Monday, September 18, 2023

Space: 1999 Days ― Opening Titles: Year Two

While the first season of Space: 1999 was generally disappointing to this then young teen, I harboured some anticipation for its second: "Year Two", as many fans call it.

During the summer of 1976, the CBC ran, in high rotation, an ad campaign for their upcoming 1976-1977 television season. "See the brightest stars on C B C!" sang the enthusiastic women's chorus over cartoony animated stars, then a voiceover promoted alongside a quick succession of clips from upcoming shows. Space: 1999 was looking a little different; still recognizable, but somehow looking enhanced. The imagery was all of a few seconds, but suddenly I couldn't wait.

Saturday, September the 4th, at 5pm... "Breakaway"? Oh, no. I'd seen the series opener a few times. No need to see it again. However, being a full-network presentation, the print was total high-quality 35mm (with the broadcast itself originating from a 2-inch "Quad" video playback).

Okay then. A geek had a hard time waiting, but I understood. The CBC wanted to show the episode that had kicked off the series, and the moon out of Earth's orbit. I'd have to swim through another week of high school. It was going to be a long week.

Saturday, September the 11th, and hello! I really dug that new opening. The most striking change was the theme music. Immediately I loved it. One listen and the tune was embedded. Very catchy space stuff. The beat was wow and now. The images were energetic. Both elements had been recharged and rebooted; dedicated to the concept of a new introductory sequence; a lead-in to a series of necessary alterations.

(As this episode, "The Metamorph", rolled out, I became convinced there was an effort in the production's front office to improve the series.)

As I learned upon watching the end credits, Derek Wadsworth was the composer of Space: 1999's new signature tune, and his work had continued into the episode's next hour.

The episode's underscore supported and enhanced the action onscreen, and, at times, it was pretty and inviting. The storyline carried dark moments, including its hinting at an impending exploding home world, but when called for, composer Wadsworth grooved with the gardens of playful levity in the Grove of Psyche ― before the big bang. (The background music wasn't alienating like it had been in much of Year One. That season's repetitive re-tracking of certain cues made for a viewing experience that could be both dreary and depressing.)

Year Two's opening was a much-needed fresh kickoff to a series-premise that was preposterous, but one that did hold some promise. Mr Wadsworth's amazing Space theme was proof that the right opening title music can set one off in a new and improved direction.


Editorial note: The picture cutter must have enjoyed assembling this title sequence. What exactly is John Koenig firing at? The previous season? (Symbolism that I never noticed until I began to key this in. Credit to my space brain.)


Jon said...

Establishing the new identities was vital to the opening credits.

Koenig: No more Mr. Nice Guy! I shoot first and ask questions of Computer later!
Russell: I'm a doctor! You can tell because I'm walking really quickly.
Maya: Who cares, it's Catherine Schell in a slinky outfit.

Simon St. Laurent said...

Concise and somewhat cutting.