Contrary to popular opinion, I think that Space: 1999 had some moments that were great science fiction, at least in its first season. There were episodes like Collision Course, with Landaus commander forced to accept an alien matriarchs requirement that he act on faith and believe that her planet is not going to collide with Alpha; Mission of the Darians with a guest-starring Joan Collins, which was the first screen treatment of the generation ship premise; and Black Sun, which contained a 2001-styled mind-expanding journey inside a black hole. In the first season, there is a fragile sense of a frail humanity trying to struggle to survive up against a vast and inexplicable universe. The second season is much more disappointing with the first seasons best actor Barry Morse being dumped in favour of good-looking leads in the form of Tony Anholts deputy commander and the perkily sexy Catherine Schells exotic shape-changer, and the series somehow losing the more conceptually interesting cosmic vision that it previously held.
Destination Moonbase-Alpha was an attempt in the immediate post-Star Wars (1977) science-fiction boom to repackage Space: 1999 as a cinematically released film, in much the same way as the success that the tv series Battlestar Galactica (1978-9) had had in cinematically releasing its pilot episode as Battlestar Galactica (1978). Destination Moonbase-Alpha was not widely seen, although it did result in a number of other episodes from this and several other Gerry Anderson puppet series being repackaged as tv movies. These other Space: 1999 tv movies were Alien Attack (1980), Cosmic Princess (1982) and Journey Through the Black Sun (1982).
Destination Moonbase-Alpha was edited from the second-season episode The Bringers of Wonder. The Bringers of Wonder is a natural choice for release as a film in that it was the series only two-part episode. It is unfortunately also one of the less interesting episodes. In fact, it is no more than a one-hour episode padded out with snails-paced chases and contrived cliffhangers all there is here could have been condensed to a single one-hour episode. The tentacular one-eyed aliens, glowing from within, are nifty creations. However, the whole illusion/doubt theme of wondering whether Martin Landau is going mad or seeing things is obvious from the outset and unsubtly dealt with. There is some rather awful comic-relief padding with the vamping Diana Morris and a jealous Maya turning into various monsters.
As usual for Space: 1999, the science is atrocious. There is the laughable scene when it is realised that the aliens are drawing their power from the electricity produced by the human brain and so all the personnel in the Moonbase are knocked out. Now firstly, simply rendering people unconscious does not switch off the electricity in their brain the sleeping brain still uses electricity and to do that you would actually need to kill the people. Furthermore, it seems preposterous to talk about turning off the relatively minute output of the electricity in the human brain when the vastly greater output of the Moonbases instrumentation is kept on not even the lights are turned off. The reedited film version also screws the dates up the credits of every episode of the series announced that the Moon was blasted out of Earth orbit on September 13, 1999, but here we are told that the year is 2100, one-hundred-and-one years later (even though the opening narration says it is still the 21st Century). Later this is justified somewhat by a vague reference to relativity: Weve been in space for months on Earth, thats generations.
Full film available online here:-