Follow TV Tropes


Series / Mission Top Secret

Go To

Mission Top Secret was an Australian TV series that aired between 1992 and 1995, featuring a secret international network of kid detectives fighting an evil businessman.

Twelve-year-old Jemma lives on a farm that doubles as a secret laboratory for her mother's boss: the brilliant electronics inventor Sir Joshua Cranberry. When she accidentally taps into a disused communications satellite with Sir Joshua's supercomputer, she manages to connect with other kids around the world through their home computers, and they form the Alpha Centauri network (named after the constellation the satellite is in). Officially, the networks' purpose is to help the kids with their schoolwork, but unofficially the kids work together to secretly fight international crime.

When recently orphaned Vicky and Albert Wiggings (Sir Joshua's niece and nephew) become the target of the nefarious crime lord Neville Savage (who is after technology their father worked on), Centauri comes to their aid. After they thwart Savage, Sir Joshua becomes their caretaker, and together with their friend Spike they come to live at the farm. Vicky and Albert travel with Sir Joshua around the world and, with the help of Sir Joshua's inventions, assist local Centauri agents to uncover Savage's evil plans.

In the second series, Jemma, Vicky and Albert no longer live on the farm. Sir Joshua is joined on his travels by the children of his new housekeeper, Kat and David Fowler, while Sandy (one of Savage's former henchmen who turned good) joins Spike at the base. Von Steinforth, the Villain of the Week from the "Eagles from the East" arc in Germany returned as a recurring antagonist.

A prominent and memorable feature of the series was the use of the futuristic spy-gadgets invented by Sir Joshua, most notably the PCU (Personal Communication Unit), a high-tech pocket computer, video-communicator, satnav and lock pick (basically a smartphone 15 years before the term was invented) that the Centauri members use to stay in touch with each other around the world.

Two series were made (one in 1992, one in 1995), each series consisting of 24 episodes divided into six story arcs of four episodes each. The show featured missions in various foreign locales, and was made as a co-production with broadcasters in those countries.

This work provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: The adults aren't useless per se, but it's always the kids that manage to uncover the evil plots which the adults are often (at first) oblivious to. And while certainly a competent scientist, Sir Joshua is of course also a bit of a Bungling Inventor.
  • Big Bad: Neville Savage.
  • Cliffhanger: Usually there's one per episode.
  • Easily Forgiven: During the "Flight of the Golden Goose" story arc, several kids leave Centauri, annoyed by the ruses sent by the infected Computer. They happily come back when the sabotage is revealed.
    • During the same arc, Sandy reveals she is a spy placed by Savage and expresses regret about helping him hack the Computer. The other kids almost instantly accept her help and no one is angry afterwards.
  • Framed Clue: The floppy disk containing information on the Astrotel satellite is hidden behind a picture of Vicky, Albert and their parents.
  • Free-Range Children: The parents and caretakers of the Centauri members don't seem to mind too much that their kids are snooping around unsupervised all day. It of course helps that the local Centauri members are, well, local and Vicky and Andrew (and later Kat and David) are thus always accompanied by a friend who know the area well.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Sir Joshua's inventions range from a machine that can make your breakfast to a hyper-advanced AI.
  • Harmless Lady Disguise: Neville Savage once disguised himself as an old lady with his accomplice pushing "her" wheelchair. It allowed him to pass under the protagonists' nose, but they later find the discarded costume.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sandy during the "Flight of the Golden Goose" story arc.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Several times (the input that makes the Computer connect to the disused communication satellite are caused by Jemma accidentally dropping a bag of gumballs on a keyboard), but the most blatant example is when Jemma removes a virus from the Computer using a Pac-Man style cleanup procedure.
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: Neville Savage uses this to interrogate a museum curator, although he was using fakes (which made stark contrast with his decision to execute the curator and his grandson - along with Sir Joshua - later in the same arc).
  • It's Personal: After Centauri has thwarted one too many of his criminal schemes and got most of his henchmen arrested, Savage decides to take down the organisation itself.
  • Jail Bake: At the start of the second series, the security of the prison Neville Savage is about to escape is demonstrated by having the guards screen all incoming mail with an X-ray machine. The lead guard then triumphantly pulls a file out of a cake.
  • Kid Detective: The members of Centauri of course (and basically any other kid the protagonists meet along the way).
  • Kid Hero: Comes with being a member of Centauri.
  • Magic Tool: Sir Joshua's communicators can be used for video calls, high resolution photography and GPS navigation (basically the same functionality of a modern day smartphone), but can also hack into nearby electronic devices and even pick mechanical locks.
  • Meaningful Name: Neville Savage.
  • Mission Control: Jemma and Spike in series one, Spike and Sandy in series two
  • Multinational Team: Centauri has agents all over the world (at least in Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Japan, England, Ireland and South Africa). Sir Joshua explains that he lets Centauri use the Computer because he hopes that children from different countries working together will lead to more understanding and cooperation between people from around the world in the long run.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The two series consist of six four-episode story arcs.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The PCU is a (modified) Sharp Wizard IQ-7000 Electronic Organizer.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Sandy in series two.
  • Put on a Bus: Jemma, Andrew and Vicki disappear between series one and two. Sandy replaces Jenna to join Spike at the base, and Kat and David Fowler join Sir Joshua on his travels.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Brother–Sister Team Vicki and Albert are replaced by Brother–Sister Team Kat and David in series 2.
  • Snooping Little Kid: Centauri's mode of operation.
  • Trouble Follows You Home: In the "Flight of the Golden Goose" story arc (the finale of the first series), Savage decides he has enough of Alpha Centauri and places a spy at the base to infect the Computer with a virus and manipulates Centauri from within.
  • Villain of the Week: Every story arc has different henchmen who assist Savage and inevitably end up arrested (or otherwise punished for their crimes) during the last episode, while Savage escapes. Von Steinforth (from the series 1 "Eagles from the East" story arc) returns as The Dragon in series 2.
  • Voice Changeling: On his first appearance, Von Steinforth uses a voice-changer to mimic the voice of one of the heroes, and lure Sir Joshua into a trap.
    • In another, Savage wants to use a permanent one to steal a tenor's voice.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Savage and his cronies have absolutely no problem with physically harming children or intentionally putting them in situations that would lead to their deaths.
  • You Meddling Kids: How Savage sees Centauri.