If you are an kind of geek or even a quarter-geek on your mother’s side, you probably hae fond memories of an old science-ficton show or movie. Many of these are still in the public conscience today, via remakes or even re-runs on cable.  But what about the forgotten sci-fi? The ones that have slipped through the cracks, or just didn’t run long enough to warrant syndication? Or maybe they were just so bad that no one is quite desperate enough to show?  Enter (drum roll, please)…Space 1999!

Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Frida Kahlo star in Space: 1999!

Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Frida Kahlo star in the British space opera ‘Space: 1999!’

The Premise

In probably a bad move in hindsight, the Earth began using the dark side of the moon to store radioactive waste.  Also located on the moon was Moonbase Alpha, a base inhabited by 300 or so people, with the main focus of scientific research   Well, something went wrong, the waste exploded, and the moon was sent hurtling through space, along with the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha.  The crew was now looking for a new home, as Earth was now a distant memory.

Casting

While Space: 1999 was a british production, show runners decided to cast American actors Martin Landau and Barbara Bain as the stars. They were also contractually obligated to feature Italian actors, due to their partnership with Italian television RAI.  Season two would also feature the inclusion of an alien character, Maya, played by Catherine Schell. While many viewed her logical and scientific expertise as a rip-off of Spock from Star Trek, Maya would prove to be the most popular and enduring character from the show.

The series also had an impressive list of guest stars, including Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ian McShane and Judy Geeson.

Showtime!

Produced by British television’s ITC, Space: 1999 was loosely based on a previous series, UFO.  Space was created by producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who also worked on UFO.  Space debuted in 1975 and lasted two seasons in the UK, before being cancelled.

Part of the cause of cancellation was ITC’s inability to secure a television home in the United States.  While network coverage was initially promising, the series was relegated to local syndication in a handful of stations.  It was also subject to several timeslot changes, as well as delayed broadcasts throughout the UK.

The Intro with the Bad Ass Music!

While Space: 1999 did have some serious faults, including the odd premise, no one can blame the intro music for the series downfall, as it is arguably the greatest musical masterpiece this side of “Baby Got Back.”

Alas, in a portent of bad things to come the show runners decided to can this intro and music after season 1.  Shame!

Notables:

While Space: 1999 was barely a blip on the television radar, especially in North America, the show has a steady following, and periodic updates appear:

  • The Space: 1999 Breakaway Convention was held in Los Angeles on September 13, 1999, the presumed date of the moon being exploded out of orbit. During the convention, a fan film called “Message from Moonbase Alpha” debuted, scripted by original show script editor Johnny Byrne.  This was shot in a private home, with original series actress Sandra Benes.  You can watch the seven-minute short here:
  • In 2012, ITV and HD Films announced an intended revival of the show, renamed Space: 2099.  It would be a re-envisioning of the original series, but with a modified premise.  Since the original announcement, the series has apparently been cancelled before production had begun, with no announcement of a revival attempt.

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