Thunderbirds Are Go – Season 1 Episode 22

Dec 26, 2015 | Posted by in TV
Thunderbirds Are Go

“Designated Driver”

Thunderbirds Are Go gives Alan his first driving lesson as a couple of criminals try to rob Lady Penelope while her Aunt Sylvia (Sylvia Anderson) is visiting.

This show is good at a great many things but comedy definitely isn’t one of them. I don’t know how young kids react to the use of comedy in this show but whenever an extended attempt at being comedic happens I find myself cringing and this outing is a perfect example of that.

Thunderbirds Are Go

Alan is introduced to his learner vehicle

The whole idea of Alan learning to drive is something that could have been an interesting story. How would someone who flies a spaceship regularly react to having to take the driving basics slowly? According to this episode he would approach it with boundless enthusiasm and not the least bit of frustration. It would have been much better if Alan’s youth was a problem here and feeling like he should start off at a more advanced level since he flies a spaceship. Parker trying to teach him while Alan was really frustrated with the whole process would have been fun to watch.

Instead we get really frustrating attempts at comedy as Alan goes along with everything he is told. The episode tries to coast by on the nostalgia factor of having the car from the old series serve as Alan’s learner vehicle. It’s called FAB Zero in this but it’s definitely the same design. I won’t deny that it was cool to see the old design alongside the newer model but when everything else was painful to watch it made it harder to appreciate the whole thing.

The other story about the criminals trying to rob Lady Penelope was equally painful as they were so far beyond incompetent that I wonder how they manage to get dressed in the morning. Another issue with this is that it lingered on for a really long time despite the fact that Lady Penelope should have been able to take them out in seconds considering she has that sort of training. Why was she sitting trying to convince them that there’s nothing worth stealing if she could simply knock them out?

I did enjoy the set piece moments for the most part with both FAB cars in action but the incompetence of both drivers as they constantly circled the fountain was so far beyond stupid. When Alan took charge and treated the situation as a rescue the episode did start to sink into familiar territory but it was too little too late and the whole ordeal had lost me long before that.

Having Sylvia Anderson voice Aunt Sylvia was a nice touch on a nostalgic level but the character irritated me quite a bit. It was really obvious that she was going to turn out to be not as vulnerable as she seemed but since it’s a kids show I can let that slide. The real annoyance was her constantly blundering for reasons that don’t make sense. Hearing her repeat the word “tea” throughout the episode bugged me as well. I’m sure it was supposed to be funny but it was far too juvenile for my taste.

Thunderbirds Are Go

FAB Zero and FAB One

The use of Parker in this episode was less than inspiring as well. He was away from Lady Penelope for most of it and was largely neutered when Alan caused a crash that broke his arm. His intended role was the comedy sidekick for Alan it seems but the dialogue did neither character any favours. Parker is usually a really competent character so having him act so out of character for plot purposes was irritating.

Scott is the only other member of the Tracy family that appears but his only role is to give Alan a lift to his driving lesson before disappearing. I’m not against focusing on a single Tracy brother for one episode but when it’s as bad as this it should be left alone.


  • 2/10
    Designated Driver - 2/10


A painful episode that manages to fail at both telling an engaging story and comedy at the same time.

Alan learning to drive could have been an interesting story as there was potential for him to be really frustrated at taking the basics slowly when he routinely flies a spaceship. His boundless enthusiasm feels out of place in this story.

Any attempts at comedy as Alan goes along with everything he’s told are really frustrating. The episode tries to coast on the nostalgia value of having the car design from the original series. It was cool to see the old car but it didn’t make up for how painful the rest of it was.

The other story about the attempted robbery of Lady Penelope didn’t work either. It doesn’t help that the criminals were so far beyond incompetent and I was constantly questioning why Lady Penelope didn’t just use her training to knock them out in seconds.

For the most part the set piece moments were impressive but watching two bad drivers circling a fountain wasn’t as funny as the episode wanted it to be. When Alan treated it as a rescue things started to pick up but the episode had lost me by then.

Parker seemed very out of character in this episode to a frustrating degree. It didn’t help that the dialogue was terrible but it’s a shame he was largely sidelined to move the plot forward.

This episode focused on Alan with Scott only appearing briefly which isn’t a problem but should be left alone when it’s this bad.

User Review
1.5 (2 votes)