Lots of earlier episodes flash before our eyes. A weird sense of déjà vu overcomes loyal viewers. There seems to be a kid in there somewhere. What’s going on? Well, this, Thunderbirds fans, is a ‘clip show.’ It’s the final episode of the first season, and then there are only six episodes to go after this one. It also marks the last episode featuring David Holliday as the swoon-worthy voice of Virgil Tracy. Enjoy it while you can, everyone. Mostly made up of repeated scenes, ‘Security Hazard’ can be very hard to appreciate in the age of DVD and instant downloads.

At least it opens with some freshly filmed material. There’s exciting music, emergency sirens blare, and huge flames flare up as big trucks belonging to International Rescue converge on the inferno. Some distance away, Thunderbirds One and Two are parked side by side, close to a house near the outskirts of the blaze. Thunderbird Two has her pod doors open. That’ll be important later. It’s night-time, and inside the house, a father is tucking his son into bed. While he does so, he tells the boy he has to go and help International Rescue, who are rescuing some men trapped at the bottom of a shaft. Note that this is another episode featuring a motherless young boy. It’s also completely baby-sitter free! The little boy, named Chip, is disappointed that he can’t check out the excitement. His father rubs in the mumless situation by saying, “It’s not as if you had a mother to look after you, so don’t let me down.” Nice, dad. Chip, who looks remarkably like one of the kids from ‘Cry Wolf,’ assures his dad that he’ll behave and go to sleep, even as the fire blazes outside.

Once his dad has gone, Chip does what any kid his age would do, and immediately hops out of bed to gawp at the Thunderbird machines. His eyes seem to focus intently on Thunderbird Two’s open pod doors. The title card of the episode comes up, reading ‘Security Hazard.’ If, based on that title alone, you were hoping for IR to tussle with the Hood, now is the time to leave that hope behind and read the comics instead.

The scene cuts to Tracy Island, daytime. Jeff Tracy welcomes home a fire-smudged Scott, who’s zooming back in Thunderbird One. Jeff comments on a newscast about the fire, which Scott confirms was “quite a blaze.” As Thunderbird One glides into her hangar beneath the pool, Virgil arrives as well. He and Alan are even more smoke-singed, and Virgil requests for Brains to stand by once they land, because Thunderbird Two developed a “fault in the electrical system” at the fire. Jeff tells Brains to head down to the hangar, emphasising their need to be “operational.” Thunderbird Two does a nifty spin around as she lands and reverses back underneath the cliff face, returning to her hidden hangar. All is tidy and peaceful; the clearly reversed launch footage actually works pretty well.

Then the titular ‘Security Hazard’ light flashes on Jeff’s desk, and he yells for Virgil to “hold everything” and to “on no account” release the pod. He rounds up Gordon and Scott and tells them to rendezvous in Thunderbird Two’s hangar, then lifts up a gun. This is serious.

Virgil and Alan wait anxiously in Thunderbird Two’s cockpit and Virgil cuts the engines, saying they’ll have to “sit tight.” Now Jeff enters the hangar brandishing his pistol. The locked-down TB2 is silent. When Scott and Gordon enter from the other side, Jeff instructs them over loudspeaker to cover the pod entrance when it “comes down.” Next he orders Virgil to release the pod, warning him that there’s a “saboteur on board.” Gulp. Alan is alarmed as Virgil slowly lifts up Two’s bulk to free the pod. Jeff, Scott and Gordon ready their guns. Maybe Scott can get his weapon shot out of his hand a third time? With the pod door open, Jeff bellows to the intruder that they “know” they’re in there, and to come out, or get blasted out. There’s a tense moment of waiting before Jeff warns “you’d better move. You don’t stand a chance.” A figure emerges. Is it the Hood? Nope. Our hopes are dashed for the last time. Of course, it’s young Chip from the house at the rescue site. He’s still in his dressing gown and pyjamas, like a miniature Arthur Dent. He pleads with them not to shoot, claiming, “I didn’t mean any harm.”

Oh, no. Someone screwed up — big time.

Jeff is furious with the boys. He even has his ‘furious glasses’ on. He rants that “it shouldn’t have happened” and that the aircraft shouldn’t have been left “unguarded.” Yeah, surely this is an argument for bringing Brains along each time to at least keep an eye on the machinery? Or even his pet robot, Braman? In the line of fire with Gordon (how exactly is this Gordon’ fault?) and Alan (where is Virgil?), Scott half-heartedly protests, “But, Father…” but Jeff isn’t listening. He reminds them that the kid must be returned home, the sticking point being that the kid’s now seen them all and knows their location. Although I have to wonder how much can you actually see from the innards of TB2. Jeff sarcastically asks if anyone’s got any “bright ideas” and scoffs when no one says anything. Then he asks where the boy is now. Scott can answer this at least, telling his dad that “Virgil’s taking care of him.” Jeff hopes that Virgil knows how to keep his mouth shut. I really wouldn’t count on it.

In fact, Virgil seems to have had the ‘bright idea’ to take the young stowaway to the balcony overlooking Thunderbird Two’s hangar, presumably for a much better view of IR’s secrets. Chip is greatly impressed by the machine’s size, and asks Virgil if he flies it. Virgil valiantly tries to wriggle out of confirming anything, and the kid breezily comments that he’d like to join IR when he grows up, only he’d want to fly Thunderbird One. Seriously, this kid is working for the Hood, no question. A little stung, Virgil asks just why he thinks that. Chip comments that One is “faster, and more important.” To be fair, arguments over the coolest Thunderbird were probably rife during every re-launch of the show, particularly in its original run during the 1960s. Spluttering at Chip’s perfectly aimed remarks, Vigil asserts that “without Thunderbird Two none of the rescues would be possible.” He’s not wrong. Then he cites the time they went to rescue Eddie Houseman as an example of Thunderbird Two’s greater importance. Not the greatest example to be honest, Virgie.

The episode Virgil recaps is ‘End of the Road,’ and it goes like this, although Virgil sensibly leaves out the romantic triangle between Eddie, Tin-Tin and Alan and skips right to tons of rock blowing up:

Eddie Houseman was running a growing company which was trying complete a contract to build a road through a mountain range. When storms around the mountains seem about to jeopardise the company and his dreams of success, Eddie drives up to the mountains in the huge storm and tries to blast the fragile mountain top away from their newly built road. In doing so, he traps himself on the cliff, with his truck hanging halfway off the road and a case of “nutomic” explosives ready to blast him to smithereens if the truck should tip over. Thunderbird One arrives, and Virgil skips the cool scene where Scott used large metal darts to stop the boulders hitting Eddie’s truck. When Virgil arrives in TB2, his efforts to pick up the truck fail, at first, as the jets start tipping it over. With Scott’s ingenious use of TB1’s nose cone to prop it up, though, Virgil is able to swoop in and grab Eddie’s truck, and save the day.

Let’s note that Virgil also totally skips the part right after that where the grabs failed and Eddie had to leap into a puddle of mud so he didn’t get blown up despite their efforts. In this version, the story ends on an infallible high note, and Chip wishes he’d been there. At that point, Alan turns up in the hangar to tell Virgil that Jeff wants “a word” with him. Virgil seems oblivious to the heavily implied ‘you’re in for it’ tone of Alan’s instruction, and cheerfully heads upstairs, dumping Chip with Alan.

Chip continues to prove a master of sneaky interrogative technique. Obviously counting on Alan having the same pride weakness as Virgil, he comments that he “liked Virgil” as he told him “all about Thunderbird Two.” Alan is outraged and snorts “well he shouldn’t have,” and firmly informs Chip that “you’ll get nothing out of me about Thunderbird Three!” From this, Chip instantly surmises that Alan is the pilot of Thunderbird Three. Alan gets a little ‘waah-waah’ noise as he sheepishly confirms that this is true.

So, Chip gets the full Thunderbird Three tour and it’s a great excuse for a long beauty pass around the big red rocket. Clearly Alan’s figuring ‘what the hell’ at this point. Chip asks him how fast Three is, and Alan mutters “it’s a secret,” but Chip protests (and lies, frankly) that Virgil told him “all about Thunderbird Two.” Alan crossly repeats “Well he shouldn’t have,” and Chip changes tack, speculating that Alan doesn’t have as much to do as he’s only based in space. Alan harrumphs that when TB3 blasts off, he’s the “one in charge.” Remember how well that comment went down with Scott in ‘Cry Wolf’? Luckily Scott doesn’t seem to be listening in this time. Alan begins to tell Chip a story about a Thunderbird Three rescue, so everyone get ready, there’s another inaccurate flashback on its way.

The episode is ‘Sun Probe.’ Everyone knows this one, right? Astronauts try to collect a piece of the sun, their rockets fail to fire, Thunderbird Three flies up to save them by firing a ‘safety beam.’ They succeed. There, that was easy. Of course, the full episode had a bit more to it. Thunderbird Two had also been sent out to beam a signal to Sun Probe from Earth, and while Thunderbird Three got to save the astronauts, Three herself then needed rescuing by TB2. Also, there was the little detail about Braman being their unlikely saviour after Brains packed him by mistake. Alan skips all of that last part and ends his recap promptly on the ‘we rescued Sun Probe and everything was fine’ bit. Frankly, he left out the most interesting part of that story.

So, Chip is congratulating Alan on his success just as Scott arrives to tell Alan that Jeff wants “a word” with him. He uses the same ‘you’re screwed’ voice that Alan used on Virgil. Basically, if any episode in the show makes Jeff out to be some apoplectic, irrational, crazy ranting tyrant who treats his sons like idiots (at least at first), it’s this one, even if the writers are setting Jeff up for a bit of a fall later on. Now Brains, Gordon and Virgil (Virgil is wisely avoiding eye contact and staring down at his feet) are lined up in front of Jeff’s desk while he shouts that this is an “impossible situation.” Then Alan enters and informs Jeff that he left Chip with Scott in Three’s silo. Jeff is aghast that the kid has seen yet more of their base, and brushes off Alan’s protests with a sarcastic, “Yeah, I know, you didn’t tell him a thing.” However, Jeff is very confident that the kid won’t get “anything” out of Scott.

Will he?

Scott appears to be the easiest one of all for Chip to crack. They’re not only already in TB1’s launch bay, they’re in the bloody cockpit, and Chip is in Scott’s pilot seat! Have to wonder how they got in there without Jeff spotting them, mind you. We don’t learn what Chip said to get Scott to open up, so Scott looks like an ass as he immediately launches into a story about the excitement of IR’s “first mission.” He starts his recap, of ‘Trapped in the Sky,’ by freely revealing more names their visitor isn’t supposed to know: Tin-Tin and his “brother, John.” D’oh. Way to go, Field Commander. He also describes how he sets up “mobile control.” At this there’s a ‘CRASH ZOOM’ to London airport, and we’re back in the original episode, right at the beginning of the series.

Scott’s at mobile control and recapping from the past, for the benefit of those who tuned in after the ad break. Fireflash has thirty minutes left before the radiation shield expires, and Thunderbird Two will be there in twenty minutes, leaving IR only ten minutes to put their rescue “into operation.” Scott coordinates Virgil and the Fireflash crew, and soon Virgil is releasing the Elevator Cars, driving one himself whilst pulling the other two trucks along by remote control. This is still a very cool scene. They’ve cut out all the plot involving the Hood, which actually makes sense (don’t get used to it, folks) because after all, how would Scott know what Hoody was up to at this point?

It’s hard to be bored by this segment, as Scott is ‘retelling’ one of the most memorable rescues ever filmed. Ultimately, the Fireflash is saved from certain disaster, Virgil’s truck spins out of control but he’s thankfully unharmed, and the bomb still nearly falls off thanks to what looks like some poorly applied adhesive first aid tape. Phew. Scott ends his story as the emergency services sirens converge on the rescued super-plane.

After this, Chip excitedly tells Scott that he could “picture the whole thing.” Suddenly realising what he’s done, Scott brusquely requests Chip to “keep it to yourself, eh, fella?” Naah, the kid is definitely working for the Hood. He insincerely promises, “Oh, of course,” and reckons that now all that’s left for him to see is Thunderbird Four, which he’s “really looking forward to.” Scott puts his gruff big brother hat back on and sternly admonishes, “not so fast,” and tells Chip that it’s “no good looking disappointed.” The kid is doing puppy eyes. Scott insists that the answer is, “definitely no.”

You may have figured out the pattern by now. Of course the next scene opens up in Thunderbird Four’s bay, and Gordon has let Chip sit in the driving seat, playing with the controls. The kid is a bit underwhelmed by how “small” Four is compared to the other craft. Nothing like a little size comparison to get the Tracy boys talking, I guess. Gordon, his pride pricked, tells Chip firmly that Four is a “very necessary” part of IR, but Chip isn’t buying it. He provokes Gordon’s story by muttering that people can’t get trapped in submarines “very often.” Gordon tells him he’s been in “all types” of rescues, which he says he won’t tell Chip about. But one rescue in particular seems worth mentioning. The ‘Allington Bridge Rescue’ – also known to viewers as ‘Day of Disaster,’ involved the strange scenario of a submarine rescuing a Martian Probe rocket. Chip settles down to listen and Gordon starts to reminisce.

Gordon outlines the Martian Probe Vehicle’s situation. The huge rocket was heading for its UK site in order to make the most of the nearest launch window. Two engineers were travelling inside it. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. They cross the now notorious Allington Bridge, until the weakened structure gives way and sends the rocket into the (incredibly deep) river, which also sets off its automatic launch sequence. Brains – for reasons which you’ll need to rewatch the episode (or re-read the recap in Ned Cook’s NTBS Newsflash, July/August 2010) to fully understand – has been whispering rescue instructions from the bridge’s control tower. Gordon, in Thunderbird Four, fires a missile at the top of the rocket to clear the nose cone, and then rams it free. Thunderbird Two lifts the nose cone away mere seconds before the Martian Probe rocket’s unwieldy lower half explodes everywhere. That’s a lot of rocket fuel. As sparks continue to fly in the recap footage, Chip comments that “International Rescue have done it again.”

And now he really is the boy who knew too much. They’re gonna have to kill him.

Well, they may have a better idea, but not before the Tracy boys start to panic at letting slip so many secrets. In conference in the hallway next to the lounge, Scott tells Alan and Virgil that “Father is really blowing his top,” and some accusations get thrown around. Alan sulks, “Don’t look at me, who showed him round Thunderbird One?” In an even stroppier voice he asks where the “kid” is now, and a very fed-up Virgil responds grumpily, “I don’t know, don’t ask me!”

Scott is truly aghast that they’ve lost track of Chip and snaps, “Whaddya mean, you don’t know?” adding that if Jeff discovers the kid is “roaming” the island he’s going to go “berserk” and he knows full well that they’ve given away “too much” already. Scott’s about to order a full blown search when Gordon interrupts their squabble. Four’s aquanaut has been peering at something at the end of the corridor, and picks this point to call his frantic brothers to take a look at the ‘security hazard’ currently happening in the lounge.

Jeff has spent the entire episode berating the boys for giving away secrets, but is now cheerfully nattering away to Chip about the tough gig of being ‘rescue organiser.’ He’s in full flow. Chip is very impressed and asks if Jeff controls “everything” from his desk. As all four brothers watch incredulously from behind the lattice screen, Jeff proudly tells Chip that he just presses one button on his desk and it’s “Thunderbirds are go!” and you can tell he’s been dying to say that. Anyway, it looks like the Tracy boys are all off the hook. Jeff’s self-righteousness bubble has just imploded.

There still remains the problem of what to do about Chip. There’s a full group meeting in the lounge and Jeff asks them all how they’re meant to get the boy home whilst preventing the inevitable “security leak,” but the fabulous rescue team are bang out of ideas. As they visibly think very, very hard, Jeff abruptly exclaims, “I’ve got it!” and their heads lift up sharply. Jeff has finally figured that, as Chip stowed away in England, “the other side of the world,” at night time, and has been super-wide awake for “twenty four hours,” that makes the kid “a very tired little boy.” At each pause for effect, the team repeats, “Right” in response. Heh. Jeff thinks that, once Chip is sleeping “like a log” they can transfer him and his bed to Thunderbird Two.

As Jeff describes the plan, it happens in front of us. Chip is now snoozing while Thunderbird Two zooms across the night sky, accompanied by a lullaby remix of the theme tune. Jeff’s voiceover reckons that, if Chip got out undetected, they can get him back in undetected. We see this plays out just like Jeff said, and now Virgil is lowering Chip into bed in the boy’s room. Jeff is sure that, if all goes to plan, Chip will wake up later and “think the whole thing has been a dream.” Aww. Scott and Virgil are rather cute here. I like to think they’re recalling looking after their younger brothers at this point.

It’s daytime in Chip’s bedroom now, and the kid’s dad has returned, looking even muddier than the Tracys did a few hours before. Chip wakes up and immediately asks for “Mr Tracy.” Then he spots his dad is in the room, and that he’s back home again. His father tells him that the IR team were “fantastic” and Chip excitedly tells him that “you should see their base and the TB machines, wow!” His dad chuckles about Chip “dreaming again” (although he really ought to check for a gas leak…) and Chip is suitably convinced that the whole experience was a dream, even though it seemed “so real.” His dad assures him that dreams often “seem like the real thing.” Although in this case, kid, Mr Tracy just messed with your whole reality.

The episode ends authoritatively, with Scott and Virgil in Two’s cockpit. Scott reports, “Mission successfully completed. Security hazard – negative.” Triumphant music bursts and we’re treated to a lengthy shot of TB2’s rear end zooming away into the blue sky as they fly back to base.

And that’s the end of season one of Thunderbirds. What a ride.

While Security Hazard is a charming enough episode, with a believable enough resolution, this is a very thin story about the Tracy brothers being outwitted by a small but enthusiastic young boy. The recaps were of course just a way to give the Anderson crew a break before they began work on the next season and the two feature films, and it’s interesting to watch the look of the show evolve as different episodes are revisited. The thrill that viewers used to get from rewatching the stories is also somewhat lost on the DVD and download generation, especially as the Tracys don’t tell the kid exactly what happened.

Despite leaking sensitive information all over the place, the Tracy brothers seems to be portrayed in character and the whole scenario operates on its own weird internal logic. A kid on the island seems to throw them completely, and perhaps they wanted someone they could finally boast to about their exploits who wasn’t related or contracted to them. All that having to remain anonymous can be hard on a guy. Incidentally, where was Grandma, Tin-Tin or even Kyrano? Surely they would have been better babysitters while the Tracys figured out what to do? A line to explain their absence might have helped, there. It was quite a nice reversal of attitude, too, when Jeff also succumbed to Chip’s innocent (or was it?) interrogation. The solution to pretend it was ‘all a dream’ is almost satisfying, as long as the episode isn’t taken as true canon.

However, it’s still impossible to rate ‘Security Hazard’ very highly. Unless it had a final scene where the Hood revealed that Chip is actually an advanced version of the mouse-camera in ‘The Mighty Atom,’ this episode remains a so-so sign-off for the Tracys, merely tiding us over until the second season begins.


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Security Hazard is a classic example of that old standby in the television industry – the clip show (also known as the ‘economy show’). This is where highlights from previous episodes are used as filler, and in this case, the episode is pretty much filled right up with four twelve-minute segment highlights from, in this order, End of the Road, Sun Probe, Trapped in the Sky and Day of Disaster.

However, Security Hazard’s sole saving grace is the storyline that links these four lengthy clips together. Short, sweet and unintentionally hilarious, it tells the story of Chip, a plucky youngster with a hankering for midnight adventure. The bridging story goes something like this: during a midnight mine fire, International Rescue arrive and park their Thunderbirds right next door to Chip’s father’s house. What more temptation does a boy need when he can see Thunderbird Two’s enticingly open and unguarded hatch from his bedroom window? Chip doesn’t even pause to get out of his pyjamas before he’s out of the house and into the hatch, a most unlikely stowaway.

At some point in the recent past, Brains must have installed a security sensor inside Thunderbird Two’s pod, but it seems it doesn’t really work until TB2 lands back on the island. Just as Virgil is backing into the hangar, Jeff issues a terse warning for Virgil and Alan to stay put in the cockpit as an intruder has been detected in the pod. It would surely have been a bit more convenient if Virgil and Alan had known this before they took off, but then it’s not my place to second-guess International Rescue.

While Virgil and Alan scratch their heads at each other up in the cockpit, Jeff has armed himself with a Buck Rogers pistol and megaphone (every corporate dictator should have one of those under his desk), and backed up by Scott and sharp-shootin’ Gordon, demands the intruder reveal himself. Imagine their surprise when tow-headed freckle-faced pyjama-clad Chip pokes his mug around the door!

Now, we know Jeff Tracy can be short-tempered. We know he can lose his cool at the drop of a hat. But never before have we seen him apoplectic with rage! If the display he unleashes at four of his sons at this moment is any indication, he would have been one father you would not want to cross. This is borne out by the stiff (no pun intended) postures of his sons as he rants at them, and the fact that all of them seemed to have fixed their gaze on a point somewhere over on the far side of the room. Never look an angry dog in the eyes, we all know that!

What all the ranting (and the sarcasm that comes with the ranting is particularly entertaining) is about is the fact that Virgil, Alan and Scott left Thunderbird Two unattended with her doors not only unlocked, but wide open. Fair enough, I say. Allowing Chip to stow away represents an enormous breach in security, and Jeff now has to find some way to plug the hole. He begins, perhaps somewhat foolishly, by letting his sons baby-sit Chip while he racks his brains for an answer. (No, Brains isn’t in this episode. Except in flashback, that is.)

Virgil takes first watch, and decides that taking Chip down to see Thunderbird Two is a good place to start. Uh-uh. Virgil, didn’t you hear your father tell you that under no circumstances were you to reveal any secret information to the boy? Looks like Virgil has forgotten that, and in an effort to prove TB2 is the best of the Thunderbirds, tells Chip the story of Eddie Houseman. Alan arrives twelve minutes later, apparently rather peeved he has to now take charge of the kid. His sullenness shows, but Chip soon cajoles that out of him, and shortly Alan is showing him Thunderbird Three and telling him all about the Sun Probe episode. Twelve minutes after that, Scott arrives to take over, and ends up sitting Chip in TB1’s pilot’s seat, telling him about the Fireflash. It’s starting to sound a bit like a game of ‘mine is bigger than yours,’ but Chip doesn’t seem to understand the innuendo. Twelve minutes later Gordon arrives and takes Chip down to see Thunderbird Four. Chip exclaims how small it is, and Gordon agrees that yes, his is small, but it’s where and how he uses it (on the Mars Space Probe, of course!) that counts.

Jeff, meanwhile, is blowing his blood pressure sky-high as he realises that none of his sons has obeyed him and that Chip has now had a grand tour of the caverns beneath Tracy Island without paying an entry fee. More amusements ensue as Virgil, Scott and Alan bicker amongst themselves over who is to blame for the whole debacle, while Gordon keeps an eagle eye out for their father. This little display is a delightful glimpse into what their younger days must have been like, and provides a very entertaining domestic scene as they revert to their childhoods. The joke’s on Jeff however, as shortly afterward his sons discover him with Chip settled behind his desk, while he spills his own guts about his role as commander-in-chief of International Rescue!!

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