Hate’s a very strong concept, not one to bandy about without some reflection. When you’re small, though, it’s totally fine. I hated Jeff Tracy. Never mind that he was the philanthropic head of a totally cool secret organisation that used impossibly cool vehicles to rescue children from wells, he just grated on me. It’s tempting to suggest that it was the ever-present spectre of “This is great Jeff, but What’s This All Actually About?” that hangs over Thunderbirds that made me dislike him (I vaguely remember an episode where some guy gets himself locked in a safe or something – it was probably his own fault, almost certainly on a Friday, and yet still…), but that wouldn’t have fussed me. I didn’t care that he was always sending his kids really close to the centre of the earth or really close to the sun, so long as they did the bit with the bed slide, or used a different pod. So what was it?
Jeff dressed stupid, always kinda took the credit for everything going well, and christened a biplane Thunderbird 6. Maybe that was why I didn’t like him. An entire movie that promised millions of excited kids the reveal of some cool new machine, and Jeff ends it by effectively telling the audience that it was all a big waste of time, that he’ll settle for the Crunchie ‘plane, now go home because that’s pretty much everything over and done with.
Did his kids like him? He made them say ‘fab’ every time they understood anything, and not when they were just in-and-around the house, in that typical ‘tolerated family joke’ situation. Actually in the field, when there were other scientists, dignitaries and rescue personnel present. You’ve lived on an island with your brothers for years, and just when you finally save a beautiful lady scientist (from a malfunctioning lava monitoring lava-dingy, say), you have to ‘do the catchphrase’, and then confirm that your Dad made you say it. Haha.
He also popped his son John in a space station to conduct a ‘lone vigil’, monitoring the planet for distress signals. Because there’s only going to be one or two of them, right? International Rescue were probably always internationally rescuing people trapped in the-cave-of-the-week (i.e. bank vaults, tower blocks, actual caves) because John couldn’t handle listening to all the actual emergencies going on. Alan went up once or twice, but I don’t recall anyone caring that much about Alan.
I’m losing my ire for Jeff a little, so let’s have a break? You might be struggling to remember Thunderbirds, so here are some episode synopsis, pulled directly from Wikipedia, to refresh your memory –
– The Duchess of Royston has fallen on hard times and her friend Lady Penelope enlists the help of Jeff Tracy. The Duchess and her sole asset — Portrait of a Gazelle, painted by Braquasso — come under threat and it is down to International Rescue to save them both. Why?! No they don’t!
-The Skythrust, designed by Brains, falls into the hands of fashion madmen who take over the plane in order to steal a new French design from François Lemaire. I actually like the idea of fashion madmen. I would watch this one.
-World Navy trials of atomic torpedoes inadvertently threaten the lives of the crew of the large offshore Seascape rig. Jeff, having been invited by Lady Penelope to join her on holiday in Australia, puts Scott in charge of IR and Alan at the helm of Thunderbird 1. Haha! Jeff…
You’ve probably pegged by now that I didn’t exactly try to draw an accurate likeness of the puppets (or ‘the Tracy family’, if the idea of Thunderbirds not being about a real family upsets you). Two reasons, the first being that they just looked a bit drugged up, all big eyes and wiiide mouths. The second? I challenge you to Google ‘Alan Tracy’ and not come out the other end at least slightly angrier. His face is bad enough in itself, but coupled with the fact that Alan was the ‘rebellious young tearaway’ character who the kids were supposed to like makes him, as per the natural way of things, almost unbearable. The minute you knew it was an Alan episode was a depressing one. He almost ended up in the sun one time.
Who does the text in the above strip belong to – Scott, or Jeff? Either way, I’m just trying to distract you from my inability to draw the same thing twice, as well as neatly come back to my dislike of Jeff Tracy. But is there anything more to say? You can’t be angry at children’s television for long. Jeff had stupid hair, and why did he have a desk in the living room? Yeah, that’s all I have. Have a great summer!