Tuesday, August 18, 2015

("That's no moon - it's a space station!") - Moonbase Alpha vs. The Death Star

It's the Fall of 1975.  Space: 1999 premieres in U.S. syndication with an incredible opening episode, "Breakaway" that (literally) breaks all the rules of sci-fi (and physics!).  Following a nuclear explosion on the lunar surface, the moon - and Moonbase Alpha along with it - breaks away from Earth orbit and is hurtled uncontrollably into deep space. Sci-Fi fans (including quite a few Star Trek fans) and TV critics worldwide quickly attacked the nascent series - decrying the total absurdity of the concept of a "wandering moon".  The cat-calls continue to this day...!

The "wandering moon" of Moonbase Alpha -
Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977)

Space: 1999 ("Breakaway"); premiered in the U.S. in the Fall of 1975.
Fast forward roughly 19 months to May 25, 1977.  Star Wars premieres - a film that - like Space: 1999 before it - broke all the rules.  Sci-Fi fans (including quite a few Star Trek fans) and movie critics world-wide embrace this imaginative universe with an ardor that continues to this day.  In the case of Star Wars, virtually every fan and critic absolutely **loves** the "novel" idea of  The Death Star - a "traveling moon"!

("That's no moon - it's a space station!") - was this famous line by Ben Kenobi meant to be an homage / acknowledgement to Space: 1999?  George Lucas may have popularized it, but Gerry and Sylvia Anderson came up with the idea of a traveling / wandering moon **first**!

"That's no moon - it's a space station!" -
 The Death Star - a "traveling moon".
in Star Wars (1977).

The Death Star attacks! - Star Wars (1977)

So - according to the majority of fans and critics - if Space: 1999 features a "wandering moon" (Moonbase Alpha) - it sucks eggs.  Two years later, Star Wars features a "traveling moon" (The Death Star) - and it's the Greatest Idea Ever.

Years after the cancellation of Space: 1999, a number of books and magazines devoted to sci-fi began being published (largely fueled by the popularity of Star Wars).  Most of these publications inevitably began featuring "best of" and "worst of" lists devoted to various sci-fi TV shows.  Even before the end of the 1980's, Space: 1999 had (somehow) garnered an undeserved ranking in the "worst of" lists!  And almost every rational for the dislike for the series always seemed to boil down to the "wandering moon" aspect of the premise.  I just don't understand the perpetual dislike for the "wandering moon" element of Space: 1999, I really don't.  Is it really *that* much different from The Death Star from Star Wars?  I can't recall even one fan or critic bashing The Death Star due to scientific impossibilities...!

BTW, I give the absolutely brilliant first season of Space: 1999 a solid 5 Star rating.  I give the (radically changed) second season a 3 Star rating (for nostalgic reasons if nothing else).

Over and out!

Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977) - created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.
Star Wars (1977) - created, written and directed by George Lucas.

Space: 1999 is copyright (c) ITC.
Star Wars is copyright (c) Lucasfilm.

All photos are used for illustrative purposes only and are copyright (c) the respective copyright holders.