Friday, February 6, 2015

Space: 1999

On the heels of my rediscovery of Jason of Star Command, I have been revisiting yet another science fiction classic.

Its television run was short lived on this side of the pond, but what followers it does retain are highly devout. I am speaking of the show, Space: 1999, created by Gerry Anderson.

The series debuted in 1975 and ran until 1977, totaling 48 episodes in all. As I was a very young child at the time (yes, I was), I have but the dimmest recollections of the show. My memories of Space: 1999 are more...tangible in nature, but more on that in a moment. As such, I decided to seek out actual episodes of the series on YouTube to experience it with fully developed faculties (or as good as they're going to get with me.)

I'm certainly not disappointed. The show has proven to be unique and thoughtful.

Our story concerns the crew of Moonbase Alpha, a center of scientific research on the Moon. It is under the command of John Koenig, played by Martin Landau. In a nice touch, Moonbase Alpha is also the dumping ground for a considerable amount of Earth's nuclear waste. I'd like to think of that as a political statement. "You scientists are up there, sucking up all our tax money. Might as well make you good for something by having you run a landfill." As you might imagine, you can only pile so many highly volatile substances together before something terrible happens.

Indeed something does. There's a terrible mishap related to radiation. The waste achieves critical mass and there is a giant nuclear detonation. The Moon cracks apart and the segment upon which Moonbase Alpha sits goes hurtling out into space. Making matters worse, the hunk of Moon goes through a black hole (such was our limited understanding at the time), sending it further into the uncharted reaches. The Alphans (as the base crew takes to calling themselves) are forced to face the tenebrific fact that they will likely never find their way back to Earth. Therefore, they must find a new planet to settle upon and start their lives anew.

This leads to all manner of shenanigans with aliens and really, really, weird psychedelic stuff (it was the 1970s after all). But the undisputed star of the show were the spaceships of Moonbase Alpha: the Eagles. You can see one in the picture above.

I mentioned earlier that most of my Space: 1999 experience was "tangible." That's because when I as a kid, I had this massive, deluxe rendition of the Eagle spaceship.  Behold.

It was one solid piece of work. As testament to that fact, my nephews still play with the surviving husk of the ship. Sure, many of its pieces are missing due to the numerous planetary crashes I subjected the Eagle to in my back yard, but you wouldn't get even close to 40 years of integrity out of a toy these days. It also came with three figures of the cast members in orange spacesuits, each one with little grappling ropes, laser guns, and other accessories. You could sit them in the cockpit, in the main cabin area, or have them work the crane over the bottom hatch in the ship. The nose module and the engines could detach and you could create a sort of recon ship out of them (see picture above). I tell you, folks. Little Jonny played the hell out of this toy. Between the Eagle and my Shogun Warrior, the universe was my playground. The Millennium Falcon pretty much has the title of "Coolest Spaceship Ever" locked up, but in terms of toy renditions of such things, no product comes close to the Eagle.

Wish I had one now while I watch the show. Oh well. Here's a Moon Buggy.

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1 comment:

  1. On FB, Rich Z said: "Oh man, totally tripping me back to my childhood! My Eagle 1 was one of my favorite toys, pre-Star Wars. Such great memories of that, can't recall squat about the show though..."