Terrahawks Vol3 – Review
by Roger Crow
The last time I saw Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr’s series Terrahawks it was 1983. The impression it made was not good and I gave up after a few episodes. But fuelled by a lifelong passion for Anderson’s work, and with series three being released on Blu-ray, I decide to give that third run a first look.
There are inevitable comparisons to Thunderbirds, Anderson’s landmark series whose high-level effects, cool designs and often thrilling stories set the bar so high in the 1960s, the producer and creative genius had a hard time topping it.
Terrahawks marked Anderson’s return to puppet animation after live action offerings UFO and Space: 1999 in the 1970s. Obviously, technology had come on in leaps and bounds in the years since and while it’s often impressive to see the plastic protagonists interacting without wires, it seems all the money went on the technology and little on the scripts.
It doesn’t help that the characters are so dull, with tortuous bird-related names like Kate Kestrel and Mary Falconer. Kate’s a part time singer, which gives her an excuse to record terrible pop songs in-between missions. And the villains are even worse. Zelda, the android crone, is more annoying than menacing, while her family of evil sidekicks make me yearn for the halcyon days of Thunderbirds’ The Hood or Captain Scarlet’s terrific Captain Black.
“For the new generation hooked on 21st century Thunderbirds, it’s worth a look”
I’m not sure what age the show was aiming for. Anywhere between five and 15 I’m guessing. The arrival of an evil half-female, half-male android baby with a German accent is so bizarre, not least because it dresses like royalty from the Victorian era.
On the plus side, some of the action scenes, such as a tank rolling through a minefield are well executed, and Windsor Davies’s vocal work shines as the leader of bouncing robot heroes the Zeroids.
There are flashes of genius here, but unlike most of Anderson’s earlier output, which seems to be driven by good stories first and then outstanding effects work and action scenes, Terrahawks looks like a show created by committee.
Made in an age when video games fever was all the rage, it’s desperately trying to appeal to Space Invaders fans, lovers of pop music and retain elements of Thunderbirds. Alas, without a catchy theme by regular collaborator Barry Gray, even the opening and closing titles are yawn-some.
It might not work, but as a fellow Gerry fan put it after he found out I was watching one of his least favourite shows: “Any Anderson is better than no Anderson”.
For the new generation hooked on 21st century Thunderbirds, it’s worth a look. But given the choice I’d rather re-watch Captain Scarlet, whose 50-year-old adventures still look better than anything being made today.
Terrahawks: Vol 3 (U) is available on Blu-ray and DVD on 8 May 2017, RRP £19.99, courtesy of Network Distributing.