An Instinct For Murder

Star CopsDetective Nathan Spring is frustrated when a suspicious drowning is declared to be free of foul play by the police department’s computers. In the highly automated future, computer investigation helps to separate cases which need direct police intervention from those that don’t, but despite the computer’s analysis that there was no sign of foul play, Spring pursues the investigation anyway, devoting the manpower of his underbudgeted, understaffed department to it. When he’s called on the carpet by his superior, Spring is advised to take the opportunity to apply for the vacant job of the chief of the Internaitonal Space Police – or the Star Cops, as they’re sometimes less than affectionately known. Spring, who has never even been into space, dismisses the idea instantly…until his supervisor informs him that taking the position is Spring’s only hope for career advancement.

Spring interviews for the position and finds himself en route to a European-staffed space station whose crew has experienced a number of recent fatal accidents with faulty spacesuits. Again, the initial investigation is handled by a computer, which fails to detect any kind of pattern or motivation for foul play. Spring follows his instincts instead, befriending Star Cop David Theroux, who has already joined the crew and investigated the incidents himself, to no avail. But even then, Spring hasn’t ruled Theroux out as a suspect. Even though he has only rookie-level astronaut training, Spring decides to put his own life on the line in an attempt to draw the suspects out into the open – something which goes against every standard Star Cop procedure – only to discover that he’s up against an organized criminal operation targeting someone much bigger than the Star Cops.

written by Chris Boucher
directed by Christopher Baker
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Moray Watson (Commander), Keith Varnier (Controller), Gennie Nevinson (Lee Jones), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Andrew Secombe (Brian Lincoln), Frederik de Groot (Hans Diter), Luke Hanson (Lars Hendvorrsen), Katja Kersten (Marie Mueller)

Notes: A very short-lived late ’80s attempt at a more adult science fiction series than Doctor Who (which, at the time, had just entered Sylvester McCoy’s tenure), Star Cops was created by former Doctor Who writer and Blake’s 7 script editor Chris Boucher. The series was only watched by a small number of people, thanks to a late-night BBC2 timeslot, very thin promotional efforts, and constant battles being fought behind the scenes between Boucher and producer Evgeny Gridneff. This episode was originally written as a two-parter, and was quickly condensed into a single hour as Gridneff’s insistence; it also made use of stock footage of underwater astronaut buoyancy training provided by McDonnell-Douglas, voiced over by the show’s cast. Though never credited for it on screen, David Calder also provides the voice of Box, Spring’s portable (and, it must be said in light of Boucher’s Blake’s 7 background, Orac-like) computer, throughout the series.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Conversations With The Dead

Star CopsAn accident aboard the Earth-to-Mars supply freighter Daedalus fires the ship’s engines long before they should, blasting the ship off-course. Its crew of two is doomed: while they’re in no danger of hitting anything, they’ll run out of air eventually. Even though the crew is still in contact, they’ve all but been declared dead already. The Star Cops begin an investigation, but Nathan has a distraction of his own: his girlfriend on Earth has been brutally murdered. When he arrives to personally assist in the investigation, he finds they he’s being treated as a suspect in the crime. This leaves David to spearhead the Daedalus investigation, during the course of which he makes a discovery that could save the crew’s lives: experimental cryogenic equipment is stored about the Daedalus that could be used to put the crew into hibernation, while there’s just enough fuel to put the Daedalus on a long course back home…if the airlocks are opened selectively. The problem is that it’ll take eight years for Daedalus to reach home, and until then nobody will know if the crew survived or not. And on Earth, Nathan receives a message stating that his girlfriend was but the first victim – and that he will be the next to die.

written by Chris Boucher
directed by Christopher Baker
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Gennie Nevinson (Lee Jones), Sian Webber (Corman), Alan Downer (Paton), Sean Scanlan (Fox), Carmen Gomez (Gina), Benny Young (John Smith), Deborah Manship (Traffic Controller), Richard Ireson (Mike), Rosie Kerslake (Lara)

Notes: The last-ditch maneuver to save the Daedalus is based on a real scientific principle called a “free return trajectory”, a save-our-skins option that involves using the available fuel and possibly gravity assists from celestial bodies to put a spacecraft on track to return home with a minimum expenditure of resources. A free return trajectory often assumes that available fuel is at a minimum, due to whatever has forced mission planners to consider a free return trajectory in the first place. Apollo 13’s crew was successfully returned to Earth in 1970 by use of a free return trajectory that involved swinging around the moon.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Intelligent Listening For Beginners

Star CopsSpring and Theroux are summoned to Moonbase 9, a high-security-clearance facility whose chief scientist, Michael Chandri, claims to have invented a means of nearly foolproof intelligence-gathering. His invention could come in particularly handy in the investigation of recent incidents of computer failures that have had tragic results: the computer controlling the automatic functions at a chemical plant fails, causing a massive explosion, and the traffic computer governing the subway tunnel under the English Channel allows a tragic collision. In the meantime, Spring finds himself having to clean house as he begins a purge of Star Cops with questionable associations leaving them open to corruption. Some of them are happy to make their exit, but headstrong Pal Kenzy fights Spring every step of the way and even promises retribution. Theroux gets a promotion – and his new stripe comes with the responsibility of personally handling the rest of the dismissals – while Colin Devis, the detective Spring recruited from Earth, is assigned the task of procuring new weapons for the Star Cops, a job which seems to lead to Kenzy once again. Fearing that he’s losing his touch, Spring is vexed by the computer failures, and by the apparent inability of Chandri to find the cause of the problem with the vast intelligence-gathering apparatus at his disposal.

written by Chris Boucher
directed by Christopher Baker
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), David John Pope (Michael Chandri), Trevor Butler (Leo), Thomas Coulthard (Ben), Tara Ward (Shuttle Hostess), Peter Quince (Shift Foreman), Peter Glancy (Process Operator)

Notes: This episode anticipates computer viruses and worms by several years, though the concept was already in circulation in 1987, even if it wasn’t necessarily the real day-to-day issue that it is now. Writer Chris Boucher also incorporated the element of widespread computer control causing catastrophes into his 1979 Blake’s 7 season finale, Star One.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Trivial Games And Paranoid Pursuits

Star CopsSpring goes to pay a visit to Space Station Ronald Reagan, operated by the United States, to introduce himself and recruit a new American Star Cop to replace the disgraced Hubble; instead, he finds himself on the defensive as the station’s commander complains bitterly about the dismissal of Hubble from the Star Cops – and the fact that Theroux is still in uniform. Pal Kenzy, fresh from writing her own ticket to reinstatement as a Star Cop following the lunar shuttle hijacking rescue, is frustrated to find that her duties amount to little more than a dispatcher. She manages to annoy an American woman calling to report that her brother has gone missing from Space Station Ronald Reagan, whose crew insists that he was never even aboard. Kenzy goes to pay an unannounced visit to Station Reagan, which puts Spring on the spot. Having already been refused a new recruit by the U.S. State Department, Spring now finds himself in the uncomfortable position of exposing an international cover-up, without backup, at an isolated outpost that’s growing more hostile to his presence with each passing second.

written by Chris Boucher
directed by Graeme Harper
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Jonathan Adams (Alexander Krivenko), Daniel Benzali (Commander Griffin), Marlena Mackey (Dilly Goodman), Robert Jezek (Pete Lennox), Russell Wootton (Marty), Angela Crow (Lauter), Morgan Deare (Harvey Goodman), Shope Shodeinde (Receptionist)

Notes: Trivial Games may be unique in that it features the only cast crossover between Star Cops and Star Trek: The Next Generation – Brazilian-born actor Daniel Benzali would go on to play a small role as a gruff surgeon who looked for things to make Picard’s artificial heart go in 1989’s Samaritan Snare; he has also appeared in the ’90s revival of The Outer Limits, Beauty & The Beast, The X-Files and Jericho, among other shows filmed on both sides of the Atlantic. Director Graeme Harper, who had already made a mark on Doctor Who behind the cameras of Peter Davison’s farewell story Caves Of Androzani, directs his first Star Cops episode here; as with his Doctor Who stint, he introduced a change in style by lowering the lighting (in some cases to pitch blackness as Spring snoops around the American space station). Harper would go on to a well-respected directing career that would see him returning to the revived Doctor Who series in 2006.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

This Case To Be Opened In A Million Years

Star CopsLiterally moments after the Star Cops’ lunar base is put on maximum alert due to the failed launch (and near-spill) of nuclear radiation at the nearby launch pad, Spring is summoned by the personnel division on Earth, with orders to report to Earth for scheduled leave time…regardless of the emergency. Theroux heads up the investigation into the accident while Spring heads home, but since the death of his girlfriend, Spring has found little comfort on Earth. He finds even less when he has to fend off an attacker – but not before the man drugs him – and is then charged with the man’s murder. It turns out that Spring’s assailant is an Italian with mob ties, recently deported back to Earth from the moonbase courtesy of the Star Cops. Spring is swiftly relieved of duty as Kenzy and Devis investigate a commercial moon mining operation that may have its own ties to the Mafia…and to a black market trade in nucelar-weapons-grade uranium. As for Theroux and moonbase administrator Alexander Krivenko, they seem all too ready to sit by as Spring is railroaded.

written by Philip Martin
directed by Graeme Harper
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Jonathan Adams (Alexander Krivenko), Michael Chesden (Carlo Santanini), Susan Curnow (Marla Condarini), Stewart Guidotti (Inspector Canova), Vikki Chambers (Lina Margello), Flip Webster (Personnel Officer), Andre Winterton (Angelo Fordenone), Carl Forgione (Tour Guide)

Notes: Writer Philip Martin had already gained fame – or, depending upon whom you ask, notoriety – for his gritty, stylized BBC crime drama Gangsters, as well as his well-received Doctor Who story Vengeance On Varos, which introduced Sil, a promising new enemy for the Doctor; rather less well-received were Martin’s scripts for parts 5-8 of The Trial Of A Time Lord, which revisited Sil but confused viewers, actors and the production crew alike. This was his only Star Cops script to be filmed; a second script, Death On The Moon, was cast, costumed and rehearsed, but a crew strike at the BBC prevented filming from taking place.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

In Warm Blood

Star CopsA ship called the Pluto 5 drifts toward the moon and draws the attention of the Star Cops. Theroux visits the ship up close and personal and discovers that its crew died quite some time ago. At the same time, Spring has to deal with the arrival of a new Japanese medic assigned to the Star Cops, but Krivenko abruptly pulls Spring off of the Pluto 5 investigation and asks him to check on a small orbiting station inhabited by one of Krivenko’s friends, who has cut off all contact abruptly. Spring is annoyed with being assigned this mundane task until he arrives at the station, discovering that Krivenko’s friend is dead. With the very green Dr. Shoun in tow, Kenzy and Theroux return to the Pluto 5 and discover that one member of the crew is unaccounted for. Spring discovers that Krivenko’s dead scientist friend and the crew of the Pluto 5 have a common denominator – research for the giant medical corporation Hanimed. Dr. Shoun also happens to be employed by Hanimed, making Spring immediately suspicious that she’s not there to lend her expertise to the Star Cops…but to hinder their investigation and cover up a fatal bio-engineering design error in a medication being used by millions of people.

written by John Collee
directed by Graeme Harper
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Jonathan Adams (Alexander Krivenko), Sayo Inaba (Dr. Anna Shoun), Richard Rees (Richard Ho), Dawn Keeler (Christina Janssen), Susan Tan (Receptionist)

Original title: Trial By Murder

Notes: Star Cops creator Chris Boucher has said that the character of Dr. Shoun was not his own invention, but was instead inserted into the series’ final few episodes at the insistence of producer Evegny Gridneff.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

A Double Life

Star CopsWhen an embryo bank at the moonbase is broken into, Spring has the entire base sealed off in the hopes of snaring the thief. In very short order, a ransom message is received, directed at the wealthy Arab heiress Chamsya Assadi. The thief still manages to escape the moonbase, however, by attacking Anna Shoun and donning a pressure suit for the next flight out. In the ensuing crisis, despite that fact that he is doing all he can with limited resources, Spring is told in no uncertain terms that the crime is considered a politically supercharged kidnapping – and that he will likely become a scapegoat if the case isn’t solved immediately. When Anna finally remembers her attacker’s face, the trail leads to the door of concert pianist James Bannerman – who says he’s never left Earth, although his DNA matches traces left by the suspect on the moonbase. In a hurry to defuse the political firestorm, moonbase administrator Krivenko reveals the suspect’s identity to Chamsya Assadi, who has her Earth-based allies kidnap him out from under Theroux’s house arrest. But Bannerman’s alibi – that he was performing a public concert when the crime was committed – troubles Spring. Is this case closed…or cloned?

written by John Collee
directed by Christopher Baker
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Jonathan Adams (Alexander Krivenko), Sayo Inaba (Dr. Anna Shoun), Brian Gwaspari (James Bannerman/Albi), Nitza Saul (Chamsya Assadi)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Other People’s Secrets

Star CopsA surprise visit from safety inspector Ernest Wolffhart, an old friend of Krivenko’s, coincides with a series of technical mishaps that seem innocuous enough on the surface. Attention is turned to Hooper, the chief maintenance worker on the moonbase, who hasn’t had a break in months – and is now starting to hint that a saboteur is at work in the bowels of the base. Spring assigns Theroux to assist Hooper, largely to make sure that he isn’t the saboteur himself. As much as Theroux protests this assignment, the rest of the Star Cops are even less enthusiastic about their orders from Spring: they’re to “volunteer” to be interviewed by a visiting psychiatrist studying tension in the small, enclosed environments that come with working in space. Kenzy wants nothing to do with this process, whereas Colin Devis is all too eager to turn his interview on its ear and mess with the psychiatrist’s head – after all, he was once married to her.

written by John Collee
directed by Christopher Baker
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Erick Ray Evans (David Theroux), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Jonathan Adams (Alexander Krivenko), Sayo Inaba (Dr. Anna Shoun), Geoffrey Bayldon (Ernest Wolffhart), Maggie Ollerenshaw (Dr. Angela Parr), Barrie Rutter (Hooper), Leigh Funnell (Beverly Anderson)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Little Green Men and Other Martians

Star CopsAn old friend of Kenzy’s – a journalist with a nose for both news and booze – arrives on the moonbase, and while their old rivalry survives intact, Kenzy grudgingly admits to her fellow Star Cops that he doesn’t show up without a solid story to chase. Spring doesn’t warm to this visitor at all, especially not when Krivenko is welcoming a visiting dignitary of such importance that he requires a cover story. The destruction of a supply shuttle and its pilot tips Spring’s team off to a drug smuggling operation that’s cooking its drugs on the moon and quietly shipping to Earth. And a momentous discovery on Mars has the entire scientific community on edge – have artifacts of an ancient civilization been discovered there, and is that discovery enough to make someone turn to murder?

In the meantime, everyone from the press to his own team is trying to find out what Nathan Spring’s next move is, as he prepares to set up a Martian bureau of the Star Cops – assuming he survives the increasingly dangerous case of the supposedly Martian artifact…

written by Chris Boucher
directed by Graeme Harper
music by Justin Hayward & Tony Visconti

Cast: David Calder (Nathan Spring), Linda Newton (Pal Kenzy), Trevor Cooper (Colin Devis), Jonathan Adams (Alexander Krivenko), Sayo Inaba (Dr. Anna Shoun), Roy Holder (Daniel Larwood), Nigel Hughes (Andrew Philpot), Lachelle Carl (Susan Caxton), Wendy MacAdam (Operations Manager), Bridget Lynch-Blosse (Co-Pilot), Kenneth Lodge (Pilot), Peter Neathey (Customs Officer), Philip Rowlands (Outpost Controller), David Janes (Surveryor)

Original title: Information Received

Notes: Theroux is absent for this episode, as Erick Ray Evans was ill during filming. Actress Lachelle Carl, playing another reporter in this episode, later carved out quite the “fictional science fiction journalist” role for herself in the Doctor Who universe, playing an American anchorwoman in the revived Doctor Who series (starting with the early episode Aliens Of London), and then reprising the same character in spinoffs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Bridget Lynch-Blosse also has a Doctor Who connection, though it predates Star Cops: she appeared in a guest starring role in 1985’s Revelation Of The Daleks, which was also directed by Graeme Harper. This was the final episode of Star Cops; though the build-up to the establishment of a Martian bureau was intended to lead into a second season, producer Evgeny Gridneff and series creator Chris Boucher had locked horns often enough over the course of the first season that Boucher raised few objections when the low-rated series came to an end.

LogBook entry by Earl Green