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A&E Home Video presents
Space: 1999—Set 5, Vol. 9&10 (1975)

"We're all aliens until we get to know one another."
- Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: March 06, 2002

Stars: Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Catherine Schell, Nick Tate
Other Stars: Tony Anholt, Zenia Merton, Brian Blessed, Anouska Hempel, Peter Duncan, Stacy Dorning, Billie Whitelaw, Leigh Lawson, Patrick Mower, Freddie Jones, Isla Blair, Willoughby Goddard
Director: Charles Crichton, Ray Austin, Tom Clegg, Bob Brooks

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 05h:06m:36s
Release Date: February 26, 2002
UPC: 733961704037
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- BA-B+ C+

DVD Review

With its second season, Space: 1999 underwent a few substantial changes, toning down some of the psychological and speculative fiction aspects to focus more on special effects-driven action. The crew is changed with the appearance of Tony Verdeschi (Tony Anholt) and the unexplained absence of Dr. Bergman, Paul Morrow and David Kano. The best addition to Season Two is the morphing alien, Maya, who first appears in The Metamorph. Maya's presence allows a number of otherwise impossible plot devices, since she is able to transmute into any organic creature, from a mouse to living rock. She also replaces Bergman as the scientific brains of the moonbase, and becomes a love interest for Tony. The acting is considerably less stilted, and there is more personality all around, with John and Helena's relationship showing signs of progressing early on.

Season Two also has a higher budget, allowing for more impressive special effects. Sets are more elaborate, and the aliens are all pretty intriguing. The show does deserve criticism for its lack of attention to factual scientific or historical elements, but with some judicious license for the sake of storytelling these can be overlooked by those forgiving of such things. The observant will note a fair amount of set recycling going on, such as the corridors of Psychon that also appear in One Moment of Humanity and two of the last episodes. A&E's restoration of the second season has paid off in a big way, as I doubt many have ever seen the show look this good. While some criticize the downplaying of scientific and moral dilemmas—many of which were pretty loose to begin with—the show's entertainment appeal has increased in my eyes.

"There's a strange light coming off that planet." - Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau)

After being hurtled 6 light years across the universe after running into a time warp, the Alphans reconnoiter the seemingly uninhabited planet Psychon in search of titanium to fix their damaged life-support system. Here, they encounter Mentor, (Brian Blessed) who is building a machine based on psychic energy, and who captures Koenig and his Eagle crew after tricking them into a space rendezvous. Mentor's daughter, the beautiful and intellectual Maya (Catherine Schell), is capable of molecular transformation, but she is unaware of her father's real purpose, which is to suck the life out of the Alphan crew to feed his machine in The Metamorph.

5 moons out of 5





"These people know the secret of travel in space. Some day our survival may depend on that secret." - Koenig

The moonbase encounters a large cluster of objects in their path that are first feared to be missiles. When they take a position in orbit, Koenig orders an investigation, bringing one of the items back to the surface. They discover these are cryogenic chambers containing humanoid alien life forms, but when Cantor, the male of the species, asks if the rest of his people can be brought down, Koenig refuses, due to the moon's limited ability to support life. When The Exiles volunteer to increase the life support system's capacity, Koenig agrees, but do the aliens come in peace, or do they have more sinister intentions?

4 moons out of 5





"Within the city, you will find all that you desire." - Zamara (Billie Whitelaw)

Plans are underway for a party on the moonbase, until they encounter beings from the planet Vega, who materialize out of thin air after placing the crew in suspended animation, and reducing the moonbase's life support and power systems to bare minimums. Zamara, a female Vegan, demands that two of the Alphan crew accompany her back to their planet, and chooses Helena and Tony as her guests. Before a crowd of observers, the Alphans are offered food, and their reaction to its horrid taste is challenged, but Helena has been warned by one of the serving automatons to do the unexpected, and not to exhibit violence, which will lead to their deaths. As it becomes clear what the Vegan's intentions are, Koenig and his crew fight a battle against time to free themselves of the Vegan presence, while Helena and Tony are used as guinea pigs on the planet surface as they search for One Moment of Humanity.

4 moons out of 5





"I almost forget what clouds looked like." - Koenig

All That Glisters is not gold. An expedition encounters a strange living rock while searching a planet for a rare mineral necessary for their life support system. By all indications, there should be Milgonite on the surface, but instead, the rock paralyzes Tony when he examines it in a microscope, then takes control of him. The team's geologist, Dave O'Reilly (Patrick Mower) can't explain the organism or its purpose, but John, Helena, Carter and Maya must figure out how to counter the creature before they run out of time. Notably, this episode has no shots of the moonbase, and is one of the weaker of the bunch.

3 moons out of 5





"Who needs nature?" Carla (Isla Blair)

A message from space holds the promise of returning the Alphan crew back to Earth, as scientists from their future demonstrate a teleportation device that will transport them home. The Earth of the future is a changed place, with domed cities and only barren, arid landscapes outside, spoiled by man's pollution. Time is of the essence as an interstellar eclipse will break the connection for another century if the plan isn't executed immediately. After a successful test run, Koenig, Helena and Carter volunteer to be the first humans through the gateway, but an accident leaves them stranded in an unknown location. Maya and the scientists on Earth must work against the clock to locate the missing team, before they are lost forever in Journey to Where. Some nice model work raises this one up from a somewhat mediocre second half. Those with a good knowledge of history will note several faux pas in this episode.

3.5 moons out of 5





"It's a big universe, a lonely place to wander." Taybor (Willoughby Goddard)

An interstellar trader materializes from hyperspace, and Koenig tries to barter for the secret of the ship's engine, which could transport the moon back to Earth. After demonstrating his ship's capabilities to Koenig, he offers the technology, but only in exchange for Maya, who will become his travelling companion. Koenig refuses, but another arrangement seems satisfactory, though Koenig doesn't fully trust this galactic traveller. As The Taybor reveals his trickery, only Maya holds the key to her liberation.

4 moons



Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: "I'm a doctor John, not a miracle worker" - Helena Russel (Barbara Bains)

With the restoration done for Season Two, somebody has been working miracles, as the image quality on this release is miles beyond what we've seen previously. None of the problems noted in the first season sets are present here. Colors are vibrant and well-defined; black levels are nearly perfect. There is no aliasing or color banding and shifting, and contrast is good. Fine grain is well-rendered. There are some minor print flaws here and there, and the odd bit of racking, but otherwise this set looks fantastic!

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The audio also gets a facelift here, with a solid, full-sounding presentation. The Metamorph is the exception, being a bit on the thin side, with sibilance overly prominent. Otherwise, even the lower registers get some coverage. Quite a welcome surprise.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
6 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery
Extras Review: Like the first season, this set contains a number of photos from each episode in a gallery which also includes a few publicity shots. Unlike the first season, these actually look pretty decent, not the over-contrasted, lower resolution versions I'm used to in this series.

Set number five is housed in a pale green box, with the individual cases featuring identical artwork. A synopsis for each episode is on the back of both cases and a single-sided ad for other A&E box sets is the insert.

Six TV promo clips featuring Bains and Landau are included across the dual-disc set, each identical, save for the station plug at the end. These emphasize the action and special effects, and showcase Catherine Schell's character. Some of the end freeze frames are pretty unflattering.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

With the addition of Catherine Schell to the cast (a childhood crush), the second season has always held appeal for this reviewer. The presentation has received a major upgrade from previous efforts—even the R2 version didn't get this treatment. Some may prefer the first season's more concept-oriented approach, but the action and adventure here also makes for enjoyable watching.

 


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