EPISODE 25: THE CHAM-CHAM
25: THE CHAM-CHAM
Mysterious music plays. Inside a lushly decorated apartment room, the camera slides past a smallish grand piano (not Virgil’s), revealing a snowy
background outside, and over to a large machine that takes up most of the end wall. It’s bulky and coated in important-looking flashing lights that
blink in time with beeps and other computery noises. The title card ‘The Cham Cham’ comes up over it. Intriguing.
Immediately afterwards, a dash of ‘March of the Oysters’ introduces a US Air Force base, where a sign reads sternly ‘Positively No Admittance.’ A large
RTL2 transporter plane tracks onto the runway at the base, observed by two men in the tower above. This episode is peppered with previously used
characters …the commander is played by (although clearly isn’t) the belligerent Colonel Lambert from ‘The Imposters’ (maybe this is his
brother?), and his companion, named Scheiler here, is played by one of the luckless men working at the BT tower in ‘Edge of Impact.’ As the RTL2 taxis
onto the runway, they confirm that all security systems are “operational” so there “shouldn’t be a thing to worry about.” The commander mutters that
that’s “what we thought last time” and adds, “we were wrong.” So it’s jinxed? The plane begins takeoff and Sheiler comments that she “looks good.” The
commander grumpily asserts that her “contours” aren’t of interest, only the success of the operation matters. The RTL2 crew have been given some sealed
orders which they open up, and once they know where to “deliver the goods” they set their course, while having a “final word” with “the old man.” They
chat to the tower commander, who reminds them that their only danger comes from enemy aircraft knowing their location. The commander orders radio
silence when they’ve “levelled out,” except in an “extreme emergency,” and then he wishes them luck. RTL2’s Captain Savage says he’ll be glad when
they’ve delivered this “little cargo” and there are some serious looking rockets in the carrier. As the plane lifts off, the two men in the tower watch
anxiously. Radio Maxwell plays a live broadcast from a radio within the plane as they fly. The song is called ‘Dangerous Game,’ played by the hot new
band ‘The Cass Carnaby Five’, and everyone had better get used to it now as it’s going to be playing ALL episode long. Then again, luckily it is a very
They’re even listening to the trendy tune on Tracy Island, where it distracts Scott from poring over some blueprints with Jeff in the Tracy lounge, and
Virgil is shushed when he opens the bedroom door on Gordon and Tin-Tin (who are only listening to the radio, people). Also, niftiest of all, it’s
playing up on Thunderbird Five, keeping John and Alan company. Alan comments that he hopes Tin-Tin is listening as “she really digs this
number.” Very cute. The song gets a strangely emphatic “Yeah, it’s great,” from John. Right then a mayday goes up from the RTL2 we saw a minute
ago. The captain alerts their central control at Matthews Field that they’re under attack “from three fighters with oval markings” (perhaps it’s the
notorious state of Bereznik?) and there’s a close-up on these red markings as the foreign fighters blast the carrier plane, until the RTL2’s radio goes
dead. Relief aircraft launch from Matthews Field as the RTL2 nosedives, flames pouring from its side. We don’t really hear if anyone made it, but it
On Tracy Island a little while later, Virgil is playing a gentler remix of ‘Dangerous Game’ on the piano while Scott stands nearby and listens. Alan
and Tin-Tin are sitting together on the sofa, although Alan is distractedly wondering “if it was a coincidence.” He tells a confused Tin-Tin
that just before the RTL2 plane crashed, Radio Maxwell was playing ‘Dangerous Game.’ Scott, eavesdropping slightly, butts in with “So what? They
must’ve played that tune a million times on the radio in the past month.” Unruffled, Alan notes that the song played the last two times before, again
just before the plane crashed, and it was a live version on each occurrence. Jeff dryly notes, “That was pretty observant of you.” Awww, the
little-seen Jeff-snark. Nice.
Tin-Tin refuses to believe that the Cass Carnaby Five have anything to do with the plane crashing “business,” but Jeff seems intrigued by the theory of
a connection. He asks where the band are now. Virgil, who you’d expect to keep tabs on these things, tells him they’re playing at Paradise Peaks. Scott
expositions that this is that “super-deluxe hotel” way up in the Alps. Jeff asks Brains what he thinks of Alan’s idea, and Brains says he’ll get John
to send him a recording of the live broadcast to analyse. And here I thought home-taping was illegal?
Meanwhile, Jeff wants the Paradise Peaks Hotel investigated, and he knows “just who to send there.” Wild guess?
Lady Penelope is in her flower bower at the back of the mansion, enjoying a gloriously sunny day. She chills out with a magazine while hundreds of
butterflies flitter around the roses. Parker brings her “tea on the lawn” and he enquires if he might have the h’afternoon (sic) off to “take Cook out
for a punt.” Er….nope, not even as innocent as it sounds. Penelope immediately agrees to the proposal and he toddles off to “change into something more
suitable.” Sadly, his punting plans are about to get dashed. Penelope’s radio teapot peeps into life, and Jeff tells her all about the investigation
into the crashed “rocket transporters,” requesting her assistance. He wants her to go to Switzerland to investigate the “cabaret act” at Paradise
Peaks. Lady P is surprised at the connection but agrees and says she’ll get Parker to arrange the flight.
Poor Parker is all dressed up for a leisurely afternoon, singing happily about “Jolly boatin’ weather” and anticipating that Cook will be “like putty
in me ’ands” when she sees him in the outfit. Gulp. Then his communicator buzzes. Penelope tells him they’re off on a “mission” and asks him about his
“connections” in show business.
Playful music now as the scene changes to a sign on a building that says “International Artistes Management Ltd.” Uh-huh. Inside the building, a shady
looking agent, named Maxie (played by film producer Bletcher from ‘Martian Invasion’) exclaims “Wanda Lamour! Who the heck is Wanda Lamour?” He’s
talking to Parker, who insists that Wanda is a “very provocative” singer. It’s clear that he and this dodgy agent (who’s American) go way back. Maxie
calls Parker ‘Nosey’ and protests he can’t just send “a singer I’ve never even heard of” to Paradise Peaks. Parker proceeds to blackmail him by
name-dropping a fella called “Punch Patterson,” who Maxie seems to be hiding from in the UK. With a promise not to mention Maxie’s present location to
‘Mr Punchy,’ Parker successfully lands the little-known Wanda Lamour a gig at Paradise Peaks. Choosing to look on the bright side, Maxie asks, “Is she
blonde or brunette?”
A large show poster proclaims, “In Person Wanda Lamour” and shows a brunette lady in a slinky blue dress. It’s all a bit Blue Velvet, to be honest,
Lynch fans. This is of course Lady P in a cunning disguise, which involves a beauty mark as well as the long dark wig. She’s trying out the look in her
bedroom. Parker knocks and says rather flirtatiously “I was lookin’ for ‘er ladyship” and Penny seems to think this means he didn’t recognise her. Oh
gawd. Penelope takes this as a sure sign her disguise is “a success” and thinks she should “go down well.” Look away now, kids. Parker reinforces the
innuendo, adding that “They say if you go down well at Paradise Peaks, you’ll go down well ‘h’anywhere.” Huh. Penny just hopes she can keep her “pose”
up long enough and adds that “the show must go on!”
On Tracy Island, Tin-Tin is flying off in the small red jet, Ladybird. Alan is on the runway in a big quilt jacket to see her off. He wishes her
luck, and off she goes. Jeff radios Penny, “I mean Wanda,” he corrects himself, and she asks if there are any new developments. Jeff tells her that
Brains is working on the theory that the song contains musical patterns that could cause “mechanical changes” to the crashed aircraft. Apparently it
has been established that the last lost plane had a radio playing inside.
Down in the laboratory on Tracy Island, Alan listens to Brains explaining this theory, but Alan sensibly points out that the planes were shot down by
fighters rather than just dropping out of the sky. Brains agrees that this is true, but he thinks the music might have affected the transporter’s
“ability to retaliate.” I like all this brainstorming; it feels like they really have a process. Brains also thinks there could be a musical code
hidden in the tune. Alan hopes they can hurry up and decode it, as Penelope and Tin-Tin will soon be at the hotel and Alan thinks they’ll need
all the help “we can give them.” That’s a real show of faith there, Al.
Tin-Tin and Penelope are already on their way to the top of the mountains, gliding towards the hotel in a red cable car. Tin-Tin chuckles that “they
weren’t joking” about Paradise Peaks being the “highest hotel in Europe,” as it seems they’ve been going up for ages. The landscape really is lovely.
Penelope feels mean for leaving Parker and FAB1 at the bottom of the mountain. Tin-Tin reminds her that the way up is “a long road and a dangerous one”
though I’m not sure why that meant Parker got abandoned, too. Would Jeff not stump up for another room? Penelope admits that her disguise is making her
nervous, and Tin-Tin reassures her that she’ll “be fine,” while adding a sideways look and muttering, “as long as they don’t ask you to sing.” Penelope
doesn’t even argue the point…she thinks she will plead a “little throat trouble” to avoid doing any of that. Tin-Tin likes the cover story as it will
give them a chance to “get on with their investigations.” Having decided on a plan, they now arrive at the swanky Paradise Peaks Hotel.
It’s night time on the snowy Peaks, and there’s a brief close-up on Wanda Lamour’s poster while Cass Carnaby plays ‘Dangerous Game’ on the hotel lounge
piano. In the audience, Tin-Tin appears smitten, and has severe trouble believing that the band could have “anything to do with” the sabotage. During
the applause, Tin-Tin swoons, “Isn’t he gorgeous?” A spotlight falls on Penelope, sitting with Tin-Tin at the table, as Cass Carnaby introduces
‘Wanda,’ announcing that her debut has been “postponed” because of “a frog in her pretty little throat.” A little later Cass Carnaby chats up Tin-Tin
in his dressing room. Star-struck, she gushes that she can’t get enough of ‘Dangerous Game’ and that it knocks her out every time she hears it. Cass
flirts that she’s “a bit of a knockout” herself. Strangely, there’s no sign of Alan Tracy wielding a baseball bat, but it’s only a matter of time,
surely? More puzzling is why Cass Carnaby has a photo of the Duchess of Royston (from ‘The Duchess Assignment’) pinned next his dressing table. A love
which dare not speak its name, perhaps..?
Tin-Tin asks Cass if he ever gets tired of playing the song, and if they ever want to change it around. He explains that they leave those musical
alterations to their manager, ‘Mr Olsen,’ who is right there, chaperoning their meeting. Olsen takes this opportunity to break up the discussion, as he
has some things “to attend to” and would like a word with Cass as well. He leaves and Tin-Tin latches onto a comment Cass makes about Olsen being a
“funny guy” or “temperamental” because he often insists on last-minute changes to the music arrangement just before they go on the air. They find this
deeply annoying, but put up with it because Olsen “knows the business.”
Now Olsen is dancing under the disco ball with the disguised Lady P. He’s trying to work out how he doesn’t know “Wanda” out of all the “warblers” he’s
worked with. Penny bluffs that “high society” keeps her “pretty busy” and Olsen calls her a lady of mystery. Some impressive dancing going on between
them, too. It seems that Tin-Tin has had a chance to report on her meeting with Cass, as Penny also quizzes Olsen on his habit of keeping the Cass
Carnaby boys “on their toes” by changing the music, and she asks him his secret. Very subtle. He responds with a slimy, “Of my success…or my good
looks?” Eeeew. Penelope coolly responds, “Both.” Olsen dodges the real answer by saying his secret is “plenty of beauty sleep,” and promptly excuses
himself. I think he might be getting suspicious by now, Penny.
A bit put out that her interrogation technique has failed, Penelope retreats to the bar, where she’s delighted to spot Parker there working as “a
bouncer,” although it looks more like regular bar work to me. Parker figured he would be more use at the ’otel (sic), and she tells him she’s longing
for one of his cups of tea. He’s happy to oblige, and in the next scene she and Tin-Tin are in one of the hotel rooms nursing the tea Parker has made
them. Satisfied with her beverage, Penelope asks how his investigations are going. Considerably better, Penelope, as he seems to understand the actual
definition of ‘going undercover!’ Parker has already overheard Olsen talking to the head waiter, Benino, about expecting “a message” the next morning.
Tin-Tin and Penelope decide to check this out. Parker even knows where to find Olsen’s chalet, over on the other side of the mountain. Penelope wants
to sort this out quickly as she’s sure Olsen will soon figure out she’s “a fake.” It’s frustrating how bad she is at this! Following this decision,
Tin-Tin reports the plan back to Jeff Tracy.
In the lab on Tracy Island, Brains is playing the ‘Dangerous Game’ recording and Jeff asks him how it’s going. Brains has established there’s an
“electronic pattern” in the music. Jeff wonders if that means it contains a code. Brains thinks this is “likely” but he must decode the code before
he’s “sure” there even is a code. Uh-huh. Then Alan puts Tin-Tin’s call through. She tells Brains and Jeff about their plan to spy on Olsen, but
that they don’t know if the manager is working alone or in collusion with the rest of Cass’s group. Jeff fills her in on Brains’ musical code theory
and asks if they want any help. She tells them no, and that they’ll let them know tomorrow once they’ve checked out Olsen. With a dramatic musical
flourish, the screen fades to black.
More light-hearted, Christmassy music opens the next scene, and Penelope and Tin-Tin are gliding across the snowy mountain peak on skis. It gets more
dramatic as we go to Olsen’s chalet pad, and it’s revealed that this was the place shown in the opening scenes of the episode. Olsen plays his piano
until the big weird machine covered in flashing lights starts to beep. So, he’s definitely a bad guy. Olsen goes to answer the machine’s call
just as Penelope and Tin-Tin reach the plate glass window at the back of his house -conveniently placed for them to look through so they get a great
view of what he’s doing. That’s how high tech their spying gets. It also makes Olsen look really stupid. So he keeps a secret spy machine in full view
next to his piano, fine art and drinks cabinet? I’m guessing he doesn’t have many people over for cocktails. Perhaps he pretends it’s a mixing deck or
something. Even Agent X20 in Stingray had flippy and spinny walls to hide equipment like this!
Anyway, Olsen dials something into the huge machine as Tin-Tin films what he’s doing and she and Penelope try to work out what the heck it does.
Lettering similar to Sanskrit appears on the machine’s pinkish backlit screen, then slowly changes into clear English. The message reads ‘NEXT ROCKET
TRANSPORTER DEPARTURE TODAY LOCAL TIME 1400 HOURS DESTRUCTION IMPERATIVE.’ Oh no! Penelope checks if Tin-Tin got a close up of that; she “certainly
did” and tells Penny that he just received the new sabotage orders. They quickly ski away to warn Jeff, but then Olsen glances outside and spots their
tracks in the snow. D’oh.
He spots the pair skiing away through a telescope and calls Benino, the head waiter, at the hotel. Luckily Parker is there to overhear Benino say “I
shall deal with them,” in that ‘I’m gonna murder someone’ sort of way. Meanwhile, Penelope and Tin-Tin use special ski-thrusts, which seem to be
air cushion machines on their backs, to get quickly back up the slope. However, just above them, Benino has already pulled up in his car and is
readying his sniper rifle! The two girls are in his sights, but Parker has somehow hidden in the back and rises up to tackle the assassin. He struggles
with Benino and the rifle goes off. The sound makes Penelope and Tin-Tin stop in their tracks (if you heard gunshots, wouldn’t you just keep on going?)
and they spot the struggle happening above them. Tin-Tin wonders what’s going on, and just as Penelope realises that it’s Parker, he and Benino tumble
from the cliff.
Instead of the fall killing the pair, or at least resulting in mortal injuries, Parker and the assassin tumble down the slope inside a giant snowball.
Yes, a giant frickin’ snowball, complete with comedy ‘boinggg’ noises and little legs sticking out from all sides. At this point the show
sort of totally forgets about the laws of physics, which will happen again later in the episode. Played entirely for laughs, wacky music wibbles as the
snowball grows in mass and bounces off rocks, and the scene is only just saved by a deadpan reaction from Tin-Tin, “They appear to be heading this
way.” Penny murmurs, “Oh, dear, I’m sure this isn’t doing Parker’s vertigo any good.” Bear in mind that the vertigo comment will be important later,
too. Finally the Parker/Benino snowball smashes violently into a giant rock, from which Parker somehow emerges completely unharmed, while Benino is
unconscious but still appears to have all his brains inside his head.
Parker apologises for his “unconventional entrance” but he “had to apprehend ‘im somehow.” Penelope belatedly realises that the bullet they heard was
meant for herself and Tin-Tin. Parker confirms that their “masquerade” is over. Wow, is that in record time? Get a better disguise, Penny! On learning this, Penelope says they must rush back to the hotel and tell Jeff everything, and Parker suggests stuffing Benino
into a broom cupboard, where he’ll stay until they’ve gone. Only, what if the cleaners need that closet? They plan to be a “long way from here” when
Benino wakes. At least they seem to have restrained Penelope’s usual reaction of gunning down anyone who shoots at her.
On Tracy Island, Grandma frets to Jeff that she can’t get Brains or Alan to eat anything, as they told her they “haven’t got time.” Jeff, standing in
the lounge with Scott and Virgil, explains that they’re working hard to crack the code combination. Before Grandma can get any more stressed, Lady
Penelope calls and tells Jeff she’s traced the man doing the sabotage. At that, Jeff orders Brains up to the lounge, and Tin-Tin loads up the footage
they shot of Olsen in his chalet. Brains must have sprinted up to them, because he responds with an immediate “Of course!” from the doorway. He quickly
recognises the machine Olsen is using, calling it “A Cham-Cham.” Everyone in the room echoes, “A Cham-Cham?” but it takes Virgil to ask him what the
heck that is. Brains explains that a Cham-Cham is “a new machine which is sensitive to electronic ultrasonic harmonies and microtones.” Oh, well, that
clears that up, then.
Brains is sure he’ll soon break the code now that he knows the “technique,” and Jeff decides that while the scientist returns to the lab to work on the
code, Penelope and Tin-Tin will stand by for further orders. Then he instructs Scott to “get” him Washington, D.C., as they’ve “gotta save that next
transporter aircraft.” The next plane is about to take off from Matthews Field when the control tower receives the warning from International Rescue,
relayed via Washington. For some reason, the tower’s commander does not want to believe that the message is reliable! He sniffs that he won’t be a
“laughing stock” just because “some kook wants to play musical chairs” and refuses to stop the flight. You’re going to look a lot dumber when they get
blown up for the eighth time, buddy. This convinces me even more that he’s probably related to that jerk from ‘The Imposters.’
Back on Tracy Island, Jeff is looking out of the balcony window and talking to Alan about his disappointment that they weren’t believed. Alan informs
him that Brains has figured out both the secret code and how to alter it “so that Olsen’s message gets changed.” Now they say it’s up to Penelope and
Tin-Tin to “save that plane from destruction,” and the next flight is already taking off. Fade to black.
Lively jazz plays at Paradise Peaks and Olsen is giving Cass the new arrangement for the performance, despite Cass’s protests. They have five minutes
until the show starts. Once Olsen leaves, Tin-Tin pops up and begs Cass to play the arrangement “our way.” Cass says that he’d do it any way she wants, but he’d
“still want to know why.” Tin-Tin, wearing her horrible lime green feather boa, uses her most sultry voice to ask him not to “go into all that again”
and wants him to trust her anyway. Cass remains reluctant, insisting that he can’t break his contract with Olsen when performing at Paradise Peaks is
such an opportunity. The plane seems doomed.
is in the launch bay waiting to lift off. Jeff tells Scott that they’re taking a “desperate step” but that this is the “only way” to prove to the USAF
that they’re in “dead earnest.” (This isn’t going to involve Scott getting shot down again, is it?) Scott launches, but what is their plan? Elsewhere,
Virgil and Alan get ready for the broadcast. In his lab, Brains adds that he’s told Penelope the new musical arrangement will divert the enemy
fighters, and he hopes they were able to persuade Cass Carnaby to do the song “that way.” There has got to be a simpler way of doing this spy
Back in the lounge at the Peaks, Tin-Tin watches the show, nervous that “only Penelope can save us now,” while Parker wonders where Mr Olsen has “got
to.” Then Cass Carnaby and his nameless band members start to perform a fast version of Dangerous Game. As they play, there’s a close up on the oval
symbol used by the enemy fighters, and we seem to now be in a sort of foreign military control room, populated by bad guys in shiny purplish-grey
uniforms. The song is sending them numbers for a flight path and the enemy fighters roll out for take-off.
The Cass Carnaby Five continue to play on, but then Lady Penelope slides behind the microphone and starts to sing a much lower-pitched, slower,
sultrier version of the song. This instantly changes the secret message, and in his lab a relieved Brains cheers, “She’s done it!” At the enemy air
base, the leader broadcasts a new location over a loudspeaker - can they hear that inside their jets? Anyway, it looks like the alteration is working.
As Penelope sings the last section, Tin-Tin spots Olsen lurking behind the stage curtain. The crowd goes wild when Penelope ends the song, and as this
happens Jeff sends Virgil and Alan off to Paradise Peaks to rescue Penelope and Tin-Tin. Honestly, Jeff, you could have sent them over ten minutes ago.
Why did he hold off? At Matthews Field, they receive a request for permission to land from International Rescue! Scott brings Thunderbird One
down near the control tower and uses his loudspeaker to explain that IR tried to contact them earlier, but as the “field control” wouldn’t listen, his
organisation have redirected the three enemy aircraft over to the Matthews base! Um, that cannot be a good idea. What if the pissed-off commander decides
that IR are helping out the evil jets? The commander really doesn’t sound happy that IR have “done it again,” but he calls for immediate “action stations”
to shoot the enemy craft from the sky. So, that’s OK, then.
Back at Paradise Peaks, Penelope, Tin-Tin and Parker are making their escape in the cable car. Note that although Penelope is fretting about leaving so
quickly that they didn’t even pay their bill, they still have all their luggage. Let’s hope Jeff can sort that out later. Tin-Tin reminds her
that sneaking off was the only way to avoid Olsen. I’m surprised they didn’t want to take the guy on; it seems really out of character for Lady
Penelope to run off from a potential shoot-out. However, their getaway is hardly as clean as they thought. We now see that Olsen is up to no good in
the cable car control room. In a surprising show of technical expertise (a winter internship at the Peaks, perhaps?) he halts their car. After a few
moments of unease, Penelope orders Parker to press the alarm bell. This bell wakes up a surprisingly well-informed Cass Carnaby, who instantly
recognises the sound and knows what it means. He must have a really terribly positioned room. And must also have interned at the Peaks at some time.
Maybe that’s how he met Olsen in the first place?
Now Olsen starts setting to the cable wires with a blow torch. The dangling cable car starts to shake as he works on it. Thoroughly unnerved, Penelope
radios Jeff and thinks that Olsen will “get his revenge after all.” Jeff asks what the problem is and then tells her that Virgil is just two minutes
is already swooping over the beautiful landscape. Alan has clearly just been told about Penny, Tin-Tin and Parker’s situation and lets Virgil know all
about it. Olsen has almost finished severing the cable, but before it snaps entirely, Cass turns up and tries to stop him. Apparently he was the only
one in the hotel who heard the alarm. There’s more inter-puppet wrestling and they both fall off the cable, but Cass is too late. The cable snaps with
a noise like a gunshot and the now unleashed car hurtles down the mountain. Cass cries out, “That car will never stop!” Then they hear Thunderbird Two approach.
Virgil steers Two parallel and above the runaway cable car. Virgil tells Alan to “fire the magnetic grabs” (no, not the grabs!) as he brings the
big green bird almost on top of it. Parker is alarmed at how “very close” Virgil is getting. Then a hatch slides open in TB2’s belly, releasing the
giant magnetic grabs. On Virgil’s prompt, Alan fires them but is dismayed when they “just won’t hold.” (Unlike Alan, we’re not a bit surprised, are
we?) Virgil immediately radios Penny and tells her she’ll have to “give us a hand” with this. By which he means he actually needs Parker’s help.
Virgil comments that he hopes Parkers “got a good head for heights.” Some payoff there for Penny’s “vertigo” comment!
It’s a very good thing that the Paradise Peaks hotel is such a ridiculously long way up. The car is still descending rapidly as Parker, the designated
action hero of the moment , scrambles up on top of it. Alan slowly lowers a different set of cables, with ends a bit like the clasp of a key ring.
Parker can’t grab them until Penelope passes him a hook-handled umbrella. Using this, he snags it. He’s attaching each one to the cable car roof, but
Alan is aghast that “he won’t make it in time!” The music is tense and time is fast running out! Penelope and Tin-Tin hold on anxiously inside the car.
Virgil tells Alan to stand by with the retros. Just as a police car arrives at the bottom of the cliff, Virgil yells, “Now!”
Fortunately, the full power of Thunderbird Two’s engines is more than enough to halt the car, but they never warned Parker about the sudden
stop! The poor guy slides right off the roof and vanishes. Is this the end of ‘Nosey’? Or is there another giant snowball in his future? As the car
dangles from the wire, at a standstill, Penelope and Tin-Tin pick themselves up from the luggage strewn floor, and Penelope calls out for her loyal
assistant. There’s no answer. She wonders “What could have happened to him?” Once more, Parker would have met a sticky end in other circumstances,
falling from that height, but gravity has taken another cartoonish turn. Penelope sees him floating to the ground under the unfurled umbrella, like
Mary-bloody-Poppins. Um. OK. Going to go with that, then.
It’s night time at Paradise Peaks. It’s a pretty place. I assume they’re a bit short on guests now that the cable car’s completely knackered? Anyway,
the lounge seems really empty. Cass Carnaby plays a romantic version of ‘Dangerous Game’ while Penelope relaxes beside Virgil, who’s wearing a natty
tuxedo. Some Virg/Penny fan fiction inspiration here, perhaps? She’s relieved that “that lovely tune” can no longer be used for a “sinister purpose,”
although Virgil is concerned that the “hotel people” might realise they’re from International Rescue. It might depend on how secretly you parked Thunderbird Two, Virg. Penelope thinks they’re safe (she’s not the most reliable judge there) but she knows that Cass is “pretty
intrigued” to know how she and Tin-Tin found out about “the code.” I’m sure he’s also wondering about Olsen’s murky doings and who the two strange men
are who have suddenly appeared at the hotel. Luckily, Cass seems more interested in where Tin-Tin vanished to. Penelope awkwardly informs him that
Tin-Tin and Alan stepped outside for “a breath of air,” and Cass seems rather sad to have missed his chance with Miss Kyrano. She’s leaving tomorrow,
after all. He responds with a philosophical “That’s show business.” Awww.
Outside, on the moonlit balcony, Alan is digging for information on how Tin-Tin feels about leaving Cass behind. He seems much more chilled out about
her fancying Cass than he has ever been about his other rivals on this show, and sweetly worried too. He must really like Cass’s music. Tin-Tin is also
rather philosophical, telling Alan she’s getting “quite used” to the “hello, goodbye all the time.” This makes me wonder what other spy missions she’s
been on, or what other possible relationships her IR membership has destroyed? Very intriguing. She says, finally, “It’s always nice to get home
again,” and the episode ends with the pair standing beneath the full moon on the romantic, snowy peak. The Cham-Cham is a tightly written piece, with a
gorgeous setting, but it’s also one of the stranger episodes. It marks the point just before the feature films and the second season of the series
began increasingly to focus on Penelope and to water down the formerly take-charge attitudes of the older Tracy brothers. There’s definitely a lot of
emphasis on Penelope here, and the show looks increasingly gorgeous - but it already feels like it’s started to change its direction. It works as an
oddball spy drama, but with too many plot holes and far too few Tracys. This is a slick, well-paced, and very unusual episode that uses a very original
McGuffin, but it’s also no longer one of my favourites.
to Episode Index
25: THE CHAM-CHAM
Our episode begins at USAF Maxwell Field Air Base with the launch of the RTL-2, a whizbang new transport aircraft entrusted with the delivery of the
top secret USAF ‘Poseidon,’ whatever the hell that is. All we know is it’s big, it’s red, and it’s very very special. The pilots of the RTL-2 transport
have been ordered to maintain radio silence for the trip, but this directive apparently doesn’t extend to the portable transistor at the navigator’s
console, which is blaring the hit tune ‘Dangerous Game’ throughout the cockpit – a tune also being listened to back on Tracy Island. The radio behind
Jeff’s desk has been shanghai’d for non-IR duties, and the clockradio in Tin-Tin’s bedroom, where she’s entertaining some men-friends – Virgil and
Gordon – is also tuned in. Even up on Thunderbird Five, John and Alan can be found listening to the catchy tune, with Alan telling John how much
Tin-Tin ‘digs’ the song – little knowing she’s digging it in her boudoir with two of his brothers! But before Alan can spend any more time thinking
about the duplicitous Tin-Tin, he is interrupted by an emergency transmission from the RTL-2, which is under attack by unknown aerial assailants.
Cut to Tracy Island. Scott and Jeff are dressed for dinner, while Virgil, for whom dressing for dinner has become somewhat passé, tinkles out his own
version of ‘Dangerous Game’ on the piano. Alan (back from Five, and showing off both his smarts and his smart pants) wonders if it’s a
coincidence that every time ‘Dangerous Game’ is being broadcast, an Air Force jet comes crashing to earth. Scott, the big lug, jumps on Alan with a
flippant ‘so what?’, while Jeff takes his youngest son more seriously, instructing Brains to analyse the broadcast and despatching Lady Penelope to the
Paradise Peaks Hotel to check out the Cass Carnaby Five, who are responsible for the one-hit-wonder.
Through one of Parker’s ‘connections,’ Penny lands herself a job as a torch singer (an occupation that surely died out in 1959), christens herself
‘Wanda Lamour,’ and sets out for the lofty peaks of Switzerland as Tin-Tin saddles up the Ladybird (and jeez, I only just got that joke) to join
Penny and Tin-Tin, thinly disguised as coquettes, arrive at the hotel and immediately captivate all the single men, include Cass of the Carnaby Five
(CC5), who clearly hasn’t missed Tin-Tin’s lustful glances across the dining room. It also appears that Olsen, the CC5’s manager, is quite the sleaze,
not to mention the brains behind ‘Dangerous Game,’ and hence a ‘person of interest.’ Peeking through Olsen’s chalet window, Tin-Tin and Penelope learn
that a) he wears a tuxedo around the house, b) he’s some kind of musical and electronics savant, and c), he is indeed behind the sabotage.
Meanwhile, back in the lab, Brains realises Olsen is using an electronic device called a ‘Cham-Cham’ – a machine sensitive to harmonic and electronic
microtones – and if he can alter the tune he can prevent the destruction of the next RTL transport. Jeff contacts the Air Force to warn them, but the
commander of Maxwell Field thinks he’s being contacted by a bunch of kooks. As you would. Somewhat miffed, Jeff orders Scott and Thunderbird One to make haste for the airfield and convince the commander in person.
Back in the Alps, Tin-Tin sidles up to Cass and tries to convince him to alter the next performance of ‘Dangerous Game,’ but Cass has his delicates
well and truly trussed up by Olsen and is most reluctant to comply. We don’t see by which means Tin-Tin manages to untruss his delicates, but next
thing we see Lady Pen… er, Miss Wanda Lamour, minxing her way across the stage as she huskily intones a sonorous version of ‘Dangerous Game.’
Penelope’s singing (if you can call it that) is enough to alter the meaning of the Cham- Cham and avert disaster for the Air Force, but it has the
unfortunate effect of sending Olsen around the bend with rage. Penelope, Tin-Tin and Parker attempt to escape the hotel via a rickety cable car – a bad
move as Olsen has a blow torch and he intends to use it! Cass tries to stop him from cutting the wires (there’s an interesting and somewhat limp
wrestling scene atop a roll of cables – I guess their hearts weren’t really in it), but fails. The wire snaps and sends our party hurtling downhill to
Don’t worry though, because Virgil and Alan are speeding to the rescue in Thunderbird Two and, with the help of Parker and his trusty umbrella,
stop the cable car from smashing into the bottom of the mountain. As a reward, Virgil and Alan get to take some time out at the hotel (we trust there
is enough undercover parking for a Thunderbird), with Virgil and Penelope pairing up for a champagne and cigarette dinner and a serenade from Cass,
while Tin-Tin realises what side her bread is really buttered on, and takes in some frigid mountain air with Alan out on the balcony.
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