Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sunday 5 May 1963

Last week, I found myself in the unusual position of wishing for more Zoonie the Lazoon.  Well, tonight's Fireball XL5 is an object-lesson in being careful what you wish for as it features more of the bizarre creature than anyone could possibly want.  I'll get to that shortly.  First, have a look at the glorious interior design to be found in Space City.

The conference being held within regards the Planet Floran.  Formerly a world of lush vegetation, it's mysteriously become a dry, barren planet overnight.  Steve, Matt and Venus fly out to Floran to find out what's going on - as, handily enough, Venus is a space botanist as well as a space doctor.  As they pick up samples, the Fireball XL5 crew are watched by strange, sharp-snouted creatures.

Meanwhile, back at Space City, Zoonie's being a pain in the arse, as always.  Whistle for Danger gives us some horrifying insights into just how shambolic the running of Space City is (as if we hadn't already gathered).  Not only is a pet allowed to run amok in the control room of an extremely sensitive space patrol organisation (causing lots of smokey, sooty-face explosions), but Commander Zero's way of dealing with it verges on insanity.  He locks Zoonie up and gives him a whistle to play with - purely so he can use it to piss Venus off as much as he has the Commander.  That someone as irresponsibly petty and vindictive as this has risen to such a high-ranking position is deeply worrying.  As is the maniacal laughter that issues from Commander Zero any time he thinks of annoyed Venus will be.

Space Doctor Venus, working in her Space Science Lab, has deduced that the dread plant disease Planetoid 3 has run riot on Floran, killing off all the vegetation. The highly infectious nature of the disease means that on their return to earth our heroes have to go through an elaborate decontamination process.

It's decided that the only way to bring life back to Floran is to explode an Elvium bomb over the planet - the fallout will, apparently, kill off the disease and bring back the plants (I think that's how it's meant to work anyway, I'm no space scientist).  After they set the bomb off, the crew are confronted by the aliens we saw earlier.  They're the natives of Floran, and they invite the humans to dine in their curiously medieval castle.

Seeming friendly at first, the Florans (who for some reason speak with comedy Chinese accents) are in fact livid about the bomb that was set off, convinced it was the first strike in conquering their world (it might have been polite to at least consult the natives about it), and they drug the Fireballers and chuck them in their medieval dungeon.

A call to Fireball XL5 reveals that not only has Zoonie's incessant whistling caused Robert to collapse, but that, in getting to his whistle, Zoonie has knocked over a canister of deadly zellathene gas.  "If we don't get back soon, Zoonie will die!" shrieks Venus.

"He'll die!"

It doesn't seem that much of an impetus to escape quickly, but luckily the unexpectedly rapid return of vegetable life to Floran means a huge vine's grown up outside the window that they can climb down (who builds a dungeon upstairs?).  Not so luckily, there are man-eating plants situated directly below it.

The Florans, convinced by the sudden plant growth of the humans' noble intentions, cut them free, and they're able to save Zoonie.  Has he learned his lesson? No.  The episode ends with him acquiring a brand new toy.

If you want to experience the lunacy of Whistle for Danger for yourself, you can do so here:

And now, we reach the end of our current saga of the Northlands.

Of course, Noggin and Thor Nogsson are currently in more southerly parts, and have been captured and brought before the wicked sheikh and his crony, Noggin's wicked uncle Nogbad.  There's something more than a little bit camp about Nogbad (an unmarried uncle!), with his 'tache and jauntily tied cape.  I find myself strangely attracted to him.

Noggin brings out the genie lent to him by the kindly magician to come to his aid, but the spirit's rapidly scared off when the Sheikh unleashes his own, rather more impressive genie.

Undaunted, Noggin borrows a coin from the surprisingly accommodating sheikh, who uses it to tap on the magic medal that summons Groliffe the ice dragon to his aid.  Groliffe, an utterly charming character, saunters in with a cry of "I say, I say - oh, Noggin what a dreadfully hot place!" The genie's threats to eat him elicit the good-natured response, "Oh, isn't he rude? I suppose I'll have to fight him."

Noggin: I'm awfully sorry to trouble you, old dragon.
Groliffe: Oh no, it's not your fault my dear chap.  Wickedness must be overcome and all that.  It's just that I do rather hate fighting.

And with a cry of "Have at thee, figment!" battle is joined. The genie continues to make threats:

Genie: I will tear you up and spread you all over the sky like a sunset!
Groliffe: Oh, what nasty things you say!
"Ooh, what a dirty looking cloud! There should be a law against it."

Groliffe proves too cold for the genie's taste, and freezes bits off him until he's reduced to a tiny ice cube.

Nogbad and the sheikh make off on the magic carpet, but Graculus manages to seize back the crown of the Northlands.  Hooray!

The rightful king's restored to the throne and the victorious Nogs get a jolly good seeing off.  I do love a happy ending.

There'll be another Saga of Noggin the Nog next year.  You can watch the last two episodes of Noggin and the Flying Machine here:

And now, music.  The Beatles are celebrating their first ever number 1 single as "From Me to You" shoots up to the top spot.  Here's another climber, Frank Ifield's "Nobody's Darlin' But Mine" at number 4:

1 comment:

  1. Sunday May 5th 1963,Fireball XL5 Episode Whistle for Danger Teleplay by the late Dennis Spooner and The Director is John Kelly and The Producer is the late Gerry Anderson.

    Zoonie The Lazoon enters Fireball XL5 Spaceship with the whistle when Commander Zero give it to Zoonie and Venus working and she got a fright when Zoonie blew the whistle and it smashed the glass instead on the floor.

    Steve,Venus & Professor Matt Matic held hostage by The Florans.

    Noggin The Nog by Oliver Postgate,is best remembered for Bagpuss & The Pogles for The BBC tv Series(Watch With Mother)Programmes including The Flowerpot Men,The Woodentops,Bizzy Lizzie,Camberwick Green,Trumpton,Chigley,Fingerbobs,Mr Been,Mary Mungo and Midge,Tales from The Riverbank,Picture Book,Teddy Edwards and Joe.

    The Great Memories of BBC Television Series Watch With Mother from 1950-80 for The last 30 Years.

    ATV-ITC-APF Television Production Sci-fi Series Supercar,Fireball XL5,Stingray,Thunderbirds,Century 21 with Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons,Joe 90,The Secret Service also the live action with UFO,The Protectors and Space 1999 are the great sci-fi shows for ITV Programmes.

    Terry Christie,from Sunderland,Tyne & Wear.