The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
Story Line? We'll See

Stories from the two major newspapers in Miami, Florida, USA, the Miami News and the Miami Herald.

Landau, Bain happy in space

By Sherry Woods, Miami News TV Radio editor (The Miami News, 13 August 1975)

Talking to Barbara Bain and Martin Landau can be almost as frustrating as trying to follow a championship ping pong match, while playing a game of your own at the next table.

She talks. He talks. Usually at the same time. Often about different things.

The thread that weaves it all together is Space: 1999, the new syndicated science fiction series in which they co-star. It will premiere on Channel 4 at 7 p.m. Sept 10.

It took them 16 months at London's Pinewood studios of the Independent Television Corporation to do the first season's 24 episodes.

Power shortages, three-day work weeks and other technical crises slowed down the first season's production. If the series goes, they could do another 24 in less time.

"We got better" Miss Bain laughs during an early morning interview at the Coconut Grove Hotel.

So did the machinery, which will give the show some of the best special effects and computer maneuvers since Star Trek went into the past tense.

The computer, in fact, is almost as important as the 311 people who reside on Moonbase Alpha when it is blasted out of earth's orbit to wander in the unknown.

"We're dependent on the computer" Landau explains.

"But we're ambivalent toward it" his wife chimes in.

"Sometimes we resent it because it tells us the answers and sometimes because it doesn't, because it leaves the decisions up to us" he adds.

The Landaus have a ready reply for those who wish to compare their series, done at a cost of six and a half million dollars, and Star Trek.

"Our show is only 25 years in the future," Landau explains. "My character was born in the 1950s, hers in the '60s. Star Trek was set 2,000 years hence."

The residents of Moonbase Alpha were up there "minding their own business" when they were blasted into space. They're not equipped to defend themselves or to survive in deep space.

"All we've got are a couple of lasers" Miss Bain says.

"They (the Star Trekkers) expected to encounter strange things."

Landau interrupts. "When we encounter something they would have shrugged off, we react as people today would."

Space: 1999 was the first series the two felt was worth considering during the years after they left Mission Impossible.

"We got a lot of offers for the Mr. and Mrs North kind of thing," Landau recalls.

They were literally sitting around the house one day when two men from ITC in England and the company's American-based president Abe Mandell rang their doorbell and suggested the science fiction show.

Tired of roaming the globe on films, such as "Cleopatra" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" Landau was ready to settle into series routine again. And they wanted to work together.

Married for 18 years, working together in TV and theatre during most of those years, the two have three rules that keep their marriage a happy one. They're her rules and he adheres to them.

"First: don't ever ask me to read another western script. If one comes in, he's on his own.

"Two: Don't ever take me to Palm Springs. I've never understood about the beauty of the desert. I'm from the East and I just don't understand it.

"And three: Never, ever, ever ask me to see 'Cleopatra' again."

Three viewings in two days when the film premiered was way more than enough.

Marooned! On an Out-Of-Orbit Moon

Miami Herald, 17 August 1975, TV Preview section p1, 3

Headlined "Space: 1999"; P1 Subtitle: Marooned! On an Out-Of-Orbit Moon

P3 Subtitle: The Moon Is A Spaceship On This Fanciful Voyage

By JACK ANDERSON Herald TV, Radio Editor

The countdown has started to ward the greatest catastrophe in earth's history. A nuclear explosion on the moon Wednesday night, Sept. 10, is going to hurl it - green cheese and all - out of our orbit and into outer space.

Let there be no last minute drawing up of wills or cringing in the porte-cocheres though. This scary business is strictly fictional, folks. It's another of television's fantasies, a new science-fiction series called "Space: 1999."

Not at all fictional is the price tag on this 21-episode series produced in England - $6,500,000. Which makes it the costliest gamble ever taken in the always risky market of syndicated programming.

IT'S THE kind of investment that would normally be made only in a commercial network-circulated series. But Britain's TV tycoon, Sir Lew Grade, and his Independent Television Corp., have marketed it to stations at large - 150 in this country and 100 others abroad.

It will be a 60-minute fixture at 7 on the Wednesday night schedule of Miami's WTVJ (Ch. 4).

Grade is reported to have offered the series to the ABC network over here, but the network wanted to commit itself only to the customary 13 weeks' running until its popularity had been tested in the autumn audience rating surveys. With a completed package of 24 instalments, Grade and his people elected instead to peddle the property themselves. Gathering from the sales figures, they hit a bonanza of broadcasters who felt their audiences were hungering for sciences fiction.

THERE'S LITTLE of it around on the airwaves. Only the eternally popular "Star Trek" is being aired locally, but that series is entirely in re-runs. All efforts by Gene Roddenbery, who produced "Star Trek," and other producers to encore that success have flopped.

Although filmed in England at London's Pinewood Studios, "Space: 1999" is largely American, creatively.

Its producers, the husband-and- wife team of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, its principal director, Lee H. Katzin, and its story editor, George Bellak all are American. So are two of its three stars - Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, another husband-and-wife team. [Gerry and Sylvia Anderson are British] Their co-star is Barry Morse, an English actor who scored his most memorable success playing an American, Police Lt. Gerard, in the long-running series, "The Fugitive."

VIEWERS WILL find "Space: 1999" big in production values. The money spent on it shows in the elaborate sets, the special effects (by Brian Johnson who created the special effects for Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey") in the costuming (by Rudi Gernreich) and the lush musical score.

This weekly series, like any other science-fiction yarn, will call for the viewer's willingness to let his imagination soar and a certain double parking of his sense of logic, to accommodate the dramatic license.

He has to believe that by the end of this century the nations of the earth have jointly established on the moon a depot for the disposal of the waste of the nuclear material which by then has become earth's principal source of energy.

It's a technologically elaborate depot - called Moonbase Alpha - with a maintenance force of 311, led by Commander Koenig (Landau). His chief aides are Dr. Helena Russell (Bain), his medical officer, and Prof. Victor Bergman, a scientist who created the moon project.

KOENIG AND a space team are about to use the base as a launching pad for a first exploration in outer space, a trip to a planet called Meta, when the moon's nuclear waste, buried underground, mysteriously begins to overheat.

Then suddenly, it blows up. The gigantic explosion almost wrecks Moonbase Alpha's fortress-like control center. It blows away one- eighth of the moon's surface and exerts enough to pressure to push the moon out of earth's orbit and send it flying off into space.

This of course sets the stage for the drama of how Moonbase Alpha's personnel survive and a series of strange encounters with other heavenly bodies and life forms on their runaway course.

"We're not a space series in the sense that 'Star Trek' was. We're out there by accident," said Landau who, with his wife, Barbara, was in Miami the other day for a pre-season promotion by Channel 4 of the new series.

"WE'RE ORDINARY people, born in the middle of this century. Maybe our technology will seem awfully advanced for just 25 years from now, but just think what has happened scientifically in the past 25 years. It doesn't seem so improbable."

Landau and wife, who expect to encounter a lot of guff from "Star Trek" fans in their cross-country tour, point out other dissimilarities. " 'Star Trek' takes place a thousand years later than ours. Its mission is deliberate space exploration with technical sophistication far surpassing ours. We just barely have enough expertise to survive.

"We're stuck on a damaged moon with only enough nuclear energy (which had been used for mining) to provide us with propulsion to get out of orbit of hostile stars and planets."

AND HE and Barbara outlined some pretty horrific experiences their congregation will have in the episodes to come. They're never able to propel themselves earth-ward again, however. And why not? "We're not sure the earth hasn't been wiped out by the moon's escape. We zoomed away too fast to get an earth report."

And we wouldn't want to bring the series to an abrupt end, would we? I suggested. Barbara's tigerish green eyes flickered. "Now you've got it!" she laughed.

For all the fictional rough stuff they've been through, working unceasingly for 20 solid months in London in their Gernreich space duds, the Landaus looked none the worse for wear when I lunched with them.

Now the Lunt-and-Fontanne of science-fiction drama, they're working together for the first time since their bitter, real-life blast-off from the "Mission: Impossible" series back in 1970.

THEY LEFT that one in a contractual dispute that still rankles. The details are too lengthy to go into here. Suffice it to say, the dispute was not over money, they both emphasize.

They expect to rejoin "Space: 1999" if it resumes production in December. "We should know by November whether to go back to London." Meanwhile they and their daughters, Susie, 15, and Julie, 10, will spend the summer back home in Beverly Hills, although dad may wing off to Montreal to do a quick movie.

Photo caption: In the year 1999, the moon has become a space station and a dumping ground for earth's nuclear wastes (above). When this waste explodes, knocking the moon out of orbit and injuring its inhabitants (Landau and Bain at upper right), the occupants of the space station begin a strange voyage encountering terrifying events and weird creatures (below right). It's all on a new syndicated TV show, 'Space: 1999,' premiering at 7 p.m., Wednesday. Sept. 10, Ch. 4.

"Space" Series Spectacular,
But Story Line? We'll See

JACK ANDERSON reviews THE NEW SEASON (Miami Herald, Thursday, September 11, 1975)

Wednesday night was a mixed bag of television viewing.

CBS introduced a lady lawyer series. "Kate McShane". NBC brought in a new medical one, "Doctors Hospital" ABC brought in new comedy. "When Things Were Rotten" and a police adventure, "Starsky and Hutch".

As if this pot-pouri of legal plea bargaining, clanging bedpans, zany comedy and police sirens were not enough, the moon blew up on Channel 4. That station premiered its new syndicated sci-fi series, "Space: 1999".

THOSE WHO tried to take in all this should be in need of a tranquillizer this morning.

Here - and on the following page - is how the new entries looked to your numb, but obedient servant.

In spite of all the derisive jazz I've been getting from my paranoid "Star Trek"-fan friends, I find "Space: 1999" intriguing viewing. If nothing else, this big science fiction extravaganza is restoring my interest in the moon, which began to wane after the astronauts left their footprints all over it.

As viewers of the premiere learned, the ball in the sky has become a lunar dumping ground for nuclear wastes from earth by the end" of this century, its storage supervised by earth-established Moonbase Alpha.

IT HAS also, as the yarn opens, become a jumping off place for space exploration by an expedition led by Commander Koenig (Martin Landau), Dr. Russell (Barbara Bain), a space medic, and Professor Bergman (Barry Morse), a space scientist.

But the space waste has over-heated, and in a spectacular series of special effects, the stuff blows up. Moonbase Alpha narrowly escapes being obliterated. The explosion is so powerful it blows the moon out or orbit, and now we"re off for 44 weeks of watching what happens as the moon and its hapless survivors as they spin off into space.

According to advance resumes I have of the episodes to come, Moonbase Alpha tenants are in for some hairy experiences.

This project, produced in Britain, has lavish production values - great sets, stunning special effects, rangy camerawork- and a cast of seasoned performers. Its story values remained to be tested in subsequent episodes.


Space show has one big flaw

By Sherry Woods, Miami News TV Radio editor (The Miami News, 24 Sept 1975)

Ever since a childhood friend created a life sized replica of Frankenstein and left him on my doorstep, science fiction and horror films have been something less than my favourite things.

Thankfully I wasn't covering television when Star Trek went around for the first time and I've never been forced to catch up.

When the promotion started for Space: 1999, I was only slightly more enthusiastic than I am when the dentist announces he wants to drill wells in my teeth ... to the nerves if possible.

The premiere episode went better than expected. The effects were good. There was plenty of evidence of the $6 million budget that had been lavished on the series. The storyline was reasonably intriguing.

A second episode was pre-screened with less enthusiasm, but I chalked my lack of response up to personal prejudice.

Then came a note from a true science fiction fan, an ardent admirer of Star Trek and all things scientific and futuristic.

Space: 1999, he wrote, commits one cardinal sin: It is dull.

I tuned in last week at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Channel 4 to check out his analysis. He's right. The show is rather dull and lifeless, despite all of its horrifying monsters and computerised antics.

Stars Barbara Bain and Martin Landau display about as much emotion and expression as robots, probably on the theory that by 1999 that's the way humans will behave.

Possibly, since it's the only science fiction offering around, Space: 1999 will satisfy the bulk of the fans of that genre, but it would be too bad if they had to go on settling for less than the best.

With its astronomical budget, the syndicated venture may have some episodes worthy of the sci-fi buffs who are about as loyal a bunch of viewers as any around.

Space: 1999 copyright ITV Studios Global Entertainment