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Sci-Fi Television Entertainment

Gerry Anderson, Co-Creator of Thunderbirds, Dies 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
jamstar7 writes "According to the BBC, 'Gerry Anderson, the creator of hit TV shows including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90, has died at the age of 83. He also created Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and his puppet superheroes fired the imaginations of millions of young viewers in the 1960s and '70s. Thunderbirds, a science-fiction fantasy about a daring rescue squad, ran from 1965 and was his most famous show.' In my opinion, his greatest creation was Space: 1999, an ITV production with practically no budget, which had great shows in the first season. Unfortunately, like so many other Gerry & Sylvia Anderson projects, it ran out of gas in the second season. They did some great stuff." Anderson's son Jamie also has a post in remembrance of his father.
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Gerry Anderson, Co-Creator of Thunderbirds, Dies

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:35PM (#42398309)

    Is GO!!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Brett Buck (811747)

      I don't know if he is "Go!" but he is certainly not F.A.B.

      • Supercar. Fireball XL5. Stingray. Joe90. UFO.

        Man.

        Exciting visual stuff, for a 4-9-year-old.

        And Barry Gray's theme music for Space:1999. I think I put up with the show, simply for that music.

  • by BitterOak (537666) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:37PM (#42398329)
    It's amazing to read that Space: 1999 had a small budget. The sets, in the first season in particular, were quite amazing, a big step up from Star Trek in my opinion. (Though the writing and acting in Star Trek were far superior.) But there were some very good episodes of Space: 1999, some of them quite dark. I have them all on DVD and I do still enjoy watching them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by trodofor (1002830)
      "no" budget, but wikipedia says that it was the most expensive show produced for British television up until that time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_1999 [wikipedia.org]
      • by DrVxD (184537)

        I'm guessing, but I'd imagine a sizeable chunk of that budget was to get Martin Landau and Barbara Bain on board (which was, as I recall, deemed necessary for the lucrative US market).

        For me personally, neither of them added much to the show (despite the fact that both are fine actors - Landau especially so); I think the whole thing would have worked better as an ensemble cast without the two "big names".

    • by symes (835608)

      Completely agree about Space 1999 - and embarrassingly I did not realise GA was behind it. What was nice was a certain air of realism, sci-fi that didn't rely on tricks and alien tech to move the story forward. Good writing with the dues ex machina.

      • Completely agree about Space 1999 - and embarrassingly I did not realise GA was behind it. What was nice was a certain air of realism, sci-fi that didn't rely on tricks and alien tech to move the story forward. Good writing with the dues ex machina.

        Well, except for the "moon blown out of orbit" underlying premise...

        I loved the Eagle ships when I watched the show as a kid, but it wasn't until later that I could put my finger on why: they're believable, workable ships. In fact, they look like bigger, more-advanced versions of the actual lunar lander -- strictly functional. They manage to look cool by not looking like they were designed with the intent of looking cool.

        I'm just glad I didn't see the Dragon's Domain episode during the initial run. It would

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        . What was nice was a certain air of realism, sci-fi that didn't rely on tricks and alien tech to move the story forward. Good writing with the dues ex machina.

        Realism? As a teenager and SF fan at the time, I found the stories embarrassingly stupid in almost every respect. The moon wildly flying from one solar system to another each week for no reason at all (except to meet up with the next batch of "aliens of the week") being a major one.

        • The second season of Space 1999 was definitely as you describe, but the first season was not like that. It was much more serious and realistic. It is just like Lost in Space. The early black and white episodes of that show were ten thousand times better than the later, colour, and campy episodes.

          I can just imagine that there was some stupid network executive behind the downfall of both these shows, who thought that science fiction was just for kids and that kids only want to see monsters and aliens. It woul

          • by Rakarra (112805)

            The second season of Space 1999 was definitely as you describe, but the first season was not like that. It was much more serious and realistic. It is just like Lost in Space. The early black and white episodes of that show were ten thousand times better than the later, colour, and campy episodes.

            As one who recently rewatched the first and second seasons of Space: 1999, I think the original poster had it right -- the moon seemed to accelerate and decellerate without reason so that an episode could take place within a solar system. The change of speed was never mentioned, it was just like if all these systems that Alpha visited were right next to each other. The obstacles to the episodes could be unbelievably stupid (like that in "Space Brain"), but they could also be excellent (like the "Dragon's Do

    • My favorite episode was called "Black Sun" I do believe that was the first use of a Black Hole in any TV Sci-fi series up to then.I know taht after Season 2,the Alphans were left hanging.Not until 2004 when the fan flick"Return To Moonbase Alpha" was the series really concluded

  • by mcgrew (92797) *

    I saw the submission and didn't recognize the name, but I do remember some sci-fi puppetry when I was about 12. I'm sure it's the same guy.

    Wow. Been a long time.

    • scifi puppetry are you sure your not remembering farscape?

      • by DrVxD (184537)

        The acting in Stingray was way less wooden than that in Farscrape...

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I was only 12, that's almost fifty years. I remember the show, but not its name.

      • by barakn (641218)

        lister king - when guessing the age of a /.er, look at the number of digits in the user id #. Those with 5 are old-timers. Those with 7 are usually clueless noobs.

  • by niks42 (768188) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:38PM (#42398335)
    I'll always remember Gerry and Sylvia Anderson creations with huge fondness. The first program I can remember watching is Fireball XL5, and I've always managed to marry blondes all my life in deference to Venus.
    • I'll always remember Gerry and Sylvia Anderson creations with huge fondness. The first program I can remember watching is Fireball XL5, and I've always managed to marry blondes all my life in deference to Venus.

      ...and Lady Penelope (voiced by Sylvia) was my puppet fantasy woman when I was 12. Come to think of it, she still is.

      • by DrVxD (184537)

        ..and Lady Penelope (voiced by Sylvia) was my puppet fantasy woman when I was 12

        Trivia: Not only did Syliva voice Lady P, she also provided her ankles for the occasional live-action close up.

        Come to think of it, she still is

        *nods* :)

    • I was enamored with Space: 1999 when I was a kid (even had the little metal lunar ship too), and I caught up with it again when they were selling the complete series for $20 on Amazon. I know the series hasn't aged well, but I still think it's pretty good knowing they had a shoestring budget. After putting a name with a creation, I bought the "UFO" series (pretty good, for a futuristic show), "Thunderbirds" and "Fireball XL5" (thanks to amazon.com). I look at Mr. Anderson (heh.. no pun intended) as a great

      • by Vulch (221502)
        He may not be missed by the current generation

        In the UK at least there are a lot of Grandads happily watch Thunderbirds with their grandsons, and thanks to some strong female characters quite a few Grandmas and granddaughters tutting about having to watch but enjoying it never the less.

        There aren't that many 45 year old series still bear watching.

      • I caught Space:1999 as a kid, but without knowing that I only ever saw epiodes from season 2. As kids do I got hooked on the ideas of the transport tubes, the pylons in the center of all the room that acted as a video phone, the eagles,etc.

        A few years ago I got on a kick of watching Thunderbirds which in turn had me looking up all the Anderson shows. I didn't realize they were related until then and then I finally got to watch season 1.

        Space: 1999 is really an odd bird. If you were a little kid you proba

      • I remember Thunderbirds and loved it.Tickled me when a Movie based on the series was made.I have the entire Thunderbirds,UFO and Space 1999 series here at home,so I can watch them any time I want.They may be dated now,but still much better than the pig crap that passes for Sci-fi now days.
        One favorite thing I liked on Space 1999 was the character Victor Bergman sniping to David Kano over the main computer.Kano was so protective about the machine.That reminds me of Dr.McCoy and Spock with their(friendly) war

    • by mannd (841376)
      Agree on Fireball XL5. Watched it Saturday mornings, loved the opening sequence with the Fireball horizontal rocket-sled-assisted launch, and definitely triggered my lifelong fetish for blonde marionettes.
  • by Sipper (462582) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:44PM (#42398377)

    Actually my favorite of Gerry Anderson's work was the TV series UFO https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFO_(TV_series) [wikipedia.org]
    Space 1999 was good when I was a kid, but when I re-watched it as an adult I found it terrible -- the show needed better writing. [A few of the episodes are still good though.]

    • by vlm (69642)

      Space 1999 was good when I was a kid, but when I re-watched it as an adult I found it terrible -- the show needed better writing

      We could list that kind of series all day. The original battlestar galactica... Buck Rogers... The A team... Frankly the bottom 25% of Star Trek TOS episodes (space hippies? spocks brain?). Seemed like pretty good stuff at the time, but seeing it again via the internet, ugh, I can't believe how much of my life was wasted watching that junk.

      Some TV ages pretty well. "World at War" by the BBC, better than any documentary made by the cable networks in the last couple decades. Maybe the best documentary e

      • by sconeu (64226)

        I might be the only /.er to have ever watched any of I, Claudius

        No, you're not, but unfortunately, I don't remember much of it. But from my class in Roman history (many many MANY moons ago), it was Livia, not Olivia.

        • by vlm (69642)

          Yes yes Livia. The conspiracy theory is she was all scheming to kill, well, pretty much everyone except her son. To the point of utter ridiculousness. And the series kinda bought into it, which was a shame, although dramatic. Otherwise a more or less historically accurate show.

      • by Dadoo (899435)

        Space 1999 was good when I was a kid, but when I re-watched it as an adult I found it terrible -- the show needed better writing

        We could list that kind of series all day. The original battlestar galactica... Buck Rogers... The A team...

        Yeah, but Battlestar Galactica had some decent episodes, even if some of the stories were stolen from movies. Space: 1999 (and Buck Rogers) redefined bad television. I've been re-watching it on DVDs from Netflix, and I'm up to the episode entitled "One Moment of Humanity". I

        • by Blakey Rat (99501)

          Space: 1999 had a tendency to come up with great ideas for episodes, then screw up the execution.

          One of my favorites was the episode where they entered orbit around a planet whose technically-advanced occupants didn't want them to land. To prevent them from landing, they decided to give the Alpha crew "what they wanted" and terraform the moon to be like the Earth...

          Of course what happens is, first the Eagles can't fly in the dust-filled atmosphere, stranding some of the crew on the surface. Even worse, once

        • by Rakarra (112805)

          Space 1999 had a few good episodes, but most of them, even in the pre-Freiburger days, were pretty bad. Bad science, bad scripts. The production design and actors were fine, but they were saddled with nonsense.

      • When I first watched Space:1999 season 1 in the mid-70s, one of the things they did made a big impression on me: Some of the episodes would end with something like this:

        John: What the hell was that and how did we survive?
        Victor: I don't know. We don't know. There's a lot of stuff in the universe that we have no idea about, and it could just as easily have killed us all. We survived due to sheer luck and not because we're anything special.

        That's paraphrased of course, but compared to the tone and formu

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        I might be the only /.er to have ever watched any of I, Claudius. But man what a unhistorical hatchet job to livia (olivia?) or whatever her name was who was portrayed as a mass murderess although no one else historically thinks so (other than a couple conspiracy theory cranks).

        It was pretty popular in Australia. I'll have to give it another look, it was almost 40 years ago I last saw it. All based on the (brilliant) Robert Graves novels. And that in turn based on scurrilous contemporary "histories" by people with axes to grind. Anyway, it was a drama, not a documentary, As well to criticise Shakespeare for historical liberties.

        I've been looking at Roman history recently, and it was a pretty extreme and bloody time. Nero, for instance, didn't fiddle while Rome burned, but he di

    • by rm0659 (2318932)
      ufo was excellent & most of the episodes still hold up very well today - most of them were downers, not your typical tv fare.

      and i love the silver miniskirt/purple wig "uniform" the women wear on moonbase. :)

      • by AtrN (87501)

        I grew up with Gerry Anderson's shows from the early 1960s - I always wanted to be Joe 90 and get things downloaded into my brain (still do) and also think UFO is the best GA show. Dark themes with a cool look (the theme music is great too).

        Now back to the point... In the UFO books, yes, there are books, you learn that the purple wigs are in fact anti-static devices! No idea about the miniskirts and knee-high boots though.

        • Ah ha. I'd read a chance remark about the purple wigs/getups being to combat static electricity somewhere and wondered if that was, er, the "truth."

          So why not enforce the same dress code for visitors? Ack, Ed Bishop in a silver miniskirt...

          And what was the deal with Nina Barry trotting around the cabin of SkyDiver in that mesh top? Not that I'm complaining - at all. ;)

    • by murdocj (543661)

      I was in college when Space 1999 came out and even at that time, I thought it was awful... horrible acting, bad stories, and a premise that was utterly absurd. I'll have to try to dig up an episode to see if it's as bad as I remember, but I'm really surprised so many people are so nostalgic for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It was Freibergered. That's the same idiot who turned TOS Star Trek into "monster of the week" in the 2nd season.
  • Wasn't Supercar prior to Fireball et al?
    I think it was on in 1961.
    Puppets with big heads and a flying car.

    • Yes supercar came first (ran two seasons) and then Fireball XL5. Both were in B&W but there are some color versions of FBXL5 floating about on youtube.
      I bought the Supercar DVD collection, one of these days I might spring for the XL5 one.

  • During the 1960s and 70s, distribution of the Anderson shows was common throughout the UK and British Commonwealth countries but unfortunately less so in the U.S.A., sad to say. Today American kids of all ages can see for themselves what all the joy was all about back then. I for one used to run home from school to catch the late afternoon showing of the newest Fireball XL-5 episode on one of the local Canadian TV stations. Stingray was mind-blowing (buildings that lowered underground!) and when Thunderbird

    • Yeah, when I read the title I thought this would be about a Mozilla developer. Then I read the summary and I didn't recognize a single one of the names or series mentioned. Then I was like "Wtf, there's sci-fi puppet shows?"
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I watched Thundrbirds in the US as a kid, though reruns have been very scarce since then. And I wasn't even in a big market area.

    • Thunderbirds was *extremely* popular in the US. It was on every afternoon for a long time. It was one of my favorites as a kid - when I see the old ITC logo/bump hear the music, I still get a bit of a jump, because it immediately preceded Thunderbirds. If it came on right now, I would watch it.

      The others, not so much. Fireball XL-5 and Captain Scarlet were pretty well-known and UFO was pretty obscure.

      Space:1999 was well known although most people thought it was garbage and some of the episo

      • Lighten up. If you can deal with the fact that the Hulk's shirt always falls off when he transforms, but his -pants- magically manage to stay intact just enough, then you can deal with the clothing 'devolving'. If you pay attention, SF has problems with clothes responding to things that are supposed to affect living beings -all the time-. It happens in Star Trek. It happens everywhere. It's a necessary conceit. In this case it was -particularly- necessary to the plot, because otherwise the non-devolv
      • by Rakarra (112805)

        they go through a field that "de-evolves" some of them to cavemen, and it also "devolves" their CLOTHES. I even called that one as it happened "don't make their clothes change, too!" and yet it happened anyway.

        This particular episode was, IMO, the very worst of the series. And it wasn't just the stupid science, it was scene after scene of people wordlessly screaming at each other until I couldn't imagine how this show wasn't canceled by that point. It was a true jumping the shark moment.

      • ok, well i know about the bikinis, it was established there was a relaxation area on moonbase alpha, with artificial sunlight and loungers
  • Just as good in many ways as "Space:1999" (which I also loved) was his 1969 series "UFO", which combined live action with some of the sci-fi puppetry from the Thunderbirds. It was dark and foreboding, centered on a secret government agency in an active war against recurring alien incursions, and you had the feeling that "we" were just at the edge of losing. It included an AI satellite which spoke with an English accent and a moonbase "manned" by women in purple hair and short skirts, one of the very few sil

    • There wasn't puppets in UFO, was there? I know he did that, but I thought UFO was a full live action series.

      And there was some story explaination for the blue wigs on the moon station... but I don't remember it ever actually being brought up in the series.

      • by DrVxD (184537)

        There wasn't puppets in UFO, was there?

        No puppetry, but a considerable amount of model work (for vehicles, moonbase, etc). Naturally, Anderson's team had a considerable amount of experience in that field from the earlier marionette series - as a result of which, UFO stands up extremely well to other shows of a similar age.

  • I can only hope that at his funeral, the coffin is transported by some absurdly elaborate system of conveyor belts, slides, elevators, and so forth.

    • by Dupple (1016592)

      It'll slide down a ramp and turn around part way through, so that it enters the grave feet first.

      Just as if you were boarding Thunderbird 2

  • had it not been for Gerry and Sylvia's work. They inspired the imagination!

  • All I can remember from Space: 1999 was all the psychedelic colors. The crew would inevitably land on some kind of orange/green/yellow planet with some tall flowers, some kerfuffle would ensue, and guns would make people vanish, problem solved and end of the episode. Fun stuff.

  • by rklrkl (554527) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @06:55PM (#42399015) Homepage

    I have many of the Gerry Anderson DVD box sets and I think the best two series he did were Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (easily the best puppet show he did - way better than Thunderbirds) and Space: 1999 (OK, you have to ignore most of Season 2 of that, but it did have Catherine Schell as eye candy to compensate).

    He didn't do too well with Space Precinct (Gary Ewing as a non-drunk cop? :-) ) and the CGI version of Captain Scarlet was awful (and even stole a whole episode from another sci-fi series!), but at least he tried to keep the UK sci-fi light alive when we've all had in recent years is the truly cringeful Primeval, a less than stellar return of Red Dwarf and the highly variable Doctor Who reboot.

  • Many of Gerry Anderson's TV shows were about the ascendency of the well prepared geek over the muscle bound jock. Joe 90, Captain Scarlett, Thunderbirds, Stingray and Fireball XL5 were hard favorites through most of my childhood. (Doctor Who of course being the other show that celebrated the thinking hero). While geek culture has become much more mainstream, I think that the Gerry Anderson brand of action never found a serious parallel after his shows went off the air. Ryker's (sic) version of Thunderbirds

  • aka. Doppelgänger

    Since no one has mentioned it yet. An interesting movie, with an EPIC crash scene!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppelg%C3%A4nger_(1969_film) [wikipedia.org]

  • re-watching Gerry Anderson shows proves to me that actual explosions and fire are a LOT more entertaining than computer graphics.
    Theres a feeling of realism in watching it; your brain KNOWS that this is a real object and this is real smoke etc. Modern CG just isn't the same.

    Also imagine how much more fun it was to work on! Actually building models and then blowing them up.

    • The genius of Derek Meddings, among other people.

      The man was incredible with models. It is enough to watch those scenes alone to see what he came up with.

  • Spill any of his 'creative' juices on long suffering audiences again.
    • If only TVs had a way to change what you see, or be turned off.

      • I've seen things on the interwebitudes that I wish I could burn from my memory, yet I would live with those memories longer than the ones I have of watching even the few moments of 'Thunderbirds' I have been tragically exposed to.
  • The best series of its kind IMHO.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFO_(TV_series) [wikipedia.org]

    It was awesome, particularly the Moon girls in their miniskirts (I was a young teen after all)

    • Purple hair, too. That Colonel Lake was one of the most attractive ladies on TV at the time, as far as I am concerned.

              It was a lot like a live-action version of "Captain Scarlett" and really creepy. They kidnapped people for *spare parts* and breath that green liquid.

           

  • I remember I was at my Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill in 1991. I was in my room one night watching cable tv and one of his shows came on, Captain Scarlet, maybe.

    My first reaction was that it was incredibly juvenile and poor quality with the obvious puppet strings, etc. Of course, I had no idea who Anderson was and assumed that what I was watching was a current production. I did a little research and realized who he was and what I was seeing.

    I realized just how amazing it is that so much creativity ca

    • My first reaction was that it was incredibly juvenile and poor quality with the obvious puppet strings, etc. Of course, I had no idea who Anderson was and assumed that what I was watching was a current production. I did a little research and realized who he was and what I was seeing.

      I realized just how amazing it is that so much creativity can be wrung out of a medium which has fairly severe inherent limitations, at least when compared to live actors or animation.

      Needless to say, you w

  • Thunderbirds parodies by Pete & Dud [youtube.com] and D-Generation [youtube.com].
  • Sad to hear Gerry. Anderson died.

    Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet were my favourite shows as a young child. (Although I would say only "The Thunderbirds" had any kind of staying power now that I look back at them as an "adult").

    When they came out, I never missed an episode of UFO and Space 1999 (although Space 1999 started out strong but didn't really have the chops to go the distance). If you get the chance, watch a few episodes of "UFO" - many of them are quite good and have aged reasonably we

  • If you, as a Slashdot reader, are not listening to Tank Riot already, you should hang your head in shame. Or at least realize you're missing out.

    Sputnik, Tor, & Viktor did a very nice episode (#128) [tankriot.com] on Gerry Anderson. Gerry Anderson!

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