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.

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:40 PM

    Reaction: (1)sad :(

    Gerry Anderson created series that defined my boyhood in the '70s most of all Space:1999.

    SGB

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jack Klugman, Charles Durning, now Gerry Anderson.

    I first watched Thunderbirds through Netflix. I went through all 12 volumes of the DVD set. And by the time I was done, I was pretty well burned out. Lesson learned: split the volumes up.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous3:28 AM

    Very sad news. Gerry Anderson was responsible for the creation of several tv series that I have watched ever since childhood. In fact some of my earliest memories of watching television was of watching some of his shows.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Terrible news.I have watched Gerry's shows for so long (I am 49) that I cannot remember my first memory of them.My love for science fiction came from Gerry's shows,especially Thunderbirds,Captain Scarlet,Joe 90,UFO and Space 1999.His ability to work with the best technicians and artists (Derek Meddings,Barry Grey and Brian Johnson and many others) produced television magic
    that even today is hard to replicate.
    He was a true original in television and film production.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gerry Anderson was very much a part of my youth. Thunderbirds was my Saturday morning favourite in 1970/71 when CFTO ran the series. (I saw the feature film Thunderbird 6 when it came out, and this little boy was bewitched.)

    UFO was essential viewing, again, in 1970/71 when the CTV network aired it in prime-time on Monday nights. Still the best, by far, of his live-action series'.

    (Space: 1999... well, the less said, the better. It effectively stopped his producing career for a few years.)

    Mr. Anderson's success-rate was very impressive. Markers of my youth; charming and entertaining programs, and ones with an identity all their own.

    He was one of a kind. Let us not forget that he lived a long and fulfilling life. And fulfilling ours at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is very sad news indeed. I knew he was suffering from Alzheimers/Dementia but hadn't realized his condition had deteriorated so rapidly. His work was such a huge influence to me and remains so to this day thanks to my Anderson DVD collection.

    Without Anderson's TV shows, many of today's SPFX artists would not have been inspired to enter the industry.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous11:22 AM

    Sorry to hear of his passing. In tribute, I watched my an episode from my favorite of his creations...SPACE BRAIN from series one of SPACE 1999. A groundbreaking show, and one that broke my heart with its unwatchable season 2. But Gerry Anderson leaves behind a remarkable pop culture legacy, and for that, we should all be thankful

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous11:27 AM

    So long, Gerry. You took us to "Worlds Beyond Belief".

    Tom Epps
    USNS Supply
    North Atlantic Ocean

    ReplyDelete

McClane Binge: Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard  is the movie that launched a hundred cinematic knock-offs or so.  John McTiernan’s blockbuster 1988 so dramatically and t...