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Old 9th February 2018, 09:38 AM
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Thunderbird 2 Thunderbird 2 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Newport, South Wales.
Posts: 511

Arguably the most spectacular episodes of classic Thunderbirds were the explosions and fire heavy episodes. Although TOS was written with a lot of extraordinary ideas, episodes like City Of Fire, Thirty Minutes After Noon and The Duchess Assignment stand out because the incendiary sense of jeopardy is all too realistic. Inferno is conspicuous because it has taken so long for TAG-15 to address this danger in an episode, even if fire fighting has been referenced here and there as a background or side danger in previous episodes. - Under Pressure springs to mind in this regard, as well as the recent Rigged For Disaster. Volcano comes close, but even there, fire is not THE key problem.
On paper, there is little originality in the plot line of Inferno. The story is the Irwin Allen disaster film The Towering Inferno, and although City Of Fire is the classic episode you think of first the two episodes have little in common besides the emergency is caused by a tall building that is on fire.

On the character front we are given two extremes again. First we have Howard Yost. He can be written off as another LeMaire / Fishler type. TAG-15 really does not need another of these characters, its an idea that outstayed its welcome by Weather Or Not.
On the other side of the coin, Chief McCready is a great character. Responsible, cautious to the right degree, a good leader an someone who inspires others. Although some of the things she says and does are a bit off in places (Virgil suffers from this too) that does not stop her from being a great character you want to pay attention to. A good example is as soon as she recognises the situation has nose dived, she does not hesitate to call John back and say – Yes please, we need your help after all. Although they are background characters – painfully so – the other firemen are good supporting characters too. It reinforces the idea that although the series has painted the GDF as the all purpose tactical / emergency force, The Fire Brigade, Police and Paramedic / Ambulance services DO still exist in the TAG universe. We just haven't seen them. - More is the pity, considering how poor the GDF are used, when they are used.

There are problems in the mechanics of the story. All the leaping and jumping either without safety lines or – worse - at one point Virgil unhooks his to reach McCready. It's heroic, but also foolhardy to the point of utterly stupid. The fact that Virgil and the firefighters jury rig the use of the lift when they know themselves that doing so in a building on fire is dangerous made me frown. Esp when we are given the consequences.
If this programme takes its kid friendly credentials seriously, then there should have been something to address that point. It can be argued that only so much can be squeezed into 20 mins, and a point is being missed simply because it's fictional entertainment. But especially with such a contemporary issue as fire safety, a one liner would have made all the difference on some of these things. Ditto that Yost (like his predecessors) is not threatened with the consequences of his self serving actions.

From a technology perspective, the episode is a bit of a let down. Module 1 is stated to be Thunderbird 2.2's Fire fighting module. But instead of carrying vehicles, specialised equipment or utility tools in large numbers, we are only presented with twin belly mounted foam canons as part of a huge boom box sound system! Someone was not thinking about long term multi story use with this concept. I was admittedly surprised to learn that experiments with sound waves have been used as a fire suppressant (See plus points below) but it is not something that appears workable on a large scale, far less industrial scale. Indeed, even in this episode it is presented as having serious limits, considering there was only so much Thunderbird 2.2 could do with it.

The climax of the story – the observation tower getting carefully removed by Thunderbird 2.2 should make up for this disappointment. But as good as that sequence is, it is not enough. Especially since we have earlier episodes – The H'Expert, Grandma Tourismo and Rigged For Disaster demonstrating Thunderbird2.2's lifting power in episodes with better overall structure. The writers seem determined to have the Thunderbird vehicles alone deal with the problem of the week, in stories where they should accommodate a specialised vehicle that of course does not materialise.

In the end, Inferno feels what it is. - An episode to deal with the whole “we need to do a building on fire story.” One written in a very contained join the dots kind of way. A good episode? Yes, but only if you take what it presents with a significant pinch of salt.

I do believe that ITV made the right decision in not transmitting Inferno in November last year. The very flaws I spotted could be misread as cruel insensitivity in light of the Grenfell Tower Disaster and similar tragedies. A risk that simply was not worth taking by ITV, which in itself is sadly ironic. - Had the writing of Inferno been much tighter and more responsible from the very start, it could have been written as a salute to the emergency services, just as it should have been, and many episodes of TOS actually were.

Plus Points:
Virgil's “keep still” while painting Alan lacks TOS's subtly!
(Excluding the boom box,) The soundtrack throughout the events.
Fire effects are done very well. As are the “Roller” Extinguisher Grenades.
The Fire Brigade characters are nicely credible. Esp Chief McCready.
Fire Brigade Uniforms are a pleasing mix of real contemporary and TAG style rescue costuming.
Virgil left dangling is a tense moment.
Using Thunderbird 2.2's Module cavity to a tactical advantage again.
Thunderbird 2.2 removing the Spire's observation turret is impressive.
Virgil's reaction to the paint damaged Thunderbird 2.2.

Surprisingly, there is some science behind the Boom box! -

Iffy Elements:
The tower jacks are only seen to link the episode to “Terror In New York City”
Max's painting prank is predictible and out of character for the robot.
Blue Watch are only two people. McCready doesn't count!
Main plot is an undisguised (and incomplete) reuse of The Towering Inferno storyline.
Sense of jeopardy and fear from those trapped in the tower is severely lacking.

Iffy to Excruciating Elements:
Yet another “LeMishler” character. Yost, get lost!
A sprinkler suppressant can't be used because it's foam is toxic - in a high rise tower?!
General fire safety completely thrown out the window.
The “Boom-box” only Module 1. - The Metropolitan Fire Service have better fire kit than TB2.2 does!
Virgil and the Firefighters use a lift during a fire. - Wrong message to the kids in the audience guys.

Possible References:
47 - TNG Era Star Trek again.
Blue Watch could be a reference to classic LWT/ITV Fire Service drama series London's Burning.

Undeniably Blatant References:
It is The Towering Inferno but on a tv episode budget, in 20 mins.
The Boom Box initially plays the theme to Blue Peter?!? (Scott facepalm)

This episode clearly cribs its TOS concept from City Of Fire and 30 Minutes After Noon with a slim piece from Terror In New York City.
Virgil painting Alan's portrait is lifted straight from Move And You're Dead.
The fact Virgil IS still painting with his brushes and oils. Good.
“Calling International Rescue, come in International Rescue...”

Other Anderson:
The Boom Box visual sound wave effect are the Mysteron Halos from Captain Scarlet!
The thin spiral design of the tower is reminiscent of The London Car-Vu Sky Park. - Also Capt Scarlet.

Continuity Good:
An artist easel has been sitting on the lounge balcony since the series began. Here Virgil is using it.
After Home On the Range, we again see Virgil is Left handed.
As in Power Play, Alan is seen piloting Thunderbird 2.2
Unlike The Hood in The Man From TB5, laser cutters are used to sever the structure for a good reason here.

When John's hologram first appears in the lounge, the hailing “beeps” are missing.
McCready refers to the buildings “Immersion Extinguishers” to release a gas. – But we see a Sprinkler nozzle – they are designed to spray liquids.

How did the building have such bad wiring for the power distribution of the extra lighting? - We are not told of any corner cutting, or other issues.
Besides the twin belly canons, does Module 1 carry any other fire fighting equipment at all? This Sound System will have limits.
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