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''Thunderbirds'' Return

The puppet TV series gets revamped for a new generation

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The good news: International Rescue is back in business. The Fox Children’s Network has dusted off Thunderbirds, that seminal 1960s sci-fi series about a team of marionettes who roam the globe, saving other puppets from jet crashes, towering infernos, and undersea disasters. Filmed in ”supermarionation” (which means the wires are almost invisible), the British show first landed in America in 1967 and was a proto-nerd experience for a generation of future Trekkies. It’s still hugely popular in England and is finding a new audience on Fox: The debut episode won its time slot in the 2-to-11 age group.

The bad news: Fox is editing the episodes down from an hour to half-hour segments and dubbing in new voices, music, and sound effects. ”We cut a lot of the fat,” says Bert Gould, the senior vice president of marketing, promotion, and program strategy for the kids’ network. ”The new episodes zoom.” But he’s not worried about fan backlash: ”Hey, it’s not like we’re colorizing Citizen Kane here. We’re just making the show more accessible for 1990s kids.”

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