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Category:    Home > Reviews > Terrahawks - The Complete Series (A&E DVD Set)

Terrahawks – The Complete Series


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Episodes: B-



Gerry Anderson had not done one of his Sci-Fi puppet shows in a dozen years and SuperMarionation had gone as far as it could go.  He never did get rid of the wires, until Terrahawks, which also marked a return to programming for younger children.  Taking from the many innovations that had happened on modeling, puppeteering, and the jump in special effects thanks to Star Wars, he introduced the SuperMacromation, which plays like a generation after Jim Henson’s many innovations after The Muppets.  Henson was still innovating at the time.


This time, Anderson was not working behind the protective walls of ITC and the big money of Sir Lew Grade, but with producer Christopher Burr.  Another change is that the show was shot in 16mm instead of 35mm, but the stock had improved a bit since the early 1960s and it gives the show a unique look it would not otherwise have, or any show will ever have again.  The absence wires on any of the characters makes for a whole new fantasy experience.


The teleplays to all 39 episodes were written under many silly pseudonyms by Anderson veteran Tony Barwick, featuring the same kind of futuristic space entity going up against dangerous invaders form another world, but the formula still runs well enough.  It is also a throwback to the earliest shows and marks a third generation of children’s programming for Anderson.


When the shows do not always have substantial stories or plots, they are interesting time capsules of a one-of-a-kind show that wants to combine Star Wars, Tron, Battlestar Galactica, the Gil Gerard Buck Rogers, and Disney’s The Black Hole.  Veteran directors like Alan Pattillo, Desmond Saunders, and Tony Bell returned, to be joined by one newcomer: Tony Lenny.  The titles to all 39 half-hour shows are as follows:


Expect The Unexpected (a two-part pilot)


Close Call

From Here To Infinity

Space Samurai

The Sporilla

Happy Madeday

Gunfight At Okay’s Corral

The Ugliest Monster Of All

The Gun

Thunder Path

Mind Monster

To Catch A Tiger

The Midas Touch

Operation S.A.S.

Ten Top Pop

Unseen Menace

A Christmas Miracle

Midnight Blue

Play It Again, Sram

My Kingdom For A Zeap

Zero’s Finest Hour

The Ultimate Menace


Ma’s Monster

Two For The Price of One

Child’s Play

Jolly Roger One


First Strike




Space Cyclops


Space Giant

Cold Finger

Operation Zero


The full frame 16mm 1.33 X 1 image shows it’s age a bit and these prints have scratches and artifacts here and there.  The “Hudson” Color by cinematographers Harry Oakes, B.S.C., and Paddy Seale pushes the smaller film stock to its limits and model shots are in exceptional focus.  The more advanced color stocks and formats of past Anderson shows are simply supplanted by the newer look of single-strip (aka tri-pack) color.  The producers can be proud that the show looks better than most kids shows made today and the minimal computer (and computer-like) animation has character that is amusing.  The craftsmanship of the SuperMacromation dolls are ingenious.  The show was a three-season hit in the U.K., but not the U.S., unfortunately.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has very healthy Pro Logic surrounds which are highly unusual for a TV series from 1982!  The score by Richard Harvey is different than Barry Gray’s score, especially in that it wants to sound like all the space music of the time.  Dialogue is very clear, esp3ecially for TV of the time.  Voice artists Windsor Davies, Denise Bryer, Jeremy Hitcher, Anne Ridler, and Ben Stevens were not the veterans of other Anderson shows, yet did a great job bringing new characters to life.


Extras include a great audio commentary on DVD 1 by Steven Begg on From Here To Infinity, where he gives us exceptional behind-the-scenes details on the show and how he went on to James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), including recycling a ship of the evil Zelda character here for that film’s hospital ship.  DVD 2 has father and son Tony and Bob Bell discussing two generations of working for Anderson on Gunfight At Okay’s Corral.  DVD 5 concludes the extras with text on the Terrahawks’ 10 codes, a slideshow narrated by Begg, text character descriptions, a history of the story that unfolds on the show, technical details on the main spaceships, and a stills gallery of the Bell’s return where the series was produced in the first place.


That makes for a nice package and hours of fun for kids and fans all around.  Several of the Anderson shows are being revived, beyond the live-action Thunderbirds for 2004.  After seeing this show, I strongly believe Anderson will be able to expand his legacy to a fourth and fifth generation of new programming.  With DVDs, it will hopefully never be forgotten.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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