Space: 1999 – Season One (1975 – 1976/A&E Blu-ray Set)
B+ Sound: B Extras:
B+ Episodes: B+
Though Star Trek was cut off prematurely for
fans, it may have been lucky for what became the franchise in the long run as
the show could have never competed with the reputation of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) in the
visual effects department, which grew slowly but surely after its original
theatrical release. By 1969, the
producers of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet were producing the
sci-fi classic U.F.O., with model
work ahead of Trek. Yet fans of these shows wanted more and they
were doing well in syndication.
Something seemed to have gone unfinished and many outer space shows (The Starlost, Space Academy (both reviewed elsewhere on this site)) resulted.
a show that could take the next step after the advanced concepts Trek was trying to develop was not
begin realized on a large scale and Trek
itself became an animated TV show briefly before a feature film franchise, so
it would not fulfill what it originally set out to do and those belated live
action sequel series were too late to apply here. There is also the possibility that no show
would show up to succeed at that, but for at least its first season, one did.
intended as a larger continuation of U.F.O.,
Gerry & Sylvia Anderson (in what turned out to be their final work together
after so many landmark accomplishments) changed their development around as U.F.O. was losing ratings interest (a
great show that deserved at least a few more seasons itself) so they created a
new series. It would be bolder and more
challenging than even U.F.O. and
offered ideas that would challenge the best Trek shows and really picked up where that show left off. Starting production in 1974, Space: 1999 was a huge international
hit all the U.S. Networks turned down and the resulting Season One was an unqualified success.
Grade (still running ITC at the time) was constantly trying to have a hit with
a big Hollywood star or two and with this series, finally got his wish with
Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, still very respected from their work on the
early, best seasons of the original Mission:
Impossible. Sylvia Anderson wanted
Robert Culp from the hit I Spy, but
Grade took the couple because it was a dealmaker and the show went into
ITV and Network U.K.
have followed up their terrific Blu-ray release of the Patrick McGoohan classic
The Prisoner (not reviewed, but very
highly recommended) with this amazing Season
One set. The 24 episodes are as
follows in original broadcast order with title/writer(s)/director/comments:
“Breakaway” (Pilot episode; George
Bellak/Lee H. Katzin) – Philip Madoc and Lon Satton (Live & Let Die) star in the show where it all begins as a huge
nuclear explosion causes earth’s moon to leave planetary orbit, carrying the
311 member crew of Moon Base Alpha with it.
“Force Of Life” (Art Wallace & Johnny
Byrne/Charles Crichton) – Ian McShane (Deadwood,
Lovejoy) is targeted by an alien
force trying to take over the Moonbase in this interesting episode with Horror
elements, also starring Gay Hamilton (Barry
“Collision Course” (Anthony Terpiloff/Ray
Austin) - Not well-rounded tale of a planet replacing an asteroid Alpha just
destroyed to save their base, with Margaret Leighton.
“War Games” (Christopher Penfold/Charles
Crichton) - Not bad show about a war that hits Alpha badly, but when they go to
the planet below to get help, they find a group that wants to be left alone in
interesting show with Anthony Valentine (Raffles, Callan) very good as
mysterious lead male alien. Isla Blair
“Death’s Other Domain” (Anthony Terpiloff
& Elizabeth Barrows/Charles Crichton) – Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon (1980))
and John Shrapnel are members of an older civilization who have attained
immortality, or so they think, when the Alpha Team flies by.
“Voyager’s Return” (Johnny Byrne/Bob
Kellett) - Not good, but its influence on 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture is obvious and guest stars Jeremy
Kemp and Barry Stokes are a plus.
“Alpha Child” (Christopher Penfold/Ray
Austin) - Guest stars Julian Glover (For
Your Eyes Only) in story of how Alpha’s first born baby starts growing at
an insane rate, possessed by an alien force up to no good. Cyd Hayman also stars.
“Dragon’s Domain” (Christopher
Penfold/Charles Crichton) - Featuring an exceptional voice over by Barbara
Bain, this smart episode has an Eagle Pilot (Gianni Garko) facing disaster
after an event has practically ruined his career and he will be tested almost
the same way again. Susan Jameson and
Michael Sheard also star.
“Mission Of The Darians” (Johnny
Byrne/Ray Austin) - Guest stars Joan Collins; once again, Collins punctuates a
famous series with an appearance as she had done for Batman (as Siren), the British Roald
Dahl’s “Tales Of The Unexpected” (the “Neck”
episode), and “City On The Edge Of
Forever” (considered by many to be the best of all the original Star Trek episodes). Dennis Burgess and Aubrey Morris (A Clockwork
Orange) also star.
“Black Sun” (David Weir/Lee H. Katzin) –
The episode where they makers address the idea of a Black Hole with Paul Jones
(Peter Watkins’ Privilege) that is
more interesting than you might expect.
“Guardian Of Piri” (Christopher Penfold/Charles
Crichton) The first Catherine Schell show, but not as the Maya character she’d
play later in the entire next season, while the show plays like Zardoz-lite, about a computer that has
made life perfect… too perfect! Michael
Culver also stars.
“End Of Eternity” (Johnny Byrne/Ray
Austin) - Guest stars Peter Bowles (The
Avengers) as invulnerable, sick, evil alien out to kill and take over Alpha
at all costs.
“Matter Of Life & Death” (Art Wallace
& Johnny Byrne/Charles Crichton) – Dr. Russell (Bain) sees her dead husband
is still alive, but something else may really be going on in this solid show
also starring Stuart Damon.
“Earthbound” (Anthony Terpiloff/Charles
Crichton) - Guest stars Christopher Lee as the dangerous alien Captain Zandor
in this classic episode.
“The Full Circle” (Jesse Lasky Jr. &
Pat Silver/Bob Kellett) - Not so effective but somewhat ambitious show that
pits Alpha against dangerous primitives.
“Another Time, Another Place” (Johnny
Byrne/David Tomblin) - Guest stars Judy Geeson (Star Maidens) in this parallel worlds episode where a time warp
causes the split. Well done.
“The Infernal Machine” (Anthony Terpiloff
& Elizabeth Barrows/David Tomblin) – Allows guest stars Leo McKern to ham
it up as an amusing villain for the show with a bizarre spaceship to match.
“Ring Around The Moon” (Edward Di
Lorenzo/Ray Austin) – An exceptional show with a crew member (Max Faulkner)
apparently killed by a mysterious force, but that force has other ideas.
“Missing Link” (Edward Di Lorenzo/Ray
Austin) - Appropriately eerie Peter Cushing guest star turn as an alien who can
possess the human soul is a really good show.
“The Last Sunset” (Christopher
Penfold/Charles Crichton) - A mixed show about another alien force, this one
sends a missile that attaches itself to an Eagle ship, only to deliver an
earth-like atmosphere to the moon, but this could soon cause permanent damage
to Moon Base Alpha so the crew has to do something before it is too late.
“Space Brain” (Christopher
Penfold/Charles Crichton) – Another interesting episode where a pilot (Shane
Rimmer) survives a sighting of a strange, colorful force in space near Alpha,
but it has a special intelligence that sends hieroglyphics throughout Alpha’s
computer system and has plans unbeknownst to all of them.
“The Troubled Spirit” (Johnny Byrne/Ray
Austin) – Lead Alpha Botanist Dan Mateo (Giancarlo Prete) thinks he can
communicate with plants, but this all backfires when his experiment turns into
a nightmare for all of Alpha. Hilary
Heath and Anthony Nicholls also star.
“Testament Of Arkadia” (Johnny
Byrne/David Tomblin) – An Alpha team lands on the planet Arkadia thinking they
may have found a part of earth’s past, but something is not adding up and two
rogue Alphans with their own plans may endanger everyone. Orso Maria Guerrini (The Conformist) and Lisa Harrow (Star Maidens) also star.
“The Last Enemy” (written and directed by
Bob Kellett) – This last of the great episodes has its moments as Alpha drifts
into the middle of a war between two planets.
Kevin Stoney also stars.
Blu-rays have retained the order of the A&E DVD set, which goes as follows:
Breakaway/Matter Of Life And Death/Black Sun/Ring Around The Moon/Earthbound
BD Two: Another
Time, Another Place/Missing Link/Guardian Of Piri/Force Of Life/Alpha Child
The Last Sunset/Voyager’s Return/Collision Course/Death’s Other Domain/Full
BD Four: End
Of Eternity/War Games/The Last Enemy/The Troubled Spirit/Space Brain
BD Five: The
Infernal Machine/Mission Of The Darians/Dragon’s Domain/Testament Of Arkadia
give you some idea about how the show is, but does not begin to really convey
how good the show really is. You have to
see it to believe it and this Blu-ray set delivers it in a way no one at the time
of its original release could have imagined.
You have to see the show to believe it and it belongs on the Blu-ray
shelf with the three original seasons of Star
Trek the way GoodFellas belongs
on the shelf with The Godfather. It is just an amazing show and Blu-ray shows
that it has only become better with age.
1.33 X 1 full color digital High Definition image (centered in a 1.78 X 1
frame) on all the episodes were shot in 35mm film and color was by Rank
Labs. Though there are some variances in
quality between episodes, they are limited and these transfers are
stunning. As restored by the BBC, they
have nicely reconstructed the opening credits as well as very faithfully
reproduced the color, depth and definition of every episode here. Unless you have a really good 16mm or 35mm
film print of a given episode, your copies are obsolete as compared to the
incredible clarity and color reproduction through all the episodes.
Frank Watts, B.S.C. (The Avengers, Department S, Jason King, The Protectors,
Return Of The Saint) shots these
shows and they have never looked better.
Each episode has several demo shots for the best HDTV home theater
set-ups around and those shots even rival some of the best stills I have ever
seen of the show and they are many. It
looks like you could almost walk into many of the sets, though some do look
stage-bound and some can look dated, but even the model work often looks
terrific. Some model work is not as
good, some matte work looks dated and you can even see strings and other things
you might miss in low definition, but color is exceptional and once again,
someone stored the film elements very well.
At least for this first season of the show, the use of color is exceptional
for any TV show, science fiction or
otherwise. Many Blu-rays of feature
films from 1974 – 1976 do not look this good.
be noted that Brian Johnson was credited as creating visual effects on 2001: A Space Odyssey by Landau in some
taped intros, which is not accurate. He
did work on the film, which had four effects teams, but he was an uncredited
assistant. However, he did great work
here and moved on to Alien, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens and DragonHeart, so he was a key part of the show’s success.
there is the sound. The Bonus Features
listing on the back of the case misidentifies the Blu-rays as having Dolby
Digital 5.1, while below that orange box of text is an also-inaccurate DTS-HD
Master Audio logo also claiming a 5.1 mix.
In fact, the sound on each episode is available as Dolby Digital 2.0 448
kbps Mono and upgraded regular DTS 5.1 sound.
I liked the DTS best, though the sound is a little too much in the
center channels, but it is richer, smoother and fuller as compared to even the
PCM 2.0 Mono on the old 12” LaserDiscs of double episodes that were issued a
long time ago. Other flaws include
dialogue issues at times, some harmonic distortion on the original audio in
general and minor shortcomings that are not too bad, but come through as
compared to the 5.1 mixes you get on better films and TV shows today.
would have been nice, but very expensive would have been to get all the music,
dialogue, sound stems and sound effects (this includes music sampled from other
shows!) and retransfer all of it in the best possible audio format (we would
suggest Direct Stream Digital with its single giant megabit (sampled 2.8
Million times!) used on the still-alive Super Audio CD format) from (likely
already done) restoration and preservation of the original elements and then
remix from there. At least for this
season, it would be worth it and going 7.1 would not be a bad idea either.
Barry Gray would also do his final work for Gerry & Sylvia Anderson on this
first season, which includes the great theme song (better than the second and
last season) which included a Rock genre bridge played by Vic Elmes (credited
as Elms here) in what may people thought was a Disco theme. That genre was just arriving.
here include some from the old DVD MegaSet and some brand new ones. This includes isolated music score tracks for
all but two of the episodes in Dolby Digital 2.0 448 kbps sound, excluding Breakaway and Dragon’s Domain, both of which Gerry Anderson happens to offer
audio commentary tracks on. Too bad
three from a bonus DVD for the MegaSet (Death’s
Other Domain with fan and collector Scott Michael Bosko, Dragon’s Domain with writers Christopher
Penfold (Season One story advisor)
and Johnny Byrne and Testament Of Arcadia
(with Sylvia Anderson)) are sadly missing.
galleries are all in HD and include stills for all episodes, behind the scenes,
collectible cards and promo shots. The
textless opening and closing titles have also been upgraded to HD. Two bonus DVDs are included and add the Landau/Bain
videotaped intro and outro for the premiere of the pilot shows, SFX Plates
& Deleted SFX Scenes with Music Tracks, Alternative Opening & Closing
Sequence with all futuristic computer font text, Barry Gray’s Theme Demo set to
a sample of the opening credits, Series One/Season One Textless Generic Titles,
Text episode Commentary on The Last
Sunset and Space Brain episodes, Two-Part
Clapperboard episode documentary
special from 1975 on Gerry Anderson, four featurettes (These Episodes, Memories Of
Space, Concept & Creation, Special Effects & Design), trailer
previews for the telefilms made out of pairings of episodes on this set and a
new interview with Sylvia Anderson on the shows she produced before her
separation with Gerry Anderson and departure from Space: 1999.
not want Landau or Bain, worked with them, then she explains bluntly how they
were very difficult for her to work with.
When she left, many people who made the show great either followed her
or were purged from the show. Barry
Morse left, while some were fired and never told why. Others lost included Prentiss Hitchcock (who
did work for Lew Grade again on Return
Of The Saint), Anton Phillips (same as Hitchcock) Clifton Jones, Zienia
Merton (whose career continued on shows like Return Of The Saint and The
Sarah Jane Adventures), Suzanne Roquette, Sarah Bullen (who continued to
work on shows like The Sandbaggers),
many extras and stuntpeople were gone, the Gray/Elmes theme song was dropped
and even landmark costume designer Rudi Gernreich (the creator of the topless
bathing suit and 1960s Mod look) was dropped and shown the door.
and Bain were accused of being wooden on the show, but it was not meant to be a
space opera, but a ‘hard science’ science fiction adventure show. This would all be abandoned for the next
season, which we will take a closer look at when the Blu-ray arrives.
read more about the restoration at this link:
order this A&E Region A-locked Blu-ray set from Amazon.com through our site
and Network U.K.’s Region B locked Blu-ray set which is practically the same
set at this link:
- Nicholas Sheffo