Spring blossoms and dark evenings have led us into a nostalgic sci-fi binge. I blame it on not being able to get out and do much in the garden!
Nostalgic Sci-Fi Programmes
I love Sci-Fi and Old Sci-Fi TV Programmes. Videos of all the Babylon 5 series for example are watched regularly. I enjoy the longer series that allow for more story and character development over time.
But what about those older Sci-Fi series that I used to watch in the UK years ago when I was a teenager?
While browsing on YouTube about a week ago I came across an old TV programme I used to love when I was a teenager. It is called ‘Space: 1999‘.
Space: 1999 is a British-Italian sci-fi production, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. It was also the most expensive series produced for British television up to that point. The premise is that an accident with nuclear waste stored on the moon, pushes the moon out of orbit hurtling away into space taking with it the 311 inhabitants.
Barnet Boy had never seen it so we watched the first episode. Talk about nostalgic sci-fi! And that was it, hooked again and we have watched an episode every night since.
My Perception Has Changed Over Time!
I so looked forward to every episode when I first saw the programme. You have to remember there were only three television channels and no internet so a riveting tv programme was really something.
It is different this time around of course as we are older and thoroughly spoiled with special effects. We point out the holes in the plot lines, the wooden acting, the re-used footage of people being thrown around and explosions. The horrendous reliance on nuclear fuels and the talk of radiation and pollution. But we have also been impressed by the amount of work that had gone into creating the models for the spacecraft etc. And each episode, no matter how corny, has a salient moral point which is still good today. Here is the opening sequence of Space: 1999.
Another nostalgic British sci-fi programme I watched avidly as a teenager in the early 1970s was called ‘UFO‘. The premise for the series is a covert operation protecting the earth from alien invasion. This was another Gerry and Sylvia Anderson production.
One of the things that really grabbed my attention was the funky purple wigs and silver outfits worn by the operators on ‘Moonbase’. I have no idea why they dressed differently to those on earth. You can see those crazy wigs here towards the end of the opening sequence of UFO. One thing that really jumps out at you is the use of an IBM-type golf ball printer
What I didn’t know until I did some research for this blog, was that rather than produce a second season of UFO, which would have been called UFO 1999, they instead produced Space: 1999! So in theory, the ‘Moonbase Alpha’ we see in Space: 1999 is the same one that was in UFO. I wonder what happened to the purple wigs???
Italian Sci-Fi Genre
I mentioned that Space: 1999 was a British-Italian production. Did you know that Italy has its own nostalgic sci-fi genre? We all know of the contribution that Italian directors have made to the world of cinema (just think Fellini, Zefferelli , etc). But I wonder how many know of the long existing tradition of Italian Sci-Fi films? Incredibly, Italy has produced some of the classic B movies of the Sci-Fi genre. Though renowned for low budget, cheap sets and some borrowed story lines and stock footage, Italian Sci-Fi has a unique charm – and some crazy fashion.
For example, in 1965 Italian director Mario Bava created ‘Planet of the Vampires’ (released in Italy as ‘Terror in Space’). This was based on a short story called ‘One Night of 21 hours’ by Renato Pestriniero. It is famous for the slinky jumpsuits that everyone wears in the film and is also said to be one of the influences for Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’.
If you like dreadful but strangely entertaining movies then Italian Sci-Fi might be to your taste! But for now I am sticking with my British nostalgic sci-fi!
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound, an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!