Space: 1999

“Foolish games!” The long lost orange tree of Space:1999!

The first episode of Space:1999‘s second season received a special fall preview on at least three American television stations in August 1976, ahead of its official launch in September. This in itself was not unusual, since many broadcasters wanted to create excitement for the new shows on their fall schedules, although what makes this broadcast of particular interest is the fact that it allowed American viewers to see a version of The Metamorph that has never been seen or released again since!

Most of the episode played out exactly the same as the one available to us today, with one notable change during the scene that introduced Maya. We first meet the character as a lioness, before she transforms back into her humanoid form – but in the preview version, the camera zoomed in on the lion’s opposite eye as she made the change.

Same Maya, different eye.

She and Mentor then discussed the Moonbase Alpha crew, before Maya asked “Would I make a good Alphan, father?” and summoned an image of Koenig to her eye. Although this conversation also appears in the final cut of The Metamorph, the preview version of the episode included a completely different shot of Koenig to the one that later appeared there.

Here is where the biggest change from the episode we are familiar with came: instead of blinking the Koenig image away and smiling at her father, Maya instead blinked and imagined herself as a tree with silver tear-drop shapes on it. “Maya!” admonished Mentor once again. The camera then zoomed in as she completed the transformation…and when it finished, she had turned into an orange tree.

Mentor’s next line is as seen in the surviving copy of the episode: “I teach you the priceless art of molecular transformation, and see how you use it – foolish games!” The camera then zoomed in on one of the oranges on the tree, which then crossfaded to an image of Maya’s eye with the orange inside it. She blinked it away, and then transformed back into herself.

Maya’s next two lines (“Oh father! You only taught me because you knew I’d eventually master the art myself!”) were also retained in the surviving copy of the episode, although the preview edition used a different take of the shot. From here on though the rest of the episode played the same as the one we know and enjoy today. This print of The Metamorph did however feature several minor differences in the show’s opening titles sequence, including the word ‘starring’ on the credits for Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, a different positioning of the series logo, slight variations on Catherine Schell’s credit shot, and several of the captions appearing in white rather than yellow.

This preview version of The Metamorph today is only known to survive in the collections of those fans who recorded it off-air back in 1976, but has turned up online from time to time. Why it was felt necessary to re-edit the episode to make these several small changes and entirely remove the orange tree material from subsequent broadcasts remains a mystery, although it could be something as simple as the episode overrunning slightly – or someone deciding that this was a strange or even undignified way to introduce the show’s new main cast member!

Shame they didn’t feel that way about the man in a gorilla costume near the end of the episode…

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

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