About The Show
Space Cases - Season 2 Episode 11
What Peter David didn't know was that Nickelodeon would change it's policy during the second season of Space Cases, and no "Story by" credits would be given for any episode. Another strange piece of logic from the Powers That Be at Nickelodeon.
And now, the original story outline for the episode Runaway.
The episode opens in class, with the kids complaining to Miss Davenport about having to learn space history. "This doesn't have anything to do with running a spaceship." one of them says. Davenport replies, "from the mistakes and triumphs of those who flew in space before you, you learn to avoid those mistakes without having to make them yourselves," then pausing and looking at her students, "Hmm, I think I'll have to schedule more history." To groans, THELMA arrives saying Cdr. Goddard needs them at the command center.
The Christa is caught in an area of space far from any star, and with a low ion concentration, so they can't move very fast. They decide to send Harlan, Radu and Rosie out in an "outrider" (one of the Christa's shuttles) in search of areas of high ion concentration so the ship can recharge its hyperdrive. Goddard puts Harlan in command, which suits Harlan fine, but the commander warns him, "That doesn't mean you're boss, that means youre responsible for your crew. I don't want to hear you've been Captain Bligh!" "Who?"
(Note: I see an outrider as about the size of a van. It could hold everyone in the Christa in a pinch, but usually seats are removed so there's room to move around and for cargo. It more "docks" with the Christa than "lands", so we enter it through a standard ship's door and we never see its exterior except in CGI. The interior can probably be mocked up with some ship's walls, bit of the control center consoles, etc. Power is solar sail/maneuvering thrusters. The sail is a large, spinnaker-type for drive with "wings" for tacking.)
The outrider is launched, and they're on their way.
Meanwhile, Catalina is complaining to Suzee about how they never get to do any of the fun stuff, like commanding an outrider. After all, a search for ion concentrations, "needs an engineering genius, actually two engineering geniuses, like us." "At least they take you seriously." Bova chimes in, "They even take Suzee seriously, and they can't even see her." I'm just the kid from.." "Uran..." Catalina starts, but she realizes it's not the time."
On the Outrider, everything's going fine. Rosie reports a promising concentration of ions nearby. Radu sets course, and they sail into the ion stream.
On the Christa, Davenport and Goddard have noticed their students in a funk, and are trying to figure out how to keep them involved. Goddard explains how on his ship, every contact team that went out had a dedicated team back on board acting as troubleshooter and Liaison. "You couldn't expect the Captain and command crew to take personal responsibility for every landing party." "You did commander, I've read your log entries." Davenport counters as the kids arrive in the command post.
"Outrider to Christa." Harlan reports in. "ready to enter concentrated ion stream, looks like a whopper." We see the outrider sail in. On the outrider, Radu reports some difficulty keeping on course, but he's handling it. Rosie's seeing ion readings higher than the instruments can measure. Radu says, "What's that?" "You're always hearing things, " Harlan replies, pointing to his ears. Then we hear something.
The lines of the outrider's solar sail are crackling with energy as tears begin to form in the sail's surface. One of the lines comes loose and the whole sail starts to tear away.
"Ion overload. Take the collectors offline." Harlan shouts over the noise. "What," Rosie replies, then sparks fly out of her console, throwing her across the deck. The sparks spread as the outrider lurches. From the outside, we see the last of the drive sail tear away.
One more shower of sparks and then, silence and darkness, as most of the outrider's system go dead. Into the very quiet, Harlan reports: "Christa, we have a problem."
"Harlan, listen to me." "Wait a minute, commander, I have an idea." "No, Mr. Band stop right now, take your hands off the controls." He explains one of the biggest mistakes you can make in space is doing things before you understand the problem.
The first problem is turning them around. The outrider may no longer be under drive, but it still has momentum away from the Christa. Goddard asks THELMA how long it will take the outrider to reverse course and return using just the wing sails. "10 days, 14 hours, 22 minutes" "Okay, not too bad," Goddard replies, "just hang on for.." "Unfortunately," THELMA adds, "at minimum life support the outrider will run out of air in 6 days, 22 hours, 13 minutes." "Great...stand by, Harlan, we'll get back to you."
"We're not going anywhere." Radu interrupts, "The air may not be a problem." "Why, Andromedans don't have to breathe?" "No, because of that." He points out the viewport to a rogue moon, slowly filling the screen ahead.
In the command post, they're trying to find a way to keep the outrider from hitting the moon. The best they can come up with is a course change that will trap them in orbit around it. Then Catalina remarks, "What if instead of slowing down as they change course, they speed up." On Saturn, they teach about the early earth probe Voyager 2 which made a "slingshot" around Saturn to send it in a different direction in the solar system. If they calculate it correctly, not only will the outrider not crash, but the moon can turn it around to head back to the Christa. She calculates the course change.
Tension builds as the outrider approaches the moon, then passes behind it, out of communications range of the Christa. But we see it, just as calculated, swing around and head back toward home, to great cheering both onboard Christa and the smaller ship. Now, all that's left is the five day ride back.
A couple of days later, things are boring onboard the shut down outrider. Life support is on minimum, and nobody is comfortable. Being in this close proximity is getting on everyone's nerves. Rosie's perpetual attempts to cheer everyone up aren't helping, and Harlan's dislike of Andromedans, hidden as he got to know Radu, is again coming out. They look like they may be coming close to blows, when we hear the background sound of the air pumps go silent.
"What was that?" "Whatever it was, it wasn't good." They contact the Christa. Rosie reports the AE-35 power cells have all gone dead. They must have been damaged in the ion field. "But the communications is still working," Harlan says. "It runs on a different power system." Rosie replies. "So why don't we just put some of the communications power cells in the life support system." Radu takes a square power cell and pulls a hexagonal one from the wall, then tries to fit the square one in its place. "That's why"
Davenport asks, isn't there some way to make the one cell work in the other system. "Put a round peg in a square hole?" Goddard replies. "Actually a square peg in a hexagonal hole," Bova says. "Can't we find something down in the cargo hold that will help them?" "No, not in the cargo hold," Goddard replies, "they need a solution that only uses what they have on the outrider. Bova, get them to list everything they've got on board, no matter how small, and hurry."
Harlan's sitting in the middle of a pile of stuff. "and a bunch of narrow rolls of this gray cloth that's sticky on one side." "Got it." Bova and Catalina (and Suzee) are sitting in the middle of a similar pile. Goddard picks up one of each kind of power cell. "You need to make this...fit into the hole meant for this, using only this. You have," he turns to THELMA "Two hours, 11 minutes," she replies.
Harlan, Radu and Rosie are sitting quietly in the outrider. <Harlan quotes from first episode> "Maybe they're right. Maybe I don't have what it takes. My first command and I managed to kill my crew." Radu and Rosie try to take some of the responsibility, but Harlan quotes Goddard again, "Command isn't about being boss, it's about being responsible for your crew." Radu suppresses a grin, takes a glance at Rosie and says to Harlan, "Okay, maybe it is all your fault." This jolts Harlan out of the pattern of self-guilt as he realizes he's being put on, and he throws something jokingly at Radu.
Back on the Christa, Bova and Catalina come running into the command post with a contraption made of the stuff they had on the floor. "This will work," Bova says. "How do you know?" - I tested it in the engine room, the secret was to use this roll of gray cloth. See, it has a dark side and a light side and I think it could hold the universe together." Goddard looks doubtful, but he's out of choices. He calls the outrider.
The contraption is built, they've plugged it into the slot on the wall, and it's time for the test. "Ready to power up, Commander." "At your discretion, Mr. Band, you're in command there." Harlan nods to Radu, who nods to Rosie, who presses a button. We hear the air circulation resume, and some of the lights come back on in the outrider. "It works!. We couldn't have done it without you, Commander!" "Don't thank me, thank your teammates." Big smiles from Catalina and Bova.
The damaged outrider redocks, and the kids excitedly compare what they did on the outrider, and back on the Christa. Davenport asks them what they've learned from this. "That it makes no difference who's in charge of something..." Harlan starts "...or who gets sent on the mission..." Catalina continues "...we're all part of the team..." "..and to succeed, we all have to work together." Goddard says, "That sounds like a Starcademy crew to me. Well done!"
In the classroom, later, Davenport says, "Well. With all the excitement recently you have gotten seriously behind schedule on your schoolwork." Everyone groans. "Today we shall study the early landings on Earth's moon, particularly the one flight that didn't land, and nearly didn't make it back."
This page was last updated on December 22, 1997