- T​HUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!

At the age of 65, one would think that I would have long since grown up, but I am proud to say that I have not yet completely done so, and I hope that I never will.

My childhood fascination with playing with cars eventually grew to include driving and participating in motorsports (autocross). I also enjoy watching some of what I found entertaining in my youth, including James Bond movies.

The other day I finished binge watching four seasons of a very cool “kids” T.V. series on Amazon Prime Video. That series is called “THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO.” Have you ever heard of it?

J​an and the Tracys at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

J​an and the Tracys at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

“THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO” is a somewhat modern evolution of a succession of similar action-adventure, science fiction T.V. series that I watched when I was a little boy growing up in Canada. Those shows, filmed in “Supermarionation,” were the brainchildren of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

A lifesized set, including skyscrapers and the front of Thunderbird 2, at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

A lifesized set, including skyscrapers and the front of Thunderbird 2, at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

The stars were marionettes – with a difference. They seemed alive, in a way that little kids could especially appreciate and relate to. They took on a life of their own that, to this day, somehow still makes them seem alive to me. Their speech was lip-synched (sort of) and they had distinct, endearing personalities. The shows were set in futuristic cities, remote parts of the globe and even in outer space. There were plenty of explosions and evil-doers, yet as I recall no one (except perhaps Jeff Tracy) ever got killed.

With each new series the recurring characters, the settings, the vehicles (oh yes, there were fantastic vehicles!) and the shows got more and more lifelike. The Andersons even experimented with live action shows starring real human beings instead of marionettes, but those shows struggled to engage audiences.

Virgil Tracy in the cockpit of Thunderbird 2's lifesized cabin, at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

Virgil Tracy in the cockpit of Thunderbird 2's lifesized cabin, at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

Some of the Supermarionation series that I remember watching and enjoying were: “Supercar,” “Fireball XL5” (I still cannot get that show’s theme song out of my head, nor do I want to!), “Stingray,” “Thunderbirds” (the original version), “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” and “Joe 90” – all in the 1960s.

J​an seated beside Virgil Tracy at the controls of Thunderbird 2, at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

J​an seated beside Virgil Tracy at the controls of Thunderbird 2, at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

“THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO” is a throwback to those Supermarionation children’s shows of yesteryear, but with more advanced special effects and more modern story lines. It is a blend of CGI animation and live-action model sets. I love it, and you might too.

The​ THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO city set at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

The​ THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO city set at Amazon Prime Video's "THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO" San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Experience.

The protagonists – members of International Rescue – are the five Tracy brothers (Scott, Gordon, Virgil, John and Alan are heroic Thunderbirds pilots); “Kayo” (pilot of the new Thunderbird, Shadow); Brains (who almost single-handedly modifies and maintains a fleet of rocket ships and earth-bound flying vehicles, as well as high tech gadgets large and small); the Tracy’s grandmother Sally (the De facto Thunderbirds team leader, during the prolonged and mysterious absence of patriarch Jeff Tracy); and London agent Lady Penelope, her dog Sherbet, and the rough-edged, former pickpocket, cockney driver of her flight-capable, Rolls Royce-like, iR (International Rescue)-badged, “FAB 1” pink limousine.

S​cott, Alan and John Tracy, and "Kayo" of International Rescue.

S​cott, Alan and John Tracy, and "Kayo" of International Rescue.

International Rescue operates from its hidden base on Tracy Island in the South Pacific. Their rockets launch from hidden launch sites. From their space station they keep watch over the entire world, monitoring and responding to global transmissions of distress calls.

The primary evil baddies who we love to despise are “The Hood” and” “The Mechanic.”

There are other recurring, supporting characters – many of whom who seem to get into far more than their fair share of trouble, but who International Rescue always manages to save at the last minute.

While I said no one in the show gets killed – not even the baddies – super-expensive stuff routinely gets destroyed spectacularly. The destruction includes airplanes and other assorted vehicles, buildings and more.

A​ futuristic airplane flying over and between the skyscrapers, probably in need of rescue by International Rescue, on the scene in Thunderbird 2.

A​ futuristic airplane flying over and between the skyscrapers, probably in need of rescue by International Rescue, on the scene in Thunderbird 2.

You can watch all four seasons of the family-friendly “THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO” series on Amazon Prime Video. Amazon customers who are not already Prime members can sign up for a free trial at www.amazon.com/primevideo. I did that to watch “The Grand Tour,” but I ended up paying to continue with Amazon Prime. Here is a link to the original trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU10Ddoi7jE&feature=youtu.be

I encourage you to visit the excellent “THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO” website at www.thunderbirds.com. There you will find information about the show, cool games, activities and downloadable stuff, including do-it-yourself Thunderbirds.

I will leave you with something that the narrator says before launches in each episode: “Five, Four, Three, Two, One! Thunderbirds Are Go!”

Copyright © 2019 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #607

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