One of the frustrating things about watching TV series that aired before, say, 1990 is that there was rarely much effort made by the show runners (or whatever they were called back then) or the writers to create much of a narrative thread that could link the episodes.
But upon rewatching the first season of Space: 1999 in broadcast order (and I'm currently seven episodes in), the frustration is even greater, because the possibilities of what they could have done with the show are so obvious. It's a wonderful show (in the first season) but they could have made it so much better...but they largely ignored every opportunity and instead made each episode a stand-alone story that mostly ignored everything that had come before. Lessons learned in one episode are entirely forgotten a couple of episodes later, and threads that could have been picked up on and woven into more complex patterns are dropped entirely.
Case in point: Three episodes that together could have formed a truly fascinating storyline if they'd 1) been aired in the proper order, story development-wise, and 2) been slightly re-written to reflect lessons learned and opportunities presented in previous episodes.
As the episodes aired originally, we had 102: Force of Life, in which one of the Alpha techs, Anton Zoref, is possessed by a being of light and compelled to try to break into the main reactor to siphon its energy. He has a loving girlfriend who tries to save him but fails. Then there was 104: War Games, in which aliens play out a dream in Commander Koenig's mind of the utter destruction that would result if the Alphans blindly attacked ships approaching the base, falling prey to their own baser instincts. And then came 107: Alpha Child, in which an Alphan woman gives birth to the first child born on the Moon, after the father (not Zoref) has died, and Koenig recklessly orders Alan Carter and his Eagle squadron to open fire on ships that have taken no directly hostile actions. The child ages extremely rapidly.
Now just rearrange those three episodes and slightly change the stories and you have something terrific: a "You Alphans need to grow up" story trilogy.
First, we would do the 102: Force of Life story. It goes pretty much as it aired--but in the final scene, we show Zoref's girlfriend discovering she is pregnant. Next, several episodes later, we do the "Alpha Child" story, and the reason the child grows up so quickly ties into the energy being that possessed his late father, Anton Zoref. (The aliens who come to get him are connected to this story as well; I won't develop it further here, but I think the possibilities are obvious.) And finally we'd have the "War Games" story, where those aliens have seen what happened with the previous story (reckless Koenig ordering futile military actions) and as a direct result of that, they do the "War Games" shtick that we saw in the original episode--and Koenig learns the lesson.
I'm sure there are more story points from season 1 that could also be drawn together, resulting in a truly epic first season of Space: 1999. But that's enough for now.
Leave your own thoughts about this in the comments, and be sure to check out my own stories below.
Van Allen Plexico is an award-winning SF/adventure novelist and non-fiction writer and podcaster, as well as an associate professor of Political Science and History.
You can read Van's own interstellar saga of politics, religion and cosmic warfare in "The Shattering" from White Rocket Books, available here. The third volume of the Legion trilogy recently won Novel of the Yearin the 2015 Pulp Factory Awards.He's on Facebook as Van Allen Plexico.
Follow him on Twitter: @vanallenplexico
The White Rocket Podcast and White Rocket TV can be accessed athttp://www.whiterocketbooks.com