"Terrahawks! Stay on this channel! This is an emergency!"
Terrahawks is a show produced by Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr in the mid-1980s, using a process dubbed Supermacromation rather than his trademark Supermarionation.In the year 2020 the alien android Zelda attacks an outpost on Mars and makes it her home base in her efforts to destroy humankind and take over the Earth. To stop her, the Earth employs an elite task force known as the Terrahawks, who pilot an array of exotic aircraft into battle against Zelda's minions.The Terrahawks are:
Captain Kate Kestrel: Skilled pilot and off duty a noted singer and pop star.
Lieutenant Hawkeye: With computer assisted vision (due to a childhood accident) Hawkeye has razor sharp eyesight and lightning reflexes making him a great weapons operator.
Lieutenant Hiro: A Japanese genius and the only Terrahawk not to have a themed name, Hiro is a computer expert with a genius level intellect.
Zeroids. Spherical robots that function as the main fighting force of the Terrahawks, both on the ground and in mounted on Spacehawk. Powered by Iranium crystals that over time cause them to develop distinct personality quirks and even emotions. Individual zeroids seen include:
Sergeant Major Zero - the "first" zeriod that has been active the longest, Zero displays the most advanced personality and emotional range of all the zeriods. Commander of all ground based zeroid forces.
Space Sergeant 101 - the next most developed zeroid character who commands the zeroid contingent on Spacehawk.
Other minor zeroid characters include Dix-huit (Eighteen) who has a printed handlebar mustache and speaks french and Fifty-five who speaks in rhyme.
The Terrahawks operate five main vehicles.
Spacehawk, a huge orbiting spacecraft capable of spaceflight within the solar system that acts as an early warning and initial defence platform. Lt Hiro commands the ship, assisted by the zeroid Space Sergeant 101.
Treehawk, a surface-to-orbit spacecraft used to transfer supplies and personnel to and from Spacehawk. Flown by either Hiro or remote control. So named because its launch site is disguised as a tree.
Battlehawk, a large flying transport craft carrying the Battletank, a complement of Zeroids and any other equipment needed for a mission. Battlehawk incorporates:
Terrahawk, a smaller and more maneuverable craft that can detach and re-dock with the larger Battlehawk and forms its command deck when attached. Dr. Ninestein and Captain Mary Falconer command Battlehawk/Terrahawk.
Hawkwing, an extremely fast and well armed interceptor that is the Terrahawks' primary defence against airborne attackers. Crewed by Captain Kate Kestrel (pilot) and Lieutenant Hawkeye (gunner).
A new series of audio adventures produced by Anderson Entertainment and Big Finish, featuring original cast members Jeremy Hitchen (Tiger Ninestein, Lt. Hiro, the male part of It-Starnote Cy-Star's hermaphrodite offspring), Robbie (formerly Ben) Stevens (Lt. Hawkeye, Space Sergeant 101, Yung-Starnote Zelda's son) and Denise Bryer (Capt. Falconer, Zelda, the female part of It-Star) - Windsor Davies (Sergeant-Major Zero) retired in 2004 and Anne Ridler (Kate Kestrel, Cy-Starnote Zelda's sister) is no longer with us - is due in 2015.
Terrahawks provides examples of the following tropes:
Absentee Actor: "Cry UFO" is notable as the only episode in which Zelda never appears.
Accidental Misnaming: Sergeant Major Zero can't seem to pronounce Dix-huit's name properly, and regularly calls him "Dicks Hewitt".
AI Is A Crap Shoot: Subverted somewhat. The Zeroids have a nasty habit of developing individual personalities and wills of their own, but they always remain loyal. This doesn't stop Dr. Ninestein distrusting Sergeant-Major Zero when he discovers that he's been making his own decisions.
Alan Smithee: All but three episodes of the series - "The Midas Touch" and the two-part series opener "Expect The Unexpected" - have scripts credited to individuals with names ending in "-stein" (examples: "Doppelganger" was penned by Albert Zweistein, "Terratomb" by Edward E. Barestein, "Space Cyclops" by Lita Beerstein, etc.) Most episodes were actually written by script editor and Anderson regular Tony Barwick (who's credited under that name on "The Midas Touch").
Alternative Foreign Theme Song: When shown in the US the end credit theme was replaced with one of Kate Kestrel's songs ("Living In The 21st Century"). The sequence of the Zeroids and Cubes playing tic-tac-toe was also replaced with a traditionally animated scene of a Zeroid bouncing up and down next to a Cube (and eventually smashing it). It was also different in Japan (see below).
Anger Born of Worry: "Mind Monster" ends with Tiger trapping the eponymous monster by allowing it to invade his brain and then having it wiped out, risking permanent brain damage in the process. Mary naturally has a few choice words for him on the subject:
Mary: "Tiger... what you did was a marvellous, brave, foolhardy, pigheaded, stupid thing to do!"
Anime Theme Song: When dubbed into Japanese as Earth Protection Force Terrahawks, the show also received its own traditionally animated opening and ending sequences complete with brand new theme songs titled "Galactica Thrilling" and "Taisetsu na Kotoba" (One Word) in addition to the original English Supermarionation/animation sequences and music. Check 'em out here.
Cloning Gambit: An early episode sees Ninestein unambiguously killed...then, in the aftermath, as his friends are grieving, he calmly walks in. Ol' Tiger has a Significant Name. He's been cloned nine times, so - if one of him is killed - a full memory/personality download is made on the next clone in line, who promptly fills the gap of his predecessor.
Cool Car: H.U.D.S.O.N. - Heuristic Universal Driver with Sensory and Orbital Navigation, a heavily modified vintage Rolls Royce with onboard Artificial Intelligence capable of self-drive with onboard laser weaponry, a microzeroid concealed beneath the silver lady mascot and colour changing capability.
Every Episode Ending: The Zeroids and Cubes play tic-tac-toe as the end credits play with a different outcome (well, one of thirteen different outcomes) every time. When the Cubes win they generally do so by bumping a Zeroid from his spot to make a line. (Exception: "A Christmas Miracle," which doesn't have a game under the end credits at all.)
Evil Laugh: Zelda does this so frequently that it could almost be considered her catchphrase.
Expository Theme Tune: Terrahawks features an instrumental version, thanks to the text shown in the intro ("MARS INVADED/EARTH ATTACKED: ZELDA") along with introductions to the main characters and their vehicles.
Fantastic Racism: Ninestein's distrust of the zeroids (which sometimes borders on outright hatred) often comes across as this.
Humans Are Bastards: Zelda thinks she's doing the universe a favor by wiping out a destructive, immoral race like the humans. Ninestein on the other hand thinks Rousseau Was Right, and even though humans might screw up big sometimes, screwing up puts us closer to success next time.
I Know Mortal Kombat: Ninestein's obsession with video games actually comes in handy in one instance, helping him to shoot down missiles with incredible accuracy.
Japanese Ranguage: Lt. Hiro speaks excrusivery rike this. So do other characters when referring to him.
Jerkass Has a Point: When Ninestein tells Zelda there'll be another clone to replace him, Zelda points out that sooner or later there'll only be one clone left.
Status Quo Is God: After they catch MOID in "Unseen Menace," Ninestein prepares to just march him right outside and let Zelda teleport him back to the Mars outpost like she does with all her defeated minions. Averted in the last set of episodes where Cy-Star gives birth to another recurring villain.
Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Zelda has mental control over physical matter. As she's an android, one assumes her powers are technological in nature.
Sympathy for the Devil: Hiro seems to feel this way about MOID after seeing the latter's true face for the first time.
Hiro: "One can feel a certain sorrow, even for an enemy."
Those Two Guys: As pilot and gunner of the Hawkwing, Kate Kestrel and Hawkeye are often this.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: MOID outright refuses to kill anyone. As part of Zelda's army (with the implication that he's completely under her control) this seems to be the only choice he still gets to make.
"I cannot kill. It is the one shred of self-esteem I have left."
What Measure Is a Non-Human??: In the pilot Ninestein threatens Zelda that even if she kills him, he's one of nine clones and one of them will just take his place. He actually is killed in the episode "Gold," and one of his clones is brought in to replace him. The thing is, they evidently aren't exact clones, as the one we see is much calmer than the previous Ninestein and looks and sounds like an English gentleman until he has the previous Ninestein's brainwaves downloaded into him. After that the clone becomes an exact visual, verbal and behavioral match for the original, totally wiping out who he was before. Necessary for the defense of the planet, sure, but would they have done that if say, Ninestein was a normal man being succeeded by his son?