murphys_lawyer (murphys_lawyer) wrote,

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Thunderbirds are Go: some brief thoughts

I've finally got around to watching the first two parts of the reboot that ITV showed on their HD channel last week before shunting the rest onto standard-def CITV. While it's not my Thunderbirds that I grew up with, it's a mostly competent attempt at reworking the magic for a generation with less patience than mine.

That's my main problem with it; it's too fast in places, and what necessary exposition there is frequently gets lost in the action to the point where a couple of times I was thinking, "hang on, (s)he's doing what now?". This extends to where you simply don't get that Derek Meddings and his team managed to convey that the Thunderbirds are big: while I understand the kids sponsors won't go for a three-minute montage of TB2 selecting a pod and strolling down the palm-tree avenue to the launch ramp, the new sequence is so wham-bam you don't feel you're seeing anything other than a very well-crafted CGI craft against a less well-crafted CGI [EDIT] model background (more often than not crafted at Stingray's level than Thunderbirds).

Other niggles? The eyes used on the characters remind me of a deluxe 1960s doll's, and if anyone was seriously aiming for that they deserve to be slapped around the head with a wet kipper and reminded this is the 21st century, please try again. As for Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, she's far too young and far too high-pitched. She's not an aristo, she's an ingenue.

Switching to what's good. The craft we've seen so far are gorgeous. Major redesigns such as TB2's wings and VTOL jets and TB3's crew entry system make sense. 21st century modeling mean we finally get to see how TB2 retrieves a pod while hovering. Lots of good original stuff such as TB1's gimballed seat and TB4's pod launcher have been carefully tweaked. (Diverting slightly, TB2's runway with the folding palm trees makes much more sense than the original. Someone thought about that one, and it paid off.)

As for the plot, it's cheerfully daft, and sets up the main dynamics reasonably well. Jeff Tracy is MIA, Kyrano is nowhere to be seen and is not mentioned, but his daughter (now called Kayo thanks to the Herge estate) is known by Grandma Tracy to be the Hood's niece. The Hood's agenda has expanded considerably from inept industrial espionage and rubber-mask making to the point where he can hack global TV to make demands of the World Government "out of a bad movie" to quote the media-savvy John Tracy. Given that the World Government's armed forces seem to consist solely of a single general and three nightclub bouncers, it's just as well that the International Rescue team can not only foil his dastardly plot to cause earthquakes at will, but trace him to his hidden lair... where the aforementioned bouncers let him and three members of Daft Punk who seem to have wandered in from the set next door to escape. In short, it's just as fun as many of the original series' episodes, and nowhere near as silly as many of them (cough*Cham*Cham*cough).

There are enough potential plot points to make me want to carry on watching for now. Kayo's family relations will undoubtedly boil over before the season is out, and could make for some interesting dynamics, especially as she's got her own craft. We don't know yet if Jeff is just Mostly Dead or has really been fridged. Lady Penelope is competent enough despite her youth in this incarnation, and has the original Parker to back her up (yay!).

I just hope Grandma's cooking doesn't become the joke of the week. She used to make such good apple pie.

Cross-posted from DreamWidth at (provided Frank the Goat hasn't been at the vodka again). There are comment count unavailable comments there so far.

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