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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.