Fred Freiberger has earned infamy as a favorite scapegoat for Sci-Fi TV fans, as a result of his serving as executive producer for no less than three major sci-fi television series in what would prove to be their final seasons, and which, (at least according to popular opinion), was much weaker than previous seasons of each show. Is Freiberger really deserving of all this viritrol? Well, here's my personal feelings on each one of the series that Freiberger is accused of "wrecking":
STAR TREK: In my opinion, the vindictiveness directed against Freiberger for his third season on this show is massively unfair and unjust. While the third season of classic Trek did produce some turkeys like "Spock's Brain" and "And The Children Shall Lead", the show also produced a number of episodes that showed a vigor and confidence not seen in the first two seasons. Freddy was really thrown into a no-win situation in this one. The network was doing its best to kill off the show, its creator Gene Roddenberry had just deserted it, and the budget had been drastically slashed. Given these circumstances, Freiberger did a great job. It has become somewhat conventional wisdom that the third season of classic Trek was much worse than the other two. However, most hardcore classic Trek fans do not subscribe to this maxim. In my opinion, the third season stands worthily alongside the first two. And the problems that the final season had can be attributed more to production crunches. Freiberger's regime constantly produced original story ideas, even though production crunches meant that these could not be developed as fully as they should.
SPACE 1999: Here is where the charges against Freddy ring the truest. The fact is, that he simply made some bad decisions regarding the show when he took over. Yes, it is unfair to lay all the blame for 1999's second season at his feet; and, yes, he can be forgiven for trying to inject a little more action/adventure format into a series whose trouble was that it had only an ecclictal appeal in the first season. However, Fred made some major format changes in the series. And that's always trouble.
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN: I can't really say that Fred damaged this show any. The episodes of his season I've seen aren't discernably worse than the shows of the earlier season, and indeed, they revel in the semi-campiness that is this show's chief appeal. Remember, the writers had long since given up trying to develop Steve Austin's character, possibly because of Lee Majors' bland approach to the role nullifying such attempts. One thing noticeable about the last season of this particular show is the predominance of two-part or two-hour special episodes, possibly to save money. Again, budgets were strecthed tight.
Interesting analysis. It should be remember that whatever Freiberger's failings as a 1999 producer he was brought in to fulfill a mandate from others, namely to "Americanise" the show. Nor was he responsible for the apparent reduced budget that year two received, which was responsible for stuff like the "double up" filming of several episodes two at a time, which I suspect contributed to some of year two's writing and continuity problems.
Poor old Fred completely missed the unique nature of the first series of Space:1999.It went over his head.So,he ripped out its heart and reduced it to an ersatz Star Trek.Stereotypical characters,malevolent aliens,rubbery monsters and worst of all,he junked Barry Gray's brilliant music.Clueless.
Grossly unfair and seriously misguided, subjective opinions. Back issues of FAB also say the same......
Evil, nah. Misguided, maybe. Oblivious to what made Space 1999 appeal to its fan base, definitely. To take over the reins of a show and not watch all the preceding episodes was completely ludicrous. What I think you had was a very American producer taking over a very British show, with little or no thought as to what had already been established in terms of character, pacing, philosophy, etc. He should have made minor changes, not the major overhaul that ultimately alienated Space's fans
I mean it had happened with previous shows. Does anyone here like Red Dwarf? When I heard that the Americans were making their own version I was curious. First it turned out that they didn't like Lister as a slob. That didn't fit the American ideal, so he was changed to a Han Solo type character. The Rimmer variant had no H on his head and instead had a red dot, making him look like Ghandhi in space. The Cat was a woman, played by Terry Farrell of DS9 fame, which in my opinion spoiled the whole premise of the show, being an 'all guys together' thing.
So when American producers take over, can they not be quite so drastic in their alterations?
BTW I noticed that Red Dwarf USA never got past a pilot.
I know that was ioff-topic but in a way it was relevant, showing the differing attitudes of the production teams on each side of the Atlantic.
Mr.Anonymous:the good thing about internet forums is that they are open to all comments,and are not subject to censorship by a clique with no critical faculties.Like some magazines I could mention.Something's gotten your kNICKers in a twist.Are you Fred? Or are you involved in Fab,hence the anonymity.
My opinions are anything but misguided and unfair,and it may have escaped your attention that I'm not exactly alone on this,as evidenced by Barb's well observed points.You see,some people prefer to be objective about 1999 rather than just counting Eagles and checking key grips.Fred's involvement,in the eyes of many,snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.So don't snipe from the shadows,let's hear your name.Put up or shut up.
The 'Rubber Alien' of the week was a thing that spoiled much of Season 2. Saying that, however, there are stories from it I enjoy. Journey to Where, is perhaps one of the lesser known Space:1999 episodes to those outside the fan scene. They always seem to see, Space Brain or Beta Cloud. JTW was a well executed script with a decent storyline. The A-B Chrysalis was also a good episode, as was 'The Mark of the Archanons', 'Dorzak', 'The Exiles' and quite a few others. If any critiscims could be levelled at these episodes it would be the rubber costumes that were Mayas shape change.
Even the different music, although I much prefer Barry Grays is tolerable at first, and eventually you get used to it. I had no problems with the Command Centre set, understanding the lighting problems. One thing I defintely did NOT like about season 2 was Tony. At times he could be OK, but at other times he acted with extremes, either a paranoid near lunatic (Dorzak), or a bit of a clown (any time he's brewing beer).
Yes, I'd definately agree with that Douglas - it was the rubber aliened approach that ruined it. I liked Maya very much, but she was a whole lot better when she was just Maya and not poor old Albin Pahernik in a reprehensible costume designed by Keith Wilson & Co, 10 minutes before going to the cameras. I think my main reasons for liking season 2 SLIGHTLY more than season 1, is that it was the only episodes of 1999 I remembered from the 70s and there is some form of "connection" from that era. It stuck with me ever since...
True Doug, the rubber suits were a BAAAAAD idea, especially since Season 1 had established the show as mature and thought-provoking. You went from the grandeur of War Games and Dragon's Domain to having glowing vomit monsters waddling down the halls. Rather jarring, to say the least. However, from all the literature I've read and interviews with Gerry Anderson, among others, the rubber monster suits were not Freiberger's idea. He was all for the increase in "action-based" storylines, but the alarming increase in the use of latex and spray glitter in the costume department gets layed at the door of Abe Mandel. He insisted that monsters were all the rage in America and that Anderson needed to put some in the script. Talk about underestimating an audience.
>Fred's involvement,in the eyes of many,snatched
>defeat from the jaws of victory
It would actually be more accurate to say that without Fred, there would have been no second series of S:1999, period. Johnny Byrne himself, no less, publicly stated this at the Breakaway convention last year.
The show had never done more than tolerably well in ratings terms - certainly, it never did well enough to make a second series a foregone conclusion. ITC's primary conditions for stumping up the cash for a second series were that the show should adopt a more mainstream action/adventure approach, and that an American executive producer should be brought in.
It's probably fair to say that Freiberger ejected too much of the series 1 ethos, and his notorious "nobody will notice [the difference]" attitude is still indefensible, but even though I believe that most (*not* all) of series 2 bites the proverbial big one, I can accept that what Freiberger was doing was trying to save the series.
In all honesty it was probably doomed anyway - big-budget prime-time SF series were well out of favour by 1976 - but I can't really blame him for trying to do what he was employed to do.
Whose idea was it to make the average age of
most Alphans about 20 in Year 2? Who
complained that they hardly ever smiled on the
show and then wrote those embarrasingly flat
scenes meant to provide levity? Who's making
them give orders to shoot bad monster
costumes on sight when who could it possibly
be but Maya? (Space Warp)
Who believes in camp for camp's sake?
Freiberger oughta be making Baywatch!
Both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy have specific and very different opinions of Freiberger that can be ascertained by their respective books ("Star Trek Memories" and "I Am Spock", respectively.) Personally, I did not like the elimination of Victor, especially without an explanation, and the character of Verdeschi was quite immature. However, the powers that be at ITC may have wanted ersatz Star Trek, and they got the closest thing available. ITC is also the company that spent and lost 40 million dollars on "Raise The Titanic." They built a half million dollar model of the Titanic for that film. It was too big for the tank they had built, so what did they do? Built a new tank at a cost of either four or six million dollars, I don't remember which. (I believe the source for that one was a book by the Medved brothers, possibly "Hollywood Hall of Shame.") Was the budget cut for Series Two, like it was cut for the third season of Trek? To be fair, ITC is the company responsible for "The Prisoner", too.
"Raise the Titanic", wasn't that the film where Sir Lew Grade remarked - "It would have been cheaper to have lowered the Atlantic"...
I'd just like to point out that ITC also gave us UFO.
Didn't ITC also give us that Robert Vaughn spy series from the mid 70's? Its name escapes me at the moment.
Freiberger also produced The Wild Wild West in what I believe was its final year. (I think he went right from that to Star Trek.) Was he considered a show killer in that, too? (Note I used the show's proper title to distinguish it from the 1999 non-movie.)
Don't get me wrong-I liked "Raise the Titanic"-I just don't think the producers got that much bang for their buck. "The Posiedon Adventure" was made only eight years earlier for five million dollars, and the money was up on the screen.
To try to promote a more balanced and objective atmosphere on this part of the site, I would like to bring to the attention of the various contributors the following webpage address.
I'm positive most people have seen this interview before, but for those who haven't, it's worth a glance. An excellent interview and one that gives Fred a chance to defend himself from the stagnated banality of Season 1 fans.
I stand corrected. Mr. Freiberger produced the first season of "The Wild Wild West," not the last season. Maybe if he had been involved with the non-movie, it would have been a real movie, not the Will Smith ego-trip it wound up to be.
Year 2 came near the time that Lew Grade was turning his attention away from television and towards motion pictures, so he was probably unwilling to spend more money on a second year of 1999 than was spent on the first. ITC's last best efforts appear to have been The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie.
Freiberger looked at Space:1999 and the audience demographics it generated, and must have assumed (correctly?) that he was making a children's show, so the story editing followed suit.
Perhaps Space 1999's biggest flaw was that it never really found a stable viewer platform - further exacerbated by the fact it never got a true network airing (especially Season 2). I think that Freiberger tried to aim the show at a much wider audience base and thus make the stories more accessible to a younger age group, but he also had the adult viewer in mind as well and this is reflected in the differing qualities of S2s storylines.
Perhaps the problem did lie in the distribution. First run syndication was not as accepted then as it is now - Next Gen changed that; now we have so many first-run syndicated shows, the coffers are overflowing. In my opinion, in the mid-70's, a first run syndie was considered second rate (if it couldn't get a network play, than it must be junk.)
This man is the Son of Satan.
Hmmm...all the way from merely misunderstood to the progeny of Mephistopholes. That's quite a spectrum of personas to dump on one individual! Let's see if a more objective view might--just might--be more reasonable. I don't think there was any malice on Frieberger's part. He was just doing the job he'd been hired to do, which was produce a television series. He was not a fan of either Trek or 1999, he was the man who was supposed to churn out the product and get it to market (i.e., on screen). This is what annoys me about fans when they scream and point their fingers at one person and blame him or her for a series faults. In television production, the primary concern of the producer is to produce. Not to join fan clubs or collect autographs or attend conventions or even to watch the show. That is what we fans do, and I think many have confused working on a series with being a fan of a show. "But how could they not like it?" the fans say, because being fans working on their favorite SF show would be a dream come true. But it is not the dream job of the producer--it's just his current job that gives him a paycheck and pays his bills and feeds his family--until the show closes and he moves on to the next one. That said, of course we would expect anyone actively involved with a series to do their best in presenting a quality product with respect for actor's roles, believable plotlines and spectacular effects--but let's face it boys and girls--life ain't perfect! There's only so much money, talent and time to make a show each week--and sometimes if it doesn't come together right they have to make the best of a bad situation and shove what they got out there! Sure, maybe they know it's junk--but that piece of junk will pay for next week's piece of junk--or maybe it'll jell and be one of those episodes that is fondly remembered for years to come. Either way, they must go on. There are contracts to be honored, all those behind the scenes people whose names flash past in the ending credits--they need to eat too! So instead of harping endlessly on how producer A ruined this show or producer B is a big XXXXXXX, why don't we enjoy the concepts of Trek, 1999, and any other SF you happen to like and be happy that someone was able to expose our minds to a really enjoyable universe we can all cherish in the privacy of our thoughts.
And if you're really ticked off---write novels!
Don't for a moment think that from my title of this board I in any way think that Frieberger is the incarnate of evil, I just chose the title of the board to represent the spectrum of fan reaction to him.
Regarding the job of producer being just that: a JOB...
The points brought up on this board and in other forums & discussions over the years are wise to mention this often overlooked factor. However, I have to ask this: if the producer is just doing a job until the next project comes along, wouldn't it be more prudent to do the best job possible so that he/she wouldn't HAVE TO wait for the next project? In other words, make the best product (in this case, tv show) possible in order to stay employed.
I've read that there were other factors beyond Freiberger's control, the biggest being budget, that combined to prevent S:99 from having a third series. While this clears him of some of the blame, I don't think it completely absolves him, either.
Here's another thing to consider: where was Gerry Anderson during Freiberger's reign? Couldn't he have overseen things a little more, or did he just trust Freiberger to do the "right" thing? Or had Anderson also decided to move onto the next job?
From what I have heard of Gerry Anderson, his main interests were the sets and models. Once everything was all set up I think he liked to get stuck in to another project.
From all I've read the real Man with the (Misguided) Plan was Abe Mandell (the guy with the American $$$). Anderson and Freiberg have both laid the blame for the rubber monster suits at his door. Also, apparently Sylvia Anderson was the one who kept things on an even keel. Once she was out the door, there was nobody really to fight to keep the original vision for the show. So it became all about latex and spray glitter instead of people trying to survive.
Oh I don't mean the comment about Anderson being keen on models in a bad way. I think he really liked the whole 'setting up a new show' idea, all the preparation and so on.
That's not to say he lost interest when shooting started, but he was probably onto other project planning then. TV IS a cut throat business after all and he was probably only trying to hedge his bets after all.
Can't blame him for that.
I continue to suspect that the nasty falling apart of the Andersons' marriage as year one production came to an end didn't help the situation, and that some of what happened with year 2 may have been influenced by Gerry's feelings towards Sylvia, not to mention her mere absense.
The problem with Freiberger has always been his attitude. When Gene Roddenberry brought him on to produce Season 3 of TOS, Gene wanted Fred to do a sample script to show he understood the show's concepts and characterizations. Fred responded "hey, I'm a producer. I don't do auditions. You either hire me or don't." Gene, a friend of Fred's, did the most move this side of his drug abuse: he hired Frieberger anyway. The rest is history.
Or is that tragedy?
On the other hand, if Trek hadn't died the unlamented, unfulfilling death that it did die, would we have had the movies followed by four more series?
This may have been stated before, but - Freiberger was offered the opportunity to produce TOS from the get-go. Instead, he opted to take a planned vacation. Enter Gene L. Coon, and the rest is history.
I am a dickhead,signed Chris Bentley
Freddie Frieberger should have left sci fi alone.
he could have been great producing gilligans island or the brady bunch.just think he could have given gilligan and mary ann a more romantic role. maybe gilligan could have brewed beer from coconuts...how about gilligans brain....
Freiberger = Beelzebub
This is posted at two other pages at NitCentral, but I think it should be said here, too.
Fred Freiberger passed away on March 2, 2003 at his home in Bel Air at the age of 88.
Freddy Friedburger-The JNT of Star Trek, Space:1999 and the Six Million Dollar Man...
What does JNT stand for? I assume it's negative. Again I will reiteratewhat I've said before on the three shows mentioned:
Star Trek - The criticism against Frieberger's season is grossly overdone. While Trek's third season was somewhat weaker than the two that preceded it, it was not to the degree that many fans and pundits would have you believe. I've found that most people employ a double standard in their criticism of the third season when compared to the two earlier years. I maintain that the third season produced just as many classic episodes as either of the first two seasons. And it was not Frieberger's fault Roddenberry and other key Trek creative people deserted.
Space: 1999 - Yes, season two was much weaker overall than season two, and yes Frieberger didn't understand the show and made some negative changes in the format, but again the criticism is sometimes excessive. True, Frieberger couldn't write sci-fi very well, but he was probably pressed into penning the three episodes he wrote by year two's budgetary constraits.
The Six Million Dollar Man - I don't remember the last season of this show being noticably worse than any of the preceding seasons.
Trek Season 3. According to Nimoy, FF wanted more action and less cerebral shows.
What does JNT stand for?
I believe Huntsman is referring to John Nathan-Turner, who toook over as producer of Doctor Who for its last few seasons. He has been criticized for changes he made to that show, which many believe led to its downfall. (I don't. The end was casued by Micheal Grade, the new head of the BBC who simply didn't like the show.)
FF is deceased. Quality SF breathes a sigh of relief.
Oh Anonymous - FF will always live as long as somewhere the Giant Talking Carrot episode of Lost in Space is in reruns. :D
A giant talking carrot? Please tell me you are joking!
Oh no, Doug - Freiberger worked on Lost in Space, where one episode featured a giant dressed up in a giant carrot outfit. It had a little hole cut out for the guys face. It's the kind of episode that you have to get drunk to sit through.
Or be a kid. IIRC, Stanley Adams, Cyrano Jones of the Original STAR TREK episode, "The Trouble Wtith Tribbles" fame played the carrot. The episode in question was the third season ep, "The Great Vegetable Rebellion".
Gotta correct Chris Todaro's comment somewhat about John Nathan-Turner being producer of Dr.Who 'for its last few seasons'.
Actually he was producer from 1980 to 1989; 9 years of its 26-year run (including the time it was on the shelf, missing a season), so he's not quite in the same category as Freiberger, i.e. show up for one season and the show is cancelled.
I just meant that JNT was the last producer of the show. I had forgotten the exact number of years he was there.
I also didn't mean to imply that JNT was in the same category as Frieberger. Far from it. I think that if Frieberger did to 1999 what JNT did to Doctor Who (basically just "tweaking" things a bit), Frieberger might have been hailed as a savior of 1999, and not the cause of its downfall.
No offense taken. I think Nathan-Turner possesses the same amount of unpopularity with some fans as Freiberger, but for the reason that Dr.Who was never the same as it was after Tom Baker left, and he's almost solely blamed for that, unfairly, if you ask me.
Something that occurred to me today that some of us might not have considered;
Star Trek, Space:1999, Dr.Who-- they're all high-profile programs thanks to their fan bases, what with the internet, conventions, and everything else that allows us to disect such programs and learn more about the behind-the-scenes details than the producers could have imagined when the shows were in production.
Here's my point; there have been literally thousands of tv series put on the air, popular, average, below average, that we've all watched down through the years, but didn't carry the same interest as our sc-fi shows, and as such we've been oblivious to the revisions to them that newly appointed producers have placed on them. Do we really know what producers were in charge when those shows were cancelled? Freiberger's infamy has been well-publicized, but I think if we dug deeper we'd find that he's in good company when it comes to being in the category of incoming prodcuers that sank established shows.
I hate to defend the guy, even though I've forgiven him for Star Trek's third season, but Space:1999's changes still stick in my gut as bad moves. It's been too long since I saw second season episodes, but I don't have too many fond memories of them, whereas I'm glad Trek had a chance to give us episodes like 'The Tholian Web', 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield', 'Day Of The Dove', 'The Cloudminders', 'Elaan Of Troyius', and 'For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky'.
As for the Six Million Dollar Man, I don't know if he ruined the show for me; I have vague memories of becoming somewhat bored with the show's concept by the fifth season during first-run, and didn't mind it if I missed several episodes. Probably there was something more interesting and new on at the same timeslot and I watched that instead.
I'm sure that fans of other programs do the same thing. I know for example there's been discussion of the changes on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it wouldn't surprise me if hardcore fans of something like Law and Order debate the changes its undergone over the years. Watching some of the early episode of the latter lately you can see some of the change of tone its undergone.
Freiberger worked on Lost in Space...
Sorry, Barb. IMDB doesn't list Lost In Space among Freiberger's credits.
Hmmm...I distinctly recall Freiberger mentioning LIS in interviews. I'm not sure if he was a producer or a writer, but I'm almost positive he was part of that series in some capacity.
Can anybody else recall this, or am I officially nuts now?
Well, I wouldn't say officially...
Maybe he was the guy that was in charge of getting Irwin Allen his morning coffee?
The imdb (Internet Movie Database) doesn't show that Fred Freiberger had any association with Lost In Space, not under the series' entry, or Freiberger's own entry.
It's o.k. CR - I've known it for a LONG LONG time :D
But then again, imdb doesn't usually include credits such as 'the janitor's friend's cousin, Fred Freiberger'. I'm kidding! I'm a kidder!
If Freiberger was the primary reason that 1999 was revived and lived to see a second season (after having been cancelled ), then I'm eternally grateful... Without a doubt, the talking trees of "The Rules of Luton" were the most idiotic idea in any episode. From print and film (included on DVD episodes) interviews, Freiberger seems sensible and intelligent. His actual writing,though, reveals a crass side. I think his attitude was "they're just sci-fi fans, they'll buy anything". While this attitude might be appropriate for a Hanna-Barbera series, it totally unacceptable for a so called adult series... One has to also put the series into the proper perspective. As a 12 year old in 1977, Freiberger's changes probably made the show more enjoyable to me; more action,color, humor and Maya. As an adult in 2004, Freiberger's changes make the show less enjoyable. Year two seemed to degenerate into juvenile action adventures. I"m grateful for his addition of Maya (not because of the fictional character's debatable qualities,I just loved Catherine Schell!).As a kid, I loved all the creatures Maya transformed into. As an adult, I just find most of her transformations to be embarassing. Rubber-suited monsters are for kids. To be fair,though, most of the rubber-suited monsters in year two were no worse than anything seen in Star Trek,Doctor Who, or the Outer Limits. I still like the chlorine breathing creature from "A B Chryallis",don't ask me why.
I don't recall that S:99 was cancelled after Season 1; it was renewed for a second season, but to me, that doesn't imply cancellation. Have I been mistaken all these years?
Oh, and hi, Benn. Kinda surprised to see you here, but surprised in a good way, of course.
I have not been on this site for a while, but I was saddened to hear of the death of Fred and horrified at some of the pathetic banality still levelled at him after his death: RIP
Thanks, Craig. It just goes to show, you never know where I'll pop up!
To recap on Mark's point about 'Sci-Fi fans will buy anything', to be fair to Freddy this is not his attitude alone. If you read The Babylon Files, a nitpicking and episode guide to Babylon 5, JMS recounts there how he visited the production lot of the V weekly series and there saw writers and producers who usually worked on such shows as The Love Boat. When he talked to them, the general attitude seemed to be "Put ray guns and aliens in, and it's sci-fi".
I recall reading, somewhere, in an interview with either Freiberger or Anderson that ITC had basically cancelled the show after the first season (because its ratings had dropped so drastically)...and what basically sold the idea of the second season was Maya...I agree that much of the criticism of him is unfounded. Star Trek was cancelled after its first season, but brought back after its famous letter-writing campaign. It didn't manage to be renewed for a fourth season because its ratings didn't improve ( neither pressure from its makers or fans could save it that time).Freiberger didn't kill Trek... As to Space:1999, fans should really consider his contributions in comparison to what was done to two other famous big budget 70's sci-fi shows; Battlestar;Galactica and Buck Rogers. Over a year after its cancellation Battlestar:Galactica came back as Galactica:1980. If ever there was a sorry excuse for a science fiction show, Galactica:1980 is it. Freiberger faced the same challenges and pressures in changing Space:1999; a reduced budget (despite ITC's fraudulent publicity claims of a higher budget, read the 1980 Starlog interview-a typical 2nd season episode was made for less money than an episode of Star Trek,which was made ten years earlier. No wonder so many 2nd season episodes looked cheap for a supposedly huge budget show...they were cheap. A "faster and cheaper" approach never yields more impressive results anywhere), an attempt to appeal to younger viewers, and a different approach to stories...You think that the second season of Space:1999 was bad? Its not even in the same league of awfulness as Galactica:1980(in truth,Battlestar:Galactica wasn't good either,but it was at least watchable)... I think what irritates so many fans is the fact that Space:1999 went from being an exceptional show,in many ways, to a merely ordinary show...not a lousy show, but a show that had become ordinary... Read the scathing reviews of the show's first season. While serious sci-fi fans may have loved it, the general viewing audience didn't,and its plummeting ratings proved this. Freiberger's changes almost point by point addressed the criticisms (well, there was nothing he could do about the premise). ITC got exactly what it bargained for when it selected Freiberger....Think his approach was a crass, American one? Consider Buck Rogers. Were Space:1999 fans ever forced to accept stories and humor as pathetic as that? No,and thankfully so...One person who always escapes blame is Gerry Anderson. He has said in interviews that he had a "hands off approach" to the 2nd season. If there was one person who should have deeply cared, it was him. Imagine,the show he created and came up with a premise for...and he couldn't be bothered with fighting for it... Can anyone imagine him looking at the script of "The Rules of Luton" and not wanting to talk to Freiberger and say "Freddie,about these talking trees"? For a man supposedly proud of the technical aspects of his shows,can anyone imagine him,or anyone, looking at a finished cut of "Space Warp" and not saying "couldn't we edit out the visors flipping open on the spacesuits,it destoys all credibility in the scene?"...Apparently it was enough to just sit back and collect a huge paycheck from ITC. I'm not being mean-spirited. In a SFX interview he said he "was only in it for the money"...If anyone should be blamed it's Anderson himself. He burdened all of the writers with giving them the most idiotic premise of any science fiction show (many non-1999 fans consider Space:1999 to be one of the worst science fiction shows of all time,the premise being its biggest fault)... so fans continue to attack Freiberger,but it wasn't dear old Freddie who came up with the premise of an intersteller,faster- than -light moon, and a ridiculously far-fetched world of 1999.
Well done Mark - a good objective criticism of both Seasons!!! I think also Space 1999 was doomed by the end of the Second season in any case with the advent of Lew Grade's and drive towards big budget films. If S2 had been highly successful would ITC have renewed it for a 3rd Season??? In the face of films like Raise the Titanic, I think it is easy to see where ITC's money was intended -hence the slow financial death S2 suffered as its filming schedule progressed... I also agree about Gerry Anderson; if he felt so passionately about the show, he could (and perhaps should) of had a larger say in the outcome. He has little grounds to criticise on a serious basis today in my view.
Thanks Stu for mentioning Raise the Titanic. Many fans are unaware of the fact that ITC made a business decision (which doomed any chances for a third season of 1999) to devote their available financial resources to Raise the Titanic. Talk about a short-sighted decision!....In an earlier message, CR expressed the fact of being unaware of the first season's cancelation. Check in the Catacombs:Convention Reports, specifically, the Breakaway 1999 section. Freiberger reveals some facts which many fans were never aware of....As to those who consider him the show's killer; the show's rating troubles began in the first season,not the second. Space:1999 recieved huge ratings for its first initial episodes. For many, after the initial curiousity factor wore off, they were gone. Too many viewers "sampled" the show,didn't like it, and never came back....Before slamming the man, one should consider his contributions within a broader context ( of 70's television,ITC's mandates of what they expected him to do, etc)...I think the man had more integrity than he is given credit for. (Even in a stinker such as "The Rules of Luton", he shows a certain respect for the characters. This episode provided one of the most genuinely touching moments in the entire series; when Maya asks a tearful Koenig what his deceased wife was like and he responds "Helena". With these two lines, I gained more of an insight into Koenig's love and attachment to Helena than anywhere else in the series,first or second season.) .... Overall, I think he made a sincere effort to improve the show ( although I can't say that I share many of his sensabilities to to what constituted a good science fiction story).... Recently, the question of who or what was responsible for the demise of the series came to my mind while watching the new Battlestar:Galactica on the sci-fi channel. Over the years, we have seen so many shows brought back in one form or another (Star Trek,Outer Limits,Lost in Space,Battlestar:Galactica and even Anderson's own Thunderbirds for summer 2004). The question of why 1999 will never be revived comes to mind; the only answers involve the problem of Anderson's premise (a totally implausible premise,more implausibly set in 1999!). Of all places, an interview with Brian Johnson (elsewhere on the net) seems to reaffirm this. When asked what he thought of the chances of 1999 being revived, he reponded with a nil (because of its "rubbish" concept).
But I would like to see UFO revived...
UFO is a good bet for revival, but I certainly wouldn't dismiss 1999 either. Nowadays we are seeing attempts at 70s revivals all across the board. I think the problem with revivals is that most people are bound by the original formats and judge the modern day attempts accordingly - yes, the physics of 1999 are crass, but I would like to see the show revived regardless of that; though I doubt wheather it would seriously work!! Space 1999 is a product of the 70s - like Mission Impossible was for the 60s - similarly the new Starsky & Hutch movie with all it's modern effects and actors will simply not work. It will lack a certain flair....
Mentioning other Anderson shows,has anyone seen Into Infinity lately? I haven't seen it since it was aired in the 70's. It almost has the appeal of being like a lost episode of Space:1999!
I believe you can still get it on tape or dvd through Fanderson, the Gerry Anderson fan club, but I also believe you have to be a member to buy stuff. IIRC, the dvd is actually multi-region, too!
The reason I mentioned Into Infinity is that it depicts a 1999-like story, but with more attention given to the science in the story.
Never heard of 'Into Infinity'. What was it about?
In the US, it was called The Day After Tomorrow.
The mid-1970's film starred S99 alums Nick Tate, Brian Blessed & Joanna Dunham. A space station in the show was made from components of the SS Daria from "Mission of the Darians."
Of course, that doesn't tell you what it's about, does it?
It's about relativity, and how faster-than-light space travel illustrates the theory... some of the things covered are FTL travel, humanity's first photon drive spaceship and black holes.
I had a feeling it was 'The Day After Tomorrow'. I saw that, just once, after school, some time in the '70's and liked it alot. No VCR at the time, but I did use my tape recorder to tape the music during the end credits.
It seemed to me at the time like it was a pilot for a new series starring Nick.
I know that Derek Wadsworth did the music for it. I was curious how his work in the film compares to that of the second season of 1999...
In viewing many second season episodes, I've detected what appear to be American accents dubbed over an actor's performance (ex.- Cantor in 'The Exiles', Clea in 'Dorzak', Alan's friend in 'Mark of Archanon', etc.). Was this part of an effort by the producer to appeal to an American audience, or was it encouraged by ITC's New York office. I recognise a similar pattern in many of the New Zealand produced fantasy programs. But at least in those programs, the actor is allowed to affect their own(often awful) American accent and has not had a voice dubbed over theirs.
While watching "The Rules of Luton" last week, I was really struck by the fact that I was watching a show for children. Maybe, in this ep it is more apparent than in other Y2 eps. If that was the intended audience, is it really fair to judge Y2 as compared to the more adult-orientated Y1?
Did Y2 succeed more in the effort to appeal to a younger audience? For the most part, I would say yes. However, even as a kid "The Rules of Luton" left me with a angry reaction. The first time I saw it, I was shocked. I really felt as if my intelligence had been insulted. I dreaded seeing more such stories (perhaps, as a kid I took the show more seriously). In fact, I thought Freiberger was even hiding (from the fact he penned this drek) by using the pseudonym of Charles Woodgrove.
Freiberger must have believed he was making a children's show, and to some degree he was correct. That's no excuse for his lack of belief in the show itself. It was just a job to him, one he didn't appear to care very much about.
Give the guy a break for Christ sake - he is dead after all now, probably due to the continued onslaught from 1999 fans. But hey, S2 was perhaps more kiddie oriented and this is reflected in episodes like The Rules of Luton and Brian the Brain which really let the show down. On the other hand I would not call stronger episodes like the excellent Bringers of Wonder, kiddie shows. In this story the undertones of exploitation and capitalism are immense - I often compare John Carpenter's They Live when watching this! The Immunity Syndrome is another fine episode.
Unfortunately the Charles Woodgrove penned stories did let it down, but as has been said before if you forget about Freddie's efforts the show was highly watchable and very entertaining.
There were some good S2 stories, I particularly like The Mark of Archanon and Dorzak as good stories despite some poor costumes, especially in Mark of Archanon.
Guys, this will be a one post only because I avoid blogs and message boards, but I would like to make some point out of all sources I've read since 1998.
- 1st season was shot in a whole block, the 24 episodes were shot and only after that they went looking for an huge market to sell. There would not be a 2nd series.
-Ratings were fair to good, even if the series was not in prime time.
-ITC New York decided to put money on S2, but the S1999 had to be more americanized. Thus, enters the late FF. When J.Byrne said 'Without FF there would not be a 2nd season' he is correct, BUT omit the fact they were looking for an American producer; I mean anyone, and NOT specifically FF.
-Abe Mandall from ITC NY said that monsters were the hot stuff in american TV. That's why we have all those rubber monsters in S2.
-Sylvia Ander. after seeing the upcoming disaster and all those changes said to herself "Do I want my name in a thing like this ??" (her own words, quoted by memory) and left.
-Dr Mathias said he also asked for a raised because most newcomers were getting better payment than he was, and the producers refused (he's only in 2 episodes for S2). That's why he left.
- Note: the 1st 2 episodes from S2 were script leftovers from S1. If you notice only after that you get the rubber monsters on the loose and the real stupid ideas like the irish cowboy & evil rock episode and Brian the Brain.
-Some of the writers complained FF has butcherd their scripts beyond belief. Penfold gives an example with the script of Dorzak, where the final product had almost nothing to do with his writing.
-Ratings were not so bad, and talks began for a 3th season. The series could have been produced, but
- Lew Grade decides to use the money to make films, like Raise the Titanic. That was the end of S1999.
I've posted some facts, now I would like to share my opinions:
- Just because they want to produce a more action-adventure series, it was no reason for the we see in S2. How come one of the best action episodes evr in TV sci-fi is War Games; an S1 episode? Also an episode like Dorcons if it was well done could have been a great action episode. Even Beta Cloud has potential, but it would need something like an army invading Alpha, instead a stupid hairy frog/swamp thing/rubber monster or whatever it is.
So I think there was room to do action episodes (remember the Eagles and cannons attack on Gwent ?) without having that misery on screen.
-Ape Mandall (not an error) was the guy to blame for the rubber monsters. FF is the one to blame because of his ACTION of S1999, but Gerry is the one to blame by OMISSION. He could have said "Stop. This is not S1999 anymore". After all it was his show, and how many ppl would like to see the bastardization of his own ideas?
-I've seen "Raise the Titanic" 2 years ago? Where is all that money they needed? It's not on screen. I think the money would have been better used in doing the 3th Season. You can see the last episodes from S2 are getting better when compared with the 1st.
- The irony of S1999 comes between season. There was never to be a 2nd season, but a last minute effort gave the green light. There was to be a 3th season, but a last minute decision cancelled it.
Working class people like 2nd Season better - because it's a pure escape from reality!! The producers of the first were wine drinking naive types, trying to go on a misguided, philosophical ego-trip - '2001' had already covered that ground and by 1976 people were ready for a change. Simple sociological analysis tells you that...
A-trolling we will go...
I don't know about the alcohol part, I was well under drinking age when the show was first on. Last night's ABC film about Dynasty portrayed that show's escapism as appealing to beer drinking working class types. As for this show, many have said that the first series was a bit more high brow than the second; if that's what you mean.
FF = Satan.
about 80% of the S2 eps could have been good....if the idiot rubber suits and other production flaws had been fixed.
True, but how do you fix 'rubber suits' in the mid-70s??? In essence, there was very little else Anderson & Co could do. No CGI and animatronics was far too expensive to indulge at such short notice. I always felt the Bringers of Wonder 'Plasma creature' was very good and even convincing. Keith Wilson said so himself that given the money all the aliens in S2 could have been as good as that - pretty good for 1976 I thought!
Oh; and might I add........a whole lot better (all s2 aliens that is!) than what the BBC were coming up with at a similar time in Doctor Who!!
They should have been given the low budgets Doctor Who supposedly had.
did i mention....
FF = Satan.
Just for the record; whoever wrote the bit about 'The BOW' being an allegory for control and state exploitation and having parallel's with John Carpenter's 'The Thing':
Ahem; that should of course be 'They Live' and NOT 'The Thing' :-/
FF = Satan.
Thank you for your attention to this fact.
If the Anderson's would have hired top sf writers & had great story editors then Space:1999 could have been their "Star Trek." They should have watched the best episodes of "The Twilight Zone,"The Outer Limits," & "Star Trek."This should have revealed to them how absolutely critical it is to have superior writing because that results in a superior production. A sf TV series can look good due to excellent sets,costumes,props,FX, & so forth but still be inferior due to the scripting.I realize that's an old observation but it remains relevant to this day since we sf fans continue to be subjected to some horrendous sf TV shows that will not learn this vital fact. Somehow their thinking seems to be that if a show dazzles us via its production values then the rest will just fall into place.Or worse,if the show looks fantastic who needs good writing? As if we fans won't notice. I wanted very much to like Space:1999,I certainly admired the wonderful look of the show,you could see that it was a lavish series. But I never thought that the writing was well done,I could never warm up to the characters. The show never became the classic that it could have been.
All this venom directed at Fred Freiberger. If you take the position that he ruined 1999, where was Gerry Anderson? Why wasn't he keeping an eye on things? It seems he just sat back and let Freiberger have carte blanch (sp?) in changing the format.
In that context, Anderson is just as responsible for ruining 1999 as Freiberger is.
A little late, but...Gerry Anderson was probably too distracted by personal, legal and financial difficulties (including his divorce from Sylvia Anderson) to pay much attention to Space:1999 in its last season. More here.
The thing is though, Anderson did state quite clearly in the 1996 Fanderson Documentary that he could've put his foot down, booted out ITC and stopped filming. At the end of the day though and at that time (1976) he was employed by Grade & Co still and it was VERY tough times for the country, not just the UK film/tv industry. Booting them out out would've meant no paycheck and no Second Series at all. Like Landau, he chose to purse his lips, and take the money and run (as a 'Gerry Anderson Production) without actually being Producer...