'Thunderbirds Are Go!' failed to set the box office alight in 1966 (
strange considering it was generally entertaining and afforded British
fans the chance to see their favourite characters in colour ). But
United Artists was convinced that there was a hit movie franchise in
Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's 'Supermarionation' television series, and
gave the go-ahead for another colourful escapist fantasy. By this time,
the show had ended, 'Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons' was in production
( with 'Joe 90' cleaning his spectacles in readiness for the 1968/69
season ). 'Thunderbird 6' is a rather different kettle of fish to its
predecessor. The cod-disaster movie/sci-fi tone has been replaced by a
much lighter approach, with a greater emphasis placed on 'Lady
Penelope' and 'Parker'. Unlike 'T.A.G.' - which took ages to involve
the Tracy family in the action - this has them on screen almost from
the start. It opens with 'Brains' pitching a 'new' idea to a major
aircraft corporation - an airship. The Board laughs at him, but decide
to build it anyway. The result is 'Skyship One', and it takes off with
Lady Penelope, Parker, and Alan Tracy aboard. Unbeknowest to them, the
crew has been murdered and replaced by impostors, headed by the
mysterious 'Black Phantom' ( the Hood under an alias ) who has bugged
the ship, and is secretly taping Lady Penelope's every word in order to
construct a fake message to lure International Rescue into a trap. Back
on Tracy Island, Brains is going frantic trying to find a design for
the proposed addition to the 'Thunderbird' fleet - 'Thunderbird 6'...
This feels more like an episode of the series than its predecessor. No bad thing, of course. The regular characters get more to do, and there are some pleasing sequences where Lady Penelope enjoys her round-the-world trip, taking in such sights as the Pyramids of Egypt. Keith Wilson ( who sadly passed on last year ) produces some stunning sets - the games room with playing cards adorning the walls and huge chess pieces is like something out of 'The Avengers', while the gravity compensation room ( the setting for the climactic shoot-out ) is worthy of a James Bond film. The scene with the passenger-laden Tiger Moth flying over the countryside is breathtaking to watch even now. Unlike the first film - which got a big premiere in London - it sat on a shelf for several months, before creeping quietly into a cinema one Monday afternoon, where it was virtually ignored. The movies turned up on television eventually, and for a long time were the only 'Thunderbirds' available. Anderson made one more feature - the live action sci-fi drama 'Doppleganger' ( also known as 'Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun' ) starring Roy Thinnes and Ian Hendry. It fared little better. Jonathan Frakes' 2004 live-action feature 'Thunderbirds' might have stood a chance had it not committed the inexcusable error of snubbing Anderson.
The final scene where 'Thunderbird 6' is revealed comes as no real surprise, but provides a nice sense of closure to the Tracy family's adventures. And has a positive message we would all do well to heed - that despite the myriad uses of modern technology, sometimes the old ways are the best. F.A.B.!
Action / Family / Sci-Fi
Action / Family / Sci-Fi
The International Rescue team is faced with one of its toughest challenges yet, as the revolutionary lighter-than-air craft Skyship One is hijacked while on her maiden voyage around the world. Against backdrops including the Statue of Liberty and the Sphinx, Lady Penelope, Parker, Alan and Tin-Tin fight the hijackers from on-board, while the rest of the team tries to stop the airship crashing into a missile silo.
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December 03, 2014 at 01:20 PM