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
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Of course the series is outdated today, but not as much as you'd expect.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
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
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