1 9 7 5 – 1 9 7 8 (UK)
48 x 60 minute episodes
Space: 1999 cost around $300,000 per episode and it showed. The show – a semi-sequel to a previous Gerry Anderson production, UFO – was visually stunning and yet one of the biggest flops in TV history.
On 13 September 1999 (20 odd years into the future at the time of production), the colonised moon was blown out of orbit by an explosion in a nuclear waste dump on its dark side. It’s always the nuclear waste dump, isn’t it?!
Moonbase Alpha and its crew of 300 were sent spinning off into space, and their subsequent adventures throughout the galaxy bring them into contact with giant man-eating squid, moving rocks that murder humans, cosmic gas clouds and new planets.
The Moonbase was headed by Commander John Koenig and chief medical officer, Doctor Helena Russell (pictured at right), played by real-life husband and wife, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.
The plot lines were depressing and the crew of Moonbase Alpha seemed to constantly lose their battles.
They encountered all sorts of alien life forms and intergalactic dangers on their travels. Among them were: a blob of living foam; sexy robots of the planet Pirl; a gigantic, people-eating squid; a man-turned-machine name Gwent and the fearsome and mythical Arra, queen of the planet Astheria.
There were lots of futuristic weapons and gadgets like laser beams, Queller Drive engines, Camelot Locator beams and a talking computer – which, in moments of danger, would say really helpful things like: “Not enough data to formulate parameters. Human decision required”.
Other key crew members included Professor Bergman, a brilliant scientist with an artificial heart, Chief Space Pilot Captain Alan Carter and Maya, a female alien “shape shifter” from the planet Psychon who could transform herself into other forms (an orange tree, a lion, a gorilla, etc) for short periods of time by rearranging molecules.
There was also a suggestion from some quarters that Gerry Anderson may have solicited more emotive performances from some of his original marionettes . . .
For all that, I loved this show and heartily recommend it to you for the production values and space ephemera alone.
Martin Landau died in July 2017. He was 89.
Commander John Koenig
Dr Helena Russell
Sandra “Sahn” Benes
Prof. Victor Bergman
Dr Ben Vincent
Dr Ed Spencer