Earth II

The following track-by-track analysis conforms to the original version of Earth II first aired on November 24, 1971. The Warner Archive DVD release of the telefilm presents a theatrical version that re-edited various music cues to remove obvious commercial breaks.

1. A New Hope
The telefilm plays without music for nearly 12 minutes, as opening credits unfold over scenes of a rocket carrying a team of astronauts into space with plans to establish an orbiting colony known as Earth II. In the launch site’s control room, President Charles Carter Durant (Lew Ayres) speaks of the hope the mission represents; as his inspirational words continue over a shot of the rocket proceeding into the vacuum of space, Schifrin mounts anticipation with a brief introductory passage of rising optimism.
Earth II Theme
Five years later, the completed Earth II rotates in orbit while Schifrin’s pop-driven, synth-decorated main title alternates between two melodies: a fateful A theme first heard on trumpet (characterized by its opening leap of a major seventh) and a warm B theme introduced on strings and horns. The music continues as a shuttle approaches the station carrying new space colonists, including the Karger family: Frank (Anthony Franciosa), Lisa (Mariette Hartley) and young Matt (Brian Dewey).
2. Matt I & Matt II
Aboard Earth II, Jim Capa (Scott Hylands) greets the Kargers. When Matt makes a sudden move, misterioso harp and vibraphone sound as he floats up toward the ceiling; Jim explains that in the zero-gravity environment, he must always keep at least one foot on the magnetized floor. The misterioso material repeats when Jim gives Matt a globule of drinking water that—thanks to the “magic of zero gravity”—retains its shape in the boy’s palm.
Confirmation Received
Low-register strings wander over plodding accompaniment when David Seville (Gary Lockwood) receives a transmission revealing that China has launched a projectile into space.
3. Space Tug
Schifrin’s fateful A theme bookends a low-end drone and a hollow pulse as Jim and Lisa depart Earth II in a vessel (called a “tug”) to inspect the Chinese device.
The Bomb’s Photograph
Unnerving strings join the pulse as the tug approaches the projectile and Lisa photographs the object. The cue ends on a transition back to Earth II, where its citizens determine that the device is a warhead orbiting over Moscow.
4. Transition
Portentous chords underline David’s request for a meeting with the Chinese. Schifrin underscores a segue to a shuttle returning to Earth with the A theme on trumpet, dressed with sporadic fanfare counterlines.
Palais de Justice
Contemplative flutes, strings and harp play for a transition to Switzerland, where David and Walter Dietrich (Gary Merrill) arrive for the meeting. The Chinese deny a request from Earth II and the Soviet Union to remove the thermonuclear device from orbit, threatening to detonate the warhead if Earth II interferes.
Lisa’s Opinion
Hoping Earth II will stand up to the Chinese and disarm the warhead, Frank calls for a televised D&D (“discussion and decision”), at which various citizens offer their opinions. Lisa surprises Frank by speaking out against his plan, with tender strings underscoring her impassioned plea for peace.
5. Bad News
A majority of Earth II’s citizens vote to defuse the bomb. Harp chords and solo flute greet the revelation of the election results.
The throbbing material from “The Bomb’s Photograph” returns, accelerating as Jim and Anton Kovalefskii (Edward Bell) pilot a tug toward the warhead.
Dramatic Act End
A threatening brass pyramid builds to a commercial break.
6. Controls on Target
Dissonant sustains and percussive scraping join the pulsing texture for an extended sequence that begins with the tug’s arrival at the warhead. Hoping the Chinese are eavesdropping, Jim sends a transmission back to Earth II, offering that he and Anton merely plan to take radiation readings. The cue continues to generate dry suspense, its tempo accelerating once Anton exits the tug to defuse the bomb. Electronic outbursts and suspended cymbal rolls sound as Anton removes a panel.
With a Screwdriver?
Anton begins to clip wires on the control relay, but one of the wires electrocutes him. The pulse gradually slows as the unconscious Anton floats back toward the tug. (The maddening harp ostinato heard at 5:03 does not appear in the film, possibly due to deleted footage.)
Burn, Baby
A tone pyramid crescendos to a commercial break.
7. On the Way Back
Jim grabs the warhead with the tug’s mechanical claw, then pilots the vessel back to Earth II. Another seething build of clusters underscores the tug’s arrival at Earth II.
Snoopy Karger
An evocative alto flute solo, joined briefly by vibraphone, accompanies Frank’s examination of the still-armed warhead.
Just Alive
Dr. Huxley (Hari Rhodes) updates the pregnant Ilyana Kovalefskii (Inga Swenson) about her husband. Woodwinds sound over trilling strings as Ilyana faces two choices: a procedure that will render Anton a vegetable, or a highly risky operation that—if successful—will result in a full recovery. Grim strings bookend a tentative flute solo as she opts for the high-risk procedure.
I’ll Beat You Again
David clashes with Frank over the latter’s plan to keep the bomb aboard the station, rendering Earth II a nuclear power. Frank intends to call another D&D to settle the matter, but David warns him that—if he wins—it will be “the end of Earth II.” A swell of brass accents the aftermath of their argument, leading to a commercial break.
8. Deep Thought
Lisa begs Frank not to pursue the D&D, but he dismisses her and leaves their quarters. Woodwinds and harp sound over a string sustain as Lisa stares out a window at the sun.
Trance Like
After Walter assures Lisa that launching the missile toward the sun would be the safest course of action, a string trill grounds a woodwind passage and string harmonics as she contemplates the situation.
Lisa’s Idea
Schifrin reprises conflicted strings and woodwinds from “Just Alive” as Lisa sneaks into a control room overlooking the airlock that houses the bomb. The cue fades out as she switches on a monitor to watch the D&D.
Lisa’s Solution
Nervous pizzicato material yields to a crescendo as Lisa jettisons the airlock’s outer hatch, giving way to a grating sustain as it floats away from the station.
9. What Have You Done?
An anguished flourish erupts when Lisa launches the missile toward the sun. The cue maintains a suspenseful air as David, Frank and others arrive on the scene. They explain to Lisa that—due to Earth II’s rotation—the missile is on a trajectory toward Earth.
Worried Karger
Agitated strings and mallet percussion build slowly as Frank leaves Lisa alone in the control room to contemplate the consequences of her actions.
Shuttle I
David and Jim board a shuttle to retrieve the missile, an urgent rendition of the B theme sounding over wavering string accompaniment as the vessel drifts away from the station. The melody gives way to flute material as Earth II clears the shuttle for ignition. In her quarters, Lisa watches the shuttle’s departure, a sensitive flute solo entering when Matt awakens and joins her. The B theme returns for another shot of the shuttle on its mission.
10. Dr. Huxley
Mournful alto flute alternates with solo oboe as Dr. Huxley informs Ilyana that Anton will not regain consciousness.
Shuttle Ending
Trilling strings lead to an optimistic, brassy fragment of the B theme as the shuttle approaches the missile.
Clear for Ignition
The projectile’s heat shield begins to burn up when the missile reaches Earth’s atmosphere. Schifrin’s pulsing material returns as the shuttle opens its cargo doors and retrieves the missile before the intense heat can cause a detonation.
Lisa Karger
This contemplative piece for flute and mallet percussion does not appear in the film, perhaps due to deleted footage.
11. Kovalefskii’s Death
As Ilyana shares a final moment with her husband, a fateful harp pedal point supports the moody woodwind material from “Shuttle I.” Grim tremolo strings and timpani mark Anton’s death.
Tamper Destruct Strategy/Time Running Out/Operation Defuse
The shuttle returns to Earth II, where David, Frank and Jim attempt to deactivate the bomb before sunlight can flood the airlock and melt the detonator. Schifrin plays through the lengthy suspense sequence with developments of his pulsing material: tremolo strings unfold over pounding timpani and low-end piano pedal point, alternating with grating electronics and the maddening harp pattern from “Controls on Target.” When the temperature grows dangerously high and the bomb’s safety bar begins to melt, Jim flies out in a tug to stop the station’s rotation. The cue continues portentously as David and Frank continue to work on the bomb.
12. Tense Agony
As David and Frank perform the final steps of their surgery on the bomb, pulsing timpani grounds strings, flute and meandering piano. The electronic outbursts from “With a Screwdriver?” return as the astronauts jam their wrenches into the device, preventing detonation just before time runs out.
13. No Weapons
With the crisis averted, the station resumes rotation. Stopped horns lead to chromatic harp material as Jim rejoins his crew in the control room. When Frank agrees to dispose of the bomb, an uncertain flute line yield to an enlightened setting of the B theme. Both primary themes sound over a pop beat as the bomb heads toward the sun.
14. End Credits
Dr. Huxley switches on a monitor revealing Ilyana and her new baby boy, the first nativeborn citizen of Earth II. The control room crew takes in the sight, accompanied by a warm flute solo before the main themes return for the end credits, which unfold over a shot of Earth II in orbit. —