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JOE 90: THE COMPLETE SERIES
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Joe 90 was Gerry Anderson's penultimate puppet show of the 1960s, following Captain Scarlet (1967) and preceding the little-known The Secret Service (1969). In 2112, professor Ian McClaine has invented the BIG RAT (Brain Impulse Galvanoscope, Record and Transfer), a machine for copying knowledge and experiences from person to person. WIN (World Intelligence Organization) uses this to prime their top undercover agent before sending him into the field on missions that range from foiling international terrorists to recovering a nuclear weapon from beneath the polar ice. So far so good, but in perhaps the most mind-boggling concept ever to reach children's TV, that agent is McClaine's 9-year-old adopted son, Joe.
Somehow even as it stays true to the Gerry Anderson techno-fantasy formula of secret organizations, gadgetry, and action-packed adventure full of spectacular explosions and violent death, Joe 90 remains blithely unconscious of its own implications. The missions are as globe-trotting as anything in Anderson's classic Thunderbirds series, and sometimes Joe does save lives, performing a risky brain operation or rescuing trapped astronauts. Yet even then his criminally irresponsible father brainwashes the lad each episode before placing him in a highly dangerous adult situation. Though the production values remain way ahead of anything else being done on British TV at the time, the question remains: how did this ever seem like a good idea?
Joe 90 comes complete in a four-disc boxed set of the entire 30-episode series. The 25-minute episodes are presented in superb picture quality and full, detailed mono sound. Extras include commentaries on two episodes, character biographies, a photo gallery, and varied extras such as location stills. --Gary S. Dalkin
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