The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
Great Birds of the Galaxy

Great Birds of the Galaxy by Edward Gross and Mark A Altman was published by Image in the US in 1992, and reprinted by Boxtree in the UK in 1994. Gross and Altman interviewed many Star Trek crew and cast for Starlog and other publications, and at least some of these interviews were turned into a series of unlicensed reference books including this one, focused on the producers and creative direction of the series.

Fred Freiberger is covered on pages 63-70, a chapter which opens with a nice picture of Gerry Anderson with Freiberger. Space: 1999 is covered only very briefly on page 69.

Freiberger's next genre effort took him to England, where he served as second season producer of Gerry Anderson's Space: 1999, the series that - believe it or not - had the moon blown out of orbit and sent hurtling to different galaxies where inhabitants of a lunar colony met alien lifeforms. Given full creative control over year two, the first thing Freiberger did was present an analysis of what he felt was wrong with the series.

"In the analysis," he explains, "l said that if you're appealing to an American audience - which they desperately wanted to do - you can't have the show take place in what looks like a big living room. They had a big living room rather than a spaceship, which is how it seemed to me. I said, You've got to streamline that.' Also, if you're going to have a professor, have a young guy with a beard, rather than someone like Barry Morse, who's a wonderful actor. But you want some youth in there and you want a love interest."

To this end, Freiberger created the characters Tony Verdeschi (Tony Anholt) and Maya (Catherine Schell), an alien who could transform herself into various creatures and objects by rear- ranging her molecules. Even the lives of stars Martin Landau (Commander John Koenig) and Barbara Bain (Dr, Helena Russell) were spiced up in an attempt to draw viewers.

"You have to have some tension," adds Freiberger in terms of what he tried to bring to show, "and someone that you care about. You have to care about the people when you see them in trouble. Also - and I guess this was my Star Trek influence - I felt that you can't automatically regard those you meet in space as the enemy. Whatever they're doing, they're doing out of their own needs and motivations. You're not going to be evil for the sake of being evil."

Most of Freiberger's suggestions were implemented, but Space: 1999 didn't survive past its second season. The producer nonetheless remembers the experience positively.

"As a matter of fact," he notes, "I liked it better than Star Trek, although it wasn't nearly as authentic. If you set up that you're travelling at warp eight in Star Trek, you've established what that is. But here, to think that the moon has been yanked out of orbit and sent hurtling with the necessary speed to get to another galaxy, was a bit hard to believe. But everyone accepted it, I thought it was great fun."

Space: 1999 copyright ITV Studios Global Entertainment