Quick DVD Review – ‘Fireball XL5’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

I’m currently watching ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’ on DVD, which I had for Christmas last year. Whilst I’m watching that, let me share with you my thoughts on another Gerry Anderson TV series I’ve finished checking out. I’ve seen the series ‘Fireball XL5’ on DVD and I’ve greatly enjoyed it!

Gerry Anderson is well-known for creating shows like ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Stingray’. Most of these shows were created with his wife Sylvia Anderson. ‘Fireball XL5’ was made after the series ‘Supercar’. It was shown from October 1962 to October 1963. It’s mostly featured in black-and-white.

The series is about the missions of Fireball XL5, a vessel of the World Space Patrol that polices the cosmos in the year 2062. Commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac, XL5 defends the Earth from interstellar threats whilst encountering a wide variety of alien civilisations – some nice, some hostile.

I purchased the complete series of ‘Fireball XL5’ for my Dad on his birthday back in November 2019. It’s taken us about three years to watch all the 39 episodes of the series. Sometimes, the series can be a bit samey with its various missions in the episodes, but they are pretty enjoyable all the same. 🙂

Steve Zodiac is voiced by Paul Maxwell. He would do a number of Gerry Anderson-productions in later years, including an episode of ‘Thunderbirds’; playing Captain Paul Travers in the ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ film, and star in ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’. Zodiac is the dashing heroic type in this.

He’s joined by Dr. Venus (voiced by Sylvia Anderson, who would later voice Lady Penelope in ‘Thunderbirds’). There’s also Professor Matthew ‘Matt’ Matic (voiced by David Graham, who would voice characters in Gerry Anderson productions, such as Brains and Gordon Tracy in ‘Thunderbirds’).

There’s Robert the Robot (voiced by an uncredited Gerry Anderson in the series). I didn’t find Robert to be that interesting, especially when he repeated orders said to him by Zodiac and Matic in rather monotonous tones. He’s certainly no Data from ‘Star Trek: TNG’ or Isaac from ‘The Orville’. 😀

There’s Zoonie the Lazoon (voiced by David Graham), who is Venus’ alien pet. Zoonie gave me the inspiration to create Bazoon ‘Bazooie’ the Miggie in my ‘Doctor Who’ Short Trip stories featuring the Fourth Doctor and James Darby, including ‘The Dimension Serpents’ and ‘Lady and the Soldier’. 🙂

The series also features Commander Wilbur Zero (voiced by John Bluthal) and Lieutenant Ninety (voiced by David Graham). Zero became gruff and a bit of a bully in the series. He has a good heart, but very often, Lt. Ninety was often at the receiving end of Commander Zero’s scathing attitude here.

There are familiar names in terms of the writing of some of the episodes in the ‘Fireball XL5’ series. One of them is Dennis Spooner, who would go on to be a script editor of ‘Doctor Who’ during the William Hartnell era. There’s also Alan Fennell, who would later pen ten episodes of ‘Thunderbirds’.

The series does feel atmospheric when shot in black-and-white. On the DVD set my parents and I have, one of the episodes ‘A Day in the Life of a Space General’ is colourised as a special feature. It was fun to see that episode in colour, especially when it features Lt. Ninety becoming a space general.

‘Fireball XL5’ has been an enjoyable series to check out. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as ‘Thunderbirds’ and it’s more on the lines of ‘Stingray’, especially with each episode being half-an-hour in length. But I enjoyed the 1960s-styled atmosphere of the future. The characters are also likeable and endearing.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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