The Catacombs Catacombs Reference Library
Criticism
Variety review

Daily Variety, Monday 27 September 1976
KHJ-TV Channel 9 was the independent TV station for Los Angeles that broadcast the series.

Space 1999, Sat. 7-8pm., KHJ-TV

One of the things to be said in favour of maligned primetime network television is that if it had ITC's syndicated Space 1999 to kick around there no way this plastic invader from outer nonsense would have lasted the first ear, let alone gone into annum two.

That, if nothing else. would have rescued those interplanetary prisoners, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, and returned them to the world of real acting. And it might have forced ITC to reclaim its big budget and spend it in the hopefully productive work of real entertainment.

It's getting so that a real space junkie has practically no place to turn on the tube for a fix. The suicidal trend of O.D.'ing in special effects seems not only to have contaminated the best in the still more or less earthbound American genre, Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman, but to have leaped the Atlantic and afflicted the already all too anaemic Space 1999.

All basic space ingredients are present as the new season goes into fitful orbit. There is the good planet and the bad planet; a forest of test tubes; canyons of computers; an overkill of push-buttons; papier mache performances; listless direction, and a sterile world polluted with space platitudes and cliches.

The only redeeming feature about this over-peopled and overdrawn epic is that it is frequently interrupted for long commercials and is forced to go into a week's remission at the end of an hour.

Catherine Schell, who behaves quite well given the ludicrous circumstances of her captivity, joins the resident troupe when she is rescued from the malevolent machinations of her self-destruct father, played with the requisite touch of villainy by Brian Blessed.

Space 1999, in renewal, is only a continuing embarrassment for Landau and Bain. Endowed by her evil father with the gift of molecular transformation, Schell at will can disappear, turn herself into a lion, a gorilla, a flower bush, a wolf.

Brian Johnson is the special effects director whose mission - not impossible - in life is to reduce flesh and blood performers to vegetating mutants. Nick Allder, special effects cameraman, commits Johnson's self indulgence to film.

John Byrne's script is a melange of interplanetary space junk hooked up to a larger than life pinball machine gone berserk. Fred Freiberger, late of Star Trek, is on board this year as the new story editor, which sure gives him a lot to answer for. Anderson still is around as executive producer, and the spaced-out space music is the contrivance of Barry Gray and Vic Elms [Actually Derek Wadsworth].

Britain's ITC boasts that the now $300,000 an episode show spins out for a claimed record series expenditure of $7,200,000 - making impossible to resist a Churchillian paraphrase that seldom has much been spent on so little.

Tush.