|"Filmed in VIDECOLOR [explosions, drum roll, music builds to a climax] and SUPERMARIONATION"! The opening sequence of Thunderbirds is itself a masterclass in Gerry Anderson's marionette hyperbole: who else would dare to make a virtue out of the fact that (a) the show is in colour and (b) it's got puppets in it? But everything about this series really is epic: Thunderbirds is action on the grandest scale, pre-dating such high-concept Hollywood vehicles as Armaggedon by 30 years and more (the acting is better, too), and fetishising gadgets in a way that even the most excessive Bond movies could never hope to rival. Unsurprisingly, it transpires that the visual effects are by Derek Meddings, whose later contributions to Bond movies like The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker echo his pioneering model work here.
As to the characters, the clean-cut Tracey boys take second place in the audiences' affections to their cool machines--the real stars of the show--while comic relief is to be found in the charming company of Lady Penelope and her pink Rolls (number plate FAB1), driven by lugubrious chauffeur Parker, whose "Yes, milady" catch phrase resonated around school playgrounds for decades. (Spare a thought for poor old John Tracey, stuck up in space on Thunderbird 5 with only the radio for company.) The puppet stunt-work is breathtakingly audacious, and every week's death-defying escapade is nail-bitingly choreographed in the very best tradition of disaster movies. First shown in 1964 and now digitally remastered, Thunderbirds is children's TV that still looks and sounds like big-budget Hollywood.
In this box set: all 32 episodes on eight discs, plus a bonus DVD featuring "The Thunderbirds Companion", an action-packed compilation which features the very best Thunderbirds rescues and scenes and tells the whole story behind Gerry Anderson's legendary action adventure series. Includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Gerry Anderson, David Graham (the voice of Parker, Brains and Kyrano), Thunderbirds directors Alan Patillo and Bob Bell, and puppeteer John Blundall. --Mark Walker