Thunderbirds 1.25 – The Cham-Cham

Back again to Thunderbirds for the last five of the episodes that we obtained. This one’s another of the Lady Penelope spy-centered episodes, and it’s terrific fun. The plot does not make a lick of sense, and the evil baddies who are shooting down US Air Force transport planes could not have come up with a more complicated scheme if they tried, but man, it’s fun.

Honestly, it requires the most popular group in the world performing their new hit single, “Dangerous Game,” live from the Swiss hotel where they’re performing a residency via a worldwide broadcast on Radio Maxwell every night with a slightly different arrangement that contains a secret code that the baddies can translate to find the location of the USAF plane DURING the broadcast. But the plot doesn’t matter; the show is just too entertaining and fun for that.

One of the things that impressed me the most is how well paced it is. Naturally, the spy episodes are light on the mayhem that four year-old boys love the most, but darned if this one doesn’t have a perfectly-placed moment of huge slapstick levity at exactly the right moment. You could set your watch by it. At the very second that our son Daniel started to get restless and squirm because nothing had happened for too long, Parker topples a would-be assassin out of a car atop a snowy hill, and, Hanna-Barbera-style, the two go barreling down the mountain into a giant snowball. Daniel howled. I’m sure that had I seen this as a too-serious teenager, I would have cringed, loudly, but that’s gold for a kid his age. It completely brought him back into it.

The grown-ups in the room weren’t squirming. From a production standpoint, this episode is just amazing. There are several “how’d they do that?!” shots in the scenes of Tintin and Lady Penelope skiing, and there’s an amazing bit where some butterflies are dancing around her garden, completely unnecessary to the scene, just there for brilliant color. Lady Penelope even dances as she sings with the band, and it looks great. They did a truly fantastic job making this episode.

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