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'Thunderbirds' returns: F.A.B. or a big mistake?

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Dust off your homemade Tracy Island playset - the Thunderbirds are set to go again in 2015. Gerry Anderson's classic children's series is to be revived and revamped "using a unique mix of CGI animation and live-action model sets" for 26 new half-hour episodes, to air on ITV and CITV in two years' time.

News that an old favourite - particularly a kids' show we feel all warm and nostalgic about - is to be tampered and tinkered with always leads to a little trepidation, but having had a day to absorb it, the Week in Geek is going to consider whether a Thunderbirds revival should fill us with dread or with childish glee...

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The Creator of the TV show 'Thunderbirds' Gerry Anderson says farewell to two of his most famous puppets, Lady Penelope and Parker at Planet Hollywood in London (2001)

© PA Images / Yui Mok/PA Archive



If I'm honest, my first thought upon hearing tell of this Thunderbirds revamp was of Gerry Anderson - the televisual genius who not only created the aforementioned show, but also such 'Supermarionation' classics as Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Stingray and live-action cult favourites UFO and Space: 1999.

It's unclear how much input Anderson might have had into this new Thunderbirds prior to his sad death in December - hopefully it's the same show he'd been fervently working on for the past few years...

But either way, a Thunderbirds series without Anderson at the helm just feels wrong - and while I'm aware that the show won't actually premiere for another two years, to announce this revamp little more than a month after his death could be seen as a little tasteless.



And beyond the specifics of Anderson's involvement, let's not forget what happened the last time someone tried to revive his best-known show - Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes might have proved his worth at the helm of the Starship Enterprise, but helming a 2004 film adaptation of Thunderbirds was a different matter entirely.

A misfire on practically every level, the Thunderbirds movie shouldn't be taken as an indication that this new revival is doomed to failure, but it should be considered a stark warning of how badly such a project *could* potentially go.

But let's look at the flip-side of the argument - perhaps, as Busted so implored in their tie-in hit 'Thunderbirds Are Go', we should "stop the hating". Whatever our reservations, there's no denying that the core concept of Thunderbirds remains fertile ground for a children's adventure series.

While there's a natural instinct to flinch at the idea of those iconic puppets being replaced with soulless CGI creations, if ITV retains the elements that made the original show so successful - the high-tech gadgetry, the square-jawed heroes, Lady Penelope's pink limo - and then uses the latest technical wizardry to jazz things up visually for the latest generation of demanding pre-teen viewers, then they could very easily have a hit on their hands.

Thunderbirds has a built-in fanbase and any new series will have to appease the die-hards as well as appeal to new viewers - one of the biggest mistakes that the 2004 film made was to stray too far from the original concept of Anderson's work. If you change Thunderbirds too much, then it's simply not Thunderbirds anymore.



And since we've brought up that movie misfire again, it's only fair to mention the closest equivalent to this new Thunderbirds series - the CGI revamp of Captain Scarlet that aired for 26 episodes in 2005.

While most agree that Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet wasn't a patch on the original, the show actually went down pretty well with young viewers and Anderson aficionados alike, all things considered.

So perhaps there is hope for a Thunderbirds revival after all - just don't try to fix what ain't broke and tamper with a format that worked so well in the 1960s. It's the least that Gerry deserves.

Are you excited for a Thunderbirds revamp? Or do you think it will damage the legacy of the original? Share your thoughts below!

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