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Monday, December 28, 2015

'The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson':' 2 Discs of Rarities from 'Thunderbirds' and 'Space:1999' Creator

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Region-4 DVD set from Australia will not play on standard U.S. DVD players; you will need an easily purchased international player.]

As the recent review on the documentary "Filmed in Supermarionation" mentions, the Madman Entertainment November 2015 2-disc DVD set of "The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson" is a companion release to the documentary about that creator of the titular animation process. The classic Anderson '60s series "Thunderbirds" is the best-known example of this uniting of marionettes and animation.

The concept of "Worlds" and the material that it contains evokes great thoughts of the (sadly discontinued) DVD compilations of Saturday morning kids' shows by Sid and Marty Krofft. Those releases that offer collections of things such as single episodes of shows such as "The Lost Saucer" and "Far Out Space Nuts" provide some consolation regarding no releases of complete series sets in any country.

The following YouTube clip of a "Worlds" trailer offers a great glimpse of the rarities and the similarities between Anderson et les freres Krofft.

The titular worlds are lost in the sense that they are rarities that awesomely showcase both the talent and range of Anderson. This group starts with a traditional roughly 30-minute travelogue that advertises a tour of Italy and Spain by the Blue Cars travel agency. This well-done film shows that Anderson does just as well coloring within the lines as he is at creating brave new realities.

A very cute (and equally bizarre) animated short "Here Comes Kandy" is an episode of an early Anderson series. The difficulty that befalls our very cuddly and sweet Koala Bear hero this time is trying to overcome the efforts of the very bizarre Teletubbies like Bunny Babes to thwart the efforts of Kandy to complete a home repair. The child-friendly sadistic revenge by Kandy and odd response of the Babes to this will highly entertain adults.

The next entry "The Investigator" incorporates elements of "Thunderbirds" and other Anderson supermarionation productions. The titular alien is a do-gooder who transforms (willing but presumably non-voluntary) American teens John and Julie into living Ken and Barbie dolls to make earth a better place to live. This live-action show is entertaining and well produced; leaving the dolls simply lying around when our Scooby duo is being stealthy or simply motionless provides great unintentional humor.

The spot-on animated film-noir spoof "Dick Spanner: PI" is a fall-on-the-floor funny short with puns galore. The first (and arguably best) wordplay  has our aptly named hard-boiled tool commenting on literally freezing his nuts off.

"The Day After Tomorrow: Into Infinity" (but not beyond) from 1975 deserves inclusion in the shouldabeenaseries sub-group of the TV pilots in the The Britannia Film Collection that Madman operates (and that Unreal TV adores). This homage to "Lost in Space" has British family the Bowens launch on a mission to Alpha Centauri. Unlike the Robinsons of "Space," the Bowens achieve that part of their mission before things go horribly awry in a manner that adds elements of "Star Trek: Voyager."

"Worlds" further encompasses the Anderson scifi creation "Space Police," which is an earlier version of the series "Space Precinct." The full-length pilot has our New York cop turned galactic crimefighter trying to thwart an evil scheme by a Jabba the Huttesque crime boss (complete with a Petee Lorre clone flunky). The bonus material on the second disc includes test footage and other material from that episode.

Madman deserves great praise for unearthing and awesomely unearthing these true auteur masterpieces. More work from someone who is as talented as Anderson is always a good thing.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Worlds" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.