Show: Remembering When

Episode: 868-118 Fireball XL5


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Episode Description:

Fireball XL5 was a science fiction-themed children's television show following the missions of spaceship Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. The show was produced in 1962 by husband and wife team Gerry and Sylvia Anderson through their company APF, in association with ATV for ITC Entertainment.

The show featured the Andersons' Supermarionation, a form of puppetry first introduced in Four Feather Falls (1960) and Supercar (1961) and used again in their subsequent productions such as Stingray and Captain Scarlet. Thirty-nine black and white half-hour episodes of Fireball XL5 were made on 35mm film: all future Anderson series were produced in colour.

Several Anderson series have been shown in syndication in the US, but Fireball XL5 is the only Anderson series to have run on a US network. NBC (the National Broadcasting Company) ran the series in its Saturday morning children's block from 1963 through to September 1965.

A similar programme often confused with Fireball XL5 is Space Patrol (known as Planet Patrol in the US), produced by Gerry Anderson's ex business partner and co-founder of AP Films, Arthur Provis due to a number of similarities and settings.

Set between the years 2062 and 2063, the series featured the missions of spaceship Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. The crew included glamorous Doctor Venus, a doctor of space medicine; middle-aged navigator and engineer Professor Matthew Matic and co-pilot Robert, a transparent anthropomorphic robot who would most commonly proclaim ON-OUR-WAY-HOME.. Robert was the only character in an Anderson series that was actually voiced by Anderson himself, albeit with the aid of an artificial larynx.

In the series, the World Space Patrol is based at Space City, located on an unnamed island in the South Pacific, headed by Commander Zero. Zero is assisted by Lieutenant Ninety. For unspecified reasons the 25-storey T-shaped control tower at Space City rotates; in one episode a character inadvertently makes it rotate fast enough for those inside to suffer from vertigo.

Fireball XL5 patrolled Sector 25 of charted interstellar space (although there only appeared to be three sectors marked on the space chart seen in the Space City control room). The patrols were missions of three months duration but the ship was also on call when at base.

The patrol space ship Fireball XL5 takes off utilizing a mile-long launch rail that culminates in a 40-degree incline, or sky ramp, which Anderson claims was inspired by an old Soviet design, a concept also used in the film When Worlds Collide.

The World Space Patrol included a fleet of at least 30 'Fireball XL' ships (an XL30 is referred to in The Firefighters episode), of which XL5 was the most famous. The ship itself is made up of two detachable sections. The winged nose cone, known as Fireball Junior contained the cockpit and separated from the main body to land on other worlds. The rest of the ship contained a navigation bay, laboratory, huge lounge, workshops and separate crews quarters, along with fuel and main nutomic rocket motors for interstellar travel. The ship would generally remain stationed in orbit after arriving at an alien planet. When Fireball XL5 returned to Space City, the whole ship would land horizontally (i.e. without separating) using its wings and retro-rockets. In the episode 'The Forbidden Planet', the aliens use a form of transporter (similar to that used in Star Trek, but of course pre-dating it) but this technology was not available to the World Space Patrol.

Inasmuch as the series used many classic early 20th-century science fiction themes reminiscent of the space opera of E. E. "Doc" Smith and because it was a children's show, it was not intended to be realistic. Fireball XL5 managed to travel handily around the galaxy without going faster than light (until the episode Faster than Light). The series observed few of the limitations of rocketry and only informed viewers that the ship's rocket motors were powered by a Nutomic reactor and that XL5 could safely travel at speeds of up to Space Velocity 7, which enabled her to reach the outlying star systems of charted space within a few months. Furthermore the crew never wore space suits; instead they took "oxygen pills" to survive in the vacuum of space, where they manoeuvred in zero gravity with the aid of thruster packs. They used neutroni radio, which allowed virtually instantaneous communication within the sectors of charted space. XL5 and her sister ships were fitted with gravity activators that generated artificial gravity fields within them.

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SD (Standard Definition) File

File Name of SD Episode: 868-118 Fire Ball XL5.mpg

Total SD Episode Video Runtime (hh:mm:ss): 00:28:53

File Size of SD Episode Video: 1,338,498,566 Bytes

Resolution of SD Episode Video: 720x480

Date SD Episode Video Uploaded: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 12:24


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