1 9 6 7 – 1 9 6 8 (UK)
30 x 25 minute episodes
This really was the stuff of young boys fantasies in the 1960s.
A nine-year-old boy is equipped only with intelligence-giving spectacles (and all too visible strings) and gets to be an air force pilot, astronaut, president of the World Bank, a rally driver and much, much more.
Every episode saw the plucky and earnest Joe 90 stepping into another crisis and saving the day.
The premise of this puppet series from the prolific Anderson stable (it was Gerry Anderson’s ninth puppet series and the sixth of the ‘Supermarionation‘ series’) was as follows;
Joe’s adoptive father is brilliant electronics engineer Professor Ian ‘Mac’ McClaine. Mac invents BIG RAT (Brain Impulse Galvanascope Record And Transfer) – A machine capable of transferring brain patterns, skills and experience from one person to another.
Mac’s friend Sam Loover is an operative from WIN (World Intelligence Network) which is an organisation dedicated to maintaining the world balance of power.
Sam sees the BIGRAT in action when Mac tests the machine on Joe and immediately sees the potential. Sam contacts his boss, Shane Weston, who is Deputy Director and head of the London office of WIN.
Shane also recognises the machine’s potential to create a new and deadly form of secret agent, able to make use of the skills and experience of any living person.
Who better to perform this role, suggests Weston, than Mac’s nine-year-old adopted son who could slip into any situation without arousing suspicion?
Young Joe agrees and WIN’s most special secret agent, ‘Joe 90’, goes into action.
To download the skills necessary for each mission, Joe sits on a special chair which is pneumatically elevated into the Rat Trap. The entry bars close and the trap begins to spin and the BIGRAT begins to work.
Once the process is completed, the brainwave transfer only works when Joe puts on a pair of special glasses with built-in electrodes which connect to his temples, though (unlike previous Anderson shows) the gadgetry in Joe 90 takes second place to the characters.
In fact, apart from the BIGRAT itself, the only machines to appear regularly in the show are Mac’s Jet car and Sam Loover’s saloon.
Perhaps the ugliest vehicle designed by Derek Meddings, Mac’s car was triphibious – travelling on land or water but most spectacularly in low-level flying.
As the jet motors roared up, the wings would swing away from the sides and the wheels would retract into the body of the car.
Joe McClaine (Joe 90)
Professor Ian ‘Mac’ McClaine
Mrs Ada Harris
The Most Special Agent | Most Special Astronaut | Project 90 | Hi-Jacked | Colonel McClaine | The Fortress | King For A Day | International Concerto | Splash Down | The Big Fish | Relative Danger | Operation McClaine | The Unorthodox Shepherd | Business Holiday | Arctic Adventure | Double Agent | Three’s A Crowd | The Professional | The Race | Talkdown | Breakout | Child Of The Sun-God | See You Down There | Lone-Handed 90 | Attack Of The Tiger | Viva Cordova | Mission X-41 | Test Flight | Trial At Sea | The Birthday