|Gerry Anderson with two fan favorites.|
|The house on Tracy Island.|
|The well-named Brains.|
Unlike the other Supermarionation series, Thunderbirds was one-hour long. It was originally conceived as a half-hour show, but when Lew Grade saw the pilot episode, he was so enthusiastic that he told Gerry Anderson to expand it into an hour. Grade, who always had his eye on the international markets, thought Thunderbirds might sell better overseas in the longer format. The challenge for the Andersons was that ten episodes had already been completed or were deep into production based on the half-hour format. Therefore, they had to go back and revise the scripts and shoot additional footage. As a result, some of the early episodes seem padded with subplots that don't propel the action with the same urgency as the earlier Stingray or the later Captain Scarlet. However, given the show's large cast of characters, the longer running time eventually works to Thunderbirds' advantage.
|Thunderbird 2 lowering a pod.|
|Sylvia Anderson and Lady Penelope.|
Although there are some strong rescue episodes (the pilot "Trapped in the Sky" is a humdinger), my favorites expand the typical rescue formula with Lady Penelope often playing a key role. "The Perils of Penelope" has Penny (as Jeff calls her) trying to find a kidnapped professor aboard a monorail. In "The Cham-Cham," she masquerades as a singer at a ski resort called Paradise Peaks and winds up channeling Marlene Dietrich as she warbles an original Barry Gray tune. And, in a non-Lady Penelope episode, giant 'gators attacked a swampy mansion in "Attack of the Alligators," which was inspired by the Bob Hope comedy The Cat and the Canary.
All 32 episodes of Thunderbirds are available from Timeless Media in a set of six Blu-ray discs or eight DVDs. I reviewed the Blu-ray set, which features pristine prints with vibrant colors. In addition to the documentary mentioned above, the bonus features include a vintage publicity brochure.
Timeless Media Group provided a copy of Thunderbirds for review.