Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Century 21 Productions were responsible for producing a whole host of marionette science fiction adventures through the 1960s; Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90 and The Secret Service.  Whilst Thunderbirds is arguably the best remembered of these it is Captain Scarlet which holds the place in my heart.

The Captain works for an organisation called Spectrum that is based out of a hovering headquarters called Cloudbase crewed mostly by people holding the rank of captain and who are conveniently named after the colours of their clothes - Captains Scarlet, Blue, Black, Ochre, Magenta and Grey.  They have one superior - Colonel White and one subordinate - Lieutenant Green.  Working alongside them are the five pilots of the Angel Interceptors called Destiny Angel, Harmony Angel, Melody Angel, Rhapsody Angel and Symphony Angel.

The villains of the piece are the Mysterons (voiced by Donald Gray), a sentient computer society who Captain Black (also Donald Gray) mistakenly blows up thinking they are hostile.  Vowing eternal revenge the Mysterons transmute Captain Black into their agent, giving him a five o' clock shadow and a vaguely sweaty complexion in the process - seriously who could resist a sweaty puppet with stubble - and use him to exact their revenge.

One of the first victims is Cary Grant soundalike Captain Scarlet (Francis Matthews) who has been assigned by Colonel White (Donald Gray again) to protect the World President.  As a result of the Mysteron's shenanigans the good Captain is murdered, resurrected as a Mysteron agent, killed again and then resurrects as his old self but with the added bonus of now being indestructible and all in the course of a 30 minute first episode.

As far as a show made with puppets who aren't heavy enough to walk properly and can't go through doors because of the strings  this is the most filmic of the Gerry Anderson series. I always found Thunderbirds to be more than a little smug with their private island and their massive rockets hoarding their advanced technology in order to 'help' people instead of making the technology more widely available so that folks will have rescue equipment to hand and not have to wait for some rich kid in a big green frog rocket to turn up.  You get none of that sort of nonsense with Captain Scarlet.  This is all about the action and chicks flying rockets and shiny rubber caps with drop down microphones and the shooty shooty and the booming VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS!

Spectrum is green!




And please remember it's not just marionation, it's supermarionation.


2 comments:

  1. I fucking love Captain Scarlet, and the somewhat more cheesy Terrahawks too, not that I've watched much of these classics for years. Not Gerry Anderson, but Starfleet blew my mind when I was a kid - it had an overarching storyline and everything! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi Leigh. Never felt the love for Terrahawks, too much Windsor Davies for my liking. Don't remember Starfleet at all. Just went and had a look at it and I don't think I ever saw it.

      Delete