It’s the wildest, funniest, most amazing game of “pass the parcel” ever, when the parcel is being passed between four aircraft and a submarine, and the parcel is a rescue pod containing the Hood, and when they’re all keeping the parcel away from the Mechanic, who’s gunning for him with a solar-powered laser satellite.
So it’s the end of the show’s second season, and once again they go out with a bang and a slight change to the status quo, including the arrival of a couple of new characters right at the end. The third season’s already started in the UK and so I know who these newcomers are, but our son will have to wait several months to meet them. We’ll catch International Rescue again down the line, when the complete DVD set of season three, with all 26 episodes, is released. In the meantime, stay tuned for more classic TV at your favorite fire-breathing blog!
“They never product-test anything in the Thunderbirds universe, do they?” Marie asked. Well, of course not. That’s how International Rescue keeps busy, because of zillionaire inventors carting contest winners onto their latest runaway transportation failure that they haven’t run through a pilot safety run first.
After a run of pretty good stories, I think we were due another over-the-top spectacle of a story, and this one’s terrific. David Tennant guest stars this time out as the zillionaire in question, and his maglev train is rocketing all around the world very, very fast in an enclosed track, and constantly accelerating.
We all really enjoyed this one. I’ve got a soft spot for stories where they use the machines in ways they were not meant to be used, like taking Thunderbird 4 into outer space or bringing the space station into Earth’s atmosphere. This time, the little submarine gets a completely hilarious workout to save the day, in a situation so eye-popping that I said out loud “That is not what Thunderbird 4 was made for!”
Of course our son was in heaven, too. As befits an episode where people are going Mach 8 from London to Tokyo and back, he was shaking so fast with his eyes so wide that I half expected him to launch into orbit. He said this was his all-time favorite episode of the show. For me, season one’s “Skyhook” set the gold standard, but darned if this one didn’t come close.
We had to cheat and watch this episode of Thunderbirds are Go on Dailymotion. “Inferno” was not shown in the UK because the network thought it was too similar to last year’s real disaster at London’s Grenfell Tower, where seventy people were killed in a high-rise building that burned for most of three days. I can understand the sensitivity about broadcasting the episode, but not including it on the DVD is taking things a little far, ITV. The episode was streamed on platforms like Amazon Prime, so at least the episode wasn’t totally buried.
Since the network forced a comparison to something that actually happened, “Inferno,” which was written by Benjamin Townsend, is remarkably low-key. There is indeed a stupidly tall building on fire, but there are only about six people in the thing. There are a couple of good jokes about even taller buildings always being erected in Dubai, and Thunderbird 2 actually gets damaged, even if its mostly a cosmetic bruising. Our son enjoyed it, although we really had to question the point of the building having an extinguisher system that could take out the blaze… but only after it is completely evacuated, as the gas is lethal. Nobody ever thinks these things through, do they?
What I was saying last time about the suspension of disbelief being completely tabled? We hadn’t seen anything yet!
If only our kid had a big oil drilling platform to split in half in the bathtub, he’d have all kinds of fun recreating this episode with his Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird Shadow. Maybe we can find him one before he gets too old for toys in the tub…
A boatload of suspension of disbelief is always required in the world of International Rescue, but boy, this one takes the cake! I’m not sure whether it’s “everything being backwards compatible with everything else,” as Marie put it, or Thunderbird 2 flying into space, or the preparations to get it into space taking maybe an hour, two at the most. But our son loved this story by Dan Berlinka without any silly grownup reservation. There’s a gag about pizza delivery that had him in stitches, but he was so impressed by the wide-eyed glorious ridiculousness of this story that it could have been made without any jokes and he’d have been completely satisfied.
This is a very fun little change of pace episode written by Rob Hoegee and Patrick Rieger. Once a year, our heroes decamp to an isolated ranch once owned by the Tracy boys’ mother’s family for training and relaxation. Somebody has snuck on the property and needs rescue, and somebody else has snuck on the property and disabled their tech. Fortunately, there’s some much older tech gathering dust in a storage locker. We’d seen these sort of hoverbikes once or twice on the original series, most notably in “Attack of the Alligators!”, but “sleds” like these were common in the earlier Supermarionation shows like Stingray and Fireball XL5 as well. I do love these little winks to the past.
Our son enjoyed everything about this one, but his favorite bit came, again, right at the end, when Gordon and Alan up their sibling rivalry and insist on sitting in the same chair. He often tries much the same trick whenever his mother gets off the sofa for any reason or length of time.
We took a few weeks off from Thunderbirds are Go, but resumed tonight with an incredibly entertaining episode written by Paul Giacoppo. John gets pulled out of Thunderbird 5 for a night schmoozing and socializing, wearing a tuxedo custom-designed by Brains for spy missions, which everybody assures him this isn’t. John doesn’t do well with crowds.
Of course, it turns into a mission. Wouldn’t be Thunderbirds if it didn’t, really. There’s another evil scheme by the Hood, a completely terrific midair fight between Kayo and some criminals with jetpacks over an altogether ridiculous landscape, and Brains’ silly tux-gadgets, all of which, bizarrely, manage to come in handy. Huge fun from start to finish.
I’m really not a dog person, but Sherbet, Lady Penelope’s pug, is growing on me.
Briefly, David Baddiel’s “Clean Sweep” is a complete hoot. It’s another story where things just keep going wrong and obstacles just keep piling up. The outcome’s never in doubt, but rather than the usual television question of “how will they solve this problem,” the question is “good grief, what next?” It’s very, very fun!
Oh, mustn’t forget our son’s contribution. The Tracys grouse that the dangerous technology of the week – big and ungainly floating turbines that suck pollution from the atmosphere – should have been junked years ago. Our kid picked that up as though the notion was his, and repeated it several times as the rescue got more and more complicated. Sadly, it’s kind of hard to convince us that your line’s an original one when we’ve already heard the characters use it!
The third season of Thunderbirds are Go will actually be starting this weekend in the UK, so I suppose we’d better watch a few more of these since we might have a new DVD set this summer. Briefly then, this episode, which was written by Amy Wolfram, is a badly-needed star outing for Grandma Tracy. It’s a great character piece set around a very neat pair of rescues in the middle of a powerful sandstorm. She may not bake the tastiest cookies, and her tracksuits might not be all that fashionable, but anybody who can drive the Mole that well has my respect!
I remember when we watched “Attack of the Alligators!” back in 2015 and our son was so scared and so worried that he left the room. I thought those days were long behind us where International Rescue was concerned, but in this remake, he was every bit as frightened for Gordon as he had been for Alan when he was just four. We live in a different house now. There’s a staircase behind the sofa that he can use when things get so bad that just lying on the floor won’t do. That’s where he was tonight during the scene pictured above, convinced absolutely in the reality of these animated characters being menaced by real reptiles.
Patrick Rieger’s story is another Buddy and Ellie Pendergast adventure, so it’s not a straight remake. It doesn’t have the long buildup in the creepy old house, but it is set in a remote and never explored foggy canyon somewhere in central Africa. I have to say I really prefer the original, which is one of my absolute favorites, but this has lots of charm as well.
There’s a very, very fun midair rescue in tonight’s episode of Thunderbirds are Go, written by Elly Brewer. Up in orbit, Lady Penelope and Parker are hearing a sales pitch by the remarkably obnoxious Miss Edmonds, voiced by comedian Ruby Wax, when the satellite, which is meant to be sending a beam of focused solar energy to Earth, goes haywire. A transport plane that’s carrying a giant panda gets hit by a plasma blast and is going down in the Pacific. There’s a tradition of the Thunderbirds franchise making predictions of the future that are totally wrong in every way, but we certainly hope there are still giant pandas a hundred years from now!
Gordon lets everybody know that he’s always wanted to see a giant panda up close. Our son took this as gospel, like it’s been an integral part of the character since he was created and he’s been stymied in seeing giant pandas in countless hours of entertainment. He doesn’t get his wish. In fact, the animators found a pretty novel way to get around the challenge and the expense of designing a big hairy animal for any length of time. As Pixar’s people could probably tell you about bringing Sully in Monsters Inc. to life, building a giant panda in the computer would be incredibly challenging for a world like this one for maybe a minute of screen time. So the animal stays in the crate during the whole ordeal!