Thunderbirds: Pit of Peril
A Guest Blog by Hevy782
Thunderbirds reviews return at last and we’re back with Pit of Peril, the second episode of the classic series which features the first appearance of the Mole, the most famous of Thunderbird 2’s pod vehicles. Another famous vehicle in this episode is the Sidewinder which, ironically enough, winds up on it’s side after a sinkhole opens below it during a test run. It’s a US army vehicle built for getting troops where they’re need quickly during the bushfire wars which apparently keep breaking out, almost certainly a reflection of the Vietnam war which was raging while this was being made back in the sixties. So then, with the Sidewinder trapped in a blazing pit and three crewmembers trapped aboard it’s imperative that they are freed fast. The US army makes multiple attempts but without the right equipment they fail to make any breakthroughs. Eventually they call International Rescue for help and Jeff sends Scott, Virgil and Brains into the danger zone. After Scott assesses the situation, Brains comes up with a strategy. Virgil is lowered into the pit in a heat resistant suit to lay charges to clear a path for the Sidewinder. Scott then uses the Mole to get Virgil back up to the surface. Once there, he uses two recovery vehicles to pull the Siderwinder and crew out of the pit. When the crew awake they thank Scott and the whole of International Rescue for saving their lives. They are then sent to hospital to be treated for their injuries while Thunderbirds 1 and 2 return to base from another successful mission.
Now as good as Trapped in the Sky was there’s just something that makes me love this episode even more. Right from the start it has such an epic quality to it and it’s honestly one of my favourite openings ever. The music is genuinely fantastic and the model shots are mixed in very well with what is presumably stock footage of Peru. And then slowly we build to the reveal of the Sidewinder as the animals flee from it’s path of destruction (which funnily enough is the title of another episode but we’ll save that one for much later) as the giant feet stomp across the landscape and the claws uproot the trees. Then we finally get the full reveal and while I can’t deny it looks a bit top heavy it’s still a magnificent creation. Cut to a bit later there’s another wonderful shot of it in the pit the inferno is raging around it. To be honest this episode has so many beautiful shots that I could go on all day but, sadly, I can’t.
Instead I need to talk about the plot as this one certainly isn’t all flash and no substance as you could hopefully tell from the précis I wrote although I don’t believe I’ve done it justice. We start off with the focus not on International Rescue but instead on the members of the US army who are testing the Sidewinder. The characters are established very quickly and while we only really have a double act between General Peters and Lieutenant Ralph with a couple of other characters on the side but it’s never the less interesting to see these one of characters get such attention during the first half. It’s a testament to how much television has changed really as you’d never expect to see one-off characters getting such a great deal of attention these days. International Rescue themselves don’t really get involved until about halfway through and it’s at that point which the focus shifts to them and their rescue attempt. It’s a structure that may feel odd to a modern audience but it actually works really well with the key driving force being the rescue rather than the characters.
Now with all that said I think we’ve reached a suitable point suitable point to rate this story and like last time I am giving it a nine-out-of-ten although it’s an even stronger one this time. What stopped it getting full marks? Just a few things here and there really. Especially a certain error in scale which probably annoys me way more than it should but anyway, out next stop is The Perils of Penelope where Lady Penelope and Parker must uncover an international conspiracy but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.