Thunderbirds Are Go: Ring of Fire Parts 1 and 2 – Review

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Posted April 18, 2016 by John Newby in Nerdy Bits

Way back in 1965, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson created a British science-fiction television series called Thunderbirds. A sci-fi series created in the 60’s is nothing remarkable, but this show had a very unique hook—puppets were the main characters. The Andersons used a combination of these electronic puppets and scale model special effects to portray sequences that were almost impossible at the time. The focus of this show was a group named International Rescue, formed by an ex-astronaut, Jeff Tracy, and his five adult sons. Using technologically advanced vehicles, this team would conduct rescue missions around, and sometimes outside of, the globe in an effort to keep earth safe. Imagine a more serious version of Team America: World Police because this is what Matt Stone and Trey Parker were riffing on with that movie.

Unsurprisingly, this plucky series captured the hearts of fans in Britain, but the show never translated well to the United States. Fast-forward 51 years and a New Zealand-based animation company known as Pukeko Pictures is bringing back Thunderbirds. Technically, the show has already been in rotation since 2015, but Amazon is now releasing it digitally for international audiences. Pukeko isn’t looking to keep the status quo, however, choosing to focus on a newer style of creation. Instead of using puppets like its predecessor, Thunderbirds Are Go relies on a mixture of CGI characters and scale-model miniature effects. The change is jarring to anyone that enjoyed the original series, but it doesn’t keep the show from being a solid watch.

The original International Rescue

The original International Rescue

Set in 2060, Thunderbirds Are Go functions as more of a continuation of the original series instead of a reboot as it keeps most of the main characters and locations. Jeff Tracy is missing and presumed dead, so it’s up to his five adult sons to continue the legacy of International Rescue. Joining the five sons are returning characters in a brilliant scientist named Brains and a British spy named Lady Penelope. There is also an all-around badass named Kayo who handles the cool spy shenanigans. The addition of these characters is quite important given the absolute madness that keeps the team rushing around the globe. There are collapsing buildings to evacuate, fires to extinguish, and undersea scientists to rescue.

The pilot episode of Thunderbirds Are Go—which is actually an homage to an old episode—is centered on a series of earthquakes taking place underwater. Most of these earthquakes seem like standard fare until one of the Tracy brothers discovers that there is actually a mysterious device behind the “natural” disasters. As it turns out, this device is one of over a dozen created by a villainous character known only as the Hood.

You may be asking, “Why does the Hood want to cause dozens, if not hundreds, of earthquakes underwater.” Apparently, this mysterious character is carrying out a vendetta on International Rescue with the ultimate goal of disbanding the group and taking control of their possessions. The earthquakes are the Hood’s method of forcing the world leaders into working with him to stop International Rescue. It’s a scheme that seems reminiscent James Bond, but it works given the fact that the Hood is bound and determined to take down International Rescue at all costs.

Without spoiling the major details of these episodes, it’s worth mentioning that Thunderbirds Are Go is a very solid start to this new series. The story is very interesting, and the mix of CGI and scale models creates a unique visual effect. Granted, the character’s eyes are a little weird, and some of the voice acting isn’t exactly spectacular, but pretty much everything else is solid. It definitely helps that this new series captures many of the details that made the original show fun. All of the characters say “F.A.B.” as a sign of understanding, just like the original characters did, and the show even uses the drawn out vehicle launch sequences that made Thunderbirds seem a little goofy.

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Ok, it’s time to be blunt: if the thought of replacing the Tracy’s with CGI characters is angering, then you probably shouldn’t watch Thunderbirds Are Go. If you can make it past that, however, you will find that this show is actually quite entertaining and has a lot of heart. Don’t make this into a Top Gear vs. Top Gear USA situation. Just watch a few episodes and give Thunderbirds Are Go a chance to grab you.

 


About the Author

John Newby

A random dude obsessed with coffee, blue heelers, and most nerdy things. Big fan of Star Wars, Borderlands, Arrow/Flash, and a whole lotta video games. The Saboteur is underrated, and Silverado is the best movie ever made.