5… 4… 3… 2… 1! Fans of a certain (advanced) age will remember the countdown from Thunderbirds—the British sci-fi series that both scared and fascinated countless kids with its creepily awesome puppetry. (The show—which ran from 1965 to 1966—spawned a couple of movies and presented a vision of the future that has so far eluded us.) Now, in time for the show’s 50th anniversary, comes word of a reboot—a joint project between the British ITV Studios and New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, the special effects company best known for its work on Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth epics.
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The series—about a wealthy astronaut and his children, members of a crisis-response team called International Rescue, an organization that responds to world crises—is best remembered for utilizing a puppetry technique called Supermarionation. (The show’s creator, Gerry Anderson, who died in December of 2012, had expressed disappointment with the 2004 live-action movie version.) The new remake, which is scheduled for a 26-episode broadcast in 2015, will combine live-action modeling and computer animation and has the working title Thunderbirds Are Go! The plot will remain much the same as the original’s, with the five Tracy brothers rescuing those in need by flying around in crazy planes.
And those who might be concerned about whether the new show will do justice to its original incarnation—those with the “how can it be Thunderbirds without puppets!?” impulse—still have reason to hope for the best: even though Weta Workshop is bringing its CGI expertise to the project, Weta co-head Richard Taylor has said that the original Thunderbirds was influential in his own childhood. “I personally, together with the teams here at Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, look forward to designing and creating an inspirational world that will engage the imagination of a whole new generation as it did for us nearly half a century ago,” he said.