To Not-So-Boldly Go Where No Man has Gone Before…

In TV by Don Adams8 Comments

I only remember seeing Space: 1999 once or twice as a kid.  It must not have been available for long in Wisconsin, because I watched pretty much anything that came on the t..v back then. (My dad used to tell me that no one was going to pay me to watch t.v. when I grew up.  I’m an editor now.  A-HA!)  I especially kept an eye out for anything sci-fi-esque (or syfy-esque, for you kids of today).  My memory of the show was that the ships and the effects were really cool, but the people must have been forgettable, because I forgot them.  So this week I decided to sit down and watch the pilot…

Having made it through ‘Breakaway’ in two attempts — I fell asleep about half an hour in, woke up the next morning, and watched the rest — my impression of the show was pretty much reaffirmed:  Space: 1999 is like 2001: A Space Odyssey without the witty banter.

The production design and sets are great, but they reflect the traditional bleached look of science fiction movies, in which the future is so grey, you certainly don’t need to wear shades.  I’ve always thought that one of the many factors contributing to the ongoing success of the original STAR TREK was the eye-grabbing color palette the show used (only to go right back to a Bland New World look for ST: The Motion Picture.)

Where the 1999 pilot really drops the ball though is in the depiction of the moonbase’s alpha male, Commander John Koenig.  Of course, most tight-assed sci-fi leaders pale beside the computer-destroying, dropkicking, answer-demanding, chick magnet that is James T. Kirik, but get this:  When the moon is sent hurtling through space, leaving the earth further behind with every second, the computer flashes a screen that says HUMAN DECISION REQUIRED.  And here is the ‘solution’ that Koenig comes up with:   Determining that an attempt to get back to earth is too risky, he declares that our stranded heroes are NOT GOING TO TRY. This is his first big command decision, the introduction to a man the crew (and we, as viewers) are supposed to follow in the years to come.  Can you imagine James T. declaring that he is NOT GOING TO TRY?

The human decision that is now required from me is whether I am going to try and watch more episodes of Space: 1999

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