“It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going.” – Terry Pratchett
If you have still to experience NEBULA-75 (if so, then shame on you: what have you been doing for the last year?), then in a nutshell it lovingly captures the Supermarionation puppet series of bygone days, as brought to our screens by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Produced in lockdown on a shoestring (the budget, not the marionettes), it gave us something new, yet which also feels authentically vintage.
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Its makers, Century 21 Films, have maintained and built on the proud legacy established by the Andersons, evoking all the very best elements of what came before. They certainly know just where they came from, which helps inform where they are going. In this latest instalment of NEBULA-75, the Century 21 Films team manages to directly honour the past by paying a loving tribute to one of the Andersons’ principal directors, David Elliott, who has just recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
Step forward, Dave the Director: the very latest addition to NEBULA-75’s growing roster of supporting characters. The twist here, however, is that Dave the Director has been very carefully sculpted to resemble David Elliott. In yet another lovely little nod to Supermarionation history, the team has also managed to persuade the 95 year old David Graham to lend his vocal skills to Dave; Graham had voiced a number of Anderson characters, including Parker in Thunderbirds (as well as also being one of the original Dalek voices in Doctor Who).
All of these lovely little touches reflect the level of care and attention which is devoted by the makers of NEBULA-75 to delivering such an incredibly high quality end product. Like any series worth its salt, NEBULA-75 genuinely works on a number of levels: for the kiddiwinks, it offers an engaging slice of exciting, escapist entertainment; whereas for all of the grown-ups, there are plenty of jokes (including ones of the ‘in-‘ variety), which will likely sail over the heads of the youngsters (unless they happen to be somewhat precocious ones).
For example, there is a little reference to the trend for film titles to sometimes be changed for overseas release (with the main point here being Doppelgänger, the Andersons’ 1969 feature film, which was rechristened Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun outside Europe). In Dave the Director’s ship, there are plenty of carefully crafted mocked up movie posters on display which bring to mind ones for actual film releases, and are far more detailed and creative than any of them really need to be, making it a labour of love.
In ‘The Incredible Voyage Of Nebula-75’, the ship’s crew – who are still some 32 million miles away from home – run across Dave the Director, who has been filming a supernova for use in his forthcoming 803rd motion picture. With Dave and his catalogue of features having been rather a boyhood favourite of ship’s Commander Ray Neptune, he persuades Ray and the crew to act in his movie, only to have things get out of control when a stunt goes awry, with potentially fatal consequences…
A nonagenarian could seldom ask for a finer birthday treat than what Century 21 Films’ team has put together to mark David Elliott’s landmark celebration; the fact that it has also proved to be so wildly entertaining to boot really is the icing on the birthday cake. NEBULA-75 knows precisely where it came from, so it should have a good idea of exactly where it is going from here: hopefully, to even greater success, and a lengthy run.
The Incredible Voyage Of Nebula-75 is available to watch for free on YouTube.