The original Thunderbirds was a fantastic series of high action with Puppets that appealed to viewers young and old. Each of it’s 32 episodes dealt with some type of disaster that the group specialized in dealing with. They saved lives and prevented even larger disasters from occurring. The series was originally broadcast in the 1960s but it’s popularity resurged again in the early 90s when broadcasted on BBC 2.
So, 50 years after the original, Thunderbirds returns to our screens, unfortunately as a reboot and not an updated continuation. This new series has been on the cards for a long time with the project failing to lift off on numerous occasions. But finally we have the return of the Thunderbirds which people of all ages have been waiting for. But is it any good?
First off the production design is beautiful, I love that they kept some of the spirit of the original by using models created by Weta (yes, those guys who worked on LOTRs), the characters are all roughly the same as their original counterparts. There is a running arc that threads all these episodes together which gives something for us older fans to mule over. We have a female Thunderbird pilot that does something more than serve drinks. David Graham the original Parker returns to voice the character once more.
The not so good. The stories are awfully fast. There is zero tension built up unlike the previous series. Watching these new Thunderbirds in action is like watching the old show on fast forward. This also takes away from the weight and realism because now when Thunderbird 1 and 2 come to save the day with their grappling hooks they pull hell for leather with their thrusters which in the old series would have seriously messed things up and thorn the vehicles they were grappled to apart. Yes, these Thunderbirds don’t sweat anymore, there’s no time to. Being CGI is also a draw back. The characters in CGI are already looking a little dated. I’d honestly rather have the puppets back. The voices, while impressive (except for brains) seem to be far too cleanly dubbed onto the animation.
I understand this is a kids show in many ways and the way TV is these days with shorter running times and attention spans things have to move faster. But please can I let my tea get cold and my bum warmed up before it’s over? I’m definitely interested to stick with the series and see where it goes. I just hope it changes into second gear sometimes.
Favorite quote: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Thunderbirds are go!” – Jeff Tracy