Presented In Supermarionation!
May 9, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

From The Adventures of Twizzle to the reboot of Captain Scarlet - for nearly fifty years - Gerry Anderson made television shows, but is still best remembered for the classic 'Supermarionation' period were, as this documentary shows (1, 2, 3, 4) he really was making the 21st century.

The main programs from that period were:
Stingray (intro theme tune, outro theme tune 'Aqua Marina', Troy Tempest in action)

Thunderbirds (intro theme tune, Thunderbirds in action, reshown often, the program was loved to many generations - an early 90s repeat led to a toy Tracy Island selling out. The show Blue Peter had a feature on how to make your own, the Fact Sheet (PDF) for which subsequently ran out as well. Try to forget the recent film version or, even worse, the Busted song... think of the Rezillos instead)

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (intro, theme, The death of Captain Scarlet)

Joe 90 (Intro and theme tune)

But it wasn't all puppets, Anderson actually made some programs with real people them like UFO (theme) - though it must be said the people in this one at least still looked very much like puppets and Space 1999 (theme), a program that whilst having lots of silly monsters and alien babes still managed to scare me stupid with one particular sequence as a nipper. A rather poignant final message has recently been received from Star Base Alpha...

Anderson carried into the 80s with Terrahawks when he was perhaps past his best, but it well remembered by some. (Intro theme tune, Outro 'Noughts and Crosses' theme, Terrahawks in 'action') then into the 90s for, dear oh dear, Space Precinct ( titles). Then the 21st Century proper with the new CGI Captain Scarlet - which was actually pretty good.

Perhaps it's better to just remember the classic years: And here's another shorter and rather spiffing contemporary 'making of' documentary. One extra point of interest were the many comics spin-offs.

You could see the strings on the puppets, the plots were written to a strict formula, but the groovy theme tunes from Barry Gray seem to age like fine wine...
posted by fearfulsymmetry (17 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This is a future I could get behind. I want to smoke a pipe and design nuclear powered high capacity passenger planes with names like “The Explody XL-BOOM!”, and for people to completely not question that, and in fact flock in droves to fly on the damn thing, which upon takeoff promptly malfunctiosn/is sabotaged and, with it’s undercarriage hopelessly jammed and the risk of a huge explosion id it crashes, have it land on a special “plane catching truck” which a rocket-powered international vigilante rescue squad just happens to have lying around. That’s the stuff!
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on May 9, 2008

looks like the documentary parts you link to at the top are unfortunately gone.
posted by shmegegge at 11:07 AM on May 9, 2008

ANYTHING can happen to your YouTube links in the next half an hour! Stand by for ACTION!
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on May 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

Super Mario Nation? Is that what happens when Mario finally marries Princess Toadstool and takes the throne of the Mushroom Kingdom?
posted by mkb at 11:15 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Looks like Captain Scarlet is hanging with Alec Baldwin in that Death of Captain Scarlet clip.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:43 AM on May 9, 2008

While we're on a Gerry Anderson kick, I gotta show some love for Fireball XL-5. I never missed an episode of that thing when I was a kid. I think it was Anderson's last show to be shot in b&w.

The guy really has a knack for big machines, doesn't he?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:49 AM on May 9, 2008

looks like the documentary parts you link to at the top are unfortunately gone.

Try using the direct to youtube links... I think the 'Embedding disabled by request' borks up the meta play video thing.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:09 PM on May 9, 2008

Talking of the Barry Gray theme tunes - I just updated (as in like two days ago) the ringtones on my mobile so that when I get a text my phone goes '5...4....3....2...1....Thunderbirds are go!' and then the theme tune starts playing whenever someone rings me. At first my housemates thought it was the coolest thing ever, but (popular bastard that I am) they're starting to hate me. Jealousy I'm sure.
posted by muthecow at 1:03 PM on May 9, 2008

Puppetry! Fuck Yeah!
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:52 PM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I bought the UFO box set last month. It is my earliest tv memory. Watching the first episode I was amazed at how violent and surreal it was... just like I remembered!
posted by vronsky at 7:38 PM on May 9, 2008

When I read the news about Joss Whedon's new show I couldn't help thinking it sounded a hell of a lot like Joe 90 except for having a hot babe instead of a speccy kid
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:11 AM on May 10, 2008

I have been a huge Gerry Anderson fan since I was a little boy, watching the Thunderbirds every afternoon after school in the late 1960s-early 1970s. Thanks for all the great links.

I'm so sad to learn that the new CGI Captain Scarlet isn't available on a Region 1 DVD. I couldn't find a torrent of it either...sigh...
posted by briank at 7:03 AM on May 10, 2008

Yeah, the UFO show had a special influence on my psyche, too, just like vronsky. Now I only drive cars with gull wing doors and dress in zip up beige suits. My girlfriend has purple tinsel hair.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:01 AM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

the new Captain Scarlet is all over bittorrent sites, briank. 1. 2.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:05 AM on May 10, 2008

That's the first time I heard the Stingray theme. My god, I would have watched anything after an intro like that.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:10 AM on May 10, 2008

Almost my earliest memory is of watching Captain Scarlet. This is neat, thanks.
posted by scalefree at 10:13 AM on May 13, 2008

My god, I would have watched anything after an intro like that.

Well, it's funny you say that...

Well, it was entertaining enough I guess, but never as good as the intro.
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on May 13, 2008

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