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4.8 out of 5 stars87
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 10 July 2009
I LOVED this show as a kid growing up in the States (it ran here on NBC on Saturday mornings), where I would sit mesmerized by the program. A few years ago, the series was released on Carlton in the UK and A&E in the US. While I was happy to have the cherished episodes of my childhood finally available, the video and audio quality were as good as they could be at that time.

Now, Network DVD (that WONDERFUL company that brought such fantastic remasters of The Prisoner and Space 1999 Series One and The Champions) has done it again. These DVDs are SPECTACULAR. For a show in B&W to look THIS good with a crystal clear soundtrack (mono) is mind boggling. Not only can I have fun and relive a part of my childhood, but I'm sharing this with my 8 year old daughter who loves it. Network ALWAYS delivers on high quality products with vastly superior remastering than most DVD manufacturers could even dream of. The new Fireball XL5 does not disappoint, and the original episodes look brand new having been remastered from the original film elements.

To top it all off, a bonus disc contains not only great documentaries about the program and classic photos and promo material...but a COLORIZED episode of the original show that has to be seen to be believed. STUNNING isn't the word for it. What a FANTASTIC job!

If you have the earlier discs...sell them, give them away, and buy these. There is no comparison. A great show has been made to look like it was meant to look...perfect picture and sound. I cannot recommend this release strongly enough.
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VINE VOICEon 20 October 2003
I picked up a cheap video of XL5 some weeks ago in a charity shop and it brought the memories flooding back so I just had to buy this DVD. This series is in my opinion the best thing Gerry Anderson did (hmm murmers of disapproval at the back there!). It is just so awesome. The fact that it is in black and white does not detract from the quality of adventure, excitement and fun at all. Something I always found a little lacking in Stingray and T-Birds.
As a child it captured my imagination and I can't wait to watch it with my toddler...I remember building my own XL5's out of lego ... and it certainly fired my desire for reading sci fi novels in later years.
The spaceship was and still is the coolest ever to appear on TV (as mentioned in the synopsis for the release), and seeing the shot of it's tail fin under dark and stormy looking skies at the beginning of each episode is awesome. The way it took off running down the launch track was great although I always wondered what happened to the little truck that flew off the end of the track once the spaceship had taken off!!!
Steve Zodiac the hero space pilot is so cool and Venus...what a babe! Robert as well has a certain robotic flair with his monotone robotic voice "On our way ooommmmeeee!".
A truly essential purchase and a long overdue release on DVD. Now what about Supercar????
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on 1 July 2009
if you are a fan of gerry anderson like me, you will NEED this! the old carlton box set was nice at the time, but in comparison to this excellent network release, it simply pales. its so nice and pleasing to have a company like network, who actually care about the products it puts out. they know they are producing the dvds for the fans and the care and attention to detail is always very welcome. indeed, all their box sets are worth checking out. this box set comes in a very hard cover and the two dvd sections are each in their own hardcovers too and are made up to resemble fireball XL5 annuals from the 1960s. they look (and feel) great! the actual info booklet is made up to look like a TV21 magazine and it is beautifully reproduced, well researched and very informative. not only are we treated to all 39 digitally remastered and restored episodes (thankfully in full screen and not cropped or compressed and in full dynamic mono), theres also a brand new and utterly stunning colourised version of one of the episodes on the bonus disc. it will knock your socks off! ive never seen a colourisation look like this EVER before! it certainly sets the standards for the future. the episode actually looks as if it was originally made in colour, not like the poor colourisations we are used to (if you dont believe me, on the network homepage there is a clip). whetever, this boxset is well worth the money and i can only recommend it with the highest of praise. well done network on another brilliant release!
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This is another superb set from Network. Along with all 39 restored episodes is a fabulous bonus DVD featuring a colourised version of "A Day In The Life Of A Space General" plus two excellent documentaries "A Wonderland Of Stardust" which is a behind the scenes look at how Fireball XL5 was made. Narrated by Shane Rimmer there are contributions from both Gerry & Sylvia Anderson, David Elliot, Alan Pattillo, Brian Johnson, David Graham, Mary Turner & Judith Shutt. The other documentary is called "Drawn In Supermarionation" which if you are a fan of TV comics is a look at the comic strip adaptations of the early AP films series and features contributions from director of merchandising Keith Shackleton and artists Bill Mevin, Mike Noble & Colin Page. Other extras include a home movie about Supercar, original Zoom ice lolly adverts, image galleries & PDF material. In time this will no doubt become quite sought after so buy it now while this classic set is available! Hopefully sometime in the future Network will bring out a set of all the Fireball episodes in colour! Fingers crossed!
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on 3 April 2011
This series means an improvement regarding to its predecessor Supercar but compared with the next productions maybe a little primitive and ingenuous. The show programme is comprised of thirty-nine black and white episodes while all future Anderson series were produced in colour, but in its favour it has the charm of the simplicity. In this set you can find some extra features very interesting: an entertaining, exhaustive 73-minute documentary covering every facet of the show's production and a sample colorized episode, among others. The colorized "A Day In The Life Of a Space General" gives a taste of what the show might have looked like had it been filmed in colour. Videcolor is wonderful but there's something about the original black and white images: spaceships marooned o simply floating in deep space and planet surfaces transmit a certain kind of mystery and a peaceful sensation. It's remarkable a sense of humour always present as a Gerry Anderson's trademark as we see in his subsequent output: Stingray and Thunderbirds. And finally, the music: the groovy closing theme song, written by Barry Gray and performed by Don Spencer. In other words: A very recommendable set, wonderfully restored and beautifully presented, for children and adults.
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on 29 May 2011
I have been a fan of Supermarionation since Mike Mercury lifted Supercar through the roof at Black Rock, and have seen all the shows since, but Fireball XL5 has always been my undisputed favourite. This boxed set only renews that fandom in me.
A pity that only one episode, and that not the best, was colourised but it was wonderfully done and I hope one day the other 38 will be so treated too. Seen from an adult perspective one or two stories are a bit, shall we say, "basic" but Fireball XL5 had something later, and far more technically advanced series like Joe 90, lacked - charm.
It is a dvd set that I will put on again and again.
Now, "I wish I were a spaceman" but only if I could travel in one of the XL fleet. Meanwhile this superb offering will have to do.
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on 12 April 2005
I was 8yrs old when Fireball XL5 was on TV. As we only had BBC, probably saw it at a wealthy friends house. But the memory has been revitalised, and this DVD set has given hours of pleasure to a syndicate of three doctors.
It's astonishing to see what could be achieved with, presumably, almost no finance. The time spent on the sets, not to mention the seriousness of the fireworks. Perhaps one feels the modelling is so close to what we might have had ourselves, as children, that you feel more personally involved with it, than current films that are so 'realistic'.
It also shows that a fertile imagination for the story is so much more important than the actual quality of what we expect to see nowadays.
As with Stingray and Thunderbirds, the humour is very much present, and beautifully observed. It has an amazing number of technological ideas that we all thought were developed by other sci-fi programs - teleportation, time travel, booster rockets at launch, and Fireball Junior landing just like the Apollo moon shots, it's all there.
Some of the screenplay is 'interesting', I just have to say 'I feel rather Tooty' for others to know what I am referring to.
Life was clearly simpler in 1962- Prof Mattic 'I think we're going to have to blow this planet up' Steve Zodiac 'OK -I agree. Robert steer 687zeroBlack, launch missile' BANG.
Thankyou Gerry Anderson for giving so much pleasure.
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on 1 March 2011
I am only in my late 20s, so as a kid the only Gerry Anderson series I saw were the classic trio of Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet which were all re-run at various times over the years. Fireball XL5 is a new one on me but nevertheless a fantastic series. I recently bought Network's release of Space Patrol and found this series highly atmospheric; this is primarily what inspired me to check out what Gerry Anderson was doing at the same time and this series is an absolute gem. As far as I am concerned, the first true, classic Anderson series. The episodes are great fun, very adventurous with some lovely special effects and some hilariously outdated sexist dialogue (Doctor Venus seems to practise Space Medicine as a sideline to making dinners and stitching on buttons!). The remastered prints look gorgeous and some of the shots are surprisingly cinematic with much use of deep focus and staggering the puppets within the shot. The extras are splendid too with a meaty 1-hour documentary looking at the making of the series with virtually all surviving cast and crew members as well as Lyon's Maid ice lolly commercials, a look at XL5 merchandising, behind the scenes and promotional photographs and some super rare silent 8mm footage shot on the set of Supercar. The hugely entertaining episodes and tasty extras aside, this set is worth the price if only for the delicious packaging; glossy, hardwood covers styled after 1960s Fireball XL5 annuals with a weighty insert booklet made to look like an issue of the TV21 comic. Network have put a lot of love into the design of this set and it shows. Well worth the asking price as you get 39 ripping sci-fi yarns alongside a generous selection of extras all packaged in arguably the most attractive DVD box set I have ever seen.
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on 28 November 2010
I remember ages ago back in the 90s when a few episodes were released on VHS and I loved the 1 or 2 episodes I got to watch and I always wondered what the full series was like! Now I know. I'm in the process of watching it (Only got it yesterday and I'm already halfway through!) and it's just so very brilliant. Okay so the effects are dated but it adds to the charm. Crazy aliens, brilliant plots, 975 minutes of fantastic action! You'd be a tooty not to buy it! I now just want to know what the hell a 'Planetomic Missile!' is!
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It is 2062, and the World Space Patrol, located at Space City, watches the skies with the aid of its fleet of interplanetary XL rocket-ships. The hero of the half hour, Colonel Steve Zodiac, is the pilot of Fireball XL5 that protects Sector 25 beyond the Solar System from alien invasion. With Steve Zodiac in command, his crew consisted of Venus, a doctor of space medicine, Professor Matic, the science officer, Venus's pet Zoonie the Lazoon, and Robbie the Robot, the rocket's mechanical co-pilot (voiced by Jerry Anderson). I was 6 when Fireball XL5 aired and ever since I've been a SciFi and realSci fan, going on from XL5 to the likes Dr Who, Lost in Space, Star Trek and the moon landings. However despite the oddities of the witty 1960's script, the spaceship Fireball XL5, and its accessories like the hover scooters, are a fantastic iconic design (particularly in the colour stills). The storylines are quite strong for a kids series, and the aliens are quite convincing - although we seem to see many of them again quite soon as the fish people in Stingray. In many ways Fireball XL5 has a younger feel to it than later Anderson projects, so I expect boys nearer 5 to 7 would appreciate it most (or those now over 50 who first saw it at this age). The Fireball XL5 boxed set has all 39 original B&W twenty-five minute episodes first broadcast in 1962, total run time is over 16 hours, with English audio only (no subtitles).

My son at 6 really took to the two XL5 videos I had, and like me he really really loved the Steve Zodiac song sung by Don Spencer at the end of each of episode, and we often used to have sing-alongs with it in the car. Although it was nice and thoroughly `modern' to let Venus (voiced by Sylvia Anderson) leave the nappies and washing behind and come along as part of the crew, it's not long before the good Dr of Space medicine is making the coffee or tripping over and screaming for male assistance. Typical Dr Venus quote `Oh I am a Tootie' - which I presume must be some sort of 2060's space bimbo. So Venus provides the backup for the two bachelor men, like doing the ironing, cooking, cleaning up after them, while also juggling a highly successful career. Typical Professor Matic quote 'Now now, Venus, none of your feminine intuition. Let's stick to the facts' - I expect they had to cut what happened next.

My only gripe is that a colourised version of the entire series hasn't been made available as the XL5 spacecraft looks so great in the colour production stills - we have the very successfully colourised 'Bewitched' B&W seasons 1&2, and there's the one colourised episode on the newer Network six DVD set along with a booklet and other extras including two documentaries. The same single colourised episode A Day In The Life Of A Space General is also available in a superb hi-def Blu-ray. The older Carlton XL5 five DVD set was also digitally remastered but has no extras and no colourised episode. Despite admitting it is a good TV programme, my son (now 10) hasn't taken to watching the whole XL5 series though as he can't tolerate the black and white TV - however he absolutely loves the B&W AP Films co-production `Torchy The Battery Boy' from 1958 so perhaps he is actually both too young and too old at 9 for this level of SciFi sophistication. What do I care, I bought the series for my 50th birthday - and he's happy with Joe90, Terrahawks and the new Captain Scarlet in full `HudsonColour'. And even now "I wish I was a spaceman, the fastest guy alive. We'd Fly around the universe in Fireball XL5. Way out in space together, conquerors of the sky, My heart would be a fireball, a fireball, and you would be my Venus of the skies."
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