I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post tonight. I wasn’t even planning on leaving Atlanta at all until about right now. I took our son for a long, long delayed trip today, but he had a terrible time and so we left about seven hours early. How bad was it? He needed some comfort TV. The hour that provides him the most security and comfort, in all of television, is, bizarrely, this utterly, utterly ridiculous hour of Thunderbirds. We first watched it together more than five years ago, in this blog’s earliest days. He has watched it seven hundred times since.
I may exaggerate, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this episode, in whole or in part, more times than I have watched anything else that Gerry Anderson ever produced, combined. There have been days where he has watched it “again and again” like a toddler transfixed by Teletubbies. Now sure, it truly has been a while. Most recently, his poison is Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He got stuck into that for three and a half hours yesterday. Tonight we suggested that he pick whatever he wanted for family TV time, and we’d have sat through a couple more Clone Wars, but he immediately said “the Crablogger episode…?” Or any other episode of Thunderbirds or Thunderbirds are Go or Captain Scarlet…? “Nah, I just want to watch ‘Path of Destruction’ again.”
I love the fact that our son has his go-tos among all his desires to sample things that he doesn’t remember well. Another one is the MacGyver installment “Three For the Road”. Whenever he’s bored or indecisive and we make suggestions about something he might want to revisit, I might glance at the shelf and say “Well, we’ve got Kolchak, Land of the Lost, Logan’s Run, MacGyver…” and he’ll reply “Oooh, yeah! ‘Three For the Road’!” I might then reply “You know, there are about eighty episodes of MacGyver that we didn’t watch, you wanna try…” Nope. Never.
Like tonight. “Say, we haven’t seen ‘Attack of the Alligators’ in a while…” Nope. The kid needs his comfort TV.
Thunderbirds always got a lot of mileage from the breathtaking, unnecessary complexity of everything. This time, the crew of a runaway super-machine have been given the worst case of food poisoning on the planet by Sancho and his “wery special” concoctions from his rat-filled kitchen, and the runaway super-machine doesn’t have doors or an off switch. They’re sealed in, unconscious, while Lady Penelope and Parker get the shutdown code for the runaway super-machine’s reactor from a sleeping man while convincing him that he’s dreaming. Everything is desperately urgent but done as slowly as possible. They don’t even get the guy to give his explanation to Virgil and Brains live; they record him, go outside, and then play the tape.
Seven hundred times I have watched this tomfoolery, brilliantly made tomfoolery though it may be, and it never occurred to me before tonight that somehow it’s the middle of the night in Britain and noon in South America.