Sunday, February 7, 2010

Captain Scarlet Episode 2

Previously: Captain Black blew the mysterious Mysterons up real good. The Mysterons vow the destruction of all earthly life, starting with the assassination of World President Number Six. Six is saved, and agent Captain Scarlet is rendered apparently indestructible. Incredible Helmet hair is observed.

If anything was missing from my last review, it was any sort of analysis which makes these reviews more than just a blow-by-blow of the action. If I were to rate the Mysterons, I'd probably give it a C. It is not bad little episode, but its need to dump all the exposition on the viewer means that the pacing becomes rather glacial. A large cast is introduced, but we get no chance to know them. And annoying little questions are left unresolved- what happened to Scarlet's original body? Why did the Mysterons switch from assassination to kidnapping? What did it net them?

Anyways, this next little episode is much tighter affair. Let's go to press:

Winged Assassin. Original UK Airdate: October 6th, 1967 (ATV Midlands)

With a cymbal crash, we're back in. The opening narration has changed a bit, it is now the standard voice-over that will remain for much of the series. "The Mysterons, sworn enemies of Earth, possessing the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person... but first they must destroy. [Cat howl] Leading the fight, one man fate has made indestructible. His name... Captain Scarlet."

We open with an establishing shot of a hotel. Inside the ugliest hotel room I have ever seen, a man is rappelling down in front of the window. As he is about to fire about the man in the bed, BANG! He's shot by Spectrum agent in the doorway.
In Her Majesty's Secret Room Service

That, despite a colour palette maddening close to Captain Black, happens to be Captain Grey. The sleeping man sits up, and is revealed to be wearing a goofy pseudo-asian dressing gown. The title of the episode superimposes itself over his dressing-gown logo, and that's scene. This is, in television parlance, known as the teaser. after every teaser in the opening of Captain Scarlet, we cut to a series of vignettes of each character- Captain Blue driving. Colonel White rocking his desk- while the name of each character is shown on the screen. Over this, the voice of the Mysterons states their desire for vengeance, and then states what their plan-of-the-week is. Today's gameplan is to assassinate the Director General of the United Asian Republic , which I hope will be carried out with more efficiency then their rather pathetic attempt to kill, and then Kidnap, World President Six. The Mysterons have a motif, by the way, that every-time they talk, little white circles drift around the screen.
That is such a white trash name.

Captain Black is in the opening, by the way, hanging out in a misty graveyard. You know, 'cause he's a villain. On Cloudbase, Colonel White is chatting up the troops via videophone, informing them of the Mysterons plan to kill the Director General, who aparently is the elected leader of two hundred million people. I'm pretty sure that that is a smaller population than any current Asian country. Maybe there was a war or something? Anywho, Captain Blue is watching the broadcast from the Cloudbase lounge, where Colonel White is appearing via the world's most useless wallclock.

In tonight's performance, the roll of Big Brother will be played by Lorne Green

Blue leaves to help with security while Captain Scarlet is still under medical observation. He has a flashback to the moment before the crash ("something we don't understand"), but remembers nothing else past that point. He is free of the Mysterons, now. According to the doctor, he now possesses the Mysterons ability of retro... something. He will take damage, feel the pain, even die, but the Mysteron science will bring him back, good as new. The Colonel will take the risk of Scarlet's Mysteron connections- he restores the Cap'n to active duty, and Scarlet jet-sets off to London with Blue, who apparently hasn't left yet.
He looks so cute with his hands like that

The Colonel tells Lieutenant Green that they've switched to Plan B, all Angels launch! There's a great little shout out to Fireball XL5 when Green tells the Angels that their radio call is "Zodiac". There is also a odd moment when Green says "Yes Sir!" in such a smooth, seductive sort of way that you almost think he is channeling Isaac Hays. Meanwhile, in New York, an absurdly heavy airplane is about to leave for a flight to London, but a smirking Captain Black in the terminal tells me that things aren't going to go so well.

Look at that thing. How does it get any lift?
Vislor Turlough doesn't trust Black, but Shatner seems unconcerned

To maintain security, Blue and Scarlet land 30 miles from the airport and drive the rest of the way in a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle. One of the series gimmicks was that these SPVs are hidden in various places all around the world. Last episode it was a tractor trailer, this time ts a mobile home. Meanwhile, on that airplane, complications occur in-flight, the power goes completely out. With everything out, the plane crashes into the ocean in huge fireball as we see a Mysteron replacement plane fly overhead.

This is just tragic.

Wow. See, remember when I said this was a darker series? In Thunderbirds, that plane would sink into the water, and Thunderbird 4 would try and pump air into the sinking fuselage while TB1 and Brains would work out a way to bring it back to the surfacing, saving everyone just as the air ran out. not in Captain Scarlet, oh no no. Here, the Mysterons just kill everybody and go about their business. Like I said, Dark. its a nice scene, and the pilots desperately trying to get control of the aircraft is really rather poignant.

At the hotel from the opening, a decoy Director General gets in a motorcade, while the real one sneaks out back in an oil tanker with Captain Grey. In the control tower, Captain Blue repots that the airport has been sealed and infiltrated with disguised Spectrum agents. At the same time, the Mysteron airplane, Delta-Tango One-Niner comes in for a landing. As it does, Scarlet suddenly acts weird, getting all sweaty and headachy, but it passes. The plane docks with the terminal as the decoy and the real Director General arrive, with the Director getting on board his private jet.
In the future, Air Canada is even less popular

Air Traffic Control gets a report that Delta Tango is acting weird. Apparently they won't open the doors. A quick glance through binoculars proves the aircraft to be empty. Suddenly, while still attached to the terminal, the airplane accelerates, ripping the docking arms off in a flurry of crumbling concrete and driving head on towards the Director's departing jet. Scarlet and Blue rush to the SPV, chasing after it.

I originally was rather annoyed, as the Angels come in to shoot at the plan, and manage to either miss it or barely dent it, odd considering the size of the target. On further reflection, I think it has something to do with the Mysteron invulnerability. Captain Blue tries to shoot the tires off the plane, but the gun is jammed! Scarlet takes matters into his own hands, ejecting Captain Black and taking the suicidal risk of jamming the tires.
Crap, I already made that Rocket Man joke last time...

Scarlet rams the SPV into the landing gear, causing them to rip away! Scarlet's SPV goes crashing into a bunker by the side of the runway as the the plane skids to a grinding halt. The Director's jet almost clears the wreckage but it nicks Delta-Tango's tail fin and it too goes crashing into a giant fireball!



Great job, SPECTRUM

Seriously! An cut away to the inside of the SPV is the rather grisly image of a bloody, dead Captain Scarlet. As an ambulance takes away the body, Captain Blue and an air traffic control survey the wreckage and have this little dialogue:

Controller: "A brave man. A pity he died in vain."
Blue: "Maybe he didn't die....:
Controller: "What?"
Blue: "...In vain"

Its rather tragic that Blue can only make note of Scarlet's rumored invulnerability, rather than note any kind of victory. This was an absolute failure, no two ways about it. The ambulance rides off into a fade-out, and we go to credits. Falling Boxes! Speeding Cars! FILMED IN SUPERMARIONATION

Wow. That is a darker episode. Lets see, the DT-19 was about the same size as an Airbus 380, which seat about 520, plus fifteen odd crew and two pilots. Plus the Director General, his pilot, co-pilot and maybe four crew. Plus Captain Scarlet, and maybe on or two people killed when the airplane smashed the terminal docking arms. That's a death toll of about five hundred and fifty people, with absolutely no one rescued or saved. Taking the personal killed when the Mysterons blew up the safe-house in the first episode, the gunman at the beginning plus the rescue of President Six, the current record stands at:

Mysterons: 600
Spectrum: 2

Our heroes, ladies and gentleman.

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