Thunderbirds 1.5 – The Uninvited

The first ten or eleven episodes of Thunderbirds seem to have been produced haphazardly, with none of the orderly flow of information and background that programs of the present day have. The fifth episode is the first one where we see Grandma Tracy, for exactly one shot, after she was mentioned for the first time in the previous episode.

But that’s very like TV of its day, which was often made with the understanding that, once it was syndicated, it would mean that an independent TV station would get 32 films and their technicians did not want to be burdened with running them in any particular order. Thank heaven times changed, but it does mean that, five episodes in*, we still haven’t seen Thunderbird 4 outside the title sequence, and we haven’t seen Lady Penelope and Parker since the pilot, and we don’t even know the name of the bad guy, who we last saw recovering from the wreckage where he was left for dead.

I thought, wrongly, that we were about due for that bad guy – who’s called The Hood – by now, so I reminded Daniel of him before we sat down to watch “The Uninvited.” Remembering the film unspooling from his hat-camera, he said “Yeah, all that rope twirled out!” I thought that I’d remind him how International Rescue doesn’t let their vehicles be photographed, and told him that in the 1960s, cameras were much less common than they are today, and they used that film to make pictures. I said I thought it was silly that they didn’t let pictures be taken, and Daniel agreed: “Thunderbirds is about rescuing planes and spaceships! Not cameras!”

He also said that he likes Thunderbirds best of these three shows, because there isn’t a bad guy. “But we just talked about the bad guy whose car Lady Penelope and Parker shot. “Oh, yeah, him,” he said. Then we sat down to watch a story with more bad guys. Some unnamed terrorist group in fancy costumes have built a huge underground factory and jerry-rigged a pyramid that archaeologists have been trying to find for decades into a combination access point and missile-launcher.

You accept that the villains in childrens’ entertainment do dumb and illogical things, but really, choosing a secret headquarters underneath the one place that every scientist in the Middle East and North Africa wants to find was a bit stupid of them.

It’s a really good, action-packed episode, with great big explosions and gunfights. The bad guys all seem to be blown to smithereens at the end, so I don’t believe we’ll see them again in the show… but whatever happened to The Hood, anyway?

*Assuming you’re watching them in production order like these A&E DVDs are packaged. Some episode guides list the stories in the first transmission order used by the ATV Midlands region, but A&E (and we) use the production order, as established by Chris Bentley in his 2001 book The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide.

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