The Cham Cham & The Seascape Highlight Five Strong Stories
Michael Daly | Wakefield, MA USA | 05/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Volume 5 of the Thunderbirds series displays the final two episodes of the show's first season and the first three of the truncated second season, and these five stories give the show a needed shot in the arm with three of the strongest scripts - culimating in the second of the show's two greatest episodes - and two other engaging stories.The Cham-Cham - US Air Force transports are ferrying engines for the space program from Matthews AFB, but two previous transport craft have been attacked by pirate fighters, and a third such transport is itself attacked as it proceeds on its course. Thunderbird Five is monitoring the flight, and Alan notices a curious anomoly - a live unicast of a supremely popular jazz song, "Dangerous Game," by its composers, the Cass Carnaby Five. A backcheck shows that the two previous attacks on USAF transports coincided with live airings of the same song, and Jeff is intrigued enough to have Brains examine a tape of the recent Carnaby unicast on his computer, while Lady Penelope and TinTin are sent to the Cass Carnaby Five's present home base, a super-swank hotel and music stage atop a mountain in the Swiss Alps.Posing as a singer - that no one has heard of - Penny meets Cass Carnaby's manager, Olsen, who comes off as mysterious. Learning that he lives in a chateau further down the peaks, Penny and TinTin ski there and find the answer to the pirate fightercraft attacks - just as Brains decodes how Cass Carnaby music is aiding the pirates. Now Penny must sing "Dangerous Game" in a different way, but it may be too late to save the next transport - or Penny and TinTin, who find themselves trapped on a runaway gondola sliding down the mountain.Cham-Cham is the most musical episode of the series, not only in the superlative Barry Gray composition at the story's center, but also in the incidental cues used, particularly when Penny and TinTin are skiing through the mountain area.-------------Security Hazard - A young boy, Chip, watches as IR fights a mine fire with his father as part of the effort. When Scott, Virgil, and Alan return to base, a stowaway - undetected due to system faults in Thunderbird 2 - is found; little Chip. Scott and the others are scolded by Jeff (in Peter Dyneley's strongest performance in the role to date), but making things worse, the innocent boy asks about IR and Virgil, Alan, Scott, and Gordon can't resist telling him about previous rescues - shown via footage of four previous episodes. Even Jeff at the end relents and tells of his command of the organization to the young boy - and then comes up with the solution to IR's security problem.What makes this episode strong is not only the interaction between the Tracy boys and Chip and the ensuing use of previous episode footage, but the opportunity for the Tracy boys to display genuine pride in their accomplishments. Also striking is the contrast in Jeff; furious over the security brakdown at first, then displaying fatherly pride toward Chip at the end.AP Films was forced to make this flashback episode - featuring only 17 minutes of new footage - because production costs with the previous two stories escalated faster than anticipated. This episode also marked the swan song for David Holliday as Virgil; Holliday left the show in a contract dispute and also when offered more lucrative stage work. His departure proved a loss, as replacement Jeremy Wilken never could imbue the character with the same charm, despite beging a strong voice actor in his own right.------------------Atlantic Inferno - Next to Terror in NYC as the show's greatest episode, this was the first of the show's aborted second season and the first to be aired in the UK in half-hour two-part format. Hopes that a US network would purchase the series, however, never materialized, and only five more episodes would be filmed after Atlantic Inferno before the series came to an end.Penny invites Jeff for a vacation at her Australian farm, a trip Jeff is initially reluctant to make until silent treatment by the boys persuades him to go. Jeff tries to relax while Scott controls IR, and both mens' mettle is tested when a Navy live-fire exercise in the Atlantic goes wrong and a nuclear torpedo explodes on the seabed, battering the nearby drilling rig Seascape with high waves. Things settle down, but then a gasfield under the seabed is ignited and a huge jet of fire threatens the rig. IR intervenes and plugs the jet, but Jeff accosts Scott for getting involved, and the breakdown in the family's communication may cost the rig dearly, as the gasfield ignites closer to the rig and the rig superintendant and his radioman find themselves trapped on the seafloor in a bathysphere.The episode stands out for two reasons - it offers the most exciting rescue of the series at the end, and it digs deeper into the characters than previous episodes. The show had made its characters engaging from the very start, but Atlantic Inferno explores Jeff and his relationships very effectively. Jeff is not ready to release control of the organization he formed, and the clash of wills between him and Scott threatens the close-knit synergy that makes IR run smoothly.Penny, for her part, recognizes this, and we see in her the surrogate wife of Jeff and mother of the boys - the fate of Jeff's real wife and the mother of his sons was an angle never examined in the show, making Penny's role all the more striking and effective. ------------------Path Of Destruction - The Crablogger is a monstrous tree-cutting and pulverizing machine deployed to South America on a contract for hundreds of barrels of pure wood pulp a day. The Crablogger crew is taken to a nearby cantina for dinner, but contract food poisoning the next day and pass out inside the now-operating machine; with the crew unconscious IR must be called to shut the machine down before it crashes atop a nearby dam and explodes its reactor, but the task is made more difficult because the shutdown procedure is known only to the machine's builder - and Lady Penelope's efforts to contact the man are repeatedly frustrated.---------------------Alias Mr. Hackenbacker - The Skythrust is the newest hypersonic passenger plane, and it contains a revolutionary new device - a new fuel cell designed by Brains (using his real name as an alias), and slated to be used by Lady Penelope for a charity fashion show. But the jet is hijacked by industrial spies seeking the fashion show's revolutionary new clothing material and IR must be called."
Heavy on fun, but these volumes are lite on episodes!
Quasimort | British Columbia, Canada | 05/01/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This set, #5, is the 2nd to last volume in A&E's Thunderbirds collection.For some reason there are only 5 episodes on these discs instead of 6 like on all the previous ones. There are also no additional bonus features to fill the extra space, actually, there are less extras than on the other discs. Only a still photo gallery. No featurettes like on all the other sets. Just unused space.Seems a little lite compared to the other volumes, especially considering its basicly the same price.The last volume, #6, is even lighter, with 3 episodes on disc 1, and on disc 2, no episodes, just a collection of rerun clips hosted by Brains, and a 'Making Of' short that was already on a previous disc in the series. And of course, its still the same price, but for half the content.Quality wise, the episodes are great, remastered video and audio are done very well. A&E has done a swell job on the whole series, and Thunderbirds fans should check these sets out.In th future, I hope A&E searches around a bit more, and obtain enough bonus materials before they release of Captian Scarlet Full Series Box Set! No half filled discs please, these things aint cheap!! :)"