Blu-ray (6 discs) or DVD (8 discs) Running time: 1200 Minutes
Released by Network on September 28, 2015. SRP £79.99 (Blu-ray) £59.99 (DVD)
Subtitles: English 1.33:1 DTS-HD 5.1 HD: 1080p
Review written by Robert Franks
In fact, the only thing missing would be any original content produced just for the new release, but they’ve found the next best thing. This extra was produced back in 1976 by a group of film students asked to make a short film about the production of a television series. Series two of Space: 1999 just happened to be in production at Pinewood Studios at the time. What luck!
What these students produced may not be the typical documentary you’d get today but they cover a lot of good material, including interviews with Gerry Anderson, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Keith Anderson (set designer) and Brian Johnson (SFX designer). Interspersed with behind the scenes footage from The Mark of Archanon and New Adam New Eve as well as plenty of model effects shots this little gem is an interesting throwback to old-school film documentaries. Personally, I loved every minute of it. (25:07, HD)
This is another curious extra. The series was originally sold in Canada as the French-translated as Cosmos: 1999 and this is a short film made by Canadian fans Sylvain Labrosse and Yves Lapointe in 1979. A stop-motion feature utilising repurposed GI Joe and Barbie dolls with hand-made Moonbase Alpha uniforms, including a nice orange spacesuit and even a home-crafted monster. The real stand-out here is some of the model work and the sets. For details on this little gem be sure to check out the PDFs for a “making of” document written by one of the creators. (13:22, HD)
What if the second series had been produced more in-line with the style of series one? That’s the idea behind this interesting little experiment. Obviously this wouldn’t work with all of the episodes, and in truth they probably chose the one episode best suited to fit the parameters. Seed of Destruction is very slow-moving, and as dialogue-based as anything made the previous season. In fact, there’s only a single short scene that could be called “action-oriented”. So, the story fits the bill, but does the experiment work? The first noticeable difference comes as the first scenes now open the episode as a pre-credits sequence. The editing is pretty much the same, but the first ad break now leads into the opening sequence from series one. The actual biggest improvement, in my mind, is the music roll into the opening sequence over the shot of the commander walking out of the mirror. That dramatic roll of music lends the shot a much more dynamic and scary feel. After the opening sequence, now with obligatory “This Episode” scenes (all very cleverly chosen and edited), the episode settles into pretty much the same slow paced episode as previous. The other big change in the episode is the music. With the change in series tone and style the music had also been adapted, and the new incidental music is big and dramatic and totally in line with the feel for series one. That single action shot I mentioned previously comes when Tony and Maya have to overpower a security guard. The music in the original edit is more appropriate to some other 70s “amateur” productions (the less said about it the better). The new edit also has a pumping refrain, as an action scene should, but much more dignified. Take a look at this clip to see what I’m talking about:
And the final verdict? I think the new edit is in many ways superior to the original series two episode. That said, not all the episodes would work with this stylistic change, and the overall feel I’m left with is that the episode is pretty dull no matter what you do to it. But, I like that someone tried. (52:03, HD)
An interesting feature using film snippets shot during production at Bray Studios in the S/FX Unit. Narrated by Brian Johnson it gives an intriguing look behind the scenes of his department with plenty of explanations of setting up shots and effects without getting too technical. And, it proves Johnson has an amazing memory! (6:36, SD)
Contemporary interviews with Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Gerry Anderson and Catherine Schell, Keith Anderson and Fred Freiberger. Shot in 1976 during production of series two these look to be sourced from home video. Still interesting for some of their content. (29:05, SD)
There is also an in-depth interview with Martin Landau recorded in 1994. (44:53, SD)
Scanned in HD from some of the original films, this is a collection of alternate takes and unused model shots. While presented in HD, these scenes are pretty much unrestored so you can compare some of these images to those in the actual episodes to realize just how much great restoration work went into this release.
A quick blooper featured from It'll Be All Right on the Night with some of the cast tripping over themselves.
Included in this are some trailers for the movie Destination Moonbase Alpha and a few trails for series two in general. (10:43,SD)
It does what it says on the tin.
Some rather nice images here. A very few are marked with dirt so you can tell these are presented “as is” with no major clean-up work done, but the inclusion of some behind-the-scenes images more than makes up for this. Unlike other releases I could only find color images included in these galleries, although I know for certain of a few black and white only images that are not included, but there are galleries for every episode. (varies, HD)
Some people may skip over these PDFs, but there are some noteworthy items of interest here. First off, shooting scripts for all 24 episodes have been included. Most of these are simple, but clean, black and white scans. For The Mark of Archanon however, they have also included a colour scan showing the blue, pink, goldenrod and purple line adjustment pages. An interesting production inclusion, especially when you can compare to the original shooting script provided also. There are a couple of other interesting inclusions; a production document with episode synopses and an ITC marketing flyer from 1989 advertising “An adventure that knows no bounds … 48 x 60 minute series.” Here you’ll also find a six-page “Making of Cosmos 1999” document written by one of the creators, Sylvain Labrosse. This includes some fascinating insight into what these kids (as they indeed were in 1979 when they produced this) were able to create on a shoestring budget. The joy they had for the actual series and the fun they had making their own film comes through the page. There are even plenty of behind-the-scenes photos and a couple of tantalising excerpts of self-produced comic books from Sylvain’s collection. Finally, scans of the five Space: 1999 annuals round out this collection nicely.
Upcoming reviews: Greg will be looking at Acorn’s US Blu-ray release of George Gently Series 7.
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