Space: 1999 gets a 21st century reboot

Space: 1999 was a British science-fiction television series that ran for a total of two seasons, originally airing from 1975-1977.

The premise? Nuclear waste stored on the Moon’s far side abruptly detonates in a catastrophic accident on September 13, 1999. The moon is knocked out of orbit, sending it and 300 or so inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha on a long and strange space journey. 

The moon is subsequently transformed into a spacecraft of sorts as the protagonists – led by Commander John Koenig – visit new worlds and encounter dystopian alien civilizations as they search for a suitable planet to relocate. 

Although the series (at least the first season) was generally well received  by sci-fi fans, author Isaac Asimov criticized the premise, pointing out that any explosion capable of knocking the Moon out of orbit would result in its destruction. Plus, said Asimov, even if the moon somehow managed to leave orbit intact, it would take thousands of years to reach the nearest star.

As noted above, the show, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, lasted only two seasons before it was unceremoniously cancelled, ending with a final episode titled “The Dorcons.”

Fast forward to August 1999, when a fan-produced mini-episode – “Message From Moonbase Alpha” – debuted. The script, penned with the help of Space: 1999 script editor Johnny Byrne, was filmed inside a private residence that housed a working replica of a small section of the Main Mission set, including Koenig’s fabled Command Center desk.

The 7-minute feature film starred Zienia Merton reprising her role as Sandra Benes, who delivered a final message to Earth as the only crew member left on Moonbase Alpha after the crew relocated to a habitable planet dubbed Terra Alpha.

But the story doesn’t end there, as ITV Studios and HDFILMS recently confirmed they are resurrecting the series under the rebooted title of “Space: 2099.”

“Science fiction is a powerful format capable of visualizing the human condition in thought-provoking ways,” HDFilms president Jace Hall explained.

“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.”

Obviously, ITV Studios and HDFILMS will have an easier time with special effects compared to the original Team Anderson, which was forced to contend with expensive sets and models that had to painstakingly built by hand instead of CGI.

Then again, as Terra Nova so painfully illustrates, special effects alone cannot make a show. Hopefully, the Space: 2099 script will be halfway decent, with a crew that is believable and not over the top. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing who the commander of Moonbase is this time around (obviously not Martin Landau), along with who will be playing the part of Doctor Helena Russell (Barbara Bain). And of course, who can forget Professor Victor Bergman, who was played by the very talented Barry Morse?

Yes, I know it is unclear if any of the original characters will be making a comeback in the new series, but one can’t help but hope that at least the top three personalities will make it over to Space: 2099.