The Curator of Schlock #338 by Jeff Shuster
Space 1999 (Season One)
Lightning strikes twice for Gerry Anderson.
The kangaroo and I are finally getting along. Turns out she loves Fruit Roll Ups. I’ve gone ahead and named her Edwige. Apparently, she must be a professional boxer because she’s wearing baby blue gym shorts and boxing gloves. Hopefully, she’ll aide in my fight against these vampires who are forcing me to write a spec screenplay.
This week is a bit of a departure for this blog as I am covering a television series. I tend not to do this as I am a movie snob. But I revisited another Gerry Anderson classic over the past year since new entertainment was rather scarce and can now declare the first season of Space 1999 to be utterly brilliant. Originally intended as a followup to Gerry Anderson’s UFO (also brilliant), Space 1999 took on a life of its own and is remembered as a kind of a bridge between the original Star Trek and Star Wars.
The basic premise of the series is that in the year 1999, a huge nuclear explosion occurs on the moon, casting it out of Earth’s orbit into deep space. This is a bit of a catastrophe not only for the Earth, but also for all the hundreds of Moonbase Alpha personnel. You see, someone thought it was a bright idea to store all of the nuclear waste from the Earth on the surface of the moon, not realizing it would create the biggest bomb in human history. And that bomb goes off. The government of Earth is unable to mount a rescue for Moonbase Alpha as the people of Earth are dealing with their own magnitude of natural disasters as a result of the Earth losing the moon!
Moonbase Alpha hurtles through space encountering strange planets and strange alien species. Sometimes these aliens are helpful, but the majority of them are terrifying. Seriously, every time the moon gets near some new planet that the people of Moonbase Alpha want to colonize, the opportunity turns into a disaster. Like there was this one episode where the mushrooms the crew ate drove them mad. Another episode where the planet becomes unlivable after a season change. And still another planet that turns the people of Moonbase Alpha into Cro-Magnons. Other episodes feature the moon going through a Black Sun, fighting a giant space brain (naturally), and dealing with a future version of the Voyager probe that became a lethal weapon.
Martin Landau plays John Koenig, head of Moonbase Alpha. Barbara Bain plays Dr. Helena Russell, chief medical officer. They are joined by regulars Barry Morse, Zienia Merton, Nick Tate, Anton Phillips, and Clifton Jones. We also get guest stars like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Brian Blessed, and Joan Collins. The special effects are fantastic considering the time it was made with some great model that Gerry Anderson probably pioneered during his Thunderbirds series.
I enjoyed Space 1999 and am looking forward to season 2. Hopefully, it doesn’t go all Buck Rogers-like.
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, episode 284, episode 441, episode 442, episode 443, episode 444, and episode 450) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.