When Space:1999’s second season premiered in 1976 with The Metamorph, fans were greeted with a substantially different series than the one that had originally captured their attention and imagination. Suddenly there was a new title sequence and theme tune, new sets, new main characters (displacing old ones), and a noticeably different shift in tone from what had gone before…and except for Maya’s arrival, all of this happened without explanation. You could be forgiven for thinking that as far as this new incarnation of the show was concerned Victor Bergman had evidently never existed, Tony Verdeschi had always been there, and the senior staff had always operated out of Command Center – it really was as if the first season had never happened.
Various novels, comics and fan projects produced since the series ended have attempted to explain the differences between the two seasons, providing explanations for the disappearances of the missing characters and several other changes while also trying to serve as a bridge between the two years. Even the most casual of viewers can appreciate that the first and second seasons of Space:1999 are two very different animals, yet many attempts have been made over the years to reconcile both into one single timeline of events – but is that really possible?
Ironically the show’s most critically acclaimed episode, Dragon’s Domain, may also be the strongest argument against the second season being a genuine continuation of the first.
The events of the story begin 877 days after the Moon left Earth orbit, which in itself is not the problem. The problem is that season two also gave specific dates for most of its episodes, and if we accept that both seasons take place in the same timeline then this chronology would put Dragon’s Domain somewhere between the events of The Mark of Archanon (640 days) and The Rules of Luton (892). The opening log entry of the latter episode creates an additional problem by telling us that the Moon has just passed through a 42-day ‘space storm’, which places the events of Dragon’s Domain (where Helena tells us the Moon is between galaxies) right in the middle of that storm – but a storm obviously wasn’t mentioned or visible during that episode.
Ignoring the obvious real-world explanation – a simple mistake that nobody involved with the production would ever have expected to be noticed – and searching instead for an in-universe one yields a few potential fan theories for this date inconsistency, one of which points to an explanation for the other inconsistencies between the first and second seasons. Either Alpha’s ‘Days Since We Left Earth’ clock was adjusted at some point for some unknown reason, or Dragon’s Domain took place during some kind of nostalgia week on Alpha where they randomly went back to the way things used to be…
or…perhaps the Moonbase Alpha we see in season two didn’t just look different to that of the first, but actually was a different Alpha entirely?
Since the second season of Space:1999 feels more like a second attempt at the same concept rather than a direct continuation of the first, treating them as two different shows entirely is an idea that appeals to me more and more as the years go by. Surprisingly, the series itself helpfully offered a very subtle and most likely unintentional possible explanation for all the changes almost immediately after the opening credits of The Metamorph;
So where might Alpha have had their first encounter with a space warp? Let’s think back to the first season; did the Moon ever encounter anything that could conceivably have been called a space warp? The Black Sun is a possibility, although since the Moon apparently only survived due to the intervention of some kind of higher power we could maybe discount that as being not quite the same thing. The only other candidate would seem to be the mysterious swirly space phenomena from Another Time Another Place – and what did that do? Duplicate the Moon and everybody on it, with the original Moon suddenly finding itself in a completely different part of space and the new duplicate Moon then experiencing a significantly different future to the original. If it happened once, why couldn’t it happen again, leaving us to follow the adventures of the new duplicate Alphans? Helena’s mention of “no casualties this time” seems to imply that there were casualties last time – perhaps a reference to Regina Kesslann, who died following her encounter with the Another Time Another Place phenomena?
It seems doubtful that the production team were thinking along the lines of directly referencing a previous episode, although going into season two they did plan to explain the absence of Victor Bergman; early drafts of the script of The Metamorph mentioned the Professor’s between-season death in a faulty spacesuit, and the artificial heart seen in Catacombs of the Moon was originally meant to be his. It is however not beyond the realms of possibility that writer Johnny Byrne might have tried to slip some nod to the past into his Metamorph script, although there’s nothing to confirm that, but since he also wrote Another Time Another Place the notion that some kind of duplication has taken place again becomes more significant.
This duplication doesn’t explain the extensive cosmetic changes to Alpha, of course; it certainly makes sense that Main Mission and many other surface buildings might have been closed down/relocated underground following repeated alien attacks, but there’s nothing on screen to confirm that’s what happened. However, if we accept that another duplicate Moon was created just prior to The Metamorph and the second season follows the adventures of that Alpha rather than the old Alpha then it’s not too much more of a leap to suppose that this new Moon had perhaps experienced a different history to the first as well as a different future, leading to a different appearance. Back in 2009 the first of the new Star Trek movies was based on that very premise; a catalytic event creating a new timeline where the adventures of Kirk and Spock now took place in a radically different universe (the so-called ‘Kelvin’ timeline) from the one we were familiar with (the ‘Prime’ timeline). These were obviously the same characters, but the universe they lived in and even the faces they wore were now very different. So why couldn’t something similar have happened to the Alphans?
Speaking of new faces, one of the main issues fans have with the changes made for the second season was where exactly did this new security chief called Tony suddenly appear from? He clearly wasn’t there before, Alpha never even had a security chief before, yet suddenly he’s a vital part of the command structure!
Except…there was a security chief in the first season. His name was Tony.
Played by Tony Allyn in 18 episodes of season one, and often seen paired with Quentin Pierre’s security guard, this character was actually named on screen as Tony in Earthbound (with the surname Allan on his spacesuit helmet). Tony represented the security section during the command conference in Guardian of Piri, so from this we can assume that he was Head of Security; he often reported to Koenig on security issues and was usually the Commander’s first choice for security on landing parties. Could it be that in a different universe the man who would have been Tony Allan instead grew up to be Tony Verdeschi? Different surnames, different faces, but both born to be Head of Security on Moonbase Alpha?
And if this one life could have changed so substantially, surely others might have been too? Might Victor Bergman, Paul Morrow, David Kano and Tanya Aleksandr not have appeared on the Moonbase Alpha of season two because they were never assigned there in the first place?
Okay, it’s a stretch, but it’s also a good example of how the lack of answers provided on the show can produce all sorts of fascinating theories and explanations to explain the differences between seasons one and two. I know I’m not the only person to consider diverging universes resulting in alternate versions of familiar characters as a possibility, since somewhere online is a timeline of the Space:1999 universe that says series two’s Eagle pilot Bill Fraser first defended Alpha in season one’s The Last Enemy. Does John Hug appear in that episode? No. But the pilot of Eagle 5 certainly looks and sounds enough like him to be a plausible alternate incarnation…
Ultimately with the series itself providing no answers there can never really be one definitive in-universe explanation for what exactly ‘happened’ between seasons to bring such drastic changes to Alpha less than a year after the Breakaway, but discussing the possibilities can be rather fun and in the end the answer really comes down to personal preference. While my “a space warp did it!” theory may not be perfect it does at least give equal validation to both seasons, as well as leaving the door open to the possibility of future adventures from each. I certainly prefer to watch the action-packed mayhem of season two in the belief that season one’s Professor Bergman is still out there somewhere on the season one Moon pondering over mysterious happenings, rather than buried somewhere on the season two Moon after suffocating in a spacesuit. And who knows – maybe the two Moons later crossed paths again?
So that’s my theory – but what about you? Do you have any favourite explanation for the differences between seasons one and two of Space:1999 or suggestions how they can be reconciled, or has this never really bothered you? Let us know in the comments below?