A greater focus on characters
The first season of Space:1999 generally emphasised plot over character development, but the Space 1999 Year 2 tried hard to make the show’s characters more directly involved with the stories it told. Additionally, it worked to make them feel more human and relatable, occasionally with disastrous results (was anybody really entertained by Tony’s beer-brewing antics?) but mostly succeeding in imbuing the characters with a greater warmth and humanity than they had displayed the previous year.
Catherine Schell saves the show
While Maya’s shape-shifting abilities may have sometimes robbed the show of drama there’s no denying that Catherine Schell’s multi-layered performance helped keep the character as grounded as possible – when she wasn’t turning into a hawk and taking to the skies, that is! Despite the goofiness of having an alien on hand who could change into any other life form Schell gave the character a inquisitive and playful exterior that masked a deeply vulnerable soul, so much so that it really isn’t that hard to imagine her performance fitting almost seamlessly into the world of the first season. Her powers may have been a step too far for some, but Schell brought a much-needed sense of humanity to Moonbase Alpha’s resident alien that a lesser actress might have struggled to find.
Derek Wadsworth’s score
Taking over musical duties for the second season from the legendary Barry Gray was Derek Wadsworth, and while many composers might have found such a task daunting it’s also hard to imagine many of the second season’s action scenes or lighter end-of-episode comedy moments without the music that he produced. However silly things got on screen Wadsworth’s musical style remained consistent throughout, and while the results may not have been to everybody’s tastes his work still has many fans to this day.
Guest stars a-plenty
Although boasting nowhere near as many big name guest stars as the first year the second season of Space:1999 nevertheless features an impressive array of guest actors delivering memorable performances such as Brian Blessed, Freddie Jones, Bernard Cribbins and Patrick Troughton. Perhaps notable of all was Roy Marsden who made two appearances in the second season, returning to play the human Crael in Devils Planet after first wearing an alien costume in The Rules of Luton.
The Beta Cloud brings the LOLs
While being about as far away from the original concept of Space:1999 as it’s possible to get The Beta Cloud is also perhaps the most unintentionally funny episode of any Gerry Anderson series ever made, as Tony, Maya and Bill defend Alpha from a lone alien intruder determined to steal its life support system. A frantic runaround ensues crammed full of laughably stupid behaviour from our regulars and a hugely entertaining performance from David Prowse as the monster, who despite having no dialogue (bar accidental but thankfully audible swearing when Prowse takes a fire extinguisher to the goolies at one point) comes across as a lovably pathetic creature that struggles to even walk through a door without falling over and/or catching fire. It may have been completely unintentional, but this episode is a total laugh riot from start to finish and is well worth a look if you’re in the mood for some dumb fun.