Thunderbirds-Volume 3 (1964)

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Released 9-May-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-Lady Penelope and Parker
Gallery-Photo
Gallery-Tracy Island
Trivia
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 193:01 (Case: 200)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Lane
Alan Patillo
David Elliot
Desmond Saunders
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case C-Button-Version 2
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 Yes, advertisements before menu
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Thunderbirds - Volume 3 is the second collection of Thunderbirds episodes that I've reviewed. The first was remarkable in its quality, and unfortunately that left a high water mark which this collection doesn't quite reach. That's not to say that these episodes are bad, just that the video quality isn't quite as good.

    This volume contains another four episodes:

    A Thunderbirds episode must have a life or death situation that can be addressed by the use of the unique abilities of the Thunderbirds machines; these are not exceptions. After all, how else would you justify the strident music?

    I do find it humorous that the Andersons went to the trouble of making many things quite futuristic, but transplanted 1960s cars (big bonnets, big boots), and TV show design (The Ned Cook Show) into what is supposed to be 2065.

    I must mention a failing in the foley work - there are what look distinctly like laser pistols in Perils of Penelope, but they sound just like conventional pistols.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    After reviewing Thunderbirds - Volume 2, I had very high standards for the video. This volume, although good, wasn't quite as good.

    Thunderbirds is a TV series made in the mid 60s - it is therefore presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and consequently not 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the transfer improves noticeably as you work through these episodes. The first one (Brink Of Disaster) is a little soft, but things do improve. As I mentioned in the previous review, interiors are generally quite sharp and clear (you can count the beads of "perspiration" on some faces!) but exteriors are generally softer, this being a consequence of the way the exteriors were filmed. Many of the model shots were filmed at very high frame rates (up to 120 frames/sec) so that they would appear to be moving slowly and ponderously when played back at 24 frames/sec. These high frame rates tend to result in more grain. Shadow detail is generally OK, but never wonderful. Low level noise is not a big problem.

    Colour is important here - we are dealing with exciting machines, so they must be painted yellow and red (and green, and silver). But we are talking about 1960s film stocks, so saturation is a bit limited. There's no bleed, but the colours are not overly vivid, either.

    Artefacts are more troublesome on this volume than the previous one. I saw far more film artefacts here, including some fascinating single frame things (see around 24:35 in Perils of Penelope, and 37:04 of End of the Road). Aliasing causes a few problems, particularly on Jeff Tracy's desk, for example, because of its parallel line design. There was some nasty telecine wobble, mostly in the first episode, but also in the credits of the fourth episode.

    The disc is single sided and dual layered, but not RSDL. There is no visible layer change - they have sensibly placed two episodes on one layer, and the other two on the other layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The only soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 5.1. There are no subtitles.

    Dialogue is clear and easily understood. There are no problems with audio sync, although spotting a sync problem with marionettes is difficult.

    The score is part of the Thunderbirds experience. I am fairly confident I could identify a Thunderbirds episode from the score alone - the fast, strident music when the climax is building - almost as distinctive as the Mission Impossible theme.

    One area where this volume surpassed its predecessor is in the area of surround sound usage. They have done rather a good job of using the surrounds, especially considering that the original material must have had a mono soundtrack. Sure, the surrounds aren't used all that often, but they are used effectively, providing ambient noises and surrounding sounds during rock falls, earthquakes, and so forth. The subwoofer is called upon to support both the score and the explosions. Lots of explosions!

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are impressive for a TV show made over 35 years ago. Not quite as long a featurette as we got on Volume 2, but good nonetheless.

Menu

    The menu is animated, with sound. The sound clip is fairly short, and rapidly gets irritating - definitely a case of make your choice and keep moving.

Featurette - Lady Penelope and Parker (14:08)

    This piece, although it does mention Lady Penelope, focuses mostly on Parker, her chauffeur and general henchman. There's a lovely description of how his voice came to be, and interviews with both Gerry Anderson and the voice actor.

Stills Gallery

    This contains 10 rather good stills from the episodes on this disc..

Tracy Island

    An interesting presentation of a large cut-away drawing of Tracy Island, with an optional overlay (press List) of labels identifying the various bits.

Thunderbird Facts

    11 text sheets of "facts" (trivia) about Thunderbirds. Some of this content is repeated from the previous volume.

R4 vs R1

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

    It is quite fascinating to look at the variations in packaging of Thunderbirds episodes around the world. Region 1 seems to be getting them packaged in sets of six episodes on two discs. Region 2 seems to be getting four per volume, on a single disc, as we are, but they get a different selection of episodes. Our cover art looks better, in my opinion.

    I have been told that we are getting the episodes in the order they were originally broadcast, while R2, on the other hand, is getting them in the order they were made. Makes it difficult to play mix'n'match with R2 and R4 discs.

    I'd suggest getting our versions - they are cheaper than importing.

Summary

    These are some good Thunderbirds episodes which have received an acceptable transfer onto DVD.

    The video quality is surprisingly good for mid 60s TV, but not quite as good as Volume 2.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are quite decent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, June 01, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). 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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