‘Thunderbirds are Go’ preview

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Thunderbirds are back! And are Go!

More go than ever before in fact, because International Rescue’s return (and this is a return, not a reboot) starts off at a breakneck pace that doesn’t stop until you hit the credits.

> Order Volume 1 on DVD on Amazon.

In the terrific double-bill we saw and which will air on ITV at 5pm this Saturday, there’s a re-introduction to all the shiny Thunderbirds, their even shinier pilots, and action spread across land, sea, air, and space. What’s impressive is that it manages to do it all without ever slowing down. If anything it speeds up.

And yes, a lot of this rapid rescuing is CGI, a concept that fans of SUPERMARIONATION will balk at but shouldn’t. No one’s expecting Thunderbirds are Go to be as cherished as Gerry Anderson’s magnum opus, but hey, they’ve not taped over the originals.

> Take a look at 5 of the best classic Thunderbirds episodes.

Taken on its own considerable merits, this new version is hugely enjoyable.

Thunderbirds Are Go

I came at it with the cynical eye of a fan hoping not to see the good name of Thunderbirds dragged into a gimmicky pixel morass and was left impressed by the love and gusto with which Pukeko Pictures have returned the family Tracy to the screen. A cheeky reference to another cherished Gerry Anderson creation early on is proof that Thunderbirds are Go hasn’t forgotten where it’s come from.

A mixture of real sets and CGI vehicles/people gives it an attractive individual look. It doesn’t always work, especially when switching between an all-CG scene and ones that are model-heavy, but it’s nice to know that not all of Thunderbirds are Go lives on a hard drive.

Thunderbirds Are Go

Thunderbirds Are Go

Thunderbirds Are Go

Paint’s got under nails and sawdust has been spilled in making it, and you can tell. CGI means that characters and crafts can engage in more dynamic sequences. The surprisingly tense mid-air rescue that opens the show is a flurry of unstrung limbs and aerial acrobatics and is the first in an array of kinetic set-pieces.

There are changes, and some die-hards will not be pleased by them – especially one very big alteration to the Tracy Family which also acts as an intriguing sub-plot – but the balance of innovation and tradition is spot on.

The classic features of Thunderbirds are there, just given a high-tech polish to keep the 2060s feeling as futuristic as it looked back in 1965. Lady Penelope still communicates using her compact; Parker’s had a facelift but it’s still David Graham providing the voice; Jeff Tracy still gives us the classic countdown.

Thunderbirds Are Go Parker

Those fans who grew up with strings attached will find themselves missing occasional things; just little things. The original show’s soundtrack was limited, but composer Barry Gray brought extra peril with his brass n’ bongos. Here it’s a generic wallop from Torchwood’s Ben Foster. Even with talent such as Rosamund Pike and Kayvan Novak, as Lady P and Brains respectively, the strength of the voice-acting doesn’t match the vigorous visual pace.

But these are small concerns in what is a show that deserves and requires uncynical viewers.

Thunderbirds Are Go Lady Penelope

Thunderbirds are Go doesn’t feel like a show just for kids. It feels like a show for everyone who was once a kid. Because the moment you see Pod 4 slide under Thunderbird 2 and those palm trees fall back, there’s a nostalgic thrill that can’t be described as anything other than… than… oh to hell with cliché, I’ll say it… FAB.

> Buy the complete Thunderbirds collection on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Are you looking forward to Thunderbirds Are Go? Let us know below…

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