Bit off topic for this blog but some things make me so angry. The news that the new Thunderbirds Series in 2015 will be made in half an hour episodes shown on the childrens channel. Never has anything so wonderful emerged since from the Slough Trading Estate.
The key breakthrough with Thunderbirds was that unlike its supermarionation predecessors it was designed as a prime time show designed equally for adults as well as children. It should be on on Saturday nights to compete with the equivalent of Dr Who and Merlin.
Secondly a key element of the success of the show was it lasted 50 minutes. The pilot was only 25 but Lew Grade was so impressed with the pilot that he ordered it extended to 50 minutes to build dramatic tension. This was a problem as half the series was in the can. This forced a number of changes to pad the episodes out. Very long opening and closing titles, extended sequences of the Tracy family entering the Thunderbird, of the pod being slid for TB2, and the famous launch sequence, the repetition of which children loved and looked forward to most. It also required extended dialogue and much deeper characterisation than its predecessors. Without these changes I don’t think TB would have been the success it was. At 25 minutes there will not be time for any of this.
You could argue that modern audiences have lower attention spans and want faster editing. I don’t buy that for a moment. TB is famous for its slow editing which sucked kids in to its immersive world with its famous rolling road sequences of FAB1 etc. Given that today both adults and kids can watch an entire box set in one afternoon I don’t buy there is no patience for anything other then bourne speed editing.
Of course some things need updating. Only the design of TB2 is such a classic it can little be tampered with – reality in terms of the desig of super heavy lifters has now copied the TB designers. Whilst retaining the dart design of TB1 it needs now to look like something made out of composites by Burt Rutan. TB3 was based on a Soyuz launch rocket and now needs to look like a single stage to orbit ramjet. TB4 was always a naff design and too small, whilst TB5 is imply redundant no need this day and age for someone to live in a communications satellite, so the remakers can be bold and redesign a new TB5 (probably road based, harsh environments).
More can be made of the Tracy family. Surely the world would be fascinated by how the worlds most famous astronaut and first man on Mars now is a recluse in the middle of the Pacific with his sons wasting their lives as playboys – boy if only they knew. Also a sophisticated audience today would seek answers as to how the Tracy boys maintains their secret identities and how the TBs are secretly made and maintained (my guess robots). The claw also needs to be fleshed out, his motivation to steal the TBs and do down international rescue needs to be stronger. Perhaps he needs to be a thwarted extortionist or terrorist and he needs to have a supporting cast of thugs with their own high tech (im thinking about the toy market).
Lady Penelope also needs to be fleshed out as the real star of the show. We no longer are so stuck with rigid puppets that all she could do is poor tea. She can now be a posh superspy/agent that through her atlesticism (think Jennifer Ennis with Hing kong Martial arts skills) that she often saves the day. Indeed I will make her an Olympic Gold Medal winning modern pentathlete and role model to little girls everywhere but more than for just her taste in pink.