new! - Here's a video of the Supercar show opening.
Supercar was a British puppet show produced by Gerry Anderson, who would soon gain greater fame with another similar show, Thunderbirds.
It was about a fabulous vehicle that could go on land, sea, or in the air. As the title song says, it's "the marvel of the age."
Supercar was built by a pair of scientists, Professor Popkiss and Dr. Beaker, who worked out of a semi-secret laboratory in Black Rock,
Nevada. Their test pilot was tall, blue-eyed Mike Mercury, who flew the craft. Rounding out the regular cast were Jimmy Gibson, a
regular, curious kid, and his pet monkey Mitch. Mitch was always getting into trouble, and was often the source of a week's adventure
because of his shenanigans. The team performed rescues, but they also tended to fight criminals whenever they could; their main enemies
in this regard were Masterspy, who wanted to steal the supercar, and his henchman Zarin.
Supercar was an early Anderson effort; it came right after the cancellation of his Western-themed puppet show Four Feather Falls, which wasn't entirely
successful financially. Anderson was approached by Lew Grade of ITV (FFF had been done for Grenada Television) to create a
half-hour show using the puppetry and effects techniques learned in the previous effort. After a compromise on the budget, the series
was a go.
Supercar was the first of Anderson's series to use the technique that would quickly come to be called 'Supermarionation.' The concept
was that the puppets' mouths moved in response to silent electronic signals encoded into the show's soundtrack, so that when a certain
character's voice was spoken, the corresponding puppet's lips moved in sync with it. Supercar also made use of thinner, less obtrusive
wires to hold the puppets and move their limbs than had previous Anderson puppet shows. The technical crew who created this show would for the most part stay with Anderson's
productions for years to come.
Supposedly, Anderson got the idea for a vehicle-based show due to the fact that his crew couldn't quite master the art of making the
puppets walk realistically; it was reasoned that, the more the characters rode around in a car or plane, the less walking would have to
be done onscreen. Besides which, creating a 'launch sequence' would enthrall younger viewers as well as eat up some screen time.
Anderson took this lesson to heart: in the future, his shows would be built around a futuristic vehicle or group of vehicles, and most
of these would feature an intricate launch sequence showing the technology in action.
Supercar ran for 39 black and white episodes, beginning in 1960. It was shown on ITV in England and in syndication in the U.S. shortly
thereafter - the first Anderson puppet series to be seen in America.
It also happens to be Jerry Seinfeld's favorite TV show. (Really!)