What I learned About Writing from Space 1999


Comet TV has been running the 1970s science fiction show, Space 1999.  They had a New Year’s Eve marathon, so I tuned in on and off during the day.

The History of the Show

It ran two seasons and starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.  They manned a base on the moon that was used to store nuclear waste.  The nuclear waste then exploded with enough force that it knocked the moon out of orbit.

According to my Google Fu, the producers were puzzled at the negative comments they got at the time.  They didn’t understand why viewers didn’t give the show the suspension of disbelief that Star Trek got (yup, there’s a reason).  The show was cancelled after the first season, but the producers were able to negotiate to bring it back.  Fred Freilberger was at the helm (Star Trek), and he made it more action-focused.  But it didn’t fix the overall issue, and it was cancelled a second time.

Writer’s Hat On

The suspension of disbelief issues started with the a message in the story.  The producers wanted to show that nuclear waste was bad.  They got on a soapbox and wrapped the whole series around the moon being blown out of orbit.

And then?

The characters simply react to the next thing the moon drifts near, and then the moon drifts away.  The entire setup of the show kept them from having any kind of control over their own fate.  In one episode, they drifted near an alien planet.  Aliens did not want them on the planet, but inexplicably send rockets to the moon to give it atmosphere for a little while, then pulled back the rockets.  The moon drifted away.  And?

The characters couldn’t get rescued.

They couldn’t settle on a planet.

Above all, they couldn’t even protag.

 

2 thoughts on “What I learned About Writing from Space 1999

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