Saturday, 16 April 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson (Disc 1)

In 2015, Network DVD released The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson. It's a 2 disc set containing a whole slew of pilots and other work that had been deemed lost to time, it has some very rare and unique footage going right back to his earliest work in the 1950s. So lets take a look at what some of the gems lie on Disc 1

1. You've Never Seen This (1955) 

In his directorial debut, Gerry Anderson brings us a show called You've Never Seen This. It was a magazine show showcasing some weird and wonderful talents. It was hosted by Pete Collins with American host Jon Farrell. In this one off 30 minute special, Pete goes to Belgium to meet with Pierre Van Ransbeeck, who is a "Tapis de Sable" or Carpet of Sand artist. He then meets with Jose Meiffret, a man who breaks the world land speed record on a bicycle, by achieving a speed of 109 MPH. Then finally, Pete Collins meets with Fernand Bachelard, an 8 foot tall man and at the time, the tallest man in Europe, who shows him the sights and sounds of Brussels. The end of the show hints at more to come, but since the production company, Polytechnic Studios went into liquidation in 1957, it was no longer possible. The show was broadcast once in the UK in 1955 and has never been shown again or since then. 

2. Blue Skies Ahead (1960)

Broadcast in 1960 and directed by Gerry Anderson, Blue Skies Ahead is a documentary/commerical for Blue Cars travel agency. It's hosted by Nicholas Parsons, a well known broadcaster and radio personality in the UK, as he explains the world of Luxury Coach holidays. We follow him on his journey throughout Europe, starting at Switzerland, moving through Austria, then into Italy and finally into Spain. This was at a time when air travel was expensive and package holidays as we know them today were largely unheard of, so this was a great marketing tool to showcase travel by coach and parts of countries that most people don't get to see. Also, while making his documentary, he does also pitch the holidays to the consumer, telling them about tourist attractions, beaches and the fact the accommodations are for singles, couples, families and parties.

3. The Investigator (1972) 

Now this is an interesting experiment from Gerry Anderson. It mixed up the new style puppets from Captain Scarlet onwards with live action. The plot revolves around an alien called The Investigator, played by Peter Dynley (Jeff Tracy) who miniaturises two humans called John (Shane Rimmer) and Julie (Sylvia Anderson) and gives them amazing technology with which to fight crime and safeguard the Earth. In the pilot, the duo must stop a villain named Karanti (Charles Thake) from stealing a priceless piece of art from a Cathedral. It was shot entirely in Malta. It features some great action shots that mix live action with props and puppetry

4. The Day After Tomorrow: Into Infinity (1975)

Produced by Gerry Anderson and directed by Charles Chrichton, The Day After Tomorrow or Into Infinity in the UK, was a released TV movie. It aired December 1975 on BBC 1 and NBC. It takes inspiration from Space:1999, Lost in Space and 2001. It was devised as a science based educational show to teach children about Einstein's Theory of Relativity. It stars Brian Blessed, Joanna Dunham, Martin Lev, Katharine Levy and Nick Tate, playing a family unit as they search the nearest star, Alpha Centauri for a new place to colonise. As the journey would take 4.3 light years normally, they engage a photon drive to make the journey faster, but this would also make them experience time dilation effects. After their photon drive is damaged in a meteor shower, they become hopelessly lost in space.  Many fans loved the themes, sets and models, but the lack of plot and suspense, but the that can be explained as it being educational.

5. Space Police: Star Laws (1986)

This pilot was produced by Gerry Anderson and directed by Tony Bell. There's a mix of live action, models, props, puppets and even actors wearing masks. It stars Shane Rimmer as Lt. Brogan, an officer who served 15 years in NYPD who was transferred to 44 East, Space Police. In the pilot, Brogan is sent to protect the Galactic president from assassination from Mr. Big, a notorious gangster who wants revenge on Brogan and the President for jailing his men.

6. Dick Spanner, P.I. : The Case of the Missing Episode (1987)

Dick Spanner, P.I. was a stop motion puppet show created by Gerry Anderson. It was a pastiche of 1930s detective serials as our hero, Dick Spanner wears a trench coat and fedora. It's set in a futuristic world and relies on a lot of comedy and sight gags. I this episode, Dick ends up Paris and meets up with 10 of the greatest private eyes in the world, but a mysterious person assassinated one, leaving nine.

You can buy this DVD set from the Anderson Shop directly or via websites like eBay and Amazon. I'd say if you're a fan of Gerry Anderson. then this is a unique look into his work around his famous shows. There's some great material, all lovingly restored