Thunderbirds Are Go Season 1
Five brothers use ultra-high-technology to rescue people in danger from natural disasters or accidents.
Amazon Prime Video (included with Prime)
Directors: David Scott, Theo Baynton
Writers: Rob Hoegee, Ian Carney, Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler, Andrew Robinson, Scott Sonneborn, Stan Berkowitz, Ken Pontac, Dan Berlinka, Paul Giacoppo, Danny Stack, Benjamin Townsend
Composer: Ben Foster, Nick Foster
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Thomas Sangster, Rasmus Hardiker, David Menkin, Kayvan Novak, David Graham, Angel Coulby, Teresa Gallagher, Andres Williams.
Distributor: ITV Studios Global Entertainment
Genre: Children’s, Science Fiction, Action Adventure
If you were a child in the late 1960s or 1970s, you probably saw a few of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s shows, all of which used marionettes. Probably the most famous of these is Thunderbirds, which only lasted from 1965-1966 in its original run. Despite the short run, it’s considered one of the best science fiction shows in TV history, placing 19th in a 2005 Radio Times reader poll, and in 2013, the British Channel 5 show 50 Greatest Kids Shows ranked the original Thunderbirds fourth.
In 2015, for the 50th anniversary, it was resurrected with modern CGI replacing the Andersons’ “Supermarionation.” This allows the producers a lot more freedom than having to work with marionettes, and they’ve updated several things along the way, while keeping most of the familiar elements. This gives people like myself, who grew up watching reruns, a strong dose of nostalgia while at the same time giving us a modern adventure to enjoy.
Spiritual Content: As far as I can tell, zero. Mentions of religion and spirituality appear to be completely absent from Thunderbirds Are Go, or at the very least so infrequent I can’t recall them.
Violence: Much of the time, the Thunderbirds are responding to purely natural disasters. However, there are people who seek to gain control of the Thunderbirds for their own purposes. International Rescue names their friend Kayo as their Covert Ops Specialist, whose job it is to thwart those people and assist the Global Defense Force to bring them to justice. More often that not, when The Hood is faced with capture, he finds a way to escape without combat. When combat does occur, it’s often hand to hand or martial arts—few guns or projectiles are used.
Language/Crude Humor: Again, none I could find, not even the bathroom humor that some seem to think is appropriate for kids. There is clean humor, though, often centering around Grandma Tracy’s attempts to cook for the boys. She’s such a bad cook I think Worst Cooks in America would consider her beyond help.
Sexual Content: Once again, since this is intended as a kids’ show, there is none.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: Very few if any. International Rescue’s London agent Lady Penelope does travel in Britain’s high society, so you may see an occasional glass of champagne.
Other Negative Content: In the initial two-part episode, The Hood devises a way to create underwater earthquakes and tries to hold the entire world for ransom; the ransom he is demanding is, of course, all of the Thunderbirds. Some of The Hood’s other schemes are equally nasty. As brothers do, the Tracy brothers do engage in their share of sibling rivalry, including cutting remarks between them and the occasional prank. All in all, however, it’s a surprisingly positive show given what we are seeing on TV a lot these days. There are indications of a worldwide government, such as the Global Defense Force, which may be slightly disquieting to some Christians.
Positive Elements: Jesus Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, NASB). The Tracy brothers risk their lives not just for their friends, but for total strangers or acquaintances who make their own problems. This is the magic of Thunderbirds, both the original and the updated version. The adventure and drama comes primarily from the dangerous situations the victims find themselves in, which both cuts way down on violence between people (though some does still happen), and simultaneously raises the stakes. It’s one thing to face down a human opponent; it’s something quite different to try to deal with an earthquake. You can’t reason with or scare an earthquake, it just is, and that means you have to deal with what it gives you.
When people in 2060 need help, they call for International Rescue. International Rescue then sends in the Thunderbirds, their specialized ultra-high-tech vehicles, to save them. From the sky to the sea to outer space, the Thunderbirds go anywhere people are in danger. Launching from their secret South Pacific island base, the five Tracy brothers fly into danger when others are running away. Although any of the brothers can pilot any of the Thunderbirds, they are each assigned a primary vehicle.
Episodes usually begin with “Space Monitor” John Tracy notifying the team about a call for help he’s heard while monitoring the global airwaves from his satellite called Thunderbird 5. The brothers, along with helpers such as their engineer Brains, formulate a plan for how to accomplish the rescue, including what equipment they’ll need. Then the chosen brothers race to their vehicles and launch. Of course, the rescues never go exactly as planned, leading to the team having to improvise on the fly, which is where a lot of the drama comes from.
Sometimes, however, the problems they’re responding to aren’t natural occurrences. With tech advanced even by 2060 standards, there is one person in particular, known only as The Hood, who wants to get his hands on the Thunderbirds for himself, and he’s not above causing a disaster to get them in a place where he can try to steal one. This is where Kayo (pictured to the left), comes into the scene. She’s not a member of the Tracy family, but is trusted with the secrets of the Thunderbirds. She’s in charge of covert operations, which usually means trying to get her hands on The Hood. Also assisting are International Rescue’s London Agent, Lady Penelope, and her chauffeur/butler/all around helper Parker (pictured below), who apparently was on the other side of the law in his younger days, judging from the number of questionable skills he’s picked up. However, he always uses them to help rescue people on-screen, which brings to mind how God can use even people with a shady past to accomplish His goals.
There are also recurring characters that have good intentions, but lack of skill or bad planning leads them into danger of their own, including inept climatologist Langstrom Fischler, owner of Fischler Industries, who tends to rush into projects without proper testing and thus gets himself into trouble. Rich explorer Francois Lemaire also tends to make his own problems, usually through taking insane risks in order to make himself famous.
Thunderbirds Are Go is a bright spot in an often dismal, overly sexualized, and highly violent streaming landscape. Available in the US through Amazon Video, and included in Prime, it’s easily accessible as well.
A team of heroes that’s dedicated not to fighting evil, but simply to getting people out of danger is quite refreshing. Also, the way they approach the problems is often more about thinking their way through their options rather than brute-force solutions.
For those who remember the original Thunderbirds, you’ll notice while most things are the same, there are a few minor differences. Rather than spoil them for you, I’ll let you spot them yourselves. A number of the episodes are also remakes of the 60’s episodes, usually with some updating to the script.
In order to cut production costs and time, a lot of scenes are reused just like in the original, which means the characters tend to wear the same outfit every episode. A good portion of each episode is also used for the sequences of the brothers getting into and launching their vehicles, which kids will probably enjoy, but adults may find repetitive. Think Power Rangers and their repeated suit-up and robot-assembly scenes, and you’ll get the general idea.
Another thing kids will probably enjoy that might grate on adults’ nerves are the way some of the characters are written as complete and total buffoons. Langstrom Fischler, mentioned earlier, is one of those. He’s so eager to put his plans into motion he forgets or deliberately ignores safety measures and thus often needs International Rescue. On the other hand, it does show what can happen when you don’t consider the safety of what you’re doing in a way kids will probably grasp easily enough, and some adults might find it humorous.
While it is episode-based, there is a larger story woven through the episodes, as concepts and characters introduced in earlier episodes become part of the story in later ones. For example, in one episode Thunderbird 5 is hit with what appears to be an advanced computer virus, which is also a highly advanced form of artificial intelligence. In later episodes, this AI has actually become a helper aboard Thunderbird 5, much the way the Enterprise‘s computer is in Star Trek.
One interesting thing from a technical standpoint is while the show is largely CGI, it does use some of the same miniature techniques the Andersons’ Supermarionation shows used. They’re fairly hard to spot because the integration is so well done, but I’m pretty sure the water rippling around Tracy Island in those scenes is real, as are many of the exterior shots of the Tracy Island compound. I’m pretty sure they use real fire when the need arises as well.
+ Heroes going into danger to save others
+ Low violence
- Occasional sibling rivalry
- Sarcastic dialogue at times