Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sunday 26 May 1963

As the title suggests, this week's is an especially dramatic instalment of Fireball XL5, tremendously exciting and as gloriously silly as we've come to expect.

Space City's communication systems have all ceased to work due to masses of interference.  Could it have anything to do with the huge, ominous cloud rapidly approaching the earth? Various XL spaceships have been sent to investigate...

...only to end up blown to bits.  Before the ships explode, a threatening voice speaking a strange, alien language (sounding like a bloke giving an extremely rough approximation off the top of his head of what "Japanese" sounds like) issues from their radio.  Commander Zero thinks it's a job for Steve Zodiac, but Steve and the Fireball XL5 crew are off on a medical mission, with Space Doctor Venus attempting to stem an outbreak of restamesia - and being sexually harrassed by a strange-looking puppet with creepily human arms.

The interference from the space cloud means Fireball is unable to get in contact with Earth - and what's worse, poor Zoonie has contracted restamesia! (Presumably so-called because it makes you want to rest a lot).

"All these injections and I forgot Zoonie!" cries Venus.  Yeah, "forgot".

Meanwhile, back at Space City, things are getting really serious as even Commander Zero's evening televiewing's being affected by the interference.  The Zero family appear to be in the midst of watching Juke Box Jury, with Space City music retailer Ma Doughty among the panellists, when the picture vanishes.

Playing footage of the exploding ships in slow motion, Steve Zodiac notices a missile being projected from the cloud.  And Matt feeds a recording of the alien voice into his handily-labelled Language Decoder and discovers that the cloud's mysterious inhabitants are bent on invading Earth.  Eek!

But what can our chums do about it? Venus for one is a bit frustrated.

Well would you prefer tea, dear?
Has Space City's Lieutenant Ninety been possessed by the cloud's sinister influence?

No, he's just showing Commander Zero that the interference has rendered all Space City's ray guns useless.  Hang on, that's worse! Finally the episode's baddies make themselves known.  Even by Fireball XL5 standards they're peculiar - in keeping with the dodgy Japanese influence they look rather like Samurai ducks.

And their spaceships look a bit... familiar.  Clearly it's not just Star Wars that shamelessly ripped off poor old Fireball.

The invasion force (all two of them) storm Space City.  Commander Zero, for one, is not especially taken with Earth's new masters.

In revenge for this shocking outburst, the aliens take Zero's creepy son Jonathan hostage.  I find it deeply reassuring that duffel coats will still be a familiar sight in 2063.

But suddenly, the aliens collapse, their invasion mysteriously halted.  Why could this be? Commander Zero tries to take the credit but it turns out that in true War of the Worlds style they've died from exposure to Zoonie's restamesia, the Fireball XL5 crew having just turned up.  Ho ho, good old pestilence-ridden Zoonie! Now I suppose there's just the question of what's going to happen to those huge alien spaceships.  Don't expect it to be resolved.

Invasion Earth is masses of fun, and the closest Fireball XL5 gets to an epic.  You can watch it here:

Now to music: the Beatles sit untoppled at number 1 for another week, and what's more Lennon and McCartney now have a second song in the top 10, their pal Billy J Kramer having reached number 3 with his version of "Do You Want to Know a Secret?"

1 comment:

  1. Sunday May 26th 1963,ATV-ITC-APF Television Production sci-fi series Fireball XL5 and the episode,Invasion Earth written by the late Dennis Spooner and the director Alan Pattillo and the producer is the late Gerry Anderson.

    Steve Zodiac,Venus,Zoonie,Robert The Robot and Professor Matt Matic always on the mission.

    Commander Zero & Lt Ninety is held prisoners by Samuari Ducks spoken in Japanese with the infamous rayguns and holding Commander Zero's son Jonathan also within seconds when Steve & Venus tied the infamous Samuari Ducks back to back in Space City.

    Venus telling Lt Ninety and Commander Zero to roll up the sleeves for treatment.

    The Great Sci-fi Series of Fireball XL5 for ATV London & The Midlands from 1962-63 with The 39 Episodes filmed in Black & White.

    Terry Christie.