“The Troubled Spirit” was one of those mysterious unknown force episodes that turned into a Sherlock Holmes story for the Commander and Professor (of course, not their first rodeo).
It was interesting to follow as we started with a chilled but uncharacteristically creepy Coral Electric Sitar sequence by none other than Big Jim Sullivan himself setting the stage and presence for the rest of the episode to come. As the camera pans around the congregation you see that Bergman is very chill (not surprising; it’s probably what I would have done, myself) and you do see hints of “couples relationships”. I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on one of those promotional flyers they must have produced for “this lunar evening’s show” the Alpha Music Recital. Koenig and his brood look while Russell seems to be enjoying herself. Life on Alpha…
As we progress through the sequence, the camera moves through one of the highly detailed Alpha corridors to the hydroponic unit where our séance group resides. Other articles were written about this episode, so I won’t begin to bore you with further story discussion. Some of the observations about the production of this episode are very unique and seldom seen on your average television show. What is fitting is the style to which this story was not only told verbally, but with a style all its own (adding to the lineup of very different, very unique story capsules of each episode during season 1). There was a lot of focus in the hydroponics unit which added to the uniqueness and eye-candy of the episode as a whole. The wind through Alpha sequence would scare me to death.
So, it’s one of the shining stars of Year 1. But, rarely scene are some of the promotional and production shots that were captured for iconic and scary episode.
In the merch department (you knew I wasn’t going to leave this part out), there was this card (from the George Barratt’s Geo. Bassett & Co. Sweet Cigarettes line) has made its way into the collectability category more that the others: “Card number 42, a portrait shot of the scarred Mateo from “The Troubled Spirit”, was fairly graphic, and is anecdotally very scarce because it was withdrawn but a few were released. According to Space 1999 The Vault by Chris Bentley (2022, p180), card 42 is not rare, because there was only one print run of all the cards. To withdraw the card would mean a manual search through thousands of boxes. But, while there was just one printing, the boxes were not packed in one batch. The candy sticks go stale after a few months, so they would have had several batches in 1975 and 1976, perhaps into 1977 when they were still available. Barratt could have easily withdrawn one card in later batches.”
The claim to fame for this episode (especially in the marketing department) was the the ghost of Mateo as it was. Another unknown MUF to share with the audience and another representation of not only a ghost story, but to introduce the ghost as it was a ghost from the future scaring the Alphans in the present. And would not be settled until Dan Mateo suffers his own demise. Some of the 1999 Y1 stories had a significant spellbinder ending (Death’s Other Dominion, Earthbound, The Last Enemy were a few), The Troubled Spirit almost hit the mark, but I believe we the audience, saw that coming. It still is a fantastic episode to re-watch on your favorite video medium.