A world of plaster cast people, almost identical in many ways, pulled by strings from above to some unknown design.
Gerry Anderson is a maverick and a rebel in many ways. His many programs (running the gamut from Supercar to Space: 1999) are dynamic, exciting and very very strange. A unique mind in the world of science fiction, he’ll probably be remembered best for his invention of that twitching heroic family, the Thunderbirds.
Here is a promo film for The Future was FAB: The Art of Mike Trim, spotlighting the work of the brilliant designer and illustrator who worked closely with Anderson on several projects including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Space: 1999.
The Making of THUNDERBIRDS
But before Thunderbirds, his big hit series from 1961/62, was Supercar. Featuring the biggest eyebrows to ever don a puppet. The tip-top rescue team of Mike Mercury, coke-bottled glassed inventor Professor Rudolph Popkiss, the prim and proper Dr. Horatio Beaker, young Jimmy Gibson, and of course Mitch the wonder chimp starred in a series of high-adventure missions in the most amazing car ever to be thrown across a studio floor into a bath tub.
Supercar opening titles
To show the complete absurdity of Gerry Anderson‘s mind, here is a surreal scene with Mitch the Monkey and “King Cool” from the last episode.
In addition to Supercar, Gerry Anderson’s team also developed Fireball XL5, and Stingray. Each was very similar to the other, all featuring extremely detailed sets and models. The evolution of the marionettes became more evident with each project.
Following these early experiments into the new supermarionation field, the blockbuster Thunderbirds series debuted. A program featuring the adventures of an international rescue team, Thunderbirds also had the most memorable opening sequence ever. The flashing series of highly advanced rescue vehicles burned into first the British mindset and later that of the US.
Incredibly successful, Thunderbirds lasted over two season and a pair of feature length movies (and a really bad one made with real people in 2004). Several crew members of the production company worked on Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and special fx man Derek Meddings went on to work on the James Bond franchise and the first Superman film (for which he won an Oscar).
THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!
Both strange and unnerving, once you see the marionettes , you never forget them.
(excerpt of Cliff Richards from the Thunderbirds movie)
Gerry Anderson‘s list of Supermarionation shows goes on forever!
In 1967, the indestructible Captain Scarlet pitted war against the Mysterons.
In 1968, he brought out the trippy Joe 90!
In 1970, Anderson entered the realm of live action drama with UFO. Set in the near future (a fictional version of 1980), the Earth is being harvested for replacement body organs by aliens. Once again turning to ingenious weaponry and inventive crafts, Gerry Anderson pitted model against model in a free for all battle.
The use of live actors was quite a boon and while several wooden actors marched through the series, lots of lovely ladies also waltzed by, including a purple bobbed Gabrielle Drake (sister of the late Nick Drake).
In no time, he was hard at work on his epic masterpiece, the Martin Landau in outer space series, Space: 1999 which featured the adventures of a runaway moon base… what??
Who cares… the opening music is the grooviest theme tune ever created!
Of course we can all have a laugh and in this age of office internet humor, what else can we do with the inventions of yesterday?
Reservoir Thunderbirds is very funny, though.
Check out the cool stuff at the Daily P.O.P. Shop!