Thunderbirds Are Go, TV Review - Retro feel really does go well

This was an opportunity to familiarise your children with all the things they’ll want for Christmas this year

Chris Bennion
Sunday 05 April 2015 09:45 BST
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The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island (ITV)

Thunderbirds Are Go! And how. They are so relentlessly go, in ITV’s brand spanking new CGI no-strings remake, that watching it is akin to being stuck in a room with a gaggle of six-year-old boys and a bucket of action figures.

The action is giddy, the heroism relentless and the meaningless lines fired out at an alarming rate (‘deploying grabbing arms!’, ‘arming demolition missile!’, ‘commencing halo drop!’). All five Thunderbirds are present and correct and all your old pals from the original series are hauntingly rendered in glorious CGI.

The updated version of Tracey Island (ITV)

The action might be computer generated but the programme makers have clearly decided to keep a slightly retro feel to proceedings. The spaceships occasionally hover and jerk as if on strings, the ‘sets’ still have a ‘make your own at home with a loo roll and mop head’ feel and the faces bear an uncanny resemblance to Gerry Anderson’s originals, complete with those big oval eyes. It’s as if the ghosts of puppets have got stuck inside a computer. It’s Tron for ventriloquist’s dummies.

For all the talk of updating the cast for a 21st Century audience (the action is set in 2060) the heroic Tracy brothers are still essentially a clean cut (white) straight edge American boy band. The only distinguishing feature they possess are differing hair colours (two blonde, one black, one brown, one ginger – which brings parentage into question, frankly), other than that they are identi-kit vacuum packed action figures (and why could that be?!).

Then and now: Parker and Lady Penelope (ITV)

All your favourites are back too. Lady Penelope (voiced by Rosamund Pike) is still being driven around endless rolling, autumnal hills – the thinking seven year old’s crumpet, presumably. Her loyal chauffeur Parker is back in employment too (though he’s cast off his uniform for a turtleneck, the modern so and so), however these days he sounds like someone doing an impression of someone doing an impression of the original 1960s Parker while standing on their head. Which is odd seeing as he’s being voiced by David Graham, the original 1960s Parker. In a nod to ‘that there future’ Brains is now Indian, with his stutters and nervous tics being brought to life by Kavyan Novak.

In terms of plot, there was some shenanigans involving saving a group of scientists from their underwater lab (which was, weirdly, shaped like the skeleton of a small dog) and a mysterious series of earthquakes, bringing arch-villain The Hood into the game. But mainly this was an opportunity to familiarise your children with all the things they’ll want for Christmas this year. The famous launch sequences were repeated ad nauseam and, silver lining, your little ones will definitely be able to count backwards from five by the end of this episode.

Brains from the modern series Thunderbirds (PA)

Your kids will probably love it, seeing as it’s carefully calibrated to push all their buttons (the Tracy heroes even dress like little boys in their down time). Like it or not, parents, Thunderbirds are going to be part of your 2015.

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