The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
New Space: 1999 is disappointing

Indianapolis News (20 December 1975)

By Richard K. Shull

The little kid ran in the room, saw the futuristic suits on the TV screen and shouted "Hey, Star Trek!"

"No, it's Space: 1999."

"Oh," the kid replied with disappointment and kept going.

And that's a fair sample of reaction to Space: 1999, the show which space fiction fans had such high hopes would somehow fill the void in their lives between reruns of the old Star Trek episodes.

The sad fact is: For all its special effects and super dooper sets and costumes, even stories which look suspiciously like they were lifted from Star Trek, the new British-made series isn't getting the job done.

The new series' most glaring lack is humour, the byplay in the face of adversity which humanized the characters in "Star Trek" and kept the series from being one protracted calamity.

Star Trek developed three interesting central characters and let them play off each other in much the same way the warm relationships between the main characters in Gunsmoke helped to keep that series popular for 20 years.

Unfortunately, Space: 1999 has none of that. Martin Landau and Barry Morse are fine actors, but the scripts seem to call for constant calamity with both of them forever tense in crisis.

And Barbara Bain Is about as exciting as an android with a dead energy cell.

Beyond them, the characters are merely one-dimensional scene fillers. The net result is stories well founded in projections of scientific fact played out by a cast which is colder than the dark side of the moon.

And there's little hope for improvement.

Unlike American-made TV series in which a few episodes are broadcast and audience reaction sampled before production continues, the British-made Space: 1999 had the whole season on film before the show was offered for sale. There's no opportunity to adjust or change anything.

The show also has another handicap. It was created as a network prime time entry, edited to accommodate less than ten minutes of commercial interruptions in the hour.

Unfortunately, none of the networks bought it, so it was sold station by station and in many markets. It is not broadcast in prime time.

That means the stations can cram in an extra five minutes or more of commercials, and chop down the show to make them fit.

The result on many stations leaves viewers scratching their collective head as the action abruptly jumps from scene to scene, frequently without explanation.

Space: 1999 was a game try, but it doesn't replace Star Trek. And that raises the question of why Star Trek was cancelled and why it hasn't been revived.

Rather than search for an acceptable lank-alike, why not the original?

But then, that's probably too obvious for our network deep thinkers to grasp.