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  The Impostors

While playing International Rescue, two boys accidentally call out the real organization, an action which could have had fatal consequences if anyone else was really in danger. Their activites, however, draw the attention of the Hood who traps the boys down a disused mine and then prepares to steal the top secret work of their father...

In the Australian outback, a young boy is trapped on a narrow ledge in a sheer cliff face. Despite an apparent injury, he manages to reach his satchel, a few feet away and uses the radio in it to call International Rescue. In Thunderbird 5, John hears the message but is unable to talk back to the boy. He reports this to Tracy Island along with a location fix of the signal he was able to get. Jeff sends Scott off to Australia in Thunderbird 1.

After a search of the area, Scott sees the boy on the ledge and lands nearby. A rope is lowered from the top of the cliff to the boy and he uses it to climb up. However, it is not Scott at the other end but another boy, dressed in a homemade International Rescue uniform. Scott watches he claims to accept no rewards and does not want to be photographed exactly in the IR style. Scott emerges from hiding and asks for an explanation.

Scott is taken by Tony and Bob to their house where he meets their father, Williams. He explains that the boys adore International Rescue and play games based on it all of the time. Scott is worried that while answering such false calls as this somebody else could come to harm. He invites Tony and Bob to Tracy Island to see how much trouble they could have caused. The next day they leave for the island in Thunderbird 1.

As Thunderbird 1 makes its final approach with Tony and Bob blindfolded for security reasons, Jeff inspects Virgil, Alan and Gordon. Soon Grandma is preparing the food while Alan takes the boys on the monocar around the Tracy Island hangers, taking in the Mole, a fire truck, the Firefly, the Monobrake, the Transmitter Truck and Thunderbird 3. At lunch, the Tony and Bob promise not to send any more phony distress calls. Virgil returns them home in Thunderbird 2.

The story is reported in World News but Williams is worried that it will draw attention to his top secret work. The Hood receives the newspaper and is not fooled by the report that Williams' house is a weather station. It is, in fact, Dunsley Tracker, a station working in conjunction with Satellite HQ to take photographs of the Earth through Space Observatory 3.

As Williams busies himself in the 'Dark Room' where this takes place, Tony heads for the Charity Springs Tin Mine to be 'rescued' by Bob, unaware that he is being watched by the Hood. Tony arrives at the mine and looks for a place station himself despite dangerous land subsidence. The Hood arrives in his desert jeep, disguised as a mine surveyor, and says that he knows a good place for Tony to hide. A short while later, Bob arrives on his go-cart 'Thunderbird 2' only for the Hood to tell him that he could not stop Tony from going down the mine. Before Bob goes down the mine to collect Tony, he has revealed to the Hood that Williams is working alone in the Dark Room. The Hood sets off an explosive charge at the entrance to the mine, the blast knocking the boys down a shaft and trapping them under some rubble at the bottom.

Lt. Lansfield calls Williams in the Dark Room from Satellite HQ and tells him that the latest photos were good and that the project could be nearing its end. The Hood breaks into his house. Over a videophone Williams demands to know what the Hood is doing. The Hood tries to hypnotize him and force him to open the door but Williams turns the screen off just in time. As the mine crumbles dangerously around them, Tony and Bob try to call International Rescue but nobody on Tracy Island believes that they are really in danger.

Williams contacts Colonel Jameson at Satellite HQ who is preparing to collect the photographs the next day and explains the situation. The Hood is trying to burn his way into the Dark Room. As men will not be able to reach Dunsley for several hours, Jameson orders Williams to burn the photos if the Hood gets through. Williams suggests that International Rescue could help him in time. Jameson calls them and, realizing that the boys were telling the truth, Scott heads off in Thunderbird 1 to help Williams while Virgil and Alan go in Thunderbird 2 to rescue the boys from the mine which threatens to collapse on them.

The Hood breaks into the Dark Room, knocks Williams unconscious and takes the photos. Scott lands in Thunderbird 1 and, seeing the Hood escaping in his desert jeep, gives chase on his hoverjet. Thunderbird 2 lands near the mine and Virgil and Alan find an unblocked shaft. Setting up a winch system, they lower themselves down. They track down the boys from their radio-signals, narrowly avoiding a rock fall themselves. They help the boys out from the wreckage and escape from the passageway just as the roof caves in.

Scott continues to pursue the Hood. Suddenly the Hood's jeep flies over a cliff edge and crashes to the ground below. Thinking that the Hood died in the accident, Scott collects the photos from the wreckage, unaware that the Hood is caught in a branch halfway down the cliff face, swearing revenge. He falls, but only to land in a river.

Williams thanks the Tracys for saving the photographs and his sons. Tony and Bob take Scott to their bedroom and get him to slide off a table onto their Thunderbird 2 in a mock-up of the real one's launch. However, the vehicle goes out of control, taking Scott through a chicken shed and covering him with hay before crashing into a fence.

Verdict: A parody of The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a good idea. However, it seems a little unlikely that International Rescue would waste their supposedly valuable time (not to mention put their security at risk) showing the boys around the island. The episode improves when the Hood turns up and the plot really gets going but the importance of Williams' photographs should have been explained in greater detail.
3/6
Broadcast information: Broadcast on BBC 2 on Tuesday 30th January 2001 at 6:00 pm and on Saturday 3rd January 2001.

DVD availability: On Volume 5 and the Complete Box Set.

VHS availability: On Volume 9, the Pod 2 Box Set and the Complete Box Set.