I'd fly you 'round the universe in Fireball XL5
Way out in space together, compass of the sky
My heart would be a fireball...
Every time I gazed into your starry eyes...
Fireball XL5 is a British TV show following the missions of spaceship Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. The show was made in 1962 by Gerry Anderson, featuring Supermarionation, which would be used again in subsequent shows such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons — this was the first and to this day only Anderson show to be shown on network television in the US, NBC to be specific (the bastardizations of Thunderbirds briefly shown on Fox Kids in 1994 don't count).
It was also the last Supermarionation show to be made in black and white. However, with Anderson's approval one episode was colorized for the Blu-ray release, suggesting that the rest of the series might get the same treatment if it sells well enough.
Fireball XL5 provides examples of the following tropes:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Prof. Matthew Matic. (Matt Matic, get it?)
- Explosive Overclocking: It is canon that the title spaceship is not supposed to be run continuously at full power and doing so for a long time will cause the main engines to overheat and explode (but the ship itself does not).
- Fighter-Launching Sequence: A pretty awesome one, even by Anderson series' standards.
- Food Pills
- What Dr. Venus occasionally cooks up for Steve Zodiac.
- Also, the infamous oxygen pills that allow anyone to breathe in space.
- Heavy Worlder: The people of the planet Triad, where everything is three times larger than Earth, including the populace.
- Instant Sedation: The coma ray of the Subterraneans can send anyone to sleep within a matter of several seconds.
- The Medic: Dr. Venus.
- Moving Buildings: The World Space Headquarters complex incorporates a control tower that rotates for no very obvious reason except Rule of Cool. Not to mention...
- No OSHA Compliance: ...how it doesn't get burned to a crisp every time XL5 launches is a mystery.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Lt. Ninety is promoted to "Space General" and put in charge of Space City. He then proceeds to issue contradictory launch/landing instructions to numerous spacecraft (including XL5). Not surprisingly for a Supermarionation show, everything proves to be Made of Explodium. Turns out it was All Just a Dream.
- No Biochemical Barriers
- The XL5 crew often have alien cuisine, and no one has any problems... save for when it's poisoned.
- Also, an outbreak of alien disease can infect humans, lazoons, and other alien humanoids.
- Perpetual Smiler: Dr. Venus again, as there was no other model for her head other than her default one, which not only smiled but showed her teeth. This made for some rather amusing Mood Dissonance whenever she happened to be in danger and crying out for help (which was often). That's why in all subsequent Supermarionation series the puppets had interchangeable heads with different expressions.
- Robo Speak: Co-pilot Robert the Robot. Inspired by series creator Gerry Anderson's visit to a lab that built artificial larynxes for people who'd lost their voices to disease or injury. Anderson himself, in fact, used one such device to voice Robert — making this the only show in Supermarionation history he was one of the voice artists behind the puppets (in addition to Robert, he also provided robot voices in the episodes "Trial By Robot" and "The Granatoid Tanks," all uncredited).
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Some of the aliens tend to be no more than humans with strange deformities, if not just ugly Human Aliens.
- Small, Annoying Creature: Zoonie, Venus' pet lazoone.
- Speech-Impaired Animal: At first, all Zoonie can say is "Welcome home!"; it learns more vocabulary over the series' run.
- Interestingly, in a print-only story telling how Zoonie became a pet, he is described as having "an incredible intelligence potential in that ugly head of his" so it seems that Zoonie is simply too lazy to bother learning more than he needs to (clue: he's called a lazoone and he sleeps most of the time).
- Society Marches On: Dr. Venus is the butt of a lot of "How about some coffee?" requests and "I don't know how I feel about a space mission led by a woman" remarks.
- Southern-Fried Genius: Prof. Matthew Matic's accent wouldn't sound too out of place were he to show up as "Cousin Matt" on The Beverly Hillbillies, but ... "Professor".
- Stellar Name: Steve Zodiac and Venus. Gerry Anderson always liked his Theme Naming.
- Subspace Ansible: Nutroni Radio allows for Space City to contact all its ships across light-years of space instantly.
- Theme Tune Cameo: One episode ends with the crew performing the end title song (which then plays instrumentally over the credits!).