UK tv series (1962-1963). AP Films for ATV/ITC. Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Produced by Gerry Anderson. Directors included Alan Pattillo, John Kelly, Bill Harris. Writers included the Andersons, Alan Fennell, Anthony Marriott, Dennis Spooner. Cast includes Sylvia Anderson, John Bluthal, David Graham and Paul Maxwell. One full season and one part-season. 39 25-minute episodes. Black and white.
This was the second of the Andersons' SuperMarionation animated-puppet sf series for children, the first being Supercar and the third being Stingray; it was the last made in black-and-white and the first to be networked in full in the USA (on NBC). Colonel Steve Zodiac (Maxwell) is a space pilot, part of World Space Fleet (based in the Pacific Ocean); his Spaceship Fireball XL5 patrols other star systems. This is a true Space Opera, in its way a predecessor of Star Trek. Sidekicks include Doctor Venus (Sylvia Anderson), a glamorous blonde space doctor; Professor Matthew "Matt" Matic (Graham), a Scientist and engineering genius; and Robert the Robot (Gerry Anderson himself, uncredited). Stories involved, inter alia, space pirates, a glass-surfaced planet, a Prison planet and Ice Men. Planetary transport was by jetmobile. Derek Meddings's special effects, mostly achieved through use of clever models, are good. Tied merchandise included Toys and such publications as Fireball XL5 Annual (anth 1963), to which John Kippax was a contributor. [PN/DRL]
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