Thunderbirds to the Rescue (1981)

Article 3535 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-25-2011
Posting Date: 4-19-2011
Directed by Alan Patillo and Desmond Saunders
Featuring the voices of Peter Dyneley, Sylvia Anderson, Shane Rimmer
Country: UK
What it is: Puppet action

The members of the International Rescue Organization try to save an airplane from certain destruction in the form of a bomb, and then must figure out why aircraft have suddenly began disappearing mysteriously.

I’ve not seen the “Thunderbirds” TV series; I’ve only seen the two movie offshoots of it and this, a movie cobbled together from two episodes of the series. One thing that struck me when I was watching the movies and struck me again when I watched this was the way it tries to avoid feeling like a puppet show; it’s shot in such a way that you can imagine it wouldn’t look that much different if the show had been made with live actors. The two episodes edited together here are “Trapped in the Sky” and “Operation Crash-Dive”; the first one was the pilot for the series, and, if the IMDB ratings can be trusted, may be the best episode of the series, while the other one is a direct sequel to that episode, making it a good second episode to combine with the first. The first half is indeed the better episode, as it actually builds up a decent amount of suspense in the rescue effort, especially during final rescue attempt. One could argue that the characters are wooden, but character isn’t really the point; it was an action series, after all, and it keeps itself moving on that level. Things only really drag when the movie gets a little too enamored with its hardware, but that doesn’t happen frequently enough here to be a problem. Actually, it’s not a bad introduction to the series.

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