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YMMV / Space: 1999

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: The whole series might actually make more sense if viewed as Fantasy IN SPACE rather than Science Fiction.
    • All of the scientific... ahem... inaccuracies would go away. A Wizard Did It!
    • Many of the plots are about inner journeys, mind control, possession — all classic Fantasy topics. As is fighting against the Monster of the Week.
    • And Professor Bergman would fit better as a wise old wizard than as a scientist — he is almost never shown doing any actual science, or rational reasoning, but rather seems to have some mystical knowledge of what is going on.
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  • Applicability: Similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the series exhibits this trope in spades, especially in the first season. See Alternate Character Interpretation above for a specific example.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Barry Gray's scores for Season One.
    • And the unworldly-sounding sitar score for "The Troubled Spirit".
    • The episode "Space Brain" uses Gustav Holst's "Mars, God of War" in its climax.
    • And "Dragon's Domain" uses Tomaso Albinoni's "Adagio in G Minor", later made famous by its use in Gallipoli, to great effect
  • Broken Base:
    • Among the sci-fi community, it's considered either an underrated classic (or at least the first half of it is) or an example of everything that can go wrong with a show in that genre. There's no middle ground.
    • In particular, the quality of the special effects seems to break the base between those who like the special effects for being quite good for the era, and those who focus on the cheap-looking, failed effects. There is something to both of these views; it's probably a question of seeing the glass as half empty or half full.
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  • Critical Research Failure: "The Metamorph" explains how an Eagle is desperately searching for the "rare metal" that is... titanium.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Alan Carter was originally planned to be written out as part of the cast changes for Season Two. However, when the producers learned how popular he was with viewers, he was kept on and given an expanded role.
    • To a degree, Fraser in Series 2.
    • Also Professor Victor Bergman. The man was loved enough by fans that three of the official Expanded Universe novels ("Survival", "Alpha" and "Omega") showcase his (only briefly alluded on in a deleted scene) Bus Crash between seasons and then go to work on bringing him Back from the Dead. "Survival" was even liked enough by Bergman's actor (Barry Morse) that he wrote a foreword for it!
  • Funny Moments: Two of them in "The Bringers of Wonder." First, part one begins with Koenig flying back in his Eagle, having had his brain made loopy by the aliens. The giggling and chortling, loud whooping, and wildly manic expressions Martin Landau adopts have to be experienced to be believed. Secondly, when one of the Monster of the Week aliens, disguised as a gorgeous (and notoriously vamp-y) woman from back home, starts putting the moves on Tony, Maya immediately glowers and turns into a monstrous creature behind her back. Just as she's about to strike, Tony sees her and quickly (but non-verbally) urges her to cut it out; the alien turns to see Maya back in her humanoid appearance, and both her disarming pose and innocently smiling expression are hilarious and priceless.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • John and Victor's warm conversation as the moon approaches the Black Sun and their conversation with the "cosmic intelligence" as they go through.
    • "We're all aliens until we get to know one another"
  • Idiot Plot: The second season, especially — so much so that even Martin Landau complained (in particular, he hated "All That Glisters"note  so much that he threatened to quit).
  • Narm: Suffice to say, the show did have its moments, especially during the infamous second half. For just one example, "All That Glisters" features a character named Reilly who, though born and raised an Irishman, affects the persona of an American cowboy due to spending much of his adult life in Texas, complete with a Stetson ten-gallon hat, cowboy boots and frequent use of Western colloquialisms (which contrast rather jarringly with his thick brogue). Then there's the fact that the episode itself centres around the characters being terrorized by an immobile silicon-based entity - essentially an intelligent rock. It's probably no surprise therefore that Martin Landau and the rest of the cast hated the episode so intensely.
  • Second Season Downfall: Although the first season faced some criticism for the physical improbability of its setup, it was still well-received for the most part and often compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The second season, on the other hand, was an entirely different story, seen by many as one of the most egregious examples of the trope in sci-fi.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Allegedly thanks to the low budget; inevitably, it was nicknamed Space: £19.99. At the time, it was the most expensive TV series ever made and many of the effects still stand up today, so either the critics didn't check their facts, or just thought the show looked cheap.
    • The spaceship FX are extremely high quality, and usually achieved using double-exposure rather than blue screen. This means the images are captured on the original negative and don't suffer from extra grain, although this does limit the angles that can be used. On the other hand the show does have some extremely poor matte paintings.
    • As has been said, the overall production value was very high, approaching feature-film quality in many areas. The fly in the ointment is the writing; many cast members have made the point that the producers seemed more interested in the special effects than the scripts. That said, some of the actors rose above the material and there are some excellent character scenes, mainly those involving Barry Morse as Professor Victor Bergman.
    • There is a certain dissonance between good and bad special effects. Obviously, some viewers remember the good ones and other the bad ones. As an example, in the first-season episode "Dragon's Domain", we see a number of abandoned spaceships — created as very detailed and realistic-looking models — orbiting a supposedly Earth-like planet that looks more like a brightly-colored plasticine ball (perhaps from a third-grader's art project) than any real planet.
    • The eponymous "Dragon" of the episode mentioned above is a very static Tentacle Monster that appears stuck in a doorway. In some shots it does look rather nightmarish, but the fight between it and the protagonist looks very much like a stage fight, with an actor trying to look like he's fighting obviously plastic tentacles.
    • In "Space Brain", the situation itself is rather dire—on the one hand, the very real threat of Alpha being crushed into superdensity, killing everyone inside, and on the other hand the moon causing the destruction (by passing through it) of the eponymous space brain and all the worlds and beings inside that region of space that depended on it. And the climax, as they are forced to pass through and hope they can survive the pressure, is accompanied by very dramatic, tense music (as mentioned above, the awesome "Mars, God of War" by Holst). But what did they use for the effect to represent the crushing antibodies? When it's flying through space, it looks like wisps of cotton candy. On the moon and inside Alpha? Giant piles of foam. Yes. They're being crushed by detergent soap suds. It's completely impossible to take the threat seriously after that.
    • One area where the special effects consistently do fail is modelling alien planets. They usually look like plastic balls painted in swirly patterns, with no resemblance at all to any known planet.
    • Just a couple of years later, the Star Wars movies came along and changed everything. Compared to Star Wars and later productions, Space: 1999 does indeed look a bit on the cheap side. Star Wars made ALL sci-fi on a TV budget — and indeed, an awful lot of SF movies — look cheap. That does not alter the fact that Space: 1999 was, at the time, the most expensive TV series ever made and many of the effects do still stand up far better than would be expected for a mid-70s TV SF show.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Whatever else you can say about the series as a whole, you can at least admit that the model work is top-notch (as was usual of a Gerry Anderson production).
  • What the Hell, Costuming Department?: Despite the uniforms being designed by famous fashion designer Rudy Gernreich, they didn't look very cool or interesting even back then. If the intention was to avert the Space Clothes trope they succeeded only too well.


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