It's a shame that they don't still make this show. It has heaps more charm than a lot of the current programmes which are aimed at kids on tv. Thunderbirds never really died, it continued to be repeated in the schedules and a boom in the nineties saw the show soar to great heights again, with a successful toy range and even a desirable Blue Peter Tracy Island!
The show follows the exploits of the Tracy brothers, living at their secret hideway island and foiling the evil plans of criminal bald mastermind The Hood. The brothers all have different responsibilites and each brother looks after his own vehicle.
Scott is in charge of Thunderbird One, a super rocket which travels at breakneck speed. Scott is pretty much the main character and stories usually revolve around him. Next up is Virgil who pilots the big green Thunderbird Two, which comes out of the ground on a big ramp. Thunderbird Three is supervised by blonde Alan, another rocket. Thunderbird Four is a yellow submarine, controlled by Gordon and finally the spacestation is looked after by John. I always felt sorry for John, drawing the short straw, marooned on his own in the middle of space! The brothers' father, Jeff Tracy makes frequent appearances, looking casual and vague a lot of the time but always very cool.
In addition to this lot, we cannot forget the slinky Lady Penelope, who everyone fawns over. Penny is somewhat of a sex siren, never getting involved in romance, but teasing the boys with her tight outfits and husky tones. Then we have Brains, the geeky genius who pops up every now and then.
One of the best characters is The Hood, the bald headed evil one often wears glamorous bright clothing, looking a bit like a tasty Yul Brynner crossed with Julian Clary. If he wasn't so evil, he'd be quite a catch.
The show has gripping storylines and a good balance of humour to action, suitable for children and adults, it makes for wonderful teatime viewing and you can buy the entire series on DVD, either as individual DVDs or as a boxset.
I am one of those oldies who grew up on this show, and I am glad to see it back on the screens. That it has been consistently repeated over the last couple of decades is proof enough that it still draws the viewers, and now it is coming to an all-new generation who will doubtless love it just as we did all those years ago - the FIRST time around.
Today's world is full of "reality-based" shows and I think the fantasy of this is something that helps young children to open their minds and learn to use their imagination. Remember - when this show first came out, real space travel was in it's infancy.
The puppets are classic, and it doesn't matter that their mouths move wrong or that the strings are visible sometimes. We didn't notice that as children, we were enthralled by what was going on on-screen. Today's children may be less naive than we were back then, but I think the change of pace will prove refreshing to them too.
Now maybe they can re-do some of the other old kids tv shows too. There is gold in those old ideas ....
The Thunderbirds were perhaps the most famous of genius puppeteer Gerry Anderson's marionette creations. The show was immensely popular when it first aired nearly half a century ago, and is considered as the forerunner to a lot of kids TV shows nowadays.
The show featured a number of puppets controlled by strings, with spaceships and other vehicles also controlled in a similar way. Ther characters and storylines were created by Gerry Anderson, and featured the Tracy family, headed by dad Jeff and run by his sons and London link Lady Penelope, as they travelled around the world, saving lives and thwarting bad guys and averting disasters with their multiple special vehicles and never ending supply of technology and money.
Jeff Tracy, multi-millionaire ex-Astronaut, was in charge, with his sons Alan, Gordon, Virgil, Scott and John piloting each of the five vehicles, ranging from a space satellite to an underwater bug. These were cleverly named Thunderbird 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (simple yet effective!) They all livede on Tracy Island, a secret island somewhere in the ocean, and had constant contact with their associate Lady Penelope and her manservant Parker, who often helped them in their missions.
Their sworn enemy was known as The Hood, and was constantly searching for ways to steal their technology to use it for evil purposes to control the world, and was naturally thwarted each time by the Thunderbirds.
I remember watching reruns of Thunderbirds when I was younger, and although it wasn't particularly realistic, with the strings clearly visible at times and the puppets clearly being puppets, the plots and the clever creative work made the show immensely popular. A few years ago, a feature film was made of the Thunderbirds. It enjoyed relative success but nothing spectacular, but you can't beat the original puppetry series.
I recommend this series, but probably not for the very young, as moments of peril and some scary bits with The Hood may scare them. Otherwise, it's a great show to watch. If the reruns come back on again soon, I'll be sure to catch some of them.
As a parent of a five year old boy, I was recently discussing DVDs I could get my son for Christmas with a friend. He loves Bob the Builder, but at five, I could see his interests branching out with a large interest in dinosaurs, space, and super heroes emerging, and I wanted to know if she thought he would love getting some Gerry Anderson. Ohhhhh yes, she said. It's still cool to love the Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. Glad to hear it actually, as Mommy and Daddy quite like sitting there watching TV with the kids if they have something quality on, and in our book, Gerry Anderson is high quality indeed. I was still unconvinced however, pondering if the Supermarionation would quite meet up to his expectations as many of the offerings today are much more sophisticated, using CGI and not having the occasional visible string.
I got a chance to find out for myself, however, when Thunderbirds began this past week on the Sci Fi channel, beginning with episode 1 and continuing on in order. So, I set the Sky+, and arranged to watch it with the kids to see their reaction. I need not have worried. Occasional string or no, my five year old son and his super girly seven year old sister were both sat enthralled. They found the special effects fabulous, loving the use of puppets and miniatures, raving about the fine details. They also love the plotlines, as they are as fully realised as any adult show, not talking down to its juvenile audience at all. It was, and still is, intelligent drama for families.
It's 2065, and the world has a seriously retro feel that would not really surprise us today, what with retro being all the rage in home appliances, fashion, and even in some car body designs. So we get some 1960's fashions and home decor, mixed in with way out advanced gadgetry. Into this reality we get one millionaire ex-astronaut, Jeff Tracy. He is a widower with five sons who are all named after Mercury astronauts, and live on their own little island, Tracy Island. While it all looks lazily relaxing with beaches to comb, water to surf, and a swimming pool to lounge by, the reality is starkly different. This facade hides a big secret. This is really the home base for Jeff Tracy's super secret organisation, International Rescue, whose goals are to give aid to anyone in need of rescue from grave danger anywhere in the world. To accomplish this Jeff needed some rather nifty gadgets that were better than anything currently on offer, including some sophisticated rescue vehicles. To this end, he hired Brains.
Brains is a stuttering scientific young egg head whose genius, along with Jeff Tracy's resources, makes IR possible. Brains designed the Tracy Island facilities, all the gadgets, and all the vehicles.He also keeps them in working order and keeps on creating new bits and pieces as called for, within hours' notice. While he is literally the brains, and Jeff Tracy the commander of the organisation, the real heroes of the piece are the Tracy boys and their amazing vehicles. With these, Jeff Tracy's sons jaunt around the world saving people from dire fates and gaining the admiration of all who encounter them (save for a chap I shall mention in a bit).The vehicles and pilots are:
Thunderbird 1. Piloted by Scott Tracy, this is a seriously cool rocket plane. Scott accesses it via a chute that opens in wall which he slides down, into his seat that then goes into the vehicle. His seat also rotates so that when the craft has changed position, he is always upright. Said to be able to 5000 mph, it is used for rapid response as well as for a mobile base of operations on scene.
Thunderbird 2. Virgil drives this one, and so far it is my daughter's favourite as the mid section is empty until filled by one of several pods, each packed with different equipment. The pod numbers seem to vary as well, with equipment getting shuffled about. the pods fir in the midsection, and can be dropped as necessary. My two really loved the Mole, which is a machine with a drill for a nose. They loved watching it tunnel through rock.
Thunderbird 3. Another rocket ship type vehicle, but this one can actually fly into space apparently. Not seen that episode yet where it does with the kids, and as I was so young when I first watched it, actual episodes are hazy! It is seriously cool though, and Alan Tracy pilots it. I have to say he is not my fave Thunderbird though, as he does come off a bit smarmy. My kids love him and his Thunderbird though, so maybe its just me! I do recall that it also takes John to and from Thunderbird 5, as well as being the maintenance vehicle for Thunderbird 5.
Thunderbird 4. This is my five year old's favourite vehicle so far. It's a small craft with limited rage, so has to be piggybacked within a pod by Thunderbird 2. Gordon is its oh so capable blond pilot, who steers it unerringly under the water when a submersible craft is needed.
Thunderbird 5 is not so much a vehicle as a space station. John Tracy mans it, keeping the communication lines open by intercepting calls made on open frequencies for IR, and relaying the message. This means that no one can pinpoint where the HQ are by sending a direct signal, thus preserving the secret nature of the organisation.
Like most secret organisations, there are supporting roles to be filled by support staff. Kyrano and his daughter Tintin, along with the occasionally seen Grandma Tracy, help provide the day to day running of the household as well as distract any guests who may be on the island when an emergency call is in progress. Tintin and Alan Tracy also have a bit of romantic chemistry going on, and she also helps out time to time on actual missions. Lady Penelope and her manservant, Parker, are the Thunderbird's covert London agents, though they actually live in Kent. Lady Penelope owns a pink Rolls Royce that has various James Bond like accessories, including a gun that pops out through the grille.
Most of the rescues are genuine accidents and mishaps that happen at random through man's own mistakes while going about their daily business, from collapsed buildings to fallen bridges and that sort of thing, but occasionally they are also the result of sabotage. Kyrano has a half brother, known only as The Hood, who is a mercenary who not only hires himself out for sabotage missions, but also freelances on his own due to some grudge against Jeff Tracy and his idea of International Rescue. Right from the first episode, we get to see he has a strange sort of psychic power over his half brother Kyrano and tries to use it to influence him to divulge secrets or wreak havoc. He is, of course, no match for the good guys and always ends up in the soup thanks to his own single minded desire to show everyone he is smarter than they are.
Full of tension, intrigue, gadgetry, and a sense of adventure, this is one show that has my kids hooked. My husband and I have been enjoying taking the time to catch the shows with them, both for the nostalgia factor as well as just plain enjoying the craftsmanship of the sets and the attendant high production values. With high quality scripts and realistic attention to finer details, its an easy show to watch to while away a bit of time. It is currently airing on Sci FI weekdays at 11 a.m. And those DVDs I was going to ask Santa for? Well, FAB, boss. Both kids are hot to own this on DVD, as well as the films, so I think I may just add Stingray, Joe 90, and Captain Scarlet to the pile and have a Gerry Anderson Christmas. In the meantime, we have a standing date with Thunderbirds via the Sci Fi channel and the Sky+ box.
THUNDERBIRDS is, as many people know, the most famous of Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation puppet shows. It features the heroes of Internation Rescue as they go about combatting evil and saving the world from those who would wish to do it harm.
I don't know why but THUNDERBIRDS has never grabbed me, neither when I was a child, nor now I am a more sophisticated adult (although the level of 'sophistication' I choose to show changes on a day-to-day level!). I'm not quite sure why it is, as the puppetry is probably the best amongst all of the Anderson shows. I think that it is probably because of the fact that each episode lasts for 50 minutes, instead of the regular 25 minutes for the other puppet shows Anderson made. This decision on episode length was made in order to make the sure easier to sell to the American broadcasters but to me it does the show a disservice - I was always able to enjoy a 25-minute show with puppets, but 50-minutes always felt to long, I would just get annoyed by the puppets and their odd 'bouncy' way of walking.
Having said that, the show is still enjoyable and I would recommend it if you like cheesy, unchallenging, puppet shows. Just make sure you can stand them for 50 minutes at a time.
Thunderbirds presents a view of a possible future, in which televisions and household appliances have reverted to a 1960s style, but in which we can explore space and commmunicate through pictures with eyes that illuminate. Gerry Anderson's sci-fi adventure series starring fake people on strings captured the imaginations of an entire... well, my Dad anyway.
That's right, I've written a review on Thunderbirds.
The story behind Thunderbirds is that it is the year 2065, and multi-millionaire widower ex-astronaut Jeff Tracey and his family of only men have set up an incredibly secret yet famous organisation, International Rescue. The purpose of this organisation is to offer assistance to people who really need it, similar to Superman but more wooden. The woodenness of the Christopher Reeve acting versus puppets could be argued if you thought you were a bit clever, however it's obvious that it was meant literally.
Jeff's five sons are carrying out their father's dream and flying all over the planet while he lies down on his tropical island drinking and talking with that old woman that's only in a few of them.
Scott is in charge of Thunderbird 1, which is the best as it is small enough to travel quickly in Earth's atmosphere and can manouvre into some smaller spots. A noteable T1 episode was the pyramid one, which I remember being great but can't remember what happened in it. The chute into which Scott's plastic and wood body would be delivered into Thunderbird 1 was clearly the most exciting part of the character's otherwise very dull life, alone on an island with only his family for company.
Virgil commands Thunderbird 2, which is the best because it's a huge green hulk that can go all the places the first one can as well as drop smaller vehicles out of its central pod. This was also the Thunderbird that everyone had the toy of. A noteable T2 episode featured the pod "the Mole," which had to dig out the crew of another c
raft called "the Sidewinder" which was burrowing into a volcano because the people inside had trusted machinery over man or some moral like that.
Thunderbird 3 was the best one because it was huge and could fly into space, the only problem was that it was commanded by the annoying Alan Tracey. Thunderbird 3 always impressed me simply because of the space aspect, and a noteable episode is one where some Sun Probe malfunctioned, probably because the people within had trusted machinery over man or something along those lines, and T3 had to go to the rescue with Brains and some stupid robot Brains had built which was probably vital in the rescue. Seems a little unfair making International Rescue into Intergalactic Rescue, but that was one of my favourites when I was young.
Thunderbird 4 was NOT the best because it was small and rubbish, and commanded by the most annoying of the Tracey sons, Gordon. Thunderbird 4 had to be carried to its destinations by Thunderbird 2's pod system, and as such is surely the least loved Thunderbird. Still, there was a noteable episode in which a sunken spaceships called the Firefly had to have its engines cut off by T4 so it could float to the surface; I don't know how it had crashed, but you get the picture. Machine v. Man, etc.
There has been a very strong rumour since the show came out that John Tracey was sent to the orbiting satellite Thunderbird 5 because Gerry Anderson found the puppet very annoying. Although it doesn't rescue anything, T5 is responsible for receving all the radio communications which are sent to IR's headquarters, because this couldn't be done from the advanced Tracy island obviously. There were never, and never will be, any noteable
erbird 5 episodes.
Jeff's London contact was the sultry and wealthy Lady Penelope, another example of an operative of the 'secret' organisation holding immense status and fame in society, always accompanied by the rather feeble Parker. I know they were only puppets, as I've said, but there was chemistry between them two, unless that was just a horrible dream I had. The main adversary of International Rescue was a bald, Eastern man known as 'the Hood' who had the ability to influence another of the old men living on Tracey Island. The one who had the daughter, Tintin, who was clearly the only available young lady on which the lads must have based their sexual affections, but we never saw this for some reason. I'm not going to make a joke about them getting wood, oh damn. Sorry.
Thunderbirds presented children and adults with adventure, tension, excitement, explosions, mystery and pretend people. Often criticised for the fact that it used puppets, Thunderbirds was simply too expensive to use real actors and locations in, and it's more original than it being a cartoon. Many adults find no problem in loving what could be described as a childish show, and personally I disagree to some extent. I can appreciate how I liked it in my youth, but I think it's a little foolish to be watching it for entertainment now. Obviously my Dad wouldn't agree, he's just bought both of the 'films' (extended episodes) off eBay. Even if you aren't a child, which I hope you're not because I think I wrote 'crap' in this review somewhere, Thunderbirds' slight dodginess through age can still be a sou
rce of merriment, as you watch people take several seconds to perform a jump and explosions that are clearly one thousandth their theoretical size.
Still as able to fascinate and entertain children as it ever was, and possibly having a come-back in a while when the live action feature directed by Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes (Riker) is released, I hope to see Thunderbirds on BBC 2's early morning schedule for many years to come. I think it was better than Stingray, but others would disagree.
That's right, I've written a review on Thunderbirds. Gerry Anderson's sci fi adventure series starring fake people on strings captured the imaginations of an entire... well, my dad anyway. The story behind Thunderbirds is that it is the year 2065, and multi-millionaire widower ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his family of only men have set up an incredibly secret yet famous organisation, International Rescue. The purpose of this organisation is to offer assistance to people who really need it, similar to Superman but more wooden. The woodenness of the Christopher Reeve acting versus puppets could be argued if you thought you were a bit clever, however it's obvious that it was meant literally. Jeff's five sons are carrying out their father's dream and flying all over the planet while he lies down on his tropical island drinking and talking with that old woman that's only in a few of them. 1... Scott is in charge of Thunderbird 1, which is the best as it is small enough to travel quickly in Earth's atmosphere and can maneuver into some smaller spots. A noteable T1 episode was the Pyramid one, which I remember being great but can't remember what happened in it. The chute into which Scott's plastic and wood body would be delivered into Thunderbird 1 was clearly the most exciting part of the character's otherwise very dull life. 2... Virgil commands Thunderbird 2, which is the best because it's a huge green hulk that can go all the places the first one can as well as drop smaller vehicles out of its central pod. This was also the Thunderbird that everyone had the toy of. A noteable T2 episode featured the pod "the Mole," which had to dig out the crew of another craft called "the Sidewinder" which was burrowing into a volcano because the people inside had trusted machinery over man or some moral like that. 3... Thunderbird 3 was
the best one because it was huge and could fly into space, the only problem was that it was commanded by the annoying Alan Tracy. Thunderbird 3 always impressed me simply because of the space aspect, and a noteable episode is one where some Sun Probe malfunctioned, probably because the people within had trusted machinery over man or something along those lines, and T3 had to go to the rescue with Brains and some stupid robot Brains had built which was probably vital in the rescue. Seems a little unfair making International Rescue into Intergalactic Rescue, but that was one of my favourites when I was young. 4... Thunderbird 4 was not the best because it was small and rubbish, and commanded by the most annoying of the Tracy sons, Gordon. Thunderbird 4 had to be carried to its destinations by Thunderbird 2's pod system, and as such is surely the least loved Thunderbird. Still, there was a noteable episode in which a sunken spaceships called the Firefly had to have its engines cut off by T4 so it could float to the surface; I don't know how it had crashed, but you get the picture. 5... There has been a very strong rumour since the show came out that John Tracy was sent to the orbiting satellite Thunderbird 5 because Gerry Anderson found the puppet very annoying. Although it doesn't rescue anything, T5 is responsible for receving all the radio communications which are sent to IR's headquarters, because this couldn't be done from the advanced Tracy island obviously. There were no noteable Thunderbird 5 episodes. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------------------------- Thunderbirds presented children and adults with adventure, tension, excitement, explosions, mystery and pretend people. Often criticised for the fact that it used puppets, Thunderbirds was simply too expensive to use real actors and locations in, and it's more original than it bein
g a cartoon. Many adults find no problem in loving what could be described as a childish show, and personally I disagree to some extent. I can appreciate how I liked it in my youth, but I think it's a little foolish to be watching it for entertainment now. Obviously my dad wouldn't agree, he's just bought both of the 'films' (extended episodes) off eBay. Even if you aren't a child, which I hope you're not because I think I wrote 'crap' in this review somewhere, Thunderbirds' slight dodginess through age can still be a source of merriment, as you watch people take several seconds to perform a jump and explosions that are clearly one thousandth their theoretical size. Thunderbirds also presents a view of a possible future, in which televisions and household appliances have reverted to a 1960s style, but in which we can explore space and commmunicate through pictures with eyes that illuminate. Still as able to fascinate and entertain children as it ever was, and possibly having a come-back in a while when the live action feature directed by Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes (Riker) is released, I hope to see Thunderbirds on BBC 2's early morning schedule for many years to come.
So jaded and difficult to impress are we, that we're able to recall every single occasion that we've been amazed by something since birth. There have been only three times: one of them was being born. The second time must be a tie, between witnessing the first scientifically cloned living organism (the retrospectively spectacularly underwhelming "Dolly", the Really Boring Cloned Sheep With More Than a Passing Resemblance to Many, Many Other Sheep); hearing about Princess Diana's fatal accident in late 1997; or seeing those photographs of Gail Porter that appeared in FHM magazine. I say ! Without doubt, the third occasion was sometime around about the middle of last year. "Auntie Beeb" (pet name we Brits give the British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC) announced that they intended to bring Gerry Anderson's classic Thunderbirds legend, to which they have held exclusive rights for years, back onto our screens. You all know Thunderbirds. Quintessential 1960s rich magnate and do-gooder extraordinare John Tracy (that's Mr Tracy to you) developed a range of cutting-edge technological machinery designed for the greater good of mankind (rescuing people from absurdly unlikely situations of extreme danger), to be piloted by his extended family of 5 brothers: Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, and Michael Jackson (the other one). The technology was the subject of arch-villain The Hood's affections: he wanted to use them to hold the world to ransom and make his fortune. Cue numerous disasters. You've all seen the show. Not only, did we learn, were the celluloids to be exhumed from their entombment deep within the BBC's darkest vaults, and hosed down to remove the staining: they were also being digitally remastered, and released to a primetime Sunday afternoon slot (just before Songs of Praise, everybody's favourite show). This, it was plain to see, was nothing less than an aggressive revival s
trategy. But this isn't what shocked us. What did was the public reaction to the announcement, one of unified euphoria. Countrywide, Britons young and old were astonishingly eager to see the series return. In the same month this news was announced, sales of Anderson merchandise TRIPLED in a veritable overnight frenzy. Hmm... would anybody some "Fickle Pickle" with their bread and cheese ? All-too familiar with the society's tendency to swing to extremes more than any pendulum we know of, this kind of reception didn't surprise us untowardly, but its scale certainly did. After all, the series had only been last screened as recently in 1991, its highlights then having been a lukewarm reception, and the famous insanely preposterous craze for electronic Tracy Island toys which hit stores in Christmas 1993 (we never did get ours. Deprived vagrants that we were, we made do with old boxes, or what we THOUGHT was a vacant mole hill, until the angry mole emerged and mauled our face). Regardless of the enormity of the series way back when it first emerged, we reasoned that, judging by the way television has mutated into a horrible, steaming turd in the last decade, these days - even more so now than in 1991 - most contemporary couch jockeys would find it pretty challenging to sit through a whole 45 minute slice of low-budget, puppet-based hogwash. Given our normal passion for low-budget, puppet based hogwash, this cynicism was somewhat out of character for us. Perhaps we had been consuming large quantities of Milk of Magnesia at the time. Even if we were feeling off-colour, however, it seems our judgement wasn't clouded in the slightest. For you see, come the day, digital fiddling and high-profile razzmatazz or no, the relaunch failed to persuade us into revoking the original assessments we made: Thunderbirds is, and will remain, a festering latrine of cruddiness. Hiissssss ! Dear oh dear. We h
ate to soil your precious day with our wanton ululation, but when we get stoked-up... Our intention was to bring you all the definitive biography of how Mr Gerry Anderson brought us Thunderbirds, through (most famously) Joe 90, and on the way to Captain Scarlet and, more recently, the unintentionally hilarious (hilariously daft and downright chronically awful) Space Precinct. Ultimately, we found the story is frankly far too tedious to waste your time on. Once you reach 12 years of age, and have heard all about one media success story, you've heard them all - SEVENTEEN TIMES EACH. They follow what is essentially a single not-very-exciting template, starting off from lowly beginnings, building up to a frenzy, often before crashing to earth because of drink or drugs or money (or in Michael Barrymore's exceptionally messed-up case, all three). If you care to flick back to Wrong Planet's catalogue of the World Wrestling Federation series title, replacing as you go all the 'WWFs' with 'Thunderbirds', and the 'Vince McMahon' bits with 'Gerry Anderson', then you're pretty much at where we arrived attempting to formulate a completely new article. In terms of accuracy, doing that will probably prove of greater worth than a flick through most autobiographical novels, coloured as they so often are with lies and overexaggerations in order to conceal a fundamental lack of anything interesting to say. Why, that's actually a splendid idea: you SHOULD to that. Also, replace all the 'McMahon Senior' parts with 'Gerry Anderson's dad', find some pictures, and we'll publish it next week. Post it to us, enclosing a cheque for £179.99 (err... "editorial fees") made out to Unwin's. We won't be bringing you a historical analysis then. Not that we wish to marginalise the past of every TV legend ever in doing so - just, we want to mock them all for being a bunch of tedious old gu
ffers. Instead, we're just going to go on (for as long as possible) about Thunderbirds in isolation, speaking personally so's we can get away with writing garbage using the excuse "Well, that's how we feel inside". Personally, then, on a purely personal basis, we personally felt, personally, that Thunderbirds took itself too seriously, personally speaking. We're as "up" for thrills tense as an erect rubber band as the next person, but we don't believe these can't be combined successfully with the odd comic foray, if it's written well and executed properly. Especially in the case of children's TV, we would've liked to see a bit of tongue-in-cheek (and no, we don't mean that in a sexually explicit sense) to soften the action up (our poor, weak bladders can't take all this non-stop tension, man). For Thunderbirds, it seems quite the opposite stance was adopted, with acting lingering somewhere between deadpan-as-a-coffinpan, and stupidly melodramatic. Anderson and the team occasionally doffed their beards to comic relief, although these were generally sub-slapstick shenanigans that were about as successfully funny as they sound when you write them - roughly on a humour par with being mauled by a rabied gorilla. Not that it isn't fair enough to take yourself seriously, but as far as we're concerned you can only do that if you've got the goods to back it up with by remaining (a) state-of-the-art (The Matrix) or (b) really cool (David Beckham). Otherwise, you are treading thin ice, and to our "ice" (eyes) Thunderbirds was neither of those things, meaning to watch it now is actually faintly amusing, in an oh-so-dated-and-crap and ha-ha-thinks-it's-really-futuristic-circa-1960 kind of way. By that, we mean "faintly amusing" as in roughly on a humour par with having a tooth extracted by a rabied gorilla, without anaesthetic, or going to a Sp
anish cafe and ordering a plate of angry wasps for supper. We don't count all this "character study" stuff as comedy, perhaps because we aren't intelligent enough to understand it. Clearly, the thousands of minions who adore the show's idiosyncrasies certainly appreciate them a lot more than we ever did. Personally (yes, we're still speaking personally here), we just can't see the "charm" that some find in uber-boff, Brains, and uber-chav, Parker the chauffeur. "'Ome, M'Lady ?" ? It may have established a cult in its own right, but isn't it just so revoltingly vulgar that it makes you want to simultaneously want to vomit in extremis, and blow smoke our of your ears ? And normally, it takes several trips to the local Indian to invoke that kind of reaction in us. >> continues next week >> Who would have thought there was so much you could say about one unassuming children's television program ? Not us, that's for sure, when we set out to appraise (and, ultimately, give a good kicking to) Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds series, the show which, on the back of the success of Joe 90, put the man on the map. But whether it's because this fame resulted in Anderson being allowed to indulge us in the criminally poor Space Precinct, or just because we didn't like the show, here we are continuing into a second week of casually flinging criticisms at Thunderbirds like some wild-haired maniac. Like we did say, when we get stoked-up... So where were we now ? ...Yes: "'Ome, M'Lady ?" ? It may have established a cult in its own right, but isn't it just so revoltingly vulgar that it makes you want to simultaneously want to vomit in extremis, and blow smoke our of your ears ? We just do not find this enduring, or funny, or of any outstanding merit whatsoever. To us, this is plain old simple kids TV - shallow characters (naming a guy who dri
ves a car "Parker" is really only one step removed from calling him "The Chauffeur Man", or "Guy Who Drives a Car") delivering throwaway scripts. Thunderbirds wasn't the first show to do it, or, sadly, the last, by a long chalk. Did we miss something important again ? Enough of this opinionated spin. Don't get us wrong, we digress: looked at purely as a television program for 3-11 year olds to enjoy, Thunderbirds had a lot of things going for it. In some ways, it was like junior James Bond. Most notably, the vehicles - land, sea and air based - were absolutely terrific. Only a few people alive - excluding God - can take a load of Lego bricks, broken things and haberdashery purchased in B&Q and turn it into aeroplanes, crawlers, skiffs, submarines, rockets of exceeding complexity and stuff, and we're quite sure all of them are kept locked up in Gerry Anderson's shed. The wooden-faced puppet stars have come in for a lot of "stick" (oh-ho !) over the years, perhaps unfairly (although predominantly within reason, now we think about it). But they were Anderson's baby, and he and wife Sylvia devoted a great deal of their days meticulously modelling the puppets, and we have nothing but respect for perfectionism - even if the end result does look a little like some goosewalking Nazi with a funny-shaped head. We're not about to make cheap jokes about them, for 3 reasons: (1) because we're crap at making things and know for absolute certain we couldn't attempt the same without terrifying the younger members of our audience and emotionally scarring them for life; (2) because you've heard all the old puppet jokes before, and; (3) you probably heard them because Ben Elton made them up - a despicable, churlish puke of a comedian, and man for whom we harbour a deep loathing. As far as the puppets go, let's just say they're probably not quite as bad as you remember. Equa
lly, for the special effects to do justice to the rest of the sets took something very "special" indeed. Anderson's SFX crew were more than able to deliver here. And even we cannot laugh in the face of giant ships gliding gracefully through the sky, vast buildings disappearing in sudden, bright explosions, and planes spontaneously combusting in mid-air without warning. Mainly, we can't laugh at it because, reading that back, it sounds uncannily like what happened on September 11th, and so it wouldn't be very politically correct of us to break into a big, gibbon-headed grin. But we hope you know what we mean. We do not mind these things. All these are good things. For us, it's when one gets to the non-visual bits that things start to deteriorate like a paper tissue in a reservoir. What got us was our mistaken remembrance that Thunderbirds was a lively, thrill-packed action-adventure program. We could not have been more wrong. Tuning into watch the first few instalments of the digitally remastered show when it returned to the BBC last January, sitting through the atypically long 45 minute episodes revealed the action-y bits (by that we mean death, fire and explosions) to be surprisingly few and far between. The screenplay was no masterpiece, but consistently delivered a three-quarter hour serving of decent enough, enjoyable romps, while also doing a reasonable job of disguising that the scripts were all calibrated to allow the overeager special effects department to blow something up, or light a big fire, as soon as possible. A typical plot wouldn't muck about, more often than not with the scene being set in the first five minutes. Taking some unsuspecting coxcomb, Anderson would place the marionette in a precariously dangerous situation, either through incident or by The Hood's pernicious design. The Tracy family would henceforth be charged, generally in a fraught race against time, to spend t
he subsequent 40 minutes, dressed like Thunderbirds dress, amending the unlikely circumstances, through cunning and liberal use of the "visionary" (read: giant and/or noisy) Thunderbirds machinery. Where applicable, the evil forces of, err, evil, would be brought to justice in the process. Each week, the last 10 minutes or so would build into a thrilling, all-action climax (or at least, it seemed that way for a couple of weeks, until you realised that nothing out of the ordinary would ever happen, such as somebody getting killed, or at least bitten by a horrible dog. More on that later...). Ho hum... These are the classic staples of the genre and, even if Thunderbirds used the very same every week, you can't rewrite legend. For us, the "weakest link" lay in the frankly appalling scripting. Go on - read all of that last line while "doing the Anne Robinson voice". That's how we said it. It lends so much power. Of course, as if so often the case, the scriptwriters tried to be clever - and, as is so often the case, they weren't clever to pull it off, and consequently failed. Keep your eyes and ears (and any other orifices should you so chose) peeled during Thunderbirds, and you'll see that so often did the proceedings become embroiled in tedious "be good" lessons hiding behind oddly-structured phatic conversation, that, despite most thinking of it as synonymous with the Thunderbirds name, drama served merely as a punctuative lesion on the anus of something altogether more subversively moral and wholesome. And this is not as interesting as our needlessly pompous choice of wording might have you believe. It meant we were in fact "subliminally" learning with every passing instalment that not only did being bad never pay off (as with most kids TV, bar the occasional treacherous snake there was a very clear good/bad divide - and nobody bad ever won), but that doing so had moral im
plications that affected the wider world, such as whenever anyone innocent became mixed up in The Hood's goings on (which was unsurprisingly often). This was Anderson's way of teaching us how to be nice, while dressing up the Sunday School tedium in some fancy explosive tuxedo. Very noble ? Very noble. We have no issue with that. Problem was, by establishing the Tracy family as the infallible forces of good (give Scott Tracy a beard and a bathrobe and he could've passed off as Jesus any day of the week), Anderson effectively banished any twists in the scripts into a large toilet bowl. If nobody "good", which essentially meant anyone that wasn't The Hood, were ever to be harmed, in even the slightest degree, then how was there to be any tension ? The answer: there wasn't any. None at all. After episode 4, we all knew the drill. Nobody WOULD get killed, or even at least get bitten by a horrible dog. EVER. This inflexibility quickly lead to repetition; cliched plotlines with quaint undertones so bulging with tweeness that they were bursting out and causing innumerable holes in the plots - unlikely twists in favour of "good" coming from nowhere. The writers weren't talented enough to plaster over cracks this big. OK, this is fair enough for one series, but Anderson refused to develop the show over the passing of time - lots and lots of time. 32 episodes of time. And we won't hear about this "it's just for kids, Sir !" guff: children have just as much a right to decent plots as the rest of us, and you can't fob them off as being so stupid they didn't even notice. A blind, mentally-handicapped donkey could've poked its nose through the holes in Thunderbird plots, and most children are considerably more intelligent than they're given credit for. Just ask any small delinquent if they agree with us. And if they say "Yes, Mummy !", give 'em a pat on the cheek and a ni
ce lollypop from Uncle us, eh ? Worryingly, this evangelical trend seems to be a recurring theme in Anderson productions. Lord... But you know us: we don't get this venomous over old news. It's just kids' TV, and for the years of entertainment three generations of nippers have extracted from the show more than makes up for any expletives we can fire in its direction. No, what pissed us off was when the BBC brought it back, with those promises of a hose down and spruce-up... The so-called "digital remastering" must be the single most disappointingly unavailing example of its kind ever to see the light of day. Foolishly, we tuned in expecting the kind of job that George Lucas did when he rejigged the Star Wars trilogy a few years ago: added special effects, extra characters and scenes, strings that WEREN'T JUST BLATANTLY OBVIOUS, even more powerful explosions, reflections, facial animations... In fact, that generally warm and pleasing attention to detail that reeks an air of expensive perfectionism. As it turned out, the BBC team had evidently decided to explore a new technique of computer technology, called 'Sitting On Your Stupid Bottom Doing Absolutely Nothing For 6 Months'. We could find no traces that the original tapes had been touched by human nor virtual hand in the last 30 years. It amounted to the sort of quality (i.e: no quality at all) that, were you to have paid someone to do the job personally, you would return to the shop with a revolver and a large, salivating Alsatian. It made us cry into the bedclothes for nearly a week solid. We're still in a bad mood today. >> Enjoy this opinion ? More nostalgic nonsense, including the full version of this review, can be found on my website, www.wrongplanet.cjb.net >>
Thunderbirds is one of those programmes which I have a soft spot for. You always know at the beginning of every episode, that there will be a disaster and those good old Tracy brothers will save the day. Yet still you feel compelled to watch all the same. Thunderbirds is set in the future. It is all about Jeff Tracy and his five sons, who live on Tracy Island. With them live the engineer/scientist - Brains, grandma, and a young girl called Tintin and her father. Brains is the designer of all the gadgets. These include all the Thunderbird machines - Thunderbirds 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and all their accessories such as the Mole. The Tracy family are known as International Rescue. Anyone in a sticky situation where no-one else can help, radios for them. All calls are received on Thunderbird 5 which stays in space, and the current "pilot" (usually John Tracy but sometimes Alan) transmits it onto Tracy Island. The oldest brother, Scott, pilot of Thunderbird 1, is always sent out first to assess the situation. Then it is all systems go as the boys fight to save the day under the direction of their father back on Tracy Island. Thunderbirds is a truly fantastic programme. The magic of it is that all the characters are puppets and, well it is fairly obvious they are as the programme is a good thirty or forty years old. It is just one of those programmes you can love, it is so out of this world and so unrealistic. It is such a fun concept and really imaginative. Kids love it too but as I always say, you're never too old for Thunderbirds!
I was a second-generation Thunderbirds fan. The series was first made in 1964, when my oldest brother was born and I was not even an itch in my dad's underpants. I first saw the programme in the early 1970's when we would tune our colour TV (yes we rented it, they cost a bomb those things!) into London Weekend because they didn't show Thunderbirds on Southern TV. But I digress a little (and any of you who have read other opinions by me will know that I can digress - only joking) I would suggest that the main reason why Thunderbirds continues to have a cult following is based around one of two things: 1- The storylines are imaginative but not wholly realistic. 2- The premise is to save lives, not take them. Everyone must have imagined that they were a Thunderbirds pilot (I did, but I have grown out of that now - it was last Thursday i think). You get so engrossed and involved in the stories, you build lego models and make up your own stories. But let me give you a rundown of the main characters: Jeff Tracy- Millionaire ex-astronaut, set up International rescue and owns his own custom-built island (not even Bill gates has one of those babies!) Scott- Pilot of Thunderbird 1 (busy-body, bossman on the job) Virgil- TB2 (worker, has to carry all the tools around) Alan- TB3 (playboy, superstud who goes into space to escape all those admiring girls) Gordon- TB 4 (the one who doesn't mind getting wet) John- TB5 (listens in on the world's conversations - bit like my mum!) Brains- engineer par excellence (last seen working for NASA) You may think I am being sarcastic, but I love the show so much that I have just spent my first Blackstar voucher from Dooyoo to buy 'Thunderbirds are Go- The Movie). Watch it, and may your life be FAB
Thunderbirds i think is one of the best kids programmes ever. I hope people that are reading this, get their kids off things like the tweenies, and start watching some great adventures, and where else to start tham Thunderbirds. They have great story lines, they never cease to amaze me! I watch Thunderbirds even at the age of 17. Obviously i am a great fan of the programme. This programme has been going onf ro years, and has recently returned to our screens. kids of young ages should be watvhing this. For many reasons. The programme itself offers lots of opportunities to kids to imagine things, fantasise about things. From being pilot of Thunderbird 2 (the best of the thunderbirds) , even buying the costumes are quite a buy - but that is one thing you wouldn't see me in. I like Virgil best, he is the pilot of Thunderbird 2, Scott is the pilot of THunderbird 1, Alan usually pilots THunderbird 3, where as Gordan likes to be in Thunderbird 4 or in the Space Station. Then you have Tin Tin who helps with emergancies, you have the dad Mr Tracy who organises what to do in an emergency. Thunderbirds dont just stop there. they have contacts all around the world, from Japan, Australia, America, and most famously Lady Penolope and her side kick Parker. The famous pink rolls royce is featured too. All of these features are guarenteed to enthrall kids into watching the programme. It is great fun to watch. And if that is not enough, why not buy Tracy Island, you be the manager of the island and run thunderbirds, with your toy thunderbirds themselves and figures of the characters. They are easily bough now at many shops around the UK. I have Thunderbird Island (tracy Island) and i have all the figures including the rockets, thunderbird 2, and spares for the cargo of TB2. I hope this was good information to you, if so leave a message and dont forget to rate me :-) FAB ( a common phrase on ThunderBirds) PS: Tuesday
s 6:00pm on BBC2 Thunderbirds is on
Thunderbirds' is probably gerry Anderson's best known programme, and has had two comebacks already in the last 15 years or so, complete with Blue Peter showing how to build your own Tracy Island. Putting aside the fact that you can see the strings quite often on the shots, this is classic family fun, Centred around the exploits of the Tracy family, and their brilliant vehicles, including a space station (and it's a bit more sturdy than Mir!) These vehicles and the pilots (with their silly names) form part of International Rescue, a worldwide rescue service amazingly. They also have a few other members of the group, including good old Parker and Lady penelope, with their amazing colour changing car! How do they do it?? I remember the series from the 80s/early 90s showings, and haven't really been paying much attention this time around, although I did notice that the episodes have been remastered for the obligatory DVD release, although they're pretty pricey! I'll live without them I think! Classic family fun, which can now be enjoyed by another generation.
Thunderbirds is a programme I have very fond memories of watching as a child , so I was pleased to hear that the BBC were planning a fresh run of remastered/restored repeats. Having watched several episodes now, my feeling is that Thunderbirds is still fun to watch on a nostalgic level but it seems incredibly outdated in both production values *and* the ethos of the world it depicts. Most science fiction tries to imagine the future but ends up portraying a slightly warped version of the time when it was written/made. Thus the makers of "Star Trek" subconsciously portrayed a galaxy-wide federation whose outlook and foreign policy approach was uncannily similar to that of the USA of the mid 1960's. And in the case of Thunderbirds there is a pervading sense of a very 50's/60's view of the promise of technology. Of course the technology goes wrong - every week in fact (it has to in order to give International Rescue something to do) - but there is no hint of doubt that technology will ultimately make the world a much better place. Since the mid 60's when the series was made, environmental concerns have come more and more to the foreground. Technology is still seen as necessary (and providing many undoubted benefits), but we all wonder what catastrophes lie ahead (due to global warming/climate change amongst other things). These environmental issues simply didn't enter the mind of the average person before about 1970 and this is reflected in the naivety of Thunderbirds.
Thunderbirds is back on our screens. Its the story of an everyday puppet family called the Traceys. They happen to live on their own Pacific Island and own an assortment of groovey rocket powered flying machines invented by their good puppet mate Brains. Life would have got a bit dull stuck on the island, but luckily Father Tracey had the great idea of forming International Rescue. This is always useful for when other puppets living on the other side of puppetland get into a right fix. All they have to then say is, "Calling International Rescue...calling International Rescue - can you hear me?"... Well of course they can, since there only seems to be one radio frequency on Puppetland, and Father Tracey spends the whole day lounging about in his massive control centre. So in next to no time the Tracey Brothers have been mobilised and Thunderbirds 1 and 2 (usually) come over and sort things out. Thunderbird 2 is my favorite - I still regularly polish my die cast model of this gorgeous craft (though the plastic drop down legs broke off some time ago). Tonight some dosey puppets get into terrible difficulties when they come up against some giant alligators (actually very small Caymen).....
A friend recently commented about the fact that Thunderbirds was being shown yet again. Why on earth do they dig up stuff that's been around for over thirty years? she said. Well, the answer to that is simple; there's a whole new generation of children discovering Thunderbirds for the very first time, and that includes my own child. He's seen a few episodes before, but never the lot all in one TV run. Even though I've seen them all before, I still sit down and watch them again, same as I do with the Star Trek repeats...can't resist them. Gerry Anderson produced some fascinating programmes but this has to be THE one. Each episode always has an immense amount of action and drama concentrated into it; there's hardly a "flat" spot and even the subtle asides haven't lost their charm. I hope many more people, children and adults alike, will discover or rediscover this alltime classic.