Space 1999 is a British science fiction television series that originally aired from 1975 to 1977. The show was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the same team behind other popular sci-fi series like Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet.
Set in the year 1999, the show depicts the adventures of the crew of Moonbase Alpha, a scientific research facility located on the moon. The premise of the show is that a catastrophic explosion on the moon causes it to be knocked out of orbit and sent hurtling through space, along with the people and equipment on Moonbase Alpha.
The show’s first season focused on the struggle of the crew to survive in the hostile environment of deep space, encountering a variety of alien races, phenomena, and dangers along the way. The second season saw a shift in tone, with more emphasis on action and adventure and a greater use of special effects.
One of the key strengths of Space 1999 is its impressive production design. The show featured a number of elaborate sets and models, including the iconic Eagle spacecraft, which became one of the most recognizable symbols of the show. The special effects were also ahead of their time, featuring a mix of practical and optical effects that were cutting-edge for the 1970s.
Another notable aspect of the show was its diverse cast of characters. The crew of Moonbase Alpha included people from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds, reflecting the show’s global outlook. The two main characters were Commander John Koenig, played by Martin Landau, and Dr. Helena Russell, played by Barbara Bain. The two actors had previously worked together on another Anderson production, the espionage series Mission: Impossible.
The show’s music was also notable, with a haunting and atmospheric score composed by Barry Gray. Gray had previously worked on many of the Andersons’ other productions and was known for his use of unusual instrumentation and electronic effects.
Despite its impressive production values and talented cast and crew, Space 1999 was not without its flaws. The show’s storytelling could be uneven, with some episodes being more focused on spectacle than plot. The second season, in particular, was criticized for its increased emphasis on action and for introducing new characters that were not as well-developed as the original cast.
Nevertheless, Space 1999 remains a cult classic and has continued to attract new fans over the years. The show’s combination of impressive visuals, diverse characters, and thought-provoking science fiction concepts has made it a favorite of many viewers.
In recent years, there have been attempts to revive the franchise, including a proposed film adaptation and a comic book series. However, as of yet, none of these projects have come to fruition.
Space 1999 remains a fascinating and entertaining example of 1970s science fiction, showcasing some of the best aspects of the genre during that era. With its iconic imagery, memorable characters, and intriguing ideas, it continues to be a beloved cult classic for fans of all ages.
It is often noted that Space 1999 was, in many ways, a pseudo-continuation of another Gerry Anderson production, UFO. Both shows shared a number of similarities, including their focus on a secret government organization that dealt with alien threats, their use of impressive production design and special effects, and their use of a diverse cast of characters.
UFO, which aired from 1970 to 1973, followed the adventures of SHADO (Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation), a covert organization tasked with defending Earth against extraterrestrial threats. The show was known for its sleek, futuristic designs and its use of high-tech gadgets and vehicles, including the iconic Interceptor spacecraft.
Space 1999, which premiered two years after UFO ended, shared many of the same elements as its predecessor. The show was also set in the near future and focused on a team of people defending Earth against alien threats. However, instead of taking place on Earth, the show was set on Moonbase Alpha, a research facility on the moon.
One of the most notable similarities between the two shows was their production design. Both shows featured elaborate sets and models, with a focus on futuristic designs and high-tech gadgets. The Eagle spacecraft, which was the main vehicle used by the crew of Moonbase Alpha, was even designed to look like a more advanced version of the Interceptor spacecraft from UFO.
Another shared element between the two shows was their diverse cast of characters. Both shows featured international casts, with characters from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds. This was a deliberate choice on Anderson’s part, reflecting his desire to create shows that would appeal to audiences around the world.
Despite the similarities between the two shows, there were also some key differences. While UFO was a more action-oriented show, with a greater emphasis on futuristic technology and high-stakes battles with alien invaders, Space 1999 was more focused on exploring the unknown and dealing with the challenges of life in space.
Another notable difference was the tone of the two shows. UFO was often criticized for its dark and cynical outlook, with a focus on the moral and psychological toll of fighting a war against alien invaders. In contrast, Space 1999 was more optimistic and hopeful, with a greater emphasis on exploration and discovery.
Despite these differences, both UFO and Space 1999 remain beloved cult classics among fans of science fiction. Their impressive production design, diverse casts, and innovative storytelling have ensured their enduring popularity, and they continue to inspire new generations of fans even today.