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Captain Scarlet’s Top 5 Heroic Moments

Happy Captain Scarlet Day, Anderfans! July 10th marks a significant date in the world of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Several classic episodes from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s 1967 Supermarionation TV series are set on this date. Why, you might ask? For the decidedly quirky reason of being the birthday of the series script editor and main writer, Tony Barwick! Captain Scarlet Day has since become a regular celebratory event when Anderfans can celebrate one of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s most ground-breaking and exciting sci-fi puppet TV series.

As the sixth entry in Century 21 Productions’ Supermarionation body of work, Captain Scarlet is famed for its sophisticated puppetry and darker storytelling compared to what had come before. It was common for episodes depicting the ongoing War of Nerves between Spectrum and the Mysterons to actually end in victory for the Mysterons, or else with Spectrum incurring heavy losses when beating the Martian menace.

However, despite this prevalent bleakness, there’s an abundance of heroic victories scattered throughout the series for Spectrum. On this year’s Captain Scarlet Day, we’re counting down five of the greatest victories for Spectrum’s indestructible superman!

5. Captain Scarlet saves the Bensheba refinery

In the climactic events of Fire at Rig 15, Spectrum realises nearly too late what the Mysterons had truly meant with their threat to immobilise Spectrum. The Mysteronised fire rig safety expert, Jason, has succeeded in tricking Spectrum into thinking that Rig 15 itself was the Mysterons’ target, its precious oil widely used to fuel Spectrum’s variety of military vehicles. However, when the body of the original Jason is discovered, Captain Scarlet sets off in deadly pursuit of the Mysteronsied Jason before he can charge his explosives truck into the heart of Bensheba refinery.

The high-speed pursuit between Jason’s explosives truck and Scarlet’s SPV is a thrilling showcase of how refined Century 21’s special effects were at this point. The sequence convincingly cuts between puppet-sized sections of both vehicles, more regular-sized model vehicles o miniature sets, and close-ups of real-life human hands, allowing for a greater sense of the stakes involved as Scarlet and Jason attempt to ram each other off the desert highway. The cuts between puppetry and real hands as Jason throws explosive devices from his cab at Scarlet’s SPV are wonderfully seamless, topped off with the reliably useful rolling road set-up.

The sequences swells to a devastating end for Scarlet and Jason alike. Both vehicles end up succeeding in pushing each other out of control. Scarlet manages to propel Jason into a sand bank, while Scarlet himself collides with fuel storage tanks. The scene’s parting shot of Scarlet’s SPV, uncontrollably ablaze, is a stark visual reminder of the human cost of the War of Nerves, even if we know that he’ll return to live again…

4. Captain Scarlet prevents Nuclear City from being destroyed

A similar sequence occurs in the events of Special Assignment, in which a disgraced Captain Scarlet appears to have defected to the Mysterons! However, it’s all part of an elaborate scheme of Spectrum’s to trick the Mysterons. Their two latest agents, Steele and Kramer, acquire Captain Scarlet to steal an SPV and attack Nuclear City in an effort to trigger the destruction of North America.

The reliably decent model sequence of the SPV thundering towards Nuclear City is coupled with the character-charged drama of Scarlet turning on his Mysteron captors just in time, setting off the SPV’s smoke signal feature to alert the nearby Angel Interceptors to attack and destroy the SPV. This action sequence telegraphs an unflinching intensity to the viewer; no thought can afford to be spared for Scarlet’s own wellbeing. The SPV at his control must be stopped at any cost. Scarlet may lose his life to the Mysteron agents, who he leaves to their fate in the runaway SPV, but the Mysterons in turn are defeated this time around. North America is saved thanks to Scarlet’s heroic sacrifice.

3. Captain Scarlet allows the ‘wings of the world’ to escape to safety

The advanced puppetry of Captain Scarlet may have proved complex when attempting to make the puppets walk or otherwise interact convincingly, but the final battle in The Trap showcases a thrilling workaround for the puppet’s limited mobility, as well as giving us one of the series’ most electrifying finales. When the Mysterons’ threat to ‘clip the wings of the world’ is discovered to be the destruction of the assembled commanders of the World Air Force at Garry Castle in Scotland, Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue swing into action to save the gathered delegates.

The Mysteronised Goddard is prepared to execute the evacuating delegates in the care of Symphony and Destiny Angels by destroying their Magna Copter as it departs from the castle. Using the SPV’s jetpack, Captain Scarlet distracts Goddard in a thrilling aerial assault along the castle walls. It’s a selfless act of heroism on Scarlet’s part that gives way to a shockingly violent gun battle between him and Goddard, with the Mysteron armed with a colossal machine gun cannon.

Unfortunately, Scarlet’s jetpack abilities aren’t enough to evade Goddard’s targeting. Eventually bullet-ridden, Scarlet becomes consumed by the castle’s destruction when the Magna Copter sneaks away from Goddard and Captain Blue proceeds to demolish the castle with the SPV rocket. Undoubtedly one of Scarlet’s grimmest but most worthwhile sacrifices.

2. Captain Scarlet saves Colonel White from a Mysteron assassination

White as Snow highlights an intriguing and emotionally-charged clash of morals between Captain Scarlet and Colonel White when the Mysterons declare the commander-in-chief of Spectrum to be their latest target. A simmering tension occurs between the pair when a runaway TVR-17 satellite on collision course for Spectrum can’t initially be proven to be a Mysteron weapon. The tension escalates when Scarlet rejects White’s offer to take temporary command of Cloudbase when the colonel decides to leave for an undisclosed location to protect Cloudbase from further attack.

It’s a compelling dynamic that’s rarely repeated in the series and gains further emotional heft when Scarlet secretly pursues the colonel aboard a World Navy submarine, where White takes refuge away from the Mysterons. Scarlet’s interception proves wise, as the Mysterons track the colonel’s journey and place a Mysteron agent aboard a submarine to assassinate him. Scarlet cunningly takes the colonel’s place, culminating in a shootout between Mysteron and Spectrum men, both of them soon taking a decisive bullet from the other.

Despite his antagonism towards his commander when he orders the destruction of the TVR-17 (only for it to later be discovered that it was, in fact, a Mysteron replica), Scarlet rightly assumes that the colonel’s evasion of the Mysterons isn’t enough. Breaking official protocol is what ends up saving the colonel’s life, and even though Colonel White disciplines the indestructible Captain Scarlet by sentencing him to death (a nice bit of black comedy to end the episode on!), the pair’s mutual respect for each other is resecured.

1. Captain Scarlet secures the power source of the Mysterons’ moon complex

One of Captain Scarlet‘s most ambitious storylines yields a multitude of classic moments for the series. The Lunarville trilogy, comprising Lunarville 7, Crater 101, and Dangerous Rendezvous, offers a rare three-part mini-saga in which Spectrum uncovers the Mysterons’ efforts to gradually ensnare the moon by building a Mysteron complex on the far side of our lunar satellite. Having discovered its presence in Lunarville 7, Crater 101 sees Captain Scarlet, Captain Blue, and Lieutenant Green venture back to the moon to destroy the Mysterons’ moon complex.

During the episode’s events, the Spectrum trio infiltrates the complex, the closest any Spectrum agent ever comes to being within touching distance of Mysteron architecture and technology. However, the Mysterons themselves are never far behind and plot to hasten Spectrum’s detonation of their own Martian base, ensuring that they remain trapped in the eventual carnage. Scarlet takes it upon himself to try to wrestle the complex’s diamond-like power source free before the complex’s demolition, demanding that Blue and Green vacate early.

Moments like these offer an oddly reassuring encapsulation of Captain Scarlet’s awareness of his indestructibility. He knows he’s the most physically expendable, but that awareness comes with an urgency that the likes of Captain Blue and Lieutenant Green must be safeguarded. In the end, it’s not Scarlet’s indestructibility that saves the day; it’s his cool levelheadedness. With the power source secured just in time, Scarlet escapes the Mysterons’ moon-based complex just as the crescendo of destruction erupts. Captain Blue’s remark of “What a guy!” sums up Scarlet’s heroic actions in an appropriately concise manner!

Join us for our S.I.G. live celebration of Captain Scarlet Day this evening! What surprises could Spectrum and the Mysterons have in store? Tune in to find out and enjoy all the latest Gerry Anderson news, discussion, games and more.

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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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