Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 13th and Space 1999 - The day the moon was hurled out of orbit

It's been years since the date of September 13, 1999 has passed, but the moon still orbits the Earth...and is still unvisited by humans since the Apollo missions.

Between the years of the cancellation of Star Trek and the debut of Star Wars, Gerry Anderson's Space 1999 had its own unique style. From the tight-fitting uniforms to the funky opening music, Space 1999 is classic 1970s science fiction.

One of notable qualities of Space 1999 is humility. The inhabitants of the year 1999 do not have warp drive, light sabers, or a federation of mighty starships to explore the vast reaches of space.

The crew of Space 1999 are trapped on Moonbase Alpha, an outpost on Earth's moon flung into space when a pile of nuclear waste explodes and acts as an accidental rocket motor.

The survivors on Moonbase Alpha are cut off from Earth, forced to conserve their precious resources and dealing with the unknown. While rubbery aliens show up at times, loneliness and vacuum of deep space are bigger foes than Klingons or Stormtroopers.

Space 1999
is not as campy as Star Trek. Martin Landau's Commander Koenig is not the scenery-chewing and alien-maiden-seducing Captain Kirk. Disco-dance-floor worthy title music aside, the music score by Barry Gray echoes the somber string music used by Stanley Kubrick for the Discovery One scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. For a science fiction show, the presentation is amazingly mature...even if the computer terminals are occasionally revealed to be made of paper.

Years like 1999 and 2001 used to conjure up visions of a world much different than our own. Commentators and pop culture observers often flog the dead horse of how we do not have jetpacks or flying cars. While we don't have moonbases and Eagle Transporters, today's cellphones are slimmer than the comlink devices featured as one of Space 1999's futuristic tech gadgets.

The interior of Moonbase Alpha is spare and clean, reflecting the look of the 1970s, which has seen a recent resurgence in the appreciation of the fashions and design of that era.

The Eagle Transporters, the workhorse spacecraft of Space 1999, are surprisingly realistic. They are the great grandchildren of the lunar modules of the late 1960s, all grown up and sporting bigger engines. I doubt they could fly through the atmosphere of a planet like they do on the show, but's a TV show. And they make a great toy for any kid.

Here's the opening credits of Space 1999. Rock on in the 21st century to that theme music!

Space 1999 on Wikipedia
Space 1999 Catacombs - Resource guide
Martin Bower's Model World - Space 1999 spaceship models
Space 1999 tech section - Displaying the stun gun and comlink

No comments: