STINGRAY

 

 

"Attention Marineville, I am calling battle stations! We are about to launch Stingray!

As the grizzled Commander Shore puts it, anything can happen in the next half hour. Stingray, flagship of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol, defends Marineville on a weekly basis from the depredations of the undersea despot Titan and his Aquaphibian servants. Hero Troy Tempest pilots the super-submersible with the help of radio expert Phones and the mute amphibian beauty Marina.

 

 

Episode Listings

1 Pilot 6th October 1964
2 Emergency Marineville 13th October 1964
3 The Ghost Ship 20th October 1964
4 Subterranean Sea 27th October 1964
5 Loch Ness Monster 3rd November 1964
6 Set Sail for Adventure 10th November 1964
7 The Man from the Navy 17th November 1964
8 An Echo of Danger 24th November 1964
9 Raptures of the Deep 1st December 1964
10 Titan Goes Pop 8th December 1964
11 In Search of the Tajmanon 15th December 1964
12 A Christmas to Remember 22nd December 1964
13 Tune of Danger 29th December 1964
14 The Ghost of the Sea 5th January 1965
15 Rescue from the Skies 12th January 1965
16 The Lighthouse Dwellers 19th January 1965
17 The Big Gun 26th January 1965
18 The Cool Caveman 3rd February 1965
19 Deep Heat 10th February 1965
20 Star of the East 17th February 1965
21 Invisible Enemy 24th February 1965
22 Tom Thumb Tempest 3rd March 1965
23 Eastern Eclipse 10th March 1965
24 Treasure Down Below 17th March 1965
25 Stand by for Action 24th March 1965
26 Pink Ice 31st March 1965
27 The Disappearing Ships 7th April 1965
28 Secret of the Giant Oyster 14th April 1965
29 The Invaders 21st April 1965
30 A Nut for Marineville 28th April 1965
31 Trapped in the Depths 5th May 1965
32 Count Down 12th May 1965
33 Sea of Oil 19th May 1965
34 Plant of Doom 26th May 1965
35 The Master Plan 2nd June 1965
36 The Golden Sea 9th June 1965
37 Hostage of the Deep 16th June 1965
38 Marineville Traitor 23rd June 1965
39 Aquanant of the Year 30th June 1965

 

Episode 1 - The Pilot - The first episode of the series does a fantastic job of establishing the show's premise and characters, and provides a gripping story into the bargain. After a submarine is destroyed in mysterious circumstances, the WASP dispatches Troy Tempest and the real star of the show, Stingray, to investigate. Tempest's belief that hidden undersea civilizations exist is confirmed, when he discovers that Titan's Aquaphibians are behind the attack.

The story's pure comic-book fiction, with its quasi-Atlantean civilization and Sci_Fi trappings - a town that descends into the earth on hydraulic stilts, fish-shaped submarines, and Stingray itself, its strength lies in the gosh-wow-conviction with which it's played out - and the phenomenal puppetry and effects work. Most impressive, however, is the economy with which the script establishes the setting and characters. Ina few short scenes, we're introduced to all the heroes and villains, and the fascinating character of Marina.

 

As the first episode in the series, it's a little off to see the attention lavished on action sequences that only take up a few seconds in later episodes - especially when lengthy shots of Stingray's launch sequence and Marineville going to "battle stations" chew up screentime that could be used to build up the characters. Of course, from a kids perspective, that's what the show was all about - a city that lowers itself into a vast underground chamber is just plain cool.

Okay, it does have one or two faults. Titan's another of the one-note Anderson villains who has no motivation beyond simply being evil, and Tempest's "trial by fish" is just bizarre. But overall, this is an excellent introduction to the series.

 

 

Episode 22 - Tom Thumb Tempest - Clearly, the Stingray team were going through an ideas drought when they came up with this effort. While waiting on standby for a mission, Troy Tempest falls asleep after Phones turns the heaters on, and has a dream in which he and the Stingray crew are shrunk. And, er, that/s about it.

First off, it's a combination of two hoary old cliches - the Incredible Shrinking Cast idea that's turned up in everything from Land of the Giants to Doctor Who, and the "it was all a dream" cop-out ending that's a familiar from innumerable primary-school creative writing classes.

Both of these narratives devices cause problems for the episode. Since the characters are puppets, it's difficult to get any sense of scale. Placed in an environment where the characters are reduced to the size of, well, puppets, only serves to highlight the unreality of the show.

A bigger problem, by far, however, is the bland "it was all a dream" plot. The writer`s obviously made a stab at explaining why the dream happens at ll - Troy feels as though he's being belittled by Commander Shore - but that can't disguise the fact that the episode is entirely inconsequential. It's literally a story where nothing happens for half an hour.

Even the dream sequence itself isn't especially entertaining - party because it's so obvious that it's a dream, but also because it's clearly aiming at a surreal atmosphere, but falls far short. In the right hands, this could have been wonderfully bizarre, but it degenerates into sub-Tom-and Jerry shenanigans when Tempest dreams that the Stingray crew have interrupted the dinner party preparations of their nemesis Titan.

To be fair, the resolution is reasonably clever - Tempest and the crew start a fire, which wakes him up because the room he's sleeping in is hot. However, it's hard not to feel that the story's a wasted opportunity, since there's mileage in the idea of shrinking Stingray for real. That could've been an exciting adventure, so why use the tension-breaking "it was all a dream" device ?