I’m really not a dog person, but Sherbet, Lady Penelope’s pug, is growing on me.
Briefly, David Baddiel’s “Clean Sweep” is a complete hoot. It’s another story where things just keep going wrong and obstacles just keep piling up. The outcome’s never in doubt, but rather than the usual television question of “how will they solve this problem,” the question is “good grief, what next?” It’s very, very fun!
Oh, mustn’t forget our son’s contribution. The Tracys grouse that the dangerous technology of the week – big and ungainly floating turbines that suck pollution from the atmosphere – should have been junked years ago. Our kid picked that up as though the notion was his, and repeated it several times as the rescue got more and more complicated. Sadly, it’s kind of hard to convince us that your line’s an original one when we’ve already heard the characters use it!
There’s a very, very fun midair rescue in tonight’s episode of Thunderbirds are Go, written by Elly Brewer. Up in orbit, Lady Penelope and Parker are hearing a sales pitch by the remarkably obnoxious Miss Edmonds, voiced by comedian Ruby Wax, when the satellite, which is meant to be sending a beam of focused solar energy to Earth, goes haywire. A transport plane that’s carrying a giant panda gets hit by a plasma blast and is going down in the Pacific. There’s a tradition of the Thunderbirds franchise making predictions of the future that are totally wrong in every way, but we certainly hope there are still giant pandas a hundred years from now!
Gordon lets everybody know that he’s always wanted to see a giant panda up close. Our son took this as gospel, like it’s been an integral part of the character since he was created and he’s been stymied in seeing giant pandas in countless hours of entertainment. He doesn’t get his wish. In fact, the animators found a pretty novel way to get around the challenge and the expense of designing a big hairy animal for any length of time. As Pixar’s people could probably tell you about bringing Sully in Monsters Inc. to life, building a giant panda in the computer would be incredibly challenging for a world like this one for maybe a minute of screen time. So the animal stays in the crate during the whole ordeal!
The first half of series two comes to an end, unsurprisingly, with another big fight with the Mechanic, this time involving the Hood as well. It’s kind of low on shocks and wows; most of Rich Fogel’s story is FAB 1 driving down a gigantic tunnel that the Mechanic has dug, and driving back very fast as his big new device reverses direction. Meanwhile, Virgil and Gordon carry out a very meticulous rescue. I was pleased that they made the choice to pay attention to something so laborious and repetitive instead of the usual edge-of-your-seat bit of grabbing somebody at full speed in the nick of time. Nice change.
Our son loved it, full stop, and asked questions about the Mechanic’s weird technology and wires that are plugged into his back. The episode ends with our heroes left more than a little wrong-footed, setting up some more stories with these villains when series two resumes later this year. About which… I haven’t seen a date for when it’s due back. Probably in September, I imagine, and we’ll write about it here as soon as ITV Studios gets a DVD in the shops!
Langstrom Fischler’s back again for more ill-planned and unsafe scientific stupidity. I’m really enjoying series two more than the first because it has all these recurring… well, even “antagonists” is a little strong. If series one had a flaw, it’s that the only villain in the show was the Hood. This time out, the Mechanic has shown up three times, and Fischler and Lemaire twice each. It’s really fun getting to say “him again!” each time these very different thorns in our heroes’ sides show up.
Fischler’s latest scheme is using drones to generate storms to bring needed rains to desert areas. Everything goes haywire because he cuts corners and doesn’t understand his own tech. The script by Len Uhley keeps the character as obnoxious as ever, while Parker and Lady Penelope manage to steal the show without stepping out of FAB 1 until the show’s over.
Our son was a ball of energy, loving the all the ships and drones chasing each other and throwing lightning everywhere. This is a really fast-paced episode, even for this show, and he was the most excited kid in the state tonight, watching the aerial dogfights and rescues.
Interesting timing. We watched Journey to the Center of the Earth just two weeks ago, and here we are in Atlantis again, with Francois Lemaire, the reckless trillionaire adventurer we met in the series one episode “Comet Chasers,” splashing around the geologically dangerous site in his mini-sub, the Jules Verne. Brains wants a good look at the place as well; there’s allegedly an ancient steampunk supercomputer to be found. Lemaire just wants to prove that Atlantis was populated by mermaids.
This is the first script for this series from Elly Brewer, who has been writing for several British children’s series over the last quarter century. It maybe puts Francois Lemaire as too much of the center of attention at the expense of our heroes, but all his talk of mermaids had our son laughing out loud at him, so it seems like it was the right decision.
Well, that was ridiculously fun. As Thunderbird 3 gets into a punch-up in outer space, our son was hopping up and down and applauding, and I don’t mind saying that even your cynical and jaded writer let out an exclamation of very pleasant surprise when Kayo finds somebody to put her boot into.
While admitting to being swept up in the edge-of-your-seat thrills, Mommy briefly questioned just how plausible the Mechanic’s crazy technology really is, even in the far-flung future of the 2060s. She did have a less Dr. Science point toward the end, though. The cameras in the original series lingered on all the guest vehicles long enough for kids to really get a grip on what they look like, and they certainly didn’t keep unfolding to reveal new weapons, gadgets, and telescoping arms. It’s probable that big things like the Crablogger in “Path of Destruction” will inspire far more drawings and Lego reconstructions than anything the Mechanic will build. But as for the visceral thrill of seeing these amazing events unfold, I think they do just fine.
Years ago, Col. Jeff Tracy was forced to eject from the cockpit of the very first International Rescue craft, a prototype called TV-21, which should bring a smile. Today, a survey team finds its wreckage deep within the Marianas Trench, which is a heck of a coincidence…
Well, this story by Benjamin Townsend is just about the most amazing thing ever. Our son was punching the air as Gordon was being clever and inventive and saving the day. His latest little catchphrase is shouting “PERFECT!” for some reason. Not sure where he picked that up, actually.
Something happens in this episode that has never happened in any Thunderbirds before. We’ve seen International Rescue’s ships get damaged before, but not to this degree. We can’t wait for part two.
BONUS MATERIAL: Parker is kicking down doors and being awesome for Lady Penelope in this episode. I believe, therefore, that the good news that he received at Halifax Bank must have arrived later. You must see this delightful commercial from the team that animated those three half-hour episodes of the original series last year.
I don’t have too much to say about this one. It’s a wildly entertaining underwater story by Jim Krieg with a rescue, a safe-cracking job, and the menacing Mechanic back with his second massively powerful machine. Our son loved it, and I laughed out loud a few times.
It’s set in a place called Bay City, where Lady Penelope’s grandfather once had a penthouse office. He was apparently in the architecture business, and specialized in designing prisons. Bay City was lost a couple of decades before this series began, when the oceans rose and sank everything on the coast of whatever unnamed nation this is. Calling it Miami might have been a bit on the nose.