Next year, Network will release the entire second series of ‘Space: 1999’ on Blu-ray and DVD (the first series has already been released) but to provide an appetiser, so to speak, a special limited edition of a couple of episodes of the series in high definition Blu-ray comes on the market at the beginning of December.
The series was the last production by the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson (‘Thunderbirds’, ‘Stingray’, ‘UFO’ and ‘Captain Scarlet’ being amongst their many successes) and it was the most expensive by far. Made in the 70s, it had lots of special effects, loud explosions and intense jazzy music and inspired by the recent Apollo moon landings, here we had realistic settings that actually looked like the real thing.
For those of you who do not know the story, Moonbase Alpha with a contingent of over 300 people was involved in a catastrophe when a nuclear dump exploded, sending the Moon out of orbit to wander in space. This began a series of adventures, meeting alien civilisations and experiencing dimensional shifts which would take them out of time and out of phase with Earth. Never again would they encounter the home planet but, regardless, they persevered in the hope that they would find a suitable home somewhere in space.
Despite being largely a British series, ‘Space: 1999’ was also aimed at the American market, hence the structure of episodes which lent itself towards commercial breaks. In charge of Moonbase Alpha was Commander John Koenig (played by Martin Landau). With him was Dr. Helena Russell (Barbara Bain), Alan Carter the pilot (Nick Tate) and Maya the shape-shifter female alien (Catherine Schell). There were lots of other characters, some permanent and others temporary, which made up the team on the Moon.
The two episodes on the Blu-ray are called ‘The Bringers Of Wonder’. There is also a full-length feature film ‘Destination: Moonbase Alpha’ which is basically the same in a different format. Both are presented in high definition, a large improvement on the original television showing. Lost in space, the people on Moonbase Alpha are surprised and delighted when a rescue ship arrives with a large contingent, people they knew from the past. Using faster-than-light technology, the super-swift spaceship had managed to break through the enormous distance of time and space between Earth and the Moon. Only Commander Koenig, who had mysteriously acted in a delirious fashion and almost crashed into the nuclear dump, is able to see that the visitors are not people but hideous alien blobs, intent on blowing up the base so that they can absorb the radiation emitted.
Eventually, Koenig persuades Dr. Helena that the visitors were not all they purported to be. It was going to be a difficult task to persuade the others under the mental control of the aliens. Alan Carter, in particular, convinced that he was going home to Earth, was in fact about to deliver an explosive charge to the nuclear dump on Moonbase Alpha. It was now a race against time to stop Alan from causing the ultimate destruction of the base.
For the period in which it was made, the special effects were really brilliant. The interior of Moonbase Alpha, realistic and expensive to produce, could still pass muster today. A couple of minor points during the movie, amongst others, was Dr. Helena using only a surgical paper mask to shield herself from the effects of knockout gas and also Alan Carter’s attempt to cut through the door of the radiation dump, using what appeared to be a six-inch reflecting telescope complete with equatorial mount. However, apart from that it wasn’t bad at all. We even had moon buggies and snazzy spacesuits.
Most impressive was the quality of picture and sound, this coming from episodes made almost 40 years ago. This is a precursor to the complete second series and all purchasers will be put into a draw, according to Network, to receive one of three prizes, these being the second series package. Being 40 years old, you would think that it would be rather dated. Maybe that’s true in some aspects of technology and social attitude but it’s also still quite contemporary in nature. The aspirations of people do not really change over the years, they are still basically human and the people on Moonbase Alpha could fit into the 21st century just as easily as they lived in the 20th century.
The Blu-ray is a limited edition, 1999 copies on offer, which I imagine will be sold out rather quickly. Obviously a marketing ploy, I hope it doesn’t backfire like the nuclear dump on Moonbase Alpha! However, this is a worthwhile presentation and one to be recommended.
(region 2: pub: Network. blu-ray disk minute with extras. Price: £13.00 (UK). Cat:. )
cast: Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Nick Tate and Catherine Schell
check out website: http://networkonair.com/shop/2090-space-1999-the-bringers-of-wonder-pre-buy-5027626801847.html