Thunderbirds – 26. Security Hazard

Directed by Desmond Saunders

Teleplay by Alan Pattillo

First Broadcast – 31st March 1966

With the schedule incredibly tight and the budget limited, the decision was taken to make the final episode of Thunderbirds‘ first series a clip show recycling footage from four previous episodes. As a result, Security Hazard often gets a bad rap for rounding of series one with a fairly uneventful story. I won’t be able to blow your mind and convince you that Security Hazard is the best episode ever, but as clip shows go it’s a good bit of fun and has enough extra goodies in it that you should definitely still include this story in your Thunderbirds marathon regardless.

The opening teaser montage is a tad messy. The first and last clips are both taken from the beginning of the episode rather than going in chronological order. There are 3 clips from End of the Road, 3 clips from Sun Probe (2 of which are very similar), only 1 quick clip from Trapped In The Sky, and then 4 clips from Day of Disaster. We’ll talk more about the episode choices later. Before the days of regular repeats and home video releases, a clip show like Security Hazard would have been the best way to see some episodes again, but nowadays it may seem a tad pointless. Nevertheless, the lack of budget made the clip show route an absolute necessity so we really do just have to deal with it.

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Blimey! The special effects team have put together a very dramatic opening sequence for us with a blazing inferno. A mine has spectacularly caught fire and International Rescue are on the scene to tackle it.

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We get a quick glimpse of the International Rescue Fire Truck which is seen only in this episode. The model has been adapted from the Explosive Truck seen in End of the Road. You can also spot a fire tender from City of Fire.

Thunderbirds 1 and 2 are neatly parked alongside each other. The lights have been left on in Thunderbird 2’s pod. The camera pans over to a house. The model is the same house last seen as the Williams’ home in Cry Wolf, but repainted.

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While the fire rages next door, Mr Morrison is attempting to put his kid, Chip, to bed. Morrison last appeared as Hitchins in The Cham-Cham. Chip appeared as Bob Williams in Cry Wolf and is being voiced by Christine Finn putting on her best little boy voice once again. The bedroom is littered with models cars and planes which no doubt cropped up in the series here and there. The airplane on the shelf by the window can be spotted at the airfield in The Duchess Assignment. Chip also has Wilbur Dandridge’s gazelle statue watching over him while he sleeps. The statue appeared in Olsen’s chalet last week in The Cham-Cham. Morrison is wearing a blue waistcoat which Jeff goes on to wear in every episode of Thunderbirds‘ second series aside from Atlantic Inferno.

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Continuing the tradition of many Supermarionation families, Morrison announces that Chip’s mother is no longer around to look after him. Nevertheless, he’s still going to abandon his kid to go and help fight the fire. Chip should probably just stay in bed then and be a good boy…

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As soon as his father leaves, Chip is immediately out of bed and taking in the view at the window, forming a devious scheme in his head…

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The title, and the fast zoom in on Thunderbird 2’s open pod, suggest that Chip is about to do something very bad. Regardless of the story content, it certainly is a cool episode title… someone should name a blog after it…

Thunderbird 1 is looking nice and shiny on her way back to the island. Scott is far from that, looking grubby and worn out from fighting the tough blaze. The International Rescue boys always look their best when they’re dirty from a hard night of… rescuing. The discussion about the operation between Jeff and Scott is certainly brief. The cuts are quite abrupt, suggesting the possibility that some dialogue has been cut from the episode for timing.

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Scott touches down at the base. I know it’s something we’ve seen a couple of times before but I still think it looks cool.

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A grubby and sweaty Virgil and Alan have almost arrived at the island in Thunderbird 2. Apparently the craft has developed an electrical fault. Very intriguing…

Thunderbird 2 comes in to touch down on the runway. Curiously, the shot of her flying over the end of the strip is taken from Danger At Ocean Deep, but the shot of her turning around and touching down is new. Footage from the original launch sequence is then reversed to show the craft backing into the cliff, which you can spot because smoke is seen pumping into an outlet inside the hangar.

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The palm trees fold back up which is rather fun, reversing footage originally seen in Terror In New York City.

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Uh oh! Good thing Jeff had these ‘Security Alert’ lights fitted to his control panel just before last week’s episode, The Cham-Cham. He obviously sensed that trouble was on the horizon.

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Jeff immediately stops Virgil in his tracks who sure doesn’t look happy about it. The pod has to remain exactly where it is.

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Assuming the worst, Jeff orders Gordon to get Scott and rendezvous down in the hangar. He grabs his personal International Rescue sidearm from the desk. Things are serious and Jeff is prepared to kill… or at least seriously do some harm.

We have the rare opportunity to watch the shut down sequence of a Thunderbird machine. Virgil and Alan cut the motors, set the pumps to zero, and close the inlet valves.

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If you look very carefully indeed, you can see Alan actually has mud on his eyeball… you should get that seen to, Alan.

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Jeff covers the doorway on one side of the hangar…

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Just before the door opens to reveal Scott and Gordon, the telephone used by Sam Saltzman in 30 Minutes After Noon can be spotted on the wall. Above the door a sign reads ‘Hanger 3’… not only is that the incorrect spelling but surely this is in fact Hangar 2…

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Scott and Gordon are revealed carrying their weapons. Scott is wearing a rather horrendous shirt previously worn by Sandy Gibson in the Stingray episode, Titan Goes Pop.

Through a megaphone, Jeff announces his belief that a saboteur is on board. With great care, Virgil begins the process of releasing the pod. Presumably this is simply footage shot for the launch sequence which has once again been reversed. Pod 1 is revealed.

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In close up, the pod is quite a different shade of green, and the font of the ‘1’ numeral is quite a variation to anything ever seen in the series before.

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Quite a menagerie of vehicles are revealed. The Fire Truck from earlier is in there as well as the Monobrake from The Perils of Penelope, and a strange blocky thing with two chairs inside. Why would the Monobrake be needed to fight a fire in a mine? Maybe the tunnels were connected by a monorail? Jeff threatens to start firing if the stowaway refuses to reveal themselves.

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A pretty remarkable job has been done attempting to match the puppet sized set to the model as Chip comes out. This may explain the unusual choice of pod vehicles. The Monobrake, aside from just about making some sense with the mine scenario, is one of the few pod vehicles to have a puppet sized version to match the model. The other machine is commonly believed to be some sort of Mobile Control Vehicle which performs the same functions as Scott’s mobile control unit but in more inhospitable conditions. It essentially utilises part of the set last seen as the interior of the D.O.M.O. in The Duchess Assignment with a few extra bits and pieces thrown in, including what appears to be part of the equipment Gordon uses to board the Fireflash in the second half of Operation Crash-Dive. The red control panel next to the Mobile Control Vehicle was also last seen as a part of the D.O.M.O. setPoor Chip, apparently he didn’t mean any harm… the question really is, was he planning to get taken all the way back to the base or was he just poking around in the pod and they accidentally took off with him? Seeing as Scott, Virgil, and Alan had to return all three vehicles back to the pod, my guess is Chip must have been hiding pretty well… in which case he’s just a devious little oik.

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Jeff is understandably furious about the situation. For some reason he’s telling Gordon off even though he had nothing to do with it. Jeff says the craft shouldn’t have been left unguarded… even though the craft are never guarded if everyone is busy on a rescue. Maybe there was some sort of alarm system which failed, hence Virgil reporting the electrical fault before returning to base. Jeff’s tone sure is different to his treatment of the kids in Cry Wolf. It’s not like those kids were especially good or anything either with their false alarm calls and what not. Maybe he just hates children called Chip… Anyway, even though Chip is an enormous hazard to security, Virgil has been left to talk to him in the Thunderbird 2 hangar… That may sound rather dumb, but I suppose it’s not really much of a secret that Thunderbird 2 might just have a hangar. It would probably be more of a risk to the cover of the organisation if someone were to say… bring him into the lounge where regular visitors to the island often go… fortunately nobody would possibly be dumb enough to do that…

Between the establishing long shot and Virgil’s close-up, his head changes from one variant to the other. Initially, Virgil is tight-lipped and refuses to talk about Thunderbird 2. But then Chip manages to touch a nerve, announcing that when he grows up and becomes a member of International Rescue, he wants to fly Thunderbird 1 because it’s faster and more important. Okay Chip, firstly, we all know that Thunderbird 1 is not anywhere near as important as Thunderbird 2. Secondly, I very much doubt that with this situation on the record, Chip will ever be allowed to join International Rescue again. Anyway, with Virgil clearly upset by Chip’s comments, he starts to tell the story of the time they rescued Eddie Houseman. Cue footage of the key moments from End of the Road.

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As this is a clip show, you can take this opportunity to go back and read my full review of End of the Road if you wish. It’s certainly an exciting rescue which makes use of the enormous power of Thunderbird 2. It is, however, also one of the few episodes which puts Thunderbird 1’s speed and agility to good use, therefore not exactly proving the point that Thunderbird 2 is way better than Thunderbird 1. Virgil also neglects to mention to Chip that Thunderbird 2’s grabs struggled to hold on to the Explosives Tractor and did in fact drop it… resulting in a big explosion. But never mind. All of the episodes which appear in flashbacks in Security Hazard were reportedly chosen because they were originally either shot or written as half hour stories. This therefore made the process of cutting the rescues down to a few minutes much easier. It gives us an opportunity to potentially understand what the original half hour versions of the episodes would have been like.

While telling the story, Virgil has apparently hopped onto the railing for a sit down. Alan arrives to take over so that Jeff can have a go at Virgil. Alan is determined to not tell Chip anything about Thunderbird 3… inadvertently revealing that he’s the pilot of Thunderbird 3… oh Alan.

So because Alan accidentally revealed a fairly unimportant piece of information about Thunderbird 3’s crew, he decides it’s probably okay to take Chip into the Thunderbird 3 launch bay… hey Alan, how about you just don’t do that? Anyway, Chip once again proves he’s a bit of a devil child by touching a nerve with Alan, saying that because he’s a spaceman Alan can’t be so involved with the rescue operations. Let’s be honest, that is true. The number of actual space rescues in the series speaks for itself. Alan sees way more action in Thunderbird 2.

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Alan tells the story of rescuing the Sun Probe rocket. You can read my full review of Sun Probe here. It’s basically the most Thunderbird 3 heavy episode of the series so far so it was a fairly obvious choice. Most of the flashback clips are unaltered from the original episode with the exception of a few music and sound effect adjustments. The Sun Probe flashback does include this flipped shot of the rocket returning to Earth which didn’t appear originally. Alan neglects to mention the moment when Thunderbird 3’s retros also failed and they needed Virgil and Brains to save them using the Transmitter Truck.

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Alan and Chip have sat down since the story started. Chip announces, “You certainly are a member of International Rescue.” Wow, was that really in any doubt? You little twerp…

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Scott arrives through a door marked ‘Hanger 2’. Again, the spelling is off and surely this is Hangar 3…

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Jeff is continuing to give his lecture. Virgil looks very disappointed in himself. Brains is just sitting there trying to avoid interacting with the child.

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Alan arrives. Jeff is ruddy cross that Chip is in Thunderbird 3 silo with Scott. But don’t worry Jeff, Scott is the eldest and most responsible of your kids, he’ll keep quiet…

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Thunderbird 1 is stationed in its standby position. Presumably Scott took her back up the rail in order to disembark after the fire, and has now taken her back down again. Also, the lemon squeezer on the wall has been lit up in red for some reason… just to bring more attention to it…

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For some bizarre reason, Scott has decided to put absolutely no effort whatsoever into maintaining security at all. I doubt Chip had to do anything at all to convince him. Scott’s just a bit thick like that. As soon as Chip gives out the slightest bit of praise about Thunderbird 1, Scott starts babbling on about racing to London Airport to rescue the Fireflash. Remember what Scott said towards the end of that particular episode? “Whatever happens, secrecy must be maintained at all costs.” I guess that doesn’t apply when talking to small children.

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Even Chip can’t quite believe what a blabbermouth Scott is.

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Here’s your opportunity to go back to the beginning of this series and read my review of Trapped In The Sky. It’s rather fascinating to go back and briefly see how much more subtle the puppetry in the series is now compared to Scott’s big, over-the-top gestures from Trapped In The Sky. The Fireflash landing sequence remains one of the most memorable moments in the series, even though Scott does neglect to mention the first attempt when Elevator Car 3 goes wildly out of control…

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Scott sort of realises his mistake and begs Chip not to mention any of that extraordinarily detailed story to anyone. Chip says, “All that’s left is Thunderbird 4.” Well, technically not… we could take a trip to Thunderbird 5 and John could tell the amazing story of the one time the water cooler ran out of paper cups…

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Despite Scott’s firm stance of Chip not seeing Thunderbird 4, after the commercial break we’re here in Pod 4 where it would appear Thunderbird 4 is permanently stationed. We wouldn’t have known that were it not for this episode. This shot uses the same Thunderbird 4 model, pod set, and camera angle  as seen in The Man From MI.5. The lighting, however, is slightly different.

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This is probably the best look at the interior of Thunderbird 4 that we get. Much like Scott, Gordon has just allowed Chip to waltz straight in and sit at the controls. Chip seems to think he can steer the thing. He isn’t terribly impressed with the little submarine, thus touching a nerve with Gordon. The aquanaut attempts to keep quiet but Chip recalls the disaster at Allington Bridge so Gordon simply has to remark on the fact a submarine was used to save a space rocket.

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For some reason Gordon is speaking unusually softly this week.

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And so begins the footage from Day of Disaster. There are so many good Thunderbird 4 adventures to choose from and this episode is among them. Gordon is able to pretty much tell the story in full, even having the chance to briefly slip in Lady Penelope’s involvement. The only thing he misses out is the rather tedious bit of Virgil taking the wreckage back and forth which is fair enough really.

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And so Chip has heard about four fantastic adventures from the Thunderbirds series. What will he do with this information? It probably won’t do much harm. As long as nobody told him important information about how the craft are powered or where the island is located everything should be fine… I bet Scott did though.

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Scott, Alan, and Virgil are having an emergency conference in the hallway which is seen for the first and only time here. Alan immediately decides to point out how dumb it was of Scott to actually take Chip inside one of the Thunderbird machines.

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Virgil is smiling a tad prematurely which just makes him look really smug…

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Gordon has hit the jackpot…

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That’s right, Jeff is blabbing away with a cigar in his hand about the running of the organisation. Now Chip has actually seen a part of the base which normal people get to see and that is the real security risk because it blows their cover. Nice job Jeff.

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The boys look so wonderfully mischievous. If only John were there. John’s probably cooking himself some space dinner and watching Netflix, wondering why none of his family have spoken to him for a while…

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As a punishment, Scott has taken his father’s chair… this won’t be the last time that happens.

After a moment of quiet thinking, Jeff comes up with a solution to their Chip problem. It’s a bit far-fetched but hey, anything to stop a security leak. So because Chip is from England, the time difference between the island and the other side of the world means the boy has been up for 24 hours. That means he’s sleepy. So…

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Chip has been put into a bed. It’s the same bed that Tin-Tin was sitting on listening to the radio in The Cham-Cham last week.

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Jeff then says that the bed is to be transported to Thunderbird 2… but the different sheets suggest that Chip is the one that was transferred. But hold the phone. The sign on the wall suggests that this is Pod 2. Pod 2 never appears at any other point in the series besides here and in the Thunderbirds 1965 episode The Abominable Snowman. This is truly a historic moment for the classic series.

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This night shot of Thunderbird 2 is taken from 30 Minutes After Noon.

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Thunderbird 2 touches down by the house looking ruddy enormous.

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Virgil pops Chip into bed who must be an incredibly heavy sleeper. Behind Scott you can see the remote control for the mighty atom device from The Mighty Atom sitting on the table.

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Is the globe behind Scott upside down? Anyway, no time to worry about that, Scott and Virgil leg it back to Thunderbird 2.

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Chip’s father arrives back at the house, presumably a little while later or he would have passed Scott and Virgil in the corridor and spotted Thunderbird 2 parked outside. Even though International Rescue left the mine hours ago, Mr Morrison is still singing their praises.

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Chip is absolutely convinced that he’s seen the International Rescue HQ. Looks like Jeff’s plan has fallen a bit flat.

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Morrison sort of convinces Chip that he was dreaming, rather than Chip figuring it out himself like Jeff planned. Morrison is clearly bored by the entire conversation and just attempts to sound wise by saying, “Yeah, dreams often seem just like the real thing.” Really intellectual stuff.

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Back on Thunderbird 2, Scott reports, “Security hazard: negative.” Well that’s pure conjecture at this point Scott. We’ve no idea whether Chip will blab to his old pal The Hood or not.

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Nevertheless, to a victorious tune, Thunderbird 2 blasts off into the distance with another mission completed!

Security Hazard may not be the series finale any of us were hoping for, but as a clip show it is still a nicely produced piece which gives us a little more time to spend with the Tracy family and to just hear them talking. We’re given a chance to have some nice character moments and see more of the International Rescue headquarters. The episodes chosen for the flashbacks are nicely varied and show off some of International Rescue’s more exciting rescue missions. Chip Morrison isn’t the most loveable kid ever but he fills the role of being the audience and I’m sure kids watching dream of being in his shoes.

But here we are at the end of Thunderbirds‘ first series. The final six episodes of the show which come after this are quite a bit different from what we’ve seen before. It is time to say goodbye to David Holliday, the voice of Virgil, who returned home to America when the recording of series 1 was completed. His unique and warm voice was an important part of the character and arguable the definitive portrayal of Virgil Tracy.

The design of the sets and puppets will also be changing. The decision was taken to revamp all of these elements during pre-production on Thunderbirds’ first big screen adventure, Thunderbirds Are Go. With the film being produced alongside the second series, the series one puppets and sets were no longer in use. The warm, colourful designs and more caricatured puppets of the first 26 episodes are also fondly remembered by fans of the series.

As we dive into the final six episodes, we’ll be seeing how these visual changes affected the overall feel of the series. We’ve previously discussed the changing focus of the series towards more Lady Penelope driven adventures and more realistic designs and situations. Let’s see how this change of focus is carried forward to the final six episodes.

Next week, a gas field in the Atlantic Ocean ignites and puts the oil rig Seascape in serious jeopardy. Only International Rescue can save the day, but Jeff is away on vacation, so how will Scott handle the challenges of command? Stay tuned for Atlantic Inferno!

2 thoughts on “Thunderbirds – 26. Security Hazard

  1. I really enjoy this episode; so many comic moments. At times it’s hard to remember this was a show for kids because there’s so much for adults too. I’m 34, and discovered it through the 1990s repeats on BBC2 – still love it.

    IMHO the first series is the strongest. I really dislike the puppets’ heads all bring remodelled in the second series as there was no need 😦 And the Tracy lounge being redone in green and black, meh. The worst thing was the loss of David Holliday as Virgil… Virgil was always my fave brother as a child, and I LOVED his voice. It was awful to watch the next one with Jeremy Wilkins voicing him…

    Like

  2. Niels

    I’ve always felt that Virgil, Alan and Scott were deliberately embellishing their versions of the stories to impress the kid, so they left out all the accidents on purpose.

    Like

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