The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
An outer space answer to Earthquake

The networks are worried

This was an agency news report by Jay Sharbutt for Associated Press that was syndicated to local newspapers in the USA on 3 September 1975 and later. Other titles included "Space 1999 Given High Rating" and "Space 1999 - The networks are worried"

By JAY SHARBUTT AP Television Writer

New York (AP) - Okay, Trekkies, the relief crew for the Enterprise is checking in, but they're on Moonbase Alpha now and you'll have to study the TV listings to learn if you'll see them in your area.

For civilians, this means a new British-made science fiction series called "Space: 1999" is afoot. Its makers hope it'll capture the rapture viewers have shown for the old "Star Trek" series.

Judging from a look at the first episode of "Space: 1999," this syndicated hour-long series may be a winner, if only for its outstanding outer-space special effects. They are fantastic.

The show stars "Mission Impossible" veterans Martin Landau and Barbara Bain as the commander and chief medical officer, respectively, of an internationally manned space station on the moon.

Barry Morse, best known as the detective who chased the fugitive on "The Fugitive," also is a regular, playing a scientist who helps run the moon base and supply grim looks. The cause of grimnity in the opening show is a mysterious sickness causing horrible deaths to anyone working near or flying over a section of Moonbase Alpha's nuclear waste system.

No, it isn't radiation sickness. We won't reveal what it is, but it is jeopardizing a planned rocket launch from the moon, or what Landau modestly calls "the spaceflight of the century."

The nuclear waste has been shipped up from planet earth -let's hear a big boo, now, for the earth - and you know that sooner or later it's going to blow and cause no end of trouble.

Woe time starts when one waste disposal area, unused since 1994 and presumed dormant, shows a dramatic rise in heat levels.

"It's incomprehensible." Landau says. "Heat without atomic energy."

Yep, the thing goes boom. But it's a burp compared to the blow building up in an active nuclear waste area, which has 140 times the amount of hot trash than area one.

Amid many serious words and superb special effects shots of space shuttles at work and in distress, area two blows, despite frantic efforts to keep the explosion down to poof size.

In what seems an outer-space answer to the big moment in "Earthquake", right down to the basso rumbles, the moon and Moonbase Alpha with it are blown out of earth orbit to Somewhere Out There.

Landau and some of the 310 other staffers at the base are seen grimacing mightily as strong G-forces crush them flat on the floor.

Alas, the dramatic effect is negated as the pilot of a shuttle craft, flying near the moon at blast time, says after hearing Landau's gasping voice on the radio: "Thank God, you're okay."

But no matter. It's fun to watch and if the dialogue improves, "Space: 1999" may have a profitable future in showing that all the universe is a stage.

It was rejected by the networks for various reasons, but its makers say it has begun or will start on 146 TV stations this month and the next. So check your local listings. You too, Capt. Kirk.