Space: 1999 Review
An Adventure As Big As The Universe
By Scott Michael Bosco
Year One Slide Show
SPACE 1999 made history by creating a new way to syndicate a series. The company that owned it, I.T.C. created their own Network across the country upon its release. Each local station that agree to show it assumed a position within the Network. The show was seen across the country in various time slots.
When the time came for Year 2, it was done again. Allowing the show to be seen, in every part of the country. Each episode was cut to fit into each time slot as well – with N.Y. and L.A. being the location that had the most commercials.
When the show was made available onto Laserdisc it appeared un-cut for the first time with up to 12 mins added.
With STAR TREK in syndication it quickly became the standard for Sci-fi and how it was to be formulated. SPACE 1999 found itself put up against that new standard, right or wrong. Many in articles of the day found the show to lack personality, in characterization and depth. Yet none accepted the fate of the crew’s one way adventure, and non-propelled transit through the cosmos. Still, it became a standard and found it place within the sci-fi.Known for its special effects the show grew in popularity and created a main stream for fans divided between the two series.
Year 2 Slide Show
For Year 2, a new American Producer was brought to conquer problems that had been brought up by critics. The husband and wife team had separated (Jerry & Sylvia Anderson), and Freddie Freibeger entered the fold (Star Trek, The Six- Million Dollar Man, Starsky, & Hutch). Good or bad the differences was very apparent especially with the addition of Maya, an alien who was able to transform herself in to other living things. In was in the 90’s when was working with A&E that I first mention that the show needed a restoration and remastering. It was then I had written up a proposal for SPACE to be put on that list to ensure the show would make it into the new millennium. At the time the company that own the show was about to be bought and the option was put on hold for a few years – until it became Granada. Work began on the first season right off. Originally, it was agreed that A&E would pay for a third but they backed out leaving Network to enter in and procure the final third needed. It was Network who did the new 5.1 stereo mix. By the time Year 2 was being done A&E had left, leaving Network alone.
7 Discs, Approx, 20hrs., 48.mins., 1.33:1, DTS-HD, Dolby 5.1, Original Mono, Digitally Restored, High Definition Transfers, Music Only Tracks on all episodes except “Breakaway” & “Dragon’s Domain” Anderson Commentary on “Breakaway” & “Dragon’s Domain”, HD Image Galleries of Rare and Unseen Stills, HD Image Galleries of Gum and Cigarette Cards. HD Restored Textless Titles, “These Episodes: Featurettes, “Memories of Space” Featurette, Sylvia Anderson Interview, Series One Testless Generic Titles, “Concept and Creation” Featurette, Special Effects and Design Featurette, Text Episode Commentaries on “The Last Sunset” and “Space Brain” Clpperboard Two-Part Special on The Eork of Gerry Anderson from 1975, “Guardian of Piri Remember” Barry Gray’s Theme Demo, Alternative Opening and Closing Titles, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain US Premier Intro and Outro, SFX Plates and Deleted SFX Scenes – with music track.
The new 5.1 mix is wonderful. Sounds are used, almost in a gimmicky way. In “Ring Around the Moon” the alien probe is heard from all major speakers. Later in that same episode there is a terrific sound that travel around from front to back when Helena is captured. In “Black Sun” there is a wonderful echo from the voice within. In, “The Last Enemy” the voices from the communications is heard everywhere. Truly excellent.
There are some episodes where the sound is less aggressive and for that reason less impressive such as “Breakaway”, but in all an excellent job.
The image quality is excellent. From coloring, to contrast, to clarity. Never has the series looked this good. Always, in the past, the series has been seen only from 16mm, never the 35mm. Even in past DVD editions, though it stated it was from 35mm, it was really 16mm.
Those who worked on this edition actually make a color key so each and every episode was as the other. The entire series has the same tone. The moonbase, outfits, and such are always the same.
Yes there are some scratches but in a whole the series has never looked this good.
Mine came with a slip cover, which is the same as the cover on the snap case. Episodes are clearly marked on the discs so there is no need for a booklet or listing on packaging. Although this might be a cheap way of doing things it greatly makes up for the need of the same info anywhere else.
The menu design is clean and nice. It is easy to navigate though. ….it is a bit better than the usual A&E designs
6 Discs, 48.mins., 1.33:1, DTS-HD, Dolby 5.1, Original Mono, Digitally Restored, High Definition Transfers, Music Only Tracks on all Episodes, Unexposed: Behind the scenes of series Two, Stock Footage Archive: Alternate takes and unused shots, Production Audio: Original source recordings for material from four episodes, Cosmos: !999 a stop=motion fan film from 1979, Martin Landau: in-depth interview from 1994, Archive interviews with cast and crew, Seed of destruction – Series One Version: a second series episode presented in the style of the first series, Outtake: a blooper feature on “It’ll Be All Right on the Night, Trailers and Promos: contemporary promotional material for the UK and US, Behind the Scenes – Model Shop: footage taken during The AB Chrysalis – with Brian Johnson commentary, Clean second series titles, Image galleries of rare and previously unseen stills, Script and annual PDFs.
The new 5.1 mixes are very good. Dialog is centered, always. But it is the music that stands out. It is rich and dynamic. The new mixes really uses the music, spreading it out as never before. The source material seems to have survived better that Year One. The tonal quality is much cleaner than Year One.
Certain sound effects have been steered – the travel tube, from right to left, can be heard. Eagles are heard flying from the front to the back. If you have an Atmos set-up you will hear it fly up over you and then behind. Although it was never mixed for Atmos it does cross over well.
As with the sound the image quality is better than Year One as well. It is crisp, clear and super sharp. Colors are bold and rich.
I did have to turn up the color a bit to get the right saturation however. Otherwise skin tones will seem a bit off and bleak. There is a wider color palette in Year Two and this transfer captures it all.
All of Year Two is in one snapper case. Not a problem until one realizes that all information, episode listing, is on the inside of the cover. The first and last discs block this info making the info hard to read. One must remove the disc in question. There is no booklet – having one would have solved this problem. The release is simple really which is why there is not booklet to support the viewer’s needs.
The main screen or menu is rather simple and not done very well. Definitely not as well as the American A&E one for Year One.
The discs played fine on my OPPO with region changer.
SIGHTS & INSIGHTS
More important than anything is the fact that both seasons have been released on BD. Having both allows a comparison between the two. The down to earth no nonsense approach of the first; and the free adventurous spirit of the second.
This year marks the 40th Anniversary for Year 2 and that has been broached by FANDERSON who has released a 40th Anniversary Edition of the Year 2 soundtrack. The first has also been released in the same manner. Both are available via fanderson.org.uk, if you join.
SPACE: 1999 was born from a time when STAR TREK was king and a new show was needed to fill the gap. For many it was a hit, for others is missed completely.
I was a consultant for the series for over 20 years, as it appeared on Beta/VHS/Laserdisc/DVD and now BD. Although I had nothing to do with the currently two releases I can say I’ve basically very happy with the way both have been handled.
Hopefully, Year 2 will find it way to the American shores. Hopefully, Year 2 will find it way to the American shores.
It’s very annoying to think that A&E has the rights within this country and hasn’t the plans to release Year 2.
Actually, it seems that would actually be in the hands of either LIONSGATE or perhaps even SHOUT. With SHOUT having released THUNDEBRIDS, CAPTAIN SCARLET, and FIREBALL XL5 it would seem logical that they would have the rights to SPACE as well.
The first Year release was basically a NETWORK re-release. It has all the features, in terms of bonus material.
Incidentally, the excellent bonus short (which actually runs over 1h. 35 mins.) on the Year ! release of SPACE, entitled “THESE EPISODES” is excellent. It traces two of the screenplay writers reactions to the finished product. Some excellent material is on tap here and well worth a look.
Much of what is available here in terms of bonus material is archival. That is itself is great. It’s wonderful to have titleless shots, galleries, and the like. But having interviews with those who worked on the series is priceless. It there within that realm the real fortunes are made known.
NETWORK had released DESTINATION MOONBASE ALPHA, the re-edited edition of the Year 2, two-parter previous and that has since become a collectable.
SPACE: 1999 may be deeply rooted in the past, but it lives on. Not only as a TV outing, but as a primary force that changed Sci-fi and rooted itself deeply into the consciousness thousands of followers.
Copyright SMB/THE DIGITAL CINEMA