DVD Review: Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (The Complete Series)



Gerry Anderson was flying high after the international success of The Thunderbirds. He could have easily cranked out a semi-clone of his success as a new series. How easy it would have been to give us more semi-comic technology lovers that zip around in rocketships. But Anderson devised a series that cut back on the humor to give a darker series about humans fighting back against an alien invasion. He also made his marionettes more human with normal size heads compared to his previous puppets. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: The Complete Series contains a science fiction show that would rival the output of Irwin Allen’s science fiction shows of 1967.

The series starts on Mars where an explorer vehicle from Earth stumbles across an outpost. The crew fears they’re under attack. This leads to an all out war with an unusual twist. Turns out that the base on Mars belonged to the Mysterons. They once were Martians. Now they exist as the programs inside a series of supercomputers. They have the ability to create people using retro-metabolism. This means they can infiltrate the Earth with their agents. They can even reproduce Earth technology. The thing is the Mysterons must destroy the person or thing that they reproduce. Spectrum is the only agency that can handle this cyber attack from outer space.

The Mysteron’s main agent on Earth is Captain Black, reconstructed. This creates a strange stress for Spectrum since it’s almost like they’re attacking a rogue agent. His top target to take out is the President of the World. The only person who can stop this assassination plot is Captain Scarlet, Spectrum’s top agent. He’s a fearless hero except he ends up dying and getting reproduced by the Mysterons. The new Captain Scarlet doesn’t do well and get killed quickly. But he doesn’t die. In fact, Scarlet regains his human conscious so he’s no longer a Mysteron puppet. His new body gives him two new talents. He can detect when a Mysteron controlled agent is near him. The most astonishing new superpower he has is the inability to die. This leads to Captain Scarlet going on suicide missions. The South Park guys made Team America as a tribute to Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation technique. Now it’s easy to see that Kenny dying at the end is a tribute to Captain Scarlet.

This isn’t just about macho guys. There’s an elite fighter jet squad led by five women called The Angels. They get to blast alien ships out of the sky. The show might have been made in miniature, but the action is huge. The puppets look more realistic than previous efforts since the heads are proportional to their bodies. There’s moments where you think this is being done with humans or at least actors with very little emoting skills. The episodes are a bit more gritty than previous Gerry Anderson productions. There’s aim for an older audience who liked the visuals of Thunderbirds, yet wanted more an edge to the interactions. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons is a fine dose of ’60s science fiction.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the colorful nature of the show. Remember that what looks like scratches are the strings on the actors. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are bring out the sound effects for the action scenes.

Audio Commentaries on “Mysteron” and “Attack on Cloudbase” have Gerry Anderson recount the episodes. He really gets into how the modelmakers controlled the scenes. He gives away secrets from the set. Gerry Anderson passed away at the end of 2012 so it’s good to hear him reflect upon his shows.

Gerry Anderson Interview (10:22) recounts his early years. He started as a sound editor, but his name would be made in visual effects. He recounts how his failing production company was saved by a woman who arrived with scripts for a children’s series that needed puppets.

Spotlight on Captain Scarlet: The Directing (13:29) explains how to call the shots when your actors are strung out. Perry talks about working on the show. He enjoyed the experience.

The Writing (11:36) explores what went into the scripts. Shane Rimmer explains how he became a part of the show. He liked the work.

The Puppets (7:34) shows off what made the puppets tick. They redid the ratios from the puppet heads they used in Thunderbirds. The mystery of who Captain Scarlet looks like is exposed.

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: The Complete Series gives a gritty edge to Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation action. A rather tough show about an alien invasion.

Timeless Media Group presents Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: The Complete Series. Starring: Francis Matthews, Ed Bishop, Donald Gray, Liz Morgan, Cy Grant, Gary Files, Jeremy Wilkin and Sylvia Anderson. Boxset Contents: 32 episodes on 4 DVDs. Rated: Unrated. Released: February 10, 2014.

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