Thunderbirds Are Go is yet another reboot for the series which once started with marionette puppets, back in the mid-60s and now, inevitably, relies solely on CGI, and while it contains a new version of the theme, it at least retains the original “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…” voice of Peter Dyneley, but waits until the end of the opening credits to deliver him declaring the title.
The first episode was two parts in one. Entitled Ring Of Fire, that’s usually what I experience after a kebab following a heavy night out. In this case, The Hood is going to generate earthquakes along the coast of American unless the Thunderbirds hand over their entire operation. Clearly that won’t happen and they’ll find a way to thwart him. He’s been theiri nemesis for a long time and has never succeeded so why doesn’t he just give up?
The original Thunderbirds programme only ran for 32 episodes over two series, and the second of those was only six episodes so it had a very short life. The public loved it, but Lew Grade held the purse strings and didn’t think a full second series could recoup its costs after a deal to secure additional funding from American backers fell through. Still, it’s not the first time I’ve come across TV executives making braindead decisions – they seem to make a habit of it and, in the case of BBC3’s channel controller Danny Cohen, when they scrap well-received sitcoms like Ideal, the powers that be reward them with promotion, first to controlling BBC1 and then to “Director of Television”, whatever that is.
The series was followed up with two films, Thunderbirds Are GO (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968), but then nothing new was heard of the franchise until 2004 when we had to suffer the ill-advised and ill-fated Thunderbirds movie reboot, directed by Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Jonathan Frakes (who also was at the helm for Star Trek: Insurrection, the worst Star Trek film ever, bar the original movie) and starring Bill Paxton and Sophia Myles.
Thunderbirds Are Go was okay, but nothing special. The production values are so-so, with CGI that looks at least ten years old. It passes half-an-hour – or an hour in this first two-parter – and it’ll be most well-received by those under ten years of age. I’ll be 43 in a few days so I’m clearly not the target audience. The dialogue and characterisation is (ahem) wooden, and the cast includes Thomas Brodie-Sangster (The Maze Runner) and Rasmus Hardiker (Black Mirror: White Christmas) who play two Tracy brothers apiece, while the worst actress of our generation, Rosamund Pike, is Lady Penelope. One-trick wonder Kayvan Novak is the voice of Brains, but how come he’s now of Indian descent?
Still, at least it’s better than Fortitude!
Like I said before, TV execs sometimes make stupid decisions. ITV have done it again – every subsequent episode of Thunderbirds Are Go will be mostly hidden away on CITV. Which is not in HD. And which hardly anyone watches. Pillocks! Rather than primetime, repeats of the episodes will air on ITV, Saturday mornings at 8am when you’re still asleep.
One final question, why is Thunderbirds 1 pilot Scott Tracy played by Joey Essex? (below)
Overall Score: 4/10
Director: David Scott
Voice Director: David Peacock
Producer: Sharon Lark
Writer: Rob Hoegee (based on the creation by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson)
Sound: Ben Foster and Nick Foster
Gordon Tracy/John Tracy: Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Scott Tracy/Alan Tracy: Rasmus Hardiker
Virgil Tracy: David Menkin
Father in Balloon: Ramon Tikaram
Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano: Angel Coulby
Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward: Rosamund Pike
Aloysius Parker: David Graham
The Hood: Andres Williams
Brains: Kayvan Novak
Colonel Casey: Adjoa Andoh
Grandma Tracy: Sandra Dickinson
Engineer: Teresa Gallagher
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.