A surreal threat for the team this week, as an unlikely collision of volatile elements summon International Rescue to a highly explosive situation. Oh, and John gets to go on a rescue, making this the one and only time we see the poor guy in actual action. This is a tightly written episode which has a powerful ticking clock aspect and contains some great insights into how the team operates before, during and after a rescue.

We start off with no indication anything could go wrong. There’s glorious music and Ocean Pioneer I, a huge tanker, is cruising across the high seas. However, it’s clear this will be no simple voyage. A sign says ‘DANGER’ and also reads that the ship is carrying something called ‘Liquid Alsterene,’ which is ‘Highly Combustible’. Good news for fans of explosions, less so for the hapless crew we’re about to meet on Ocean Pioneer I’s bridge. They’re discussing, smugly, how modern the Ocean Pioneer ships are, and how with “six more,” a chap called Jansen thinks they’d have the “most modern fleet” ever seen. The bridge commander wants another eight similar tankers in service as soon as possible. They marvel that 120 tons of “sea-worthy steel” can be steered by just three men, which is naturally very good for company overheads. But on this show, cutting corners always comes at a cost and it’s usually signalled by an odd noise.

The ship obliges. Odd noise is heard, and Jansen asks Collins, who’s on the scanner, to check what it was. Collins tells him that the reactor is “overcompensating,” and Jansen tells him to switch to manual and that he’ll deal with it. On the dials we see the reactor pressure is rising fast! The commander spots a “large amount of mist” up ahead of the ship. Jansen is surprised and confused, musing that “those weather boys don’t usually slip up…” As this is the future, that statement has a chance of being true! There had been no mention of mist. That can’t be good, then. The reactor dial continues to climb towards ‘critical’. Things have gone quiet. The ship slowly enters the mist, eerily fading into the thick white air. The men inside the bridge watch the situation anxiously and a fog horn booms mournfully as Ocean Pioneer I vanishes altogether.

We hear a few slaps of waves, then total silence until, suddenly – EXPLOSION, and Ocean Pioneer I goes up in a flurry of spectacular fireworks. As the ship parts burn on the water’s surface, all hands lost, the title ‘Danger at Ocean Deep’ appears to emphasise what this episode will be all about.

The ashes of Ocean Pioneer I have barely settled on the water before the screen fills with the broad side of another ship, with ‘Ocean Pioneer II’ boldly emblazoned on the side. It’s a sequel! OPII is a brand new ship and it’s about to be christened before its launch, by none other than International Rescue’s most overworked agent. On a grandstand beside the ship, a chap in a top hat thanks Lady Penelope for being there and asks her to step over to perform the christening with a big bottle of fabulous bubbly. Which she would have been able to do, if Parker hadn’t got to it first.

The actual champagne is being sloshed in a handled beer mug in the back of FAB 1. Parker’s also getting very sloshed with a fellow chauffer called Stephens. So, who still wants to call this a kid’s show? Being drunk is hilarious, though, and it’s played for laughs here. At least Parker’s new friend appreciates the “fine vintage”, tongue firmly wedged in cheek there. Parker agrees. They both toast “Lady Penn-a-lope” (sic) who Parker calls “one of England’s fairest – hic – roses.” Very flattering, Parker. Very sweet there.

On the podium platform, Penelope announces what a “great pleasure” it gives her to launch OPII and she announces, in Queen Elizabeth II tones, “May God bless all who sail in her.” She cuts the ribbon and the bottle of ‘champagne’ smashes with a lacklustre ‘bonk’ into the side of the ship. As if it had been waiting for the final nudge, Ocean Pioneer II slides off into the water. It splashes to rest and honks happily. Lady Penelope tells her companion, Lord Worden, it’s a “lovely sight,” and adds how incredible it is that they can “fit these ships before launching.” Up above her, two very Scottish and very ginger engineers are waving away. One gets overexcited and drops his “bonnet” almost on top of Penelope, who reacts with evident surprise as it lands in front of her.

The whole launch is being commentated on by a rather staid-sounding TV presenter. He dispassionately notes that “the crowd goes wild.” Now we see that the Tracy family – Scott, Jeff, Brains and Tin-Tin at least – are watching the OPII launch ceremony on Jeff’s TV. The reporter continues to bring the mood down by reminding viewers of the “tragedy” of Ocean Pioneer I only a year ago. Scott agrees with the reporter’s musing, but Jeff tells him to “hold it” as Penelope is about to be interviewed. As she speaks, in person, on television, a thousand thwarted criminal geniuses with cable TV go ‘Ah-hah!’ and start plotting immediate revenge. OK, it’s a missed opportunity, but I think a cameo from the Hood watching in his underwear would have been a hilarious moment. While that happens, or not, Penelope tells the reporter what a “great thrill” it was to launch “such a wonderful ship” and confesses that the champagne didn’t “pop” as loud as she had expected. The reporter, clearly feeling wasted here, mutters a very dismissive, English “Ye-es,” and then returns viewers to the studio. Jeff switches off the screen now and announces that all they have to do is wait for Penelope’s report on the ship. He wonders if she’s found anything “interesting”.

Well, sort of.

The next shot is of Parker snoring away in the back of FAB1 with a big sleepy grin on his unpretty mug. He’s still clutching the bottle which contained the real champers, so yes, drinking is funny, especially when the drunk man is a chauffeur! Cute ‘hilarious’ music plays. Penelope appears a little dismayed by the sight, and asks knowingly, “where did you get the champagne?” Parker groggily responds that as 1998 was “such a good year” for the bubbly (I hear tell it wasn’t!) that it seemed a “pity to waste it” and hence he “slitched it” (sic), meaning he switched it with something else. Penelope, who thought as much, demands to know what she actually launched the (doomed!) ship with. Parker confesses that it was “pure tonic water.” Penelope actually seems rather narked by this. Perhaps she doesn’t get to launch ships all that often after all? She snaps that they will talk about this “later,” but that for now she still has a message to “relay to Jeff.”

On Tracy Island, Penny’s portrait eyes flash while Virgil and Jeff are examining a lumpy bit of hardware (no, not a euphemism) and Tin-Tin seems to be choosing a fresh book from the shelves behind them. When Jeff answers the call, Penelope tells him that the launch was a complete success. He reminds her that they saw “the whole thing on television” and asks if anyone suspected her real reason for being there. She doesn’t think so, adding with some grand innuendo (and prepare for more) that “Lord Worden was only too happy to have me on the platform.” Without missing a beat, Jeff asks her if she gave the ship the “once over.” Penny rather coyly confirms she did give it “the, er, once over,” but found nothing that indicated sabotage, and she believes that the ship is not in danger.

OK, I’m nitpicking here, but what Penelope probably means is that she found neither a big hole punched in the side of OPII, or anything marked ‘Bomb’ lurking near the fuel tanks. Right? Because I can’t help feeling that Jeff might have sent Tin-Tin or Brains, who have actual engineering qualifications, to check out the sister of the ship that blew up. They might be able to spot anything dodgy. I just doubt Penelope really could, unless she snuck them some blueprints earlier or something. Anyway, like I say, I’m nitpicking. Perhaps she did get her nails dirty. Let’s hope so, for the sake of the three guys aboard OPII.

So, satisfied that they’ve checked out the potential threats to OPII, Jeff thanks Penny for taking a look and finishes the call. After this, he confesses to his family that he’s “still worried.” Scott and Virgil don’t get his concern. They’re standing with Tin-Tin and that big piece of transistor-tubed equipment – clearly some sort of project going on there, which I find a nice background touch. These guys do other things than rescue people. They have hobbies and discuss things with each other, even if we don’t get that spelled out in the show itself. Anyway, Jeff defends his paranoia, pointing out that if the first ship can blow up in the middle of the ocean for “no apparent reason,” then “anything” is possible. Aliens, perhaps? Maybe not.

Alan appears, out of nowhere, almost, and prompts Jeff by saying “If it happened once it can happen again?” and Jeff confirms, “Exactly.” Jeff expects to hear more of OPII after her “maiden voyage.” Tin-Tin rather mookishly reckons that worrying about OPII blowing up “won’t prevent it” – but then they get a call from John! Scott’s astonished at the timing, saying, “Well, I’ll be…” and Virgil reacts with “Already?” but, don’t worry guys, it’s not what you think. John tells them that a distress call has come in from Oahu requiring “immediate action,” as a typhoon has just hit there and their new hospital’s foundations are crumbling. Patients are in “extreme danger.” Jeff tells John to brief Scott when he’s in the air and muses that “at least” the tanker’s not in trouble, before he sends Scott out on a full Thunderbird One launch. We also get the complete music for the launch, and just like that, TB1 is Go!

Scott reports on his progress and briefs them with the extra info. A tidal wave has undermined the hospital’s foundations and John is still getting more intel. However, Scott already thinks they’ll need Thunderbird Two with “double crew” plus “Pod 3.” Jeff sends Virgil off first, but prevents Alan from going with Virgil as he’s due on the space station “at 0300.” Alan is very disappointed! Instead, Gordon will double-crew with Virgil (strangely, I always thought double crew meant both Alan and Gordon). So, Gordo gets to go and Alan mopes at being left behind. Virgil is blasting off a second later.

Scott reports that he’ll be landing at the danger zone in two minutes. As he speaks, his video image starts to turn fuzzy and flickers. As the interference on the picture worsens, Jeff tells Tin-Tin to “get Brains up here,” and Alan asks what he thinks could be happening. Virgil interrupts Jeff’s reply, but Virgil’s signal is even more disrupted by interference. Jeff worries this “could be very serious,” as Brains appears, telling them that John is now out of contact as well! Brains thinks only the transmissions “via the satellite” are affected. Jeff points out that “It cleared itself then,” (er, what is he talking about?” and Brains agrees, (about what? When did this happen before?) but Brains now thinks the interference signal appears “much stronger.” Jeff quickly thinks it over and then sends Alan off to relieve John (he was going in six hours anyway) and adds that Brains will go with him to check the transmission recordings. I also suspect that Brains is going with Alan because Scott’s not there to chaperone Thunderbird Three – sorry, Al! Anyway, Brains sits beside Alan on the sofa and a full Thunderbird Three launch sequence commences. Without further fuss, Three launches. We see the earth shrink under the haze of her rocket vapour. Very cool. Then, dramatic fade to black.

Now Thunderbird Three is amusingly docked with Thunderbird Five (if you have to ask, I’d better not explain…) as Alan, Brains and John listen to the signal distortion recorded on the reel-to-reel tape. Alan hands the recording to Brains, commenting on how it “seems a mighty long way to come” just to collect a reel of tape. Brains patiently explains that it’s not waste of time because a recording made “outside of the earth’s atmosphere” is a lot clearer and therefore more useful to his research. John is just impatient to get Brains back to earth so they can “work out an answer” to the interference, although I have my suspicions that he can’t wait to get back to the pool, either. John rather weirdly calls Alan “boy” as he leaves (such an anachronism for a show set in the 21st century!) and Alan ‘jokingly’ reminds his brother that he’s now owed six hours. John laughs (Alan is never getting that time back!) and says “seeya.” Then TB3 heaves herself out of the TB5 docking bay, and Brains returns to earth with John.

On Tracy Island, Scott is chatting away silently on a snowy screen whilst Tin-Tin stares out of the window. I like her sunglasses and the way she’s framed in this shot. Now her father, Kyrano, arrives and asks if there’s any news. Nope. Jeff tells him that the interference is still there and that it’s “terrifying” how much their “rescue business” relies on their communication. Time to call your digital provider, Jeff. Tin-Tin chides them for encouraging each other’s worries, and Kyrano enquires how “Mr Brains” is doing. Jeff tells him they know nothing, except that only communication over short distances, like between TB1 and TB2, is possible. In this gloomy atmosphere, Tin-Tin decides she’ll start organising lunch, apparently resigned to it being “just the four of us again”, which I think counts Grandma, wherever she currently is.

At that point, Kyrano promptly mistakes Thunderbird One’s engines for the mail plane’s arrival. Jeff quickly corrects him and happily tells Tin-Tin to “lay an extra plate” as it seems that Scott “will be joining us after all!”

Thunderbird One is racing back and Scott is a muddy mess. Clearly, it was a good rescue! Scott talks to himself as he reaches the island, realising that there’s “no point” in radioing considering the levels of interference. He opts to land, and fervently hopes that Jeff is ready for him! Its seems that they are, as the pool retracts for Scott to land. Once a very dirty Scott is back in the lounge, Jeff asks how the rescue went. Scott tells him that they “shored up” all the hospital walls with “hydro-stats” but not before the “isolation ward collapsed” which was “close.” Jeff asks if there were any casualties. Scott seems almost horizontal here, assuring him that there weren’t any cases in ward “at the time.” That’s lucky. Tin-Tin anxiously checks if Virgil and Gordon are all right. Scott, still almost asleep here, tells her they “sure” are and that they’re “even muddier than me!.” Aww. He thinks the other two will be back soon. He adds that they found they could contact each other “up close despite the interference.” After this debrief, Jeff sends Scott off to clean up.

Tin-Tin now reminds Jeff that the “inter-telecast” on Ocean Pioneer II is almost due. Which channel broadcasts this sort of thing and how do you subscribe to it? Jeff is pleased that they “don’t have to contend” with interference on outside transmissions and tells her he’ll watch it while they wait for Virgil and Gordon to return.

Now Thunderbird Two is cruising home. We see how Virgil’s hair has gone a very interesting shape. I think he went mud-surfing on Oahu. Tracy Island is “dead ahead” and he gently lands Two on the runway. Perhaps actually parking her back in the bay requires a little more radio contact than One did?

A freshly scrubbed Scott watches Two’s return alongside Tin-Tin, and he says that when Brains returns the “whole team” will be together again. Tin-Tin says she hopes that Brains can clear up the interference mystery, and Scott nods in agreement.

Possibly a little time later, Brains is in the Tracy Island’s labs and listening to the interference. He asks Tin-Tin to play the tape “once more” and then to “keep that sound” in her mind – at this she either does a ‘memory’ glance or rolls her eyes slightly at the camera. Not sure there. Now, Brains tells her to listen…

What we hear, and then see, is Ocean Pioneer II’s horn blasting as she crosses the water. Wow, the networks must just be praying that this thing explodes soon. We see the image is on Jeff’s TV screen and the voice over reports that OPII is carrying a cargo of “liquid alsterene”, which I’m sure won’t be important later on. Apparently the ship is crossing the Mediterranean, crewed by just three men (of course) and carrying 200k tons of “nature’s latest aid to mankind”, the liquid A, of course. Gulp!

There’s another closeup on OPII’s hull, and its horn is still blowing. The Captain irritably tells “Jensen” to quit playing with the horn as they’re “well clear of port now.” The Captain orders him to check the radio circuits instead, and for his “Number Two” to “switch to auto.” Jensen radios the Pioneer Base in “Port of London” and tells them that everything is OK, and that they’ll check in again soon. Jensen also reports their course and reckons that they’ll be “home and dry” in “next to no time at all.” A close up on the liquid Alsterene they’re carrying suggests otherwise. Ocean Pioneer sails on, towards certain doom! And the screen fades to black.

On Tracy Island, Brains urgently calls Jeff to see him in the laboratory “right away.” Jeff asks if it’s “trouble” and Brains explains that they’ve “traced the interference” but that it “raises a few problems.” Jeff is on his way at once.

Down in the lab, Brains instructs Tin-Tin to set up the experiment again, but to measure the quantities “very carefully.” Scott is also hanging out in the lab, in a scarily orange shirt with brown waistcoat. He also warns Tin-Tin to “go steady.” If you’re such nervous nellies, chaps, why not do it yourselves? As very tense music plays, Tin-Tin carefully pours (with some ‘real’ hands) and Jeff arrives as the prepared tube slides up into the testing bay, behind what I hope is some very thick glass.

Jeff briskly says, “Let’s have it,” but they’re still setting up. Brains asks Tin-Tin to play the “original” recording and she runs the fuzzy interference tape. Then she switches on the microphone to receive the noise from behind the glass. The other test tube is a darkish orange (perhaps the result of washing Scott’s shirt?) and Brains explains to Jeff that their experiments have proven that “the result of close proximity” of the two substances in the test tubes, OD60 and a high density fuel, produces “high impedance waves which can interrupt and cut off radio communication on our bandwidth for a given distance.” Phew. Jeff sounds pleased at this result and says, still brisk, “Now, the cure.” Brains laughs that he’s “too fast” as the “experiment is not quite finished.” Scott adds for emphasis, “No, sir, it sure isn’t.” I still think it has something to do with that shirt.

Jeff impatiently asks what they’re waiting for and Brains tells him to observe the test tube contents. He brings the tubes closer together so that “further chemical reaction takes place.” As he does this, the test tube area quickly turns almost opaque with smoke. Brains continues to run the test “until finally, they…” the two tubes EXPLODE! Jeff exclaims with a “wow!” and wonders what it all adds up to. Brains summarises that it means a very large explosion occurs in “whatever area one finds both A and B,” and tells Jeff that test tube A was filled with liquid Alsterene. Jeff interrupts to check “Alsterene, you say?” Brains says yes, it’s Alsterene. The other substance is a sea fungi found close to currents on the Gulf Stream, “OD60.” Apparently this fungi is used to make “dog food, of all things.” Brains asks Scott, putting the boy to work here, if he has a fix on where OD60 is found. Scott has found it, but tells him “it just doesn’t make sense” as, going by Alan’s orbits and the “time of the blackouts” Scott’s been “smack in the middle of the Mediterranean” which is miles from the Gulf or any landfall. He taps a map of Europe, which on freeze-frame sadly doesn’t show the notorious State of Bereznik from the the comics. Ah well. Also, I still don’t quite see how this screwed up Thunderbird Five. Anyone? Anyone get this?

Jeff asks Brains if the OD60 is only found in the Gulf Stream area, and Brains believes so, but Tin-Tin reckons that Lady Penelope “could soon tell us.” Yes, more Lady P shoehorned into the episode. Lucky us! At least she has a fairly valid reason to return. Jeff is a little surprised, “How would she know?” Tin-Tin points out that her Ladyship was on the panel to judge the “All Pets Poodle Competition.” I love this line because then Scott repeats, incredulously, “Poodle Competition?” in a way that makes me happy on every repeat viewing. Tin-Tin tells them the All Pets slogan, “The only dog food that uses the food that nature provides from the sea” which is “OD60 of course.” Wow, the dogs of the future get their own version of Quorn. The future truly is weird.

Jeff tells Tin-Tin to “get onto” Penelope “rightaway” as he wants to know each OD60 location and whether any has been placed “in or around the Mediterranean.” She’ll need to make it fast as he’s “got a hunch.” Scott prompts, “A hunch, father?” and Jeff gruffly confirms that it’s a “very strong hunch” and he thinks there’s a “great pile of OD60” somewhere in the Med. He adds that it’s “more than a hunch” that out there is also 200k tons of Alsterene on Ocean Pioneer II. And he’s right – perhaps Ocean Pioneer is the only ship authorised to carry the stuff? Now there’s doomey music, and yet another close up on that ‘Danger Liquid Alsterene’ sign attached to Ocean Pioneer II. The tanker cuts rapidly through the water, and in the distance the thick white fog is beginning to grow. Uh oh.

After a long beauty pass of the tanker, we’re back with the three men in the bridge. Jensen tells his captain that they’re thirty-five miles from the coast. This is, apparently, “excellent.” Jensen reports their position and speed to their base at Port of London, but as the base responds, promising a reception for them, the signal breaks up and the lethal interference is back! The captain snaps at Jensen to “get rid of that noise!” It won’t be that easy, I’m afraid.

Now we leave the doomed crew and some ‘waaah-waah’ humour music plays. This is the HQ of the All Pets pet food company, whose sign reads “The only dog food that contains OD60. Puts life in your dog,” although I still can’t help thinking a dog would prefer meaty steak to some fished-up fungi. Penelope is going to see an elderly gent named “Sir Arthur” and he’s just delighted to have Penelope visiting him. She’s dressed up in a rather flamboyant ‘Dick Turpin goes to Heaven’ sort of outfit – I think it’s the pointy yet fluffy white tricorn hat and knee boots that do it. Behind her are lots of pictures of dogs, I think I even spot Lassie amongst them. There’s also an odd sort of stuffed toy poodle in front of Sir Arthur’s desk. She thanks Sir Arthur for seeing her “at such short notice” and tells him she’s compiling “this doggie book.” She thinks that in its feeding chapter, her readers will want to know more about OD60. Sir Arthur asks if he can rely on her “discretion” as he brings up a world map that slides out to replace the dog breeds chart. Arthur doesn’t want “everyone” knowing where to travel for their product. Penny promises he can “rely on” her “entirely”.

Sir Arthur points out the Gulf Stream on the map, where lots of little flags have been stuck next to Florida. They show the main locations of OD60. Lady P asks if he means there may be other sources. He reluctantly admits they “don’t know yet” but tells her to look at the map, as the “capital costs” of transporting OD60 from the current deposits are “crippling.” To fix this, they’ve dumped “150,000 tons of active OD60 in the Mediterranean” in the hope that it will “flourish” and create more “raw material for All Pets.” That hardly sounds ethical. Nor does it sound particularly good for anything living under these tons of OD60. I’m expecting Cloverfield or mutated killer sharks to pop up any day now. Penny exclaims that this means “there is OD60 in the Mediterranean,” although Sir Arthur won’t commit to overtly confirming this. Perhaps it only counts once it’s smothered all the local wildlife. Penelope sounds a tad flustered as she calls the OD60 breeding plan a “capital idea” and swears she won’t tell any “gels” at the club.

FAB 1 drives away from All Pets’ offices, located in an industrial area. Parker asks if the mission was successful. It was, it’s just what they feared, and she says she must radio Jeff at once as “Ocean Pioneer II is heading straight for trouble”.

This is true. The fog bank grows ever larger and more eerie as Ocean Pioneer II obliviously sails towards it.

On Tracy Island, Scott’s trying to radio the tanker but quickly fathoms that the interference is “spreading to the lower frequencies now.” Scott reckons it’s no use, as “We’ll never get through.” Jeff agrees that it was “just a long shot” to try and radio OPII. Virgil bluntly states that it’s no use waiting for the ship to send a distress call, “because they just aren’t gonna be able to make one.” Scott impatiently gets to his feet, demanding “what are we standing around for, then? Come on, let’s go!” and Scott and Virgil send themselves off on the rescue, leaving Jeff with a distinct ‘that’s my line!’ expression as he watches them go. With no further fuss, Thunderbirds One and Two are blasting off.

Ocean Pioneer II is still going, but tense music gets tenser and a little sad. The fog is very thick. The screen fades to black. Will IR make it to them in time?

In OPII’s bridge, Jensen is still frantically trying to reach the Pioneer Base in London but it’s “no good,” and the Captain tells his “Number Two” to check the reactor, as it’s “two points over.” The reactor won’t respond to orders, and the captain orders Jensen to “switch to manual.” Déjà vu, anyone? The Captain handles the reactor himself, and orders Jensen to read out the readings. Number Two warns that the reactor is “starting to overcompensate” and they start the readings, which rise and rise. Their speed is now 80 knots! We get a look at the steaming reactor and then yet another look at the ‘Danger Liquid A…” sign. We get it. Smoke or fog starts to bust up around the sign and the sea sounds like it’s bubbling and boiling around the ship.

Jensen even more frantically calls London base about the “Emergency” and the reactor needle swings ever closer towards ‘critical’. The Captain knows “it’s not good” and realises the reactor is beyond their control. Now they must lower their radiation shields and steer a new course. He comments, “Boy, what a maiden voyage this has turned out to be!” and laments that “even the weather’s deteriorating.” The thick white fog bank is looming ever closer and it’s on a collision course with the tanker, just like before. Jensen lowers the shields over their windows and Ocean Pioneer II glides into the lethal fog. Uh oh. A tense clarinet plays as they sound their “Emergency Radiation Hazard” alarm, and there’s another close up on that damn ‘Danger’ sign. The tanker is deep into the fog now. How long can it have left?

Jensen reads out their present course as the reactor danger needle climbs all the way to ‘Critical’. The Captain shouts that the engines “won’t stand it – they won’t stand it” and outside, everything appears to be boiling. The reactor engines inside also look corroded, like old batteries. Suddenly there’s an explosion right on the deck and in the bridge, the little threads to illustrate air flow in the vents go limp. Oh crap. The captain does that slow head-turn of dawning realisation. Now they’ll all suffocate. Ocean Pioneer drifts on now, directionless. Apparently a little time passes after this, as the next time we see the crew they’re looking hot and tired. The Captain sounds especially breathless, telling Jensen to call International Rescue. He says IR are their “last chance” and rather obviously adds “we can’t last long without air.” Jensen tries to obey, muttering, “must…call…International…” but the boat drifts. Incidentally, why is there power to the radio but not the air vents? I think the Ocean Pioneer company might be cutting some corners. Anyway, we all know that poor Jensen won’t be able to get through to our boys. The tanker drifts on, dead in the water.

Luckily, Thunderbird One has now arrived above the stricken vessel. A very energetic Scott, not in his uniform but in light blue textured overalls, tells Virgil he’s “found her” and that the ship is “drifting off course towards the danger zone.” Now we see that John is in the cabin with Virgil, and that shot is worth framing because it truly is his first real rescue appearance. John is also wearing the same light blue overalls as Scott. Scott tries to tell them how the thick mist “isn’t gonna help matters” but the interference strikes and Virgil brusquely tells him he “can hardly hear” Scott as it worsens. Virgil suggests they “keep radio contact down to minimum.” Scott agrees loudly and clearly, adding he’ll try to land “on the deck”.

Thunderbird One’s wings open up and Scott delicately lands his ‘bird on the doomed tanker. We see that all the crew in the bridge are now unconscious, hopefully not dead yet, through lack of oxygen. Actually, Jensen is still sort of trying to call IR. Stop using up oxygen! Scott is now walking up through the mist-shrouded deck, wearing the rest of what I gather to be an anti-radiation suit. Scott pauses to take in the desolate view across the rest of the ship. The area is “real thick” with the mist. He hopes “Virgil’s not far off.”

Up above in Thunderbird Two, Virgil and John are equally awed by the thick, heavy fog. Virgil calls it “terrifying.” Creepy music plays as Scott tries to get through to the trapped crew. You half expect some ghost pirate to be sneaking up behind Scott through the mist. Scott uses a wall-to-wall radio, connecting it to the outside of the sealed bridge, he asks them to respond in the direction of the “lower port bulk head.” There’s no reply, the entire crew is now unconscious. Are they too late?

Virgil flies above the mist, worrying that they’ll “never” be able to find the tanker underneath it all. Virgil instructs John to try and “get through to Scott” so that they can home in on his signal. John tries hailing Scott, but has no luck getting hold of him.

On the upper desk, Scott wonders “where the heck” Virgil is as they “can’t afford to split up now. Then he hears Thunderbird Two’s engines and looks up to spot the big green bird through a gap through the mist above. With an excited “that’s him!” Scott radios his brother. Scott gets through and tells them he can hear their motors, and thinks they’re “somewhere over to the starboard side.” He advises them to steer a few degrees to port. When they can clearly see the tanker, Scott tells them to hurry it up. Now it’s John’s turn to spring into action – although he leaves with a parting shot for Virgil to “keep her steady” which always felt like a bit of a cheeky line. Virgil nobly ignores it, concentrating instead on bringing his ‘bird safely above the doomed tanker. In the hatch above the ladder, waiting to get onto the deck, John nervously says “Here goes” before his descent.

As John is lowered onto OPII, Scott directs Virgil to “stand well clear” once John is on the deck. John lands safely and Virgil pulls quickly up and away. Scott has now begun to burn his way through the door with a laser torch. I’ve often wondered if he uses some adapted version of the oxyhydnite they risked working with in “City of Fire,” but that stuff is never mentioned again in the show’s run. Scott is almost halfway round the door with the laser as John meets him on the deck. Scott tells him he’s “nearly there” and at that point he nudges the door down with the laser’s barrel. They see all the crew are unconscious. So how fast do you get radiation poisoning, anyway? John notes that they “look in bad shape” and Scott agrees, tells him to “come on!” but John pauses, for what feels like ages, to take in the state of the deck. The sea is bubbling and boiling around the tanker. Scary. Perhaps John was in the pool for that demonstration in Brains’ lab, but I’m sure Scott doesn’t want to be in the middle of the real thing. Scott sees the state of the sea too and reckons they “must be right over the OD60 now.” They both hurry inside the bridge.

A big burp of boiling water spits out of the sea as John radios Virgil to “come round now” and to “step on it or we might not be around when you get here!” Dammit, Johnny, the guy knows his job! Virgil calmly says he’s on his way and asks how Scott’s “getting on.” The eldest Tracy is “bringing round the crew.” Scott manages to wake the captain, who mutters that they must call IR, “It’s our only hope.” Scott mutters, “I sure hope you’re right.” Gulp.

Now Thunderbird Two is back and John tells Virgil to “start dropping” the ladder. Virgil nudges Two’s rockets into an important looking satellite mast. Ooops. John orders Virgil to keep her steady as Scott instructs the captain to lead his men off the ship. The captain tries to thank the “young fella” but Scott cuts him off, saying “there’s no time right now” as the ship is “about to blow up.” The captain incredulously exclaims, “It’s what?”

The water around them burps ever-more threateningly. The mist is even denser. Thunderbird Two is still hovering above Ocean Pioneer II and John hangs tight onto the ladder while Scott orders Virgil to “pull away” and to get clear and “make it snappy.” As John gets lifted away, it seems that Scott is standing still until he can see Thunderbird Two is safely away. As the big ‘bird blasts away, more of the ship begins to fully explode. Thunderbird One is still on the deck as this starts to happen. We see Scott’s craft start to lift off, but we don’t see her get clear before the entire deck erupts into flames and clouds of thick black smoke. After an impossible number of explosions, the reactor seems to go up too, causing another white-out in thick fog.

Thunderbird Two is still leaving the area. John and Virgil are anxious, and John mutters “There’s no sign of him anywhere.” Virgil is trying again on the radio, “Come in, Scott” and there’s a shot of John looking very worried. No one responds on the radio and Virgil frets that although the interference has cleared, Scott still doesn’t answer. John says in a tight voice, “He’s just got to have made it.” Virgil sounds angry-worried as he tries again, “Come in, please. Do you read me?” Much to their relief and ours, we finally hear a “Loud and clear, Virgil!” from Scott. He’s alive! Cool as ever now the rescue is actually over, Scott adds, “See you back at the base,” and Thunderbird One skims up over a clear, sunny sea into the blue sky.

Later, back on Tracy Island, Jeff is lounging next to the pool trying to read his paper. Unfortunately, John and Scott are having a forceful ‘debate’ about the financial aspect of their Ocean Pioneer rescue. John insists that a “120 thousand tons of ship stands for a heckuva lot of capital investment…and we should have tried towing her out.” I think we all know who subscribes to Moneyweek in this household! Or perhaps he borrows Jeff’s copy. Scott, smoking a cigarette and wearing a bearable white shirt with a bright red collar, cuffs and detailing, does not agree. He says, “Sure…sure, boy” (what is it with ‘boy’ getting used in this episode?) and he asks if John really reckons they could have made it in time.

John gives a less-than-fully-compassionate answer to this one, which I think is more designed to bug Scott than truthfully represent his belief in the matter. John says, “Who knows? That’s all part of the game, isn’t it?” At this, Jeff steps in, telling his “boys” to “hold it.” I like the point Jeff is about to make here, but he does it in a strangely biased way. He asks John how many rescues he’s been on. John admits it’s “about a dozen.” Jeff then pointedly asks Scott how many he’s been on, and Scott, rather sheepishly in fact, replies, “All of them.” That answer is also helpful for anyone trying to pinpoint chronology of the episodes, as this seems to place Danger at Ocean Deep somewhere before Perils of Penelope, where Scott was on leave at the time of the rescue. Anyway, Jeff takes Scott’s answer as evidence that John shouldn’t be “arguing” abut rescue priorities. John quickly protests that they “weren’t arguing” and Scott, very chilled again, supports him, “we were just discussing it.” It’s too late, guys, Jeff has a Lesson for you. It goes:

“For many years now, man has worked to protect the material things in this world. And he’s done pretty well for himself. If a building falls down he can soon build it up again. With life, it’s different, and this is why the object of International Rescue will never change. Your job is to save lives that are in danger. And that’s how it’s gonna be. Always. Got it?”

There were some close ups of John and Scott listening to this, and when it’s over Scott responds “That’s, er, ok by me, Father” and John, admonished, adds, “Yeah, yeah, sure, Father.” Aww. I think they both wanted a quiet life there. Or maybe just not another lecture. Jeff just chuckles quite warmly at having brought them both down a peg or two. He agreeably tells them both to go and “dip your hot heads in the pool” as he wants to read his book. Lighthearted music plays and we end the show on Jeff finally settling down to read in peace.

Despite this weirdly heavy-handed ending, which seems purely there to give John’s alternative point of view a hard time, this is a very strong episode. It’s another streamlined one, where every scene is used to fill in the explanations behind the creepy mist and the exploding ships. I am still a little baffled by IR coincidentally getting involved in the interference (and not also exploding), and I wonder how this phenomenon, and the brazen dumping of tons of OD60, will affect communications around the rest of the world. It’s an intriguing idea for a rescue and a very unusual concept for a disaster. Despite the weirdness, this episode plays it all perfectly straight and feels like a more adult story, when some of the others have felt a little goofy. It’s also great to finally see John out on a rescue, he gets to butt heads a little with Scott, and John and gets an extra six hours on Earth!

Overall, highly recommended.


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The episode opens with Ocean Pioneer I, a state of the art fuel container ship, transporting Liquid Alsterene (‘nature’s aid to mankind’) across the Atlantic. Ocean Pioneer I is, of course, atomically fuelled and, manufactured from ‘120,000 tons of seaworthy steel,’ is crewed by only three men. If you hadn’t already noticed, we’re up to episode 22 of Thunderbirds, which means that by now we’re so au fait with the traditional setup that all of this information can spell only one thing: D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R!

Sure enough, as (1) an unexpected fog envelopes the Ocean Pioneer I in a deep and dank mist and (2) the reactor goes into overdrive and (3) the crew aboard are helpless to stop it, we know that (4) certain doom is only seconds away. And before you can even begin to feel sorry for the doomed crew, an explosion punctuates the fog with a spectacular display of pyrotechnics and the story proper begins.

Back on Tracy Island, the disappearance of Ocean Pioneer I has caused some consternation among the men of the International Rescue, enough that Lady Penelope wangles herself a gig launching the recently completed Ocean Pioneer II. She learns nothing that will help with the investigation unfortunately (save that tonic water doesn’t ‘pop’ as well as champagne), leaving Jeff and Co. as perplexed as before. They have no time to worry about it though, as an earthquake has hit Oahu and a tidal wave threatens the hospital, so Scott, Virgil and Gordon are despatched to shore up the foundations (having studied ‘Foundation Skills 101’ during spring break once, when they were teenagers).

En route to Oahu, Thunderbirds 1 and 2 experience severe communications interference, to the extent that no messages can be sent in or out. It turns out Thunderbird 5 has also been hit by the interference, so Brains and Alan launch Thunderbird 3 to obtain data from Thunderbird 5 that will help them uncover the cause.

Once he listens to his tape spools back at Base, Brains discovers the cause of the interference to be the Ocean Pioneer II -– or more specifically, the Liquid Alsterene that Ocean Pioneer II is carrying is reacting with the OD 60 (a palatable sea fungus now gracing the alimentary canals of dogs worldwide) in the ocean she is sailing over. The reaction is so severe that it not only knocks out radio communications but, given enough time, will eventually combust, with spectacular and devastating results.

Scott attempts to contact Ocean Pioneer II to warn them of the danger they’re sailing into, but owing to the interference he cannot get through. He and Jeff decide that in this case they can’t wait for a distress call and Scott launches Thunderbird 1, with Virgil and John in Thunderbird 2 close behind him.

As the Ocean Pioneer II sails full speed ahead and blissfully unaware of the danger, a thick mist forms on the ocean ahead of her. Uh-oh. As if on cue, the ship’s atomic reactor begins to malfunction. The crew try to compensate as the reactor goes into overdrive, but realising they’ve lost control they raise the blast shields and prepare for what atomic scientists will afterwards refer to as an ‘incident.’ Unfortunately though, sealing themselves inside the bridge means the crew are reliant on the ship’s power-plant for oxygen and airconditioning… a power-plant that naturally fails as soon as the reactor does.

As the crew slowly suffocates (well, at least they’ll be peacefully asleep before they get blown to smithereens), they try to send a last-ditch call through to International Rescue – little knowing that IR are, in fact, speeding towards them at this very moment.

Of course, finding the Ocean Pioneer II in all that fog and with his electronic location systems malfunctioning isn’t easy, but Scott manages to find the ship and lands Thunderbird 1 on her deck. As he awaits Thunderbird 2’s arrival he discovers the crew are sealed inside the bridge, and the only way he can get to them is to cut through the steel door. John is lowered onto the ship as Scott breaks through, and together John and Scott and the fresh foggy air revive the crew and they are transported aboard Thunderbird 2. Scott manages to lift off from the deck in the literal nick-of-time as Ocean Pioneer II’s load of slow-combusting Liquid Alsterene finally gives up the ghost and detonates spectacularly.

‘Danger at Ocean Deep’ is multi-layered story designed to keep viewers intrigued until the very end. There are two rescues, a trip to Thunderbird 5, every brother getting a piece of the action (including John, who gives Scott a run for his money in the bossy-boots stakes), Brains and Tin- Tin teaming up in the lab, Lady Penelope in her best hat, Parker at his most loquacious, test-tubes and tape-recorders and mud and messy hair, and not forgetting Barry Gray’s outstanding musical score -- the wave-swelling ‘March of the Oysters,’ pilfered surreptitiously from Stingray and used here to best effect as the majestic Ocean Pioneers I and II sail towards their respective dooms.

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