When he first introduced the concept of “supermarionation” to television viewers over fifty years ago Gerry Anderson probably didn’t have any idea of how popular his various puppet-based programming would become to audiences the world over. If he saw the love that his various series still receive to this day, Anderson would likely be very pleased to see how beloved they remain today. And thanks to the hard work of the people at Timeless Media Group, he would probably be just as happy to see the love given to his series so far by the company. That is especially the case with the brand new release today of Anderson’s first ever “supermarionation” series Fireball XL5. Originally broadcast in 1962, the series followed Colonel Steve Zodiac and the crew of the Fireball XL5 deep into space as they faced all kinds of adventures. Now thanks to its new re-issue, a whole new generation of audiences will get to see those adventures for themselves. In taking in every one of those adventures, said viewers will agree as to just how enjoyable they are, proving the importance of the writing to the series’ enjoyment. And while the series was obviously acted out by marionettes instead of actual actors, audiences will agree that the work of the puppeteers–essentially the actors–adds even more enjoyment to the series. The work of the people pulling the strings made suspension of disbelief so easy and in turn made enjoyment of the series that much easier, too. The look and sound of the footage across the series’ thirty-nine total episodes rounds out the reasons that this newly released set is such a joy for audiences of any age. If not for the work put in by the necessary parties to bring the series back to life neither the writing nor the work of the actors chronicled on the set’s six discs would be worth the time and/or money invested into the set. Luckily though, the series’ production values do in fact make its writing and acting worth the investment. And in investing both the time and money, audiences will agree that Fireball XL5 is another must have for any classic TV buff.
Fireball XL5 is not the first of Gerry Anderson’s classic “supermarionation” series released by Timeless Media Group in the past year or so. And while it is not the first of Anderson’s classic “supermarionation” series to see the light of day again it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is another must have for any classic TV buff. This is proven first and foremost through its enjoyable writing. Those responsible for writing the series’ thirty-nine total episodes have crafted over three dozen stories that will keep audiences fully engaged from beginning to end in each. Audiences will be kept engaged thanks in part to the stories themselves. From battling evil aliens bent on freezing Earth by reflecting the sun’s rays to taking on evil space pirates to saving an entire race of people when its planet heads on a collision course with another planet, the stories prove to be just extraordinary enough yet believable enough to keep viewers engaged. These are just a few examples of why the series’ writing is so pivotal to the success of Fireball XL5. Throughout the series’ thirty-nine total episodes, there are plenty of other examples of why its writing makes it just as fun as Anderson’s other “supermarionation” series. One of those many examples lies in the episode “Mystery of the A2” in which Col. Zodiac and his crew uncover a long-held mystery in when they find a long-lost rocket and its captain. “1875” is another prime example of why the series’ writing is so important to its importance. It puts Col. Zodiac in a time travelling adventure in which he has to stop his crew, as they have turned into robbers. There is even an adventure that takes Col. Zodiac and company on a peaceful mission to help a pair of giants in their efforts to explore space in “The Triads.” Again, here is more proof of the importance of the writing behind Fireball XL5. While the series is another “supermarionation” series, the adventures crafted for the series still manage to stand on their own merits versus those crafted for the likes of Stingray, Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons, Thunderbirds or any of Gerry Anderson’s other series. It’s just one way that Fireball XL5: The Complete Series proves itself a must have for any true classic television fan.
The writing behind Fireball XL5 is key to the enjoyment of the series. The adventures themselves are great escapes for any true classic TV fan. The fact that the series is a stand-alone series versus all of the serials currently cluttering up the airwaves today only adds to this new release’s positives. As important as the noted aspects of the show’s writing prove to be, the work of those controlling the marionettes is just as important to note. While they may have been off camera, it goes without saying that they were in fact the real actors. They were just pulling the strings of the on-screen “actors.” Their interpretation of the scripts makes it easy to look past the fact that what audiences are seeing is a bunch of puppets on strings and more on the story. As a matter of fact, their work actually makes the show’s obviously campy feel all the more endearing. Again, it shows exactly why the work of the real cast is so important to the series and why it makes this new release a must have for any classic TV buff.
The work of Fireball XL5’s writers and that of the show’s puppeteers collectively shows why decades after it ended its run, it is still a great watch. It proves why this show is in this critic’s view more enjoyable than most “family friendly” offerings on television’s major broadcast and cable networks today. The same can be said of those responsible for resurrecting the show’s original footage for this release. Given, it’s not the first time that the series has seen the light of day. But roughly twelve years have passed since it was last released by A&E Home Video. So some work had to have been put in to do some restoration work for this re-issue. And said work paid off, too as the footage looks and sounds as impressive as it did in its original broadcast if not better. The end result here is a sense of nostalgia even among those that were not even born at the time of the series’ original run. Coupled with the work of the show’s writers and puppeteers, that sense of nostalgia is increased and in turn, the appreciation for this classic is increased, too. That newly found appreciation will lead ultimately to the realization once more that Fireball XL5 is a must have for any true lover of classic television.
Fireball XL5 is a must have for any lover of classic television. That has been noted more than once here. And it has been noted with good reason. The writers have crafted a show that is family friendly and that presents stories largely unlike those of Gerry Anderson’s other “supermarionation” series. Because the series in whole is a stand-alone series, it stands apart from today’s “family friendly” serials. The people controlling the puppets make suspension of disbelief all the easier. The look and sound of the footage rounds out the whole package that is Fireball XL5: The Complete Series. The footage looks and sounds as clean as it did in the series’ original broadcast. Because it looks and sounds so impressive, it makes the rest of the presentation that much more worth the investment of time and money, proving once and for all why Fireball XL5: The Complete Series is another welcome piece of television history from Timeless Media Group and another must have for any true lover of classic television. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Timeless Media Group online at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/fireball-xl5-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from TMG and Shout! Factory, including Gerry Anderson’s other series, is available online at:
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