Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Space: 1999 Days ― Breakaway from Earth

Summer, 1975. As per my usual habit after arriving at my local shopping mall, I immediately made my way to W.H. Smith, the bookstore. After perusing the shelves for a few minutes my eyes made contact with two particular pocket books sharing the same main title: "SPACE: 1999"

One book was black and one pink. On the covers were some eye-catching photos. What was this? Well, according to the books' back cover text, Space: 1999 was a new and exciting science fiction television programme from ATV.

I'd have to wait a couple of months for this new and exciting show to premiere.

French CBC premiered Space:1999 here in Canada on Monday, September the 1st ― Labour Day. For the English-language premiere of "Breakaway", the show's opening episode, I'd have to wait till 10:30am on the following Saturday. That's right, CBC affiliate CKVR programmed Space for Saturday mornings ― they were not alone in this regard. (Due to the majority of television networks taking a pass on the series, it had to be sold on a station-by-station basis.) Hamilton, Ontario, independent station CHCH gave a little more respect: Sundays at 6pm.

UFO, a previous Gerry and Sylvia Anderson SF series, had been given a full-network run by CTV (Canadian Television) beginning in 1970. No doubt CTV was pitched on buying the producing team's latest show, but they passed. French CBC ("Radio Canada") bought in, but the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's English-language side waited until the second, and as it turned out, final, year of Space before committing to a coast-to-coast transmission. In the Toronto market that meant "Saturdays at 5pm".

Before I go I have to say something controversial. After all, my piece thus far has been pretty "vanilla": While it had problems of its own, the second year of Space: 1999 was an improvement on Year One.

"SPACE: 1999" (Orbit Books)

AD 1999. On the moon's near side a colony of scientists
and astronauts prepares for man's first venture into
deep space . . . On the far side of the moon catastrophe
threatens as the nuclear waste dumped there edges towards critical mass . . .

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