This is certainly one of the most memorable episodes of the series, containing some very vivid imagery, and it opens with appropriate drama as tall flames pour out of an oil well. Sirens howl and International Rescue’s Firefly is moving into the conflagration! Thunderbird Two pilot, and all-round action man Virgil Tracy is controlling the Firefly. The cabin is lit by red light, emphasising the extreme heat and danger of the situation. He calls Scott to say he’s going in, and Scott reminds him that this is their only chance. Scott is watching the operation through binoculars, from a Mobile Control setup some way off. Virgil lowers the Firefly’s protective shield and heads towards the flaming oil well, with a nervous "here we go." He pulls a lever, the cannon fires, and there’s a HUGE BOOM which turns the Firefly around 180 degrees. It’s messy, but the fire has been put out, and Scott jubilantly congratulates Virg on his good shooting! Firefly raises its ‘arms’ over its head in what always resembles a celebratory gesture and triumphant music cheers them on. Wow, that was kind of a short episode...

But, the real purpose of the episode isn’t far behind. An NTBS news truck has been watching the whole thing and a certain reporter named Ned Cook is also watching the events beside his faithful cameraman, Joe. Ned is a little teed off that "this could have been the greatest report of the year" but the more sanguine Joe points out that they "can’t do a thing about it." This is true. Ned wants desperately to take some pictures, believing that HE has a job to do as much as IR. Sorry, Ned, but there wasn’t really a human interest story here, was there?

Virgil returns the Firefly to Thunderbird Two’s pod and Scott says that he’s going to TB1. As the IR men pack up, Ned seizes the opportunity and orders Joe to begin filming. Uh oh. Ned is determined to get "that story of the year" – I think if he keeps smoking next to the oil well like that he’ll soon have one all to himself. Do you think NTBS gives their reporters decent medical insurance?

As TB2 nestles onto its pod, Virg tells Scott that he’s leaving and Scott clears him to go, saying he’ll see him back at base. Ned is in the TV truck by now and Joe is on the roof with the massive camera. Ned orders him to "start shooting" when TB1 takes off, then zooms after TB1 at top speed (for Joe’s sake, I hope they DO have decent medical insurance). Ned’s a rough driver and I can only assume that Joe is being held up there by magnets or something, maybe Velcro! The TV van slides to a violent halt and Ned orders Joe to "cover the takeoff!"

The filming immediately sets off the by now legendary Automatic Camera Detector in TB1’s cockpit. Again, if Ned had just filmed TB2 on her own he’d probably have been fine. Noticing the ACD alarm, Scott is worried and lands TB1 right next to the news van, reminding Ned over the loudhailer that he told them, "no pictures." Ned retorts that IR have "done a great job here today" and reckons they should now let him do his. He also calls Scott "buster" for good measure. A crosser-sounding Scott reiterates, "I SAID, NO pictures!" and asks that he destroy them. Ned tells Scott he’s crazy to think he’d do that. Scott seems to pause to think about his next move and looks away. At this, sneaky Ned zooms off in the news van, making the error of so MANY would-be IR photographers, by trying to outrun THUNDERBIRD ONE in a CAR. Rookie.

Scott instantly blasts off and gives chase, catching up in about 0.2 seconds, clearly annoyed by all this. He brings TB1 right above the runaway news van, which panics poor Joe. The cameraman begs Ned to stop the truck, but the crazy reporter won’t listen and is determined to get away with "the best news story they’ve ever had!" When Scott’s efforts to get Ned to stop fail, he calmly flicks a single switch which floods the news van with a weird bluish light. Scott announces via the loudhailer that he’s "electromagnetically wiped the videotape," explaining that IR must protect themselves. He flies away with a sombre "so long." Wow, Ned and Joe should probably keep clear of Blockbuster video for a while! I bet that ruined their credit cards, too.

The camera film is smoking convincingly as Joe checks it. Ned splutters that Scott was bluffing, declaring "it’s not possible!" But Joe shows him that Scott wasn’t bluffing, and it IS possible, as the entire recording is now blank. And to make Ned feel even better, he adds, "there goes your story." Waah-waah music rubs in Ned’s thwarted scheme.

Back to Thunderbird Two, which is way ahead of Thunderbird One by now. Scott lets Virgil know that his takeoff was delayed, but cheerily adds that "everything (is) now FAB." Aww. Scott promises to tell Virgil the details later and Virgil says he will let base know this. I’m not sure why Scott couldn’t call base himself, but perhaps it was Virgil’s turn?

Back on Tracy Island, Jeff is dictating a letter to Tin-Tin, in which he’s declining an invitation just as Virgil calls in with the latest news. Virgil repeats what we already know and Jeff dismisses him. Continuing with his letter after a prompt from Tin-Tin (surely a slow day for her as she has an Engineering degree), Jeff says that the scheme – dramatic pause – to "move the Empire State Building" strikes him as being "daring and imaginative" and he believes the conservation of the great monument is essential even if the new area needs redevelopment. Wonder what Manhattan’s like these days? Sounds like it needs more tourist dollars.

Back above the ocean, Thunderbird Two is still heading home when Virgil tells Scott he’s picked up the reflection of a "surface vessel." A nonplussed Scott asks "what’s so special about that?" Apparently, it has phenomenal speed! Scott immediately figures that it could be the Sentinel, the World Navy’s "new strike vessel."

Scott’s right! We see the military ship cut rapidly through the water and a discussion on the bridge reveals that it’s doing 200 knots. I gather that’s not to be sniffed at. Or maybe the writers just made it up? The captain requests a routine report from mission control, where the answering voice from "Scanners" sounds suspiciously like Scott. Shane Rimmer has a very distinctive voice, guys. Anyway, it seems that ‘Scanners’ has picked up something moving very fast in the Sentinel’s area and the ship’s very paranoid captain immediately orders that they ready interceptor missiles for immediate launch. Uh oh.

Obviously, they’ve picked up Thunderbird Two and Virgil carries on, oblivious to the deadly action the World Navy are about to take. Virgil lets Scott know he’s going to change course so the Navy doesn’t get a steer to Tracy Island, as he does think the Sentinel might be tracking them. Scott agrees and says that he will be doing the same. Unfortunately, this otherwise intelligent idea puts him on direct course for New York, which puts the Sentinel command on high alert. Although they think he’s too slow for a missile and too fast for normal aircraft, they are ordered to "treat unidentified craft as hostile!" and launch their missiles!

Battlestations are fully underway on Sentinel as Thunderbird Two obliviously flies on. There’s a launch countdown and then the missiles are away. Virgil yelps, "Missiles!" He does what anyone would do in that situation and calls his dad, and Scott in TB1. Scott reminds him to switch on the jammer and try to throw the missiles off course. There’s a rapid cut to Jeff and Tin-Tin listening helplessly to Scott and Virgil’s frantic exchanges. Virgil cries out that it’s too late -- Scott’s military background really kicks in here as he orders Virg to "take evasive action" (surely he’s trying that already?) but Virgil says "FAB" and pulls TB2 up. They’re still coming "dead at" him. Scott encourages him to "gain altitude." TB2 lifts clear just as the missiles explode right under her tail. Scott anxiously calls his brother, who reassures him that he’s "still here" but that it was "close." And that he can feel damage on Two’s tail unit.

But the Sentinel isn’t giving up. A quick announcement tells us that they’re "changing frequency to combat jammers." Oh no!

Now the second lot of missiles are on their way and Virgil says "here we go again." Scott encourages him to get the jammer working, and that he’s "catching up...fast." What’s Scott going to do? Shoot at the Sentinel? Virgil has just figured out that the Sentinel has changed frequencies, and is bricking it slightly. Scott passes on the benefits of his Air Force training again, instructing Virg to "hold present altitude and climb one second before impact...we might be able to throw them." Virgil looks unconvinced.

Here come the missiles! Scott urges him to gain more height – but Virg gets hit. As he fights hard for control, throwing levers as the console explodes (why do consoles always explode?) there’s lots of sweat, smoke and flames. A close up reveals TB2’s burnt-up engines. TB2 shudders on as Scott calls base. Jeff asks how Virg is and Scott says despairingly that he doesn’t know, he can’t get through -- but he can see Virgil on fire in the distance!

Jeff has called Washington in an effort to "stop this senseless attack." As the next volley of missiles aims at TB2, Washington finally calls the Sentinel, ordering immediate halt of the attack. The Commander hastily orders the last missiles destroyed, just in time. Phew.

However, the damage has been done and TB2’s engines are clearly wrecked, with Two hurtling towards the ocean. Scott frantically radios his brother, who is slumped forwards, unconscious, as Scott shouts at him to wake up. Finally, Scott’s frantic voice gets through to him and Virgil wakes groggily just as Scott yells for him to "pull out of that dive!" Virg sees the ocean below and barely pulls Two up in time. Phew! TB2 is belching black smoke and there’s a fantastic shot as she levels out and Thunderbird One swoops in behind her. Semi-triumphant trumpets begin the next stage of the rescue. Scott asks Virg how it looks. Virgl isn’t sure as "the engines are running smoothly" but the tail is "giving trouble". Scott’s next rapidly delivered question is "Do you think you can make it back to base?" Virgil dryly replies, "I’ll let you know." Gulp.

Jeff organises the family back at base, who are now all gathered in the lounge. He tells Alan and Gordon to "stand by on firefighting equipment." Then Jeff asks Brains what "his" (Virgil’s) chances are. Brains seems to mishear, claiming that if the "reactor plant" isn’t damaged "her chances" are good, clearly meaning TB2 there. Scott checks with Virg about this, but Virgil can’t tell the state of his ship’s damage due to the instrument damage (there’s a Red Dwarf joke in there somewhere). Thunderbird Two just about flies on, smoke billowing from her rear and filling the cockpit.You’d think poor Virg could at least grab a breathing mask or something. He chokes and coughs as he asks Scott how much futher it is to base. Scott reassures him that it’s "just another ten minutes" and adds "You’ll make it, Virgil, I know you will." He gives a worried, very guilty (as if he doesn’t believe it or blames himself for not being there earlier) sideways glance as he says that. Sniff. Thunderbird Two splutters on.

Jeff is hunched over his desk with worry and Kyrano tries to gently reassure him that the boys will be safe, offering him coffee. Jeff isn’t listening at all and grunts "hmm?" Tin-Tin gently repeats her father’s question but Jeff has no more time for coffee. He heads for landing control, because if Scott and Virgil "arrive at all" they will be there in a few minutes. The runway is being prepared and weird alien poles slide out of the ground on either side. They look a bit like evil vacuum cleaner hoses. Gordon, Alan and now Jeff are in the Cliffhouse above TB2’s launch hangar and Jeff is pleased that they are ready. Alan makes out that Scott and Virgil have two minutes to go before they get there, and now Gordon can hear them.

Scott reassures Virgil that they are "nearly home." Not yet dead from the toxic smoke inhalation, Virgil goes through the landing procedure, but he looks very much the worse for wear. They arrive at the island and Virgil mutters "easy does it...easy..." then his ship hits the tarmac and bounces. Scott does a relieved blink and sighs that "he’s down," but Jeff - in the first of many dramatic CRASH ZOOMS this episode – exclaims, "The wheels, they’ve collapsed!"

Tin-Tin gasps in horror and Jeff orders foam released to cushion the awful landing. After bouncing along the runway a few more times, TB2 finally slides to a foam-covered halt. In the cockpit, Virgil drops away into dark unconciousness just as the flames seem to rise!

The darkness lifts and two blurry faces appear as Virgil slowly wakes up. He has a bandaged head and a bruised face. Fangirl squeaks are rampant, here! The faces sharpen into Scott and Jeff. Scott gladly welcomes his brother "back to the land of the living." Virg immediately tries to sit up and instantly asks what happened to Two. Jeff tells him firmly to quit worrying about that, saying, "She’s gonna be OK." Scott promptly undoes the reassurance by saying that the damage is nothing a "few week’s work won’t put right." Virgil is aghast –what if she’s needed on call? Jeff continues his plan to get his son to rest, saying "well let’s hope she’s not" and that he now needs to get a lot of rest. This fatherly attitude seems to put Virgil’s mind at ease, or the tranqs kick in – bandaged Virgie immediately nods off again. Aww.

Tinkering, mechancal music opens over a shot of TB2. She is also undergoing some urgent repairs but seems to be doing rather less well than Virgil. Tin-Tin enters TB2’s cockpit to supply Brains with some coffee and biccies. She asks how it’s going and the scientist confesses it’s going rather "slowly." Scott and Jeff are overlooking the work from a gantry above the wrecked Thunderbird, and Scott comments on what a mess it is. Jeff agrees that they’ll have to work "round the clock" to fix Thunderbird Two once the components arrive. Scott is a little concerned about secrecy while getting them delivered, but Jeff helpfully reminds Scott of what he should already know (for our benefit, of course) -- that they order everything from different companies and that it’s "only here" that the "jigsaw" fits together. Scott concedes sheepishly that he may worry too much!

A little time seems to have passed since the attack, and we see Kyano take a food tray from Virgil’s bed and comment how good it is that the pilot is eating again. Virgil warmly compliments Kyrano’s cooking, getting bashful thanks in response. Gordon comes in through the sliding doors and marches past Kyrano, asking his brother if he has his TV switched on. Virgil claims to have seen enough TV to last the rest of his life (surely not! I bet he was hooked on Gilmore Girls re-runs), but Gordon insists that this is different, as the Empire State Building is being moved today and "furthermore, right now!" Virgil concedes that that really is a "must see" and uses the remote control (did that look extremely high-tech in the 60s?) to unveil his tiny bedroom TV set.

Ned Cook is reporting from New York as the rest of the Tracys gather around what could be the only other TV in the house. Scott reminds Jeff that he had to stop the reporter from filming at the oilwell. Jeff comments that Cook would "do anything for a story," and we know he’s right! Ned is busy telling the audience how the mighty Empire State Building will be moved the 200 yards in one whole piece. Referring to his earlier RSVP, Jeff comments that he sure would like to have been there, and Scott adds that he would have liked to have gone as well! To me, this comment seems to draw a surprised ‘head swing’ reaction from Jeff, as if he thinks,’I gave you the chance or ‘you should have said.’ Perhaps Scott would have tried to go if Virgil hadn’t been shot down?

A basic but effective animation on their TV illustrates just how the Empire State will be shifted onto a heavy duty track for the big move. Apparently it took ten years of planning and two years of construction to get this far. Everything is ready now and an alarm blasts across the site. Ned seems tense, then ecstatic. It’s moving!

The ‘heavy duty’ track doesn’t seem to be all that sturdy as cracks are already appearing in the dirt. Ned continues his ebullient narration until in a CRASH ZOOM he calls viewers to "hold everything". Something is going wrong, and it "feels like an earth tremor" under his feet. Danger music starts playing. Ned promises to remain in the danger zone to continue the report - what a guy! I wonder if he asked Joe? Jeff can’t believe that the "crazy fool" won’t get out of there, and Scott reminds Jeff that he said Cook would "do anything for a story."

Ned is soon confident that things are now safe, although he doubts that the Empire State Building will move again that day. Then he reports they have just been asked to move by the cops. Just as he’s announcing that there’s "a very real danger," the situation catches up with him and both he and Joe hurtle to their apparent doom as the earth opens up!

The fall looks seriously lethal. Both are bouncing hard off the rocks while they fall. When they finally land they’re both very scratched and bloody, and have ended up some way beneath the crumbling Empire State Building site. Ned thinks they’d better leave the area and fast, but the tracks are still crumbling above them. The entire Empire State Building is starting to come down!

Back on Tracy Island’s lounge TV, there’s a blank screen where the NTBS news feed used to be, and a voiceover man apologises for the loss of picture. It’s now like something out of Cloverfield. The Tracys are still anxiously watching the action.

Stuck in the hole, Ned quickly realises the Empire State Building is about to land on him. As the huge building comes tumbling down there’s a terrific shot from Ned’s point of view, as the Empire State’s side traps them in their shelter, and Ned’s arms fly up as if to ward it off!

The dust slowly settles on the ruined site. Jeff decides that Ned and Joe "couldn’t have stood a chance." The new voiceover guy agrees with this, recapping that the Empire State Building "is no more." So much for the preservation attempt. Then suddenly Ned’s reedy, desperate voice squeaks over the audio. Scott instantly recognises him. Jeff also looks very surprised that he’s still alive. The voiceover reporter exclaims that "it’s a miracle!" Scott really can’t understand how anyone could "be alive under all that" and Alan seems a little bit too pleased when he says that "for sure…they’ll never get him out!" Scott’s long term memory promptly fails him as he excitedly tries to start the rescue. He says that with Thunderbird Two launched they could probably...and Jeff quietly reminds him that Two is still out of commission and that there’s nothing they can do! Quitter.

Ned describes the hole where he’s trapped, commenting that water is seeping in below them. This makes Brians exclaim "of course!" and the scientist reasons that the ground collapsed due to underground rivers beneath Manhattan. Scott sounds incredulous: "Underground rivers?" but Tin-Tin totally buys it. Jeff is immediately concerned that this water will drown Ned, and Scott wishes they could get along that river. Brains thinks that may be possible in Thunderbird Four. Tin-Tin points out that they can’t get Four there without Two. That’s the great quandary of this episode, a fairly easy rescue, ruined by the Sentinel’s overreaction.

Gordon pipes up that he can "make it all the way by sea," having entered the lounge with Virgil. I picture them both running up from Virgil’s room when the disaster happened. Both Jeff and Virgil immediately shoot down Gordon’s plan as illogical and dangerous. Jeff actually seems more annoyed by what the commander of the Sentinel did than Gordon’s proposal, and sounds ready to start ranting when Virgil has a brainwave. The Sentinel itself can solve their problems! Jeff immediately gets the "picture" and orders Scott to fly to New York, and for Gordon to launch TB4 using emergency procedure and head to where the fleet exercises are still going on! This time, though, Jeff is going to call ahead as I don’t think he wants Gordon getting hit by any more misguided missiles. With the island at action stations Virgil asks eagerly, "What can I do, Father?" Jeff flatly responds with, "Get back to bed." Aww.

TB1 launches! Jeff radios Washington and arranges for Four to meet the Sentinel, who are feeling sheepish about the whole thing and say it’s "the least they can do." Short of paying for TB2’s insurance premiums, anyway. They also call him "Mr Tracy." Jeez, Jeff, just show them your passport while you’re at it.

Gordon is whizzing along the TB2 runway in TB4, and receives full confirmation that the Sentinel will pick him up and take him to NYC as fast as possible. Gordon gets out an "FAB" before TB4 plops into the ocean.

TB1 is on her way and Scott calls Empire State site control. There are sirens wailing in the area as two cops pull up in their own Mobile Control van, which actually seems a lot more mobile than Scott’s unit. A laconic-voiced cop says how glad he is that IR are around. Scott asks if there’s any news on the trapped men. The cop says they’ve drilled a pilot hole to supply Ned and Joe with air, lighting and food, but that the water level is still rising. So there’s no way to widen the hole a little more and yank them out? Scott curtly requests that the cops clear the whole area, but the cop smugly confirms that this has already been done, "pal," as the site is very unsafe and "could give way at any time." Scott seems pleased by the ‘cleared’ part (and his hair is HUGE again) and tells them that he will be there in under 30 mins. He requests "detailed plans" of the underground rivers. You’d really think that if they had those river plans all along, they’d have been a mite more careful with the big move.

TB4 is being winched aboard the Sentinel, and Gordon reports this to Scott. Scott asks what his ETA to New York is. Gordon says it will be 24 hours, and Scott just tells him "do the best you can." The cops are anxiously waiting for TB1 to land, although i’m still not sure what Scott can accomplish when he does get there. I guess he’s just going to keep an eye on things! There’s a nice, very filmic moment as TB1’s landing jets drown out a loudspeaker that’s ordering everyone to keep clear.

Back in the Tracy lounge, Brains pores over the New York plans, which Scott must have recently faxed to him. and surmises that the small rivers under the city were never considered a threat. Jeff attempts a joke, suggesting that this might ‘wash out’ Brains’ theory. Brains ignores the pun and explains that the streams beneath Manhattan turned into larger rivers over the last hundred years (the city has some BIG problems headed its way), and apparently no recent surveys have been carried out. Brains is concerned that it will be hard to pinpoint the entrance to the river that’s drowning the NTBS news crew. Jeff is disturbed that the rescue could be delayed even further when it’s still "touch and go" whether TB4 will even get there in time!

Scott calls to say he’s set up in New York and the whole situation is recapped yet again. Apparently they can get food down to Ned and Joe (again, how big is this hole?) but that the water’s rising fast and they’ll be under it by the time TB4 arrives. Jeff instructs Scott to send them down some breathing apparatus (apparently the hole is pretty large?) There’s got to be an easier way! I don’t think Scott really needed telling, either. Jeff wants Scott to keep them alive until Gordon gets there. Again, kind of obvious, I think.

We see water seeping up into the hole beneath the ruins of the Empire State. The danger is increasing all the time!

Back in the Mobile Control area, we see that Scott is there to keep Ned’s morale up. Scott encourages Ned to "stay with it." Ned snarks that this is "easy" for Scott to say, but then apologises, saying that it’s been nine hours since Scott "got on the scene.." Actually, Scott could be there just to rub in the IRONY with a sledgehammer, but I prefer to think our boy isn’t that vindictive. Not until the reporter’s rescued, anyway!

Ned and Joe are now waist deep in freezing water. The much-mentioned supply hole is right above them and there are microphones suspended from it. Also I spot some little thermos flasks and cups on the rock shelf behind them which must have been passed down. Scott reassures Ned that IR are doing all they can and Ned admits that the "hanging around" is getting to him. The water is very cold and Ned thinks it’s coming up faster now. He guesstimates that they’ll be underneath by 10 that morning. Alarmed by this, Scott checks the Sentinel’s ETA – Gordon thinks they won’t reach New York until 10:05am. Scott mumbles "that, er…that’s gonna leave things pretty tight…" but the Sentinel commander doesn’t think they can get any more speed out of the engines. Gordon repeats apologetically that "ten hours it is."

Scott grudgingly resigns himself to this bad news. He’s looking sleepless and unshaven and asks the two cops how the hunt for breathing apparatus is going. I reckon Scott could have brought a load with him or nipped out for some decent equipment in TB1 by now. Apparently the cops have found a few units at the local Navy yard, and a depressed-sounding Scott mutters "well that’s something."

More time passes and there are sad violins while Ned checks his indestructible watch. The water level is even higher now, which is freaking Joe out. He asks Ned if they’re going to drown, and Ned reassures him that "these rescue guys…know what they’re doing." Scott breaks in on the conversation to ask if the water rate has increased. Ned uses his awesome ‘guesstimation’ powers again to confirm that they’ll be underneath by 9am. Scott sounds even more stressed, realising that Gordon will get there one hour too late! I feel that Ned and Joe could probably have swum out by now. Anyway. The cop near Scott tells him that they’re sending the breathing apparatus down now. Scott works the rugged look as he estimates the safety time has been "cut to one hour," and that’s without any setbacks.

Another lovely shot appears, as the Sentinel passes the rising sun on the horizon. It’s 5am and time is running out. Gordon badgers the Sentinel commander for yet more speed, but there’s no way to get there any faster.

It’s dark at the NYC rescue site, and Ned and Joe are now drowning by degrees. Now there are just two hours before they’ll be underneath! Scott tells him that they will have to wear the breathing apparatus for the final two hours. Ned points out that this won’t leave a lot of air in the tanks for the actual rescue, but Scott buoys him up, saying "we can still do it, and we’re gonna do it, OK?" Aww, I love pep-talk Scott. He really seems to be bonding with Cook, too.

The Sentinel is slowing down by the time we see Ned almost underwater. He and Joe have the breathing masks ready, but Scott urges them to hold off using them as long as they can because the "last atom" of air in them might mean "the difference between life and death." OMG! Joe is now flailing in the freezing water. They both seem immune to hyperthermia, luckily. Ned gurgles his last word as the water floods over them – there’s a CRASH ZOOM on Scott as he yells at them to put the masks on. The two cops exchange worried looks as Scott tries to get Ned to respond.

Finally, Ned sputters that he and Joe got the gear on and will now have to sit there and "wait for our air to run out." Yikes. Again, surely they should be swimming out of there by now? Or sending other divers in? I know the show demands that IR do the rescuing, though. Dramatic drums play as the Sentinel approaches under a dark sky, and it’s 9.30am. Gordon comments on the slowdown and the commander says that this because they’re close to the Hudson and East River shipping lanes. Gordon has a real brainwave and suggests that perhaps going underneath the shipping would be faster. The Sentinel commander truly lacks imagination, no wonder he shot Virgil down. Gordon says he’ll take it from here, and tells Scott his plan, and that he hopes he’ll be there in 20 minutes. So does Scott, as that’s "when Ned and Joe run out of air!"

Music with a dash of Stingray accompanies TB4’s dive under the East River. Scott checks on Ned and Joe, who are sitting on their ledge underwater. Ned asks if Scott thinks his "buddy" can make it in time, and Scott responds with a confident "ye-up," followed by yet another CRASH ZOOM as Scott whispers, "He’s gotta make it." Aww.

There’s more Stingray swagger in the music as Gordon searches for the underground river entrance. They’re taking a LOT on faith here. Something begins to beep enthusiastically inside TB4 and Gordon makes a beeline for the way in. Scott is still giving himself worry ulcers, fretting that Gordon still has to navigate the river. He finally has the bright idea of getting Ned and Joe to use their damn breathing apparatus and to swim out of the hole in search of TB4.

Ned is doubtful that he and especially Joe can make it, but Scott encourages him to snap Joe out of it and to "find that entrance." TB4 enters the tunnel and Gordon seems chirpy at having something to do, telling Scott that they’re in luck that the river is wide enough to navigate. One more time – surely sending in some divers first would have been the sensible thing to do here? Ned and Joe have already started swimming as Scott tells them TB4 is on her way. Just then one of the cops, referring to Scott as ‘sir,’ tells him that he has a message from Central Control. This is never good news. Scott promptly invites more disaster by stupidly saying "things couldn’t be much worse than they are now." Hasn’t he learned ANYTHING since starting with IR?

Scott is told that the land subsidence has spread to the ‘Fulmar Finance’ building. Scott asks which one it is – the cop points to the one doing a fair impersonation of a famous tower in Pisa. Danger music threatens as cracks appear around it. The cop comments how lucky it is that everyone has been evacuated from there. To Scott "that’s not the point" because the Fulmar Finance building is about to land on the rescue hole and start a massive tidal wave that will "hit those guys in there like an avalanche!" As if to emphasise Scott’s fears, the Fulmar building really starts to shudder and tip with an increasingly thunderous roar.

A voice on the cop’s radio tells them they have about two and a half minutes before the building collapses, and that "geologists reckon after that, anything can happen!" Hope these aren’t the same geologists who missed the underground rivers. The laconic cop says to Scott, "I guess you heard that." Scott doesn’t answer and urgently contacts Gordon. The aquanaut seems chilled out, as he’s probably both used to his brother stressing out and hasn’t seen the chaos rumbling above him. Scott urges Gordon to locate Ned and Joe ASAP due to the cave in. Gordon suggests leaving the radio frequency open so that Ned and Joe can guide him to them. Not exactly sure how that’ll work, surely it’s just ‘rock, rock, fish, rock?’

The air situation isn’t good, and Joe is lying very still on the riverbed. Scott remains sure there’s some air left in the tanks, ordering Ned to get Joe moving and to get through the hole to reach TB4. Ned redeems himself by continuing to help his hapless cameraman, telling him to "swim!"

The Fulmar Finance building is in its death throes, steadily crumbling sideways. The cop muses that he "wouldn’t like to be under that baby when she goes over". After a moment of thoughtful silence following this statement, Scott snaps at Gordon to keep going: "We’ve got to find them!" Poor Scott; it must be awful to have spoken to those two men all that time and then know they could be about to die.

Gordon continues his search, piercing the gloomy tunnels. For a moment he thinks he’s hit a dead end, but it turns out to be a sharp bend. He follows the tunnel to where Ned and Joe are on their last gasps of air. Gordon hopes they can hold on for a few more seconds – as a viewer it’s important to remember to breathe during these scenes! Ned and Joe are nearly finished, and Scott does some superb, coach-like yelling, keeping them alert, telling them to look out for TB4’s beacon and to keep swimming. Ned finally spots TB4’s lights and he and Joe start to float towards them. Gordon can hear their voices and actually stands up to try and spot the pair, telling Scott that he can’t see them.

The Fulmar Finance building is very near to collapse. Suddenly something like sonar starts beeping inside TB4 and Gordon spots Ned and Joe emerging from the tunnel. Gordon yells at them to swim into the hatch, and we see Ned helping Joe into it above Gordon’s head. But the Fulmar Finance building is about to crumble. Gordon closes the hatch and announces to Scott that he has them both, Scott roars at Gordon to "beat it!" and the building comes thundering down. There’s another CRASH ZOOM as Scott hits the deck and we see Thunderbird Four getting mashed and spun by the fierce current the collapse generates. The screen cuts rapidly to black and..?

A shiny dark gold curtain comes up and happier ‘showbiz’ music trumpets over a stage set. We’re watching the ‘Ned Cook Show,’ apparently being filmed before a ‘live’ studio audience. They’re ‘live’ because IR have rescued most of them at some point in the series – a lot of fun can be had trying to place each puppet head in the audience here. Other than that, this is the most cringe-inducing part of the episode, folks. It isn’t the ‘Tonight Show’ and thank God they don’t make ‘em exactly like this anymore. An announcer stands on the stage, telling viewers that Ned Cook has not missed a performance in the last 167 weeks of broadcast. He goes on to say that a few days ago Ned was involved with his cameraman (small smile here) in a disaster from which "there seemed no escape." However, true to "his unique record," Ned has made it there as always, albeit this time in a wheelchair and bearing a few more scrapes than usual.

Ned thanks all his "friends," the viewers, and says that before they start the show he wants to send his thanks to "the great people" behind a certain organisation. Although no one knows who they are and where they come from, "come they do, and help they bring." Try not to throw up in your mouth a little, there. He hopes his words "will reach those gallant people." Aww. As he says this, we see Alan and then Gordon in the audience, visibly fighting back sniggers. A pan across reveals that Tin-Tin, Virgil, Scott, Brains, Grandma and Jeff are also in the back row of the Ned Cook audience! Whose idea was the horrible matching suits for the boys, though? As Ned thanks IR from the bottom of his heart, having utterly changed his tune since the oil well fire, we see a longer shot of the family and then Ned Cook looking a little self-conscious before a jazzed-up TB theme sends us into the end credits. Another rescue has been successfully completed!

Most things about this episode are still very successful. Irony after irony defines the rescue that just keeps getting worse, from Scott thwarting Ned Cook’s ambitions after a successful operation, to Thunderbird Two being put out of action, to a relatively straightforward rescue being complicated by the need to transport TB4 vast distances by any means necessary. The events crack along and there’s very little of the hanging around that hampered very early episodes. The IR team are on terrific form, with Scott being benignly bossy, Jeff giving plenty of compassionate orders, and Gordon actually getting an awful lot to do for once. The only bad part really is the ‘showbiz’ bit at the end, although it really did express how much Ned Cook had learned his lesson. More importantly, who the hell was minding Tracy Island and IR’s operations back home? Kyrano?


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The idea for this episode is said to have come from a newspaper article about the moving of a Japanese department store to another site, while the customers continued to shop inside it. That’s possible; large structures were moved around in the past as well as in recent years. But I haven’t been able to find proof of this specific incident on the Internet, although I have to admit I don’t speak or read Japanese and therefore can have missed it.

Terror in New York City (TINYC) is the episode that echoes some of what was the initial idea for the whole series: The 1963 mine disaster in Lengede, Germany, where 21 miners were eventually rescued by sometimes ingenious methods and machinery that had to come from far away or was even built on the spot. Hmmm, maybe Brains’ family name really is Hackenbacker after all? It must have been a forebear of his who came up with ideas like a rescue tunnel that doubled as a decompression chamber. And sending down building material so the trapped miners could built a shelter that protected them from falling rocks sounds like one of Brains’ ideas, too. Something like that would have occupied Scott while waiting for Gordon to arrive at the danger zone in TINYC.

If this episode had stayed the original half an hour length, we’d have had the moving and following collapse of the Empire State building and the rescue of Ned Cook and Joe But not a satisfactory explosion and the even more satisfactory shooting and crash landing of Thunderbird Two. We often hurt the ones we love the most, and thanks to Lew Grade, head of ATV, who told Gerry Anderson to expand the episodes to an hour, the Virgie girls get what they want. A helpless, wounded, coughing Virgil with a small voice: "How much further, Scott?" Awww, the sweetheart has forgotten the distance to the island. And kudos to the dresser who managed, with a roll of bandage, to make Virgil’s eyes twice as large. Isn’t he cuddly?

Scott girls can enjoy this episode too. It is his USAF training that enables him to keep cool and clear-headed when Virgil is shot at and barely manages to keep Thunderbird Two in the air. But the sweaty upper lip and later the sigh when Virgil lands on Tracy Island shows clearly how much he really worries.

But I digress, jumping from one scene to another.

The episode begins, of course, with the well-known opening credits – which never bore me, no matter how many times I see them. And now I’m going to digress a little again, to talk about the order in which the men in blue are shown – which is not in the order of the numbering of their vehicles. So some say it’s the birth order. I think that’s only partially true. I think the Tracys are shown according to their rank in the organization. Scott first as field commander, then John as the communications specialist without whom they wouldn’t even know there were people in danger, then the ‘soldiers’ Virgil, Gordon and Alan. I don’t think this necessarily says that John is in his correct position according to age – and I have seen much written evidence to support him being the third eldest. But according to the credits, he’s obviously the second in terms of rank in International Rescue.

Back to the episode.

In a desert setting somewhere, an oil derrick is on fire. A single ambulance rushes past it, telling us we don’t have to worry about victims; they’re already taken care of.

And then without further ado, there’s the Firefly, crewed by Virgil. I’ve always thought he approaches the derrick far too closely, just like Scott and the Mobile Control are far too near as well. Or are those binoculars Scott is using telling us that he’s actually much farther away? Anyway, Virgil fires what is presumably his only nitroglycerine shell. "Remember, Virgil," Scott says, "you’ve only got one chance." Not that it’s likely a person about to drive into an inferno would forget something like that! The explosion puts out the fire, the Firefly is blasted backwards, and we discover an NTBS news team is covering the events and bemoaning the clearly already well-known fact that International Rescue doesn’t want to be filmed. We meet Ned Cook and Joe, reporter and cameraman, who are smoking even while filming a fire in an oilfield.

Is Joe’s family name ever given? I can’t remember. In any case, he’s a glorified extra with a few speaking lines. As we find out, he can’t stand the cold water and the lack of oxygen as well as the heroic rescuee Ned. But then Joe is far more seriously wounded than we are told; you can distinctly see that the back of his head falls off when he plunges into that hole!

But that’s still in the future at this point. In the present, Ned decides to grab his chance at the ‘story of the year’ and film the takeoff of the Thunderbirds. With Joe standing on the roof of their van with his camera, Ned speeds away and then abruptly makes an emergency braking stop, ordering Joe to start filming. I’m always amazed that Joe is still standing on the roof. You would have expected he’d have been pitched right over the windshield, camera and all. But no, he’s still up there and he starts filming, in the process setting off Thunderbird One’s automatic camera detector. Scott realizes it must be the NTBS team and lands his ship close to the news van. Joe is still sturdy enough to keep standing and presumably filming. Scott and Ned discuss the situation, Ned speeds away again and Scott has to chase them to electromagnetically wipe the tape. And if anyone wonders how that is possible, try to get your brain around how they would delete pictures taken by mobile/cell phones and digital cameras!

Meanwhile, Virgil and Thunderbird Two are already on their way to Tracy Island, where Jeff seems to have misplaced his voice-activated Dictaphone and is now depending on Tin-Tin to take a letter. You would think that with three university degrees she’s a little overqualified for that. And why can’t Jeff write his own letters?

Because he can’t hold a pencil, that’s why. And during the making of earlier episodes, when Gerry Anderson’s team needed a real human hand for an insert shot, the first team member passing by was roped in to ‘body’ double. But then the unions put an end to that and professional hands had to be hired. And that cost money, so poor Tin-Tin got the job. However, there are compensations – she gets to sit around and listen to that sexy voice and call it work! Sigh.

But the letter Jeff is dictating tells us there are plans to move the Empire State building in New York City. And Jeff thinks it’s a daring and imaginative idea. We also learn he finds the preservation of monuments and institutions important.

Above the ocean, Virgil picks up the radar reflection of a surface vessel. But that surface vessel, the new Sentinel, a ship of the United States Navy, picks him up on their radar, too. Virgil changes course so as to not give away the heading to Tracy Island, and is now heading toward New York. Which triggers the USN Sentinel to attack him without any form of challenge first. Unbelievable. Unbelievable that neither Virgil nor Scott try to contact the ship when they realize they’re being fired upon. "Hey, jokers, we’re International Rescue!" Unbelievable that it takes Jeff so long to contact Washington to get the shooting stopped. And unbelievable that the Navy hasn’t heard about the International Rescue craft, hasn’t a clue about what those craft can do. Is there no military intelligence anymore in 2026/2065?

Virgil manages, with advice from Scott and using his own jammers, to avoid the first set of rockets but the second set damages his plane. The third set is destroyed just in time, but Scott has to watch his brother’s Thunderbird almost crash into the ocean with an unconscious pilot at the controls. And on Tracy Island, Jeff does his best to organize rescuing Virgil and Thunderbird Two, before kind of collapsing into that state only another parent can really understand when a child is in deadly danger.

Scott manages to wake Virgil up in time to avoid hitting the ocean, and when they arrive home at the island, Virgil shows he’s a fantastic pilot as he manages a controlled crash landing. But I’ve always wondered which of them got him out of the wreckage. Probably Scott because days later he’s still so ‘upset’ his father has to remind him about how their security measures work.

It’s typical for a Tracy son that their first words on regaining consciousness are about their craft, and typical for a Tracy father that he gruffly tells that son that he comes first.

Come to think about it, where’s Grandma in this episode? She joins them later in New York City, but now one of her grandsons is wounded. And if she’s already living on the island, would they keep her out of that grandson’s bedroom? And if she isn’t living on the island, wouldn’t she have insisted on being brought there?

While Virgil recovers and Thunderbird Two is repaired, one day everybody takes a break and watches the moving of the Empire State building. Disaster strikes, of course, and while they’re sure Ned Cook and his camera operator Joe can’t have survived the collapse, another news crew picks up their voices with their sound equipment. They’re alive!

The world and International Rescue listen as Ned Cook explains what has happened, and Brains suggests both the disaster and the – for the moment – survival of the two newsmen are caused by an uncharted underground river.

Since Thunderbird Two is still out of action, Gordon suggests taking Thunderbird Four to New York under her own power to save the men, but Jeff finds that too dangerous. Besides, it would take too long. Virgil then comes up with the idea of asking the Sentinel to help them.

(Awww, poor Virgil, he wants to help but is sent back to bed.)

Scott flies to New York and grows a beard. And Gordon hitch-hikes to New York on the Sentinel and grows a beard. And we discover that large cities near a coast can’t come up with more than two bottles of oxygen. (Maybe that has something to do with the obvious lack of police officers and firefighters on the scene!)

Rumour has it that Scott’s role as field commander consists of draping his attractive behind on the nearest piece of furniture and longing for apple pie. In this episode he isn’t able to do much more than the sitting part and his chagrin at that, as a man of action, is noticeable. Besides, those who say Scott is only sitting around obviously don’t know how important it can be to have someone, or even just his or her voice, with you during a trying time. And he never could ‘be there’ for the ones who need rescuing with his mouth full, so that explains the absence of pie.

It is Scott who advises Ned and Joe to look for the exit spot of the river and start swimming towards Thunderbird Four. It is Scott who realizes what will happen underground when the Fulmer Finance high-rise office building collapses. His warning to Thunderbird Four is just in time for Gordon to anticipate the tidal wave, but it must have been an unpleasant experience for Ned and Joe. They’d just reached the submarine and started breathing again, and then they’re rolling around like peas in a pod as Thunderbird Four is washed out to sea.

As in every episode, International Rescue manages to pull off the rescue in the nick of time. And we end with a celebration as they attend Ned Cook’s live television show and receive – in secrecy, of course – his public thanks for saving him and his cameraman, Joe.

Imagine being in trouble somewhere else in the world on the night of that show taping, and managing to contact John in Thunderbird Five, but Kyrano is the only one who’s left at the base to rescue you!

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