Space: 1999 Series 2 Disc 1 Review

The Film
As you may or may not know I have already reviewed the first series of Space:1999 in two reviews. Part 1 is here and part 2 is here. Here I am just reviewing the first disc of season 2, which contains 4 episodes. Season 2 of Space:1999 is about as different from season 1 as you could possibly imagine.

Firstly the fantastic theme tune is completely changed for the worse, which is an ominous foreboding. Secondly the sets have been compressed so that the main command area is a quarter of the size of the original and Koenig doesn’t get his own office. Also three main characters inexplicably vanish (Kanu, Paul and my personal favourite Dr Bergman) and the pace of the shows is upped as well as the action quotient.

The reason for this is that the series didn’t go down too well in the U.S. and funding of the second series was dependant on making the show faster paced, more dynamic and less thoughtful. In other words they wanted it to be more like Star Trek. The sad fact is that these changes did no good at all and Space:1999 was cancelled after the second season. I would have preferred them to have stuck to the initial concept and gone out in a blaze of glory instead of this weaker second season.

Basically the only thing holding the show together now is Martin Landau and some not too bad story ideas. Barbara Bain is as wooden as ever and seems to sleep walk through her scenes. Keonig really needs his old pal Bergman to bounce off and it’s quite obvious that this coupled with the cheaper looking sets and poorer storylines make the second season a pale imitation of the first. Oh and don’t get me started on the comedy interludes that blight certain episodes.

One of the main additions to the show is a new character called Maya (Schell), a metamorph who they meet in the first episode of season 2. Unfortunately she seems tacked on, as her character’s background is never explored properly. In the introduction episode she seems naïve and lacking in knowledge. Yet in the very next episode she is a valued officer and seems to know Alpha like the back of her hand, very odd.

I shall now quickly rundown each episode on this disc in my customary manner…

Episode 1 – Metamorph – An inauspicious start to say the least. Brian Blessed guest stars (as he did in Season 1 episode 14 – Death’s other dominion) as the ruler of a planet that is doomed and he needs mental power to regenerate the planet. His plan to get it is to use the Alphans in a rather nasty way and his naïve daughter Maya thinks he is getting the power by kissing fluffy bunnies or something. The pace is fast and nothing is really explained. The episode isn’t given time to bed in as it was in season 1 and everything feels rushed as if everyone is desperate to finish it off. The end result is Maya leaves and becomes part of the Alpha crew. The acting is pretty bad throughout and Landau looks like the only man on set who has acted before. Oh and there is some subplot about a pair of bad actors who are married and he might be dead and she’s upset, awful…

Episode 2 – Exiles – The guest star is none other than the star of Flash Gordon and Blue Peter… yes it’s Peter Duncan. A group of missiles headed for Alpha end up orbiting the moon. Investigation shows that these are actually suspended animation pods. The Alphans defrost two and discover Duncan along with his female partner. I think we can guess what is going to happen as it has happened more than once in season 1. The aliens aren’t all that they seem and they try to use Alpha for their own nefarious purposes. Koenig and the Alphans win through in the end as usual. This isn’t a bad episode at all; in fact it could easily sit amongst any of the season 1 episodes. The only flaw here is the very odd comedy scene between Koenig, Maya and Dr. Russell. The scene has nothing whatever to do with the plot and everyone is so far out of character it is scary. A comedy ending is also tacked on which is just as incongruous, very odd indeed.

Episode 3 – One Touch of Humanity – The poor Alphans come under the influence of a local planet, Vega. The inhabitants capture two Alphans in order to learn love and hate (don’t ask). The Alphans are told by “numbers” (automatons who wait on the Vegans hand and foot) that they must not show these emotions, as it will mean disaster for the planet. The end result is that we have Dr. Russell seduced by one of the Vegans via the mode of dance (choreographed by Lionel Blair no less) in order to make Koenig jealous. This episode has a shaky premise and it never recovers. The acting is worse than usual and the dance/emotion making scenes are laughable in the extreme. This episode is cringe-making, I almost didn’t make it through to the end. This is easily the worst episode of Space:1999 I’ve seen.

Episode 4 – All that Glisters – If you thought that Peter Duncan was scraping the bottom of the guest star barrel then prepare yourself. The guest star for this episode is Patrick Mower as an Irish cowboy geologist (no really). Alpha needs Milkonite and they detect some on a nearby planet. Upon arrival there is no Milkonite just a living rock that threatens to take over the Eagle and destroy the Alphans. Once the Alphans discover what it wants they manage to appease it. This episode is probably the best on the disc. Mower is awful as the blarney-spouting geologist, but the rest of the episode is entertaining. The pace is reminiscent of season 1 and there are no dodgy comedy scenes as there were in episode 2.

Well despite the changes there are two worthwhile episodes on this disc, both of which would be regarded as average episodes in season 1. It has to be said that the changes to the cast, the sets and the music is infuriating. The characters don’t seem as solid and the writing is very patchy in places. Overall I think this disc is for the diehard fans only.

The Disc
This time we have only got one disc to examine and this contains four episodes. The menus are as excellent as ever with some great animation on the Eagles. As usual each episode is split into 8 chapters.

The picture is non-anamorphic 4:3 again as it was originally and quality is similar to season 1. Print damage is minimal as ever but there is noticeable grain, understandable given the age and source of the film. When the sets are brightly lit (as they usually are) then there is no problem and colours are vibrant and strong. When things get dark or dusty then that pesky artefacting shows up again, it seems Carlton haven’t upped the bit rate for the second season. Also the dark scenes have a poor black level and little shadow detail. As per usual I have marked the picture quality high as for a 26-year old TV program this is a remarkable print and transfer. It’s just a shame that we have to squeeze 4 episodes onto a disc as this is obviously what is compromising the picture quality.

The sound is again an unremarkable DD mono track. Everything is clear and crisp and hiss free, which is all we should want.

Extras are a little thin on this disc and slightly worse than the season 1 discs…

Firstly there is a trailer for Season 2. This is interesting as the trailer leaves you in no doubt that this new series is attempting to pander to a more action obsessed audience.

Next up are four deleted scenes. Don’t get excited, as these are simply script segments accompanied by some pictures of the missing footage. This is interesting for the completist Space:1999 fan but fairly dull for anyone else.

Finally we have a selection of stills from the show, these are a dozen or so images with a mixture of promo and behind the scenes shots, again interesting but nothing spectacular.

Well how a year can change a show. It’s gone from being a very interesting and different Sci-fi show to being an incredibly average one. The changes aren’t for the better and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The disc is as well done as the others, sound and picture are mostly excellent and the extras are informative if a little lacking in substance. The die hard Space:1999 fans will buy this but I suggest those who aren’t fanatics and enjoyed Season 1 may want to steer clear of this pale imitation which “jumps the shark” in it’s season opener.

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Last updated: 21/06/2018 04:02:56

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