ITV launched Thunderbirds are Go on Easter Saturday at 5pm on ITV. I must admit, given the significance of the original series, I was very surprised at the distinct lack of advertising and general marketing for this reimagining of this iconic series from the 60s. From reading the limited pre-release blurb, it seemed that many had already rubbished this new version, saving the rest of us the arduous task of making up our minds ourselves! Against the trend, both The Independent and The Telegraph gave it the thumbs up though!
Ok, so how was it? The first thing I noticed was the music: from the subtle reworking of the main theme-tune to the incidental music, it was all very stirring! Ben Foster apparently had a hand in all of this (he, of Doctor Who music too), so that was a great start in my book.
Each episode was created entirely in CGI, and whilst the ‘lifelike’ (ahem!) recreation of the characters won’t win any awards for realism, it had a quirky look and feel about it (just like the original). Next was the Thunderbirds craft themselves. Certainly 1, 2, 3 and 4 seemed pretty faithful to the original, with some minor cosmetic updates that included a lot more detail in the bodies themselves. The biggest change was to Thunderbird 5 – totally unrecognisable, but maybe a more realistic look in its role as an orbiting craft. Towards the end, they even managed to introduce an additional craft – Thunderbird S (S for ‘shadow’) – now that was brave! (Did anyone see the movie Thunderbird 6?)
Script-wise, it was all very pacey, and the 60 minutes went in no time! It was all very ‘gung-ho American’ throughout, but I guess that’s OK, and it certainly didn’t feel quite as cheesy as I thought it might be!
All the main characters were there bar one – Jeff Tracy – and there is a nice developing story-arc about his ‘accident’. I didn’t recognise many of the VO artistes – I got Rosamund Pike as Lady Penelope, and it was good to hear David Graham reprising his role as the loveable rogue Parker.
The best bits for me were the launch sequences for the various craft – very faithful to the original series, but with the added realism that CGI can bring.
Any trivia? The short scene of Stingray being chased by a Terror Fish was a worthy homage to the genius of Gerry Anderson, and, in the credits, the audio production team was called Hackenbacker, the name that Brains used in one of the episodes of the original series.
For reasons best known to ITV, the second episode of the series goes out at 8am (yes, you read that correctly – a.m.), next Saturday on CITV.
All-in-all I really enjoyed it. It could so easily been a complete disaster, but there was enough respect and ‘nods’ to the original series to keep this fan watching!