Space: 1999 – Bringers of Wonder, The: Special Edition (Region B Blu-ray Review)
Release Date(s)1976/1978 (December 8, 2014)
Studio(s)ITV Studios (Network Distributing Ltd.)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B-
[Editor’s Note: This is a REGION B Blu-ray release.]
It’s been a long wait for news of the release of Space: 1999 – Season Two on Blu-ray. As you probably know, Network (in the UK) and A&E (here in the States) first released Season One in HD way back in 2010. In the four years since, Season Two has seemed an on-again, off-again proposition. Fortunately, the good news is that Network has finally officially announced that work is underway to bring Season Two to Blu-ray in Autumn 2015. To celebrate that announcement, they’ve just released the Space: 1999 – The Bringers of Wonder: Special Edition teaser disc on Blu-ray.
Unfortunately, there’s a bit bad news. First, the Space: 1999 – The Bringers of Wonder: Special Edition is only available on Blu-ray from Network’s online store in the UK (networkonair.com) in a limited edition of 1999 units – it’s not being released here in the States. It’s also a Region B only disc, so you’ll need an all-region Blu-ray player to view the disc outside of the UK. The other bit of bad news is that I’ve just confirmed with sources that A&E (which is now distributed by Lionsgate) has lost the US distribution rights to Space: 1999. That likely means that some other company has either already picked up the US release rights, or they will soon. Rest assured, I’ll post an update in my daily column here at The Bits as soon as I know more.
[Editor’s Note: Given that ITV Studios and Shout! Factory made a multi-film Blu-ray deal in late 2013, Shout! would seem the most likely place – not to mention a damn good place – for these titles to end up here in the States. We’ve already asked Shout!, of course, and will let you know what we hear ASAP.]
In the meantime, Network’s Blu-ray is a single-disc release that includes the Season Two episodes The Bringers of Wonder, Part 1 and The Bringers or Wonder, Part 2. The two-part story features the arrival of an apparent faster-than-light mission launched from Earth to rescue the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, who were lost when the Moon was blasted out of Earth’s orbit a year earlier. But when Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) wakes up from injuries sustained in a recent Eagle crash, he sees these rescuers for what they really are – mind-controlling aliens who want Alpha for their own purposes. The only question is: Will Koenig be able to convince the rest of his people of the truth before it’s too late?
A quick side note before I continue: Something I’ve never realized before watching this Blu-ray, is that there’s a familiar face in the cast. An actor named Drewe Henley plays Eagle pilot in these episodes. If his name isn’t familiar to you, his face surely will be – a couple years after this work, Henley played Red Leader in little film called Star Wars.
In terms of presentation quality, I’m pleased to report that these episodes look terrific on Blu-ray. Remastered in HD from the original negatives, they’re included here in the correct 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with excellent detail and contrast. Blacks are deep, colors are vibrant and accurate. If you have Space: 1999 – Season One on Blu-ray (reviewed here at The Bits) you’ll know exactly what to expect on this disc. The audio is only included in LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit), but it still sounds quite good. Presumably, when Season Two arrives on Blu-ray in late 2015, it will feature true 5.1 remixes as did Season One.
In terms of extras, this Blu-ray also includes the complete Destination Moonbase-Alpha film, which was essentially a feature-length version of these two episodes combined, with select footage from a smattering of first-season episodes mixed in. Destination Moonbase-Alpha runs 100 minutes. It’s clearly an HD transfer of the original film version, but the film elements look a generation or two down from the episode negatives, so the quality isn’t nearly as good looking as the episodes themselves – it’s a little softer in detail, with muddier blacks and colors that aren’t as accurate as the individual episodes. Still, it’s entirely watchable and it’s nice to have it on the disc. The aspect ratio is also 1.33:1, with audio in LPCM 48kHz/16-bit stereo. This Blu-ray also includes the trailer for Destination Moonbase-Alpha (2:06). It’s poor quality (probably upconverted PAL), but again it’s good to have.
After such a length wait, it’s great to finally know for certain that Space: 1999 – Season Two is coming to Blu-ray, at least in the UK. But while it’s unfortunate that we don’t yet know who will release it here in the States, given the sheer number of U.S. Bits readers that have continued to ask about it over the last few years, I’d be stunned if Season Two isn’t released BD here too.
To that point, I’ve also confirmed that A&E is losing the rights to UFO, and probably other Gerry Anderson/ITV properties as well. With UFO newly available on Blu-ray in Japan and Germany, plus Space: 1999 – Season Two on the way, there’s a real opportunity here for a distributor to nab the rights to a couple of great cult properties with a ready U.S. Blu-ray audience. In any case, while we wait to learn more on that, this teaser BD from Network is fun, cheap and – provided you can watch Region B discs – well worth importing. You can purchase it here.
- Bill Hunt