Dec 27, 2012

Gerry Anderson - A Look Back

April 14, 1929 - December 26, 2012

The day after Christmas this 2012, Gerry Anderson passed away, leaving a rich legacy of innovative television programs and film making techniques.

Gerry Anderson, along with his wife Sylvia, were responsible for some groundbreaking shows that employed fantastic miniature models and realistic sets for them. The shows they produced and created included, most famously, Space: 1999, as well as the cult program The Thunderbirds. They were also responsible for Stingray, Captain Scarlet and UFO as well.

(image courtesy

Anderson used modified marionettes in fabulously detailed models to create his shows, which have become pop culture icons and remembered fondly by many who watched them on Saturday mornings, both in Britain, and later in the United States.

Below is the opening of the TV show The Thunderbirds:

Stingray was another show that made Gerry Anderson famous, with its incredible miniature sets, detailed models and of course the marionettes. This is a fun show to watch if for no other reason than to admire the skill that went into making it. The opening sequence gives you an idea of the look of the show: 

This is a short video about the making of this innovative TV show:

Space: 1999 was a much more ambitious project, starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who both starred in an earlier TV series, Mission: Impossible in the 1960s.

Space: 1999 was about a cosmic disaster that sent the moon, and Moonbase Alpha, hurtling through the galaxy. The sets had a very 70s-future look to them, and can be called retro today. Most of the episodes are available on YouTube. Below is an intro from one of the episodes which, like Mission: Impossible, showed snippets of the forthcoming episode:

The writing on Space: 1999 was...unique (even trippy at times), and the styles look dated by today's standards. Polyester bell bottom pants were part of the uniform, for example.

But it has a cult following even today by people who grew up watching it on TV. One of the actors recreated her entire apartment to look like Moonbase Alpha, a 70s-era futurism motif consisting of clean, white plastic panels, molded furniture and indirect lighting. Check out her website with pictures of the apartment by clicking on the picture to the right or the link below. There are even instructions on how to build your own Moonbase Alpha wall panels!

UFO was a short-lived series that looks very dated by today's standards but is a blast to watch for precisely that reason. 

Men on submarines wore mesh shirts and wide belts, girls on the space station had purple hair and silver mini skirts and the soundtrack had an unmistakably groovy 1960s beat. Watching it is like going back in time!

The writing was hard to follow sometimes, and it was cancelled after only one season. Still, most episodes are available on YouTube and they are worth checking out. Below is the opening sequence that says it all:

...and lastly, this is an amusing homage called Space: 1899 that mimics the silent movies of that era, complete with piano accompaniment, uploaded by ilconprods. A fun tribute!

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