Battlestar Galactica, The Prisoner, Knight Rider, V — all these classic (and not so classic) shows have received 21st century updates. So it's really high time that the cheesiest, strangest, most metaphysical space opera of them all returned: Space: 1999!
For those previously unaware of this televisual masterwork, Martin Landau is John Koenig, commander of Moonbase Alpha, humanity's outpost on, yes, the Moon. After a nuclear explosion, the Moon gets knocked out of orbit, sending Koenig and his intrepid crew on an incredibly odyssey through SPACE… in the year 1999! The title admittedly leaves this point somewhat unclear, so I wanted to take the time to spell that out.
Now, some might ask why such a series needs remaking. Indeed, some might even argue television producers should put the limited resources available for science fiction shows into making bold, new programming. Those people have apparently willfully ignored the way the entertainment industry has operated since...well, since forever, really. Anyway, the Space: 1999 intro is the grooviest thing in television history, and by itself should earn the entire show a second chance.
And make no mistake, folks, this is a show that completely blew its first chance. If the original Battlestar Galactica was an attempt to turn Star Wars into a TV show, then Space: 1999 basically tried to do the same thing with 2001: A Space Odyssey. As you might imagine, they failed at this absurdly lofty goal. The physics at the heart of the show's premise were utterly laughable – no smaller luminaries than Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison considered the notion that the Moon could be blown out of orbit and then cross interstellar distances in weeks the most ludicrous thing they'd ever heard of. The show's early attempts to kick around obscure philosophical points in the context of the celestial void soon devolved into the endless chases and mindless action sequences of, well, the original Battlestar Galactica, only minus all of the iconic stuff with the Cylons.
As such, Space: 1999 shouldn't be remade because there's something brilliant there so much as because it would be such a wonderful challenge for its makers. After all, the show already has one absolutely massive stumbling block, and it's right there in the title. Who in their right mind is going to accept a science fiction show set ten years ago?
And even then, what exactly is the premise of Space: 1999? At least Battlestar Galactica has a simple enough setup and goal – humans fight Cylons, Cylons wipe out humanity, survivors go in search of fabled lost colony, the Earth. It's maybe a little silly on paper, but as the recent series showed, it can be the basis for gripping television. On the other hand, Space: 1999 was never too sure itself of what it was precisely about – people on the Moon get blown out of orbit, weird stuff happens for no discernible reason, weird stuff continues to happen for reasons that are somehow even less discernible than the first set of reasons. It was all a bit too abstract for its own good.
So, let's make it about something. Instead of focusing on the Space part, let's do something with the 1999 part. We have one huge advantage over the show's creators back in 1975 – we actually know what happened in 1999. A new Space: 1999 could be the ultimate nineties nostalgia show, exploring all that delicious Clinton era angst through the spectacularly ridiculous prism of a moonbase that's been blown out into deep space. It wouldn't even need to be a radically different world than our own; just one where the Apollo missions lasted long enough to set up a now antiquated, largely forgotten moonbase. (It's not all that implausible - like anyone remembers the International Space Station even exists.)
Think of it! Instead of just having bizarre metaphysical mind trips inside something called "a black sun", the new Space: 1999 crew can have bizarre metaphysical mind trips while debating Monicagate! And trading Seinfeld quotes! And complaining about how Saving Private Ryan got totally robbed by Shakespeare in Love! And trying to get Windows 98 to work! And assuming the economic boom will never, ever end!
Make no mistake - 80s nostalgia is almost over, and 90s nostalgia is on its way. We're already running out of 80s culture to obsess over, so we're going to have to relive the nineties one way or another. So I have to ask: if we're going to put up with an insipid recreation of nineties life, why shouldn't it be set on a runaway moon hurtling into the vast and dangerous cosmos? Honestly, that sounds like a fair assessment of what happened after 1999 anyway. Keep the original theme tune, and I think we've got ourselves a winner.