. . . or Interstellar if it were 2 hours shorter — space, wormhole, water-landing, time dilation, stranded astronaut, great ideas, a little boring.
Lt. Christopher Lindy (destined to be known as Unlucky Lindy) crashes into the sea of an unnamed planet. He ejects into the water along with a female astronaut. She lasts about 10 seconds longer than the woman (hey, she had a name — Stewart) on board the ship in Planet of the Apes (hey, I never realized it didn’t have a name), as she is dragged down to her death by an unseen sea creature.
There is a great reveal as something huge breaks the surface. At first, it looks like a huge gaping mouth, but it expands into large inflatable life boat. Lindy climbs aboard and installs Direct TV. Although, in retrospect, it might may have been a radio dish.
Meanwhile, back at UNAS (the acronym is often seen, never explained), they receive the SOS and call Chairman Nancy McDonald to initiate a rescue mission — although they have no idea who it is that fell out of the sky or where he fell.
They are able to identify the signal as coming from the Vegan-4 spacecraft (no doubt named because the astronaut was a vegetarian) lost 20 years ago. McDonald asks if they know who sent the signal, although, since her boyfriend was in the Vegan-4, you might think that would have stuck in her mind.
They are planning a rescue when they determine that the signal is not terrestrial. Vegan-4 went through a wormhole skipping him ahead 20 years, and landing many light years away. McDonald worries about him being so far away and “all alone”. But surely she remembers that he went on a long mission in cramped intimate quarters with a female co-worker. Is that the kind of thing a a girlfriend would forget?
Lindy’s spirits are raised by the call from his old squeeze McDonald. But not so much from the tentacles that begin advancing into his pod. Looking out into the water he sees swarms of creatures, jellyfish-like with 10 foot tentacles.
UNAS tells him a rescue ship is on the way, but advises him to abandon the pod as its size makes it a more likely a target for the creatures than his warm chewy moving body. He clears a path with a flare gun and manages to reach land.
The wormhole is too unstable to risk a rescue, so Lindy heroically tells them to abort the mission. They are only able to send ahead a care package. Finally, McDonald tells him that 20 years have passed, pointlessly giving him nothing to live for.
Being less communicative than the passengers of Lost, he uses up the rest of his radio batteries playing Someone to Watch over Me on CD. Only then, in the daylight, he begins to survey his surroundings, and gives a slight smile. The place is green screen Eden.
- Still no idea what UNAS stands for. It was a race on Stargate, and an Egyptian Pharaoh. The agency shows up again in Season 3. It’s like the use of ASA instead of NASA in Mars is Heaven. WTH, is the government trademarking these acronyms?
- BTW, the ship in Planet of the Apes was named Liberty-1 in a 40th anniversary special feature, Immigrant-1 in an early draft of the script, and Air Force One in a series of trading cards. In the unnecessary 2001 remake, the mothership was The Oberon, but Mark Wahlberg went to the planet in a pod. In the 2011 reboot, it got a brief mention as The Icarus. Wow, lets take a closer look at those monikers:
- Liberty-1 — named after Liberty Bell 7? The only manned Mercury capsule lost, and piloted by an astronaut who died in a horrible capsule fire.
- Immigrant-1 — Oh, shut up. I can see where the USS Invader or Conqueror might be an issue, but this gives away that we’re never leaving. How about the USS Explorer?
- Air Force One — Already got one. Plus, a spaceship doesn’t fly through the air.
- Oberon — King of the Faeries? Moving on.
- Icarus — Flew to close to the sun and was killed.
- OK, the 1990’s effects are not perfect, but they are pretty great in conveying the awesomeness of the planet.