Thunderbirds are Go 2.26 – Brains vs. Brawn

It’s the wildest, funniest, most amazing game of “pass the parcel” ever, when the parcel is being passed between four aircraft and a submarine, and the parcel is a rescue pod containing the Hood, and when they’re all keeping the parcel away from the Mechanic, who’s gunning for him with a solar-powered laser satellite.

So it’s the end of the show’s second season, and once again they go out with a bang and a slight change to the status quo, including the arrival of a couple of new characters right at the end. The third season’s already started in the UK and so I know who these newcomers are, but our son will have to wait several months to meet them. We’ll catch International Rescue again down the line, when the complete DVD set of season three, with all 26 episodes, is released. In the meantime, stay tuned for more classic TV at your favorite fire-breathing blog!

Thunderbirds are Go 2.24 – Rigged For Disaster

What I was saying last time about the suspension of disbelief being completely tabled? We hadn’t seen anything yet!

If only our kid had a big oil drilling platform to split in half in the bathtub, he’d have all kinds of fun recreating this episode with his Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird Shadow. Maybe we can find him one before he gets too old for toys in the tub…

Thunderbirds are Go 2.21 – Home on the Range

This is a very fun little change of pace episode written by Rob Hoegee and Patrick Rieger. Once a year, our heroes decamp to an isolated ranch once owned by the Tracy boys’ mother’s family for training and relaxation. Somebody has snuck on the property and needs rescue, and somebody else has snuck on the property and disabled their tech. Fortunately, there’s some much older tech gathering dust in a storage locker. We’d seen these sort of hoverbikes once or twice on the original series, most notably in “Attack of the Alligators!”, but “sleds” like these were common in the earlier Supermarionation shows like Stingray and Fireball XL5 as well. I do love these little winks to the past.

Our son enjoyed everything about this one, but his favorite bit came, again, right at the end, when Gordon and Alan up their sibling rivalry and insist on sitting in the same chair. He often tries much the same trick whenever his mother gets off the sofa for any reason or length of time.

Thunderbirds are Go 2.20 – The Man From TB5

We took a few weeks off from Thunderbirds are Go, but resumed tonight with an incredibly entertaining episode written by Paul Giacoppo. John gets pulled out of Thunderbird 5 for a night schmoozing and socializing, wearing a tuxedo custom-designed by Brains for spy missions, which everybody assures him this isn’t. John doesn’t do well with crowds.

Of course, it turns into a mission. Wouldn’t be Thunderbirds if it didn’t, really. There’s another evil scheme by the Hood, a completely terrific midair fight between Kayo and some criminals with jetpacks over an altogether ridiculous landscape, and Brains’ silly tux-gadgets, all of which, bizarrely, manage to come in handy. Huge fun from start to finish.

Thunderbirds are Go 2.19 – Clean Sweep

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!

Thunderbirds are Go 2.16 – Bolt from the Blue

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!

Thunderbirds are Go 2.13 – Escape Proof

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!

Thunderbirds are Go 2.11 – Weather or Not

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.

Thunderbirds are Go 2.8 – Lost Kingdom

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.