Sunday, February 8, 2015

Stingray!


Just finished watching and enjoying all thirty-nine episodes of Gerry Anderson's Stingray series. This is the first color offering from the British "Supermariantion" studio and the one just before the more famous Thunderbirds show.

At a half hour each these shows are very nicely paced and don't drag as some of the Thunderbirds episodes are wont to do from time to time. The stories are told with vigor and often with dept edits which lose none of the story but keep the show running briskly.

Tempest, Marina and Phones
Stingray presents the adventures of Captain Troy Tempest (designed to look like James Garner) and his navigator "Phones". They are joined by Marina, an sea-dwelling mute woman with green hair (designed to look like Bridget Bardot). Back at the base named Marineville are Commander Shore and his daughter and primary Tempest love interest Atlanta (designed to look like Della Reese). Stingray itself is a highly effective submarine which forms the spearhead for the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (W.A.S.P.) and is by all evidence in the series the only ship in the fleet.


In the future of 2065 most shipping is done with remotely controlled vessels, but still there seems plenty for Tempest and his crew to do. For one thing they are constantly battling the Aquaphibians, a race of undersea people who led by the tyrant Titan are constantly plotting to bring down Marineville and if possible Tempest himself. Marina had been Titan's slave but was freed by Tempest and Phones in the debut episode.


The sea itself seems inhabited by a number of somewhat different peoples, with different looks and whatnot and Stingray finds itself coming across them regularly. Titan (with a Laurence Oliver air) is a hoot with his hyperbolic threats often coming to naught and his secret agent X-2-Zero (who looks like Claude Raines and sounds like Peter Lorre) who lurks in an old house on an island near Marineville. X-2-Zero often dons disguises and enters Marineville, but rarely accomplishes much.


I have dim memories of seeing Stingray before, as a kid, the only Anderson show I saw other than Captain Scarlet. To be honest none of the episodes in particular triggered any memories though the show's potent opening did echo in my mind. The music is a bit part of the energy of the show, especially when Stingray launches and when Marineville itself descends into the bunkers to withstand attacks (which come with some degree of regularity).

While Stingray might not have been as accomplished technically as Thunderbirds, its superior pacing makes it (for me at least) a much more enjoyable show. I'm often impressed by Thunderbirds, but I actually often enjoy Stingray.

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4 comments:

  1. As you'll know, Rip, the first few episodes of Thunderbirds were made as half hour shows until Lew Grade asked Gerry Anderson to make them fit the hour format (which is usually 45-50 minutes to allow for adverts). This meant shooting extra scenes to pad them out, with future episodes being written and shot for the longer format. Like you. I've often felt that Thunderbirds dragged a bit and would've been better being kept as a shorter show. I love Stingray, but Fireball XL5 is probably my favourite. Roll on the day that every episode is 'colourised'.

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    1. Fireball XL5 is scheduled to arrive at my domicile next month and I'm eager to watch the episodes.

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  2. I believe that Stingray was not only the first Anderson show shot in colour, it was actually the first UK TV series shot in colour - quite forward thinking given that colour TV in the UK was still some years away (although no doubt they were keeping US sales in mind)

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    1. I think you're right. A number of shows of that era shot in color even though color was far from universal in the home. I still remember the night Dad and Mom brought home the first color set and watching Daniel Boone, astounded at the colors in the countryside.

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