Gerry Anderson became a world recognised person overnight when in the 1960s he created this truly groundbreaking series. The adventures of the Tracy family and their high tech approach to sorting problems became a basis for many boy's imaginations, and over 40 years later, still does.
The interesting thing is that he went on to do so many similar series. Milking the format as much as he possibly could, he produced Captain Scarlet and Joe 90 before venturing into the realm of live action with programmes like UFO and my all time Saturday morning favourite Space 1999. In the 80s he returned to his marionettes and produced Terrahawks, a truly dreadful series only picked up by the voice of Windsor Davies as a sergeant major.
By 1987 he was looking to retire, and so he produced his last series designed to take the mickey out of everything he'd ever done. Dick Spanner was the result, and follows a private detective in a parallel universe. It was based loosely on the writings of Raymond Chandler, and more specifically was like Sam Spade. Each episode was only 6 minutes long, and was only ever played once on TV midway through a Sunday magazine show for teenagers called Network 7. Trust me when I say 6 minutes is enough. I'll explain why.
I treated myself to the DVD last week, to jolly myself up a bit. The DVD has only just been released and is every bit as good as I remember it. Whilst stop motion animation has been done better (step forward Mr. Park), the scripts are, well to keep it understated, daft. The locations are really cheaply made. The gags are quick and constant. You can watch this week's video and see what I mean. You get an idea of what it's about in the first 2 seconds, when a scene similar to the opening scene of Star Wars shows a space ship with a "Caution Long Vehicle" sign on it. My favourite is the neon sign in the background with "Save Electricity" written on it, but watch out for the "raining cats and dogs" gag and the "The two of them spelt trouble" gag.
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