Before Star Wars: Destination Moonbase Alpha (1973) (1978)

Alternately known as Saturn 1999, Space 2100, Space: 1999 Moonbase Alpha, and Space 1999: 1 in various overseas markets for its TV syndication and foreign theatrical distribution, Destination Moonbase Alpha is the Star Wars-inspired feature-film created from the 1976-1977 second season, two-part story arc of Space: 1999: “The Bringers of Wonder” (Ep. 18 and 19, but Ep. 42 and 43 overall).

Space: 1999, of course, was the last in a long line of science-fiction series produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, beginning in the early ‘60s with their marionette-led children’s programs, most notably, Thunderbirds, as well as their first live-action series, UFO—itself turned into a theatrical film: Invasion: UFO.

The production design and plotting of Space: 1999 owes it debt to UFO, as the tale of the Moon being blast out-of-orbit was originally planned for the second season of UFO, which was to be known as UFO: 1999. The improved look of Space: 1999 over UFO came courtesy of the program’s special effects supervisor, Brian Johnson, who worked on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and, eventually, Star Wars.

As with the positive, post-Star Wars overseas theatrical reception to The Starlost and Invasion: UFO, the 1978 theatrical version of Space: 1999 was a rousing success. Encouraged, three more movies were created out of the two seasons’ 48 episodes, which aired from April 1973 to February 1975, then January 1976 to December 1976.

The second sequel, Alien Attack—also known as Space: 1999 Alien Attack, and Space: 1999 II—consisted of the first season’s episodes Ep. 1: “Breakaway” and Ep. 4: “War Games.” The next film, Journey through the Black Sun—alternately known as Black Sun: The Death Planet Intervenes and Space 1999 III, was cut from Ep.3: “Collision Course” and Ep. 10: “Black Sun.” The fourth and final film, Cosmic Princess, which concentrated on the second season’s introduction of its Mr. Spock-inspired character, the metamorph Maya (Catherine Schell), and the James T. Kirk-like Tony Verdeschi (Tony Anholt), was cut from “The Metamorph” (Ep. 1/25 overall) and “Space Warp” (Ep. 14/38 overall).

In 2012, the American arm of the British production company ITV announced a reboot of the series to be called Space: 2099. In August of last year, Brian Johnson announced the reboot was still on track.

For those of you who can’t wait for the reboot, you can watch an incredible, China-produced variation of the themes introduced in Space: 1999, with China’s third highest-grossing film of all time, the year’s eighth highest-grossing film worldwide, and the second highest-grossing non-English film to date: 2018’s The Wandering Earth.

As result of another one of our “Space Weeks” (March 2021), Sam the Bossman takes a deeper look at Cosmic Princess.

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Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is currently in theatres and was released theatrically on December 20 in the United States.

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.

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