Gerry Anderson shows have always been special. Although most were made with only puppets and models, they had the same production values of acting, camerawork, music etc that a live action production would enjoy. This helps the viewer immerse themselves in the fictional world and the drama becomes more believable, even if it's just puppets. That's the secret of good engaging storytelling. It was amusing to see Thunderbirds wipe the floor with imported US shows in 1992 when the BBC screened it. So what's the new Captain Scarlet like?.
In short, brilliant. Like many of my age (40's), I grew up with the classic shows and was severely disappointed with the turkey that was the Thunderbirds movie (it's truly awful) and so was reluctant to watch the new CGI show. I needn't have worried. This show is arguably one of the best TV shows of recent years and gives Hollywood a run for its money.
The new show is action packed and fast paced with rounded characters, now with first names, backgrounds and relationships. The technology is suitably beefed up and `fetishised' is the Gerry Anderson style. This is a bold reworking of a classic show, stunning in parts but there are some changes to contend with. Cloudbase is now Skybase, Colonel White can now walk and Lieutenant Green has had a sex change from male to female. The old Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (SPV) is now called the Rhino and there's a flying motorbike with guns and missiles. But Scarlet's red car is back and the mysterons are even creepier, still appearing as two `torch' circles and booming baritone voices. Oh, and the famous `drumbeat jump cut' is used as a scene transition device. Captain Black is still the baddie, killing people is bizarre ways so that his Mysteron masters can `reanimate' them. And you don't want to mess with the Angels!. Pity about the rather bland theme tune, but it's a minor gripe in an otherwise outstanding piece of TV.
It's Captain Scarlet all right, but on steroids.
For the most part, the CG animation, complete with motion capture, is impressive but does vary a little between jaw-dropping `money shots' and looking a bit like a playstation game. The variable quality is largely due to time constraints, but Ron Thornton (this guy crashed the USS Voyager on a glacier!) and his team have, on the whole, created a lifelike believable world and some pretty awesome pieces of animation. The `money shots' have been wisely spent on the action sequences, especially the Angel dogfights. The flying sequences (based on real aircraft footage) in the episodes `Circles of Doom' and `Fallen Angels' are utterly brilliant pieces of animation, visually quite mind-blowing and exciting too boot.
It's such a crying shame, however, that poor marketing and ITV scheduling effectively killed this show before it got into gear (a third season would have been brilliant). But for now, there are 26 episodes to enjoy and it's worth buying the DVD set. I watched the whole lot in a weekend!!.
This is a terrific update of a much loved show which is intelligent, just as dark as the original and hugely entertaining. Lots of guilty pleasures for adults. My inner child loves it!.