Thunderbirds-Volume 1 (1964)

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Released 14-Mar-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Featurette-Thunderbirds-The Machines
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 196:49 (Case: 200)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alan Pattillo
Desmond Saunders
David Elliott
David Lane
Carlton Entertainmnt
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Barry Gray

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis


    Thunderbirds Volume 1 is the first in a series of collections of Thunderbirds episodes. I have already reviewed Volumes 2, 3, and 4. It is nice to finally get the chance to review the first volume in the series. I never did get to see the start of Thunderbirds when I watched it on TV, so the first couple of episodes were new, and a bit of a surprise.

    This volume contains four episodes:

    I was surprised to see that The Hood, perhaps Thunderbirds only on-going foe, featured in the first episode. He places a nicely labelled bomb on a supersonic (Mach 6) airliner in an effort to get the Thunderbirds craft to come to the rescue so he can uncover their secrets.

    During the first episode we learn that Jeff Tracy was one of the first men on the moon (bear in mind that this episode was made in 1964, well before 1969 and Neil Armstrong / Buzz Aldrin).

    These first few episodes are a little bit formulaic - Thunderbird 1 dashes to the scene, determines the rescue gear needed, and summons Thunderbird 2 carrying said equipment. They streamlined this process somewhat in later episodes, but it is nice to see it in operation here. We also get to see some different things, like the Babel in Thunderbird 5, where many different languages are being monitored automatically - this is dropped from later episodes.

    The very first episode seems to have received extra-special treatment. Its soundtrack is very high quality, with a stronger surround presence. 

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Transfer Quality


    This volume of episodes is in particularly good shape.

    Thunderbirds is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced - absolutely standard for a 1960s TV series.

    Sharpness is very good indeed, particularly on interior shots and close-ups. Exteriors are generally model shots, and are consequently somewhat grainier. Model shots were mostly filmed using cameras running at high frame rates so they could be slowly down to make the models appear more ponderous and large. Shadow detail on interiors and close-ups is fine, but is a little restricted on exteriors. I saw no low-level noise.

    Colour - lots of it, in various primary shades (TB2 is green, TB3 is red, and so on). None of the colours are fully saturated. I blame this on standard 1960s film stocks, which usually resulted in colours that looked a little washed out.

    There are a few film artefacts - the occasional hair, or fleck - but generally speaking the source material is in very good condition. I noticed that some of the stock shots (the launch of Thunderbird 1, the pan in on Tracy Island) looked better, especially in the first episode - I guess they were new, and therefore artefact free. There's some aliasing, but it is not too distracting. There appear to be no MPEG artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single sided, dual layer, but does not appear to be RSDL - I am fairly sure that they've placed two episodes on one layer, and the other two on the other layer, thus avoiding any need for a layer change in the middle of an episode.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The only soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue is clear and easily understood. There are no problems with audio sync, but it isn't too easy to see an audio sync glitch on puppets.

    There's some noticeable distortion during the opening credits of each episode - I think the final explosion hits the limits of their recording system.

    The music is by Barry Gray, the composer of the Thunderbirds theme, and of all the music that was so much a part of the Thunderbirds feeling.

    The first episode, more than any other, makes extensive use of the surround channels. It has lots of split surround effects - nice stuff. The other three are good, but this one is quite special. I suspect they gave it special attention when remastering the sound.

    The subwoofer gets a major workout on every Thunderbirds episode. There are no exceptions here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are fewer extras on this Volume, but they aren't bad.


    The menu is animated, with sound.

Featurette - Thunderbirds The Machines (10:30)

    I was surprised to learn in this piece that Gerry Anderson didn't much like Thunderbirds 3 and 5, nor John Tracy.

Stills Gallery

    This contains 13 stills from the episodes on this disc..

Character Profiles

    A one page introduction to each member of the International Rescue team, plus The Hood.

Thunderbird Facts

    The same 11 text sheets of "facts" (trivia) about Thunderbirds that are present on each Volume.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Thunderbirds episodes are being released in R1, R2, and R4, but the volumes differ as to the episodes they contain. Basically, you cannot collect a full set by mixing volumes from different regions. I recommend collecting discs from a single region, and I'd suggest collecting Region 4 - they are the cheapest, and somewhat better resolution, being PAL rather than NTSC.


    These are interesting Thunderbirds episodes which have received a nice transfer onto DVD. The first episode is particularly interesting.

    The video quality is quite good for mid 60s TV.

    The audio quality is rather good, especially for the first episode.

    The extras are acceptable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, August 01, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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For the big kids too ! - hughseee