Thunderbirds - Set 3
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THUNDERBIRDS: SET 3
Jeff Tracy and his All-American Boys of International Rescue are back with six more episodes of the strangest special-effects adventure ever created. Thunderbirds sets a new standard for the term "wooden" with its slow-moving, rather lifeless marionette stars, but then the characters are really only the support staff for the real stars: the cool sci-fi vehicles they pilot into daring rescue missions. While Thunderbird 1 (the jet) and Thunderbird 2 (the massive sky-born equipment transport) get most of the assignments, you can see the underwater Thunderbird 4 in action in "Day of Disaster" (saving astronauts trapped in a submerged rocket) and "Desperate Intruder" (battling a submarine manned by their vaguely Asian archenemy "the Hood"). Other episodes in this collection include "End of the Road" (a mammoth road grader hangs off a cliff in the South American jungle), "Edge of Impact" (the Hood sabotages an experimental Air Force jet), and "30 Minutes Before Noon" (a raging fire masks a terrorist plot to blow up London). The corker of the collection is "Terror in New York City," where they save the Empire State Building from toppling when it's moved during an urban renewal project. --Sean Axmaker
- 6 complete episodes (Vols 5 & 6):
- "Terror in New York City"
- "End of the Road"
- "Day of Disaster"
- "Edge of Impact"
- "Desperate Intruder"
- "30 Minutes After Noon"
- Photo gallery of production stills
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"Terror In New York City" has acquired an eerie topicality, dealing as it does with a disaster seemingly incomprehensible - the collapse of New York City's signature structure. That it involves such a disaster will no doubt remind viewers of the September 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center, and even at the time of the episode's airing the show's disaster set-piece had a shock value that would have been lost had it been set at any other structure.
Having said this, though, the primary plot point involves two dilemmas for the Tracy family - Virgil is injured when Thunderbird Two, misidentified as a hostile aircraft by a US Navy surface combatant capable of extraordinary speeds, is fired on and takes two missile hits before Jeff can contact the Pentagon and get the attack aborted. With Virgil injured and Thunderbird Two fitted to IR's robot repair bay, the Tracys can do little more than wait for the arrival of necessary components, and watch the movement of the Empire State Building to a new site - an engineering feat covered on live TV by a man who tried to blow IR's cover by videotaping Thunderbird One at the site of an oil fire. When ground tremors open a monster sinkhole, the reporter and his cameraman are trapped when the building collapses, and water from crustal seepages now exposed begin to penetrate the opening. IR now needs help itself to try and rescue the trapped men.
This episode required two directors - David Elliott and David Lane - because it was originally the second episode filmed after the pilot, but had to be extended when the show was expanded to one hour. Alan Fennell's script extension pays dividends in suspence and a brilliant closing shot that makes this one of the two very best episodes of the entire series.
"End Of The Road" - Another moral dilemma faces IR when an old flame of Tin-Tin Kyrano reenters her life, to the manifest chagrin of Alan - chagrin exacerbated by some rather cruel taunts by Virgil and Gordon. Eddie Houseman heads a construction company building a highway in a jungle as monsoon season approaches, and his visit to Tin-Tin is one he has awaited for a long time. But coming rains threaten the project, a project vital to the success of his company - so vital in fact that he must cut short his visit and risk his life to detonate landslides away from the site; when this transpires he becomes trapped in a large truck with explosive charges - and IR must rescue a man who knows them in their secret identity.
"Day Of Disaster" - A space launch to Mars must launch from Great Britain due to its location relevent to the respective orbital paths of Earth and Mars. The automated rocket contains two astronauts. At a vast suspension bridge harsh winds have battered the structure, but it is declared safe - a decision that proves disasterous as the rocket-carrier moves slower than expected and thus stresses the bridge beyond all expectation, sending the rocket to the bottom of the ocean and activating its automatic launch countdown, a sequence that cannot be aborted.
"Edge Of Impact" - Once again a friend of the Tracys makes what becomes an inopportune visit. Tim Casey, an ex-Air Force comrade of Jeff, heads up the development of Red Arrow, a fighterplane more advanced than any other - so advanced that a Saddam Hussein-like military dictator hires The Hood to sabotage the test program, resulting in Casey's dismissal from the project. Jeff gives Tim and his test pilot an ECM box that the pilot uses on a subsequent test flight, but it is not enough to prevent the craft from crashing into a gigantic telerelay tower with two technicians thus trapped on top, and in wind-swept rain making a conventional rescue impossible. IR must launch while keeping Tim from learning their secret, and pull off a rescue that may be too much for them.
"Desperate Intruder" - The Hood attacks a treasure expedition involving Brains and Tin-Tin, and a running fight with IR ensues.
"Thirty Minutes After Noon" - A terrorist gang uses super-alloy bracelets fitted with extremely powerful incendiary explosives to destroy its targets. The gang first blackmails a US government employee into thus blasting the records division of his office. When IR rescues the man, the local police find the remains of the bracelet and the FBI, Interpol, and the British Secret Service recruit an ace secret agent - complete with a clever scene showing only a hat rack on which the agent pulls a Sean Connery-esque hat toss and a close-up of a very Bernard Lee-like desk - to infiltrate the gang and discover their next bomb plot, a mission that suddenlyn goes wrong and leaves a nuclear storage bunker in danger of destruction.