Gerry Anderson’s genuinely dark sci-fi series about an almost unstoppable alien invasion is frequently overlooked by fans. Everybody knows and adores Thunderbirds, but Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons combined Cold War paranoia and tense spy-fi action to create something rather unique.In case the premise for this 48-year-old puppet show passed you by, here’s a summary: it is the year 2068 and Earth is protected by Spectrum, a colour-themed world security organisation which has a flying aircraft carrier known as Cloudbase as its base of operations and a team of decidedly international looking agents. After a diplomatic incident with the inhabitants of Mars, Earth ends up under threat by the seemingly invincible Mysterons. Luckily, the same incident granted Spectrum agent Captain Scarlet near invulnerability. He must thwart the aliens at every turn, lest the Earth be destroyed.
We get all 32 episodes of the short-lived classic TV series. The tensions, drama and darkness is all still there; if the show scared the willies out of you when you were little, it should still give you a thrill today. The scariness of a bodyless alien foe that takes over living people is as creepy as ever. The acting is a little wooden, but then this is Supermarionation and so is all done with dolls.
The quality of the print is good but it’s nothing to write home about; it’s of the quality we demand from modern DVD box set, but nothing more. Same goes for the sound; the quality is acceptable but it’s hardly going to stretch the capabilities of a modern TV and sound system. The menu for each episode is also quite crude. There’s no ‘play all’ button on each disc, and you have to click through to get each episode started. Part of the appeal of big box sets like this is that you can start them and leave them on the background, which you can’t do here.
The DVD extras really aren’t anything to write home about. We get some lovely vintage adverts for ice lollies and breakfast cereal, both of which are perfectly charming and serve to remind you exactly how old the show is. We also get an audio adventure, which is rather nice though pretty generic for what it is. Finally, we get some stills and some text telling us all about the TV21 comics, Cloudbase and Angel Interceptor. These would have worked well as short documentaries, but alas they’re just text on screen, which you will almost certainly never read.
If you’ve already got this collection, then there is nothing new in the re-release to entice you, but if you’re new to all things Captain Scarlet then you should investigate it today.CAPTAIN SCARLET THE COMPLETE COLLETION / CERT: U / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: FRANCIS MATTHEWS, ED BISHOP, DONALD GRAY, CY GRANT / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 28TH