Swamp Thing The Complete Series Review

  • Series Title: Swamp Thing
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Crystal Reed, Andy Bean, Derek Mears, Ian Ziering, Virginia Madsen, Will Patton, Jeryl Prescott, Maria Sten, Jennifer Beals, Henderson Wade, Macon Blair
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review contains spoilers for DC Universe’s Swamp Thing.

Swamp Thing is a horror series, about a small town in Louisiana named Marais where everybody has a dark secret. But it’s also partly a Beauty and the Beast tale, which, along with the interesting choices for cameos by DC Comics characters is partially why I really, really liked this series – horror aspects notwithstanding. The series opens with Dr. Abby Arcane and her partner in Africa (presumably) and dressed in full Hazmat suits. They enter the dwelling of two young children, where the older boy tries to protect his younger sister from these terrifying aliens. Abby finally removes her helmet and addresses the boy in French, convincing him they are there to help his sister, and of course, he can accompany her. Later, Abby defends her actions to her partner, but he tells her she “was amazing”. The two are infectious disease specialists, working for the CDC. But this is mere prologue, as Abby and her partner, Harlan are sent to Marais because of a strange, unknown disease.

Abby arrives in Marais, a town she has a connection to, as well as having a dark secret. Maria Sunderland, wife of the richest guy in town, is none too happy to see Abby and we get an inkling of why she left Marais – but no details. The disease is strange and seems connected to the nearby swamp. Abby goes into the swamp and meets Dr. Alec Holland. They get together and begin to work together, though he seems more interested in the swamp than the illness that is striking randomly in Marais, whereas Abby is a doctor first. However, as Alec and Abby learn to trust each other and share data and resources, Abby also tells Alec she googled him. She knows he was discredited as a biologist because he faked data in one of his studies. Alec explains that’s why he’s in Marais – to rebuild his reputation. Although not stated outright, it’s also why he took money from Avery Sunderland to fund his research. But Avery has had enough of Alec, he orders his cronies to attack Alec’s boat while he does research in the swamp.

Alec emerges as Swamp Thing (though the name is never used in the series at all) half-Alec half-intelligent walking, speaking plant, and Guardian of the Green. Alec (now Swamp Thing) and Abby will continue to work together. Abby will attempt to find a cure for the “Green Flu” virus and for Alec. They also will unravel many of the secrets of the town. Also in the town is Abby’s old friend, Liz, an old friend of Abby’s and the daughter of a widower who runs the local bar. Then there’s Daniel Cassidy a stuntman and actor who made a deal and is now trapped in Marais, as well as becoming Blue Devil, the character he played once. There’s the Sunderlands – Avery, who runs the town and is involved in dirty dealings in the swamp, including illegal dumping (which is causing the “Green Flu”) and his wife, Maria. Avery’s mistress is the local sheriff, Lucilia Cable, whom he has under his thumb in more ways than one. She’s turned a blind eye to Avery’s corruption for decades – but when he starts involving her son Matt (a deputy) in his schemes and corruption, it will be the last straw.

As Abby and her team work to cure people of the illness that comes from the Swamp, we see how others treat, or in many cases, mistreat the swamp. A group of guys is in the swamp, destroying it when they find a dead, mummified body. The rising of the Rot (the Darkness in the swamp) fights back. Two are killed, and the third returns to town, but he’s been bitten by a tendril of the Rot. He returns to the local bar to wash dishes and starts hallucinating, seeing a snake on his arm. Even though Liz and Delroy (her father) try to control him they are unable to and he stabs his arm several times then sticks it in a running garbage disposal, before dying. It also scratches Delroy. As the police and ambulance respond, Delroy shoots up his own bar with a shotgun. The Sheriff is able to finally subdue him but gets scratched. Delroy is sent to the hospital. Abby arrives at the bar just as Delroy starts shooting (and she helps calm him down). When she talks to Swamp Thing he tells her about The Darkness invading the Swamp. She returns and goes to the hospital but Delroy is now fine. Then she realizes that the Sheriff was scratched and that this darkness causes hallucinations of deep fears and nightmares. Trying to find Lucilia, she finds her at the Crawfish Boil party Avery is throwing. Again, Abby has to calm her down – and she gets scratched. Abby returns to the swamp with the darkness, and Alec, Swamp Thing, heals her.

But now that all the people have been healed, Abby should return to the CDC. But she wants to heal Alec. She’s seen an inkling of what The Green is, but she doesn’t quite understand it. She also has seen the horrors of the Rot and the Darkness that inhabits the Swamp. Abby returns to Atlanta and the CDC. But when she arrives the new head of the CDC is very angry with her. Her samples are taken and she isn’t allowed to oversee the tests. She sees Nathan Ellery at the CDC but doesn’t know he’s the mysterious businessman from the Conclave who is now bankrolling Avery and his new partner, Dr. Woodrue. Abby has one conversation with her old partner, Harlan, who remarks on how much she’s changed.

Later he arrives at her apartment, and the two share pizza, wine, and conversation. By the end of it, Harlan’s agreed to back Abby against their new boss. But he won’t get the chance – he’s kidnapped outside her door and we never see him again. The next morning, Abby’s credentials do not work. She’s taken to a meeting room and Ellery gives her an ultimatum – turn over Dr. Holland or else. Abby tells him no and that he better leave Alec alone and storm out. Abby will return to Marais.

In Marais, Daniel Cassidy is in the hospital. He got hit on the head after he defeats Liz from “muggers” sent by Avery, and he’s in a severe coma. Dr. Woodrue injects him with Abby’s sample of Swamp Thing’s tissue. Cassidy wakes up – but is “burning”, covered with blue fire, and we see the Blue Devil. This lands him back in the hospital. The same “studio guy” who made him his cursed offer appears and shows him a horrific future where Abby and Liz are murdered by Conclave troopers. Cassidy breaks out of the hospital so he can stop it. Meanwhile, Abby and Liz are trying desperately to find Alec who is not in the swamp. They know Avery, Ellery, and company have kidnapped him. Liz looks for properties owned by Avery and finds his wife is transferring everything into her name. But they also find an old factory that matches a picture Abby stole. They head there to find Alec.

At the factory, things start to resemble the vision that Daniel had. But Blue Devil attacks and kills the troopers. Abby and Liz are able to escape, find Alec, and help him escape. Meanwhile, Avery has his wife, Maria, locked up in a mental institution. Matt meanwhile gets drunk at Delroy’s bar after he has a fight with his mother. That night, driving very drunk, he gets in a one-car accident. Lucilia attends him at the hospital. Avery shows up promising to marry Lucilia after he divorces Maria. Lucilia turns him down. When she leaves the hospital, Avery is waiting for her inside her car. He stabs her, then drives her to the swamp. Locking her in the trunk, he watches (tinted in red) as her sheriff’s car sinks into the swamp.

Swamp Thing and Abby arrive at the Swamp. Swamp Thing keeps saying he has to know if it’s true. He walks into the Swamp and returns with a body in his arms. But Abby tells Swamp Thing that not only did she care for Alec, but she cares for what he’s become. She sees his humanity and through him she sees the Green. The two are united.

Woodrue finds his wife, Caroline, who is suffering from advanced early-onset Alzheimer’s, at their home after she overdoses on medication. He takes his samples to make her a cure. When she seems afraid to eat the cooked heart of Swamp Thing (Can you blame her?) Woodrue eats some of it himself. Abby arrives and tries to call 911. Woodrue attacks Abby. The police arrive and stop him, and Caroline is taken to the hospital by ambulance without taking Woodrue’s “cure”.

Swamp Thing is a spooky, intense series. It unravels like a mystery as Abby’s arrival in Marais causes secrets to be revealed (at least to the audience). Lucilia and Maria plot to kill Avery, but Swamp Thing finds him and heals him – an act of compassion that’s probably his one and only mistake. (It leads to Swamp Thing being captured by goons in the swamp and Dr. Woodrue experimenting on him.) Avery’s revenge includes putting Maria in a mental institution and killing Lucilia. Woodrue has eaten part of Swamp Thing, but we don’t get to see him become the Floronic Man as a result. Cassidy is finally free of the Blue Devil’s curse as it left him at the factory and entered one of the soldiers. He leaves Marais. Swamp Thing defends his swamp from Ellery’s men the second time they arrive, kills most of them, and tells Ellery to leave and never return. And yes, Swamp Thing and Abby are together.

Again, this is a spooky, intense horror series. It’s extremely well-shot. For a series that largely takes place, at night, on the water, in a swamp -you can actually tell what’s going on all the time, without it looking over-lit or like it’s filmed in a studio. That may sound like an “ok so” statement, but you’d b surprised how often scenes at night are too dark and the viewer can’t follow the action. Or, conversely, scenes outdoors look like a backlot or studio. Abby is a great character and if you’ve read Constantine from DC Comics, you know she will become Avatar of the Red, part of the balance that Swamp Thing seeks. Abby’s continuing journey could have made for a great second season, as could have following up on Blue Devil and the Floronic Man. We also see Madame Xanadu but other than warning Maria about the Darkness she’s released, she doesn’t get to do much. And Jim Corrigan, the Phantom Stranger, appears to Swamp Thing about halfway through the season to give him a pep talk about destiny. All of these characters are great and could come back or have more to do in a second season. It’s really too bad that DC Universe canceled this show. What we got is great, and I recommend watching it, but I for one would love to see DC Universe bring the show back.

Non-Fiction Textbook Review – Save the Cat!

  • Title: Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need
  • Author: Blake Snyder
  • Subject: Screen Writing
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/27/2020

I loved this book! It’s not that often that you can say about a textbook that you genuinely enjoyed reading it but yes, reading this book was an enjoyable experience. Blake Synder’s writing is amusing, engaging, and useful! Save the Cat is a book about the structure of screenwriting. And in particular, it’s about the structure of big-budget, popular, Hollywood films – the type that lots of people see and that make lots of money and the type that a new screenwriter, writing on spec, can actually sell. You need to know the rules before you even consider breaking them, and Save the Cat teaches you the rules.

Save the Cat cheerfully explains the structure of popular film: 3 Acts, 15 beats, 40 scenes. Snyder introduces tools like The Board – a way to quickly visualize your screenplay before you start writing. And he talks about ways to fix your screenplay after it’s written. How to improve it – from flat characters to scenes that don’t quite work. Each chapter ends with exercises to help the reader learn and emphasize the chapter (full disclosure, I didn’t do the exercises. Yes, I did not do my homework. But I intend to re-read Save the Cat and do the exercises the second time around.) This is a practical how-to manual. And it seems like it would be useful for any type of writer.

Save the Cat also introduces a novel classification system for popular films. Instead of genres like mystery, romance, SF, superhero, etc. Save the Cat uses plots and characters as genres, so we have: “Dude with a Problem”, and “Buddy Love”, and “Superhero” (but not just Marvel or DC films, or even the Greek Myths – but any story with a hero beyond the norm (Dracula, Frankenstein, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator, etc.) It takes a bit of getting used to, but this plot/character basis to describe films is a great way to think about movies when you are hoping to write one. There are ten genres in all.

Again, I loved this book! How often does one really truly love reading a textbook? You can learn from a textbook. Occasionally one is well-written. Oh, and that title? Save the Cat refers to the absolute necessity of your audience actually liking your main character. So, if the character is a bit of a jerk, he or she must do something nice so the audience will like them. They must Save the Cat. But this book, Save the Cat, is just fun. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the craft of writing.

Shoestring The Complete Series Review

  • Series Title: Shoestring
  • Season: The Complete Series (Seasons 1 & 2)
  • Episodes: 21
  • Discs: 6
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Trevor Eve, Michael Medwin, Doran Godwin, Liz Crowther
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD (R2, PAL)

Eddie Shoestring is down on his luck when he happens into a job for Radio West as a “Private Ear” – a detective who works for a radio station, based in the West Country of the UK, in and around Bristol. This series follows Eddie’s adventures as a detective. His cases not only come from Radio West listeners but from his friends and fellow employees at the station, including his boss, Don Satchley, and the station’s receptionist, Sonia. Because he is down on his luck, Eddie lives as a boarder in Erica’s house – and often has her help him on his cases, since she’s a solicitor/lawyer.

Eddie’s cases vary quite a lot, which keeps this light-hearted (for the most part) detective series interesting and enjoyable to watch. It also doesn’t fall into the formulaic trap of Sonia handing Eddie a tape of a caller, which starts his case. That does happen, but not every episode, or even the majority of episodes. Also, Eddie’s a bit of an old-fashioned detective. He solves his cases by talking to people. Following up on leads and simply talking to people. Eddie always solves his cases, but it isn’t always a happy ending.

I bought this series because I’m a fan of Trevor Eve (ever since Shadow Chasers) and this is his first series. It’s quirky, interesting, and enjoyable to watch. Series 1 starts a bit slow, but by three to four episodes in the pacing picks up and it is just a good detective series. The weather in Series 1 also looks absolutely horrible – it rains an awful lot, plus everyone looks cold all the time. And the series does a lot of location filming. Series 2 actually looks better in a sense, because there is some sun. However, all the overcast, rainy, and cold outdoor scenes add to the filming, giving everything a slight bluish-grey cast that adds to the feel of an almost film noir detective series (though not depressing). Eddie also gets better as a detective between series 1 and 2, but no more so than someone who has been doing a job for a while and just naturally improves by doing it.

I do recommend Shoestring! It’s just a good, enjoyable show, and Trevor Eve is fantastic in it.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Nightshade

  • Title: Doctor Who: Nightshade
  • Series: Doctor Who The New Adventures
  • Author: Mark Gatiss
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/23/2020

**Spoiler Alert** Doctor Who: Nightshade is a novel in the Doctor Who The New Adventures line from Virgin Books. The New Adventures feature the Seventh Doctor and Ace, and take place after the Classic Series episode, “Survival” (1989). In the novel, Nightshade, in the 1960s, strange things are happening in the small town of Crook Marsham: a retired actor who played Professor Nightshade on television is attacked by one of the creatures he fought on his television show in his retirement home; a woman is haunted by the spirit of her brother who died in World War I; and other strange occurrences happen. And even though people can enter the village – no one can leave.

The Doctor and Ace arrive, but the Doctor is ready to just settle down and retire instead of getting involved. While Ace explores the village and meets a young man named Robin, the Doctor heads to a nearby monastery for some well-deserved rest.

There is also a large radio telescope on the moor. The small staff there is studying the constellation of Orion, specifically looking for novas to study. Yet their instruments keep getting overwhelmed by some sort of strange signal. Also, Holly and Vijay, two members of the staff are having an affair, much to the dismay of their racist co-worker, Hawthorne. Fortunately, the director of the work at the radio telescope, Dr. Cooper is much more reasonable.

As the situation becomes more desperate and people start dying, the Doctor and Ace get involved and the Doctor tries to help. But this creature that remains unseen, attacks people through their memories – feeding on regret, sadness, guilt, and anger. And the Doctor has plenty of regrets. When the mysterious creature uses Susan against the Doctor he barely escapes. The situation becomes desperate, a nursing home aid accompanies a busload of seniors out of the village but their driver becomes overcome by sickness and crashes the bus. The driver dies but the seniors and Jill are alright. A visiting BBC reporter entering the village sees the accident and helps get everyone to the monastery. The Doctor reads up on the history of the village in the monastery and tries to discover what might be plaguing the village. Ace helps but also becomes friends with Robin. But the arrival of several seniors ultimately leads to a horrific creature attack when someone makes the mistake of starting a sentimental singalong.

As more people die in the village itself, the Doctor has everyone gather in the church, which has the effect of putting all the food in one place. He also spends time at the radio telescope, examining the signals that Dr. Cooper and her team found. But it’s at the monastery that he encounters the creature, which has taken over one of the local young men the Doctor tries to talk to it. He discovers the creature is old, nearly as old as the Earth itself, which formed around it. And the history of haunted castles and such in the village is due to the creature.

Later, however, as the situation gets desperate, the Doctor, Holly, Vijay, and the actor, Trevithick, go to try to communicate with the creature. It’s a disaster as Holly dies, and Trevithick sacrifices himself so the Doctor and Vijay can escape back to the radio telescope. But the Doctor finds out how to get the creature to leave. He tells the creature he can get all the energy he wants from the exploding star, a nova. The creature uses the radio telescope and leaves, heading to outer space and back in time as it follows the explosion that occurred nearly 300 years ago. Ace and the Doctor head back in the TARDIS and see the creature arrive in the 1600s where it causes a fire at a castle. The creature then heads into space to the nova – and eats up all the energy of the star. It follows another energy trace to a supernova and eats that up too. But eventually it gets trapped by the gravity of a black hole.

I enjoyed Nightshade. The Doctor is in a bit of a mood, due to previous events in the series, but the events in the village and Ace help bring him out of it. He’s much more fallible in this story, which fits with the Seventh Doctor – for example, he never should have brought Holly, Vijay, and Trevithick with him when he tries to communicate with the creature. Having the village gather in the church is less of a disaster – because, although the creature attacks it, no one dies. But having a radio telescope as a major set piece also reminds the Doctor of how his Fourth incarnation died, so that hangs over the novel, effectively.

Nightshade has a spooky quality to it – Holly, though she’s fallen in love with Vijay, cannot forget her previous fiancé who died. Trevithick remembers the most successful time in his life, playing the lead on a spooky BBC television children’s SF show (sound familiar?). Various characters remember past friends, relatives, situations, that they regret or that make them sad – which makes them vulnerable to the creature. Even the Doctor isn’t immune. Ace actually uses her complicated feelings about her mother to her advantage to fight off the creature. And the story takes place in an isolated village, on a moor, which adds to the spooky factor. Nightshade is an atmospheric novel, well-written, with great guest stars, and I also liked seeing a more vulnerable Doctor who can make mistakes. But the story is also clear and understandable, something that can be hard to find in the Doctor Who New Adventures line from Virgin Books. I recommend Nightshade.

Striking Out Series 2 Review

  • Series Title: Striking Out
  • Season: Series 2
  • Episodes: 6
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: RTE (Ireland)
  • Cast: Amy Huberman, Emmet Byrne, Neil Morrissey, Rory Keenan, Maria Doyle Kennedy
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD (R1, NTSC)

Striking Out Series 2 picks up where Series 1 left off, with Ray in jail and Tara suddenly evicted from her new office – as well as Pete losing his coffee shop. Tara joins forces with an experienced solicitor, George Cusack (also a woman), and barrister, Vincent Pike, and together they get Ray out of jail and out on bond. Meg regrets setting up Ray so she gives evidence to George that the Guarda who arrested Ray were acting outside their remit (police district) and calling into question additional bogus charges (resisting arrest, intent to distribute drugs, hard drug possession (Ecstasy and others). However, the series never seems to change Ray’s status from “out on bond” to anything else.

Tara and George end up sharing an office. It’s cozy, small, messy, smoky, and there isn’t much privacy, especially for two solicitors working on separate cases. This causes the occasional problem throughout the season. George is tough, but barely making it as a solicitor – so she has to take the cases and clients she can get, similar to Tara. Tara meanwhile is trying to specialize in family law, but she has to take whatever clients she can.

Vincent is heading an official inquiry into a cost-overrun scam on a new hospital building. The company that won the bid to build the hospital did so with the lowest bid. But as the hospital was being built it ran into significant cost overruns. These costs actually pushed the hospital construction budget to higher than the highest bid. Also, several government ministers seem to have personally profited from the deal, and Dunbar’s – Tara’s old firm seems to be involved in the whole scheme. As the season develops, Vincent and his inquiry have successes and failures. Watching Vincent at his best (and worse) is fascinating.

Tara is still struggling, but once Ray is out of jail and she’s found a new office, she’s doing OK. She starts taking information from Meg again – even though she should know she can’t trust Meg after she got Ray arrested and herself evicted. Tara also dumps Pete (the coffee shop guy) and starts dating. She becomes very close to Sam, Eric’s younger brother. Tara is also now friends, but not romantic with Eric. It’s fascinating to watch Tara’s legal cases, but I found her romantic encounters less interesting. Yes, she needs to move on from Eric – but taking up with his brother? Bad move. Especially when Sam is a lot more involved in Dunbar’s shenanigans than he lets on.

Still, I love this series! Tara is someone you can root for, and she’s grown since last season, even though she still can be a bit too naive and trusting (especially for a lawyer). I miss Pete from last season – he seemed like a good guy, but I liked George, she’s lots of fun. Dublin and the surrounding areas look beautiful and like other series (Shetland especially) Striking Out balances the beauty and even glitz of city and country life with people just being horrible to each other. Tara is a solicitor not a barrister, so it’s seldom criminal cases (and if one of her clients ends up in court she needs to get a barrister to help her) but some of the family law cases are brutal. The series has also opened up more visually – last season there were a lot of frames within frames within frames, which visually underscored the trap Tara was in – this season as she’s grown, so has her world, and it’s beautiful.

I highly recommend Striking Out, and I sincerely hope there is a third series.

Read My Review of Striking Out Series 1.

Striking Out Series 1 Review

  • Series Title: Striking Out
  • Season: Series 1
  • Episodes: 4
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: RTE (Ireland)
  • Cast: Amy Huberman, Emmet Byrne, Neil Morrissey
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD (R1, NTSC)

Tara Rafferty seems to have it all – a lucrative career as a solicitor at a prestigious Dublin law firm, wealth and privilege, and she’s about to marry Eric, the son of the head of her law firm, a man she loves. Then it all blows up around her. The series begins with Tara at her Hen Party (bachelorette party), she makes a snap decision to drop in on her fiancé but finds him in bed with another woman. Right there and then Tara calls off the wedding. The next day she moves her personal items and files out of her office.

Tara is now on her own, getting by any way she can, picking up clients as she goes. Her office is in the back of a coffee shop, and when one of her clients needs a job to stay out of jail, she hires him as her office boy. He recommends a friend to help her with some “IT stuff” and soon Tara has hired Meg as well as her investigator (and sometimes hacker). Tara has a good heart, and she cares about people – but she’s young and too trusting.

Meanwhile, Eric, her ex-fiancé, is essentially stalking her – he shows up at her flat, in court when she’s presenting a case (because the barrister didn’t arrive), and at her new office. Eric insists he “still loves her” and his fling “doesn’t matter”. Tara sees through this and tells him it’s over and to leave her alone – repeatedly. But Tara’s mother, her father, Eric’s mother, and even her friends tell Tara she should forgive Eric and go back to him. In addition, Tara keeps getting cases that in some way or another come back to infidelity. Even her clients tell Tara she’s better off with Eric and the privileged life he can offer her.

But Tara defies all the social pressure and discovers she likes being on her own. She likes helping fellow underdogs. And for the first time, she really enjoys being in charge of her own life and making new friends and keeping the one trusted old one that stood by her decision to cancel the wedding. You can’t help but like Tara and her motley crew: Ray the office boy, Pete the coffee shop owner, and Vincent the down on his luck alcoholic barrister who helps her present cases in court.

This is a brilliant series about a woman’s journey to find herself and to say no to social convention and pressure. I enjoyed it very much! Even though at times Tara seems like a bad or at least inexperienced solicitor (her clients keep lying to her and she keeps believing them), she’s also someone you can pull for and hope things work out for her. Her new friends are also great – even as they work through their own issues. Striking Out, like Tara Rafferty herself, walks it’s own path, becoming a unique series in its own right, and I whole-heartedly recommend it.

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.