30 March 2016

TV Review: Thunderbirds - Desperate Intruder

Wow, what an excellent episode this is. After a few hazy memories, we've reached that story where the Hood buries Brains alive in the desert - and it's even better than I had hoped. This is a less conventional episode but it's good to have stories like this as not only are they enjoyable in their own right but they add colour to the International Rescue outfit; of course they weren't going to be waiting around for the next emergency all the time.

This starts off with a very relaxed vibe to it - even John's down from Thunderbird 5. I know Gerry Anderson didn't like him for some reason but it would be nice to see a bit more activity from the "Space Monitor" - he's basically their receptionist, or agent if you want to put it nicely, so who mans the phones when he's off duty? Anyway, Brains and Tintin are off for a jaunt in the desert, hunting for treasure at the bottom of a lake with a kindly professor. As I have already elaborated, it doesn't go exactly to plan.

Brains and Tintin rendezvous with Professor Blakely and make an initial exploratory dive. Luckily, they strike gold - literally - on their first attempt and the sample they take back to the professor contains definite traces of the treasure they're after. Unfortunately for them, the Hood is already in place at the bottom of the lake, watching and waiting. Determined to know where the treasure is, he pays them a visit in the middle of the night and when Brains awakes the next morning, he is buried up to his neck in the sand. He refuses to submit though, and before long Jeff, who's waiting back at base, knows something's wrong.

Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 4 are soon on the scene to affect a rescue and find out just what's going on. They quickly sort things out, but don't find the Hood (is searching the bed of the lake that ridiculous an idea?) and that night, Brains feels compelled to go for another dive. Bearing in mind that there's a villain somewhere in the vicinity, he tells Tintin where he's going and they stay in radio contact. Once back in the temple at the bottom of the lake, he activates an alarm set by the Hood and he is confronted by the bright-eyed one again before too long. He's knocked unconscious and the temple is swiftly destroyed.

Tintin alerts Scott, Virgil and Gordon, and Thunderbird 4 is soon deployed. Gordon finds Brains and manages to shoot down the Hood's submarine - which looks almost as cool as TB4, by the way - but he escapes to fight another day. This is an interesting development in the Hood's story as he's not actively trying to bring down International Rescue or steal their secrets - though I'm sure he wouldn't say no. His main goal here, like in Edge of Impact, is to add a bit more treasure to his collection. It's a very fancy pyramid he's got, while we're on the subject. He does use his connection with Kyrano again though. I feel like there was some kind of pay-off to this at some point where Jeff found out, but it could well have been in one of the films so we'll see if it crops up in these TV episodes.

This is Donald Robertson's second episode and both of them have featured the Hood. I don't know if his last two, which are coming up in the second half of this marathon, will too, but he seems to have a firmer grip on the character here than in Edge of Impact and crucially remembers the all-important humorous side to the episode that makes Thunderbirds as good as it is.

Desperate Intruder is a great story - the best yet, in fact - and gives us some totally different visuals. Regular readers will know that setting a story underwater is a solid way of scoring points with me, but it's even truer when it looks as good as it does here. This coupled with the desert gives the series a nice, different tone. It's really good that the producers and Alan Pattillo, the permanent script editor, are trying to mix things up, keeping everything fresh. There's a definite sense of fun to this episode - for example, the nonsense with the taxi driver - and it doesn't leave any time to catch your breath thanks to David Lane's tight direction. This is one of the strongest instalments yet and I wouldn't hesitate recommending it, even to those new to the series.

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