Jamie Anderson’s Blog: Gerry Anderson has Died
Space: 1970: Obit: Gerry Anderson R.I.P.
UK Telegraph: Obituary: Gerry Anderson
The Guardian: Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson dies aged 83
Washington Post (AP): Gerry Anderson, British creator of TV hit ‘Thunderbirds,’ dies at 83
I did not know this day would come so soon.
He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago. I thought he would live longer. It is probably a mercy that he did not.
I don’t know how to describe how much he meant to me.
The world I grew up in is largely inconceivable today, with the Internet, large flatscreen TVs, telephones in our pockets, and the ability to record — and even download or stream — TV shows.
Back when I was a kid, TVs were monochrome and were built with vacuum tubes. Cable TV was something we’d never heard of, we had just three TV networks, local stations were independent, and if you missed a show, you’d probably never see it ever again.
And it’s that local TV station independence that allowed Gerry Anderson to have a career.
The General Manager of local station Channel 11, WPIX-TV, was shown an episode of Gerry Anderson’s first SF TV series, Supercar, and bought the rights to air it on the spot. Once New York City was in, almost everyone else across the country jumped aboard. Being able to sell his programs in America made his career possible.
When the then-three TV networks of the 1970s balked at buying the rights to air Space:1999, studio head Lew Grade revolutionized TV by defiantly selling it station-by-station. I think that might have been the first time an original network-quality TV program was made available to independent TV stations across America.
Those days are gone.
When Gerry struck out on his own, raising thirty-million dollars to reboot Captain Scarlet, there were no longer any independent TV stations in America to sell such a program to.
Sell to a cable TV network? You just don’t understand how drastically things have changed. They want ownership of the things they run. Not Invented Here rules their days. Gerry Anderson was back in the game — but there was no longer a game for him to play in.
Every single one of his programs, even the flawed (to me) Space Precinct and Terrahawks, had their charms. His programs at their best were nothing short of breathtaking, the kind of magic that is pumped out today by computers (and doesn’t look as good or as “real”). To a young child, they were the best damn thing on TV and a standard by which to measure everything else.
Even after I discontinued that blog and no longer had Categories devoted to him, I still did posts. He was inescapable to me.
There are still posts about him in this blog.
For those of you who might have never heard of him, you’ve seen his influence everywhere without even knowing it.
His work influenced the gadgetry in James Bond movies (he even wrote an unproduced screenplay for one). George Lucas even cited Gerry’s work in creating Star Wars: Clone Wars. The movie Team America: World Police and the TV series Super Adventure Team owed their existence to Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation.
Gerry Anderson’s work was also mimicked in a series of TV ads for Orbitz and web-only ads for Oracle.
There are those working in TV today — in countries around the world — who were inspired to do so by the work of Gerry Anderson. There are scientists, first responders, and more, all in careers because of Gerry Anderson. His influence has been incalculable, wide and deep, and his passing marks the end of an era.
This post, in its own way, is also:
Rest in peace, Gerry. You did excellent work in this world.