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  Edge Of Impact

General Bron hires the Hood to sabotage tests of the Red Arrow, a fighter plane that will soon be more efficient than his own. But the Hood's intervention could spell disaster for Jeff's friend Colonel Tim Casey and two men in a television relay tower...

A sleek fighter jet which moves with incredible speed fires twice on an installation. Moving on the pilot has only to fire once to destroy a ship. This is a demonstration by General Bron for the benefit of the impressed Hood. Bron admits that the rival 'Red Arrow' craft is superior to his and he offers the Hood a generous reward if he can destroy all of the experimental Red Arrows.

At London Airport, Commander Norman evacuates the test area and hands control over to Colonel Tim Casey. A hanger moves backwards revealing Red Arrow 1 with Race at the controls. Meanwhile the Hood is observing from a nearby car park under the guise of a launderette. The Red Arrow takes off with Race at the controls and levels out at 6000 speed. Soon, however, the speed of the plane is increasing rapidly and Race is unable to control it. It veers off course and begins to dive but Race is unconscious and cannot bail out. Red Arrow 1 crashes into a hanger and explodes. As the emergency vehicles rush to its rescue, Casey puzzles over what went wrong.

On Tracy Island Jeff reads a newspaper which states that the test flights will continue but without the guidance of Casey, an old astronaut friend of Jeff. Bron and the Hood enjoy a meal at the latter's temple but Bron refuses to pay the Hood until the Red Arrow project is abandoned and to achieve this the Hood must sabotage Red Arrow 2.

Alan and Brains detect an aircraft heading towards Tracy Island causing the baffled inhabitants to switch to operation cover-up. The plane dives towards the island as if attacking but when the pilot hits the missile button it simply releases a banner reading 'Greetings Jeff Tracy'. Jeff correctly surmises that the visitor is Casey.

At a television relay tower in the English countryside the Hood attaches a device to the base. He radios the men at the top, Jim and Stan, pretending to be a mechanic and assures them that the structure of the tower will stand a coming storm. Brains checks the blueprints of Red Arrow and theorizes that a homing device drew it off course. He designs a piece of equipment that can detect any such diversions. Goddard, Casey's pilot, leaves the island taking the diversion detector with him.

Soon he is inside Red Arrow 2 as it prepares for launch, now under the supervision of Norman. It takes off and levels out as before. AS the storm closes in around the relay tower, the operators detect a fierce cyclonic force that can only be caused by an aircraft. Goddard detects a diversion and, on Norman's instruction, ejects. Norman contacts the tower and advises that the men evacuate the tower and despite Jim's scepticism, they call for the lift. Unfortunately it does not arrive in time and the Red Arrow smashes into the side of the tower, severely damaging the structure.

With Jim and Stan trapped in the top control room, the tower now threatens to topple over. Stan repairs the radio and calls for International Rescue. The members of IR meet secretly with out Casey who is down by the pool. Scott takes Thunderbird 1 to underneath the pool and Virgil and Alan select Pod 3 in Thunderbird but neither machine can emerge. Tin-Tin has meanwhile taken Casey diving around the island looking for a rare water mamba and once he is underwater she sends a message to Jeff. Thunderbirds 1 and 2 complete their launches.

Some time later, Thunderbird 1 lands a short distance from the tower and Scott decides to coordinate the rescue from that position. He sends the remote camera to fly up the tower and transmit pictures of the damage to him and Thunderbird 2. The camera reaches the top and Scott sees that the men are still safe. Thunderbird 2 lands on the west side and Alan drives the Boostar Mortar, a small caterpillar-tracked vehicle with a front-mounted mortar, from Pod 3 as Virgil accompanies him on foot.

Alan angles the mortar and Scott pulls the camera out of the way. Alan fires a capsule through the window of the control room where it lands on the floor. Jim and Stan take the escape harnesses from inside and stand out on the balcony. They pull the pins and are thrust up into the air. The tower finally collapses and crashes to the ground. Scott and Virgil think that they failed but Alan sees the men land safely on the ground some distance away. Virgil spots the homing device on the remains of the tower. He radios Tracy Island and shows a picture of the object which Brains identifies as the homing device. Jeff tells Virgil to call the police.

The Hood is making a getaway in his van when the police begin to pursue him. Seeing a police barrier up ahead he believes it is an ambush and drives straight through it. However, it is actually a coincidence and they are preventing traffic from approaching the collapsed bridge further down the road. The Hood's van flies off the end and into the river. While the arch-villain survives, he is dismissed from Bron's service.

The Thunderbirds return to base and land, returning to their respective hangers. When all is back to normal, Jeff sends a signal to Tin-Tin who is delaying Casey in the underwater caves that they can now return to the lounge. Jeff and Virgil recount the story (leaving out their own involvement) adding that Casey has been asked to return to supervise future Red Arrow tests. Goddard returns to the island and flies Casey away, this time towing a banner reading 'Thanks Jeff Tracy'.

Verdict: The plot surroundiong the red arrow is more complex than usual and the idea of a rescue being conduction while there is a visitor on the island is a good one. However, the rescue is both less interesting than normal and squeezed into the plot in an unlikely way (just why did the Hood have to attach the homing device to a relay tower?). The extending of this episode has left it rather confused but never boring unlike some other episodes.
4/6
Broadcast information: Broadcast on BBC 2 on Tuesday 12th December 2001 at 6:00 pm and on Saturday 16th December 2001.

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

VHS availability: On Volume 3, the Pod 2 Box Set and the Complete Box Set.