Thursday, December 04, 2014

DVD REVIEW...SPACE PATROL 3-disc set (Barkview)

Don Fellman was tellin' me over 'n over about this faux-Supermarionation series for years on end, and although his mem'ry about it was what we shall call "fuzzy" what he did remember was down to earth amazing for a man of his advanced age! Here he hadn't seen the series for a good fiftysome years, and the guy was doing these impressions of the show's Martian sidekick Husky's "I'm hungry" routine with an unbelievable resemblance to the rill thing! However, for some strange reason Don thought that the show was filmed in Germany---in his Howdy Doody voice Don once mimicked the by-then unemployed marionette saying "I'd get a job on PLANET PATROL (the show's USA title since there already was a show called SPACE PATROL o'er here even if it had been off the air a good seven years) only I don't know what country that's made in!" and you can just betcha that I was rolling on the floor laughing even harder'n the time my cousin's dog started getting amorous on her leg and cous was yelling at me saying how terrible I was for showing my true feelings over this rather embarrassing situation!

Dunno which came first, the FIREBALL XL-5 chicken or the SPACE PATROL egg, but if you really went for the former with all of your suburban ranch house Saturday Morning slob inclinations firmly intact you'll most certainly go for the latter. From the imitation "Space City" to the flying motor scooters SPACE PATROL has FIREBALL written all over it and you won't mind one bit. If its early sixties fun and jamz you want this'll help you just as much as having your next door neighbor come over and break all your tootsietoys not to mention the resultant scratch 'n bite out you two'll be engaged in as a result.

You can also tell where the producers took a lotta shortcuts to keep costs down (like the animated space ship scenes), but who cares if the end result's a boffoid program that really sates that repressed ten-year-old in you who sure wished you could have watched top notch television like this when you were a kid, only by that time everything hadda be peace and love with bell bottoms to match!

Even the characters themselves seem to have come straight from the fevered imagination of Gerry Anderson from the hard-nosed by-the-books space commander who kinda looks like Mose Allison as opposed to Barry Goldwater to the sexy Venusian secretary who, along with fellow Venusian Slim, acts as the show's proto-Spock faction spewing forth reams of rational thought and the usual five dollar words. Fellow Patrolman Husky, the Martian Don imitated so well, is more comic relief akin to Ito on ULTRAMAN...a credit to the force yet you kinda wonder which well-connected uncle got this comparative dim bulb his job! And as for the show's star Larry Dart well...I gotta say that he does fill the Steve Zodiac role well enough but sheesh, why did they give him that long hair and beard in 1962 anyway??? I know this show was supposed to be about the future, but we're talking 2100 not 1969! He looks more like a Shakespearean actor or even Papa John Phillips than a rough 'n tumble spaceman but hey, given some of the pussies that pose for youth role models these days he's a whole lot better'n what was to come! Maybe they were planning on doing a "Supermarionation" ROBIN HOOD series and got stuck with this puppet before revamping the entire concept.

There are more marionettes to contend with from this Irish scientist who seems genial enough yet flies into a rage when his cute daughter calls him "Pops" to a Martian parrot who ain't as irritating as that Zuni on FIREBALL but you still wanna cement his beak anyway, and of course it all works out fine even if you know that the director is straining to save precious pounds by having characters talk about occurrences rather than actually show them. But that's only part of the charm behind these early-sixties crank outs and hey, what do four-year-olds plopped in front of the set with a bowl of Cap'n Crunch half-splattered on the carpet care about these things anyway?

One thing I gotta admit's got SPACE PATROL beating out the Andersons is the fact that 1) these shows actually have fight scenes where the puppets sock each other out via quick edit cuts and 2) the puppeteers actually can get their marionettes to WALK in a halfway believable way unlike the competition. Yeah, I even remember back when I was a mere turdler imitating the way the supermarionettes on SUPERCAR and FIREBALL walked by bobbing up and down, but somehow SPACE PATROL's characters actually move the legs and bend the knees and ankles when traipsing from one part of the planet sphere to the next! Things like these really do make up for the other budget consciousness shortcuts seen here, but then again even """""I""""" plopped in front of the set with a bowl of Cap'n Crunch half-splattered on the carpet could've care one whit and I get the feeling maybe you would have felt the same way too.

And one final note...the theme/incidental music is truly (to be nice 'n cornballus about it) "out of this world"! Sure the Anderson programs had that boffo Barry Gray jazzy music blaring all over the soundtrack but in comparison SPACE PATROL is total avant garde electronic that kinda sounds more fit for yet another PBS showing of METROPOLIS! Nothing but seemingly random Varese-influenced bloops and bleeps along with simple clavioline tones whenever the space sphere is taking our heroes to some distant planet. The mere soundtrack alone would make a boffo album and not only that, but it makes me want to hear some of the early avant garde compositions from a whole lotta schnooks who never did get the same notoriety as John Cage or Stockhausen, perhaps because they were doing their bleeping in Sioux City or Melbourne rather'n some music capitol of the world! And if those sounds were to be the "music of the future" then why does the gunk we hear here in the early 21st century just sound like Patti Page filtered through Captain and Tennille? Goes to show you just how advanced these folks were...I mean, when I was a kid I thought we woulda all been driving Supercars by 1978 at the latest!

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