Several generations of children have had the joy of growing up with Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Stingray and (the frankly at times terrifying) Captain Scarlet. Their special magic came from the inspired vision of Gerry & Sylvia Anderson whose pioneering supermarionation techniques for filming puppets revolutionised TV in the 1960s and paved the way for the sci-fi films of the future.
The documentary starts at the beginning by following APF Films in the late ’50s when the company (co-founded by Gerry Anderson) was commissioned to produce puppet TV series The Amazing Adventures of Twizzle. They were reluctant to take the job but diminishing funds meant they had little choice. Its immediate success led them straight on to another project before making their first wholly independent series – Four Feather Falls. Through Anderson’s pioneering new techniques in which puppets mouth movements were synchronised with recorded dialogue, a process that Anderson dubbed “Supermarionation”, they went on to make the iconic Supercars, Fireball XL5, Stingray and the international hit Thunderbirds.
Introduced and sometimes narrated by Parker and Lady Penelope, Filmed in Supermarionation is a mix of interviews, archive footage, scenes from the programmes and newly filmed sequences. It’s an interesting story and one to watch with a broad smile. It’s illuminating and at times amusing; recounting a happy time for many of the contributors. It’s also a reminder of how great some of the theme tunes were. Filmed in Supermarionation is a fitting epilogue for a great era of television.
The Blu-ray of Filmed in Supermarionation is accompanied by This is Supermarionation, which features an episode of each of the tv shows produced by the company as well as related adverts and extras.
*Deleted scenes: a selection of material that did not appear in the final documentary.
* Filming in Supermarionation: filming the effects and puppets for the documentary
* Special effects reel: an unedited reel of special effects shots created for the documentary
* Gerry and Sylvia in America: colour footage shot by Barry Gray of Gerry and Sylvia at the 1965 World’s Fair in New York
* Tomorrow s World: full Video Assist report
* Something for the Children: Sylvia Anderson archive interview
* Parade: colour, behind-the-scenes Thunderbirds footage
* Lord Mayor & Thunderbird 3 (silent reel)
Filed in Supermarionation is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Network on October 20.