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.
Thunderbirds are Go started its second season in October of last year. Amazon UK told me the DVD of the first thirteen episodes, which I preordered an eternity ago, would be here today. I told my son and you have never seen such excitement. Christmas wasn’t like this. I got home from work and he about exploded. “A BOX CAME! IT SAYS AMAZON ON IT! I THINK IT’S THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!”
And it didn’t disappoint. This season, we’ve got a brand-new villain with a ridiculously over-complicated arsenal of machinery and tech, and an unlimited line of credit from the Bank of Baddies. He’s called the Mechanic and he’s incredibly fun. It’s really neat seeing International Rescue stymied by gadgets outside Brains’ and EOS’ experience, and improvising. I can’t wait to see what the writers come up with for him next, and how he’s tied in with the Hood.
In her ongoing bid to appear in every television program made in the UK this decade, Jenna Coleman has a small role in this one. The people that our heroes have to rescue are often very amusing – Ned and his fool flower most of all – but I got a big laugh at the lengths Scott has to go through to get the driver out of the car stuck in the ravine this week. Add Kayo being awesome and the genuine sense of danger as we don’t know what the Mechanic can do, and this is twenty-two solid minutes of brilliance. Looks like we’ll be watching this through April, by which time I believe the next thirteen should be airing in the UK.
One thing’s definitely changed for the better in entertainment in the fifty years since Thunderbirds first took to the skies: series build toward big conclusions. Well, I say that, but when the show screws the landing – like Doctor Who does almost every stinking year – it really does make me want to smack my face into a wall, repeatedly.
Here? Not only did Rob Hoegee and the producers almost succeed in completely thrilling us across 26 half-hours, they wrapped it up wonderfully. This was a great, great episode that builds on all of the hidden secrets of Kayo and the Hood, and is built around, inevitably, the Hood’s invasion of Tracy Island. It ends with some questions being restated and others answered, and if Kayo spent much of episodes 1-23 being underused, they made up for it over the last three stories. This was terrific.
It was also one of the most exciting things our son has ever watched. He was a mess! When things looked really bad for the Tracys, he retreated with his security blanket behind the sofa, and the climax had him a babbling, gabbling explosion of jumping and half-dancing. This was a fine, fine little bit of television.
So that’s it for Thunderbirds are Go for now. The next batch of episodes – probably 13 – is believed to launching in the UK in the next month or so. We’ll definitely pick those up when they’re released on DVD and tell you all about them, probably in the winter. But these 13 are only the beginning; 52 have actually been ordered, bringing the total to at least 78 episodes. There’s a lot more action and excitement to come!
The danger, of course, in going undercover with a metal suitcase to buy a stolen supermagnet is that the bad guy can use that against you! This was a really fun episode by Benjamin Townsend that just kept piling one new obstacle atop each other. We enjoyed the daylights out of it, and, for those who read Saturday afternoon’s post, our son was able to enjoy the entire episode from the safety of Mommy’s lap without accidentally injuring her this time.
Daniel says that the best part of the episode was learning that Lady Penelope can drive, “just like Parker can!”
Some things never change. Old show or new, the Mole is still my favorite Thunderbirds vehicle.
Daniel really enjoyed the revelation that Thunderbird 2 can electrify its hull! The Tracys need to activate this because they run afoul of a new colonel in charge of the Global Defense Force. This is something that really did, however, change between series. It instantly handles all the credibility questions that our changing world, with its heightened security, created about the original series: how in the world International Rescue operates. In this version, they have full permission and clearance to do so. It makes perfect sense and allows the show to just get on with it, occasionally using the GDF for a platform to launch stories.
This one, however, is honestly one of the weakest ones of the first batch. The grouchy new colonel is so broad-brush evil that he simply can’t be anybody other than (a) the Hood or (b) somebody in the Hood’s employ. Flip a coin; the answer is revealed in the episode’s final scene.
A few chapters back, I wrote a bit about how great it is that the producers of Thunderbirds are Go tapped David Graham to return as Parker. It turns out that they also gave Sylvia Anderson another turn at the mic in this episode, which was originally broadcast three months before her death earlier this year.
Anderson plays Lady Penelope’s Great Aunt Sylvia, and she wears the same dress that Penelope wore back in episode 23. That’s one of several Easter eggs in the show, including a familiar tea pot and the original Rolls Royce design for what’s now called FAB Zero. There are probably a few more for people who know the props in the show better than we do.
This is a rare comedy episode, and it works really well. Daniel chuckled throughout most of it, and really loved a wacky mid-air rescue situation at the end. It was written by comedian David Baddiel and establishes that, in a radical departure from the original premise, Parker and Lady Penelope didn’t come late to International Rescue. In fact, Parker has taught all of the Tracy brothers how to drive, and it’s Alan’s turn. This was such fun.