Space 1999: The Complete Second Series Blu-ray (TV series Blu-ray review).

Having been ill with pneumonia and then a bad back, I was confined to bed for a little while so this is my first review for a couple months. An advantage of being incapacitated is that you can watch movies in bed and what better than ‘Space 1999: The Complete Second Series Blu-ray’. This is my second viewing in fact because the first was on TV almost 40 years ago. I believe the reproduction is a bit better than it was back then because, instead of watching it on a useless early model colour TV, here it is in full enhanced Blu-ray sharpness which completely transforms the picture beyond what it was ever meant to be in the past. That alone makes it worth buying.


This is proper TV Science Fiction as it used to be. If you think there’s a slight similarity to ‘Thunderbirds’, you’d be right because ‘Space 1999’ employed Gerry Anderson models for the exterior space-related shots and also for some of the interior action. There are no computer enhanced images. In those days, computers were pretty useless to say the least. A desktop equivalent would fill a large room, consuming lots of power in the process, but that doesn’t mean the scenes are not believable and, in some respects, they look a lot more appealing and realistic than what you see today.

One criticism exists with Gerry Anderson productions which applies to ‘Space: 1999’ and to all the others, including ‘UFO’, ‘Thunderbirds’, ‘Captain Scarlet’ and so on is that they never had an ending. We never really saw an end to Captain Scarlet and the problem with the Mysterons was unresolved, likewise the alien situation in ‘UFO’. ‘Space: 1999’ likewise never came to a conclusion which was a pity. I think he created good scenarios but moved on from one to the other as new ideas and new production money came along.

Some say that the second series was not as good as the first but I would dispute such an accusation because I believe the characters were by then more developed and comfortable with their roles. Barbara Bain and Martin Landau are the most familiar playing Doctor Helena Russell and Commander John Koenig as the authoritative and dependable older people in charge of the base. Their relationship develops from the first series to be the real thing, which was probably quite easy for them because they were married in real life at the time anyway, but there’s also a close relationship between shape-shifting alien Maya (actress Catherine Schell) and Tony (actor Tony Anholt), the effusive and energetic second-in-command. Captain Alan Carter (actor Nick Tate) is still there along with many of the other regulars from the first series but you won’t see Barry Morse as Professor Victor Bergman which is a bit of a shame.

The story is essentially the same. Moonbase Alpha is wandering the universe both in space and time after an explosion of a nuclear dump sent the Moon out of its orbit from Earth to travel amongst the stars. With no possibility of ever returning home, the main occupation of the 400plus occupants of the base was first of all to stay alive and second to find a new home somewhere out there in the galaxy. That galaxy, as it turned out, wasn’t unoccupied and there were many strange aliens to be found along the way.

There are stories where false hope is given, such as with ‘Journey To Where’ and ‘New Adam, New Eve’ and also with strange alien intelligences as in ‘The Lambda Factor’ with a cloud of gas seemingly being sentient. Overall, the stories are very inventive and there are 24 of them in the series, lots of viewing and enough to keep you going for one day non-stop. Of course, it’s better if you space them out just a little.

The Blu-ray comes with some extras, the most revealing being interviews with the cast members both in the past and in the future. While there is nothing overly exceptional amongst the extras, just the usual stuff, it’s nevertheless interesting but not as interesting as the episodes themselves. I think the best of the extras was the bit about the models used in the Moonbase shots, the Eagle landers, et cetera. Special effects director Brian Johnson commentates! Now, that’s a voice from the past. Incidentally, the models are still on the go today and I recall seeing one of them in a car advert not so long ago where a boy ditches one of his Moonbase Eagles for a snazzy vehicle his dad has just purchased. Not a good choice I would have said!

I think the Blu-ray production, as marketed by Network in this package, both in the first series and here with the complete second series, has brought a new life to ‘Space: 1999’ and made it even better than it was in the past. Despite 40 years having passed, the stories are still exciting and relevant and the characters and plots would still be believable today, even in our modernist society. It’s one to watch and certainly one to recommend.

Rod MacDonald

October 2015

(pub: Network Six Blu-ray Discs 1177 minutes 24 * 49 minute episodes with extras. Price: £54.99 (UK). ASIN: B014L3XBAC)

cast: Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Catherine Schell, Tony Anholt and Nick Tate

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