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“Thunderbirds - Complete Series (UK Import)” - {Blu-ray}
Reviewer:

Taylor Carlson

Studio: ITV
Genre:
TV-Series
Release Date:
9/15/08
Special Features:

Not accessible on American players

Review:

Few television producers have the level of success of the United Kingdom's Gerry Anderson. While best known for his many puppet series, due to a process he created called Supermarionation, he has had unrivaled success in both puppet and live-action domains alike. While he had achieved some success in the late 50s and early 60s, Thunderbirds was his biggest success. This is the series he will be remembered for. ***

Thunderbirds is the story of International Rescue, a team formed by Jeff Tracy, one of the first men to walk on the Moon. The team is comprised of his 5 sons - Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, and John. Also assisting the team are engineer Brains, manservant Kyrano, and his daughter, Tin Tin. The organization travels the world using futuristic technology to help those who are in life-threatening situations. Also providing assistance are London agent Lady Penelope and her ever-loyal butler, Parker. ***

Unfortunately, keeping a low profile as a secret organization is not easy. The Hood, a villain with his own plans, aims to capture and sell International Rescue's secrets and technology for his own profit. The fact that he is related to the Tracy family servant Kyrano also spells trouble - he has limited telepathic powers over him. ***

Looking back at this series is a lot of fun. Yes, it's dated as hell, and you can see the puppet wires plain-as-day and nearly every scene. At times it is downright repetitive, overlong, and bogged down in clichés. But at its time of release, the special effects, set design, and pretty much everything that went into the show were state of the art. The show is noteworthy for featuring early work from voice actor Shane Rimmer and special effects artist Derek Meddings - the latter of whom went on to work on the James Bond series. ***

This set contains all 32 episodes of the series, though disappointingly, not the 2 feature-length films that the show spawned. All episodes have a run time of approximately 50 minutes, as the originally filled an hour timeslot on television. ---

Image And Sound:

The good news? This show looks great in 1080p. The massive increase in clarity and fine object detail allow you to see just how much work went into the show back in the day. And yes, the puppet wires are more visible than ever, though I'm glad to see they weren't digitally removed or anything like that. Colors are more vibrant than on the SD-DVD release. Only occasional scene (mostly reused footage) tends to suffer from heavy grain spiking and damage. Short of a full-blown restoration, this is the best the show will ever look - and it isn't half bad! Definitely a worthy upgrade. ***

The bad news? The show has been cropped to fit widescreen televisions. Unfortunately, ITV has followed the trend of many others for showing old TV shows on widescreen TVs - simply cropping the image to fill it, rather than pillarboxing. Fortunately, it isn't a “straight crop”, and pan-and-scan style techniques are employed to guarantee that the most important information remains in frame. I am not a fan of cropping, though I am pleased to report that they at least took care with this release, rather than just “straight cropping” it like those Dragon Ball Z season sets did. ***

Audio is more-or-less the same as the DVD set, and it gets the job done just fine. Dialogue, sounds, and the classic Barry Gray score sound as good as they ever have - just don't expect any notable upgrade from the DVD set.

Special Features:

There are many features here, however they do not work in American players, sadly.

Final Words:

Thunderbirds are go, all over again. I am disappointed to see they took the cropping approach with this set, but the image quality is better than ever despite it. Despite it all, I can still give this set a warm recommendation. If bonus features matter to you, though, hold out for an American release.

 

 
 
 
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