August 22, 2013

Sixties TV – it was different if you were under 12

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 14:14

James Lileks looks at a few Gerry Anderson productions:

The Sixties - different under 12

Gerry Anderson! You’re going to get everything you need for crackerjack adolescent-satisfying sci-fi: spaceships, shuttlecrafts, computers, control rooms, crisp commanding officers, futuristic gadgets, and a big score. And none of it will work half as well as you hoped. The spaceships will look great, though. The computers will blink and there will be switches, but nothing makes Star Trek Sounds. The control rooms are clean but everyone is talking in a British accent for some reason, like they have their own NASA that’s just as big. The gadgets are okay. The score has a trademark echoey quality you found in soundtracks, particularly British ones, from the late 60s to the early 70s. It should be good! Why isn’t it great?

I’ve pondered that mystery for a long time. Sometimes you have a revelation — hey, the founding concept of “Space: 1999 was really stupid” — or you carp about the details, wondering why the UFO interceptors went hunting with one (1) missile that required a direct hit to be effective, instead of just blowing the hell out of the area. Then you realize it’s not great because it’s all the work of someone who made horribly grinning square-headed puppets, that’s why, and never stopping thinking he was making entertainment for 8 years olds.


The title theme is here, complete with oddly romantic piano interlude. It’s every Barry Grey piece that ever left me cold, right there. In general I just don’t feel Barry Grey’s music — except for the opening of the “Space 1999” theme before it goes full whacka-chicka, and of course that other theme. Here’s a guy who wrote miles and miles of scores for things like “Supercar,” for heaven’s sake, and he turns around and knocks off the tightest, sharpest theme of the 70s.

Still, Laurie Johnson was better.

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