Victor Bergman

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Character
Name: Victor Bergman
Occupation: Chief Science officer
Title/Rank: Professor
Location: Moonbase Alpha
Status:
Relationships:
Fandom: Space: 1999
Other: The Return of Victor Bergman (Space: 1999 film)
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Cover of Reconnaissance Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1

Victor Bergman was a main character during Year One (Season One) Space: 1999 played by Barry Morse and is seen in all 24 episodes. He is perhaps most prominent in Black Sun and War Games.

Professor Bergman is a father figure for many of the key personnel on the moonbase. He is very much the proverbial professor; he has a brilliant mind and has been responsible for many advances in space science. He is a philosopher and very much a humanist.

Bergman is unusual in that an early illness led to his having a mechanical heart replacement. Because it responds more slowly to nervous stimuli than a normal heart does, it reduces his reactions to most emotional stresses. Whatever the situation, he is physically immune from panic. There is a drawback - a ruthless or desperate person might be able to interfere with his mechanical heart and upset his finely-tuned metabolism.

His best friends on Moonbase Alpha are John Koenig and Helena Russell.

Bergman remains one of the best-loved characters in Space: 1999. Many fans were disappointed when the character did not return to the show in Year Two (Season Two). Actor Barry Morse answered the question so often that he took to joking that "Bergman fell off the back of the moon." [1]

The full story pertaining to the reasons Bergman was not brought back to the show are detailed in the book Destination: Moonbase Alpha. They include a reduction in Morse's salary by 33%, elimination of per diem and transport for Morse from London to Pinewood Studios, and more. Even so, Morse ultimately agreed to return in spite of the changes; however, producers then declined to bring him back for Year Two (Season 2) anyway. [2]

Fan Reaction

From the opening paragraph of the premiere issue of ComLoC:

"This issue of ComLoC is dedicated to Barry Morse and the character he portrayed, Victor Bergman. Victor, the wisest Alphan of them all and a character solely missed by us all."[3]

In ComLoC Issue 1, a fan ruminates on the loss of Bergman to the show:

"I would like to talk about a dear old man we all once knew named Victor Bergman... Bergman was somebody whose brains I had complete faith in. Victor was a marvelous mixture of scientist and philosopher whose insights I appreciated and whose human kindness toward the other members on the base was really beautiful... And hell, I miss Victor alot. ALOT. That marvelous scientific flavor of his is missing and the Command Center crew (I wish they hadn't changed the name; Main Mission had such a nice ring to it) doesn't seem as bright and intelligent overall without Victor. They seem to be relying on Maya's powers too much as a solution to their problems instead of using their own resources... I've seldom met a character in a TV show or book that I feel so much empathy for as Victor. There was a warmth to him that gave the whole setting a human quality, and that marvelous scientific manner with his Oxford-sounding British accent gave the show real class. I was always interested in seeing what Victor would do because he had a calm and a rationality that was pleasant to witness in the midst of an intense crisis on Alpha - very refreshing. He was more into solving the problems than worrying intensely or acting impulsively... All in all, Victor was the greatest and I miss his presence in the show a great deal. It was a mistake to take him out of it."[4]

Also in ComLoC, a fan is disappointed with the book The Making of Space: 1999:

"...It, as the second season, ignored Morse, Hancock, and Jones. Though they may be no longer with the show, some of us out here still like them, and their professional biographies should have at least been included.>"[5]

In ComLoC Issue 2, a fan asks about the fate of Bergman:

"I find things that I miss from year one, but I see many improvements in year two. I miss Victor Bergman! I'd probably miss him less if I knew where he was. Why - I repeat - why can't an explanation be contrived by series' writers when a character disappears? The writers could have written a good, weepy episode in which they killed him off. This would have satisfied all of us who wanted to know where he went. Furthermore (and this brings me to my next point), it would have touched us emotionally. This is an area in which Space: 1999 could really stand improvement. Very little occurs on Alpha to evoke any sort of gut reaction. Death is impersonalized and love is plasticized..."[6]

Also from ComLoC Issue 2:

"It's too bad that Victor is gone... he was one of the best things in the show... too bad that Koenig couldn't have been cut. He is the most incompetent character ever to be featured in a TV show... I hate that man."[7]

From ComLoC Issue 3:

"...the BOMBSHELL came when I heard WHO the new addition to the staff was going to be and WHO would be in charge of all the improvements: FRED FREIBERGER! That, to me, was more ominous than all of '99s first season! I felt as if Gerry Anderson had gone mad! Because of this pseudo-SF-producer, Star Trek reached such indignities that I never thought possible. And now Space: 1999 would suffer. God help us all! Upon seeing the first episode, the "improvements" came at me like a ceaseless rush of wind. One of the more pleasing aspects of the show, the character of Victor Bergman, was gone. The man displayed character, strength, warmth, and compassion... A pity.[8]
The moonbase Professor in "The Return of Victor Bergman.

Fan Film

The character of Victor Bergman was brought back by fans in 2010. Barry Morse reprised his role of Professor Victor Bergman in a new performance in the short film The Return of Victor Bergman, an eight-minute fan-production scripted by Robert E. Wood and Barry Morse. The film also featured clips (including Morse and various other actors) from the Space:1999 television series. Directed by Robert E. Wood and Produced by Anthony Wynn, it debuted at the Journey to Where convention Austin, Texas in 2010. The film was also screened publicly at the Alpha: 2012 convention in Burbank, California. It has been embraced by fandom and dubbed the "50th episode" by fans of the show.

Fan Fiction

Various fan fiction stories devised explanations for the disappearance of Bergman. Some had him reassigned to different (off-camera) sections of Moonbase Alpha, others were even more inventive. The fanzine The Return of Victor Bergman was published in 2010 as a charity zine to accompany the release of the fan film of the same title. It is a gen Space: 1999 short story collection of fan fiction by multiple authors edited and published by Anthony Wynn, with all stories centered around the character of Victor Bergman. It also featured the script of the short film, The Return of Victor Bergman (Space: 1999 film). Other zines that also contain stories including the character of Bergman are Everything Yet To Be, The Alpha Files, and Moonscape.

Fan Club

Fan Vivian Stanley created and organized the Morse Code in 1977, dedicated to the character of Victor Bergman and other roles created by actor Barry Morse, such as 'Lt. Philip Gerard' from The Fugitive. The club published a quarterly newsletter of the same name, Morse Code, and was in existence until 1997.

Fanzine Covers

References

  1. Interview with Barry Morse in Conversations at Warp Speed by Anthony Wynn, BearManor Media (2012).
  2. "The Disappearance of Victor Bergman" in Destination: Moonbase Alpha by Robert E. Wood, Telus Publishing (2010).
  3. ComLoC Issue 1, December 1976, Page 1, dedication by editor Chuck Raue
  4. ComLoC Issue 1, December 1976, Page 5, letter from Mona Delitsky
  5. ComLoC Issue 1, December 1976, Page 8, letter from Carl Lamb
  6. ComLoC Issue 2, March 1977, Page 3, letter from Kathy Stear
  7. ComLoC Issue 2, March 1977, Page 5, letter from Richard Robinson
  8. ComLoC Issue 3, June 1977, Page 9, letter from Sandra Neechi