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January 10, 2011

TV Review: Space: 1999 - Season 1 (Blu-ray)

Around the mid 70’s, Hollywood’s curiosity of space pre-Star Wars (which made its theatrical debut in 1977) was undoubtedly at its height. With films like 2001: A Space Odyssey captivating audiences with the interest of space travel, it was only natural to have British TV master, Gerry Anderson (Captains Scarlet and Thunderbirds) to take on a new series that would put fans of 70s TV so close to the unforgettable theatrical experiences provided by Kubrick and George Lucas - in the comfort of your own living room. Anderson’s, Space: 1999, starring the husband and wife duo of Barbara Bain and Martin Landau, did just that. Now, thanks to A&E Home Video the series has now graced the Blu-Ray format with it’s first season and more likely to follow.

Buy Space: 1999: The Complete Season One Blu-ray!

I initially came upon Space: 1999 on the DVD format ; viewing some of the first few seasons. The pilot episode, Breakaway, pulls you in immediately with some early action involving some astronauts that become hostile, veiny mutants while doing some routine space-station maitenence. These intergalatic humanoids begin to wreak havoc among the other astronauts in Moonbase Alpha - where the majority of this series takes place . Here on this specific episode ,you begin to see the great improvement the Blu-Ray holds over the DVD releases. Space:1999 stars, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain practically pop of the screen. Skin-tones are sharp, even some of the make-up FX may look a little extra cheesy, but hey its Blu-ray.

One constant throughout the series you will notice, is the outstanding set design. They look about as authentic as a space station would look even for modern day exploration. The tube TVs may have to go, but that’s a small complaint. Some true artists were at work building these sets and it’s a treat to see something like that 35 years later.

The sound quality appears to be completely re-mixed when comparing the DVD to the Blu-Ray set, which I did with several episodes. From simple sounds of the cracking of glass to a catastrophic blast, you can’t deny the difference in the audio mixes. The unforgettable music in Space: 1999 gets an added lift as well, thankfully with this improved audio work. If you haven’t heard it, this theme is very uniquely 70s and almost impossible to get of your head after even one episode of viewing.

A&E has not only devoted much time into the clarity and audio of this series, they’ve also loaded Space:1999: The First Season with a multitude of extras that will give fans hours of bonus thrills: Audio commentaries, Music-only tracks, Behind-the-scenes featurettes, episodic image, galleries for all episodes, trailers, textless titles, Barry Gray’s theme music demo, alternate opening/closing titles, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain US premier intro and outro, SFX plates and deleted SFX scenes with music track. The 81 year-old Anderson, does an excellent job on the commentaries. For an older fellow he certainly has some interesting recollections of each of the episodes. I almost have to compare him to Roger Corman in the that he still maintains knowledge of even the slightest details pertaining to production and personalities of the cast.

There really aren't too many negatives about this set. I suppose Barbara Bain's Shatner-esque delivery of her lines, containing scene-eating pauses that only the "Shat" could appreciate, may not work for those looking for superb acting. To me, that just gives it that much more charm. The quality is without a doubt some of the best restoration work of ANY TV series . Here's hoping A&E keeps the ball rolling with the additional seasons of Space:1999 presented in the same care.

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