Space Precinct was a British-American science fiction show that ran for 24 episodes from 1994 to 1995. Created/produced by Gerry Anderson, of Thunderbirds and Space: 1999 fame, Space Precinct was built along the concept of police procedural shows like Law & Order and Dragnet, but set in a distant future out in space.
Anderson’s original idea for the show came much earlier, as a pilot was produced in 1986 and titled Space Police, but sadly no studio was willing to finance the show at the time so it was left in suspended animation until the mid-90’s. That’s when Anderson found a partner in Mentorn TV boss Tom Gutteridge (with UK distribution rights split between BBC and SKY) and the creation was resurrected.
The show’s high budget meant that production had to target the American audience as sell, so in aid of this an American actor was cast in the leading role; Ted Shackleford (Knots Landing) as Lieutenant Patrick Brogan. He was joined by fellow American Rob Youngblood (Melrose Place) as Officer Jack Haldane and Danish actress Simone Bendix (Mary, Mother of Jesus) as Officer Jane Castle.
As for the production location, Shepperton Studios in England was used for the live action elements while the miniature and special effects elements were done in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately Space Precinct faced tough competition in other science fiction shows such as Star Trek and Babylon Five, especially in the US where it only aired in syndication and usually in less than favourable late-night/early morning time slots. This was largely due to American broadcasters being unsure of show’s target audience and as a result the show suffered very low ratings outside of the UK market. Thus the show was cancelled after its first season.
Apparently there were also problems on the set with Shackleford threatening to leave the show at times, creative differences among the writers, and US backers trying to get out of their financial contract. Again, this was largely all caused by the show’s British humour conflicting with what American audiences would have wanted at the time (and still do); darker adult drama.
I have many fond memories of the show thanks to the dazzling sets and excellent special effects that kept in tune with Anderson’s prior creations like Thunderbirds and Stingray, but this time featuring live actors, making it all the more impressive. I also enjoyed how Officer Haldane would constantly hit on Officer Castle, only to fail miserably each time. It kind of reminds me of the Johnny Cage/Sonya Blade dynamic found in the Mortal Kombat franchise.
Merchandise for Space PrecinctÂ was fairly popular in the UK, with action figures, home video releases, and comic book adaptation leading the way. Repeats of the show on Sky and Syfy have helped to grow the cult following over the years and this has helped the show keep up an appearance at conventions and in online tributes. For myself and others it is a true cult classic.