DVD Review: Supercar (The Complete Series)

When the Comedy Channel arrived in 1989, the afternoon time slot was devoted to The Higgins Boys & Gruber. Dave Higgins (Malcolm In the Middle), Steve Higgins (sidekick on The Tonight Show and Gruber (Freaks and Geeks) would sit around a kitchen table smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and watching slightly freakish kid shows from the ’60s. Supercar proved to be rather popular since it featured a cast that moved around with strings. The slacker generation got a taste of the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation. Now all 39 episodes are a part of Supercar: The Complete Series.

Supercar marked a major shift for Gerry Anderson and his company. For three years, Anderson had produced three different series that were only 15 minutes long episodes. He needed to step up his game. Anderson hooked up with Sir Lew Grade of ATV to fund his first 30 minute series. Grade would end up backing for Gerry’s Supermarionation series that would dominate the ’60s. This would also mark Gerry Anderson marrying Sylvia and the duo would collaborate on all their shows until Space: 1999. Supercar set up the magic the Andersons delivered with miniature action adventure that filled the small screen.

“Rescue” takes us to a secret lab in Black Rock, Nevada. Scientists Rudolph Popkiss and Horatio Beaker are putting the finishing touches on their latest creation simply known as Supercar. Since the duo are a couple of brainiacs, test pilot Mike Mercury is brought into pilot the revolutionary vehicle. While they’re figuring out the rocket system, a private plane piloted by astronaut Bill Gibson, his little brother Jimmy and a chimp named Mitch crashes into the ocean. The trio are stranded without much help. Things get worse when Mitch tosses the survival food and water into the drink. Once they get Supercar ready for launch, Mitch heads out on a rescue mission. Not to spoil too much about the show, but Jimmy and Mitch end up moving into the lab. This means plenty of adventures involving a boy and his chimp screwing up things. A lot of times they must battle off the espionage plots from sinister Masterspy.

The Supermarionation elevates the show from a mere kiddie program. The figures have large heads that are rather expressive with mechanically controlled eyes, eyebrows and mouth. They’re more expressive than the cast of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The sets and locations are all tiny versions of the futuristic world where chimps are allowed to fly around on supersonic rocket cars. The show does set the tone for the productions to follow including Thunderbirds. The only thing missing is the Higgins Boys and Gruber arguing about how they’d get rid of Mitch and Jimmy in a lab accident.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers might look scratched up, but that’s just the strings on the actors. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The voices, music and effects sound sharp.

Audio Commentary has Sylvia Anderson on “Rescue.” She recounts the start of her company’s artistic run with Lew Grade.

Gerry Anderson Interview: Supercar (12:10) lets him discuss how they made elements for the show including the original Supercar model.

Derek Meddings: The Man and His Miniatures (29:12) lets his coworkers discuss the special effects genius who helped Gerry Anderson make Supermarionation work. There’s lots of behind the scenes photographs of the models and “actors.” Derek would go on to work on the James Bond films and Batman. Among those testifying is Oscar winning effects supervisor Brian Johnson (Alien & The Empire Strikes Back) who got his start with Anderson’s production company. Meddings passed away in the ’90s.

Supercar: The Complete Series launched Gerry Anderson into international fame with his Supermarionation technique. The show is fantastic fun with an amazing car zipping around the globe with a chimp ready for action.

Timeless Media Group presents Supercar: The Complete Series. Starring: Sylvia Anderson, Graydon Gould, David Graham, George Murcell & Cyril Shaps. Boxset contents: 39 episodes on 5 DVDs. Released: May 12, 2015.

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