For 1964, The Thunderbirds was cutting edge. Forty years later it is still an international cultural icon. When I travel, I still see reruns of these shows. Plus they still pop up on cable.
The show is shot in Supermarionation. This means that the show uses marionettes. Now this would send cringes down anyone's spine but the production values are incredible! The sets are motion picture quality. It is obvious that no expense has been spared. Many quality sets were made and only used in once short scene. Additionally, the scripts are top notch.
The overall premise for the show is a hundred years in the future (2065) International Rescue is a top secret private rescue squad. They use super high tech air and sea craft, five in total, called Thunderbirds. Thunderbird 5 is a manned satellite orbiting the Earth monitoring all radio signals for distress calls. Thunderbird 4 is a submarine. Thunderbird 3 is a spacecraft. Thunderbird 2 is the transport that uses one of six different cargo holders. Thunderbird 1 is a the primary jet / rocket. T1-4 are all launched from secret hangers located on the island estate of the Traceys.
International Rescue is a run by the Tracey's. The oldest son, Scott, is pilot of T1. The next son, John, runs T5. Son Virgil is pilot of T2. Son Gordon is the aquanaut for T4. Son Allen is the astronaut for T3. They are assisted by Brains, the scientific genius that designed the Thunderbirds, Lady Penelope, their London cousin and Tin-Tin.
This is the "Best of" chosen by the fans. It contains six episodes on two discs, the following is a summary of these episodes:
Trapped in the Sky - This is the pilot episode. The Tracey's have just completed their work on the Thunderbirds. The diabolical Hood wants their secret and has planted a bomb on the new super atomic airliner. To make things worse, Tracey ward Tin-Tin is on the airliner.
Sun Probe - A manned space shuttle is performing an experiment on capturing matter from solar flares when their craft gets the instruments over heat and they cannot escape the sun's gravitational pull. It's International Rescue to the rescue. The rescue is a success but then Thunderbird 3 cannot disengage its tractor beam and is being pulled into the sun.
The Uninvited - Thunderbird 1 is shot down by mysterious jets over the Egyptian desert and its communication system is broken. Two explorers looking for a lost pyramid find Scott and are able to contact Thunderbird 5. After Scott and T1 are rescued, the explorers run into their own problems. First they lose their supply of gas and water, then they find the pyramid but get trapped in it. Scott comes to the rescue and is also trapped, then they find that the pyramid is inhabited by a rogue army.
The Perils of Penelope - This episode centers around English cousin Lady Penelope who is part of International Rescue. A friend of Penelope has developed a formula that can convert sea water into a powerful fuel. The co-developer of the fuel has disappeared while on a train. Penelope and her friend decide to retrace the missing partner's trip. They wind up getting kidnapped to. It's Thunderbird 2 to the rescue.
Terror in New York City - Virgil and Scott are returning to base after a mission when Virgil comes across the new super secret USN Sentinel. Thunderbird 2 is hit by missiles and limps back to base. In NYC, the Empire State Building is being moved 200 yards to redevelop the area but an underground river causes the ground to crumble and a news report is trapped. But with Thunderbird 2 out of commission how are they going to rescue the guys. Enter USN Sentinel, it is taking Thunderbird 4 to the rescue.
Attack of the Alligators! - A flower found in the swamps creates a growth elixir. This will help feed everyone in the world. But when the formula is stolen, some is spilled in the swamp and overnight the alligators have grown gigantic. International Rescue to the rescue!
Pit of Peril - Pop up on screen facts version of the show. The US is testing a new terrestrial vehicle, the Sidewinder, when it falls into a 300 foot crevice. It will take International Rescue to safely rescue them. This is a pretty standard episode. This pop up version was made for TechTV and includes their commercial blackouts. The pop up for the most time are very bland.
Before Thunderbirds Were Go: A Profile of Gerry Anderson - A 14 minute profile on the show and creator Gerry Anderson.
An Interview with Gerry Anderson - A 10 minute interview where Gerry tells his philosophy of film making.
Character Autobiographies - Bios on Jeff Tracy, his five sons, Lady Penelope and her retainer Parker.
The Thunderbird Story - A writing of the creation of International Rescue.