Thunderbirds – 7. Vault of Death

Directed by David Elliott

Teleplay by Dennis Spooner

First Broadcast – 23rd December 1965

My main abiding memory of Vault of Death is that game publisher Europress decided, for some reason, to make a PC game out of it under the altered title, Vault of Doom. For my money it was the best Thunderbirds video game that’s ever been released – although that isn’t saying much. Anyway, just thought I’d share that anecdote, on with the episode!

It looks like we’re in for a Parker-heavy episode. If you think about it, we’ve barely seen Parker in the episodes he’s previously appeared, so this ought to be something a bit different.

VaultofDeath00018.jpg

The episode opens with a shot of Big Ben shrouded in darkness… and leaves.

VaultofDeath00023.jpg

A policeman stands outside the Bank of England. It looks like the end of the world has set in with all the dark fog flooding the street.

The scene is reminiscint of The Great Smog of 1952 which engulfed London. Apparently it’s struck again. The fog, music, and dark lighting create a wonderfully moody atmosphere which compliment the slower paced build up. The outside of the Bank of England itself has been recreated pretty faithfully compared to the real thing. The police uniform itself looks like it came straight from the 1960s. Over the course of the series, little is done to make England look all that futuristic – fitting the American stereotype that Britain’s identity is rooted firmly in its history. With Thunderbirds aimed fairly directly at the American market, the producers chose to embrace those stereotypes rather than attempt to break them.

VaultofDeath00028.jpg

Through the fog, a pair of feet emerge. Live action inserts are everywhere in this episode.

The policeman’s flashlight reveals a startled Lady Penelope. Through the marvels of Supermarionation, the effect of her squinting at the bright light is very well achieved.

All of a sudden things take an even darker turn. Parker knocks out the policeman with chloroform! We’re quickly reassured that he hasn’t been hurt, but all the same the pair have very little remorse. What on earth is happening?

While Parker drags the body out of sight, Penelope inspects the door. Apparently there’s some sort of problem they need to fix… and the first step was to knock out a policeman. Nice.

VaultofDeath00055.jpg

Penelope peeps through the keyhole… or rather a member of the crew that looks a little bit like Penelope (Judith Shutt I believe) does. Aside from appearing on printed material such as newspapers and posters, this is the only part of a live action human face that is seen in Thunderbirds and I have to say it is perhaps a step too far. The hand inserts are necessary because there are certain things puppets just can’t do with their hands. I would assume that the plan was originally to have the puppet do this but it was concluded a real face would look better. It is incredibly jarring though and stretches the imagination a little too far.

Parker knocks out the alarm which apparently any Tom, Dick, or Harry can do just by lifting up the paving slabs outside. Penelope plants some plastic explosive on the keyhole.

They take cover behind some pillars, Parker deciding that this is the perfect opportunity to have a casual smoke…

VaultofDeath00096.jpg

Right as Big Ben strikes two, the explosive goes off and opens the door. Looking at this shot, you get a nice sense of how tall some of the puppet sets actually had to be with the Penelope puppet looking dwarfed by that pillar.

Parker and Lady P have a quick glance around to check that no-one noticed a loud bang in the middle of London. That policeman certainly didn’t.

They stroll through the bank and reach the vault door which apparently Parker has plenty of time to work on…

Half an hour passes. Parker is trying to crack the combination on the vault with a stethoscope while Penelope decides for no apparent reason to be incredibly annoying and click her fingers. Because of the puppets’ limited expressions I suppose it’s difficult to convey something like boredom so that’s why finger clicking was used, but having her doing something that she must know would distract Parker seems a bit daft.

VaultofDeath00127.jpg

Eventually he loses his temper with her. It is not often that Parker has to tell off Lady P, but when he does you know he’s pretty peeved about something. She suggests that he uses a modern detector (whatever that is). Parker reveals that he actually came from a long line of safecrackers. Having seen very little of Parker so far during the series, his crooked past is revealed to us for the first time in this episode and provides a great source for comedy in the rest of the series.

More time passes. We get a very out of focus shot of the policeman still on the ground.

Parker is starting to sweat under the pressure – a detail I always enjoy about the Supermarionation shows. The hand double gives it their all when portraying Parker’s final attempt at cracking the combination.

He pulls open the door triumphantly. Who cares that what they’re doing is very illegal – they’ve done a splendid job. But then, suddenly, the lights come on!

VaultofDeath00140.jpg

It turns out that standing in the corner of the room the entire time are a babbling band of bankers. The effect is like a cage full of parrots squawking after the cover has been removed. It’s quite bizarre for that many people to decide they’re all going to talk at once. And they are oh so English. Now for some reason these background bank executives do cause some intense continuity discussions. However, most of the puppets that appear here are not the same executives that are seen later during the roll call. The character played by General Peters from Pit of Peril appears to be wearing the suit worn by the news reporter in Sun Probe, and the character later seen as Chip Morrison’s father in Security Hazard seems to be wearing Eddie Kerr’s suit.

VaultofDeath00144.jpg

So it turns out that the entire time Parker and Penelope were working under the orders of Lord Silton, the manager of the Bank of England who apparently needed to prove to the board that a new vault door was required. It’s a somewhat eccentric way of demonstrating the need, but I guess his point has been made. What’s a little baffling is that presumably all those bank employees were just standing in that room the entire time Parker was working on the safe. Would you stand around in work for two and half hours at 2am just to watch a demonstration of how useless your facilities are? I know I’d pass on that. Of course they could all have been the governors that Silton was trying to convince, but he does talk about them as if they’re not in the room.

vaultofdeath00145

The puppets have suddenly shifted around a bit but they’re crowding round to hear Parker talk about his expertise which he’s more than happy to share, even though the man on the left of the screen is standing very much in his personal space. Colonel Tim Casey from Edge of Impact can be spotted in the background.

VaultofDeath00150.jpg

Penelope and Silton make dinner arrangements and everyone says their heartfelt goodbyes – the babble of bankers strikes up with some very prominent calls of “Goodbye!”

VaultofDeath00153.jpg

Cor, I bet he’s grumpy.

Parker drives home at breakneck speed, Lady Penelope looking awfully pleased with herself. Parts of the FAB 1 canopy have presumably been removed to allow for puppet wire access but it’s all been rather cleverly disguised. Further discussion is had about Parker’s talent for safecracking which leads to a mention of one of his previous colleagues who is currently ‘retired.’

VaultofDeath00159.jpg

By which he does of course mean in prison. ‘Parkmoor Scrubs’ is not a real prison but the name is presumably based on Wormwood Scrubs in London. The building is a beautiful model, although it does appear to be built in the middle of a wasteland.

Occupying the cells appears to be the janitor, Sam Saltzman, from 30 Minutes After Noon and Sanchos from Path of Destruction. 

VaultofDeath00165.jpg

The double take that the camera does when it passes the empty cell is a piece of sheer directorial genius. Coupled with Barry Gray’s unique score for this episode, it’s a great moment. But no time for that, someone has escaped!

Lights scan the walls and the bins – expertly demonstrating that the prison is on full alert without going to the struggle and expense of showing lots of guards running around.

VaultofDeath00177.jpg

The escaped prisoner, whom we later learn is none other than Parker’s ex-colleague, Light Fingered-Fred, is hiding in a rubbish bin with absolutely no sense of shame, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth… must get awfully smokey in that bin.

Meanwhile, Penelope’s dressed up in a rather lovely evening gown and a nice new hair-do. She’s chatting to Lord Silton about the recent installation of the new vault. It is slightly odd now that I think about it that Penelope’s the one playing hostess to Lord Silton seeing as she’s the one that did him a favour.

VaultofDeath00182.jpg

The shot of Big Ben we’re shown here looks suspiciously similar to the one from the beginning of the episode. The chances are the shot of Big Ben at night was altered in editing using this shot. Now I’m hazarding a guess that everything up until this point was material added to the episode to extend it from its original half hour form. I say it’s a guess because the way the additional sub-plot has been added to the episode is pretty seamless. Whether the entirety of Light Fingered Fred’s part in the episode is added is hard to say because although he doesn’t influence the story directly, he does have a significant effect on Parker and therefore how quickly Lord Silton gets back to the bank. There are some other moments that come up later which cause me to question what is original and what isn’t.

VaultofDeath00183.jpg

Silton is at the bank reading an official report… you can tell that because the piece of paper he’s reading has ‘Official Report’ written on the front.

VaultofDeath00185.jpg

Lovegrove is a rather delightful character voiced by Ray Barrett. Barrett attempted to base the voice on the actor Sir John Gielgud. Certainly when you get Gielgud going on some Shakespeare it does sound rather uncanny.

Silton harps on a bit about how great it is that they’re in the Bank of England… a bit of exposition left over from how the episode would have originally started presumably.

As Silton and Lovegrove walk back over to the desk, we see a few employees working in the background. Many of them appear to be the same puppets that portrayed the scientists at the Government Research Institute in The Mighty Atom. Make of that what you will in terms of what was shot when. It does perhaps imply that either both scenes were shot at a similar time to extend the episodes, or were both shot at a similar time for the original versions of the episodes.

VaultofDeath00192.jpg

“One does, of course, deplore change.” There’s something hilarously stuffy and British about that line. We learn that Silton has the only key to the new vault and that he endeavours to carry it with him at all times… bet that won’t cause any problems later…

VaultofDeath00195.jpg

There’s a rather sudden change in the lighting when Silton requests that Lovegrove call the roll call. It could suggest any number of things really. Nothing else about the scene appears to be any different except that all of the bank employees have suddenly appeared standing in front of them. It could mean that part of the scene was cut. It could be mean this entire scene was added later (although that seems unlikely). It could mean the scene was reshot, either to include new lines, or for other reasons during the production of the original version of the story.

VaultofDeath00198.jpg

For some reason or another people get terribly mixed up about this roll call. First of all there’s the people that assume the bankers in this scene are the same ones we saw during Parker and Penelope’s break in. They’re not. Lovegrove calls out the names and each character responds, though many of the responses are not seen on screen but are heard. David Graham voices Taylor, Moore, and Barrett. Shane Rimmer voices Carter. Peter Dyneley voices Longman. But basically all that happens here is that a few members of the cast just respond to the names in various posh British voices with not much thought being given as to which one is which. After all, David Graham’s voices for Moore and Barrett are basically identical. So when some of the voices change later, it isn’t much of a surprise. Oh and even though Moore is standing right in front of Lovegrove, he does rather struggle to pay attention to his name being called out which is rather amusing.

VaultofDeath00199.jpg

During the roll call we get a good long look down the vault corridor and are assured that it’s empty, with Lambert’s absence accounted for by one of the other bankers… or said banker was plotting to entomb Lambert all along by claiming he was no longer in there… there’s a dark twist…

Silton puts the electronic key into a slot with some flashing lights on which causes the rather nicely patterned vault door to close. Silton and Lovegrove wax lyrical about how brilliant it is and how no-one will break in and that the air is pumped out to preserve the papers.

While the door closes Silton suddenly moves back to his desk.

The air starts to be pumped out of the vault and the camera tracks away from the door, and we see Lambert walking down the corridor… towards the door… How does he not see that the door is closed?

VaultofDeath00220.jpg

Lord Silton prepares to leave, looking awfully smart. He states that the door probably won’t be opened for another two years… which probably means nothing inside it is of much use to anyone really.

VaultofDeath00222.jpg

So Lambert gets back to work, locked inside the vault with the closed door just a few yards away from him. I know he’s hard working and everything, but surely he’d notice that the door was closed.

After the commerical break, the air in the vault is at 3/4 full… or 1/4 empty if that’s how you choose to live your lives. Lovegrove says they’ve checked everywhere else and can’t find Lambert so there’s a chance he could be in the vault. We never actually see any discussions had about Lambert’s whereabouts or whether anyone was looking for him. I thought everyone assumed he’d gone home, seeing as Lord Silton’s allowed to swan off to dinner whenever he fancies.

Lambert gets incredibly irritated when Lovegrove interrupts his work and so thrusts his intercom into a drawer. Rather than saying anything useful to stop him, Lovegrove just says “Hello” a lot.

VaultofDeath00236.jpg

Now one moment Shane Rimmer is voicing a banker…

vaultofdeath00237

Lovegrove points out the air indicator and says they only have 2 hours.

vaultofdeath00239

And then David Graham appears to be voicing the same character a second later. There’s a couple of explanations as to what happens here. Either the script dictated that two different characters be speaking to Lovegrove during this scene, but the director chose to only use one, or the line was dubbed on later by David Graham instead of Shane Rimmer. Either way, it’s not really a big deal. Anyway, he suggests that Lovegrove call Lord Silton to get the key, but Lovegrove doesn’t know exactly where he is. He huffs about having to use the emergency call system as if it’s such an effort to try and save the life of one of his employees.

VaultofDeath00243.jpg

Silton looks to be having an absolutely spiffing time with Lady P, thanking her for the good work she’s done robbing the bank. We learn that he basically considers Parker to be the perfect man…

VaultofDeath00245.jpg

This is why I love Parker and I love Thunderbirds. The comedy of the series is always cheeky and manages to play with stereotypes without being insulting to anyone. People love Parker because he walks the line between being the stuffy butler and the cockney ex-con. In this scene he’s a loud-mouthed, old-fashioned bloke and the complete antithesis of the polite gentleman that he acts like around Lady Penelope. If you think about it, it’s rather sweet that he puts on a little show for ‘er ladyship to impress her.

VaultofDeath00247.jpg

For this episode only we’re introduced to Lil, the cook at Creighton-Ward Manor. Another lovely character who we sadly don’t see more of. Penelope obviously has a thing for servants who try to be posh but clearly aren’t. The back and forth between her and Parker is magnificent, some of the best comedy in the series. They resemble an old married couple who argue one minute but turn all sweet towards each other the next.

Parker’s ever changing facial expressions during the scene help to make it even funnier.

VaultofDeath00254.jpg

As Lil reads off the menu and Parker expresses his views on the matter, I couldn’t help but notice that Parker’s uniform is hanging up on the door nice and neatly.

Lil treats Parker to his favourite stew. It’s amazing how a puppet’s facial expression can be read in so many different ways based on the dialogue. The stew itself doesn’t look terribly appetizing but whatever floats your boat Parker.

VaultofDeath00277.jpg

Parker settles down to eat and read but then. with tremendous uproar, he rises from his seat, slams his fists on the table (in his dinner actually) and announces “COR! Strike me pink! Light Fingered Fred’s out!” Very dignified…

vaultofdeath00281

Another glance at a Thunderbirds newspaper. As with the papers in the last episode, the date at the top is Friday, 24 December 1964.

Speak of the devil, Fred’s making good his escape. Rather luckily for him, the bin he was using as a hiding spot was placed at the very back of the truck which enables him to tip off at very high speed and roll along the road, bounce down a hill and stop abruptly at a tree. Of course one would usually expect such a stunt to seriously injure a person, but because this is Thunderbirds, all is well. Without any sign of complaint, Fred slides out of the rubbish, cool as a cucumber, still with a cigarette in his mouth…

VaultofDeath00292.jpg

Back at the manor, it’s time for coffee, and Penelope gets up to ring the bell for service. She attempts to walk over to it, but making a puppet walk is difficult at the best of times, but when they’re wearing a long dress and high heels it must have been monumentally difficult to even get a few steps out of her.

A rather sheepish Parker answers the call and leaves to get coffee. Silton reminds us all once again that his briefcase containing the electronic key never leaves his side. But then there’s suddenly a beeping noise which signals to Silton that there’s an emergency at the bank.

VaultofDeath00300.jpg

As Silton and Penelope discuss the possibility of bank robbery, Parker brings forward his weapon of choice…

VaultofDeath00305.jpg

He shoots…

VaultofDeath00308.jpg

He scores! Boiling hot coffee absolutely covers Lord Silton’s gentleman regions after Parker immediately links the talk of bank robbery to Light Fingered Fred and panics rather absurdly.

VaultofDeath00312.jpg

Silton lets out some extreme profanity – “YOU CLUMSY NINCOMPOOP!” – how outrageous.

VaultofDeath00314.jpg

Penelope looks utterly broken inside, like her little world has fallen apart and that Parker could not have disappointed her more. It’s rather sad in a way after all the praise she’s been giving him. He’s let her down in such an embarrassing way. She’s not angry, just surprised, which is basically worse.

Very quickly everyone starts to make their apologies. Lord Silton regains his cool remarkably swiftly for someone with boiling hot coffee continuing to burn their legs and… other things.

VaultofDeath00320.jpg

The whole time he’s managed to keep a hold of his cigar. He expresses the need to immediately ring his colleagues about the emergency… the emergency at the bank that is, not with his trousers.

Lambert is still working away, doing some pretend writing in the way puppets do. David Graham is still voicing the brown-haired bank worker whose face we never see for some reason.

As Lord Silton starts to make his video call to the bank, Parker’s intentions are made clear without a single word of dialogue needing to be uttered. It’s all expressed through the music and his eye movements. He opens a panel on the wall and prepares to cut some wires.

As soon as Silton gets through to Lovegrove, Parker cuts off the videophone. How devious. His behaviour raises all sorts of questions and intrigue. If he does believe Fred is responsible for some misdeed at the bank, why is he trying so hard to protect him? The mystery adds such wonderful depth to the character.

Parker is very nearly given away when the wire cutters fall from his jacket.  I adore the incredibly child-like way he says “I’ve been… pruning the roses, madam.”

Penelope offers to take Lord Silton to London immediately, boasting about FAB 1’s fantastic speed. Some great music adds to the hilarity of the reveal that Parker has elected to drive as slowly as possible.

VaultofDeath00352.jpg

Lord Silton remarks, “It’s a very smooth ride. It feels as though we’re hardly moving.” Bold talk from a man that just got boiling hot coffee thrown at him by the person driving.

Feeling threatened by Penelope, Parker picks up speed but heads to a place sign posted as ‘Nowhere Heath’ instead of London. This signpost gag is almost a little more surreal than one might expect in Thunderbirds.

With just 90 minutes left, and all his energy exhausted from yelling at Lambert through the intercom in his drawer to no avail, Lovegrove begins to wonder whether getting some outside help would be a good idea… I mean he could have tried calling the fire brigade or the people who built the vault perhaps, but no, straight away he assumes International Rescue are required for what is really quite a simple problem.

VaultofDeath00368.jpg

John takes the call from a banker now being voiced by Shane Rimmer.

Jeff and Tin-Tin hear from John, whose line is mostly spoken without him being shown on screen, and when he is the dialogue is completely out of sync with the lip movement. This suggests a touch of re-dubbing has been done.

VaultofDeath00376.jpg

The Tracy boys are sitting by the pool. Virgil’s already on the wine, so unsurprisingly he’s the one up on his feet first yelling at everyone to get to it when the signal comes through.

For some reason Jeff is smiling like a madman when Scott and Alan come inside. Virgil must have fallen in the pool

Soon Thunderbird 1 is in the air and Tin-Tin instructs Scott on his landing point. The puppet of Scott that appears on the TV portrait is different to the one we see intially in Thunderbird 1. He requests that Virgil have some help on this mission.

While discussing with Tin-Tin who could possibly go with Virgil, Jeff’s facial expression changes back to the fairly neutral state we’re used to. But then as soon as he sends Virgil off he’s back to mad smiling and slightly puffy hair. This appears to suggest that this short moment was added to the episode later, even though I’m fairly convinced Alan was a part of the rescue in the original version of the episode. Anything to pad things out I guess!

vaultofdeath00401

Alan is set down the passenger chute with a different face on to any other shot we see of him in the episode, suggesting again that in the original episode it wasn’t such a big deal that Alan was on the mission and that this shot showing him boarding Thunderbird 2 was added later.

VaultofDeath00407.jpg

As Virgil enters the Thunderbird 2 cockpit this is the first time we get to see an alternative angle to the norm as he slides into the chair which clearly shows some wooden framework in the top left of the shot. This shot only appears a couple of times in the series during the Thunderbird 2 launch sequence and you bet that we’ll point it out to you whenever it comes up.

VaultofDeath00412.jpg

Immediately after Virgil’s uniform emerges from the ground he has it on and Alan appears from the passenger chute.

Lambert is still blissfully unaware of the doom he faces as the vault’s air level drops down to half full… or half empty… but I’ve already done that joke. Anyway, Lovegrove isn’t too confident that International Rescue are going to manage to rescue him. Maybe he should have tried calling for help from somewhere a bit more local first.

Then we get some rather epic shots of Scott, Virgil and Alan in their silly hats flying towards England.

VaultofDeath00424.jpg

But then things go a little pear-shaped with the continuity as Thunderbird 1’s paint and lettering job changes as it starts to make its descent.

After the commerical break, Thunderbird 1 has landed at the City of London Heliport, a building which appears to be partly made out of the Marineville Control Tower from Stingray.

VaultofDeath00431.jpg

Scott’s looking horrendously laid back about the whole situation as he assures Lovegrove that the equipment to carry out the rescue will arrive soon. Lovegrove clearly can’t quite work out why Scott would bother turning up without being able to actually do anything.

VaultofDeath00437.jpg

Thunderbird 2 touches down at the heliport which is just about big enough to accomodate her. The effects team sometimes had trouble getting all four of Thunderbird 2’s thrusters to work in perfect synchronisity, and as you can see from this shot, it takes an extra fraction of a second for the rear one to shut off.

John reports to base that because of London’s underground cables, the Mole cannot be used… a couple of things here. Once again John’s dialogue is slightly out of sync with the footage of him on the portrait, and he’s quickly cut away from while speaking. Secondly, it’s a pretty poor excuse for not saving a man’s life as quickly as possible just because of some cables. I’m suggesting that this line could be a later addition, and that it’s possible that the Mole could have been used in the original version of the episode. Maybe. It seems unlikely that something like that would be cut out.

Virgil’s little laser cutter is a bit pathetic really and is barely making a mark on the door. For some reason Scott is oblivious to that fact and still boasts about how great their equipment is.

VaultofDeath00453.jpg

Meanwhile, Parker wants to show Penelope and Lord Silton the views from Nowhere Heath’s favourite tourist spot.

VaultofDeath00454.jpg

Notes left on the sign include ‘Flash Loves Leslie’, ‘Leave No Litter!‘ and ‘Kilroy Was Here.’ Remember that last one. One can also make out the year ‘1965’ on the left of the sign. The original half of the episode would have been filmed in 1964, so it’s likely that this scene was filmed later.

An owl watches over this wonderfully atmospheric scene. Penelope orders Parker out of the car and once again looks very disappointed in him. Parker is forced to justify his actions with the story of his connection to Light Fingered Fred.

vaultofdeath00466

We’re shown a flashback of Parker’s life in prison. Writing on the wall indicates that Kilroy was also there too. Their cell is decorated with seemingly random pictures of women. Fred abruptly strikes up conversation.

David Graham performs this scene brilliantly playing both Parker and Light Fingered Fred. One of the strangest yet funniest moments is when Fred takes a pause to light his cigarette and we’re all left wondering where exactly he’s going with this. Fred announces that he’s going to rob the Bank of England when he gets out of prison. He gives a splendid hand gesture as he says “I personally will DO the Bank of England.” Nothing rude implied there.

VaultofDeath00491.jpg

Penelope looks satisfied with Parker’s loyalty to his ex-colleague and declares that she will be driving Lord Silton to the bank…

Oh dear. Penelope almost drives them off the edge of the cliff and she acts as if nothing at all is wrong. The whole Penelope not being able to drive thing is fairly funny on the surface but if you think about it for too long it doesn’t make that much sense that International Rescue’s London Agent is that unskilled. Similar to the screaming at mice thing from the last episode, it just doesn’t fit Lady Penelope’s function in the series as someone that can hold their own in a dangerous situation. Eventually the writers will get the hang of making her look like someone that International Rescue would actually want to work for them.

Parker and Lord Silton quiver in fear as Lady Penelope just about dodges a tree. FAB 1 certainly takes a few knocks in this sequence!

FAB 1 launches over a bridge and we’re left with the smoking remains of another car that’s been forced off the road. Again, it’s funny on the surface but if you think about it too hard, Penelope could have just killed someone…

Virgil’s still pointing a light at the door in the hope it’ll just disintergrate in front of him, but fortunately Scott calls an end to this rather tedious rescue attempt. It’s rare for International Rescue to waste so much time before working out a decent solution to a problem. Scott points out a weak spot under the vault, but Virgil is adamant that they can’t tunnel in even though they really should.

Scott contacts base for a solution. Brains is clueless. But Grandma knows what to do! Assuming what we’ve always assumed about Grandma’s appearances prior to Move – And You’re Dead, this scene must be an addition. This could mean that they figured out how to utilise the London Underground slightly differently originally, or that they didn’t use it at all. We may never know! This episode is certainly something of a puzzle when it comes to working out what was original and what wasn’t. Anyway, we learn that since the invention of the overhead monorail (which we’ve yet to actually see in the series), underground rail systems have become redundant. Thinking about it, it seems a little far fetched that such a large, complex, and expensive piece of infrastructure would just be left to waste in most major cities. Apparently it was Grandma’s grandmother that first told her about the subways, meaning they were most likely redundant by the time Grandma was born, which is a bit of a head scratcher no matter what year you consider Thunderbirds to be set in!

vaultofdeath00567

Virgil and Alan soon arrive at a beautifully detailed re-creation of Piccadilly Circus’ Underground station. The amount of dirt and rubbish all over the set looks fantastic, and the amount of muck smeared all over Virgil and Alan looks great too. Of course it is a little puzzling why Virgil and Alan went all the way over to Piccadilly Circus when they were already at the Bank of England, and all their equipment was in Thunderbird 2 at the City of London Heliport which also wouldn’t have been anywhere near Piccadilly Circus if the traditional definition of ‘City of London’ is being used.

With just 10 minutes of air left in the vault, Penelope’s taking plenty of shortcuts and doing some pretty deadly stunts. Surely Parker would have taken over at this point regardless of how badly he let Fred down?

VaultofDeath00643.jpg

Virgil and Alan arrive at Bank Station. Now we’ve already covered how bizarre it is that they didn’t start here in the first place. Maybe one of the tube stations near Piccadilly Circus was the only one that was still easily accessible? But what is a little odd is that Piccadilly Circus is on the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines, but Bank is on the Central, Northern, Waterloo & City, and DLR lines. I mean they could have changed lines, but why not start on the right line in the first place? Or just start at Bank and save an awful lot of time generally.

Meanwhile, the penny drops for Lambert. About time too. You can just about see a black line on the door where Virgil was cutting through. Thinking about it, they may not have been able to cut a hole in the door big enough to get through, but they could have at least given Lambert an airhole to stop him, y’know, dying…

Alan and Virgil climb up the ladder of an elevator shaft to reach the weak point that they can get through. They do seem to be enjoying themselves.

The air is close to empty… or about 3% full if, unlike Lovegrove who’s convinced of failure, you’re still feeling like an optimist. Lambert headbutts the wall.

VaultofDeath00668.jpg

Using standard WASP pistols from Stingray as drills, the boys start rigging the explosives.

FAB 1 finally arrives at the bank. The canopy on the puppet sized FAB 1 set is noticeably more angular than the canopy on the model.

VaultofDeath00676.jpg

Scott finally looks vaguely bothered about it all. Lovegrove’s fallen into a complete pit of despair.

VaultofDeath00681.jpg

Virgil and Alan have rigged something that appears to look like explosives and go to take cover.

Scott’s back to looking a bit nonchalant as Lord Silton and Penelope arrive. Where Parker enters the scene I’m not quite sure. The slight difference in lighting, not to mention the fact Scott just said there was only one minute to go, possibly suggests that this scene and therefore the whole sub-plot of getting Lord Silton to the bank could have been added to the episode or at least slightly altered.

It becomes apparent that Lord Silton has forgotten his briefcase. You had one job! But never fear, Parker is on the case…

VaultofDeath00702.jpg

Lambert tries using the radio in his drawer to call International Rescue. Considering he’s seconds away from dying it does seem a bit odd that he wouldn’t be calling someone a bit more local.

Suddenly the wall of the vault explodes to reveal Virgil and Alan. I love Virgil’s line “We’re through!” Thank you Captain Obvious. Nevertheless, Lambert is thrilled by their efficiency.

VaultofDeath00739.jpg

Awww, Penelope looks so pleased with Parker. Those two have been on quite the emotional rollercoaster in this episode. With one of Lady P’s hairpins, Parker opens the vault with relative ease.

VaultofDeath00742.jpg

Virgil and Alan help Lambert out of the vault door, who must have insisted on picking up his jacket first.

vaultofdeath00745

Lord Silton is absolutely flabbergasted that the door could be opened with a hairpin. They should definitely ask for their money back…

VaultofDeath00748.jpg

Driving back home, Penelope is still slightly puzzled as to why it took so long for Parker to open up the vault during the demonstration compared to opening the new one. He claims that it was because he wanted to put on a show the first time. Because nothing pleases an audience more than being kept up until 4am watching a man really slowly open a door…

Light Fingered Fred makes his grand entrance, blowing a hole in the wall next to the one just made by International Rescue.

VaultofDeath00762.jpg

Rather oddly, Scott’s mobile control centre is still set up, even though there doesn’t appear to be anyone left in the building. So if all else fails Fred could aways help himself to that and sell it to The Hood.

VaultofDeath00769.jpg

It’s like Christmas for Light Fingered Fred. He’s appalled by their lack of security and suggests they keep everything in his kid’s piggy bank. So wait, Fred has a kid? I’m picturing a fantastic backstory about Fred’s life which needs to be explored further through a blockbuster biopic… but sadly this is the end of the episode.

Vault of Death is very much Parker’s episode and does a lot to build his character, which is interesting seeing as he may not have even featured in the original half hour version of the episode at all. It’s a testament to the relatively good continuity and re-writing of the episode that the added sub-plot fits into the episode pretty seamlessly.

The comedy and character development of the episode is superb. Parker is now a fully fledged character rather than a minor part. Unfortunately Lady Penelope is still waiting to receive the same treatment. The rescue operation itself isn’t the most exciting the series has ever scene, and instead sits in the background of a story which became all about developing one of the series’ most well-remembered and loved characters.

Next week, the world’s unluckiest plane, the Fireflash, returns in Operation Crash-Dive. The episode is another personal favourite of mine, so how well will the sequel to the classic Trapped In The Sky stand up to scrutiny?

6 thoughts on “Thunderbirds – 7. Vault of Death

  1. Ian Luck

    I was pleased at how dirty Alan and Virgil were in the disused Tube tunnels – it’s absolutely filthy down there. Blackish-grey dust [which, it turns out, is mostly comprised of skin fragments], coats everything in disused areas, and transfers itself readily to anyone venturing down there, So it makes sense that the Tracy brothers would be hanging in it, as their hover-bikes stirred it up. In reality, they would have been even filthier.

    Like

  2. You are far, far kinder to this episode than I was! It may be my least favorite of the series, though I’ll concede that the “downstairs” scene with Parker and Lil is really funny.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Thunderbirds – Extending The First Eleven – Security Hazard

  4. Mr Ron

    The tubelines issue is easily resolved. The City of London heliport is clearly the London heliport and still based at Battersea in 2025/2065/2005 (and thus not in the City at all – just like our modern London City airport isn’t).

    They hopped over the river, probably in the monobrake or similar. Parked up at Fulham Broadway, stood and had a fag or too before accessing the network, changed at Earls Court for the Piccadilly and again at Holborn for the Central.

    Easy!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s