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back to article Tracy brothers are back: Thunderbirds Are Go! again in 5... 4... 3...

Brit television outfit ITV has announced the return of the Tracy family in Thunderbirds Are Go! - a fresh take on Gerry Anderson's classic puppet series promising "a whole new level of action-adventure animation for today's audience". Out goes Supermarionation and in comes "CGI animation", although we're promised "live-action …

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Meh

Great to see originality in the TV industry :-/

Ah well - hopefully it'll be fun for the kiddies anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

There are plenty of new shows on kids tv, some remind me of my youth, but many are new and interesting, don't diss an entire genre just for bringing back something great....

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The Captain Scarlet effort on CITV was good

Let's hope that it can be reproduced. I may have a reason to watch ITV again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Captain Scarlet effort on CITV was good

Nevr did get to see that remake, neither did my 7 year old son (at time of first broadcast). I remember the idiots running ITV scheduling took what ought to have been a popular series and inserted it into the middle of some Saturday morning moronic studio crap; guaranteed to minimise audience.

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Re: The Captain Scarlet effort on CITV was good

I only watch the first DVDs worth (four episodes?) of the Captain Scarlet remake, and I was very disappointed. They messed with the format so much that only the fundamental details survived.

It appeared to be the case that they went completely down the action route, whereas the original series demanded that the kids follow the story. I wonder how much of 'kids have short attention spans' is reinforced by providing programs that need no degree of attention to watch. Possibly a self-fulfilling statement.

IIRC it was billed as "Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet", so I wonder what Gerry actually thought of it. The reason why he hated the live-action movie so much was he had lost control of the franchise (he sold the complete rights to finance one of the later series), and so had no input at all. I agree that it was barely worth watching, apart from the cameo reverse-format puppet hand at the Thunderbird 1 controls, which was the sole amusing bit of the film.

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Re: The Captain Scarlet effort on CITV was good

It was ok but felt like it focused on graphical cgi wowness :(

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Re: The Captain Scarlet effort on CITV was good

But to me it never had CGI wow.

Maybe I need to watch it again, but to me it looks to have been animated using the Max Steel or Action Man CGI rendering engine, which make movements look unrealistic. I know it was probably a different company doing it, but the Starship Troopers CGI series looked better.

Hopefully, they will use a better engine for the Thunderbirds remake.

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TRT
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I'm worried...

Only 30 minute episodes? The original episodes were a shade under 60 minutes long which allowed for much greater story development and the extended launch sequences that we all love. When they re-edited the shows down to 30 minute jobs with cliff-hangers and "Last time..." they became almost unwatchable.

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jai
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Re: I'm worried...

apparently tv execs are convinced that kids have no attention span.

this is probably because no one makes tv shows for kids that are any longer than 30 minutes so they're not used to the idea of paying attention to a developing plot.

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TRT
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Re: I'm worried...

I don't know if it's attention span... I think the new Doctor Who format suffers from lack of story development because of the time constraints. The old 4x30 minute story is, IMHO, better than the 1x55 minutes story. Do you remember Jon Pertwee sitting around in a lab trying a dozen revisions of gadgets and potions? Much more real-world than "oh, let's wave the sonic and resurrect 1/3 of the population" we've seen of late.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm worried...

Er, no. Dr Who, Merlin, Primeval etc. all 45 minutes (=1hour+ on commercial channels). Back in the 60s we only got to watch half hour Dr Who episodes. Children today watch more complex and longer stories. Lessof the fact-unrelated grumpy!

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"no one makes tv shows for kids that are any longer than 30 minutes"

Well, the BBC has [Doctor Who], [Merlin], and sometimes [The Sarah Jane Adventures] and [Wizards Vs Aliens] are shown as one hour (nearly) instead of two half-hours. Of course most of those shows are Russell T. Davies and/or Welsh in some degree. And two of them aren't being made any more, since they ruled out regenerating Sarah Jane Smith or doing her in CGI. At least, they didn't do it... actually they -did- bring in a replacement one time, but she turned out to be an alien with a nasty evil plot. Come to think - do the BBC not still have the identical android Sarah Jane Smith that was in [The Android Invasion]? ...What? Oh. :-)

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Re: I'm worried...

Back in the 60s we only got to watch half hour Dr Who episodes

Except a single story was told over several episodes so you had to be able to follow a storyline for several weeks .... and each episode started off where the last ended - you didn't get 5 mins of "previously on ..." intro to remind you what had happened. Whereas now you get 45-60mins self contained episodes (occasionally you get some 2-part stories but in current Dr Who series think they've said that they have abandoned this).

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Re: I'm worried...

Stuff the fact they'll be 30 minute episodes. Look at what they did to Postman Pat. CGIed it, PCfied it and all the magic around the original was gone.

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Stop

Re: I'm worried...

@deshepherd "Except a single story was told over several episodes so you had to be able to follow a storyline for several weeks"

Yes and it was mostly tedious, IMO, having watched a few of them in recent years. It was obviously (?) a cost-saving exercise for which the plots were rarely up to the job. Shorter formats give so much more freedom to explore the Who-verse, I would never want to go back to that absurd serial format.

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Re: I'm worried...

Doctor Who was almost always a multi-episode storyline, very often 4 or 6 making stories last 2 or 3 hours.

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Re: I'm worried...

"The old 4x30 minute story is, IMHO, better than the 1x55 minutes story."

I used to think that, then I saw The Invasion of Time again and noticed so much padding (eg The Doctor and companions wandering round the inside of the Tardis aimlessly while pursued by the Sontarans) that didn't add anything to the storyline.

But on the other hand, it did leave the kids hanging and they 'had' to remember the previous episode to watch the next. A bit of brain training for them. Helps them focus over a longer period of time.

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Go

Re: I'm worried...

I have to say that I bought the boxed set of Saphire and Steel a couple of years ago and was a bit underwhelmed. The nostalgia was there but I was amazed that it seemed to just consist of them wandering aimlessly around trying one thing after another until they happened to eventually hit on the solution.

Rose tinted spectacles I suppose.

Still - it passed a few hours and I'm glad I bought it. It's just that not everything back then was as good as we might like to think when we look back from 30+ years :)

Apart from Joanna of course. She still looked good :D

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Re: I'm worried...

>CGIed it, PCfied it and all the magic around the original was gone.

With luck, WETA Studios won't do that.. the company that gave us Brain Dead and District 9 might do well!

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Re: I'm worried... @Wize

There are some very good insights into the production problems that Doctor Who had in the 30 minute-an-episode days contained in a book and audio-book by one-time Dr Who producer Barry Letts, called "Who and Me". It is serialised on BBC Radio 4 Extra on their rotation. It's a good read/listen.

There were so many scheduling, budget and logistical issues around this production format (like the sets had to be taken down every week during the episode filming - no wonder they were flimsy) that once you know, you wonder how the show was ever made!

My personal feeling is that the episodic story line was both a benefit and a curse, but I think that it was good training for handling long-running issues in life, and definitely made it more of an event in the week than the current self contained stories.

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Re: I'm worried...

@Wize

Invasion of Time can be seen as two stories - the 4-part Vardan one and the 2-part Sontaran one. Doesn't make it any the better, though. But then it was written in under 3 weeks and shot around a strike at the BBC. (The story of the original run of Doctor Who is one of working on little resources and around problems.)

The 4x25 minute Who episode format could be its own straitjacket. Requiring three cliff-hangers at cerrtain points. It took a good writer/script editor combination to get the format to work without (obvious) padding.

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Re: I'm worried...

It can be a tricky balance to pad one part out and tighten in something else so the potential cliff hanger moments land at the right spot.

The old black and white serials spring to mind with the effort it would have taken to get all those cliff hangers over the space of a 20 part show. It was quite a clever format. You have to watch it each week to find out how the hero escaped from certain doom, but if you missed an episode, you could still catch up on the story line.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Look at what they did to Postman Pat. CGIed it, PCfied it ...

Surprised they didn't rename it 'postperson pat' in that case. :-)

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Pint

Originality?

There is no such thing in TV and films anymore, it seems.

had a friend who has just come back from 4hr each way flights and he said that out of 6 films he saw, 5 were part of a franchise/sequel/prequel.

Oh, to have SOME originality!

(Mind you....has anyone seen Utopia on Ch4? Well worth a watch....imho)

<<<<< cos it's the only way to get through most films....

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Pint

Re: Originality?

<<< getting up every ten minutes to pee is far more preferable to having to sit through the moronic dross that passes for entertainment these days. And that's why I drink.

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Re: Originality?

Originality died with Homer. Everything since then has been fanfiction.

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Coat

Re: Originality?

"Originality died with Homer."

D'oh

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Re: Originality?

the point about Thunderbirds, is it is NOT going to be 'original'!!! unless you mean EXACTLY like the original???

If you are an old fan of StarTrek, the new 'prequel' film ripped most of the heart out of it.. the kids loved it of course, but not the fans...

I can only wonder what freakishly new designs, backstory, characters they will make up to make the 'kids' happy, but not the old fans.... :( :(

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jai
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with any luck...

Fuzzbox will reform and re-release their sublime International Rescue single to go along with the show! :)

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Happy

Re: with any luck...

Instant (and welcome) earworm for me!

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No strings attached

"CGI animation" - Pah! They'll ban the 'puppets' from smoking next.

Oh and I found that a lot of the 'incidental' music in TB appears to have been started up first in Fireball XL5. Gerry sure did re-use good things.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No strings attached

I want the strings!!! Shall miss them if they're not there. :-(

CGI those in if you must.

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Happy

Re: No strings attached

I dunno - I liked the Thunderbird series, when I was really young....

But as my good friend Malcolm McLaren said, "That old Necrophiliac - Rock and Roll."

I think some things that were a part of some peoples lives, a LONG time ago, really ought to stay dead and buried.

I think when it's hustlers reanimating the corpse, and pushing it to sell advertising with the show, while the initial idea is good, recycling it, generally isn't.

The models on strings that fly better than obviously fake UFO's, the glitchy special effects like rockets firing and all the crap-tastic effects that made it so good.... well that was great for a preteen audience.

But polishing it up and making it all CGI - unless it's a technically superb job, with a really intelligent plot and all that to make it a decent show, vs. using a recycled idea to create a crap show.....

Then it's probably and hopefully doomed to fail.

I mean the originals like "Bill and Ben - the Flower Pot Men" and "The Magic Roundabout" - were great - and it was their shittiness and basicness and simplicity that made them great.

To me it's all just ratings, marketing, sales, and hype and bullshit - usually by original non-thinkers, or was that non-original thinkers....

I think the only way to use the original material is to replay the original material.... as hour long shows, and not as some other writer commented, "To fuck it all up by putting it in little bits in some Saturday morning kids show."

As far as the music and special effects /sounds thereof go - Gerry Adams, recycled the lot, from Space 1999, UFO, Fireblade, Thunderbirds etc....

Forgive me if I am a touch vauge.... Twas such a long time ago.

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Hopefully this will stay more faithful to the original than the film did. Even my son who tried watching the film a few months ago said it was rubbish compared to the tv show version that we had watched earlier in the day! This from a 7yr old, says a lot really doesnt it

Look forward to seeing this, just hope after the first episode I can look forward to the second and so on!!

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TRT
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Yes, well...

Look at what happened when they moved Thomas from model to CGI.

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Anonymous Coward

More to the point...

More to the point, look at what happened when they moved Thomas from the original books.

I swear that the only decent adaption of the Railway Stories was the old 45" recordings of Johnny Morris (of Animal Magic fame) reading the stories.

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Re: More to the point...

God, I remember having all 26 of the original books, and the Johnny Morris LP-sized recording of Three Railway Engines: "There once was an engine attached to a train..."

Oh, and I doubt it was a 45 *inch* recording, nor 45 *seconds*. 45 *rpm*, maybe...

And I also had the fold-up (Ordnance Survey style) map of Sodor... Does that make me a geek?

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Re: More to the point...

"And I also had the fold-up (Ordnance Survey style) map of Sodor... Does that make me a geek?"

Only if you still have it

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Happy

Re: More to the point...

"And I also had the fold-up (Ordnance Survey style) map of Sodor... Does that make me a geek?"

"Only if you still have it"

And in mint condition, still in packaging.

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MJI
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Re: More to the point...

I have seen a few.

Early good, late total shit

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Re: More to the point...

>"Only if you still have it"

>And in mint condition, still in packaging.

OK, that's a relief. It disappeared somewhere probably around 30 years ago, maybe more. Whew!

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Happy

Re: More to the point... @Steve

The records were unusual. They were 7" discs, but were played a 33 1/3 RPM. I'm fairly certain that my father still has the records somewhere.

When I was reading the stories to my children several decades ago, I found myself mimicking Johnny Morris' vocalisations. I guess that it must have had a profound effect on me.

IIRC, Rev. W Audry actually wrote 32 or 33 of the original books, before his son Christopher picked up the reigns. Each of the stories in the original books was said to have been inspired by real events on the railways, and I always though that made them much more believable. Once Britt-Alcroft started getting more stories written, it all went to pot, and the Rev. is probably spinning in his grave at the latest stories.

What I would like to know is whether the Chris Payne, who appears in the titles of the original TV series is the same Chris Payne who worked on computer controlled railways for his final year project at Durham University in 1980/81. If it is, then I knew him.

Listening to records of Johnny Morris reading the Railway Stories, and Ian Carmichael reading Winnie-the-Pooh, also on 33 1/3 7" discs are probably are some of my most enduring childhood memories.

BTW. There were also Century 21 Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet stories on vinyl disc. You've got to remember that there were no home video players back in the 1960s. Records and reel-to-reel tape were all there were.

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JB
Happy

Re: More to the point...

Johnny Morris...am I the only one who feels a little sad and wistful whenever I hear recordings of him now? The way he read stories on Listening Corner or Schools Radio, or did the zoo keeper on Animal Magic, just brings it all back for me. One of the greatest pleasures when I was a kid was having a story told to me, and Johnny Morris was the best.

Makes me sad that kids today (bah!) don't have anyone like old Johnny to listen to, with kids' TV presenters being your cool older brother/sister rather than an esteemed uncle or aunt.

Oh, and i think this Thunderbirds remake is rather pointless...old fans won't like it, and young 'uns will be mystified by it!

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Anonymous Coward

Riker

Let's see if they muster something any better than Riker did ten years ago.

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Re: Riker

How could they not?

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How ..

.. are they going to replicate that essential jerky movement of the characters in the orginal?

Without that: what's the point?

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Re: How ..

When they first make the CGI Joda for the newer films they realized that somehow he didn't look right, so they simulated the puppet imperfections.

Anyway, I hardly think jerky movements were the best thing about the thunderbirds.

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Unhappy

No puppets?

I suspect we could solve the UK energy crisis by attaching a turbine to the late Gerry's grave :(

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Re: No puppets?

He'll be spinning if it's crap, but not for the lack of puppets. Gerry Anderson is on record as saying that the only reason he used 'supermarionation' was because it allowed him to realise his vision and that he would have used CGI at the time if it was available.

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Re: No puppets?

@John62

Absolutely, it was just a means to an end for Anderson who didn't get to do want he really wanted, work with real actors, until Space 1999 (and the other series, the name of which escapes me). Puppets let them tell the stories they wanted to tell and, like Aardman, they put had the gumption to pay the attention to detail that made the all too obviously puppet world come alive for viewers.

They'll have to work on some of the scripts to make them slightly less twee, give the women some better roles but kidnapping high-speed planes and putting bombs on them "Flight 787" could cause the biggest mass panic since the 1937 War of the Worlds broadcast!

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