If your children have been enjoying the new Thunderbirds Are Go series, you’ll be delighted to know the first 13 episodes are being released on DVD on Monday (22nd June).
Launched to coincide with the original show’s 50th anniversary, Thunderbirds Are Go provides a distinctive mix of CGI and live action miniatures to meet the expectations of a new generation of fans.
Older fans such as myself who grew up with the original series will be delighted that many of the show’s trademark elements have been retained, from Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce to the swept-forward wings of Thunderbird 2 to the return of David Graham (who will be familiar to Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom viewers as the voices of Grandpa Pig and Wise Old Elf) as Parker.
We’ve even had a couple of episodes that pay homage to the original. The solar collector rescue in the pilot Ring of Fire is adapted from Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday, while Fireflash is a reworking of the very first Thunderbirds story, Trapped in the Sky.
The freedom afforded by contemporary special effects also enhances the original. No longer constrained by the limitations of using stringed marionettes, the Tracy brothers and their Thunderbird craft can now be portrayed as proper action heroes and filmed from a variety of swooping camera angles rather than the side-on view enforced on their forebears. As a result, the new show is visually stunning and the action races along at breakneck speed.
That’s not to say the new series is perfect. It isn’t. To squeeze each adventure into a 22-minute runtime requires some clunky exposition and inconsistent characterisation, and the science behind some of the rescues wouldn’t pass muster in a GCSE Physics exam.
But in truth that doesn’t really matter to any but the most nit-picking of parents. I’ve loved the show, and more importantly each of our three kids – Isaac (aged seven), Toby (five) and Kara (three) – have been hooked too.
I talked to the two boys about what they thought of the series, and this is what they said:
Who’s your favourite character?
Isaac: Alan, because he’s young and funny.
Toby: EOS [the computer programme which inhabits Thunderbird 5] – she’s so funny.
What’s your favourite Thunderbird craft?
Isaac: Thunderbird 3. It looks cool and it has useful grappling arms.
Toby: I like Thunderbird 3 too because it’s fast. And Thunderbird 1 is really fast too.
What’s been your favourite episode so far?
Isaac: Unplugged. It takes place in London, where my Grandma and Grandpa live.
Toby: Skyhook, because you see all of the ships being used in it [with the exception of Thunderbird 4].
What would you like to see happen next in the series and who would you like to see more of?
Isaac: I want to see another episode like Unplugged but where they do a rescue involving the London Underground. [Our boys are obsessed with the tube.] And I’d like to see Kayo get involved in more rescues.
Toby: I want to see more of Brains, like we did in Runaway. He’s funny.
Thunderbirds are Go is the only TV programme we will all sit down and religiously watch live every week. All three kids have seen each episode several times, role-playing their favourite characters and quoting lines of dialogue at each other. It would be fair to say they think the series is F.A.B.
In addition to the series, the thunderbirds.com website and accompanying iOS and Android apps (which I’ve reviewed separately) offer young fans further opportunities to participate in International Rescue-themed activities and challenges.
Overall, Thunderbirds Are Go stands up well, both as a series in its own right and as a worthy successor to its predecessor. It has already provided my three kids with hours of entertainment, and having the first 13 episodes available to keep on DVD will only add to their fun.
Disclosure: I was provided with a Thunderbirds DVD and other merchandise for review purposes. However, all reviews are written solely by me and reflect my own (and my children’s) personal views.