In the latest edition of the Security Hazard Podcast, Jack and Andrew discuss their fond memories of the Century 21 Studios at Stirling Road on the Slough Trading Estate, following the area’s recent demolition. The pair also share their thoughts on Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet and the exciting news that the series is being given new life thanks to an upcoming release on blu-ray! All this and more on the Security Hazard Podcast. You can listen on YouTube, or download from SoundCloud to enjoy the show where ever you are!
Exciting changes are happening here at Security Hazard HQ! Some exciting new regular features are going into action and you can enjoy the humble beginnings of these projects right now:
Security Hazard Unwrapped
A new video series which sees me diving into the uncharted depths of my collection of Gerry Anderson memorabilia. After a recent move across the Atlantic Ocean, my assortment of models, games, toys, books, and much more currently reside in boxes wrapped up in newspaper. It seemed only fitting that I would open up these surprise goodies on camera for your enjoyment. Take a trip back in time, or feast your eyes on pieces of merchandise from the worlds of Gerry Anderson that you may have never seen.
You can watch the first episode by clicking here.
The Security Hazard Podcast
Join Gerry Anderson blogger Andrew Clements and myself on an exciting adventure into the unknown. The Security Hazard Podcast sees two Thunder-Nerds talk about all things Anderson. Need something to listen to at work or on your commute? Give this a go!
We hope you enjoy these exciting new projects, and don’t worry, we’ll still be writing articles and reviews right here on the blog!
Happy New Year to you all! Welcome to the first post on this blog for 2017. It’s going to be something a little bit different. As well as taking a personal reflection on everything the Security Hazard blog has achieved since it launched in May of 2016, I would also like to take this opportunity to look forward and let you in on what to expect from this little corner of the internet in 2017 – things are changing, but we’ll get to that later.
Last Friday marked this blog’s 50th post since I began writing on May 26th, 2016. I never thought it would get this far. I had no plan for what I was going to do, I just knew that I would need an outlet for all my Gerry Anderson ramblings after moving from the UK to the USA and leaving behind the wonderful Official Gerry Anderson blog (although I’m still involved in the background here and there.)
There have been so many highlights. I was inundated with kind comments when I reviewed the three Thunderbirds 1965 episodes. They remain a popular source of information for people who haven’t had a chance to see the episodes. I’m grateful to the Pod 4 Films team for allowing me to explore their work in such detail and for supporting me in doing so.
These reviews led to my utterly bonkers idea to analyse every single classic episode of Thunderbirds in the same intense level of detail every week. I have been publishing reviews for 19 weeks solidly every Friday and am enjoying the experience a great deal. I have learnt so much about the production of the original series just from analysing the episodes closely and putting pieces of the jigsaw together. It’s certainly been a challenge to write several thousand words every week about my favourite show, but the process is incredibly rewarding and has managed to change my way of looking at a number of episodes that I didn’t originally have a high opinion of. I’m still learning, but 19 weeks in I think I’m beginning to work out what makes this very imperfect series so incredibly good.
Along with those reviews have been the articles published every Monday which have ranged from being incredibly silly to being very insightful about various other Gerry Anderson works. Highlights have included achieving my dream of reviewing the lost pilot show The Investigator and having people actually read it, exploring my hopes for the 50th Anniversary of Captain Scarlet (and learning that some of them might just happen), and creating some fiendishly difficult quizzes for you all to enjoy. I also recently experimented with putting a Gerry Anderson themed gaming video together for the blog which seems to have gone down a treat.
So with 2017 now upon us, will anything be changing? For one very simple reason I have to say that it will. The day after this post goes up, I will be starting a new full time job. It came about very suddenly after Christmas, leaving me with very little time to make any plans. I am excited about the opportunity this job will bring to make life for my family a little more comfortable. But it also means that I just don’t have as much time on my hands as I used to. The time has come to prioritise and fine tune this blog to make sure I can cope with the workload and keep up the good quality writing that I believe I have created so far.
For the moment, therefore, I will cease regularly posting weekly articles on Mondays about general topics. The weekly Thunderbirds reviews on Fridays will, however, continue as before. The Thunderbirds reviews are the real heart and soul of this blog and it would be wrong to abandon or slow up on them now. That is not to say that writing about any other topic is out of the question – new blog posts may come out from time to time when special events occur, but I would not want people to expect them regularly. What I can try to promise is that the Thunderbirds reviews will continue to be published every week. Of course, assuming that happens, in around 3 months time I’ll be looking for something new and produced by Gerry Anderson to explore. Start submitting your ideas now for what you might like to see, and if you’re really lucky I might just be mad enough to do it.
I’m also considering doing more special videos ocassionally. You see, as well as bringing myself to the U.S. several months ago I also shipped over my enormous collection of Gerry Anderson memorabillia from across the years which need to be unboxed. Let me know if that’s something you would be interested in seeing in a video series!
Thank you all so much for supporting the Security Hazard blog during 2016. It has grown into something better than I had ever anticipated and it wouldn’t have continued if it hadn’t been for those of you who come back and read my musings every week. I hope you continue to enjoy what this blog has to offer as we blast into 2017!
Actor Robert Vaughn, best known in Gerry Anderson circles as the star of The Protectors, passed away on Friday, aged 83. He had been suffering from leukaemia for a short time and was surrounded by his family when he died.
The Man From UNCLE gave him his most well-remembered role as secret agent Napoleon Solo, but his career as a Hollywood star was long and illustrious. He was a big name by the time he came to England to make The Protectors in 1972. It’s fair to say that expectations about how the production would go were not met for Vaughn, or for producer Gerry Anderson.
The basic premise for the series was devised not by Anderson but Lew Grade who gave it to the newly formed Group Three Productions to develop. The Protectors was a traditional ITC action-adventure series which saw three wealthy heroes travel all over Europe to protect innocents from criminal activity. Certainly not the usual science fiction or fantasy escapades of a typical Gerry Anderson production. Grade even had a part in casting two of the three leads, one of whom was Robert Vaughn as the main protector, Harry Rule.
Production on the series required constant travel throughout Europe, something which Anderson had not co-ordinated since his days working with Nicholas Parsons on the travel documentary Blue Skies Ahead in 1960. The travel schedule for The Protectors was, however, much more punishing and chaotic. So high was the cost of all this location shooting that the decision was taken to shoot on 16mm film rather than 35mm, reducing the quality of the series from the pristine standard set by previous Anderson series.
There was friction behind the scenes between Robert Vaughn and those running the show including Gerry Anderson and Lew Grade. Robert Vaughn’s business partner, Sherwood Price, was part of the problem, but Vaughn had openly voiced his dissatisfaction with the crew, almost leading to Gerry and ATV sueing him, and Vaughn threatening to return to California. A later interview revealed that he was particularly unhappy about the slow pace of shooting and the union rules which governed how much work could be done in a day. Anderson thought Vaughn acted like a Hollywood prima donna, refusing to get along with the other actors. Eventually the tension eased and work was able to continue. Along with many a stressful situation, there were also some happy times during the production as the cast and crew travelled across Europe to complete the glamorous series.
The writing of the show was very restricted by the fact that episodes were only half an hour long, often making the plots very simple and stripped of complex storytelling or characterisation. Vaughn later said that The Protectors was “tasteless junk.” Indeed, the series was very much a case of style over substance, and if you’re not too keen on the 1970’s kitsch style then there isn’t much left to appeal.
Despite all this, The Protectors was very popular and earned itself a second season giving the series a total of 52 episodes broadcast between 1972-1974.
Like many other Anderson fans, I must admit to previously giving the series a wide berth. I only recently got hold of the series on DVD but haven’t gotten around to watching it particularly attentively. When the news of broke of Robert Vaughn’s passing I decided to watch a few carefully selected episodes. The first episode, 2000ft to Die; The First Circle guest-starring Ed Bishop ; … With A Little Help From My Friends penned by Sylvia Anderson and her only major contribution to the series; It Could Be Practically Anywhere On The Island directed by Robert Vaughn himself; and Zeke’s Blues which was written by and guest starred Shane Rimmer.
It was certainly a varied bunch with all sorts of different antics going on, some of them thrilling, some of them a bit nonsensical, and one of them complete and utter rubbish. In all cases Robert Vaughn appears to give the best performance that he possibly can given the material. Had the episodes been twice as long they probably would have been able to offer complex stories and bold style. The latter was chosen over the former in most cases. Vaughn does, however, play the part of Harry Rule well and tries where he can to give him some personality and depth when the scripts allow. I can understand Vaughn’s disappointment with the show. The Protectors was his chance to make a name for himself globally as an absolute superstar. He was ready to come over to Europe and work hard on a series that would enable him to demonstrate his acting ability to an even wider audience. Instead he was with a crew that he perhaps felt didn’t work as hard as they should and scripts that didn’t give him much of a chance to shine. And that’s the thing, when the scripts are good and give him plenty to work with, you can tell he’s really engaged in giving a good performance, putting ego aside to work hard and do a decent job.
Then you have the likes of the episode It Could Be Practically Anywhere On The Island which is about nothing but ego, and not just Vaughn’s. He may have directed the episode but it was clearly orchestrated very heavily by his apparently tasteless business partner, Sherwood Price with whom Gerry Anderson and many others took issue with during the production. The episode is complete garbage from beginning to end and is a reflection of how bad things could have gotten if Gerry Anderson and Lew Grade hadn’t kept firm control over the series. It Could Be Practically Anywhere On The Island is not a fair representation of what The Protectors was about or trying to achieve. Robert Vaughn was undeniably the star of the show and the best episodes of the series allow him to do with that without a lot of fuss. His co-stars, Nyree Dawn Porter and Tony Anholt supported him well and gave Vaughn the strength of being the star, but also allowed him to shine as part of an ensemble.
Many years later, starting in 2004, Robert Vaughn worked in the UK on the BBC series Hustle, playing experienced grifter Albert Stroller with many other talented British actors forming a team of con-artists. If you haven’t seen this show before, I heartily recommend you take a look at it. It’s an ITC series for the 21st Century, wrapped up in fantastic plots, great characters, strong performances, and plenty of thrilling intrigue and humour. Vaughn is wonderful as the loveable Albert and gives the character such authority and charm that you can’t take your eyes off him. Hustle is an absolute gem and gave Vaughn the scripts that he deserved. Like The Protectors, it gave him an ensemble that he worked extremely well with.
You may love, loathe, or be completely indifferent to The Protectors, but Robert Vaughn certainly had a great presence on screen and was able to carry the show well despite some of its flaws. His charisma was apparent in so much of his work, and the fact that he kept working until the very end of his life demonstrates his passion for film and television and striving to keep working hard.
All 32 episodes of the classic Thunderbirds series are to be reviewed, poked and prodded every Friday right here on the Security Hazard blog.
Following the arrival of the new-ish Thunderbirds blu-ray boxset from Shout Factory on my doorstep, I have decided to share my marathon of these beautifully restored high-definition episodes with all of you as part of a new, regular feature on the blog.
Thunderbirds is a brilliant and incredibly well-made series which stands up fantastically well all these years later. It’s not perfect, but it is charming and utterly thrilling to watch. I absolutely love it and over the course of these reviews I hope you’ll learn why.
I’ll be studying the episodes closely, with a focus on highlighting interesting facts and trivia about the episodes that I have come to learn over the years, and learnt for the first time with this new blu-ray release. As well as all the stunning attention to detail and artistic brilliance that appears on screen, I’ll also be highlighting some of the flaws and imperfections that serve to make the series charming, endearing and frustrating at times! All comments will be made out of my love and affection for the series – good and bad!
The commentaries will also feature lots of snapshots from the episodes and the articles will follow a similar style to my earlier Thunderbirds 1965 posts and the two-part Investigator review.
So for those of you who closely follow the Security Hazard blog here’s the new schedule:
Mondays: Business as usual – a mixture of fun articles and reviews on all aspects of the worlds of Gerry Anderson.
Fridays: Thunderbirds reviews.
Here are some additional facts about the upcoming reviews:
The boxset in use: ‘Thunderbirds: The Complete Series’ on Blu-ray from Shout Factory – Region A. This set is affordable and much improved from the 2008 UK release on Blu-ray which crops the episodes from 4:3 to 16:9. The Shout Factory set is rather lacking in special features (the Launching Thunderbirds documentary leaves a lot to be desired), but the improved image quality of the episodes makes up for that.
The episode order: I’ll be going through the episodes in ‘production order’ as listed here. This is the order in which the episodes appear on the boxset. The original broadcast order is used on the 2008 UK Blu-ray and previous DVD releases. Whilst the order the episodes were produced in is somewhat up for debate owing to the chaotic shooting schedule, the commonly accepted ‘production order’ does roughly demonstrates how work on the series progressed. It shows the evolution of the original half-hour episodes, as well as changes in story and character focus. The broadcast order is a tad mixed up for my tastes. Neither order is perfect but for the purpose of these articles, production order is more useful.
The length of the reviews: The main reason why I’m making these Thunderbirds reviews their own feature is because each blog post is likely to be a few thousand words long and won’t be to everyone’s tastes – although my hope is that Thunderbirds fans everywhere will enjoy digging into the nitty-gritty details along with me.
So this Friday we’re kicking off good and proper with Trapped In The Sky… no pressure…
Take a look at this beautifully restored clip from the Terrahawks episode Gunfight at Oaky’s Corral. This clip comes from the upcoming HD release of Terrahawks on blu-ray. This summer, Network will be releasing the first 13 episodes which make up series 1.
Click on the image below to see the clip:
As you can see, the quality is so much crisper and cleaner than the DVD release which utilised video tape copies as their source. The source for this blu-ray release are recently rediscovered original film prints.
Looking forward to more clips like this from the Gerry Anderson YouTube channel and the release of the first series!