And so let us begin 2021 with a series I’ve not reviewed before (guess what I got for Christmas).
Ah Thunderbirds the classic show by Gerry Anderson featuring use of puppets and model vehicles and sets… well ok looking it up that all of them, and this was… ok not going to count but… well let’s go with the second one in colour after Stingray.
Attack of the Alligators is one of the later episodes of season one. Opening up not on International Rescue (the name of the organization the Thunderbird vehicles belong to) but on a boat in a jungle river. The businessman Blackmer is being driven by Culp to see Dr Orchard who has a discovery he wants to show the businessman. Orchard lives in a large house in the jungle where he’s been studying the effects of substances on animals. In this case he’s discovered one called Thiamine which causes animals to increase considerably depending on how much they are exposed to.
Now I know what you’re thinking, Clearly Blackmer attacks the scientist to take the formula for him and make money. No the businessman here is completely innocent and guilt free willing to aid Orchard for the benefits to mankind this discovery could do.. Oh innocent times. No the villain of the piece is Culp who was listening in and under cover of darkness steals a sample while accidently knocking the rest into the sink sending it into the river. This results in the alligators in the jungle growing to almost Kaiju sized and they attack the house and the call is out for International Rescue to save the day.
I’m a little biased on choosing this one to start, I always remembered it as a child ( it was on Video I’m not that old) and of course this was the one I picked up when I was a child, GIANT ALLIGATORS! It was practically dinosaurs at that age (we now know they were much more like birds and had feathers, so parents if your children are drawing dinos that don’t have feathers, that is wrong).
The series with its models and puppet work has a charm to it; of course you can tell the alligators are destroying a small model house rather than Anderson having genetically engineered real giants. And you do notice they do whatever it takes to not show the puppets legs moving or avoid walking shots as much as possible. That’s not a critique against them, these were the best people at puppet work and even they couldn’t make that look right… stuff fun to make a joke or too mimicking the movements though, but we do it out of love.
The story gives a good amount of time introducing the people in peril without it feeling stretched out like some earlier stories, since early on they were going to be half hour so moving to 1 hour some of the first stories have bits that could easily have been cut. It doesn’t go deep into motivations or the such, it’s a good story with a rescue against an unusual danger and a tale that flows very well. We even get to see Thunderbird 4 in action which is one of the less widely used.
If you want to get into the original thunderbirds series (as opposed to the current CG one) this is definitely an enjoyable outfit that won’t at points leave you bored or wondering if it’s still the same episode as they have gone on a whole new adventure part way through. Just sit back and watch puppets try to survive as giant alligators attack them. Think Food of the Gods if the movie makers were more creative and didn’t just rely on giant rats all the time.