Thunderbirds: Volume 1 [DVD] 
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Opening four 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.
"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 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" 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 nailbitingly 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: International Rescue's very first adventure provides a template for all the rest: in "Trapped in the Sky" an experimental new aircraft becomes the target of an evil Bond-style megalomaniac who wants to get his hands on all the neat pieces of kit operated by the Tracey siblings. The show introduces, in fetishistic detail, the recurring set-pieces: Thunderbird 1 taking off from the roll-back swimming pool, which pod will Thunderbird 2 use this week--the mole or the submarine perhaps?--and so on. Nostalgia fans will be pleased to learn that despite digital remastering the puppet strings are still in evidence, and no amount of high-tech restoration could remove the clunky expository dialogue:
Stewardess: "It's the maiden flight of the new atomic-powered Fireflash."
Passenger: "Isn't that the new aircraft that flies six times the speed of sound?"
Stewardess: "That's right, but don't worry: it's perfectly safe."
[Cut to: interior, Fireflash landing gear, a device clearly labelled "Auto-Bomb Detonator Unit"]
Sinister bad guy (talking to himself for no readily apparent reason): "Perfect. Enough explosives to smash the Atomic Reactor."
In the second episode, "Pit of Peril", an absurdly impractical US Army vehicle falls into the eponymous pit, necessitating use of pod five, the mole. Joy! Lady Penelope indulges in some James-Bond-style counter-espionage measures in the third episode, "The Perils of Penelope", while Parker indulges some of his famous Eliza Dolittle-isms; although he is trumped by the Cary Grant sound-a-like character Sir Jeremy Hodge (or 'odge as Parker would have it), whose response to a crisis is, "I say, open the door, we're British!". Then it's back to the action for the fourth episode, "Terror in New York City", in which poor Virgil is shot down by the US Navy in Thunderbird 2 before the boys must rescue an unscrupulous newshound from the wreckage of the Empire State Building (featuring the first appearance of their very own yellow submarine, Thunderbird 4) --Mark Walker
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The start sequence is epic as are the launch sequences. A classic and the DVD to get if you can only afford the 1 DVD.
Watching it now on DVD it remains fantastic even to my 40something eyes. The picture quality is great, it has dolby 5.1 surround sound and fortunately as it is set in 2065 you can't say well that never happened (like Space 1999 for example). All the best things about Thunderbirds still remain the best. The superb opening credits sequence with the preview of the forthcoming episode. Barry Grays marvellous music and the superb puppets and models that became a trademark for Gerry Andersons productions.
The episodes on this disc are a fair representation of the whole series, with perhaps the Pit of Peril being my favourite - remember the 'Sidewinder'? The DVD has a few interesting extras including a printable CD-Rom Thunderbird 1 cross-section. Shame that there isn't a commentary (which there is on some of the Captain Scarlet DVD's) but the episodes alone make this worth getting. FAB.
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Always check the zone when ordering DVDs for abroad.
Today what do children have that compares?