Series / Terrahawks

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"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. Essentially, the puppets here are operated from below with techniques developed by Jim Henson and his Creature Shop crew.

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:

  • Doctor Tiger Ninestein: One of nine clones of the brilliant Doctor Stein, he is in overall command of the Terrahawks. He downloads his entire memory and personality into a computer every day so that in the event of his death, he can be replaced by another clone as required with the information uploaded into the replacement's brain.
  • Captain Mary Falconer: Second in command, with a more diplomatic approach than the combative Ninestein.
  • 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 and inventor 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" zeroid 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).
    • Gunwing, the upper half of Hawkwing and its gun turret when combined. Gunwing can separate from Hawkwing and function as a separate aircraft or in many cases as a high-impact bomb.

A new series of audio adventures was released in 2015, produced by Anderson Entertainment and Big Finish and featuring original cast members Jeremy Hitchen (Tiger Ninestein, Lt.Hawkeye, Lt. Hiro, the male part of It-Starnote ), Robbie (formerly Ben) Stevens (Space Sergeant 101, Stew Dapples, HUDSON, Yung-Starnote ) 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 ) is no longer with us.

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     Tropes the series as a whole provides examples of 

  • 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.
    • The Cyberzoids in the audio series show how this can actually be a good thing. They are programmed without the personalities and initiative that the Zeroids possess, which ultimately leads to them getting slaughtered on the battlefield.
  • All There in the Manual: Hawkeye has computer assisted eyesight following a childhood accident, while Kate is a serial prankster. Neither of these qualities make an appearance in the show itself.
  • Alliterative Name: Kate Kestrel and Hedley Howard Henderson (aka. Hawkeye).
  • Ambiguously Gay: Space Sergeant 101 (more apparent in the audio drama).
  • Audio Adaptation: Released in 2015.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: "Tiger" Ninestein.
  • Badass Baritone: Sergeant-Major Zero.
  • Big Bad: Zelda.
  • Big Eater: Yung-Star
  • Captain Ethnic: In a sense, as in one episode a space warrior feels that Hiro is a kindred spirit to him. This is the case because Hiro's Japanese and the warrior is samurai-themed.
  • Catch-Phrase
    • "I have a theory..."
    • "Flaming thunderbolts!"
    • "Exactry."
    • "Stroll on!"
    • "10-10."
    • "Wooonderful!"
  • Cloning Blues: Ninestein.
    • To an even greater extent, Sevenstein. He strongly disagrees with his original purpose and resents his status as a clone created to replace Ninestein. This leads to him attempting to escape to Alaska, and even join forces with Zelda in an effort to fight back against his destiny.
  • 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.
  • Cool Starship: Several on both sides
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hawkeye in the audio drama.
    "Uh, you guys will tell me when I'm supposed to start screaming in horrible agony, won't you?"
  • Electronic Eyes: How Hawkeye got his nickname.
  • Enemy Mine: "The Ultimate Menace."
  • Evil Laugh: Zelda does this so frequently that it could almost be considered her catchphrase.
  • Fantastic Racism: Ninestein's distrust of the zeroids (which sometimes borders on outright hatred) often comes across as this.
  • Five-Bad Band
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flat Character: While the rest of the cast had plenty of cool and unusual traits and quirks, Hawkeye never developed much beyond "Nice Guy with a Texan accent". This sadly led to him being barely used in later seasons.
  • Friendly Sniper: While not strictly a sniper, Hawkeye serves as the gunner and general sharpshooter of the Terrahawks, and is very personable and easy-going.
  • Funny Foreigner: Lt. Hiro. "Exactry."
  • General Ripper
    • Ninestein borders on being one since his first response to any alien contact is "blow it the hell out of the sky."
    • A better example would be General Rip Cord in "First Strike" who refuses to back off even when Zelda's monsters are completely kicking their asses.
  • Glad He's on Our Side: Kate feels this way about Hawkeye in the novelization.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Ninestein may be the hero, but he's not exactly what you would call "pleasant".
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: "For space sake!"
  • 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.
  • Impostor Forgot One Detail: MOID's impression of Hiro was nearly perfect, until Space Sergeant 101 heard him say "exactly". Not "exactry", as Hiro would pronounce it.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Lt. Hiro speaks excrusivery rike this. So do other characters when referring to him.
  • Mama Bear: In the words of Ninestein: "Zelda reclaims her own." (Strangely, this applies more to the aliens in her care than to her own son.)
  • Monster of the Week: The aliens have a supply of frozen monsters they defrost to pit against the Terrahawks. The same four or five tend to show up again and again, though.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jeremy Hitchen based his voice for Dr. Ninestein off of Jack Nicholson.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: Sergeant Major Zero, a robotic Zeroid with the desire of becoming human. Much to Ninestein's anger.
  • Punny Name: "Ninestein". Serves as a Shout-Out to Albert Einstein, of course, while reflecting on the fact that he is one of nine clones (and as of "Gold," one of eight clones). See also Alan Smithee below.
    • The audio series features news reporter Justin Time.
  • The Prima Donna: Kate Kestrel allows the media and public to believe that she's one of these, as it's a convenient front for her Terrahawks activity (specifically, her running out mid-recording session to go on missions).
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Fifty-Five only ever speaks in rhyme. Kate Kestrel and Hawkeye will also fall into this occasionally. ("Ready for sky, Hawkeye?" "Aye-aye!" "Then let's fly!")
  • Ship Tease: Several:
    • Ninestein/Mary
    • Hawkeye/Kate
    • In the audio stories, Zero/35.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Although Kate Kestrel is American, she sings with an English accent. (And while Kate is voiced by British actress Anne Ridler on the TV show, she doesn't do the singing.)
  • Silk Hiding Steel: For most of the series, Mary appears calm, caring and more gentle than anyone else in the group. This only makes it all the more shocking when she does things like drive tanks straight into minefields.
  • Spin-Off: A web series called Zeroids vs Cubes is in the works, expected to be released in 2015.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the aforementioned Thunderbirds.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Zelda has mental control over physical matter. As she's an android, one assumes her powers are technological in nature.
  • Telepathic Spacemen: Zelda can project her voice and communicate with people outside the base and even on other planets (eg.Earth). The source of this power seems to be in her base rather than herself, as in the pilot episode Ninestein talks to Hiro in the same way when on Mars.
  • Those Two Guys: As pilot and gunner of the Hawkwing, Kate Kestrel and Hawkeye are often this.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ninestein's is crab claw.
    • Yung-star is rarely seen on the Mars base without a bowl of his favourite cereal, Granite Crunchies.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: It's fairly clear (or at least very heavily implied) that Mary is in love with Tiger, but as she Cannot Spit It Out and he is apparently Oblivious to Love, nothing ever seems to come of it.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Cy-star's ever-slipping wig. Lampshaded by Zelda:
    "One day I'm going to nail that to your head!"
  • 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?
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Kate Kestrel most often sports bright pink hair, but throughout the series it's taken on pretty much every hue imaginable.

     Tropes specific to the TV show 

  • Absentee Actor: "Cry UFO" is notable as the only episode in which Zelda never appears.
  • 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").
  • All Just a Dream: "Operation Zero" and "A Christmas Miracle".
  • 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). When it was dubbed into Japanese as Earth Protection Force Terrahawks, they gave it the Anime Theme Song treatment, adding traditionally animated sequences with brand new theme songs titled "Galactica Thrilling" and "Taisetsu na One Word" in addition to the original English Supermarionation/animation sequences and music. Check 'em out here.
  • An Ice Person: Coldfinger.
  • 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!"
  • Badass Adorable: Zelda's most feared and dangerous ally is a teddy bear named Yuri.
  • Bowdlerise: The scene in "Two For The Price Of One" where Cy-Star gives birth to It-Star with the help of a Zelda-held crowbar was censored for British television screenings.
  • Children Are Innocent: Mary's argument against Ninestein's plan to blow up Zelda's base with the newborn It-Star inside.
  • Clip Show: "Ma's Monsters."
  • Curse Cut Short: Happens when Stew Dapples finally confesses how he really feels about Kate Kestrel's producer (when his studio equipment fails and he can't hear a word Stew says, of course.)
    "This is what I think of you, man. Now listen. I think you are a great, fat, stupid -" Hard Cut to the next scene
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Kate Kestrel's recording engineer Stew Dapples in "Cry UFO."
  • Despair Event Horizon: General Cord in "First Strike" is convinced his forces will win. They don't. And his mind snaps (which could count as a Villainous Breakdown given he's the direct opposite of Ninestein, though they're basically on the same side).
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Zero sends one to Mary before charging into a fight that he may or may not survive. He does.
    "I'm sorry, ma'am. But... as I face a possible end, I'd just like to say: I think you is... beautiful."
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In his first appearance, Sram was able to speak normally. In all future appearances, he only roars.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
    • The Japanese opening sequence adds on an equally expository narration.
  • Fighter Launchingsequence: In true Gerry Anderson style, each vehicle has its own unique launch sequence.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Sram's signature attack.
  • Master of Disguise: MOID ("Master Of Infinite Disguise").
  • Mutual Kill: The blunt assessment from Hiro of the likely result in a pitched battle between Spacehawk and the Space Samurai's starcruiser in episode six, confirmed by the titular samurai.
    Ninestein: "If it comes down to a showdown between his battlecruiser and Spacehawk, who wins?"
    Hiro: "No-one. We'd blow each other to pieces."
    Samurai: "He's right."
  • Never Say "Die": Invoked by Major Zero, only to be averted by Mary.
    Zero: "So if anything happened to him... like he ceased to function-"
    Mary: "You mean if he were killed in action."
    Zero: "Well, yes..."
  • Not a Mask: A delivery man assumes that Yung-Star's distinctly alien-looking face is a mask.
    "Word of advice, pal: take off the stupid mask before you get pulled over by the police."
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: MOID impersonates Hiro in one episode and forgets to impersonate Hiro's thick Japanese accent, which is picked up on by the other characters.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: Back in the 80s, Ninestein's video game probably looked revolutionary. In the 21st century, it just looks like the writers came down with a case of Pac-Man Fever.
  • Robotic Reveal: Mark Darrell, the reporter in "Close Call", is revealed to be an android when Mary shoots him.
  • Shout-Out: Kate sings a song called "SOS" in the episode "Play it Again, Sram," in which direct references are made to Gerry Anderson's earlier series Thunderbirds.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • We Gotta Stop Meeting Like This:
    Hawkeye: (after a mid-air rendezvous with Kate) We must stop meeting like this.
    Kate Kestrel: You're nothing if not original.
  • Wham Line: "Zelda... I'm going to have a baby!"
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: MOID, who apparently has no real will of his own and may be under the control of Zelda.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Implied with Ninestein, who is prepared to blow Zelda's Mars base sky-high with a newborn baby inside (granted, it's an android, but still.)
    • Leads into a fair bit of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! when he calls it off. Not only have they sacrificed their chance to launch an unexpected attack on the aliens, the addition of Itstar to Zelda's family, if anything, makes them even more dangerous due to having another android as intelligent and ruthless as Zelda herself. The early episodes at least try to portray Zelda as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who thinks she's in the right for wanting to destroy a savage and destructive race like humanity and turn the Earth into a home for the last survivors of dying races. Itstar on the other hand usually seemed to design its sadistic plans to show off its cleverness or even just For the Evulz.

     Tropes specific to the audio series 

  • Alternate Self: The capture of the Gunwing by Lord Tempo creates two Hawkeyes, one held captive on Mars and one slowly dying back on Earth.
  • Bland-Name Product: “Zonga” is a clear parody of UK payday loan company Wonga.
  • Creator Cameo: The late Gerry Anderson appears as a Zeroid!
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: According to Mary, at least.
  • Executive Meddling: In-universe example by the organisation who plans to cut the Terrahawks' funding.
  • Faking the Dead: Zelda, as part of a failed Xanatos Gambit.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Stein clones are an unusual case of this, as each clone is revealed to be named Tiger (number)stein ranging from 1 - 9.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Sure you were “enjoying the attention”, 101...
  • Idiot Ball: Even by Yung-star's standards, falling for “I have cereal in my ship that you can have” and letting Hawkeye lock him up and escape takes a special kind of stupid.
    • Yung-star seems to specialise in these. The very first episode of the audio adaptation sees him removing It-star's ZEAF weapons instead of his own (he was supposed to switch his out for a tractor beam) leaving Zelda's forces with no way of attacking even when Treehawk and Spacehawk are practically sitting ducks.
  • Indy Ploy: Zero pulls a rather spectacular one to save both Lois Price and the Terrahawks organisation: when trapped in the Treehawk by Zelda, he fools her into thinking that Ninestein had sent Lois up there to be killed. This has the combined effect of convincing Zelda to let them go, seeing Lois as an ally, and proving the Terrahawks' worth to Lois.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: “This whole episode has been a very useful demonstration of what Terrahawks is all about!”
    • Ninestein comments that it feels like the Terrahawks have been inactive for 30 years.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Cy-Splitter has more than a passing vocal resemblance to comedian Johnny Vegas.
  • The Teaser: Seems to have become a standard feature of the new series.
  • Temporal Paradox: Lord Tempo's capture of Hawkeye through time travel threatens to cause this, as the two resulting versions cannot exist at the same time without destabilising time and space.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Pretty much everyone's reactions to Ninestein's plan to have Sevenstein brainwashed and placed in suspended animation.

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