Friday, January 30, 2015

Space: 1999. It's like Star Trek, But British

I missed Space:1999 when I was a kid.

I'm not sure why.  It's more British than the Star Trek that I couldn't get enough of, but that shouldn't have been a problem, since I was able to appreciate the Tom Baker Doctor Who's that had made their way across the pond.

So I'm giving it a try tonight, and I'm loving it so far.

The first episode Breakaway (9.4.75), is fantastic.

Visually, with its white sets and tan uniforms and orange space suits, it's reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The effects, zero-g moonwalks, windows shattering into vacuum, and spaceships flying in silence hold up even today.  The energy based zappy effects are dated but I'm sure were state of the art for the time.  And explosions... well, I know you can't hear explosions in space, but for television, you need the ka-boom.

In terms of story, an atomic waste dump explodes and pushes the the moon out of orbit,  taking the crew of  Moonbase: Alpha out of our solar system, it's a little more sophisticated, ending on a pessimistic note- there's earthquakes on Earth in the wake of Breakaway and Moonbase:Alpha realizes there's no going home.

Hulu has the episodes in order of American broadcast, so it's a little confusing because the second episode in the series was broadcast thirteenth, Matter of Life and Death(11.27.75), in which the crew of Alpha encounter their an Earth like planet and their first alien- and he's disguised as the base doctor's dead husband, (reminiscent of the Soviet science fiction movie Solaris) or an antimatter ghost or something.  It was a little confusing at quarter to two in the morning.

Ultimately, it reminded me less of Star Trek, and more of Star Trek: Voyager, a finite crew with limited resources on an impossible voyage.  But with better actors- the cast is led by Martin Landau as Commander Koenig and Barbara Bain as Doctor Russel.  Christopher Lee is showing up in the next viewing and he's always fun.

Watching Space: 1999 also answered a mystery left over from my childhood- back when K-Tel and other record companies advertised on television, there was a commercial for Neil Norman's Cosmic Orchestra, and there was one piece of music I was unable to identify.  If I recall correctly,  "The Day The Earth Stood Still" was the title on the screen as it was playing so I always associated it with the movie... but I wasn't sure, especially after watching TDTESS a couple of times AND NEVER HEARING IT.  So, when I decided to give Space: 1999 a try, it's theme answered that old question of mine.