(Posted on Facebook initially, this post is basically my initial post there plus comments I made in the resulting thread.)
We’ve been watching Space: 1999. It’s WAY weirder than I remember. I pretty much dig it, despite the great scoops of plot nonsense often found in any given episode, and just ignoring the whole set of issues with the premise.
For example, I give you this extended electric sitar recital slash film noir tracking shot wordless intro. I mean come on, this beats Data’s string quartet with a two-by-four.
The episode in particular centers on a ghost from the future that the leader of the PLANT SEANCE seen at the end of the intro has summoned. Not once do they engage in technobabble regarding FTL time distortion, time travel, or slingshot orbits: the ghost is immediately recognized as some sort of psychic projection from the actual future that they try to trap in the medical isolation ward with tiny radar dishes! Beige flares and suede ankleboots, maaaan!
The instrument is a Coral electric sitar, which was made by Danelectro. I have an electric mandolin made with parts from one of these, originally including the ‘buzz bridge’, which I swapped out for a conventional bridge because an electric mandositar is something that we all have reason to regret.
One of the fun, strange aspects of the show is the way it blends Hammer horror tropes with sketched elements drawn from the British SF New Wave. It’s not quite as clearly from Another Culture as Eastern Bloc SF, but it is beautifully of its time.
it’s very definitely as silly as Voyager, but unlike Voyager, where the show repeatedly shot itself in the foot by refusing to allow silly premises the dignity of internal coherence over the arc of an episode, this show seems to be very extremely serious about any given silly premise, which is basically how to do great horror camp. And my god! The sets! They spent a BUNDLE on this show, apparently on spec. You can kind of tell when they have budget issues on a show because the “alien ship” interior or whatever will sometimes be a featureless black room with double-exposures of glowy lights. It’s on Hulu, so if you can live with jarring modern commercial intrusion, no expense beyond time is needed.
I guess they extensively retooled for season two, which I have more memories of from childhood – that’s the season which introduces new jackets as a uniform element and the weird-eyebrow shapeshifter alien lady.
Oh, and the sitar guy is UK sixties and seventies session player Big Jim Sullivan.