"Filmed in VIDECOLOR [explosions, drum roll, music builds to a climax] and SUPERMARIONATION"! The opening sequence of Thunderbirds
is itself a masterclass in Gerry Anderson's marionette hyperbole: who else would dare to make a virtue out of the fact that (a) the show is in colour and (b) it's got puppets in it? But everything about this series really is epic: Thunderbirds
is action on the grandest scale, pre-dating such high-concept Hollywood vehicles as Armaggedon
by 30 years and more (the acting is better, too), and fetishising gadgets in a way that even the most excessive Bond movies could never hope to rival. Unsurprisingly, it transpires that the visual effects are by Derek Meddings, whose later contributions to Bond movies like The Spy Who Loved Me
echo his pioneering model work here.
As to the characters, the clean-cut Tracey boys take second place in the audiences' affections to their cool machines--the real stars of the show--while comic relief is to be found in the charming company of Lady Penelope and her pink Rolls (number plate FAB1), driven by lugubrious chauffeur Parker, whose "Yes, milady" catch phrase resonated around school playgrounds for decades. (Spare a thought for poor old John Tracey, stuck up in space on Thunderbird 5 with only the radio for company.) The puppet stunt-work is breathtakingly audacious, and every week's death-defying escapade is nail-bitingly choreographed in the very best tradition of disaster movies. First shown in 1964 and now digitally remastered, Thunderbirds is children's TV that still looks and sounds like big-budget Hollywood.
In this pod: Episodes 17-32 on four VHS tapes in a special presentation box.
Opening sixteen episodes of Gerry Anderson's cult Supermarionation series. In 'Trapped in the Sky', evil villain the Hood hatches a plot to photograph the Thunderbirds vehicles in action. 'Pit of Peril' sees International Rescue called in when the test drive of a new army vehicle goes awry. In 'The Perils of Penelope', Lady Penelope and prominent scientist Professor Borendor are kidnapped in a fiendish attempt to extort a secret fuel formula from the latter. 'Terror in New York City' sees Gordon Tracy racing to the rescue in Thunderbird 4 when a television reporter and his cameraman become trapped in a collapsing Empire State Building. In 'Edge of Impact', a Red Arrow aircraft crashes after being sabotaged by the Hood, and Thunderbird 2 speeds to the rescue. 'Day of Disaster' sees Gordon attempting to save two engineers trapped in a probe rocket which is set to self-destruct. In '30 Minutes After Noon', Scott, Virgil and Adam attempt to prevent the biggest nuclear bomb blast the world has ever seen. 'Desperate Intruder' sees the Hood attempting to beat Brains and Tin-Tin to a cache of treasure buried at the bottom of Lake Anasta. In 'End of the Road', the Tracy boys have to rescue a family friend stranded on a cliff edge without revealing their true identity. 'The Uninvited' sees Scott and a team of archaeologists captured in the desert by a pyramid-dwelling tribe. In 'Sun Probe', Thunderbird 3 speeds into space to prevent a spaceship from colliding with the sun. 'Operation Crash-Dive' sees International Rescue attempting to discover the reason for the recent Fireflash airliner crashes. In 'Vault of Death', a bank worker becomes trapped in a time-locked safe, with oxygen rapidly running out. 'The Might Atom' sees the Hood stealing a robotic rodent which he plans to use to spy on International Rescue. In 'City of Fire', a fire in a shopping mall requires the use of Brain's untested new cutting gas - but will it be safe? 'The Imposters' sees a bogus group impersonating the International Rescue team in an attempt to discredit them.