Ep 11 – Thunderbirds

In this F.A.B. festive edition of Operation Anderthon, Jack and Katherine are ready to take on the biggest Anderson series of them all: Thunderbirds. From lemon squeezers, to palm trees, to Katherine’s controversial comments about Thunderbird 2, this week’s podcast has it all!

The Most Special Office

Today’s post has to do with my recent house move and my opportunity to realise a dream I have had for a long time. Say hello to my new office.

Captain Scarlet – White As Snow

Directed by Robert Lynn Teleplay by Peter Curran & David Williams First Broadcast – 3rd November 1967 In the transition between Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet there were some key personnel changes going on at Century 21. With cornerstone directors Alan Pattillo and David Elliott no longer at the studio, Desmond Saunders promoted to supervising director, and DavidContinue reading “Captain Scarlet – White As Snow”

Thunderbirds (2004)

Thunderbirds is a 2004 film adaptation of the classic 1960’s puppet television series, only without the puppets (and it’s not a television series either, obviously). It has a reputation that precedes it to an even greater extent than Parker’s nose precedes his face as he enters a room. It’s fair to say that quite a few people dislike the film for various reasons, some of which I’m sure I will cover over the course of this review.

Thunderbird 6 (1968)

Learning from the weaknesses of the Thunderbirds Are Go feature film which premiered to a much smaller audience than originally expected in December 1966, Thunderbird 6 went into production in May 1967 alongside the production of Captain Scarlet which had started in January. The Century 21 studio divided once again with one team tackling Thunderbird 6 while the other continued to produce episodes of Captain Scarlet. This lasted for 4 months. The film was completed and classified by January 1968, but was then shelved for 6 months for release in July. More than 18 months had passed since a new episode of Thunderbirds had been broadcast, and when Thunderbird 6 went into production it had been at least 6 months since the team had worked on any major Thunderbirds productions. How did such a long break affect the finished product and its reception? There’s no doubt that Thunderbird 6 addresses some of the weaknesses of Thunderbirds Are Go, but does it present other problems? Ultimately, this is the final adventure for the International Rescue team produced in the 60’s by the original Century 21 team – so was this film one last hurrah, the glimmer of a new direction for the format, or the reason it all came to an end?

Thunderbirds – The Epilogue

For the past 32 weeks, I have set out to closely analyse and review every episode of the Thunderbirds television series. When I started out in August 2016, little did I know that this would be a gargantuan task weighing in at just over 200,000 words in total. The mission was simply to pay close attention to the audio and visuals on the high definition transfers provided on the Shout Factory blu-ray boxset. I would then point out items of interest including re-used models, puppets, sets, props, and costumes; continuity errors and plot inconsistencies – some of which were brought about by the need to extend episodes from the original half hour format to the full 50 minute running time; and some bloopers which we were probably never supposed to see. It was a fun and extremely educational process which taught me a heck of a lot about how Thunderbirds was made, and hopefully those of you who have been following along at home have also learnt a lot about the series.

Thunderbirds – 32. Give Or Take A Million

It’s worth remembering that nobody intended for Give Or Take A Million to be the end of the Thunderbirds television series. It would be wrong to judge it against other series finales because for the production team, this was not considered to be the end of Thunderbirds. It looked as though A.P. Films, now Century 21, had found their winning format and would continue making Thunderbirds for as long as there was a demand for it. Hopes were also high for the Thunderbirds Are Go movie to launch International Rescue into a string of adventures on the big screen. Although the movie failed to perform at the box office, there was still hope for further success, and so Thunderbird 6 was commissioned. But for the television series, the plug was pulled very suddenly by Lew Grade when the sale of the series to the American networks fell through – a result of him raising the price too high. But that high value sale was necessary for the production of Thunderbirds to continue being financial viable to Grade, it was something he had counted on – and without it, the most expensive television series in the UK at that time simply could not continue. And so, rather unluckily, the last episode we have been left with is this Christmas special – a merry escapade for a Christmas Day evening, but when weighed against the rest of the series, is lacking some pretty vital components.

Thunderbirds – 31. Ricochet

In the mid-1960’s, the UK was gripped by the Radio Caroline phenomenon, a pirate radio station broadcasting from a ship off the English coast without a government license. It was popular for bravely busting the BBC’s broadcasting monopoly and circumventing the restrictive music broadcasting rules of certain record companies. Something about this cool and rebellious concept struck a chord with Gerry Anderson, who theorised that in the future, pirate radio ships would be replaced with pirate radio satellites broadcasting from orbit without a license. It’s a wonderfully inventive notion, and one which I feel is extremely well executed in this episode. The story also gives us a rare Thunderbird 3 mission, a fun guest character, and it gives us a little break from the Penelope based adventures which otherwise dominate the second series.