“When Terror Rains Down…”

BT_TV_Box_CoverBT_TV_Box_RearBT_TV_DiscsBT_TV_InsertBT_TV_Disc3BT_TV_Discs_Insert…Blue Thunder Will Always Follow.”

The source of reference for the upcoming digital companion as well as a finely packaged collection in its own right, The Complete Blue Thunder Series finally saw official release on DVD in 2006.

Not re-run as of 1993 in the US (and shown intermittently throughout the 90’s on BRAVO in the UK) this boxset from Sony Pictures released in semi-conjunction with the Blue Thunder Movie Special Edition DVD consigned the VHS releases of limited (only four from eleven) episodes to history while bringing the series to a new format fit for future generations.

Superbly presented on three discs with great packaging art (sporting a more contemporary logo) the short-lived series is collected in its entirety in standard definition but nonetheless looking better than ever.  While a set of extras are sorely lacking (new interviews with cast & crew alongside a ‘Making of’ special would’ve been a welcome treat) there is still 529 minutes of amazing ’80’s airborne action to be revisited and enjoyed…

The Companion…

THE SPECIAL welcomes you to 2015!!

This year will be a major one for the blog with much more material and imagery coming on a regular basis to make the site the ONLY place to come for all things Thunder.  PLEASE keep your contributions coming in and let me know what you think of the posts in the comments bar.  Also look out for regular updates to the SPECIAL BASE section as more exciting information about the original Airbuster is steadily uncovered..!!

BT_Epilog_Cover-001BT_Epilog2BT_Epilog3BT_Epilog4BT_Epilog5BT_Epilog6EL4 JAN91Billed as ‘The television magazine of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Adventure,’ The EPI-LOG journal/fanzine was the only way to get your cult TV fix in the pre-internet years.  A simple review format in black & white, (usually accompanied by nicely reproduced press kit stills) these no-frills episode guides were the best reference for your favourite TV show.

First published among the pages of Issue #4 in 1991 under a cover featuring its main competitor (bottom pic), and reprinted in the more appropriately titled Special #8 in 1993, the full archive of the Blue Thunder TV series could be found complete with title, guest stars and original airdates along with its brief synopses, reproduced in full above.

Coming soon in 2015, THE SPECIAL will expand on the information here with The Blue Thunder Companion, a thorough critique of all 11 episodes serialised in post form to be collected and made a permanent fixture in the sidebar when complete.  These reviews will feature screencaps and all manner of trivia in an attempt to make the definitive series reference.  Look out for the updates..!

Chopper Wars…

SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 2_0001SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 3SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 1Always beloved and now universally regarded as the ‘internet of its day’, US published Starlog Magazine now serves as an exhaustive chronicle of three decades of Sci-Fi/cult material.

Issue #81 (cover bottom pic) had a little treat for fans of the ‘super-vehicle’ based TV show that started with Glen Larson’s Knight Rider in a feature that would predate an argument that still endures today – which was better, Airwolf or Blue Thunder..?

Thankfully writer Lee Goldberg merely presents the facts for both productions here without the benefit of comparison as both shows were yet to be aired.  So it is with considerable surprise that I discovered none other than Buck Rogers himself (Gil Gerard) was to be Roy Scheider’s successor at the controls and that writer Dan O’ Bannon (despite later penning an episode for the series) was pretty rudely indifferent to his creations success.

Also telling is the first paragraph in the Airwolf case (second pic, middle) where it could be argued some of its eventual dominance/success was down to the grittier aspects of character traits (e.g. PTSD) explored in both Blue Thunder: The Movie and Firefox that ABC’s kiddie-friendly series actively avoided.  All this would’ve been academic though, had the closing paragraph about Columbia’s consideration of a Blue Thunder sequel been realised…

THE SPECIAL expresses thanks to SLOW ROBOT’s blog for use of its scans here – for much more vintage magazine coolness head over to STARLOGGED without delay…

Listening, Watching, Waiting…

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Printed in Spain and published (solely?) In Great Britain by Dumper Publishing, this nostalgic, pulpy annual is nevertheless 100% dedicated to the US.

Though by April 1984 its eleven-episode run was over, Blue Thunder took pride of place among the most revered cult TV of the era in the TV Favourites Annual 1985, featuring on the cover, insert (second pic) and double page spread (bottom) however this was, amazingly, not enough to qualify for an annual all its own (in an age when most shows of this genre warranted one however long its run)

While the cover shot is a generic still from the movie, the others are notable for their behind the scenes nature (from the episode ‘Payload’) – notice the backup chopper still has the mounting plate for the camera (top of second pic) and the shot in the feature is flipped – something that occured in the show itself (look for the ’02’ switching to ’50’).

Obcsure as it gets and therefore a rarity now, THE SPECIAL brings you another pictorial exclusive charting the history of Blue Thunder in the media…

Patch Of The Month…

The revised continuity of the Blue Thunder TV Series meant that the Astro Division established in the movie was eclipsed by a generic government agency named APEX (through which the Blue Thunder Unit would continue operations while still based at Police Headquarters.) and headed by Captain Braddock.

Where there’s a unit there’s a patch and both airborne and ground crew were bestowed with this simple yet iconic design featuring the helicopter at sunrise for the duration of the show;

BT_Real_PatchSince the show was cancelled there has only been one reproduction made available for fans and it leaves much to be desired in the accuracy stakes to say the very least but for decades its all we had;

bluethunderlogopatchUntil the timely arrival of popular baseball cap vendors Lucky Seven, whose contemporary updated take on the series patch design is much more detailed and betters the original to a considerable degree;

DSC_2586Not only that, but the site offers entirely customisable caps from a multitude of cult TV series and Movies with a colour & crest, making the Blue Thunder version both an obvious choice and instant hit.  From the Lucky Seven Blog;

BT_Cap1DSC_2583DSC_2588THUNDER-01-600x340As the only Blue Thunder apparel to be released in at least 20+ years, this cap is long overdue so its gratifying the final product (pics from my collection above) is of such good quality (despite the curious combination of artwork pulled from the MultiToys Blue Thunder toy box and still of Organic Die-cast model used to advertise it.).  As Lucky Seven seems to be the go-to site for celebrities this cap has already seen TV airtime atop the head of chef Jamie Oliver.  Sadly the patch is not available separately so my ambition of customising a Blue Thunder jacket remains a pipe dream for now.  Meantime, order your cap today..!!

The Hollywood Collection…

BT_4 BT_1 BT_2 BT_3Join THE SPECIAL on a journey of pure nostalgia as we fondly look back at the age of VHS where it was not unusual to devote an entire cassette (plus packaging) to individual 47 minute TV episodes.

With the 11 episode series originally airing on the BBC in 1984, this collection (distributed in the UK by Parkfield Entertainment) was attractively presented but failed to make it beyond the four volumes shown above and quickly became shelf warmers in department stores.  None of this mattered to me, however, as my excitement was tangible having discovered the lot as a kid being pulled around BHS one rainy Saturday afternoon.

The content (besides having no commercials) went essentially unchanged save for a hastily and poorly inserted title card at the beginning of each episode.  While this dead format is easily dismissed now, with only one televised re-run on BRAVO in the ’90’s it would be over twenty years before the series would be seen again in any medium…

The Cops, The ‘Copter…

BT_TV_Guide1BT_TV_Guide3BT_TV_Guide2BT_TV_Guide4Director John Badham said it best in the Blue Thunder Special Edition DVD Documentary ‘Ride With The Angels’ when he mentioned “The best sign that you’re doing well is when people start to rip you off..”

To that end, when Columbia Pictures ripped themselves off by allowing ABC to commission Blue Thunder as a TV Series, they had some real obstacles to overcome, not least competition from Universal who were initiating a little rip-off of their own for CBS…

Firstly, according to Starlog magazine during an interview for 2010, star Roy Scheider had already been approached to reprise his role as Frank Murphy for the spin-off to which he had replied “No…Absolutely no” and then there was the small matter of the titular helicopter being obliterated at the movie’s end.

The studio’s simple fix for this was to dismiss the continuity set by the movie and rewrite it like it never happened – this would include watered-down versions of the same characters and the re-branding of the helicopter from its former sinister purpose to a force for ‘good’.

And so with the generous assistance of endless stock footage from the movie obtrusively inserted for most of the aerial scenes, Blue Thunder the series premiered on Jan 6th, 1984.  The rest is history, however its 12 episodes will be chronicled here exhaustively with subsequent posts.  For now, enjoy the nostalgia of the various TV Guide ads shown above, where having two forward-mounted electric cannons as illustrated (top) were the least of the series unfulfilled promises…