Thursday, September 11, 2014

Breakaway Day 2014 Countdown!

Every year on the blog, I celebrate September 13, the day in Space: 1999 (1975 -1977) lore that Moonbase Alpha blasts out of Earth orbit due to a nuclear accident. 

Well, I've jumped the gun a little this year by featuring Space:1999 collectibles and ephemera on Wednesday, but the coverage of Breakway Day will continue through Saturday, which is Breakaway Day plus 15 years (by series mythology).

Over the next few days, I'll post reviews of series episodes, and other memories/articles about my favorite outer space series.

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Space:1999 remains endlessly fascinating to me, in part, because it involves modern man -- not romanticized future-man -- grappling with the unknowns and terrors of outer space.  

And when I say unknowns, I don't mean political ideologies that roughly approximate those on Earth  of the twentieth century (capitalists in space, like the Ferengi, for instance).  

Instead, the people of Moonbase Alpha grapple with aliens, worlds and phenomena that they can't understand, and which move in mysterious ways.  

Although some folks complain about the science on Space:1999, the series, in my opinion, is actually one of the few in TV history that successfully visualizes alien worlds (think: "Guardian of Piri") and which doesn't resort to "parallel Earths" to save money, or depict every alien as a bumpy-headed humanoid.  This was especially true in the series' stellar first year.

Perhaps more importantly, I admire, appreciate and remember Space:1999 because it asked the big questions about the human race.

Why is the human race special? Is it special at all? What is its place in the cosmos? Does fear dominate it, or does love? How does humanity react when faced with something beyond its comprehension?

We all remember the famous Arthur C. Clarke quote that goes "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

In some ways, Space:1999 is the (determined) inverse of Star Trek in terms of that quotation. In Star Trek, man goes to the stars and because of his technology is sometimes mistaken for a God ("Who Watches the Watchers.")  The cool thing about Space: 1999 is that the premise is reversed.  Man accidentally goes on a space journey in which he must countenance impenetrable, advanced races, races with technologies that make them, appear to mankind, magical.  Or worse, nightmarish.

Many episodes of the series dealt with humanity -- us, essentially, of the year 1999 -- grappling with a realm of infinite mystery, where everything we think we understand about space, time, energy, life and death is called into question.  

Critics call this approach portentous, but I prefer to think of the series as a philosophical, contemplative one.

Space:1999 is really all about humanity reckoning with its own beliefs in a place where those beliefs are constantly questioned, and that is a paradigm that, quite simply, I love. 

So Happy Breakaway Day 2014 (a little early), and enjoy the show!

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