CAPTAIN SCARLET AND THE MYSTERONS

 

 

In the year 2065, Spectrum expedition to Mars ends in disaster after commander Captain Black mistakes the sensors of an alien city for weapons and launches a pre-emptive strike. The alien Mysterons are able to recreate their city by Retrometabolism, and vow to take revenge against Earth, using this mysterious process to duplicate people and devices and use them as controlled weapons.

The first victim of this attack is Spectrum's Captain Scarlet (aka Paul Metcalf) who's duplicated after he's killed in a car crash. His attempt to assassinate Earth's president ends in a fatal fall from the London Car-Vu.... but recovers. Captain Scarlet is indestructible .. and with the Mysteron influence shaken off, he's now Earth's greatest asses in the battle against the alien menace.

Episode Listings

1 The Mysterons 29th September 1967
2 Winged Assassin 6th October 1967
3 Big Ben Strikes Again 13th October 1967
4 Manhunt 20th October 1967
5 Avalanche 27th October 1967
6 White as Snow 3rd November 1967
7 The Trap 10th November 1967
8 Operation Time 17th November 1967
9 Spectrum Strikes Back 24th November 1967
10 Special Assignment 1st December 1967
11 The Heart of New York 8th December 1967
12 Lunarville 7 15th December 1967
13 Point 783 22nd December 1967
14 Model Spy 29th December 1967
15 Seek and destroy 5th January 1968
16 Traitor 12th January 1968
17 Renegade Rocket 19th January 1968
18 Crater 101 26th January 1968
19 Shadow of Fear 2nd February 1968
20 Dangerous Rendezvous 9th February 1968
21 Fire at Rig 15 16th February 1968
22 Treble Cross 23rd February 1968
23 Flight 104 1st March 1968
24 Place of Angels 8th March 1968
25 Noose of Ice 12th March 1968
26 Expo 2068 26th March 1968
27 The Launching 2nd April 1968
28 Codename Europa 9th April 1968
29 Inferno 16th April 1968
30 Flight to Atlantica 30th April 1968
31 Attack on Cloudbase 7th May 1968
32 The Inquisition 14th May 1968

 

 

Episode 20 - Dangerous Rendezvous - Using the crystal Captain Scarlet retrieved from the Mysteron Moonbase, Spectrum manages to contact the aliens to propose a truce and offer amends for their mistaken attack. The Mysterons agree to conference, specifying that Scarlet should travel to an isolated venue to discuss terms ....

It would be so easy to pick the flashback episode that concludes each Anderson series as inevitably as death and taxes as the low point of each show. But Dangerous Rendezvous provides a more subtle disappointment, as it ends as a trilogy of otherwise superb episodes on a let-down. In Lunarville 7, the Moonbase Controller apparently succeeds in negotiating a separate peace with the Mysterons, opening the question of whether he's an alien agent, a traitor or the pioneer of a route the rest of Mankind should follow. In its follow-up, Crater 101, Scarlet and Blue are ordered to destroy the Mysteron Moonbase in the eponymous crater, all too well aware that the aliens will attempt to infiltrate and sabotage their mission. The tensions's built nicely ... and then the entire story fizzles out in a low-key effort as the Mysterons use the conference to try to kill Scarlet. For wasting two episodes worth of superb build-up this gets the wooden spoon.

 

 

Episode 29 - Inferno - The Mysterons latest threat is unusually straightforward; no riddles to solve this time, just a clear statement of target - "Our next act of retataliation will be to destroy the complex at Nahama". The Nahama desalinzation planet in the foothills of the Andes irrigates vast areas of farmland reclaimed from the wilderness. Scarlet and Blue are assigned to monitor the situation from the shelter of an ancient Aztec temple overlooking the plant ... and soon discover that salvage rocket SKR4, loaded with enough explosives to destroy five rogue satellites has been Mysteronized and set on course fro the plant ..

For all Anderson's grumbles about the problems of making puppets move convincingly, there's a bizarrely effective shot of Captain Black clambering up the face of a Sun God statue in an unearthly manner. It's one of a number of little touches that stands out in Inferno, along with its dark direction and straightforwardly effective plot.

"Look out, Adam," calls out Scarlet as he knocks captain Blue clear of a falling statue, and when Blue's later woken from sleep by the sound of Captain Black's clandestine movements, he returns the favour ("Paul, is that you?" Just think what the slash fiction merchants could read into that). It's a rare but worthwhile reminder that Anderson's most realistic puppets are supposed to be real people, with real names and lives behind their codenames.

However, the real stand-out is the ending. Spectrum loses, and the entire complex is destroyed by the inferno of the title (and no, for once it's not a dream). Not only that, but Spectrum's efforts actually make it worse. Knowing that some sort of homing device planted in the temple is drawing the rocket to its target, but unable to locate it in the few minutes before impact, Captain Scarlet orders the Angels to blast the entire monument off the face of the planet. They reduce it to rubble in a display of typically impressive effects ... but SKR4 nevertheless hits its target with devastating effect.

It's this round to the Mysterons....