Space: 1999

British television series, broadcast 1975, 1976Space 1999 extra image18772-bigthumbnail

If you’re a science fiction-on-television fan, you’ll remember this program with either fond thoughts or a “Uck!” of loathing. Seems there’s not a lot of middle ground on this British science fiction television show. It’s no Star Wars or STNG, but it was better than nothing.

In the opening episode, it’s September 13, 1999. That’s when a huge nuclear waste dump on the far side of the Moon detonates in a massive thermonuclear explosion, caused by the buildup and release of “magnetic radiation”, causing a nuclear chain reaction. The force of the explosion was such that it caused the Moon to be sent hurtling out of Earth’s orbit and out into deep space. Stranded on Moonbase Alpha was 311 assigned personnel. Basically the Moon becomes a “spaceship” on which these people travel through interstellar space.

Each week the 311 crew members left on the moon try to survive: aliens, black holes, and dwindling supplies. It  was the first time a large scale weekly sci-fi TV series was attempted since the cancellation of Star Trek in 1969.

Space 1999 year1 CD cvr

Season One soundtrack cover

Space 1999 ran for two seasons, 1975 and 1976. It was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and was their final production together. A third season was planned but didn’t enter production. As filming on Year Two came to its conclusion, it became apparent that a third season was not viable so the series ended with the episode “The Dorcons”.

The music isn’t bad, either, or at least most of it, and it’s available as a fairly inexpensive Mp3 download from Amazon, iTunes and the other usual sources.

Sure, some of the show was pretty hokey. For one thing, the uniforms were lame, although if you look at the Star Trek uniforms, they were pretty lame too. But some of the episodes were pretty good, and it was fun to watch them.

Space 1999 veh03

I always thought the designs for the space vehicles (the models used in filming) were one of the best parts, and so did a lot of other people, because they were available as models, on lunch boxes and so on.

I looked last night, and the moon was still there, in the sky over Earth. I guess that means none of the stuff in the show really happened.

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19 Responses to Space: 1999

  1. George Kelley says:

    I was a fan of SPACE:1999, Rick. One of my favorite SF writers, E. C. Tubb, did some of the novelizations of the series.

  2. Evan Lewis says:

    Dang, there’s a show I haven’t thought of in a coon’s age. But I watched the whole series, liking (as you say) some episodes and not others. I even got the model kit and painted it in psychedelic colors. I seem to recall a cheesy Charlton comic book series too.

  3. Richard says:

    Yes, there was a – as you put it – cheesy Charlton comic of the show, but then Charlton published a LOT of cheesy comics in their time.

    Psychedelic colored space vehicle? How… out there. But it was the times, wasn’t it? I’ll bet it was groovy.

  4. Richard says:

    George, of all the television SF I’ve seen, Star Trek: Next Generation was my favorite by far. Yes, the original ST was pretty good, but STNG was much better in just about every way. I probably would have liked Farscape if I’d ever seen any but a few scattered episodes in later seasons.

  5. George Kelley says:

    I tried to like FARSCAPE, Rick, but failed. STNG was the best of the STAR TREK formats. But I’ll watch VOYAGER and DEEP SPACE NINE anytime. Compared to the stuff that’s on TV now, those series seem like Shakespeare.

  6. Richard says:

    Farscape may not have been that good, the few episodes I saw looked intriguing, George. As for DS9, I watched it the first 2 seasons and liked it a lot and then it seemed to go off the rails. Voyager never caught my interest. I watch less television now than I did back then, so truthfully I wouldn’t know about many of the current series. I guess Lost is considered SF, though I haven’t seen it.

  7. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I also thought TNG was the best Stark Trek.

    Anyway, how do you know the moon is really up there, Rick?
    ;)

  8. Richard says:

    Well, Jeff, it’s in the sky, big, bluish-green and made of cheese, what else could it be?

  9. Drongo says:

    TNG better than STAR TREK: The Original Series? Heresy!

    I’ve only seen a little of SPACE:1999, and while I wouldn’t call it great, I do like Martin Landau. He was hugely enjoyable in ED WOOD.

  10. Drongo says:

    The Andersons also had a truly loopy earlier series called UFO. Very much a product of the late 60’s.

  11. Richard says:

    Drongo – Yes, yes, heresy, I know, but he writing was certainly better. And the sets. And the uniforms. Did I mention the ships?

  12. Richard says:

    I never watched UFO, but I heard it was really cheesy.

  13. Art Scott says:

    My dim recollection of the show is that a lot of critics savaged Landau & Bain for acting as wooden as the stars of the earlier Anderson “Supermarionation” shows (Fireball XL5, Stingray, Captain Scarlet & Thunderbirds). Those shows I loved; in fact I think I’ll sit back and watch their classic feature, Thunderbirds are Go!

  14. Richard says:

    Art – enjoy! I never did see Thunderbirds Are A Go! but now I’m intrigued.

  15. Evan Lewis says:

    I was in a video store and saw a boxed set of the complete Space 1999 series on DVD. $89.99. I was able to resist.

  16. alphaguy says:

    Well, like anything else, beauty (and good tv) is in the eye of the beholder. I, myself, LOVE SPACE:1999; not a matter of good, bad, better, worse – the show just connected with me like no other. Are there better-made shows out there? Sure! I actually thought
    Babylon 5 was the best sci-fi show ever made, but SPACE:1999 is still my favorite hands down. With a bit of nostalgia now fueling my love of SPACE:1999, probably the strongest attraction has always been a visual one (Yes, of course I LOVE the Eagles, too – I think it’s what most people remember about the show). Maya is my favorite character, though the discussion of her value to the show is as ongoing as the ‘Year 1 vs. Year 2′ debate. Simply, we like what we like. And I must say, those “silly” shows from when we were young are more fun to watch again now than that mess that unfortunately passes for television now-a-days (though there are some good shows on now, but that’s another discussion).

  17. Richard says:

    I guess LOST IN SPACE was the one I could least tolerate. It seemed so corny, the robot especially. At the time there were Dr. Who episodes that were far superior. At least that’s my memory. I never did watch much SPACE: 1999 but the music was catchy and typical of TV music of the times, jazzy, upbeat, just a hint of the kind of thing we’d gotten with Star Wars and Trek, and not up to the standards of B5, a show I liked much better.

  18. alphaguy says:

    I absolutely love Dr. Who that has been currently running for the last several years. If you loved it in the 70’s and 80’s (as I did), I think you will especially like the newer seasons. If you’re able to get BBC-America, that’s where you can catch it. It’s on an odd schedule this season, where ‘specials’ are broadcast throughout the year as opposed to weekly episodes.

  19. Richard says:

    I’ll take a look. Thanks!

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