Five reasons to watch A Christmas to Remember in HD!

Christmas is almost here, and Network have a very special festive treat lined up for Stingray fans; free online streaming access to the episode A Christmas to Remember in High Definition for five whole days, from December 22nd to 26th! In anticipation of the stream going live, here are five very special reasons to revisit this festive favourite via its streaming broadcast this Christmas!

#5 – It’s the best Anderson Christmas episode

It’s hard to imagine that most Anderson fans don’t already have A Christmas to Remember on their December watchlist anyway, but many who give all the Anderson Christmas episodes an annual re-watch would put Stingray’s near or at the top of the list. It’s difficult to please everybody when it comes to producing a Christmas special of an established television series; some viewers want an episode literally draped in tinsel and baubles reflecting the season it’s being broadcast in, while others hope for a great episode and aren’t particularly bothered if the episode feels ‘Christmassy’ or not. Stingray, impressively, manages to provide much to please both camps with A Christmas to Remember; succeeding in finding the perfect balance between festive frivolity and the traditional action fare of most Stingray episodes. We open and close with an exciting submarine battle orchestrated by a naughty alien, but still have plenty of time to indulge in more than a little festive spirit between the two sequences.

Kicking the door in a suspected intruder’s face not withstanding.

Compare this episode to the Thunderbirds Christmas offering Give or Take a Million, where we get just a few fun festive minutes with our regular characters in favour of an underwhelming (and almost entirely unrelated) story about a bank heist and delivering a shipment of toys to some children we never actually get to see, and it becomes even more clear that producing a good Christmas episode is a difficult feat for an action series to pull off – but Stingray manages it superbly.

#4 – Marineville in the snow

Whether it’s Cloudbase, Tracy Island or Moonbase Alpha, the base inhabited by the heroes of each Anderson show eventually begins to feel like home to the viewers – and seeing Marineville covered in a blanket of snow throughout A Christmas to Remember finds the base looking more inviting than ever. The model shots of Marineville under a blanket of snow are stunning to look at (particularly in HD) but another fine example of the show’s attention to detail is in the way the snow continues to fall throughout interior scenes as well. Through the windows of the Shore household (whether in the kitchen or through the sitting windows) we can see the heavy skies overhead and the snow continuing to build up around the edges of the window frame.

Marina and Atlanta with their prize-winning snowman and snowwoman.

It’s also nice that our regular characters take the time to enjoy both the snow and the festive season; whether it’s Phones dressing up as Santa to deliver presents, Atlanta and Marina trudging out into the middle of nowhere to build snowmen, Shore’s off-screen ‘celebration’ in the mess with his friends, or even simply having a Christmas tree in the control tower. Even the sequence of Phones interrupting Atlanta’s moment of ‘alone time’ with Troy is visually striking, as it is illuminated only by the warm glow of the Christmas tree lights.

Commander Shore may not thank us for saying this, but Marineville has never looked as pretty as it does in this episode!

#3 – Barry could have been a lot more annoying

‘Supermarionation children’ is a phrase to chill the blood of many viewers, reminding them of numerous precocious pre-teen puppets who are instantly granted unlimited access to maximum security installations faster than they can say “gee whizz!” However, Barry Byrne is one of the lesser offenders in this regard, perhaps because his backstory is more tragic than most. Not only does he not have a mother (pretty much standard for most Supermarionation children) he is also without a father following the death of W.A.S.P. officer Captain Byrne. Now residing in the W.A.S.P. orphanage (the mere existence of which runs contrary to the usual jolliness of Stingray) Barry is still inspired enough by his late father’s career enough to want to become an aquanaut himself some day – prompting Atlanta and Troy to hatch a cunning plan to bring him to Marineville for a Christmas visit.

Once at Marineville Barry thankfully doesn’t take too much attention away from the regular characters, instead seeming mostly genuinely grateful to be there – as any fans of Stingray would be! While the episode would probably play out much the same whether he was there or not, his presence does provide one or two nice moments (most notably in his total belief in Troy’s exaggerated stories of his own heroism) while also giving the story a slightly tragic element that makes his visit to Marineville feel well-earned.

Also, he wears Supercar pyjamas and own models of Fireball XL5 and Stingray. He’s one of us, folks.

#2 – The ice skating sequence

It serves no function in the story beyond showing our characters enjoying Christmas but the ice skating sequence is easily the highlight of this episode, and one that really shows off how far the Supermarionation puppets had advanced in just a few short years. We’re all very familiar with the “the puppets couldn’t walk convincingly” complaint from many of the people who worked on the Anderson shows, which led them to finding other ways to make their characters move – and putting them on ice skates was an inspired decision.

What makes it particularly impressive is the way that each character is operated by their puppeteer to give them their own individual skating style, from Troy and Atlanta’s professional skating duet, to Fisher’s casual gliding and Phones’ goofy antics. It even takes the time to provide one of Commander Shore’s more memorable character moments, as he arrives in his hoverchair to watch the action with Marina – before deciding that he won’t let being stuck in the chair stop him from joining in, even allowing Barry to ride along with him. The entire sequence is perfectly encapsulates who these characters are, and all without a single line of dialogue from anybody.

Shore’s body language when having to play with Barry speaks more than any words ever could anyway.

Throw in Barry Gray’s beautiful score and you have not only the standout scene of the episode, but one of the most magical scenes in Supermarionation history.

#1 – It’s in HD!

Stingray in High Definition. Fans have been asking for it for many years, and following the HD broadcast of Treasure Down Below last month and now A Christmas to Remember it really looks like it might be about to happen in full! That’s why we urge you to support the stream by giving it a watch and also letting anyone you think might be interested know that it’s available – the more views it gets, the more likely we are to get more in the future!

“Looks like Jackson Pollock did some design work in here, sir…”

No matter how many times you’ve seen this episode over the years you will never have seen it looking as good as this, and we guarantee you’ll spot something you’ve never noticed before. Whether it’s the text on a Christmas card or that repainted Fireball XL5 missile that Barry inexplicably keeps in his bedroom, something will catch your eye for the very first time. Even if it doesn’t, the stream will allow you to enjoy the richness and depth of the episode’s colour palette that has been lost in the murky SD realm of the DVDs we’ve been stuck with for the last two decades. Through no fault of its own Stingray has spent far too long looking like the poor relation in the picture quality department when compared to the restoration work done on shows like Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and UFO – but now it looks like that all might be about to change.

And who knows? Perhaps if you’re very good, Santa might be bringing you the full series on Blu-ray for Christmas next year…

A Christmas to Remember will be streaming at the Network on Air website from December 22nd to 26th 2021. Visit their website to sign up for a free account, and you can watch it free as many times as you like for those five days!

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

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