The Catacombs The Production Guide
Year 1 Assessment
by Fred Freiberger

This memo was written by Freiberger shortly after he arrived in the UK. Without a network sale, ITC had cancelled the series. Freiberger wrote this memo to persuade Lew Grade that the series could relaunched with radical alterations. According to Peter Greenwood, Freiberger admitted he only saw 3 episodes (not the 8 he mentions in the memo), probably the first three of the series.

INTER-OFFICE MEMORANDUM

TO: GERRY ANDERSON

FROM: FRED FREIBERGER

Date: 25th November 1975

As per your request, I have viewed eight episodes of 1999 and hereby is my assessment.

The Production Values are superb. I have seen nothing in the States that is comparable. I cannot praise your efforts on that score too highly. But after your production values... what? Everything goes down hill. The format people are one-dimensional without any clearly defined characters. They motivate nothing in terms of the action. They stand around talking instead of "doing". Therefore, the episodes are mild instead of dynamic, driving, searing. The relationships are plastic and meaningless. And a major fault with the series is a lack of humor. Doesn't anybody know how to smile in 1999? We, the viewers, have got to care about our format people. We don't give a damn about people we don't know, and we certainly don't know anybody on Moonbase Alpha.

The series fails on the story level in a number of areas. The basic science-fiction concepts are usually valid, but the dramatizations of those concepts are poorly executed. The stories are not properly structured and in most cases lack a cohesive developing plot line. And again I must mention the lack of humour.

Okay . . . anybody can criticize, but how fix it?

I feel the series has smash potential... but it needs massive shots of adrenaline.

1. Against the backdrop of those marvelous production values we must tell stories of people- thinking, feeling people- about whom we care. All those great action shots will take on meaning if our emotions are involved. We've got to like the people who are in danger if we're going to worry about them. So that's our first task. To put meat and bones on our format characters. Give them dimensions, know who they are, learn to love them. That's basic.

2. We're going to put flavor and charm and above all, humor, into the scripts.

3. We are going to introduce a new character to give the series a charged-up science-fiction overlay. This character will be an outer-space alien, a sensuous, long-limbed, beautiful, amazingly graceful black girl who will have ability to transform into other life forms. She will be able to become a leopard, an eagle, a dolphin. ... She is able to do this because the beings on her planet conquered the principle of molecular rearrangement, a faculty understood and accepted by all science- fiction buffs. This new character has a brain which rivals the average computer in brilliance. She will become the science officer on Moonbase Alpha.

To sum up:

In the new season, SPACE: 1999 will tell stories of real people against the fascinating action-background of outer space. The stories will be strong in action and character. They will be suspenseful, but leavened with flavor and humor.

Our characters will be clearly defined so that we will know and like them and get emotionally involved. The new character with her amazing abilities will blow the minds of viewers.

When we inject the above elements into SPACE: 1999. . . a series with unsurpassed production values, we will have a show which in my opinion should go right through the roof.


Copyright Martin Willey 2003