Stingray – 17. Stand By For Action

Directed by Alan Pattillo

Teleplay by Dennis Spooner

First UK Broadcast – 21st March 1965

Stand By For Action is like a gift, specially prepared by AP Films for this blog. As well as being absolutely jam-packed with behind the scenes easter eggs for me to wax lyrical about, the episode also serves as a glorious and happy satire of the film industry and popular culture. And it’s all done from a place of love. I’m so excited to share this one with you. Strap in, because it’s a roller coaster.

Get it? Cos it’s a movie set… where they say “action” a lot… like on a movie set… y’know?

Dynamic camerawork aplenty this week as Troy walking into a room is made to look as exciting as possible. This set looks appropriately cobbled together from all sorts of bits and pieces from previous productions. Those filing cabinets turn up everywhere. Some of the walls were featured in Loch Ness Monster, and the archway is pinched from the cafe set in Treasure Down Below – as is the noticeboard shown in the distant background.

So here’s a turn up for the books. Lt. Fisher has turned traitor. I suppose it beats typing up meeting agendas or whatever the heck he used to do at Marineville anyway.

The camera follows Troy up the stairs very rigidly, almost as if the puppet is being carried up there by the camera itself.

Troy spins dramatically before being gunned down by his former friend… well, former acquaintance… well… former person that he was vaguely aware of? Fisher falls to the floor without too much fuss or bother while Troy milks his injury for all it’s worth, of course. There’s blood though. Actual blood. This might be serious.

Atlanta is horrified to find her beloved conked out at the bottom of the stairs. Phones is remarkably calm about the entire situation. In the background you can spot a desk from Preston’s office seen in Sea of Oil. But never mind that, Troy’s dead!

Yeah, you guessed it folks, it’s a movie set. The reveal is absolutely superb, possibly one of my favourite shots in all of Supermarionation. The big attraction for aficionados is, of course, the fact the real walls and doors of the AP Films studio at Stirling Road are on full display here, re-dressed to stand in for Goggleheimer Productions, Inc. Instead of being built on a raised stage, the set appears to be situated on the studio floor itself. It’s actually remarkable how well the real studio blends with the one-third life-size set. It’s a very carefully engineered shot and boy does it pay off. A couple of other treats here include Commander Zero from Fireball XL5 operating a camera which was also used previously in the XL5 episode, Space City Special. Zero is wearing Troy’s comfy sweater as seen in Count Down. Standing next to the camera is Prescott from Subterranean Sea.

Marty, the director, is joined by the dancing island girl from Subterranean Sea for reasons unknown, and there’s also a chap who looks very familiar indeed… Marty was apparently based on Abe Mandell, the big man at ITC’s New York office, who is best known to Anderson fans for his close involvement in the production of Space: 1999. Whether it was the character as a whole, the puppet’s appearance, or the voice that was inspired by Mandell, I can’t say.

Marty praises his cast, and himself, for a job well done. Fisher for the way he shot Troy, Atlanta for her outpouring of emotion, and Phones for the way he said, “Is he?” There’s just one person Marty misses out…

Prima donna alert. In a fantastic moment where, yet again, all of Troy’s worst character traits take centre stage, Troy demands to receive acknowledgement of his own performance. You could choose to interpret this in two ways. On the one hand, Troy did have the most screen time in the scene we just watched, so he’s probably a bit miffed that he isn’t receiving a bit more attention. Alternatively, you might argue that Troy is making assumptions that he is the star of the show as Stingray’s captain, and therefore believes he should be getting the most praise. This is despite the fact he had no dialogue in the scene and basically just walked up some stairs before hamming up his death scene no end.

Marty delicately explains that he doesn’t necessarily think Troy has the star quality this movie is looking for. So even though the rest of the production will feature the real life team at Marineville, Troy is destined to be recast with a big name actor in the role. That’s Hollywood folks. Now, the whole conceit of this episode is that a movie about Stingray is being produced using the real Stingray, the real Marineville, and the real WASPs, with Troy being the only element substituted for a touch of Hollywood glamour. It’s a brilliant, if totally bananas, concept. Provided viewers at home can accept that the WASPs are now movie stars despite having no acting experience, and that they apparently have time to kill working on a film set instead of doing their actual jobs, then it all holds together quite well. And the idea of Troy, the star of our show, being replaced with a more handsome model, is just an exquisite cherry on the top. It’s exactly the sort of mad decision that out of touch movie executives would make, and it stirs up a fantastic amount of comedy and tension between the characters, whom we all know and love by this point in the series. This episode is one of the finest examples of taking a well-established series format, and shaking it up a bit to see what happens.

Then there’s the mysterious producer, Mr. Goggleheimer, who has disappeared from the set. This could just be poking fun at the out of touch executives of the film industry (or any industry come to that) who are never around on the rare occasions you actually need them. Alternatively…

Goggleheimer might in fact be Surface Agent X20 in disguise and cackling maniacally on his way back to base. Brilliant. This episode is such a wonderful satire of the most absurd extremes of the film industry. The director is an egotist, the script and the story aren’t given all that much attention, the star of the show has been recast purely to make the movie more marketable, and the producer is actually an alien monster from under the sea. *Chef’s Kiss.* And, as a bonus easter egg, the car X20 is driving used to belong to Steve Zodiac in Fireball XL5 which is particularly delicious for reasons that will become obvious later. The back projection footage of the coastal road is a little shakey but it does the job.

This is a rare opportunity to see X20’s house, also known as Rose Cottage, from a different angle. In fact, this is the first time we’ve seen X20 at all since Count Down which feels like a while ago. I suppose the writers just had other stories to tell and I’m okay with that. On the whole, the Supermarionation shows are great at not relying too heavily on one set of villains too often. They appear in enough episodes but don’t out stay their welcome or become too predictable.

Stock footage from the pilot is carefully edited in to show X20’s front room transforming without actually showing the X20 puppet, since the stock footage would show him in his regular costume, rather than the Goggleheimer disguise. He has a quick chat with Titan, just to bring us up to speed on the plot. The entire movie shoot has been set up by X20 for the sole purpose of killing Troy Tempest. When formulating his plan, I don’t quite see how Titan made the leap from assassination to Hollywood glamour, but we just sort of have to go with it. Maybe some of the script for this episode was cut which made it a bit clearer? Perhaps Troy being recast wasn’t part of Titan’s plan and the next time they shot the scene on the stairs the bullets were going to be for real? Whatever – it’s all good fun and it just about holds together.

A moment now to appreciate the design of the Marineville living quarters once again.

The gang are all dressed up for reasons which are never divulged, but Troy is moaning about his short-lived acting career. He is baffled by the notion of Goggleheimer funding a movie about Stingray that doesn’t feature the real life Troy Tempest. Nobody actually questions why someone would want to make a movie about Stingray in the first place. I theorise that it was perhaps intended as a propaganda piece to encourage new WASP recruits. I propose this theory because of the connection between the 1942 film Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air and Gerry Anderson’s elder brother, Lionel. Serving in the RAF during World War II, Lionel featured in this glorified propaganda film as an extra and wrote letters back to his family about the glitz and glamour of the whole experience. As well as Thunder Birds inspiring the title for the follow up Supermarionation series, it’s possible that these stories from Gerry’s brother also inspired the plot of Stand By For Action.

Phones arrives with the desire to deliver his killer line one more time. I delight in Phones getting swept up in the belief that he’s a terrific actor. Robert Easton plays it so sincerely that the whole thing is rather sweet. This boy from the sunny south, who’s dedicated himself to serving his country and the world as a hydrophone operator, now believes he has a shot at another kind of life as a Hollywood star. It’s so wonderfully human.

Phones reveals that none other than Johnny Swoonara is coming to Marineville to take on the role of Troy Tempest. This causes Marina and Altanta to lose control of themselves quite dramatically, collapsing into their chairs and… moaning. Now, obviously this is being played for laughs, but it’s actually an exaggeration of something fairly real. As Beatlemania gripped the world, stories of girls screaming and fainting over the Fab Four were all over the press. This phenomenal hysteria over celebrities was something rather new in the 1960s, so it makes sense that Dennis Spooner would poke fun at it in his script featuring a Hollywood star. And as Marina and Atlanta are a couple of hip and with-it youngsters, it stands to reason that they would be invested in pop culture and rather excited to meet a famous and handsome actor. Would they faint at the meer mention of his name? Probably not in real life, but this is a comedy installment of a 25-minute family show in the 1960s with a lot of other things going on, so sometimes daft stuff just happens. I think it’s actually quite refreshing and modern that Marina and Atlanta should be shown as such big fans of a celebrity, and show their affection and emotion quite so visibly. What’s a little more disturbing is how Johnny and Marty react to it later, but we’ll get to that.

Oh and Troy is annoyed and jealous by the way. But you probably already guessed that.

The whole of Marineville celebrates Johnny’s arrival with terrific excitement. The circus fanfare from the Fireball episode, Flying Zodiac generates a great sense of occasion. Streamers and confetti fly everywhere and the enormous banner stretching from the control tower is absolutely charming. What’s truly wonderful about all of this is that it’s pretty much engineered to irritate Troy. The shot revealing Johnny himself makes clever use of back projection and a very glittery design for his car. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the whacking great Fireball-shaped elephant in the room in a minute.

Even Commander Shore gets why this is a big deal, even if he shows it in the most restrained, old-timey way possible. He’s the perfect gentleman about it all. He doesn’t say a bad word against Johnny in this episode, and just goes along with the disruption to the regular routine. The commander is supposed to be the voice of reason in the show, so the fact that even he is getting swept in the romance of film-making, must make things very difficult for Troy, who continues to sulk.

Meanwhile, Marina and Atlanta are buzzing with excitement, wanting to look their best for Johnny. Considering Troy was the centre of the girls’ universes in his Raptures of the Deep fantasy last week, this really is quite the wake up call for Captain Tempest. They’re a couple of modern women with their own fantasies and desires which don’t necessarily revolve around Troy. It would perhaps be nice to get an alternative take on the situation from some of the other women at Marineville but, well, there aren’t any. Or at least we don’t see any. And that’s probably why this whole bit might feel odd to modern audiences because what we’re presented with is 100% of the female characters fancying the handsome movie star, rather than a more realistic portion of them.

Here’s Johnny! Yes, it’s Steve Zodiac with dark hair and it’s an absolutely genius piece of Supermarionation casting. For a start, the notion of the Steve Zodiac coming out of retirement and being disguised by nothing but a black wig is very amusing and a nice easter egg for fans. Second, it essentially means that Troy is being replaced by his predecessor – one who, as it turned out, managed to achieve fame on a big American television network in a way that Troy never did, what with Fireball XL5 being shown on NBC while Stingray was forced into syndication like so many other Anderson shows. Then there’s the fact that, in a nutshell, Steve Zodiac was basically the same character as Troy but without any of the flaws. He was the handsome and brave action hero that everyone respected, just like Troy. But Steve didn’t have any of Troy’s jealousy or pomposity. It made him a much more two-dimensional character compared to Troy, so it seems appropriate that this cardboard cutout version of our favourite aquanaut should now be assuming his role in a superficial Hollywood production. Added to all of this is Ray Barrett’s mouth-watering performance as Johnny’s voice, which truly sells the character as a complete twerp. Finally, I just need to point out that the puppet is now using glass eyes, instead of the painted wooden ones seen in the early Supermarionation shows.

Atlanta and Marina are introduced to Johnny and keel over almost immediately. Again, rightly or wrong, it’s played for a quick gag. A little bit of flustered and awkward dialogue from Atlanta would have gone down a treat, but the fainting thing is there to drive the point home that Johnny Swoonara is impossibly handsome to the level that it’s basically a magical power… a power which Marty delights in exploiting in a slightly disturbing manner. Do I feel sorry for Troy? Honestly, a little. He may be jealous and full of himself, but it is a bit humiliating for him to be told so blatantly that he isn’t as attractive or talented as his replacement. At that point, Troy should been the bigger man and just gone on holiday for two weeks while everyone else played at being film stars. Instead he hangs around to sulk.

Back at the studio, the team has gathered in the rushes theatre to watch a rough cut. Troy is there too because he can’t keep his nose out. The design of the back wall of the theatre is not unlike that of the real rushes theatre at the AP Films studio. This rough cut, which happens to be complete with music and sound effects and only a single ‘SCENE MISSING’ caption, is very much a glammed up version of the movie making process. Presumably the Mechanical Fish used for filming is the one that was captured by Troy, Phones, and Marina in the pilot episode.

Anyway, back to the main plot, and X20 has decided that now, surrounded by all these people, it’s the perfect time to shoot Troy in the back of the head with a large gun. He’s going to time the bang with a sound effect on the film, so nobody will suspect a thing when Troy collapses dead on the floor with a horrific gunshot wound pouring blood everywhere. I think X20 might be overestimating just how distracted everyone is by the movie. Fortunately, Marty makes a comment at the crucial moment and the assassination attempt has to be put on hold.

Back on the set, more of the AP Films studio is revealed, with lights hanging down from the actual puppet bridge. As the camera moves down, it really emphasizes just how long the puppet wires had to be to reach the floor, and how incredibly difficult that must have made operating the puppets – particularly for this scene which is on the studio floor rather than on a raised platform.

Troy is sat in the director’s chair, judging Johnny’s every move.

X20 has picked another golden opportunity to try and murder Troy… with a butter knife. I’m starting to think this guy doesn’t actually want to kill Troy at all because he keeps trying to do it in the most absurd ways imaginable.

Meanwhile, Troy yawns unbelievably rudely at Johnny’s rubbish pun, apologising sarcastically to all those in earshot. Come on Troy, you’re better than that. Actually, you’re not better than that, never mind.

Marty needs to chat to Goggleheimer before shooting can start, but the elusive producer is nowhere to be found. Curiously, Marty’s spectacles appear to be broken, with his right hand lens clinging on at a noticeably jaunty angle.

Using the bluntest knife he could find, X20 has decided to cut the rope holding up a lighting rig above Troy’s head. Well it’s marginally more sensible than buttering him to death I suppose.

The rig wobbles and gives us a glorious opportunity to admire the underside of the puppet bridge. Someone’s left a brown shopping bag up there. And even better is the row of puppet controllers hanging up on the far wall in the bottom right corner of the frame.

Atlanta yells just in time for Troy to jump clear. I must admit, that would have been a messy accident if those lights had landed on Troy’s noggin’.

Phones asks the question none of us needed to hear. Is he?

But the answer appears to be… maybe? For some reason, a floor puppeteer was needed to hold Troy down on the floor, with their thumb clearly visible near Troy’s waist.

After the commercial break, we learn that Troy is absolutely fine. But Phones is on the case and discovers that the rope was cut! Troy puts two and two together and plans to chase after the prime suspect, Goggleheimer. Unfortunately for Troy, Atlanta is more interested in looking after Johnny, who was terribly frightened by the whole ordeal. The team has been joined by a puppet previously seen as Chuck in The Golden Sea. Troy sulks. They’re really getting a lot of use out of that frowner head this week.

Outside the studio, (which one assumes is not actually a part of Marineville) we have a couple more easter eggs to enjoy. The exterior model of the Black Rock Laboratory from Supercar is visible on the left, and the smaller model of the galleon seen in The Ghost Ship is parked up against the side of the building.

Very strangely, the sign above the stage door is clearly labeled for the ‘CONTROL TOWER’, because it was last seen outside the Marineville Control Tower in The Invaders. Parked outside the door is a monocopter for reasons unknown. The chaps plan to borrow Johnny’s car in order to pursue Goggleheimer. I’m sure he won’t mind.

Just so we don’t have to watch Troy and Phones get in a car, we cut away to Atlanta and Marina checking in on Johnny one more time. He’s fine. This may seem like a superfluous moment to break up the action, but it nicely foreshadows Johnny’s breakdown later in the episode, just building up those layers to the character to make him more interesting.

It would appear that in the world of Stingray, people drive all sorts of vehicles. You’ve got hovercars for the likes of Johnny Swoonara and X20. Then there’s a 1960s convertible parked on the left for your average Joes. And then some lucky person gets to drive around in a tank apparently…

The lads catch up quickly and spot that Goggleheimer is heading for the Island of Lemoy. Yes, for whatever reason, the WASPs utterly fail to notice that throughout the series, a lot of strange things seem to happen concerning that particular landmark. Even weirder is the fact the island has grown in size considerably when compared to a similar establishing shot of it from the pilot episode.

Luckily for X20, he has an underground garage that he can hide the car away in. It’s a shame we don’t get to see more of Lemoy because I’m sure all the subterranean installations would make for quite a sight. Lovely trees on display from the special effects team here, and not the sort of landscape you would expect from your average Stingray episode.

Sure enough, Troy and Phones are stumped when they can’t find any trace of Goggleheimer or his car. Goodness me that’s a glittery car. Is that really the sort of thing a self respecting Hollywood star would want on their car? That’s a stupid question I suppose…

X20 rushes to his chamber of disguises, last seen in Count Down. Many of the key elements like the cello, sombrero, bagpipes, and skull, are still there from the room’s previous appearance, but a number of other props have been swapped in such as the hourglass, medieval sword and tankard to name a few.

The model and puppet sets for X20’s front door match rather well. It’s not perfect, but it’s not a million miles away, which is all you need for a few seconds of footage like this.

X20’s disguises would really be a lot more effective is they didn’t all involve some kind of grey wig. He’d make a gorgeous blonde. Incidentally, he’s still keeping the shrivelled head of Bill Gibson from Supercar on his makeup table for good luck.

X20’s “old hermit” character rushes over to the control panel and switches the room back to its regular appearance. I’m surprised X20 leaves the house with all that equipment out on display. You could say it’s a… security hazard.

Sure enough, the house is empty. Now I know one has to really suspend one’s disbelief when it comes to how convincing a fictional character’s disguise might be. Any appreciation for the works of Shakespeare depends on it. However, I just can’t believe Troy and Phones haven’t noticed how remotely fishy it is that this old man looks and sounds a LOT like Goggleheimer, and is residing in the house that Goggleheimer might be hiding in. Then there’s the fact that Professor Sanders from Count Down looked and sounded very similar to these two blokes too, AND the fact Marineville know where Sanders was located because they posted a letter straight to his door. Have they really not managed to piece the puzzle together by this point?

I guess not. No prizes for your brilliant skills of deduction this week, Troy. X20 sounds very pleased with himself, despite the fact his plan has completely failed after two woefully ill-prepared assasination attempts. That’s the totally inept X20 we know and love.

Time for the first appearance of the Marineville bar, Blue Lagoon. It’s a really nice touch that we start to see more of the characters during their downtime in settings like these.

Propping up the bar is Chick Kingsland from Secret of the Giant Oyster, who should be behind bars in the Marineville Jail I would have thought. Manning the bar is Chuck from The Golden Sea, who we saw only a few minutes ago working on the film set. I suppose it’s not inconceivable that movie people also do bar work.

Aaaand the joke officially gets taken too far when Marina and Atlanta pass out yet again, leaving Marty and Johnny to talk about how great it is. It makes my insides feel icky inside.

Over at the Shores’ apartment all the lads are gathered with coffee and crackers. Phones points out how extremely odd it is that Goggleheimer left after trying to kill Troy. Yup, definitely a spot of “funny business” that whole attempted murder thing. Troy is beyond anger at this point and has moved straight on to sullen depression because apparently production on the movie is continuing despite the producer being a criminal on the run. Commander Shore appears to be actively ignoring the issue entirely. One would hope at the very least that the police are involved in tracking down Goggleheimer while the WASPs get on with their film.

Troy requests that he be excluded from the final day of filming with Stingray on location. Shore, being the cool and relaxed guy that he is this week, lets him off the hook because they’re not expecting trouble… which is exactly the sort of thing someone says when there’s about to be trouble.

X20 is having his idiocy spelled out to him by Titan. Curiously, Titan is quick to point out the millions of dollars that were spent on setting up the film. Presumably most of that went on Johnny and Marty’s salaries. Where the heck Titan got the money from is anyone’s guess… So, Titan has a new plan – a very simple plan which is exactly the sort of thing they have tried to do before and failed at. X20 is ordered to take his own submarine out to attack Stingray during the filming. Worth a try I suppose. Titan declares that he couldn’t care less if X20 is killed in the process. I like that.

Stingray finally makes its first proper appearance in the episode. That’s the one downside of these more character-driven episodes – Stingray itself doesn’t get a whole lot to do in them. Johnny is at the controls, worrying about his hair. Presumably he’s had a basic level of aquanaut training just to ensure he doesn’t launch a missile by accident. That would be quite the pickle to get into.

Marty has set up a remote directing station in the Marineville Control Tower where he can operate the cameras and speak to the actors without actually being aboard the submarine. This kind of directing from a distance thing was clearly quite appealing to the Andersons. In the early days of Supermarionation, a booth was constructed in a corner of the studio so the director could watch all the action from a monitor rather than rushing around on the studio floor. The video assist system used for displaying what the film cameras were seeing on monitors was the first of its kind, and allowed Gerry Anderson to watch the production unfold from the comfort of his office. He clearly thought it was the future of film-making, seeing as this episode and the Thunderbirds episode, Martian Invasion, both feature directors working at a safe distance from their stars.

There’s another new addition to the control room set this week. An analogue wall clock has been installed right next to the redundant 24 hour clock above the safe. The art department really do have trouble making up their minds as far as what to do with that bit of the control room.

Stingray is launched, and X20 isn’t far away. Somehow he is aware that Troy is not aboard. Maybe that was his plan all along? Maybe he wanted Troy to get recast so that Stingray would be placed in danger? But if that were true, why would X20 be so unwilling to carry out the attack? I suspect there’s a re-write (or a very muddled first draft) at play here somewhere.

Troy just can’t keep out of it, and gives everyone an indignant “hmph” during the filming. He absolutely will not give it a rest.

And just as Johnny is given the direction to appear in control, X20 opens fire and scores a direct hit on Stingray. Marina is alarmed by a falling boom pole which makes me chuckle. Johnny finally cracks and loses his cool, which isn’t particularly helpful.

Thanks to the remote film cameras, Troy is able to see roughly what’s going on and takes over the radio to try and solve the crisis. Finally, he’s actually proving his usefulnes and starting to redeem himself as the show’s hero.

“I don’t have to put up with this. It’s not in my contract!” It’s a quick gag to poke fun at celebrities and the privileged fantasy bubbles they can live in. It’s unclear whether Johnny is having a full on breakdown, or is just being a bit of a prima donna. I don’t think it really matters. It’s just supposed to be a funny one-liner.

Troy’s had enough of all this faffing about. It’s time to get out there and do what he does best… heroic stuff, I guess.

As Stingray loses buoyancy, X20 reckons it’s a job well done and heads for home. I mean, he could have fired one more missile juuust to be sure. But yeah, let’s call it good here. After all, Johnny is in tears so that must mean it’s all over for Stingray. Marina certainly doesn’t look impressed.

Marty and Atlanta exchange a few opinions. Marty calls her an “underwater dame” which must be one of the weirdest things anyone has ever called anyone else. Atlanta’s opinion of Johnny also seems to be in decline, or at least she doesn’t regard him nearly as highly as Marty. Apparently Marty owns 55% of Johnny. Hopefully it’s the top half. Commander Shore is keeping quiet.

Troy has decided that the fastest way to reach Stingray is to charge along the launch tunnel in scuba gear and using a seabug for propulsion. Again, it raises the question of whether the WASPs actually possess any other underwater craft that they can use besides Stingray. Surely swimming the entire length of the launch tunnel should be a last resort? Anyway, Troy whizzes along in front of some back projection footage.

Stingray is dropping. Will Troy make it in time?! Ooo the tension. It’s great that as well as plenty of nice character moments, this episode culminates in an exciting action sequence.

Troy dives straight into the airlock at incredible speed. The fish in front of the camera seem to be enjoying the show.

Atlanta is crying tears of joy over the fact that Troy got aboard okay. To be fair, Troy has had a bit of a track record in the last couple of episodes for not getting into Stingray before his air runs out, so I’m sure it must be quite a relief for everyone.

Troy takes command, but he sure ain’t happy when Phones accidentally calls him Johnny. I think Phones has trouble separating movie magic from reality. It’s really quite a relief to see the gang back together again.

Johnny’s career as an aquanaut is at an end. I sincerely hope that his comment about going back to making westerns is a little nod towards Four Feather Falls.

So with Stingray back under control, that’s a wrap on the movie, and our band of amateur actors can get back to normal life without the interference of Hollywood.

At the Blue Lagoon, Chick Kingsland is still working on that newspaper from earlier, while Johnny tries to use his charm on Atlanta and Marina one last time. It fails. They’re going out with a very, very, very smug-looking Troy instead.

Johnny is astonished. He echoes the “hmph” that Troy gave earlier in order to firmly suggest that the tables have turned. Troy is the favourite now for his great act of heroism, rather than being a pretty lover boy. The lesson for the viewers at home is solid enough – don’t be a self-obsessed ego-maniac who contributes nothing in a crisis…

Be a self-obsessed ego-maniac who happens to be quite heroic sometimes, then everyone will fancy you. Look, okay, Troy has been a bit of a stroppy twerp in this episode, and he probably doesn’ deserve to be quite so adored by everyone at the end. But he’s also been ridiculed for his acting ability, excluded from the rest of the team, been nearly killed twice, tried to chase down a murderer, and rescued his friends from a submarine attack. So I think he’s earned a bit of praise. I just wish he didn’t look so, so smug about it.

That was great fun. In many ways, this episode was another examination of Troy’s character, but instead of looking at his dreams like we did in Raptures of the Deep, we presented him with a nightmare of a different kind – the very real threat of not being the centre of attention for once. So he has to do everything he can to redeem himself and earn back some respect from his colleagues, and from the audience at home. And it works. So hurrah for that. Meanwhile, the whole Hollywood movie making backdrop to this episode is utterly glorious and pitch perfect. It’s silly but it’s treated like a big fun event for the team at Marineville. It’s nice to see most of the cast wrapped up in the excitement of it all. X20 is at his best, playing the bungling master of disguise who very nearly succeeds but also leaves a whacking great hole in his plan. Johnny and Marty are another pair of memorable and highly entertaining guest characters. The easter eggs from earlier productions, and the behind the scenes glimpses at the real AP Films studio are what make this episode truly special to me though. An absolute classic.

Next week, it’s a race against time for the Stingray crew in a game of Russian roulette with exploding freighters! Stay tuned for The Disappearing Ships

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Further reading: by Century 21 Films Ltd.

Filmed In Supermarionation by Stephen La Rivière. Third edition published in 2022 by Century 21 Films Ltd.

Stingray: Adventures In Videcolor by Andrew Pixley. First published in 2022 by Network Distributing.

Thunderbirds – What’s In A Name? by Andrew Clements. Published in 2016 by The Official Gerry Anderson Website.

Beatlemania hit 50 years ago but why did it drive girls so mad? by Jordan Gaines. Published in 2014 by The Conversation.

One thought on “Stingray – 17. Stand By For Action

  1. One of the best episodes without a doubt. nciee to see Steve Zodiac in disguise here and X20 getting it in the neck from titan was inspiration! Ane when it comes to the laide- yep- Troy always wins! 😀


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