Thunderbirds are back, but is the new version of Gerry Anderson’s classic puppet saga any good?
Well, the answer is yes and no. While the two characters in the opening scenes of the new series look like they could have been computer-generated 10 years ago, there is a sucker punch moment that occurs in the following few seconds that will leave many fans thrilled.
I’ll not reveal too much here, but the site of an iconic aircraft appearing through clouds (a little like the Enterprise in the recent Star Trek movies) will leave many fans of Anderson’s work feeling like kids on Christmas morning.
The problem is there is a weird dynamic going on with other characters. Purists will be horrified to realise there is no sign of Jeff Tracy, and the lack of Tintin, no doubt because nobody wants to be confused with the recent CGI movie, will also leave some nervous.
The animators have tried to capture the spirit of the original puppets, and the result is a little uneasy. You get that feeling that the toys were designed first, then the series was animated around them.
There’s also that feeling of weightlessness that affects many of the characters, so when scenes are set aboard the space station, Thunderbird 5, it might feel natural for that environment, but there is a feeling the characters have no heft, even on Earth.
Okay, so while the characters might not be up to much, at least those iconic vehicles are out of this world. It’s hard not to be thrilled when Thunderbird 2 rolls out of its hangar and launches for the first time.
Anderson fans will also note a few nods to classic shows such as Stingray and Space 1999.
When I spoke to Anderson a few years before his death, he was thrilled that a new version of Thunderbirds was in the pipeline. However, he was far from delighted by the impact the 2004 movie made, or the fact the rather excellent Captain Scarlet reboot was buried on ITV in the Saturday morning slot.
Thankfully the new version of Thunderbirds has been given a teatime slot, at least for the time being.
I have little doubt that kids should love it. After all they are the target audience. But I wouldn’t be too surprised if their dads, and folks who were weaned on the original series, will feel a little let down by this production.
Each to their own. After all, when the Star Wars prequels were released, many fans of the original trilogy turned their noses up, while younger audiences fresh to the saga embraced it with open arms. There’s a good chance the same will happen here.