Space: 1999 returning to TV?
Eagles and staple guns reloaded
They've been rebooted, re-imagined and uncut, but now Space 1999 is getting its own on-screen revival next to sci-fi classics Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and Star Wars.
ITV Studios America and HDFilms are reported to be developing Space: 2099, a "contemporary re-imagination" of the Saturday morning staple from the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson power duo who gave us the stylish and practical Eagle transporter and a generation of men unable to resist the temptation to turn any harmless staple gun they found laying around into a sidearm.
HDFilms is one of the companies behind the 2009 update on TV channel ABC of the 1980s paranoia classic, they're humans-oh-no-they're-not-they're-mice-eating-green-lizards-here-to-dominate-us, V.
HDFilms president Jace Hall here called science fiction: "A powerful format capable of visualizing the human condition in thought-provoking ways."
Hall's clearly sat through Battlestar Galactica.
Hall continued: While we are indeed re-imagining the franchise and bringing something new and relevant to today's audiences... I feel strongly that some of the overall tones set by the original Space: 1999 television show represent an exciting platform to explore possibilities."
Space: 1999 was the work of the Andersons, the pair behind the wire-controller puppetry of Thunderbirds, Stingray, Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90 and live actioner UFO.
Space: 1999 came in the hunt for a successor to UFO and ran for just two seasons between 1975 and 1977. It told the story of boffins working on Moonbase Alpha who were propelled into fantastic adventures beyond imagination after a massive nuclear explosion on the moon on 13 September 1999 sent our little satellite planet into deep space.
The programme introduced us the graceful Doctor Helena Russell, the cranially gifted Professor Victor Bergman, shape-shifter and day-saver Maya, plucky chief pilot and Ozzie Alan Carter, and – yes – Commander John Koenig played by actor Martin Landau, who no matter how many grown-up roles he takes with Woody Allen or Tim Burton will, forever, be John Koenig.
Stylistically, Space: 1999 was of the 1970s with its funky-disco opener that previewed each week's episode. It was stuffed with hero shots, explosions, alien encounters and a re-cap of that fateful nuclear blast. It set hairs tingling on the backs of pre-teen necks setting down for some pure space action.
It was also a chip of the black obelisk of that seminal sci-fi film of that era, 2001: A Space Odyssey, from the colon in the name, to the Luna-bleached exterior shots of Moonbase Alpha, and, ahem, "computers" that served as blinking and chundering background props and did little actual computing. The boffins' flared, cream uniforms with obligatory colour flashes that denoted function were a firm nod to that other great influence of the era: Star Trek.
Space has come along way since 1975: we've jettisoned flares and story lines that worked around and avoided computers. And an update is overdue. Let's just hope that the Eagles and the staple guns make the cut. ®
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