Thunderbirds To The Rescue -  








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  30 Minutes After Noon"Well, believe me, they need to be tough to deal with the Erdman Gang."

International Rescue are called in to save a man from a fire which the Erdman gang forced him to start. The authorities send British agent Southern to bring down the gang from the inside but the Leader is planning their biggest move yet; the destruction of the British Nuclear Plutonium Store and with it half of England...

A man named Tom Prescott is driving through the suburbs of Spoke City, USA when he sees a man waving him over. He agrees to take the man to Princetown Avenue, supposedly to see his sick wife as his car battery has gone flat. They stop outside a house on Princetown Avenue but as he leaves the hitchhiker clamps a metal bracelet onto Prescott's wrist. Holding a gun on Prescott he reveals that the bracelet contains an explosive charge due to go off at 8:00 pm (in 30 minutes) and the only thing that can remove it is a key in Prescott's office in the Hudson Building. Prescott drives quickly away.

Prescott's speeding attracts the attention of Police Officers Flanagan and Jones who give chase in their car. Other Police officers set up a barricade but Prescott, his his desperation, drives straight through them. He arrives at and enters the Hudson Building observed from a nearby flat by Sam Saltzman. Prescott takes the lift to his floor and searches through his filing cabinets for the key. The police are unable to enter without a key of their own.

Prescott finds the key and leaves the bracelet in the office, trying to get the lift back down. However, as he is descending the explosion goes off and the cables to the lift sever causing it to hurtle to the bottom of the shaft ten levels below ground. as the building becomes a blazing inferno, Flanagan reports to Police Commissioner Garfield that no one can reach him. John and Brains in Thunderbird 5 relay a newscast on the event to Tracy Island. Scott is sent in Thunderbird 1 and Virgil and Alan in Thunderbird 2 carring additional dycetylene on Brains' suggestion.

The firefighters try to stop the flames but the sealed fire doors cannot be opened and Prescott is out of reach. Tin-Tin has also discovered that the automatic extinguishers were found empty and Scott suspects that the fire could have been pre-planned. He talks to Garfield, now at the location, who gives him clearance to land at the back of the building and says that the lift shaft is the only way to get to Prescott.

Thunderbirds 1 and 2 land in the street behind the building and the brothers set up the dicetylene cage in the lift shaft. This is similar to a normal lift but as Virgil and Alan descend in it from their makeshift cable, it sprays dicetylene on the flames cooling them. Virgil, however, is worried that they will run out. The cage reaches the bottom of the shaft and over a radio link, Prescott reports that the lift is still intact. A grabber extends from the bottom of the dicetylene cage and pulls the lift up as the cage returns towards the surface. The dicetylene supply runs out leaving both at the mercy of the inferno but they reach the surface in time, saving Prescott.

In Garfield's office the next morning, Flanagan is finding Prescott's story diffulcult to believe but Garfield is convinced that the fire was set up to destroy files in the Hudson Building on the Erdman Gang and other criminal oganisations. Jones enters with the remains of the bracelet found in the building proving the story. On Tracy Island, the member of International Rescue receive a newspaper claiming that Prescott was killed in the fire. Jeff's theory is that the authorites are trying to lure those responsible into the open.

In London, Sir William Frazer of the British Security Service assigns his top agents, Southern, to 'deal' with the Erdman Gang. Before being sent of, Southern is given a pen containing a hidden mechanism. He meets a member of the Erdman Gang in a skyscraper who gives him ones of the bracelets and tells him that the plan will be explained at Glen Carrick Castle, Scotland.

Southern and two criminals also hired by the gang, Dempsey and Kenyon, wait at the castle for 36 hours before the Erdman Gang Leader comes through on the radio and explains the plan. The three men will leave at 9 am for the Nuclear Plutonium Store where isotopes for power stations across Britain are held. The alarms have already been deactivated and the crooks have been supplied with a ray gun that can deactivate the robots that guard each door. When they reach the plutonium vault, the key to open it will also unlock the bracelets which are set to go off at 12:30 pm, causing the biggest explosion in history. Before this, the three men will rendezvous with the Leader's helijet and escape the country.

They arrive at the store and Southern deactivates Robot #23 at the perimeter gates which are blasted open by Dempsey. Kenyon opens the first set of metal doors and Southern deactivates Robot #8. Still on time, they open the second doors and deactivate Robot #17. Kenyon opens the third and final pair of doors but the remaining robot is nowhere to be seen. Only the vault door remains. Southern finds the key for it in a box on the wall but pulls a gun on the other two, revealing his true identity. He tries to force them into helping him capture the Leader but seeing Robot #5 behind him, they keep him talking until it captures him in a grip impossible to break from. The crooks leave all three of their bracelets by the vault door and vacate the building, sealing all of the doors permanently, leaving Southern to his fate.

Southern uses his pen-radio to contact Frazer and tells him to evacuate the area. On the advice of another BSS agent, Frazer calls International Rescue. Jeff sends Scott in Thunderbird 1 and Virgil in Thunderbird 2 with Pod 5 to the store and Lady Penelope and Parker to intercept the Leader's helijet. FAB 1 is held up by a truck but Parker overtakes it.

The Thunderbirds arrive and Virgil drives the mobile Laser Beam Equipment from the pod to the first door. Unable to blast through for fear of upsetting the charges, he slowly cuts through the door and then blasts it open with an air jet. Meanwhile, Parker takes a shortcut down a closed road and then over a field. Virgil repeats the process for the second door. The bracelets begin to smoke and there are seven minutes to go. Virgil opens the final doors. As he tries to release Southern, Scott takes the bracelets and flies off in Thunderbird 1. He flies over the sea and ejects them where they explode harmlessly. Jeff is glad that Prescott is now fully vindicated.

Dempsey, Kenyon and the Leader attempt to fly away in their helijet. However, FAB 1 arrives in the field just in time and fires at it, causing the craft to crash and explode. Penelope then travels to the store where she finds Southern is in need of hospital treatment. She takes him to the hospital herself.

That night, Penelope and Southern enjoy a meal at the Creighton-Ward Mansion. Southern can no longer be a secret agent as his cover is blown. Penelope pressures him to tell her what being a secret agent is like but he assures her that it is not her kind of job, unaware of the truth.

Verdict: While oddly plotted, with two very different stories linked together by a common theme, both halves work extremely well and enable the episode to be very quickly paced. The Erdman Gang are the most effective portrayal of a crime organization throughout the series and their explosive bracelets are a clever idea. Like in The Mighty Atom a nuclear disaster proves to be an excellent way of threatening whole locations and providing extra tension. There are, however, some credibilty problems (e.g. how did the Leader enable the key to the Nuclear Plutonium Store to fit the bracelets when it was in the possession of the authorities?).
Broadcast information: Broadcast on BBC 2 on Tuesday 9th January 2001 at 6:00 pm.

DVD availability: On Volume 2 and the Complete Box Set.

VHS availability: On Volume 4, the Pod 1 Box Set and the Complete Box Set.