It's fun and often educational to revisit something you liked as a kid and haven't seen for a few decades. Sometimes, the visit — and
it can be to a favorite toy, food, TV show, movie or any number of things — causes me to wonder what was on my even-less-developed-than-now mind.
It's not just that I don't like it now. I can't even fathom how I was able to stand it back then. Not long ago, I tried to watch some of the
Superman cartoons produced by Filmation in 1966 and they joined a list of shows that I'd swear have been completely remade in order to lower
their quality since I first saw them.
On the other mitt, I just watched a few installments of Supercar and enjoyed it...up to a point. Supercar was the first
of the Gerry Anderson "Supermarionation" shows from Great Britain to make it to Los Angeles television...and, as I was later to learn, it was the
show that put him and his company on the map. Later, they produced Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds and other shows in which
marionettes had exciting adventures, usually piloting incredible machinery throughout the universe. It was about the time Stingray came on
that I realized that the creation of every Gerry Anderson show probably began with someone asking the question, "Okay, we need another premise where
our characters won't have to walk too much." Anderson's puppetry wizards had invented ways to make their players' mouths move enough that I could
pretend the heroes were speaking, and the strings were visible but not so much that you couldn't ignore them. What they never quite mastered was how
to make their cast members walk more than a step or two. Even when hidden from the waist down behind something, that's when they really reminded you
they were puppets. (I also noticed early-on that they never walked through doors. They'd "walk" to the open door and stop and then the camera would
This limitation led to the early Anderson shows all revolving around vehicles...like Supercar, in which the heroic Mike Mercury
flew about for much of each adventure. Mr. Mercury was the test pilot of this incredible contraption that could fly and go underwater and once in a
boring while, even zoom across dry land. He and his crew lived and worked out in the Nevada test flats...and just who they worked for was never made
clear. Still, they kept testing their invention and the evil Masterspy kept trying to steal it, and though you'd see the same puppets and the same
stock footage over and over, it was a lot of fun if taken in small-enough doses. Even when I was ten and they were on five nights a week on Channel
Nine, I found it too repetitive to watch every day...but once or twice a week was fine. The other days, I'd watch a competing show, though often I'd
catch the wonderful Supercar theme song and then flip over to the Popeye cartoons on Channel Five.
Before a friend sent me the new DVD set, I'm
guessing it had been a good 41 years since I'd seen an episode of Supercar. I watched one and liked it a lot. Then I watched the second and it
was okay, I guess, but too similar to the first to really enjoy. This is one of the hazards of these collections where you get complete seasons or
the complete run of a show all at once. The programs weren't made to be viewed back-to-back and seeing them that way is like seeing the magician
vanish the rabbit again. The second time, you see where it goes and you'd almost rather not. So I think I'll wait a few weeks before I watch a third
Supercar from this set, and I'll probably limit my future viewings to one a month. There were 39 episodes and they're all in this 5-DVD
package so it'll hold me for a couple years and then I can start on The Complete Fireball XL5. It might be even better if I could
put 41 years between viewings but I don't think that's practical.