Courtesy: mpi media group/MPI Home Video
MPI Home Video this week unearthed a special new collection of material from Gerry Anderson, one of the legendary names from television’s early eras when it released the new two-disc collection The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson. The collection presents to audiences what was essentially the evolution of Anderson’s work from supermarionation to live action. The presentation of that evolution is the set’s most critical element. As important as that collection proves to be, the set in whole sadly is not perfect. It lacks any physical content guide in its packaging, leaving audiences to essentially have to memorize the material included in each disc. That is a con that cannot be ignored here. Getting back to the set’s overall material, while a pro, it is both a pro and a con (but more pro than con). That will be discussed later. Each element is key in its own way to this collection’s whole. All things considered, The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson proves to be a collection that while enjoyable, comes up just short in its first outing.
MPI Home Video’s brand new release of The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is a relatively enjoyable first outing for this collection of Anderson rarities, but one that leaves room for improvement should it ever get another release. The set’s main positive is its primary content. Audiences get to see in the set’s main body, another attempt at a supermarionation series in the form of The Investigator alongside the live action series The Day After Tomorrow and Space Police. There is also an attempt at an adult-oriented claymation presentation in the form of Dick Spanner, P.I. There is even a very old almost Howdy Doody type presentation in Kandy, which is basically a show about a foolish koala. Though some of the set’s presented material makes clearly obvious why it did not survive, other material such as Space Police leaves one wondering why it didn’t last. The juxtaposition of the live action and animatronic material presented in the series’ pilot episode is exactly the kind of presentation that would go on to be used for decades by Japan’s Super Sentai series. It would also end up being used in the Americanized version of that franchise, the famed Power Rangers franchise. Keeping that in mind, such a show – even in just one episode – shows how far ahead of its time it was. Simply put, it shows how ground breaking and innovative Anderson was even as he moved away from puppets to live action.
As if the live action and other material is not enough for audiences, there is even a documentary style presentation in the form of Blue Skies Ahead. This short presentation takes audiences on a jaunt across Europe, showing its key locations while also advertising for Blue Cars bus lines. It is very much in the same vein as the old color newsreels that audiences might see today on Turner Classic Movies, showing Anderson’s ability to make legitimate nonfiction programming just as much as his abilities in the fiction realm. Considering this along with the discussion on the featured fiction material included in the set, it becomes clear why the set’s material is so critical to the set’s overall presentation. It is not the set’s only critical element, though. The lack of a physical content guide is a negative that cannot and should not be ignored.
Opening up the set’s standard-sized case audiences will note that there is no sign of a content guide anywhere inside or outside the case. On the surface, this might not seem overly important. On a deeper level though, it is very important. There might be those out there who are at least somewhat familiar with the material, but maybe haven’t seen it in decades. They would be nearly on the same level as those who have not yet seen these presentations. Keeping that in mind, having a content guide would have made for a solid introduction (or re-introduction) for audiences to that material before they play either of the set’s discs. Not having that introduction makes for a somewhat uneasy introduction, and in turn detracts from the set’s presentation to a point. Thankfully, it is the set’s only truly impacting negative. The Space Police test footage, while perhaps a bit too extensive, presents its own positive to the set’s presentation.
The Space Police test footage included in The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is for all intents and purposes little more than bonus material. It takes audiences behind the scenes of the featured episode “Star Laws.” Throughout the course of the footage, audiences see that the scenario presented in the final product was not the only considered scenario. Nor were the actors in that final product the only actors who had test screenings. The comparison of the two scenarios and the actors is key because it adds to the appreciation for the final product. The scenarios presented in the test footage show that that material was just too campy even despite some impressive animatronic and prosthetics work with the aliens. Even the lead actors presented in the test footage were a bit over the top cheesy in their presentation. Keeping that in mind, the presentation used in the final product proves to be much more fitting for the show, even being a cop drama.
At the same time that the show’s test footage proves integral to this set’s presentation, it also is somewhat disappointing in just how much test footage is shown. So much of the material takes place in an alleyway scene, and shows time and again the actors handling the same scenario. There is also a bevy of in-car test footage with the lead actors that honestly gets boring after a while. All of this material honestly could have (in this critic’s eye) been cut back, and should have for that matter. Considering this, the intrinsic value of the test footage shows the importance of Space Police to Anderson’s career, and its place within its genre. However, it is too much of a good thing even in its use of comparing scenarios and actors. With this in mind, the test footage included in this set is both a positive and a negative. When it is set alongside the set’s primary material, the whole of that material becomes a presentation that is enjoyable, but honestly leaves something to be desired in the end. That is not to say that it is a total loss, but there is room to grow if this set is ever re-issued or if it is ever included in another Anderson collection.
The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is an interesting new collection of rarities from the famed figure’s career. It shows a part of his career that has rarely if ever been seen thanks to the primary material presented in its lead disc. The lack of a content guide of any sort is a detractor for this collection, though. It takes away from the overall presentation and viewing experience, but does not make the presentation a total loss. The bonus Space Police test footage adds back what is taken away by the lack of a content guide thanks to the insight that it adds to that one episode. At the same time, there is such an abundance of that test footage that it really feels like overkill and should have been shaved back. Each element noted here is important in its own right to this set’s whole. All things considered, they make the set a collection that while not a total loss, one that leaves room for growth in the next Gerry Anderson collection. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from mpi media group and MPI Home Video is available online now at:
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