The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
Hopes high for new space series

This is an early preview of the series from the Canadian paper The Calgary Herald.

An import from Britain

Hopes high for new space series

Bill Musselwhite on Television, The Calgary Herald, 1 April 1975

Last year I mentioned a show titled Space: 1999. I mentioned it because we science fiction buffs have been on short rations lately, and I had hoped that somebody would pick it up.

Instead, it was put off for a year. I mention the show now because if the CRTC is willing and the creeks don't rise, we'll be getting NBC this summer and the Spokane NBC affiliate, KHQ.tv. will definitely be running Space: 1999 come September.

Although I haven't seen the program myself, I did talk to Homer Mason, KHQ-tv program director, who had. He's not really a sci-fi buff, but he does enjoy a certain amount of the stuff, and he's enthusiastic about Space: 1999.

The program is British but with a cast which is mostly American. The stars are Barbara Bain and Martin Landau, both Mission Impossible grads.

According to Mason, the production values are excellent and the special effects are something else again. In the trade magazines they've been compared to the effects in 2001.

The program costs run about $275,000 per episode, high by British standards and expensive even by U.S. standards.

Individual station managers are evidently ecstatic about the show and its effects and wonder why one of the networks didn't pick it up.

Instead the show is in syndication, available to any station manager who wants to pay the price and the price is evidently pretty high so it will be used as a prime-time lead-in.

One thing about the show is that it gives U.S. stations something worthwhile (hopefully) for their prime-access spots. The FCC (the U.S. CRTC) gave local stations access to the prime time hours which would otherwise have been ruled by the networks.

The FCC had hoped to see good local, or at least good programs period in the local prime time slots. Instead, the stations stuck in quiz shows and re-runs. With Space: 1999 the local stations have a chance to run an expensive, network-quality series.

As for the show itself, Mason says that it is based around a space station established on the moon by a UN- type body made up of various nations.

One of the things the station and personnel do is dispose of radio-active waste from earth reactors. (This is an interesting point because there is a problem in disposing of such waste) They dump this stuff on the dark side of the moon, supposedly ridding earth of a bad problem. Some is dumped on the surface but most is encased in concrete and buried.

However (there always is a "however", isn't there), something happens and the buried stuff goes critical and explodes. In response to one or other of Newton's Laws - every action has an equal and opposite reaction especially when called for by the script - the explosion pushes old Luna out of orbit and it goes chasing merrily through the solar system.

This would play havoc with earth, since the moon has something or other to do with tides. It would also play havoc with Tin Pan Alley, whose writers would no longer have anything to rhyme with June.

But you must admit that a travelling moon makes a rather impressive space ship, and the heroes of Space: 1999 evidently use the moon as one.

Mason feels the program has been intelligently done and beautifully constructed although he does say that the acting in the pilot is not all that great. He blames this, however, on the amount of expository material which must be thrown at the audience In order to clue the viewer into the deal.

I await the program with happy hope. Now if the CRTC will only come through, we're in.

***

As a footnote to Space: 1999, there is one hitch: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. recently filed a suit in United States Superior Court asking $1 million in damages against the producer and distributors of the show. MGM alleges that the title is too close to that of its movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and constitutes a misappropriation of property rights.