Space: 1999 occupies a special place in many of our memories — so when we heard that a reboot called Space: 2099 was in development, many people had mixed feelings. How would this show handle the original show's mixture of horror and kitschiness, not to mention the somewhat nonsensical premise?
We spoke to Jace Hall, the producer of Space: 2099, who explained to us a little about how he wants to make this version of the show more "plausible." He also explained a little bit about what went wrong with his last project, the V reboot.
For many of our readers, Space: 1999 is the show that got them into science fiction. So people are excited at the idea of a new version. How do you deal with the challenge of recapturing fans' rose-tinted memories of a show from 35 years ago?
It's a significant challenge most certainly. When Space: 1999 was released in the 70's there really was nothing quite like it on television, and the bold designs and larger story concepts presented in season one had a tremendous impact on the imaginations of both the young and old. Space: 1999 was released during a time period when the whole world seemed to be excited about looking to the stars, and the aspirations of our human reach into the unknown universe extended without limit. There is real emotion tied to that whole experience, and as you know, emotional experiences like that are very personal and unique to the individual. So part of how we deal with the challenge you describe relates to our understanding and acknowledgment of what Space: 1999 represents and means to the many fans that are out there (which we are part of.)
The goal of our project is not to "replace" or "alter" Space: 1999 or its original memory – our goal is to wonderfully explore some of the great thought-provoking key axioms and notions that gathered and excited people around the original Space: 1999 in the first place. We are very interested in exploring the human condition through compelling individual characters against a backdrop of an epic situation.
Space: 2099's goal is not to attempt to re-tell the specific story of Space: 1999. We are not trying to make some "dark and gritty" version of Space: 1999. There is no reason to re-tell the Space: 1999 story since we already have Space: 1999! However, through our new story and presentation, Space: 2099 hopes to re-kindle and remind fans of those memories of a show from 35 years ago, but more importantly help bring back to all science fiction fans that sense of awe, fear and incredible spectacle that is the unknown, unexplored universe. It is important that we endeavor to bring something new and exciting to the table.
A lot of people want to know if the Eagles will be back. I see one in the poster, so I'm guessing the answer is yes?
Please believe me when we say that we want to answer this question, however we are not releasing any content specific information yet. We leave the posters open for interpretation. We can say that everything seen in the posters is there for deliberate reason.
What fun aspect of the original show are you most excited to feature in Space: 2099?
The near future plausibility of it all. Space: 1999 presented a very near future societal depiction where a moonbase had been established, and the show worked to successfully convince us that it was a reasonable vision to have given where the world was in the 70s. In a similar but much more emphasized vein, one of the key elements in our depiction will be as much plausibility as possible. Since we are dealing with a future timeframe of only around 80 years, there will still be plenty of familiar things around – however evolved they happen to be. It is this kind of projected iteration and future evolution that can be fun to depict as well as very thought-provoking. We consciously understand that a future projection must be comprehensive and not just focus on technology. Corporations, governments, social issues and day to day concerns all must be considered. No one was worried about their Facebook wall activity 80 years ago! My, how things change! It is exciting to imagine the various extrapolations from now until 2099.
The premise of Space: 1999 is one that has a lot of logical flaws. Like the Moon traveling at interstellar speeds without the Moonbase being destroyed. Or the massive amount of devastation that would happen to the Earth if the Moon was gone. Or the fact that the Moon travels fast enough to visit a new planet every week. How can you make this premise more plausible without getting rid of what's great about it?
This is a great question and unfortunately we can't reveal any story content at this time. I would only refer you to my above answer that discusses the importance and focus of our story on plausibility. If something happens in our story, it is very important that the audience feels that it could actually theoretically happen in real life and that situations and characters evolve in ways that make logical sense. This is going to be a consistent and driving force in Space: 2099 and we are doing our homework to support this.
Space: 1999 always felt like it was slightly more horror-focused than Star Trek, especially in its first season. Do you plan to keep the horror aspects front and center?
We wouldn't use the term "horror" to describe any part of the focus. Instead we would choose "real" as the mainstay, because reality of course can be much more frightening. In reality, things that are unknown tend to induce fear. It is a natural human reaction. The more unknown things are around us, the more anxiety it generates in general – and what could possibly be more unknown to us than the boundless, unexplored, naked universe? True fear in many forms will certainly be present, from immediate threats, all the way to some quiet but appalling cerebral implications that characters must face, because it will be a natural part of the total human experience of the story we want to tell.
Maya, the shape-shifter, doesn't appear in the original show until season two. But she's one of the characters everybody remembers. Will she be back in some form? And would you still wait a year to introduce her?
Love to answer this... but can't yet. Please visit www.space2099theseries.com to stay informed!!!
Right now seems to be a challenging time for space opera on television — shows like Star Trek and Andromeda have pretty much vanished from our screens. What makes you think Space: 2099 can buck this trend?
It saddens me that science fiction television is so scarce these days. As a fan I am constantly left wanting and jumping at almost any paltry offering only to be disappointed with the lack of real thought behind the story being told. Science fiction may be the greatest story telling platform there is. The sky is the limit and one's imagination can soar! I feel that science fiction can help us see ourselves in critical ways without pointing the finger and that allows us to be open to its message. Science fiction can look at what we are doing TODAY and create a projection of the consequences of collective behavior. It can also give us a vision of a future that we find appealing and create social motivation to decide to work toward it. I could go on and on about this subject, actually.
Space: 2099 is an endeavor to tell an epic story that carries deeply thoughtful and entertaining insights about the human condition that everyone might find of interest, not just science fiction fans. It is not a show about tech gadgets, or spaceships, or computers – certainly those are present but they are just tools – but rather it is a story with overtones that question things like human entitlement by challenging established conventions regarding what we feel our place in the universe is, what are we doing, and why we think it all matters. Stuff like that!
What do you think you've learned about rebooting classic science fiction shows after doing V?
V, oh my… I've learned a lot actually – the primary thing I learned was that it is important to make sure that the people with the creative passion stay at the command position the project. For Space: 2099 this is not an issue, because we are super passionate about this project and we are in a command position that allows us to execute on the vision.
As for V, I think there turned out to be some writing challenges after the V pilot and at the time I was not invited to "drive," so my perception was that eventually things got a little derivative as the network and studio worked to find the right showrunner. It is my opinion that you can't buy deep passion, only expertise. I was the person with the deep passion for V – that's why I wanted to bring it back. At the time, my relative newness to television production at that level just couldn't support me being given the authority to see it through from front to back.
Regardless, I learned a tremendous amount through the entire experience and greatly appreciate everything that Warner Bros. and ABC did to make the project work. Everyone worked very hard. It sucks that it didn't get to continue, but I got an invaluable across-the-board education that Space: 2099 is going to be the beneficiary of!