Space, the really final frontier
Despite following in the footsteps of Star Trek, Space:1999 ended up taking a far more bleak approach to man’s first protracted journey into outer space. Rather than being a bold new frontier space is portrayed as a hostile environment totally incompatible with human life, full of lurking horrors waiting to strip the flesh from your bones or twist you into something utterly unrecognisable as yourself. Add to that the show’s frequent presentation of humanity’s space program being a catalogue of catastrophic and expensive failures (the Alphans themselves are essentially accident-prone rubbish dump workers who had a really bad day) and you end up with a space opera that often feels far more in keeping with the pessimistic tone of twenty-first century television than many critics would credit. Here are our top 5 highlights from Space 1999 season one!
Of gods and destiny
Similarly, Space:1999 wasn’t afraid to hint that the events that were unfolding throughout the series may have been part of some larger plan, so much so that fans eventually coined the phrase ‘Mysterious Unknown Force’ to describe the frequent occasions where it seemed as though the Alphans were being guided along on their journey for some greater purpose. Both ‘God’ from Black Sun and Arra from Collision Course hinted at a greater destiny that awaited the Alphans, with the final episode of the first season, The Testament of Arkadia, making good use of the ancient astronauts concept to bring that thread to an ending of sorts – or should that be a beginning?
Even for an Anderson show it looks stunning
Space:1999 may have been savagely criticised over the years, but few could argue just how impressive the visuals are throughout much of the first season. From the breath-taking model effects work produced by Brian Johnson and his team to the beautiful matte paintings and impressive set design of Keith Wilson’s art department, the whole production feels very prestigious even for a Gerry Anderson show. Much like Thunderbirds Space:1999 was promoted as being the most expensive television series of its day, and it’s great to see that even more than forty years later the show still looks impressive even in the notoriously unforgiving world of High Definition.
Barry Morse as Professor Bergman
Among the characters who sadly didn’t return for Space:1999’s second season was Barry Morse’s Professor Victor Bergman, who was always on hand with a theory or two to explain whatever impossible things were happening to the Moon and its hapless residents that week. His boundless curiosity and thirst for knowledge gave the show much of the thoughtful qualities that drew so many fans to it, while his pleasant easy-going demeanour (which many fans would agree was something Morse himself was also blessed with) also added a much-needed moral centre to the show – not bad for a man with an artificial heart!
Eagles Eagles Eagles!