james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
In this episode, we learn that even beekeepers should be put to the torch when possible.



One of the Ark's domes is devoted to the study of bees (which may seem a little unfair to the people left on Earth to make room for the bees but the Ark does have to consider that it may need bees and other insects to establish a human-compatable ecology when it finally gets where it is going). Like most other domes, this dome has managed to stay on-mission, in large part due to the efforts of Doctor Peter Marshall (Played by William Hutt apparently channeling Walter Pigeon's Doctor Morbius). About the time the trio discover the dome, Marshall's research is on the verge of accomplishing what all scientific research on the Ark tries to accomplish, the painful deaths or mass enslavement of everyone on the Ark.

We soon learn that something is up with the bees Marshall and his companions have been studying. One of Marshall's subordinates has been trying to figure out how bees communicate, something he claims is a complete mystery and one of his attempts to build a device to monitor bee communications has seemingly enraged the bees. In the course of wandering aimlessly with third-tier supporting character who won't live to see the end credits, Garth and Rachel discover a previously undocumented population of bees who are each roughly the size of a hatchback. Happily the pair do not encounter the bees directly, less because Marshall is careful about keeping the bees contained and more because the special effects budget only extended to grainy stock footage of honey bees.

It takes some prodding to get the truth out of Marshall but he admits these are some mutant bees he has been working with. He is quite enthusiastic about their potential and extremely hostile to any other person's attempts to ask questions like "what is the giant bee queen's agenda". Eventually everyone but Marshall decides that the mutant bees have to go. Unfortunately for them, they then discover the bees can understand them and know exactly what is being planned. Worse, Marshall is actively working for them.

The good guys do their best to kill the bees despite Marshall's resistance. The dumpy assistant is exposed to insecticide and collapses. Despite the scientists' best efforts to save the man he dies. Once he is dead, it occurs to his companions to open his jacket. Inside is the least convincing portrayal of a mass of bees ever seen on TV or cinema, something that makes the killer cockroaches from Damnation Alley look cutting edge by comparison.

The protagonists soon discover that the mutants were too strong to be killed by the insecticide (In fact, very few of the regular bees appear to have been killed). Marshall admits that the queen bee is likely to be too hostile to humankind to trust now that the humans have tried to kill her and offers to use the queen's trust in him specifically to administer a syringe of concentrated poison. In fact, Marshall is a complete puppet of the queen and he has no intention of killing her.

Sadly for the queen, Garth and Devon are not complete idiots and they make sure the job will get done by going in in person. The queen does try to buy her safety by offering the humans a role as her enslaved minions in her grand war of conquest across the Ark but Garth and Devon decide that it would be better just to freeze her. The queen dies, Marshall is freed from her mind control and the four Buick-sized worker bees are left to die in the absence of their queen.


Comments: Even taking into account that this is Starlost, the sf/x for the giant bees is beyond lame.

Speaking of lame, the budget apparently did not extend to buying actual beekeeper's hats. Instead they have safari helmets with veils open at the bottom, perfect for trapping angry bees in front of the beekeepers' faces.

Karl von Frisch apparently lived in vain.

Date: 2009-03-17 07:04 pm (UTC)
seawasp: (Asuma kick)
From: [personal profile] seawasp
The problem with your reviews, James, is that sometimes it prods a long-suppressed memory to the surface, as I did watch this show when it was actually aired.

Curse you!

Date: 2009-03-17 08:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slrose.livejournal.com
Maybe he'll share his brain bleach with you?

Date: 2009-03-18 07:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heron61.livejournal.com
Sadly, the same thing has also been happening to me.

Date: 2009-03-17 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] geniusofevil.livejournal.com
did they refer to the bees as male or female or not at all?

Date: 2009-03-17 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Not at all except for the queen.

Date: 2009-03-17 07:27 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-03-17 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bunsen-h.livejournal.com
Enrique Borgos, eat your heart out.

<Quark>BeeBeeBeeBee BEE BEE BEE BEE ...</Quark>

Not only was the SFX of the guy's chest covered with bees lame, the concept was silly. You'd think that somewhere in the process of getting the guy onto the bed/bench/whatever, they'd have noticed that something was going on. The movement, the sound, the size... something different?

Date: 2009-03-17 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
One idea I've toyed with is that the Ark's designers thought it would be prudent to construct an intelligence suppression field into the Ark's defenses, in the hope that dull-witted humans would remain in their domes and not screw with vital systems.

Date: 2009-03-17 07:40 pm (UTC)
seawasp: (Atlantaean Ship)
From: [personal profile] seawasp
Hmm. Wasn't that one of the effects of the longevity drug in Forward's "Flight of the Dragonfly/Rocheworld"?

Date: 2009-03-17 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anton-p-nym.livejournal.com
I think actually that this episode is concrete evidence that this is one of those Adamsian "B" arks. *badum-dum TISH!*

-- Steve thinks the Ark may have been aimed at that Sun on purpose.

Date: 2009-03-17 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bunsen-h.livejournal.com
And here we're seeing a gigantic swarm of twelve foot piranha bees?

Date: 2009-03-17 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anton-p-nym.livejournal.com
Upon further pondering, here's an alternate version.

The Starlost is indeed set upon a "B" ark. It got sent along after the "A" ark (with all the competant settlers Earth could train) departed and was intended to serve as a last-resort back-up should the "A" ark's settlement go all Darrian Scheme on them; if the first colonisation attempt succeeded, the "B" ark would be humanely put out of its misery via a multitude of self-destruct machinery installed aboard.

The "accident" wasn't a midspace collision but rather a misfire of the destruct sequence because the "B" maintenance crews shouldn't have been trusted with safety scissors. The course misalignment, however, was a redundant destruct procedure running in parallel to the plethora of nukes, put in place to clean up after just such a mess.

-- Steve thinks this is still implausable, but less so than assuming that the Ark we see in the series is the best that humanity could manage.

Date: 2009-03-17 09:14 pm (UTC)
ext_196996: My avatar (Default)
From: [identity profile] johnreiher.livejournal.com
I am convinced that Earth is just fine, and all the "smart" people convinced all the "dumb" people to "escape" the destruction of the planet and built the Ark using the cheapest material and the lowest bidder.

That, or the people of the Ark aren't from Earth, they are from the planet Spengo and represent the cream of the crop of that society.

:-)

Date: 2009-03-18 06:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tekalynn.livejournal.com
Staffed entirely by telephone sanitizers?

Date: 2009-03-18 06:15 am (UTC)
ext_196996: My avatar (Default)
From: [identity profile] johnreiher.livejournal.com
No, the planet Spengo should be so lucky. Go forth and view the motion picture "Mom and Dad save the World" and behold the glory of Spengo!

Date: 2009-03-17 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burger-eater.livejournal.com
The queen does try to buy her safety by offering the humans a role as her enslaved minions in her grand war of conquest...

Someday, I'd like to see that plan work.

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