Change is as Good as a Holiday?

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If you’ve been a follower of either of my science fiction blogs (Space 2049 and Star Trek: Sentinel), you would have noticed both have been pretty quiet of late.

That’s because life, as it often does for all of us, got in the way.  Suddenly, maintaining two websites became a bit too much and I took an unintended break from both.  That work/life balance thing people harp on about?  I’m obviously a long way from mastering it.

 

 

In addition to all of the change that has been whirling about in my life like some kind of steroid enhanced tsunami, I discovered, while daydreaming one day in a desperate attempt to take a break from a whack of stress, that there were other TV shows from “back in the day” that I felt also deserved a retelling.

Frustrated by the corner I’d accidentally backed myself into by creating a couple of sites that really only focused on one subject each, I decided to merge both together, do a rename and open up the playground just a bit.

Over the next few weeks you’ll see the site slowly start to take shape as I do that.  So, apologies for the absence of posts these last few months, and for the lack of updates to the Space: 2049 script, and apologies for the slight mess everything will be in as I sort it all out.

What can you expect?

Well, there’s a little bit of a story there.  As I mentioned above, in an attempt to keep myself sane through moving houses, losing a beloved dog, changing jobs, and dealing with a sudden elephant sized dump of general crap, I played an ongoing mental game/imaginative exercise to keep from slipping over the edge.

 

 

That game?  If a studio exec came up to me and said “hey, random guy, we want you to reboot some classic TV shows,” what shows would I want to invest my time in?

Turned out there were a few.  Some I couldn’t play with, like V, because I believe the awesome Kenneth Johnson is working on rebirthing his 1980s invasion epic, and Babylon 5, because I live in hope that J.M. Straczynski will get around to that soonish, but there were others that I loved just as much.

 

 

Before I tell you what they are, because I’ll play around with the ideas I have for those shows on this site, I should point something out.  This site does feature a sizable Star Trek section, but Star Trek on TV doesn’t need a reboot anymore, thanks to Star Trek: Discovery (which I love).  So why is Star Trek included?

At the time I created Star Trek: Sentinel back in 2014, there hadn’t been any new episodes of Star Trek on TV for a long time, and the new show had not been announced.  I had an idea, and felt like sharing it.  I did think about leaving Star Trek out of this site, but I love it too much, and there is one character I have long felt deserved greater exploration – Saavik.

 

 

If a studio gave me the chance to create a Star Trek show, it would be one that focuses on Saavik, in her later years, living in the time of Picard and Co.

With that said, the other shows I feel really deserve a second chance right now are Space: 1999 (Space 2049), which I’ve been working on for a long time now, seaQuest DSV (the first season), Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, and that old classic campy 80s series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (again, only the first season with a character or two from the second).

As this site evolves, it will focus on each of those shows while continuing to provide science fiction news updates and information on new scientific advances that relate to space exploration, and it will continue to advocate for a reboot of Space: 1999, while also telling the story of Saavik in the 24th Century.  Each of the shows I’ve chosen hold a special place in my heart and helped define my childhood and early adult years, or were shows, like Andromeda, that I fell in love with along the way.

The site name might change a few times over the next week or so as I find something that doesn’t clash with any other name on the internet, but things should stabalise soon.

As always, I hope you enjoy what’s on offer, and thanks for your patience and for all of the kind words (and excited encouragement) I’ve received from Space: 1999 fans these last few years.

Science fiction fans are just bloody awesome! I hope SciFi Regen can honour that – and each of the shows I’m letting my imagination play with.

SFR Page Break

 

It’s Time for a New Look at Space: 1999

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It’s obvious I’m a fan of Space: 1999, so I’ll happily declare there is a bias present in this article.  To me, the show had a lot going for it – compelling characters, amazing sets, decent (for the time) special effects, and a tone of mystery and hope set against a subtle backdrop of disillusionment and mistrust (two feelings that permeated the 1970s, and coincidentally the twenty-teens).

The series was cancelled before its time despite its popularity, with the sad reality being it kind of killed itself with a lot of retooling between seasons that didn’t sit well with its fans.  Space: 1999 is probably the best example of how not to “fix” a television show if you want that show to survive.  Though season two gave us Maya and Tony, it took from us compelling storylines and a handful of fan favourite characters like Paul and Victor.

Space: 1999 wouldn’t work today as an exact and completely faithful reboot, because we’re 17 years past the titular date of 1999, and we also know more about our moon, our solar system and the near galaxy than we did then.  Not to mention the fact scientists are pretty certain that the moon being ripped from Earth orbit would destroy it and our own planet!  But that doesn’t mean we should dismiss this show and it’s underlying premise.  The characters, the (then) future forward but still focused in reality design aesthetic, the message of hope and exploration, and the crew of Alpha’s fight to survive against overwhelming odds (like we are today with climate change, global terrorism, changing political sensibilities, growing poverty, rising unemployment etc) are as relevant to today’s world as they were 40 plus years ago – and perhaps resonate with more potency now than they did back in the 70s.

With the renewed focus on exploring our solar system and the recent focus on space tourism, asteroid mining and setting up colonies on both the moon and Mars, Space: 1999 is more relevant today than it was in the 1970s when it was first released.

No other science fiction property can so eloquently show us the near future as authentically – if the series is retooled effectively and respectfully.

To clarify that point, shows like The Expanse and the new Star Trek: Discovery (due for release in May next year) do and will focus on the issues I mentioned above, but neither do (or will do) it from a timeframe close to right now.  Though Space: 1999 got a lot wrong (we don’t have a moonbase, we’re not dumping nuclear waste on the moon, and we haven’t received mysterious signals from nearby exoplanets), it did do its best to predict what the near future would look like 24 years into the future (and a lot of people still think the set design and ship designs stack up today, with the Eagle Transporter still spoken of as one of the most realistic space ships ever designed).

For a show like Space: 1999 that has maintained a strong and loyal fan base for 40 years, there are dangers in rebirthing or rebooting it.  There can also be benefits – a lot of them.  No one can forget the trepidation and then remarkable love many of us felt for the Battlestar Galactica reboot.  Ronald D. Moore kept the premise intact, giving more thought and background to the Cylons than the legendary Glen A. Larson had back in the late ’70s, and he kept many of the characters the same – controversially changing some (Starbuck becomes a woman, as does Boomer, and Athena is no longer Adama’s daughter, but a Cylon) and adding in new characters to flesh out that ‘world’.

Someone seeking to bring Space: 1999 back could go that route, but there are other approaches that would be equally as successful.

One alternate is the one I ascribe to here on this site, with the budding fan script I’ve been writing.

Space 2049‘s premise attempts to remain completely loyal to the original idea of Space: 1999, but instead of destructively blasting our moon out of Earth’s orbit, which, as mentioned above would be pretty apocalyptic for all of us down on the planet as well as the people on Alpha, it blasts a second moon – an asteroid that was captured by Earth’s gravity – out of Earth’s orbit and sends that second moon on a trip through our solar system toward an anomaly transmitting radio signals toward Earth from Jupiter orbit.

Most of the characters are the same, with one or two added in to reflect the role business will play in space colonisation, and with one or two secondary characters having their races and genders changed to better reflect a diverse settlement.  Overall the premise is identical and follows the thematic tone of the first season of Space: 1999.

As a devoted fan, that to me, makes sense.

While there is only the remotest of chances our homeworld will capture an asteroid and make it a second moon, it is entirely possible according to the research I’ve done.  It’s certainly more possible and less catastrophic than our moon getting ejected from orbit.

For the record, I looked at a space station being blasted out of orbit, but after two weeks of exhaustive research discovered there was NO WAY an artificial construct could survive that sort of catastrophe intact.

A few years back, Jace Hall of V (the reboot) fame attempted to bring Space: 1999 back as Space 2099, but that very quietly fell apart about two years ago.

From what I can find online, Space 2099 was going to honour the original in theme, but not necessarily in any other way.

I was a fan of this attempt at a reboot, but admit I would have been disappointed if too much had changed, and would have been really upset if Koenig, Russell and Maya hadn’t featured in it.

The pre-production efforts of the team behind Space 2099 didn’t reveal much to the wider public, though they did actively communicate with us all for a while at the forum on their website, but despite inviting the fans in we don’t know a lot about the show.  What we do know is that the reboot is no more.

Looking at the very few promo images that made it into the public domain, all I – all any of us – can do is guess.  My guess is we would have had a Moonbase Alpha, but there would have been no object blasted out of Earth’s orbit.  I believe they would have used Alpha as a jump point for a ship tasked with exploring beyond our solar system.

Regardless of what anyone might do with a reboot, it really is time for another look at Space: 1999.  Despite the rubbish monster of the week show it turned into in its second season, it was originally an intelligent, philosophical, meaningful show that would be successful right now in the current television landscape.

Even with a controversial new President due to take power in the United States in January, and a very unstable global community with issues like Brexit and ISIL featuring in world headlines on a daily basis, it seems clear that NASA and other interests will continue to push toward the moon and Mars.

As our climate continues to change, as our planet’s population continues to exceed our homeworlds’ ability to support humanity, and as our earthly resources continue to diminish, we’ll be forced more and more to focus on space as a solution to our growing global problems.

Has there ever been a better time for a show like Space: 1999 to shine?

A show that looks ahead a few years and poses realistic solutions to growing world problems could be really important, and that postulation could all still happen against an allegorical background of space adventure and fun.

Hopefully someone in TV production land is thinking the same thing.

It’s time for a new look at this old gem.

I wish I knew what derailed Jace’s vision, but more than that I hope someone sees value in a show of this kind and gives Space: 1999 a new life that the fans can love and a new TV audience can celebrate.

Space 1999 Page Break

Welcome to Moonbase Alpha

Space 1999 Year 1 Promotional Poster

If you were a child born in the 1970’s in Australia, chances are one of your first introductions to science fiction was the television show Space: 1999.

At the time it aired down under there wasn’t a lot of science fiction available.  Star Trek was already in syndication and I had loved the few episodes I’d seen because it only ever (at that time) appeared haphazardly on Aussie TV screens, Star Wars was about a year away or was close to being released (I can’t remember which, I just know I saw Space: 1999 first), and there was Doctor Who which my family thought was terrible so I wasn’t allowed to watch it.

There might have been other science fiction shows out there, but Australian television didn’t show them.  Eventually we got Blakes 7, but that was deemed far to adult and I wasn’t allowed to watch that one either.

When Space: 1999 hit Australia’s airwaves I was immediately sold.  I don’t think I had any real idea of what science fiction was at that point in my life, being only five or six years of age, but that is when my love affair with the genre began.

Eventually Star Trek reruns settled into a regular Saturday afternoon time slot, and Battlestar Galactica aired (which I also loved) of a Friday night, but for me it all started with the crew of Moonbase Alpha and their adventures on a wayward moon.

Space: 1999 became something of an obsession for me, one which continues to this very day.  It launched my interest in the space program, and made me believe that one day I could go to space too.  I remember asking family members how I could become an astronaut.  All they could tell me was that I had to be really smart and needed to get good grades.  Even though Space: 1999 was only on air for two years, my desire to get into outer space stayed solid.  I ended up in advanced science and maths classes and was determined to get into space… until, at the age of 14, my all boys school amalgamated with an all girls school and I discovered the fairer sex.  Let’s just say my grades didn’t survive the experience.  Thanks, puberty!

Space: 1999 stayed with me across the years because of the immediate impression it made on me.  Space: 1999 was the only show at that I knew of back then (and for a number of years afterward) that was, time wise, close enough to touch.  In 1976, 1999 was only 23 years away.  That did feel like forever to my young mind, but my young mind also knew that I’d only be in my 20s and most likely still alive.  Being twenty-something felt like the perfect age to go to the moon.

When I watch Space: 1999 now it fills with me nostalgia and a sense of joy.  It also makes me wish I’d never discovered sex and had stayed dedicated to my studies, even though we’re not living on the moon yet.  Despite our failure to colonise the moon (to date) we still have multiple space agencies, and having a couple of degrees in engineering or physics might have gotten me a job with Elon Musk or Bigelow Aerospace!

Watching Space: 1999 now also does make me occasionally cringe.  I’m not the sort of fan who forgives all sins.  Some of the episodes are truly bad.  Despite those bad episodes, I still see an incredible amount of unrealised potential in the show.  Not necessarily the premise as it was, but the concept.

Space: 1999 didn’t tie every episode off with a nice little bow.  It didn’t always give its audience a satisfying conclusion, and would often leave a mystery unsolved or give us a dark and unexpected ending  – an approach the rebooted Battlestar Galactica went on to so eloquently emulate and improve on.

Despite it’s occasional unanswered question and intermittent darkness, Space: 1999 was not dystopic, but a product of its time.  Just like the much admired David Eick and Ronald D. Moore reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

Though I was so young when Space: 1999 aired in Australia, I was surrounded by adults and sensed their concerns and uncertainty and distrust of certain things.  I still remember my mother fighting the education board over my ability to go to a private school that refused to accept the children of divorcees.  I remember my grandparents and mother working incredibly hard to scrape together enough money to keep me in that private school.  We were a poor, working class family, but my family wanted to make sure I had the best education possible.  I remember times when there was not enough food, I remember uncles and aunts and grandparents talking with disgust about government and religion and multiple issues.

The 1970s were as far from a utopia as you could get, and Space: 1999 tackled some of those issues, and often in very subtle ways.

For many years I wondered why a continuation didn’t happen, then once 1999 passed, I wondered why no one was rebooting the show or remaking it in some way.  To me, there were easy fixes that would help make Space: 1999 work in our contemporary world.

Then it came.  A reboot was announced.  Space 2099.  It wasn’t my idea of the best way forward (I would have preferred a relatively faithful remake), but it was better than nothing and I got pretty excited!  The fact it was being done by Jace Hall (who was involved with V) made me feel like they’d do a good job.

And then it didn’t happen, and has been listed as ‘in development’ for quite some time now.

In impatience, I’ve decided to do a speculative remake on WordPress.  Not with the intention of it getting turned into a real series, because life doesn’t work like that, but because I wanted to.  And because there are other fans out there, like me, who still love the show and would like to see it reborn again in some manner.

Through this site, I wanted to show that a remake could work without the need to reboot and redo everything.  As a collective audience, we in the scifi world have had more than enough of that!

 

This speculative remake is relatively faithful.  I’ve made some changes to a couple of secondary characters, and I’ve changed one major story point a lot, but let everything else relatively untouched except for where it needs to be updates (costumes, aspects of some sets, visual effects etc).

So what’s the major story point that I’ve changed?

The moon isn’t blasted out of orbit.  While it isn’t impossible for the moon to somehow be pushed out of orbit, it is highly HIGHLY improbable.

Instead, we’ve found what I think is a simple and effective work around.

I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you also start asking “why hasn’t anyone remade this show?!”

Before I wrap up this introduction, I quickly wanted to plug an awesome book I stumbled across a couple of years ago.

Exploring Space: 1999 by John Kenneth Muir is an excellent look at the classic series that you should check out.  It goes into great depth on the series, it’s cancellation, and more.  Plus, if you are a fan of the series, the book also features a special interview with the actor who brought the mysterious Psychon, Maya, to life.  Catherine Schell.

Lastly, this site also has a blog that is all about classic and modern popular science fiction as well as developments in space research that will let us one day explore our solar system and galaxy.  You’ll find it’s our homepage.  The other pages on this site will focus exclusively on this speculative remake of Space: 1999.

As I said a few paragraphs ago, I hope you enjoy this little trip into the near future, and I hope you either like the choices I’ve made, or at the very least think they have some merit.

The original Space: 1999 was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

No copyright infringement is intended.  This is a passion project and a work of fandom intended for lovers of the original who still dream of Space: 1999 coming back.

Space 1999 Year 2 Promotional Poster