Saturday, July 16, 2011

Space: 1999

Space: 1999 Within science fiction fandom, it was a much-talked-about series. Derided by critics as Star Trek meets Lost in Space, a criticism later applied to Trek's Voyager spinoff, the series boasted excellent miniatures, visuals, sets, and a top-notch cast: stars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain were major reasons for the success of Mission: Impossible during its first few seasons, and Barry Morse's dogged role as the police officer chasing The Fugitive were intended to be big draws for this huge-budget series. Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, famous for The Thunderbirds Supermarionation series and UFO, and funded by Sir Lew Grade's ITC in Britain, the plan was for it to become an import to America on one of the three broadcast networks, along the lines of the success of The Avengers (as well as worldwide). Sadly, it didn't succeed. The episodes received mixed reviews, and while the series was renewed for a second season, budgets had to be slashed. Morse and others were let go, new cast members joined, and Fred Freiberger, veteran of many American series including Trek's third season, was brought in to handle the show. Ratings weren't strong enough for a third season, and after Star Wars exploded on the big screen, the show was largely forgotten except by its dedicated fans. Sadly and interestingly, the show was ahead of its time, and would probably do well today, both in terms of ratings and critical success. Many episodes compare favorably with episodes of the various Trek franchises, and 1999's near-contemporaries (though separated by the huge gulf of Star Wars) Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

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