Thunderbirds Are Go! A re-image from the BBC and a re-issue on DVD

image Anyone remember the Thunderbirds? Well for those that may not, it was an action adventure show that came out in 1965. The basic premise is that billionaire Jeff Tracy (back when a billion dollars was unheard of kinds of money) has formed a group called International Rescue and their mission is to offer support for all sorts of disasters. And they don’t just show up on the scene in a fire truck or some tricked out pickup truck or earth mover. Oh good heavens no. They race around the world in spacecraft and rockets and bring with them some amazing gadgets and support vehicles. Thunderbird 1 was capable of ludicrous speed and could reach Australia from their secret island in around 35 minutes. They sometimes make reference it going 10x the speed of sound. Well now, that is fast!

Even with these never before seen tools, the team would get themselves into some impossibly difficult situation, but in the end they would manage to escape and get everyone to safety. It was great!

But let’s not forget this was all done way before computers and CGI. The production team used models and built real sets. And then if something had to explode or crash or get destroyed, well, they blew it up, crashed it, sit on fire or destroyed it. All this care was taken to make this amazing set or super cool car and then it would be wrecked or torn apart. The level of detail and imagination was and is still amazing to behold.

Now the other cool aspect of the show was that all the characters were actually marionettes. Yes indeed, they were puppets on strings and you could see all those strings. They made no effort to hide them. Funny thing was, after a couple of minutes the strings sort of disappeared and you just focused on the character and the show. I mean, stuff was on fire and set to explode, who had time to look at strings? Besides, what super cool vehicle was going to come out of the belly of Thunderbird 2?

The show got a devoted following and if you’ve watched Top Gear with any regularity I’m sure you’ve heard multiple references to the Thunderbirds. It’s pretty obvious James May is a big fan.

So here we are at the 50th anniversary of the show and the Thunderbirds have made a return to television in Thunderbirds Are Go! This is a British production that is bringing the Thunderbirds back through both real life sets and computer generation. The characters have been turned over to the computer wizards, while the sets are being built by hand just like they did in the old days. In fact, the studio in New Zealand where quite a bit of the work is being done is named after Brains.

While the look of the Tracy brothers has changed, they’re quite a bit younger in this rendition, the vehicles are just about identical. The only thing they’ve really done is give them a new paint job to make them look brighter and more colorful. The original Thunderbird 2 always looked like it could use a coat of wax. But, they still look just as cool and Thunderbird 2 still has palm trees that move out of the way for launch and Thunderbird 1 still comes out from under the pool. Some things you just can’t mess with!

The episodes are much shorter at 30 minutes rather than the 50 minutes of the original. Interestingly, the original was only supposed to be 30 minutes, but was considered to be too exciting to limit to just 30 minutes and was extended in length.

The remake has quite a bit of promise, but it makes me nostalgic for the original. Funny thing is, the original episodes will actually be reissued on DVD and BluRay in June. Who knows if they’ve cleaned them up or if they’re just straight transfers, but it’s pretty exciting to know they’ll be available again. I might actually get the BluRay set – just for convenience, not because I think they’ll look better.image

Some may also recall there was a Thunderbirds movie not too long ago, which Jonathan Frakes put together. Visually it was a great movie and it had a cast that should have made it a hit, but alas they targeted it toward the wrong damn audience. Instead of it being a real Thunderbirds episode, it’s all about the obnoxious kid who has to save the adults from disaster. Bah, wrong damn script. That has nothing to do with the way the original series worked and that’s not what those of us who took our kids to see it wanted. Disappointing to be sure. It could have and should have been so much better. I wonder if they will try again? I’d rather see that than this Star Wars crap they’re vomiting out.

But oh well, we have a new series, which although it will never compare to the original, has the potential to be entertaining in it’s own right. When you look at IMDB, it has slots for 26 episodes. Oh my wouldn’t that be cool?

We also have the original series being reissued in June, but I’ll probably have re-watched all the original episodes by then. Fun times!

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