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Thunderbirds Are Go is a British animated science fiction television programme produced by ITV Studios and Pukeko Pictures. It is a remake of the Supermarionation series Thunderbirds created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson that follows the exploits of International Rescue (IR), a life-saving organisation equipped with technologically-advanced land, sea, air and space rescue crafts; these are headed by a fleet of five vehicles named the Thunderbirds that are launched from IR's secret island base in the Pacific Ocean. The main characters are the five Tracy brothers, who pilot the Thunderbird machines.

Thunderbirds Are Go
Series title over a image of outer space
Genre
Created byRichard Taylor
Based onThunderbirds
by Gerry &
Sylvia Anderson
Voices ofRosamund Pike
Thomas Sangster
Rasmus Hardiker
David Menkin
Kayvan Novak
David Graham
Angel Coulby
Teresa Gallagher
Andres Williams
Composer(s)
Country of origin
  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes70 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
CinematographySimon Godsiff
Running time22 minutes
Production company(s)
DistributorITV Studios Global Entertainment
Release
Original network
Picture format16:9
Original release4 April 2015 (2015-04-04) –
present
External links
Website

Thunderbirds Are Go premiered on 4 April 2015 and is currently in its third series.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

A revival of the 1960s science fiction Supermarionation television series Thunderbirds was approved by co-creator Gerry Anderson when Richard Taylor, the founder of Weta Workshop, visited him at Pinewood Studios while he was working on New Captain Scarlet.[1] On 4 February 2013, ITV Global Entertainment and Pukeko Pictures officially announced the revival under the title Thunderbirds Are Go![2] Production began in June 2013 at Weta Workshop,[3] while the principal voice cast was announced on 30 September 2014.[4]

Each series is consisted of 26 episodes with transmission split into multiple parts. Series 1 was broadcast between 4 April–20 June 2015 and 31 October 2015–23 January 2016. A second series was green-lit on 18 December 2014[5] and aired between 22 October 2016–7 January 2017 and 30 September–16 December 2017. A third series was confirmed on 5 May 2016[6] and was broadcast between 31 March–26 May 2018 and 18 May–13 July 2019, with the remaining episodes set to premiere in 2020.

PremiseEdit

Set in the year 2060, Thunderbirds Are Go follows the exploits of the Tracy brothers: Scott, Virgil, John, Gordon, and Alan. Together, they form the front-line of International Rescue (IR), an organisation dedicated to saving people from disaster using technologically advanced crafts for land, sea, air and space rescue. The most important of these are five vehicles named the Thunderbirds, each piloted by one of the brothers:

  • Thunderbird 1 – first response rocket plane, piloted by First Responder and Team Leader Scott Tracy
  • Thunderbird 2 – auxiliary equipment transporter, piloted by Demolition, Heavy Lifting and Logistics Expert Virgil Tracy
  • Thunderbird 3 – space rescue rocket, piloted by Astronaut Alan Tracy
  • Thunderbird 4 – underwater search and rescue mini-submarine, piloted by Aquanaut Gordon Tracy
  • Thunderbird 5 – communications and logistics space station, manned by Space Command Communicator and Dispatcher John Tracy

The Tracys are aided by Head of Security Tanusha "Kayo" Kyrano (also the pilot of Thunderbird Shadow, a stealth aircraft used for covert operations), engineer Brains, his robot assistant M.A.X., and their paternal Grandma. All of them reside on Tracy Island, their hidden base in the Southern Pacific Ocean from where they operate IR.

The organisation also enlist English aristocrat Lady Penelope and her chauffeur Parker as their London field agents. Their primary mode of transportation is FAB 1, a limousine car fitted with gadgets and weaponry – as well as flying and underwater capabilities – for espionage missions. Penelope is almost always accompanied by her pet pug, Sherbet "Bertie".

IR's main adversary is the Hood, a criminal master of disguise who steals technology and seeks possession of the Thunderbirds. Secretly the uncle of Kayo, the Hood is responsible for the assumed death of the Tracy brothers' father, ex-astronaut and IR founder Jeff Tracy. He is later arrested and imprisoned by the Global Defence Force (GDF), leading IR to face a new antagonist: the Mechanic – a mysterious and immensely threatening villain who uses highly advanced machinery to steal resources. Originally under the Hood's influence, the Mechanic breaks free of his mind control after breaking him out of prison, but is later arrested himself. Meanwhile, the Hood renews his quest for global chaos with the aid of the Chaos Crew – Havoc and Fuse.

CastEdit

Notes
  • Kayvan Novak, Rosamund Pike and Teresa Gallagher also provide voices for various guest characters.
  • Archive audio of Peter Dyneley, voice actor of Jeff Tracy in the original Thunderbirds series, announcing the 5–1 countdown from the programme's title sequence is featured in the remake's title sequence and during the vehicles' launch sequences.

ProductionEdit

All scale model miniature effects and CGI for the series is produced at Weta Workshop in New Zealand. The series is executive produced by Estelle Hughes, Giles Ridge, Richard Taylor and Andrew Smith,[7] while David Scott and Theo Baynton act as series director and episode director, respectively.[8] The head writer is Rob Hoegee, while Anthony Cox serves as a film editor[9] and Ben Milsom a production designer.

The production of each episode starts with a physical set creation. The sets are created using methods similar to those used in the original series, including the use of household objects as components. A film crew devises camera setups for scenes to match with the movement and positions of CGI-created characters and crafts that are to be imposed later upon the footage. This also includes special effects used on set, such as smoke and air. All CGI sequences are storyboarded before being superimposed onto the live-action footage of the miniatures. Each set is then individually scanned as a 3D print to provide reference for the CGI elements so they can be accurately registered in the environments. Details are then introduced, including textures, craft setup, atmospheric particles and flying debris. The UK-based company Milk VFX is responsible for the final composition.[10]

The music score is composed by brothers Ben and Nick Foster. The revived series's opening theme and certain cues remain faithful to Barry Gray's score for the original series, albeit with a contemporary orchestral style.[11]

In total, it takes roughly a year to produce one episode.

Changes from the original seriesEdit

While most updated character, vehicle and set designs remain faithful to the original programme,[12] the remake features some major changes:

  • IR founder and father of the Tracy brothers Jeff Tracy is absent; initially presumed dead by his sons at the Hood's doing. Jeff is later discovered to be alive in season 3.
  • Due to copyright issues with The Adventures of Tintin comic series, the character of Tin-Tin Kyrano has been renamed Tanusha "Kayo" Kyrano. Originally from Malaysia and portrayed as an assistant, the character is now British and spearheads Covert Operations for IR. She also pilots her own vehicle, Thunderbird Shadow. Her father, Kyrano, is absent in the series.
  • The character of Brains has been changed from Caucasian to a South Asian ethnicity.
  • Originally a Malaysian master of disguise that possessed hypnotic powers, the character of the Hood is now a rough British businessman who can control his minion, the Mechanic, via a cybernetic eye implant. He also now uses holographic projections for his disguises, as opposed to more conventional means.

International broadcastsEdit

The world television channel premiere was in spring 2015 on ITV and UK's CITV Channel.[13][14]

On 16 June 2014, ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced it has signed its first international TV broadcast deal with Australia's free-to-air Nine Network (9Go!).[15][16] The second series premiered on 13 November 2016 on 9Go![17] The third series move to the ABC and premiered on ABC Me from 2 June 2018.[18]

On 28 April 2015, ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced that Tohokushinsha Film Corporation had acquired the television and licensing rights for Thunderbirds Are Go. The Japan broadcast for the first series was premiered in NHK (NHK General TV) on 2016-08-05 (as サンダーバード ARE GO).[19] French broadcasts were premiered in September 2015 on Canal J (as Thunderbirds[20]), followed by Gulli later this year (as Thunderbirds[21]), with Nelvana as French licensing agent.[22]

On 10 February 2016, ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced 13 episodes of Thunderbirds Are Go (series 1, split up) would premiere in the United States on Amazon Video on 22 April 2016.[23][24][25] The premiere of the second series at Prime Video was also announced.[26]

Canadian broadcasts premiered on CHRGD and Family Channel in April 2016.[27] Taiwan broadcast was premiered in PTS Taiwan on 14 September 2016 (as 新雷鳥神機隊[28]).[29] In Brazil, the show has broadcast on Gloob since 4 July 2016. In Latin America, the show broadcasts on Disney XD. The Nordic broadcasts were premiered in SVT (SVT Barnkanalen) in Sweden (as Thunderbirds[30]), NRK Super in Norway (as Thunderbirds[31]), DR (Ramasjang and Ultra) in Denmark (as Thunderbirds[32]), MTV Juniori in Finland (as Thunderbirds), with Alicom appointed as the Nordic licensing agent.[22][33]

The series was also premiered in TVNZ (TVNZ 2) in New Zealand, Noga in Israel (with LDI as the agent), MBC (MBC3) in pan-Arab (as ثندربيردز انطلق),[5][34] NPO Zapp in Netherlands, Télé-Québec in Canada (as Thunderbirds : Les sentinelles de l'air[35]),[27] ABC in Australia,[23] Ketnet in Flemish Belgium (with License Connection appointed as the agent for Benelux) (as Thunderbirds[36]), Minika TV in Turkey, Gloob in Brazil.[22] The Noga premiere began in summer 2015 on Kids Channel.[37] The TVNZ premiere began on 12 April 2015 on TV2.[38][39]

The second series' world premiere took place at BAFTA in London on 1 October 2016.[40]

The second series' world television channel premiere began 22 October 2016 on ITV, beginning with episode Earthbreaker.[41] CITV premiere began on 2016-10-23.[42]

China's broadcast was premiered on CCTV-14, starting with the first series on 15 May 2017.[26][26][43]

EpisodesEdit

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
126134 April 2015 (2015-04-04)20 June 2015 (2015-06-20)
1331 October 2015 (2015-10-31)23 January 2016 (2016-01-23)
2261322 October 2016 (2016-10-22)7 January 2017 (2017-01-07)
1330 September 2017 (2017-09-30)16 December 2017 (2017-12-16)
326931 March 2018 (2018-03-31)26 May 2018 (2018-05-26)
918 May 2019 (2019-05-18)13 July 2019 (2019-07-13)
8TBATBA

ReceptionEdit

Fans and critics reacted very positively to the new series.[44][45][46][47][48]. ITV started to air episodes at 8 am (other than the pilot, which aired at 5 pm). Series 2, however, has been airing the show at 4pm on ITV and repeat it the following day at 8:30am on CITV. From the episode Volcano on 30 September 2017, it aired on CITV's Scrambled on Saturday at 8:30am, with it being repeated on ITV the same day at 3:30pm.

Thunderbirds Are Go currently has a 7.2 rating on tv.com[49] and 6.9 on IMDb.[50]

AccoladesEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2015 British Academy Children's Awards[51] BAFTA Kids Vote - Television Thunderbirds Are Go Nominated
2016 British Academy Television Craft Awards[52] Original Music Ben Foster, Nick Foster
British Academy Children's Awards[53] BAFTA Kids Vote - Television Thunderbirds Are Go

MarketingEdit

Since 2016, ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) is launching consumer products programs for Thunderbirds Are Go at France, Benelux and the Nordics.[54]

Since 2016, Bernard Matthews has released a range of Thunderbird craft shaped turkey.[55]

As part of the second series launch in the UK, a fleet of five ThunderCabs taxis with Thunderbirds vehicle themes (including Thunderbirds 1-4, FAB 1) could be booked between 22 and 23 October 2016 between 9am and 5pm via the now-defunct Karhoo app,[56] with rides costing a flat rate of £1 for any journey within central London. All proceeds were donated to The Children's Trust, the UK's leading charity for children with brain injury.[42]

ToysEdit

On 13 May 2015, ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced its appointment of Vivid as its master toy partner in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.[57] As of Licensing Expo 2014, Vivid Imaginations had master toy licensee with worldwide rights, excluding US and Asia.[58]

On 24 April 2015, ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced tha Global Licensing (NZ) Ltd had been appointed as licensing agent for Thunderbirds Are Go in New Zealand. As part of the new deal, Global worked with Vivid Imaginations, the master toy partner for Thunderbirds Are Go, to appoint Planet Fun as the local distributor in New Zealand, which was expected to see toys roll out across the territory from S/S 2015.[39]

The Thunderbirds Are Go master toy line from Vivid Imaginations and distributed by HeadStart was launched in Australia in June 2015.[59] Additional toy rights went to Vivid France and Vivid Holland in respective regions, with Takara Tomy as Japan distributor.[22] The toy launches in France, Benelux and the Nordics began in September 2016, with TOPTOY as pan-Nordic distributor from late summer 2016.[33]

BoardgameEdit

An official Thunderbirds board game was published in 2015. Its designer is Matt Leacock (designer of the Pandemic boardgame). Three expansions for the core game were published in 2016: Above & Beyond, The Hood, and Tracy Island.[60]

AppEdit

An official Thunderbirds app was launched in October 2015 to accompany the second half of season 1.[61]

An official app was also released on 20 May 2015 as an add-on to the features on the website. This free app is available on both Google Play and Apple's App Store. Behind the Story developed the app.[62]

As of 2015, ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Miniclip planned the release of a Thunderbirds Are Go mobile game[63](as Thunderbirds Are Go: Team Rush[64]).

MagazineEdit

An official magazine was published by D. C. Thomson & Co. on 15 October 2015. It features comics, facts, puzzles and more. Each issue includes a free gift. The first six issues had small plastic replicas of Thunderbird 1 - 5 and Thunderbird S. After that the gifts were generic front-of-magazine gifts with Thunderbirds Are Go branding, such as notebooks and 'invisible ink' pens.[65]

License Connection became a representative for the brand in the Benelux territories and signed Meis & Maas as master publishing partner to launch a range of books and magazine formats in 2017.[33]

Home mediaEdit

Digital releasesEdit

All episodes are available to purchase digitally in full 1080p HD on Amazon Video and iTunes.

DVD releasesEdit

Region 2
Series DVD title Episodes Total running time Release date
1 Volume 1 1–13 286 mins approx 22 June 2015
Volume 2 14–26 286 mins approx 1 February 2016
Complete Series One 1–26 572 mins approx 1 February 2016
2 Series 2, Volume 1 1–13 286 mins approx 6 February 2017
Series 2, Volume 2 14–26 (22 omitted) 264 mins approx 5 February 2018
Region 4
Series DVD title Episodes Total running time Release date
1 Volume 1 1–7 162 mins approx 24 June 2015
Volume 2 8–13 133 mins approx 24 June 2015
Volume 3 14–20 162 mins approx 20 January 2016
Volume 4 21–26 132 mins approx 3 February 2016
Complete Series (Limited Edition) 1–26 574 mins approx 1 June 2016
2 Series 2, Volume 1 1–13 288 mins approx 5 April 2017
Series 2, Volume 2 14–26 (22 omitted) 264 mins approx 7 March 2018

Blu-ray releasesEdit

Region A
Series Blu-ray title Episodes Total running time Release date
1 Volume 1 1–13 286 mins approx 11 May 2016
Volume 2 14–26 286 mins approx 9 November 2016

Soundtrack releasesEdit

CD title Track count Total running time Release date
Volume 1 (Original Television Soundtrack) 57 77:20 4 December 2015
Volume 2 (Original Television Soundtrack) 52 78:09 24 November 2017

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit