It certainly whets the appetite for what is to come
What is it?
13 September 1999 – Moon blasts out of orbitA small band of humans are trapped on the Moonbase, Alpha, now hurtling through interstellar space trying to get home. Such is the premise for Space: 1999 a Gerry Anderson TV production from the mid-seventies, famous for being the most expensive British TV show at the time; it was stark looking, realistic, drama based and very enjoyable. When it was given a second season a new producer took over, the guy who killed the Star Trek franchise; he proceeded to do the same here - over producing, giving the show an over reliance on action rather than drama and a general ‘dumbing’ down of the sseries. However, it still remained popular, but not so much in America where it had to be a hit to survive. Unfortunately it failed to make the necessary return and sadly was cancelled.During the second season there was a two parter episode called The Bringers of Wonder, which tells the story of a rescue mission from Earth in a ‘faster-than-light’ spaceship that lands on the Moonbase to bring everyone home. However, having suffered from a mental breakdown, Commander Koenig has his brain wired to a machine that repairs the damage, but also allows him to see the rescuers for what they really are: Aliens that want to blow up the nuclear waste for their own survival at the cost of everyone else’s!
Filled with the customary action and pace, the episodes work very well as a standalone piece (and were in fact made into a feature film for theatrical distribution) showing the trials and tribulations of stranded humans, and what it takes to survive.
Blu-ray Picture QualityThe disc presents a broadcast correct 1.33:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region locked to B.
It should come as no surprise to find out that the image here is every bit as good as when it was first shown, in fact it’s probably better.
Detail is fantastic, from skin texture to clothing weaves, intricate data displays and the dust of the Moon’s surface it really is top stuff. Being studio bound there is little scope for distance shots, though episode two does employ some location shooting (the false images given to the returning Alphans) and all hold exceptional edges. This can have its disadvantages too, the natural form of the aliens is, shall we say … obviously fake.
the image here is every bit as good as when it was first shown, in fact it’s probably better
Colour is well defined, primaries hold up very well, check out the greens of the aliens, the reds and blues of the various uniforms are bold and bright – also check out the yellow and oranges of the moon buggy and spacesuits respectively, both are vivid and strong against the dull greys of the Moon surface, never showing any wash of bleed. Skin toes are a little pale, but this is in keeping with the original transmission.
Brightness and contrast are set to give very strong blacks, space, itself, is suitably impenetrable, though dark corners of the Moonbase do hide some decent shadow detail. The strong black lends to a good frame depth, despite the limitations of the TV sets. There was no crush or clipping visible.
Digitally there were no compression problems or edge enhancement, no banding or posterization either. Original print damage is non-existent as well. On the whole it's a terrific picture.
Blu-ray Sound QualityJust the one track to choose from, English LPCM 2.0 mono, which is clearly limited in its presentation. However, being spread over two channels it feels bigger than it really is.
Layering in the mix is ok, dialogue is well catered for, it sounds natural enough and manages to remain perfectly audible even in the midst of mayhem. The score is quite prominent, especially the ‘action stingers’ which can take over. Bass is very limited, there are no LFE effects, even explosions or Eagle fly-bys don’t qualify.
It is a functional track that gets its information across without thrills or spills, and that is really it’s problem, the ‘action’ of the second seasons does demand a wider sound field. Top marks for including the original track, but maybe something updated for the final release?
Blu-ray ExtrasDestination Moonbase Alpha – A compilation of parts 1 and 2 into a movie that was cobbled together off the back of the success of Star Wars (see the opening crawl for that homage) for a US theatrical release, presented here as a 35mm print that has had little to no restoration done. The film is just the two episodes edited together with a new opening to explain the Moon’s trajectory; it’s a curiosity, but ultimately I think it works better as the two parter it is meant to be. The picture is very shabby, with brightness fluctuations, weak colouring, grey blacks and rather grainy, while the sound is even thinner than the episodes. Good to see this though and it is exclusive to this release.
Destination Moonbase Alpha Trailer – trailer for the above film.
Worth Buying?As an advert for the up and coming release for Season two of Space: 1999 what could be better than this two part episode, the only one in the entire series run. It certainly whets the appetite for what is to come.
The second season was well underway when the Bringers of Wonder was made/broadcast and it showed everything that was misguided with the series; its reliance on action over substance, the beefed up pace, the wild music stingers and the light-hearted ending after the trauma of an episode. However, it was still a thrilling season and the Bringers of Wonder shows why, with tighter confined, claustrophobic at times, nature, a more determined crew to do whatever it takes to survive and a stalwart leader in John Koenig.
limited edition Blu-ray - only 1999 being made
As a limited edition Blu-ray (only available from Network) with only 1999(!) being made this package serves far more as a teaser for the second season than a purchase in its own right – the picture is absolutely stunning for a TV show from the 70’s and while the sound is somewhat limited, it is functional and true to the source material. The extra feature, the Destination Moonbase Alpha film is classy, if a bit cheesy, nice that it’s exclusive though. If you can’t wait for the second season of Space: 1999, then this is a great taster for what’s to come – it is also amazingly cheap too!
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