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  THE PERILS OF PENELOPE

"I am setting a trap that not even the lovely Lady Penelope can escape from!"

Lady Penelope and an old friend go in search of a missing scientist. Things go wrong, however, when Penelope is kidnapped from a train and tied in the path of the next one to make him talk...

The Sun Probe

The Sun Probe is about to be launched at Cape Kennedy and the director of the project, Colonel Benson, has the area cleared. A reporter at the site says that a top-secret fuel is in use. Thrust checks are successful, achieving a thrust of 20 million pounds. The gantry is retracted. Two scientists, Sir Jeremy Hodge and Professor Borrender, discuss how they have managed to convert seawater into the new fuel. The final countdown reaches zero and the launch runs smoothly; the project is a success.

Several weeks later, Parker is driving Lady Penelope to Paris in FAB 1. Penelope explains that she is meeting Sir Jeremy at midnight in the Atalante Restaurant. He helped to found International Rescue. They meet at a table outside, unaware that they are being watched by a man, Dr. Godber, on the next table. Convinced that secrecy is assured, Jeremy explains that after an International Conference in Paris two days ago, Borrender caught a train to Anderbad but when it arrived at the other end he was not on it. The waiter brings their drinks but before Penelope can have hers, Parker shoots it out of her hand from FAB 1. He explains that it was drugged. Godber tries to make a hasty getaway but is pursued by Jeremy. Jeremy returns a few seconds later, having lost him. Penelope, however, has found a cigarette packet on his table with an unusual crest.

Godber spying in the Atalante Restaurant

Penelope gives Jeremy a lift in FAB 1 and records an interview with him. He explains that the fuel could be the reason that Borrender was kidnapped. If the formula was used without the right equipment, the oceans of the world could be polluted. If in the wrong hands, it could also upset the political balance of power, throwing the world into war.

Penelope radios Jeff from her Paris hotel and tells him that she and Sir Jeremy are catching the same train to Anderbad. Jeff decides to send Thunderbird 2 to the point where the Anderbad Tunnel emerges from the Alps (near the end of the line) in case of an emergency. Parker confirms that places aboard the train have been booked and Penelope congradulates him for his shooting. Jeff launches Thunderbird 2 with Virgil, Alan and Gordon on board and Pod 6.

The next day Parker waits in FAB 1 outside the Paris Archives while Penelope and Jeremy are being served by a man inside. Examining the crest he tells them that what they want to know can be found in the lower vault. Once they have entered it he removes his disguise; it is Dr. Godber! Penelope, meanwhile, has found a book on which the cobwebs have been disturbed. In it she finds similar crests but the page relating to the one on the cigarette packet has been torn out. The door is slammed and Penelope hears gas being pumped into the room. Jeremy tries banging on the door. Penelope realises that they were served by Godber and contacts Parker who confirms that he saw the man leave. Parker uses FAB 1's harpoon gun to pull out the door to the vault. Penelope still intends to catch the train.

The train (which is suspended from a monorail track above) leaves Paris. Albert, the attendant, assures Penelope and Jeremy that no Professor Borrender has travelled on the train, but Penelope is convinced that he was lying. Sure enough, Albert assures Godber who is on the train that he told them nothing. Jeff tells Virgil in Thunderbird 2 where to land. They have still had no news from Penelope. In the restaurant car of the train, Penelope finds a note beneath her teacup warning her to beware of "desperate men".

Later that night, the train crosses a bridge. Godber hits Albert with a club and throws him off the train. Parker is tracing the the train's route in FAB 1. Penelope contacts him and says that nothing has happened since the attendant disappeared. Parker informs her that he slipped some cocoa into her luggage. Albert regains conciousness and stumbles towards the road, but before he can get to it, he trips over a stone and collapses. Parker drives past and does not notice him.

At Tracy Island Scott approaches and lands in Thunderbird 1 having been on vacation. Jeff explains how the three parties (Thunderbird 2, FAB 1 and the train) will converge at the end of the Anderbad Tunnel and Scott is sorry it had to happen while he was away. Virgil radios in to say that he will arrive at dawn. Jeff is confident nothing more can happen until the train reaches Anderbad.

While in bed, Penelope sees through the gap at the bottom of her door, somebody listening in. She gets her gun and opens the door only to catch a fleeting glimpse of somebody disappearing round a bend in the corridor. She wakes up Jeremy and they follow into the luggage room. Here, Godber is examining Penelope's bags when they catch him in the act. He claims to be the new attendant, checking to see who is getting off at Anderbad. By using her mirror-radio, Penelope shows Parker pictures of Godber talking to Jeremy. Parker recognises him from the Paris Archives.

The train enters the tunnel

Thunderbird 2 lands on a ledge with a good view of the end of the tunnel and Parker pulls up in FAB 1. On the the train, Jeremy remarks that they will be entering the tunnel soon and Godber gets his gun. The train enters the tunnel. Parker goes off to Anderbad Station to meet Penelope and Jeremy. Suddenly the train slows down to a halt and the lights go out. After they have guessed at a power failure, Godber holds Penelope and Jeremy at gunpoint and tells them to leave the train.

From the station, Parker reports that the train will be delayed due to the power failure. Jeff tells Virgil to stand by with the Monobrake. Scott tells Tin-Tin that the Anderbad Tunnel is too deep for Penelope to have made an emergency call. Presently the train emerges but Parker reports that Penelope is not on board. Virgil and Gordon drive the Monobrake out of Thunderbird 2 and into the tunnel.

Roache, Godber, Penelope and Jeremy in the secret tunnel base

In his secret base along the tunnel, Godber holds Penelope and Jeremy at gunpoint and claims that from here he can control all of the traffic in the tunnel. He kidnapped Professor Borrender in the same way and his assistant, Roache, shows them the professor in a cell. Godber wants the formula and intends to use Penelope to make the scientists talk.

The Monobrake drives down the tunnel but Virgil is worried about when the next train will arrive. Jeremy and Borrender are tied up but still refuse to talk. Roache lowers a ladder with Penelope tied onto it directly in the path of the next train; in nine minutes it will arrive and that will be the end of Penelope. The scientists attempt to convince Godber of the consequences of misusing the fuel but only Roache shows any interest.

Virgil and Gordon on board the Monobrake

Alan offers to follow down the tunnel but Jeff forbids him. The next express enters the other end of the tunnel. Virgil and Gordon can hear it because of the echo effect. Roache anounces that there are four minutes to go. Virgil and Gordon sneak upto Godber's base as he plans to switch out the lights so as not to be seen. With two minutes to go, Jeremy and Borrender plead with Godber but it is too late. Gordon enters and begins a shooting match with Godber. Jeremy convinces Roache to stop the train but Godber shoots both Roache and the control board; now they cannot shop the train. Godber forces Borrender to come to him and uses him as a hostage. Virgil shoots at the wires holding up Penelope's ladder as the train rounds the corner. Gordon shoots the gun from Godber's hand. Virgil hits the last wire and the ladder drops beneath the train, leaving Penelope unharmed.

Alan and Parker are waiting, the express having come out 20 minutes previously. Suddenly Alan sees the Monobrake; they are all safe.

Later back in Paris, Penelope, Jeremy and Alan are listening to music at the restaurant when Parker arrives with Tin-Tin who is on holiday. Penelope is reluctant to drink after what happened last time. As she is about to take a sip, the sky is filled with fireworks.

Verdict: Interesting spy story revolving more around the investigations of Penelope than machines. The plot moves at a nice speed and there is a suitable climax. Penelope herself comes off particually well in this episode.
6/6
DVD availability: On Volume 1 and the Complete Box Set.

VHS availability: On Volume 2, the Pod 1 Box Set and the Complete Box Set.