Thunderbirds 1.10 – Martian Invasion

“I swear I thought this show was live action,” said my daughter, who watched about six minutes of this with us and gave up.

This episode’s a really odd one in the development of the show’s recurring bad guy. It’s also completely jammed up with the old “no cameras” rule that drives all the action, but doesn’t make any sense. This time, the Hood spends $4 million to invest in a B-movie about a Martian invasion, allowing him to rig an explosion and trap two actors, then secretly film International Rescue arriving to check it out. Then, as “Agent 79,” he agrees to sell the film to “General X,” some yellow-peril-sounding foreign devil who’s kicking back at a mansion within two hours’ drive of the filming location in Nevada, for $200 million. All he has to do is wait for the production date.

It’s bizarre, because we’ve previously seen the Hood as a dangerous and scheming independent agent, but under the whiny demands of General X, he turns into an incompetent bungler, making one dumb mistake after another.

The chase for the film forces both Scott and Virgil to fire on the Hood’s jeep before he escapes on foot to an airfield to steal a plane. Now this is interesting. In “The Uninvited,” Scott had to shoot his way out of a middle eastern terrorist nest, and killed dozens of bad guys, and in “Trapped in the Sky,” Lady Penelope and Parker just casually blow the bad guy – the same one, it turns out – off the road, but this is the first time it’s established in dialogue that the Tracys are willing to kill to keep their organization a secret… and yet it’s not a secret. Everybody knows at this point that they can call on International Rescue, and they mention that the Nevada state police are helping them catch the fellow with the film. Perhaps they’re afraid that somebody will design similar craft for insidious military use? That’s what seems to be up here, but as we’ve seen before, Thunderbird 1 is already outclassed by contemporary aircraft, and its armament is very small.

Weirdest yet is that it ends with the plane crashing into General X’s mansion, and Scott concludes that the film must have been destroyed and so they all go home, without any kind of follow-up. You’d think some basic bits like “was the film really ruined,” “who filmed us,” and “is anybody home” would be the sort of things Scott would like to get answered. And yet an epilogue scene shows Scott and Virgil discussing the events, concluding that the pilot might have been the same guy who’s tried to photograph them previously, and wondering whether they’d meet him again. Well, had you landed Thunderbird 1 when the plane crashed, you could have figured that out, you dummy.

Oh, a rule for trapped and/or endangered people in an episode of Thunderbirds: one member of the party will always, always panic and insist “We’ll never make it!” Every time.

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