Space: 2099

Where was I? Oh, yes. Space: 2099.

One of the most important things to happen in 2012 is the announcement that they’re remaking Space: 1999, which I nerdgasmed about on the old page here and here.

When I was a kid, Space: 1999 (and Planet of the Apes: The Series) were my gateway drugs to sci-fi. From there I went into Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers and, ultimately, quietly lost my mind on PBS watching Doctor Who. By 1985, I was useless. Who’s my role model? Avon, from Blake’s 7. Jon Pertwee, the 3rd Doctor. The OG Commander Adama, everyone’s favorite patriarchal Mormon. REM from the Logan’s Run series. The sympathetic chimpanzee scientist Cornelius.

And, of course, Commander Koenig of Moonbase Alpha.

Space: 1999 had an odd journey. Sylvia and Gerry Anderson put together season one out of pocket, behind closed doors, and created this strange sort of monster that explored the nature of Mankind, and our origins. By the end of the first season, you had learned every lesson you needed from life… And you had learned that (a) we came from the stars, in a groovy hippie sort of way and, (b) two of Alpha’s crewmen were the “new Adam and new Eve” to reboot humanity…because, we could assume, the Human race had been destroyed.

This carried over into the hideous second season, which was brutally buttfucked by the studios. The Earth had been laid waste when the Moon tore out of orbit. The Alphans, in the second season, decide not to return when the opportunity is presented. They see the modern, ecologically-devastated Earth and they’re like, oh, no. I don’t think so.

Of course, that’s after they’re accidentally transported to 1400’s Scotland. (Deeeeeep hurting, Joel.)

Nevertheless, Space: 1999 is the grandfather of modern sci-fi. Gritty, human, complicated. It predates Star Wars, and it has single-handedly informed the path that modern sci-fi has taken. Battleships full of broken people in tight corridors on the run from some Unnamed Evil.

In a way, Space: 1999 exists as a bridge between the naïve hopefulness of old sci-fi, and the gritty space opera of post 1970’s sci-fi. It’s hard to watch today. It has flaws. But there are things there that no other characters do. In Space: 1999, the tendency is to shoot first and ask questions later. When faced with certain death, the response is to err on the side of genocide if it means survival. The crew of the doomed Moonbase Alpha are all cutthroat bastards… Yet this is blended, subtly, almost perfectly with a certain honest human element. You sympathize with them, even when they’re decision is to nuke everything. You worry for them when powerful aliens toy with them.

Above all, the show lacks Redshirts. In Star Trek, you always knew Crewman Daniels was going to be eaten by something. In Space: 1999, sweet crewman Monica seems to be okay until something picks her up and bashes her repeatedly against the side of the corridor, leaving you with mouth agape thinking, oh my god. What?

In its finest moments, Space: 1999 veers (somewhat hysterically) into pure horror, with stalking ghosts and spooky music and a plodding, creepy plot. You never know what you’re going to get. The iconic Eagle ships shooting it out with an alien, a Hammer-style ghost story, a human interest story about a crewman going crazy, a tender love story, or a story about how Commander Koenig is never, really, fully balanced and in command. For two seasons, the civilian population of Moonbase Alpha teeters wildly on the verge of mutiny. Sometimes, that mutiny is actually realized…with dire consequences for all.

The show ends abruptly after that disastrous second season. Twenty years later, at a convention, we get a fan-made attempt to tie up loose ends:

And, now, Space: 2099 rises up. Part of Remake Mania. But I’m excited. I might even be hot and bothered. The BSG remake was, initially, inspired… But they had very little to work off of, and that showed by the third season. Space: 1999 provides endless possibilities…from action to BSG-style internal politics to crazy aliens to the far-flung, space-borne seeds of Humanity. It’s a series about ghosts, dreams, nightmares, fears, and hope.

So roll on the remake. I’ll be watching.

Oh…and the theme song rocks: