I asked our son whether tonight’s episode was scary. “No,” he said, “but it was very, very weird. And it was in part a mystery! Like why couldn’t anybody see that vampire when he was standing… RIGHT! IN! FRONT! OF! THEM!”
Continuing the show’s unfortunate tradition of silly episode names, this one’s called “Space Vampire.” Yes, the title is terrible, but it could have been worse, as both Buck and the show’s announcer, William Conrad, call the monster a “space age vampire,” reminding us that this was made in 1979. But that’s all the teasing I can muster, because this one is really, really entertaining.
The monster is called a Vorvon and it does all the usual vampire stuff, with the curious twist that vampire tales and legends have mostly died out. Buck figures out what’s going on immediately, and the space station’s doctor has no idea what he’s talking about. Christopher Stone, who must have set a goal to appear on every adventure program from the period, plays the station commander, and he’s certain that it’s some strange space virus that’s killing people.
The episode’s tone is surprisingly creepy and very effective. The music is harsh and angular and, combined with Erin Gray’s performance – she spends the whole hour feeling chilled and unsettled by something she can’t explain – it all works very well. It even features several newly-shot special effects scenes with new ships instead of recycling earlier miniature footage, including a ship crashing into the space station. It feels like the producers knew they had something memorable with this one and gave it some extra attention… which might explain why they had to resort to a clip show just two weeks later!