Space: 1999, September 5, 1975

Written By: Greg Howell - Apr• 03•17

Space1999This syndicated offering packed a wallop against the television networks. Known for being the most expensive series of its day, Space: 1999 pre-dated the Star Wars era, but was a direct acknowledgement of the supersized success of the Star Trek series in syndication.

After all three major networks declined the series, the producers took the syndication path. The publicity department (aka, exploitation department, as it was know in those days) continued their media blitz about the $275,000 per episode budget, the top set designs, costumes and first rate special effects. When the networks’ schedules received preemption notices by local affiliates to carry the much publicized Space: 1999, the cracks in the network system began to surface for the first time in TV history.

The first show officially launched on September 5, 1975, however, local affiliates broadcast the show different days at different times throughout the country, and the initial ratings were sensational. Audiences had no issue moving from the “Big Three” networks to watch good programming. Critics applauded the show. The Wall Street Journal proclaimed, “”Space: 1999 is like Star Trek shot full of methedrine. It is the most flashy, gorgeous sci-fi trip ever to appear on TV…” Unfortunately, Space: 1999 after a few months, a dramatic ratings decline warmed network executive’s hearts. Viewers and critics began to lament the show’s lack of intriguing relationships or character development. But in truth, this was one of the earliest warning signs of the changing television climate, and independent programming potential to capture a network-sized audience without network television. Space: 1999 ran two seasons and 48 episodes, but the seeds that were planted continued; the hey-day of network television dominance was entering its final era.

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