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Series / Space: 1999

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"We are Mankind. We came from planet Earth, and we built this base, called Alpha, to learn more about space. But human error blasted this Moon out of the Earth's orbit. And so, we have travelled the Universe searching for a place to live."
Prof. Victor Bergman

This British TV series was created by husband-and-wife team Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson, the creators of Thunderbirds and other "Supermarionation" fare as well as UFO, and was produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment (in co-production with Italy's RAI during the first season, explaining the presence of Italian guest stars). It originally aired in the UK between 1975 and 1977, although several season one episodes were premiered in the US (like "Another Time, Another Place") and Australia (like "Ring Around The Moon").

Its premise was simple: on September 13th 1999, a ridiculously smallnote  explosion blows the moon out of its orbit and accelerates it to a velocity sufficient to send it hurtling out of the solar system and travelling interstellar distances in improbably short times.

During this catastrophic event, the 300 persons crewing Moonbase Alpha avoid getting smeared into jelly; once things settle down a bit, they decide to make the best of bad situation by surviving for at least three years with no means of support, until they hopefully find a new planet to call home. They also deal with all the usual skiffy hackery — aliens, monsters, mysterious events, the works — without much thought to any serious science (or, often, common sense) in the resulting plots.

The show starred Martin Landau as Commander Koenig, the commander of the moon base, and Barbara Bain as Dr. Russell, its chief medical officer. It consisted of two seasons, each with a different approach; season one was relatively slow-paced and cerebral, touching on existential and philosophical questions, whereas season two had more of an action-oriented Monster of the Week approach.

The massive production cost of the show meant that a network sale in the USA was more-or-less essential. Lew Grade, the head of ITC, pulled defeat from the jaws of victory by raising the asking price at the last minute in negotiations with a previously enthusiastic NBC, who called his bluff and passed. On learning of this, CBS and ABC also declined to buy it, and Grade was forced to sell it into syndication. Regardless, the ratings were successful enough that ITC commissioned a second season, with the provisos that there should be an American producer and the budget should be cut. This led to the massive Retool between seasons. The second season was also popular enough that a third almost happened.

A fan-produced featurette, "Message from Moonbase Alpha" (written by regular series writer Johnny Byrne, starring Zienia Merton as series regular Sandra Benes, using footage from the series and done with permission of the copyright holders, therefore almost being canonical) eventually established that the Moonbase crew found an Earth-like planet to live on.

Space: 1999 provides examples of:

  • The Ace:
    • In "Dragon's Domain", Koenig says Tony Cellini used to be this, before the Ultra Probe mission messed him up.
    • Tony Verdeschi comes across as this in Season Two.
  • Action Girl: Maya is quite good at hand-to-hand combat when in her humanoid form, and some of her shape shifted forms are quite deadly.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: What ends up happening to Luke and Anna on "The Testament of Arkadia".
  • Aliens Speaking English:
    • Some even write in English.
    • A LOT of the aliens have hilariously odd names, especially for those who live in the UK. Psychons ("The Metamorph") get a pass due to the nature of the plot; however the villain of "The Infernal Machine" being named Gwent (for those who don't know, a council in Wales, though this may have been an inside joke on the part of the mostly British production team), the entire episode "The Rules of Luton" (Luton is a town just outside London), and "One Moment of Humanity", which features aliens called the Vegans are noteworthy examples (though in the last case, Vega is the name of a real star, and authors like James Blish had used the name to refer to aliens from Vega's solar system long before the common word "vegan" came into use).
    • In "The Rules of Luton", it is first played straight, then subverted, and finally justified:
      • The Judges of Luton (sentient plants) address Koenig and Maya in perfect English when sentencing them for the crime of killing plants and eating them.
      • Koenig's and Maya's sentence is a battle to the death against three other off-world criminals. The trope is subverted when Koenig tries to negotiate with these aliens in English - they don't seem to understand him, and are shown communicating between themselves using what sounds like grunts and growls.
      • In the final confrontation with the last surviving alien, he suddenly replies in English when Koenig addresses him. He immediately provides the justification: the Judges see it as fit that they should be able to communicate before killing each other.
  • Ancient Astronauts: In "The Mark of Archanon", the aliens of the week are found buried on the moon itself, where they've been in stasis for centuries.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The fate of Commissioner Simmonds in "Earthbound".
    • Balor in "End of Eternity". Not only does he start the episode locked away for eternity, but at the end he's blown into vacuum.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Gravity Shields, for one, became important on various episodes (like "Black Sun"), and both Bergman (and later Maya) and/or Russell came with ideas to use some new device each week (the first two a scientific procedure or gadget, the latter a medical procedure or gadget).
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: After being out in space for so long and seeing all kinds of aliens and monsters, including many with mental powers and some disembodied entities, the Alphans still spend a good part of the first act of "The Troubled Spirit" finding it hard to believe that there is an honest-to-goodness ghost running around Alpha killing people, and that such thing as researching the psionic potential of humans is still done back on Earth. It is the fact that one of the Moonbase researcher's skepticism makes him interrupt a seance on the prologue that starts the whole mess.
  • Artificial Gravity: The moonbase is equipped with "gravity shields" that provide artificial gravity, let spacecraft take off and land on planets without refuelling, and allow the moon to fly through a black hole. The shields stop working every time they would be detrimental to the plot.
  • Artistic Licence – Physics: This series is notorious for this.
    • Isaac Asimov complained that an explosion powerful enough to deorbit the Moon would have destroyed it.
    • The nuclear waste that exploded was located on the far side of the Moon, which meant that the moon would have been driven into Earth itself. This was somewhat handled in one episode novelization, which retconned Breakaway from being a massive nuclear "kaboom" to a more rocket-like reaction.
    • The way the moon seems to encounter extra-solar planets every few weeks or so would not only have required it to move much faster than light, but on a trajectory with frequent course changes (star systems don't just line up like that) for which no explanation is given, though some episodes such as "The Black Sun" seem to suggest that the moon's trajectory may be influenced by wormholes and Hyperspace Lanes.
    • Despite the vast speeds needed to encounter so many planets, the moon then nearly stops near the planets for long enough to have the adventure of the week.
    • In "End of Eternity", Balor is blasted out into space, despite the rather obvious premise that the show is based on a moon-bound space station.
  • Artistic Licence - Space: All exterior shots of the moonbase are illuminated by bright sunlight, and always from the same angle — even when the moon is in deep space, light years from the nearest star.
  • Backdoor Pilot: Interestingly enough, "Message from Moonbase Alpha" could be seen as one, with Johnny Byrne mentioning that he had a concept in hand for any potential investors about a continuation series focusing on the Alphans and their descendants, 25 years after Operation Exodus when the Moon came orbiting back towards their planet. Sadly, Byrne passing away means that the idea's future is very much unknown.
  • Back for the Dead: Commissioner Simmonds appears in the pilot as the Earth liaison, but after Moonbase Alpha gets knocked out of the solar system, there is no longer an Earth to liaise with and nothing for him to do. He disappears for the first half of season one until the writers remember him, bring him back for "Earthbound", repeatedly call him useless, then give him an And I Must Scream exit.
  • Big "NO!": Dionne has one in "The Last Enemy".
  • Billed Above the Title: Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.
  • Bridge Bunnies:
    • Most of the female personnel on Alpha seem to be either this or nurses. The only female regulars shown to perform any work of consequence are Dr. Russell, Sandra Benes, and (in the second season) Maya. Sandra is clearly working in a subordinate position, though — and seems to have little to do other than scream, faint or both. She gets a little more to do later in season one and in the second-season episodes where she appears at all.
    • Some individual episodes have, e.g., female scientists or female aliens playing an important role, but these characters are not recurring parts.
  • Captain's Log:
    • Dr Helena Russell, starting with season two.
    • Also used in two first season stories, "Dragon's Domain" (with Dr. Russell) and "The Testament of Arcadia" (with Commander Koenig). Unfortunately, in the case of "Dragon's Domain" that means several season two episodes (such as "The Metamorph") take place in the timeframe of season one...
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Paul Morrow, David Kano, and Tanya Alexander disappeared between seasons with no on-screen explanation (though a tie-in annual feature stated that Morrow was killed in an Eagle crash). Professor Bergman also disappeared between seasons, but not without explanation; a (deleted) dialogue exchange in "The Metamorph" (the opening episode of Season Two) confirms that Bergman died previously due to a spacesuit malfunction.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Numerous.
    • Charlton Comics published both a colour comic and an adult-oriented black and white illustrated magazine (noted for copious Ms. Fanservice moments). One episode of the black and white comic is dissected here.
    • Power Records released several comic-and-record sets.
    • There was also a popular comic strip in the UK.
    • In the 2010s all of these were brought back in a remix/mashup form combined with new material for a series of graphic novels.
  • Compilation Movie: This series was edited into five of these (including the show's only two-parter, "The Bringers of Wonder", which became Destination Moonbase Alpha). Some additional material was also filmed for the first movie, Alien Attack (which compiled "Breakaway" and "War Games"). One, Cosmic Princess (compiling "The Metamorph" and "Space Warp" — interestingly enough, the events of both episodes happen days to weeks apart in series canon and are not connected, but the compilation makes it look like they happen one immediately after the other), was featured in an early season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Before the series' launch in Italy, one of these called Spazio: 1999 (the series' name on Italian TV) was released in Italian cinemas in 1975. It was compiled scenes from "Breakaway", "Ring Around the Moon" and "Another Time, Another Place", and given a Foreign Rescore/Recycled Soundtrack made up of Ennio Morricone pieces!
  • Conflict Ball: "Missing Link" has several scenes of the men arguing over who should be in command while Koenig is in a coma. One would think that a base with a crew of over 300 would have a pretty clear chain of command for occasions like that.
  • Cool Old Guy: Victor Bergman. Omnidisciplinary Scientist, The Professor, mentor figure for Koenig.
  • Cool Starship:
    • The Eagle Transports, possibly the most realistic fictional TV spacecraft ever created. Ersatz 2001: A Space Odyssey Moon Buses.
    • And their military counterparts, the Mark IX Hawks from "War Games".
  • Cosmic Horror Story:
    • While the story as a whole may not be quite that bleak, many episodes touch on this. A great many of the threats that assail Alpha are alien intelligences that care absolutely nothing about their plight and actually see in them a solution to their problem. Often that solution would kill many if not all of the Alphans, and on a couple of occasions even destroy the Earth. The Alphans manage to beat them back, however, even if sometimes it has a great price.
    • On the flip side, sometimes benevolent aliens appear (and Koenig and Bergman firmly believe that something has helped them survive as long as they did, with the odds stacked so unfairly against them).
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Many of the more advanced civilizations encountered by the Alphans have this esthetics. Alien spaceships are also often decorated with crystal or abstract stained-glass screens (or perhaps they are not decorations, but advanced technology).
  • Custom Uniform of Sexy:
    • Downplayed for Dr. Russell. Despite her being the only female part of consequence in the first season, and Barbara Bain's obvious star status, she wears exactly the same uniform as everyone else - but unlike the other women's (which according to the producers were designed to de-emphasize their bodies), hers is almost skintight. Unlike the other women, she also seems to be wearing a bra which emphasizes her breasts. The result is that she looks much curvier than her colleagues.
    • When we first see Maya in the first episode of season 2, she is wearing rather extravagant Space Clothes, but as she joins the doctor as a female lead, she dons the same uniform as everybody else. It is, however, cut slightly differently, to look a bit sexier than the standard issue.
  • Downer Ending: Oooh boy... Lots of 'em. "Breakaway", "Death's Other Dominion", "Space Brain", "War Games", "Dragon's Domain", "The Testament of Arcadia", "Journey to Where", "The Dorcons" noteworthy examples.
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: In "Ring Around the Moon", Carter and Koenig discover each other's vacuum-preserved corpses in a crashed Eagle on the alternate moon.
  • Distant Finale: The "Message from Moonbase Alpha" featurette.
  • Exact Words: In the episode "Earthbound", hibernating aliens en-route to Earth have programmed their ship to make a pit stop on the Moon. After the Moon was blasted into deep space, the ship duly diverts to land on the Moon anyway, even though the Moon is by this time light years from Earth, and maybe in another part of the Universe entirely.
  • Expanded Universe: Adaptations of the episodes were straight Novelizations at first (with multiple changes to make them both fit together within a novel and also some changes done between final shooting script and broadcast episode), then swinging towards expanding the universe as they went on with multiple original stories set between Breakaway and "Message from Moonbase Alpha". A trilogy of books ("Survival", "Alpha" and "Omega") even go as far as work on bringing Professor Bergman Back from the Dead (making the deleted line from "The Metamorph" canonical but performing changes about the situation where it happened) and stranding him away from Alpha for a while, making him the P.O.V. character of a conflict between an alien race and an invasion of the "dragons" from the episode "Dragon's Domain". The novels also expand the mythology of the "cosmic intelligence" encountered on "Black Sun" and referred to on other episodes (like "War Games").
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Any attempts by the Alphans to find a new place to live or to go back to Earth are constantly thwarted by an uncaring, overpowering universe.
  • Fanservice:
    • When the crew adopt, or are forced to adopt, native dress while visiting planets, those clothes sometimes are more a bit on the Stripperific side.
    • Maya has quite a few fight scenes where she performs high kicks while wearing a skirt, showing a lot of leg and just barely avoiding outright upskirt shots.
    • Some of the aliens encountered wear quite revealing clothes. An example is Maya, who wears a dress with a Navel-Deep Neckline in her first appearance. Once she joins the crew she wears the same uniform as everybody else, of course.
    • In "The Guardian of Piri", the costume worn the Guardian's servant (Catherine Schell's first appearance) consists of two strips of cloth across her breasts and a very brief pair of shorts. Her back is completely bare.
    • In one episode, Sandra's uniform is torn open, leaving her entire back bare and revealing that she isn't wearing any undergarments.
    • In one episode, a crewmember is possessed by an alien that craves energy from the environment, which drives him to the base solarium to seek heat and light. This gives an opportunity for shots of bikini-clad women.
    • The second-season episode "The Taybor" starts with a scene in the solarium, which seems to be occupied only by women in skimpy bikinis.
    • Averted with the unisex uniforms of the first season, which were deliberately designed to avoid sexualizing the women. This was in marked contrast to the precursor UFO (1970) and most other Sci Fi shows of the times. In the second season the women's uniforms are somewhat more feminine, with skirts as an alternative to trousers, though they still stay far short of the fanservice department.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Most Alpha personnel wear off-white uniforms, but with a left sleeve that's a different — sometimes jarringly different — colour. This serves the purpose of differentiating various crew categories.
  • Fix Fic: The "Message from Moonbase Alpha" featurette.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: Every episode, although when some end on shots of space it's not always easy to tell.
  • Gaussian Girl: In season two, almost every close-up shot of Dr. Russell is very soft-focus and low contrast. Commander Koenig also sometimes gets the same treatment.
  • Glamour Failure: The two-part episode "The Bringers of Wonder" has huge, disgusting aliens note  who mentally project an image of humanity to fool the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha. They can only be seen in their true forms by commander Koenig (who has been subjected to an experimental medical treatment) or by someone looking at video recordings of them or affected by "white noise" auditory anesthesia.
  • Grand Theft Me: In "The Dorcons", the ruler of the titular aliens wants to steal not Maya's entire body, but her brain stem, because it will make him immortal.
  • Gravity Sucks: In "Black Sun", the eponymous Sun's gravity is dragging an asteroid onto an collision course with Alpha, then somehow dragging it back into space moments before collision. It's explained in the episode that the black sun is not draining power from Alpha; they are diverting all but utterly essential energy into the gravity shields to protect them.
  • Human Alien:
    • Many aliens are suspiciously similar to humans. This goes to the point where "The Last Enemy" has aliens that are basically humans in biker jackets.
    • Averted for other aliens who are machine intelligences, bodyless Energy Beings, or godlike spirits.
    • Might have been justified with Maya, who is a Voluntary Shapeshifter, except that she cannot hold any form but her humanoid one for long, so we know that is her true form.
  • Humanity Came From Space: In "The Testament of Arkadia", the Alphans find the original human homeworld.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Alphans encounter many Higher-Tech Species (usually of the Crystal Spires and Togas sort) who fear contamination or conquest by our backward, warlike species.
  • Infinite Supplies:
    • While Alpha has its own mining and production facilities, this isn't enough to avoid the trope.
    • Averted in the Season One finale, "Testament of Arcadia". Commander Koenig tells the fanatics who want to settle on a dormant planet that the amount of supplies that they'd take would doom the rest of the Alphans. Justified in that whatever force has diverted the Moon towards the planet Arcadia has also drained the Moonbase's energy supplies to a critical level, bringing their food production capabilities to a screeching halt.
    • This also includes a lot of the changes between season one and two. You can perhaps justify the new jackets, tools and weapons away as just something they already had in storage, but somehow they found the resources to install/renovate whole sections and departments.
  • Immortality Seeker:
    • The Dorcons in the episode with the same name can become immortal by implanting a Psychon brain stem in their brain. The leader of the Dorcons is prepared to kill everybody on Alpha to take the brain stem of Maya, who is the last surviving Psychon and therefore his only chance to gain immortality. Since losing her brain stem would naturally kill her, Maya and the rest of the Alphans are less keen on the idea.
    • Deconstructed in "Death's Other Dominion", where Dr. Rowland's attempts to learn the secret of the immortality he and his group now possess results in several of them being reduced to mindless vegetables and ultimately earns him a messy death upon leaving the planet.
  • Irony: Of the Tragic kind. Commissioner Simmonds in "Earthbound" doesn't want to leave to luck his one chance to come back to Earth on an alien ship with only one cryogenic unit left. So, he takes hostage the Alpha base and Captain Zantor to secure his spot. After this goes horribly wrong, Captain Koenig reveals that the one candidate the computer picked for the trip was... Commissioner Simmonds.
  • Jump Scare:
    • Invoked in many episodes making the show surprisingly frightening, especially for younger viewers. Typically a visual shock would be coupled with the sudden sound of screaming. Notable examples include the paintings in "End of Eternity", and the burned ghost in "Troubled Spirit".
    • "The Immunity Syndrome" also attempted it with the Skeleton Crew reveal.
  • Lighter and Softer: The second season is this compared to the first. This applies not so much to the individual perils faced by the Alphans (they are just as dire in both seasons), but to the general tone of the series: where the first season is pessimistic with elements of Cosmic Horror, the second season is much less philosophical, and more optimistic and positive.
  • Limited Destination Time: The moon is hurtling through space and can only stay near a planet for a limited length of time that the inhabitants can't affect.
  • Limited Sound Effects: The alien sound effects were rather good. However, they soon became rather familiar, with everything from a Negative Space Wedgie to an planet-based lifeform making the same sound across two seasons.
  • Mad Scientist: In "The Metamorph", Maya's father Mentor has the good intentions of saving his planet, but is working on a megalomanic scheme to do so by building a computer fueled by the living brains of humans, and tries to lure the Alphans to their death for this purpose.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Maya's role in the episode where she's introduced, "The Metamorph". She has full confidence in her father Mentor's good intentions, until Koenig convinces her he's a dangerous madman. Then she turns coat.
  • Magical Security Cam: in "Black Sun", Main Mission watches a side view of an Eagle, even though it's distant and heading away from Alpha.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: There is never a direct answer about what made the Moon change course towards Arkadia, remain in orbit for some time, drain a large amount of power from Moonbase Alpha, and then send it back on its merry way; or if the beings that lived on Arkadia are really Ancient Astronauts (or more specifically humanity's ancestors); or if Luke's and Anna's sudden bout of fanaticism is actually their own choice. What remains is a tale pretty similar to that of Adam and Eve.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: "The Metamorph" shows Mentor having a lion on an alien planet. It is later shown that said lion is a form assumed by Maya, who also assumes the forms of other Earth animals. It is not explained how she can know what these animals look like.
  • Monster of the Week: The second season became this, upping the action quota and de-emphasizing the psychodrama, to the dismay of some fans and the delight of others.
  • The Mutiny: In "The Seance Spectre", a group of Alphans who have formed a crackpot cult with a charismatic leader, buy into the leader's conspiracy theory that a nearby Death World is actually an ideal planet to settle, but that Commander Koenig for some reason is suppressing the fact. They stage a mutiny and try to move to the planet. It doesn't end well.
  • Neck Lift: Peter Bowles as Balor in "End of Eternity".
  • No Immortal Inertia:
    • The youthful villain of the episode "The Exiles" has spent 300 years in cryosleep; part of the technology involves a membrane, so thin it's invisible, covering his body. When Helena claws at the membrane, the years quickly catch up to him and he dies of old age.
    • Also done in the episode "Death's Other Dominion": something about a certain ice world kept the survivors of an exploratory ship unaging for centuries. When one of them tries to leave... the effect is quite gruesome, and the fact that he's holding Helena's hand at the time doesn't help.
  • Now or Never Kiss: Tony Verdeschi and Maya in "The Beta Cloud", along with him telling her that he loves her, which later comes back to haunt him.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: even before his definitive Face–Heel Turn, Commissioner Simmonds is only too willing to undermine Koenig, including offering to punish Koenig in front of alien guests.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist:
    • Professor Bergman, who is expected to have answers to any conceivable scientific or philosophical question, and a lot of other questions as well. He can almost always provide one as well, and if he can't, he will normally make an informed guess.
    • In the second season Maya takes over this role, but she usually limits herself to scientific questions and questions about other cultures. This is justified by her coming from an old, advanced civilization with a large knowledge base, and being much more intelligent than a typical human.
  • Operation: [Blank]: "Operation Exodus", the plan to evacuate Moonbase Alpha. The struggle to locate a proper planet to evacuate the Alphans to is an important part of the plot in many episodes.
  • Opposite-Sex Clone: How Maya escaped from "The Taybor":
    Hag-like Maya: All right, Taybor. I will stay with you. It will be your pleasure to look at me in this form, a female reflection of yourself — forever!
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In "Force of Life", Zoref becomes a kind of heat-seeking vampire, who needs to absorb energy from his environment (and other people) to survive.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: In "Black Sun", the moon goes through the black sun and emerges at a different location in space. This is no doubt inspired by the theory that real black holes are one end of a wormhole.
  • Phony Psychic: The bad guy of "The Seance Spectre" is an Alphan that has not only drawn several people into a cult of personality by making them believe that he is actually capable of listening to spirits that guide him, but has also been driven to madness and believing his own lies, thinking that a Death World that the Moon is about to pass by is the best place to evacuate the Alphans to-and doing anything, including murder and trying to pull off a second Breakaway, to make the Alphans go to the planet.
  • Planetary Relocation: The entire plot of the show is kickstarted by a chain reaction of powerful nuclear explosions dislodging the Moon out of Earth orbit, stranding the inhabitants of Moon Base Alpha as the Moon drifts into interstellar space. While its effects on Earth are never shown, it's said that the Moon's release on the ocean tides caused disasters around the world. In a later episode, Commander Koenig deliberately sets off another batch of nuclear explosions to keep the Moon from colliding with another planet.
  • Pre Cap: The introduction to each first-season episode contains a montage of action shots from the episode, often of Eagles blowing up or people being thrown across rooms by explosions. This gives away nothing of the plot since it is presented without context. This is similar to the brief pre-title sequence used in the Anderson's Thunderbirds, and their only re-use of the idea.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Prof. Victor Bergman soon got his own appearance in the opening credits.
  • Race Lift: Sandra is an unusual case: Although she's played by Zienia Merton in both seasons, she looks much more Asian in the second season (Merton was of mixed race and could pass as both European and Asian). In later episodes, her name has also changed from the Hungarian-sounding Sandra Benes to just Sahn.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: And then some, with music from other Gerry Anderson shows (and assorted library pieces) being used to bolster the few episode scores Barry Gray composed for season one. (Derek Wadsworth also only did about five episodes in season two, and they were reused as well.)
  • Red Shirt: When a previously unknown face is seen in an Eagle cockpit, there's a large chance that Eagle will blow up.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Tony Verdeschi and Bill Fraser in Season Two.
  • Retool: There were many and sometimes large changes from season one to season two:
    • Some of the main characters of the first season were removed, and new characters were added, in most cases without an explanation (the exceptions being Prof. Bergman and Maya).
    • The script changed into a more action-packed, monster-of-the-week series with less philosophical implications and existential angst.
    • The general tone of the show became more optimistic.
    • The uniforms were revamped to be slightly more colourful and with new collars, and they were not unisex anymore after the addition of skirts for the women.
    • The set was changed, most notably in the case of the command centre.
    • The music was replaced with a completely different theme song.
  • Reverse Polarity: in "Black Sun", the innovation behind Bergman's protective shield is to reverse the "pressure" of the Black Sun, instead of just negating it. How reversing differs from negating is not explained.
  • Rogue Planet: The series deals with the perils the people of Moonbase Alpha endure when a massive nuclear explosion kicks the Moon out of orbit and makes it wander through the galaxy on its own volition, running into wormholes and other phenomena.
  • Running Gag: In season 2, Tony Verdeschi's terrible attempts at brewing beer.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale:
    • The moon is variably described as being billions of kilometers, miles, and light-years from Earth, resulting in roughly equal difficulty in returning despite the fact that the first case would put the moon closer to Earth than Saturn, while in the latter case the moon would be vastly more distant from the Milky Way galaxy than the Great Wall, currently the largest known feature of the universe.
    • The moon passes between star systems at speeds fast enough to go through a star system per week, yet remains close enough to each and slow enough to reach a planet via shuttle for days at a time.
    • In "Black Sun", a survival Eagle is equipped with 5 weeks' supplies. As a sublight vehicle, there is no chance it will get anywhere in five weeks. They also intend that a gravity shield which protects Alpha will slow the approach of the entire Moon to the Black Sun (though, to be fair, neither Koenig or Bergman were really expecting it to work for very long).
  • Screaming Woman: frequently. Somewhat justified, since none of the crew signed on expecting the dangers they encounter. If no woman was present, a screaming man often made an acceptable substitute. Screams were sometimes overdubbed, leaving you wondering who it was who screamed.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: Happens to Maya on "Space Warp". The plight of the Alphans then becomes 1) saving her from dying and 2) preventing the highly destructive monsters that she's changing into from wrecking the Moonbase with their rampage.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: Averted with the Eagle Transporters, thoroughly unglamorous work vehicles, kind of like dump trucks in space.
  • Shout-Out: The second-to-last episode is called "The Immunity Syndrome".
  • Skeleton Crew
    • "The Testament of Arkadia" had a cave with skeletons seated around a table.
    • "The Immunity Syndrome" plays straight the 'turn the captain's chair round to reveal the corpse' trope. In context it wasn't much of a surprise, so of the three fully grown men present, one wonders which it was who screamed..
  • Slurpasaur: In the episode "New Adam, New Eve", in a change from the usual People in Rubber Suits, giant lizards are encountered in a cave. Commander Koenig makes short work of them with his laser.
  • Space Clothes: Not as bad as some examples, but the unisex, beige jumpsuits with shiny plastic belts and plastic platform boots are still very '70s. The second season actually manages to tone this aspect down by adding a jacket to the basic moon base uniform.
  • Space Clouds: In many episodes, the moon encounters mysterious clouds in space. These are not ordinary nebulae, but often hide a planet, space ship or some other phenomenon, and are often deliberately made as camouflage.
  • Special Guest: Among those who made guest appearances were BRIAN BLESSED, Joan Collins, Bernard Cribbins, Peter Cushing, Julian Glover, Christopher Lee, Ian McShane, Michael Sheard and Patrick Troughton.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Inverted for the Moonbase's main computer which is called just "Computer" (even on some moments where adding a "the" would be correct) by the characters.
  • Spiritual Successor: The moonbase setting, with the living quarters, control room and Eagle launch pads, seems like an expanded version of the moonbase in UFO (1970). The original concept of the show was a Moonbase-centric, 1999-situated continuation of UFO, but in the actual show the subject matter and typical plots are very different.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • The final twist of "Message from Moonbase Alpha": Benes' final report from Alpha, pleading those on Earth to remember them and sent through a boosted carrier wave back to Earth but with the Alphans not knowing when (or if) it would arrive, went back in time and was the Meta Planet's wave, which pretty much was the trigger for the whole series.
    • Also the final twist of "The Troubled Spirit", in a fashion: the titular spirit is an Alphan which has been so horribly burned that he is almost unrecognizable and is on a rampage to kill and destroy, and the man who unwillingly brought it into being sacrifices himself by fighting it. At the very end, his wrecked and highly burned body is the spirit's.
  • Starfish Aliens: Any of the alien encounters that isn't a Human Alien or Rubber-Forehead Alien.
  • Stock Sound Effects: A Main Mission Red Alert alarm (heard in "Black Sun") sounds exactly like a tape recording of an antiquated mechanical alarm played through a bad loudspeaker.
  • Sudden Name Change: Sandra goes by the name Sandra Benes for the entire first season and the first episodes of the second season. After her absence from the cast for part of the second season, she is renamed to Sahn, with no explanation given. This could simply be a pet name for "Sandra", but in late season two episodes her name tag says "Sahn", with no surname. A possible explanation is that the producers wanted to portray her as an Asian rather than a European (the actress was half English, half Burmese and could pass as both).
  • Teach Him Anger: A peculiar example in "A Moment of Humanity". The reason why a robotic takeover of a planet has not gone as far as to kill their masters is because they don't know how to feel (or act) violently, so they abduct some of the Alphans and try to force them (in various ways, including seduction) to act violent around them so they can learn.
  • Terra Deforming: In one episode, the Alphans make contact with Earth, where it's a couple of centuries later due to relativity or something, and the entire population lives in domed cities because the outside environment is toxic. That exact phrase "Who needs nature" has become something of a Catchphrase, and you get the sense that nobody on Earth is too bothered about the loss of the ecosystem, in a manner similar to Silent Running.
  • Terraform: Done to the Moon by aliens on "The Last Sunset". Removed by the aliens by the episode's end, once the Alphans are comfortably away from their planet (they believe that Humans Are the Real Monsters that badly).
  • Token Minority:
    • Ben Ouma, Moonbase Alpha's computer expert in "Breakaway", the first episode. Personal conflicts with the rest of the cast actor meant that actor Lon Stratton only appeared in one episode. Rather than recast the role, the character of Ouma was replaced with David Kano.
    • David Kano, Moonbase Alpha's computer expert in the rest of the first season, was played by Jamaican-born Clifton Jones. He averts his "mere token" status fairly well for a '70s series, and he certainly gets a lot more to do per episode than, say, Lt. Uhura.
    • Doctor Matthias, as well, has an important role in many episodes, being one of only two doctors on the base. Unlike Kano he returns for season two, although the character only appears in two episodes of the final season, making him the only black main character (though there are at least two recurring black extras, namely Quentin Pierre and Alibe Parsons, who actually has lines in several episodes).
    • Sandra is a curious case. Her actress, Zienia Merton was half Burmese, half English, and in the later episodes of the second season the creators seemed to try to emphasize her Asian roots with a different makeup and hair style, even renaming her to Sahn.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future:
    • The story kicks off on September 9th, 1999.
    • "Voyager's Return" deals with an interstellar space probe launched from Earth in 1985.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: The "Black Sun" encountered in the episode of the same name is in principle a black hole: a black star with gravity so strong that it can't be escaped, but apart from that has almost nothing in common with a real back hole.
  • Vapor Wear:
    • The thin fabric of the first-season uniforms makes it rather obvious that most of the women aren't wearing bras. This is not played for fanservice and may be a conscious part of the unisex costume designnote . Averted in the second season when the women's uniform design was changed to look more feminine.
    • When exploring an alien planet, Sandra suffers Clothing Damage that leaves her entire back bare and makes it clear that she doesn't wear anything under her uniform top.
    • The dress worn by Maya in her first appearance at first appears to have a bare back and a Navel-Deep Neckline; in fact, the top part is made of nude-coloured fabric, but so sheer that it is obvious that there is no undergarment beneath.
    • Consul Varda, the commander of the alien ship in "The Dorcons", wears a dress that makes it quite obvious that she's braless.
    • The clothes worn by female aliens, or by female Alpha crewmembers when adopting native dress, are often cut in a way that would make it impossible to wear any underwear.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • Maya has the ability to change into any animal or alien she has encountered. She can only hold the form for a limited time, though.
    • Maya's father has a computer that can do this to larger objects and, potentially, a whole planet.
    • The Dorcons in the episode of the same name have a device that, among other things, can change the shape of their spaceships.
  • Wagon Train to the Stars: With the added problem that there is no way of controlling nor stopping this train.
  • We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future: The uniforms conspicuously lack pockets, probably because it would ruin their lines. Nobody ever seems to need to carry around any small objects.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The first baby born on the moonbase in the episode "Alpha Child" is never mentioned again. This is an inevitable consequence of Space: 1999 being written, as was the norm back then, to be shown in any episode order after the scene-setting episode 1.
  • Worth It: Part of the speech that gives the Title Drop to "A Moment Of Humanity": for one of the humanoid robots to feel it, it believes as it dies, was worth the destruction of his entire race.
  • X Days Since: Episodes in the second season usually begin with a voice-over of Dr. Russel reading from her log, starting with "X days after leaving Earth's orbit". The totals, however, frequently don't agree with numbers used during the first season, or with each other.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: In "The Troubled Spirit", the man who called the spirit into being was, in the end, the spirit in life — with his highly-burned body being the final evidence.
  • Zeerust:
    • The main computer is pictured in a way typical of the time before the public was exposed to computers: it seems to be a sort of oracle that can solve any problem given enough input data.
    • On the other hand, the input and output devices used by the computer are very primitive: enormous wall-mounted keyboards (with unmarked keys) that seem to require experts to operate (the fact some people spontaneously develop the capacity to input information on Computer at all — let alone at an insanely quick speed — is the first sign that something is not right on a couple of episodes), and output printed on narrow paper tape that has to be torn off and read aloud by an operator.
    • Many shots of high-tech equipment featured the large, open-reel tape drives typical of 1970s computers (but in real life made obsolete long before 1999).
    • On the same page, it's easy to notice that various "portable terminals" that appear throughout the series (such as for example on "Testament of Arcadia" ) are actually calculators of the type that were cutting-edge technology in 1975.
    • When the crew is trouble-shooting the computer, Eagles or other equipment, they often remove circuit boards which were state-of-the-art in 1975, but look hopelessly old-fashioned today.
    • The first season's beige, unisex uniforms with flared trouser legs, broad, shiny belts and platform boots — and the no-bra look for the women — seem very much like The Seventies today.


Video Example(s):



Segment of the opening titles of Space:1999 previewing the episode Breakaway.

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