Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sunday 24 March 1963

Fireball XL5's destination this week is the derelict planet Pharos, which is in a sorry state after decades of Earth people mining its natural resources.

You might be expecting some kind of judgement on the way greedy humans have wrecked Pharos, but this was made in the early 60s, when the white heat of the technological revolution, and disillusionment with had yet to take hold (apart from the ban the bomb lot, but who cares about a few beardy weirdies in hairy jumpers?).  Alarmingly enough the  XL5 crew's decision upon visiting is that the best thing to do with the planet in its current state ("what a deesmal planet," as Venus says) would be to get rid of it altogether.

Matt: The planet will have to be destroyed, Steve - before it just falls apart.
Steve: That'll be my recommendation, that's for sure.
Venus: Well, I suppose that's one planet less in the universe.  At least there's no life here!

That's what she thinks - this conversation's being listened into by a pair of Subterrains, who have a good old chortle as they hatch a plan to be rid of their sworn enemy Steve Zodiac once and for all.  These are an especially mirthful couple of aliens, and spend much of their screentime laughing their heads off and waving their arms about in jollity as they contemplate their latest bit of wickedness.

Gallingly, much of this week's episode revolves around everybody's favourite (and indeed least favourite) Lazoon.  While Venus is away on Pharos Zoonie's been left in the care of Commander Zero and Lieutenant Ninety, who aren't relishing the job: "I'm a Commander, not a Lazoon keeper!" the Commander grumpily reminds us.  And uh-oh, what's that crazy critter up to now? He's only gone and sent the whole of Space City haywire!

Zero's up for having Zoonie expelled from Space City forever for his latest hi-jinks, much to his owner's distress: "Oh Zoonie, if they make you leave Space Ceety I won't be able to stop them" she sobs.

After watching footage of Pharos in Space City's luxurious cinema, Commander Zero decides it must be blown up with Vesuvium Nine.  "Ve-Vesuvium Nine?!" gasps Matt.  It turns out it's the most powerful explosive in the universe.

Ridiculously, Venus insists Zoonie accompany them on the trip to blow up Pharos.  Unsurprisingly, Steve isn't keen, but relents after Venus shouts "Oh, you beast!" and breaks down in tears (you know what these women are like): "Well, I guess it won't hurt to have two beasts aboard".  But beastly Steve insists Zoonie be locked up to keep him away from the Vesuvium Nine.

After priming the explosives, Steve, Venus and Matt are promptly trapped down a mine by the Subterrains, but fortunately manage to call Robert to come and rescue them.  Zoonie also manages to escape with a jetpack, and when the crew finally get back aboard ship they don't realise they've lost their Lazoon until it's too late to go back and get him.  Rather than the jubilation you might expect, Zoonie's apparent demise causes everybody great sadness - even Commander Zero realises he'll miss the little guy.  But don't bother getting your hanky out (or do, depending on your feelings toward him) as it turns out Zoonie's survived to piss everyone off another day.  He's brought Venus some of the flowers she admired on Pharos earlier (which makes me worry about her pronoucement that there was no life on the planet, what with her being a doctor and all).

Dangerous Cargo is another script from Dennis Spooner - and I think it's fair to say that it's not one of his best.  Here's the episode for you to watch, should you wish to do so:

And, as we've had a glimpse of Space City's special screening room this week, it might be a good opportunity to post this - it's a compilation of 1960s cinema ads, including Steve Zodiac advertising Lyon's Maid Zoom lollies - in colour!

Now to the charts: again the Shadows bestride the hit parade like a twangy colossus, occupying both the top two spots.  At number one they're backing Cliff on "Summer Holiday", while up to number two, here's their very own "Foot Tapper":

1 comment:

  1. For many years I have been a great fan of Fireball XL5 in all my life also with Stingray,Thunderbirds & Supercar for ATV-ITC-APF Television produced by the late Gerry Anderson.

    Steve Zodiac,Venus,Professor Matt Matic,Lieutenant Ninety,Commander Zero,Robert The Robot & Zoonie The Lozoon.

    The Famous 39 Episodes filmed in Black & White including Planet 46,Hypnotic Sphere,Planet of Plantonia,Space Magnet,The Doomed Planet,Plant Man from Space,The Sun Temple,Space Immigrants,Space Monster,Flying Zodiac,XL5 to H20,A Spy in Space,Space Pirates,Convict in Space,Space Pen,The Last of The Zanadus,The Wings of Danger,The Triads,Sabotage,Prisoner of The Lost Planet,Flight to Danger,Space Vacation,Mystery of The TA2,Robert to The Rescue,The Forbidden Planet,The Granatoid Tanks,Dangerous Cargo,1875,The Robot Freighter Mystery,Drama at Space City,Whistle for Danger,Faster Than Light,The Day The Earth Froze,Invasion Earth,The Ghosts of Space,Trial by Robot,The Day in The Life of a Space General,Space City Space and The Fire Fighters.

    The Screenwriters of Fireball XL5 with Dennis Spooner,Alan Fennell,Gerry & Sylvia Anderson and Anthony Marriott,The famous Directors with Alan Pattillo,John Kelly,David Elliott and Bill Harris.

    Fireball XL5 is The Great Sci-fi Series from 1962-63 and The Stars of The Show icons with Venus,Professor Matt Matic,Zoonie,Commander Zero,Lt 90,Robert The Robot and Steve Zodiac.

    Terry Christie from Sunderland,Tyne & Wear.