Friday, December 28, 2012


Late word comes to us of the death of British TV Producer, Gerry Anderson creative spirit behind such classic kidvid series as "Stingray", "The Thunderbirds" and that SF-noir for the Elementary School crowd, "Captain Scarlet". I will remember him primary as a technical innovator of the first rank, if the public wanted puppet shows from him then he made sure that the puppets he was using were technological marvels of the first rank. Anderson was smart, maybe not the best writer in the world (this became apparent when he made the leap to human actors in the 1970's) but he reinvested in his own product and tried to do better with each succeeding series. Like The Beatles, he figured out early on that $uccess depended on penetrating the American market, to this end he made sure to leaven his British produced product with some American voices (chiefly US actors Shane Rimmer and Ed Bishop) as his shows became less comical, more adventuresome and violent.
Like William Shatner and Jonathan Harris, Anderson's various characters, the stolid Thunderbirds crew or the pre-liberated Lady Penelope, or the semi suicidal Captain Scarlet, all form veritable pillars in a pre-Star Wars science fiction driven childhood. In point of fact, the whole of the special effects industry in Great Britain has its origin with Gerry Anderson's many supermarionation series, dozens of creatives who worked with Gerry and his talented then-wife Sylvia all went on to work on almost all the major SF films of the 1970s. Truly there is no Star Wars without "Joe 90". Alas though, supermarionation eventually maxed out (ten years of research and still Anderson could make his puppets walk realistically) and Anderson tried his hand at producing an all up live action "Star Trek" style franchise "Space 1999" there some of his creative limitations revealed themselves... But to the end of his life he remained invested in the latest technology, a decade ago he was executive producing a remake of "Captain Scarlet" using CGI animation and at last the immortal Captain could walk right! Anderson must have been relieved....

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