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Space 1999: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Review)

Shout! Factory is launching a glorious collector set of the cult science fiction program, starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, Space 1999 on July 16th. This elaborate set includes every episode, the first time in America for the second season, as well as plenty of new bonus material. If you act fast, on Shout! Factory’s website, the first 500 orders will come with a collectible Space 1999 snow globe. You want that, you know you do. But, as of writing this, it may be too late. Personally, I’d always meant to check this show out and this Blu-ray set seemed the most appropriate way to start my journey. You can start yours, revisit or decorate your movie collection with this fine release by ordering from Shout! Factory or the Amazon link following the review.

Series 

September 1999: A nuclear waste dump on the lunar surface unexpectedly detonates, blasting the moon out of Earth’s orbit and taking the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha on an unbelievable voyage of discovery and adventure. Under the command of John Koenig (Martin Landau), the Alphans hurtle through the stars, encountering fantastic worlds and beings in a universe where peril awaits at every turn. Together, Koenig and the Alphans face the ultimate challenge in the farthest reaches of space: survive…and find home.
Space 1999 is easily described, but more complex, engaging and impressive than a slight passerby may image. On its surface, its pitch was to be the next Star Trek. And sure, they are very similar. In fact, Space 1999 more resembles the later Star Trek series, Voyager, than it does the original iteration which it was meant to be a knock off for. In the 1970s, Star Trek was canceled and an animated children’s version of Kirk and company was trying to survive during those kid friendly hours.  Space 1999 sought to pick up the baton and run with it, but it also sought to be something more and find its own direction. Being just Star Trek wasn’t enough.
At least in the first season or “year” that seems to be the case. I went into this show always someone curious about the show. Not knowing a whole lot about it besides seeing vintage toys and whatnot at collectible stores and conventions. I just knew it was some science fiction show from the 1970s that was probably super campy and fun. Now, when it comes to the show’s first season, I’m pretty much dead wrong in that regard. Production-wise, the show was damn near as impressive as any big Hollywood science fiction film being made at the time. There are massive impressive sets, costuming and model work on display. This show looks like it cost a TON of money to produce. Sure, you can see through the cracks sometimes. Yes, the costumes have a 70s touch to them at times (Bell bottoms). But overall, this thing holds up wonderfully.
When it comes to the content, the first year also surprises. This isn’t just campy adventures with a nice little social commentary twist put into them. Space 1999 covers some heavy, dense material with its science fiction. Its not satisfied with just ships, aliens and lasers. This show deals with big ideas. Metaphysical stuff, political stuff, morality swings, breaking the laws of Earth…loads. And Space 1999 plays at its own pace. It doesn’t wait around or hurry up for you. This program almost feels like the Star Trek for the kids growing up watching it that have grown up and moved up in the age bracket. Or the adults who thought Star Trek was too campy and cheesy might really find this to be more their cup of tea. “Grimdark reboot of Star Trek”? Quite possibly.
Now, a lot of that goes away for the show’s second and final year. You’ll notice right away there is almost a complete production overhaul. Sets, costumes, cast, the theme song and more have been softly rebooted. The show picks up a more adventurous attitude. They even add an shapeshifting alien as a series regular. Its still fun, but its much more what you would expect when someone says “Star Trek knockoff” than before. Don’t get me wrong, its still very much enjoyable, but the first season was on course to finding some monumental footing and then took a sharp left turn here. On their own, they both are very good at what they do, but they are also very different at what they do at the same time.
Space 199 is quite a fun trip to space to revisit. The show has plenty of ideas, adventures, effects and more that rises well beyond being “the next Star Trek” and truly is its own thing. The first year is truly something special and nothing like it has really come since. If you like 2001 or Solaris type stuff, you really should check out the show’s first season (Free to watch on Shout! Factory TV and Tubi TV apps). But overall, its still a nice, terrific vintage sci fi adventure.

Episodes

Space 1999: The Complete Series contains all episode from the show’s two season run. Shout! Factory has also provided this disclaimer:

-A Note On Episode Order-

Viewing Space: 1999 can sometimes be tricky for those looking to establish a clear, definitive timeline from episode to episode. This is due to a number of factors, including the nature of episodic television and its production at that time as compared to now, and the variance in airing dates from station to station and nation to nation. Ultimately, there are moments of character or storyline continuity that might seem out of place. While some fans have made excellent suggestions regarding a viewing order that makes the most sense, it is generally accepted that there is no single “correct” viewing order — only possibilities.

With this in mind, we have presented Space: 1999 here in production order, as it is the most commonly accepted viewing order.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: No details are provided about the restoration, but its largely assumed its the same transfer as the Network Blu-rays from the United Kingdom. And from the looks of every episode, it appears that no further or alternate work was necessary at all with this release from Shout! Factory. Boy, these look really impressive. The show comes across with a big time cinematic look and much of it holds up with a pristine presentation. Its a sharp picture with wonderful clarity. Details come on strong, especially when taking a look at the finer textures of the costumes, the features of the models and all the finer points of the set. The best thing is that the show’s effects and model work aren’t hampered by more visibility. Its probably about the same, and that’s a testament to those who worked on the show. Fans should be more than pleased with this effort.

Depth:  There is a very good depth of field here. No its not some 3 dimensional marvel, but Space 1999 does feature some terrific spacing in the big open sets and with a lot of the model work on display. Movements are free, smooth and cinematic with no issues regarding motion distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and carry a hair bit more of grain. No details are really lost and there are good looks at shading and darkness to help the definition in the picture. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors come through with great strength in this image. Whether tamed in the form of the uniforms or sets, or bold lighting or flashy alien make-up/outfits, this has a confident and restrained looks that never bleeds or finds the picture looking dull or unfulfilled.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent through every episode of the series, give or take a lighting filter on a scene or sequence meant to change things. Facial textures and details come through quite strong in most shots, showcasing make-up details, wrinkles, scars, freckles and more.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Space 1999 has a nicely restored mono mix, but I urge people to try the 5.1 mix out. While the show is very conversational and dialogue heavy, there are many sequences with model shots or action bits (More the second year). This mix has of course had some revisionism but its very neat and made useful in playing with things around the room and utilizing sound travel. It also has a nice clean sound to it.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Rather a light contributor is the sub woofer. There are some decent enough low frequency moments, but there is a weak link to this mix and its here. Though, the theme song during the intro does bump a bit.

Surround Sound Presentation: As mentioned above, speakers in the 5 channel matrix have some fun here. Its not wildly active, its just very cool and cleverly mixed in many parts of episodes.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clean, clear and crisp. Its pretty impressive for something of it age.

Extras 

Space 1999: The Complete Series is a 13-disc set, split in amaray cases by each “Year” and Bonus content, housed in a had shell case. Also included is a 16-page episode guide.

Year One – Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • Breakaway – with Gerry Anderson
  • Ring Around The Moon – with Scott Micahel Bosco

Gallery

  • Breakaway (HD, 8:30)
  • Matter Of Life And Death (HD, 7:27)
  • Black Sun (HD, 4:11)
  • Ring Around The Moon (HD, 3:39)

Year One – Disc 2

Gallery

  • Earthbound (HD, 8:21)
  • Another Time, Another Place (HD, 3:09)
  • Missing Link (HD, 1:30)
  • Guardian of Piri (HD, 4:00)

Year One – Disc 3

Gallery

  • Force of Life (HD, 1:03)
  • Alpha Child (HD, 3:15)
  • The Last Sunset (HD, 2:33)
  • Voyager’s Return (HD, 1:06)

Year One – Disc 4

Gallery

  • Collision Course (HD, 3:00)
  • Death’s Other Dominion (HD, 4:27)
  • The Full Circle (HD, 3:00)
  • End of Eternity (HD, 3:51)

Year One – Disc 5

Gallery

  • War Games (HD, 3:30)
  • The Last Enemy (HD, 2:42)
  • The Troubled Spirit (HD, 1:51)
  • Space Brain (HD, :51)

Year One – Disc 6

Audio Commentary

  • Dragon’s Domain – With Gerry Anderson
  • Dragon’s Domain – With Anthony Taylor

Gallery

  • The Infernal Machine (HD, 2:12)
  • Mission of the Darians (HD, 3:18)
  • Dragon’s Domain (HD, 2:27)
  • The Testament of Arkadia (HD, 1:51)

Year Two – Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • The Metamorph – With Anthony Taylor

Gallery

  • The Metamorph (HD, 3:03)
  • The Exiles (HD, 2:18)
  • One Moment of Humanity (HD, 1:39)
  • All That Glisters (HD, 3:45)

Year Two – Disc 2

Gallery

  • Journey To Where (HD, 2:24)
  • The Taybor (HD, :48) 
  • The Rules of Luton (HD, 3:09)
  • The Mark of Archanon (HD, 2:09)

Year Two – Disc 3

Gallery

  • Brian The Brain (HD, 1:00)
  • New Adam, New Eve (HD, 2:18)
  • Catacombs of the Moon (HD, 2:39)
  • The AB Chrysalis (HD, 2:48)

Year Two – Disc 4

Gallery

  • Seed of Destruction (HD, :54)
  • The Beta Cloud (HD, 4:09)
  • Space Warp (HD, 2:21)
  • A Matter of Balance (HD, 3:48)

Year Two – Disc 5

Gallery

  • The Bringers of Wonder (HD, 3:49)
  • The Lambda Factor (HD, 1:39)
  • The Seance Spectre (HD, 1:51)

Year Two – Disc 6

Gallery

  • Dorzak (HD, 1:30)
  • Devil’s Planet (HD, 3:48)
  • The Immunity Syndrome (HD, 1:42)
  • The Dorcons (HD, 1:06)

Special Features

Interviews

  • Mission To Moonbase Alpha: An Interview With Barbara Bain (HD, 10:36) – A nice little interview where she talks how her and Martin Landau were originally drawn and brought in on the project, the experience as well as talking about effects, costumes and the like.
  • Into The Uncertain Future: An Interview With Actor Nick Tate (HD, 16:44) – Tate discusses how he was interested but unable to commit onto the show originally, but took a role that was supposed to be killed off in the first episode and then how he continued on.
  • Brain Behind The Destruction: An Interview With Director Kevin Connor (HD, 9:14) – The Year Two director talks coming on to the show amidst the changes, talking the sets, working with Landau and Bain (And some of their shooting preferences) and the overall way he was impressed with the show.
  • Interview With Sylvia Anderson (SD, 16:54) – Anderson reflects on her work with her husband (at the time) Gerry Anderson and their producing partnerships. She gives insight of that working relationship and the work on Space 1999’s first year.
  • Guardian of Piri Remembered With Catherine Schell (SD, 1:41) – She talks about how the costumer designer got all her bad features wrong on it and then talks about not understanding the set until seeing the finished product.
  • Vintage Year Two Interviews (SD, 30:25) – Raw footage of interviews conducted for the second season. Features Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Gerry Anderson, Catherine Schell and a couple others. The interviewer isn’t always very audible but there is a disclaimer before about that.
  • Vintage Brian Johnson Interview (SD, 3:21) – Holding a model of a ship and standing next to a bigger one in a dark room, he talks about the process of building one.

Featurettes

  • These Episodes (SD, 1:39:10) – A documentary on the series ported over from the Network Blu-ray set featuring interviews with Gerry Anderson, Johnny Byrne, David Lane, Zieneia Merton and Christopher Penfold that discuss episodes from the show’s first season.
  • Moonbase Merch: A Tour of Space: 1999 Ephemera with Author John Muir (HD, 11:16) – Muir takes us for spin through his collection of toys, models and other collectibles.
  • Memories of Space (SD, 7:33) – This one has the same group from “These Episodes” reflecting on the legacy and triumphs of Space: 1999.
  • Behind the Scenes with Brian Johnson Commentary (SD, 6:49) – Footage of the model and effects workshop plays as Effects man Jonson talks us through it.
  • Concept and Creation (SD, 13:10) – Gerry Anderson, Barry Morse and Christopher Penfold tell the story of how the show came off the cancellation of UFO and came to be for its 2 seasons.
  • Special Effects and Design (SD, 17:34) – Gerry Anderson, Martin Bower, Brian Johnson, Christopher Penfold and Keith Wilson discuss the making feature film effects for a television series, going over the various models, sets, costumes and special effects sequences for the show.

Promos and Trailers

  • Martin Landau and Barbara Bain TV Promos (SD, 1:41) – You can continuously see them lose energy through the many different takes with the same dialogue, just changing the city.
  • Year One Promos (SD, 11:37)
  • Year Two Promos (SD, 1:35)
  • Destination Moonbase Alpha Trailer (SD, 2:10)
  • Alien Attack Trailers (SD, 3:04)
  • Blackpool “Space City” Exhibition Advert (SD, :39)
  • Lyons Maid Ice Lolly Advert (SD, :28)

Galleries

  • BTS and Contact Sheets (HD, 2:11)
  • Bubble Gum Cards (HD, 3:30)
  • Cigarette Cards (HD, 5:09)
  • Portraits (HD, 5:03)
  • Models and Model Making (HD, 5:39)
  • Year Two Models and Props (HD, 5:03)
  • Year Two Promo (HD, 2:51)
  • Storyboards (HD, 1:32)

Summary 

I went in a novice and I think have become a fan of Space 1999, especially the first season. One could easily dismiss the show as a Star Trek knockoff, but its a damn good Star Trek knock off. Shout! Factory has put together an impressive set that should make any fan stateside very happy. While it hosts an impressive array of vintage extras, I’ve seen that they have not quite been able to get everything that is out there (Due to rights and such, which I’m positive Shout would have tried). But, they’ve also included 3 new interviews which aren’t overly long and very informative. This is a really cool set, packaging and content-wise, and any fan or science fiction television collector should make room for it in their library.

Limited Edition SPACE 1999 Snow Globe picture available only with the first 500 orders from ShoutFactory.com.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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