Here it is, Parker’s big episode. This becomes very clear when Parker is featured in the pre-title teaser sequence much more than he has been before. He’s looking fancy in what appears to be an orange and gold medieval outfit. All we see of the Tracys in the opening sequence are a shot of Thunderbird Two gliding over a mountain and Alan watching Brains being lowered in a heat suit. Also, a big satellite dish looks important. Anybody want to bet that’s what breaks? The show opens on a beautiful sunrise lifting over a mountain town, and the morning light begins to affect a big dish on the cliffside. In a room dominated by a scientific-looking swirly thing, two men are watching the day’s arrival with great interest. The older man, the German-accented Professor Lungren, marvels at the sun’s vast energy and tells his assistant, Mitchell, that tonight they will “harness a little of that energy” to generate enough power for “one small town.” Later, he hopes, they will be able to fuel “the whole world.” Very powerful. Now that the sun is up, they start to move the dish, using it to absorb the sun’s rays, and the strong heat haze is very visible on the solar mirror.

The title card then pops up, taking us into a lovely scene at Creighton Ward Mansion where Lady Penelope is ‘hmming’ over the last of her packing. She calls for Parker, telling him that he may take these last cases down to the car. He enquires if that “will be h’all,” and she thinks so, apart from a few “knick-knacks” that she’ll bring herself, although she’s worrying about forgetting something. Think it’s likely she’d worry about the oven being left on, like regular people? Perhaps not. Just as Parker’s leaving the room laden with Penny’s luggage, she generously tells him he can “consider the next few days a holiday” and that he can “feel free” to “discard” the uniform and go casual (which you could also call ‘mufti’, a word familiar to British servicemen and others who are used to wearing uniforms). Less generously, she’s only giving him ten minutes’ notice to get sorted before they leave.

The mansion weathers a violent storm as Penelope shelters, waiting to get into FAB1. She’s alarmed by the heavy rain but is anxious to “make a start” and wonders where on earth Parker’s got to. Well, she did only give him a few minutes’ notice. It probably takes that long to get to the servants’ quarters and back! He turns up right then, startling Penelope, dressed in a snazzy straw boater and a bright orange and yellow ensemble designed to cause maximum retinal damage. Penelope sees that he took her at her word and hopes that the "inclement weather" won't affect his "outfit." There's some snarkery in her voice as she says this, but Parker isn't worried, assuring her that "the sun h'always shines in Monte Bianco".

Sure enough, the sun is blazing in the little Mediterranean town of Monte Bianco. The owner of what we assume is the only hotel in the place, Señor Faccini, is telling the only waiter and general punching bag, Bruno, that the town will be very busy because of the solar power experiments. Bruno complains that all the new visitors will do is “bring more work,” but Faccini is thrilled that the little town will be “famous.” It turns out that sleepy Monte Bianco will be the first town in the world to be entirely lit by a “solar station.” However, Bruno bitterly complains that this is “against nature” and that it “will be a great disaster.” Get used to that phrase, folks. A note here…how is solar power ‘against nature’? More so than nuclear power, which seems to run everything else in this universe? Bruno thinks that the sun will “take its revenge” and goes on again about the “great disaster.” “Idioto!” Faccini berates him, and sends him “back to work.” However, Faccini then guarantees disaster by muttering “Stupido, what can go wrong?” D’oh. The solar station is, of course, DOOMED.

Up in the solar station control room, the scientists are keeping a close eye on the temperature “circuit” — “Keep it below one thousand degrees absolute,” Professor Lungren instructs Mitchell. He is anxious that the aforementioned “cyclonic generators” don’t “break circuit,” because they don’t want to “disappoint” all the visitors coming that evening.

Two of these visitors are Penelope and Parker, en route in FAB1. As Parker’s driving we can assume his leave only kicks off once they’ve reached the town. Seated comfortably in the back of the shocking pink Rolls-Royce, Penelope feels she’s “beginning to catch the holiday mood” and requests that Parker finds some appropriate music on the radio. Try as he might with the dial on the old fashioned radio, Parker can’t get any station without interference. Penelope blames it on the mountains, since they are “very near them now.” FAB1 may have the hottest technology Brains can provide, including submachine guns, but its radio is still defeated by mountains. Let’s take note of that, shall we — no radio signals!

On Tracy Island it always seems to be a holiday, and a lazy mood prevails as Jeff chats to Brains in the sheltered off part of the lounge. Jeff is hoping that Penelope enjoys her “vacation” (aww, difference between American and British phrasing, guys) and Brains does too. Jeff asks if Brains has had a chance to “evaluate” the solar generator at Monte Bianco. Brains says he has “studied the basic principles,” but “sure wishes” he could go with Penelope for a closer look at it. Clearly Jeff is tight about vacation time. Jeff seems impressed that Professor Lungren seems to have “solved the problem of storing electricity on a commercial scale.” Brains is interested to learn more about the generator’s “cyclonic batteries” which are apparently, according to Jeff, fuelled by concentrating the sun’s energy into “a beam of intense heat” which they use to create power. Hmm. That sounds familiar. Now where..? Anyway, Jeff calls it a “great breakthrough” and Brains agrees that although the concept is old, Professor Lungren has “licked” the technological problems. He once again wishes rather fervently that he was “there to see it” – but no luck. Jeff’s still not biting.

Back at the solar dish, morose music plays over the glowing light. The Professor monitors output voltage and they calculate that the generator will work for twenty hours, and they’ll activate it when it gets dark. The Professor notes that this may be “earlier” than expected, and we see what he’s looking at…dark clouds approaching. “I think we are in for a storm,” he says. Just in case you weren’t convinced by Bruno the waiter’s dire predictions, that is.

As thunder booms and the rain lashes down, FAB1 pulls up to the hotel and Señor Faccini eagerly greets Penelope with a large umbrella, apologising effusively about how ashamed he is to welcome her into this weather. He swears that it “It is terrible, we never rain here for four months.” Every tourist has heard that one, buddy. Penelope gracefully assures him that “The English are always prepared for rain,” as the camera slides down to reveal her mud-drenched white pumps. While the thunder rolls, Parker’s socks and sandals combo is in an even worse state. He snaps “What are you starin’ at? Get them bags inside!” at poor Bruno. Clearly Parker’s holiday starts here. Think he tips?

Inside the hotel, Faccini tells Penelope that they’ll celebrate tonight’s solar event with “fancy dress” and offers to show her to her room — which is the best in the hotel of course! She must be the biggest celeb at this thing. Parker is doing less well, as Bruno snarks, “You’d better change, señor, before you flood ze hotel.” No kidding, Parker is drenched! One flip of the screen later, though,

and he’s much more presentable. He’s scrubbed up well, wearing a bright yellow fancy dress getup complete with floppy hat and feather and cape…he looks like he’s off to visit a Renaissance Faire. Faccini tells him he looks “very fine” but is more interested to know where “Signorina Penelope” is. Just then, she makes her appearance at the top of the staircase, all very Scarlet O’Hara in a dramatic orange and black period gown – although with that white wig she could only be Marie Antoinette! Faccini is smitten, “Ah, belissima!” Penelope floats to the bottom of the staircase and calls Parker “dashing,” while he responds by telling her, bashfully, that her costume is “a bit of a knockout.” She takes this as a “most gracious compliment” while the storm continues to rage outside.

Some time later, everyone’s sat down to eat by candlelight, and Penelope is with Parker whilst lots and lots of extras fill up the hall. Faccini makes the announcement that soon the town will be entirely lit by power generated directly from the sun. Penelope finds it “quite exciting” and Parker concurs. Faccini hushes everyone and then tense music plays while the storm roars and he starts the countdown in Spanish. In the solar station, Professor Lungren continues the countdown, “Seven…six…five…” When he hits zero he calls “Activate!” and Mitchell throws the switch. In the streets of Monte Bianco, we see the lights all come on in the windows. There is Light. In the hotel, there is applause. “Magnifico!” declares Faccini. Everyone is ridiculously impressed!

At this point, in an earlier season, the Hood would probably show up. However, this time nature is the enemy. The storm is worsening…the Professor endears himself to us when he complains that the forecast was “light rain, so much for the weather satellite.” Hasn’t improved much, Prof! He and Mitchell are worried that these “freak storms” can “get pretty violent.” In punctuation, an impressively rendered streak of lightning cuts across the clouds.

Down in the hotel, Parker is perturbed by a big plate of pasta. In fairness, that’s a pretty unappetising looking slop of bolognaise he’s got in front of him. Penelope gently instructs him to “wind it around the fork.” Amazing to think at the time that pasta was an exotic dish, at least for Parker, lots of class questions being raised by this pasta. The lights flicker ominously, and Faccini assures the guests that there’s nothing to worry about, because “the storm will soon pass. He calls for “musica,” and look, Cass Carnaby, the suave musician from “The Cham-Cham,” is at the piano! Is he doing a gig here? Have to wonder if he recognises Penelope as a blonde! Bruno isn’t listening to his boss or the “musica,” — he looks out of the window and repeats, “It will be a great disaster.” Well, the guy isn’t going to be losing any bets, there…

Up on the mountainside, the solar mirror gets struck — c’mon, you knew that was going to happen! — and the Professor realises it’s attracting the lightning “like a magnet.” Obviously nobody told him that sticking a big metal tower on top of a mountain might be bad news in this kind of weather. He says that they’ll be “in real trouble” if the storm doesn’t ease. The lightning continues to strike, of course, blowing the conductors, and then cracking the metal stanchions supporting the dish. Uh oh. As the metal twists, the power gauge goes nuts, and the Professor orders a cutoff. The sudden darkness freaks out the hotel guests until Faccini orders the candles to be relit. “Something must be wrong,” Penelope says. “Is it serious, Milady?” Parker asks. Penelope doesn’t know.

Up in the solar station, lightning strikes again, and the Professor exclaims that they can’t take much more of this, because “the tower will collapse.” He suddenly gets the urge to go out into the dangerous storm and see how the dish is doing, over Mitchell’s protests. Ah, well, Lungren won’t be the only crazy scientist in this episode. In the hotel, Bruno is reciting his favourite line once more as the dish is hit again, and the tower collapses on top of the Professor! Lungren falls on the concrete as the mirror rolls down the cliff, and back at the hotel, Penelope exclaims, “The reflector’s been smashed!” Cue close-up on the reflector, intact and lodged halfway down the mountainside. Cue dramatic music!

Against all odds, the Professor seems to be alright, as Mitchell comes up to get him and tells him what’s happened. In the hotel, Faccini notes that “The storm, she is passing,” and the clouds part to reveal a huge full moon. The mood eases as the silver light hits the fallen reflector dish, and it fires a pure beam down to the town. Lots of oohs and aaahs from the guests at this lovely sight. Faccini thinks that this is lovely, and they all go outside to enjoy it. At their table, Parker comments on how things have a “strange way” of “turning out for the best” and that the mirrored moonlight is “almost like day.” Penelope’s spider sense tingles at this, and she thoughtfully repeats, “Yes, Parker, almost like day…”

As she ponders this, Bruno seems to spot a sympathetic ear. He grabs her, telling her (surprisingly) that it will be a “great disaster” – and then whispering something else in her ear. Faccini shoos him away, apologising for the interruption. When he leaves, Parker asks Penelope what Bruno told her. Apparently, Bruno thinks that when the sun rises tomorrow “it will be a great disaster” and Penelope believes “he may be right.” She has seen the series to date, of course, so that’s a bit of a no-brainer. She elects to call Jeff Tracy straight away, and orders Parker to find Bruno and “make sure he tells no one.” Surely he’s told everyone by now, only they all think he’s nuts? Although evacuating the town would make a lot of sense, Penelope thinks it’s a better idea to keep everyone close, as they “may need every pair of hands” to fight any fires that arise. This baffles Parker, but Penelope’s already gone.

Still in full Marie Antoinette costume, Penelope attempts to radio Jeff Tracy from FAB1. It doesn’t work and she reasons that the storms aren’t helping. She thinks of a place “free from interference” and drives FAB1 away to find it. Her driving seems to have vastly improved from the cringeworthy efforts of earlier in the show’s run, which is a very positive change (also seen in “Brink of Disaster”). OK, so she then drives FAB1 straight off the end of a jetty into open water, but luckily, she clearly MEANT to do that. And FAB1 is equipped with some rather nifty hydrofoils. Naturally there’s a drunk partygoer on a yacht, who drops his glass over the side as the Rolls steams past him. “I’ve heard of pink elephants,” he slurs, “but a pink Rolls Royce out at sea, driven by Marie Antoinette, is ridiculous!”

Once she figures she’s clear of the interference, Penelope radios Jeff to explain. Hopefully she’ll be able to find her way back to dry land!

On Tracy Island, nearly everyone’s hanging out in the lounge. Scott’s staring out the window, while Virgil and Alan read magazines on the sofa and Jeff optimistically takes on Brains at chess. Penelope’s call finally comes through, and she tells them about the accident with the solar mirror. Brains and Jeff quickly get the picture…when morning rises over Monte Bianco, the town will be burned to a crisp by the solar reflection, and International Rescue must race the sun itself to save it! Scott, who still seems heavily medicated compared to last season, tells them all blank-faced that Thunderbird One will be underway “in thirty seconds” – because hopefully by then his tranqs will have worn off. OK, he doesn’t really say that last bit, but you can’t help thinking it. Despite the fact that he’s sitting right next to Virgil, Alan hops up and announces that Thunderbird Two will be “right behind him.” Surely that earned him a wedgie from her pilot in the privacy of the cockpit. Then we’re treated to lengthy launches from stock footage, which really show off the changes in the designs and film stock quality, since series one. It’s worth a smile to see the “original” Scott and Virgil appear for a few moments during that process.

Jeff instructs Brains to join the brothers, as this will be “a tricky one.” Brains is going to get his wish to see the solar generator up close, although not really in the way he wanted!

We’re exactly halfway through the episode, and the sun will soon rise on Monte Bianco.

As the Thunderbirds launch, Grandma asks why Jeff suddenly looks so worried. He explains that he’s got “a feeling” about this assignment, adding to the general tension in an episode where half the cast seem to have turned psychic.

Penelope has returned to the hotel and informs Parker that International Rescue are on their way. She also finally tells him what the actual danger is. Penelope will now get changed and drive up to the solar station, for reasons best known to herself. She orders Parker to make sure no guest leaves the hotel. He ponders how to achieve that while she drives away again, with much more sensible hair and clothing. Parker now accosts Bruno and tells him the “trouble” in store tomorrow, using the patented method of ‘speak loudly and slowly to foreigners as if they’re deaf.’ Bruno, of course, immediately repeats his by now classic, “It will be a great disaster!” Parker enlists Bruno’s help, explaining that they need all the guests present in order to fight any fires caused by the dish. He hits on the idea of keeping them all “occupied” in the morning by getting them all to “play a little game.”

Up at the solar station, Penelope checks on the Professor, who seems to be a friend of hers — he tells her he’s sorry they had to meet again “under such tragic circumstances.” Maybe he’s Professor Borender’s cousin (from “The Perils of Penelope”)? Mitchell says he’s “done some calculations,” and the sun won’t be high enough “to do much damage” until about 6:30am. As it’s currently 5:13am, they have just under an hour and a quarter until then.

As the sun sets on Tracy Island, Grandma is still watching the horizon with Jeff, for whom the sunset “holds no pleasure” as he points out “as the sun sets here, on the other side of the world it’ll rise on sleeping Monte Bianco.” Gulp.

As the sun rises, Thunderbird One has reached the area and zooms above the town, with Scott telling Thunderbird Two his ETA. Virgil doesn’t seem to be talking to Scott in this episode, as he doesn’t say a word…Alan responds to Scott, and then Brains asks if Scott’s been able to contact the solar station. Scott couldn’t get through, blaming “residual static,” but Brains still urgently wants to know the situation. Scott suggests he use the “radio camera” to send a “few shots” to Brains when he gets there.

As the sun rises and the danger grows, the crew at the Solar Station have also realised that they can’t make any radio calls and are frustrated that they can’t do anything but watch the town burn. Penelope, knowing help is on the way, elects to make a move and take the Professor to hospital as he “needs treatment.” She adds that she’s contacted IR and that “they’ll take care of everything”. But what if they fail?

Down at the hotel, Parker and Bruno have been hard at work, and have set up the grandly named ‘Lord Parker’s Bingo’ game. Wonder where they got all that sign and bingo card printing done, and at such short notice? Pleased with the results, Parker then instructs poor Bruno to go and wake all the hotel guests, even though Bruno points out they only went to bed at 3.00am. Parker insists that they need to be woken and fully distracted by the game before all the action and danger begins. A cock crows as if to emphasise that it’s dawn. Danger is nearer than ever. Parker compounds Bruno’s problems by telling him to wake the manager, Faccini, first, as they’ll need him to organise the guests. Bruno looks appropriately glum about this. As he shuffles off, Thunderbird One has arrived, and Scott skims her down for “a closer look” at the solar dish. Then Bruno tries to wake Faccini, getting a very grumpy response until he tells him “Lord Parker” wants him downstairs. Faccini complains about the early hour until he realizes what Bruno said. Lord Parker. He perks up significantly at the magic ‘L’ word.

Meanwhile, Scott takes some snaps of the dish — “switching camera to instantaneous transmission” — and Brains looks at them as they come out of a machine in a continuous row, like a ticker tape of photos. Brains thinks that although it looks “tricky” the “rotation gear seems undamaged,” and he’s hopeful that they may be able to “tilt the rotator up so that it faces skywards.” Alan points out to Brains that he said earlier that it weighs 400 tons, and Brains admits it “won’t be easy” but that it’s their “only chance.” Unless they can get a shedload of black paint up there, maybe? Maybe not.

Down at the hotel, Parker starts his cheeky Greek chorus of Bingo calling, putting on even more pompous airs than usual as he organizes the event. Turns out he’s got everyone interested in playing the game by pretending to be a real English lord who often “travels incogniko” [sic]

In Thunderbird Two, Virgil radios base (this is the first time he’s spoken in this episode!). The signal is badly distorted. He tells Jeff that they’ll be over the dish in two minutes. Because of the “communications problem,” Jeff announces that he’s making Virgil responsible for “any on the spot decisions.”

Hang on just a minute here. Thunderbird One is right there! There’s no “communications problem” between One and Two. So isn’t Scott the field commander anymore? Did he do something to get removed as mission leader (all those tranquilizers, maybe?). This feels all wrong…the chain of command seems to have been thrown out of the window, inexplicably…rousing echoes of the same situation in “Alias Mr Hackenbacker.” What happened to the resourceful, decision-making Scott of the first season? The one who backed down his father in “City of Fire” by saying that if they couldn’t use the Oxyhydnite gas, they might as well just go home? Did Jeff’s rough treatment of him in “Atlantic Inferno” give him a crisis of confidence?

Jeff then piles on the pressure for Virgil by adding, “Be careful. I’ve got a feeling about this one,” and he doesn’t mean the fuzzy kind. Virgil says he’ll take responsibility, but again, surely mission control and tough decisions are in Scott’s remit?

Alan spots the dish, and Virgil notices the sun, and says they’ll have to “work fast.” He hovers Thunderbird Two over the reflector, and Brains strongly insists on going down to check the dish out “at close quarters,” despite Alan’s adamant objection that it isn’t his job. As they argue, Virgil tells them to quit it and as time is getting short, he makes the decision to let Brains go down there. Virgil sternly warns Brains not to take “any chances” and orders Alan to help out with the descent. Only then does Virgil fill Scott in on the plan, which is surely the wrong way around, and Scott says, “I’ll stick around in case I can help.”

Stick around? You mean there was actually an option where he left the scene? That’s it, we’ve crossed over into Thunderbirds Bizarro World.

As Brains is lowered from the hatch under Thunderbird Two’s nose in a white protective suit, Alan warns him not to look down “too much” as it’s “a long drop.” Brains lands inside the wrecked girders under the dish and tells Alan to “stop the winch.” He is soon cross that he can barely move within the harness. He takes it off, and the sudden loss of tension in the cable alarms Alan and Virgil. Frustrated, Virgil says he told him not to take chances, to which Brains responds tartly, “Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing” — with a little “I hope” added on under his breath. He then freaks out a little at the looong drop stretching out below him, with only his arms around the girder stopping him from falling. Jeff’s going to be mad as hell if they lose their genius, you know. Virgil adds to the pressure, reminding him to hurry up as time is running out.

Here comes the sun. Alan repeats the admonition to be careful as the scientist begins a difficult climb up the dish surface beside the girders. As he climbs, Brains tells Alan to lower the magnetic clamp, and Virgil opens the hatch as Brains scrambles to another position. Lots of tense foot slippage here. We’re reminded of the presence of the ever-looming sun as Brains directs Alan…”Down about five feet. Steady…steady…” He tells Alan to stop, and then makes a grab for the magnet. And slips, sliding down the slick surface out of the shot!

There are gasps of horror — but we quickly realize we’ve cut back to Parker and his bingo game, and the gasps were from the excited players in the room. He proclaims, “’Old on, ‘old on…Honest Lord Parker doesn’t pay out until he’s checked your card!” We can assume at least someone is winning so far.

Back at the dish, Brains is of course safe…he tortuously climbs back up again and positions the magnetic clamp. It’s activated, and then Virgil tells him to get clear of the area. Brains doesn’t have to be told twice! He comments that he’s “getting mighty hot inside this suit,” and the climb down again looks just as difficult. The sun is getting nearer. Soon, though, Virgil tells Alan that “Brains is clear” and that he’s “taking her up.” TB2 starts to gain altitude, the aim obviously to tilt the dish upwards. At first it won’t budge, and remains stuck even as Virgil increases power. Brains is watching this and still looks a bit too close, frankly. Alan points out anxiously that “it’s still not shifting,” so Virgil declares he’s going “all the way — full thrust!” (Steady, ladies.) No luck, though. “It’s no good,” he finally says. “The reflector’s too heavy.” he says.

Brains surmises that “the rotation gear must be jammed,” and asks Alan to send down “the laser unit.”

Parker keeps up the commentary by announcing “Thing are really ‘otting up now. Number One, gimmee the gun!” As above, so below, hmm?

Brains now undoes the hatch into the rotation gear of the dish. We know that because the hatch is helpfully labelled, like all things in the show. The dish itself probably has the words “Solar Reflector” painted on it, somewhere. Brains declares he’s located the trouble — “the gear’s jammed.” He thinks it’ll take “a couple of minutes” for him to cut through. Deep-frowning Virgil doesn’t think they have a couple of minutes…”the hotel’s starting to smoke!”

It is indeed…we can now see that the roof is already starting to smoke. Was keeping everyone there really a good idea, Penny? But Virgil’s words give their chief scientist a brainwave. “Smoke! Why didn’t I think of that before?” He asks if Scott’s still around. The fact that he even has to ask is pretty disturbing. If I were their erstwhile field commander I’d start worrying about being written out of the show. Of course, Scott’s still in the area, and Brains suggests that he uses the “new device” which was conveniently installed “last week.” Scott has heard the request and swoops in to help out.

Bingo! At this, Parker congratulates a lucky winner and cheers, “Now we’re goin’ like a house on fire!” At this he gulps and says to himself, “What am I sayin’?” Yep, the house is, literally, now on fire. Almost. Sort of burnt toast levels at this point. Still not good.

Scott swoops around, blowing a huge cloud of dirty black smoke from Thunderbird One’s rear. Let’s assume he’s trying to block the sun, as it’s not clear at this point. At one point he says, “How am I doing, Brains?” At which Brains pauses in his laser cutting and looks out of the hatch door at the sun, which is being rapidly obscured by the smoke. “FAB, Scott!” he responds, and goes back to his task. Shortly after that he calls up to Virgil and Alan that he’s “freed the rotation gear,” and Virgil says he’ll start the lift as soon as Brains is clear. Brains is once again complaining to himself about the suit, and that he can “hardly move” in it.

A few moments later his voice comes through in Two’s cockpit, “OK, boys, take her up!” Exciting music plays as they try one final time! As Thunderbird Two hauls upward, the dish finally starts to tilt to a safe angle. But then, disaster! As the dish tilts, it collapses back against the cliff and sets off a rockslide — and we see a white protective suit tumble down the mountainside! “Brains!” Alan exclaims in horror. “Virgil, he’s fallen!”

It gets worse. Huge rocks tumble downward, and then the dish itself goes crashing down after them! Rocks pound and pound the earth — and the protective suit! — and the dish caps it off by landing last. At least it winds up with the reflector side downward. One white gloved hand is left sticking out from the tons of rubble. Oh no…have Jeff’s premonitions, and Bruno’s dire predictions, come true?

Virgil frantically calls Scott, saying “there’s been an accident…Brains has fallen…can you assist?” Scott, who has obviously been hitting the tranqs again judging by his all-too-calm response, says, “Sure, Virgil, I’ll see what I can do.” Not even a frowny face. Hmm.

Alan is worried enough for both of them, and asks “Are we just gonna sit here?” Virgil says that Scott’s doing “everything possible,” although what this is isn’t at all clear. Surely Two would be more useful, seeing that they can lower someone to the accident scene?

Alan is the most emotional of the three, sounding stunned as he says, “I saw him fall — he must have been killed.” There’s another sad close up on the little glove sticking out. It doesn’t look hopeful.

Then a second later, Brains is on the top of the cliff, radioing to say, “Don’t worry, boys, I’m fine.” He tells them that he took off the “awkward suit” and Virgil orders him to “get back in that safety harness and that’s an order!” Brains gives a rather flirty, “Yes, sir” in response. Gawd. Now why isn’t Scott tearing him a new one for that? We see no response from Scott at all, in fact…and then we cut away from the scene.

It’s night time on Tracy Island, and all is well. Jeff checks in with his crew, asking if they are “certain that Brains is OK.” It’s worth noting here that only Thunderbird Two’s cockpit is seen here…there’s no sign of Scott and he isn’t included in the debriefing. I’d be looking for a pink slip in my pay envelope soon if I were him… Jeff says he’s “glad this one is over—I had a feeling something might go wrong.” Brains chimes in, telling him not to worry, and Alan thinks they’ll be home for breakfast. “Breakfast?” Jeff exclaims, “it’s 2.00am here, I’m going to bed!” and Brains makes a crack about how with all the differences in the time zones, sometimes “even I get confused!” Everyone laughs, and Thunderbird Two flies on home. Thunderbird One is nowhere to be seen.

Back at the hotel in Monte Bianco, over tea, Penny feels she’s owed an “explanation” from “Lord” Parker. Parker has his cape wrapped around him, hiding the brightly colored regalia from last night, and has ditched the feathered hat. He explains that he felt the guests would be “more inclined” to take orders from an “English lord” and that he “anticipated” that she would not mind. Presumably she’s a bit miffed that he pretended to have a title — is it illegal to pass oneself off as a member of the British aristocracy, perhaps? But in any case But now she says, “All right, Parker, in the circumstances, we’ll forget it” and asks him what got all the guests “so engrossed” that they “didn’t notice the danger.” Parker explains that it was a game “very popular in my youth, as I remember. Bingo.” Penelope remains baffled and says he’ll have to “instruct” her “sometime.” He promises that he will. Hmm, who thinks bingo will barely hold her attention for about five minutes? Unless there was a massive cash prize, which Parker is perhaps keeping quiet about.

Now that the excitement is over, Penelope is ready to hit the beach, and suggests “Lord Parker” goes to change, because “the sun is shining.” He smugly tells her he’d “h’anticipated” her again, and with a terrifying cry of “BINGO!” he yanks open the cape to flash her his blue and white striped, long sleeved bathing suit, which was probably the height of beach fashion in the 1920s! Then again, perhaps we should be thankful he didn’t opt for Speedos… In any case, Penelope is rendered utterly speechless. Hopefully she didn’t mace him right after the camera cut away!

“Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday” is a well-made episode with quirky touches, and Lady Penelope’s midnight drive as Marie Antoinette — over water, yet! — was a surreal high point. The foreshadowing is a bit heavy handed (‘I have a bad feeling about this’ and the oft-repeated ‘It will be a great disaster’), all of which was an obvious attempt to convince us that Brains really had been smooshed by a falling solar mirror. It’s all slickly filmed, with loving attention to detail, and there’s nothing wrong with it at all, at first glance. It’s also the second time in the series that the sun has been a major threat, and it’s interesting to see how differently it’s handled this time. There’s not a space rocket in sight. In the comics, they probably would have sent Thunderbird Three up to try block out the sun!

But while there’s a lot to appreciate here, the increasing relegation of the Tracy brothers to supporting characters in their own show loses this episode a point, especially given the peculiar alterations in rescue command structure, which don’t really make sense in the context of most of the previous twenty-nine episodes. Scott’s command role (and voice) is increasingly MIA, and there’s a sense of things shifting towards Penelope and Alan more than the other characters. (Isn’t Gordon the relief pilot for Thunderbird Two…just asking? And where the heck is John?) This creates a real sense of unbalance, and leads us to wonder what the backstory behind Scott’s suddenly sidelined role could possibly be — but the episode brings a fun, whimsical story otherwise. And even if it occasionally overplays the foreshadowing of doom, it mostly does it with panache and charm.


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This episode opens on a tranquil sunrise and the sleepy town of Monte Bianco. High above the town, at the newly built Solar Generator Station, engineers await the sun’s dawning rays - not to mention world domination. Their ambitious plan is to supply all of Monte Bianco’s electricity needs via solar energy. And once they achieve that, next, they’ll electrify the world!

Some miles to the west, and somewhat coincidentally, Lady Penelope is planning a Monte Bianco holiday. As Parker calmly surveys her luggage (Penelope is not known for travelling lightly), she perhaps rather foolishly tells him that it’s his holiday too and that he should dress casually, resulting in Parker donning an amazing outfit of clashing orange checks and stripes. Whilst Penelope isn’t impressed with this ensemble, I certainly am!

Back at Monte Bianco, the hotel is getting ready for a bumper summer, being the first and only hotel in the world to be powered by solar energy. Bruno, the hotel concierge, whines in a sloppy Italian accent that the whole thing is a crime against nature. (This being an alternate universe to our own, of course, where nuclear is natural and good, and natural and good is not nuclear.) Cut to Tracy Island, where Jeff and Brains are expressing the exact opposite of Bruno’s sentiments over cups of coffee. Brains thinks the Solar Generator is a great idea, and that all the bugs should have been worked out by now. Famous last words? You’d think so, wouldn’t you!

An evening storm has rumbled ominously into town as Parker and Penelope pull up outside the hotel. True to expectations, the hotel is full to brimming, and a costume party has been planned for that evening. As the storm rages overhead, the party counts down to ‘switchover.’ There’s darkness for a moment, and then… there is light! The Solar Generator is a success!

Just when you’d expect all hell to break loose, it doesn’t. Penelope patiently teaches Parker how to twirl spaghetti onto his fork, Cass Carnaby tinkles out a tune on the piano (that man really gets around, and I don’t mean in the geographical sense), while high over the town the Solar Generator whines ominously in the storm. What? You think that ominous whine means something is going to go wrong? Nope. Brains was right. They did get all the bugs out. It’s the storm that’s going to knock this baby down to size.

While Parker’s hand jerks spasmodically over his plate of spag bol, lighting hits the solar tower in three successive strikes. Power is cut to the town and candles are dragged out to illuminate the spaghetti. Up in the mountains the Professor ventures out to check the tower, just in time for it to collapse and slide down the hill, coming to rest at an angle that will soon proved deadly to the town below. All of this is visible from the fancy dress party, but Penny and Bruno seem to be the only ones cognisant of what this development means. Penny tries to contact Jeff, but local interference means she can’t get through. Rather than pick up a phone to make the call, she opts to drive the FAB1 out into the ocean for better reception. As you do.

After finally contacting Jeff, who despatches Thunderbirds One and Two to the scene in what soon proves to be a ‘race against the Sun,’ Penny heads back to the hotel and orders Parker and Bruno to keep the guests occupied. Good idea too - keep them in the hotel rather than allowing them to evacuate in an orderly fashion while they still can. To effect this, Parker promotes himself to ‘Lord’ and organises a pre-dawn game of Bingo. Nothing like a spot of gambling to keep the suckers from realising their hotel is burning down around them, eh.

As the sun sets over Tracy Island Jeff waxes melancholy, knowing it is now rising on Monte Bianco and that time is assuredly running out. Travelling faster than the Earth is turning, Scott is nearing the danger zone, but the localised static is making communication impossible. Virgil contacts Base before they lose communications altogether, prompting Jeff to make him responsible for all decision-making at the site. Scott didn’t hear that, but everybody else did.

Hovering over the displaced reflector dish, Brains and Alan argue over who’s going to be lowered down, necessitating Virgil to pull his newfound weight and order Brains to do it. Alan winches Brains down from TB2 while Virgil holds her steady, and Scott loiters nearby in TB1. He’s not scowling, so he still hasn’t got the news, I don’t think. But an instant later Virgil has his scowly face on, because Brains has taken off his harness and that’s definitely against the rules. Brains ignores him and clambers awkwardly over the twisted structure, moaning incessantly about the heat (he’s a bit more sensitive to it since the Sahara incident), and fixes a magnetic clamp to the dish so that TB2 can winch it to another position. But the dish is stuck on its mounting and Brains has to cut it loose. He’s still moaning about the heat, and as soon as he finishes cutting, he rips off his hazard suit for a bit of relief. This is also against the rules, and this is why:

As TB2 shifts the dish, it sends an avalanche of rocks - and what looks like Brains as well -tumbling down the mountainside. Alan and Virgil are understandably shocked when they see the white hazmat suit bounding over the cliff, and send Scott down to pick up what’s left of Brains. Alan’s having a bit of a mini-freakout, but Scott and Virgil seem to be taking Brains’ crushing dismemberment very calmly. Brains, who most assuredly was eavesdropping on the entire conversation, waits a strangely long time to spring his ‘don’t worry, I’m okay, it was just the suit’ line, responding to Virgil’s grumpy admonishment with a cheeky (and faintly lispy) ‘yeth, thir!’ Hmm. I bet Brains has always wanted to do that!

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