|"To everything that might have been"|
To my horror, I learned this week that fellow Montrealer Eric Bernard's brilliant attempt to re-imagine and enhance the classic sci-fi series Space1999, as Space 2099, has been poached by some extraterrestrial carpetbagger named Jace Hall.
Hall and his HDFilms buddies (producers of the recent 'V' series) took Bernard's Space2099 idea and pitched it to ITV, who have now awarded them the rights to re-imagine the classic series.
Let The Games Begin
All this appears to me to be a case of television industry nepotism, forcing Mr.Bernard to either 'sell out' to Mr.Hall, or leave his project with, using a line from the series itself, "nowhere to die", thus undermining Bernard's efforts to infuse critical integrity, a holistic reconciliation and necessary closure back into the original series.
Since at least 2008, Bernard claims to have approached ITV on three occasions about his enhanced version of Space1999. This probably gave trade-insiders enough time to come up with a similar plan of their own. Bernard claims also to have recently been approached by Hall about his project, but any chance of forming a cooperative effort fell through when the two parties failed to share a common vision for Space 2099. Jace Hall, speaking through his publicist (which says it all for me) claims to have only approached Bernard with regards to acquiring his URL domain name: space2099.com. Bernard refused to concede his baby, yet still wishes Mr.Hall's project the best. Bernard, the man/legend has chosen to take the gentlemanly 'high road' in this 21st Century 'sci-fi cold war'.
Eric Bernard had painstakingly re-edited the original series to give the production better effects, a quicker pace, while integrating enough 'TLC' to satiate the discerning eye of any passionate fan of Space1999. He and his team at Retcon Studios re-wrote certain stories to cleverly provide a smooth transition and proper explanation of the artistic and storyline differences between the first and second seasons. His next plan was to pitch the idea of a new and revived series called 'Legacy' which would have helped to explain what had eventually become of the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, thus offering it's fans a fresh vision of the Alphans' exciting new future.
|"The Eagle has Landau" (I couldn't resist!)|
Thoughts On The Original Series
As for the original series itself, Space1999 has had a long and loyal cult following, but has generally been viewed with disfavour among many within the acne-scarred ranks of the 'hard-core sci-fi techno-geek' community, who often split atoms trying to negate the value of this fantastic series by dwelling upon the fundamental illogic at the core of the show's fractured scientific premise. Well, that's their business, but I prefer to judge a television show based on it's 'artistic' not 'autistic' qualities.
It would be a personal fantasy to see all those 'sci-fi factoid-obsessed Space1999 haters' piled into a yellow moon-buggy and driven deep into some remote lunar crevasse. Or perhaps to even see Maya transform herself into a hissing alien reptile, forever scaring them into permanent retreat aboard the cozy confines a Borg vessel. Yes, season two (with Maya) was objectively an adolescent farce, but season one was an unparalleled masterpiece of allegorical fiction. Accompanied by Barry Gray's superior score, and an elaborate set design, Space1999 had more than enough style, mood and archetypical mythology to overturn and scatter the 'metaphoric Lego' of any pimply-faced 'Star Wars' or 'Battlestar' loving adolescent.
Many of those 'Science-Geek Pseudo-Critics' failed to see the value in Space1999, usually citing 'bad science' as being a good reason to laugh off and dismiss the series altogether. Perhaps they would have been better off taking the 'Evil Captain Kirk's' advice on SNL twenty some odd years ago, and "move out of their parent's basement". The essence of the human journey is found within the colours of our emotional responses to experiences gained through philosophical enquiry, enriching life's magical palette for those of us who find value in the 'artistic', not 'autistic', expressions of story telling.
Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch!
|Another Time, Another's Vision|
The HDFilms project appears to be totally 'sexed-up' with newly designed and streamlined bug-headed Eagles, accompanied of course, by all the latest in CG effects. Let me guess, they're probably also going to once again cater to the same lowest common denominator that has so ruined my enjoyment of revivals of other sci-fi enterprises, -Which is an overemphasis on realism, by forcing everything to 'make sense' (appeasing the Geeks), -by introducing a new 'rival race' as antagonists (appeasing the Geeks' need to vanquish a foe for 'heroism') -promoting and cultivating 'love interests' (appeasing the Geeks' girlfriends or wives), and perfectly capped off by adding even 'a cute little boy and his pet dog' (an appeasement of course to the Geeks' insufferable and bratty little kids)
What made Space1999 so enjoyable, was the sense of destiny and purpose impressed upon the Alphans' on their cosmic journey. Unlike other sci-fi series, Space1999 had the ability to show humans as genuinely fear based and flawed (much like my writing style), often exposing their naivete and ignorance (once again like my writing style) and as being somewhat 'less than all knowing' (and once again, not unlike my writing style). The first season put a minor emphasis on 'alien villains' while instead choosing more to focus on 'alien masters', who served as spiritual midwives ever challenging the Alphans in their evolutionary and transformative odyssey (a theme expanded upon nicely in Star Trek: The Next Generation, with the character "Q").
Reflecting back on Star Trek for a moment, we loved how Kirk's courage allowed him to conquer, against all odds, even the greatest of alien foes… but that was Star Trek, a different concept, this is Space1999, and a new vision!
|Never turn ones back on the Fans!|
I could argue that Space1999 was a kind of 'meta-sci-fi', in that it's futuristic premise was only the artistic device used, which was to parallel man's mythological descent into the underworld for the purpose of rediscovering a spiritual treasure long ago since lost, which is a return home, back to the soul's centre, and a place to 'belong'.
The moon broke from earth's orbit as the result of a technological disaster (a nuclear waste explosion), paralleling the biblical 'exile of man' from the garden, suffering the consequences of our ignorance of natural forces, by biting from the 'forbidden fruit' of technology. As a result of this folly, each week the Alphans were faced with conundrums concerning these newly unleashed alien forces and mysteries.
Space1999 was beautifully filmed and produced, accompanied by realistic acting rarely seen in Sci-Fi TV at that time, or in any of it's cartoonish predecessors. It was thematically 'dark', often leading each episode to culminate in jaw dropping and eerie 'Twilight Zonesque' endings. Sadly, this magic formulae was then methodically eviscerated by 'serial TV killer' Fred Freiberger, who not only produced and wrecked season two, but also drove the final nail into the original Star Trek series by producing, and effectively ruining, it's third season.
We now have the 'Empire', HDFilms, in control of the Space2099 project, with the 'Jedi Knights', Retcon Studios, needing to somehow mount a swift and decisive counter-offensive. It's officially: 'War Games 2099', and the good people at Retcon's best hope appears to rest with us, the fans, who admire and appreciate Mr. Bernard's vision, and who take a dim view of HDFilms and their unscrupulous methods. Without a little divine intervention from Arra, the Kaldorians or Professor Bergman's 'Cosmic Intelligence', Bernard's project appears all but doomed in the face of HDFilms' usurped quest to feed us their changeling version of Space2099.
Dirty CT February 2012
A Sample Of Bernard's SPACE:2099