Thunderbirds – 18. 30 Minutes After Noon

Directed by David Elliott

Teleplay by Alan Fennell

First Broadcast – 11th November 1965

30 Minutes After Noon is quite an oddity. It distinctly features two very different rescue missions, an awful lot of live action hand inserts and unusual camera angles, and some robots which… well we’ll come to those later. It couldn’t be clearer that this script originally started life as a half hour story but needed to be extended before production started. Yet despite being linked by the bracelet plot, the two halves of the episode feel like two completely separate stories that have been glued together afterwards. David Elliott directs the episode (or at least the second half of it) with flare and quirkiness, inspired as he was by the film The Ipcress File.

As the teaser montage demonstrates, on the one hand you have a burning building and a man trapped in a flooding elevator, and on the other you have three blokes tackling some robots. Each of you probably have your preferred portion of this episode; I think it’s difficult to appreciate both parts equally.

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It is an odd title isn’t it? 30 Minutes After Noon refers to the time when the nuclear store seen later in the episode is scheduled to explode, but if you happen to miss that brief bit of dialogue you’ll be left baffled by this episode title.

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This is Tom Prescott. He’s a rather unlucky fellow, but he doesn’t know that yet so I wouldn’t mention it to him. Tom’s driving home in his car. The puppet set is adapted from Alan’s BR2 racing car seen in Move – And You’re Dead, as well as making a number of other appearances in the series. We last saw Prescott as a newsreader in material added to Operation Crash-Dive. He was wearing the same suit and everything. Barry Gray is currently giving us some smooth jazz to ease us in to the episode.

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Prescott tunes the radio to give us some easy listening music, demonstrating that musical maestro Barry Gray had a broad range for excellent tunes.

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Compare this shot to the very first shot of the episode and you’ll notice that Prescott is driving past exactly the same set of buildings and trees again.

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At the side of the road there’s this guy. Would you pick him up on a dark night?

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Don’t do it Tom.

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Never mind Tom. So this creep claims he needs to visit his doctor to get his sick wife some treatment. On the subject of marriage, Prescott reveals that tonight is his third wedding anniversary.

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Hence the flowers.

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They arrive near ‘the doc’s house’. I love the design of these houses – very retro-futuristic.

Surprise, surprise, the guy is a terrorist. He clips a strange bracelet to Prescott’s wrist which our friend Tom really doesn’t know what to make of at first. Then the creep waves his gun around and all becomes clear. The bracelet is a bomb which is set to explode at 8pm, and in order for Prescott to take it off he needs to get to the key in his office at the Hudson Building, therefore meaning the building will blow up. I reckon that’s a great premise for some drama.

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With no time to come up with an alternative plan, Prescott has no choice but to race back to the Hudson Building. Notice the Tracy Island Round House in the background!

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Oh and there it is again.

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In the very right hand side of this shot you can make out the logo of the TV Century 21 comic in the window.

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Prescott drives at break-neck speed past a police car. Spot the number of logos that have no doubt been clipped from magazines and packaging to dress this street set.

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The police car puppet set is the same one last seen in Edge of Impact. The officers are wearing the same uniforms worn by the police in Terror In New York City but with slightly different hats.  Ray Barrett is attempting an outrageous Irish (?) accent for Officer Flanagan and I have to say it sounds like he’s trying really hard to get it right. Flanagan was last seen as the Allington Bridge Controller in Day of Disaster. Jones, the officer driving, was last seen as Bill Craddock in that episode also.

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More lavishly dressed miniature streets as Prescott drives through and the police follow. I love the little traffic lights and the fact that a whole page from a magazine has been stuck to the side of a building to create a billboard.

A road block has been set up using police cars which happens to have a pretty wide gap in the middle of it… meaning it doesn’t block the road at all. Prescott drives straight through. The Tracy Island Round House is visible in the background once again. We abruptly cut to the officer saying, “Calling all cars, calling all cars” with his mouth movement very out of sync with his dialogue.

Time ticks on. Prescott’s desperation is clear. In a rather chilling moment, the flowers for his wife fall from the back seat. It’s a simple shot with so many connotations about Prescott’s plight. A great job has been made of making us understand the danger and fear that he’s experiencing, rather than just being a sequence where a guy drives really fast and the police chase him – there’s some clear emotion behind it which is quite an achievement considering this is, after all, a puppet show.

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Prescott arrives at the Hudson Building which uses the same ground floor frontage as the Fulmer Finance Building in Terror In New York City.

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Meanwhile, in the apartment building across the street, the Hudson Building’s janitor, Sam Saltzman is watching from his window. Inside, his wife Gladys is watching television. One assumes it must be the Stingray episode, Secret of the Giant Oyster because the ‘March of the Oysters’ tune is blaring out at full volume.

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The cops soon arrive on Prescott’s tail. Look at the damage and weathering that’s been added to Prescott’s car following the collision with the police. Great attention to detail.

Prescott calls the elevator which makes its way to the ground floor very slowly, agonisingly building the tension…

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Saltzman is on the phone with the police. There is a door bell button fixed to the side of the phone. In an amusing attempt at realism, Saltzman scratches himself but it ends up looking like a bizarre twitch…

Towards the top of the building, Prescott arrives at his office and rushes to open the filing cabinet.

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It takes a sharp set of eyes to make out, but among the names on the files are Thunderbirds directors Pattillo and Saunders.

Equally tricky to spot are the floor puppeteer’s fingers and thumbs helping Prescott find the key on either side of the filing cabinet. Let me know if you manage to find them!

Quickly leaving the bracelet in the drawer, Prescott dashes for the elevator.

The time hits 8 o’clock and cue a massive explosion which tears through several rooms of the Hudson Building. It makes the police officers jump quite a bit.

The explosion hits the elevator mechanism, causing it to start falling to the bottom of the building. Tom wishes he’d taken the stairs…

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With a tremendous thud the elevator hits the bowels of the basement. Dust, debris, and fire fly everywhere and it all looks rather glorious.

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The same Fire Department building frontage seen in City of Fire and The Mighty Atom appears here, although the ‘Fire Department’ sign has been shortened for its appearance here. Curiously the interior of the building has changed with every appearance. The fire tenders are the same ones seen in those episodes also.

The fire is spreading at an incredible rate. Officer Flanagan calls up his boss, Commissioner Garfield. There’s an ‘auto date fixer’ on the wall which reads 12-7-05. Make of that what you will. The set is similar to the newspaper office seen in additional material for The Mighty Atom. Flanagan reveals that the automatic extinguishers in the Hudson Building aren’t work… probably because they’re automatic and this is Thunderbirds.

Up on Thunderbird 5, John has been joined by Brains. It’s never mentioned exactly why Brains is there but one assumes he’s doing some maintenance… or he’s being punished for some reason. John is monitoring news reports about the fire.

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A reporter named Frank Forrester basically lets us all know that the police and fire department are running out of ideas to tackle the blaze. Forrester is the next in a long line of reporters voiced by Matt Zimmerman that all sound incredibly similar and must be related to Eddie Kerr, Ned Cook, or both.

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Jeff gets riled up. He orders Alan to find Scott and Virgil. He’s excited to test out the new fire rescue equipment.

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Tin-Tin, in one of her most iconic outfits, is asked to monitor all broadcasts about the fire… which is pretty much the job John has been doing already. She then has to keep Scott and Virgil informed… which should really be John’s job too. Poor John.

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“Thunderbirds Are Go!” That’s right, he actually said it in an episode. Chills.

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Tin-Tin has put on some very strange headphones… or should that be chin-phones… she also has some specially made legs with feet sculpted to look like they’re in high heel shoes, rather than putting shoes on the feet of a regular pair of puppet legs.

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Here’s a magnificent shot of the fire tenders attempting to extinguish the fire which has spread down to ground level. In the apartment building opposite, little people can be seen poking out of the windows. Shouldn’t someone have evacuated them away from the collapsing skyscraper?

Flanagan informs Garfield that in addition to the fire, the building is now being flooded which doesn’t sound like the worst thing that could happen until you consider poor Tom Prescott at the very bottom of the building surrounded by fire and raising water levels. What’s more, the safety doors are now jammed and won’t open. The Hudson Building’s safety features were clearly designed by the same chimpanzees behind Thompson Tower.

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Tom’s day is going from bad to worse as we come to a commercial break.

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Here’s a lovely shot of Thunderbird 1.

It has been discovered that the water supply to the building was cut off, stopping the automatic extinguishers from working. Scott suspects foul play.

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Commissioner Garfield gets very excited to learn that International Rescue are on their way.

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Another lovely flying shot, this time of Thunderbird 2 at night with the lights on in the cockpit.

Scott and Garfield chew the fat. They agree that provided the fire is kept under control, International Rescue will go down into the basement to save Prescott. Naturally Scott asks for secrecy to be maintained because that’s pretty much his main job by this point.

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Thunderbird 1 continues to look gorgeous as she comes in to land. This is definitely her prettiest angle.

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This area is supposedly at the rear of the Hudson Building. Thompson Tower from City of Fire can be spotted in the background as well as a number of background buildings from Terror In New York City. That bubble-domed police car from previous episodes is here too.

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Jeff is getting intensely cheesed off with Frank Forrester for babbling on about International Rescue. You have to love his poetic description of them though.

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Just think of it like a nice warm bath, Tom.

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Garfield is whining that International Rescue have been inside the building for 30 minutes. Is that a reference to the weird episode title? No. You’ll have to try harder than that.

Scott gives the order for Virgil and Alan to head down the shaft. That’s his contribution to the rescue pretty much over. They are travelling in the Dicetylene Cage. It’s an unusual contraption, mainly because we have no idea how International Rescue got it into the elevator shaft in the first place. The Haynes Thunderbirds Manual suggests the equipment is carried by a vehicle of the same design as the Booster Mortar from Edge of Impact and the Laser Cutter seen later in this episode. It’s a nice idea but also fraught with problems about how the transport vehicle accessed the building. Basically the whole idea doesn’t make much sense but we just have to roll with it.

To cut a lengthy sequence short, the Dicetylene Cage begins to spray… well… dicetylene so as to extinguish the fire on the way down. Virgil and Alan are wearing a combination of radiation head gear from The Mighty Atom and the heat suits first introduced in Pit of Peril. The small claw extends from the bottom of the cage to grab the elevator which Prescott deems to be in tact despite having massive great holes in the walls on the puppet set.

It’s a nice touch that a little window has been put in the cage so Virgil and Alan can watch the burning debris shoot past them. They begin their ascent back up the shaft with the elevator in tow, only for the dicetylene supply to run out. To be fair, they did use a heck of a lot on the way down and made a right mess.

Rather worryingly, the cage and the elevator look like they’re getting incinerated… but by the next shot they’re absolutely fine.

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Scott greets Prescott as he arrives at ground level. Presumably Scott then had to turn him in to the police because he’s nice like that.

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The next morning, the street is in a right old state. I hope Prescott’s car insurance covers having half a building dropped on the car because of a fire he started…

Back at the police headquarters, the auto date fixer on the wall now reads 13-7-05. This confirms that the date has not been written in the American format (month, day, year) as it probably should have been… to say nothing about the year apparently being 2005. Anybody out there supporting that theory? Anyway, so Garfield dismisses all charges held against Prescott, believing his “cock-eyed” story about the bracelet. Sure enough, Jones turns up with the very same bracelet. Garfield comes up with a plan… a plan to segue us into the next half of the episode…

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That’s right, Prescott’s death has been faked. I’m sure he’s thrilled. The newspaper is the same one that’s popped up multiple times already in the series, most recently in Edge of Impact, but is now called the Spoke City Tribune. It has also had a minor date change. It is now dated ‘Friday, December 24, 2007’ rather than ‘1964’. Either way it’s still wrong and if that date fixer on the wall of Garfield’s office is to be believed, it’s taken two and a half years to publish this story.

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Naturally International Rescue are a bit miffed by the whole thing. They’re probably a bit cheesed off that everyone will think they failed this one. Scott believes that Prescott was a nice guy, despite the fact Prescott was probably traumatised into silence for the majority of the time that Scott knew him. Jeff reckons that the authorities are cooking something up to try and make the people responsible for the attack show their hand. That pretty much brings us to the end of the Hudson Building inferno plot of the episode. I rather liked it. With a bit of expansion it could have been an episode in its own right. But now it’s time for things to get a bit weird…

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We’re in London and it’s 4 o’clock. This is the same stock footage seen in Vault of Death.

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Here’s a jumble of various different buildings that seem to have been thrown onto the set in rather a hurry. The Fulmer Finance building from Terror In New York City can be spotted in the background.

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Two hats are talking to each other. Yes, you are still watching Thunderbirds. The hats believe that Southern is the best man to tackle the Erdman Gang. Wait, what’s happening?

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A third talking hat is thrown into the mix. It’s Southern.

Suddenly we’re in a scene that has just a bit too much live action in it to fit neatly into a Thunderbirds episode. There’s a delicate balance and this pushes it a bit far. It really is like watching a completely different show. A man hands Southern a pen full of wiring, no doubt some sort of spy gadget. Southern is then wished good luck and told to be careful. Many questions. Hopefully answers will come after the commercial break.

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The madness continues. Thompson Tower has somehow been rebuilt since we last saw it burn to the ground in City of Fire. I joke of course, the editor just picked out a stock shot to represent a building, it’s just a shame it had to be one of the most recognisable buildings from the series.

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Still convincing us all that Thunderbirds really has turned into a live action show, Southern has the bracelet attached to his wrist. In many ways the intense use of live action hands in this episode makes sense seeing as it is fundamentally about people having bombs strapped to their wrists, but I still can’t help but feel like this is a bit overboard.

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This is Glen Carrick Castle in Scotland. It’s the same castle seen in the  Stingray episode, Loch Ness Monster. It also formed a part of the Glen Garry Castle model seen in the Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode, The Trap.

The camera moves eerily through the empty castle. The shadow of what I can only assume is a member of the crew can be spotted briefly on a pillar. Love the spooky painting.

A whip-pan transition brings us to a set of doors being blown open by a gust of wind which the camera then moves through. Considering how big and bulky those film cameras would have been, one can only imagine the challenge of trying to achieve shots like this. Another unusual shot comes as we look upon the trio through a fireplace. There’s no doubt that the quirky direction of the episode starts here with the first part looking pretty tame by comparison.

The extreme close-ups on the characters of Southern, Kenyon and Dempsey are a testament to just how well finished the puppets are. If the cameras got this close to Four Feather Falls puppet the results would be rather unforgiving. Kenyon is played by the same puppet which appeared as a police officer in Terror In New York City among many other roles. Dempsey also took on a number of roles in the series including Brian the special effects technician in Martian Invasion and the pilot of Fireflash 3 in Operation Crash-Dive. The mysterious leader delivers his instructions by radio (which is that transmitter prop I always complain about changing the colour of its light bulb).

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This shot is heralded as being the first time in Thunderbirds that a live action hand has appeared in the same shot as a puppet (intentionally anyway). It doesn’t jar too much, but once you spot that very over-sized beer bottle you can’t un-see it. The effect works well if you don’t stare at it for too long. It must be said though that this isn’t the first time a live action hand has appeared in the same frame as a puppet in the history of Supermarionation. The Fireball XL5 episode Invasion Earth (directed by Alan Pattillo) tried the same trick, back in the days when the human hands wore rubber gloves to look more like puppet hands:

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While the leader gives his instructions, we’re shown a hypothetical ‘flash forward’ to the characters carrying out the plan correctly. We’ll tackle a lot of the stuff seen here when it happens for real, but let’s just agree here and now that those robots look really naff as security guards.

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Basically, the plan is for the trio to take off their explosive bracelets with the key kept in the plutonium store and leave them there. The charges are set to explode at 1230 hours which, you guessed it, is where the episode title 30 Minutes After Noon comes from. That’s a pretty subtle reference and no doubt had a bit more punch when the script was only a half hour long and focused solely on this part of the plot. The shot of the plant exploding (which, spoiler alert, doesn’t happen later) is pretty spectacular.

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Now for the real thing. The gang drive up to the front gate. The area is completely barren and deserted. As much as keeping a plutonium store in the middle of no-where has its benefits, I can’t help but wonder whether the people in charge should be keeping a better eye on it.

Hiding behind some rocks, Southern gets ready to blast the magical ‘ray machine’ at the robot guard. It’s a nice prop although how anyone worked out how to tune it to the robot’s frequencies is left up to the imagination. Kenyon looks to be sat on the ground in a very uncomfortable position.

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Dempsey manages to bust the lock on the gate by firing a gun at it. There probably needs to be a slightly more complex locking mechanism if that’s all you have to do to get in.

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Then without any effort at all they just open the doors and are confronted by another robot which trundles around the corner in a way that clearly demonstrates why they were not the best idea to include in a puppet show.

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The robot is knocked out by the ray machine. But just before that it embarrasses itself further by flailing its arms around. The robots in this episode are all played by the same puppet which is an adapted version of Brains’ robot, Braman, from Sun Probe and Edge of Impact. The simple fact is they’re not terribly threatening or imposing. Whatever Alan Fennell had envisioned when he wrote these robots into the script, I guarantee this isn’t the look for them he’d had in mind.

On to the third robot and David Elliott at least manages to make this one look semi-threatening with a P.O.V. shot as it marches towards Southern. Again, the ray machine causes it to wave its arms around and fall over.

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Again, with relative ease they manage to open the doors to the vault entrance. But this time there’s no robot. Much of this set is recycled from Vault of Death. The vault door is the same one belonging to the Bank of England, on the left you can see the slot for the electronic key and on the right is the air indicator. It looks like the deposit boxes can also be seen on the left. Many of the items on the shelves can be seen in the pod of Thunderbird 2 in Sun Probe.

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The lock is shot off the box on the wall and Southern picks up the key.

Kenyon and Dempsey are shocked to see Southern’s true colours as he turns the gun on them. I’d have thought it was pretty clear that Southern was not one of them but apparently there’s something about his suave demeanour which screams of common criminal.

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In a moment which should have been much more threatening than it actually is, a robot trots towards Southern without him noticing. Meanwhile he’s asking Dempsey and Kenyon to capture their leader and bring him back. Not sure what that would achieve. The priority should really be to get the bracelets to somewhere rather less explosive.

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Somehow, the robot has enough strength to knock the gun and key out of Southern’s hands. Again, it’s very hard to believe that these robots have the strength to do anything much like that. Although it must be said they’re a darn sight more impressive than what appeared on the cover of the mini album version of this story:

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As a side note, it looks like this picture was taken during the production of Thunderbird 6 judging by the appearance of the puppets.

Kenyon and Dempsey take off all of the bracelets and plan to lock Southern in the building because they’re just nasty like that.

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Southern is left all alone being hugged… I mean restrained by the robot. It’s a rather dramatic cliffhanger as we head for the next commercial break.

Dempsey gets to have more fun with his gun as he jams the door mechanisms.

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More live action hand shots as Southern attempts to get his pen out of his pocket. The large robot claws are quite nice.

It turns out the pen is actually a little radio communicator. He reveals his code name to be Agent Tiger Four which is pretty cool. The bracelets sit menacingly on the little ledge.

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Kenyon and Dempsey have made it out of the building and are keen to get to the leader and the money. I wonder what the going rate is for blowing up a large portion of a country?

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Southern’s boss, 2-1, suggests sending in International Rescue to come and get him. Southern being the brave soul that he isn’t interested in being saved and just wants the Erdman Gang captured. It does seem odd that Southern can’t just drag the robot a few feet over to his left and pick up the ray machine that’s been left behind on the shelf, knock the robot out, and get himself to safety with relative ease.

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“Calling International Rescue. This is Sir William Fraser of the British Security Service. Code name 2-1. We need your help.” What’s the point of having a code name if you’re just going to announce it immediately after your real name? Silly 2-1. Anyway, John gets very excited when he learns about the impending nuclear disaster… a little too excited if you ask me.

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Meanwhile, on a boat near Tracy Island, Alan, Gordon, and Tin-Tin are out fishing. They receive the call to return to base. Tin-Tin is told to reel in her catch. She reckons it’s a big one and we all have to try to avoid thinking of the obvious innuendo…

But Jeff is convinced it really is a big one this time. David Holliday completely mispronounces the word ‘laser’. Brains has the bright idea to call up Lady Penelope so she can take care of the Erdman Gang. Brains reports that the boys have two and half hours before the explosion at 12:30, making it 10am in England. If Jeff is correct about the time difference of 5 hours mentioned in Thunderbirds Are Go, then it should be 5am on Tracy Island right now. The daylight and the fact Tin-Tin and the others have been out fishing for some time suggests otherwise. Incidentally, the 5 hour time difference would place Tracy Island just off the coast of Chile.

“This is a hot one Penny!” Can we stop with the innuendos already? These shots inside Creighton-Ward manor are remarkably similar to those in Trapped In The Sky. The only thing noticeably different about Penelope is her shade of lipstick – shockingly for the renowned fashion icon, her outfit is exactly the same. The footage of Parker is almost certainly lifted from Trapped In The Sky, but the dialogue is new.

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Thunderbirds 1 and 2 blast off and the eagle eyed among you might spot that this shot of Thunderbird 1 zipping into the sky is slightly different to the shot normally used as stock footage because the model is facing the other direction. Compare it to the standard shot seen here.

Penelope and Parker are on their way in FAB 1.

Virgil reveals that his ETA at the danger zone is 12:10, giving them 20 minutes to get into the plutonium store. Sure hope those robots haven’t woken up…

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Ever the comic relief, Penelope and Parker get stuck behind a truck. Parker is told to “give him a toot” and they’re soon able to pass. What fun. The trees rolling by in the background are beautifully painted.

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In the shortest amount of screen time possible, Thunderbird 1 has made it all the way from the South Pacific to England in the time it’s taken FAB 1 to pass a truck. You can just about see the wiring for the pyro in Thunderbird 1’s vertical jet dangling from the bottom of the model.

Southern is very resistant to the idea of being rescued which Scott doesn’t like very much.

Thunderbird 2 touches down and Virgil quickly runs down to Pod 5 to drive out the Laser Cutter which is based on the same model as the Booster Mortar seen in Edge of Impact. It’s a neat little pod vehicle, although one does wonder what ever happened to Brains’ cutting gas from City of Fire.

The puppet-sized set is also the same one used for the Booster Mortar in Edge of Impact with the minor modification of having the windscreen removed for its appearance here, and obviously the addition of the cutter itself. The puppet-sized Laser Cutter can be seen in the pod of Thunderbird 2 in Sun Probe. While Virgil cuts through the doors, Scott does his usual thing of standing around and not doing very much.

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Virgil sets the ‘Auto Timer’ for 14 minutes… I’m assuming it’s just a timer to allow them to keep track of time… I’m not sure what exactly is ‘Auto’ about it…

While the cutting goes on, Southern tries to break free of the robot’s grasp… at least I think that’s what he’s doing… either that or he really needs the lavatory…

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Meanwhile, FAB 1 drives straight through a road block… people in Gerry & Sylvia Anderson’s vision of the future really don’t respect road blocks do they?

Using what is essentially a wind machine, Virgil blasts the doors out of the way, allowing them to proceed further into the building.

Time ticks on as Southern continues to struggle with the robot. The clock is the same design as the one inside the Martian Space Probe in Day of Disaster. Scott and Virgil push on to the next door.

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Southern’s getting really cross with his robot friend now.

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Shots of metal doors being cut through in Thunderbirds always look marvellous.

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The second set of doors is soon blasted out of the way, narrowly avoiding crushing the poor robot corpse on the floor.

Meanwhile, Penelope and Parker are wasting no time with countryside etiquette… or worrying about FAB 1’s paintwork…

A bizarre jump cut causes the bracelets to start smoking. Tom Prescott’s one never did that but I guess it adds to the tension.

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This shot taken through the clock on the wall, clearly emphasising the critical minutes ticking by, is often considered the quirkiest of the episode. It’s well pulled off and stands out as something a bit different now that the quirky style of the direction has settled down a bit.

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With time running out, Virgil tries to blast the doors away before the cutting is finished. Luckily it works, and if you look closely you can see the ropes on either door tugging them out of the way. Luckily they didn’t hit Southern.

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Scott picks up the smoking and probably burning hot to the touch bracelets and oddly a different Scott puppet has been used, suggesting some re-shooting has been done.

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Meanwhile, Virgil has the task of somehow getting the robot off of Southern. Again, when writing the script I’m sure it was supposed to seem like a much more challenging task than what we can see on screen.

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The alternate Scott puppet has also been used for this shot as he gets back in his chair. Rather bizarrely he’s had time to put his hat back on despite having to get rid of three bombs pretty sharpish.

With the bracelets carefully positioned over a hatch, Scott’s face is now back to normal as he flies over some water presumably just off the coast.

The hatch is opened, and with just a few seconds for Thunderbird 1 to fly out of the way, the bracelets explode with colossal force. Let’s hope Scott hasn’t just inadvertently sunk a submarine…

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Jeff is chuffed. The ‘Auto Transmission Unt’ label which we talked about last week has changed briefly from white lettering to black lettering on a silver plaque.

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FAB 1 takes a bumpy ride across a field which it tackles remarkably well considering how little ground clearance the car has. It’s not exactly built for off-roading.

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Dempsey and Kenyon have made it to the rendezvous point in their flashy car. The helijet is a new design and also appears as the World TV helijet in The Impostors as well as making appearances in Captain ScarletJoe 90, and The Secret Service.

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Inside the cockpit, the leader is debriefing Kenyon and Dempsey who are thrilled to get a larger cut of the money. Goodness knows which puppet is being used to play the leader here – any guesses?

Quick as a flash, FAB 1 comes crashing through a fence and Parker fires the canon, taking out the helijet mid-take-off. The resulting explosion is gloriously muddy and either resulted in the death or serious injury of the crew. Hurrah!

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Southern is taking a snooze on the International Rescue emergency pillow. His eyelids are just plasticine stuck over his eyeballs. Apparently the struggle with the robot actually rendered him unconscious… did I mention that the robots don’t really meet the requirements of the script?

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Penelope arrives and agrees to take Southern to hospital what with his internal organs probably getting a bit crushed.

Dinner is served at Lady P’s. We’re given another shot through a fireplace. Southern declares that it’s the end of his career as a secret agent. Time to take up golf. Penelope tries to pass it all off as being a great thrill that she wouldn’t know anything about.

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And why should she? Southern reckons she’d be totally useless at being a secret agent and says “No Penelope, you just be what you are – a very beautiful lady.” Wow… Southern’s really not keeping up with the rest of the 21st century is he? Of course it’s supposed to be a bit of a joke because we all know that Penelope is a much better secret agent than he is anyway.

30 Minutes After Noon starts off as a pretty conventional rescue from a burning building and spirals wildly out of control halfway through into a quirky spy film. For me personally, the first half stands up better than the second. The stakes may be higher in the plutonium store plot, but David Elliott has had to provide quirky camera work in order to compensate for the lack of substance in the script. Much of the tension is let down by the robots which just aren’t up to the job and should have been specially built to look quite different and more imposing than the modified version of Braman we ended up with.

International Rescue are given plenty to do, although no particular character is really able to shine. Lady Penelope has a decent role while remaining a sideshow to the rest of the action. The guest characters are nice but not particularly outstanding. Ultimately the script is just a bit plain in both parts, but at least the direction in the second half is rather memorable.

Next week, The Impostors sees International Rescue  under threat of exposure after a group of criminals take on their name and uniforms to steal government secrets! When a man is stranded in outer space, Jeff is left with an impossible decision…

4 thoughts on “Thunderbirds – 18. 30 Minutes After Noon

  1. Ian Luck

    One of my favourite episodes, due to it’s strangeness. It also has one of the most chilling pieces of dialogue to ever be used in a children’s show. It always gives me a chill down my spine when I hear it. I’m sure you know the line I mean; spoken by the ‘hitch-hiker’ to Prescott: ”You wouldn’t want your wife to become a widow on your wedding anniversary, would you?” It would be sinister enough in an adult show. Here, it’s properly unpleasant.

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  2. bbbeyer

    I’m really enjoying your episode reviews, in particular spotting where models and puppets have been used previously. A few observations of my own:

    Prsecott covers 30 miles in about 10 minutes, according to the on-screen clocks. That’s a pretty impressive average speed of 180 mph through city streets!

    Saltzmann’s bizarre scratching looks more like an Eric Idle-style “nudge nudge” to me.

    The Spoke City Tribune’s lead story about Prescott is, in fact, about the rather more parochial Slough Centre players (would a Spoke City reader know who some anonymous office clerk Prescott was anyway?)

    Love how Scott and Virgil have been photobombed by that totally non-threatening robot on the mini album cover 🙂

    The puppet Southern is wearing a mustard coloured turtleneck, but the live action actor is wearing a polo shirt (note the button…)

    The model size laser cutter vehicle has a windscreen as it emerges form the pod, but said windscreen is missing from the puppet version.

    Once again, I note the irony of International “Rescue” acting a self-styled vigilante force, shooting down aircraft as it pleases (albeit this one contained some bad guys).

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  3. bbbeyer

    …just realised they did namecheck Prescott on the live TV news bulletin, so I guess the next day headline would have made sense to anyone who saw that.

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