Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Solarnauts

 I'm going to dash something off today on ye ole blog as I have a few other things I need to do today.  I re-watched Blood, Boobs, and Beast last night, the documentary on Don Dohler, which I posted about earlier on this blog,  as the first time I saw it I dozed a bit, not because it is by any means a boring documentary, quite the contrary I find it pretty absorbing.  But the first time I watched it, I had eaten some warm soup, and that will make me drowsier than greased lightning.  At any rate, if you are interested in film making, amateur films, or making films on a shoestring budget, you need to watch that.  It's actually quite poignant in certain areas of the film.  Glad I found it on Youtube.

I ran across another thing today that I'll share, but have yet to watch.  I've never had heard of before.  It is Solarnauts.  The British show was created by Roberta Leigh, and I've culled this info off Wikipedia.
Roberta Leigh is an assumed name for Janey Scott Lewin (born 1927 in London, England), a British author, artist and television producer. She wrote romance fiction and children's stories as Roberta Leigh, Rachel Lindsay, Janey Scott, Roumelia Lane and Rozella Lake.  She published her first novel in 1950 and is still actively creating new titles. She created the puppet television series Sara and Hoppity,  Torchy and the Battery Boy,  Wonder Boy and Tiger,  and Send for Dithers.   She created, wrote and produced a children's fiction series about space; titled Space Patrol (Planet Patrol here in the States), which chronicled the adventures of Captain Larry Dart aboard his spaceship Galasphere 347. This was followed by Paul Starr (1964) and a live-action color space adventure series, The Solarnauts (1967). For these two later series, however, only the pilot episodes were filmed.

Though made in 1964, Paul Starr appeared to be a decade ahead of Space Patrol. A 25-minute marionette puppet series in the same vein as Space Patrol, it was produced in color. Agent Paul Starr and his crewman, Lightning, work for Space Bureau Investigation (SBI). They have a squat rocket, SBI-5, which can travel through space, in air and underwater (SBI uses an undersea base). While jets propel the craft through the air, in space it is powered by "solar energy". It is armed with various weapons, including nuclear missiles. The robots of Paul Starr appear more developed and fans of Space Patrol will notice the similar sound effects used. The movements of the puppet characters are "less wooden" and there is no sign of strings.

(I'll interject here, that if you're a fan of Gerry Anderson, and this sounds like it shares some kinship to some of his projects, it did to me as well, which was one of the attractions.)

The puppets were made by Martin and Heather Granger who, with Joan Garrick, also operated them. Realistic mouth movements were used long before the arrival of Gerry Anderson's Terrahawks in the 1980s. Actor Edward Bishop provided the voice of Paul Starr; other voices were provided by Patricia English, Dick Vosburgh and Peter Reeves. Besides creating and scripting the series, Leigh also wrote the title song and lyrics (sung by Jerry Dane). Arthur Provis served as director of photography and co-producer.

In this adventure, Starr's boss sends him to Mars where five atomic power stations (used to pump water) have been destroyed by fire. Starr and Lightning work as security guards to try to uncover the cause. The chief suspect is General Darynx. The Martians are shown as non-human fish people.

The Solarnauts was a live-action space adventure TV series, produced in 1967. Like Paul Starr, its filmed material survives.

I thought if you were a SF fan and like-minded you may want to check it out as well.

Below is the pilot for Paul Starr (1964), which is very much in the mold of some of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds, Supercar, etc.



At 4:58 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

This is a new one for me. I grew up with Supercar and Fireball XL5 of course. It's funny how easily one just accepts the idea, "OK they're puppets." Team America World Police showed it still works.

At 6:51 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Ha, never saw Team America Richard, it's still on the Q list. Yes, I'm not sure what exactly is the draw with the marionation. Could be it just appeals to the child in us all, or that we still enjoy amazing toys, or the effects, or the combination of skill and stories. But yes, it triggers something magical.


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