Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, often shortened to Captain Scarlet, is a British science-fiction television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and filmed by their production company Century 21 Productions for distributor ITC Entertainment. Running to thirty-two 25-minute episodes, it was first broadcast on ITV regional franchises between 1967 and 1968 and has since been transmitted in more than 40 other countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It is one of several Anderson series that were filmed using a form of electronic marionette puppetry dubbed "Supermarionation" combined with scale model special effects sequences.

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
In bold, white letters, the words "Captain Scarlet" are superimposed on the backdrop of a derelict, night-time alleyway. Added at the bottom of the picture are more words, "and the Mysterons", the last of which is in white, spiky lettering. The full title is thus revealed to be "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons".
GenreScience fiction
Created byGerry and Sylvia Anderson
Voices of
Opening theme"The Mysterons"[1]
Ending theme"Captain Scarlet"[2]
Composer(s)Barry Gray
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes32 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Gerry Anderson
Producer(s)Reg Hill
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)Century 21 Television Productions
DistributorITC Entertainment
Release
Original networkATV
Picture format35 mm film[3]
Audio formatMono[4]
Original release29 September 1967[5] –
14 May 1968[6]
Chronology
Preceded byThunderbirds
Followed byJoe 90
Related showsGerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet
[hide Website]

Set in 2068, Captain Scarlet follows the "war of nerves" between Earth and the Mysterons, a race of Martians who possess partial control over matter. When a misunderstanding causes human astronauts to attack their city on Mars, the Mysterons vow revenge and launch a series of reprisals against Earth. These are countered by Spectrum, a worldwide security organisation. In the first episode, Spectrum agent Captain Scarlet acquires the Mysterons' self-healing power of retro-metabolism and is thus rendered "indestructible", being able to recover from otherwise fatal injuries. In this way, Scarlet becomes Spectrum's top asset in its fight against the Mysterons.

Captain Scarlet, the Andersons' eighth of ten puppet series, was preceded by Thunderbirds and followed by Joe 90 and The Secret Service. In terms of visual aesthetic, it represents a departure from Thunderbirds in its use of non-caricatured puppets sculpted to realistic body proportions. Repeated several times in the UK, it has generated tie-ins from toy cars and dolls to audio plays and original novels as well as comic strips in Century 21's weekly comic TV Century 21.

Compared to Thunderbirds and earlier Anderson series, Captain Scarlet is generally considered "darker"[7] in tone and less suited to child audiences due to its violent content and themes of alien aggression and interplanetary war. The change in puppet design has divided critical opinion[8][9][10] while the wisdom in making the protagonist "indestructible" has also been questioned.[11][12] However, the series has been praised for its use of a multinational, multi-ethnic puppet cast and depiction of a utopian future Earth.[13][14][15] A computer-animated reboot series, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, was first broadcast in 2005.

PlotEdit

The series begins in 2068. In the first episode, the crew of the Zero-X spacecraft[N 1] are investigating the surface of Mars after mysterious radio signals are found to be coming from the planet.[E 1] The source is discovered to be an alien city, which the astronauts fire on and destroy after mistaking a harmless surveillance device for a weapon.[E 1] The city's inhabitants, the Mysterons, are sentient computers that form a collective consciousness. They are the remnants of the original Mysteron race: beings from another galaxy that maintained their colony on Mars for 3,500 years before abandoning the planet at the turn of the 20th century.[16] The Mysteron computers use their power of "reversing matter" to rebuild their city before vowing revenge for the humans' unwarranted aggression.[E 1]

Reversing matter, also called "retro-metabolism",[E 2] enables the Mysterons to re-create people and objects as facsimiles that they can control. This ability is used to wage a "war of nerves" against Earth whereby the Mysterons issue threats against specific targets (from world leaders and military installations to cities and continents) and then destroy and reconstruct whatever instruments are needed (be they human or object) to carry out their plans. The presence of the Mysterons is indicated by two circles of green light that trail scenes of destruction and reconstruction. Although the Mysterons are able to influence events from Mars, their actions on Earth are usually performed by their replicated intermediaries.

Zero-X mission leader Captain Black becomes the aliens' primary agent when they seize control of his mind.[N 2][16][17] Prior to the events of the series, Black was an officer of Spectrum, a worldwide security organisation that mobilises its personnel, vehicles and other resources to counter the Mysteron threat. Spectrum's most senior agents hold military ranks and colour codenames and are posted to the organisation's headquarters, Cloudbase – an airborne aircraft carrier stationed 40,000 feet (7.6 mi; 12 km) above the Earth's surface[E 3] – where they answer to its commander-in-chief, Colonel White.[N 3] Cloudbase is defended by Angel Interceptor fighters flown by a squadron of five female pilots codenamed Destiny (squadron leader), Harmony, Melody, Rhapsody, and Symphony. Spectrum also incorporates a fleet of armoured Spectrum Pursuit Vehicles (SPV), which are hidden in secret locations around the world, as well as patrol cars, hovercraft and machine-gun equipped helicopters.

Captain Scarlet becomes Spectrum's main asset in its fight against the Mysterons after the events of the first episode, in which the Mysterons attempt to assassinate Earth's World President[N 4] as their first act of retaliation.[E 1][18] The original Scarlet is killed in a road accident engineered by the Mysterons and replaced with double under their control.[E 1][18] However, after the reconstruction is shot by Spectrum's Captain Blue and falls to his death from a tower, he returns to life with the consciousness of the original Scarlet restored and is thereafter free of Mysteron influence.[N 5][N 6][E 1] Scarlet's new body possesses two extraordinary abilities: he is able to sense other Mysteron reconstructions nearby and, if injured or killed, returns to full health through retro-metabolism. Now able to use suicidally reckless tactics to thwart Mysteron plots, Scarlet repeatedly sacrifices himself in the knowledge that whatever his injuries he will return to face the Mysterons again.

Over the course of the series, it is discovered that Mysteron reconstructions are particularly vulnerable to electricity and can be detected by X-rays, to which they are resistant.[E 4] Consequently, Spectrum develops two anti-Mysteron devices: the "Mysteron Gun"[N 7] and "Mysteron Detector".[E 5] A three-episode story arc focuses on the discovery of a Mysteron base on the Moon,[E 6] its destruction by Spectrum[E 7] and Spectrum's efforts to negotiate with the Mysterons after converting the base's salvaged power source into an interplanetary communication device.[E 3] A failed attempt to survey Mars,[E 8] aborted military conferences[E 9][E 10] and the sabotaged construction of a new Earth space fleet[E 11] hinder Spectrum's progress in taking the fight to the Mysterons, and the organisation twice fails to capture Captain Black.[E 12][E 13] In the penultimate episode, the Mysterons destroy Cloudbase with a fleet of spacecraft, but this is revealed to be a nightmare dreamt by a shot-down Symphony Angel.[E 14] The final episode is a clip show that ends the series inconclusively with regard to the war between Earth and Mars.[E 15]

ProductionEdit

 
Gerry Anderson, series creator

When talks to find an American broadcaster for Thunderbirds fell through in July 1966, production on the series' second season ended with the completion of just six episodes at the behest of Lew Grade, APF's financer at distributor ITC.[19] Having overseen APF's work since the creation of Supercar in 1960, and gone on to buy the company during the production of Fireball XL5, Grade was keen for the Andersons' programmes to be broadcast in the lucrative American market and believed that a fresh concept stood a better chance of attracting bidders than a second season of Thunderbirds.[19]

As a result of the cancellation, Gerry Anderson was forced to come up with an idea for a new Supermarionation series. He had once been inspired by the thought of creating a live-action police drama in which the hero would have unexpectedly been murdered halfway through the series and replaced by a new lead character.[20] Now giving fresh consideration to this idea, Anderson realised that a major selling point for his new series could be a character who is killed at the end of each episode and resurrected by the start of the next. This, coupled with contemporary theories about the possibility of life on Mars,[21] led to the idea of an interplanetary war between Earth and its neighbour and a worldwide security organisation being called upon to defend humanity. After further thought, Anderson decided that "Scarlet" would be a suitably unusual name for this organisation's "indestructible" agent, while his partner in the field could be "Blue". From this, Anderson reasoned that all personnel should have colour codenames and that the organisation should be called "Spectrum". Noting that white light is composed of, and can be broken down into, the colours of the spectrum, he named Spectrum's leader "White".[21][22]

I thought we should make a show about the Martians, but then there were doubts being expressed by scientists as to whether the so-called "canals" on Mars were really man-made. Since we were well into pre-production, I came up with the idea of making the Martians invisible, so if they did come up with conclusive evidence that there was no life on Mars, I could say, "Ha-ha, yes there is – but you can't see it."

– Gerry Anderson (2002)[23]

Intrigued by the oft-heard phrase "life as we know it", Anderson wanted to set his alien villains apart from the conventional extraterrestrials of 1960s TV and cinema. He therefore worked from a basis of "life as we don't know it"[21] and made the Mysterons a collective of sentient computers rather than a race of organic beings,[16] although this is not explicitly stated in the series itself. The intention was that the original Mysteron race came from another galaxy: having established a base on Mars in the distant past, they fled the planet centuries later, leaving their computers behind them.[16]

Anderson's recollections of the Second World War provided inspiration for a number of design aspects. For example, he remembered that during the Battle of Britain, RAF pilots had found it difficult to counter German attacks because having to take off from the ground meant that it took a long time to intercept the enemy.[24] He therefore made Spectrum's headquarters, "Cloudbase", an airborne aircraft carrier.[24] The Mysteron rings were inspired by an advertisement for Oxo products, which featured the brand name sliding over a frying pan and a woman's body.[22][24]

WritingEdit

Settling on "The Mysterons" as the series' working title,[25] Anderson and his wife, Sylvia, wrote a pilot script in August 1966.[26] This differed significantly from the final draft of the first episode. Initially, it was decided that the Mysteron duplicate of Captain Scarlet would be resurrected by means of an advanced computer instead of reviving naturally, and that thereafter he would no longer be truly human but a "mechanical man" akin to an android.[25] Another aim, later also dropped, was for each episode to feature a guest star puppet voiced by a well-known actor. Consequently, the character of the World President that appears in the first episode was originally intended to be voiced by Patrick McGoohan.[27][28]

With Anderson serving mainly as executive producer, the majority of the writing input was supplied by Tony Barwick, who had previously written for Thunderbirds.[29] Originally Captain Scarlet's script editor, Barwick went on to pen 18 of its 32 episodes himself, besides often making substantial revisions to other writers' work.[29] Discussing his approach to scriptwriting in a 1986 interview, Barwick compared the premise and characters of Captain Scarlet to those of Thunderbirds – for example, likening Spectrum to International Rescue and the character of Captain Black to the The Hood, the earlier series' recurring villain.[29]

FilmingEdit

 
Dinky Toys version of the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (SPV), Spectrum's main armoured fighting vehicle. The Century 21 special effects unit had refined its scale-model driving mechanisms so that the miniature vehicles of Captain Scarlet could produce realistic inertial dips.[30]

Filming on the first episode, "The Mysterons", began on 2 January 1967 after two months of pre-production.[31] The budget for the 32-episode series was set at £1.5 million (approximately £27 million in 2018).[24][32] At an average cost of £46,000 per episode, or £2,000 per minute, it was the most expensive Anderson production to date.[33] A month before, Anderson and his team had dropped the name "AP Films", since company co-founder Arthur Provis was no longer working with Anderson, and renamed their company "Century 21 Productions".[31] By the time Captain Scarlet entered production, many of the directors on earlier Anderson series – such as Alan Pattillo, David Elliott and David Lane – had either left APF or were committed to the production of Thunderbird 6, the second Thunderbirds feature film. Although Lane, Desmond Saunders and Brian Burgess were able to reprise directorial duties from Thunderbirds, the Andersons were forced to promote some of the junior production personnel to replace the outgoing directors. To this end, Alan Perry and Ken Turner were promoted from the camera operator and art departments.[34] Other new directors were drafted in from outside APF; these were Peter Anderson, Leo Eaton and Robert Lynn, the last of whom had been an assistant director on the 1958 Hammer films Dracula and The Revenge of Frankenstein.[34]

Stirling Road on the Slough Trading Estate[L 1] had served as the Andersons' production base since the making of Stingray in 1964.[35] To speed up production on earlier Supermarionation series, episodes had been filmed simultaneously in pairs on separate sound stages, a practice that continued for Captain Scarlet. Some filming coincided with the production of Thunderbird 6,[29] which was recorded on a different stage. Editing rooms, post-production offices and a preview theatre were housed in a separate building on the estate. The crew also worked with Standard Telecommunication Laboratories in Harlow, Essex[L 2] on technical aspects of the production.[36]

A third unit, headed by Derek Meddings and his assistant Mike Trim, handled special effects and miniatures and was tasked with creating all the permanent sets and models, such as the Cloudbase interiors and scaled-down Spectrum Pursuit Vehicles. A design innovation for Captain Scarlet meant that the noses of the scale-model vehicles would "dip" when stopped, to imitate the sudden application of brakes and subsequent deceleration on a real-life vehicle.[30] The Cloudbase model, which was six feet (1.8 m) long, proved too heavy to be held up with strings and was instead supported by a metal pole.[37][38] To create the Mysteron rings, the crew used the advice of producer Reg Hill, who suggested that a transparency be made that could be panned across the sets using a slide projector.[22]

By the time the series started airing in September 1967, principal photography had been completed on the first 20 episodes.[39] The puppet shots for each episode usually took two weeks or 11 working days to film.[32][33][40] Shooting was originally scheduled to last eight months, but ultimately ran into late October due to the demands of the Thunderbird 6 shoot.[32] Although production on the next Supermarionation series, Joe 90, began in November,[41] the final episodes of Captain Scarlet were not completed until early 1968.[39]

MusicEdit

 
Spectrum leitmotif, associated with Cloudbase and the organisation in general
 
Four-note motif used to illustrate the presence of the Mysterons. Captain Scarlet's variation, below, emphasises the character's Mysteron past.[42]

The music for Captain Scarlet was composed by Barry Gray, who had scored all prior Supermarionation series. The opening theme, titled "The Mysterons", was rendered electronically and accompanied by a staccato drum beat to introduce the lead character of Captain Scarlet.[1] This seven-note beat was also used to link scenes within episodes as well as cut to advertisement breaks, where it was accompanied by a zooming image of the Spectrum logo.[1][43] On the subject of the beat, Anderson recalled, "When I went to the recording session, I heard the drum beat he had come up with and I thought, 'Christ, is this all he could produce?' Looking back on it, however, I can see that what he came up with worked very well."[43]

The ending theme, "Captain Scarlet", underwent significant change after the completion of the first 14 episodes. The first version had been mostly instrumental, with the words "Captain Scarlet!" sung in time to the staccato drum beat followed by a vocoded repetition supplied by Gray himself.[1] This was later revised as a song performed by a London-based pop group The Spectrum, who had been assembled by RCA Victor as an imitation of The Monkees and happened to share their name with the organisation that appears in Captain Scarlet.[1][44]

As well as the theme music, Gray scored incidental music for 18 episodes of Captain Scarlet between March and December 1967.[39][45] Musical accompaniment for the remaining 14 episodes was achieved by re-using these tracks as well as music from earlier Anderson series such as Thunderbirds.[39] In composing the incidental music, Gray made extensive use of two contrasting, yet similar, themes to illustrate Spectrum and the Mysterons.[46] In their notes for the soundtrack release, Ralph Titterton and Tim Mallett suggest that the music has a "military feel" that favours percussion, brass and wind instruments, contrasting with the orchestral nature of the Thunderbirds score.[46] With the exception of the four-note Mysteron motif, Gray generally restricted his use of electronic synthesisers to space sequences, preferring traditional instruments for Earth-bound action.[1] Captain Scarlet's motif, heard in the incidental music and both versions of the ending theme, is a melodic variation on the Mysteron theme, emphasising Scarlet's Mysteron past.[42]

Awarding the soundtrack release a rating of four stars out of five, Bruce Eder of the website AllMusic describes the collection of theme and incidental music as "a strange mix of otherworldly 'music of the spheres', late-50s/early-60s 'space-age pop', 'British Invasion' beat, Scottish folk-inspired tunes, kids-style 'Mickey Mouse' scoring, martial music, light jazz, and light classical". He singles out both "Cocktail Music" from the episode "Model Spy" and a piano piece from "The Inquisition" (performed by Gray himself) for particular praise.[47] In his BBC Online review, Peter Marsh suggests that the music's dark tone reflects the series' presentation of realistic puppets and death, frightening alien villains and "no laughs", noting that "dissonant vibraphone chords shimmer under hovering, tremulous strings contrasted with urgent, militaristic drums and pulsing brass – driving the action ever onto its climax (and, no doubt, a big explosion)."[48]

In October 2015, Fanderson released a 3-disc soundtrack set exclusively for club members. It contains music either written for, or used in, all but three episodes ("The Heart of New York" and "Treble Cross" contain no original music and the cue recordings for "Traitor" are lost).[49]

Captain Scarlet soundtrack releases:

Captain Scarlet
(Original Television Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Released17 November 2003 (UK)[48]
9 December 2003 (US)[47]
Length78:57
LabelSilva Screen Records[50]
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [47]
Classic FM Magazine     [51]
Uncut     [51]

All tracks are written by Barry Gray.

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
Soundtrack album by
Barry Gray
Released8 October 2015
GenreTelevision soundtrack
LabelFanderson
ProducerTim Mallett and Kindred Productions

PuppetsEdit

Changes to the Supermarionation design made puppet movement more stilted than before.[52] To make a puppet "walk", an operator would hold the legs while the camera filmed from the waist up to keep the human hand out of view.[53] This clip from the episode "Attack on Cloudbase" features an interruption in the shot when Captains Scarlet and Blue pass through a doorway to speak to Captain Magenta, as the puppets' head wires made it impossible to film such entrances in a continuous shot.[30] Through the characters of Scarlet and Colonel White, whose English accents are demonstrated here, Marcus Hearn and Simon Archer argue that Captain Scarlet leaves a different impression on the audience compared to Thunderbirds.[54]

Supermarionation, a technique by which the movements of the puppets' mouths were electronically synchronised with pre-recorded dialogue, was first used during the production of Four Feather Falls in 1960. In all series prior to Captain Scarlet, a puppet's head had been disproportionately large compared to the rest of its body, as the head contained the solenoid that formed the key element of the lip-synch mechanism. Scaling the body up to match the head was not possible, as this would have made the puppets difficult to operate[55] and required enlarging all the puppet sets.[9] Gerry Anderson was frustrated with this caricatured look and wanted the design of the puppets to more accurately reflect human physiology.[9] Thus, before Captain Scarlet entered production, Reg Hill and John Read[52] created a new type of puppet with the solenoid built into the chest to allow realistically-sized heads.[30][32][55][56] The costume designer on Captain Scarlet was Sylvia Anderson, who took inspiration from the work of French fashion designer Pierre Cardin (in particular, his 1966 "Cosmonaut" collection) in designing the Spectrum uniforms.[57]

After being sculpted in Plasticine, the puppet heads were moulded on a silicone rubber base and finished in fibreglass. At heights ranging from 20 to 24 inches (510 to 610 mm) (approximately one-third life size) the next-generation puppets were no shorter than their predecessors.[58] In earlier series, the puppets' eyes had been disproportionately large; for Captain Scarlet, they were made more realistic by fixing prints of real human eyes to the puppets' eyeballs, scaled down from photographs of the eyes of production staff.[24][30][59] As before, the main characters were given interchangeable heads showing a range of expressions; these included "smiler", "frowner" and "blinker" heads.[58] As episodes of Captain Scarlet were to be filmed in pairs on separate stages, the "expressionless" heads were made in duplicate.[60]

The increased realism of the puppets meant that their mobility was significantly reduced.[30] This, ironically, made the design less lifelike than Anderson had hoped: "Suddenly, all the movements had to be as realistic as the puppets and that made it difficult for the puppeteers to animate them."[52] To minimise the amount of movement required, the puppets were made to stand on moving walkways or sit at moving desks: for example, Colonel White's desk is able to rotate and Lieutenant Green operates the Cloudbase computer from a sliding chair. Puppeteer Jan King commented:

The Captain Scarlet puppets were not built to walk. They were too heavy and not weighted properly anyway ... It is virtually impossible to get a string puppet to walk convincingly on film unless it is a very caricatured puppet. In Captain Scarlet, if a puppet had to move off-screen, it was done in a head-and-shoulders shot – the floor puppeteer would hold the legs of the puppet and then move the puppet physically out of shot at the right time, trying to make the body and shoulders move as if the puppet were walking.[53]

The "under control" puppets described by King had no wires and were manipulated from the waist. One advantage of this method was that a puppet could pass through a doorway without necessitating a break in the shot. For shots of characters sitting in aircraft cockpits, variations of the "under control" design were made comprising only a head and torso; these were operated using levers and wires located underneath the set.[30]

I still wonder about the wisdom of our decision to change the puppets. The heads were reduced in size to make them in proportion with the rest of their bodies, but the problem was that exact and precise movements became more vital than ever and that caused us terrible difficulties.

– Gerry Anderson (2001)[20]

The appearance of Captain Scarlet has been compared to that of Francis Matthews (who voiced the character), Cary Grant and Roger Moore.[61][62] Ed Bishop thought that Captain Blue was modelled on him, but sculptor Terry Curtis said that he used himself as the template and simply added a blond wig when he learnt that Bishop was to voice the character.[27] Curtis, a James Bond fan, based Captain Grey on Sean Connery[53][63] and Destiny Angel on Ursula Andress,[27][64] Connery's co-star in Dr No (1962). Lieutenant Green was modelled on voice actor Cy Grant,[27] Rhapsody Angel on Jean Shrimpton,[65] Melody Angel on Eartha Kitt[62] and Harmony Angel on Tsai Chin.[66]

Prior to Captain Scarlet, supporting characters had been sculpted in clay for each new episode. The guest parts in Captain Scarlet, however, were filled by a permanent "repertory company" of over 50 puppets made to the same standards of workmanship as the main characters.[55][58] Called "revamp puppets", or simply "revamps", these puppets appeared on an episode-by-episode basis, altered for each new role by changing their hairstyles and hair colours.[30][55][58] Both main character and revamp puppets from Captain Scarlet appeared in the final two Supermarionation series, Joe 90 and The Secret Service.[55]

Characters and voice castingEdit

Regular Characters
Codename Name[N 8][67] Nationality[67] Voiced by
Captain Scarlet Paul Metcalfe British Francis Matthews
Captain Blue Adam Svenson American Ed Bishop
Colonel White Charles Gray British Donald Gray
Captain Black Conrad Turner British Donald Gray[N 9]
Lieutenant Green Seymour Griffiths Trinidadian Cy Grant
Captain Ochre Richard Fraser American Jeremy Wilkin
Captain Magenta Patrick Donaghue Irish Gary Files
Captain Grey Bradley Holden American Paul Maxwell
Doctor Fawn Edward Wilkie Australian Charles Tingwell
Destiny Angel Juliette Pontoin French Liz Morgan
Symphony Angel Karen Wainwright American Janna Hill
Rhapsody Angel Dianne Simms British Liz Morgan
Melody Angel Magnolia Jones American Sylvia Anderson
Harmony Angel Chan Kwan Chinese Liz Morgan
Lian-Shin

Captain Scarlet had the largest regular puppet cast of any Supermarionation production.[68] Whereas earlier series had focused on futuristic technology, in Captain Scarlet the emphasis shifted to the characters.[68] As with the re-designed puppets, the voice parts became less caricatured and more realistic.[69] Simon Archer and Marcus Hearn suggest that the proliferation of English-accented voices in the transition from Thunderbirds to Captain Scarlet altered the sound of Supermarionation and its impression on the viewer.[54]

Francis Matthews, who supplied the voice of Captain Scarlet, had turned down offers to voice characters in Thunderbirds.[70] According to Matthews, Gerry Anderson went to great lengths to cast him because he was impressed by an imitation of Cary Grant that Matthews had once used in a radio programme,[70][71] and indeed the actor based Scarlet's tones on Grant's Mid-Atlantic accent.[72] Anderson, however, stated in his biography that the Grant impression was Matthews' choice at audition, and that while it was not the voice that had been intended for Scarlet the production was happy to use it.[32][73]

Matthews' co-star in the film Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) had been Charles Tingwell, who was chosen to voice Cloudbase medical officer Dr Fawn. Tingwell, who had provided voices for Series Two of Thunderbirds as well as the feature film Thunderbirds Are Go, had been recommended by fellow Australian Ray Barrett, a regular voice artiste on Stingray and Thunderbirds.[74] Due to stage commitments, Tingwell left the production after 12 episodes.[74] Departing at the same time was Paul Maxwell, the voice of Captain Grey (and previously Steve Zodiac in Fireball XL5), who left the series to take up the role of Steve Tanner in Coronation Street.[74] Due to the departures of Tingwell and Maxwell, for the remaining episodes Fawn and Grey appeared in a non-speaking capacity only, although guest characters voiced by Tingwell and Maxwell occasionally appeared in flashbacks to earlier episodes.

Cy Grant, chosen for the role of Lieutenant Green[N 10] (Colonel White's assistant and the Cloudbase computer operator), was known to the Andersons for singing topical calypsos on the current affairs programme Tonight.[75] Grant's casting influenced that of Ed Bishop as Captain Blue,[76] as Bishop remembered in a 1995 interview: "It was just that a girl in my agent's office happened to be on the ball. She represented this black actor by the name of Cy Grant and Gerry and Sylvia wanted to use him ... And the girl said, 'Oh, by the way, Mr Anderson, we've just taken on a new, young American actor' – shows you how long ago it was – 'a new American actor, name of Edward Bishop. And we know how much you like American voices. Would you like to meet him as well?' He said, 'Okay, send him out.' So I went out and auditioned and got the job."[77]

Donald Gray, who had found himself typecast after performing the lead role in the detective series Saber of London, was having to resort to voice work to sustain his acting career.[78] He was selected for three regular roles: Colonel White, Captain Black and the Mysterons. (After Black is taken over by the Mysterons in the first episode, he speaks with the aliens' voice). For Gray's portrayals of Black and the Mysterons, his voice was electronically deepened by recording his lines at high speed and then playing them back at normal speed to produce a haunting effect.

The voice of Captain Ochre was provided by Jeremy Wilkin, who had voiced Virgil Tracy in Thunderbirds Series Two. Captain Magenta, meanwhile, was voiced by Gary Files, a relative newcomer to Century 21 who had supplied guest voices for the second Thunderbirds film, Thunderbird 6.[79] Liz Morgan was also new to the Anderson productions and voiced Destiny Angel, leader of the Angel squadron, and one of her subordinates, Rhapsody Angel. Sylvia Anderson, the voice of Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds, took the role of Melody Angel, while Canadian actress Janna Hill voiced Symphony. Harmony was initially voiced by Morgan, who supplied the character's lines in five episodes. About a third of the way through the dialogue-recording sessions, the role was transferred to Chinese actress Lian-Shin,[80][81][82] who voiced Harmony in only one episode ("The Launching") but received cast billing in 20.[80]

Supporting character voices were performed by Anderson, Files, Hill, Maxwell, Morgan, Tingwell and Wilkin. Completing the credited cast were David Healy and Martin King. Shane Rimmer, previously heard as Scott Tracy in Thunderbirds, made a number of uncredited vocal contributions besides writing for the series. Neil McCallum voiced guest characters in four episodes but was also uncredited, as was Gerry Anderson for a supporting voice in the episode "Lunarville 7".[83]

After Captain Scarlet, six members of the voice cast would continue their association with Century 21. Healy voiced Shane Weston in Joe 90 and Files voiced Matthew Harding in The Secret Service. Wilkin, Morgan and King all had various supporting roles in these two series. Bishop later appeared in the lead role of Commander Ed Straker in UFO, the Andersons' first live-action series.

Dialogue recordingEdit

Character dialogue was recorded once a fortnight,[39] at up to four episodes a session, at the Anvil Films Recording Studio[L 3] in Denham, Buckinghamshire.[84] All actors were paid 15 guineas (£15 15 shillings) per episode (equivalent to £281 in 2018), plus repeat fees, regardless of the size of their contributions.[85] They were not given the opportunity to tour the Century 21 studios in Slough until their work was finished[70] and therefore had no visualisation of their characters during the recording sessions. This was to the regret of Morgan: "We all said that we wished we had seen the puppets before doing the dialogue, as it would have been helpful to have something physical to base the voices on. I knew that Destiny was French and that Rhapsody had to be frightfully 'Sloaney,' but that was about it."[81]

Title sequences and end creditsEdit

 
The Spectrum logo appears at both the start and the end of each episode's advertisement break.

All Captain Scarlet episodes, with the exception of the first, have two title sequences. The first of these, incorporating the title card and main production credits, is set in a run-down alleyway and presented from the point of view of an unseen assassin, who turns a corner only to meet his death at the gun barrel of Captain Scarlet. The seven-letter words "Captain Scarlet" gradually appear in time with the seven strikes of the series' signature drum beat composed by Barry Gray. This sequence is intended to demonstrate Scarlet's indestructibility, the bullets from the assassin's machine gun having no effect on the captain.[86] It is accompanied by a voice-over from Ed Bishop that states:

The Mysterons – sworn enemies of Earth. Possessing the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person. But first, they must destroy ... Leading the fight, one man fate has made indestructible. His name: Captain Scarlet.

A number of variations have been used. In the first episode, Bishop's voice-over runs:[E 1]

The finger is on the trigger. About to unleash a force with terrible powers, beyond the comprehension of man. This force we shall know as the Mysterons. This man will be our hero, for fate will make him indestructible. His name: Captain Scarlet.

A rarely-used alternative version runs:[87]

One man. A man who is different. Chosen by fate. Caught up in Earth's unwanted conflict with the Mysterons. Determined. Courageous. Indestructible. His name: Captain Scarlet.

Later prints feature an additional voice-over by Donald Gray that warns the audience:[87][88]

Captain Scarlet is indestructible. You are not. Remember this. Do not try to imitate him.

This served both to establish the background to the series and warn younger viewers not to endanger themselves by copying Scarlet's actions.[87][89] It was used either in isolation or after the alternative "One man ..." voice-over from Bishop.[87]

Beginning with the second episode, the primary title sequence leads into a teaser that is in turn followed by a secondary title sequence: as the Mysterons announce their latest threat against Earth, the "Mysteron eyes" pass over the main characters in various environments to demonstrate the aliens' omnipresence.[86] At the same time, the characters' codenames appear on-screen. The Mysterons invariably begin their threat with the words, "This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen."

The titles on the series were always devised by me. When it came to Scarlet I was frightened people would say, 'Oh, it's the same old "crash, bang, wallop" stuff again.' So I made a conscious effort to do something totally different. I don't think I necessarily did the right thing.

– Gerry Anderson (2001)[24][32]

The closing credits were originally intended to feature images of printed circuit boards and other electronic components to reflect the Andersons' early conception of Scarlet as a "mechanical man."[25] In the finished sequence, the credits are superimposed over a series of paintings that depict Scarlet in various moments of peril. In earlier episodes, these are accompanied by the instrumental version of the Captain Scarlet theme music; closing credits of later episodes feature a lyrical version sung by The Spectrum. The paintings were created by comic artist Ron Embleton, who would later illustrate the adult comic strips Oh, Wicked Wanda! and Sweet Chastity for Penthouse Magazine.[90][91] In 2005, the Animation Art Gallery in London released limited-edition prints of the paintings signed by Francis Matthews.[91][92]

In Japan, the original opening titles were replaced with a montage of action clips taken from various episodes, accompanied by a song performed by children. This version is included in the special features of the Captain Scarlet DVD box set.[93][94]

BroadcastsEdit

Captain Scarlet had its official UK premiere on 29 September 1967 on ATV Midlands. The first episode, "The Mysterons", was seen by an estimated 450,000 viewers, a number considered promising.[5] Exactly five months prior, this episode had been shown in the London area as a late-night test transmission.[5]

The series debuted in the London and Scotland regions on 1 October,[95] with Granada, Anglia, Southern, Westward and Channel Television all following later that month.[5] By the start of the 1968, the series was being broadcast in all parts of the UK.[5] Viewing figures in the Midlands averaged 1.1 million.[5] Captain Scarlet was also shown in more than 40 other countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.[96] In the United States, it aired in first-run syndication.[8][97] Only six episodes were shown in the Netherlands.[98]

UK repeat runs varied among regions. Granada, HTV and Tyne Tees continued to air the series into 1972,[99] while the Midlands repeated it four times in colour between 1969 and 1974. In other areas, like Yorkshire, it was not repeated at all.[96] In the mid-1980s, the ITV network broadcast the series on Saturday mornings as well as in segmented form as part of Night Network.[96][100]

Captain Scarlet was subsequently purchased by the BBC, which launched the series' first nationwide network run on BBC2 in October 1993.[101] The BBC2 premiere of "The Mysterons" drew an audience of four million, the channel's third-largest audience of the week.[101]

BBC Two repeated the series in digitally-remastered form in the autumn of 2001.[102] After the September 11 attacks, the episode order was re-arranged:[55] the second episode, "Winged Assassin" (in which the Mysterons destroy an airliner and re-create it as a weapon), and the third, "Big Ben Strikes Again" (in which London is threatened by a hi-jacked nuclear device), were postponed due to perceived similarities between the storylines and real-world events.[103] In the week after the attacks, distributor Carlton Communications briefly took down the Captain Scarlet pages on its website.[103]

ReceptionEdit

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons should have been one of the most successful puppet shows and it wasn't. I think it was too perfect. There was a lack of humour. It was too mechanical and needed humanising ... [Gerry] always wanted to make the characters a lot more rigid than I did. I wanted to start to give them human flaws, start to make them more important. He was more inclined to make them just say the lines and fit into a rigid pattern, but if you don't care about the characters, it doesn't really work.

– Sylvia Anderson (1992)[104]

Although Thunderbirds had run for two series, Lew Grade's unexpected cancellation of that production had led Gerry Anderson to assume that there was no possibility of Captain Scarlet lasting more than one.[105] In Anderson's words: "I didn't expect it to continue. I simply went to Lew and asked, 'What's the next thing you want us to do?'"[106]

Captain Scarlet is generally viewed as being much "darker"[7][32] in tone compared to earlier Anderson series, as Andrew Billen noted in New Statesman in 2005: "Whereas Thunderbirds was about rescuing people, Scarlet was about damnation, the soul of a resurrected man being fought for between Captain Scarlet and the equally indestructible Captain Black. It was Anderson's Gothic period."[107] The horror of the Mysterons has also been recognised: in 2003, the depiction of the aliens ranked 82nd in Channel 4's list show 100 Greatest Scary Moments.[108] Simon Wickes of the website TV Century 21 argues that the series' sober writing is ultimately due to the realism of the new, accurately-proportioned puppets, and that this aesthetic change also accounts for the increased realism of the scale-model effects.[30]

Commentators have drawn parallels between Captain Scarlet and the Cold War.[109] Media historian Nicholas J. Cull interprets the "war of nerves" between Earth and Mars as a reflection of strained international relations during the 1960s and likens the "enemy within" scenario of Martians taking over humans to the plots of films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).[89] Mark Bould states that Captain Scarlet "seemed in tune with a decade of civil disobedience and anti-imperialist guerrilla wars"[7] – a view echoed by Rebecca Feasey of the University of Edinburgh, who writes that it is one of a number of TV series that "exploited the fears of 1960s America by presenting civil disobedience and the potentially negative impact of new technologies."[110] Since 2001, comparisons have also been made to the September 11 attacks and the ensuing War on Terror.[55][103]

To others, Captain Scarlet remains a "camp classic".[111][112] According to Bould, it is one of several Anderson productions that depict "a utopian future benefiting from world government, high technology, ethnic diversity, and a generally positive sense of Americanisation. They articulate the commonly made connection between technological developments and economic prosperity."[13] He also writes that Captain Scarlet espouses "Euro-cool consumerism".[7] World government is a recurring concept in Supermarionation series and was inspired by Gerry Anderson's thoughts on the subject at the time: "I had all sorts of fancy ideas about the future ... we had the United Nations and I imagined that the world would come together and there would be a world government."[113] On the depiction of technology, Peter Wright notes the "qualified technophilia" that Captain Scarlet shares with Thunderbirds.[114]

The series has drawn criticism for its camerawork, which some commentators regard as being too static due to the crew's inability to move the puppets convincingly.[30][115] The return to 25-minute episodes, coming after Thunderbirds' 50-minute format, has been blamed for a perceived lack of subplots and drop in the overall quality of the storytelling.[12][115] Concerns have also been raised about the series' approach to character development: in a 1986 interview, script editor Tony Barwick described Captain Scarlet as "hard-nosed stuff" that lacked humour, adding: "It was all for the American market and to that extent there was no deep characterisation. [The characters] all balanced one against the other."[29] By contrast, Jeff Evans, author of The Penguin TV Companion, describes the characters as "more detailed" than before, noting that they "were given private lives and real identities, and were furnished with other biographical data."[116]

While it would become a huge success, Captain Scarlet received a less than enthusiastic reception from critics. It caused a stir among parents, who condemned the show for its realistic carnage, and (some) children who were bemused by its gritty realism.

– Chris Drake and Graeme Bassett (1993)[117]

Writer John Peel views Captain Scarlet as inferior to Thunderbirds, arguing that while Century 21's special effects had improved it was to the detriment of the scriptwriting. He compares this to the relative failure of the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom following the success of its precursor, Raiders of the Lost Ark: "Anderson made the same mistake that George Lucas made, assuming that if the effects were praised in Thunderbirds, the public wanted a show with more effects."[118] Peel also finds fault with the character of Scarlet himself, arguing that the use of an "indestructible" hero made the episode endings too predictable.[12] He also suggests that Scarlet, who often risks his safety to foil Mysteron plots, served as a poor role model to impressionable child viewers.[12]

Regarded as a cult series by some,[119] Captain Scarlet came 33rd in a 2007 Radio Times poll to find the greatest science-fiction series of all time.[120] Despite concerns that it is not a true children's programme due to its "dark" tone and level of violence,[87][121] it was ranked 51st in Channel 4's 2001 list show 100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows.[122] Comparing Captain Scarlet to its immediate precursor, Gerry Anderson's verdict was clear: "Nothing was as successful as Thunderbirds. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons was very successful, but once you've had a smash hit, everything tends to look less successful in comparison."[123]

PuppetsEdit

On Sylvia Anderson's costume design, Bould writes positively of Century 21's "commitment to fashion" and directs particular praise at the design of the Angel uniforms.[14] The new puppet design has been praised by Vincent Terrace[8] and criticised by others. Certain members of the production staff believed that the new marionettes lacked the charm of the previous generation due to the natural body proportions that were now being used.[20] Episode director David Lane recalls that when he first saw the prototype, "it was as if there was a little dead person in [the box] ... because it was perfect in all its proportions it just looked odd."[20] Sculptor John Brown remembers putting the prototype next to the Lady Penelope puppet from Thunderbirds and gauging his colleagues' response: "When they saw it, some people were horrified by the difference. Some didn't like it, some did."[9][24] Some have argued that facial expression was sacrificed in favour of a realistic design.[121] Sculptor Terry Curtis recalls:

The changes of expression on those puppets had to be perfect and in no way exaggerated like the old ones were. I remember when [fellow puppet designer] Tim Cooksey did Colonel White, he had a lot of trouble doing different expressions as the face was just so realistic. I had a similar problem with Captain Blue. I remember I did a Blue "smiler" head and people could hardly tell the difference between that and the normal one.[53]

Fellow sculptor John Blundall called the new puppet design "ridiculous",[24][124] criticising the attempts to make the puppets appear more lifelike because "we always try to do with puppets what you can't do with humans."[124] He suggested that the transition from caricature to realism was at the expense of the marionettes' "character and personality", arguing that "if the puppet appears completely natural, the audience no longer has to use its imagination."[124] Gerry Anderson stated that he pushed for a new design to satisfy the audience, viewing it not as "a case of moving to a new technique, but more a case of incorporating new ideas with existing methods."[124] Evans praises the new puppets, describing them as "perfect in proportion" and commending the re-location of the electronic circuitry from the heads to the bodies.[116]

Comparing it to Thunderbirds, Peel sums up Captain Scarlet as "better puppets, bigger action and a huge step backwards in stories".[10] He supports the new puppet design, contending that the increased realism would not have put off an audience familiar with the earlier design.[118]

Race, gender and symbolismEdit

When I made Supercar for ATV, we put a number of black characters in an episode because the story demanded it. ATV had an American advisor at the time, and he made us take out every black character and replace them with white characters and white voices. He said he would not be able to sell it to stations in the South ... I was always very anxious to promote racial harmony, so as soon as people had become more sensible I took advantage of it.

– Gerry Anderson (1993)[125]

During its 1993 BBC re-run, Captain Scarlet became the subject of a debate about black-and-white dualism for its use of the codenames "Black" for the villainous Captain Black and "White" for the benevolent head of Spectrum, Colonel White.[101][126] Defending the series against claims of racism and political incorrectness, Gerry Anderson pointed out that the heroic characters include Lieutenant Green, Melody Angel and Harmony Angel, all of whom are of African or Asian background.[101] Green is the only male black character to have a significant role in any of the Anderson series.[127]

In academic publications, the diversity of the characters in terms of both race and gender has been viewed highly.[15] Bould praises the "beautiful, multi-ethnic, female Angel fighter pilots" and "secondary roles played by capable women."[14] In a 2003 interview, Anderson noted the effort made to feature ethnic minorities: "... I think people who make television programmes have a responsibility, particularly when children are watching avidly and you know their minds can be affected almost irreversibly as they grow up. We were very conscious of introducing different ethnic backgrounds."[128]

Guyanese actor Cy Grant, who voiced Green, believed that Captain Scarlet had both positive multicultural value[126] and an allegorical nature.[75] He argued that the series implied Christian symbolism, with Colonel White as God, Captain Black as the Devil and Scarlet himself as Christ; the allegory extended to Cloudbase, which symbolised Heaven and was guarded by a fleet of fighters codenamed "Angels".[75][126] Grant viewed Green as an African trickster hero.[75] On dualism, he argued: "The 'darkness' of the Mysterons is most easily seen as the psychological rift – the struggle of 'good' and 'evil' – of the Western world as personified by Colonel White and his team. Dark and light are but aspects of each other. Incidentally, green is the colour of nature that can heal that rift."[126]

Other mediaEdit

The ATV game show The Golden Shot, hosted by Bob Monkhouse, chose Captain Scarlet as the theme for its 1967 Christmas special. Broadcast live on 23 December, the programme featured guest appearances from Francis Matthews and The Spectrum.[129]

Since its first appearance in the 1960s, the TV series has been supplemented by tie-ins ranging from toy dolls[130] to video games.[131][132]

Audio playsEdit

In 1967, Century 21 released five Captain Scarlet audio plays as vinyl EP records. Each play was approximately 21 minutes long and featured the original TV voice cast.[133] TV Century 21 script editor Angus P. Allan wrote Introducing Captain Scarlet (which is set during the denouement to "The Mysterons"),[129] Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Captain Scarlet of Spectrum. His assistant, Richard O'Neill, wrote the other two plays, Captain Scarlet is Indestructible and Captain Scarlet versus Captain Black.[133]

Books and comicsEdit

Author John William Jennison (under the pseudonym "John Theydon") wrote three tie-in novels published between 1967 and 1968: Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Captain Scarlet and the Silent Saboteur and The Angels and the Creeping Enemy.[134][135][136] As suggested by its title, the third novel features the Spectrum Angels as the protagonists.[136] In 1993, Young Corgi Books published children's novelisations of the episodes "The Mysterons", "Lunarville 7", "Noose of Ice" and "The Launching".[136]

Captain Scarlet was also the basis of three comic strip adventures in TV Century 21.[90] Running for 17 issues between September 1967 and January 1968, the strips were written by Angus P. Allan with artwork by Ron Embleton, and were titled We Will Destroy Unity City, We Will Destroy the Observatory Network and We Shall Make Earth a Planet of Silence.[90] After the TV series finished its original run, the comic continued the story of the Captain Scarlet universe, with later strips revealing that the Mysterons deactivate their Martian city and relinquish their control over Captain Black while Scarlet himself leaves Spectrum to use his powers in the fight against Earth-bound criminals and threats.[105] The Mysterons eventually re-awaken, prompting Scarlet and Spectrum to resume their struggle.[105] The original strips were reprinted in the 1968 and 1969 editions of TV21 Annual.[136] Century 21 published also published Captain Scarlet annuals from 1967 to 1969.[136] Further annuals were published by Grandreams in 1993 and 1994 to coincide with the BBC2 repeats.[136] In 2002, Carlton Books published a new annual to accompany the digitally-remastered TV broadcasts.[136]

In Japan, a manga adaptation by Sachihiko Kitagawa and Jōji Enami was serialised in the Shogakukan magazine Weekly Shōnen Sunday between 1967 and 1968.[137] Another adaptation by Hikari Asahioka ran in Shōnen Book by Shueisha from January to August 1968.[138]

Home videoEdit

The UK's first VHS releases of the series were distributed by PolyGram and Channel 5. These changed the episode order and, in the case of the first two volumes, altered the episodes with the addition of footage shot for the Captain Scarlet compilation films of the 1980s.[139] Between 2001 and 2002, Carlton Video re-released the series as both separate volumes and a "Complete Series Box Set".[139][140] These featured the remastered picture and sound quality that had been introduced for the BBC Two repeats of 2001.[102] The box set includes an extra tape featuring Captain Scarlet: The Indestructible, a behind-the-scenes feature.[139]

Since September 2001, Captain Scarlet has also been available on Region 2 DVD with new Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound providing an alternative to the original mono soundtrack.[94][140][141] Bonus features on these releases include audio commentaries by Gerry Anderson on two episodes, "The Mysterons" and "Attack on Cloudbase", as well as the five 1960s audio adventures.[94] As with the VHS releases, the DVDs have also been released as a box set; this includes an extra disc featuring Captain Scarlet S.I.G.[142] (a behind-the-scenes documentary produced and presented by Anderson) and five alternative title sequences.[94] The Region 1 box set, released by A&E Home Video in 2002,[23] is largely similar to the Region 2 version.[141][143] In 2004, Imavision released a French-language box set for the Canadian market.[94] The set is also available in Australia and Japan.[94]

On the series' 50th anniversary, British company Network Distributing announced that it was releasing Captain Scarlet on Blu-ray with its episodes remastered in high definition from the original 35 mm film negatives.[144][145] The Blu-ray range was released both in four volumes and as a box set between 2017 and 2018.

VHS releases (UK)
Title Episodes Released
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Complete Series Box Set 1–32 plus Captain Scarlet: The Indestructible 17 September 2001[146]
Captain Scarlet: The Indestructible (Behind-the-scenes feature) 17 September 2001[147]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 1 "The Mysterons", "Winged Assassin", "Big Ben Strikes Again", "Manhunt" 17 September 2001[148]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 2 "Avalanche", "White as Snow", "The Trap", "Operation Time" 17 September 2001[149]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 3 "Spectrum Strikes Back", "Special Assignment", "The Heart of New York", "Lunarville 7" 12 November 2001[150]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 4 "Point 783", "Model Spy", "Seek and Destroy", "Traitor" 12 November 2001[151]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 5 "Renegade Rocket", "Crater 101", "Shadow of Fear", "Dangerous Rendezvous" 28 January 2002[152]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 6 "Fire at Rig 15", "Treble Cross", "Flight 104", "Place of Angels" 28 January 2002[153]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 7 "Noose of Ice", "Expo 2068", "The Launching", "Codename Europa" 18 March 2002[154]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 8 "Inferno", "Flight to Atlantica", "Attack on Cloudbase", "The Inquisition" 18 March 2002[155]
DVD releases
Title Episodes Released
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Complete Series Box Set 1–32 plus Captain Scarlet S.I.G. (behind-the-scenes feature) 17 September 2001 (UK)[156]
25 June 2002 (US and Canada)[157][158]
27 September 2002 (Japan)[159]
11 November 2009 (Australia and New Zealand)[160][161]
18 December 2009 (Canada)[162]
26 January 2010 (US)[163]
23 September 2013 (France)[164]
10 February 2015 (US and Canada)[165]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 1 "The Mysterons", "Winged Assassin", "Big Ben Strikes Again", "Manhunt", "Avalanche", "White as Snow" 17 September 2001 (UK)[166]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 2 "The Trap", "Operation Time", "Spectrum Strikes Back", "Special Assignment", "The Heart of New York", "Lunarville 7" 17 September 2001 (UK)[167]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 3 "Point 783", "Model Spy", "Seek and Destroy", "Traitor", "Renegade Rocket", "Crater 101" 12 November 2001 (UK)[168]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 4 "Shadow of Fear", "Dangerous Rendezvous", "Fire at Rig 15", "Treble Cross", "Flight 104", "Place of Angels" 12 November 2001 (UK)[169]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 5 "Noose of Ice", "Expo 2068", "The Launching", "Codename Europa", "Inferno", "Flight to Atlantica", "Attack on Cloudbase", "The Inquisition" 12 November 2001 (UK)[170]
Joe 90 / Captain Scarlet / Stingray Box Set "The Mysterons", "Winged Assassin", "Big Ben Strikes Again", "Manhunt", "Avalanche", "White as Snow"; plus episodes of Stingray and Joe 90 20 October 2003 (UK)[171]
Blu-ray releases (UK)
Title Episodes Released
This is Supermarionation/HD21 "The Mysterons", "Winged Assassin", "Treble Cross", "Noose of Ice"; plus episodes from other Supermarionation series 20 October 2014[172]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 1 "The Mysterons", "Winged Assassin", "Big Ben Strikes Again", "Point 783", "Manhunt", "Operation Time", "Renegade Rocket", "White as Snow" 20 November 2017[173]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 2 "Seek and Destroy", "Spectrum Strikes Back", "Avalanche", "Shadow of Fear", "The Heart of New York", "Fire at Rig 15", "The Launching", "Lunarville 7" 29 January 2018[174]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 3 "The Trap", "Model Spy", "Crater 101", "Dangerous Rendezvous", "Special Assignment", "Traitor", "Place of Angels", "Flight 104" 12 March 2018[175]
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Volume 4 "Codename Europa", "Flight to Atlantica", "Noose of Ice", "Treble Cross", "Expo 2068", "Inferno", "Attack on Cloudbase", "The Inquisition" 30 July 2018
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – The Complete Series 1–32 8 October 2018

Video gamesEdit

Title Genre Platform Studio(s) Released Notes
Captain Scarlet: In the Shadow of Fear Action PC Europress 31 May 2002 (UK)[176] Released both separately and as a double pack with Thunderbirds: Operation Volcano[177]
Captain Scarlet Activity Pack Action PC Digital Workshop 5 July 2002 (UK)[178]
Captain Scarlet Driving PlayStation 2 Blast! Entertainment
Brain in a Jar
5 December 2006 (UK)[179]
Captain Scarlet: Retaliation Strategy PC Batfish Studios
Digital Workshop
Cancelled[180] Originally scheduled for 2003; finished but not released due to closure of Batfish Studios the same year[181]

Later productionsEdit

The distribution rights to much of the ITC catalogue have changed hands several times since the 1980s. They were first transferred to PolyGram Entertainment[182][183][184] (also called "PolyGram Television"),[183] then Carlton International[182][185] following a part-sale to the BBC in 1991.[184] In 2004, Carlton merged into Granada International, the current rights holder,[182] which in 2008 became ITV Global Entertainment, a division of ITV plc.[183] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer holds the theatrical release rights.[182]

Gerry Anderson announced plans for a live-action film version of Captain Scarlet in 2000[186] and again in 2002,[187][188][189] but the idea remains undeveloped.

Compilation filmsEdit

In 1980, the New York offices of ITC, under the supervision of Robert Mandell, combined several episodes of Captain Scarlet to make two compilation films for the US cable TV market, the aim being to revive transatlantic syndication sales.[190] The films aired under the promotional banner "Super Space Theater". This was a common practice for Supermarionation series during the 1980s, with Stingray and Thunderbirds receiving similar treatments.[191] In November 1988, the second Captain Scarlet compilation, Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars, was broadcast as the second episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Minnesota TV station KTMA.

CGI test film and reboot seriesEdit

In 1999, Anderson supervised the production of a computer-animated test film, Captain Scarlet and the Return of the Mysterons, to explore the possibility of updating some of his 1960s Supermarionation series for a 21st-century audience.[192][193] The working title was Captain Scarlet – The New Millennium.[193] Produced by Moving Picture Company using a combination of Maya software and motion-capture technology,[192][193] the film features Francis Matthews and Ed Bishop reprising their voice roles of Captains Scarlet and Blue.[55][193] It is set a few years after the Mysterons apparently cease hostilities against Earth, with the reappearance of Captain Black setting the stage for a revival of the war with Mars.[2] The film was screened at a Fanderson convention in 2000[186][193] and a science lecture in 2001.[102]

Plans for a full CGI Captain Scarlet TV series eventually resulted in Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet. A reboot of the original series, this was first broadcast on CITV's Ministry of Mayhem in 2005.[194] In a nod to Supermarionation, the series' computer animation was promoted as "Hypermarionation".[195]

ReferencesEdit

Notes

  1. ^ Production documentation confirms that the Zero-X in "The Mysterons" is the vehicle that previously appeared in the film Thunderbirds Are Go, placing Captain Scarlet in the same fictional universe as Thunderbirds (Bentley 2001, p. 59). Spectrum personnel biographies in Bentley's The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet also place Fireball XL5 and Stingray in this universe (Bentley 2001, pp. 46–47, 50).
  2. ^ The transformation of Captain Black from human to Mysteron is indicated by a paling of his complexion combined with a deepening of his voice to match that of the Mysterons.
  3. ^ In communications, Spectrum personnel use the call signal "S.I.G." ("Spectrum Is Green") as their affirmative code. The negative, "S.I.R." ("Spectrum Is Red"), is used less frequently.
  4. ^ In the fictional universe of Captain Scarlet, power from many individual nations has been vested in a world government, which is headed by an elected World President and possesses its own military and security forces. Spectrum is a unified operation formed to provide greater efficiency than these separate bodies as it is unobstructed by interdepartmental red tape (Bentley 2001, p. 43).
  5. ^ In the series, Mysteron reconstructions that are killed are usually permanently destroyed. The one exception is Scarlet, who recovers from injuries that would normally be fatal. The character's biography in The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet states that the Mysterons intended their double of Scarlet to be "indestructible", unlike their other reconstructions (Bentley 2001, p. 44).
  6. ^ In the original script for "The Mysterons", Scarlet is resurrected with the aid of an advanced computer (Bentley, p. 15). In the finished episode, he returns to life of his own accord and there is no explanation as to how he regains his human personality. However, the audio play Introducing Captain Scarlet suggests that this is restored by computer as in the pilot script (Bentley 2001, p. 94).
  7. ^ Dialogue in "Spectrum Strikes Back" states that the Mysteron Gun is "the only gun that kills a Mysteron." The gun does not appear in any other episodes, although a similar weapon, the "Electro-Ray Rifle", is mentioned in the audio play Captain Scarlet versus Captain Black. In episodes preceding and following "Spectrum Strikes Back", Mysteron agents are vulnerable to conventional means of destruction such as bullets and explosions.
  8. ^ No real names, except those of Scarlet and Blue, are used in the television episodes. Instead, they originate from licensed associated media, such as Bentley's The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet.
  9. ^ In "The Mysterons" and a flashback sequence in "Dangerous Rendezvous", Captain Black's human voice is provided by Jeremy Wilkin.
  10. ^ "Lieutenant" is generally pronounced in the British manner, /lɛfˈtɛnənt/ lef-TEN-ənt, by all but the American characters in the series.

Primary sources

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Written by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Directed by Desmond Saunders (29 September 1967). "The Mysterons". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 1.
  2. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by David Lane (6 October 1967). "Winged Assassin". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 2.
  3. ^ a b Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Brian Burgess (9 February 1968). "Dangerous Rendezvous". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 19.
  4. ^ Written by Richard Conway and Stephen J. Mattick. Directed by Ken Turner (17 November 1967). "Operation Time". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 8.
  5. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Ken Turner (24 November 1967). "Spectrum Strikes Back". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 9.
  6. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Robert Lynn (15 December 1967). "Lunarville 7". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 12.
  7. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Ken Turner (26 January 1968). "Crater 101". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 17.
  8. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Robert Lynn (2 February 1968). "Shadow of Fear". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 18.
  9. ^ Written by Alan Pattillo. Directed by Alan Perry (10 November 1967). "The Trap". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 7.
  10. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Robert Lynn (1 March 1968). "Flight 104". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 22.
  11. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Ken Turner (12 March 1968). "Noose of Ice". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 24.
  12. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Alan Perry (20 October 1967). "Manhunt". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 4.
  13. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Alan Perry (23 February 1968). "Treble Cross". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 21.
  14. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Ken Turner (7 May 1968). "Attack on Cloudbase". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 31.
  15. ^ Written by Tony Barwick. Directed by Ken Turner (14 May 1968). "The Inquisition". Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Episode 32.

Secondary sources

  1. ^ a b c d e f Bentley 2001, p. 40.
  2. ^ a b Bentley 2001, p. 124.
  3. ^ Bentley 2001, p. 39.
  4. ^ Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons Volume 1 DVD (Back Cover). London, UK: Carlton. 2001 [1967].
  5. ^ a b c d e f Bentley 2001, p. 118.
  6. ^ Bentley 2001, p. 90.
  7. ^ a b c d Bould, Mark (2003). "Film and Television". In James, Edward; Mendlesohn, Farah (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge University Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-521-01657-5.
  8. ^ a b c Terrace, Vincent (2002). Crime Fighting Heroes of Television: Over 10,000 Facts from 151 Shows, 1949–2001. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-7864-1395-9.
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Works cited

Production locations

External linksEdit