GFI – the 1993 abandoned animated series!

In the early 1990s, the works of Gerry Anderson were enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to high profile repeat screenings of some of his most popular shows in both the U.K. and around the world. During this time, Gerry himself was working on several projects; Space Police, a live action sci-fi series which would eventually enter production as Space Precinct, and a cel-animated series that would be abandoned after just one episode had been produced. The latter was GFI.

The series centred around the operatives of G-Force Intergalactic, a small but highly mobile and effective rapid deployment unit whose task was to provide assistance anywhere in the United Planets. Headed by Professor James Gee, his two students Wungee and Tugee, and their alien colleagues Argent and D’Or, G-Force would have a secret base beneath the surface of an asteroid and a variety of craft and equipment to use on rescues. In short, it was a new take on the Thunderbirds concept that placed its rescue organisation within a Star Wars-style universe.

Gerry Anderson developed GFI following a meeting in 1991 with Adam Shaw of Actis Ltd while attempting to interest potential backers and distributors in Space Police, at which Shaw indicated to Anderson that he was interested in creating a cel-animated series with him. Anderson began fleshing out the GFI concept, assembling a team which included such familiar names as writer and script editor Tony Barwick, concept artist Steve Begg, and voice actors Denise Bryer, Robbie Stevens and Gary Martin. Tomcat Animation in London would handle much of the pre-production work (including character and vehicle design) but the actual task of animating the series would fall to Videofilm Corp in Moscow.

Character artwork for D’Or, one of the alien members of the G-Force team.

At the end of 1992 thirteen episodes had been outlined, with six more full scripts written and recorded, and production on a pilot episode entitled Warming Warning began in 1993. This was intended as the second episode of the series and so made no attempt to introduce the show’s world or characters, instead simply demonstrating what a typical episode of the series would be like. However, when the completed episode arrived from Russia Anderson was extremely disappointed by what he saw. The animation quality varied wildly from acceptable to often embarrassingly poor (with characters usually either over-animated to the point of parody or else barely moving at all), the pacing of the dialogue was ruined by the editing (which itself had to work around the animation), and the programme’s incessant music often drowned out the dialogue.

Sadly, GFI also marked the end of one of Anderson’s longest professional relationships; Tony Barwick, who had worked closely with Anderson on GFI and many other productions over the previous decades, had to take a step back from the project due to ill health before he was able to finish all thirteen scripts for the proposed new series, and he would pass away from cancer in August 1993, at the age of 59.

The GFI pilot proved so disappointing that Anderson ultimately abandoned the entire project, with the remaining twelve episodes remaining forever unanimated and Warming Warning put on the shelf – where it remains to this day. The episode has never received a home media release or been aired on television, although a few brief clips were included as part of a 1992 BBC entertainment series that featured Anderson talking about the then-upcoming series. Several scripts still survive for the unfinished episodes, but the likelihood of the project ever getting off the ground again is miniscule. In his biography What Made Thunderbirds Go, Anderson recalled how it came to an end; “I found the Russians a delightful people, and there is no doubt about it – they are brilliant animators. However, the studio in Moscow was, in my opinion, ill-equipped. After six months of trying to make this co-production work I finally had no option but to call it off.”

Ugly, noisy, and lacking in likeable characters, GFI is quite the gruelling viewing experience despite the best efforts of all involved, and appears destined to remain the one Anderson production that will never see a wider release!

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

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