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SPACE: 1999
An Appreciation by Sharon Carruthers

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SPACE: 1999 first exploded onto our screens during the post Star Trek, pre Star Wars era of the mid-'70s. Gerry Anderson’s Moon of the 1990s had become a nuclear waste dump, and investment was being sought for Earth’s space programme. So, when personnel start to die on the Moonbase Alpha, the deaths are dismissed as a virus, so as not to hinder the investments and delay the new space race.

The ‘virus’ is in fact a form of radiation sickness, which is a product of the increase in temperature of the nuclear waste. As investigations continue, a chain of events results in the waste exploding and the Moon is thrust out of the Earth’s orbit. The Alphans head into space, on an uncontrollable satellite, without the previous technical knowledge, or the emotional experience, to deal with any problems they may encounter, whilst trying to find a planet on which to settle and raise families.

Meanwhile, back on Earth in the 1970s, criticisms were aimed at the series from various directions. Experts cleverly pointed out that such an explosion would destroy the Moon, which no-one disputes but, after all, this was a science-fiction TV programme. The other main criticism was directed towards the acting, but surely the characters would be a bit edgy and unsure in situations which they had never experienced before? The Commander’s character rarely showed his true emotions, maybe thinking that this would affect the morale on the Moonbase?

The main feature of Brian Johnson’s stunning special effects was the Eagle Transporter. Even now the design looks amazing, and a company, which had copies of the models for sale last year, actually sold out - not bad when you think it was first shown on TV nearly thirty years ago!

The first series dwelt on the reactions of the Alphans to the incredible experiences they encountered. One particular episode, ‘The Black Sun’, is considered to be the most popular amongst cast members and fans alike. It deals with Moonbase heading towards a black sun and the tense hours as the Alphans face, what seems like, inevitable destruction. This particular episode was, indeed, thought provoking, especially the philosophical discussions between Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) and Professor Bergman (Barry Morse). Sadly, Barry Morse left at the end of the first series, and his absence from the series left a noticeable character gap, as the Commander’s advisor and close friend.

When Fred Freiberger was brought in to produce the second series, the tone of the series changed dramatically, much to the displeasure of members of the cast and fans alike. A lighter, sci-fi comic theme was used, although during ‘The Rules of Luton’ we learn from an emotional Commander Koening, that his wife died during a world war, which made mankind realise that they would achieve more if they actually worked together. To its credit a new character called Maya (excellently portrayed by Catherine Schell), was introduced, to, I’m sure, the pleasure of many male fans of the series. The relationship between Commander Koening and Doctor Helena Russell also became more relaxed. Despite discussions regarding budgets for a third series, the series ended, as it was shifted from primetime to anytime in the TV schedules.

The series, of course, had its faults, and it’s so easy to criticise now nearly thirty years later with technical achievements. Despite the criticisms, I think that ‘Space: 1999’ remains significant, due to its amazing special effects and the concept of how people react in extreme situations.

© Copyright Sharon Carruthers, June 2005.

Space: 1999 Episode List

1st Series

2nd Series

Breakaway

The Metamorph

Matter Of Life And Death

The Exiles

Black Sun

One Moment Of Humanity

Ring Around The Moon

All That Glisters

Earthbound

Journey Of Where

Another Time, Another Place

The Taybor

Missing Link

The Rules Of Luton

Guardian Of Piri

The Mark Of Archanon

Force Of Life

Brian The Brain

Alpha Child

New Adam New Eve

The Last Sunset

The AB Chrysalis

Voyager's Return

Catacombs Of The Moon

Collision Course

Seed Of Destruction

Death's Other Dominion

The Beta Cloud

The Full Circle

A Matter Of Balance

End Of Eternity

Space Warp

War Games

The Bringers Of Wonder Part One

The Last Enemy

The Bringers Of Wonder Part Two

The Troubled Spirit

The Lambda Factor

Space Brain

The Seance Spectre

The Infernal Machine

Dorzak

Mission Of The Darians

Devil's Planet

Dragon's Domain

The Immunity Syndrome

The Testament Of Arkadia

The Dorcons


SPACE: 1999 DVDs
Available from Amazon.co.uk
and Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Space: 1999 - Series 1 DVD
Space: 1999 - Series 1

Space: 1999 - Series 2 Complete

Amazon.com

Space 1999 Mega Set DVD
Space 1999 Mega Set

Space 1999, Set 1 DVD
Space 1999, Set 1

 

 

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