forties fillum, talking at length about Elizabeth Taylor (and one of his/her look-a-like 'girlyfriends') in the lead role....


Sadly nothing lasts forever and before long Agent Rob had to shortly spaceship himself away (clutching a newly finished page of Manderston Street Madmen!) to the Plaza 'fer to catch' the train back thru to Glasgog....

Agent Johnny will return....

Sounds: Two From The Vault by Grateful Dead: Nerve Pylon (the grand finale!) by The Lines....