Back in the 1970s, during my youth, I used to love a British SciFi series called Space: 1999. The premise was that on September 13, 1999, the nuclear waste being stored on the moon exploded, knocking the moon out of its orbit, hurtling it and the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha into outer space.
I loved everything about the show — the flared-leg costumes, the Eagle Transporters, the transportation tubes, the stun guns, even the cheesy 1970s theme music.
So imagine my delight when I learned of Space: 2099! No, it’s not a remake like J.J. Abram’s Star Trek or SciFi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica. Rather, Eric Bernard has rebooted Space: 1999 by condensing each original episode of Space: 1999 into a 2-3 minute episode. He’s also added more special effects and edited the dialogue so that all of the original characters say “2099” instead of “1999.” You can watch all of the new episodes HERE.
It’s the “perfect storm” convergence of my nostalgia and geekiness. Memories of my brother and I playing with the Moonbase Alpha Adventure Playset cascaded my mind. That Adventure Playset was pure awesomeness! The entire set, including cast and aliens, was assembled out of punchout fiberboard and occupied hours of imaginative playtime. I also remember playing with my Space: 1999 Stun Gun Water Gun. That was one fun summer!
But soon nostalgia gave way to reflection. As a SciFi geek, I’m fascinated with the various visions of the future that the genre offers, especially since many of the visions are really attempts to address contemporary social and political issues. Lately, I’ve been wondering about what is generating so many horrific post-apocalyptic visions of the future in recent months — Terminator: Salvation, 9, Daybreakers, 2012, Avatar, and The Book of Eli. As a culture, have we become so cynical that we can only envision a devastated future? In the new movie, Legion, even the ever-patient, all-loving God is now depicted as the ultimate cynic, completely giving up on humanity and sending his demonic-looking angels to wipe us out.
Frankly, I’m getting tired of watching visions of the future that are either inhabited by zombies, vampires or killer automatons or filled with images of natural disasters and post-apocalyptic devastation. It’s boring.
I’m not necessarily looking for movies that depict an utopian vision. It’s just that global hopelessness is becoming too cliche for the genre.