This is one of the first
episodes to really involve Lady Penelope and Parker, and serves well
as an introduction into what they would normally be doing with or
without their connection to International Rescue. Whether this is an
excuse for the incredibly simplistic stereotyping, even for the era,
is up to the viewer to decide. Still, this was one episode I tended
to watch quite regularly (taped off the telly in the early 1990s,
It begins with a stock
shot of Big Ben surrounded by leaves, one which will be used again
in later episodes. Then we see London shrouded in a thick
‘pea-souper’, a murky and sometimes deadly kind of fog that tended
to gather in London during the first half of the 20th Century. Fogs
like that haven’t been seen since a series of Clean Air Acts began
to clean up London’s air fifty three years ago – nine years before
Thunderbirds began filming – but clearly in International Rescue’s
universe, no such acts were ever passed.
Nevertheless, it creates
an atmospheric, almost Hitchcockian, setting and it allows a pair of
(real-life) female legs on high heels to approach and spook a
policeman (a British ‘bobby’). He shines the torch, and Lady
Penelope glides out of the murk. Once he’s moved the light away from
her eyes, she explains that she’s lost her way and needs directions
to the Tower of London. The ‘bobby’ begins to explain, but is cut
short by Parker shoving a rag over his mouth and dragging him away!
Parker allays Penny’s concerns; he hasn’t hurt the guy, just
administered a dab of chloroform! The old methods are clearly the
best, and offer fewer lawsuits. Parker shifts the policeman aside,
sounding like he’s risking a serious spinal injury while he’s at it.
Then we see a plaque on the building wall. It appears that Parker
and Penelope are about to ‘knock over’ the Bank of England! As
Parker grunts trying to move the poor bobby, Penelope checks out the
This episode employs a
lot of real life (film crew) body parts to help out the puppet’s
movements. They employ hands and even an eye, in this case, when
Penelope peeks through the keyhole into the bank! Parker has knocked
out the bank’s alarms, too, and comments on how obliging it is that
they put everything on the same circuit. As usual, the 21st Century
is full of security snafus. Now the pair pulls out plastic
Penelope sets the
charges and Parker dutifully hands her the fuse. Even through the
pea soup, surely SOMEONE will hear that? Turns out that the pair
have been smart enough to time the explosion for the first 2am chime
of Big Ben. BANG on time, the door is blasted open and the odd
couple stroll inside. They leave the poor policeman on the pavement,
for late night clubbers to trip over. Not the smartest move, surely?
It takes them about
twenty minutes to get into the vault itself. Parker starts work on
the vault with his trusty safecracker’s stethoscope, and soon
Penelope is really bored. She snaps her fingers together inside her
(real life) black leather gloves. Parker gets to be cheeky,
requesting, “Do you think we might ‘ave a bit of ‘ush, Milady?” When
she points out he might get there faster with a modern safe cracking
device, he snottily prepares to argue at length that this way was
good enough for several generations of his family. They might all be
criminals, but the Parker family seem to have taken considerable
pride in their heritage! So, Parker takes his sweet time and poor
Penelope is forced to wait alongside him, probably wishing that
iPods had been invented already.
Much time later, and by
now Penelope’s probably invented the iPhone herself by now, or at
least wishing she’d brought along a copy of Dan Brown’s latest
novel, or something. By 4am, Parker frets over the final lock, and
then there’s a ‘click-click-THUD’ and the vault opens at last!
Out of nowhere, a lot of
well-dressed men suddenly appear to congratulate them! Now it’s
revealed that this was all a test. Of course! They’re the good guys!
A dashed-decent chap
named Lord Silton chats to Penny, thanking her for helping him test
the vault. Now he can put forward an argument to the Board of
Governors, proving that the strong room is no longer quite strong
enough. Meanwhile, Parker is basking in all the attention, agreeing
that he has a rare talent, “…that one either ’as, or, then again,
does not…’as.” Er…
Penelope clamps down on
this little fit of ego and says rather primly that she hopes that
will be all. Someone’s nose out of joint, perhaps? She then confirms
Lord Silton’s forthcoming dinner date at her mansion home and
affectionately patronises Parker a bit more. Just before they all
go, Parker checks that he won’t be in any trouble for his little
show of skill. Silton assures him it’s all above board and everyone
says goodbye. They wonder what sort of ‘trouble’ Parker had in mind,
which is when the unfortunate bobby wakes up on the foggy pavement
outside and starts frantically blowing his alert whistle!
FAB 1 is back on the
move, away from smog-swamped London, and Penelope says she’s glad
there are so few other people with Parker’s gift. Parker agrees,
telling her he can only think of one other who could manage it.
Although it’s not clear if they’re only counting those who don’t use
any modern break-in equipment, and this thieving business all seems
like a bit of a boy’s club to me! Anyway, Parker’s rival is
apparently ‘retired’. To a guy like Parker, this definitely means
‘locked away’ in jail. And the next shot of Parkmoor Scrubs Prison
can’t be a mere coincidence.
The residents of this
jailhouse are a noisy bunch, making lots of shouting and rattling
their tin cups on the bars in each of the cells. The camera does a
nice POV shot of someone, probably a guard, going past and checking
each cell, then doing a double-take at the one where the occupant
has dug up the floor and escaped! Cue alarms and roving floodlights.
One beam passes over a collection of bins. When it moves on, there’s
movement inside the one marked ‘A Block’, and a surly figure with a
cigarette hanging loosely from his mouth pops his head out. Uh oh!
Surely the prison is performing a very thorough search for this old
Unaware of this, Penny
calls Lord Silton from her manor and checks that he’s going to turn
up for dinner. She’s all dolled up in a silky blue dress and white
fur stole. He tells her that the vault has already been replaced!
They will see each other soon.
Lord Silton chats to his
chief toady, Lovegrove, in the Bank of England Office. The bank’s
figures are all up to date mainly due to the efforts of a
hardworking fella called Lambert. Lovegrove mentions that Lambert’s
concentration is ‘quite terrifying’ and that he does the work of ten
people! Lord Silton adds that ‘they could do with a few more like
him’ although he himself is shortly swanning off to join Lady
Penelope! Not that this stops Lovegrove sucking up with plenty of
phrases like ‘Indeed one could, sir, yes’. Silton pauses to look at
a black and white image of the bank, pointing out how much it has
changed on the inside. It now contains the “strongest, most modern
vault in the world”. Lovegrove does some more ass-kissing, and
Silton continues his exposition by basically explaining that all the
air gets sucked out of the vault to preserve papers and gold bars
(very important, and also pointless MacGuffin there), and he now
possesses the only key that can open it (MacGuffin Two)! This key
which never leaves his side! Because Lord Silton believes he is
utterly infallible. Which is why we need International Rescue. Who
might be along eventually. We can only hope.
Everyone else seems keen
to escape the office and get on with their evenings, too. They are
about to close the vault for the next two years, and they perform a
roll call to check everyone is present. They’re all so busy doing
silly British voices (which are, admittedly, hilarious) that it’s
assumed that the known workaholic Lambert has already left. Some
dope yells out he’s gone and no-one bothers to perhaps poke their
head in the vault to make sure. The vault door closes and the airs
starts to be pumped out – they have a handy monitor informing them
just how much is left. Again, that’ll be vital later on! Lord Silton
doubts the door will be opened for the next two years, and promptly
skedaddles for his rendezvous with her ladyship.
So, inevitably, since of
course one of the essential elements of a Thunderbirds episode is
the catastrophic failure of some new fangled technology, we
immediately learn that Lambert is still inside the vault! He’s hard
at work and blissfully unaware that he’s trapped and that the
air-sucking device is working really, really well. I suppose that
otherwise that leaves plenty of air in there, unless he really WAS
trapped for days and days. If that happened, the real question would
be, are there any toilets in that vault?! Or a snack machine?!
On this cliffhanger, the
screen goes dark, and we’re left hoping for Tracys. Who still
haven’t turned up.
Back in the vault – of
death! – Lambert continues to scribble, unaware his air is now
already a quarter gone. Luckily for him, ass-kisser-in-command
Lovegrove has finally figured out that Lambert is probably trapped!
He tries to contact his colleague, but not realizing the urgency of
his situation, Lambert is having none of the interruption, and
shoves the microphone into the desk drawer. If only we could all do
that to our boss occasionally! Lambert’s annoyed because he said he
gave orders he wasn’t to be disturbed. You have to wonder who to –
the jerk who told everyone he’d left? But at least now they all know
he’s in there. Lovegrove tells a clerk, in a
Scott-Tracy-doing-a-posh-Brit-accent voice, that he can’t get the
door open nor stop the air being removed. Lambert has just two hours
of air left! Now we have that other crucial element of a
Thunderbirds episode – the unrelenting deadline!
They need to contact
Lord Silton for the key, but Lovegrove can’t remember where he went
(too busy brown-nosing to actually hear the words, were we?). They
try the emergency beacon for Silton instead, so that his Lordship
will ring them. These days, that’s known as a pager. Or a mobile.
But in the 60s, there are no quick solutions!
At Creighton-Ward Manor,
Lord Silton thanks Lady Penelope for help and back-handedly
compliments Parker, saying that he “knows his place, dresses well,
sort of fellow you could take anywhere.” Naturally, this flips the
screen to Parker swigging from a handled pint glass in his shirt
sleeves, demanding some ‘grub’ from Lil, the cook, and generally
Lil isn’t going to pass
any EU health inspections, either. The epitome of a ‘fag-ash Lil’ (1)
(I guess that’s the gag, those were the times, etc.) she turns
around with a half-smoked, ash-loaded cigarette hanging from her
lips and responds, “I’ve only got one pair of ‘ands!” Parker teases
her about her cooking, and gets miffed when she calls him ‘Nosey’.
He insists that it’s ‘Mr’ Parker, and she responds “All right, Mr
Nosey Parker.” The British class war starts here! Parker sweetly
says he’s only been teasing her and asks her again what she’s been
making for Penelope and Lord Silton. She reels off a list of
badly-pronounced French cuisine, which Parker dismisses as a “load
of old rubbish” and wants to know what she’s made for him. She’s
taken his simpler tastes into account and delights him with his “fave’rite”;
a big slop of thick brown stew.
Parker tucks into it and
reads the paper, and then stops in shock and surprise as he reads
that Light Fingered Fred has escaped!
The escaped prisoner
from the earlier sequence is still concealed in the apparently
unsearched ‘A-Block’ bin (Parkmoor PrisonGuards suck!) which is
being driven through green countryside roads on the back of a
conveniently open-top truck. He promptly throws himself from the
vehicle, whilst still inside the bin. Ick. He’s just very lucky it
wasn’t, say, a dump truck carrying the rubbish that week! The bin
bounces and rolls violently before coming to an abrupt halt. The
criminal, who we can by now safely identify as Light Fingered Fred
himself, crawls out of the bin. Amazingly he’s almost unscathed,
although his cigarette is utterly crumpled (but still dangling from
his lip). He’s free!
It’s night at Creighton
Ward manor, and a sophisticated strings version of the Thunderbirds
theme plays over a zoom-out from Lady P’s coat of arms. Penelope is
entertaining Lord Silton at the table and calls Parker in to serve
coffee. She asks if Silton wants Parker to remove his briefcase,
which gives Silton the chance to reiterate that it never leaves his
side! Just then, the bank’s emergency call system beeps. They
speculate it could be being robbed and Parker promptly drops the
coffee all over the poor lord’s trousers. Silton howls “You clumsy
Penny is somewhat
affronted by both the PG-rated ‘swearing’ and Parker’s extreme
clumsiness. Silton apologises for his outburst, although the coffee
“was rather hot”. If only Thunderbirds had been on HBO! Once he
recovers, Silton decides to ring the bank and see what’s happened.
In the Vault, Lambert
still hasn’t twigged he’s trapped and about to suffocate. And STILL
there’s no appearance by the rest of International Rescue. Boo!
Lovegrove speaks to
Silton on the videophone, but Parker, for reasons that aren’t
entirely clear, snips the wires and cuts off the connection!
Penelope calls him in and as he opens the doors, the wire cutters
drop out of his pocket. He successfully convinces her he was just
“pruning the roses”. Riiiight. She impatiently tells him to get the
Rolls, and that they’re off to London. She assures Lord Silton that
her car is “capable of phenomenal speeds”.
Or not. FAB 1 moves like
a donkey cart as Parker continues to try to stop Lord Silton from
reaching the bank. He pretends he has no idea what’s wrong with the
vehicle, even as Penelope angrily orders him to speed up and get
them there. They flash past crossroad signs pointing the way to both
London and, the rather less well-known, ‘Nowhere Heath’. Uh oh. I
think yet more delay is on the way.
Lambert’s time is
getting short, and he still doesn’t know it! The clerks, especially
Lovegrove, are aghast that there’s only ninety minutes of air left
and finally accept they’ll need to call outside help. Yes, we got
there in the end.
John chats to Carter,
the chap with Scott’s voice-with-a-British-accent, from up in
Thunderbird Five. John calls it in to the island. Jeff is taking
things easy, with Tin-Tin beside him. The others are relaxing by the
pool when Scott and Virgil hear their emergency beacon. Virgil says
enthusiastically, “Let’s go!” Aww.
Jeff directs Scott to
London. John will fill Scott in once he’s airborne. Time is of the
essence, as ever, so go, go, go! We get a full launch for
Thunderbird One that includes all its whistles and bells,
including that very overused scene where Scott pushes the levers
forwards. And, he’s away!
Tin-Tin contacts Scott
and tells him to land at London’s heliport. Scott requests
Thunderbird Two and some help for Virgil. As it’s been all quiet
on the space front lately, Jeff figures it’s worth sending Alan on
this one. Another full launch sequence takes place for TB2, intercut
with Alan heading down in the boring old passenger chute. Alan
arrives behind Virgil and there’s some solid clunky machinery noise,
then they’re away too.
The vault’s air is
half-empty (it’s not a half-full situation, after all) and Lovegrove
is having severe doubts that anyone can reach Lambert. That’s what
he thinks! Scott is about to land at the airport, and there’s a shot
of Virgil and Alan looking serious in TB2.
Scott lands at the City
of London Heliport (have to love that clear signposting). Then we
see he’s set up mobile control by the bank vault door. Lovegrove
tells him there’s only an hour to go, but Scott’s manner is pretty
laid back as he assures the clerk that they aren’t often beaten.
Right then, Thunderbird Two lands at the heliport with a thud.
John tells Jeff that
some changes to the plan have taken place. Scott has realised that
they can’t just barge in with the Mole, due to the city’s vast
amounts of underground wiring! (You didn’t think it was going to be
that easy, did you?) Tin-Tin frets that now they can’t rescue the
man, but Jeff is confident that they’ll be able to burn through the
Sure enough, Alan and
Virgil are hard at work with the cutting gear. I think it’s a shame
that they don’t confirm if they’re using the oxyhydnite gas from
City of Fire, but Thunderbirds’ continuity was always very sporadic.
Lovegrove is still unconvinced that they can do it, and although
Scott says their equipment (heh) is the fastest around, even he is
starting to worry that it might not be fast enough! Lovegrove
wonders where the heck Lord Silton has got to with the much-needed
key! I suppose, if they’d really thought about it, they could have
sent Thunderbird One to go and get him…but Lovegrove probably still
has no idea where his boss even was!
And neither, right now,
does Silton. At this moment, his Lordship wishes they had a SatNav.
Probably. FAB 1 and its passengers have ended up perched above
‘Lovers Leap’ beneath a bright full moon. Oh, boy. Parker claims to
have lost his way, but Penny no longer buys his story and stiffly
demands a word with him outside the car. She’s also twigged that it
was he who disabled the videophone. The jig’s up, Parker. He
reluctantly begins to explain his motive via a flashback.
The last time he was
‘away’ (Penelope makes him clarify that he means ‘prison’; thanks,
Milady…) he shared a cell with a rogue named Light Fingered Fred.
Fred shares similar talents to Parker, and he was the man Parker was
referring to when he said there was only one other person able to do
the job for Lord Silton at the bank. In the flashback, Fred tells
‘Nosey’ that he has a plan for when he gets out in a decade’s time.
He says he’ll reform and settle down…once he’s “knocked orff the
Bank of England”!
This has left Parker a
trifle conflicted, as he was afraid that the emergency was Fred
doing the robbery, and he felt it wasn’t right for him to ruin an
old colleague’s “life h’ambition”. I’m unclear on how Parker thinks
preventing Lord Silton’s arrival could really help his friend the
slightest bit. As there’s only two people who can possibly pull it
off, it was hardly a subtle breakout! And didn’t Fred want to wait
until he’d served his sentence anyway? I suppose Parker thinks he
got fed up and skipped straight to the cash and grab!
Anyway, Parker’s really
done us a favour and allowed International Rescue to turn up. Thank
you, Nosey. This still leaves the question of getting Silton to
London. Penelope quickly decides to spare Parker his moral quandary
and drive them there herself. Cue some stock footage of a
The most notoriously
sexist part of the episode begins, with Penelope executing some
homicidal motoring. She initially fails to reverse and almost drives
them straight off the cliff! Tinkling manic piano music, like Virgil
on a shed-load of amphetamines, underscores her backwards driving
technique and then literally forcing another motorist off the road
and into a tree! Saving lives is not her intention, tonight!
Virgil and Alan slog
away at the still unmarked vault door. Scott is poring over some
blueprints with Lovegrove and abruptly calls a halt. Alan tells
Scott they will not make it in time, which Scott says he already
knows. However, they have found a weak spot beneath the vault, and
he’s going to call headquarters to brainstorm some alternative ways
to reach it. Otherwise, it looks as though they’re beaten this time.
Never! They’ve been in
tougher spots than this, even though there’s only thirty minutes of
air left for hapless Lambert! The workaholic clerk has just realised
that it’s getting a tad warm in the vault, and mops up sweat with a
handkerchief. This doesn’t inspire him to leave, and he buckles down
to the last of the figures. I have a feeling this episode would be
much more disturbing if the poor sod knew he was due to suffocate,
and thankfully this doesn’t turn into one of the Saw movies.
Scott fills the rest of
the team in on the situation, and Brains is lost for ideas. Jeff
refuses to believe that there isn’t an answer somewhere, prompting
Grandma to say, “I think I know what it is.”
Scott answers, “You,
Grandma?” in a way that I hope is ironic, because I don’t believe
for one minute that Jeff’s mum would let him get away with meaning
it! I’ll let him off by choosing to believe that he sounds pleased
and surprised, rather than patronising and awful here. (But I still
want to slap him.) Anyway, Grandma Tracy explains that when she was
a little girl, her grandma told her about the Underground trains
that ran in London, before they got replaced by the ‘new-fangled
monorail system’. Although, if her grandma told her about it all
those years back, the monorail surely can’t be that new in
comparison? So just how old is Grandma?!
Jeff is convinced by the
suggestion and tells Scott to check if the tunnels are still in
existence. He doesn’t add instructions to beware of mutants or yeti,
but I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.
Soon after, Alan and
Virgil are hover-biking through Picadilly Circus underground
station, and it’s possible they dug directly through a plague pit or
something, because they’re coated in dirt! Alan comments that this
makes a change from space, but fails to specify if it’s good or bad!
Scott is left with
Lovegrove to helplessly watch the flashing lights on the air monitor
go down. Lovegrove, take note – suggest motion sensors and a bloody
great alarm to alert people that the door is closing next time, OK?
IR’s machinery isn’t cheap! On a similar line of thought, Parker
probably owes Jeff Tracy a few quid for the launch, too. Scott asks
if there’s any news on ‘the guy with the key’.
Cut to yet more awful
driving and psycho-mania piano music. FAB 1 busts through yet
another hedge in a flurry of dust and worried squirrels. OK, there
aren’t really any squirrels. Parker and Silton are cowering in the
back seat. I feel that this may be Penelope getting a little revenge
on Parker, although how deliberate you want it to be is up to you. I
say this because in some later episodes she seems more than capable
behind the wheel, but perhaps the police made her go on a course!
She continues to destroy most of the British countryside on the way
Alan and Virgil finally
reach the Bank of England underground station, via what is by all
accounts a very roundabout route. They look for the elevator shaft
that will take them underneath the vault.
Inside said vault, it’s
just dawning on Lambert that something is very, very wrong. He can
hardly breathe, and stumbles off to get some air. The same slow, sad
music that played when Scott was alone in the Sahara in “The
Uninvited” reappears now, as Lambert realises he has almost no air
left at all!
A now even grubbier
Virgil and Alan are climbing the lift shaft, and Alan stops them, I
guess because they’ve reached the weak point beneath the bank. Virg
says decisively, “Let’s get to work.” Yeah baby.
FAB 1 barrels madly down
a country lane whilst Penelope seems completely calm and composed…
The vault’s air light is
now flashing on empty. Scott’s expression is upset, clearly
believing that they’re staring failure in the face.
In the vault, Lambert
gasps for air. “Must try…get help.” Don’t talk, you ninny!
Virgil and Alan quickly
drill into the wall. No eyeguards, guys? There’s some nice
arm-waggling from the drill’s vibration, and Alan looks very serious
FAB 1 finally pulls up
outside the Bank of England. Penelope comments that it was a
pleasant drive and she really must do it more often. I just hope the
remains of Lil’s cooking aren’t waiting for her in the back seat.
Scott is frowning and
Lovegrove is sitting behind him with his head in his hands. There’s
just one minute remaining! Scott says, to no one in particular,
“Come on, fellas!”
Alan and Virg have
finished drilling and Alan is sure that they’ll be through any time.
Lambert struggles for
air, trying to phone someone for help!
Scott sits on the desk
beside Lovegrove, and almost looks like he’s trying to reassure the
Virgil and Alan are
taking their sweet time placing explosive charges into the holes
they’ve drilled, and Alan whispers, “Come on!” as they get clear, as
if to avoid setting them off too soon.
The readout on the air
supply flashes ‘Empty’ when Penny and Lord Silton finally show up!
Scott leaps to his feet as they enter, and practically shouts,
“There’s just seconds left!” as Lovegrove explains the situation.
Lovegrove prompts Lord Silton for the much-touted key. The one in
the briefcase “that never leaves your side”.
Lord Silton blusters at
the realisation that he’s actually left it at Penelope’s mansion.
Oh, nooooo. Idiot!
Parker’s already at the
vault lock and asks Penelope for a hairpin. She says icily that this
is “no time for flippancy” but he insists he’s serious. “They
’aven’t built a safe yet that Nosey Parker can’t h’open.”
We’re back with Lambert,
who’s just said into the phone the immortal line, “Calling
International Rescue…” when the wall goes BOOOOOOOM. Half the wall
has collapsed, and Virgil’s voice cheers, “We’re through!” (A little
unnecessary, Virgie!) Lambert is baffled, asks who they are. Virgil
asks if he’s all right. Alan tells him that they are International
Rescue. Super-clerk Lambert finds he’s been out-done, and exclaims,
“I knew you were highly efficient, but this is ridiculous!”
The farce increases when
the vault door slides up to reveal Penelope and Parker. Parker
apologises for ruining Penelope’s hair pin, and a now-smiling
Penelope calls him an ‘old rascal’. But, luckily, also quite a
Lord Silton’s pomposity
has only been a tiny bit dented. He’s more outraged that Parker
managed to get inside with nothing but a hair grip. “Outrageous!” he
declares, with Lovegrove back to toadying along, “Indeed, sir,
Virgil gives the
freaked-out Lambert a hand getting out of the safe: “Just take it
easy”. Aww. Alan adds that the danger’s over now. A now thoroughly
chilled-out Scott says, “We sure wish you’d arrived earlier,
Parker.” It’s almost as though he felt they weren’t needed…like I
said, they’ll soon be billing Parker a call-out fee.
Silton is still
spluttering about the ease with which Parker opened up the vault,
saying, “Can’t have chaps with hair pins wand’rin’ in and out.” And
he laments that at least the old one took Parker two and a half
That’s all the screen
time we get from the Tracys, and instead we’re back in FAB 1. Lady
Penelope is also curious why it took Parker so (very) long to get
into the old safe, and just seconds to get into the new one! Parker
has a very cute answer to this, “The first time we ’ad a h’audience…one
rule must never be broken. Never disappoint your public.” And he
apologises for his earlier actions. Penelope lets him off and
promises never to bring it up again. Parker is just relieved that it
wasn’t his old friend, Light Fingered Fred, after all!
Then we have an
epilogue. Back inside the Lambert-free vault, another wall goes
BOOM! Light Fingered Fred himself, dressed in your typical black and
white striped burglar’s outfit (complete with ‘swag bag’) walks
inside it and takes a shocked look around. He sees a wide open vault
door, and the great big hole Virgil and Alan made on the opposite
side. His response is pure cartoon-cockney, “Phwoar, luvaduck, they
call this place burglar proof? They’d do better to use my kid’s
piggy bank!” He takes of his mask and laughs. We all laugh, too.
With much ironic wryness. But, hang on. Any old sucker can use a
bomb, and we were led to believe he was a criminal of the
safe-cracker variety…oh, forget it.
I realised on this
viewing that a large point of this episode is to prick the pompous
self-importance of, well, everybody. After all, Lambert’s stubborn,
workaholic nature and single-minded refusal to listen to others got
him locked in the eponymous vault of death (and his own much-lauded
efficiency is blasted away by IR’s dramatic appearance, seconds
after he called for them!). Scott and the others had to get their
rescue solution from Grandma, not their super-machines. Lord Silton,
above all, got his blindly modernising streak (let’s face it, the
safe’s setup was highly flawed) and patronising attitude handed back
to him. And Penelope? She got bored witless waiting for Parker, when
he could have snapped the safe open in thirty seconds at the start.
In return, she got to scare the bejeesus out of Parker and Silton.
Parker’s pride took a continual battering, he tried to help his
criminal friend, got found out and admonished, but ultimately made
up for it in the end. Light Fingered Fred found that the Bank of
England wasn’t quite the ultimate life-goal prize he was hoping for
and there probably wouldn’t be much point in boasting about it
This really is one of
the cartoon-ier and sillier episodes, where the Tracys and their
machines only feature incidentally. The setup is slightly forced and
the characters are mostly ‘nostalgic’ stereotypes. It’s enjoyable
enough, but not my favourite by a long shot. It also marks the start
of Lady Penelope playing a much larger role in the show, which
seemed to gradually chip away at the time spent with the Tracy
brothers. So, overall, I’m biased against it for sending the series
(1) For those non-Brits
who don’t know what that means, a “fag-ash Lil” is British slang for
an unkempt woman who smokes heavily and has an ash-loaded cigarette
perpetually hanging out of her mouth! Charming!