This one has a really funny premise. In the sixties, there were lots of pirate radio stations broadcasting from platforms all around the British Isles. This takes that to the next level, and suggests that, in the far-flung future of 2066, there will be pirate television stations broadcasting from satellites. Manned satellites – like, you launch a DJ and an engineer into space, and they transmit the top 40 countdown back to earth.
Admittedly, it seems like every agency larger than a pest control company has rockets in this series, but that still seems like a heck of an undertaking to tell the world the top 40. Again, I love how, halfway into the future that Thunderbirds envisioned, we can get a million times better results with a millionth of the risk, sitting on our couch.
There is a really good moment in this episode. The satellite’s going to crash into an oil refinery, and, thinking that Alan and Scott have rescued the pirate broadcasters, Brains is about to shoot it down from Thunderbird 2’s missile launcher. Then they hear the DJ’s transmission. He’s still on board! I really like the quick discussion that Virgil and Brains have. They agree that one life would have to be sacrificed against those of all the people in the refinery should it crash, but Brains can’t do it. He can’t kill a man in cold blood, even with the clock racing. I like that they took a moment to define that. They have to find another way.
What I genuinely don’t like about this episode is that it’s incredibly slow. The director, Brian Burgess, was new to the series with this second batch of six episodes, and perhaps he didn’t have quite the eye for pacing that the others on the team had. All the puppet work seems to be done through molasses, like the puppeteers can barely be bothered moving the characters around. When you factor in the normal deficiencies of one of these scripts, like the helpless characters trying their own rescue, which isn’t going to work, and International Rescue will have to be called in, it doesn’t really add up to a zippy episode, despite a fun script.