Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sunday 3 February 1963

These charming fellows are the Subterrains:

They live underground (would you believe?) on Planet 46 (pronounced "four-six" - you wouldn't want to get it wrong and upset them).  The surface of the planet is uninhabited, but distinguished by "weird rock formations" like this:

The Subterrains are sworn enemies of Steve Zodiac, who imprisoned their leader in a previous adventure.  Their plan to get their revenge for this involves poisoning Steve by firing a radium capsule at him using a robot bird they've created.  As you can see from this shot of said robot pursuing Steve's flying car, it looks disappointingly un-birdlike.  But then, to be fair to the Subterrains, as they live below the surface of a barren world their knowledge of what birds look like might well be a bit limited.

The bird hits its target and the car flies out of control, but fortunately Venus is able to wrest control of it in time, her glamorous-yet-sensible headscarf helping her to stay cool under pressure.

In fact this episode's something of a showcase for Venus's practical-yet-feminine fashions.  Rushing Steve to hospital, she changes into her surgical gear:

One of the trailblazing things about Gerry Anderson's shows, and one that can look deeply odd, is the way puppet characters are treated and filmed like real people.  There's something highly surreal about seeing puppets enact medical drama clich├ęs, as Venus operates in an attempt to save Steve's life.

Steve survives, of course, but has to suffer the indignity of spending two weeks in a distinctly girly-looking recovery ward.  It's got a frilly bedspread and everything.  I do like his pyjamas though - I wonder what colour they are.

The bird's second attempt on Steve's life misses, and he manages to shoot it with a stun gun (I'm not sure how you can stun a metal bird but then I don't claim to be an expert on these things), then returns to Planet 46 with it and brings the Subterrains into line with the immortal threat "If you do not comply with the laws of the universe we'll send the robot bird down to attack you".  I would've thought the laws of the universe were more to do with physics and stuff like that, but that's that Steve Zodiac for you, full of his own self-importance.  I don't like him.

You may (or may not) like to see Wings of Danger for yourself here:

Now for this week's number one.  The Shadows have vacated the top spot for the first time this year, but it's another instrumental that's toppled them: Jet Harris and Tony Meehan's "Diamonds".

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