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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 6 September 2009
Thunderbirds was always something I had fond memories of watching as a child and when I saw that Amazon.co.uk had dropped the price of the complete series DVD box set I hesitated buying it because I was wrestling with the notion that as an adult things often do not seem as good as they were as a child.

After going through the "Should I, shouldn't I" phase, I finally relented and purchased it. Upon receiving the box set I promptly began watching ....

Wow! amazing! all my concerns about whether this would be watchable again as an adult melted away. From the classic "5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ....1!" opening sequence which gives the viewer an instant teaser trailer of what the episode will feature accompanied by the thrilling, fast paced theme tune, I was hooked! Gerry Anderson uses the preview teasers during the opening sequences of several of his TV series to great effect and Thunderbirds is one of the best at doing this.

Toward the end of the first episode while the Fire Flash airliner was attempting it's emergency landing with he fantastic camera shots of the aircraft from above trying to line up for a landing on the elevator cars I actually began to perspire with the adrenaline. Anderson knows exactly how to portray the excitement and danger of a rescue situation not only visually, but with excellent high-octane music perfectly composed and used to underscore the scene. The effects are wonderful with large objects actually behaving like they're heavy and have real mass, often belie their 40+ year old age.

Anderson's attention to detail (watch the hot steam rise from the hydraulic ram used to raise the massive Thunderbird 2 just prior to its launch or the sweat on the face of Virgil during the elevator car sequences) and the array of clever and incredible machines he created still stands out today. Sure, as a product of the mid 60's you can see the influence of that decade in many of the aspects of the show, but this only adds to the charm of the series in my view.

Picture and sound are very good with vibrant colour and sounds which I think have been digitally enhanced to give explosions and jet thrust blast offs a bigger kick which is a nice touch.

All this action would be fine, but add to that strong and well defined characters meant that I found that I actually liked the Tracey family and cared about what happened to them. My personal favourite is Scott who is cool under pressure and also has the perfect voice that really adds to the "coolness" of the show. Surprising too, was how adult many of the themes seemed to be. Things like politics, ambition, anger and greed play a part in many plot lines which as a child probably went unnoticed, but as an adult viewer you can see how clever and often sophisticated the stories were and how this show was created in a different era where we didn't "dumb-down".

There's also a great positive moral tale here too, that someone would spend the time and huge sums of money to put such an organization together to save human life at the risk of his own son's lives and seek no publicity nor financial reward for doing so. This selfless and noble aspect also adds to the "feel good" factor of a successful rescue against the odds.

After watching all 32 episodes now I can honestly say that I felt a tinge of sadness that it was all over and left me wanting more. The extra disc is very informative and well worth inclusion in this box set.

I could go on more, but I think I've made my views clear in this review. I personally can thoroughly recommend the purchase of this box set and wondered why I waited so long to get hold of it. If, like me, you watch this show and smile again and think "Wow! they just don't make them like that anymore" then you'll know what I mean.
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on 5 March 2011
Recently I have been buying DVD boxsets that I watched on TV years ago and really loved them at the time. The trouble is......with the passing of time and modern hi-tech methods I have been disappointed, remembering them as being "much better than that" at the time. I was born in 1962 and from the age of about four was totally hooked on "Thunderbirds" and I mean mad about it!!, gradually collecting all the aircraft, characters, pods for Thunderbird 2 and had a Thunderbird outfit which I wore A LOT!!.
So when this remastered boxset finally came out I bought it with trepidation. Would it not be better to just remember it how it was at the time? Would I find all the magic gone out of it like I have with so many other shows?

The boxset arrived on the Saturday morning and was I on holiday from work for the next two weeks. On the Tuesday of the first week I went down with a nasty cold, so ploncked myself, in blanket, on the couch to watch Thunderbirds. I must admit I was nervous as I had always held this programme in the highest esteem. Well...within 10 mins of watching I was four years old again. All the memories came flooding back and it was fantastic!! In parts I was sat on the edge of my seat wondering if they would make it in time (Duh!!). When my better half got home from work, (she is Jamaican and never seen or heard of Thunderbirds before) she joined me on the couch and thought it was fantastic as well and we watched it until around midnight!
Please excuse me telling you all half my life story but this boxset is a must for anyone from 3-95 years old. Brilliant!!. The special features also give you a background of all the characters. Birthdates, where educated, likes/dislikes etc;

Dave Sheppard.
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on 30 June 2010
Thunderbirds quite rightly stands head and shoulders above all other British television programmes, and, apart from the soaps and Only Fools And Horses, is probably the best remembered TV show in the country. As a Sci Fi Show, only Star Trek (vastly inferior in my opinion, the yanks could never match Derek Meddings Special effects so they poached him for Holywood)is better known, and as a childrens T.V. Series only Sesame Street(per-lease!!!)is arguably better known. And when it comes to TV intro's, Peter Dyneley's 5-4-3-2-1 Thunderbirds are go! intro unequivecally the world's most famous TV introduction. Many people have commented on Amazon about the show and this DVD set.

I'll comment about the DVD's themselves a little later, but first I'll give you a little history behind the show. It was produced by Gerry Anderson's APF (Anderson Povis Films Arthur Povis was Gerry's original partner but sold out to Gerry) Television productions which, by 1964 when the cameras first rolled on the series, was wholly owned by Lew Grades ITC. It was the third British series to be filmed in colour. The first was the second half of 1958's the adventures of Lancelot series (another Lew Grade production), filmed at a time when Colour TV was taking off in the states and the BBC was heavilly trialling experimental colour broadcasts). The second was Stingray (in colour for sale to the USA), another landmark Anderson production.

Originally a 30 minute show, Grade saw the pilot episode and declared 'That's not a TV show it's a Feature film' and ordered the whole series be made as an hour long show. The problem was that 9 half hour episodes were already finished, and had to be extended (hence the full launch sequences being repeated in several shows). When the BBC gave the programme it's first network airing in 1990 (each ITV region had scheduled it at different times and dates) it was estimated each episode had a cost of about half a million pounds after allowing for inflation etc at 1990's prices, so we could almost double it by todays prices.

I'd only been born for 18 months when Thunderbirds debuted at 7pm on 30th Sept 1965 in the ATV Midlands region, hardly a children's TV slot.. Lew Grade was dismayed when US stations split each episode into two half hours, a practice that some ITV regions adopted for the later episodes.A comic, TV Century 21 had debuted in January 1965 and had introduced Lady Penelope & Parker 6 months to the first episode being broadcast. On 15th Sept 1969It was the first Children's TV show to be broadcast in colour, and Birds Eye peas became the first colour ad in the UK, when it was broadcast during the show.

As a boy my childhood dream was like many lads of my age to pilot Thunderbird 1. It had been repeated regularly between 1965 & the early 70's, only to vanish from our screens until 1981 when most ITV regions repeated it, along with Joe 90, Stingray, and all the colour ITC series from the 60's with the exception of Department S. It might well remained forgotten had ITC not been sold to Polygram entertainment. Back in 1981 ITC had edited several episodes of Gerry Anderson's series into TV movies, among them were 3 Thunderbirds films. The first of these was entitled `Countdown to disaster' and had two 50 minute episodes (without adverts of course) edited into a 90 minute movie. When Polygram released it on video cassette it wasn't expecting anything special sales wise. It went on to be the best selling children's video of the year. As a result the other two movies were released, followed by the remaining 26 episodes, in production schedule. Carlton TV bought out Polygram Video in the 90's.

In 1990 the BBC repeated the entire series in production order (apart from the Christmas episode shown the Friday before the 25th). Merchandising had never been as big as this since when it was first broadcast, with comics, toys,sweets etc. Thunderbirds was suddenly the most talked about kids show on Tv, almost exactly 25 years to the weekend of it's first broadcast. Thunderbirds was suddenly go all over again. In 1999, the BBC repeated the series yet again, this time with digitally remastered versions. The picture quality however was a bit of a letdown, looking like an NTSC transfer of a 70's TV comedy.


The DVDs are housed in a plastic 'Digipak' case which comes in a laminated cardboard sleeve, just marginally bigger than a VHS video case. This can be awkward to close properly. All 9 DVD's are included, 8 containing all episodes, the 9th being the 'Thunderbirds Companion' Doccumentary from 1999. Each disc contains 4 episodes, plus special features, except the companion. Some are accessible only on a computer. Generally, they are mainly picture/text based, giving insight into the tech specs of the craft or history of the series with cast bios etc. Several discs have sections of the companion doccumentary as well.

The picture remastering has , overall, been well mastered. Fortunately, the mastering hasn't been done on a BRITE machine that Granada own (if you've seen ITV 3/4 re runs of the Proffessionals or Robin of Sherwood that useed BRITE `Britsh Independent Television Enterprises' a company formed to remaster old shows when Granada & LWT merged-you'll know how awful they look), and is sharp and clear. Carlton who used the original inter-positive masters as opposed to broadcast prints which means there's hardly any scratches on the episodes, unlike many younger classic TV shows from the 70's mastered from scratchy and damaged transmission prints. Colour and contrast seems a little dull, the best episode colour wise seems to be `The Duchess Affair.' It's still in the 4:3 ratio, but my TV stretches it to 16:9. It looks great on a large widescreen TV, and the family's Mac Mini is set to HDMI quality, so it looks absolutely fantastic.

Sound is excellent, and the effects are fantastic. It's been transferred to 5:1 surround sound. This means the effects and music are on separate tracks to the dialogue, which can get a little drowned out when the music or effects get too loud when viewed on a normal stereo TV. The music has been re-channelled for stereo sound. I watched an episode on my laptop through headphones, and the stereo effect was noticeable, without sounding too harsh or echoey like some oldies music C.D.'s can appear.

All 32 episodes are present in their entirety, with just over 27 hours of worth of programmes on 8 discs. Despite what one Amazon reviewer states, they appear in the original broadcast order, as both the Polygram video releases and the BBC re-runs used the production order. The reviewer's confusion probably stems from the fact that the Fanderson web site lists them in production order with the original broadcast date underneath the episode review. The original cinematography was breathtaking, (just look at the shots of sidewinder falling into the pit in `Pit of peril' or the stormy rockslide in `End of the road') and the Models (Especially Thunderbirds 1, 3 & 4 don't date at all. The stills of them on the back of the box could be from the 2000's not the 60's. Standout episodes include the series opener `Trapped in the sky', `Pit of peril', `City Of Fire', `Atlantic inferno' `Sun probe' and the eerily dark & Macabre fan favourite (though not mine) `Attack of the aligators'. The series revolves around the daring life saving exploits of International Rescue their incredible Thunderbird machines, in reality millionaire ex astronaut Jeff Tracy the and his family. The recurring Villain of the piece is the Hood a mercenary, villain and master of espionage with mystic powers, who appears in over half a dozen episodes. He longs to steal the secrets of International Rescue.Trivia: Although the official statement from Gerry Anderson is that the Hood's name is never mentioned, at the end of the episode `Edge of impact' it IS heard being spoken through an underwater speaker. Many of the technical gadgets in the show have since become reality, such as supersonic travel, radio microphones, video phones, etc, etc, etc, and if you look at the glasses many of the puppets are wearing..... why they're back in fashion.

There's lots of features spread across the 8DVD's of episodes. Several discs feature segments from the Documentary on disc 9, which is a shame. They're there because the discs were originally sold as 8 single volumes. Also, there's a section on each disc featuring biogs about the characters and machines. These are from the Thunderbirds comics. Several cutaway diagrams and pictures accompany the text, and again these are from the comics. Some of the photo's of the puppets and craft were originally taken for the TV Century 21 comic from the 6o's, whilst the text appeared in the 1991 comics, but may have been reprinted from TV21. Some stills of the original comics are used as well as a quiz, and original TV ads for Lyons Maid & Kelloggs featuring the characters made by Gerry's APF films. A printable DVD Rom section for viewing on a PC rounds off each special features section. It would have been better (as other TV series box sets often do) to put all the special features on the last disc with the companion documentary, as I was expecting, as the packaging gives that impression.

Despite the minor flaws mentioned earlier with the pale colour (turn the colour & contrast up), dialogue and special features being spread across all discs, the set deserves a full five stars for two reasons. Firstly: The price. I paid £15.95 from Amazon (not a marketplace trader) for a brand new copy, equals 48 pence per episode, or just under £1.75 per disc. It's gone up to £20.74 which is still a bargain. Secondly the excellent picture and sound quality for a set at this price is fantastic. True it originally cost over £100 new on initial release in 1999 which is probably why Carlton did such a good job of the restoration. I cannot recommend this set highly enough.
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on 3 July 2004
What can you say that hasn't already been said about this fantastic sci-fi series? The special effects still hold their own even today, forget about the strings; the stories, the vehicles and the characters are all excellent. I only hope the movie to be released soon can reach the heights that Thunderbirds the series did. Now on DVD the picture has been cleaned up and the sound is excellent. At this price it is an absolute must for fans of the series.
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on 25 December 2012
The children have just unwrapped this present and have settled down to watch the first episode. I'm pleased to report that contrary to some older reviews from 2009 and 2010 which criticised the cropping of the original 4:3 aspect ratio, this version seems to be fine. I can confirm there are black bars left and right which preserves the original aspect ratio perfectly. Anyone who is desperate to fill their entire screen can easily use their TV zoom settings if they wish so this is perfect for all. The picture quality and sound are both A1 on this first episode too. The film has been cleaned up nicely but the very slight flickering on some shots has been left alone (quite rightly so in my opinion). There must have been a huge temptation to go too far and 'over correct'. It is all too easy to start erasing all the puppets' strings but, of course, this would completely ruin it so of course, they are all visible. This just goes to remind you just how incredible the production was on these shows - you know they are puppets but the scripts and attention to detail is so good that you just get sucked into the story and forget they are puppets. It's so good for the children to be reminded that not all animation needs to be done in a computer.
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I am delighted with this boxed set which I consider to be a bargain at the price, especially as it includes an extra disc, "The Thunderbirds Companion" which includes many additional insights into the series. I think the production quality in this DVD version is good - yes, of course, it plays best in old fashioned 4:3 without cutting off heads etc. but that is how it was made and that in itself adds to the sense of nostalgia. Despite the fact I like the latest tech etc. the test of really good television is whether or not the programme material absorbs you to the extent where you are so enthralled by the content that you lose consciousness of whether the programme is being delivered in HD with Dolby Surround or even 3D. By this yardstick this Thunderbirds DVD set which contains all 32 episodes that were made succeeds entirely and it is all nicely assembled a well presented in a 9 disc set. Every episode is enthralling and, in fact, Thunderbirds seems almost better than I remember it being all those decades ago. The funny thing is that many younger people seem to share my reaction too - it must be something about the quality of Gerry Anderson's work! I would find it hard to see how anyone could not think this set was excellent value for money both in presentation and content. Recommended.
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on 3 March 2015
When I was young I collected the figures, had Tracy island and loved the puppets. However, I never actually watched a single episode of the show. Although I am glad I waited as I probably wouldn't have appreciated it quite as much as I do now. I am now twenty years old and I have just purchased this set. The box is plastic yet sturdy and contains nine discs including a bonus disc. There are three or four episodes on each disc and they have been remastered getting rid of some of the grainy images. The episodes themselves are also fantastic and I can now appreciate the time and work that went into creating this series. I wanted to watch these before the new 2015 series is released which I am sure will be just as good. But if you like me had never seen the thunderbirds or even if you have and want to watch them again, then this is the set for you, it has all the episodes except for the two films and it is a nice convenient set to own as it doesn't take up much space. I love it, and it is highly recommended.
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on 10 August 2004
If you're one of the (few) unfortunates that sat through Working Titles' travesty of the classic series (poetic justice they're losing their shirts at the box office) here is a set that will restore your faith in International Rescue.
9 DVDs of Supermarination's finest hour. Shame they didn't take the opportunity to remaster the discs to the amazing standards of the "Captain Scarlet" and "Joe 90" releases. (After all "Thunderbirds" is far more deserving of this treatment than the insipid "most special agent"), but the quality is still very good.
With the added bonus of the greatest TV theme of all time, the series is a work of genius and these DVDs are simply an essential purchase .
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on 1 October 2006
Thunderbirds was, and in my opinion still is one of the best Television shows ever made, I can still remember watching the series when it was first aired (I am old enough believe me) holding the sleeves of my jumper tied at the waist was just like having the controls of Thunderbird One in my hands. This DVD series really takes me back, so thank you Jerry Anderson for one of the best and possibly greatest shows of all time, never stop making the DVD's please I am in danger of wearing these out.
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on 16 September 2013
It's Thunderbirds! Of course it's going to get 5 stars!
If you're like me, and old enough to remember sitting on the floor in front of the TV watching Thunderbirds as a small boy, then you don't need me to tell you how great this is.

Age has not dulled it. You are not looking back at it with rose-coloured glasses. It's still as good as you remember it.

For the price of a couple of pizzas, treat yourself to one of the finest TV shows this country ever produced.
And then go and buy all of Gerry Anderson's other 'Supermarionation' work too.

Sometimes nostalgia *is* what it used to be...
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