Friday, 8 September 2017

Nerdversity Reviews: Thunderbirds Episode 1 - Trapped in the Sky

Thunderbirds was a 1965 puppet TV series that was the brainchild of Gerry Anderson. The premise revolved around 5 brothers who used high tech machines to perform dangerous rescues, that noone else could perform.

Trapped in the Sky aired on 15th September 1965 on UK TV. It serves as a pilot episode to the series. The plot for this episode revolves around  Criminal mastermind The Hood uses his hypnotic powers to communicate telepathically with his half-brother, Kyrano, and learns that International Rescue is ready to start operating. He travels to London International Airport and places a bomb onboard Fireflash, a new, hypersonic atomic-powered airliner due to depart shortly for its maiden flight to Tokyo. The device is set to auto-detonate from the impact of landing. When the Hood anonymously warns London Tower of this threat,Commander Norman orders Fireflash pilot Captain Hanson and his co-pilot to return to the vicinity of London Airport. An X-ray shot of the wing confirms that a bomb has been planted and, making matters worse, the shielding around Fireflashs nuclear reactor is decaying. If the plane is not landed, everyone onboard will die of radiation exposure in two hours. Tin-Tin is just one of the passengers now in mortal danger.  

John taped in the sky
John Tracy has been listening in to radio transmissions from Thunderbird 5. He contacts Tracy Island and Jeff dispatches Scott and Virgil to London in Thunderbirds 1 and 2, the latter carrying Pod 3.When violent aerobatics fail to dislodge the bomb, the crew are forced to try to remove it by putting a man in the wing. Air Traffic Control calls for the assistance of a TX-204 Target Carrying Aircraft
to place volunteer Bob Meddings in the undercarriage. Although they succeed in placing Meddings aboard, he slips and falls through the hatch before he can reach the bomb.

Fireflash landing

Thunderbird 1 arrives at London Airport and Scott assesses the situation. The plan is to bring the Fireflash, with its landing gear up, down onto three High-speed Mobile Elevator Cars - two radio-controlled vehicles operated by Virgil in the third master control car. While the Tracys are organising the rescue, the Hood, disguised as a police officer, takes photographs of Thunderbird 1. Spotted by the Automatic Camera Detector in Thunderbird 1, he flees with the police in hot pursuit, but they lose him on the M1. Scott calls in International Rescue's London agent, Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward.
The Fireflash makes its approach to London Airport, but one of the radio-controlled Elevator Cars suddenly developes a fault and the landing has to be aborted at the last second. With a replacement car in position, the Fireflash makes a second approach as the radiation safety factor on the anti-radiation shield expires. The Fireflash lands on the Elevator Cars without detonating the bomb, but when Virgil applies maximum brakes his master control vehicle goes out of control and crashes. Supported by only a subsidiary vehicle under each wing, the Fireflash finally slides to a halt with only yards of runway to spare. 

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Meanwhile, on the M1 heading for Birmingham, Lady Penelope and her chauffeur, Parker, pursue the Hood in her Rolls-Royce, FAB 1. Coming to a quiet stretch of motorway, FAB 1's grille-mounted machine gun blows the Hood's car off the road and his pictures are ruined as the car crashes down an enbankment. The villain vows International Rescue has not heard the last of him. The passengers and crew on board the Fireflash are saved, Virgil is unhurt and, with the security of the organization intact, International Rescue's first mission is a complete success. 

 For a pilot episode, this was a fantastic introduction to the characters and world of Thunderbirds. As well as original airings in 1965, it was also re-aired on BBC2 in 1992 and by Carlton in 2001.