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  RICOCHET

"I don't want to sound dramatic, but my air supply isn't going to last forever."

KLA, a pirate TV station in orbit around the Earth, is hit by rogue missile. Taking Thunderbird 3 to the rescue, Alan is able to rescue one member of the crew but must then save Rick O'Shea, the DJ, who has a fear of heights...

As a missile is about to be launched at the Sentinel Base, Jeff comments on how space travel has changed since his day. He begins to tell a story but is interrupted by the KLA station on Tin-Tin's TV. Rick O'Shea is presenting, signing his name with a bullet ricochet sound effect. Tin-Tin adores him but Alan can't stand him. Jeff reminds them that KLA is a pirate space station. As it is not computer controlled it could cause a serious accident.

On board the KLA O'Shea reminds his assistant Loman to get the ricochet in the right place before sending him off to get the breakfast. Both of them hate each others company and O'Shea is tired of having Honey Crunch Crispies for breakfast.

Power is supervising the computer-aided countdown for the rocket launch. A professor comes to tell Power about his promotion. The rocket takes off and heads out of the atmosphere, the upper and lower parts becoming detached. The alarm sounds and Power discovers that the second phase has failed to separate. Even manual control has failed; the missile is a rogue. Power calls International Space Command and requests permission to destroy the missile. The commander agrees to find a clear orbit in which to do this. Power is unhappy as this is his first problem.

O'Shea is working on a rhyme for his station. Meanwhile, having recieved the data from ISC, the professor orders Power to blow up the rocket and he does - just as it is next to the KLA. The two men on board are knocked over but soon recover. Loman is worried about external damage but O'Shea plans to go on broadcasting as normal.

Thunderbird 3 leaves its link-up with Thunderbird 5. Jeff tries to contact John aboard the latter but the link is faulty. He successfully gets through to Virgil and Brains in Thunderbird 3 and they explain that they left Gordon with John on Thunderbird 5 to change the components necessary for its operation. This will take a further three hours.

Despite Loman's worries, O'Shea goes on the air as normal, but his partner's distraction causes him to sound the bullet ricochet in the wrong place. Angry, O'Shea plays some music. There is a sudden jolt and Loman cuts the tranmission. He explains that they are in a new orbit in which they are slowly descending towards the Earth and their braking parachutes have been deactivated. Loman ignores O'Shea's protests and goes out through the airlock in a space suit to check the damage.

Loman finds the damage and returns to the airlock to retrieve a laser only to find the inner door jammed. Brains examines the TV on Tin-Tin's request as KLA have stopped broadcasting but he finds it in order. Loman's air supply is running out and as O'Shea cannot understand the airlock circuit diagram, he decides to broadcast for help. Unfortunately, Thunderbird 5's transmissions willl be down for another two hours.

Tin-Tin sees O'Shea's message and Brains is able to put Jeff in contact with him. Jeff sends Virgil and Brains in Thunderbird 2 and Alan and Scott in Thunderbird 3. Soon Scott and Alan see the KLA losing altitude. O'Shea opens the outer airlock door and, kitted in a spacesuit, Alan spacewalks across to the KLA and retrieves Loman's unconcious body. Scott tells O'Shea to get into a spacesuit as Alan returns for him. O'Shea closes the airlock outer door but refuses to spacewalk due to a phobia. However, as the wind resistance will kill them if the KLA gets any closer to the Earth, Alan begins to cut through the door.

Some time later, ISC contact Thunderbird 2 and explain that the KLA has been predicted to hit the oil refinery at #. Virgil promises to help and flies Thunderbird 2 to the danger zone. Brains suggests blowing the KLA up in the air; if the debris is spread out over the desert no real damage can be done. Brains goes to the missile turret and prepares to fire when suddenly Virgil hears O'Shea's voice over the radio from the KLA and realizes that he must not have been rescued. Brains refuses to kill O'Shea deliberately but thinks of an alternative plan; by using Thunderbird 2 as a bumper car, they can veer the KLA off into the desert.

Thunderbird 2 nears the offending satellite and Virgil makes several attempts to flick it using the wing but all to no avail. On the final attempt the two vehicles become locked together and now Thunderbird 2 is in danger of crashing! Virgil is able to overfly the refinery and shake off the KLA over the desert where it crashes into the sands and explodes. Brains is sorry that O'Shea had to die.

They return to Tracy Island as Alan muses that the lesson has been learnt and there will be no more pirates. Virgil and Brains tell their news but Alan recounts what really happened in space.

Alan cut his way into the main room of the KLA but O'Shea still refused to move. He backed away and hit a switch starting a tape recorder. This recording was heard by Virgil and Brains.

Tin-Tin anounces that she has a surprise and switches on the TV. A presenter introduces O'Shea, now with a black eye, who thanks International Rescue for their help. They play a request from Tin-Tin, Flying High. Alan tries to slip out for a shower but Jeff confronts him with the question of whether O'Shea's black eye had anything to do with his decision to return to Thunderbird 3. Alan insists that it was in the line of duty.

Verdict: The use of a pirate TV station proves to be both origial and a good setting. The humour works well here and O'Shea and Loman are two of the most interesting guest characters that the series has produced. Interestingly, despite it being so late in the series, this is only Thunderbird 3's third on-screen rescue.
6/6
DVD availability: On Volume 8 and the Complete Box Set.

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