Thunderbirds Are Go – Vol. 1 is the first release, comprising of the initial 13-episode series recently shown by ITV and cunningly concealed in an 8:30 Saturday morning slot where nobody would’ve seen it. It’s hard to comprehend why the decision was taken to bury the series, because it’s really not that bad.
This disc kicks off with the Ring of Fire two-parter which introduces us to the familiar characters and eases us in to the changes that have been made. Essentially, there are still the five brothers, piloting the same Thunderbird machines, though with a modern makeover. Only Thunderbird 5 is virtually unrecognisable from its original form.
Lady Penelope is still on the back seat of FAB 1, with David Graham returning as the voice of Parker 49 years later. Tin-Tin is gone, or reimagined as Kyao, a covert ops agent who has virtually nothing useful to do, and Jeff Tracey is also gone, presumed killed in a crash caused by arch nemesis The Hood (though his famous countdown is heard just before a Thunderbird is launched).
No marionettes here; the characters are all CGI, though made to look a little like marionettes, against the lush physical backgrounds and environments provided by Weta. The model work here is exemplary and every episode looks absolutely astounding.
The plots, as in the original series, vary in focus as different team members all get their moments to shine, with some missions taking place underwater, others in space, on land, and even in an ancient tomb. There are echoes of fondly-remembered original episodes as our boys chase runaway monorails, prevent Thunderbird 3 from crashing in to the sun, and, once again, rescue the awesome jetliner Fireflash from certain doom.
Sadly, the episodes are truncated to 20 minutes, less than half the length of those we had when I was a child, but maybe that’s a sign of the times. As far as reimaginings go, this is a cut above the rest, and washes away the bitter aftertaste of the Thunderbirds movie of several years ago.
THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO – VOL. 1 / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: DAVID SCOTT, THEO BAYNTON / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: THOMAS BRODIE-SANGSTER, RASMUS HARDIKER, DAVID MENKIN, KAYVAN NOVAK, DAVID GRAHAM, ANDRES WILLIAMS, ROSAMUND PIKE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW