‘Terrahawks’, Gerry Anderson’s 1980s return to puppets and model-based action adventure has always been an odd fish. The story of an Earth-based defence force taking on the repeated assaults of an Mars-based foe with a selection of specialist vehicles was deliberate mash-up of ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons’. It’s the fifth or sixth album where the band want to get back to their roots but instead create a piece that riffs on previous successes without the impact of the original.
Which isn’t to say that there’s no iconic moments to it. Zelda’s demented cackling, the animated intro (Rod Lord should sue), a homicidal teddy bear and the Zeroids vs Cubes. There’s also the equally frequent yet less well-remembered stuff: the dreadful puns, the singing career of Kate Kestrel that writer Tony Barwick seemed so keen to focus on and Doctor Tiger Ninestein, perhaps the most problematic character in it. The lead is as bloodthirsty as the enemy, obsessed with destructive video games, dismissive of his colleagues, even to the extent of racially abusing the poor Lieutenant Hiro.
Despite this, ‘Terrahawks’ somehow works. The latest Blu-ray release from Network has certainly picked on some of the best elements for its series one extras. There’s a new interview with Steve Begg and Terry Adlam who worked in the show’s model unit. Their love for their work is obvious, both children who’d grown-up with ‘Thunderbirds’ the chance to work on a Gerry Anderson production was a dream come true. Begg was responsible for generating much of the series’ concept artwork based on Anderson’s ideas, he then came on-board to help build the show’s models. Adlam, meanwhile, heard about the new series in a Slough pub, quit his packing job, blagged his way into Bray Studios and got himself a job on the show. Both men display an enormous love for the show they worked on and are, to this day, proud of what they accomplished. They cite the Overland Carrier as a particular triumph, explaining that the more it got blown-up, the better it looked.
The set’s other major extras include an interview with Richard Harvey, a musician formerly of the band Gryphon, who went on to produce the show’s music on his Fairlight CMI keyboard. Harvey’s interview is admittedly short but also very interesting. His disclosure that Anderson advised him to buy his own Bentley suggest that Gerry had picked up some of Lord Grade, his old boss’s bravura.
Other extras include ‘The Price Is Right’, a whole episode from the ‘Terrahawks’ audio series created by Big Finish and written by Gerry’s son, Jamie Anderson, and a music video for the rock band Glass Onion in which Major Zero makes an appearance alongside some other children’s TV favourites. There’s also a stack of FX reel clips to be enjoyed for those who enjoy watching raw model footage.
Finally, a note about the look of the episodes. The original negatives of ‘Terrahawks’ were lost or destroyed. As such creating an HD version of the series from film hasn’t been possible. The picture quality is better than that displayed in the previous DVD box set, but don’t expect a crystal picture like Network achieved with their Blu-ray of ‘Space: 1999’. The sound is undoubtedly better and the synths, ships and explosions all sound incredible.
‘Terrahawks’ is an essential part of any Gerry Anderson collection and I believe the clean-up and new extras make getting this Blu-ray version worthwhile. If you haven’t seen the series in a while then be warned…the puns are terrible.
(region 2: pub: Network. 2 disc Blu-ray 13 * 25 minute episodes 325 minutes. ASIN: B01CA3XEAC)
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