Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Gerry Anderson (1929 - 2012)
Today, I report sad news for cult-television scholars and fans. The great and prolific super-producer and series creator Gerry Anderson has passed away at the age of 83.
Mr. Anderson is widely-known for many works of art, all of them remembered and beloved by generations.
Early in his career, Mr. Anderson was known primarily for creating high-tech, spectacular programs filmed in “Supermarionation.”
These programs starred puppets and included titles such as Supercar (1961 -1962), Fireball XL5 (1962 – 1963), Stingray (1964 – 196), and Thunderbirds (1965 – 1966).
It was around the mid-1960s that Anderson’s art began to take on what many viewers and historians may see as a more adult or darker tenor, with series such as Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1965 – 1968).
This change in tone accompanied Anderson’s move into live action production with films such as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969), and TV programs such as UFO (1970 – 1971) and his international hit, Space: 1999 (1975 – 1977) starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.
After Space: 1999, Gerry Anderson created Terrahawks (1983 – 1986), Space Precinct (1994 – 1995), and a new CGI version of Captain Scarlet (2005).
I am a long-time, avowed admirer of all Gerry Anderson’s work, but I’m particularly enamored with the creative period between 1967 – 1976, when his artistic stamp was a thoughtful, metaphysical, mysterious bent, with dollops of the best special effects in the business thanks to the likes of Derek Medding and Brian Johnson.
Because he so often worked in children’s programming, and specifically with puppets, “witty” critics over the years have found it easy to dismiss Mr. Anderson’s efforts with the joke that the programs were “wooden.” But even today, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, UFO, Space: 1999 and Into Infinity (1976) reveal tremendous artistry, intelligence, mystery and a good dose of horror.
On a personal note, I began my writing career in 1994 because of Mr. Anderson’s Space: 1999, a series that has fascinated me since childhood with its adroit mix of wonder and mystery, horror and adventure. I can’t even begin to imagine how my life would be different today if Mr. Anderson had not given the world so many hours of great entertainment, and intriguing works of art. Certainly, his work inspired me to write.
Mr. Anderson will be missed terribly, but his work remains widely available, and will be cherished, studied, and debated for years to come.