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Fireball XL5 - The Complete Series
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DVD | Box Set
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Forty years ago, the legendary producer Gerry Anderson launched a way-out series set a century ahead of its time. Far beyond the solar system, Colonel Steve Zodiac, commander of the spaceship Fireball XL5, and his trusty crew patrol the vast reaches of Sector 2Fans of Anderson's Thunderbirds and Space 1999 will be amazed by his early mastery of supermarionation techniques. Now all 39 otherworldly adventures of his groundbreaking cult hit have been re-mastered and arranged in original production order. In vivid black and white. 16 hours 54 min. on 5 DVDs.
Producer Gerry Anderson is something of a legend in his native England, based primarily on the popular TV series Thunderbirds, its various spinoffs, and this, its 1962-'63 predecessor. All were produced in "Supermarionation"; i.e., they're puppet shows--not especially sophisticated ones (to say the least), but ones that many viewers seemed to adore. This five-disc boxed set contains all 39 episodes of Fireball XL5, totaling nearly 17 hours (plus extras).
The stories concern the efforts of captain-hero Steve Zodiac and his crew (including Steve's love interest and a talkative robot, voiced respectively by Anderson's then-wife Sylvia and Anderson himself; the pair were also cowriters) to protect "Sector 25" of the solar system from alien invasion. They battle killer rays and alien criminals, visit mysterious planets, and escape from all manner of perilous circumstances... they use ray guns and fly around with "thrust packs" and on "jetmobiles" (reducing the need for walking, which puppets don't do so well)... in other words, typical sci-fi fare. But while the animation is laughable (little attempt was made to disguise the strings that hold up puppets and props alike) and the effects primitive, there's no denying the show's campy charm (indeed, people who study such things consider it to be an important influence on the sci-fi genre in general). Is it a bit too much of a good thing? Probably not for anyone willing to make the investment. DVD extras include photos, a couple of featurettes, and audio commentary on two episodes (voice actor David Graham on "The Doomed Planet" and director Alan Pattillo on "Space City Special"). --Sam Graham
- All 39 episodes on 5 discs
- Featurette: "The Noble Art of TV21" with artist Mike Noble
- Production stills photo gallery
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Top customer reviews
My earliest memories as a child were sitting and watching this program with my older brother. He was 13, I was 3. We would watch Clutch Cargo,Sally Starr, Gene London and Fireball XL5 together. I found the images and stories from Fireball scarey but intriquing. I can remember seeing the images of the Fireball XL5 taking off, seperating, flying though space, and landing and importing them directly into my imagination, to be downloaded to my toys, and imaginary journeys with my rocket ships. Everything that I could pick up and "fly" through space, my mind's eye viewed as a space ship. Later, my wife and I used to joke about these marionettes and their faulty and comical motor skills. Many side splitting evenings we would refer to these marionette plays parroting their movable bottom lips, exagerated eye brows, and the numb motions of their hands. When I saw this set on line,it was probably the quickest Amazon purchase decision I have made.
One weekend evening, we opened the box set together, and watched several episodes...and I can tell you, though it had been 40 some odd years since this show was aired, and when we last saw them, we both had a joyful trip down memory lane. Who can remember the early sixties...this brought us both back.
I am an avid sci fi fan. I read sci-fi..I am a card holding Trekker...I was first in line to see Star Wars...read and understood Dune in JR High. Fireball
XL is seminal. It set the theme for Lost in Space...Star Trek...Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. Just watch the episodes....It is all the same! It may be blasphemy to suggest that Gene Roddenbury stole some of the ideas from Fireball XL5... but the similarities are uncanny.
I have one more observation...was a connection that I had with my older brother. He viewed these videos...and it brough him back to 1963 too. I wonder how many connections these videos will make for you. Buy them. They will bring you back.
Few think of "Fireball XL5", even though it was the only Supermarionation series to be broadcast in the United States over a network (Saturday mornings on NBC from October, 1963 until September, 1965). Here in the 'States, all of the other Supermarionation shows were syndicated to individual television stations.
Perhaps because it was in black-and-white, "XL5"'s hasn't been widely seen in reruns. And that's a shame. This is, in some respects, the most entertaining of the Supermarionation series.
I purchased this as a Christmas present for my younger brother, who was four-and-a-half when this series premiered on NBC (in fact, it's one of the first TV shows he recalls watching when it was first on the air). He loved it then, and he loves it now.
Granted, Dr. Venus occassionally got sexist treatment from the other characters (she was a Doctor of Space Medicine, but still had to fix dinner), principal villians Mr. and Mrs. Space Spy had Russian accents (this was the Cold War era, remember?), and the characters used "oxygen pills" instead of doning spacesuits and helmets for spacewalks (likely because it was too much of a bother to design space helmets with holes on the top for the various puppetry strings and Supermarionation wires to go through). But overall, this is a quite entertaining series.
One of the best things about "XL5" were the visual effects of XL5 and other spaceships taking off, in flight, and landing. These were quite elaborate for early 1960's television, and were done by Derek Meddings, who continued with Anderson through "UFO" and went on to do special effects for many classic movies of the 1970's, 1980's, and early 1990's. Had "XL5" been produced in America, the show might well have won an Emmy for best visual effects had there been an Emmy award in that category then.
Anyone who is a fan of the classic Gerry Anderson Supermarionation shows but who has never seen "XL5" should go out and buy this DVD set. You'll be happy you did!
By the way, the 4-star review is mine. My brother would rate "XL5" six stars on a scale of one star to five stars!
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