SPACE 1999, SET 1


Space 1999, Set 1

Director: Bob Brooks (III), Bob Kellett
Encoding: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Format: Colour, Box set
Audio Encoding: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Available Audio Tracks:
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Six complete episodes: Volume 1 - Breakaway, Matter of Life and Death, Black Sun Volume 2 - Ring Around The Moon, Earthbound, Another Time, Another Place
Number of discs: 2



On September the 13th, ahem, 1999 some nuclear waste stored on the moon explodes and it is yanked from its orbit around the Earth to float aimlessly through space. Along for the ride are the permanent settlement Moonbase Alpha and its 300 or so denizens.

The show is, of course, Space 1999, by the creators of the original Thunderbirds TV show (the one with the marionettes, which was recently unsuccessfully made into a live action movie).

Originally first broadcast in 1975, Space 1999 not only featured real life actors (no marionettes - even though some of the performances were even more wooden), but was also one of the most expensive (3.25 million pounds for its first of two seasons) and lavish sci-fi TV shows ever made. Think Star Trek with the hardware of 2001: A Space Odyssey (a major influence, in fact) and you'll have a good idea of what to expect of Space 1999.

Of course the series is outdated today, but not as much as you'd expect. Some hairstyles and the theme song date the show today, but the costume designs, fashions, production designs, and special effects all look surprisingly good. In fact the special effects and model work are particularly realistic even by modern standards: they have a solidity lacking in many of today's CGI efforts.

On the negative side, the show's major flaw is that the storylines at times feel like someone's idea of what science fiction should be, instead of the real thing. Nothing is really explained, weird stuff just happen without any scientific (no matter how far-fetched) framework for them. In this regard, Space 1999 compares poorly to the original 1960s Star Trek show which after all featured scripts by regular sci-fi authors such as Harlan Ellison and the like. Also, some of the characters come across as either emotionally reticent (calling Barbara Bain as Dr. Helena Russell!) or nonexistent (Nick Tate as Capt. Alan Carter).

THE DISCS: Image and sound quality is surprisingly good on these two discs featuring the first six episodes from the show. Few extras though: an art gallery and production credits.

WORTH IT? More adult than Battlestar Galactica (and its cutesy kid and his robot dog!) with better sci-fi stories than Buck Rogers, Space 1999 is ? unlike the shows mentioned here ? a nostalgia trip that is worth taking.

RECOMMENDATION: Things didn't really kick into place the first few episodes but the clever episode 5 (Earthbound) illustrates the show's potential.



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