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"Space: 1999" Is Improved

Catherine Schell will join the new "Space: 1999"

"Space: 1999" Is Improved

By Ron Alridge (Boca Raton News, Florida, 17 Sept 1976)

When "Space: 1999" begins its new season on Sept. 18, it will be a better show.

As I've noted, the pilot for the syndicated science-fiction show's second season reveals some significant improvements.

Sets and costumes are more colorful, stars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain are more lively and the writing has improved, thanks largely to the addition of Fred Freiberger, formerly of "Star Trek," as producer-story editor.

But one of the changes sure to catch the public's eye quickest is the addition of Maya, a beautiful alien (remember Mr. Spock, "Star Trek" fans?) who can change herself into a variety of creatures, people and objects.

Playing that part will be Catherine Schell, the daughter of a Hungarian baron who, along with his family, fled his country and renounced his title when the Communists took over.

Miss Schell has acted in several movies, including "The Return of the Pink Panther" and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."

"I was pretty excited when I was told about doing it (the role of Maya)," Miss Schell, who admits she is no fan of science fiction, said during a recent trans-Atlantic telephone discussion of "Space: 1999."

She has never seen a "Space: 1999" show from the first season (which is just as well), but she thinks the second season is rich with good shows.

"I am very happy with many of the scripts..," she says. "I think the writing is good."

Miss Schell is a "Star Trek" fan, and she knows that show is destined to be compared with "Space."

"Star Trek takes place many, many, many years in the future," she says, citing one difference between the two programs. She also notes that props and sets can bought more cheaply in England, where "Space" is produced, so, in her opinion (not mine), "Our show looks more expensive than 'Star Trek' does."

As for inevitable comparisons between Maya and "Star Trek's" logical Mr. Spock, she says: "I think Spock and I are completely different... Maya is a far more emotional person."

Indeed, Maya is even going to have a love affair, but nothing very serious, according to Miss Schell.

This is probably going to be a telling year for "Space." I expect the show will have a hard time surviving if one of the networks doesn't pick it up after this year. Miss Schell guardedly reports a rumor that some network is interested. It "could be" CBS, she acknowledges, chuckling but refusing to say for sure what network is linked to the rumor.

CBS President Bob Wussler has said he wants to put a good science fiction show on the air by January, 1977.

With Catherine Schell and all those other changes coming along, the station may have to think about moving "Space: 1999" a little closer to prime time after the second season gets rolling.