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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ultimate Geek Fu

In praise of Gerry Anderson

This week I want to talk about an old friend: Gerry Anderson. He's not really an old friend; I've never met the man, or had even a near-miss with his coattails. But when people ask who my influences were, and particularly whether watching Star Trek had any influence on my interest in science fiction...

Well, no. But somewhere way back in the dim mists of time, deep in the memory vault, before watching Twilight Zone and Outer Limits, before discovering Bradbury and Clarke, before even Andre Norton and Robert Heinlein, there was Gerry Anderson.

And, God help me, Supercar and Fireball XL5.

If the names don't seem immediately familiar to you, you still probably know Anderson by his work. He first put a dent in the zeitgeist as the man who invented "supermarionation," the peculiar combination of live-action and puppetry used in the TV series Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, and of course, Thunderbirds. To put it plainly, without Thunderbirds, there would have been no Team America: World Police. (By the way, Anderson reportedly loved Team America and thought it was absolutely hilarious.)

Later, Anderson went on to make the "cult classic" TV series, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, UFO and Space: 1999. ("Cult classic" apparently translates as, "nobody watched them in their original release.")

Anderson has been somewhat on my mind lately because of this little item, which appeared in The Register: CGI Thunderbirds sadly not go. For once again, we see proof that it's not about being original, creative, or unique; it's about who controls the film rights.

But never mind that. Right now, I want to raise my cup of coffee in salute to Gerry Anderson, unsung genius, who successfully warped the impressionable little minds of far more children than one ever might have thought possible. To Gerry: Thunderbirds are go!

Let the arguments begin.

ULTIMAGE GEEK FU runs every Wednesday. Have a question that's just bugging the heck out of you about Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Gallactica, Farscape, Firefly, Fringe, Heroes, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Smallville, The X-Files, X-Men, The Man From Atlantis, or pretty much any other SF-flavored media property? Send it to slushpile@thefridaychallenge.com with the subject line, "Geek Fu," and we'll stuff it in the queue.
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