5 of Stingray’s Best Episodes

Stingray has recently blasted off into action on Talking Pictures TV, following on from the much-loved archive TV channel’s reruns of Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5. In much the same way how Fireball XL5 evolved AP Films’ output further after Supercar with its futuristic outer space setting, Stingray propelled things even more. The series’ exotic underwater setting is matched with a renewed vigour from the core scriptwriting duo of Alan Fennell and Dennis Spooner, along with further contributions from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson themselves.

Stingray traverses an enjoyably eclectic narrative landscape, with storylines ranging from the adventurous to the comedic, from character-driven sagas to mecha-driven action spectacles. Cold War allegories rub shoulders with storylines involving pop idols, jazz bands, and movie stars, and despite Stingray being celebrated for its humour, the series wasn’t averse to taking turns towards the surreal or even the quite frightening.

With the series’ latest rerun on British TV now underway, and the fact that 2024 sees the World Aquanaut Security Patrol’s super-sub celebrate its 60th anniversary, we’re counting down five of Stingray‘s best TV episodes!

5. Emergency Marineville

Many of Stingray‘s earlier episodes feature a memorable plethora of underwater invaders seeking to overthrow terranean forces, with ‘Emergency Marineville’ being an early highlight. This episode packs in plenty of the underwater Cold War subterfuge which Stingray excelled in, focusing on the villainous efforts of Nucella and Chidora launching a series of missiles directed at Marineville from a secretive island base. ‘Emergency Marineville’ is jam-packed with exciting moments. The dramatic imagery of Troy forced to choose between saving Marina and the lives of all WASP personnel is a welcome touch of characterisation, whilst the tense scenes of the Stingray crew racing to sabotage the alien’s missile bombardment against Marineville lends a pre-Thunderbirds ‘race-against-time’ motif. ‘Emergency Marineville’ remains an electrifying early gem in Stingray‘s canon.

4. The Subterranean Sea

‘Subterranean Sea’ marks something of a sea-change for Stingray, if you’ll pardon the pun! Having perfected the typical formula with the likes of ‘Emergency Marineville’, this creepily atmospheric episode pushes the series into new narrative territory. The discovery of an ocean beneath the ocean may impede on the Stingray crew’s holiday plans, but what they discover is a journey no human has ever experienced before. The underwater world which Stingray discovers is a wonderland of miniature sets from AP Films’ special effects department, all lush colours, freakish underwater vegetation, and stirring volcanic landscapes when the crew reason that they must be close to the centre of the Earth. A marvellously daring adventure of engrossing mystery and spellbinding special effects.

3. Titan Goes Pop

This later-day episode is a prime example of how Stingray embraced its comedic leanings towards the series’ end. This riotous send-up of celebrity culture, broadcast at the height of Beatlemania, is a consistently witty affair. The arrival of pop idol Duke Dexter at Marineville to help with the WASP’s latest recruitment drive catches the attention of Titan and X20, who are enraptured by Dexter’s uncanny ability to cause chaos wherever he goes. The interactions between Titan and the aimable yet clueless Dexter are such a highlight of the episode. Titan and X20 are clearly excited by the prospect of bringing Dexter under their wing – even if they can’t quite fathom who Dexter actually is!

2. Marineville Traitor

From the outlandishly comedic to the deadly serious, Stingray showed that it was a series which could embrace multiple tones and genres when demanded of it. ‘Marineville Traitor’ isn’t just noteworthy for being the only episode of the classic series not to feature the super-sub whatsoever. It’s also an engrossing spy-fi drama, played entirely straight-faced. Secrets are being leaked out of Marineville, and following the evidence, the Stingray crew soon come to the only logical culprit – Commander Shore! However, Shore is playing his own game in outing the true traitors, one that he can’t risk revealing to anyone. A hugely enjoyable character-driven episode.

1. Invisible Enemy

Undoubtedly Stingray‘s most intensely haunting episode, ‘Invisible Enemy’ breaks away entirely from the set of tones we’ve looked at so far in this list. It’s the only episode of Stingray which feels like a forerunner of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Responding to a lonely SOS signal, the Stingray crew recover a seemingly unconscious fisherman and bring him back to Marineville. But the man is acting under a hypnotic trance from unseen alien invaders and proceeds to gradually paralyse Marineville. The eerie night-time setting and the growing helplessness on Commander Shore’s part in being unable to stop this invisible epidemic make ‘Invisible Enemy’ a darkly intense episode to watch.

Stingray remains a series where anything really can happen in the next half hour! But what do you make of our list? Do you agree with our ranking? Any favourite episodes of yours which aren’t featured here? Let us know in the comments section below!

Written by
Fred McNamara

Atomic-powered writer/editor. Website editor at Official Gerry Anderson. Author of Flaming Thunderbolts: The Definitive Story of Terrahawks. Also runs Gerry Anderson comic book blog Sequential 21.

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