Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Sci-Fi Nostalgia

During my sci-fi childhood, after the shining hope that was Gerry Anderson's UFO came the shining hope that was Gerry Anderson's Space: 1999...



Pretty rockin', eh?

Of course, the science was beyond wrong. Nuclear waste stored on the moon suddenly explodes, not destroying earth's only natural satellite but somehow sending it out of orbit and into the darkness of deep space? Where they come within range of a new planet full of alien wonders and horrors each week? Or happen upon other alien wonders and horrors between those planets each week? Really? Are you kidding me? Even at 10 years of age I was enough of a science nerd to have problems with that.

But...

But...

These were episodes I hadn't already seen 40 or 50 times, like Star Trek. Or seen 10 or 20 times, like all those Irwin Allen extravaganzas. And they ranged from pretty cerebral attempts at psychedelic sci-fi plots mixed with big honkin' space explosions, like the episode "War Games," to pretty bizarre, anything-for-ratings episodes, like "Devil's Planet."

You do remember "Devil's Planet," right? The episode where one of their ships crashes on a dead planet's moon that turns out to be a giant prison? Only the prisoners have no idea that everyone on their homeworld is dead? Because the guards -- who are all shapely, athletic women wearing red body-stockings and high-heeled boots and wielding, ah, whips -- have kept that dark secret from them?


Thankfully, my mother never saw me watching that particular episode...

Best of all, though, were the effects. They put serious money into this show, and the effects were movie quality for the time. Considering this was made in the days before computer graphics, when they used actual models on actual wires, these shots hold up amazing well. Especially the design of the Eagle transporter...



Just look at that thing. More than 30 years years later, it still feels like something we might actually build.

Of course, according to the show, we were supposed to be flying those 10 years ago. And in reality, we're arguing today about when to retire the Space Shuttle, what will take its place, and how we're going to spend several years depending on the Russians to put any Americans into space.

The present just ain't what it was supposed to be, back when it was still the future...