I’m enjoying a family rerun of the first season of Space:1999, a show that never fails to amaze me. While my nine-year-old son is accepting this show at face value (this is part of his formation as a sci-fi fan, he’s already a whovian – this is also parenting done right), me and my wife remember our impressions from the bottom part of the seventies (in Italy the show was aired in 1977 or in 1978, I believe).
You know, this show still works. It’s rather poor in some detail, the episode plots were often weak and the FX aged in a very bad way. But it works. The cast was amazing and the design of the set, from uniforms to gear, was so in the spirit of the space age to be considered as a long-time classic.
There were also some good insights in future devices, like the communicator / door opener (pictured below) or the marvelous design of the “Eagle” spacecraft (the best fictional project so far of a workable space vehicle). The whole look&feel of the serial was very close to available technology in the ’70s.
This post is not about some TV nostalgia, nor it’s about ranting about how bad are the current network productions. This was a peculiar moment in our recent history, when the first steps in space colonization were so close to our collective mind. Space:1999 was designed in 1973, shortly after the last Apollo mission to the Moon (1972).
Back then, the idea of a “Moonbase” was plausible to the audience. Even with all the shortcuts of a TV show (i.e. artificial gravity), having a 300+ people on the Moon and a regular Earth-Moon transport service was a feasible concept for everybody.
What I really miss about Space:1999 is not the show. I miss the positive attitude towards space exploration, the concept of a group of humans that could tackle every goddamn problem the whole universe could throw in their way. Optimism? Maybe. The idea of science as the main drive for the future? Yes, it’s about that.
We need a future. A near future that should not be a dystopia. Space exploration and, of course, space colonization are the ultimate frontier for humankind. We need to go out there once again, no matter how risky and difficult it will be.
We need a vision for the next 50 years, a model to inspire this generation and the next into going over known limits and kick the whole concept of the frontier in the darkness of deep space. We need the spirit of the “Alphans“.