Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: Alpha Scorpio

Alpha Scorpio was a short-lived Australian children’s science fiction television series, written and produced by James Davern, and which aired on ABC Television from 21st June 1974 – 26th July 1975.  It ran for six episodes.

The show starred Peter Hepworth as Andrew and Kevin Wilson as Steve; it focused on their day-to-day lives as university students who begin to witness strange events while camping at Aireys Inlet in Victoria. The two soon discover that their friend Mirny (Kurt Ludescher) is a member of a group of aliens who have recently landed from the 5th planet of Antares.

As the series begins we learn that Andy has brought a seismograph to the holiday hut because he studies geology. The instrument does not record much except artificial vibrations from passing ships and nearby road vehicles. One afternoon the instrument records an event with a duration of about 10 seconds and the local distribution voltage dips at the same time.

On subsequent odd days, the event continues to occur, but slightly earlier each day. Occasionally a weaker, but similar event is recorded by the machine, but it does not seem to follow any set pattern. Steve is out fishing when one of the weaker events occurs and an albatross seen flying overhead mysteriously disappears in front of this eyes.

As the story develops, Steve observes other happenings, such as the lighthouse emitting a beam during the day which seems to match the timetable of passing cargo ships and the occurrence of the weaker event.

Steve works out that the more powerful event occurs every time the star Antares passes through the zenith over Airey’s Inlet and a weaker event has occurred earlier that day. (Even though the declination of Antares is −26 deg. 25 min. and the latitude of Airey’s Inlet is −38 deg. 27 min. These must be the same for an astronomical object to transit the zenith at that location once each siderial day.) All the while, Steve is fostering a relationship with the mysterious old fisherman, Mirny, and police detectives in fedoras are seen poking about near the base of the lighthouse.

At the climax of the story, it turns out that Mirny is actually a member of an extraterrestrial race sent to Earth to procure deuterium oxide to use as fuel for their dying star which is Antares (or alpha Scorpii to use its Bayer designation).

The lighthouse has been modified by the Antarians into a transmat beam to take the duterium oxide from passing cargo ships. A much more powerful transmat beam has been set up at the bottom of a well next to the Antarians’ underground base. It is the operation of these transmat beams that Steve is detecting with his seismograph: the weak events when the deuterium oxide is beamed from the ship to the lighthouse and the more powerful event when beaming the duterium oxide back to the Antares system as it passes overhead above the well. The device needs so much power to cover the 550-light-year gap back to Antares that it momentarily overloads the town’s substation.

The albatross, seen to disappear by Steve, flew into the operating transmat beam as duterium oxide was being transferred from a passing cargo ship.

In the final episode, Mirny reveals his true identity and the purpose they are on Earth. Steve and Andy understand their great need to keep their star going as the detectives close in.

Mirny and his colleagues use the high-powered transmat one last time to beam themselves home with the last lot of duterium oxide, just evading the police. The transmat device is destroyed in this last herculean effort and sea water rushes in to flood the well and underground base, destroying all trace of the visiting extraterrestrials.

Steve and Andy return to Uni with their little secret.


Categories: Cult TV

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