News last week that 1970s British SF series Space: 1999 is to get a reboot got a mixed reception from fans of the original series, which also had its own long-running spin-off adventures in comics and novels.
ITV Studios America and HDFILMS Inc, which recently re-imagined the show V for US network ABC, announced they are remaking the 1970s sci-fi series Space: 1999 as Space: 2099 last week, with an official web forum already up and running at www.space2099theseries.com.
Jace Hall, the president and founder of HDFilms, will be leading the creative efforts, working closely with ITV Studios America to revive the and update the show.
“This is a rare and exciting creative opportunity for anyone involved in storytelling and one that I am honoured to receive," he said. "Science fiction is a powerful format capable of visualizing the human condition in thought-provoking ways."Space:1999 ran for two seasons in the 1970s, the creation of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, whose supermarionation projects such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet captured childrens (and adults) imaginations in the 1960s. Their second fully live action SF series, it sprang from aborted plans for a second season of their first, UFO (a series also previously considered for reboot).
The series, which starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, centred on the much-ridiculed conceit that the Moon was blasted from orbit by a nuclear accident, sending it spiralling out into the Galaxy with hapless Moonbase staff trapped on its surface. The Moon seemed to be able to move not only at beyond light speed to a new planet every week, but slow down long enough for exploration, encountering all manner of largely humanoid aliens, played by the likes of Christopher Lee and Brian Blessed.
Despite this contrivance, the show gained a loyal following across the globe, but its storytelling was a mixed bag - considered too grim in its first season (I can recall one contemporary reviewer celebrating when a character finally cracked a joke), and too light in its second, noted for the arrival of shape-shifting alien Maya.
"After more than 35 years, we are thrilled to be developing a new vision of our much beloved franchise for audiences worldwide," said Paul Buccieri, Managing Director of ITV Studios International and President and CEO of ITV Studios America. "Historically, the Space:1999 brand has entertained and fascinated millions of people. We are enthusiastic about the vision that Jace Hall and his team at HDFILMS have created and we’re very excited to be working together.
Space: 2099 will be a complete reimagining of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's award winning and popular franchise, which originally aired in the mid 1970’s, and which saw comic stories published in Britain's weekly Look-In comic, drawn by John M. Burns and Mike Noble, the US (published by Charlton Comics, drawn by Joe Staton and, later, a young John Byrne) and elsewhere.
Hall, also Executive Producer on the project, is at the helm of the creative effort and is working closely with ITV Studios America to realize the full potential of the story and franchise and, he says, bring some "plausibility" to the show's concept.
HDFILMS Inc. focuses on creating premium online content as well as film, television, and videogames. As the development visionary and Executive Producer of the recently re-imagined V television series on ABC, Hall has been the driving force behind numerous creative projects across many media platforms.
Fans at Retcon Studios already working on their own re-imagining of the show under the same name - www.space2099.com (requires Flash to view) - as well as a 'legacy' project updating the original series visual effects - www.space2099legacy.com - welcomed the news but made it clear they were not involved in the ITV/HDFilms project.Facebook page. "We wish them good luck, but still hope that a true sequel movie or series could be achieved with Legacy. You can read more on the whereabouts of the project in our new Blog page section."
Countering fan concerns at the news of another SF series re-imagining, Jace Hall was quick to assure Space:1999's loyal supporters that the new show would honour the source material.
"While we are indeed re-imagining the franchise," he said, "and bringing something new and relevant to today’s audiences, I feel strongly that some of the overall tones set by the original Space: 1999 television show represent an exciting platform to explore possibilities.”
So what will a “re-imagining” of the franchise actually mean? "While there will be some familiar elements from Space:1999, Space: 2099 represents a new vision and encapsulation of the intentions and key axioms that made Space: 1999 so unique and wonderful, says Jace.
"Our intention is not to alter, replace, or negate the original Space:1999 series is any way – but to simply bring something thoughtful and new to audiences that align with the overall fundamental story-telling intention of the Space:1999 franchise in general."
Of course, here at downthetubes, we're already wondering if a licensed comic might already be being considered by the new producers. Given the original series successful licensing, it's got to be something under consideration...
• Official Space: 2099 The Series web site: www.space2099TheSeries.com
• Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Space2099TheSeries
• Twitter: @space_2099
- Fan Project from Retcon Studios: www.space2099.com
Space:1999 copyright ITV. Look-In copyright IPC Media