Star Fleet (aka X-Bomber) on DVD!!! Finally, after many years of waiting, there is no longer any need to hunt down V-CD copies of this fabulous show – the real thing is here. This is a four DVD set containing the complete Star Fleet series, and along with that there are a lot of extras (both on DVD and in the box set itself).
The highlight for me is, quite simply, that this release presents the episodes in the UK broadcast format as it appeared on UK television in the early 1980s. To be more specific, at the start of the show you get a summary of what has gone on before in the previous episodes, but even better than that, you get the preview of the next episode before the end credits roll. That really made me very happy, because these previews – essentially a 30 second burst of action with a voice over setting out the drama to come – were as much fun as the main part of the show. For me personally, they were integral to the charm and success of Star Fleet. I guess we call them ‘spoilers’ today, but the previews merely added to the excitement of the episodes, and Fabulous have really understood what made this show special by sticking with the shows UK broadcast format.
I have only seen the first episode so far, but the quality of sound and vision is really good. The remastering that Fabulous Films have undertaken (and which has been responsible for several delays in the DVD release) has given a clean image and fantastic sound. Hearing (for the first time in many years) some of the music played during the space battles gave me goosebumps. This is how the show should be appreciated – not clips on youtube or poor quality VCD copies. If you were watching this in the UK on a saturday morning in 1982 or 1983 then I strongly suggest you invest in this.
I have not gone through the extras on the DVDs (that include interviews with Go Nakai (the creator of the show) and Gerry Anderson) but the fact is that people who will buy this will do so for the episodes themselves. The package overall is good quality, with nice and easy to navigate DVD menus, and then there is the little extras that come bundled with the DVDs. You get 6 postcards of characters and vehicles from the show. Nice quality postcards, with good thick paper stock. There is a relatively small fold-out double sided poster, with DAI-X on one side and the crew of the X-Bomber on the reverse. Again, the quality of this is good, the photos have clarity and look like they could have been taken this week, instead of nearly 30 years ago.
Then there are the booklets. Two of them. The first one is a good guide to Star Fleet, as it gives a synopsis of each episode, and following that are thumbnail sketches on pretty much everyone and everything in the show (for example, there is some detail on ‘Officer A’ and ‘Officer B’ of the Earth Defence Force (EDF)). This is a great addition to the package, and again shows the time and effort that Fabulous Films has put in to the design of this release. The second booklet is a real treat, as it contains all the Star Fleet comic strips (in colour) that ran in Look-In magazine during the shows initial runs on UK television (it ran for several months in 1983). Despite the fact that the frames look a little cramped due to the reduction from a comic / magazine to DVD booklet size, the strips are readable, with some nice artwork and engaging stories. This aspect of the box set is a lovely and unique surprise. You wont get that watching it on V-CD or youtube.
Considering that at one time (even a couple of years ago) this release looked unlikely, what Fabulous has done is a credit to them. This is no cash-in. Their philosophy must have been that if fans have waited as long as this for a release of a puppet show from the early 1980s, they might as well wait until the release can be adjudged to have got the look, feel and content just right. Fabulous have done the show a great service.
Also, I need to mention a flyer in the box set that announces the release of Star Fleet on CD in 2009 – is this referring to the Star Fleet Project?? No, its referring to the original score that Paul Bliss of the Moody Blues composed. There is more information on this at the excellent SFXB site.
The Star Fleet DVD Box Set (courtesy of Fabulous Films) is available now in the UK.