I haven’t abandoned SF Obscure. In fact, good things may be on the horizon.
But a short note about two shows set on space stations Moonbase 3 and Space Island One.
Normally, when I consider shows set on space stations I immediately think of my two favorites Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine. Drama. Humans. Aliens. Interstellar Wars. It’s space opera and the closest I am likely to come to a soap opera. And the relationships: Worf /Jadzia; Sisko/Yates;Kira/Odo. And the epic Babylon 5 romance of Sheridan and Delen.
Moonbase 3 has no alien romance, I’m afraid, but lots of interesting science. This series was produced in 1973 by the BBC. The main reason I heard about it was because of the theme song by Dudley Simpson who also wrote the theme for Blake’s 7. It only lasted for six episodes-there wasn’t much interest-but it’s good in the sense of looking back at how 1973 saw the future of space exploration.
The setting was 2003, in which several countries have various space stations. Moonbase 3 is the British moonbase, with a Russian and American base there also. Some of the plots revolve around the competing interests of the Russians, Americans, and British. The main character is Dr. David Caulder, Deputy Director LeBrun, and a psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Smith.
And is does present some interesting ideas. It is a slightly dark show-many of the episodes focus on psychological breakdowns of some sort-given the isolation from Earth; the stress of living conditions; hysteria that makes sense. Still, I can see how audiences would feel the show was somewhat of a downer compared to the usual SF fare.
It is dated, mainly in looking at gender relations. Lots of sexual comments that probably wouldn’t be given a pass nowadays; and one disturbing incidence of sexual assault which is never really confronted. Modern shows (new Battlestar) were direct in approaching the topic of sexual violence and was supposed to make you uncomfortable. This just made me uncomfortable because nothing was done about it.
Moonbase 3 was the inspiration for a later series Space Island One. This 1998 series was a joint effort between UK and Germany that focused on a international group of scientist on a space station. Like Moonbase 3, it tends to be heavy on the science and the relationships among crew members in an isolated environment.
I wonder if it is possible to sustain a realistic series about a space station. Earlier I reviewed Star Cops, another short lived show with ‘real’ space travel. Although, I find it fascinating, the restrictions of real science do make it difficult to have the drama that one gets used to in more adventurous SF shows. Most of science fiction tv is fiction. But, without those fiction shows, it’s hard to get people supportive of real science and space exploration. Star Trek may not be real, but it inspires a lot of people.