Geek Box

Space: 1999

"NOW WE'RE SITTING on the biggest bomb mankind ever made," mutters Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) with clenched teeth and furrowed brow halfway through the series premiere of Space: 1999, which just became available on DVD ($39.95 each, featuring episodes one through six on Volume 1 and episodes seven through 12 on Volume 2). Actually, Space: 1999 wasn't that bad; there are, however, reasons why it didn't capture the popular imagination as Star Trek did. The mid '70s sci-fi series had shockingly high production values for TV and put the dough to good use in fashioning elaborate set designs and absolutely fabulous outfits; overall, the aesthetic is far more akin to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (minus monkeys, regrettably) than any previous sci-fi series. Unfortunately, it moves at the same languid pace as 2001 but offers far measlier philosophical grist. The show, at least in its first season, aimed for a more cerebral brand of sci-fi, but its lack of action makes its abundant scientific leaps—it doesn't take a physics PhD to know that an explosion wouldn't knock the moon out of orbit—less forgivable. The show was also in dire need of a compelling character. In one of the episodes, Landau's Koenig revels in the "chance to find a place to live, to raise families, to start again." Would James T. Kirk ever say something so prosaic? These DVD releases are surely cause for celebration among established fans, but they won't attract many new ones.—Paul Fontana

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