Space: 1999 is perhaps Gerry Anderson's most well-known production. The series encompasses 48 episodes in two seasons from 1975 to 1977. Highly influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey and built on elements first pioneered in Anderson’s previous series, UFO, Space: 1999 represents the final chapter in pre-Star Wars sci-fi, and in fact influenced some aspects of the vaunted film franchise. Some of the most notable actors of the time appeared on Space: 1999, including stars Martin Landau and Barbra Bain, as well as Brian Blessed, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Kemp, Christopher Lee, and Leo McKern. Noted director Charles Crichton (The Lavender Hill Mob, A Fish Called Wanda) helmed 14 episodes.
After a promising start for UFO, ITC chairman Lew Grade authorized development for a second season of the series, with the caveat that all the locations be moved to the Moon and there be more emphasis on action. Gerry and Sylvia Anderson began preproduction on UFO II which would begin some 19 years after the action in UFO — in 1999 in fact (The Catacombs, catacombs.space1999.net). Unfortunately, ratings for UFO fell in the second half of the first season, so the second season was cancelled. Nevertheless, the Andersons salvaged their pre-production work for UFO II and created Space: 1999. For more information on UFO, please visit the Aeolus 13 Umbra article UFO: The Complete Series Review.
Space: 1999 details the voyages and ongoing struggle for survival of a colony of approximately 200 people on the Moon after it is blasted out if orbit due to an exploding nuclear waste dump. Rather than a military organization, the Alphans are administrators, engineers, scientists, and technicians — not all of whom are prepared or trained for the mission ahead. Cut off from the Earth, they must learn to be self-sufficient and deal with all manner of alien life, many of whom are hostile.
The episodes, particularly in the first season, are often solemn and somber and frequently end on a sad note or unresolved conflict. Three iconic elements of the show include the special effects, modeling, and uniforms:
Special Effects: Brian Johnson served as the special effects director. He got his start working on Anderson’s famed Thunderbirds series (1965-1966) and then building models for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Johnson later worked on Alien (1979) and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). In many ways, the optical effects were more advanced than the work on Star Trek and have a surrealistic and trippy quality that typifies 1970s design. Johnson designed the series most recognizable vessel from the show, the Eagle Transporter, which quickly became a sci-fi icon. Nevertheless, the alien designs for the show were sometimes seldom better than a campy 1950s horror show. This became particularly noticeable once the shapechanger Maya joined the cast in the second season.
Modeling: Without doubt, the modeling work by Martin Bowers is the highlight of the series. The variety of designs and imaginative use of materials shows a master at work in his prime. While not the designer of the Eagle, Bowers did create some of the most memorable spacecraft to appear on the show, including the Mark IX Hawk ("War Games"), Ultra Probe ("Dragon's Domain"), Laser Tank ("Infernal Machine"), Super Swift ("The Bringers of Wonder, Part 1" and "The Bringers of Wonder, Part 2") and Voyager One ("Voyager's Return"). An account of Space: 1999 on-set model production completed during the series is available on the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.
Uniforms: Famed fashion designer Rudi Gernreich was tapped by Sylvia Anderson to create the minimalist, unisex uniforms in the first season. Sci-fi fans may not necessarily recognize his name, but Gernreich was one of the most influential designers of the 20th Century and created some of the most iconic looks of the 1960s. As a fashion designer, however, Gernreich made the uniforms to hang better on those with model-like dimensions — tall and thin. Second season producer Fred Freiberger made changes to the uniforms to make them more militaristic and less unisex. The jackets introduced in season two allow for a more complimentary look for a wider range of body-types.
Bain and Landau
One common critique of the show regards the acting, particularly by the lead husband-wife team of Martin Landau and Barbra Bain, as “stiff” and “wooden.” Of course, Landau later became an Academy Award-winning actor and Bain won three consecutive Emmy awards for best Dramatic Actress for Mission: Impossible, so their qualifications are not in questions, but they seem like an odd fit for a sci-fi series. Bain’s performance as Dr. Helena Russell during the first season is notably stiff, almost one-dimensional; she barely emotes. While a strong female character, she nevertheless elicits little sympathy from the viewer. Barbara Stanwick on The Big Valley managed to do both, and the feeling one gets from Bain is that she is uncomfortable in this setting. Bain noticeably loosens up in the second season, but the change is abrupt and a bit too far at times from the baseline established in the first season.
Landau seldom varies his intensity. Commander John Koenig is hard to like at times. He lacks the charisma of a Captain Kirk, admittingly a hard standard to live up to, and that may part of the reason why Koenig is scripted that way — to provide a clear distinction with Star Trek. Be that as it may, it made liking Koenig an uphill struggle for casual viewers.
Sylvia Anderson, in a 2010 interview produced for Network's Blu-Ray release of Space: 1999, reports that Lew Grade sent her and Gerry Anderson to Hollywood to cast the show, but ultimately insisted that they hire Landau and Bain due to their work on Mission: Impossible. Sylvia Anderson disliked the idea immediately. She felt they were not right for the show, but since Grade wouldn’t fund the show unless they Landau and Bain were on board, they were hired.
While I agree with Sylvia Anderson’s assessment, I can’t disagree with the studio’s reasoning either; UFO’s U.S. ratings suffered because of the lack of recognizable leads. Nevertheless, Landau and Bain proved somewhat problematic. Sylvia Anderson states outright that the married couple was “a pain” to work with, such as requiring a car with a driver available 24 hours a day. Landau frequently complained about the scripts (which is understandable), didn’t like having Italian actors forced into the production just because of RAI’s funding, and, in at least one notable incident, got lines intended for popular cast member Nick Tate (astronaut Alan Carter) to be given to him by playing Gerry and Sylvia Anderson against one another.
“He [Landau] had to be in every scene. He couldn’t allow any actor to have any lines,” Sylvia Anderson spoke about Landau. While her comments are a bit harsh, she makes valid observations, including that Landau was a fine character actor, “but he was never a leading man.” Indeed, Landau’s later career accomplishments are built on his character work and he had only a handful of lead roles in which he was the main star, and these too were largely extended character performances.
Space: 1999 experienced several challenges to its overall script quality — simply put, there were too many cooks stirring the pot. For UFO, the Andersons only had to deal with Lew Grade from ITC in London. Space: 1999, however, had a more complicated line of control. The series was produced by Group Three Productions, formed by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and production executive Reg Hill, while funding was provided by ITC Entertainment and Italian broadcaster RAI.
Because ITC and RAI provided the money, they also got to insist on changes, including adding Italian actors, insisted by RAI, to improve exposure in their home market (where the show retains an active fan base to this day). Additionally, in order to be more responsive to the demands of the American audience, ITC required scripts to be sent their New York office for approval. This not only slowed down production, but often resulted in script changes that weakened the stories and muddled the plotting. Script writers Johnny Byrne and Christopher Penfield were frustrated by this to the point they departed the series.
According to Johnny Byrne in The Making of Space: 1999 (Ballantine Books, 1976), "One episode they [New York] would ask us to speed things up, forcing us to cut out character development; then the next episode, they asked for more character moments, which would slow down the action; then they would complain there weren't enough pretty girls in another."
While one expects the network to insist on changes, there were too many completing interests with different agendas for a consistent quality to be maintained for the series — a situation that only grew in season two.
Season 1 Opening Credits Theme.
Season one is considered the best of the two. There is an epic quality about the stories often missing in season two. Anchored by the troika of Commander Koenig, Dr. Helena Russell, and scientist Victor Bergman (Barry Morse, Lt. Gerard in The Fugitive), and operating from the expansive Command Center set, the episodes often have a cinematic quality. The large Command Center set allowed long tracking shots, the organization of the workstations with the technicians facing each other to facilitate communication made ergonomic sense, the computer banks had a variety of instrumentation, and Koenig’s office had a large sliding bulkhead that made for dramatic entrances.
The first season opening and closing themes by Barry Gray, who also did the music for UFO, imitates not only the tempo of the Mission: Impossible opening, but the format as well by showing scenes providing peeks at scenes from the upcoming episode. Season one shows opened with a teaser, a scene of indeterminate length that sets up the conflict for the episode, and then goes into the opening credits. Despite being somewhat derivative, the season one theme is one of the most recognizable, and dramatic, openings ever devised for a sci-fi series.
Season one establishes a dark and unsettled tone for the series; the endings are often inconclusive or end on a tragic note. These elements had an appeal in the cynical, post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era, but the inconsistent pacing in the scripts, stiff performances, and long, dragged-out expositions, weakened many episodes' potential.
Long stretches of character development — something character actors like Bain, Landau, and Morse preferred to action sequences — bored the young audience. Storylines were sometimes introduced and forgotten. A mysterious signal from space calling out to the Alphans, possibly from the planet Meta, was identified in the first episode, “Breakaway,” but seldom referred to thereafter. When Alpha is saved at the last minute, or survives tremendous odds, it is attributed to some sort of vague deus ex machina guiding intelligence — a concept that is never fully explored or explained.
The science was shaky as well. Isaac Asimov notes in his 1975 New York Times review of the first episode of Space: 1999, “Breakaway,” several scientific inaccuracies. Some are small, such as referring the far side of Moon as the “dark side,” or that it is unlikely that such an extensive lunar base could be constructed just 24 years in the then future, but others are more significant.
First, any explosion powerful enough to move the Moon out of orbit would likely destroy it as well.Second, there's the problem of transporting all that nuclear waste from the Earth to the Moon.Third, if you were able to transport all the nuclear waste ever produced to the Moon it would have no effect on its orbit were it to explode.Fourth, a nuclear waste dump, however overloaded, would not result in an explosion, but rather a meltdown.Finally, if there was an explosion on the far side powerful enough to move the Moon, without immediately destroying it first, it would drive it towards the Earth, not away, just missing the planet, but nonetheless causing massive geological upheaval (though, to the series’ credit, this latter affect is noted in “Breakaway”).
The original explanation in UFO II for the Moon’s exodus, the aliens using their technology to accomplish the feat, is a simpler explanation than an exploding nuclear waste dump. Indeed, it requires less of a suspension of disbelief as the aliens are an already established plot device from UFO.
The Eagle Transporters, originally presented as translunar shuttles, soon became interplanetary craft capable of landing on Earth-type planets — something of a miracle considering the Eagle is essentially a flying brick. This also pushed the suspension of disbelief for the viewers, and considering all the wonderful models produced for the series, one wonders why an atmospheric-capable landing craft was not introduced.
Some of the standout episodes of season one, in this author’s opinion, include “Breakaway,” “Dragon’s Domain,” “Earthbound,” “End of Eternity,” the unfortunately named “Space Brain,” “The Troubled Spirit,” “Voyagers Return,” and “War Games.” “Earthbound,” with Christopher Lee, is usually cited as the premier episode of the series and ranks among the best of episodic sci-fi TV.
Season 1 Closing Credits Theme.
Season 2 Opening Credits Theme.
Season two, despite some excellent modeling and special effects work, is consider the weaker of the two seasons. The inconsistent pacing of the episodes led to a drop in the ratings in the second half of the first season and Lew Grade cancelled it just as he did with UFO. Frankly, the series was lucky to get a second season at all, yet enough buzz about the show remained that there was a strong reason to continue it. Unfortunately, the Anderson’s marriage fell apart by the end of the first season and Sylvia Anderson departed the series. While season one did have its problems, the loss of her influence was noticeable in the weaker second season.
To ensure the success of a second season, veteran American producer Fred Freiberger was brought in to “save” the series. Freiberger was also brought into the third and final season of Star Trek: The Original Series after Gene Roddenberry departed from daily production duties in growing frustration with NBCs tinkering with show’s schedule. As with Space: 1999, the move had mixed results. Every season, Star Trek: TOS was under threat of cancellation and Freiberger hastened its demise with some of the series’ worst episodes, such as “Spock’s Brain,” Spectre of the Gun,” and “The Way to Eden.” To his credit, however, episodes such as “The Tholian Web,” ”Wink of an Eye,” "The Enterprise Incident," and "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," are among the series’ fan favorites.
Freiberger made a few cosmetic changes to the uniforms but weakened stronger elements such as the cast. Much of this was due to budget cuts and Barry Morse, along with supporting actors Prentis Hancock (Paul Marrow) and Clifton Jones (David Kano), disappeared from the series without any on-screen explanation. What actually happened to Morse is a bit confused. Morse himself is quoted as saying when informed by Gerry Anderson that Freiberger was coming on board, "I'd just as soon like to go play with the grown-ups for a while." Freiberger claims Morse wanted a huge raise. Other reports suggest Morse was offered a pay cut, but only wanted to get paid what he had for the first season. Whatever the reason, losing Morse is a clear example of Gerry Anderson's loss of control.
In a scene from the first second season episode, "The Metamorph," that was filmed, but cut from the final edit, Tony Verdeshi reports Bergman died due to a "faulty helmet." While various resolutions to the characters' fates have been written about or filmed for convention audiences, none made it to the series itself. This was a missed opportunity to highlight the dangers of space travel, and not acknowledging the characters’ absence weakened continuity. It was a classic case of being “pennywise, but pound foolish.”
Further, the loss of Bergman, with an artificial heart that maintained his heartbeat at a steady rate no matter what is going on, and Kano, the computer operations officer with a rare brain-computer interface, represented a lost opportunity to use their unique characteristics to drive storylines. The sometimes combative Dr. Mathias (Anton Philips), another popular supporting character from season one, and a good foil for Bain’s stiff performance as Dr. Russell, vanished after two episodes in season two. Other minor characters also disappeared and the reasons for these changes are simply monetary. Desperate to save money in any way, it was cheaper, and easier, to let go of season one actors than to offer them a new contract and argue about the pay cut they were going to get.
Season 2 also brough about changes to the opening and closing credits' theme music also changed. Gone were the previews from “this week’s episode,” and the dramatic, pulse pounding iconic theme from season one in favor of a more jazz-orientated theme by Derek Wadsworth. While I must admit a bias towards the first season theme music, the second season music is an excellent effort in response to a mid-70s shift towards a more brass-oriented “disco” sound in popular music.
|Season Two Command Center|
Freiberger seems to have thrown whatever remained of Space: 1999’s attention to scientific accuracy out the air lock. One such example is found in the second season episode “A Matter of Balance” where aliens caught in a parallel dimension try to convince an Alphan to help them exchange bodies with the other Alphans — trapping them in the very same dimension they seek to escape! This episode explains anti-matter as “a parallel dimension that is transparent to ours.” Not only is that wrong, but anti-matter was correctly explained in the first season episode “Matter of Life and Death” and producer Fred Freiberger, who worked on Star Trek: TOS, knows very well how anti-matter works — it explodes when in contact with matter and is not a “parallel dimension.”
Another second season episode, “All that Glisters,” involved a conflict created by a living rock. It was one of the series’ worst episodes and exemplative of the poor story development and lack of attention to detail in season two. Landau’s dissatisfaction with these episodes and Freiberger is well-documented.
Martin Landau, in a 1999 interview for French television, details the poor production decisions by Freiberger, “In the second year he [Koenig] did things that he should never have done just to accommodate a story point in the script. I used to fight [with Freiberger] over that.”
Landau continues, “Fred Freiberger, he would bring up a script, and I’d say, “This is terrible.” Helena wouldn’t do this. Koenig wouldn’t do this. Alan wouldn’t do this. These characters would not do this. The only reason for doing this is to serve the script, and it’s wrong. And sometimes I’d win those battles and sometimes I’d lose them. Sometimes there was a rewrite, sometimes there wasn’t. I wasn’t happy the second year. I thought we were turning the show into a cartoon.”
While fans can debate about whether Landau was a fit match for the part, given his difficulties he was not allowed to fully explore his part. Certainly, one cannot doubt Landau’s dedication and professionalism to his craft and his insights provide detail as to what went wrong with the second season. When character development is compromised to plug up a hole in the script, the result is about 50 minutes of crap.
Freiberger was responsible for introducing the character Maya (Catherine Schell, left), the shapechanger from the planet Pyschon. While a talented actress and a popular character with children, the effect, as Landau described, was “kitschy” and moved the series closer to what he thought was a cartoon. Considering the character’s origin from the planet Psychon, one wonders the obvious — why was she not given psychic powers? It’s an ability that provides cheaper effects and “psychic” naturally leads of “Psychon.” That seems like a missed opportunity as well.
Freiberger also tries to lighten the mood of the series, established as dark and brooding in season one, by incorporating the formulaic TV “happy ending” to the show, so no matter how much death or devastation the Alphan’s experienced, or caused, the episode closes out with a laugh. It is absolutely cringe-worthy at times.
Despite its problems, the second season managed to produce some popular episodes among fans, including “The Metamorph,” “The Immunity Syndrome,” “Seed of Destruction,” “The Bringers of Wonder, Part 1 and Part 2,” “The AB Chrysalis,” and “The Seance Spectre.”
Season 2 Closing Credits Theme.
One of the most noted aspects of Space: 1999 is that the crew compliment for both seasons is highly integrated, even more so than the Star Trek: TOS crew. Though still a white male dominated world, women and minorities are seen in positions of authority and there are representatives from many different ethnicities and nations, and to a degree beyond that of Star Trek: The Original Series.
Many of the actors, crew, and special effects people who worked on Space: 1999 went to work on Star Wars — a list far too long to provide in the context of this article, but which includes Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin), Christopher Lee (Count Dooku), and Brian Blessed (Boss Noss). Special effects director Brian Johnson, too busy with season one of Space: 1999 to join Star Wars, headed the effects unit for The Empire Strikes Back.
Other influences on Star Wars include the slantward logo design on the Millennium Falcon. George Lucas’ original design for Han Solo’s smuggling ship originally had the command module mounted in the center of what would later become the Princess Leia’s Blockade Runner vessel in the first scene of Star Wars. After seeing the Eagle Transporter, Lucas ordered a redesign to the current saucer-shaped ship of cinematic renown.
Although Lew Grade nixed UFO II, one wonders why Anderson didn’t use any of the models from UFO such as the SHADO moonbase, interceptor, and moonmobile models, in Space: 1999. Integrating some of these leftover elements certainly could have provided an ongoing sub-plot of conflict between the two organizations, or at least a bit of mystery for one episode. This is a lost opportunity that could have led to some fascinating drama.
Further lost opportunities include the Swift ship model, by Martin Bowers, and the robot Brian the Brain (right), from the episode of the same name. The Swift is a classic ship design that would find itself at home in any number of sci-fi venues, from Star Wars to Red Dwarf. At the end of “Brian the Brain,” the ship and Brian are captured by the Alphans, and Brian is scheduled to be reprogrammed, yet we never see the ship or the robot again. This episode was aired in October 1976, just seven months before Star Wars debuted and after which robots and androids became all the rage in sci-fi. If integrated into the show’s continuity, this could have provided Space: 1999 with a robot crew member contemporaneous to Star Wars, but, alas, it was not to be.
As with Star Trek, some of the technology shown in Space: 1999, such as the commlocks and medical scanners, have gone on to have contemporary analogs. Brain–computer interfaces (BCI) using implanted prostheses like David Kano’s began appearing in the mid-1990s, though with much more success than Kano’s problematic device. Lasers have gone on to have military applications, and are becoming more portable, though not quite the hand-held weapons we see in the series — not yet.
There was talk of a revival of Space: 1999 (Space: 2099), but, like the proposed revivals of UFO, it fell through, and just as well. Space: 1999 is a relic of a very specific period — the 1970s — with everything from unisex fashions to nuclear power, as well as psychic powers, environmental issues, and gender conflicts. Quite frankly though, as much as I am a fan of Space: 1999, I’m not interested in Space: 2099. I’m interested in Space: 1999. I’m interested in seeing those actors and characters explore the future from the lens of THAT time period.
As big a fan of The Twilight Zone I am, I have never been interested in seeing the revival series. It was in color. Who wants to see The Twilight Zone in color? I want to see men in gray-toned tailored suits and narrow ties talk to women with enough hair spray on to burn a hole through the ozone. If I want to see new episodes of Space: 1999, I want to see bell-bottom trousers, hear groovy theme music, and watch the Alphans fight for survival in glorious technicolor — preferably on a TV that looks like it’s a piece of furniture and not a large wall-mounted monitor in the Alpha Command Center like the thin-screen TVs we all have now.
That, perhaps, is what marks Space: 1999 as a classic sci-fi show. Despite the uneven pacing, stiff performances, problems with scripts, and temperamental actors, the show is rooted in a very specific time period. It works for that era and if translated to today it would lose some of its appeal. All that aside, the show nonetheless manages, particularly in season one, to leave us with a sense of awe and wonder, with what could be, and with what it could have been.
Space: 1999 — Episode Guide
Descriptions by G. Jack Urso.
Season 1 (1975-1976)
|Space: 1999 season one cast (left to right): Barry Morse, Nick Tate, Barbra Bain,|
Martin Landau, Prentis Hancock, Zenia Merton, Anton Philips.
Episode 1: Breakaway | Original UK Airdate: September 4, 1975 | Production Order: 1
John Koenig takes command of Moonbase Alpha to oversee the launch of the deep space Meta Probe; however, an overloaded nuclear waste disposal site explodes and tears the Moon out of Earth orbit.
|Lunar orbital Space Dock from “Breakaway.”|
Episode 2: Force of Life | Original UK Airdate: September 11, 1975 | Production Order: 9
An Alphan, Anton Zoref, (Ian McShane) is possessed by an unknown life force that absorbs energy, and Moonbase Alpha’s nuclear generating plant is on the menu.
Episode 3: Collision Course | Original UK Airdate: September 18, 1975 | Production Order: 13
A planet is on a collision course with the Moon and its leader (Margaret Leighton) convinces Koenig the preordained event must take place for her people to “change, utterly” to a higher form of consciousness and energy, but trust her, Moonbase Alpha will be fine . . .
|Mk IX Hawk|
Episode 4: War Games | Original UK Airdate: September 25, 1975 | Production Order: 17
Moonbase Alpha is attacked by what appears to be Earth warships, killing 128, but is the attack real?
Episode 5: Death's Other Dominion | Original UK Airdate: October 2, 1975 | Production Order: 14
Moonbase Alpha encounters a frozen planet with human castaways who have discovered the key to immortality — a secret they are willing to share with the Alphans, but immortality has a cost. Guest star Brian Blessed.
Episode 6: Voyager's Return | Original UK Airdate: October 9, 1975 | Production Order: 12
An unmanned Earth space probe, Voyager One, on course for the Moon, is spewing radioactive exhaust that will kill everyone on Moonbase Alpha. While the probe's designer (Jeremy Kemp) works to shut off the probe’s engine, alien ships appear. The probe’s exhaust killed millions of their people, and they intend to destroy Alpha in return.
Episode 7: Alpha Child | Original UK Airdate: October 16, 1975 | Production Order: 10
The first child is born on Alpha, but grows at an accelerated pace. When hostile aliens approach, Koenig realizes they have an agent on Alpha — the child.
Episode 8: Dragon's Domain | Original UK Airdate: October 23, 1975 | Production Order: 23
Moonbase Alpha finds the lost Earth Ultra space probe in a graveyard of alien space craft. The probe’s commander, and only survivor, Tony Cellini (Gianni Garko), who lives in shame on Alpha, reports a space “dragon” killed his crew, and now that they’ve found the probe, Cellini seeks revenge, and redemption.
Episode 9: Mission of the Darians | Original UK Airdate: October 30, 1975 | Production Order: 22
Moonbase Alpha tracks a distress call to an immense abandoned spaceship whose crew has since devolved into a savage existence with a terrible secret. Guest star Joan Collins as Kara.
|Generational Ship from “Mission of the Darians.”|
Episode 10: Black Sun | Original UK Airdate: November 6, 1975 | Production Order: 3
When the gravity of a black sun pulls the Moon towards destruction, the Alphans devise a desperate plan for survival.
Episode 11: Guardian of Piri | Original UK Airdate: November 13, 1975 | Production Order: 8
The dead planet Piri offers the Alphans an idyllic home, but at a price. Koenig, of course, is the only one to realize the threat.
Note: This episode features trippy imagery of the planet Piri, which looks like something off a Yes album of the same era. Also featured is the sole use of David Kano’s neural computer interface that allows him to communicate with computers directly with his brain. This ability could have made for an interesting plot device on other episodes, but was never used again and Kano disappeared without mention after season one.
Episode 12: End of Eternity | Original UK Airdate: November 20, 1975 | Production Order: 16
The Alpha’s unwittingly release an immortal, indestructible, homicidal psychopath (guest star Peter Bowles) from his asteroid prison.
Episode 13: Matter of Life and Death| Original UK Airdate: November 27, 1975 | Production Order: 2
When Moonbase Alpha encounters an Earth-type planet that could serve as a new home, they find Dr. Helena Russell’s husband, Lee Russell, thought to have died five years previously in orbit around Jupiter. Lee Russell warns the Alphans away from the planet, but Koenig ignores the warning and puts his crew in peril.
Episode 14: Earthbound | Original UK Airdate: December 4, 1975 | Production Order: 5
An alien spacecraft, fleeing their dying world, is headed towards Earth, but they only have room for one passenger. Commissioner Simmonds (Roy Dotrice) intends to be on the ship, and will risk the lives of the Alphans to do so. This episode features Christopher Lee in the role of the alien Captain Zantor.
|Christopher Lee and his alien crewmates in “Earthbound.”|
Episode 15: The Full Circle | Original UK Airdate: December 11, 1975 | Production Order: 15
When a newly discovered habitable planet has the mysterious effect of devolving humans into a primitive state, the Alphans race to find a way of reversing the effects.
Episode 16: Another Time, Another Place | Original UK Airdate: December 18, 1975 | Production Order: 6
Moonbase Alpha is hit by an energy storm that transports the Moon back into the Solar System and headed towards Earth orbit, but there’s a problem. There is a duplicate Moon already in orbit, and only one place on Earth is uninhabitable, and alternate versions of the Alphans already live there!
Episode 17: The Last Sunset | Original UK Airdate: January 1, 1976 | Production Order: 11
In order to prevent the Alphans from settling the planet Ariel, aliens terraform the Moon’s atmosphere to make it breathable. When the Moon doesn’t enter orbit, however, the atmosphere threatens to crush Moonbase Alpha once it freezes in deep space. Also, the usually strict and serious Paul Morrow discovers hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Episode 18: The Infernal Machine | Original UK Airdate: January 8, 1976 | Production Order: 21
Moonbase Alpha encounters an odd, sentient alien spacecraft seeking supplies and companionship, and will kill to get what it wants. Guest star Leo McKern plays Companion and Voice of Gwent.
Episode 19: Ring Around the Moon | Original UK Airdate: January 15, 1976 | Production Order: 4
Aliens take control of a technician in order to gain access to Moonbase Alpha’s computer. When the technician dies and Alpha is threatened, John Koenig races against time to stop the alien attack and free the other Alphan under alien control before she also dies — Dr. Helena Russell!
Episode 20: Missing Link| Original UK Airdate: January 22, 1976 | Production Order: 7
John Koenig is captured by aliens evolved two million years beyond the Alphans and who consider Koenig a missing link in their evolution. Determined not to be treated like an animal, Koenig fights back using a classic Captain Kirk move, get the alien’s girlfriend to fall in love with you and sow dissention with the alien leader, played by Peter Cushing.
Episode 21: Space Brain | Original UK Airdate: January 29, 1976 | Production Order: 20
The Moon is headed straight into an energy field which turns out to be giant sentient “space brain.” The field tries to threatens to crush Moonbase Alpha, and the Alphans in turn fight back, but they discover the horrifying truth too late — the space brain is responsible for protecting thousands of worlds and the Moon is going to shoot through it like a bullet.
Episode 22: The Troubled Spirit | Original UK Airdate: February 5, 1976 | Production Order 19
An Alphan scientist, Dan Mateo, using psychic energy to communicate with plants, sets free his own ghost, who in turn seeks revenge on Mateo for causing his own death which has yet to happen.
Note: This episode’s opener features a Raga-like piece composed and performed by session artist Jim Sullivan on electric guitar, who also appears as the musician.
Episode 23: The Testament of Arkadia | Original UK Airdate: February 12, 1976 | Production Order: 24
The Moon comes to a stop near a dead world that was destroyed by a nuclear war. While looking for answers about who the people were, the Alphans uncover evidence about the origins of their own civilization. Meanwhile, an Alpha goes renegade and threatens the Moonbase unless he and another Alphan are allowed to settle on the planet.
Episode 24: The Last Enemy | Original UK Airdate: February 19, 1976 | Production Order: 8
While travelling through a solar system, the Alphans get caught in an interplanetary war of the sexes.
Season 2 (1976-1977)
|Space: 1999 season two cast (left to right): Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, |
Catherine Schell, Tony Anholt, Nick Tate
Episode 1: The Metamorph | Original UK Airdate: September 4, 1976 | Production Order: 1
An alien scientist (Brian Blessed) plans to use Alphans to power his biological computer in an effort to make his planet habitable again. Koenig convinces the scientist’s daughter, the shapechanger Maya, to help him save his crew.
Episode 2: The Exiles | Original UK Airdate: September 11, 1976 | Production Order: 2
Alien missiles entering orbit around the Moon contain refugees from an attempted coup on an alien planet. The Alphans soon learn, however, that the refugees were exiled for crimes against their planet, and they intend to return to exact their revenge.
Episode 3: Journey to Where | Original UK Airdate: September 18, 1976 | Production Order: 5
Earth in the 22nd century contacts Moonbase Alpha with a plan to transport the crew back home, but the plan goes awry and the first Alphans transported find themselves in 14th century England.
Episode 4: One Moment of Humanity | Original UK Airdate: September 25, 1976 | Production Order: 3
The Alphans encounter the planet Vega where androids have enslaved their human creators. The androids want the Alphans to teach them hate so they can kill their creators, but can they learn love as well?
Episode 5: Brian the Brain | Original UK Airdate: October 2, 1976 | Production Order: 9
The Alphans encounter a Swift-class space ship piloted by a psychotic sentient robot (played by Michael Sharvell-Martin and voiced by Bernard Cribbins).
Episode 6: New Adam, New Eve | Original UK Airdate: October 9, 1976 | Production Order: 10
A cosmic magician claiming to be God appears on Moonbase and demands two couples to repopulate his planet, but Koenig suspect this “god” has other plans.
Episode 7: The Mark of Archanon | Original UK Airdate: October 16, 1976 | Production Order: 8
Deep inside the underground mining tunnels, the Alphans discover cryogenic pod containing a man and a boy from a planet of peace who are infected with a virus that drives them to kill.
Episode 8: The Rules of Luton | Original UK Airdate: October 23, 1976 | Production Order: 7
The sentient plant life on the planet Luton judge Koenig and Maya guilty of murder when they pick a flower. Their sentence — a fight to the death with three other aliens also accused of herbicide.
Episode 9: All That Glisters | Original UK Airdate: October 28, 1976 | Production Order: 4
Koenig and an geological expedition are trapped on a planet with a living rock that needs water to survive, and the Alphans are on the menu!
Episode 10: The Taybor | Original UK Airdate: November 4, 1976 | Production Order: 6
Taybor, an interstellar trader, visits Moonbase Alpha and offers the Alphans a way to get home to Earth — in exchange for Maya!
Episode 11: The AB Chrysalis | Original UK Airdate: November 18, 1976 | Production Order: 12
When Koenig investigates the source of shockwaves that threaten to destroy Moonbase Alpha, he discovers a dead planet run by machines that protect the planet’s three remaining inhabitants, two women and one man, who are key to their species survival. Unable to remain, Koenig and his crew must depart even though they do not have enough fuel to get back to Moonbase Alpha. Eh, don’t worry. They’ll figure something out. Oh yeah, and the women, including guest star Sara Douglas (Ursa in Superman I/II), are naked — with strategically=placed long hair, of course. Hey, it’s the 1970s folks.
Episode 12: Seed of Destruction | Original UK Airdate: November 11, 1976 | Production Order: 13
Aliens replace Koenig with an evil double whose commands threaten Moonbase Alpha. Producer Fred Freiberger, who was producer on the Star Trek: The Original Series third season ‘evil Kirk’ episode “Turnabout Intruder,” makes sure there’s an ‘evil Koenig’ episode as well, and this is it.
Episode 13: Catacombs of the Moon | Original UK Airdate: November 25, 1976 | Production Order: 11
An Alphan, engineer Patrick Osgood, desperate to find a rare metal for an artificial heart to save his wife, goes deep in the underground mining tunnels of the Moon where he becomes psychotic and predicts a heat storm will ravage Moonbase Alpha. How Osgood knows the heat storm is coming is never explained, except at the very end of the show with a single throwaway line from Dr. Russell: “Who’s to say there wasn’t some kind of intelligence in that heat storm.” This is another reference to the deus ex machina “guiding intelligence” that saves Alpha at the last minute without further explanation. A weak attempt to tie-up plot holes characteristic of the series under Freiberger’s helm.
Episode 14: Space Warp | Original UK Airdate: December 2, 1976 | Production Order: 15
The Alphans have their hands full in this episode with a derelict spaceship, a space warp, and a sick Maya who loses control of her shapechanging powers. At the end of the episode, the derelict is brought in tow back to Alpha, but like the Swift in the episode “Brian the Brain,” we never see or hear of it again.
Episode 15: A Matter of Balance | Original UK Airdate: December 9, 1976 | Production Order: 16
Aliens caught in a parallel dimension try to convince an Alphan to help them exchange bodies with the other Alphans — trapping them in the very same dimension they seek to escape!
Note: This episode explains anti-matter as “a parallel dimension that is transparent to ours.” Not only is that wrong, but anti-matter was correctly explained in the first season episode “Matter of Life and Death and producer Fred Freiberger, who worked on Star Trek: TOS, knows very well how anti-matter works. This is yet another example of the sloppy writing and lack of attention to detail in season two.
Episode 16: The Beta Cloud | Original UK Airdate: December 16, 1976 | Production Order: 14
After a gas cloud passes over Moonbase Alpha, a mysterious malaise affects the crew. An Eagle sent to investigate returns with a monster that attacks the Alphans. The aliens controlling the monster want part of Alpha’s life support system, and they will kill to get it!
Note: Another example of weak editorial control: another gas cloud, another mysterious illness, another disembodied alien, another out-of-control monster.
Episode 17: The Lambda Factor | Original UK Airdate: December 23, 1976 | Production Order: 19
Moonbase Alpha encounters yet another mysterious gas cloud, this one emanating Lambda waves which gives one Alphan psychic powers, as well as driving her mad. This phenomenon also forces Koenig to confront his own ghosts from the past.
Episode 18: The Bringers of Wonder, Part 1 | Original UK Airdate: August 4, 1977 | Production Order: 17
While John Koenig’s mind is affected by an unknown force, a vessel from Earth, a Superswift-class ship, lands at Moonbase Alpha and the crew announces they’re here to help the Alphans return home. When Koenig recovers, however, he sees aliens and an alien ship. Guest star Stuart Damon(General Hospital), who also had a small role in the season one episode, “Matter of Life and Death,” plays Tony Verdeschi’s brother Guido.
Episode 19: The Bringers of Wonder, Part 2 | Original UK Airdate: August 11, 1977 | Production Order: 18
Koenig convinces Helena and others that the Superswift crew are really aliens in disguise and discover the aliens’ true agenda — detonate Alpha’s nuclear fuel and feed off the resulting radiation.
Note: The script for this two-part episode is unnecessarily padded out. The essential plot points — an Earth ship, promise of a return home, and aliens with an ulterior motive — are all familiar elements to Space: 1999 storylines and one wonders if the essential action could have been reduced to a single episode. For example, Maya, with her unique and advanced Psychon brain, should have been the one to spot the alien’s illusion, which would free up the time-consuming sub-plot of Koenig’s injury and reduced the running time considerably.
Episode 20: The Seance Spectre | Original UK Airdate: August 18, 1977 | Production Order: 20
The Moon approaches a nearby celestial body designated “Tora,” a cloud of gas and dust; however, surface survey team, Sanderson — suffering from greensickness (caused by a lack of exposure to nature) and driven mad — believes Koenig and the senior staff are hiding evidence of a habitable plane and stages a mutiny, but Koenig has bigger problems. Tora turns out to be an uninhabitable proto-planet, and it’s on course to collide with the Moon!
Episode 21: Dorzak | Original UK Airdate: August 25, 1977 | Production Order: 21
An alien ship lands at Moonbase Alpha carrying a Psychon criminal, Dorzak, who uses his psychic powers to control the minds of others. Maya, also a Psychon, insists Dorzak he is a poet and frees him, putting herself and other Alphans at risk.
Episode 22: Devil's Planet | Original UK Airdate: September 1, 1977 | Production Order: 22
Koenig takes Eagle One to survey two planets, one devoid of life, the other with but gets captured by the warden of the planet’s last survivors — a prison of political prisoners. The catch? No one, not the prisoners or guards, knows that everyone on their home planet has died, only the warden and Koenig does, and that information could get Koenig killed.
Note: This episode features lots of tall, Amazonian-like women in tight body suits, go-go boots and carrying wipes. Gotta love the 70s.
Episode 23: The Immunity Syndrome | Original UK Airdate: October 29, 1977| Production Order: 23
Koenig leads a survey team to a planet to replenish Moonbase Alpha’s supplies; however, landing on the planet causes a chain reaction in the atmosphere that causes all food to become toxic and the Alphan’s machinery to break down. After an alien attacks the crew, the Alphans find an ancient ruin with a recording that tells them the alien is a powerful immortal life force. If the Alphans are to survive, they must find a way to communicate with it.
Note: This episode features the use of the glider, one of the series’ most interesting models, and the ancient ruin set, which evidently must have drained the special effects budget because the alien is literally just a blinding light and a disembodied voice, which comes off as really cheap. Despite some very promising elements, there are too many plot points and the disembodied immortal alien device comes off as a deus ex machina plot device. The episode would have been improved by removing the alien life force entirely and rather focused on the idea of a toxic planet, discovering that secret in the ancient ruin, and the Alphans ingenuity in escaping.
Episode 24: The Dorcons | Original UK Airdate: November 12, 1977 | Production Order: 24
The Dorcons, sworn enemies of the Psychons, visit Moonbase Alpha intent on capturing Maya and removing her brain stem to ensure their leader’s immortality.
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