Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons: The Complete Series (Blu-ray series review).

If anything, it’s a bigger surprise that ‘Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons’ hasn’t had a blu-ray release until now. The format is as per its original TV release in 4:3 ratio. Oddly, the menu system between disks varies. I much prefer to see all the titles than having to reel a menu bar. As I’m watching the advance disks, this might change with the final release but it does seem a shame that they missed the opportunity to use the Mysteron twin rings as a cursor.

I should point out that all the episodes are in the right order, including the three Moon trilogy episodes.

Of all the episodes, I still regard ‘Flight To Atlantica’ to be one of the best storywise and would work in any medium. It’s also one of the rare times when the Spectrum Captains are less than formal, with elements of arrogance and slaphappy showing how well disciplined they normally are. From a technical point of view, ‘Noose Of Ice’ with the freezing water has to be one of the cleverest from a special effects point of view.

‘Captain Scarlet’ suffered in many respects for following ‘Thunderbirds’, which would have been a tough act to follow. Being restricted to 25 minutes, characterisation was bound to suffer also hindered it. Watching again now, there is an obvious bromance between Captains Scarlet and Blue, although I do wonder if the latter had orders from Colonel White should the former go rogue again, which is hinted at in the extras.

I was also keeping track of surviving mysteronised people and make it three, the two models, Gabrielle and Helga, from ‘Model Spy’ and Frazer from ‘Crater 101’ and you have to wonder what the Mysterons did with them. From the looks of things, myteronised people need at least 100,000 volts to kill them which means plugging any of them into the mains is survivable. Oh, for the detail watchers of you, the alleyway where Captain Scarlet is poorly shot at by an unseen myteronised person in the opening credits is the same alleyway where Captain Black and his car was teleported away in ‘The Heart Of New York’.

I’ve been told that the deluxe version was sold out even before the October release. The one advantage of being a reviewer is I get to see the advance copies so get to see the extras disk. However, if you can lay your hands on it or debating whether you should pursue it, let’s show what’s on it.

The 49 minute long ‘The History Of Captain Scarlet’ might be seen as deceiving as below it is a list of 11 extras. Other than the adverts, these are not the same thing so press the button on the first entry or you’ll miss a good feature. As it features both Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, it automatically sets a date when it was recorded but it also goes back as far as Christine Glanville and Derek Meddings as well. Indeed, there is a lot of interview material here covering voices, puppets, landscapes and vehicles. Gerry Anderson reveals it was Reg Hill who came up with and created the twin green Mysteron circlets.

Other little gems are like Destiny Angel was modelled from Ursula Andress but they couldn’t place the other Angels. I’m less sure about the argument that all the Spectrum captains had to be colour-coded to tell them apart. I mean, a lot of the non-costumed supporting cast could be told apart. Do you really need to count the number of times what would become the later Sam Loover puppet in ‘Joe 90’ was a supporting character here?

Many of the landscapes were created by Alan Shubrook who points out that the likes of the Inca temple were created in less than a day and a half. I do tend to agree with Sylvia Anderson that the series lacked heart but there was little time for character development which made things difficult.

In case you’re introducing your sprogs to the series, ensure they watch the ‘Spectrum Briefing’ (6 minutes) and ‘Mysteron Briefing’ (9 minutes) first. It’s also rather revealing that Captain Scarlet revived after Doctor Fawn performed an autopsy on him. That must have been startling.

The 34 minute ‘Captain Scarlet Reconstructed’ goes over the pilot episode looking at everything from Barry Gray’s orchestration to the effects to foreign translations. Oddly, the timbre of the Mysteron voice is never made as deep as our original was given. It’s also one of the few places that we get to see a photo of voice artiste Janna Hill.

The shortest is the 12 second AD flash showing the Spectrum symbol. The TV adverts show the promotions for the lollipops, Zoom and Orbit, and the cereal Sugar Smacks. I still own the badge set from them.

There are 5 versions of the opening introducing Captain Scarlet, significantly adding Colonel White’s voice warning kids not to copy his indestructibility. I remember at the time of release, some kid had jumped off single story building. There are 7 versions of the end theme, mostly instrumental and another version with the robotic voice. Scarlet was actually going to be a robot at one stage of development.

Prepare to sit back for the Episode Gallery as there are 30 minutes of stills. There were very few behind-the-scenes photos but many where there were black and white versions of the same scenes. Even back in 1968, not everyone had colour television sets, I know I didn’t, so presumably they were to test the tone values. Interestingly, it looks like it was a choice between Destiny and Harmony for ‘Model Spy’.

The 8½ minute Portrait Gallery covers the usual suspects although oddly the main omissions are the Sam Loover head and Captain Black after he was controlled. Considering the amount of use that was given them, that was rather unusual. You also get to see a variety of the supporting cast and the Spectrum vehicles.

Finally, the pilot episode for ‘Joe 90’, no doubt an indication of which series is going blu-ray next.

‘Captain Scarlet’ still holds up reasonably well today, even against its CGI remake and if you’re new to the series or just want a blu-ray then it’s worth pursuing but don’t forget to show your Spectrum security pass when requesting an SPV.

GF Willmetts

October 2018

(region B blu-ray: pub: Network. 4 blu-ray disks 1300 minutes 32 * 25 minute episodes. Price: £39.99 (UK). ASIN: B07FTXVSJ3)

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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