Review for Terrahawks: Volume 2
Martians are invading! Martian androids to be precise, led by the evil Zelda. All that stands between her and the conquest of Earth are the Terrahawks, an elite group using advanced technology and their wits to defend the planet. Tiger Ninestein is their leader, second in command is Captain Mary Falconer, along with fighter pilots Kate Kestrel and Lt Hawkeye, while in orbit is Lt Hiro. Of course they also have their trusty Zeroid robots to fight alongside them, led by Sergeant Major Zero.
All thirteen episodes of season 2 are presented across two Blu-rays thus.
1. Mind Monster
2. To Catch a Tiger
3. The Midas Touch
4. Operation S.A.S.
5. Ten Top Pop
6. Unseen Menace
7. A Christmas Miracle
8. Midnight Blue
9. Play it Again, Sram
10. My Kingdom for a Zeaf
11. Zero’s Finest Hour
12. The Ultimate Menace
13. Ma’s Monsters
Terrahawks gets a 4:3 pillarboxed transfer at 1080i resolution, and 50Hz reflecting the original PAL transmission in the UK. It is quite obviously an upscale, most probably from videotape elements, as the image is soft and completely absent the clarity and crispness of a native HD transfer. It is however stable, with consistent colours, and absolutely no signs of compression to my eyes. In that last aspect, it will no doubt be superior to the DVD version of the same. Terrahawks comes from the Gerry Anderson stable of shows, and in terms of its mechanical effects, the wondrous collection of vehicles and machinery, it’s a spiritual successor of Thunderbirds, while the Zeroids and Cuboids make for visually appealing mascot characters, most typified by the end credit sequences. The show marked a move away from the marionettes in favour of hand puppetry, which has the immediate effect of doing away with the strings. It also allows for comparatively more expressive characters.
The sole audio track is a PCM 2.0 English track, which given the vintage of the show I would assume is mono. Certainly there’s no significant separation or discreet placement to the audio effects and music, although the typical home cinema Prologic treatment does open it up a bit. There is the rare moment of tape hiss though. The dialogue is clear throughout, and subtitles are provided should you require them. It’s all down to the casting and the performances, which aren’t bad, certainly more fun when it comes to the villains, although Ninestein’s faux American accent is obvious to me now in a way that it wasn’t at age ten. He sounds more like Kryten from Red Dwarf. The show’s real coup was in getting Windsor Davies to voice Sergeant Major Zero, the ‘head’ Zeroid. He creates a toned down (and slightly more politically correct) version of his It Ain’t Half Hot Mum character, and is easily the star of the show.
I did like the fiddly menus of series 1, the noughts and crosses grid where the Zeroids and the Cuboids played a game while you were led through the menus. But apparently free will is more important. The Zeroids and Cuboids are gone on these menus, all that is left is the 3 by 3 grid, and you can navigate at leisure through them. The downside is that it’s hard to tell what the episode order is at a glance.
We don’t do too badly in terms of extra features in this collection, beginning with Terrahawks Reunion. This lasts 9:58. It’s joined by The Voices of the Terrahawks (8:59) and Behind the Scenes: Recording the Audio Series (13:46), and in it three of the surviving voice cast reunite to record a new Big Finish audio series of the Terrahawks, and they also get to reminisce about the original show.
Just as in Season 1, you also get a bonus Big Finish audio episode, in this instance, Lights, Camera, Disaster, and it runs for 32:47.
That’s topped off with the trailer for the Big Finish audio series, and an advert for Zelda’s Christmas Album.
I realise how difficult it may be gathering extra material for a series 33 years old, but this set of extras does really begin to feel like a big advert for Big Finish audio.
There are some extra features for the original series though, including 9:48 of FX Trims, a 6:34 Wildtrack, with Windsor Davies as the Sporilla, and there is an Image Gallery slideshow for Season 2.
The second season is upon us, and perhaps I should have kept the nostalgia goggles on for this one too. I certainly didn’t have the glee at revisiting my childhood that I had with season 1, and as a result, my appreciation has waned, and I find that Terrahawks just doesn’t stack up as strongly this time around. The monster of the week format, with Zelda thawing out a new villain to wreak havoc on the Terrahawks just doesn’t sustain given modern sensibilities, although watching all of the shows in a bunch probably doesn’t help. The second season also really feels like the Kate Kestrel show, with the songstress getting a number in each episode, with the sense that the creators have a tie-in album to sell. In some episodes it feels natural, such as the one with the Interstellar Song Contest, but some episodes just have songs shoe-horned in.
Having said that, the episodes are at least entertaining for the most part, the stories tick along well, and the characters have their moments. Zelda’s consternation with her family is matched by the dry Ninestein’s sardonic exasperation with his underlings, particularly the Zeroids who he seems to actively dislike. Strange, as it’s the Zeroids who I like most in the show, especially the Sergeant Major, as well as 101, Dix-Huit, and 55. They have more screen presence than the ‘human’ characters, and with Kate hogging so much of the limelight, alongside the annoying Stew Dapples, series regulars like Mary Falconer, Hiro and especially Hawkeye fade into the background in this second season.
There are notable episodes though in this season, particularly the Christmas Special, which goes off on a really weird tangent, with echoes of Pearl Harbour, and especially the trenches of World War One, before getting downright Dickensian at one point. Another strong episode is the penultimate story in this collection, which sees the Terrahawks and Zelda actually having to put aside their enmity when a stronger, more destructive force approaches the solar system. There are also episodes notable for the wrong reason. The opening episode really does hark back to the sixties with its mind monster concept (a way to reuse season 1 footage), and things do get a little esoteric, but they also get a little tedious too. The aforementioned Interstellar Song Contest episode has the infamous Zelda rap! The final episode is the most ignominious of the bunch, a budget saving clip episode as Zelda reviews her monsters’ successes and failures so far, with only the season cliff-hanger serving to shock the audience back into wakefulness.
Looking at both seasons without the nostalgia, I do feel that the second season loses a little something in comparison to the first, as the consistency of writing just isn’t there. It’s still fun enough to watch though, and if you do still think fondly of the eighties, and feel the need to pay that decade a revisit, then the Terrahawks Season 2 on Blu-ray will serve quite well.