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Thunderbirds Vol. 4
Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 200 mins . G . PAL


Ooh, more exploits of the Tracy family to curl up with, and lots of the gorgeous chubby green Thunderbird 2 to marvel at too, what more could we ask for? Here’s what’s in store with this volume…

Day Of Disaster: After a rather feisty storm, some are questioning whether the Allington Bridge is still structurally sound. When it collapses under the weight of a Martian space probe on the way to its launch site, sending the rocket and its two engineering occupants plummeting to the riverbed, they get their answer. The crash has caused the rocket’s automatic countdown timer to activate – if it reaches zero it, and its occupants, will go KABLOOEY! Brains (having some R&R in England), Lady Penelope and Parker speed to the scene, and call in TB 1 and good old TB 2 (with TB4 in her belly) just in case. It’s then up to International Rescue and their FAB toys to clean up after a failed rescue attempt using cranes.

Edge Of Impact: Nefarious bad dude The Hood makes his return, hired by one General Bron to destroy the new experimental Red Arrow fighter planes. One down, and Colonel Tim Casey is at a loss as to what went wrong, so what the hey, it’s time to visit his old mate Jeff Tracy – sending the entire Tracy clan into IR cover-up mode. Meanwhile, the second Red Arrow isn’t faring any better than the first, The Hood’s sabotage operations sending it careening into a TV tower, trapping two technicians in the badly damaged structure. It looks like it’s time for International Rescue, but how can their funky craft take off without their visitor seeing? No problem, Tin Tin takes him diving and TB1 and TB 2 are away.

Desperate Intruder: It’s treasure hunt time! Brains and Tin Tin trek (well, hop a lift in TB2 actually) to Egypt to rendezvous with one Professor Blakely in search of buried treasure (to donate to a museum, of course). Ah, but keen for revenge (and for a taste of the booty) The Hood is hot on their trail, with much thanks to his psychic connection with Kyrano. Tin Tin and Blakely are knocked out while poor Brains is kidnapped and buried up to his neck in sand, but he does manage to get a signal to IR and the old stalwarts TB1 and TB2 are despatched to save the day yet again. Brains later finds the treasure, but comes face to face with The Hood yet again – this time underwater.

Move And You're Dead: So why are Alan and Grandma stuck on a bridge with a bomb and unable to move? Well, it all started with a car race… Given the task of testing Brains’ new racecar, Alan ends up entering a race against his old racing days nemesis, Victor Gomez, who isn’t exactly the most sportsmanlike driver to ever grace the motor sport world. Incensed at being beaten, and desperate for the plans to Brains’ invention, Gomez plots revenge on Alan, poor Grandma just being in the wrong place at the right time. Old faithfuls TB1 and TB2 are on their way again, can they save the two before they’re blown into infinitesimal little bitty bits?


The Thunderbirds is around 35 years old, and in its journey onto DVD it shows in many ways, but not so much in others. There are many of the visual nasties you’d expect such as speckles and grain, the latter occurring more frequently in the outside scenes, whereas the internal puppe- sorry, Supermarionation stuff is generally of much higher quality. This is generally due to re-use of the same footage with alarming regularity (establishing shots of Tracy Island etc), plus techniques used to film dinky little models and make them come to the screen looking real. Aliasing is also often an issue, and the colour generally has that almost lovable slightly washed out old-fashioned look to it, however as I have pretty much said in all my previous reviews of the Thunderbirds DVDs, anybody casting an overly critical eye on these considering their vintage, and the generally pretty fab way they have scrubbed up, may just be expecting a wee bit much.

After recently blowing my lifetime’s budget for toys by updating my home theatre gear, this was my first chance to fully rock out to the remastered Dolby 5.1 sound that has been bestowed upon the series. Whilst not an incredibly earth shattering experience, the many, many explosions the show always serves up do have an extra magical quality when they make the room shudder. Considering the audio was originally mono, the work done here is quite wonderful, with some subtle surround use rounding things out most nicely.

So what’s in store for us within the ‘Super Features’ section this time? Well, for starters I can’t fail to mention the animated menus, which as always are superb, if a little annoying when they reset as it takes control away from you momentarily. Next is another featurette, 15 minutes in duration and supposedly about The Tracy Family. I say supposedly as it focuses on Jeff Tracy, then only three of the five sons before descending into information about Brains and The Hood! It is also very heavy on rehashing footage from the actual show, in fact interviews with the likes of director and writer Alan Pattillo and voice o’Brains David Graham don’t pop up until towards the end. Next are the Promotional Stills, a mere eight shots from the Thunderbirds Are Go movie, in such vivid colour that it looks like Andy Warhol was let loose on them! Plummeting along, we get to Merchandise, which sadly doesn’t live up to its potential by showing only six black and white stills of funky ‘60s Thunderbirds labelled things such as brekkie cereals, Dinky cars and even lolly cigarettes. Finally there are the same old Thunderbirds Facts that have graced the previous three volumes. In all this would easily be the worst batch of ‘super’ features in the series so far, which is disappointing.

Being the fourth disc in a series, if you haven’t shelled out for any of the first three volumes then you probably shouldn’t go for this one as a collection starter. The extras aren’t nearly as good as previous efforts, and the strange choice of order of episodes for the series has left what some could see as rather odd continuity errors as you progress through the episodes. Like its sister release, Volume Three, this disc also features a minute and a half of ads on inserting the disc, they are able to be skipped, but this is still a decidedly dodgy move in my opinion. Still, I guess The Hood would be proud...

So, collectors go nuts, however casual acquaintances would probably be better served by checking out Volume One and seeing if The Thunderbirds has the same magical effect on you as seemingly most of my g-g-generation.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Not the greatest disc in the series so far, but still heaps of fun for most anybody from my g-g-generation..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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