Network, out now
The Alphans are delighted when it seems as if there’s finally a way home…
The second season of Space: 1999 has a very bad reputation. Behind the scenes turmoil meant that the show was left in the hands of Fred Freiberger – the man who supposedly thought that “Luton” was a strange and alien name and insisted on its use in an episode, and who had already overseen the less well-received third year of Star Trek. The introduction of “metamorph” Maya; the loss of Barry Morse’s voice of sanity, Victor Bergman; and Prentis Hancock’s replacement by Tony Anholt all took away from what had made the show work in its first year.
There were some high points – one of Terrance Dicks’ rare TV SF screenplays outside Doctor Who; and this two-parter, which begins with Martin Landau’s John Koenig apparently high on drugs as he careers around in an Eagle near a dangerous part of the moon. Terence Feely’s script gives all the lead characters plenty to do, occasionally taking them outside the comfort zone that they are caught in during most episodes, and director Tom Clegg throws everything at the screen, with some very effective action sequences. There are some weird continuity errors, particularly in the second half – Barbara Bain must have got the date wrong at the start of that episode; 600 days haven’t elapsed since Koenig’s joyride – and one of my favourite “bad science” lines when it appears as if there are nuclear physicists just hanging around Command Centre waiting to head off to potential accidents!
To see how much work has been done on these episodes take a look at the footage in the trailer for Destination Moonbase-Alpha, the TV movie prepared from the episodes, or even the movie itself, presented as an extra on the disc. Rather like with the omnibus versions of Doctor Who stories which are included on the DVDs in their unrestored state, you can see and hear the many differences. It’s worth watching the first few minutes of Destination Moonbase-Alpha for the… interesting way in which the series is repackaged. What year is it, for example? 2100, or some point in the 21st century? The scroll at the start is clearly meant to appeal to the Star Wars generation but only serves to muddy the waters further.
As a taster for the quality of the restoration of the second series of Space 1999, this is an excellent choice – but there will always only be so far you can make a silk purse…
Verdict: One of the second series’ best stories given great treatment. 7/10