TV Reviews

Space: 1999: The Ultimate Collection- Blu-ray Review

Space, it seems, is not just the final frontier for anyone who treks to the stars, but also for collectors of physical media. In an age of streaming services, it may seem like something of an anachronism to have lots of physical product cluttering up the place, when so much of what we want is available on demand, at the touch of a button.

Yet, we are all at the mercy of these companies, as licencing agreements coming to an end can see content vanishing off of online platforms, or being withdrawn for various reasons. For owners of actual, tangible product, however, they never see things disappearing from their own shelves due to such concerns or issues. The only real problem when it comes to owning a personal archive of material like that is just where to store it all.

Back in the day, when you relied upon collecting episodes of your favourite series on videotape, the accumulated total of VHS releases would potentially fill row after row of your own media library, with bookcases threatening to groan beneath their accumulated weight. Thank goodness, then, for DVDs and Blu-rays, meaning that entire runs of shows take up just a tiny fraction of the same area, meaning there is more room as a result for adding to your collections.

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Take Space: 1999, for example: once, you would get just two stories on a single tape, whereas thanks to modern tech, you can now fit both complete seasons in roughly the same room as a pair of VHS cassettes. All this is rather a roundabout way of saying that, thanks to Network Distributing, a brand new Blu-ray of Space: 1999 has come out, the 18-disc set being one of the most comprehensive releases of the series so far, and it looks fantastic to boot.

For anyone unfamiliar with the programme, it was the final production jointly made by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the husband and wife team who had made their names with all the Supermarionation puppet-based children’s adventure output for ITV. Another married couple – Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, known for appearing together in the Mission: Impossible TV series – headed up the cast in a story of the Moon being flung out of the Earth’s orbit, and into the vast reaches of space in the year 1999.

© ITV Studios Global Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Network has already released the series on DVD and Blu-ray, along with a Blu-ray set of movie-length compilations, and this new release – Space: 1999: The Ultimate Collection – collects all of this assorted content together in a single set. With remastering work on all the episodes having been carried out in HD from original film elements, and 5.1 versions of the soundtracks having been created (in addition to the ‘as broadcast’ audio), Space: 1999 has never looked or sounded better than it does on Blu-ray.

Another advantage of physical media over streaming or VOD services is that, in the majority of cases, you can only get the bonus content by purchasing and owning the discs (although some streamers, like Disney+, have started to place some of this material online recently). Here, you have a cornucopia of special features, such as contemporary behind-the-scenes footage and featurettes from the making of Space: 1999, to commentary tracks by Gerry Anderson, archive TV snippets and ads, promotional materials, and much more.

© ITV Studios Global Entertainment. All rights reserved.

With hours’ worth of value added material, it really is worth making your way through, as there are some real gems to be found. Hilariously, you get to see the stark contrast between the Andersons and their stars thanks to separate interviews included on the set – while Landau speaks in effusive terms about the pair of producers, the same feeling is very clearly not reciprocated, as neither Gerry nor Sylvia have a positive thing to say about him or Bain. Refreshingly, no efforts are made to whitewash over any of the series’ troubles, such as the rift between the programme’s stars and its makers.

Whether the set in fact deserves the title of Space: 1999: The Ultimate Collection is a matter of some conjecture. A 2021 Blu-ray release by the Australian company Via Vision Entertainment has a few little extras which are actually absent from this set, but conversely lacks some features included here. It does seem a real shame that various rights issues may have played a part to stop there being one truly definitive set, especially as the Via Vision release was limited to just 2,000 copies, meaning it does leave the door open for a potential further edition in the future, which is a disappointing prospect.

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It also seems a shame that this release was heralded with so little fanfare, compared to the Super Space Theater set that came out just a couple of months ago. Anyone who may have gone and splashed out on that, not knowing all the contents would be included here as well, may have otherwise held off until now to get both the feature-length movie edits and the episodes in just a single collection; instead, buyers will likely have been discouraged from double-dipping, particularly as there is no exclusive content here as an extra incentive to go and buy The Ultimate Collection as well.

For any UK fans of cult TV without Space: 1999 in any form in their collections, this is a worthy buy and a ‘go-to’ release, as it saves you having to buy the series and films separately. For anyone else who may have already shelled out for any earlier releases, they are far less likely to be over the Moon.

Space: 1999: The Ultimate Collection is out now on Blu-ray from Network Distributing.

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