Sunday, 16 December 2018

Space 1999: Dragon's Domain

Space 1999 was a British (ITC) / Italian (RAI) co-production made by the former Century 21 (Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90) partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. It told the unlikely story of the moon - along with it's moonbase inhabitants - breaking it's orbit and plunging through black holes and space warps finds itself adrift far out in the universe.

At it's time Space 1999 was the most expensive television series on British television and featured a double act of US stars in the form of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain at it's head in a blatant appeal to US networks.  It ran for two series between 1975 and 1977 and while still having a devoted following has to some extent been relegated - some would say deservedly - to the status of a bit of an also ran.  I have to admit I'm in that latter category but apart from 'Captain Scarlet' I'm not much of a fan of any of the Anderson's productions.  With the exception of that killer Barry Gray theme tune and the very cool Eagle spaceships (I always loved the way the pilot's seats slid into place) I thought it was a pretty bad show then and a recent rewatch failed to convince me otherwise.

If you want to check it out for yourself though the entire series is here, albeit in a slightly eccentric running order...

There is an exception though.  One episode in particular has stuck with me all these years, 'Dragon's Domain'.  I didn't really get scared much by TV shows as a kid.  I always kinda liked scary / gory things even as a nipper but there were a few things that put the frighteners on me.  One was the end of Assignment 4 of Sapphire and Steel, another was the opening credits to 'Armchair Thrillers' and the third was this episode of Space 1999 and a recent posting of a screengrab of the alien from it over on the Wyrd Britain Facebook page showed I wasn't the only one.

This episode is the story of Eagle pilot Tony Cellini's (Gianni Garko) encounter with a very hostile alien.  We get an extended flashback sequence to a doomed mission he had undertaken 3 years prior to the moon going walkabout that resulted in the gruesome deaths of all the others on the mission (including Grange Hill's Mr. Bronson, Michael Sheard).  Back in the present the moonies find themselves once again confronted by the mysterious spaceship graveyard that had been the previous mission's downfall.

Whilst cursed by the clunky acting and the typically ropey effects of the era, 'Dragon's Domain' with it's Lovecraftian tentacled horror from deep space with it's huge, glowing, hypnotic eye and it's gaping maw that strips a human down to a skeleton in seconds is still pretty effective even if it doesn't seem to be able to get through doors.

Buy the series here - Space: 1999 - The Complete First Series [DVD] [1975] - or watch it above (or below)


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