By Broadcasting Brain
Space: 1999, the first major science fiction television series to follow Star Trek, deserves a second chance at life. Space: 1999, which ran from 1975-77, chronicles the adventures of an international crew of scientists and specialists on Earth’s Moon. Although it was cancelled after two seasons, fans still fondly remember the series. In light of other pop culture recycling that permeates today’s creative content, why not see what can be reused from this series?
As Space: 1999 begins, Commander John Koenig arrives at Moonbase Alpha, charged with ensuring the successful launch of a manned deep space probe after a series of mysterious crew deaths. His old colleague Professor Victor Bergman is there as chief scientist and advisor, while Chief Medical Officer Dr. Helena Russell tries to determine the cause of the deaths. The cause is determined to be radiation poisoning from unstable nuclear waste disposal sites, which explode, blasting the Moon out of Earth’s orbit, on an unknown trajectory at unknown speed, towards open space.
The series is a story of survival, adventure, and hope as the crew of Moonbase Alpha, the only manned settlement not on the Earth, searches for a new home in space. They encounter aliens, other humanoid civilizations, space phenomena, fearsome machines, and have several failed encounters with planets which could have provided homes for the lost Earthlings. You might see some parallels with later series like Battlestar Galactica (both versions) and Star Trek: Voyager.
Despite a small but loyal fan following, Space: 1999 never achieved mainstream popularity. The British TV series did not receive critical acclaim and the lack of popular success led to its cancellation following the end of its second season. The science, the writing, and the acting ranged from awful to the occasional good episode. The second season, designed to inject some action, sex appeal, and humor into the show, destroyed the moody, scary vibe that helped make the series successful in season one. The execution fell flat most of the time and the show was cancelled after year two.
Nevertheless, Space: 1999 made a impression on 1970’s science fiction and it’s still remembered with some fondness today. The series spawned toys, lunchboxes, novels, comic books, and a series of successful fan conventions. A fan-made film, starring one of the original Space: 1999 cast members, served as a coda to the series. The original stars even reunited for a short 19th century parody of the show!
I’ve watched the show at different times over the years and although I’m more aware of its faults, I see lots of potential with the concept. It occurred to me that if someone could (very) successfully remake Battlestar Galactica, why couldn’t someone do the same thing with Space: 1999? Heck, they’re even trying it with Star Trek!
Why couldn’t someone take the best elements of the show and them to re-imagine Space: 1999? The key concept of Earth’s Moon traveling through space would have to be preserved, as would many of the characters and conventions (e.g., Moonbase Alpha, Eagle transport ships, key characters like Koenig, Bergman, and Russell). However, this would be a chance to do it better.
Had I the resources and finances, there are ten things that I would do to make a kick ass remake of Space: 1999.
Sometimes a great idea goes awry as a result of loss of direction or poor execution. There were good idea seeds in Space: 1999 that really deserve a chance to flourish again. Hopefully some brilliant creative crew may someday read this article and use it to launch a new, better Space: 1999.
Broadcasting Brain (aka Mark Dykeman) was a fanboy geek before it was cool. He fondly remembers $0.50 comic books, seeing the debut of Star Wars Ep. IV and his old Atari 2600. He also writes about social media and stuff at Broadcasting Brain.