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Thunderbirds is a British science-fiction television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, filmed by their production company AP Films (APF) and distributed by ITC Entertainment. It was produced between 1964 and 1966 using a form of electronic marionette puppetry (dubbed "Supermarionation") combined with scale model special effects sequences. The series was broadcast by ATV between September 30, 1965 and December 25 1966, consisting of 32 episodes.

Background

"Thunderbirds"_The_Fox_Kids_Version_-_Introduction_(1994)

"Thunderbirds" The Fox Kids Version - Introduction (1994)

Opening to the Redubbed Version of Thunderbirds.

VCR_Attic_-_Fox_Kids_90s_ad_Thunderbirds_are_go!

VCR Attic - Fox Kids 90s ad Thunderbirds are go!

August 1994 FOX Kids Commercial Advertising the series.

See also: Turbocharged Thunderbirds

The resurgence in Thunderbirds popularity during the early 1990's was certainly not lost on ITC America. Hoping to capture the same success as seen in England and Australia, a decision was made to purchase rights to the series, subsequently adapting it to the U.S. syndication market. This would have theoretically bolstered sales for the planned Tyco toy line, and serve as a lead-up to the ultimately abandoned 1990's film project.

ITC America redubbed the original series with different voice actors, replaced the original music score with a score by Randall Crissman, and shortened the episode runtime from 45 minutes to 20 minutes. This resulted in much more compact plots, though came at a price; the majority of both character and story development were reduced or cut entirely. The dub was of exceedingly poor quality in comparison to the original voices, with only 3 male voice actors and 1 female redubbing the episodes, seemingly done in one take (In one episode the voice actor for both Jeff and Virgil Tracy can be heard taking a quick breath between changing voices).

The series premiered on FOX Kids' Saturday morning lineup in July 1994. While ratings for the series began strong during its premiere, it later went into a spiraling descent before being pulled from syndication roughly a month later.[1] ITC placed blame primarily on FOX's decision to chop episodes down for a half-hour format, resulting in butchered storylines. It was believed that broadcasting Thunderbirds in its original hour-length format would prove impractical, given the perceived short attention span of the target audience. Further problems included censorship, with many important scenes (featuring the characters smoking, drinking, bleeding, depictions of subservient minorities, and any major explosions) being deemed 'innapropriate' and ommited under FOX's broadcast standards. ITC would go on to adapt the series again with Turbocharged Thunderbirds, in an apparent attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

There is no surviving complete list of which episodes were used as source material. Some sources (including The Complete Book of Thunderbirds) detail the number as being thirteen. This would make sense, as thirteen is usually the minimum for a television series to get off the ground, and twenty six for syndication. However, it is debatable whether all thirteen were even broadcast. Due to abysmal ratings and shifting timeslots, only eight episodes are known to have been shown, four of which were briefly released on VHS in the United States by Polygram Video. While it is possible some regions of the United States had the series rate stronger and continue broadcasting, this is highly unlikely.

Cast

  • Dena Mauer
  • G.A. King
  • Scott Brotherton
  • Michael Gibbons

Notes

  • Episodes 1, 2, 4, 5, 11, 13, 16 and 24 are the only episodes known to have aired.
    • Canadian company Malofilm released several episodes, many of which were part of the Fox Kids line-up, on VHS around the same time in their original one hour format. These tapes may provide a clue as to the remaining episodes (10, 15, 22, 25, 26).

Transmission

Date(s) Channel Country
1994 FOX
(FOX Kids)
United States United States

Video Releases

Distributor Year Format Contents Region Country
Polygram Video 1994 VHS.jpg Episodes 1, 2, 5, 13 NTSC United States United States
4 Volumes

See Also

References

  1. 'Thunderbirds' gets million-dollar makeover. Archived from the original on November 7, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2019.

External Links

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