If there’ve been any positives to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, one of them must be NEBULA-75, the brand new puppet series made in Supermarionation, as well as Superisolation and Lo-Budget. It seems necessity truly is the mother of invention, and if things hadn’t happened the way they’ve turned out, then we would’ve most likely never had NEBULA-75, so it’s definitely been one bright spot.
Given the limited resources at hand for a team of three who happen to be in confinement together, it’s a truly incredible achievement not only that they’re in fact managing to make anything at all, but that it’s actually also getting better with every subsequent episode. To be frank, it’s nothing short of breathtaking for the team at Century 21 Films to be able to write, shoot, edit and get out three episodes from scratch in as many weeks.
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This latest instalment – ‘Short Circuit’ – focuses upon the ship’s robot crew member, Circuit (who tells us at the start of the episode it has approximately 47.935% more footage of him, in another amusing fourth wall-breaking intro). He definitely comes from the same mould (not literally) as his spiritual predecessor, Robert the Robot from Fireball XL5 – Circuit’s certainly a silicon chip off the old block, and does a great job in bringing some light relief.
Circuit ends up literally blowing a fuse, so Commander Ray Neptune has to try and find a way to repair him, given that they’re currently 33 million miles away from home, with no spares onboard. Enter Rusty, the space scrap iron merchant extraordinaire, who’s also found himself stranded far from Earth, in a ramshackle ship with Cockney-accented warning alarms. Can Ray strike a deal to save Circuit, and manage to avert an impending disaster?
The characterisation in NEBULA-75 is absolutely spot-on in terms of capturing both the style and tone of the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson productions of yore. Guest character Rusty is very much like Thunderbirds’ Parker, so much so that it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine that they’re distantly related, if you want to make that part of your own personal headcanon. The character work helps to reinforce the sense of authenticity that the Century 21 Films have managed to convey.
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A lovely extra touch is using a couple of musical tracks from the ‘60s, such as ‘Robot Man’ by Mary Jane with Barry Gray And His Spacemakers (with Gray having written both music and themes for the majority of the Andersons’ shows), so it makes NEBULA-75 feel even more indistinguishable from a show made during that era. The attention to detail is pretty much peerless, making each new episode even more eagerly anticipated.
If you haven’t already done so, check out NEBULA-75, as it really is a proper delight. They’ve even managed to work in a lockdown gag, just for a much-needed belly laugh.