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!
The third season of Thunderbirds are Go will actually be starting this weekend in the UK, so I suppose we’d better watch a few more of these since we might have a new DVD set this summer. Briefly then, this episode, which was written by Amy Wolfram, is a badly-needed star outing for Grandma Tracy. It’s a great character piece set around a very neat pair of rescues in the middle of a powerful sandstorm. She may not bake the tastiest cookies, and her tracksuits might not be all that fashionable, but anybody who can drive the Mole that well has my respect!
I remember when we watched “Attack of the Alligators!” back in 2015 and our son was so scared and so worried that he left the room. I thought those days were long behind us where International Rescue was concerned, but in this remake, he was every bit as frightened for Gordon as he had been for Alan when he was just four. We live in a different house now. There’s a staircase behind the sofa that he can use when things get so bad that just lying on the floor won’t do. That’s where he was tonight during the scene pictured above, convinced absolutely in the reality of these animated characters being menaced by real reptiles.
Patrick Rieger’s story is another Buddy and Ellie Pendergast adventure, so it’s not a straight remake. It doesn’t have the long buildup in the creepy old house, but it is set in a remote and never explored foggy canyon somewhere in central Africa. I have to say I really prefer the original, which is one of my absolute favorites, but this has lots of charm as well.
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!
I’m afraid I have to say that I wasn’t all that thrilled by Rob Hoegee’s “Power Play.” That’s okay. Our son was crazy about it. The Mechanic and the Hood butt heads again, this time over a power source for “Project Sentinel.” They’d worked on it together, but now the Mechanic plans to carry it out by himself. The baddies squabble while our heroes try to keep a hydroelectric dam from bursting. Just not a lot in this one to appeal to grownups, I guess, but he was in heaven.
Earlier this evening, my son did the same thing he did about a year ago when Amazon UK sent the DVD of part one of Thunderbirds are Go‘s second series. Part two arrived today and he had the package in hand, knowing what was in it. He met me at the door, because he wanted that box opened immediately.
Because I’m ridiculous when it comes to scheduling, I’d calendared all this stuff we’re going to watch together over the next several months and wasn’t expecting this set until April, when something I’ve preordered ships, and then Amazon said I could have it early. Weird timing; these twelve episodes, along with an additional one that’s been omitted from the package, just debuted on Amazon Prime in the US this past weekend. I asked myself: do I want to stick to my meticulous and borderline insane spreadsheet of TV to watch, or do I want to make my kid happy? Blasted youngun wins out again.
Here we go with “Volcano!,” written by Benjamin Townsend. These episodes ran from September to December of last year, and this one’s mainly a solo outing for Brains, with his loyal robot Max. Mark Gatiss guest stars as Professor Quentin Questa, who’s convinced that a volcano in Iceland is finally going to erupt after several years of false predictions, and forces Brains to check it out by way of a scientist honor code called Newton’s Fourth Law.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Thunderbirds if Questa was wrong, and so Thunderbird 2 gets to bring two Moles for twice the drilling fun to vent some escape shafts. The present-day multi-use machines are smaller, you certainly couldn’t fit two of the giant Moles from the original series in Thunderbird 2’s cargo pod. Moles and lava: two of my son’s favorite things.
It really has been a heck of a long time between batches of episodes. They’re already promoting the third series in the UK, or at least the first thirteen episodes from it. It’s great that we’ve got so much of this show to enjoy, and we’ll sprinkle these twelve here and there in our rotation over the next couple of months.
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!
“Look up!” Our son absolutely loved this one. I know I say that a lot, but this time he was so excited he was slapping out a drum beat on his knees. It’s the one about a runaway cargo zeppelin that’s rapidly losing altitude and bound for a big Australian city. There’s a malfunctioning loading claw inside that’s got two people trapped, and the rescue requires Kayo to put on one of those big exoskeletons like Ripley used in Aliens.
This is the second script for the show by Dan Berlinka, who wrote “Tunnels of Time” in the first series. He has a lot of fun with Brains trying to focus on the problem while battling zero-gravity “spacesickness.” I enjoyed the heck out of this, but not even close to how much our son did.