If I think back, I probably saw Space 1999 before I saw The Thunderbirds, basically going at the Gerry Anderson catalog backwards. Anderson was so proific though that I have keeping up with all of his creations. I am just getting familiar with his UFO series now.
Something about the design of his shows seems to stick with me. I remember the first time I saw Thunderbirds and thinking how odd the character designs were, but after an episode or two they just became characters to me. I think that speaks to the way that Anderson presented. There was enough explosions, fires and spaceships to pull you in, but the stories were always fun and kept you watching. I talk often about how Japanese television was my first exposure to longer story arcs in children’s television, but Anderson was doing it too. Heyou did not underestimate the intelligence of his audience, even if that audience was only six years old.
If you bring up The Thunderbirds with the right generation you will get a warm reception. Mostly the old shows still hold up. As per norm for the time period they still veer into casual racism every once and a while and that is hard to watch, but the miniature sets, pyrotechnics and comedy are still wildly entertaining. I haven’t tested this on my own kids yet, I am not completley confident they would have the same reaction. I allow nostalgia to color a lot of these old memories for me and they may feel more interesting then they actually are.
Since the geeks are currently inheriting the earth we are driving the entertainment, so I guess it was inevitable that we would get a Thunderbirds reboot in this generation. When the new character designs were introduced a few weeks ago the internet unified in a collective ‘ew’. I also joined in the chorus of thinking the characters were more off putting than inspiring.
Time passes and we get our first look at the full first trailer and I feel like I get it. The folks in charge of the reboot want to stay as true to the spirit of the original where they can and update it just enough to draw in a new audience. Honestly I think they have hit the target. I came to that conclusion when the trailer gets to the part where they have the futuristic sub with mechanical arms and it felt like Thunderbirds. All the wacky physics made all the memories flood back.
I need to read more detail about how they are filming, but while the characters are computer generated it feels like some of the ships and the sets are still handled in minature which is why a lot of this feels very authentic.
We will have to wait until the full show premeires, but I am now full of optimism. People seem to be getting sick of reboots, but as long as I am entertained I don’t mind the occasional tweak to the formula. Sometimes as it makes the whole better and I am all for introducing a new generation to Anderson’s work.
Here is the old intro folks to kickstart those Saturday morning Gen X and late boomer memories.