Thunderbirds: The Perils of Penelope

December 31, 2015 in Cult TV, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782


The show’s third episode certainly doesn’t feature a standard rescue operation for International Rescue but instead has their London agent, Lady Penelope, trying to unravel an international conspiracy. It begins with the launch of the Sun Probe rocket (which does make a return later in the series) where a new top secret fuel is being tested. Following this however, the scientist is kidnapped. Penelope and Parker’s investigations into the disappearance take them from Paris to Anderbad. While Parker takes the car, Penelope journeys on the train that goes through the Anderbad tunnel. However, when the train comes out the other side of the tunnel, Lady Penelope is nowhere to be found. Virgil, Gordon and Alan are then called in and the former two go down the tunnel to investigate while Alan waits with Parker. Halfway down the tunnel they find the nefarious blaggard who kidnapped the scientist and find that he is threatening Penelope’s life in order to get the formula. While Virgil frees Penelope, Gordon takes down the villain and rescues the scientist. With the world safe, they return to the café in Paris and watch the fireworks in the sky above.

Now before I share my thoughts on this I’m first going to go through some trivia about this episode as while it’s the third episode in broadcast order it was actually the twelfth episode to be produced and the twelfth episode chronologically as well. So why were they broadcast out of chronological order? Well all the episodes were pretty much standalone so it doesn’t make too much difference so only keen fans would notice the minor discrepancies here and there meaning that it didn’t affect things greatly. The reason behind it was probably to avoid having episodes that were similar to each other being broadcast too close together and whatnot but I’m not sure if anyone really knows the real reason behind it, I’m only guessing. Now admittedly what I just gave you was the simplified version as often two episodes would’ve been shot at the same time by different production teams and some of the earlier episodes in the production order required extra shooting to extend them from the planned twenty-five minutes to the full fifty-minutes that were order. No-one really knows exactly what happened because it was so long ago but what I do know is that The Perils of Penelope was a fantastic episode. Yep, I am finally talking about the episode itself and as I mentioned earlier, it’s as bit of a political thriller. That side to the story instantly got me on board and while it was rather simple compared to other political thrillers it’s easily forgiven as there’s not much you can do with that in fifty minutes without making it feel rushed. So I guess the best way to describe it would be as a bitesized political thriller with all the fun and spy genre hallmarks that that entails.

The title character herself, Penelope, is wonderful in this and she truly is a great character. It’s just a shame that she sort of gets reduced to the damsel in distress at the end and although she doesn’t scream or anything like that it does basically become her role in the narrative for the final ten minutes. In fact I didn’t really see much need for Virgil, Gordon and Alan to be called in at all other than the fact that it’s an episode of Thunderbirds and it would feel odd without a rescue in it. Not that it was bad or anything but it did feel a little contrived to me. Up until that point though the episode is more or less flawless and the sets look beautiful through and through. I normally wouldn’t talk about stuff like this in relation to most other shows but since it’s all models there’s just something that feels special about it. But anyway, where Penelope goes you’re to find Parker not far behind so let’s talk about him. He is of course a fan favourite and gets some very nice stuff to do in this. Although it is early days so the crew probably haven’t fully realised what a gem they have with Parker so for the most part he’s stuck in the background. He does have his moments though such as shooting Penelope’s poisoned drink.

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As I said before, it truly is a fantastic episode so let’s wrap up now by rating it a nine-out-of-ten once again. While it is only just my least favourite so far (mainly because of the final ten minutes) I still feel really enjoyed it so that’s three strikes in a row for Thunderbirds so far. Will Terror in New York City keep this up? Find out next time as Thunderbird 1 gets caught on camera, Thunderbird 2 comes under fire and Thunderbird 4 goes on a daring underwater rescue. It’s going to be a race against time but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.