There are some shows we genre fans always keep in our hearts. We remember how much we loved them growing up, and watching them again today takes us back to when life was simple and wonderful.
Clearly, Thunderbirds sorely lacked cutting edge effects, the show was done with marionettes, but it captured the imaginations of so many fans, including kids who grew up to become genre masters themselves like Peter Jackson.
Now comes the sad news that Gerry Anderson, the creator of the Thunderbirds show, has passed away at the age of 83. In addition to Thunderbirds, Anderson also created Fireball XL5, Stingray, UFO, and Space: 1999, among many other TV shows. Anderson also wrote the sci-fi feature Journey to the Far Side of the Sun.
Gerry’s son Jamie told the Associated Press that his father “forever changed the direction of sci-fi entertainment. Lots of animation and films that have been made in the past 20 or 30 years have been inspired by the work that he did.”
As Peter Jackson told ABC, “I loved Thunderbirds. Thunderbirds was probably the first influence. I knew it wasn’t real…I could even relate to it on a level of it not being real because I had a lot of Matchbox toys and I used to recognize my Matchbox toys in Thunderbirds.” And indeed, this is often what sparks kids to making their own movies, is realizing they can probably recreate what they see with their own toys. (In later years, Jackson also became friends with Anderson).
The fact that Thunderbirds was so influential, and is still fondly remembered to this day, is a wonderful testament to Anderson’s legacy. Anderson was one of those crafty storytellers who much like stop motion master Ray Harryhausen awakened the imaginations of young, impressionable kids everywhere. Even with the primitive effects, it goes to show that there’s a wonderful charm that the most high tech technology just can’t replicate. If the heart and the sincerity is there, and it certainly was with Anderson, that’s all that should matter.