"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 and Moonraker echo his pioneering model work here.
As to the characters, the clean-cut Tracey boys take second place in the audience's 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" catchphrase 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.
On this DVD: The four episodes are: "Alias Mr. Hackenbacker", "Lord Parker's 'Oliday", "Ricochet" and "Give or Take a Million". Amazon.com
Four more episodes of Gerry Anderson's cult Supermarionation series. In 'Alias Mr Hackenbacker', Lady Penelope contacts Thunderbirds when the plane she is travelling on is hijacked by criminals. 'Lord Parker's 'Oliday' sees Parker helping to avert chaos when the solar-powered Mediterranean resort of Monte Bianco loses its reflector in a storm. In 'Ricochet', Tin-Tin discovers that an orbiting TV station has been damaged by a rogue space rocket, and will explode upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere. 'Give or Take a Million' sees a pair of crooks' planned robbery going awry when they become trapped in a children's hospital.