Saturday, February 7, 2015
Just finished Thunderbirds early last month. I come very very late to this particular "Supermarionated" party having never seen the show even once in my life. I saw and loved Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons as a kid, but never saw any of the other Gerry Anderson shows save Stingray. I've read about Thunderbirds, and heard people rave about it so my curiosity finally got the better of me and after seeing the two feature versions of the show which impressed a little at the time, I broke down and ordered it last year. It's taken many months for me to finish the series (lots of diversions you know) but I have and I begin to see the appeal.
In fact as I watched the shows a few at a time, I began to get why folks are so balmy about this series. The good guys are exceedingly good, if powerfully naive, and the baddies are properly bad and stupid. The storytelling is sluggish in places, but from what I read that was somewhat the result of late decisions by the producers about expanding the series to an hour from a very effective half hour.
I did get confused about the way in which International Rescue fit into the global scheme of the 2060's as sometimes they are rogues operating outside the system and sometimes they seem almost an arm of the governments they often benefit. Their secrecy was wildly inconsistent too as in one episode a kid who stows away on Thunderbird 2 is approached as a mild menace and in at least two other episodes kids are given tours of the island and the equipment. Sometimes the Tracys reveal their names, sometimes they fight over having their pictures taken. Their picture detector is a pretty cool device and I'm sure many stars who fend off the paparazzi would like one. That stuff aside it's still wild fun.
I might say the episode where they attempt to move the Empire State Building might be my favorite, it is such a wacked-out notion. The world of 2060 something is pretty hair-raising in some respects and amazingly familiar in others.
The fashion as always in an Anderson production becomes fetishistic with the puppets (yes I know they are marionettes) looking more than a tad goofy from time to time as they try painfully to look cool. The whimsy of the whole affair makes the attempts to hip and cool harmless fluff, a product of a time when such things were somehow taken seriously. (We're much better now of course.)
It's easy to see why these shows hold up, the craftsmanship is top notch and really the kind of thing which could not be done in the modern world. Not because of the craft, but because the insane costs. We caught a comet with this show and the ones which came before and after, and I have to admire that.