I suspect I’m the wrong generation for Terrahawks – I was 20 when the series premiered, and I can remember hoping for a return to form from Gerry Anderson, another show that would be up there with Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and UFO. I can still recall the disappointment I felt when I realised that this was clearly aimed at a younger audience than the shows had been in recent years, and although I caught the odd episode across the run, it really wasn’t something I actively sought out.
However, Jamie Anderson’s enthusiasm for the show is palpable whenever you hear him talk about his father’s work, and I hoped that that would come across in this set of eight stories which he has produced for Big Finish – which it has.
As with the series itself, the octet of tales are very varied in tone – from unsubtle parodies of Wonga or The Terminator to a couple of stories which delve a little deeper into some of the mythology of the show. Tiger Ninestein doesn’t always come across as a particularly pleasant character, and the whole clone aspect is discussed with some moral arguments that feel slightly incongruous given the nature of the stories either side!
For those who don’t know the set-up, Anderson has penned an opening episode which introduces us to everyone, as well as the tech, the secret bases, and the conflict between Earth and Zelda. Thereafter, it’s as if there’s been no break in hostilities: you won’t know going in to an episode whether it’s going to be serious or broadly comic, or whether you’ll be subjected to a barrage of terrible jokes. (And I’m not going to give you any hints either…)
The surviving original cast reprise their roles, and after a little initial hesitation, it doesn’t seem as if there’s been 30 years between recording sessions. Windsor Davies isn’t working anymore, so Sergeant Major Zero has been recast… but you really wouldn’t know! Beth Chalmers steps into Anne Ridler’s roles admirably, and Martin Montague’s sound design incorporates the original Anderson effects well, as well as expanding the audioscape to give the battle scenes some depth. The homage to the original series continues with the use of Richard Harvey’s music – but if a volume 2 does happen, maybe music in that style rather than the constant use of the same themes might be a good move?
It’s clearly been a labour of love for Jamie Anderson to revive the series, and it shows. Terrahawks won’t be to everyone’s tastes, and unlike some BF revivals – e.g. The Tomorrow People or Sapphire and Steel – this doesn’t expand the format much beyond what could have been made for the screen. However with a nice incorporation of Gerry Anderson himself into the closing story, it’s certainly a very fitting tribute to the show.
Verdict: Stay on this channel for a well-produced return to 2020! 7/10