This is something I do not normally do anymore, but I have been feeling increasingly agitated by the exceedingly venomous assaults upon Season Two of Space: 1999 that have appeared in various places on the Internet recently. There is one that is particularly vicious, and it appears on a Weblog discussion about Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, of all things. Yes, someone has even tried to implicate Fred Freiberger in the cancellation of that, insinuating that he had something to do with the Buck Rogers second season. After all, every science fiction/fantasy television series that was cancelled had to be due to the talentless involvement of "Freddie the F", right? Oh, yes. Of course. My eyes are rolling as I type.

Another person then asked why there is so much hate directed at Freiberger, and the response was more vitriolic than I have ever seen before. Along the lines that the man should be burning in hell for all of the television series that he personally caused to be cancelled. Star Trek, Space: 1999, and The Six Million Dollar Man (Freiberger is blamed even for Lee Majors' attire, that attire allegedly being one of the contributing factors to The Six Million Dollar Man's cancellation). And his involvement with Season 1 of The Wild, Wild West is said to be disastrous and the reason for his being replaced on that, everyone disliking the direction in which he was steering the first season's episodes. I am not familiar very much with The Wild, Wild West, but it had been my understanding that Freiberger's contributions to it were quite highly regarded by its fans. Freiberger's three scripts for Space: 1999 are thoroughly derided as the worst ever penned for the genre. And so on, so on, so on. I am not even going to dignify this one with much of a response, but it does occur to me to ask if the Almighty does damn men to hell for allegedly supplying inadequate scripts for television series or for making bad production decisions on television series. Are these television series so highfalutin important in the grand scheme of things that souls are burning for their cancellation?

We know that Star Trek was doomed to be canceled before Season 3 of it even started filming, because NBC was dissatisfied with the Nielsen ratings figures for the second season. We also know that Season 3 contained several acknowledged fan favorites, among them "The Enterprise Incident", Day of the Dove", "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky", "The Tholian Web", and "All Our Yesterdays", and in my view, Season 3 is more varied and imaginative in its stories than was the more formulaic Season 2. It does have a few duds, but on the whole, the story quality in terms of concept was of an admirably high level. People quibble about story developments and so-called "plot holes", but those exist in just about anything if one goes looking for them. If the ideas are strong and the depictions appealing, I am prepared to fill in the so-called "plot holes" with rational explanations extrapolated from other episodes or totally of my own invention. For the most part, Season 3 of Star Trek was what I saw first. I may not have liked it as much as Space: 1999, but I did find the concepts of most of its episodes to be quite engaging. It is only Star Trek's second season that I find to be uninspiring and boring, for the most part. Season 1 is the best, then Season 3, then Season 2. In my opinion. But it is an opinion that I am prepared to qualify with examples of imaginative story and impressive visualization.

In any event, the primary focus of vitriol is always the second season of Space: 1999. Everything from the first scenes of "The Metamorph" to the epilogue of "The Dorcons". Everything about it is damnable and ought to have no following whatsoever among the billions of inhabitants of planet Earth. So the argument goes. A rubber monster here, a talking plant there, and it is, to arms, to arms! No philosophical commentary from Professor Bergman means zero intelligence in a script. So they say. Season 1 was this perfect piece of art that, although itself being canceled by Sir Lew Grade in mid-autumn of 1975, was ruined by the intrusion of Fred Freiberger, and nothing good came of his involvement. That is the argument, reconstituted ad infinitum with ever more rancor and presumed absolutism each additional time. We also see the tired, old refrain that Freiberger fired Barry Morse (not so; Morse left the production of Space: 1999 of his own volition, after being unable to come to terms with Gerry Anderson over salary and after having been dissatisfied with the writing of his character of Bergman in Season 1). And next the argument that Nick Tate and Zienia Merton were ill-served by Freiberger and the Season 2 format. To his credit, Freiberger listened to the fans and retained Nick Tate and did everything possible to involve the character of Carter in the scripts for the Season 2 episodes. Alan was in command of Alpha on two occasions. Something that we never saw in the first season. He was made more likable, too, though that was something already starting to happen in the later episodes of Season 1. As for the character of Sandra, it was nice to see her when she appeared, but her replacements of Yasko and Alibe filled the same function in the stories, that of a supporting character who occasionally had some important involvement in an episode's story development. I cannot carp with her non-involvement, because in my estimation, it did not harm the episodes in question. And the loss of Paul Morrow and David Kano was suitably filled by Tony Verdeschi and by Maya, whose presence filled the vacancies of both Bergman and Kano. I have never understood the hate for Tony Verdeschi. I have always liked him. I had a friend many years ago who liked Tony Verdeschi most among all of the Space: 1999 characters. Hating him just because he replaced one or two others who might have been popular, is not something that can be seriously received as a considered criticism.

But these are all arguments of thirty-eight years ago. The fact that they are still ongoing today, with more vitriol than ever, speaks to the abject obsessiveness of fans, who cannot let go of their resentments of nearly four decades ago, for the supposedly untimely cancellation of their favorite television show. Resentments that were lacking in full knowledge of the facts behind the production and distribution of Space: 1999 and the need for changes. Resentments that are fueled by personal dislike for things that differed from what had been proffered with the style of Season 1. Dislike of men in monster suits, or of a synthesized jazzy and sometimes upbeat sound to incidental music, or of characters in loving relationships, or of super-human powers being used as an occasional (not all the time) story plot device or gimmick. But all of that is personal taste. There are audiences who embraced the rubber monsters on Doctor Who or in the Star Wars movies. When conveying a sense of dynamic futurism, music does not need to be orchestral, and there is nothing wrong with some upbeat motifs. Even for a prospectus like that for Space: 1999. People adapt. They adjust. They do so by being upbeat, by enjoying the company of others, and by engaging in some banter. And super-heroes are more popular than ever today. An occasional super-heroic moment with a character (i.e. Maya) should not be an incontrovertible and universally damnable contrivance.

I long ago wearied of having to deal with these attitudes. More prevalent today is to quibble with story development, finding "plot holes" or aspects of a story that seem illogical or illogically contrived to bring about a certain outcome. Many of the attacks leveled at the episodes of Season 2 these days are of this nature. People lambaste "The Beta Cloud" for the Alphans only having one life-support core (no working back-up), but that can be explained within the context of a run of episodes including "The Beta Cloud". We are not on Moonbase Alpha; we are not privy to every detail. But some details can be extrapolated from what is said in other episodes. A key life-support element was needed for another purpose in an earlier episode, perhaps the reason for why there was not a working back-up life-support core. I have no problem furnishing explanations such as this.

Thing is, there is scarcely a script written that cannot be faulted for something. This includes the scripts for episodes of Season 1 of Space: 1999. Fan favorite (and mine) "Dragon's Domain" is problematical in some respects. If Tony Cellini is regarded by Alpha's chief medical officer as being mentally unstable, why is he permitted to have spears and axes in his quarters? Why was he allowed to bring those items with him to Alpha? Cellini is said by Koenig to be a first-class astronaut of irreproachable integrity; yet, Cellini made two very poor command decisions on the Ultra Probe. First, he should have waited until contact could be reestablished with Alpha so that he could report the spaceship graveyard and request instructions from Earth command. And second, he should not have sent his full crew to board the alien spaceship to which he had docked the Ultra Probeship. He should have sent one of them (Darwin King), while the other two remained with him in the Ultra Probeship's command module. And Darwin should have been in a spacesuit as a precaution- because sensor readings could have been wrong about the alien spaceship. There could have been a sensor malfunction. This may, for peoples of Earth, be a first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence, or products thereof. Surely, the most precautions possible ought to be undertaken. Cellini threw caution to the wind, enabling the monster to surprise and devour his entire crew, leaving him no one to corroborate his story. Moreover, why were there not four survival kits in the command module? Should not all eventualities have been considered when planning the mission? Why was there not an emergency transmitter in the command module for contacting Alpha? Cellini's survival flight need not have been so devastating to his physical condition. And of course, there is the issue of Alpha encountering the spaceship graveyard, when the odds against that should be astronomical. Koenig just accepts it with little incredulity. Cellini is also able to overpower Carter too easily in the Eagle cockpit and conveniently has the passenger module doors close before Koenig can reach him.

There are also established subjects of criticism, such as Ultra having Earth-like conditions and Helena's steadfast unwillingness to at least posit the possibility of the monster being real, after everything that Alpha has experienced in its odyssey.

All of this is a given, and has to be accepted. The fans do accept it. All of it. We just have to accept that special allowances were granted to Cellini (by Koenig, supposedly) to possess primitive weapons in his quarters. And that bureaucratic bungling resulted in a space mission inadequately considered for its dangers and eventualities. And that Cellini's judgment was clouded by his personal ambition and that Koenig seems to have no problem with that. Etc.. These are accepted. But things like these in episodes of Season 2, are not accepted by the fans because... they... just do not... like... Season 2. For no other reason than personal taste. Trying to maintain that Season 2 is flawed beyond any acceptable or explainable reasoning and therefore irredeemable, is sheer hyperbole. But they all say it because they are in a group wherein it is socially acceptable, and indeed socially expected, to be so inclined, and so it is done with gusto. And heaven help any lone wolf who "stands up to the pack".

By and by, Season 2's re-release on DVD a year or so ago has resulted in new Amazon.com reviews of it, trotting out the usual angles of attack. Fred Freiberger. Men in rubber monster suits. Acting cast changes. And some others, such as calibre of guest stars. All young, unaccomplished, and unrecognizable, except for Brian Blessed and Patrick Troughton. Also some surprising acts of fault-finding, arguing that outdoor filming made episodes look cheap and stating that Koenig's absence in "Dorzak" was not explained, when in fact it was. The reviewer says that Martin Landau was surrounded by acting-school talent in "Devil's Planet". Anyway, to make a long story short, the "put-down" of Season 2 was comprehensive, if more than a little exaggerated and in some cases erroneous. I went ahead and wrote a rebuttal, which I am including, word-for-word, here. Here it is.

I'm going to comment on a few things here.

1) I would scarcely call Freddie Jones, Willoughby Goddard, Guy Rolfe, Bernard Cribbins, Lee Montague, and Roy Marsden young. There was, in fact, a blend of young and veteran guest stars throughout the second season. First season had a share of young guest stars. For example, Paul Jones and Ian McShane. It was also lumbered with some guest stars with heavy Italian accents and something less than effective dialog delivery (e.g. Orso Maria Guerrini in "The Testament of Arkadia").

2) In "Devil's Planet", the main guest cast consisted of experienced thespians. Hildegarde Neil (Mrs. Brian Blessed) had played Cleopatra alongside Charlton Heston in 1972's Antony and Cleopatra. Roy Marsden had been acting in British TV since 1964. Arthur White (Kinano), even longer than that. Dora Reisser (Interrogator) had been in an episode of The Avengers in the 1960s. The supporting cast was young in a few cases (Blake Maine, Ceres), but on the whole, the actors were to the standard of Landau. Indeed, the interaction sizzled between him and Hildegarde Neil, making them great foils for one another.

3) Production did not start going outdoors in the second season. First season's "The Full Circle" was filmed outside at Black Park, and there was some footage lensed outdoors in Season 1's "The Last Sunset". I fail to see what is so bad about outdoor filming. It adds production value, as is the case for Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek, which are said to be superior to Season 3, with one reason for that being outdoor filming to "open up" the production. This said, Season 2 of Space: 1999 did do some indoor filming for Earth-like planet surfaces, and the results in several cases were admirable. Far better than what Star Trek had done.

4) The search for a habitable planet is still ongoing in Season 2, as is the case in "The Taybor", "The Rules of Luton", "A Matter of Balance", and "The Immunity Syndrome", but looking for the materials needed for prolonging Alpha's survival is also a logical pursuit. The Alphans may not have asked some of the alien visitors (Archanons, Norvans) for help in finding a way to a habitable planet (at least not on-screen), but doing that may have been Koenig's decision to make, and he was away from Alpha in those episodes.

5) Koenig's absence *was* explained in "Dorzak". It may have been done in a something of perfunctory, throw-away manner, but it was done.

6) The "rubber monster" refrain has been used as the biggest brickbat to wield against the second season, but Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who all had men in monster suits, and they're not damned for that. Except for the occasional Maya transformation, few Season 2 episodes revolved around the "rubber monster" element. Mostly the mid-season ones. But aliens are unlikely to all be humanoid. Season 2 acknowledged that, while also giving us an array of humanoids. First season aliens tended to be reflective or early-'70s hippie sensibilities (long-hair, painted face, revealing lower garments, "biker" leather, platform shoes, and so on). One could criticize that too. Is it really likely that aliens would look like that, any more than they would dress Greco-Roman style as they do in episodes of the second season? You have to suspend some disbelief in either season.

7) Fred Freiberger did write 3 episodes, and except for "The Rules of Luton" which could have been less rough around the edges, his scripts in their premises were sound. "Space Warp" in particular posited a compelling scenario and was written around having to be filmed simultaneously with "A Matter of Balance" and was quite ingeniously structured, with a sensible reason not to use Catherine Schell for most of the episode and for John and Tony to be separated from Alpha. "The Beta Cloud" has a straightforward plot, and the monster there turns out to actually be a robot designed by its senders to look like a monster, which is an interesting conceit. People criticize the Alphans for not having a back-up life-support core-- but we do know that Terranium is scarce, and some of it was taken from a life-support system (the back-up, perhaps) for Michelle Osgood in an earlier episode. In any case, the same criticism could be applied to "Earthbound" in Season 1 where the power converter hijacked by Commissioner Simmonds doesn't have a back-up.

8) I don't really think the supporting cast were all that better served in the first season. Mathias just solemnly said, "He's dead", or some made some grim diagnosis and not much else. I actually think Jeffery Kissoon and Sam Dastor were better actors than Anton Phillips. Their range was greater. ... Carter flew off his rocker in one episode, "The Full Circle", over a woman (Sandra) he'd had no involvement with in any previous or subsequent episode. Outside of "The Last Sunset", Paul and Sandra really didn't do much together. Not on-screen, anyway. Kano said very little in most episodes outside of reporting on Computer and its read-outs. In Season 2, Carter does take command of Alpha on 2 occasions, and we meet Sandra's fiance and learn something of her past. Alan also has a romantic relationship with an alien and a fatherly or big-brotherly relationship with another. The supporting cast was given things to do, and on "double-up" episodes formed an ensemble around either Barbara Bain or Martin Landau when the other lead was not much in the episode.

9) People like to carp on budget cutting, but the second season did spend money on its planet sets. The derelict spaceship in "Space Warp" looks good, and Peter Medak gave us some wonderful camera angles there. Eagle crashes, especially the one in "The Seance Spectre", were quite excellently effected, and we even had a battle scene in "The Dorcons" that ultimately wasn't just a dream sequence. Alien planets depicted throughout the series, and especially in the second season, were far above the calibre of most television science fiction/fantasy of the time. Just look at Space: 1999's contemporaries.

10) Action and meaningful story are not mutually exclusive. A story with action can still have something to say, and a slow story without any action can be devoid of meaning. It is a false paradigm, the argument that something has to be slow and deliberate to have any meaningful story to it.

Yes, it does come down to a matter of taste. That's ultimately what it comes down to. Neither season is perfect. I'm not sure there is a perfect episode in Space: 1999. Fans have had 40 years to rip the episodes apart. The producers had just a few weeks to approve the writing of them and to film them. And the first season had as many "Say what?" moments, such as 2 brains in one head, Bergman knowing where to locate the position of the planet Triton, Balor escaping Lunar gravity by being expelled from an airlock, and the it-was-all-a-dream ending to "War Games", to say nothing of the time-reversal device in "Matter of Life and Death". Again, I don't think there's any episode that's perfect. You *can* find something wrong if that's what you're looking for.

But there's entertainment to be had in all 48 episodes, and something imaginative and interesting in them. Ultimately, that's the appeal of the series to me, in addition to the look and the sound of it and the calibre of acting from its leads (which is vastly underrated, in my view).

And that was my response to the negative review. A negative review that has a vast majority of "helpful" votes. I fully expect to be voted as being unhelpful to the discussion, because after all, it is unhelpful to speak in favor of the indefensible. Even if most of what I say is factual. We are dealing here with hatred dating back thirty-eight years. I am not even looking at the Facebook group anymore. Last I looked, the venom was gushing off of people's postings. Venom and smug, smart-alecky quips. From people supremely confident in the verity of their extreme negativity.

And the wait continues for Season 2 on Blu-Ray.

Kevin McCorry,
September 20, 2014


Freelance writer, photographer, videographer, and dapper voyageur with nearsighted, grey-blue eyes, and brown and slightly wavy hair with somewhat darker sideburns, shown here at Lake Louise in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada in July, 1995.

Kevin McCorry's Home Page



For 48 years thus far lived on this Earth, I, Kevin McCorry, have been fascinated by human imagination at its extremes. This Website is dedicated to twentieth century entertainment of this type: animated cartoons, heroes human, super-human, and canine of television series and movies, and conceptual science fiction (or science fantasy).

Bugs Bunny wishes to be at once virtuous and carefree and must repel antagonists (e.g. Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, et al.) intending his demise or the usurping or undermining of his property or principles. Wile E. Coyote and Sylvester Cat have carnivorous desires for, respectively, the rapid Road Runner and the clever Tweety Bird. Rooster Foghorn Leghorn enjoys his fun and his bachelorhood, an existence complicated by a tiny chicken hawk, a barnyard dog that wants revenge for Foghorn's playfully violent attacks on his posterior, and a lovelorn hen. Daffy Duck vainly aims for fame and fortune. Pepe Le Pew seeks romance, despite his skunk's stench. Speedy Gonzales strives to provide nourishment for himself and his fellow Mexican mice, often in conflict with a mice-craving or cheese-defending Sylvester. Etc..

I have admired Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated cartoon shorts (to which I will refer on this Website as cartoons) since pre-school. Vibrant, variable color, impressionistic design of characters and settings, and showy slapstick coinciding with subtly sophisticated humor endeared the Warner Brothers cartoons to me through my formative years- and they are therefore nostalgically cherished, plus appreciated on an increasingly mature level. I watched these cartoons on television and retained remarkably precise memories of their broadcast order in various compilation television series, having been intrigued by the combinations of particular cartoons with similar themes, motifs, etc., and I have chosen to share my factual knowledge of these television shows and impressions of the cartoons with the world.

Available here are information articles and episode guides for the television series by which Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and their anthropomorphized animal characters have been seen and enjoyed by several generations of people by the millions.

       

Televised Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

The Bugs Bunny Show
(1960-2; 1971-5) Page

The Road Runner Show
(1966-8; 1971-2) Page

The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour
(1968-71; 1975-85) Page

The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show
(1986-2000) Page

The Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends
(1990-4) Page

The Other Television Shows Starring the Warner Brothers
Cartoon Characters


And this is not all. There is also a supplementary image gallery to The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour (1968-71; 1975-85) Page.

Of course, Warner Brothers does not have a monopoly on vividly imaginative animation, and I am not limited to Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies in my cartoon fancies. Kindred spirits are rare for many of my preferences, such as for the mind-bending weirdness and desolate visuals of latter seasons of some of the television series listed below. Necessary, introspective, and often solitary journeys into extraordinary or alien locales happen frequently in my favored entertainments.

As with the Warner Brothers cartoon compilation television series, format of treatment here consists of articles and episode guides. The episode guides in a few cases do acknolwedge some of oft-stated criticisms of certain aspects of production or story-writing and do express my quibbles with some occasionally less imaginative story premises, but are on the whole reverent and, if I may say so myself, quite intelligently profferred.

                Other Animated Cartoon Television Programs                

The Flintstones
(1960-6) Page

The Rocket Robin Hood
(1966-9) Page

The Spiderman
(1967-70) Page

The Pink Panther Show
(1969-81) Page

The Star Blazers
(1979-80) Page


Further, I have an evident affinity for the notion in live-action film and television of the traveling or wandering hero, such as a suave, womanizing, death-defying secret agent, a Moon colony adrift in vast, unknown space, or a dog with extraordinary intellect and helpful tendencies. I can therefore also appreciate the plight of the hero who is restricted from moving, like a man trapped in a bizarre village from which escape is ostensibly impossible or a scientist who must confine himself to his home to prevent his out-of-control alter-ego from violently emerging from him against his will.

Polar explorers, especially the ill-fated Scott of the Antarctic, a real-life man who ventured fatally into inhospitable territory, have fascinated me, too. I am mystified and awed by the frontiers of the Earth and of the universe and the dangers and unknown elements that exist beyond our everyday lives. So, conceptual science fiction (or science fantasy) has been a love of mine since age 10, and classic films and television series of the genre have been most stimulating.

     

Live-Action Fanciful Entertainments

The Prisoner
(1967-8) Page

The Space: 1999
(1975-7) Page

The Littlest Hobo
(1979-85) Page

The Last Place On Earth
(1985) Page

Dr. Jekyll's Many Hydes:
    The Film and Television Versions of the Horror Tale
   

The James Bond
Films


From Big Screen to Small Screen: Earthquake and
Superman

Sci-Fi Soap: Dallas' "Dream Season"
or Pamela Ewing: "Sleeper of the Year"

Examining
Movie Trilogies

The Dream That Died:
      The Late 1980s Television Show Reunion Movies
     


Again, this is not all. There is also a supplementary image gallery to The Space: 1999 (1975-7) Page.

And here are my often controversial master writings of study and interpretation of certain productions.

   

Articles of Observation and Interpretation

"Hyde and Hare": An Overlooked Masterpiece

    "Deconstructing" Bugs: The Bugs Bunny Cartoons of 1955    

    Nuance and Suggestion in the Tweety and Sylvester Series    

Taz

The Alien Savior: Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still

Dystopic Future: The Set Design of Alien


In my work on constructing this Website, I have had the opportunity, privilege, and pleasure of interviewing people of considerable importance in the production of some of my favorite entertainments.

Exclusive Interview With John Klawitter
Exclusive Interview With Fred Freiberger
Exclusive Interview With Simon Christopher Dew

And I have written personal tributes to the three directors of the Warner Brothers cartoons that have entertained and impressed me very much in the many eras of my life.

Remembering Robert McKimson
A Tribute to Friz Freleng
In Appreciation of Chuck Jones

What life experiences could incline a person to so enthusiastically embrace all of these productions? My aspired television channel is indicative of the broadcast schedules on television during my childhood, and I also have a Weblog, updated periodically. However, I prefer to be thorough. To this end, I have written my own biography.

   

McCorry's Memoirs

McCorry's Memoirs Era 1:
A Pre-Schooler in a Sheltered Cage (1966-72)

McCorry's Memoirs Era 2:
    Where am I? In the Village of My Childhood (1972-7)
   

Space: 1976-8: Boy Meets Alpha
(supplementary memoirs from the time period
(1976-8) of CBC Television's full-network
Space: 1999 broadcasts)

McCorry's Memoirs Era 3:
  Massive Family Move...
 
  Boy Removed From His Roots...  
  Hurled into Suburban Maze (1977-82)  

McCorry's Memoirs Era 4:
    He's a Pitcher and a Scholar and a Sci-Fi Fan (1982-7)
   

McCorry's Memoirs Era 5:
Blasts From the Past (1987-92)



All images involving Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and Superman image (c) Warner Bros.
Spiderman and Rocket Robin Hood images (c) Krantz Films
Flintstones image (c) Hanna-Barbera
Pink Panther Show image (c) United Artists/DePatie-Freleng Enterprises
Star Blazers image (c) Jupiter Films/Sunwagon Productions/Voyager Entertainment Inc.
Space: 1999 and The Prisoner images (c) ITC Entertainment/Carlton Communications
The Littlest Hobo images (c) Glen-Warren Productions
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde images (c) Paramount Publix Corp. and Warner Bros.
James Bond movie and montage images (c) United Artists
The Last Place On Earth image (c) Central Productions/Renegade Films
Dallas image (c) Lorimar Pictures
The Empire Strikes Back image (c) Lucasfilm Ltd.
Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman image (c) Universal Television
The Day the Earth Stood Still and Alien images (c) Twentieth Century Fox
Text on this Website and on all of its component Web pages may not be reproduced in full and then altered in any way without my permission
All images are the copyright of the respective production or distribution companies, and their use on my Website is in accordance with fair use provisions