Silva Screen Records releases Murray Gold’s soundtrack music from the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special, A Christmas Carol. This is the first time in the revived series that a single episode has gotten an individual soundtrack release; Katherine Jenkins’ song “Abigail’s Song (Silence Is All You Know)” is inclucded.
ABC airs the 60th episode of the J.J. Abrams-produced series Lost. Mira Furlan (Babylon 5) and Nestor Carbonell guest star.
The week-long national syndication window opens for the 170th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This episode’s special makeup effects win an Emmy Award; it is directed by Gates McFadden.
The week-long national syndication window opens for the 38th episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Guest starring are three actors who played Captain Kirk’s Klingon adversaries in various episodes of the original Star Trek: John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica) as Kor, Michael Ansara as Kang, and William Campbell as Koloth.
At the insistence of Congress, NASA submits a significant redesign of the long-overdue and over-budget Space Station Freedom for approval. Where previous design changes tried to retain a massive “dual keel” allowing for experiment modules and other activities that could be performed a safe distance away from the station’s habitation modules, the new Space Station Freedom clusters all of its modules together in one place and removes the dual keel structure permanently. Scoffing at the truncated new design, critics refer to the newly-submitted proposal as “Space Station Fred” instead of “Space Station Freedom”.
The 24th episode of the science fiction comedy Red Dwarf airs on BBC 2. This episode, delayed from earlier in the season to avoid being seen as a parody of the then-in-progress Persian Gulf War, closes the fourth season.
The week-long national syndication window opens for the 19th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is the first episode of the series to focus on the Klingon race – a holdover from the original series and movies that series creator Gene Roddenberry had planned to avoid revisiting until co-producer (and fellow classic Trek producer) Bob Justman convinced him otherwise during pre-production, leading to the very late creation of a “Klingon Marine” named Worf.
The sixth episode of the science fiction comedy Red Dwarf airs on BBC 2. This concludes the first season, but the BBC rushes a second season into production due to the popularity of the first six episodes.
Segaa releases the arcade game Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator in American arcades. The vector graphics coin-op, simulating the “tactical views” seen on the Enterprise in the first two Star Trek movies, is the first officially licensed Star Trek video game. It also reflects some corporate synergy: Sega has recently been bought by Paramount Pictures parent company Gulf + Western.
The 553rd episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1, continuing a trilogy of stories themed around the Doctor’s regeneration and the reintroduction of the Master. Janet Fielding joins the cast as new companion Tegan. Anthony Ainley guest stars as the Master.
This is Tom Baker’s final episode as the Doctor.
NASA launches the Ranger 9 lunar probe, built by Jet Propulsion Laboratory and intended to go directly to the moon, transmitting pictures of the surface back to Earth until it impacts the lunar surface. Despite NASA scientists’ insistence that the last Ranger probe carry scientific instruments and not just cameras, Ranger 9 is outfitted with cameras only; as a tradeoff, scientists get to nominate its target on the surface, selecting the crater Alphonsus, suspected to be a site of lunar volcanism. Ranger 8 functions flawlessly, sending live video back to Earth until impacting in the crater floor, and for the first time the terminal descent of one of the Ranger probes is broadcast live on TV. This concludes the Ranger program, as NASA now needs to switch its efforts to the unmanned Surveyor lunar landers to find out if the moon’s surface can support the weight of a manned lander. The basic architecture of the Ranger spacecraft is adopted as the heart of the ongoing Mariner planetary space probe series, up to and including the Mariner Jupiter/Saturn ’77 missions (later renamed Voyager) over a decade later.
The newly formed Weather Bureau-Army-Navy Severe Weather Unit‘s second attempt to warn the public that tornado formation is possible within a specific area strikes paydirt. Again covering a large area including portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, later expanded to include states esst of this area, this forerunner of modern tornado watches is right on the money, predicting an outbreak of more than 20 tornadoes in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Kentucky. Despite the advance notification, the Severe Weather Unit has work to do in educating the public about its bulletins: over 200 deaths still occur as a result of the tornadoes.