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“Fireball XL5 - A Day In The Life Of A Space General” - {Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Taylor Carlson
Studio: ITC/Network
Genre:
TV-Series
Release Date:
10/22/09
Special Features:

Four Feather Falls Episode, Wonderland of Stardust Documentary

Review:

Note that for the purposes of this review, I am treating everything other than the XL5 episode as a bonus feature. ***

Few television producers have the level of success of the United Kingdom's Gerry Anderson. While best known for his many puppet series, due to a process he created called Supermarionation, he has had unrivaled success in both puppet and live-action domains alike. Fireball XL5 was one of his earliest big successes, and it was unusual at the time of its release in that it was broadcast on American television. ***

Fireball XL5 is the story of Steve Zodiac, an astronaut who is a member of the World Space Patrol. While on patrol on the show's tile spacecraft, he often clashes with extraterrestrials - good and evil alike. His crew includes his loyal robotic companion Robert, the aging-but-still-helpful Professor Matthew Matic, the beautiful Doctor Venus, and a weird monkey/lizard creature called a Lazoon. On Earth, the XL5's support crew includes the hard-edged Commander Zero, his subordinate Lieutenant Ninety, and Scottish engineer Jock. The series lasted for nearly 50 episodes, and never failed to please with a wide variety of entertaining plots and characters. ***

The disc features a single episode, A Day In The Life Of A Space General. The episode has been colorized (the show was originally broadcast in black and white) and is featured in 1080p for the first time. This particular episode revolves around Lieutenant Ninety struggling to pursue his educational endeavors, only to have it interfere with his Space Patrol duties. But when his radar design is well-received, he receives a promotion to Space General! Will he make a good General, or will success go to his head when he is needed the most? ***

All right, now for the actual review (sorry for going overboard on the summary!) I LOVE Fireball XL5, and every other Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series. But this release is terrible. We get a SINGLE episode. That's it. Not only that, it isn't even a very good episode - it revolves around the usually minor character of Lieutenant Ninety and has almost no action against extraterrestrial villains, making this particular episode very poor choice for the set. Not only that, but the episode is only available on here colorized - so you're screwed if you want to see it in the original black and white. ***

If anyone at ITC and Network is reading this, what's up with this cash-in of a release? Just hurry up and release the COMPLETE DAMN SERIES on Blu-Ray! I LOVE Fireball XL5, but this release isn't worth your time. If you've got the Complete Series DVD set, just stick with that. I know I will be until the series gets a Blu release. ---

Image And Sound:

All right. To be fair to the people at ITC, the episode looks AMAZING in 1080p. If they have a complete series release down the road, I think we're going to be in for a real treat down the road. Detail is superb, and the colorization doesn't look artificial. Audio is no slouch either, though it seems unchanged from the DVD releases.

Special Features:

To be fair to ITC, they are no slouch in this department either. I have good news and bad news in this department. ***

The good news: An episode of Four Feather Falls is included on the disc. This is Anderson's pre-XL5 puppet series set in the old west. The episode runs just over 10 minutes, but it is a true classic, and it looks great in 1080p in its original black and white. There is also the feature-length Wonderland of Stardust documentary that was on the UK Complete Series SD Box Set. ***

The bad news: The Wonderland of Stardust documentary, the ONLY REASON TO EVER BUY THIS SET, DOES NOT WORK IN AMERICAN PLAYERS. That officially renders this release useless to American audiences.

Final Words:

If you couldn't already tell, I LOVE Fireball XL5 (that's the last time I'll say that in this review, I swear!) But this release is a quick cash-in that serves no real purpose, especially considering the documentary, the only real highlight of the release, doesn't work in American players. Don't bother importing this disc. Hold out for a complete series release.

 

 
 
 
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