It may surprise regular readers of this blog to learn my initial posts, two-and-a-half years ago, weren’t on the subject of “Doctor Who”! The first two pieces I wrote were on “Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet”, to give it its full title, and so think it high time I revisit the Hypermarionation series. It’s currently being simultaneously rerun on ITV2 and CITV, early weekday mornings, with a repeat an hour later on ITV2+1. The series consists of 26 half-hour episodes which were originally aired from 2005 as two seasons of thirteen episodes each. This computer-animated show is based on the 1967 puppet series “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” also created by Gerry Anderson with his then-wife Sylvia. The opening two-part story of the revamped “Captain Scarlet”, “Instrument of Destruction”, went out a month or so before new “Doctor Who” first appeared on our screens and was therefore considered something of a rival. But new “Captain Scarlet” didn’t receive the same amount of publicity as the BBC ONE series and was buried in ITV’s schedules on Saturday mornings as part of the children’s strand “Ministry of Mayhem”. I think that’s a shame because “Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet” is everything I’d like new “Doctor Who” to be… “This is the voice of the Mysterons! We know that you can hear us, Earthmen…”
Tough and no-nonsense, “Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet” is populated with numerous characters, the Spectrum agents each with a colour coding. Captain Scarlet, aka Paul Metcalfe, becomes indestructible after a misunderstanding on a mission to Mars. His friend and co-astronaut Captain Black, Conrad Lefkon, misinterprets an alien scanning device as an act of hostility and destroys the Mysteron complex only for it to reconstruct itself through the power of retro-metabolism. The Mysterons vow they will be avenged and, in failing to make Scarlet their agent, take over the body of Black. Conrad leaves behind grieving girlfriend Destiny Angel, Simone Giraudoux, who, as the series progresses, begins to fall for Scarlet. This ménage à trois never gets in the way of the action, unlike the current crop of over-domesticated “Doctor Who” companions, but underpins it with an urgency-of-purpose highlighting what makes humanity something worth fighting for. Spectrum operates out of Skybase, formerly Cloudbase in the original Supermarionation series, and have a range of vehicles at their disposal. Destiny, for example, heads a squad of five Angel pilots using Falcon Interceptors as one line of defence. Scarlet is usually teamed with Captain Blue, Adam Svenson, under the command of Colonel White, Sir Charles Grey, and he, in turn, is assisted by Lieutenant Green, Serena Lewis, who has a soft spot for Blue. The series isn’t perfect, by any means, but it is tight and well executed. It’s the last episode today but, fear not, the series begins all over again from tomorrow!