5... 4... 3... 2... 1! Thunderbirds are go!
S-O-S! Mr. Tracy, the western world is falling...
S-O-S! International Rescue, hear us calling...
Created by preeminent British puppet-show producer Gerry Anderson
is the story of the Tracy family, a wealthy clan who embark on a unique philanthropic venture.
In the year 2065, billionaire ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his five sons (Scott, Virgil, Gordon, John and Alan) form "International Rescue", an organization whose purpose should be self-explanatory. They use technology designed by their resident Techno Wizard
, "Brains", which is far beyond anything possessed by any military or civilian agency on the planet, even given the series's far future setting
of the late 21st century.
Every week, some monstrous disaster would occur, and the boys (primarily Scott and Virgil) would pilot their awesome Thunderbird aerospace craft to the scene, moving at speeds that would make an aeronautical engineer drool. Scott would get there first, survey the situation, and call back to Virgil, who would then arrive at the scene with the right equipment loaded into the cavernous interior of Thunderbird 2
's "pod". Amongst other things, a drilling vehicle (Mole) or an underwater rover (Thunderbird 4
) could be loaded into 2. In fact, the other wiki
has a list of the many
bizarre vehicles deployed.
There were five Thunderbirds, one for each brother:
- Thunderbird 1: Was the most used. Looks like a missile, moves like a jet fighter. Takes off from base vertically using rockets then switches to horizontal jet propulsion and lands horizontally.
- Thunderbird 2: A ginormous plane that incorporates equipment pods into its fuselage. A selection of pods is available, each pre-loaded with specialist rescue equipment. The heavy lifter of the fleet (and the most frequently seen, turning up in all but one of the episodes and both movies).
- Thunderbird 3: An actual rocketship. Mostly used to get to Thunderbird 5, but also used on a number of space rescue missions.
- Thunderbird 4: A small submarine/underwater rover, usually carried by Thunderbird 2 in pod #4.
- Thunderbird 5: A Space Station, capable of receiving transmissions from all over the globe and automatically detecting and translating distress calls.
Acting as an espionage back-up, to prevent any of IR's tech from being stolen and used for military or destructive purposes, was prim and proper spy Lady Penelope, and her rough-edged cockney Battle Butler
Parker, in Penny's pink six-wheeled (and heavily-armed) Rolls-Royce limousine, FAB 1.
The miniatures used were cutting edge for the time. The show was described as feature film quality, to the point where Lord Grade, the head of the commissioning company ITC Entertainment, upped it from a half hour to an hour long drama (necessitating additional scenes to be shot for the first few episodes).
Oh, and all the characters were puppets. The show was filmed in Supermarionation
, which was a process using souped-up marionettes with moving lips electronically synchronized with pre-recorded dialogue.
This show is a classic in its native Britain, and around the world. The first season was such a success that it was decided to make a full-blown movie before production began on the second season; the result was Thunderbirds Are GO!
, wherein the Tracys must rescue an imperiled Mars rocket after a scrape with the local lifeforms
. Expected to be a blockbuster of James Bond
proportions, it performed poorly at the box office.
An unsuccessful trip made by Lew Grade to try and sell the show to American networks ensured the second season would be the series' last; further, amid corporate fears that the bubble had burst, Gerry Anderson was instructed that said second season be cut back to just six episodes. United Artists, surprised at the failure of the first movie, subsequently commissioned another — Thunderbird 6
, where designing a new Thunderbird vehicle is put on hold when a state-of-the-art luxury airship is in danger — and this also flopped. But by then Anderson was already at work on new Supermarionation projects with a new generation on puppets.
80s band Fuzzbox
released a single "International Rescue" as an affectionate tribute/parody of the series
that made it to number 11 in the charts
In 1982, ITC took Scientific Rescue Team Techno Voyager
, a 24-episode anime inspired by the series, and dubbed it as Thunderbirds 2086
A revival is currently in the works, titled Thunderbirds are Go!
and scheduled for release in 2015.
There is a Recap
in desperate need of assistance! Thundernerds are go! Tropes applying to the movies can be found there as well.
Thunderbirds provides examples of the following tropes: