Thunderbirds Are Go Series 3 Vol 2 Review

  • Series Title: Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Season: Series 3 Vol. 2
  • Episodes: 13, plus bonus episode
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: ITV
  • Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Menkin, Kayvan Novak, Rosamund Pike, David Graham, Sandra Dickinson, Angel Coulby
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD (R2, PAL)

This review contains spoilers for Thunderbirds Are Go Series 3, Volume 2 (episodes 14-26).

One of the main differences between Thunderbirds Are Go and the original Thunderbirds series is that Jeff Tracy, the boys’ father, has been missing, presumed dead, for the entire series. Although they occasionally have found signs of their father, such as when Gordon discovered a crashed plane that their father flew on the ocean floor, for the majority of the series, the Tracy boys have been running International Rescue, their father’s dream on their own. The cliffhanger ending of Series 3 part 1 had the Tracy boys receiving a signal from their father. It indicated he was alive but stranded several light-years away.

Series 3 Volume 2 opens with a two-parter that picks-up where the cliffhanger ended. We see Jeff Tracy’s final mission – attempting to stop the Hood from stealing the Zero-X Faster-than-light craft, a mission that ends with the Hood’s escape and the space ship exploding in a fireball that takes Jeff with it, or so the Tracy boys and Jeff’s mother always thought. Following new leads, the boys discover new evidence – the Zero X didn’t explode but rather launched into space. Jeff may very well be alive! However, Brains analyzes the signals they found earlier and the trajectory they have – and realizes Jeff is eight light-years away in the Oort Cloud. The only way to rescue him is to build a new spaceship. Brains starts to build the Zero-XL.

You’d think there would be hints of Brains progress or one step forward two steps back as he develops the ship, but Series 3 Volume 2 actually has several episodes of regular rescues with little or no mention of Brains’ progress. It actually works, because we know Brains has a very important project, but the boys must still fulfill their father’s mission, the mission they now take as their own: International Rescue – rescuing people who would otherwise have no chance at all. And these rescue stories are very good, big, colorful, exciting, and even fun.

The end of the season is several interconnected episodes leading to the rescue attempt of Jeff Tracy. Brains admits he needs help completing the Zero-XL. The Tracys’ turn to the engineer that built the engine: The Mechanic. Now held in isolation at a secret GDF space prison, they go to ask for his help. But the Chaos Crew, Havoc and Fuse are already there. The Choas crew had caused trouble throughout the season, though the Tracys had seemed to be getting through to Fuse occasionally. As the Chaos Crew destroy the Hex space prison, Alan, Kayo, and two space pirates fight for their lives. The Mechanic rescues Kayo but then the two are locked in with a bomb. The Mechanic again rescues Kayo but appears to stay behind to get blown up. He later arrives on Tracy Island – he will help rebuild the Zero XL T-Drive engine if Brains permanently removes the Hood’s control over him. Brains fights off the Hood in a digital realm and succeeds – and the Mechanic helps Brains build a successful T-drive engine. The new Zero XL includes all five Thunderbirds.

The final two-parter of the set, “The Long Reach”, has all five Tracy boys boarding the Zero XL with Brains on a mission of their lifetime – the mission to rescue their father. Kayo is originally in the Zero XL as well, but when the Choas Crew arrive she leaves and uses Thunderbird Shadow to protect the launch. The FTL spaceship launches, they pick up John and Thunderbird 5 and then launch towards the Oort Cloud. Scott’s countdown is awesome!

Arriving at the Oort Cloud the Zero XL has overshot and is inside the cloud of ice and rock, the Tracys take Thunderbirds 1, 2, and 3 to investigate their father’s signal. At first, he still appears to be missing, but when Scott gets in trouble it’s Jeff that rescues him. Jeff and the boys return to the Zero XL only to discover the Hood was a stowaway who attacked Brains. They quickly overwhelm the Hood and lock him in a storage closet. Jeff gives the countdown to return home.

Meanwhile, on Tracy Island the Chaos Crew attack but the Mechanic, Grandma, Kayo, Lady Penelope, Parker, and Sherbet defeat them. The GDF arrives to arrest the Chaos Crew. Then Zero XL returns with two extra passengers and the GDF will arrest the Hood as well.

I loved series 3 volume 2 of Thunderbirds Are Go. The rescues are actually also awesome and don’t involve the Chaos Crew interfering most of the time. But what holds the series together is the search for the Tracys’ father, Jeff Tracy. This gives the story an emotional core and resonance. I ended-up rewatching the main stories about the Search for Jeff Tracy twice and they were just as good and just as emotional the second time around as the first. I highly recommend this series and this volume in particular.

Read my Review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 1 Volume 1.
Read my Review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 1 Volume 2.
Read my Review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Volume 1.
Read my Review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Volume 2.
Read my Review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 3 Volume 1.

Thunderbirds Are Go Series 3 Vol. 1 Review

  • Series Title: Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Season: Series 3 Vol. 1
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: ITV
  • Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Menkin, Kayvan Novak, Rosamund Pike, David Graham, Sandra Dickinson, Angel Coulby
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD (R2, PAL)

This review contains spoilers for Thunderbirds Are Go Series 3, Volume 1 (episodes 1-13).

Thunderbirds Are Go continues to be one of my favorites shows that I catch-up on via DVD (since I don’t have streaming access and I cannot watch it on Amazon Prime, the US distributor). The series is a worthy successor to the original Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series broadcast on ITV in the 1960s. The animated series uses CGI and model work. It is also incredibly fun – with plenty of action, characterization and memorable moments. It short, it’s enjoyable to watch, and one of the few shows I watch that I’d recommend for younger children as well as adults.

Series 3 kicks off right away by introducing the Choas Crew: Fuse and Havoc. They are out to cause, well, as much chaos as possible, and they have special equipment and vehicles in a similar manner to International Rescue. The Choas Crew is also working for the Hood. Unfortunately, as a season-long villain (or half-season I should say since once again the DVDs only include the first half of the season) the Choas Crew really has no motivation and there’s no good reason for their actions or their partnership with the Hood. Over the course of the season, we learn a little bit about the Choas Crew, but not enough to make them a truly interesting villain. The Mechanic is mentioned a few times, but not shown – both by the Hood, who wants to free him and use him again in his nefarious plans, and Brains, who wants to find a way to permanently free the Mechanic from the Hood’s control. Hopefully, when the second part of the season finally arrives on DVD, these threads will be wrapped up – the Choas Crew will be finally defeated and turned over to the GDF, and maybe the mentions of the Mechanic will have a purpose.

However, Thunderbirds Are Go Season 3 vol. 1 does have some great episodes and stories. Ned Tedford and Gladys the geranium show-up again. This time, the GDF has transferred him to the World Food Store to protect a repository of seeds that can be used to raise new plants in the case of a disaster. Of course, Ned has Gladys with him. When the Choas Crew attacks, International Rescue responds – but the Seed Store has its own defenses, including a deadly gas, and growth serum stores. Needless to say, Kayo, Ned, and the GDF’s Captain Rigby barely escape the gas (probably Halon or something similar) but poor Gladys gets hit with the growth serum! Still, Ned has carefully curated her seeds and cuttings and starts a new baby Gladys after losing his original plant. Even so, it was sad to see poor Gladys go – she and Ned have been through so much together!

“Night and Day” has Alan and John helping a mobile mining and storage crew on Mercury. Due to the extreme heat on the planet’s “day side” – their operation must continually move to stay in the dark. When an accident means they can’t move – it’s International Rescue to the, well, rescue. I liked this one very much – Alan was a bit more competent than the youngest Thunderbird pilot can sometimes be shown to be, and it was great to see John in a more action-oriented role, instead of simply managing communications on Thunderbird 5. Plus the rescue itself had some very intriguing aspects to it and the photography and animation were awesome!

In “Deep Water” – Gordon, Lady Penelope, and Parker have to rescue a mother and son who were checking on the Supreme Barrier Reef, a project to replace the destroyed Great Barrier Reef when their sub is destroyed by acidic water. Rescuing people quickly turns into trying to clean-up/stop an environmental disaster as Gordon and Lady Penelope must locate a leaky tanker and remove it from the Ocean Floor before the entire area is destroyed, including the new coral that’s started to grow beyond the Supreme Barrier Reef. The story is tense, has a great message (something unusual for this show) and the rescue and removal of the tanker is pretty cool.

Having given Gordon his own episode, Alan and Kayo get their own story in “Endgame”. Alan has been playing an online massive multiple player game called, “Cavern Quest”, but no one shares his interest or his enthusiasm for the new “Cavern Quest” theme park opening in a week. But when the Choas Crew attacks the park and an emergency call is sent out, Kayo is sent to respond, and Alan aids her virtually. Kayo meets Aezethril the Wizard, and real-life game designer, who is in trouble because the Choas Crew stole his wand before trapping him in the first cavern of the theme park. The wand controlled the actual holographic theme park, and without it, the only way out is through. Kayo and Aezethril must play through the game, stop the Choas Crew and their destruction of the park, and escape. Aezethril is voiced by Slyvester McCoy (of Doctor Who and The Hobbit)! Kayo chooses a sword as her weapon, Aezethril adds a hammer to his costume, and Alan holographically joins them. They play through the game, cavern by cavern, until reaching the final test. As silly as it sounds, I loved this one! The dynamics between Kayo, Alan, and Aezethril worked really well, and Sylvester definitely is enjoying himself!

The final story, “SOS” is another two-parter, like the opening one of the set, though the first part does have a definite end. The second-part makes up for the lack of a cliffhanger in the middle by ending on a cliff-hanger – and it’s a big one. The story itself involves the spaceship Calypso returning to Earth from its deep-space mission. And not only is it returning, but it is also about to crash into planet Earth. International Rescue must work together to rescue the crew, it’s data, and in part two – Braman. When the Choas Crew intervenes in Gordon’s ocean rescue/salvage operation, it’s Gordon who must soon be rescued by his brothers. Braman’s eventual rescue leads to a startling cliffhanger, as I mentioned.

I still recommend this series. The rescues are great. I love the interaction between the characters, regulars, reoccurring characters, and guests. I didn’t find Havoc and Fuse that interesting – their destruction vehicles seriously seemed solely designed to sell toys. But I still seriously love watching this show. And it’s good to see something positive, with the Tracy family (and their friends and associates) risking their own lives to rescue people in impossible situations, for no other reason than because someone has to, otherwise those people would surely die.

Read my review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 1 Vol. 1.
Read my review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 1 Vol. 2.
Read my review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Vol. 1.
Read my review of Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Vol. 2.

Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Volume 2 Review

  • Series Title: Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Season: Series 2 Vol. 2
  • Episodes: 12
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: ITV
  • Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Menkin, Kayvan Novak, Rosamund Pike, David Graham, Sandra Dickinson, Angel Coulby
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD (R2, PAL)

Thunderbirds Are Go is an excellent and fun series. This volume goes back to the format of International Rescue (IR) doing what they do best – rescue people from impossible situations. There are few episodes that focus on a single character but the rest involve all or at least three of the main characters. The first story in the collection, “Volcano”, gives Brains a chance to shine. The plot, inspired by the Icelandic volcano eruptions, also features a scientist who has become a bit of a laughing-stock, constantly warning International Rescue and the nearby resort that the volcano was “going to blow”. But this time, as Brains discovers – he’s right. It’s a great rescue. “Grandma Tourismo” as the title suggests, has Grandma Tracy and Virgil working together on a windstorm rescue in the desert. It’s actually a great episode – and gives us a little background into the older Tracy family members (it was Grandma Tracy who taught Jeff how to fly). Many of the episodes focus on rescues with heart-pumping action, and good characterization of both our regulars and the guest star characters.

Whereas the previous volume put most of the emphasis on The Mechanic and the Hood, this volume only has a few stories where they even appear. The Mechanic is trying to escape the Hood’s control, in any way possible, Brains and the GDF promise to help the Mechanic escape being controlled. But in the final minutes of the last episode, the Hood manages to escape custody again.

I highly, highly, highly recommend this series, including this volume for all ages. The stories are full of action and the characters are great. The Tracys dedicate themselves to helping people in impossible situations, and put human life over anything and everything else. They aren’t there to save things or infrastructure but people, it’s just what the Tracys do – they help.

Read Thunderbirds Are Go Series 2 Volume 1 Review
Read my Thunderbirds Are Go Series 1 Volume 2 Review
Read my Thunderbirds Are Go Series 1 Volume 1 Review
Original Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds Information

Thunderbirds Are Go Season 1 Vol. 2 Review

  • Series Title: Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Season: 1 Vol. 2
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: ITV
  • Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Menkin, Kayvan Novak, Rosamund Pike, David Graham, Sandra Dickinson, Angel Coulby, Andres Williams
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R2, PAL)

Thunderbirds Are Go is a modern animated take on the Classic Supermarionation series by Gerry Anderson. This DVD set is the second half of the season. The series uses CGI animation and models, with model work by Weta Workshop in New Zealand, supervised by Richard Taylor. Vol. 2 starts off intense and never stops going. The first mission, “Falling Skies” involves all the boys and vehicles – with subsequent episodes focusing on individual characters, even the poor guy with bad luck from the first set (and his pet geranium Gladys) return for a story.

The CGI animation, and Richard Taylor’s updated model work let the stories do a lot more than Anderson and Derek Meddings (the Oscar-winning model specialist who went on to work on the James Bond films and Christopher Reeve’s Superman films) could do in the 1960s, even at ITV. And this is an action-packed series. It’s the type of show where I’d sit down to watch one or two, three at the most, and suddenly end-up watching most of the disc. The animation is beautiful, even though it does have the tendency that I see in CGI animated series all the time of people looking a bit plastic, and in this series, clothes looking more like clay than real fabrics (hair also has a very clay-like appearance).

Thunderbirds Are Go is an action-packed thrill ride, and it’s completely suitable for children aged 7 to 13. Adults can enjoy the series as well – I certainly did. I did find that with the running time reduced to about 22 minutes, rather than the hour (50 minutes) of the original Supermarionation series, there is less characterization. The back half of the season includes three episodes focusing on Lady Penelope and Parker, and Kayo gets to be center stage in the last couple of episodes. There’s an episode where Virgil is miffed no one seems to remember his birthday – then misses his own surprise party because the simple “hour or two” rescue John had sent him on turned into anything but simple. So there are some character moments. But I miss the strong characterization that made the original series work so well.

Set in the future, Thunderbirds Are Go, keeps the premise of everything being bigger – and the use of technology and science to help humans. When things go wrong, it’s often because of greed, violations of law, or more often than not – some scheme by the Hood which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but it’s fun to watch. The Hood, and his “evil laugh” – should be annoying, but he isn’t because he just reminds us, well, me anyway, of the classic almost mustache-twisting villain. And while he isn’t actually tying Lady Penelope to a track track – he’s just a traditional-style of villain. That surprisingly works better than the Hood of the original series – who always made me very uncomfortable. Oddly enough, this Hood reminds me of a combination of Roger Delgado’s Master from Doctor Who, and Lex Luthor – with maybe a little bit of Dr. Evil thrown in. Given that combination – you can’t not like the guy, he isn’t really meant to be taken that seriously. And it’s a children’s series.

Another aspect of Thunderbirds Are Go it keeps from the original series is that the Tracys are simply there to help. When things go wrong – International Rescue is there. And IR’s mission is always to help people – not things, objects, whatever – but to rescue people. In the final few episodes of the season, conflict erupts between Kayo who would like to be more proactive – catching criminals to prevent disasters from happening, and Scott – who insists that’s the job of the GDF – the Global Defense Force. It’s an interesting and valid conflict, and it gives the final episodes a bit more depth.

I would love to see more of this series. It’s fun to watch, full of action, has a large ensemble cast, and although the characterization is a bit thin – it’s still there. The characters do act like their counterparts from the original series. This animated series honors the original and that is precisely as it should be.

Highly recommended especially for children.

Thunderbirds Are Go Review

  • Series Title: Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Season: 1 (DVD set is Vol. 1)
  • Episodes:  13
  • Discs:  2
  • Network:  ITV
  • Cast:  Rasmus Hardiker, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Menkin, Kayvan Novak, Rosamund Pike, David Graham, Sandra Dickinson, Angel Coulby, Andres Williams
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R2, PAL)

ITV has created an updated children’s series based on the original Gerry Anderson Supermarionation TV series. This version includes half-hour (22-minute) CGI animated episodes. But there is plenty of action in those 22 minutes! The episodes seem so very short because they are jam-packed with action and story. Often either a rescue begins to go wrong, or the first planned rescue attempt doesn’t work then Tracy boys need to come up with a new plan on the fly. Fortunately, coming up with ways to rescue people in impossible situations is exactly what the Tracys do best. The series keeps the five boys, their five Thunderbird machines, and the extra characters of Grandma Tracy, London agent Lady Penelope and her chauffeur Parker (she is also now given a small dog, named Sherbet as well), and Kayo (and updating of Tin Tin – now IR’s “covert ops” agent, pilot of Thunderbird S (Shadow), and sometimes co-pilot of Thunderbird 3), and even the villainous Hood. Another regular is the GDF (Global Defense Force), basically global cops and military. Mention is also made of local rescue efforts handling smaller disasters. At the beginning of this new series we’re told Jeff (Tracy the boys’ father) is missing.

ITV’s new Thunderbirds series is bright and colorful. It’s clearly aimed at kids. However, it doesn’t talk down to its audience, and I found the show to be fun, amusing, well-written, and action-packed. The stories are inventive, and well-realised. The use of CGI animation means they can do things in the plots the original series never could do. I loved seeing how Thunderbird 4 got back into the pod of Thunderbird 2, for example. I also liked seeing the industrial robots assembling needed rescue equipment on the fly with a single pod base (OK, yes, that does sound like “giant Japanese Robot assemble!” but trust me – it makes sense when you see it.)  The direction is much better than you’d expect in a children’s series. There’s a pan-up and over Tracy Island that’s not only beautiful, but clearly shows the film-makers love for Thunderbirds – original and new. And in “Runaway”, the demolishing of a geranium’s flower will make you feel sorry for a plant. Fortunately she returns as Gladys, a “pet” plant belonging to a poor guy who needs rescuing not only in “Slingshot” but also in “Under Pressure”.

The CGI at times is very good, as is the updated model work. But at other times, at least to me, characters look incredibly plastic – and clothing (and hair) looks like it’s made from thinly-rolled sheets or sculpted pieces of modeling clay (or even the fondant used to decorate cakes). As the series progressed, though, I became more accustomed to it. The light and coloring on the eyes was particularly good.

OK, now to the changes and the – definitely not bad, but the, let’s call it, for some areas “needs improvement”.  The Thunderbirds themselves have been slightly updated (especially Thunderbird 2 which is much more boxy in shape; and Thunderbird 3’s been given grappling arms which make sense given her space-bound duty.)  The changes do end-up looking like improvements, and modernization (the entire show has a futuristic look).  The Tracy sashes have been completely changed – now instead of matching the contrast or piping color of the corresponding Thunderbird – they match the main color of the Thunderbird (except John) and the sashes are really bright. The new color scheme is:

  • Scott – Grey sash (silver)
  • John – Gold Sash
  • Virgil – Green Sash (bright toxic green)
  • Gordon – Yellow Sash
  • Alan – Bright red sash

And the hats are gone! Though, in truth the Tracys only seemed to wear them on formal occasions and not during heavy rescues in the original series.

Second, due to the shorter running time – there’s a lot less characterization. There is witty banter, and the banter is actually witty – not something that would set your teeth on edge, or make one squirm with it’s inappropriateness. We see some concern amongst the brothers for each other, but it tends to be downplayed. However, in “Tunnels of Time”, Scott loses his cool completely when a greedy archaeologist seems more concerned with treasure than the safety of Gordon, Lady Penelope, and Parker. Also, the entire family is concerned about Alan in “Slingshot”. However, there’s nothing, so far, like the family concern in some of my favorite episodes of the original Thunderbirds series (click the link for info).

The speaking voices of the Tracys are far more natural and less clipped than the original series – this adds to the modern feel. I also liked the implication than 2060 is a pretty nice place to live. The show is relentlessly optimistic – like it’s original series inspiration. The Tracys are great characters.The rescues are fantastic – and I found myself concerned about the characters and the people they were rescuing more than once.

Overall, highly recommended – I cannot wait to see more in the near future.

Disappointingly, the DVD set has no special features whatsoever.

Trivia:  Thomas Brodie-Sangster also played Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones. Also, Richard Taylor (Lord of the Rings) is in charge of the model work for Thunderbirds Are Go, and the models and some special effects work are done by Weta Workshop.