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Thunderbirds (1965-2004)

If you like the Spy Kids movies, you’ll like the 2004 Hollywood version of the cult-classic British TV-series. To save money, the British series used puppets and models. The Hollywood version is live-action, but the adult rescuers of the TV-series are marooned for most of the movie, leaving the rescuing to two little kids who learn to fly the rockets and use the high-tech gadgets. If you hate the “Spy Kids” you probably won’t want to waste $6 to see “Thunderbirds.” Gerry Anderson, creator of the Thunderbirds series, has asked that his name not be associated in any way with the 2004 Hollywood version made by some of the same people responsible for the 1998 Godzilla in New York movie.





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thunderbird 2 image The original 1965-66 prime-time TV-series was financed by Lord Lew Grade, producer of Raise The Titanic and The Last Unicorn. Thunderbirds was the 4th of Anderson’s “supermarionette” series for British TV, and the world’s first one-hour sci-fi primetime series to use puppets. Anderson’s first three were “Supercar” (1961, starring a gadget-filled 7-foot model that cost 1000 pounds to build), “Fireball XL5” (set in the year 2063, with special effects by Derek Meddings of Moonraker and Superman fame), and “Stingray” (underwater crime fighters in the year 2065, Anderson’s first color TV-series). Stingray’s 39 episodes cost over a million pounds to produce so when it came time for Thunderbirds, Lew Grade insisted on hour-long episodes (including commercials) for his money. Ten 30-minute episodes had already been made so additional material was added, but this allowed more complete stories in the long run.

International Rescue is on an island estate owned by millionaire ex-astronaut and Air Force Col. Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton in the new movie). Hidden under the retractable swimming pool is an array of rockets and rescue vehicles manned by his five sons, who just happen to be named after the first five American astronauts. The vehicles are:
· Thunderbird 1 – A 7000 mph scout rocket flown by oldest son Scott to arrive at rescue situations and organize the effort.
· Thunderbird 2 – A giant green cargo ship designed to fly rescue equipment or vehicles in specialized pods loaded in a matter of seconds as needed by pilot Virgil before launching.
· Thunderbird 3 – An orange spaceship piloted by impetuous younger brother Alan, a racecar driver and romantic lead.
· Thunderbird 4 – A yellow deep-sea craft carried in one of the special pods when needed for underwater rescues, piloted by Gordon.
· Thunderbird 5 – A satellite in orbit with John Tracy aboard to pick up and translate into English any urgent message anywhere in the world and relay it to International Rescue.
· FAB 1 – the pink 3-axle gadget-filled Rolls Royce of spy Lady Penelope (voice of Sylvia Anderson, Gerry’s wife and cowriter of the first episode). This supercar includes tv/radio transceivers, retro-rocket braking, hydrofoils for water travel, oil ejectors to thwart pursuers, and a machinegun hidden behind the grill. Her driver is Cockney ex-con Parker (Ron Cook in the movie).
Also around are Jeff’s assistant Kyrano (loyal half-brother of a criminal named The Hood) and his daughter Tin-Tin (Bhasker Patel & Vanessa Anne Hudgens in the movie), and Brains (Anthony Edwards in the movie).

The supermarionette’s limited expressions and tendency to walk on air were the butt of jokes, but everyone loved the series which first ran on ITC (a commercial network) in 1965 and continued in reruns thru the 1980s before moving to BBC in 1991. Two feature films were made for United Artists: Thunderbirds Are Go (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968). In 1986 the Japanese produced an authorized cartoon series “Thunderbirds 2086,” but it never got the cult following of the original series.

The original 32 episodes have been seen in 66 countries and were broadcast most recently in the U.S. on Tech TV cable channel (previously ZDTV). Episodes:
1. “Trapped In The Sky” by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson (the only ep entirely written by them)
2. “Pit of Peril”
3. “The Perils Of Penelope”
4. “Terror In New York” (the Empire State Bldg. is being moved to make way for a newer building when an unknown cavern deep underground begins collapsing, sending Thunderbird 4 into an underground river to keep Manhattan’s tallest building from collapsing)
5. “Edge Of Impact”
6. “Day Of Disaster”
7. “30 Minutes After Noon” (an underworld plot to destroy nuclear weapons in a locked vault may have started the doomsday clock)
8. “Desperate Intruder” (Brains & Tin-Tin explore a submerged ancient temple in Lake Anasta for treasure, but villain The Hood finds out and wants it too)
9. “End Of The Road” (International Rescue flies to the aid of a construction foreman who knows the Tracy family, so they risk blowing their cover if he recognizes them)
10. “The Uninvited” (archaeologists discover a lost pyramid in the Sahara and are captured by a subterranean race living in it)
11. “Sun Probe” (Thunderbird 3 rescues a spaceship from falling into the Sun, but becomes trapped in its gravitational pull instead)
12. “Operation Crash-Dive”
13. “Vault Of Death” (a bank employee is trapped inside in new super-vault that pumps all the air out when closed. Not even the Thunderbirds can get in, so it’s up to ex-con Parker to pick the lock somehow)
14. “The Mighty Atom”
15. “City Of Fire”
16. “The Impostors” (2 men posing as International Rescue members steal top secret papers, prompting a world-wide search for IR’s secret base. They dare not launch any Thunderbirds until the crooks are caught and exposed, but an SOS comes in from a satellite in trouble)
17. “The Man From MI5”
18. “Cry Wolf” (2 boys playing International Rescue on walkie-talkies accidentally summon Thunderbird 1, but later they need to contact IR for real)
19. “Danger At Ocean Deep” (Thunderbird 2 races to rescue tanker Ocean Pioneer II before a fire aboard reaches its cargo of liquid fuel and substance OD60)
20. “Move And You’re Dead”
21. “The Duchess Assignment” (Lady Penelope is tied up & locked in the basement of a burning house, requiring Virgil in the Mole)
22. “Brink Of Disaster” (Jeff Tracy, Tin-Tin & Brains are on a runaway monorail headed toward a broken section)
23. “Attack Of The Alligators!” (an isolated house in the Amazon is surrounded by giant mutant alligators who got that way from water polluted by discarded growth hormone. This was before the similarly-plotted movies Alligator and Swamp Thing)
24. “Martian Invasion” (no, there are no martians as in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks. IR rescues 2 actors from a cave-in while filming a sci-fi movie, but villain The Hood uses one of the movie cameras to film IR and the race is on to recover the film before he can reveal to the world their secret identities)
25. “The Cham-Cham” (Penelope & Tin-Tin go undercover in the music biz when a rock group is suspected of somehow causing the crashes of American transport rockets)
26. “Security Hazard” (a small boy stows away aboard Thunderbird 2 during a rescue and emerges at the secret hq)
27. “Atlantic Inferno” (an offshore oil rig is on fire while Jeff’s away and Scott is in charge)
28. “Path Of Destruction” (a giant logging machine goes out of control when its crew passes out from food poisoning, cutting a swath thru a town and heading for a dam. Scott, Virgil & Brains must find a way to shut down the machine’s nuclear reactor to stop it)
29. “Alias Mr. Hackenbacker” (Brains invents a new safety device using his real name Hackenbacker and is on board the maiden flight along with Lady Penelope when the plane carrying it is hijacked, requiring its first real test)
30. “Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday” (a solar array powering a resort town is dislodged by a storm, turning the solar concentrator into a death-ray coming closer & closer to the town itself. This was before Christopher Lee invented a solar-powered death-ray in the 007 movie “Man With The Golden Gun”)
31. “Ricochet” (a VJ using a satellite in orbit as a pirate TV station - and a ricochet sound as his sound effect - is threatened by an exploding rocket. Worse, his satellite is now falling out of orbit toward an oil refinery on the ground. Thunderbird 3 is sent to evacuate the satellite so Brains & Virgil can shoot it down)
32. “Give Or Take A Million” (final episode)
MOVIES:

Thunderbirds Are Go (1966)

The Internat. Space Rescue Service heads for Mars in the experimental prototype Zero-X rocket, threatened by saboteurs. Derek Meddings, whose special effects for Moonraker (including a multiple Space Shuttle launch) won an Oscar® and who also did effects for the Thunderbirds series, did the explosive special effects in this early effort. Sequels: Thunderbird 6 (1968), and TV-movies “Thunderbirds To The Rescue”, “Countdown To Disaster”, and “Revenge Of The Mysterons From Mars.” All but the first two were not seen in theaters as far as I know with the possible exception of special fan showings. Anderson made one more feature, the non-Thunderbirds "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun" (1969).
"Thunderbirds" availability on video on DVD and music from Amazon.com

In addition to the 2004 version of "Thunderbirds", another 2004 movie "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (release date September 17, 2004), is said to have been inspired by Gerry Anderson's Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons (1967-68), which featured a secondary character named Captain Blue, an American fighter pilot helping defend Earth against the alien invaders (sounds kinda like Will Smith's character in Independence Day).

Trivia (courtesy the Internet Movie Database)

* The only time Rolls Royce have officially sanctioned the use of their famous vertical grille and spirit of ecstasy was on Lady Penelope's pink 6-wheel Royce. In fact, they sued to stop Volkswagon selling replicas of Rolls Royce's distinctive grill on replacement VW hoods.

* Two vocal theme songs were considered before the famous march was chosen. One of these discarded themes can be heard in the "Rick O'Shay" pirate radio station episode.

* Although never stated directly in any episode, according to Gerry Anderson this series takes place in the same "universe" as "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" and "Stingray." Several marionettes were modeled after the actors providing their voices.

* Each Thunderbirds puppet only had four teeth.

* The opening and closing credits of the first episode ("Trapped In The Sky") differ entirely from the rest of the series: the music arrangements are slightly different (in the closing credits, for example, the music for Thunderbird 1's first launch is used); sound effects are used in the montage (including Kyrano's scream); the Mole is not used as a standard picture in the closing credits. It is the only episode where Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson are credited for writing an episode of Thunderbirds.

* The episode "Security Hazard" features extensive flashback footage from "End of the Road", "Sun Probe", "Trapped in the Sky" and "Day of Disaster" - so extensive, in fact, that it contains only around ten minutes of new material. These episodes were specifically chosen as having originally been filmed as half-hour episodes, writer Alan Pattillo knew that the stories could be more easily condensed down to about ten minutes each.

* In order to increase the realism of the series, close-ups of real human hands were often inserted when a character is shown about to manipulate an object (i.e. open a drawer, cock a gun).

* As an inside joke, the 2004 live-action movie has a scene in which puppet-hands are used in a close-up

* In addition to the close-ups with human hands, three episodes pioneered a technique in which a human hand appeared in the same frame as the puppets.

* There is also the appearance of a human face (or, at least part of one) when Lady Penelope looks through the entrance door of the Bank of England in the episode "Vault Of Death".

* In the episode "Trapped In The Sky", Alan Tracy's voice is completely different from all the other episodes that he appears in. In his single short line of dialogue, he is voiced by Ray Barrett, although Matt Zimmerman (who did Alan's voice for the rest of the series) is credited in the closing titles. (Matt Zimmerman had not yet been asked to do Alan Tracy's voice at the time.)

* On the Christmas episode "Give Or Take A Million", there are calendars indicating that Christmas day is a Sunday, which it actually will be in 2067, when the episode is set.

* The giant television relay tower (featured in the episode "Edge of Impact") is seen to be owned by British Telecommunications Ltd. The use of this company name in the series pre-dated the formation of the real-life British Telecommunications plc (or BT) by nearly twenty years.

* Some of the guest characters were named after real people. For example: Lt. Bob Meddings (seen in the episodes "Trapped In The Sky" and "Operation Crash-dive") was named after visual effects supervisor Derek Meddings. Dr Korda (seen in the episode "Day Of Disaster") was named after Hungarian-born film producer/director Sir Alexander Korda. Lady Penelope's alter ego, Wanda Lamour (from the episode "The Cham-Cham) was named after puppeteer Wanda Brown (née Webb).

* The episode "Operation Crash-Dive" was originally entitled "The Test Crew".

* The music accompanying the journey of the Martian Space Probe in the episode "Day of Disaster" is entitled "The March of the Oysters". Originally composed by Barry Gary for the "Stingray" episode "Secret of the Giant Oyster", the piece is also heard in "30 Minutes After Noon", "The Impostors" and "The Cham-Cham".

* In the episode "Brink of Disaster", a bogus telegram reveals the location of Lady Penelope's mansion in Foxleyheath.

* In the episode "Trapped In The Sky", a short piece of Barry Gray's "Formula Five" track, composed and recorded for "Fireball XL5", can be heard on the monitors in Thunderbird 5.

* In the episode "The Uninvited", the Zombites' jet fighters are adapted and re-sprayed WASP aircraft from "Stingray" (1963).
* In the episode "The Mighty Atom", the teletype printout gives the date on which the atomic cloud is blown away from Melbourne as 6 October and it is then stated that the explosion at the plant took place the previous Monday. If this is 2064, the explosion therefore occurred on 29 September. It is also stated in this episode that International Rescue were not operating when the Australian plant exploded in 2064.

* In the episode "Vault of Death", the City of London Heliport is partially constructed from the remains of "Stingray"'s Marineville Tower.

* The Hood has never been referred to by any name on all but two episodes - "Martian Invasion", where he calls himself Agent 79 in his transmissions to General X, and "Edge Of Impact", where he gives his codename as "671" when he contacts General Bron. "Edge of Impact" is also the only episode in which we see the Hood acting with motives not involving International Rescue.

* The launch of the Sun Probe at the start of the episode "The Perils of Penelope" is the same event that was seen in flashback at the start of the episode "Sun Probe". The events of that episode take place one week after the launch, so this episode takes place immediately before. Indeed, "The Perils of Penelope" and "Sun Probe" can be viewed as Thunderbirds' only two-part story, although they have never been broadcast as consecutive episodes.

* In the episode "The Perils of Penelope", the Anderbad Express monotrain is the same model as the one seen as the Pacific-Atlantic monotrain in "Brink of Disaster"

* The episode "Danger at Ocean Deep" is the only episode in which we see John going on a rescue. He admits that he has been on just a dozen or so rescue missions, while Scott ahs been out on every single one. Therefore, unless Scott is forgetting that he didn't take an active part in the rescue in "The Perils of Penelope", the events of this episode should take place before those of both "The Perils of Penelope" and "Atlantic Inferno".

* The episode "The Perils of Penelope" is the only episode in which we see Scott piloting Thunderbird 1 without his International Rescue uniform - when he returns from leave.

* Two episodes, "The Man from MI.5" and "Attack of the Alligators!", feature the full Thunderbird 4 launch sequence shown from inside Pod 4. In other episodes featuring Thunderbird 4, we have only seen Thunderbird 4 emerging down the ramp from outside the pod door. "The Man from MI.5" is the only episode in which Thunderbird 2 gently rests the pod on the surface of the water and then rises clear of the pod with lifting jets, whereas "Attack of the Alligators" shows Thunderbird 2 lifting from the pod several minutes after landing. Normally, the pod is simply dropped on to the water.

* In "The Duchess Assignment", the Duchess of Royston was based on the distinguished British stage actress Dame Edith Evans, best known for her role as Lady Bracknell in the film version of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (1951). This is reinforced by Ray Barrett's marvellous voice for the character, which understandably had the rest of the cast in stitches at the recording session.

* Often heralded as the series' most memorable episode, "Attack of the Alligators!" features live crocodiles in extensive footage filmed on a model set, a first for the Century 21 production team. During the episode's filming, publicity photos were taken of Lady Penelope (who did not appear in that episode) with a couple of the crocodiles.

* The episode to feature the largest cast of characters (in speaking roles), seen in any single "Thunderbirds" episode or either of the feature films, was "Alias Mr. Hackenbacker", with 20 voices provided by all of the cast members from the second season (Jeremy Wilkin had replaced David Holliday as the voice of Virgil at this time), featuring Paul Maxwell as Captain Ashton, although he was not credited in the end titles.

* The models of the Thunderbird vehicles seen on the table in front of Jeff in the opening scene of "Give or Take a Million" were commercially available at the time of this episode's initial broadcast (25 December, 1966). They are the "Thunderbirds" model toys produced by J. Rosenthal (Toys) Ltd. Unfortunately, Rosenthal's Thunderbird 5 didn't look very much like the genuine article, so it does not appear in this scene.

* It was while doing the Round House (through which Thunderbird 3 would be launched) that Derek Meddings realized that the design of the building was just right for Thunderbird 5, the International Rescue space station. Unable to come up with a convincing design before now, this was the last of the five Thunderbird craft that he created. By adding aerials and transmitters to the Round House, he developed the series' most unusual and effective vehicle, although it was to play only a minor part in the finished program.

* Lady Penelope was once described as "an advertisement for British fashion" by The Sunday Mirror newspaper.

* Issue 65 of "Thunderbirds - the Comic" revealed the Hood's real name as Belah Gaat.

* After Lew Grade, head of ITC, viewed the pilot episode, he remarked, "That's not a television series! That's a feature film!"

* Only 2 episodes were made in which Virgil's vehicle, Thunderbird Two, was not involved in the story's primary rescue - "Terror In New York City" and "The Imposters". "Terror In NYC"'s non-use of Thunderbird Two was forced because the episode was originally made as a half-hour show; when Sir Lew Grade of ITC demanded the series be remade in one-hour format, AP Films had writer Alan Fennell write in the subplot where Thunderbird Two is mistaken for an enemy bomber and attacked by a US warship; ironically, this helped make the episode the one most fondly remembered by original fans of the show; it also explains why this episode needed two directors (David Elliott and David Lane).

* Gerry Anderson's first choice for the voice of Lady Penelope was Fenella Fielding (Valeria in 1966's "Carry On Screaming" aka "Carry On Vampire," and more recently narrator of 1999's Carnival Of Monsters).

* In five episodes, there are newspapers with the date Friday, 24 December 1964 on the front cover, clearly not intended to be seen by viewers. (Oddly enough, 24 December 1964 was a Thursday).

* In the episode "City of Fire", the Thompson Tower is situated in the United States. However, a sign on the wall uses the spelling "Control Centre" instead of "Center".

* In "The Perils of Penelope", the leading car of the Anderbad Express monotrain keeps changing colour, from white and red to silver and blue as it heads towards Lady Penelope - this was because the episode reused stock footage of the monotrain from "Brink Of Disaster", which was of a different color.

* In the episode "Sun Probe", when Alan, Tin-Tin and Scott set off for Thunderbird 3 on the sofa, Alan is on the left, with Tin-Tin between him and Scott. As the sofa descends into the launch bay and ferries the trio to Thunderbird 3, Alan and Scott have swapped positions, but by the time the sofa arrives on board the spacecraft they are in their original positions again.

* In "Vault of Death" Alan and Virgil are initially riding blue and red hoverbikes respectively along the disused London Underground tunnels. In the next shot, they have swapped bikes, but when they arrive at the Bank they have swapped back again.

* In the episode "The Man from M.I.5", Bondson and his colleagues are working in the south of France. However, M.I.5 is an internal British security organization, while M.I.6 deals with external affairs, like confusing the FBI with the CIA.

* In "Atlantic Inferno", it's nighttime on Tracy Island, allegedly in the South Pacific, and on the Seascape oil rig in the North Atlantic, making it sunny on both sides of Earth simultaneously.

* The opening credits include scenes from that week's episode. Gerry Anderson would later reuse this gimmick in "Space: 1999" (1975) and "Space Precinct" (1995).

* The 60-minute episodes have also been syndicated in 30-minute segments.

* When "Thunderbirds" reruns were broadcast on the Fox network in the early-1990s, new music and voices were used for some episodes, which upset a lot of long-time fans of the show. According to ITC, they had to have new vocal and music tracks recorded due to Michael Jackson owning the rights to ITCs music libraries. Edits were also made to remove scenes of characters smoking and drinking, and to shorten the individual episodes to 30 minutes from 60 due to the short attention span of American kids! In 1994, a completely altered version of the series was syndicated under the title "Turbocharged Thunderbirds." Live-action footage of two teenagers in Thunderbird 5 (renamed Hacker Command) was shot, while events from the 1964 series were said to be taking place on "Thunder-World." It was cancelled in 1995.

* Episodes were later edited together into the following made-for-video releases: Thunderbirds: Countdown to Disaster, Thunderbirds in Outer Space, Thunderbirds to the Rescue

* In 2001, several episodes were adapted into audio book format for release on tape and CD.

* Japanese broadcasts replaced the famous instrumental theme in the opening credits with a different recording of the same tune - with Japanese lyrics.

* Tech TV in the US airs the episodes uncut and split in to two parts so that they can air in half hour segments with trivia & commentary pop-ups at the bottom.

"I fail to see why you're still laughing, Virgil. I just don't like mice, that's all" -- Lady Penelope

Trivia for "Thunderbirds Are GO"
* Taglines: "Excitement is GO! Adventure is GO! Danger is GO!"
See ... their fantastic battle with the sinister 'Rock Snakes' of Mars!
See ... the most exciting air rescue ever performed!
See ... the most advanced space-craft ever created! - Hear Cliff Richard and the Shadows sing "Shooting Star"

* The top 60s pop group Cliff Richard and the Shadows "appear" in this film in puppet form, portrayed as future versions of themselves. They perform two songs: an instrumental, and "Shooting Star."

* Although very distinctly different, the appearances of both Scott Tracy and Paul Travers were based on Sean Connery by their respective modellers.

* Crazy Credits - characters and organizations who are depicted in the movie are thanked:
"The producers gratefully acknowledge the co-operation of:
Space Colonel Harris of the Martian Exploration Center, Cape Johnson
Jim Glenn, President of the New World Aircraft Corporation, Designers and Manufacturers of the Zero X
Commander Casey, Commander in Chief, Glenn Field, without whose help this motion picture would not have been possible.
"Martian Sequences filmed by Century 21 Space Location Unit
None of the characters appearing in this photoplay intentionally resemble any persons living or dead...SINCE THEY DO NOT YET EXIST
During the course of the end credits, the band (HM Band of Royal Marines) form the phrase "THE END" by the end of the credits.

SPACE 1999: JOURNEY THROUGH THE BLACK SUN (1982 video)

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)

This was the two-hour pilot for a "Star Trek" ripoff starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain as the commanders of the Moon after it broke off from Earth orbit and went bouncing through space, picking up guest stars along the way. Every week Martin Landau would get mysterious messages from God and save mankind, saying things like "It's a long shot, but it's all we've got." A pretty decent show even though Barbara WHINES all the time. 2 and a half stars

© 2000 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved.

"Space 1999" availability on video on DVD and music from Amazon.com

Trivia (courtesy the Internet Movie Database)

* Teresa Graves was Fred Freiberger's first choice for the role of Maya. Gerry Anderson said his first choice was Catherine Schell.

* Production of the series began in 1973, but the first episode wasn't broadcast until 1975.

* Originally conceived as a new season of "U.F.O." (1970). The plot would have had the aliens from that series trying to destroy SHADO's moonbase by knocking the moon out of orbit.

* Season two of the series differs noticeably from the first, due to a large number of cast changes as well as set redecoration, redesigned uniforms, and a move towards more action-oriented stories.
At the time, this was the most expensive series ever produced for British TV or for syndication.

* Maya's makeup undergoes a subtle change as Season 2 goes on. Initially, she has brown ears as large "sideburns." In later episodes, her ears are normal colored, and her sideburns are thinned out.

* In Britain, the second season was broadcast over the course of two years, with part shown in the autumn/winter of 1976-77, then a season break until August 1977, with new episodes running into the fall. The final two episodes were broadcast months apart in 1978.

* A third season of 13 episodes was planned, with production set to start in the autumn of 1977, however low sales of the series in America forced a last-minute cancellation.

* Barry Morse decided to leave after the first season had ended and the explanation given for his character's (Professor Bergman) absence was that he died after his artificial heart failed.

* In one episode, the crew encounters a probe that was intended to explore Jupiter. The probe was christened Voyager, which, subsequently, was the name given to a pair of probes launched from Earth in the late 1970s and later figured into the plot of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

Catherine Schell made a guest appearance in the episode "Guardian of Piri" before taking on the role of Maya in the second season.

* All of the Italian male guest stars of the first season were dubbed by Robert Rietty

* To date, this is the only live-action series produced by Gerry Anderson that has survived more than one season.

* A number of syndicated and video-released TV movies were created by editing together assorted episodes. Titles include: Alien Attack Cosmic Princess Destination: Moonbase Alpha Journey Through the Black Sun

* In 1999, a special 7-minute film called "Message From Moonbase Alpha" was created for showing at a Space: 1999 convention held on Sept. 13, 1999 -- the day the moon was blasted out of earth orbit. Original series actress Zienia Merton appears as her character Sandra in this short, written by series writer Johnny Byrne. The film takes place 20 years after the time of the series, and has Sandra recording a final message as the crew of Moonbase Alpha prepares to abandon the moon once and for all.

* The first episode of season two, "The Metamorph," was first broadcast in the US in a slightly different edit than that shown in Britain and later syndication. During the original run, many American stations cut key scenes from the episodes in order to fit time slots. The Sci-Fi Channel reruns of "Space: 1999" were reportedly heavily edited. When the first two episodes were edited into the TV-movie, "Alien Attack," several additional scenes were filmed using non-regulars.

* The North American DVD release includes footage not included in original US broadcasts.

* In Germany for unknown reasons only 30 episodes were dubbed by the ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), the other 18 have never been broadcast. Many of the shown episodes were cut by up to 10 minutes. The main theme by Barry Gray (season 1)/Derek Wadsworth (season 2) was deleted from all episodes, instead "Oxygene Part 2" by Jean-Michel Jarre was used. The introductions which came before the main titles were also deleted.

* Journey Through The Black Sun was originally released on video in the US with a risque introduction by Sybil Danning, as part of the Adventure Video series. Withdrawn from circulation after Martin Landau and Barbara Bain threatened legal action. Producer Sylvia Anderson was replaced in the 2nd season by Star Trek's Fred Freiberger, which fans believe doomed the increasingly silly episodes

* Space 1999 ran 48 episodes and was a hit in the U.S., France, Japan & Italy. Ironically, it never had a major following in Britain.

* Special effects were by Brian Johnson of "2001: A Space Odyssey"

* Gerry Anderson's next live-action series was "Space Precinct" (1994) starring Ted Shackelford of "Dallas" fame as a New York cop assigned to another planet. Each of the 24 episodes cost $1,500,000 to produce and the cast included full size aliens & robotics Anderson called "galactronics." An unaired 1987 pilot called "Space Police" starred puppet voice-actor Shane Rimmer as a U.K. cop attempting to stop an assassination attempt while the President of Earth is on a monorail, by bad guys named V. Lann & E. Vile

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© Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved.
Some of the information above comes from The Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction by Roger Fulton & John Betancourt, published by Boxtree Ltd; Macmillan Pubs. Ltd., London. Reprinted in the US by Warner Books for the Sci-Fi Channel.

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