i’ve been doing these TBAG reviews for quite a while now, and yes it is still funny that it’s initials are TeaBAG. in, conspiracy theory: fact Gerry Anderson might have deliberately snuck that little easter egg catchphrase in deliberately!
anyway i’ve been reviewing it for a while now and scrutinising over all the bad bits and stuff but apart from the fireflash one and the constant complaints about poor use of the 20 min time slot, and the fact that nobody gets an attempt at rescuing themselves before the… ok i’ve made a lot of comparison complaints, but i try to compare it to more contemporary shows and let it stand/fall on it’s own merit.
what i’m trying to segway into here is that i’ve only watched some episodes of the original show, and only 3 recently (episodes 2 , 3 and 4)
so i’ve decided to review episode 4 of Thunderbirds: Terror in new york city to see if the show really was as good as 6(or however old i was)yr old me thought it was.
first off: that title, i kinda like it, a lot of the original titles are very dramatic like that.
the episode starts with scott and virgil stopping an oil derrick fire in some brown muddy place, which they do by driving a pod vehicle up to it and just blowing it up.
oh yeah i forgot to mention: thunderbirds had a huge budget for fire and explosives. but unlike in a michael bay film stuff blowing up remains cool. i think that that’s because none of it’s cgi.
anyway some news reporter guy (who has a cameraman called joe who stops talking halfway through the episode for no reason) wants to film them but in the 60s the thunderbirds had a strict anti camera policy, something to do with secret identities and not wanting the hood to steal their designs, and TB-1’s “camera alarm” goes off.
don’t try to work out how that works, i’m pretty sure they just borrowed it off star trek.
so scott EMPS the # out of the camera, this time EMPS work more like real physics, and flies off home. meanwhile virgil had already set off and comes into the radar range of an experimental missile ship called USS FUCK SHIT UP, the captain mistakes TB-2 for a weird ICBM and virgil, not bothering to radio the ship and identify himself, not that they ever bring that up, gets his ass handed to him by missiles.
fortunately scott gets to him and micromanages him from being totally destroyed (huh, i guess unplugged was right) and then jeff calls up DC and gets them to renew the blue beatl… wait wrong DC, gets them to call up the USS FSU and tell them to call off the attack. some missiles that they had already fired then explode mid air because… stuff blowing up!!
scott makes some line about how thunderbird 2’s reactor had better be on or it wouldn’t be able to pull up, thunderbird 2’s reactor is a fusion reactor, i’m sure you’d notice if it had kaputed scott, but fortunately virgil manages to pull up, limp back to base and crash.
unlike in unplugged at this point thunderbird 2 is now smouldering, smoking and the whole right side is ripped up. it’s a pretty bold move to just crash one of the damn thunderbirds and put it out of action but it’s kinda badass.
anyway, and we’re only just getting into the main plot of the episode, 40 minutes is a long time, meanwhile in new york some wackjobs decide that it’s a good idea to move the empire state building with a giant nuclear crawlerway and without any surveys of ground stability so that they can redevelop part of the city… which is a stupid idea and i cannot stress how stupid it is.
ted cook, the reporter from earlier reports on it live from right next to it…. STUPID STUPID STUPID! then a sinkhole opens up, ted and joe fall into it (and no one else, this whole episode has a grand total of 2 civilians in danger) but somehow despite falling i’d say 24 feet onto solid rock they’re somehow fine. then the empire state building falls onto them, shattering into a million pieces and somehow not killing them and somehow. somehow the gantry’s “atomic reactor” (which is what they call TB2’s fusion reactor in the cut away book) doesn’t breach containment and plasma heat/neutron bath everything also. that’s one point to TBAG due nuclear reactors being banned tech… except when they’re not ahem Singshot?, point lost.
WAIT! HOLD THE PHONE! you just destroyed the empire state building! that tops the TB-2 crash as the most dramatic thing to happen. and no, i don’t give a shit about 9/11, so it is not “too soon” to talk about towers blowing up in new york. and if you disagree then please give me your new york flat’s address and the number of an anthrax dealer.
(this is a joke, if you work for the FBI or NSA or CIA and see this CALM THE FUCK DOWN SIR!)
i think at this point if cameraman joe had heat vision and ted could build green legos with his mind i wouldn’t be surprised, talking of teds insert shameless plug for my webcomic the restless here, it has a character called ted who can’t build legos with his mind, and you can find it at the top of this site. that is all.
so it’s time to load up TB-2 with the mole and… wait there’s an underground river that the stupid architects overlooked huh? ok time to load up TB-4 into…
gordon is pretty daredevil about it and offers to submarine all the way to new york on his own, even though it’ll be too late and ted and joe will be dead from drowning at that point… yeah it doesn’t make sense that the underground river is filling their hole but neither does joe being quite considering that he’s VA’d by david graham of brains, parker and gordon fame. 2 of which appear in this episode.
oh and by the way brains isn’t stupid in this, he uses a map to explain where an underground river would have come from without anyone noticing (erosion and streams)
but i digress, the USS Fuck Shit Up owes them a favour so offers to give TB4 a lift. by the way thunderbird 4 can hovercraft itself over the TB2 runway, it doesn’t use this for anything else but it’s still kinda badass. and it’s ETA is 24 hours, unlike in the new series where they have no concept of the size of the world or the time it takes to traverse it.
meanwhile scott arrives at new york and sets up his 60s flashing lightbulb desk thing so that he can order Ted and Joe scuba gear so that they have 2 more hours of not drowning, which is what i was shouting at the computer screen 10 seconds before. isn’t it nice when things make sense for a change?
then the time they have left keeps dropping because Ted sucks at maths so by the time TB4 arrives they are halfway to it and don’t drown, another tower that doesn’t exist and has the stay puft man’s hat is about to fall over, adding to the suspense for no real reason seeing as there’s already a deadline and since TB1 doesn’t have a grapple hook in this show (but for some reason it does have a “machine cannon”) it falls over and… this episode is kinda badass. a huge part of new york destroyed, TB2 struck by missiles and crashed, oil towers being kaboomed, they really went to town with the NO, I AM NOT A TERRORIST OK, CALM YOUR INSECURE SPHINCTERS PEOPLE!!! explosions in this episode.
it falls over but joe and ted are safe, ted hosts a chat show in a wheelchair… even though he was fine swimming around earlier, and the tracy family show up in the studio audience to bask in their own glory anonymously… so that’s why they try to keep their identities secret
WAIT HIS NAME IS NED? how did i miss that?
overall i’d say that this episode was OK, not perfect. the ESB prop was a little flat and when the top cardboard box fell over before the bottom cardboard box leaving it looked a little fake with it’s flat lines but hey this was the 60s when tribbles were props so what can ya do. the “Move the empire state building” plot was a stupid idea, but it fails as such so i can’t complain.
the background music… well it stood out more than TBAGs does, when you hear the dramatic violin bongo score it’s kinda like the audio equivalent of action lines in a comic. kudos to Barry Gray, well deserved as the thunderbirds soundtrack is all pretty damn good, memorable and usually relevant.
as much as i’ve been complaining about the characters in the new series being bland but i’ll be honest i’m still not really sure as to the characters of scott and virgil tracy even after having watched part of the original series. even wikipedia seems to have hardly anything on them personality wise. so i guess that that’s in it’s detriment.
but overall i’d still put this as better than most TBAG episodes on account of there being real drama and not just occasional obstacles defeated in literally 5 seconds (excluding EOS of course).
oh and by the way: the CGI static mass of hair sucks compared to the Puppet hair.