I am enjoying the use of recurring supporting players in this series. In tonight’s episode, Patrick Rieger, who wrote “Relic” in the first series, reintroduces that episode’s Captain Taylor, an old friend of Jeff Tracy’s who had been in charge of the moonbase but is now needed to help a runaway passenger freighter to Mars. I wonder whether we’ll see Taylor and the Mars colony again.
This was another huge hit for our son, even if Dr. Science was not entirely certain about how this episode used… well, pretty much everything about physics in a vacuum. It also gave us the opportunity to talk about why a heat shield would be needed to enter a planet’s atmosphere, so he got a lesson in friction and meteorites. You could see his little heart sink when he learned that about three-quarters of the meteorites that do make it through our atmosphere just splash into the ocean. That makes it a lot harder to find them!
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.
Rich Fogel had written some of the very best episodes of what fans call “the DC Animated Universe.” It started with the cartoon Batman in 1992 and concluded with Justice League Unlimited in 2006. He cowrote the “World’s Finest” three-parter in 1997. People will be telling stories about how Batman and Superman first met until the last vestiges of our culture are forgotten, but I really and honestly don’t believe this episode is ever going to be bettered. I recognized Fogel’s name on this episode of Thunderbirds are Go and sat up straight. That was after the pre-credit reveal, which is the greatest thing ever.
I don’t wish to give anything away tonight, since most American viewers won’t be seeing this episode until Amazon Prime offers it in April, and even the simplest plot summary will spoil that amazing reveal. Suffice it to say that everyone involved seem to have put the plot together after a marathon session of debating what all can be done with Thunderbird 4, and that there’s a perfectly-timed Sherlock Holmes gag that had me roaring. Our son loved this one, of course, but it’s just possible that I might have loved it more.
After a moment of worry as to whether the big, abandoned, derelict ship is actually haunted or not – of course it isn’t, but that’s the fun of it – our son really got into this one. It’s a great script by Joseph Kuhr (he wrote “Chain of Command” in season one) which had us guessing whether the enemy is malicious or ever-so-slightly incompetent. There’s a delightful little hat tip to the writer of Dark Star and Alien in the name of the astronaut who needs a little help from International Rescue this week. Her name’s Captain Ridley O’Bannon.
I can’t decide whether the animators had either a complete ball or an absolute nightmare putting together all these giant metal shapes slowly tumbling around in zero gravity. It’s certainly a trip to watch.
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.
Since this blog mostly has both eyes in television’s past, here’s an update we might have missed. The new series of Thunderbirds are Go will begin broadcasting in the UK this weekend, starting Saturday the 22nd with two episodes, and continuing through the end of the year. In the US, these thirteen half-hours will be available for streaming to Amazon Prime members starting on November 4. We’ll be a bit behind the curve with these, as I am old-fashioned and like shiny plastic disks, but look forward to seeing them in 2017.
Speaking of Thunderbirds, I wanted to draw your attention to one of the sites on the little linkroll to the left. Security Hazard is the unofficial Gerry Anderson blog, and one of its weekly features is an astonishingly detailed and image-packed series of episode studies for the original 32 Thunderbirds episodes, spotting reused props and puppets, material shot at different times, and analyzing what footage might have been in the original half-hour versions of the episodes before they were expanded to a full hour. It’s done with lots of love and humor but must be an absolute bear to produce, so do check out this great work and give the writer a thumbs-up so he’ll keep going; this is the sort of incredibly intensive writing that would almost guarantee burnout if I was the fellow trying to do it.
In other quickie updates about material that’s been mentioned in these pages…
* I did buy the Electra Woman & Dyna Girl movie. It’s not suitable for little kids, so we won’t be looking at it together for this blog. It’s not awful, but it’s not making anybody’s top twenty list.
* If Amazon has made any kind of announcement about picking up that Sigmund and the Sea Monsters pilot, I haven’t seen it.
* It looks like Chattanooga is not actually getting the Fathom release of “The Power of the Daleks,” so we’ll probably just start watching that on BBC America on November 19 until the Region 2 DVD gets here.
That’s all for now. More to come tomorrow, and, as four kids in Tranquility Forest used to say, “Don’t forget… to write. We love to hear… from you!”
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!”