Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Space 1999 Set 1|
Actors: Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Nick Tate, Zienia Merton, Catherine Schell
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television
The six episodes (on 2 DVDs) in this set are the very first of the seminal sci-fi series, and they have been digitally re-mastered from the original 35mm footage for the ultimate Space: 1999 experience. In addition, they i... more »
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Underappreciated television classic
Don Jeffrey | Mechanicsburg, PA USA | 12/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No other series in television history has been as much maligned and misunderstood as Space: 1999. From the outset, a series which had little in common with Star Trek beyond the very basic premise of space travel nevertheless found itself critiqued against its more famous and beloved predecessor-and almost always unfavorably-rather than reviewed on its own considerable merits. The negative reaction to the series was no doubt due in part to the brash and rather obnoxious marketing blitz waged by the American distributing arm of its British financiers. Touting it as "the ultimate space adventure series" left it wide open to damning commentary and probably deservedly so. The series was set up as the greatest thing committed to film in entertainment history, and while the show had considerable merits that's an expectation that was impossible to meet. Adding insult to injury, the first few critical episodes following the impressive pilot-in particular "Ring Around the Moon" and "Matter of Life and Death"-were so godawful they only served to validate the series' harshest critics as fodder for the claims levied against the show. Sadly, few legitimate critics stuck around long enough to see the show truly hit its stride with episodes that deserve to be considered television classics.The faults attributed to the series were almost always erroneous, grossly exaggerated or merely fabricated by the critics. Space: 1999's scientific flaws were completely inflated by its detractors, and it is easy to see in hindsight that some critics merely lifted chapter and verse from other reviews, thereby perpetuating the misinformation. Admittedly the series' premise-that the moon is torn out of earth's orbit by a massive explosion-while fascinating and highly original, is preposterous. But it was done so utterly convincingly you almost believed it was possible. In fact, it was the series' unparalleled realism that set it apart from anything that came before, or indeed after. Cinematically, the series has never been equalled. Its stunning visual design, feature-film style cinematography and edgy editing techniques put it in a class by itself. To its credit, the show took risks-something very few series have ever done. The show was widely uneven because of this; sometimes the risks paid off, sometimes not-but even the worst episodes were riveting if for nothing more than the sheer creativity and ingenuity that went into putting them together. In its day, the show was heavily panned for the performances of its two top-billed stars, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. Bain in particular bore the brunt of the criticism, labeled "wooden," "stiff," and even "zombie" like. In hindsight, the economical and measured performances of the two stars were perfect for the cool, clinical, unemotional tone of the series. Someone like William Shatner, with his scenery-chewing soliloquies would have been completely out of place. Indeed, the scripts for the show deliberately subordinated character for content and the stoic attitude of the main protagonists was intentional. But alas, at the time nobody saw it as such. It was just so much bad acting and lousy scripts.Throughout the first season, there was a pervading atmosphere of predetermination and some higher force guiding the journey...a sense of a higher purpose to their uncharted odyssey into the deepest reaches of space and it was a fascinating dramatic angle to perpetuate. But that too was seen as so much metaphysical garbage in the eyes of the critics. Pity, because it really did lend a philosophical bent to the series that played out over the course of its first twenty four episodes in wonderful narrative style.Unfortunately, much of what made Space: 1999's first season so promising was lost when wholesale changes were instituted for the show's second season in an attempt to make it more appealing to American audiences. The result was something closer to Lost In Space than to its debut season. It isn't that the second season is without its merits. It's just that instead of improving upon an already well-crafted show, the producers opted to trash what was and in essence start from scratch. Throwing out the baby with the bath water, so to speak. The show lost its trademark visual identity-due mostly to the fact that sets were greatly scaled down under the presumption a smaller set would foster more "intimacy" and "greater dramatic tension." When in reality what they did was stagnate the camera work by forcing most scenes to be shot in textbook "head-on" fashion. Occasionally a particularly promising director like Peter Medak would work like hell to break out of that rut, but for the most part the second season in shot in typical format television style. Head on. Medium close-up. Nothingt edgy or innovative. The show also lost the meticulous attention to detail that characterized the first season. As the second season wore on, it became unbelievably sloppy. Helmets open up on the surface of the moon with nary an injury, passenger pods on Eagles change back and forth from one type to the next between scenes in a single episode. And science was almost entirely abandoned in favor of technobabble. One has only to watch an episode like "A Matter of Balance" to see that science-indeed reason in general-has been thrown out the door. And the man-in-a-rubber-suit monsters that frequented the second season don't even deserve commentary. What makes the series' second season so difficult to watch is not really what it was, but what it could have been. What opportunities were wasted. Because there was still a great deal of talent working on this show, and a number of episodes held great promise. It's just that their execution was so sloppy and amateurish. The aforementioned "A Matter of Balance" is a fascinating story...that a cataclysmic event has somehow caused a whole civilization to move backwards through evolution rather than forward. Unfortunately, it ends up being a showcase of some truly horrific acting by the late Lynne Frederick and boasts a silly-looking alien running around in what is essentially a cape and a pair of yellow diapers.By the end of its second season, the show had lost much of its original following and failed to gain the new supporters it had hoped and it quietly and uneventfully died after 48 episodes of widely varying quality. Ironically, the elements for which the show was so heavily criticized in its day-the pervasive "mysterious unknown force" that permeated most episodes, the open-ended epilogues and meanings open to interpretation, the cool, detached performances of its stars and the uneven character of the show as a whole-are the very things for which a show like the X-Files is so lauded for today. Perhaps if the series had been set farther into the future and debuted some twenty or so years later it might have received the serious recognition it deserved."
Amongst the Very Best Science Fiction Television Series
Jerry | Columbia, MO | 11/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Space: 1999 was a television series produced in England in the early/mid 70's. It features Martin Landau as the commander of Moon Base Alpha, and Barbara Bain as the base's chief medical officer It features superb acting, compeling stories, astoundingly good Star Wars style special effects and a powerful musical score. This is the best amongst the Science Fiction on film that most fans of the genre have never heard of. Anyone who likes the Star Trek series will find much to like in Space: 1999, though the show has somewhat of a feel and theme like 2001 - a Space Odessy. Some episodes were of course better than others, but even the worst are still quite enjoyable. The best episodes: Dragon's Domain, War Games, Another Time/Another Place, and so forth are amongst the best television ever made. Previously, Space: 1999 has only been made available on a few video tape releases and only a few thousand laser discs were ever made. Today, the laser discs routinely sell for up to several hundred dollars each.Space: 1999 failed to become a smashing success in the United States in the 70's in large part because the big three national networks refused to set aside a time slot for it. However, the show has remained extremely popular in Europe. The primary critisim leveled at the show was so-called "wooden acting" but this reputation is entirely undeserved. Rather the acting is simple understated for the most part, and is really far less wooden than the acting found in the newer Star Trek series.In short, DON'T miss this opportunity to have copies of this long forgotten gem of a series. If nothing else, the special effects alone will absolutely dazzle the viewer."
A Wasted Opportunity
steveroberts2 | 02/12/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Contrary to other reviews on this site, I was less than impressed by the picture quality of these discs. To qualify my statements, let me first say that I am a professional broadcast engineer specialising in film transfers and I have experience in mastering film and video specifically for DVD. My department is currently mastering other ITC DVD titles for Carlton in the UK.The major problem with the discs is that they are sourced from an NTSC composite video master. This is unforgiveable - DVD is a component video format and the master should have been a component video transfer from the 35mm films. The fact that it isn't component also suggest that the masters are some years old. By using a composite master, detail levels are not as good as they could be and worst of all there is the characteristic coloured noise around areas of high detail - step through frame by frame and these become even more apparent.There is a lot of aliasing visible on horizontal details - look at the grilles in the Eagle passenger hold in 'Breakaway' for instance. This also comes and goes alarmingly with slight movements, a sure sign that too much digital noise reduction has been applied.There's also sporadic film damage apparent throughout - dirt, scuffs and other damage which could easily be painted out frame by frame during mastering.If you are in region 2, then you would be advised to wait and see what the forthcoming r2 releases are like. Although we have had no involvement in 'Space:1999' (it was mastered at 4MC in London), we are currently mastering other titles for Carlton DVD and their delivery requirements are very high indeed - not even pinprick damage makes it through their review process. I suspect that the UK discs will blow A&E's out of the water..."
Huntsmĉñus | New Orleans, La | 12/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Space: 1999, the Sci-Fi TV series that nobody remembers, or at least a few remember. As a boy growing up watching this, Space: 1999 was MY Star Trek. I loved everything about it until I grew up and recently purchased Set 1. Watching it again has been a lot of fun, but as an adult, i can see why it never really caught on. Besides the program looking great, it seems a little empty. The pace of the show is extremely pedestrian, dialogue that is sometimes appallingly awful to uncreative. But, the first series has a very isolated feel to it, almost giving it a desperate, chilling and eerie approach. The soundtrack is also very effective & spooky. Great special effects still stand the test of time.
Another complaint: bad continuity. I know writers never want to get bogged down with keeping up with continuity, as it hampers creative output, but some sort of continuity police should have been instituted in the production crew as to keep discontinuity to minimum. Still if you don't think too hard, a lot of fun is to be had.But is there anything cooler than an Eagle?"