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"Space: 1999: The Complete First Season" {Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: A&E
Genre:
TV - Series
Release Date:
11/30/10
Special Features:

Commentary tracks on "Breakway" and "Dragon's Domain" by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson; featurettes, documentary

Review:

Ever notice that the Moon is missing? Yeah, it's been missing for 11 years ever since it blew out of orbit. I suppose you'll be forgiven if you don't remember it happening because it was all on TV in 1975. "Space: 1999" was originally planned as the next season of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's "UFO" where the aliens tried to destroy Earth's moonbase by blowing it out orbit, "Space: 1999" featured handsome production designs, top notch visual effects and production values and while the writing was flawed (and as been noted the "science" of the show was often silly)the show featured a top notch group of guest stars (Roy Dotrice, Christopher Lee, Brian Blessed among others)and some terrific lead actors (Martin Landau and Barry Morse)that along with the direction helped carry the show through despite the flawed writing on the show. "Space: 1999" is still entertaining due to the top notch production designs and the performances of most of the cast. ***

The premise--As the Earth plans its first major intergalatic flight to the planet Meta, there are strange things occurring on Moonbase Alpha. The astronauts including those training for the Meta mission are becoming ill. Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) arrives on Alpha to get the Meta mission back on track. Dr Helena Russell (Barbara Bain who seems as if she has had botox injected in her entire face)theorizes that some sort of radiation from the silos storing atomic waste is somehow damaging the brains of the astronauts but tests run by Professor Victor Bergman (the late Barry Morse best known prior to this for "The Fugitive")indicate that radiation levels on the far side of the moon are normal. Koenig and his crew are pressured by Commissioner Simmonds to get the Meta ship launched. A magnetic storm generated by the atomic waste causes the Moon to be blown out of Earth orbit on an accelerating course out of the solar system forcing the Alpha crew to rely on each other as they make their way into the void. *** The science on the show could chartiably be called "fantasy" as it has very little to do with the real world. The series constantly refers to the far side of the moon as the dark side (to paraphrase Pink Floyd, there IS not dark side of the moon as all of it receives sunlight we just don't SEE the far side--this mistake is typical of the show which didn't have a science advisor unlike most science fiction shows). Still, the show with its 70's production designs (who knew that bell bottoms would be still in fashion in 1999) are colorful and nice looking. ***

The cast of the series featured a virtual parade of terrific classically trained British actors among the guest stars. Martin Landau does a marvelous job as Koenig even when he has to deliver silly dialog while Barbara Bain remains the statue of the series. Never an expressive actress, she's a walking freezer unit (to paraphrase a line from "Star Trek") and just not very good. The other performances of the regular cast varies with Barry Morse and Nick Tate both exceptionally good in their roles. ---

Image & Sound:

"Space: 1999" receives a handsome looking digital high definition transfer. The show has been cleaned up digitally and the transfer is from the original 35mm elements for the series. The previous DVD incarnation in the U.S. was drawn from the best surviving 16mm prints used for the U.S. syndication of the series. While colors don't pop, they do look quite nice throughout and there's a depth and texture missing from all previous versions of the show on home video. ***

We get a 5.1 remixed soundtrack as well as the original mono soundtrack and both sound quite good. ---

Special Features:

The bulk of the special features from the UK network release are carried over to this set and the special features from the previous DVD incarnation(s) of the show. They include Music-only tracks, behind-the-scenes featurettes, episodic image galleries for all episodes, trailers, textless titles, Barry Gray’s theme music demo, alternate,opening/closing titles, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain US premier intro and outro, SFX plates and deleted SFX scenes with music track. We also get a vintage TV documentary on the production of the show as well as trailers for two TV movies assembled from four episodes of the show. ***

The only missing item from this set copared to the UK release are the 19pdf script files. We get the second season episode "The Metamorph" unlisted on the fifth disc. We do get the bulk of the special features from the previous DVD sets as well on the last two discs in this set which are standard DVDs. ---

Final Words:

As flawed as "Space: 1999" was, the show is entertaining and the vintage production design looks quite nice. The first season was accused of being much too cerebral; I don't think it was as much as it was sometimes incomprehensible or illogical, it was still entertaining. The second season veered in the other direction too far with action at the expense of motivation and some really silly plots. I much prefer the first season to the second season which lacked the sense of wonder that dominated the first season. Supervised by producer Fred Freiberger ("The Wild Wild West", the third and final season of "Star Trek")the second season moved the series in more of an action direction. One of the few things that Freiberger brought to the table was his character Maya (Catherine Schell)a metamorph who could change into any creature and became part of the Alpha crew. ***

This set is definitely worth upgrading for long time fans of the show as the image quality is dramatically improved.

 

 
 
 
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