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Toledo Ohio press

A Martin Landau interview and review of the series from the Toledo Blade, the largest newspaper of Toledo, Ohio, USA.

Martin Landau in New Space Series

Early preview by Norman Dresser (Thursday 24 July 1975).

If you've been wondering why Martin Landau has not been seen much on the big or little screen for the last year or so, the reason is that the actor has been far out in space for some 16 months.

Well, that's not to be taken literally. Actually, he has been in England's Pinewood Studios filming "Space: 1999" one of the most ambitious syndicated television series ever undertaken.

Landau and his wife, Barbara Bain, working together for the first time since their memorable "Mission: Impossible" TV series, started on the "Space" project in December. 1973 and only recently completed the final segment in the 24-episode science-fiction series.

Produced by Independent Television Corp. at a cost of $6.5 million, the new series will make its premiere in September on some 150 American TV outlets, including Toledo's Ch. 24. "Space: 1999" tentatively has been blocked in weekly on the station's schedule at 7 p.m. Saturdays, beginning Sept. 13.

In addition, the series has been sold in more than 100 countries around the world making it one of the most broadly disseminated first-run programs in the history of television.

Landau called the other day from his home in Hollywood to report on what he has been up to lately and to beat the drums, discreetly, for "Space: 1999." Since, like most top performers, he's a voluble and smooth talker, Landau made the listening easy.

He waxed enthusiastically about working in England.

"It's great to live abroad," he said. "Both Barbara and I enjoyed working in England. We brought the children, too, of course, and it was a rare experience for them. We put the two girls (aged 14 and 10) in the American School in London. Meeting English children and grown-ups broadened their interests and it certainly was a lot different from going to school in Hollywood."

Landau found that making a TV series in England was in some respects radically different from working in Hollywood.

"For one thing, English crews don't like overtime, so we worked almost normal business hours, and often had weekends to ourselves." he said. "That's a lot different than Hollywood, where 12-hour days aren't at all unusual."

Landau was asked how It felt to be reunited with his wife in a TV series, and whether teaming together professionally presented personal problems.

"The answer to the first part of your question is 'wonderful.' and as to the problems this poses, the answer is 'none.' I guess it depends on what kind of a marriage you have, but Barbara and I have always worked well together. I don't recommend it to every married acting couple, but it's fine with us."

Landau, who has been on stage and in movies and television, was asked which medium he preferred.

"Well, perhaps the stage is more fulfilling personally, and when you're out there in front of an audience, you're on your own - without retakes, without the help of film editing and other technical aids." he said.

"At the same time, the pressures of television or movies are greater. You're on in front of a camera, whether it's 8 a.m. and you're sleepy and cross. Or 6 p.m. and you're tired and emotionally drained. And the exposure of TV is staggering. More people can see you in one show than a lifetime on stage."

The premise of the series is that in 1999 the moon is blasted by a thermonuclear accident out of earth's orbit. On it are some 300 men and women from earth stationed on Moonbase Alpha. As the moon careens inexorably away from earth, the inhabitants of Alpha must find a compatible planet on which to settle.

'Space: 1999' Great Sci-Fi Fare

by Norman Dresser (13 September 1975).

Hold on to your hats, science-fiction fans. The most spectacular television space launch yet will take place at 7 tonight on Ch 24 with the premiere of "Space 1999."

I can pay this new British - made syndicated series no higher compliment than to say that the fantastic special effects compare favorably with those in Stanley Kubrick's great movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey."

In almost every aspect, "1999" appears to be one of the big successes of the 1975-76 season. Its large cast is headed by Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, and Barry Morse. Even aside from the special effects, the production is absolutely top-notch. A lot of money and talent has been poured into this series, and it shows.

In a nutshell, the series deals with what happens after the moon Is blown out of its earth orbit and heads for deep space, carrying with it some 300 inhabitants on Moonbase Alpha, an international defense bastion to protect the earth against invaders.

With Alpha intact, the moon careens away from earth. It can never return, and becomes the only world for its inhabitants, whose goal is to find a compatible planet on which to settle.

The premiere episode depicts the catastrophe on the moon, caused by a series of spectacular thermonuclear explosions that tear away portions of the moon and force it out of orbit.

Despite the necessity of establishing the characters and explaining the basic premise of the series, the first episode contains explosive action, maintained at an almost unremitting pace.

Landau plays Cmdr. John Koenig, head of Moonbase Alpha. A former astronaut, Koenig is an outstanding leader and a self-assured man. Landau's rugged good looks and quiet underplaying of the role make him ideal for this part.

Miss Bain (Mrs. Landau in private life) is Dr. Helena Russell, chief medical officer at the base and a close associate, professionally and personally of Commander Koenig. In the first episode, Miss Bain had little to do but look attractive, which she does very well, indeed.

The other leading character is Professor Bergman, a scientist who had much to do with the establishment of the base. He's played by Barry Morse, and in the first episode he spends most of his time looking grim.

Tonight's segment contains dialogue that tends to become a bit hokey at times. While "1999" is almost the equal to "2001" in its special effects and production values, it contains none of the profundities of Kubrick's masterpiece. But this series is designed as pure entertainment, and In that respect it is a spectacular success.

"Space: 1999" also poses a serious threat to network television. It has been sold to nearly 150 American stations, about 90 per cent of which are affiliated with the networks. Some 70 affiliates are broadcasting the series in prime time, pre-empting network shows.

This will hurt the networks, especially because many of the pre-emptions are of new programs. If "1999" Is a success, other syndicators may attempt the same strategy and the networks may face a revolt from affiliates strong-armed to accept series they know are likely to fall.

One other station in this area has purchased "1999." Windsor's CBET (Ch. 9) will broadcast the series at 7 p.m. Saturday, starting next week. So if you're forced to miss tonight's premiere on Ch. 24, you can tune It In next Saturday on Ch. 9. If you like solid entertainment and spectacular action don't miss "Space: 1999."