Sunday, June 21, 2015

SHADO NEWS - Information about Gerry and Sylvia Anderson Related Projects - June 2015 - Thunderbirds Are Go TV Series, Christopher Lee and Firestorm

June 2015
By Ken Parker

Lots of cool Gerry and Sylvia Anderson related stuff this time out.  Not only do we have mini reviews of the remaining Thunderbirds are Go first 13 episodes, we will also look at some merchandise and look at what might have been with the Space: 1999 comic series.  We also pay tribute to a couple of actors who appeared in Space: 1999 as well as get an exciting update from the Gerry Anderson Kickstarter project, Firestorm.

Gerry inside the TARDIS!!

Firestorm Update - The Kickstarter funded project is well into production and being a backer, we have seen some cool stuff. One of the latest updates, as seen at the recent Gerry Anderson convention, Andercon, was some footage of the testing of the puppet movement for the production. Very cool.

Christopher Lee – I was going to wait and write about this legend who passed away this past week but what better time than right now. Lee was a legend. He was in so many series and was so good throughout his career. Not only was he spectacular as Dracula but he played parts in so many successful franchises like James Bond, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. He met J.R. Tolkien even.

I mention him here because one of the first times I ever saw Christopher Lee in a part would have been in the Space: 1999 episode “Earthbound” where he played the alien Zantor, one of the only aliens in that series was was benevolent.

Lee reunites with his acting friend and on screen nemesis in various movies, Peter Cushing. RIP sir.

Richard Johnson RIP – I figured I would mention this obituary as I have not seen it anywhere else on the usual websites. Actor Richard Johnson passed away at the age of 87. He was in many shows and movies such as MI-5 and Lora Croft: Tomb Raider. He played Lee Russell in the Space:1999 episode “A Matter of Life and Death.”

He was a finalist for playing the part of James Bond at one point but he had turned the role down.

Mission: Alpha Status Report - A few years ago Blam! Ventures came out with some Space: 1999 comics that featured reprints of the 70's comics as well as a new story about what happened to Earth and the people left behind when the Moon blasted out of Earth's orbit.

The comic has stalled because of some issues with ITV and licensing but an attempt to raise an awareness of the project Mission: Alpha which is about a rescue mission following the path the rogue moon took through the galaxy. A facebook page has been set up that includes an ongoing synopsis of the proposed idea for the comic and includes new concept artwork of the various characters and designs.

The idea is great but it can be sad reading because of what appears to be an excellent concept and continuation of the series that may not see the light of day. While I am not a fan of this type of extension of TV series and movies, where everyone featured in the story is related or has some connection with something or someone in the original, this is pretty good. Powys Media also continued the saga in their own way and had some highlights that would have made for an excellent and epic conclusion to the series.

Both of these are products of today's writing. The comic storyline, for example, sees Alan Carter's daughter taking part in a mission to look for the lost Moon and is helped by Zantor, who's ship arrived through a warp in space much earlier than what was thought and calculated in the original Space: 1999 episode “Earthbound.” One of their first alien encounters is with an alien that Moonbase Alpha also encountered. And so on. These coincidences are a bit too convenient at times and make for a smaller universe but are pretty standard in television today and are generally accepted. Doctor Who is an example of a series that does this all the time and it can get annoying.

Still, from what I have read and seen, this comic series would have been pretty nice and it is a shame it hasn't gone anywhere. Anyway, join the facebook site and check it out!!

Space: 1999 - The Final Revolution - speaking of Powys Media, the next book, The Final Revolution, will be available in July from  This book features a forward by Barbara Bain, who played Dr. Russell in the series.

Lots of previous books are still available as well -

Happy Birthday Martin Landau - A belated birthday anyhow.  The 87 year old was nominated 3 times and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his part as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood but he will always be known to me as John Koenig in Space: 1999.  A great actor in everything he has done.  Happy Birthday!!

Thunderbirds Are Go Series Recap – The first half of season one has ended and the show has steadily improved in my opinion. The stories have been engaging and have managed to focus on a couple of characters each story, so everyone has a chance to shine.

"Unplugged" – the power goes out in London and while Virgil, Lady Penelope and Parker investigate, they find a terrorist group who may be a pawn in someone's bigger scheme. This one was probably the weakest of this latest batch. One of the problems with CG series like this one, New Captain Scarlet and even the Star Wars series are that the streets of cities are often void of people, losing some lack of realism.

"Runaway" – One of the better ones with a simple 'train out of control' idea that sees Brains front and center for the rescue. Some good action in this one. I am not the biggest Brains fan for this new series but the episode is good anyhow. The pacing was one of the best examples on how the show can do well in the half hour format.

"EOS" – In an ongoing subplot, an artificial intelligence that John had somehow created is now gone all Hal 9000 on him. Can John save himself before this mad computer kills him? A good retelling of the 2001 A Space Odyssey movie complete with a floating astronaut. Nice homage.

"Slingshot" – in yet another space story, we see a rescue that reminds classic Thunderbirds fans of Sunprobe.” An asteroid with a mining complex is spinning out of control and heading toward the sun. Alan and Kayo do everything they can to save the complex, their own lives and the one operator working on the asteroid, who happens to be highly annoying.

"Tunnels of Time" – Penelope, Parker and Gordon step into an Indiana Jones like adventure and an interesting relationship development happens. An okay episode. I have not warmed up to Penelope that much in this new series but it is good to see Parker in the spotlight.

"Skyhook" – A manned weather balloon is quickly ascending into the atmosphere and before the balloons burst International Rescue must come up with a way to save them. Remaining true to the original, the team are not always successful their first try and in this case, numerous attempts fail. In perhaps the best written and well paced episode yet, we see the entire team trying everything in their power to save the day. The conclusion is a bit far fetched from a science point of view but still a very edge of your seat story.

"Under Pressure" – the most annoying guy with a flower from the Slingshot episode has more bad luck when an under water craft he is piloting goes out of control. This is basically the same plot as Slingshot but underwater.

"Heavy Metal" - Another perfectly paced episode that gets the entire team involved in a mission.  The visuals in this one are marred by more obvious model effects than the usual outings but this does not take too much away from an intense story that yet again demonstrates that Thunderbirds does not have to be an hour long to be good.

The series has been picked up in Japan and reports are that it will be shown in the U.S. soon.  The DVD is out this month in the Uk as well.

Here is the Japanese launch event -

The second half of season 1 will probably air in the UK this fall.

Andercon - The first Andercon was held last weekend and from all reports and photos - it looked like a blast.  There are lots of photos here -

There was also a live version of Terrahawks with the voice artists!!

Thunderbirds Stuff is Go! -the Gerry Anderson website has some great merchandise for sale including a new Thunderbirds poster.  This T-Shirt is also FAB!

The blu-ray of the entire classic Thunderbirds series is also available in the U.S.  The set includes all 32 episodes in their original format.

Space: 1999 Season 2 Blu-ray - speaking of blu-ray, finally after decades of waiting.. well a few years anyhow, season 2 of Space: 1999 is ready for release by Network in the UK.  No word on a US release as of yet.  The previous Network release in the UK was region free but this does not seem to be the case for season 2.

Terrahawks - Zeroids Vs. Cubes - Episode 1 - Party -

Eagle One returning to base - In keeping the new tradition going, I will look at another Space:1999 toy from my childhood, the Dinky Eagle. Dinky toys and Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series have often gone hand in hand. Many of the most sought after toys from Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, UFO and Space: 1999 were the cool die cast toys modeled after the various ships and craft in the series. Over the years I have put on my wish list a variety of these toys, including the SHADO Mobile from UFO and the SPV from Captain Scarlet. While I did not get all of these elusive and sometimes expensive products (SPV, where are you?) I have enjoyed finding many others.

My first Dinky toy and probably my first Space: 1999 toy was the Eagle. I remember it clearly as if it were yesterday. My father came home from work and pulled the Eagle out of a bag from the store (The Fair?) I was thrilled and loved that Eagle probably more than any other toy. Sure, it was green. Why was it green? Who knows. The SHADO Interceptor was green and so was Thunderbird 2 (oh wait, that is green). Green toys sell better than the white, more accurate toys perhaps.

Anyhow, this Eagle was terrific and was my prized possession until.....the Mattel Eagle. Uh oh! The Mattel Eagle was large, had three astronauts, stun guns, a laser rifle and so on. And it was white!! I wanted this Mattel Eagle so badly. It dominated my life in a very similar way that the Ralphie wanted that Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and that thing which tells time for Christmas. I drew pictures of it, had others talk to my parents about the possibility of getting this and so on. I did get the Mattel Eagle and I did play with it until it was destroyed, it never had the duration nor place in my heart as the Dinky Eagle had.

I still have my original Eagle. It is in pieces after an attempted refit but my memory of flying it past my moon poster, off toward another adventure in space will always be with me.
Some more Dinkys including the three variations of the Eagle

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