Watch Space 1999
- 2 Seasons
In the mid-1970s, British sci-fi was rapidly evolving, with new and innovative ideas being brought to the genre. One such idea was the creation of Space: 1999, a science fiction television series produced by ITC Entertainment for its broadcasting on ITV in the United Kingdom and syndication in the United States. The show was created by a British-Canadian team of writers, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. The series initially starred Oscar winner Martin Landau, known notably for his performances in "Ed Wood" and "Mission: Impossible," and American actress Barbara Bain, who also won an Oscar and worked alongside her real-life husband.
The premise of the series is that in 1999, Moonbase Alpha was built as an installation on the Moon to study the Earth's satellite, manned by over 300 people from around the world. Far from Earth, they are isolated and vulnerable to an unexplained accident that causes the Moon to become ejected from Earth's orbit and launched into interstellar space. The crew is forced to survive and navigate a world of alien worlds, strange phenomena, and the unknown.
Supervised by Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau), the Alphan staff struggles to maintain their sanity and a tenuous grip on reality amid unexplained phenomena and existential crises at every turn. They are assisted by Dr. Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) who is the head of the base's medical team, as well as Chief of Security, Tony Verdeschi, and Psychon scientist Maya, played by Catherine Schell. There are occasional tensions between the crew members, as personalities clash and conflicts arise. However, despite these challenges, the show managed to captivate audiences and attract a dedicated fanbase.
One of the show's most significant challenges was its special effects. Although pioneering in their day, modern audiences may find them dated. That doesn't hinder the show's creative storytelling, as it uses the format and technology available to its writers and production team. Furthermore, the cast is exceptional, with excellent performances from both Landau and Bain. The show's supporting cast is more than capable, although some characters receive more emphasis than others - this being a common characteristic of ensemble space operas.
However, the show's highlights are not limited to its visuals or characters. The plotlines featured in the series are expertly crafted and varied, despite the show's limitations at the time. Creators Gerry and Sylvia Anderson worked on a variety of classic British television shows from Thunderbirds to UFO, but Space: 1999 arguably showed their most mature and adult-oriented work. The writing frequently addresses themes such as isolation, fear, death, paranoia, and the consequences of human interference.
It is possible that the show's worst enemy was indeed the sci-fi shows of its time, which ultimately reached a more significant audience with franchises such as Star Wars and Star Trek. Despite some enduring performative or visual elements, Space: 1999 is often treated as a cult classic, revered by a small but dedicated fanbase.
In conclusion, Space: 1999 is a classic British sci-fi show that experimented with intriguing ideas that may still resonate with modern audiences beyond the show's limitations at the time. The series demonstrated an uncanny capacity to fuse its unique mixed-genre elements into something that was unconventional, original, and imaginative. It's a program that deserves praise, respect, and perhaps a fresh recognition.
Space 1999 is a series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (48 episodes). The series first aired on October 17, 1975.