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Thunderbirds Set 1

Peter Dyneley , Shane Rimmer    Unrated   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 59.99
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"Filmed in VIDECOLOR [explosions, drum roll, music builds to a climax] and SUPERMARIONATION"! The opening sequence of Thunderbirds is itself a master class in Gerry Anderson's marionette hyperbole: who else would dare to make a virtue out of the fact that (a) the show is in color and (b) it's got puppets in it? But everything about this series really is epic: Thunderbirds is action on the grandest scale, predating such high-concept Hollywood vehicles as Armageddon by 30 years and more (the acting is better, too), and fetishizing 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 for 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 (license plate FAB1), driven by lugubrious chauffeur Parker, whose "Yes, milady" catchphrase 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.

On this DVD: International Rescue's very first adventure provides a template for all the rest: in "Trapped in the Sky," an experimental new aircraft becomes the target of an evil Bond-style megalomaniac who wants to get his hands on all the neat gear operated by the Tracey siblings. The show introduces, in fetishistic detail, the recurring set-pieces: Thunderbird 1 taking off from the roll-back swimming pool, the question of which pod Thunderbird 2 will use this week--the mole, or the submarine, perhaps?--and so on. Nostalgia fans will be pleased to learn that despite digital remastering the puppet strings are still in evidence, and no amount of high-tech restoration could remove the clunky expository dialogue:

Stewardess: "It's the maiden flight of the new atomic-powered Fireflash."
Passenger: "Isn't that the new aircraft that flies six times the speed of sound?"
Stewardess: "That's right, but don't worry: it's perfectly safe."
[Cut to: interior, Fireflash landing gear, a device clearly labeled "Auto-Bomb Detonator Unit"]
Sinister bad guy (talking to himself for no readily apparent reason): "Perfect. Enough explosives to smash the Atomic Reactor."

In the second episode, "Pit of Peril," an absurdly impractical U.S. Army vehicle falls into the eponymous pit, necessitating use of pod 5, the mole. Joy! Four more episodes are included. --Mark Walker


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oops, Forgot The Other Four Episodes Aug. 21 2001
This is a follow-up to my first review of this set, as I neglected to comment on the other four episodes within.
City Of Fire - The Towering Inferno in miniature, as a ten thousand foot tall skyscraper that serves as a monster shopping mall is opened to considerable TV coverage via a hoverjet TV remote. When a woman's foot slips off her brake onto the accelerator, her car plows into parked vehicles, and as the couple on board make for safety, their car explodes and detonates other vehicles within a four-mile-long underground lot. IR is called in as the fire overwhelms all safety systems within the building and ultimately collapses the building - trapping a family of three in a corridor with firedoors stalled shut. Scott and Virgil must cut through firedoors - and must do so with a cutting gas that knocked them unconscious in testing.
There are admittedly nits to pick here - that they would use a cutting gas that knocked them out is a huge stretch, as is the notion that a regular car crash would set off a fire so large as to overwhelm a ten thousand floor skyscraper's safety systems. Still, the episode is a treat.
Sunprobe - Thunderbirds in space, as an audacious space mission - to collect energy matter from the sun - goes wrong. Thunderbird Three with Alan, Tin-Tin, and Scott is launched to fire a radio beam to ignite the Sunprobe's retrothrusters, which have been shut off due to solar radiation. They succeed in saving the Sunprobe, but the real horror begins when Thunderbird Three cannot fire its own retros, and Virgil and Brains must use a vastly powerful mobile transmitter on a ice-covered mountaintop to send a similar radio beam - a task made harder as parameter changes must be calculated out, a task that may take too long.
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5.0 out of 5 stars FAB - naturally March 11 2003
Yes, yes, yes ... dunderklumpen Parker is tripping all over his cockney vowels and Tintin (the non-francophone version) is demurely aiding (wink, wink) Alan, but how can you resist a world where technology is always fallible (planes exploding, reactors exploding, grandma exploding - just kidding) yet can only be saved by the same, now infallible, technology. A feature film with non-stringy actors is being made of this series - it's a guaranteed flop already. You can't tell these stories today with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of thirty years ago. Also, when Thunderbirds was made, the directors were making mini-feature-films. Now, alas, even our biggest films are made to play on TV, just like a movie-of-the-week. It'll look like a Star Trek episode - neat, clean-cut and sanitary with all the soul sucked out of its CGI animated pores. What it won't have is Lord Lew Grade sitting behind it, marvelling at its imagination, egging on its producer, giggling like a large cherubic baby. The original can't be anything other than FAB - a Fully Aknowledged Broadcast.
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I grew up on Thunderbirds and loved every minute of it. To see the shows rendered in DVD quality picture and sound provides an awesome viewing experience, especially if you have surround sound with a good sub-woofer! The explosions and the Thunderbird launches sound incredible. Highly recommended as are all the other Thunderbirds DVDs in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Buy Dec 3 2002
By A Customer
Ahhh.... the wonders of childhood. Yes, I remember the Thunderbirds and I'm glad they're back in the states. I went out and brought one of those multistandard vhs player (plays pal) just so I could buy and watch these guys. This was and still is a great childrens series. I had all of these tapes except one and now thanks to the new release from Carlton I have that one too. They still need work on the menu though. You can watch the movie but not select certain scenes in any given episode but I don't care. Buy this you won't regret it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thunderbirds - set 1 is a must have !!! Sept. 28 2002
By Jim
this 1st set is a must have for Thunderbirds fans! if you only
buy one set you should get this one for sure ! actually set 1 & 2 are my favorite ! the sound and color are crisp and clear like
it was made yesterday ! it's a real classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thunderbirds are GO! Aug. 3 2002
It was the 1960s-- Stereotypes still existed, bad guys were obviously bad, good guys were obviously good. The Thunderbirds were obviously good guys, and obviously marionettes. The Anderson special effects are very good, even if some of the underwater scenes were obviously shot through an aquarium! The DVD captures all the nuances of the show, including the strings! (: The plots are at least as good as a James Bond flick.
Remember that the Andersons and ITC went on to do UFO and SPACE:1999. The special effects on these live action shows were of the same style as on the Thunderbirds (except the strings were easier to hide in space!). I kept thinking that UFO and SPACE:1999 ought to have splashed the "SUPERMARIONATION" logo on the screen!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's a pupper thing.... Feb. 1 2002
I never realized that my favorite kiddie shows were all done by the same person - T-birds, Fireball XL5, Stingray, etc. This first set is great. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the episodes held up - and how often the ideas have been copied. Yea, the effects are cheesy, the "acting" over the top, and the overall effect campy, but it's 60's TV. It was in COLOR. It was in Supermarionation. It even had sound. And strings. And plenty of fire. What else could a kid ask for? If you even liked the series, you'll enjoy this memory-trip.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars International Rescue to Bored and Jaded Viewers
Money well spent, definitely. This DVD set is very impressive on all counts and truly packed (over 5 hours of entertainment!). Read more
Published on Dec 27 2001 by Khan Tengry
4.0 out of 5 stars THUNDERBIRDS to the RESCUE!
I have been a big fan of this U.K. television series from the 1960's for years, and I spent a considerable sum of money just to get the original episodes on VHS imported to the... Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2001 by Jon Hamaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Thunderbirds are Go!
This is amazing stuff! You will see great vision & imagination
that now is hard to find. Parents-do not fear this series:
Kids will be shown the high value placed on... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2001 by "rmwe20"
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, International Rescue Available For All To See
Thunderbirds is a "lost" gem finally found. Using marionettes amid elaborate sets, Gerry & Sylvia Anderson told the epic story of International Rescue, a family (the... Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2001 by Michael Daly
5.0 out of 5 stars Campy Fun
In terms of fun, I really love it. The puppet animimation does not distract from the stories, which are in fact, pretty cool. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2001 by Louis B. Davidson
4.0 out of 5 stars Thunderbirds - a retrospective
As a child in England I would race home from school, eat my food and settle down in front of the television set for the latest Gerry Anderson epic production whether it was Torchy... Read more
Published on May 1 2001 by Junglies
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