Thunderbirds – 27. Atlantic Inferno

Directed by Desmond Saunders

Teleplay by Alan Fennell

First Broadcast – 2nd October 1966

In order to kick off the second series of Thunderbirds just right, Atlantic Inferno gives us a disaster of epic proportions. The special effects team tackle the difficult task of filming both fire and water in ways which make them look far from miniature. The incredible production value continues to rise from where we left off… it’s almost as if the team were making a movie… well as a matter of fact they were. At the end of the last series, a two month or so break in shooting was taken. In that time all of the sets, models, and regular cast of puppets were revamped to stand up to the scrutiny of appearing on the big screen. On March 3rd 1966, filming began on Thunderbirds Are Go, a feature film starring International Rescue and the Zero-X crew. We’ll talk more about that later. It was deemed possible for the production team and the studios to split down the middle and expandeven further to tackle shooting the movie at the same time as new episodes of the television series. Generally speaking, the more senior members of the crew went to work on the movie while the juniors rose to the challenge of maintaining the high standard of the television series.  The division of people and resources meant that the standard schedule of two units shooting two episodes every four weeks was no longer an option. They were down to one unit shooting one episode every four weeks. Let’s see how the changes implemented for Thunderbirds Are Go really affected the second series as we dive in to Atlantic Inferno.

Lots of big bangs this week. A heck of a lot. Looks like Penelope and Jeff just sleep through the whole thing though.


The opening titles are essentially exactly the same as they were in the first series with the exception of the title card which now bears the copyright date of 1966. However, it is worth noting that on this particular blu-ray release (Shout Factory, 2015, Region A) it would appear that the series one title card has been used on the series two episodes with just the date changed, whereas on previous releases a different shot of a cloudy sky is noticeable on the second series episodes.


Although the title card announces that this is Atlantic Inferno, we’re very far from the Atlantic Ocean for this opening sequence. This same shot of some cliffs was previously used in Cry Wolf, and just like Cry Wolf, we’re in Australia.


This is a construction office. The vehicles on display include the prison garbage truck from Vault of Death,  although the bins have been swapped out for the explosive cannisters seen on the back of the Explosives Tractor in End of the Road. The Hood’s jeep as seen in Martian Invasion and Cry Wolf also makes an appearance.

A ruddy weird sounding siren is going off as an instantly-recognisable hand operates some levers. Some huge explosives are triggered in the valley. It’s a pretty classic way to open a Thunderbirds episode.

The camera makes an unusual pass across the construction office as it is revealed that in between series, Penelope has decided to give up the fusty life of the British aristocracy and has become an Australian road builder. Her colleagues include a nice chap called Sir Harry who most famously appeared as Commissioner Garfield in 30 Minutes After Noon, Bill Craddock from Day of Disaster, Dempsey from 30 Minutes After Noon, Sir Jeremy Hodge from The Perils of Penelope, and a few other blokes that we’ve not seen before.


This particular construction worker has taken a liking to Penelope and stands uncomfortably close to her. She wears a jacket which she previously sported in The Impostors and The Man From MI.5. Her pink hat and head scarf are a nice touch. The new Penelope puppet is a triumph, retaining all of her delicate features while sprucing her up just that tiny bit. So it turns out her career change is only temporary, and Penelope has just popped in to open up the mountain pass for a spot of road construction. None of this has anything to do with the rest of the episode and was completely cut out when released as part of the compilation film Countdown to Disaster on VHS. It is rather significant, in my opinion at least, that a whole new series of Thunderbirds is opened with one of Lady Penelope’s casual exploits rather than showing us the International Rescue team. One could argue that this already hints at the direction the second series was taking in general, due to the commercial success of Penelope and Parker with the viewing public. They were becoming the stars of the show, and I’m sure Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were more than willing to encourage that further if it meant reaching a wider audience.


With a simple bit of cutting away, Sir Harry manages to take his helmet off through his puppet strings. A classic piece of Supermarionation trickery. I believe the chap in the background is Williams from Cry Wolf with a new moustache. Harry wants to take Penelope down to the canteen because he’s a right Australian lad and fancies a party. Penelope declines.


An intriguing little bulldozer machine comes in to start shifting rock. The model uses the same basic platform and tracks as the D.O.M.O from The Duchess Assignment or the Excavator from Martian Invasion, but with the cabin mounted on the front. The vehicle is later put to use in the Captain Scarlet episode Renegade Rocket.


Recognise this? It’s the Gray and Houseman Road Construction Vehicle from End of the Road, but here it’s been painted yellow and the front canon has been removed as well as a few other bits. Once again it is laying out a completed road in its path, suggesting that this is now the standard way of building a road in the future – it’s pretty neat when the Thunderbirds universe gets tied together with some sort of logic like that.

Parker pulls up in FAB 1, and Sir Harry and Penelope arrive immediately after. In the model shot, Harry is still wearing his yellow construction hat, but on the puppet it is no-where to be seen. He desperately wants to see Penelope when she’s tipsy, insisting that they meet up in the future to have a few beers. I doubt she’ll take you up on that one mate.


Parker finally reveals how FAB 1’s doors work as the panel folds down and tucks away underneath the vehicle. Parker’s new head has his rosy red nose and cheeks toned down slightly. His hair appears to be ever so slightly darker and more tamed.

The camera remains focussed on Sir Harry while Penelope gets into the car, avoiding any tricky puppetry. The little figure of Sir Harry on the model set watches FAB 1 drive away, his yellow hat once again magically reappearing.


The puppet-sized FAB 1 has seen a few alterations since her last appearance in The Duchess Assignment. The seats are new with a slightly different white trim, and the paneling along the doors is now brown wood rather than black. The beams running along the canopy are now thick and bright pink rather than being thinner and more subtle. Parker and Penelope are now off to her sheep farm, and Penny has had a bright idea involving Jeff Tracy…

Over on Tracy Island, there’s been a bit of redecorating which is shown off in a long pan across the new lounge. Let’s start with the obvious. It uses a much more muted green and brown colour scheme now as opposed to the vibrant green and orange that it used to be. The floor and much of the furniture is new, except for the table sat at by Gordon and Brains which has been a feature since Trapped In The Sky. The portraits are new to reflect the altered puppets which we’ll come to in a moment. The abstract painting on the Thunderbird 1 entry panel has been removed. The rocket painting used for entry to Thunderbird 2 is completely different and much less colourful. We’ll take a closer look at Jeff’s desk in a bit. I believe that the changes have been done well. The overall look may not be as striking as it once was, but the redecoration has been carefully considered to not change the room too drastically. Just enough has been altered to make the viewer notice that something is different but perhaps not pin down what it is. It still feels like the same room. Incidentally, we never learn what Jeff is trying to look at out at sea…

Penny calls in via her compact. She proudly announces, “I’ve just… blown up a mountain.” Jeff is initially outraged, and quite right too because blowing up mountains willy-nilly isn’t a very responsible thing to do.  Penelope then suggests that because Jeff hasn’t taken a vacation for at least 18 months, he should fly over to Australia and spend a bit of time on her farm. Jeff is anxious about leaving his post because, let’s be honest, he has more important things to be doing. The new Jeff puppet head is quite different to the variants used in series one. His hair is styled differently, his eyebrows have been tamed, and his skin appears to be less tanned. These are very subtle changes but the end result is noticeably different, demonstrating the delicate work required to faithfully remake puppets. Jeff is, however, wearing his outfit from The Cham-Cham again. Anyway, Penelope is not at all impressed by Jeff’s negativity towards the suggestion and hangs up when he starts to get a bit shouty.


The boys are backing Penelope’s plan 100%. This is the new Scott. His new face is perhaps the most obvious misfire of the whole Thunderbirds Are Go/Series 2 re-design. He just isn’t quite as handsome as he once was and it’s hard to pin down why. His strong eyebrows lack their former definition, and his more bouffant hair-do isn’t as slick as it used to be.


Here’s the new Virgil. And he’s very new indeed because he’s being voiced by a different actor. After recording on the first series was completed, David Holliday returned home to America. Stepping into his shoes: English-born Canadian actor, Jeremy Wilkin. I think it’s fair to say that David Holliday’s unique voice was irreplaceable, and although Jeremy Wilkin doesn’t really attempt to echo the original performance, he was still a valuable addition to the team of actors. His ability to put on a variety of accents and voices matched the standard reached by the likes of David Graham and Ray Barrett, and it’s for this reason that he worked on all the remaining Supermarionation series in some capacity.  His voice for Virgil may miss the mark compared to his predecessor, making the series two version of the character less memorable, but his talent for voice artistry is certainly put to good use elsewhere. The revamped Virgil puppet has much darker hair, and darker, slimmer eyebrows which make him much less distinctive.


Jeff is getting thoroughly cheesed off with the boys who all suggest he should go on vacation. So they all sulk and Scott gets back to his book which appears to be about birds… or pictures of birds at least… Scott can’t quite manage books with words yet…


Much like in the last series, there are two very distinctly different Alan heads used in this second series. This episode uses the considerably uglier one, which isn’t helped by his equally ugly tennis gear.


Gordon and Brains are attempting to ignore Jeff’s ranting and raving as much as possible. The changes aren’t too drastic on these two. Brains has basically had a neater haircut this time around and Gordon has a slightly lighter hair colour. Gordon is in fact wearing a jacket previously worn by Jeff in Attack of the Alligators! Gordon wears it far better.

Not enjoying the silent treatment one bit, Jeff gives in and agrees to take the vacation. Virgil turns around from his very elegant painting smiling away. Scott stands up, also smiling. Tin-Tin is immediately going to go and pack his bags along with her father, Kyrano, who doesn’t appear at all in this series until the last episode because the writers had essentially given up on him by this point.

Virgil suggests that Scott should take charge. Jeff puts the handbrake on the proceedings and insists that he should be making that decision. But he does indeed put Scott in charge of things because he’s “next in line.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but generally speaking in my reviews I like to point out how inept Scott can be a lot of the time, so I think Jeff is making a brave choice. Virgil remains in charge of Thunderbird 2 because Virgil doesn’t like people adjusting his seat. Gordon is left with the responsibility of handling Thunderbird 4 because that’s super important apparently. That “only” leaves Alan to handle Thunderbird 1. Technically it doesn’t. John could come down and lend a hand. Anyone could do John’s job in Thunderbird 5. Kyrano probably wouldn’t do a terrible job up there. But never mind, Alan has the task of handling Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 3 depending on which is required. They’ve never been used in the same operation on screen so that makes sense. It’s certainly an exciting prospect to have the Tracy boys swap craft!


With the situation settled, Jeff decides to contact John in Thunderbird 5. The same stock shot is used from Trapped In The Sky as always. The model was re-filmed for Thunderbirds Are Go but it looks like new shots of her for the television series weren’t even considered.


We’ll get a better look at it later, but the new Thunderbird 5 set is rather impressive. It uses a completely different colour palette and includes some new features which make it far more impressive than the old one. The contraption behind John in this shot, for example, looks very technical and important. John himself has tamed his quiff for the second series because this is the new, sensible, and mature John…


Jeff takes a seat behind his new desk. The walls behind the bookshelves have taken on a more vivid green while the orange accents have become black. The television is larger and the control panel is full of new buttons and speakers. A fancy looking clock has appeared on the wall. Perhaps the most disappointing change is the fact the ash tray previously used as a radio has now gone in favour of a cigar box which isn’t nearly as distinctive. Anyway, John’s also thrilled to learn that his father is disappearing for a bit, and announces that he is monitoring a World Navy exercise in the Atlantic… well he has to do something to pass the time…


This is the W.N.S. Atlantic, a super duper aircraft carrier. It’s the same model which previously appeared as an aircraft carrier in The Impostors as well as in Thunderbirds Are Go.


All but one of the crew are decked out in uniforms previously worn by the crew of Ocean Pioneer in Danger At Ocean Deep. The puppets used are Captain Johnson from Danger At Ocean Deep, the Matthews Field Commander from The Cham-Cham, General Lambert from The Impostors, and Lieutenant Jensen from Danger At Ocean DeepThe white control levers in front of the commander were used a few minutes ago by Penelope for her explosive bombardment of the mountain range. The navy are about to test some gyropedoes with the atom-sub Reaper… they’re basically just supposed to be really, really good torpedoes.


The Reaper is a pretty ordinary looking submarine. If this were series one, the whole thing would probably be bright blue with fins and nacelles all over the shop, but as it is, this grey vessel conforms to the more realistic vehicle designs of the second series. The model will go on to appear as the submarine in the Captain Scarlet episode White As Snow.


In the control room are Cass Carnaby and his drummer from The Cham-Cham as the captain and lieutenant. The periscope apparatus first appeared on The Hood’s sub in Desperate Intruder. The captain says, “Okay Lieutenant, dive,” with Jeremy Wilkin’s voice but in the rest of the episode Ray Barrett is providing his voice.

Back on Tracy Island, Jeff is departing in his own special aircraft, the JT1… JT presumably standing for Jeff Tracy.


Scott is now seated at the desk and the other brothers are crowded around him like eager schoolboys. So what will be Scott’s first decision as the commander of International Rescue?


In a bold move he decides to… contact John. That’s probably the least exciting thing he could have done. Even John isn’t impressed. At least we get a better chance to look at the new control room which uses many of the same components as the last one but with a few new additions here and there. The floor has been jazzed up quite a bit and the green paintwork does make it that little bit more exciting. It’s probably my favourite re-design of all the craft interiors… just a shame we don’t get to see it very much.


The Navy Commander asks for the drilling rig Seascape to be informed about the missile tests. With an impressive fanfare, Seascape is revealed. It’s certainly an impressive model and a great design. It’s the perfect Thunderbirds disaster waiting to happen really. It looks great, but because it’s held up by six supports in the middle of the ocean, there’s a lot of potential for it to get destroyed in some spectacular manner.

In the yellow jumper is Dick O’Shea… not to be confused with Rick O’Shea who appears later in the series. Jeremy Wilkin gets to show off his Irish accent which isn’t bad at all. The puppet was previously seen as Elliott in The Impostors. Frank Hooper, the rig superintendent, is a gruff and grumpy chap voiced by John Tate and portrayed by a puppet which previously made a brief cameo in The Cham-Cham. He isn’t happy to hear about the nuclear explosions being set off by the navy. I probably wouldn’t be either. Hooper uses the same radio microphone as John just used in the previous scene.

With the target in position, the gyropedoes are launched…


After a bit of correction, the first missile strikes the target sub with a terrific bang.


The second missile zips straight past as strange pockets of gas start to bubble up from the ocean bed. In order to conceal the airline used to make bubbles in the water tank, the chances are that a bit of painting has been done over the front of the tank to match the rest of the ocean bed.


With great drama, the lieutenant announces, “She’s a maverick!” Uh oh!

The missile jumps out of the ocean and plummets back in again, hurtling towards the ocean bed before exploding with some incredible force. Frank Hooper’s not going to be very happy about this…


More gas bubbles pour out of the ocean bed… that can’t be good.


After the commercial break, Scott is back in contact with John. This is the third time we’ve seen him this week! What a treat!

As John explains, Hooper is furious. The water’s a bit choppy, so he has the pumps started, storm anchors chucked off the platform, ballast stabilisers increased, and he even raises the rig 10 feet higher just because he can.

Meanwhile, Jeff is overflying some stock footage of a sheep farm. He’s requesting permission to land at Bonga Bonga… that’s right… that’s what Penelope’s called her sheep farm…


You can spot FAB 1 parked at the side of the house.

The interior of the holiday home is stylishly decorated and it’s clear that director, Desmond Saunders, wanted to show off as much of the set as he possibly could in one go. Parker is sat by the radio unit which unfortunately faces straight at the wall, denying him a good view. He tells Jeff that Penelope is out counting her 200,007 sheep, but she can only find 200,006. Parker hasn’t got the guts to tell ‘er ladyship that they’re having lamb for dinner…


Jeff is clearly tickled by the notion of Penelope counting over 200,000 sheep all on her own. Apparently Parker had the “mechanical sweeper” out to prepare the area for Jeff’s arrival. Does a landing area really have to be swept before it can be used?

Via the use of some back projection, Penelope is counting some stock footage of her sheep. After the famous incident of a baby crocodile eating her shoe during a photocall for Attack of the Alligators! I’m sure the puppeteers didn’t want to put the Penelope puppet anywhere near a real sheep. She has an automatic sheep counting device… the problem is that the machine only has 5 digits, and she’ll need 6 digits if she’s going to get a figure anything close to 200,007…  It’s worth noting that Penelope looks very fetching in her rancher outfit.

Jeff is standing in the middle of the living room, looking as if he has no idea how he got there. Penelope wants to chat but Jeff wants to check in and see how Scott’s getting on. He gets a very stern telling off but is allowed to make one call. Behind Penelope you can spot the grandfather clock which Culp hides behind in Attack of the Alligators!

Jeff calls in just to see how Scott is doing. He recommends that his son gets some rest. Scott turns away looking ruddy furious and… OH MY… what has happened to Scott’s eye?? It’s pointing all over the shop.


Ignoring the temporary blindness in his right eye, Scott calls up John yet again! That’s right, they’re really getting their money’s worth out of this new Thunderbird 5 set. John’s sitting in his fancy spinning chair by the window. You can see that he’s getting a bit fed up with all the attention. He reports that all is well in the Atlantic now.


Seascape certainly looks pretty at night.


Hooper is now joined in the control room by Cravitz who is instantly recognisable as Bob Gray from End of the Road. Frank is still grumpy about the navy, but Cravitz turns around to look at the weather computers  and announces that, “there’ll be a lulu of a gale blowing, come sun-up.” Lulu is a technical term for ruddy big in case you thought a storm of small Scottish singers was approaching…


It’s very late on Tracy Island, and Scott has found a comfy spot on Jeff’s desk to rest his head.

Up on Thunderbird 5, things are also quiet. Yes, we really are back on Thunderbird 5 again. This episode is basically Christmas for Thunderbird 5 fans. John is smiling away happily in his sleep. His bedroom has been completely transformed since it last appeared in City of Fire.


Even Hooper is getting some sleep in the control room. Cravitz must have sedated him to stop his moaning about the navy…


Suddenly, everything goes to pot as an enormous jet of fire tears up through the sea bed and roars from the surface of the ocean. It’s pretty terrifying stuff.


Hooper is so shocked he needs a floor puppeteer to help him get out of bed. It is very bizarre to see him and Cravitz staring at this giant hand in the corner of the shot.


The intense flames light up the sky out in the distance. The effect is really well done. Both the ocean and the fire jet are made to look massive thanks to the high speed photography.


John is awoken abruptly by Hooper yelling down the radio. Look at his hair… his big magnificent hair…


In silhouette we can see John rushing to make himself look decent before calling Scott.


Scott looks like he’s been sleeping for a few hundred years when he wakes up.


John’s dressing gown is nothing short of fabulous. He reports that the fire jet is 200 feet tall and 30 miles away from Seascape. There’s no immediate danger, but Hooper sure isn’t happy.


Brains arrives and, rather disturbingly, he’s wearing Chip Morrison’s pyjamas and dressing gown from Security Hazard… how is Brains wearing a child’s clothes… and how did he get hold of them in the first place?


John has made contact with Seascape and the story becomes clear. The atomic explosion fractured the sea bed and the heat has only just reached the gas pocket that Seascape are drilling for. Cravitz looks absolutely fascinated by his coffee cup. It looks like the rig personnel all have to wear matching roll-neck jumpers and trousers as some sort of uniform… I’m glad Spectrum came up with something a bit more official-looking for their colourful uniforms…


Scott is on the horns of a dilemma. The worst case scenario is that the entire gas field explodes causing massive tidal waves on both coasts of the Atlantic. That sounds like a good enough reason to do anything I would say, but apparently Scott can’t quite decide whether International Rescue should tackle this potential emergency.

Over in Australia, a newsreader announces that there is a jet of fire in the middle of the Atlantic. The newsreader last appeared as Chip’s father in Security Hazard. He says the cause is unknown but it probably has something to do with the navy’s atomic explosion… yeah I’d say that’s a good line of inquiry there… Penelope refuses to tell Jeff but he wakes up anyway and claims that Scott wouldn’t possibly put International Rescue into operation for such a petty issue… because apparently preventing potential disasters across both Atlantic coasts just isn’t worth the bother in Jeff’s mind.


Luckily, Scott is quite used to doing the opposite of what he’s supposed to be doing and announces that, “This is a job for International Rescue. Thunderbirds Are Go!” Jeff doesn’t actually say that very often Scott, so now you’re just showing off.


Thunderbird 1 is immediately airborne with Alan at the controls.  This new cockpit set is very similar to the last one but the instruments on the walls are new as well as the entire chair. The radio microphone has been removed so Alan has to wear a headset. He remarks that Thunderbird 1 is certainly different from Thunderbird 3. One wonders exactly how much training the Tracy brothers get on each other’s craft. That would be fun to watch.

Virgil and Gordon head down to Thunderbird 2 while Pod 4 has been prepped with a strange new contraption attached to Thunderbird 4. This is the sealing device… it seals things.


Gordon hasn’t quite made it into his uniform yet as Thunderbird 2 prepares for launch. A few noticeable changes in the Thunderbird 2 cockpit straight away include the new steering wheel and new, much comfier seating for all.  Some new instruments and piping can be spotted on the wall too.


Thunderbird 1 soon arrives on the scene. Alan decides to fly her dangerously close to the fire jet. He probably shouldn’t tell Scott about that…


Thunderbird 1 is tiny compared to the mighty Seascape.

After a bit of concern, Thunderbird 1 manages to land on Seascape’s spacious heli-platform. The set of Thunderbird 1 has certainly had a lot of extra stuff stuck on the walls. Note that the special panel behind which Brains is sat in Thunderbirds Are Go has yet to be added to the set.


Thunderbird 2 is almost on the scene. Things are going terrifically well.

Tin-Tin is back to doing menial tasks like serving coffee. Unfortunately she doesn’t get a whole lot else to do during the rest of the series or in Thunderbirds Are Go. You’ll have to wait until Thunderbird 6 to see her in action again good and proper. It’s a shame because she was showing a lot of promise in The Cham-Cham. Scott reckons that Jeff will be fast asleep right now, safe in the knowledge that International Rescue are tackling the fire…


Or not. He’s been awake all night. The red headboard attached to the wall can also be seen in Alan’s bedroom in Thunderbirds Are Go. Jeff wears the same dressing gown in Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday.


Penelope enters the room. Her nightie is later worn by Mrs Lucas in Path of Destruction. The odd lamp type thing hanging from the ceiling can also be spotted in Alan’s room in Thunderbirds Are Go.


Penny tries to comfort the grumpy Jeff in a manner which almost makes one think they may be something other than friends…


Feeling more confident that Scott isn’t wasting his time putting out a very dangerous fire jet, Jeff goes back to bed…


Thunderbird 2 arrives to tackle the very dangerous fire jet. Virgil brings her down over the camera to look as magnificent as possible.

The front of the pod seen in stock footage really doesn’t match the new footage of the launch rail slowly extending into the water.

Thunderbird 4 slowly enters the water with Gordon at the controls. A few new details have been added to the cabin including some new controls and a bit of new piping on the wall. The changes are fairly minimal, probably due to the fact the interior of Thunderbird 4 doesn’t actually appear in Thunderbirds Are Go, or indeed the rest of the series.


The sealing device trundles down the rail into the water.

Thunderbird 4 and the sealing device submerge and head for the sea bed. Lights shining through the water tank in front of camera produce a wonderful rippling sunlight effect to convince us that we’re in the depths of the ocean.


Alan has set up the mobile control unit in the Seascape control room. Good thing Scott hasn’t thrown away the instruction manual…


Thunderbird 2 combined with an enormous jet of fire is a perfect recipe for awesome.

Gordon essentially tries to do a power slide over the top of the fire jet. This special model of Thunderbird 4 is missing the ‘Thunderbird 4’ lettering on the back of the craft to make room for the tow rope. The sealing device is lowered into position.


Gordon operates the control. Thanks to the wonders of high definition, you can sort of tell that the Thunderbird 4 control console hasn’t been dusted for a while…

The rocket clamps lock the device into position and Gordon operates the compression valves to slowly cut off the stream of gas, extinguishing the fire. Simple as that. We’ll just leave that gas field burning underneath the ocean bed and forget about it… I’m sure that won’t cause any problems at all…


Everyone considers it a job well done! But it can’t be because we’re only halfway through the episode… what drama is yet to come? Maybe John will get his hair under control…


Frank’s the happiest he’s ever been. But Dick has some bad news. The seismograph is showing the turmoil that sealing the burning gas under the earth’s crust has just caused…


The ground opens up and gas starts to pour out again. Frank’s overwhelming joy won’t be lasting for long.

Back at International Rescue HQ, everyone is pretty chuffed with how Scott handled that particular disaster. It sounds as if they’d rather Jeff stayed on vacation for good. But that’s not going to happen because he is furious at Scott… because of course Scott couldn’t just do something right for once. As we’ll discover later they probably should have dealt with the problem a little more thoroughly, but considering they had nothing else going on, I don’t see why International Rescue shouldn’t have put out the fire. If nothing else, it was probably a good idea to give Alan a practice run in Thunderbird 1. But Jeff is having none of it and insists that he’ll be flying straight home. Bummer.


VIRGIL! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR EYE? Clearly there must have been some teething trouble with these new puppet heads…


Jeff is extraordinarily cross.


Penelope uses her delicate persuasion to ensure that Jeff stays in Australia a little longer. Anything to save her from another night alone with Parker playing charades… Jeff obliges because he basically does anything that Penny tells him to do…


Parker comes in for an amusing moment. He offers to put Jeff’s cases in the h’aircraft, a line which uses Parker’s unique speech patterns to great effect. Having just packed them, he now has to go and h’unpack them. Needless to say Parker is getting a bit fed up with Jeff’s nonsense…


Penelope lets Scott know he can keep his command for a little while longer. Scott has a bit of trouble switching off the radio and just sort of taps the panel vaguely in the direction of the microphone.


Back at Seascape, things aren’t going so well.


Hooper desperately wants International Rescue to come along and put out the fire again. You really think they did that good of a job last time based on what’s currently happening?


John calls in yet again because he’s actually really loving the attention this week. He reports that the sealing device did its job but this new fire jet is five miles east of the last one, what with the entire gas field being on fire and all.

Brains fills us in on the technical babble but basically he indicates that Seascape could be facing the very real risk of having a fire jet engulf the entire rig. His solution is to fire missiles to fracture the rock and release all the gas to stop the fire spreading. It doesn’t sound like the most sensible suggestion but if Brains says it will work then it probably will. Scott is hesitant. He wants the navy to pull their weight and quite right too because they caused all this. So he instead suggests that the navy airlift the Seascape crew away and just let nature take its course. I mean the worst that could happen is an enormous explosion causing that massive tidal wave we mentioned earlier, but that’s fine Scott, we’ll just ignore it. Virgil isn’t happy, but Scott just doesn’t want to annoy his dad. You nit-wit Scott.


Rather than John calling Seascape back directly and having to face the wrath of Frank Hooper, he calls the navy who call Dick who then has to tell Frank that International Rescue aren’t coming. The trouble is the navy are 500 miles away and it will take two hours for them to come and pick up the Seascape crew. Maybe someone should mention that to Scott and he might reconsider…

More fire jets start to spring up through the fracture. A big wave hits the rig and absolutely drenches the camera.


A support starts to buckle as if it were made of cardboard…


Hooper and O’Shea are sent flying across the control room. Confusingly, the sky outside is at the same wonky angle as the room, due to the fact the camera has been tilted rather than the whole set.

More and more fire. This is starting to get a bit dangerous.


Hooper and O’Shea decide that the best course of action is to go down into the water in a diving sphere to check on the damage to the rig… are you sure you don’t just want to wait for the navy to come and rescue you? The chances are that Seascape is going to get ripped apart by a fire jet shooting out of the borehole soon anyway so you’re probably fine to just leave the damage as it is…


John is hogging the radio yet again to report Hooper and O’Shea’s plan. Scott is still unmoved and has no desire to actually try and help them.

A lovely little diving sphere is lowered into the water. The rig still looks pretty intact on the surface which doesn’t quite match the incredibly crooked support column. O’Shea reckons that they can just go out to renew some bolts at the base to solve the problem… I wouldn’t have thought new bolts would help a giant metal column bent in the middle at 45 degrees…

It doesn’t matter anyway because another fire jet springs up and causes an enormous wave which buckles the support some more. The camera really gets soaking wet but it looks so dramatic they decided to keep the shot in regardless.

Surprise, surprise, the diving sphere gets into a spot of bother, crashing to the bottom of the column with the winch system completely knackered. Hooper gets a minor cut on his face but other than that they’re fine. Probably time for a certain rescue outfit to get their butts in gear now…


Okay, I promise this is the last time we’ll be hearing from John this week. He’s certainly been given plenty of screen time in this episode and it’s great to see Thunderbird 5 and John getting to perform their function fully for once.


And finally Scott is going to put International Rescue into action. It’s great that the stakes have been raised nice and high now, but Scott really should have grown a pair and listened to Brains rather than his dad who knew next to nothing about the disaster. So rather than going with Brains’ idea about firing missiles, they’re just going to be working as fast as possible to get everyone away from area, including Hooper and O’Shea trapped at the bottom of the ocean. Sounds fun! Thunderbirds 1 and 2 blast off towards the Atlantic with not a moment to waste!


Meanwhile, the W.N.S. Atlantic has arrived. This is the same model of the aircraft carrier deck that was seen in The Impostors but considerably more dirtied down. The little helijets are adorable but could they really not have found something bigger to airlift the crew?


The World Navy Commander is on top of the issue as far as the crew on the rig are concerned, but he’s got no idea how to get to the diving sphere which is buried under half a tonne of metal. So he’s saying that the navy doesn’t have a submarine to go down and recover the sphere. Good thing International Rescue are on their way then.

Alan cautiously approaches the Seascape. Unfortunately the heliport platform is located on the part of the rig that’s balanced on top of a wonky support column. How will our rookie pilot handle this landing?


Just fine. Seeing as Alan is relatively new to flying Thunderbird 1 it would have been good if that element of the plot had been played on a little more. The episode is packed with so much interesting and dangerous stuff going that Alan’s handling of the situation isn’t really focussed on.


Dick’s starting to get a little bit concerned. Hooper reassures him that they’ll get out. My guess is that Hooper hasn’t showered for a while but Dick is too polite to say anything.


In Australia, Parker is blasting the tunes of the WASP Jazz Band from the Stingray episode Tune of Danger. Meanwhile, Penelope is enjoying her book, ‘The Day of the Herbivores’. Over the radio, a report comes in about the Seascape falling apart and International Rescue are on the scene. For some reason Jeff feels that he’ll need to help out. I think you’ve meddled enough for one day Mr Tracy.


Scott demands more coffee from Tin-Tin… even though he looks pretty darn wired to me.


Remaining incredibly calm, Virgil announces that he’s about to drop the pod from Thunderbird 2. Jeremy Wilkin does perhaps give Virgil a more chilled out attitude a lot of the time, which does make it incredibly dramatic when he does manage to get all riled up in an extreme emergency.


If there was ever a way to make Thunderbird 2 look more awesome, it’s by framing her between two enormous jets of fire.


The pod hits the fiery waters with a concussion-inducing thud. Poor Gordon.

Even though a new Thunderbird 4 launch was filmed earlier in the episode, for some reason stock footage is used to show her leaving the pod rather than the crew quickly filming a new shot with the same model that is seen inside the pod. The result is a jarring cut between two different Thunderbird 4 models.


Dick has been brought to his knees by Hooper’s body odour and has given up all hope of ever getting out.


Jeff is adamant about going back to the island even though he can do as much over the radio in Australia as he can at the base. Penelope insists on coming with him probably because she hasn’t had a trip to Tracy Island for a while and fancies a free ride. Parker is therefore left to fend for himself in Australia.


Thunderbird 2 hovers in the background while the navy helijets transport the rig crew to the safety of the aircraft carrier. You know you could probably help out a bit Virgil if you really wanted to…


Virgil’s just waiting around and talking to Gordon. Must be nice for some.

Cravtiz and Alan are overseeing the evacuation process, or “Operation Liftoff” as Alan simplistically puts it. There’s no knowing exactly when the fire is going to engulf the Seascape, or when the support columns will finally collapse. Scott just suggests that they get a move on.


Thunderbird 4 has reached the diving sphere. The pressure and the damage has jammed the hatch so Gordon will have to cut through the cables and drag the sphere to the surface. Why exactly he has to cut the cables in order to do that I don’t know. Why not worry about getting it off the ocean bed first and then work out how you’ll get the sphere to safety? That way metal won’t keep being dropped on top of it.


While Alan is talking to Scott, the rig shifts quite a bit. This is conveyed by Alan’s camera going a bit foggy… because that’s what happens apparently. The immediate concern is now that Thunderbird 1 could slip off the edge of the rig. Time for Alan to get out of there!

“Come on baby. Faster, faster…” That’s certainly not something I was expecting Jeff to say. When Gordon immediately repeats the same phrase though you forget how weird the last 5 seconds were because you’re completely distracted by Gordon’s bizarre green goggles.

He’s using Thunderbird 4’s blowtorch to cut through the cables. When you think about it that probably isn’t the safest thing to do considering there’s a potential for gas to be seeping out of cracks in the ocean bed right in that very spot.


The Seascape is starting to fall apart like nobody’s business. Since we last saw her, Thunderbird 2 has gone and picked up Pod 4… just in case anything bad were to happen to it… never mind about the people still trapped on the rig though Virgil, they’ll be fine…


As the situation becomes more and more hazardous, Gordon continues to persevere with cutting through the cables. It’s really epic stuff and there’s still a whole lot more dangerous moments to come.


The helijets continue to work on picking up the crew. I love the dirtying down that’s been done on this section of the rig. Very realistic.

Thunderbird 1 is starting to slide! Virgil gets seriously concerned with a really intense frown. Alan just about manages to get her up in time! Phew!


Nice job Alan! Hope you managed to pack away Scott’s mobile control unit properly while Thunderbird 1 was sliding around. Maybe not though, because this episode is the last time that the mobile control centre appears in the television series. It is used in Thunderbirds Are Go, but for argument’s sake lets just say Alan left it behind on Seascape never to be seen again…


Gordon successfully manages to cut through the cables but now has to try and clear the debris away which has been piling up on top of the sphere. Thunderbird 4 clumsily nudges some of the metal away. In the spirit of the 2004 and 2015 incarnations of Thunderbird 4, the sub could really do with some mechanical arms to tackle this sort of thing.


The rig finally flops over into the water… that can’t be good…

Having removed his funky goggles, Gordon continues to clear the debris away. He’s really busting a gut over this one. He definitely gets some of the toughest and/or coolest missions out of all the Tracy brothers.

Thunderbird 4 is finally able to make contact with the electromagnets, much to the concern of Hooper and O’Shea who are both on the floor, knocked out by the pungent stench of Frank’s un-showered armpits…

Uh oh… frowning faces all around as water starts to bubble up right next to the rig. Things are about to get messy.


You’d better hurry things up Gordon!


The rig is soon absolutely engulfed in fire. It looks absolutely incredible. The special effects team really have excelled themselves with this one.


Blimey. Those are some seriously big bangs.


Thunderbird 4 struggles as more gas starts to exude from the ocean bed. It’s still so easy to forget that all of this was filmed on a dry set behind a glass water tank. The lighting, the movement, and everything about the underwater effects are so well done.


Seascape just keeps on burning…


And Thunderbird 4 keeps on struggling…


The tension is unbearable as the destruction just becomes more and more intense.

After a few moments of silence, an exhausted Gordon is able to report success as he brings the diving sphere up to the surface. Virgil prepares the tiddliest set of grabs that Thunderbird 2 has available.


Thunderbird 4 and the sphere reach the surface. And so Thunderbird 4’s final mission in the television series is completed. She’s sure had some incredible adventures and it’s just a pity that she didn’t get to have much of an involvement in either of the feature films.


Virgil comes in to pick up the sphere and a fire jet continues to burn in the background. That’s right, there’s still a huge burning gas field under the ocean bed. But now that the main borehole has blown up, there shouldn’t be much more danger of any larger fire jets. So it’ll all burn out and be fine in the end.

Virgil picks up the sphere to take over to the Atlantic as Thunderbird 1 swoops in overhead. A very happy Alan congratulates Gordon.


Needless to say Scott is relieved that the operation is completed. How did he do in the responsibility seat? About as well as Jeff usually does really which basically just involves leaving the boys to it and giving them a pat on the back when they’re done. Alan predicts they’ll be home by 3pm…


There’s an odd moment where we go to look at the shiny new clock by Jeff’s desk and a clock wipe transition represents the passage of time. These cartoony transitions aren’t used too much in Thunderbirds, so when they do crop up it’s a bit odd.


Jeff has finally made it back to the island and overflies the villa. You might as well have stayed in Australia because you’re a little bit late… It does give us an opportunity to look at a new shot of the villa though which has been pulled out of storage and spruced up a bit for its appearances in Thunderbirds Are Go. The cliffs are a noticeably different colour in this new shot compared to the usual stock footage.


Jeff and Penelope have been sat awfully close to each other for quite some time. I can’t really believe that there’s nothing going on there. When Scott denies them permission to land, Penny just passes it off as the ruthless efficiency that Jeff has instilled in his son… and she likes it very much… cheeky…


There’s a small ceremony as Jeff announces he’ll be taking back his desk and starting work again so that he can finally relax.


The Scott head used for this very last shot looks ever so slightly different to the one we’ve been seeing in the rest of the episode. His eyebrows are thinner, his hair more tamed, and the paint job is a little darker. This suggests a late re-shoot with the puppet that we start to see next week in Path of Destruction.

Here’s a side by side comparison if you’re not quite convinced.


The room erupts into laughter as Jeff takes his seat once again and Scott announces that he needs a vacation. I don’t really know why exactly everyone finds this so darn funny. But that’s just the way Thunderbirds endings work sometimes I guess.

Atlantic Inferno is really up there as an incredible episode of Thunderbirds. It’s a spectacular disaster with all sorts of tension left, right, and centre. It’s also a great story focussing on the Tracy family and what it really takes to be in command of International Rescue. Penelope and Parker’s involvement in the story is not too intrusive and still provides a touch of style and comedy. All the elements are nicely balanced and play off of each other well.

The strong story helps to carry us through all the design changes which have taken place to give the show a slightly different feel. The new set and character designs may be more proficient than their series one counterparts, but I think it’s fair to say that a little of the charm and vibrancy has been lost. It doesn’t do too much to affect one’s enjoyment of the second series, and perhaps if the series had continued beyond these last six episodes, we would have soon gotten used to these more sophisticated designs.

Next week… it’s big, it’s yellow, it has a chainsaw and giant arms stuck on the front… it’s the Crablogger and it’s on a Path of Destruction

7 thoughts on “Thunderbirds – 27. Atlantic Inferno

  1. Another wonderfully snarky recap – and of my favourite episode!!

    I really dislike the new puppet heads – especially Scott and Virgil. The manscaping of their eyebrows really does take away a lot of their character. And yeah – Scott is nowhere near as handsome as he was!!

    On that note – have you ever noticed that throughout all of Thunderbirds, Gordon’s hair is NEVER untidy – no matter what he does. Maybe he should lend his hair product to John….

    Lovely to see John more in this episode than we have previously seen him in the entire show! (and THAT dressing gown!).

    And OF COURSE there was more than just “friends” between Jeff and Penny. Even as a 10 year old, I was convinced they were a couple. This episode just proved it to me (really – she is none too subtle about trying to get some “alone time: with him!)

    BTW: If you want a REALLY fun take on this episode – it was redone by some Aussie commedians as “Blunderbirds” – do a search on YouTube and you will find the 4 “episodes” that make up the sendup (and they are rather blatant about Penny and Jeff). They do the voices petty well too.


  2. Wonderful wonderful wonderful ! I now have to wipe tea and toast off my monitor… Shouldn’t have read it while eating breakfast.
    Seriously, your sense of humour cannot disguise your immense love for the series and the characters, I can sense it in every word you write. Keep on giving us more.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think ‘The Day of the Herbivores’ is a cheeky take on ‘The Day of the Triffids’…the movie version of which just happens to have an opening narration by Peter Dyneley!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brilliant and funny write-up as always! I always enjoy reading these – you’ve done such a great job.
    Normally I pretty-much agree with nearly everything you say, but I have to say that this episode always falls a bit flat for me!
    I’m not sure why – we have big explosions & great effects, as you say – but there (for me) isn’t ever any real tension or a sense of real danger, which somehow the earlier episodes conveyed.
    Maybe as it was the first ‘new’ one, they were still finding their feet.
    I certainly think the puppets move better in the final run of stories, although something seems to be missing that was there with the earlier episodes.


  5. Like most people, my first experience of this episode was on the video Countdown to Disaster alongside Terror in New York City. I love the extensive use of the victory theme notably when TB4 rises with the diving bell, adding to the memories.

    Virgil comments that Jeff has never left them alone before but he did in Brink of Disaster and (briefly) The Duchess Assignment. The former was also written by Alan Fennell (AI being his final contribution to Supermarionation as a whole) so I’m surprised he forgot this. However, back then people probably didn’t bother with continuity as they do now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love these blogs, have been re-elected watching every episode whilst on lockdown! Although one thing I have noticed, is that more often than not, Thunderbirds really don’t seem to understand time zones, and it really bugs me. Especially in this episode. Tracey Island is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and Seascape Rig in the middle of the Atlantic. So Seascape must be about 10-12 hours ahead. But when the first explosion happens in this episode, it is bedtime on Tracey Island but apparently only the middle of the night at the rig. The Thunderbirds are launched and shortly afterwards we see that the sun has risen at the rig. But then strangely, it is also breakfast time on Tracey Island. Madness


  7. Ultimately I think Penny ended up being Jeff’s daughter-in-law, in a Story that is like a Tribute to the entire series including the movies ”Thunderbirds Are GO! and Thunderbird6, where the creighton Ward Mansion becomes the New International Rescue Headquarters because Tracy Island was destroyed by The Hood; at the end of that story Scott marries Lady Penélope and Alan with Tin-Tin


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