Every now and then I like to take my ‘reputation’ (such as it is) in both hands and dive off the ten metre board and hope I don’t break my neck in the process. This is one such post, because I’m going to try and convince you that the second series of Space: 1999 isn’t quite as bad as you might have been led to believe, either by others or perhaps by your own memories of it.
I’ve already covered the first season of the show in an earlier post and catalogued many of the annoying faults and flaws that it possessed, from wooden acting and colourless characters to stories that think they’re being high-concept science fiction but which are actually metaphysical nonsense for the most part. Still, the show undoubtedly had something: at the time it was made it was the only genre show being made in the UK to rival Doctor Who and thanks to it being a Gerry Anderson production it had by far the better FX, while the lavish budget from Lord Lew Grade’s ITC meant the production values were probably higher than any other show being made in Britain at the time.
It was not, however, a huge ratings success. Its cold, sterile feel (aping 2001: A Space Odyssey which at the time was the presumed model for ‘grown-up’ science fiction as opposed to the ‘childish’ Doctor Who) made it a curiously joyless watch for the most part compared with the thrills of Anderson’s earlier shows such as Stingray, Thunderbirds and UFO, and with US ratings proving disappointing the show was cancelled at the end of its first run of 24 episodes. Anderson fought a valiant rear-guard action and brought in American producer Fred Freiberger to help him make the show more US-friendly, and between them they pitched a rebooted concept to Grade who finally agreed to green light a second season after all. Read the rest of this entry »