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This show calls up happy memories of laying on my grandma's shag carpeted living room, totally enthralled by this show. It was the mid 70s and we didn't even have a space shuttle yet. The ships, clothes and hardware of this show looked like something I could possibly experience in my lifetime. I figured that by 1999, I would be living and working in space as an adult. Well none of that really panned out but all these years later, this show is still great fun to watch. It has a style and mood that is so unique. I hope they never try to do a remake. Part of it's charm is how 70s it is. The bell bottom uniforms, the sketchy science, the sideburns. It's all so perfect. As a child, this show made me excited for the future like nothing else.
Very interesting to read many of the comments regarding the show. The best
way to summarize is that either you "get" what Space: 1999 is all about or
Year One (Series One) was sci-fi fantasy of the highest order and was an incredible blend of mood, music, amazing sets, props and model work along with fantastic, even metaphysical/mystical stories that didn't merely take you there but actually PUT you in the action amongst the wonder and horror that the Alphans were facing. Admittedly, this is much heavier fare than what most tv viewers are looking for... simple, escapist, campy sci-fi this was definitely not. Year Two took that approach and while it had some successful moments (I'd say 1/2 of the 24 shows are fairly good, the other rather sub-par) it is pretty much a different and almost unrelated show and I leave that for others to comment on.
Up until that time, the only tv sci-fi/fantasy shows that had been so daring in their approach to tackle stories and situations that could be so dire for the characters involved were The Twilight Zone and the original Outer Limits. However, those shows involved a rotating set of stories with new actors and actresses. Thus, each episode presented a fresh set of characters and circumstances with a different set of problems and history to learn but without the psychological guilt and weight that resulted from the mistakes of previous episodes.
This of course made 1999 unique outside of perhaps MASH and All in the Family where viewers would continually recall tragedies or failures from previous episodes that would hang like a cloud over all future episodes giving the show itself a darker more pessimistic outlook. However, those shows relied on heavy doses of comedy to lighten the mood, something that 1999 rarely ever had.
Yes, Year One of 1999 is rather heavy viewing but in spite of this in 1975, as a 10 year old, I became an instant and life-long fan of the show while watching premiere of the first episode Breakaway. The 23 episodes that were to follow were a magnificent journey into the unknown that has never been replicated by any other tv show I have seen before or since. The show is certainly not perfect as one becomes quickly familiar with many faux-paus such as certain sets not corresponding with the model work but the show has aged remarkably well and the dvd's, with their generally excellent picture quality, reveal a quality of production nearing that of full-feature movies.
And complaints about poor science don't diminish its impact. I've always taken the mind-set approach of imagine if this could happen... the kind of leap of faith that we do with accepting all the abilities of Superman. Thus, if the moon was blasted from earth orbit and transported into another part of our universe where our known laws of science and physics don't always apply then these are the stories of what could happen to these men and women of Alpha and that we don't always learn the answer of what really happened or why.
I find this a better, even more realistic approach than that of so many Trek episodes where they technobabble the viewer to death every episode coming up with unbelievable solutions to every problem under the sun in a matter of hours every episode. Even in today's world we often don't know exactly what happened such as the exact reason why the latest shuttle burned up in re-entry... we have a good idea but will likely never know the complete answer.
Thus, for me Year One is like having 24 mini-movies and when one looks past its flaws you see a show that was unbelievably brave in its presentation. I find the acting to be reserved but quite intense at the same time... definitely not wooden. Also, the show abounds in caring character moments but they are very subtle such as a touch of the arm or holding of a hand, slap on the back or a subtle glance and smile. And significantly, it showed some of the most shocking scenes of any tv show in history such as the trapped Commissioner at the end of Earthbound, the laser-fried Alphan in Force of Life, the unfortunate scientist who lost his immortality in Death's Other Dominion or the life-sucking tentacle monster in Dragon's Domain.
Nearly every episode has an "always remember that" moment and that ultimately is the legacy of Space: 1999. It was incredibly memorable and set new standards for what could be achieved and if many deem that that it failed at least it had the guts to try.
On that note I say to the uninitiated "GIVE THE SHOW A TRY!" If you approach it with an open mind and enjoy it for what it is instead of what it isn't you'll probably be pleasantly surprised. Often there is a great deal more going on under the surface that you don't always pick up on until repeated viewings and the show really starts to hit its stride after the first ten episodes or so.
Some of my favourites are: Dragon's Domain Voyager's Return The Testament of Arkadia Black Sun Earthbound Mission of the Darians Another Time, Another Place Breakaway The Last Sunset End of Eternity War Games The Troubled Spirit The Infernal Machine
The first science fiction work I ever saw was Space:1999, and i was six.
Italian Tv had co-produced the stuff so it was aired around 6pm, not a
appropriate slot to broadcast scenes of people burned alive by their
commander's lasergun... I probably had nightmares about it, but missing a
single episode was out of the question. I got to see some first season
episodes some twenty years later and I appreciated the show even more. I
don't recall much of the second season apart Maya and Tony, so let me
concentrate on the first one.
The electronic soundtrack and the opening credits (a kind of "Pulp Fiction" style guitar alternated with an orchestral version of the same theme) were very original, as it was the look of the Eagles: they are solid transport spacecrafts but at the same time one can see their pilots from the outside, so that Eagles seem vulnerable... well, they are, most of the time. Base Alpha is a large, well lit and comfortable place (some stylish seventies furniture, too) which is home and prison at the same time.
Anyway the most peculiar aspect is the atmosphere in Moonbase Alpha: The crew is shocked for what happened to them, unprepared to deal with the future, they don't agree with each other, they make mistakes, they often prefer not to show much emotion. No "Space as the last frontier" rhetoric, here. Space is cold and mistakes are lethal. That increases the realism even if 1999 is well past. Action progresses like a slowly unfolding bad dream.
Don't believe people complaining about bad acting. They just expect things that Space:1999 wasn't going to offer. The actors performed well. For example, Commander Koenig (the symbolism in the name is evident) is waiting for the "black sun" to swallow the base, he's talking with Prof. Bergman. He's about to break into tears but manages to restrain himself so that his eyes show only a little trace of what he's feeling underneath: A very good performance from Martin Landau, nearly impossible to find in better rated SF series/movies.
I have been a huge fan of Space:1999 since I was about 5 years old (yes, really) But whereas at that age it was mostly the special effects, and the Eagles that grabbed my attention, as time went by; I started to realize that most of the first season episodes were imbued with a metaphysical element that had totally escaped me before. I think this is by far the most well-conceived science-fiction series ever, and that the cast was not only diverse and representative but also acted very well. In some important ways Space; 1999 (having caught me at a most impressionable age) helped shape many of my thoughts on the future of humanity - and on the relevancy of Science-Fiction to our increasingly globalized culture - an absolute novelty back in 1975. My last words on this wonderful series: Please don't miss it!
When I think of Space 1999 I think of South Side Elem School, Schwinn Sting-Ray 5 Speed Bikes, My dad's Navy Blue 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme & my parents big 25in cabniet model Zenith TV. When this show was on the air it was the hottest thing to hit TV since the original Star Trek. I remember all the toys, the big plastic EAGLES and the walkie talkie communicators and battery powered laser guns. Catherine Schell as MAYA still holds the Sexiest Alien girl ever Trophy in my opinion. I was very sad to learn from this site that Tony Anholt passed away of a brain tumor in July 2002. To this day I am at a loss as to why this series had such a short life. I suspect production costs in the UK sank it. To any of the former cast & crew who may read this, Martin, Barbara, Nick, Catherine, & so many others thanks so much for the memories and for an outstanding job. I own all the DVDs now and show it to friend's kids every now and then and they LOVE IT !
Anyone who loves fun and imaginative TV should give Space 1999 a try. The first season is similar in tone to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Season two is more like classic Doctor Who with an array of far-out aliens. It's quite a mixed bag. That's the beauty of it! Fans of rubber monsters will especially enjoy the cheesy fun of season two. I love it! Give Space 1999 a try if you are a fan of fun and imaginative TV. They just don't make 'em like this any more folks! Pop some corn, pour your favorite beverage, settle back in your favorite comfy chair, and enjoy a fun escape beyond the stars with Moon Base Alpha. It's highly watchable, charming, and fun.
I have intensely fond memories of this show. I always seemed to associate
it with some of the best memories of my childhood, although sometimes I
wonder if those memories were so good because I had a show I was so fond of
to relate to in my memory.
As such, my expectations of this show were abnormally high. Years later, when I finally got my hands on the box sets of both series, I was destined to be.... disappointed? Not really. After all those years I'd come to understand that nothing my child's mind had interpreted as "great" was ever going to meet the standards of my adult point of view.
As with everyone who has commented on this show, it is almost impossible to watch S99 as a combined 48 episode tv show. The differences between the seasons are far too great. Season 1 is marvellously primal and epic in its intentions, earnest in its realisation and grim and depressing in its reflection. It was also class ham, far more 1960's than were most shows made in 1974. The characters were all a pretty grim lot, but after 24 episodes you start to warm to them, feeling for their predicament. The individual episodes really stood out, especially Dragon's Domain, The Infernal Machine, Black Sun, Force of Life, The Last Sunset, Earthbound, Mission of the Darians, The Last Enemy, Space Brain and End of Eternity. Season 2 was a necessitated shift away from this grimness, because without it there wouldn't have been a season 2, for better or worse. It doesn't have the same epic feel or the sense that things are quite as desperate for the crew of Moonbase Alpha, and carries with it a greater sense of character, without the sense of depth. It was too far in the other direction, in my opinion, which was why we didn't see a season 3. The producers just never managed to settle the show down into something that would both be dramatic and acceptable to the casual viewer.
But this was the first show I ever followed, in my memory, week after week without fail, and so I love it to bits, even with all of its faults. If made today, I wouldn't be anywhere near as forgiving for those faults. Times have changed, for everyone, I suppose.
Space: 1999 to me is a truly excellent series. Produced and created by the great Gerry Anderson, it was the most expensive science fiction series of it's time and looks it!! The first Season provided us with some excellent episodes, and some excellent performances from the series leads - Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Barry Morse. Some of the best episodes of Season One include the wonderfully dark and menacing 'Dragon's Domain', 'The Alpha Child', 'Voyagers Return', 'The Last Enemy', 'Breakaway', 'The War Games', 'Space Brain' and many others. The series writing was, despite the bad press it has often received since, pretty exceptional, although there are a few let downs. Despite the series brilliance occasionally in the Season you will see episodes that suffer from poor pacing - 'The Troubled Spirit' for example, but these episodes are few in number only about 2 or 3 really, so they are easy to overlook, and all series will usually slip up somewhere!!! It is entirely forgivable. I mention this because I am trying to be a reasonable critic to the series, and not just include all the qualities I love about it!! Unfortunately the first season didn't really take off, but a surprisingly generous I.T.C backing allowed a Second Season to be made. I say this because I.T.C's usual concern about how British programmes appealed to the American audience led certain series to have a very short life. Many Gerry Anderson series have been affected by this, The Secret Service seems to be the best example. Due to the marital breakup of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Gerry had to hire a new producer. He chose Fred Freiberger, ex- producer of the final series of Star Trek. He changed the series already shaky continuity completely and made the show more Action orientated. This idea appealed to some, but Martin Landau has gone on record for saying that although Freiberger may have helped the show in some aspects, his ideas were (in the opinion of Landau) very boring compared to the way that Season One had been produced. Johnny Byrne the series regular script editor has gone on record in saying (in his words) that Season 2 was 'complete rubbish'!, even basing the story 'The Dorcons' on his dislike to the way that Season 2 was produced. Whatever your views on the Second Season (I personally like it very much, although it takes time to adjust to Season 2 compared to Season 1) some classic stories were produced during it's time. 'The Metamorph' introducing Maya a wonderful character that can change into most forms of living matter, played superbly by Catherine Schell, 'The Rules of Luton', 'The Dorcons', 'The Immunity Syndrome', 'The Lambda Factor', 'The Exiles', 'New Adam New Eve' and many others. The second season was arguably though, the most exciting, with upbeat music and lots of action, the flaw being that some of the scripts were pretty poor. Although 'The Beta Cloud' is a good episode in many aspects, the script is admittedly lousy. As he had done in the First Season, excellent Sci-fi writer Johnny Byrne provides some of the best scripts in Season 2, usually much more serious than other stories, obviously refusing to bow down to Freiberger's 'Scooby Doo action' idea as Freiberger himself described it, lots of action with lots of often silly humour. 'The Bringers of Wonder' despite being very exciting is a ludicrous story in places, and 'The Taybor' despite having some good qualities also suffers from this weakness. However overall I feel Season 2 was a good Season, and it is deeply sad that a third season never got past the drawing board stages. However we must be grateful for what we have got. All the episodes are now provided on shiny DVD's for the enjoyment of all who remember or have come to like the series over it's 30 years existence. Season 1 provided us with lavish and menacing stories, often with hidden morales and examples of the failings of human nature and it's fight to survive in a frequently hostile environment. Season 2 provided us with upbeat and exciting stories, exploring often the most bizarre and intriguing aspects of Science fiction 'The Rules of Luton' for example - highly evolved plants!!! Overall an excellent series, one which belongs with all of the Science fiction greats.
A long time has passed since I last time saw my favourite SciFi programme. Still, with no disrespect, it is the best SciFi I have ever seen. Special effects is not the only thing that makes a SciFi (as well as any other sort of movies) attractive, good and memorable. It is a good script, fine cast and the atmosphere of the time when it has been broadcast. In case of the Space 1999, there is also a strong context of reality. Compared with the other similar programmes and movies, the Space 1999 deals with familiar objects (like Moon), provides usually the imaginable situations. All these make people watching the show more capable to identify themselves with characters and situations. Certainly, the Space 1999 had caught me in front of my TV every Saturday night. Very happy to find the programme on DVD!
A five-star opening episode, Barbara Bain, Barry Morse, Bill Fraser,
some striking eagle miniature effects, some haunting year one Barry
Gray music, some in-your-face action music in year two, disaster plot
lines in year one, monsters in year two, The Beta Cloud...this series
is not too bad at all. Granted, I can think of about ten sci-fic TV
shows I like more than Space 1999, but then, I can think of about 100
sci-fic shows that are less pleasing. To me, Space 1999 is a closing
chapter in the history of television. It, and Shazam! (1974-76), were
some of the last TV shows produced where the music scores were so good
that they up-staged much of what was happening on the screen. Here are
some highlights of the series...
EPISODE ONE: BREAKAWAY: This was the only episode that was a total winner from the first frame to the last frame. Shades of Star Trek: The Motion Picture with a new commander taking over things, shades of a disaster movie, shades of 1960s Lost In Space, tiny moments of Australia with Alan Carter getting a few short bits, but best of all, the Barry Gray score is so hauntingly good you will shake your head wondering why current sci-fic is missing such good music. Best episode of the series and, after Stingray, the best thing that Gerry Anderson ever made!
EPISODE TWO: MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH: A small drop in quality is present even in these early stages, this is where 1999 becomes a series of good bits rather than good episodes. In the late 1970s some episodes of 1999 were paired up together and placed on the cinema screen as "movies", however I think the pairing up was all wrong, it should of been Breakaway and this episode that formed a "movie". This episode has a highly touching scene where the music steals the scene. Barbara Bain glares out of a moonbase window at a distant planet, the commander walks up to her, note the music playing here...a simply outstanding work of art!
BLACK SUN: Good but over-rated, Barry Morse is fine, don't know about the ending??? COLLISION COURSE: This plays like a disaster movie and for that reason it is well worth a look. Some great moments here. WAR GAMES: The teaser and act one are outstanding but you can have the rest! Great battle scenes in space filmed with great music playing over it. SPACE BRAIN: It begins so well, it ends so well, but forget about act one, act two, act three! Someone let the washing machine go for too long and this also happened in Land Of The Giants episode Brainwash. Great music and disaster...again!
YEAR TWO OPENER: THE METAMORPH: What a start! What a teaser! I was at the edge of my seat in the 1970s! However, after a shocked Bill Fraser (new cast member) struggles to fly his eagle away from a strange ball in space, the problems start as early as act one. But the action music and drama of the teaser make The Metamorph well worth a look. Also, you must hang around for the end, Landau gets a great closing line...his best line of the series in fact. THE MARK OF ARCHANON: Attention Australian fans! Alan Carter lets out a few Aussie terms and ideas that make this one a Down Under treat! SEEDS OF DESTRUCTION: Landau goes nuts, which bring back memories of 1960s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea when the leads went nuts in Voyage year three/year four.
THE BETA CLOUD: This episode is reviewed by me in detail on this site...the second best episode of the whole series! SPACE WARP: Great space warp start, great monster, great eagle action. A MATTER OF BALANCE: Quality outdoor filming, nice to see Bill Fraser again, but... THE BRINGERS OF WONDER PART ONE: Out-of-control Landau in out-of-control eagle in teaser. THE SEANCE SPECTRE: Dust planet eagle effects coated with action music. DORZAK: "Is being Australian important?" asks an alien. "It is to me" responds Alan Carter.
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