Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Thunderbirds Are Go!

I've always been a big fan of Thunderbirds.  As time goes on I find the original series even more astonishing. OK, not everyone likes the puppetry but the models and effects are amazing. Just amazing. Especially when you consider when they were done.

But more than that even the concept is exceptional and, although the time line might not pan out (i.e. no flying cars in 2065), the basic premise of the show is pretty much timeless. Chuck in the stories, the suspense, the music and it was just a winning formula.

In case you need a reminder, here's the original titles for "Terror in New York City" (great episode):

I mean, my son loves the Octonauts TV show and what is that if not a ten minute version of Thunderbirds aimed at pre-school children?  Admittedly, Octonauts has some really interesting natural history information and a dose of environmentalism that elevates it beyond simple rescue missions. My son can name a wide variety of sea creatures I'd previously never heard of.  Being a big fan of the ocean (I was once a qualified wreck diver) I hope his interest continues and we might go to see some whales once day.

It was while watching Octonauts with MY dad that I saw the similarities with Thunderbirds and that prompted me to get the entire original series on DVD. Shortly afterwards I heard that it was being remade. Cue weeping man babies in a very similar vein to the Ghostbuster remake. There were cries of "you're spoiling my childhood," etc. However, with the promised combination of HD digital animation and the WETA modelling, it should have been clear that the production team knew what it was doing.  What do I think of it? It's great! In some ways it's even better than the original because the episodes often dragged but all the key elements are still there.

Here's the titles for the first Episode of the new show, "Ring of Fire":

Thunderbird 2 (always my favourite) has a had a bit more of a facelift than the other Thunderbirds and that's good. I expect the elevation of a female character to a front line role probably upset the man babies again but I like Kayo. I like the addition of Thunderbird S too and I like that (spoilers) she's related to the Hood. The fact that they have apparently ditched the weird psychic powers is good too. I would have liked them to straight up swap Alan or Gordon for a Tracy sister but well, those man babies can be mean. Brains switch to being some sort of south Asian (?) tech genius is a bit odd but harmless and the retention of Parker and Penelope is good. New costumes, great too.

Like the original series the stories vary quite a lot between episodes but I always enjoyed the straoght rescue missions the most. So far I think the episode with the uranium mine, "Crosscut", has been my favourite. Although the two part season opener was great too.

For me, they've absolutely nailed the "remake". I enjoy it just as much as I ever enjoyed the original and I hope it's popular enough that they make a lot more. I just hope they use those episodes to tell good stories, rather than expand on the team. If Octonauts keeps going the way it is they'll run out of alphabet to name their Gups after...

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