Before we talk about tonight’s episode, the really, really huge news is that Classic Thunderbirds are Go! As I’ve mentioned in a couple of recent entries, the producers of the documentary Filmed in Supermarionation have hoped to make some new stories, and have successfully raised a reported £218,412 to fund the making of three new episodes of the show, with new visuals synced to old audio adventures, 7-inch records released along with all the other merchandising madness that was available in 1965. They hope to release the new episodes at the end of the year, and I can’t wait to see them.
I also hope the new episodes are a little less silly than “Danger at Ocean Deep,” because while my tolerance of bad science is pretty broad, tonight’s episode was way over the limit. See, there’s a dog food company that’s been making an all-natural food from ocean fungus that grows a few hundred miles out from Florida. Since the British-based company spends so much extracting it from so far away, they’ve dumped 150,000 tons of it in the Mediterranean, hoping it will grow.
The problem is that this fungus has a wild effect when brought anywhere near a highly-combustible chemical called alsterene. It generates an enormous fog, jacks up long-range radio transmissions, and something-something-something engines, nuclear reactors, explosions, you know. Six months ago, a mammoth tanker full of alsterene, Ocean Pioneer I, went down in the Mediterranean because it got too near the fungus. Proving that the British seafaring industry is helmed by the same morons who keep sending Fireflash aircraft out to crash, Ocean Pioneer II is headed for the same fate… dun dun DUN!
Poor Daniel was disappointed in this one because the little preview clips in the credits, showing ocean liners in trouble, made him suspect that his beloved Thunderbird 4 would be called into action, but alas, it wasn’t. And before the science got utterly ridiculous and disappointed the grownups, this was pretty entertaining, with lots of fun character interplay.
This continued into the epilogue, in which Scott and John, who got to participate in this rescue, have a good-natured argument about whether they should have rescued the three sailors (as they did), or towed the tanker from the danger zone. Jeff interrupts his sons, because Scott’s right – their first priority is saving lives, not property. He asks John how many rescues he’s been on. “About a dozen,” he says. And Scott? “ALL of them.”
The characters are, by design, extremely clean-cut, steadfastly moral, free from any ambiguity or ethical flaws. They’re heroes for children, selfless and brave and respectful, who can be counted on to do the right thing all of the time. Every once in a long while, though, one of these wooden puppets gets the chance to be incredibly, entertainingly human, and Scott taking this rare opportunity to put his younger brother in his place is hilarious, and worth a hundred amazing explosions.