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Captain Scarlet: a mechanical man?

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Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s original script for The Mysterons followed pretty much the same story as the final version that aired on television in 1967, albeit with several interesting notes that hint at a slightly different direction for Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons than the series we would come to know. One of these has to do with the presentation of the show’s guest characters, and the other – perhaps more interesting note – has to do with the nature of its title character.

In the Andersons’ original script, we would cut to Cloudbase just after the Mysterons declared war on Earth, where the standard Mysteron threat sequence seen in all but the first episode of the television series would play out. Instead of the familiar Mysteron rings, the title of the episode itself would pass over the likes of Colonel White, the Angels, and Lieutenant Green (who notably doesn’t actually get his own credit on the series as aired) as their credits appeared. Captain Scarlet himself would also receive a credit here at the beginning of the sequence, but this is how the first draft script of The Mysterons introduced him;

We are looking at him through a glass panel, on which is etched a printed circuit in silver and gold. The setup symbolises a mechanical man. He is rigid, without a trace of movement. Over the shot is SUPERIMPOSED “STARRING CAPTAIN SCARLET”.

“Members of Spectrum, I have a few more things to say…”

It seems that Gerry and Sylvia were definitely thinking that the Captain Scarlet who would be working for Spectrum for the remainder of the series was going to be more of a machine than a man following his experience with the Mysterons. This is reinforced by Colonel White’s original dialogue in the episode’s final briefing room scene, which summed up everything Spectrum had learned about the Mysterons and Scarlet’s future with the organisation:

“Members of Spectrum Cloud Base. Our first operation has been a success. The World President is safe. However, the following facts need our immediate consideration. The bodies of Captain Brown and Captain Scarlet have been discovered near the scene of the car crash, and yet we know that Captain Brown was blown to pieces – we have the evidence still on tape. Captain Scarlet has reappeared in another form, identical in every way and despite the fact that the second Captain Scarlet felt 800ft. to the ground, his body is unscathed. Helicopter A42, we now know, crashed half an hour before the very same craft appeared at the Car-Vu when it fired upon our own men. We can only deduce from this that the Mysterons are capable of reconstructing objects on Earth and sending them here as booby traps. Captain Scarlet is such a reconstruction. Doctor Fawn reports, after making a thorough medical investigation, that his bullet wounds are healing, and he believes that with the aid of a specially designed computer it would be possible to bring him under our own control. In other words, the new Captain Scarlet could be our greatest weapon in fighting the Mysterons.”

Introducing Captain Scarlet incorporated some of the abandoned original concept regarding Scarlet’s new nature.

Although the idea of Scarlet essentially being a robot that could be ‘reprogrammed’ never made it to screen one tiny remnant of it does survive in the Introducing Captain Scarlet mini-album, which was the first in a series of five audio adventures released in the late 1960s featuring many of the original Scarlet cast. At the end of the story Doctor Fawn announces that “with the aid of a specially-designed computer, Captain Scarlet can be brought back under our own control!” and Colonel White is excited by the possibilities – through dialogue that reworked much of the Colonel’s dialogue from the original scripted ending of The Mysterons. That was to be the note on which the first episode of the series was originally planned to end, and the closing titles would then play out not over the famous Ron Embleton paintings we all know and love, but instead images that reinforced the idea of Scarlet’s robotic nature, described in the script thusly;

END TITLES; These will comprise of still shots of CAPTAIN SCARLET in association with computers, printed circuits and electrodes thus conveying the premise that CAPTAIN SCARLET is a mechanical man.

Subsequent redrafts would drop the idea of Captain Scarlet being a ‘mechanical man’ in favour of him being an ‘indestructible’ flesh and blood duplicate, and the Andersons never commented on how they may have planned to develop their robotic Captain Scarlet in future episodes. While it certainly raises some potentially interesting story ideas, it’s hard to imagine audiences accepting the character quite so readily as they did the Captain Scarlet we eventually got.

Patrick McGoohan; the potential face and voice of the World President?

Another idea present in the script for The Mysterons reflected a trend that had been an element of several previous Anderson shows, and had recently reached its peak with their 1966 feature film Thunderbirds are Go!; that of modelling puppets on celebrities. Cliff Richard and the Shadows had been realised in puppet form for the first big screen Thunderbirds outing (with the group also performing their own song) but now Gerry and Sylvia considered casting a ‘special guest voice’ for episodes of Captain Scarlet, along with a puppet modelled on that guest star. The script for The Mysterons specifies a ‘Patrick McGoohan type’ to play the World President, with other potential future guest stars mentioned including Dirk Bogarde, Roger Moore, and Peter Sellers. Unfortunately, this idea also didn’t survive to the television series, presumably for issues of fees or availability, although John Carson and Geoffrey Keen could perhaps be considered the ‘guest stars’ of 1968’s Thunderbird 6 (even if the puppets they voiced didn’t resemble them) and the idea would then be revisited for Stanley Unwin’s character in 1969’s The Secret Service.

Had the series stuck to the format of the first draft script for The Mysterons, each episode’s special guest star would have been revealed as part of the Mysteron threat sequence following the captions for the Cloudbase personnel, at the moment the Mysterons announced their latest target. It’s interesting however to speculate on what kind of ‘target’ might been shown at this point for the episodes where the Mysteron threats were either misleading (The Launching), cryptic (The Trap), or they just didn’t make one (Manhunt) – which perhaps explains why this too never became a regular part of the series!

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