Wednesday, January 29, 2014
The Flying Cars of Television
I have a new article at World Cinema Paradise called "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Other Flying Cars of Cinema." But, before you head out to read that article, I want to take this opportunity to briefly acknowledge the flying cars of television, which played an important role in children's fantasy series of the 1960s and 1970s.
The flying cars of the period were put forth to amuse the many baby boomers transfixed in front of their televisions. The trend started with Supercar, a series that debuted on British television in January of 1961. The multipurpose Supercar, which could travel in the air, on land or beneath the sea, was no doubt influenced by Jules Verne's infamous Terror machine. Gerry Anderson, the creator and producer of Supercar, went on to feature flying cars in many of his later series, including Joe 90, Thunderbirds Are Go and Space Precinct.
Children who witnessed the premiere of The Jetsons in 1962 were enchanted by the futuristic utopia presented by the series. The robots, the holograms and the various push-button conveniences made the Jetsons' daily life look like great fun, but nothing in the family's possession drew more envy from the series' fans than the aerocar.
Other flying cars followed. The Fantasticar debuted in the third issue of The Fantastic Four, which arrived on newsstands in March of 1963. The Fantasticar made its earliest appearances on television on an animated Fantastic Four series that aired on ABC from 1967 to 1970.
The Flying Sub, which looked and functioned much like a flying car, was introduced on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in 1965.
Doctor Who obtained his own flying car in a 1974 Doctor Who episode called "Invasion of the Dinosaurs."
It was inevitable that Sid and Marty Krofft would produce a live-action children's series starring a flying car. The series, which debuted on ABC in 1976, was Wonderbug.
I came across an interesting shot comparison in my research of this article. You can find it at http://shotcontext.blogspot.com/2010/07/landing.html.
Doug Krentzlin, one of my fellow writers at World Cinema Paradise, was kind to point out to me that a flying car was introduced in the S.H.I.E.L.D. comic book in the 1960s. This car is significant in that its folding tires concept was later adopted by the folks who designed the flying DeLorean for Back to the Future (1985). The S.H.I.E.L.D. car was created by legendary illustrator Jack Kirby, who previously came up with the Fantastic Four's flying Fantasticar. Kirby modeled the car after a Porsche 904.
But Kirby did not bring the first flying car to comic books. That credit goes to another comic book legend - Jerry Siegel, the co-creator of Superman. Siegel's car, the Star Rocket Racer, belonged to a superhero named the Star Spangled Kid, who was an obvious imitation of Kirby and Joe Simon's Captain America. Yes, the creative community is indeed incestuous. The Star Rocket Racer debuted in Star-Spangled Comics # 1, which was released to newsstands in October of 1941. The artist who came up with the actual bubble-top design for the car was Hal Sherman.
The Star Rocket Racer made its live-action television debut in a 2010 Smallville episode called "Absolute Justice, Part 1."
The S.H.I.E.L.D. car made its live-action television debut in the premiere episode of ABC Television's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Series creator Joss Whedon decided to name the car Lola.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I need to relight my pipe and get back to reading Great Expectations.