Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sunday 7 April 1963

Who would have thought that Steve Zodiac would find time in his busy schedule to write a diary? Well apparently he does, and this week's episode begins with him having a flick through and reminiscing about some of his crazy adventures.  Cue clips from previous episodes (with the most prominence given to Matt Matic's encounter with a back-projected lion in The Triads for some reason).  Steve thinks it's time he had a decent rest, so he and Venus are off on holiday to the surprisingly unfuturistic surroundings of an Alpine lodge - complete with pipe-smoking, formidably mustachioed proprietor.

Eagle-eyed viewers (like me) might notice that this old man's the same puppet used as the King of Octan last week
Despite the old man glaring at them mysteriously throughout their stay, Steve and Venus manage to have a relaxing and uneventful holiday, and prove themselves to be the Torvill and Dean of Supermarionation.

But, as the title implies, it's at Space City that all the action's unfolding this week.  Uncharacteristically, Commander Zero has agreed to take Zoonie into his home during Venus's absence.  Due to the Commander's intriguing relationship with Lieutenant Ninety I was a bit disappointed to discover that he has a wife and child.  And what a wife and child.  As Gerry Anderson's Candy and Andy project would later prove beyond doubt, there are few things more sinister than puppet children - so young Jonathan Zero's disquieting appearance is only to be expected.  If anything, though, his mother Eleanor looks even more bizarre - like a reptilian alien halfway through transforming into Sheila Hancock.

Other than his family's peculiar appearance, Zero's domestic life is all very sitcom.  And as sitcom wives are wont to, Eleanor has to rush off and visit her sick mother, leaving the Commander to look after both Jonathan and Zoonie.  They soon send Space City into chaos with an orgy of twisting and balloons.

It's more than Zero can bear, and we're treated to some fascinating early 60s speculation on what child rearing of the future would be like: "If you don't sit down," the Commander growls at his son, "I'll break all the psychological rules for parents and belt you!" "Boy, is my pop in need of psychoanalysis," Jonathan muses.

Jonathan's got his heart set on a ride in Fireball XL5 and sneaks on board with Zoonie.  Matt's been giving ship's robot Robert an overhaul, but perhaps he should have sorted out the way Robert carries out the orders he's been given, regardless of who gives them - meaning Zoonie manages to get the ship to take off simply by saying "take off".  Unfortunately, he and Jonathan are unable to hit on the correct command phrase to get it to stop.  Matt's aboard, but unable to help.

The product placement in this show's shocking
We get an insight into the Zeros' sleeping arrangements (separate beds of course, this isn't some kind of puppet erotica) as they realise their son's gone missing.

Zero and Ninety head off in XL1 to try and stop Fireball.  Meanwhile, a fire's broken out aboard and Zoonie unexpectedly shows the presence of mind to tackle it.

You may have noticed that Fireball XL5 isn't getting any less ridiculous.  You can bask in the ridiculousness yourself here:

But now we travel from an unlikely future back to an unlikely past.

When we left the lands of the North last week a strange little Arab had emerged from the mysterious jar.  This little fellow has come to rob the Nogs of their crown jewels, but notices himself being observed in the act by Thor Nogsson.

"The ways of my master are many and strange, oh cow-hatted one"
When Noggin and the rest of the guard arrive, the strange little man offers the King of the Nogs a carpet which looks perfectly ordinary but sends Olaf's magic-detecting toes haywire...

In his charmingly naive way, Noggin agrees to give the visitor a close look at the crown of the Nogs.  It turns out that his master, the Emir of the Sea of Silver Sands, is in league with Noggin's evil uncle Nogbad, who wants the crown for himself.  The mischievous character uses magic to stay Thor Nogsson's hand and makes off on the carpet.

Olaf, immune to magic as he's wearing his father's special ring, attempts to catch the departing villain, but without success.

Fortunately the flying machine is now complete, so Noggin and chums set off in hot (well, tepid) pursuit, much to the delight of assembled townsNogs.

You can see the omnibus version of parts 1 and 2 of Noggin and the Flying Machine here:

Now to this week's hit parade.  Cliff's returned to number 1 with "Summer Holiday".  Up to number 2, here's Gerry and the Pacemakers with "How Do You Do It":

1 comment:

  1. Fireball XL5,ATV-ITC APF Television Production & Produced by The late Gerry Anderson.

    Drama at Space City is my favourite episode when Steve Zodiac & Venus skating on ice and also Commander Zero is holding the balloons up in the air at Space City and watched by his son Jonathan Zero and Zoonie.

    Fireball XL5 is The Great Original Sci-Fi Series for ATV-ITC-APF Television Production and made in Black & White and the stars of the show icons are Steve Zodiac & Venus.

    Terry Christie,from Sunderland,Tyne & Wear.