Thunderbirds 1.8 – Operation Crash-Dive

Tonight’s episode was one of the rare instances where Daniel’s attention to this series wavered, but in his defense, it is a bit repetitious.

In a pretty sensible use of finances, this episode returns to London Airport, scene of the first episode, meaning that the miniature sets, puppets, and costumes could be reused as recurring characters, and the molds that created the Fireflash airplane pressed back into service to make some more, and footage from episode one of the plane taking off recycled. And speaking of which, is it just me, or is that plane’s angle of ascent insanely sharp?

Anyway, a Fireflash goes down with 600 souls aboard, never to be seen again, meaning the CNN of 2065 spent eleven months talking about it. They run lots of tests and launch another with a crew of two, but this time, International Rescue was listening and ready to go when it also goes off course and crashes into the sea. Scott sets up a mobile base on a remote coastal farm, allowing him to interact with an occasional Gerry Anderson trope: the comedy country yokel, who shouts “Saints preserve us!” when Thunderbird 1 lands.

(About which, I really haven’t seen most of Anderson’s TV output, but I swear this stock character shows up quite a lot. We’re not planning to watch The Secret Service, as it doesn’t seem to be available either Region-1 or Region-Free, but I remember one episode from VHS tape trading days called “Last Train to Bufflers Halt,” which featured the yokel to end all yokels.)

So Thunderbird 4 sliced the engines from the plane at the bottom of the sea, allowing the rest of the plane to float to the surface (?!?!?) so Virgil can rescue the crew. Case solved? From Daniel’s perspective, that appeared to be it, but there were another twelve or so minutes to go, and another Fireflash launch, this time with Scott on board, and Virgil and Gordon right behind in Thunderbird 2.

This level of scrutiny would, in a sensible show, be enough to make the international criminal gang who keeps getting saboteurs inside the airplanes take a few weeks’ pass on bringing down any more jets, but this is, of course, a very silly program. Gordon has a gunfight with the bad guy as the plane’s going down. It’s incredibly difficult to film puppets shooting at each other and make it tense and exciting, but I was genuinely intrigued, wondering whether Gordon was actually going to kill the guy.

Daniel had lost interest by then. The kid loves Thunderbird 4; anything that happens after that sub’s been in action is just not going to live up…


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