Monday, August 1, 2011

Thunderbirds made me puke

I know of course that we are not to take Thunderbirds seriously (unlike, for example, Captain Scarlett). It's schlock, it's just for fun, this is not high art or serious fantasy or sci fi. But I've just seen what has to be the stupidest episode in the history of Supermarionation.

There is one good thing about this episode: the use of live actors. We see Lady Penelope's feet walking (Anderson's puppets couldn't walk) in the fog at night, we see her eye looking through a peephole, and her gloved hands snapping her fingers annoyingly. But otherwise...

First, it's a Parker-centered episode. I hate Parker. I kind of hate Penelope, too, but she at least is rich,beautiful and gracious. Parker is none of the above.

Ex-con Parker has been tasked with proving that the vault of the Bank of England needs replacing by a newer more modern vault. To do so, he must crack the safe, which he does with ease. But because we are supposed to think at first that Penelope and Parker have gone to the dark side, we see them knocking out the watchman guarding the entrance to the Bank. This of course is crazy, as they are the guests of the governor of the Bank, so this is a pointless and dangerous assault that makes no sense as soon as you realize that Parker is working for the Bank on this "caper".

And why does the Bank of England have just one guard? ONE GUARD!

And why do they BLOW DOWN THE DOOR (the only door) with explosives? Again, it's just nuts.

So Parker demonstrates that the old safe is useless, giving the Governor the proof he needs to convince his superiors that he needs a new safe. Penelope invites him to dine with her the next evening to celebrate.

And overnight, the new safe is installed. Yes, this major project, involving heavy construction, takes place overnight.

The new safe is electronically controled by a single key. That's right, there's just one key that can open and close the vault, and it remains in the hands of the Governor at all times. Or rather, in his briefcase. Let's hope he doesn't drop it down the drainpipe or something.

None of this would be Thunderbirds worthy if the Bank of England didn't have its employees work in the vault. Yes, the staff works in the vault.

And so at the end of the first day the Governor takes roll call to check that all staff has left the vault. One man (only men work at the Bank of England) is missing, but one of his colleagues says "I think he left already", which is enough for the Governor, who doesn't bother to send anyone to check that the vault is clear before closing it.

Now here you would say to yourself, well, no big deal: the guy's in the vault, but he'll be freed the next day. [I have since seen that this vault was to be closed for TWO YEARS. Why? Who knows, and it doesn't change much, except make one wonder even more why they've installed offices in a vault that will be locked tight for TWO YEARS.] And except of course that the new vault pumps all the air from inside, because documents are conserved better in a vacuum. Yep. They vacuum-pack these precious documents.

Fortunately for our staffer locked in the vault, it seems to take about 5 hours to produce the vacuum. Based on this, we could guess that the contents of the vault benefit from the preserving effect of the vacuum for about one hour a day... |If it's closed for two years, this seems less stupid. But of course there is no explanation as to why it takes so long, or why the staffer is able to continue to work and breathe and not even notice the lack of air until it's almost all gone.]

Of course, the Governor could open the safe, but he's having dinner with Penelope, and hasn't told anyone where he's located. Somehow the special alert signal from the Bank reaches him, and he tries to call the Bank. But Parker cuts the telephone wire, and will continue to sabotage all attempts at getting the Governor to London.

Why? Because a fellow ex-con, who has dreamt of breaking into the Bank of England, has just excaped from prison, and Parker decides it's better to help his old friend (not sure how his actions will do this, but let's set that aside for now), rather than respecting the law. For a reformed criminal, Parker is beyond shady.

Penelope finally gets the Governor to the Bank in the nick of time, only to discover that the asshole has left his briefcase with the only key able to unlock the safe back at Penelope's stately home. Ugh!

The Tracy boys have in the meantime been trying to open the safe. They are having no luck making a hole in the door. This is odd, since their torches can cut anything, and all that's really needed in this case is the tiniest of holes to let in air. Instead, they decide to use the abandoned tube tunnels (the Underground has been out of service for years, leaving us to wonder how Londoners get about).

But in the end, it's accomplice-to-criminals Parker who saves the day, unlocking the door with one of Penelope's hairpins.


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