Cancelled Before It Began: Gerry Anderson’s The Day After Tomorrow (1975)

By | November 19, 2015

Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.

day-after-tomorrowBack in December of 1975, an odd little piece of sci fi showed up on afternoon television titled The Day After Tomorrow (not to be confused with the 1983 nuclear war TV movie The Day After).  Some might have mistaken it as a reboot of Lost in Space (though the reboot craze was still a long ways off at that point), as it followed two families who board the space ship Antares to seek out new worlds to colonize because Earth’s population and environment are at critical levels.  But the ship encounters a black hole which sends it to a different universe and a whole new set of adventures for tho people on board.  Those who caught this when it first aired would have noted a lot of similarities to Gerry Anderson’s Space: 1999 which had debuted on American television in September of that year.  Nick Tate was onboard as–what else–the pilot and Brian Blessed (who had guest-starred on Space: 1999) was along for the ride as well.  The spaceships and music had a very similar look and feel to the Anderson show and a familiar voice acted as narrator: Ed Bishop who had starred in UFO back in 1970-71.  And Anderson was indeed involved because this was produced by him during the break between Season 1 and 2 of Space: 1999.  It was part of an afternoon series aimed at teenage audiences which NBC had started up that year named Special Treat.  That was designed as an educational series and NBC had approached Anderson to do an episode which would introduce Einstein’s theory of relativity.  Anderson, along with frequent Space: 1999 writer Johnny Byrne, also took this as an opportunity to produce an open-ended pilot that could lead into an ongoing series (thus the reason for sub-title “Into Infinity” which acted as an episode title).  At that time, he did not know yet whether Space: 1999 would get picked up for a second season, and so he decided to take a stab at another potential sci fi series just in case.  For those of us who caught this when it originally aired, it seemed like one of the coolest things on television and very much in line with a typical Space: 1999 episode.  I revisited it again a few years ago, though, and it definitely does not hold up as well with time.  But then Space: 1999 doesn’t either so if you liked that show back then (which I definitely did) you will almost certainly enjoy this one.  And it does do a much better job with science than that show did, which notoriously played fast and loose with universal laws.   The Day After Tomorrow was definitely very talky with stilted acting, but what else would you expect from British sci fi at that time?  The special effects were on par with Space: 1999, and nothing that the American broadcast networks were producing then came even close.  Unfortunately, this one did not continue into its own series because it would have been a good companion show to Anderson’s other space series.  But it likely would have been an expensive show to produce and the early excitement over Space: 1999 had already cooled at that point.  Sadly, The Day After Tomorrow has yet to receive a DVD release in the States (I believe it is available in PAL format in the UK), though you can search it up on YouTube from time to time.  For those Space: 1999 fans who never caught this one, it is definitely worth giving it a look as it acts sort of like a lost episode of that show and it would have been interesting to have a cross-over with the two (perhaps Captain Harry Masters was Alan Carter’s long lost twin).  You can read more about The Day After Tomorrow on the excellent Fanderson site at this link.

Aired: 1975 (as an episode of NBC’s Special Treat afternoon series)

Created By: Gerry Anderson, Johnny Byrne

Starring: Brian Blessed, Nick Tate, Joanna Dunham, Katherine Levy

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