Filmed in Supermarionation (2014)

Jamie Anderson, subject of Filmed in Supermarionation (2014)

Dave author picFilmed in Supermarionation is a modest documentary about the production companies responsible for – amongst other series forgotten to anyone who isn’t old and British – Thunderbirds. Talking heads recount from the ramshackle early days of the studio (involving flagrantly terrible puppetry from amateurs who knew no better) all the way up to post-Thunderbirds series like the ill-advised Captain Scarlet (an early foray into the ‘uncanny valley’).

At its best, Filmed in Supermarionation depicts the melancholy of a halcyon era gone by. The saddest story is of the company’s final days: “We had guys with sledgehammers just coming in and … smashing [the sets] up and putting them into skips.” That devastation means that the documentary can’t hone in on what would have been really interesting – seeing the impressively-sized sets and puppets in action behind the scenes; everything’s been destroyed.

They do their best, recreating a (poor) facsimile of the puppets to serve as both framing device for the film and nostalgia outlet for the aging puppeteers and crew interviewed. But as charming as Supermarionation is, the absence of really compelling drama, juicy gossip or anything of the like makes it somewhat forgettable for anyone who isn’t already a diehard Thunderbirds fan.

3 stars

 

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