International Rescue Rescues From Imposters And Gators
Michael Daly | Wakefield, MA USA | 12/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The second half of Thunderbirds' first season saw a slight dip in the quality of the writing, which would be natural after the highs of the episodes "Terror In NYC" and "30 Minutes After Noon," but the scripts still held their own and more as the show's debut run began to close on its finale.The Imposters - Given that International Rescue has by now become a very high-profile organization, it is natural that thieves would masquerade as IR to pull off a daring job. Such is the case when a reporter for World TV (the same visual journalist seen in "City Of Fire" and "The Mighty Atom") covers a cave-in and rescue near an airbase along with fellow writers and photogs. A man in a perfect replication of IR's signature blue uniform insists not to be photographed, but a shot of him makes international press in any event, to the chagrin of Scott, Tin-Tin, and others; even Jeff is disappointed, though he hides it under a veneer that the imposters saved a man's life - this is a strikingly effective scene and indicates a weariness in Jeff that will become a genuine issue later in the series.The reality soon hits home when the armed forces' investigation of the cave-in reveals that it was all a huge bluff to steal high-technology plans, and all efforts are put into a worldwide dragnet search for IR. Now getting his wits back about him, Jeff orders a similar search by IR agents around the world to find the phonies, enlisting Lady Penelope to coordinate the search. She teams with Jeremiah Tuttle, a hillbilly and a former Air Force pal of Jeff's, and both find clues leading to a potential break.But the real dilemma comes in a recon satellite manned by two astronauts involved in the IR hunt. When an accident sends one drifting helplessly through space, IR is the man's only hope, but should they try to rescue him - before Penny and Jeremiah can find the imposters - they will all be thrown in the slammer.The Man From MI5 - Given how James Bond-happy the world had become circa-1964-5 (recall the Sean Connery hat toss and Bernard Lee desk in "30 Minutes After Noon,") it was inevitable that Gerry & Sylvia Anderson would in effect make a James Bond movie in miniature starring the Thunderbirds, even to naming the titular Man From MI5 Bondson (continuity note to the Andersons - Bond worked for MI7 as noted in Dr. No, then went to MI6 per Goldeneye). There is a cheesiness to the involvement of IR with Bond/Bondson that hurts the overall feel of the episode, making for a rare miss in the series.Cry Wolf - Another inevitability - young boys playing International Rescue, right down to using radios to call IR - a call that John picks up in Thunderbird 5 and which sends Scott into action. When Scott finds the danger zone is just the Australian outback used by two motherless boys in innocent play, he is upset, but good-naturedly gives the boys a tour of the real IR headquarters to make them understand the need to be on constant alert - including a cute scene where Alan boasts about the importance of Thunderbird 3 and gets a condescending message from Scott.The boys' father, however, is less than thrilled by the resultant publicity, for he holds his own secret - a secret that The Hood mysteriously figures out just by reading news accounts of the two boys. When the inevitable real danger erupts and the boys call IR, John, Jeff, and the others think it's just their game again and blow off the boys, a decision that will doom them.Danger At Ocean Deep - Industrial pollution gets its licks in the story of the Ocean Pioneer class of container ships. One is mysteriously destroyed; later another is launched by Lady Penelope. At the same time IR radio communications break down during a rescue, and when the cause is traced to a particular chemical, it becomes clear that the second Ocean Pioneer is in grave danger from, of all things, a dog food company engaged in illegal dumping. Noteworthy is that this is the only episode of the entire series where John Tracy takes part in a rescue - Gerry Anderson hated the character's all-American persona and kept him banished to limited appearences.The Duchess Assignment - Penelope helps an old friend, Deborah, the Duchess of Royston, who is being cheated at Monte Carlo gaming tables. Deborah now must sell a tremendously valuable painting to an American businessman, but Penny realizes that the same crooks who cheated her in Monaco are also after Deborah's painting, and when the assignation leads to a fire that traps Deborah in a shack's cellar, IR must go into action.This episode is highlighted by Ray Barrett's hilarious performance (recording was repeatedly stopped because the other cast members kept bursting into laughter at Barrett's performance) as Deborah, a parodic riff off actress Dame Edith Evans. Attack Of The Alligators - The villain here is bioengineering, the result being a romp unnervingly reminiscent of the concurrent Godzilla-class monster movies of the time. Despite this, the episode is an entertaining tale of jungle intrigue with very effective use of real gators in the miniature sets as IR must battle these bioengineered brutes and rescue a scientist and his party, some of whom have engaged in a doublecross - and you might say even a triple-cross. Episode filming fell substantially behind due to trouble getting the live gators to "act" in the proper fashion, and this hurt the series in the long run."
ThunderBirds - Sets 3 & 4
Michael Daly | 04/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think that this is the best way to view the ThunderBirds series, as you get the best picture and sound, I think that there could have been more of a making of ThunderBirds than there was included on the first two DVD sets ( Sets 1 & 2).
I noticed that at the start of a couple of the episodes in these DVDs that at the start of countdown that opens each episode that the Audio level of the voice of Jeff Tracy starts out low, but goes up in volume as the count and showing of the 5 ThunderBirds goes along. One Interesting item I liked is the use of the caracter of Parker giving the instructions for viewing the production stills in the Bonus Features of each disc.
Sharp eyed viewers may notice the reuse of some props from episode to episode, example the Monotrain from "Brink of Disaster" appears again in "The Perils of Penelope"(Set2).
One of the more amusing items in the series are thier take on Women Drivers as in "City of Fire" and "Vault of Death"(Set1),and Scott Tracys ride in the ThunderBird 2 Go Cart at the end of "Cry Wolf"(Set4). All in all a very good series,and I am looking forward to the general release of the Captain Scarlet series DVD in May of this year('02)by A&E all 32 episodes on 4 DVDs, ..."