“Stand by for action!”
Gerry Anderson revolutionized television with his ability to pull strings on his performers. He wasn’t one of those creative producers who messed with his actors. He pretty much eliminated them with his revolutionary Supermarionation process. He figured out how to make marionettes that performed on the same level as any hammy actor with a stiff delivery. He used his wooden characters to merge animated and live action into a futuristic world of tomorrow. He found success in Supercar and Fireball XL5 that attracted both kids that liked puppets and adults who enjoyed the science fiction storylines. Right before he struck international stardom with Thunderbirds, Anderson went beneath the waves with Stingray. The show was risky since strings don’t work the same way under the waves. But Anderson had tricks to take his talents aquatic. Stingray: 50th Anniversary Edition has all 39 episodes that were wisely shot in Videcolor!
Wisely the series was put a 100 years in the future of 2065. That means were still 50 years away from the submarine Stingray cruising under the waves. This state of the art marvel is part of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol. The sub is docked at the appropriately called Marineville. Captain Troy Tempest is in charge of the operation. Rumor has it that Gerry Anderson had the head designed to look like James Garner (The Rockford Files). This was good casting since Troy’s carved to look in control. Troy is paired up with Lieutenant George Lee “Phones” Sheridan in running the sophisticated vessel. Lieutenant Atlanta Shore has the hots for Troy. However she’s got competition in Marina, an escaped slave from an undersea kingdom. The biggest threat against humanity comes from Titanica. This place is ruled by the vicious King Titan. He doesn’t like landlubbers and he also doesn’t like fellow underwater. He’s a fine villain for the series.
Besides battling Titan, the crew investigated other underwater mysteries including “Loch Ness Monster.” They pilot the sub deep into Scotland to look for the truth about Nessie. “The Man from the Navy” has Titan’s dryland spy replace test missiles with real warheads. Will this plot put an end to Marineville? “Titan Goes Pop” has a singing star get kidnapped to Titanica. How can someone be so cruel? Of course if he had grabbed Justin Bieber, the world might pay Titan to keep the brat all those leagues under the sea. “A Christmas to Remember” reminds us that even 50 years from now, we’ll still have holiday specials. “The Big Gun” presents a plot that will wipe out California. This plot predates the original Superman movie. “Treasure Down Below” features underwater pirates. “Sea of Oil” brings hijinks to a drilling well operation. The series ends with “Aquanaut of the Year” that allows Troy to recount the highlights of his career that match with highlights from the series.
Stingray remains good fun. Even after 50 years, I found quite a few kids entranced by the marionettes bouncing across the screen. Anderson’s actors have as much goofy fun on the screen as real actors. The biggest voice actor on the show is Lois Maxwell as Lieutenant Atlanta Shore. Maxwell is best known as Miss Moneypenny in the classic James Bond movies. The episodes have enough intrigue and action to easily turn a lazy Saturday morning viewing into a marathon session. Stingray: 50 Anniversary Edition will keep you entertained for the next 50 years when the real Stingray arrives.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The color transfers bring out the aquatic views. It’s hard to tell the shape of the film since there’s strings in the frame that look like scratches. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. You’ll hear the ship heading deep.
The Thing About Stingray (20:24) has crew members talking about how working with Gerry Anderson was the best film school in the world. He enjoyed everyone asking questions about making the show. They have a production photos and the “cast” to demonstrate how it was made. They open up Troy’s head so it’s truly an “Inside the Actor’s Mind” featurette.
Gerry Anderson Interview (12:13) has him talk about his early career and Stingray. He explores the history of his Supermarionation process.
Stingray: 50th Anniversary Collection is another fun series from the man behind Thunderbirds and Space: 1999.
Timeless Media Group presents Stingray: 50th Anniversary Collection. Starring: Lois Maxwell, Don Mason, Robert Easton and Ray Barrett . Boxset Contents: 39 episodes on 5 DVDs. Rated: Unrated. Released: January 13, 2014.