Moving from One Disaster to the Next... No Strings Attached

Nick and I were talking tonight and somehow got onto the topic of Sean Penn and his recent proclivity for popping up at disaster sites anywhere on the planet to lend a hand. I got to thinking that Penn's actions were actually quite similar to one of my favourite childhood programs, The Thunderbirds. I'm assuming that most of you know at least a little of the Supermarionette masterpiece of the mid-sixties from Brits Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, but for those that don't, here's a bit of a primer. The Anderson's conceived and created numerous TV shows starting around 1960, all starring on puppets and fabulous miniature sets. As goofy as all this sounds, The Thunderbirds was every boy's fantasy-world in the 1965 and at the risk of getting into some major geek-territory here, I'll resist the temptation to explore the minutia of Thunderbirds lore and instead focus on the basics.

The original Thunderbirds concept sprang from a real-life German mining disaster. The equipment needed to rescue the miners was heavy and far away (and Sean Penn was only 3 years old, so that option wasn't available). The Andersons struck on an idea for a new TV series. A family headed by a super-wealthy retired astronaut named Jeff Tracy and his five sons - Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John (incidentally all named after real-life Mercury astronauts – Scott Carpenter, Virgil (Gus) Grissom, Alan Shepard, Gordon Cooper and John Glenn respectively) would operate a secret organization called International Rescue. The sons were led by Scott (naturally) who flew Thunderbird 1 and was the chief rescue coordinator. Virgil piloted Thunderbird 2, Alan was in Thunderbird 3, Gordon was the underwater specialist and aquanaut of Thunderbird 4 and John (who had the shittiest job) sat all alone orbiting the earth on the space station Thunderbird 5 masturbating. The characters were based on actors of the day. Papa Jeff Tracy was modeled after Lorne Green, Scott after Sean Connery (naturally), Alan after Robert Reed, whoever that is, etc, etc. They lived on a fabulous uncharted tropical island and maintained outside contact through their London agent, international socialite Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, and her Cockney butler/chauffeur Aloysius "Nosey" Parker. No, it was hardly Shakespeare, but it was pure gold to a five-year-old.

Could this also be Sean Penn?
Anyways...... International Rescue, fabulous wealth, popping up to save people trapped in burning buildings and flooded cities.... Sean Penn, n'est-ce pas? Like me, he's about the right age to have grown up on a steady diet of Thunderbirds. He's fabulously wealthy. He saves people. I think Penn is currently living out the fantasy every little boy had in 1965. He IS the modern version of International Rescue. I wonder whether his brother Chris Penn really did pass away, or is he instead manning the Pennderbird 5 orbiting the Earth and monitoring for new disasters, hurricanes and other acts of God. Aquanut James Cameron probably operates Pennderbird 4, the underwater rescue unit. Sean is the chief rescue coordinator and operates Pennderbird 1.

"The Rocket" by Doc Johnson
To my mind this leaves both Pennderbirds 2 and 3 currently unmanned. The original Thunderbird 3 looked like a big orange vibrator with it's own stand and was manned by the gayest of the Tracy boys, Alan. As the show wore on, Alan grew increasingly gay until he came out of the closet (instead of up through the centre of the circular living room in his flying dildo/spaceship) in the groundbreaking episode Alan Feels a Bit Queer in Episode 8 of the 3rd and final season.

Contrary to popular belief, Alan Tracy's outing preceded Burt Ward's Robin declaring his man-love for Bruce Wayne in Batman The TV Series by nearly 3 months.

Looking back, I should have noticed the now-fairly-obvious transformation Alan was undergoing at the hands of his puppet-masters... but hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

Thank goodness there wasn't a fourth season. Lord knows what kind of Alan puppet they would have come up with for it.

Jesus Gerry.. Would a little subtlety have killed you? 

All that said, I think I'd prefer Thunderbird/Pennderbird 2, a sort of giant flying turtle that could poop out a little green garage at disaster sites with the push of a button. Sounds easy enough. I'm not sure what value that might have in Haiti, but Penn's in charge and I'll just do what he says …..emergency housing I suppose. My time will come.

My first landing. Total Success! Sean was impressed.
Virgil also had the best hair and the least offensive eyebrows, so I think I'll apply for his job.

So that just leaves Pennderbird 3 to “man”. Can anyone think of a currently-single, platinum-blonde Brit to be Alan and fly the big orange space-cock? Just thinking out loud here. I could certainly put in a good word with Sean if anyone's interested. We also need a butler, a really smart guy and an international socialite.

Hold it......brb

FYI I won't be in for a couple of days. Chris Penn up in the orbiting Pennderbird 5 Space Station says that CNN is reporting on a mining disaster in Chile.... and they need a green garage for some reason.

F.A.B. Chris.....Pennderbird 2 is Go!



the coelacanth said...

this post scares me. and that picture of scott/virgil is incredibly disturbing. bravo.

Worsenfunk said...

Solid expose of your thunderbird love - as well as making it clear that Sean Penn needs of a line of action figures, STAT!

Withnail said...

That is a laugh out loud post... That picture is priceless. I nearly fell over laughing... Nice one!

Spev said...

This is officially the funniest thing I have ever read in my life!!