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Robbie Parry
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Joined: 17 June 2007
Location: United Kingdom
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Posted: 24 July 2017 at 7:31am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Issue three of sci-fi magazine INFINITY has a feature on SPACE: 1999, a show I am a fan of. I like both seasons, the first one being darker/more character-driven and the second one being more fun, varied and lighter in tone.

The article published old quotes from critics. Here's one comment from London's Sunday Times (author unknown):


 QUOTE:
"There was only one joke in the first episode, and one joke in the second."

Yes, because a nuclear explosion on a moonbase, sending humans permanently away from home, lends itself to jokes and humour. Maybe some humour later on might have worked, but not in the first episode. The PLANET OF THE APES TV series has some humour at times, but certainly not in the pilot, given the situation.

Several astronomers complained about the science, but Isaac Asimov said this:


 QUOTE:
"The surface-gravity effects on the moon are captured perfectly here. I have never seen, anywhere, so precise a simulation of low gravity."


Steven Spielberg was critical of STAR TREK and SPACE: 1999 for portraying too many aliens in an "adversarial manner, good guys vs bad guys." A show does requires conflict. Most shows require good guys and bad guys. I do feel both STAR TREK and SPACE: 1999 had shades of grey at times (moreso in the case of STAR TREK).

This surprised me:


 QUOTE:
When a young woman was booed at a Star Trek convention for praising Space: 1999, Trek creator Gene Roddenberry personally wrote to her and apologised.


Shame on the fans who did that. Kudos to Roddenberry, though.

Any thoughts, folks?
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 24 July 2017 at 8:15am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Space:1999 looked great.  Excellent practical effects.  Some decent actors (particularly Landau, Barry Morse, Nick Tate, Catherine Schell). Lots of explosions filmed at high speed in the Gerry Anderson tradition.  I loved the gadgetry and hardware and that main mission set was impressive in season one.  As a kid I enjoyed much of the first season and selected episodes hold up (Dragon's Domain, The Black Sun, some others.)  Unfortunately, the shift in tone ruined S2 for me (thanks Fred Freiberger) and I don't think the show has generally aged well.  Still, I think of it (particularly S1) with fond nostalgia.
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John Byrne

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 24 July 2017 at 8:25am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

It was fun to draw, but the basic concepts and stories made my head hurt.

When I asked to be allowed off the comic, George Wildman asked me why I wanted to leave. "Because I keep making the mistake of watching the show!" I said.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 24 July 2017 at 8:48am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

The two seasons are like chalk and cheese. The first one is very dark. As a kid, "End of Eternity" really disturbed me (I think the BBC cut scenes at the time). I like Barry Morse. It was a good season.

The second one was lighter, and many characters were gone, but I liked the fun aspects. "New Adam, New Eve", which sees Guy Rolfe playing "God" is one of my favourites.

I can appreciate both seasons on their own merits.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 24 July 2017 at 9:51am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Season two was too wacky / cartoony for me, but I recall two memorable entries.  The ridiculously cheesy naugahyde Sigmund and the Sea-monster alien designs hobbled the two-parter "The Bringers of Wonder" yet there was a rather audacious and clever take on illusion lurking in there ("Better to live as your own man, than as a fool in someone else's dream.")  I have a strong memory of the "traveling ball" computers in "The AB Chrysallis," a visual which should have been laughable but which was done so effectively, it sold the concept.  It also didn't hurt that Sarah Douglas was practically naked.


Edited by Rick Senger on 24 July 2017 at 9:52am
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 24 July 2017 at 10:18am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I do remember questions such as "Where did Barry Morse go in Season 2?" and "Why wasn't Tony Anholt's character in Season 1?"

I accept the premise of those questions, but I always had a simple answer: people no doubt work shifts on a starship/at a moonbase/etc. Anholt's character, Tony Verdeschi, may well have been off-shift/otherwise engaged during the first season; and Barry Morse's character, Victor Bergman, was no doubt off-shift or otherwise engaged in Season 2.

I do really accept the premise of the question. One does wonder why Bergman, a professor, is not active during crucial moments of Season 2; and one has to wonder why a security chief like Verdeschi wasn't active at critical moments during Season 1. But I'm sure there's an explanation. 


Edited by Robbie Parry on 24 July 2017 at 10:18am
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Bill Mimbu
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Posted: 25 July 2017 at 12:38pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

According to 'Making of Space 1999' book, there was originally a scene for the Season 2 episode "The Metamorph", where Tony Verdeschi and Sandra Benes discuss Dr. Bergman's absence. Apparently, the character was supposed to have died between Season 1 & 2 because of a faulty spacesuit, but the scene was cut from the final shooting script and Bergman's absence was never touched upon for the rest of the series.

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John Byrne

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 25 July 2017 at 12:59pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Guy had an artificial heart but they kill him with a bad spacesuit?
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Bill Mimbu
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Posted: 25 July 2017 at 1:57pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Concerning the 1st Season episode "War Games", actor Julian Glover mentioned in an interview that the aliens played by (his wife) Isla Blair and Anthony Valentine were supposed to be positioned facing each other within their respective enclosures, but kept breaking up at sight of each other in makeup.

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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 25 July 2017 at 2:57pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply


Season Two is pretty much unwatchable for me now, but Season One I return to time & again.  None of it makes a lick of scientific sense, but that's okay... I like to think of the first season as just one, long, phantasmagorical dream.

Once I embraced that approach, it was easier for me to enjoy the show, and not let the implausibilities make me crazy!



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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 25 July 2017 at 6:05pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Indeed, Shaun.

To this day, "End of Eternity" chills me. I cannot think of a sci-fi episode that scared me more. If I was compiling a Top 5 Scariest Sci-Fi Episodes, then "End of Eternity" would be on that list.

There is nothing worse or scarier than a killer/psychopath who hides it behind charm and a smile. 
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 25 July 2017 at 8:58pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply


It is interesting that one could possibly make a convincing argument that Season One of SPACE: 1999 could be described less as "hard science-fiction," and more like "nightmarish horror sci-fi."

And I mean that as a compliment!





Edited by Shaun Barry on 25 July 2017 at 8:59pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 26 July 2017 at 5:12am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

That would be my thought, too.

Some of the first season episodes, particularly the one I've mentioned, stayed with me for days. Peter Bowles' Balor may well be the most nightmarish TV sci-fi villain ever. 

There were dark episodes of Season 2, but they were also, paradoxically, light-hearted. Maybe it was the change in colour, the lighting, the tone, etc. But something very optimistic about Season 2 even though the premise was the same.

Oh, and the date. As a kid, 1999 seemed very, very far away. ;-)
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Bill Collins
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Location: England
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Posted: 26 July 2017 at 7:27am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Season two had Fred Frieberger on board to give it a
`Star Trek` appeal,unfortunately his idea involved a
certain amount of dumbing down,apparently the episode
`The Rules Of Luton` came about because he saw the road
sign to Luton and liked the name!
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Robbie Parry
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Joined: 17 June 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 8630
Posted: 26 July 2017 at 7:58am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I still feel it was solid entertainment during Season 2, but everything changed. Moonbase Alpha obviously called in the decorators, too.

I think the best episode of Season 2 is "New Adam, New Eve", starring Guy Rolfe as "God". Whilst not as dark as an episode like "End of Eternity", Rolfe's "God" is rather menacing.

The theme tune for Season 2 made it light, also. There's something dystopian about the first season's theme. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 26 July 2017 at 9:08am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Season One of SPACE: 1999 could be described less as "hard science-fiction," and more like "nightmarish horror sci-fi."
*****
Force of Life, Dragon's Domain, The Troubled Spirit, and End of Eternity were all darker than most network tv I was allowed to watch in the mid-70s.  For me, that was a virtue.

The show did have its share of talented or famous guests.  Ian MacShane, Peter Bowles, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Joan Collins, Caroline Munro, David Prowse, Sarah Douglas, Leo McKern, Margaret Leighton, Julian Glover, Judy Geeson, Brian Blessed and Roy Dotrice all appeared and most who are still with us continue to work regularly.  I just wish they'd gotten better material back then!


Edited by Rick Senger on 26 July 2017 at 9:09am
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 26 July 2017 at 2:38pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Thinking about lighting, colours and the rest of it, I'm reminded of the importance of such factors.

I respect Peter Bowles' performance as Balor in "End of Eternity". I respect the work of the regular cast in that episode - but would things have changed, if only slightly, had the colours been brighter, the sets been brighter, etc? Or if Balor had worn green underpants/pantyhose and a bright red t-shirt whilst wearing glitter on his face? 

I'm not saying he couldn't have still been menacing, but everything from his black attire to the absolutely dystopian lighting/sound effects in that episode made it so dark. It still would have been dark (maybe) with some changes, but primary colours and the like can brighten up even the darkest show.
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