I’ve been watching Space: 1999 a lot lately.
As has been reported through many different sources now, there’s a new “Space: 1999” series in the works. Now, some people have bitched about how it should be a continuation of the original series, which is nonsense because the original series sucked, and because everyone from it is like 106 by now. It’s also a bad idea because part of the (Admittedly ludicrous) appeal of the original show was that it was set a mere quarter century in the future. The new show – the most common working title appears to be something like ‘Space: 2099’ – will presumably be set way further in the future, making it indistinguishable from Trek and B5 and Starlost any other number of space shows, so what’s the point? If it’s not a show about US, or our kids, why give a crap? Shows about our great-to-the-13th-power grandkids? That’s been done to death.
Added to which: The basic premise of Space: 1999 is beyond stupid. It’s a demonstrable physical impossibility. Any attempt to reboot it a’la Ronald D. Moore or whomever, is going to still be saddled with the same goofy premise, just with some other doubletalky explanation as to WHY the moon is lost in space. And it’s going to be saddled with dysfunction and bad lighting, and it clearly won’t have the cool-ass plastic Italian furniture in the Late Googie style, or the side-lit walls or anything neat like that. If Moonbase Alpha doesn’t look like a Bang Olufson store, what’s the freakin’ point? I mean, whatever many failings the show may have had – and trust me, they’re legion – set direction and cinematography were NOT among them. Not in the first season, anyway. The second season mostly sucked, even in that regard.
So I’m thinking that the fundamental premise of the show is what needs the re-imagining. Here’s *MY* pitch for a Space: 1999 reboot. Please let me know what you think in the comments!
It is the year 1999. It’s just like the 1999 we knew, with Clinton in the White House and all that other crap. There is, however, one difference: the US and USSR rivalry continued and accelerated all through the 70s. It continued (Somewhat friendlier) after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Apart from this, however, the parallel timeline is exactly like our own.
The specific differences are as follows:
Russia has some snazzy space hardware it didn’t have in our reality:
• Space Station Mir
• Two Ore Haulers
• An automated lunar-mining outpost w/ railgun
• A small space station in L2
• “Astrograd” a lagrange colony under construction in L5
• Buran-styled shuttles.
• N1 rockets.
• A couple inter-orbital tugs to haul people from Mir to Astrograd.
• Manned mars mission on the way back to earth.
Total population offworld at any given moment: 500 or so, mostly on Astrograd. Mir functions mainly as a way-station, and a hotel.
Meanwhile, the US has the following snazzy space hardware:
• Space Station Freedom
• Moonbase Alpha
• Space Shuttles just like the crappy one NASA really used.
• Saturn X cargo rockets (a superattenuated Saturn V design) capable of putting 220 tons into LEO.
• A manned mission en route to Mars
• Inter-orbital tugs called “Eagles” to haul people back and forth from Freedom to Alpha.
• The Meta Probe: A large manned expedition to Jupiter being constructed in LEO at Space Station Freedom.
Total offworld population at any given time: 400 or so. Permanent population of Alpha is generally around 311. There’s a hotel on Freedom and a hotel on Alpha, there’s always some traffic back and forth. Lot of Meta Project workers on Freedom.
Now, our story starts out on earth with more-or-less normal people, in Texas. One of ’em is a shuttle pilot, one’s a contest winner, one’s a n’ere’do’ell trust fund billionaire, etc. It’s early September, ’99. We see these people, their lives, etc, as they eagerly await their various whatever.
On Monday, September 13th, 1999, the Challenger lifts off, and *while* it’s actually in flight (w/25 passengers and crew), PeTA and Earth First release an incredibly virulent plague genetically engineered to target ONLY people. Everyone on earth is infected in a matter of days, Challenger is quite literally the last plane out, as earth is quarantined. Within a week or two everyone on earth is dead, and the population of the species has dropped from 6 billion to less than a thousand.
The first episode is called “I don’t like Mondays.”
Anyway: the premise of this version of “Space: 1999” is basically that: you’ve got a limited population, limited resources, rescue is not an option, going back to earth isn’t an option. You need to find a way to make a life for yourself. What do you do with the resources you’ve got? Do you keep Freedom and Mir, or do you salvage them for spare parts? What good is a shuttle in space? What happens if the Russians manage to launch one last Soyuz with people who *might* be infected? How do you shoot it down?
What do you tell the Mars mission to do? Turn back? Look for something specific that might prove useful like methane? What? Do you cannibalize the Meta probe, or do you use it in hopes of finding viable resources in the Asteroids?
As ongoing complications, the surviving offworld Americans and Russians are openly trying to cop as many resources as possible, and screwing each other over to get ’em. Also a few pEta types in biospheres on earth are still alive, and attempt to shoot down Mir and Freedom.
Eventually, of course, the small gene pool will be a problem, which will necessitate a mission to earth to liberate a sperm and ovum bank known to survive. Getting people back into space again is an interesting question.
The point is, I think we could easily get 110 episodes out of it *AND* use the same exact sets, *AND* the same music, but better uniforms. And it’s optimistic in its way. Fresh starts. Building a new future, etc. Just for the hell of it, each episode takes place 1 month apart, so the 5 year run takes place over the course of about 9.5 years.
No aliens. Keep it as real-tech as possible. Whadya’ think?
SPOILERS: In the final episode, we flash-forward 100 years. The plague has burned itself out on earth, and it’s safe for people to go back, but humanity has become so accustomed to life in space that earth seems bizarre and dangerous and frankly awful. It’s not our home anymore. So, ultimately, the show is all about our species becoming a truly spacefaring one, more at home in the stars than on the ground.
Seriously, whadya’ think?