Thunderbirds-Volume 4 (1964)

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Released 9-May-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Tracy Family
Gallery-Photo
Trivia
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 192:43 (Case: 200)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Elliott
Desmond Saunders
David Lane
Alan Pattillo
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, advertising Thunderbirds merchandise before menu
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Thunderbirds Volume 4 is the third collection of Thunderbirds episodes that I've reviewed. The first volume I looked at was rather good, considering the age of the source material. The second was fine, if not quite up to the standards of the first. This one falls between the two.

    This volume contains another four episodes:

    There are a couple of conflicts between the story in Move and You're Dead and other episodes. This episode mentions Alan's previous retirement from motor racing, yet in earlier episodes we have been given to understand that he is not yet 18 (too young to drink in Perils of Penelope, for example) - motor racing is restricted to adults, I thought. Moreover, this episode mentions Granny coming to stay at Tracy Island, but she is already a resident in earlier episodes.

    There's a really gorgeous mistake in the same episode. Towards the end of the episode a car is shown being driven along a road. When we see it in long shot it is left-hand drive; when we see it in close-up it is right-hand drive. There are several shots of either type, so you have ample opportunity to confirm it for yourself.

    The only other glitch I have to mention is in Day of Disaster. We are told about how the rocket must be launched from England because of the position of Mars - a launch from Cape Kennedy (remember, this was made in the early 60s, so it was called Cape Kennedy) would have "problems". Considering that we are talking about a trip of tens of millions of kilometres, a difference of a few thousand kilometres is supposed to make a difference?

    Then again, we are talking about Thunderbirds - trying to pick out all of the technical glitches would be foolish. Sit back and enjoy the fun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer here is still not quite as good as Volume 2, but it's pretty 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.

    Sharpness comes in two levels. All the interior shots are sharp and clear, with good shadow detail and no low-level noise - there are films made in the last year or so that could learn from this. Almost all of the exterior shots are models, and the model shots have been been filmed, in many cases, at quite high frame rates, then slowed down for display so that the models seem to move as if they were full-size. Unfortunately, these higher frame rates give the film less time to expose, and yield more grain and reduced sharpness and less shadow detail. Additionally, some of the stock shots (Tracy Island, Thunderbirds in flight, ...) are used often, and the film has been printed repeatedly, yielding reduced sharpness. Add to that one or two shots which are horribly grainy (the opening shot of Edge of Impact, and the sky at 10:12 and 32:35 in Move and You're Dead), and you see that I have been fairly generous in my sharpness rating.

    There are lots of machines painted in solid colours: reds, greens, yellows - plenty of chances for colour to show, but 1960s film stocks can't capture colour as well as modern ones. So, colours are good, but a little less than fully saturated. It is not that the film is a bit faded through age, it is that the colours weren't captured by the original film.

    There are quite a few film artefacts, but they aren't really troublesome - mostly tiny flecks. There has to be aliasing, because the Thunderbirds milieu includes so many objects with parallel lines - grilles, flutes, grooves. The aliasing is quite well-controlled, and never bothersome. The only artefact that annoyed me was telecine wobble - perhaps because it is the most easily controlled. I must say, though, that the wobble was predominantly during the credits, and is unlikely to bother anyone not doing a review.

    The disc is single sided and double layered, but not RSDL-formatted. There is no visible layer change - they appear to have placed two episodes on each 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.

    The score is classic Thunderbirds. Barry Gray did all the music, and it is very consistent. It wouldn't be Thunderbirds without the music.

    The surround sound is quite nice, particularly given the original mono soundtrack. There are some good uses of the surrounds for ambient noise - bird calls, falling rocks, a nice sequence underwater in Day of Disaster.

    The subwoofer is used mostly for explosions, but that's OK - Thunderbirds always has explosions!

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

Extras

    The extras for this volume are less impressive than on previous volumes. The difference is mostly one of quality, rather than quantity.

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.

    I have meant to mention in earlier reviews that there is no separate Play command for each episode. Selecting an episode from the main menu brings up the scene selection for that episode. Pressing Enter starts the episode at the beginning, because Chapter 1 is highlighted.

Featurette - The Tracy Family (15:12)

    This is not as good as the previous featurettes. It is entitled The Tracy Family, but it only mentions Jeff (the father), and three of the five sons. It also talks about Brains and The Hood. Bit of a misnomer.

Original Promotional Stills

    This contains 8 stills used to promote, I think, the first Thunderbirds movie. They look like they were originally black-and-white, and have been re-touched unrealistically.

Merchandise

    Some black-and-white photos of Thunderbirds merchandise that came out in the 1960s.

Thunderbird Facts

    11 text sheets of "facts" (trivia) about Thunderbirds. This is a exact repeat 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.

    I described the situation in my previous review - Region 1, Region 2, and Region 4 are all getting different presentations of Thunderbirds episodes. It is not the usual case of getting comparable discs with an extra feature here and there. If you want to collect Thunderbirds episodes, then I recommend that you choose which region you want to collect, and stick to that region - you won't be able to mix'n'match. Choosing to collect our Region 4 discs will not be a mistake - we are getting decent transfers at a good price.

Summary

    These are some interesting Thunderbirds episodes on a decent DVD.

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

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are not as good as previous volumes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, June 03, 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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