Joe 90 follows the exploits of nine-year-old schoolboy Joe McClaine, who becomes a spy after his adoptive father invents a device capable of recording expert knowledge and experience and transferring it to another human brain.
Armed with the skills of the world’s top academic and military minds, Joe is recruited by the World Intelligence Network (WIN) as its “Most Special Agent”.
First broadcast on the ITV regional franchises between 1968 and 1969, the 30-episode series was the sixth production to be made primarily using “Supermarionation”.
As in the preceding series, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, the puppets of Joe 90 are of natural body proportions as opposed to the caricatured design used for Thunderbirds and earlier Supermarionation productions.
Though not as successful as Century 21’s earlier efforts, Joe 90 has been praised for the characterisation of its main puppet cast and the quality of its scale model sets and special effects.
Critics have interpreted the series’ spy-fi theme and use of a child protagonist as both a “kids-play-Bond” concept and an enshrinement of children’s imagination.
Points of criticism include the violence of some episodes.
As with its earlier productions, Century 21 produced tie-ins from comic strips to toy cars.
The series was syndicated in the United States in 1969, repeated in the UK right up to the 1990s