Film & TV

TV Review – Thunderbirds Are Go, First Impressions

5! 4! 3! 2! 1! Thunderbirds Are GO! The boys from International Rescue are back, mixing CGI effects and live action sets to create a punchy revamp of the classic show. ITV’s Thunderbirds Are Go may not be perfect, but it is a lot of fun and should easily keep audiences gripped, adults and children alike.

The year is 2060, and International Rescue, with their incredible Thunderbird machines, are once again here to save the day. Unlike the 2004 movie (which, aside from Busted’s theme song, is best forgotten), Thunderbirds Are Go manages to tread the fine line between staying faithful to the original show and updating it for a modern audience. The Tracys may now be computer generated, but they are still recognisable as the same team, with the same spark and fantastic machines as ever. Tin-Tin may have gone, but in her place stands a contemporary heroine, Kayo, head of the Island’s security and pilot of Thunderbird S, the series’ new vehicle.

The original 1960’s show was a large part of many’s childhood, and this new updated look, for the most part, is very much faithful to the feel of the classic, with David Graham from the original series returning to voice Lady Penelope’s (Rosamund Pike) chauffeur, Parker. By combining the CGI characters with live action backgrounds, the sets occasionally don a similarly retro ‘home-made’ look to them, which is a lovely touch for die-hard fans. In fact, with the countless homages to the original show, it is clear that the team involved in the series’ production have a passion for the original, evident in their careful attention to bringing it to contemporary TV viewers whilst not eliminating the essence of the Thunderbirds franchise.

Right from the start, Thunderbirds Are Go provides more than enough action and thrills to keep younger audiences entertained, whilst keeping adult audiences hooked with part nostalgia, part intrigue. With the world under threat from a series of undersea earthquakes and with Thunderbird 1 out of action, it’s down to Thunderbirds 2 and 4 to investigate the earthquakes’ mysterious source and save a team of scientists trapped under the sea.

With a fast-moving plot packed with explosions and rockets, Thunderbirds Are Go demonstrates exactly how a show made for kids can keep adults just as entertained. The series arc is also made clear right from the off, with the threat of The Hood re-emerging and the hunt for missing father, Jeff Tracy, sure to return in future episodes.

Rather annoyingly, despite airing the first episode at 5pm, ITV, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to move the show to an 8am slot. Though fine for early birds, it looks like ITV Player is going to be key in keeping up with the continuing adventures of International Rescue. Watch for the nostalgia trip, stay for the action-packed missions of TV’s best-known rescue team.

7/10

Henry Stanley

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Writer and Editor for the Film & TV section of Impact, Bharat is a keen previewer, reviewer and sometimes just viewer, of all things cinematic and televisual, with a particular passion for biographical pictures, adaptations and sitcoms.

3 Comments on this post.
  • RobC
    9 April 2015 at 07:18
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    I had been really looking forward to the return of Thunderbirds but what a massive disappointment. In fact, disappointment is no where near long enough.

    This is not nostalgia for the strings or my youth, its simply the complete lack of atmosphere and any tension which even the puppets of all those decades ago managed to generate.

    Its very rare I switch off a program before I have watched it to the end, but with this I did. Its extremely unlikely I will watch any more.

    The general graphics are OK, although the ‘chqaracter(less) movements were more hand held computer game than cutting edge and movement smoothness not up to the latest manga, but it is the total lack of ANY atmosphere and tension generation that makes this pretty much unwatchable to me.

    Sheesh even ‘graphic novels’ are better at plot building than this.

  • Conrad Turner
    9 April 2015 at 12:00
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    Thunderbirds are Go must be the biggest load of twaddle i have ever had the displeasure to watch since i was a child watching the original Thunderbirds by Gerry Anderson.

    Is this how his legacy has been treated? It has absolutely no draw or atmosphere,
    no air of suspense and the explosions are clearly fake. What made Thunderbirds for me as a child, was the fact it kept me on the edge of my seat, literally. Even seeing reruns as an adult I was still captured by the suspense. This new version has nothing. What happened to the strong story lines, the build up, the accident and the rescue? why did the satellite move out of orbit, what was the mechanical spider doing at the bottom of the sea? the 1st 2 episodes seemed to just be a merge of rubbish. As a sci-fi and Gerry Anderson fan at almost 50, watching Thunderbirds on my dvd collection, i still get that feel of realism and suspense. I found it hard to watch the new Thunderbirds are Go without falling asleep 3 times. Very disappointing. With todays technology in CGI, they should have at least made them look like the original characters.

  • Lola Bora
    10 April 2015 at 13:47
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    String puppetry is a beautiful art form that by no means can be replaced by CGI. This is what fans of all ages learned to love and appreciate. The real treasure is the atmosphere and technique of the strings attached, the reality about it, the beautiful and educated acting, beautifully spoken dialogues that could inspire and teach children into better ways. It is the no-animation, the no-CGI principle of the show that makes us love it. Remember that even the hands close-ups were actually real human hands?

    The digital fever and vulgarity of our times perhaps prevent some from realising a much greater disservice to the original creation has already been done, specially when the very children manifest being captivated and amazed only by the originals. I think there is a terrible confusion about what are the children’s needs; it can’t be helped not to detect the production team may be driven by an obsession and distorted vision, or even personal interests with regards to the CGI technique, aesthetics and acting in this specific new series. Porridge is enjoyed by healthy children now just like it was 60 years ago. If one cares about children, unless one is a blind irresponsible who go with trends or doesn’t know how to prepare porridge, why would one give them sugary flakes sprayed with all sorts of weirdness instead?

    All is lost in this shameful new Thunderbird are Go! I hope they cancel this show, put a serious team at work, and revive the original with new string techniques, materials, non-mediocre acting and new story lines.

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