Very early Gerry Anderson puppet series, and a non-science fiction one. This was a western abide with a little magical involvement. The adventures of Sherif Tex Tucker (voiced by Nicholas Parsons) who with the help of his four magical feathers kept law and order in the small western town coincidently named four Feather Falls. The feathers a reward from an Indian Chieftain who’s son’s life Tex had saved, enabled Dusty and Rocky, his dog and horse respectively to talk and his guns to magically protect him. Kenneth Conner voiced both of these characters as well as the villain of the piece Pedro the Bandit. These 15 minuet episodes were often shown in pairs to fill an halfhour TV slot.
Mid 1970’s live action Gerry Anderson series. Aparently according to some interviews Anderson had originally intented to make a second series of U.F.O. with an expanded Moonbase etc., but when this fell through, it was developed out to become this, Space 1999.
By the year 1999 the earth is now using the moon to dispose of all of it’s nuclear waste. Transport ships regularly taking waste up and disposing of it in special sites upon the moon. This is all monitored from Moonbase command . Husband and wife team of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain played John Koenig and Dr Russell who are in charge after a freak accident ignites the waste causing the moon to be blown out of orbit and into the far reaches of space.
The series lasted for two seasons and a total of 48 episodes following their continued adventures as they encounter various alien life forms and other planets.
The first season featured veteran actor Barry Morse (best know as Lt Gerard in the Fugitive) as Professor Bergman, who for no explained reason disappears between the first and second years of the show. The second season saw the introduction of the shape shifting alien Maya played by Catherine Schell.
“Stand by for Action! Anything can happen in the next half hour”. So opened each episode of Stingray, the first British TV series to be shot entirely in colour. For this series Gerry Anderson introduced us to the World Aquatic Security Patrol, (WASP) headed up by Commander Shore, who spoke those opening lines. Under his command was Captain Troy Tempset who piloted the futuristic atomic submarine “Stingray” with his radio/sonar operator “Phones” , also accompanying them on their missions was the ever silent Marina the daughter of the undersea ruler Pacifica, a kingdom on the bed of the Pacific ocean. The series main villains were the Aquaphibians ruled over by Titan, the tyrannical overlord of Titanica.
Lois Maxwell, Moneypenny from the James Bond movies provided the voice of Atlanta Shore, Commander Shore’s daughter and the love interest for the James Garner inspired Troy Tempest. Thirty nine half hour episodes were produced of this series.
Another of Gerry Anderson’s early Supermarionation seris. This one featured the fantastic vehicle Supercar, invented by Professor Popkiss and his assistant Dr Beaker. Piloted by Mike Mercury, Supercar could travel anywhere on land , sea, (or under) or even the skies. The main villian of the series was Master Spy who was constantly trying to steal the incredible vehicle in order to put it to his own nefarious schemes. The series regulars were rounded out by the 10 year old Jimmy Gibson and his pet monkey Mitch who would often accompany Mike on his missions. A total of 39 half hour episodes were produced.
Gerry Anderson’s first live action TV series. It is the near future 1980, and earth is under attack from an unknown alien threat. This is being kept undercover and a secret organisation headed by Ed Straker (Ed Bishop) is the Earths only protection. This Organisation SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation) have their headquarters hidden underneath the Harlington-Straker film studios which has been set up as a cover and for which Straker is also the studio boss.
This fast actioned series was deemed to be too adult for a family audience and ended up being shown in a late evening slot. Pity, as this is one of the best UK science fiction series to have been made. It has everything from its futuristic cars with their gull-wing doors, the secret Moonbase with its Interceptor spacecraft, which had massive single use missiles on the front. Skydiver the submarine with its front section that separated to become a single seat fighter aircraft. The land based SHADO mobiles, large almost tank like tracked vehicles that would seek out UFOs if they had been able to evade the other defences and land.
All of this tracking and locating of UFOs was made possible by SID the Space Intruder Detector orbiting the Earth which could monitor all the space surrounding our planet. Then of course the Moonbase girls resplendent in their silver uniforms and purple wigs.
Twenty six episodes of this series were produced in the ITV hour long format during late 1968 – 69, with the show being broadcast around the UK from 1970 to 1973. The USA received the show in syndication during 1972.
The Aliens intentions on Earth were to harvest humans for spare parts or donor organs in order to keep their own population alive.
Some of the other main cast included. George Sewell (Col Alec Freeman), Michael Billington (Col Foster), Wanda Ventham (Col Lake), Gabriella Drake (Lt Gay Ellis) and Dolores Matez (Nina Barry).
Gerry Andersons next offering after the success of Captain Scarlet was Joe 90, unfortunately this show failed to capture much attention, from its hoped for viewers. The main factor for this seems to be, most , myself included seemed to see the shows main hero , the nine year old Joe 90, as a boring little wimp. I hated this series, it seemed the more realistic the puppets became, the less charm there was to the series. I know this comment may upset many Anderson fans, and for this I’m sorry, but I just don’t like this series.
Joe 90 the adoptive son of Professor McClain is the youngest agent with the World Intelligence Network(WIN), because of Big Rat a machine developed by the Professor, Joe is able to assume the skills / professions, even personality of anybody whose brain impulses had been fed to him via Big Rat. For this to be achieved Joe needed to wear a special pair of glasses which fused the information to Joes mind.
Thirty half hour episodes of this Supermarionation series were made, and it is the first of Anderson’s shows to use any footage, of a real location, something that was to be greatly expanded upon in the next series from the Anderson studios, The Secret Service. An interesting point to note, is that though Gerry’s other series, most notably Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, proved once again to be supremely popular in the nineties, upon their reshowing, (a fact that seemed to amaze the press and toy company’s alike, though i dare say not Anderson fans.) Joe 90 once again failed dismally, with much of the modern merchandise finding the same fate as it’s sixties predecessors, the bargain bins and sales. It seems the toy company’s do not learn from the past, large amounts of merchandise being prepared and issued almost in advance of the series being broadcast, banking on the series being as popular as Captain Scarlet had been before it. This tactic failed for Joe 90 in the sixties, now common sense says this in all probability will fail in the nineties, and it did.
The early seventies, and ITC were beginning to loose their magic touch for producing classic TV series. This series had most of the needed elements, a good cast, glossy production values, good writing, from the likes of Brian Clemens, Ralph Smart, Dennis Spooner, Terry Nation to name just a few, but the series ended up as just another crime show. The series was produced by Gerry Anderson, best known for his Supermarionation series, and is very much a let down compared against his other shows. It is just fairly run of the mill, it has none of the usual Anderson trade marks, no science fiction elements, virtually no spy or detective type gadgets.
Still fresh from his role as Napoleon Solo, in the Man from U.N.C.L.E., Robert Vaughn was the star of this British made action series. He played the head of an international detective agency, Harry Rule, who ran the organisation from his ultra modern apartment in London. The series also starred Nyree Dawn Porter as the Contessa di Contini, with Tony Anholt as Paul Buchet. These three agents were supposedly the crème de la crème of private investigators, they would tackle any assignment, no problem was too great. These cases ranged from drug dealers, kidnappings, blackmail and all the standard international intrigue type storylines.
The series suffered partly from its format; the series was half hour episodes, when most series of this type adopted the longer hour format. This shorter format allowed less time for character and story development, which didn’t affect previous Anderson series, but then again, most of these had more simplistic plots, and more exciting gadgetry to fall back upon. The series still managed to survive for two seasons of twenty-six episodes, a total fifty-two episodes in all. It was not commercially successful when it came to merchandising, with very few officially released products, it did however have a great theme song.
This was a 13 episode series made by the Gerry Anderson Studios in 1969, it contained both the familiar puppet format, as well as live action sequences. The stable vehicle of the show was a souped-up Model T Ford. The life-sized version of which turned up later in episodes of UFO, the Anderson’s following series. This car was somewhat of a departure from the normal high-tech vehicles of the studio’s earlier series.
The Secret Service never really gained any commercial success. It starred Stanley Unwin as a slightly-deaf village priest, come secret agent, who works for the BISHOP (British Intelligence Secret Headquarters, Operation Priest) — (who thinks these names up??) — who by use of an electronic device hidden within a book, could miniaturise his gardener Matthew, or any other person or object he cared to, to a third of its original size. Father Unwin was contacted by other BISHOP operatives via a radio device in his hearing aid. Using these devices he was able to operate without disclosing his identity as a secret agent.
Very few related products were released.
This was the last of the Gerry Anderson series to be made in black and white. It concerned the adventures of Steve Zodiac and the crew of Fireball XL5, who each week would in half an hour encounter various strange aliens and threats to the earth. Fireball XL5 was one of a fleet of spacecraft used by the world space patrol. Each week Commander Zero, from his headquarters at Space City would send Steve on his missions. Steve’s crew was made up of a Lady Doctor, Venus, who also provided Steve’s love interest,(do they allow that in kid’s shows?) Professor Matt Matic, the science officer, the co-pilot was Robert the Robot and the last member of the crew was Venus’s pet Lazoon, (A kind of space Monkey) Zoonie.
39 half hour episodes were made with the series first being broadcast in March of 1963.
“The Mysterons sworn enemies of Earth, possessing the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person. But first they must destroy! Leading the fight, one man fate has made indestructible, His name Captain Scarlet!”
These lines open what is probably one of Gerry Anderson’s finest Supermarionation offerings. Produced in 1967, it was his familiar style of puppet animation and model shots, (with some rather nifty usage of minic motorways sets and various model cars available at the time, in several episodes) Set 100 years into the future the Earth is now fighting a ‘war of nerves’ with the Mysterons.
The cause of this war is explained in the first of the 32 episodes, along with Captain Scarlet’s indestructibility. Earth’s first manned mission to Mars, a strange city is discovered, which probes the Martian exploration vehicle commanded by Captain Black of Spectrum. This probing is mistaken as a hostile attack and Captain Black opens fire destroying the Mysteron City, (Slight mistake there I think !) It is here that we first see the Mysterons power of reconstruction, as the City miraculously reforms before them. The Mysterons swear revenge for this unprovoked attack upon them and state that one amongst those who made the attack will become their weapon of vengeance upon the earth. So the unfortunate Captain Black is doomed to become a Mysteron agent charged with the destruction of what was once his home planet. Captain Scarlet himself is recreated by the Mysterons in the first episode, but due to a freak occurrence the Mysteron control over him is broken, yet he remains indestructible as a result of this.
This was one of the most popular series to have been made by the Anderson studios, though it is a slight change of style from previous series. This is mainly in the approach to story lines, it is the first series from this studio in which people are seen to die. (Can Marionettes die?)
Also on occasions the Mysterons actually won. There was probably more merchandise issued for this series than for any of the other Anderson series. Unfortunately to misquote the series, Captain Scarlet is indestructible the merchandise is not. Remember, do not try to imitate him, or you might break your SPV!