“Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” (1967 – 1968)
Television / Sci-Fi
Thirty Two Episodes
Created by: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Featuring: Sylvia Anderson, Ed Bishop, Gary Files, Cy Grant, Donald Gray, David Healy, Janna Hill, Martin King, Francis Matthews, Paul Maxwell, Liz Morgan, Lian-Shin, Charles Tingwell, Jeremy Wilkin, Neil McCallum and Shane Rimmer
The Mysterons: [Their last line, from series finale] “This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know you can hear us, Earthmen. The powers of the Mysterons are infinite. We can distort space and time. We have shown you the consequences of your primitive and aggressive behavior. It has been decided by our Imperial Council that a peaceful settlement with the planet Earth might someday be possible. So we will spare you. Be warned, Earthmen: Your warlike behavior can only result in disaster for your planet. One day, the Mysterons will return. We hope you will be ready. Someday…”
Released recently on DVD is the 1960s science fiction series “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” (1967 – 1968), one of the many series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson using their self-named and patented ‘Supermarionation’ that has become a signature of most of their endeavours. It is very true that “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” was an in demand series which is proven by the fact that, in New Zealand at least, it was in heavy rotation on repeats for a number of decades. That is why it seems to get releases on DVD every so often. In fact all of the Anderson’s shows get releases on DVD to satiate their demand especially now that pop culture is such a huge demographic.
Unlike many of the other Anderson and Supermarionation created television series “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” was the most serious and adult this is because it focused intently on the war between the faceless alien would-be conquerors the Mysterons, and the entire planet, in the first episode they announce themselves as the sworn enemies of all Earthmen and women of course. It revelled not only in the explosive mayhem and carnage of which there was much, but also death, with the invulnerable Scarlet being put in all manner of inventive scrapes, only to return to life if his luck happened to run out.
“Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” begins in 2068, in the first episode, the crew of the Zero-X spacecraft are investigating the surface of Mars after mysterious radio signals are found to be coming from the planet. The source is discovered to be an alien city, which the astronauts destroy in a missile attack after mistaking a harmless surveillance device for a weapon. The city’s inhabitants, the Mysterons, are a collective of sentient computers that possess partial control over matter and communicate in a deep, echoing voice. After using their power of “reversing matter” to rebuild their city, they swear revenge for humanity’s unwarranted aggression and declare war on Earth. Each episode is based around both titular figures, with the stakes increasing all the time.
One of the key aspects of “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” was the music by veteran Barry Gray which saw him going back to his roots in electronic music, in order to capture that eerie, otherworldly nature of the alien aggressors. Gray seems to almost effortlessly combine electronica with electric guitars, and then – just for good measure – mixes in strings for a richer orchestral depth to the track. The mixture of styles might sound jarring in the wrong hands, but Gray fuses them together with ease.
Any fantasy drama as can be seen in any television show or movie within the genre rests and falls on its villains, and while the baddies have who linger in dark places with hidden motives had been done to death at this point, we’d never seen anything like the lethal and for all we knew hideous Mysterons. The alien rings were great they hid identities and made you feel like there was something else to be revealed.
Of course “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” is not just a boys own show, the Anderson’s also included an elite fighter jet squad led by five women called The Angels. They get to fight the aliens in the sky and are as good as the guys in defending Earth. The show might have been made in miniature, but the action is huge. The puppets look more realistic than previous efforts since the heads are proportional to their bodies. There’s moments where you think this is being done with humans or at least actors with very little emoting skills.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the colourful nature of the show. Remember that what looks like scratches are the strings on the actors. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are bring out the sound effects for the action scenes.
- Audio Commentaries on “Mysteron” and “Attack on Cloudbase” have Gerry Anderson recount the episodes. He really gets into how the modelmakers controlled the scenes.
- Gerry Anderson Interview (10:22) recounts his early years. He started as a sound editor, but his name would be made in visual effects. He recounts how his failing production company was saved by a woman who arrived with scripts for a children’s series that needed puppets.
- Spotlight on Captain Scarlet: The Directing (13:29) explains how to call the shots when your actors are strung out. Perry talks about working on the show. He enjoyed the experience.
- The Writing (11:36) explores what went into the scripts. Shane Rimmer explains how he became a part of the show. He liked the work.
- The Puppets (7:34) shows off what made the puppets tick. They redid the ratios from the puppet heads they used in Thunderbirds. The mystery of who Captain Scarlet looks like is exposed.
The Mysterons: After a misunderstanding on the planet Mars, a war is started between humans and an alien race called The Mysterons. Thier first act of revenge is to try and assassinate The World President.
Winged Assassin: The Mysterons second target is the Director General of the United Asian Republic. The Director is on a visit to London and is scheduled to fly back to Asia via London airport but the Mysterons have other plans.
Big Ben Strikes Again: The Mysterons threaten to blow up London with a bomb they have stolen. Spectrum race against time to stop this latest and greatest threat to mankind.
Manhunt: A manhunt begins for former spectrum officer Captain Black after a failed break in at a nuclear power plant, when he is accidentally exposed to radiation.
Avalanche: When the Mysterons threaten to destroy key links in the Frost Line Outer Space Defence System, Scarlet and Green investigate the mysterious deaths of the personnel at Red Deer Base.
White as Snow: The Mysterons threaten to kill Colonel White and after their initial attempt fails, White elects to leave Cloudbase so as not to place the other Spectrum agents in jeopardy.
The Trap: Following the latest Mysteron threat, Scarlet is dispatched to supervise security at the International Air Conference at Glen Garry Castle.
Operation Time: The Mysterons’ cryptic threat to “kill time” has the Spectrum personnel stumped until Captain Magenta realizes that their target is General Tiempo, the Commander of Western Region World Defence.
Spectrum Strikes Back: Spectrum attends a secret conference to demonstrate two new anti Mysteron gadgets (A Mysteron detector and a Mysteron gun), but the Mysterons announce they intend to sabotage the demonstration of Spectrums new anti-Mysteron devices.
Special Assignment: The Mysterons threaten to obliterate North America, but Spectrum is left without its number one agent when Scarlet is dismissed for gambling offences.
The Heart of New York: As the Mysterons threaten to destroy the “Heart of New York”, Scarlet and Blue investigate the theft of Grade A Security documents from the Spectrum security vaults.
Lunarville 7: When the Lunar Controller announces the Moon’s independence from Earth in the war of nerves with the Mysterons, Scarlet, Blue and Green journey to Lunarville 7 to investigate reports of an unauthorised complex under construction in the Humboldt Sea.
Point 783: When the Mysterons threaten the life of the Supreme Commander of Earth Forces, Scarlet and Blue are assigned to escort him to SHEF HQ in New York.
Model Spy: The Mysterons target fashion designer Andre Verdain, secret controller of the European Area Intelligence Service.
Seek and Destroy: When the Mysterons threaten to kill one of the Angels, Scarlet and Blue are sent to Paris to escort Destiny back to Cloudbase.
Renegade Rocket: The Mysterons engineer the launch of a Variable Geometry Rocket from Base Concord and their agent, Major Reeves, escapes with the destruct mechanism and target information.
Crater 101: Scarlet, Blue and Green volunteer for a dangerous mission to remove the power source of the Mysteron complex in Crater 101 before it is destroyed by a low yield atomic device.
Shadow of Fear: Astronomers at K14 Observatory are monitoring signals from a hidden satellite that has made a successful landing on the Martian moon Phobos.
Dangerous Rendezvous: Using the Mysteron pulsator recovered from the complex in Crater 101, Dr Kurnitz has developed a transmission device with which Colonel White attempts to contact the Mysterons and sue for peace.
Fire at Rig 15: When the Mysterons threaten to immobilise the whole of Spectrum, Scarlet and Blue are sent to the Spectrum oil refinery at Bensheba.
Treble Cross: Captain Black engineers the death of chief test pilot Major Gravener, who is retrometabolised as a Mysteron agent as part of the Mysterons’ plan to destroy the World Capital, Futura City.
Flight 104: When the Mysterons threaten to sabotage a vital conference at Lake Toma in Switzerland, Scarlet and Blue are assigned to escort the world’s leading astrophysicist, Dr. Conrad, to Geneva.
Place of Angels: Mysteron agent Judith Chapman steals a phial of deadly K14 virus – enough to kill ten million people – from Biological Research Station D near Manchester.
Noose of Ice: Tritonium alloy mining operations at Hotspot Tower in the North Pole are threatened when a Mysteron agent cuts the power to vital heating elements.
Expo 2068: A lorry carrying an atomic core reactor to the new Manicougan power complex falls into the hands of the Mysterons who intend to strike the Atlantic Seaboard of North America.
The Launching: When the Mysterons threaten to destroy President Roberts within twelve hours, Scarlet is assigned as bodyguard to the sceptical President.
Codename Europa: The Mysterons threaten to destroy the Triumvirate of Europe, the three most powerful men on Earth after the World President.
Inferno: Captain Scarlet and the rest of Spectrum are in a desperate race against time to defeat the Mysteron’s latest threat. The total destruction of the massive desalination plant at Najama, high in the Andes Mountains.
Traitor: The ultimate mind game is unleashed, Spectrum, turned against itself. Captains Scarlet and Blue travel to outback Australia in a desperate attempt to unravel the Mysteron plans before it is too late.
Flight to Atlantica: When the Mysterons threaten to destroy the World Navy Complex at Atlantica, Blue and Ochre fly a V17 Air Force bomber to destroy a wreck that has been sighted drifting towards the base.
Attack on Cloudbase: After the Mysterons threaten Spectrum’s Cloudbase headquarters, a large fast-moving trace appears on the radar.
The Inquisition: Captain Blue disappears from a restaurant. He awakes to find it is 3 months later and Spectrum Security want to know where he has been, and if he is even the real Captain Blue.