TV Review Thunderbirds Are Go


Spoiler alerts


The much anticipated relaunch of Thunderbirds was very good in many respects, with the strongest criticism by the press and online being sparked rightly by the moving of all but the extended pilot episode, Ring Of Fire, to an 8 AM slot instead of the 5 PM evening one.


The stuff they got right – the sheer pace of the action, the main look of most of the ships, except Thunderbird 5, being true to the original, maintaining the look of the launch / landing sequences, Tracy Island itself, David Graham’s reprise of the role of Parker.


Homages to the Anderson originals were strong; the whole solar panel threat to a city threat was a reprise of Lord Parker’s Holiday, John watching Stingray on TV, etc.


Stuff they got wrong – changing the design of Thunderbird 5, making the characters look too young, and give yoof high fives and yell yeah, alright, a lot – even Gran (Sandra Dickenson) looks half the age she was in the original. Giving the boys infinite energy; they avoided Gran’s food at every turn, yet flew out three times on missions without rest or food of any kind. The Star Wars holograms taking over from the pictures on the wall got silly; no one wears hats any more, not even Lady P, who always looked like she was on route to Ascot Ladies Day in the 60’s, the Rolls Royce flying seemed lifted from the terrible Jonathon Frakes movie – expecting a dog fight with the Hood in a souped up Chitty Chitty Bang Bang some time.


Interesting touches; the mix of real designed sets and CGI, the interaction with a World Council government rather than being a totally secret organization, John getting much more to do than just announce the original emergency, as he is able to mess with vehicle frequencies, do diagnostics, etc., The absence of Jeff, which is a mystery to be resolved at some later point – his original voice over still carries the launching countdowns, (though Peter Dyneley died in 1977, so the new Jeff’s voice if / when introduced, is going to contrast with it), and T3 using its distinctive fins as arms for grabbing hold of things in space. Tin-Tin has become Kayo, presumably to avoid confusion with the Belgian journalist detective, and her new Thunderbird Shadow looks like a souped up Cloudbase Angel Interceptor from Captain Scarlet. The series title ‘Thunderbirds are Go’ was used for one of the 1960’s Thunderbirds movies, which were just extended TV episodes.


If the pace is maintained, it promises to be a fun ride, and hopefully, pressure will return it to the teatime viewing slots where it belongs. Overall, though not as good as the original it is pretty FAB for me.


Arthur Chappell


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