Remember Thunderbirds, the British series that uses “Supermarionation” to tell the story of a team of high-tech rescue workers? Here in America I saw the two movies, Thunderbird 6 and Thunderbirds Are Go (in that order although they came out in reverse order as well as some compilation movies) and the show received some rather odd re-edits in syndication and Fox Kids. Fox decided to redub the entire cast with American actors for some reason while Turbo Charged Thunderbirds added a villain supposedly behind the disasters (played by Tim Curry if memory serves, boasting to two children who for some reason were now in control of the Thunderbird 5 space station). It’s one thing to dub from a foreign language but slang terms aside England uses the same language we do.
Well apparently the show was popular enough in Japan that they decided to make their own take, Scientific Rescue Team Technoboyager or as we know it in the west, Thunderbirds 2086. Dubbed by ITC but not part of the Thunderbirds canon because the creators weren’t involved, 2086 takes place in guess which year. International Rescue has grown into a much larger operation and the Tracy family doesn’t appear to be involved. Instead a new team of Thunderbirds gather to save lives. In tonight’s offering the team must go against orders, which I’m not sure you should do in your first episode, in order to save a friend from a dying space station.
A recurring threat, Shadow Axis, would make trouble for the Thunderbirds as time went on, similar to The Hood on the original series. Otherwise it followed the usual story that International Rescue would go help those in life-threatening situations. The Technoboyager/Thunderbird ships are based on the original ships, although Thunderbird 6 is now the space station and there are a bunch more ships (Wikipedia claims 17 ships in total) than before. That’s not surprising since International Rescue isn’t the secret organization it was before and an official rescue team as opposed to their own team who prefers to let their deeds speak for them and hide the secrets of their advanced equipment, which is what the Hood was often after. This episode does a fair job introducing the main characters and the three ships used more often. In this version they are able to combine for easy transport, which is an interesting addition.
24 episodes were produced with only 18 of them airing on Japanese television. In the US this was released in syndication. I didn’t watch it all the time but if I stumbled on it now and then I would watch it. Nowadays a new Thunderbirds cartoon is airing on British television. From what I’ve read the show uses CG in place of the marionettes but still uses miniatures for vehicles and locales…which I don’t get but I haven’t seen it. The show is Anderson’s most popular work, and inspired a live-action movie…that we will never speak of again! It’s not very faithful and not very good. The show continues to have a large fanbase internationally, including Japan, and while this isn’t canon it seems like a decent addition to the franchise based on seeing this episode again. I don’t know if it was released on home video or who has the license now but it’s worth checking out at least once.