Stingray – Tales From Marineville

Stingray‘s magnificent run of original episodes may have ended with Aquanaut of the Year, but that doesn’t mean I get to retire. Not yet anyway. I reckon I’ve got just one more article in me about this show before I collapse in a haze of fishy, submarine-based hallucinations. You see, there are these miscellaneous bits and pieces that came off the back of Stingray and they come in all different shapes and sizes. Some have a long and complicated history, while others are relatively straightforward pieces of spin-off merchandise. But for some of you they might just be integral to the way you experienced Stingray for the first time, and who am I to dismiss my readers’ nostalgia? Plus, the good folks at Network were good enough to include this material on their blu-ray release of the series, so I might as well get my money’s worth – since they ain’t paying me squat to talk about how wonderful their HD restoration of the series is.

This review is going to take a drastically different format to what has gone before due to the nature of the material being discussed. Three of these works draw heavily from episodes we’ve already reviewed in detail, and the other three items are entirely audio-based. So permit me to get a little creative with some of the imagery and structure used throughout. Don’t worry, we’ll still be over-analysing, sharing history lessons, and offering up some trademark Security Hazard witticisms along the way. Because I’m so darn witty I can’t stop myself.

Here’s what we’ll be covering today:

  1. The Reunion Party/Japanese Feature Presentation
  2. Into Action With Troy Tempest (MA101)
  3. A Trip To Marineville (MA102)
  4. Marina Speaks (MA104)
  5. The Incredible Voyage of Stingray
  6. Invaders From The Deep

The Reunion Party/Japanese Feature Presentation

Linking Material Written and Directed by Alan Pattillo

The Reunion Party First UK Broadcast – 2nd January 2008

Compilation of Stingray, An Echo of Danger, Raptures of the Deep (omitted from The Reunion Party), and Emergency Marineville

Let’s start with what is probably the most convoluted item of the lot. You’re going to have to stick with me because discussing the history of the Japanese Linking Material and its transformation into The Reunion Party has driven folks to madness in the past. Some of this story is recorded fact, while some of it is unconfirmed but fairly likely based on the things we do know for sure.

In June 1964, after principal photography on Stingray‘s 39-episode series had been completed, Alan Pattillo was assigned to write and direct some short sequences to be used as linking material for a Japanese feature presentation of Stingray. The supposed aim was to present a number of Stingray‘s best episodes to an audience of Japanese visitors whom one assumes might have been executives interested in investing in ITC, AP Films, or had some other tie to the studio and its owners. Rather than simply screening a few episodes one after another, the decision was taken by someone (we don’t know exactly who commissioned the project) to frame the episodes with a story about Commander Shore and Admiral Denver watching old recordings of the Stingray crew’s missions while Atlanta and Marina are getting ready to attend some sort of reunion dinner with Troy and Phones. Around 4 minutes of material was shot on June 18 and 19 alongside various pickup shots required for the episode Eastern Eclipse. It’s unclear exactly when the character voices were recorded, but the material does feature Don Mason, Robert Easton, Lois Maxwell, Ray Barrett, and David Graham all reprising their roles so it probably formed part of a regular recording session for the main series.

There is no evidence to suggest that the entire feature presentation was ever assembled. In fact, the linking footage remained completely forgotten for almost 40 years. In December 2000, Jaz Wiseman was the film historian responsible for researching potential bonus material to include on Carlton’s upcoming release of Stingray on DVD. He came across a mystery listing in the unreliable computer records of the ITC archive which referenced a film reel entitled Stingray – Japanese Linking Material. Sure enough, the film reel did exist, and it contained all the scenes Pattillo had shot that had never been seen or heard of before by Stingray fans. The material was presented with no context whatsoever on the Stingray DVD boxset in 2001, and it remained an unusual, incomplete novelty. With me so far?

Fast forward to some time in 2007, and BBC Four was preparing to transmit an evening of Anderson-themed programming on January 2nd, 2008. BBC Wales and Granada International worked together to produce a “new” episode of Stingray using the previously unbroadcast Japanese Linking Material as a framework. It was called The Reunion Party and I remember vividly sitting down to watch it as a 12-year-old on BBC Four’s Thunderbirds Night. It had been publicised as a brand new episode, overseen by Gerry Anderson. I’d done my research beforehand and was aware it was basically going to be a clip show utilising some unseen archive material to tie it all together. I hadn’t seen the Japanese Linking Material on the DVD at that point – I was still collecting VHS tapes from car boot sales in those days. As for Gerry Anderson’s involvement, I think I was smart enough even at that time to know he’d likely given it a seal of approval and that was probably it for his input.

I remember feeling a little cheated by The Reunion Party. Not enraged or infuriated or demanding the BBC be defunded like a total moron. Just a twinge of disappointment. The chance to watch some of the rare linking footage was certainly the highlight, and it was a pretty decent selection of episodes that the compilation had used. But other aspects of The Reunion Party‘s presentation at the time just felt wrong to me. As soon as the standard Stingray opening titles kicked off, an enormous ‘BBC’ logo was plastered over the first shot – not a massive issue but it did feel a bit off.

Then there was the realisation that the 4:3 aspect ratio of the material had been deemed outdated, and everything was cropped to fill a 16:9 widescreen television. Even as a (weird) 12-year-old, I despised this approach to handling archive material, and you better believe I was furious about the cropped, 16:9 Thunderbirds blu-ray that came out in 2008 too. 4:3 is the way these shows were made and the way each shot was framed by their directors, and if you can’t handle black bars down the sides of your massive telly you need to get a grip. Cropping out nearly half the flippin’ picture is not a better way of watching archive material – it just isn’t.

As the episode progressed, I noticed some other little details that felt messy. The font for the title caption was so far away from what had been used in the original series that I assume someone just thought it was better to go with a completely different look, rather than track down something that was at least vaguely similar to what would have been used back in 1964. There was also the generally choppy nature of the editing. It was clear that The Reunion Party hadn’t had the same luxury as Aquanaut of the Year when it came to reducing the original episodes down to short flashbacks – specifically that The Reunion Party only had the completed versions of the episodes to work with in the edit, and not raw material that could have its music and SFX tracks altered as needed. This meant music from the original episodes would cut and change very suddenly in a way which just felt messy.

Over the Japanese Linking Material itself, the Barry Gray track March of the Oysters was playing over the soundtrack for… no reason whatsoever. That choice didn’t ruin anything exactly, but it was slightly distracting. The film clips had clearly not been restored and cleaned up beyond the minimum requirements. Then there was the obviously 2000s-feeling digital composition that was used to place the start of the flashbacks onto the projector screen – spoiling any illusion that this episode might have been produced in the more analogue days of film-making back in 1964. However, I may have to forgive that one because the original linking material very clearly shows the first scene of each episode on the projector screen, making those clips unusable in The Reunion Party because the flashbacks tended to start halfway through each story in order to reduce the duration.

Finally, the credits rolled with that same totally unsuitable font used, and a number of inaccuracies as to who exactly worked on the original material. At the end of the day, the limited time and resources of the project probably hadn’t allowed anyone to pay close attention to details in the credits.

Needless to say, I didn’t have all that much eagerness to watch the recording I’d made of The Reunion Party‘s broadcast again any time soon. It had been okay, but it wasn’t the polished celebration of the show I’d been expecting.

In later years I finally picked up Stingray on DVD, including the uncut Japanese linking footage, which allowed me to at least appreciate that part in full. Then, Network released the series on Blu-ray and included the restored, unedited linking material in HD, plus a new assembly of The Reunion Party. When I was planning these reviews I didn’t know how the heck I wanted to approach The Reunion Party because I know some people quite happily list it as a 40th episode like any other, while some discount it entirely despite it featuring material produced in 1964 alongside the rest of the series. So that’s how we got here – The Reunion Party wasn’t strong enough to stand on its own in a review, nor did it really deserve that level of recognition, but I didn’t want to ignore it entirely. And I also didn’t want to forget about the fact that not all of the surviving Japanese Linking Material was used in The Reunion Party, with all references to Raptures of the Deep cut, presumably for timing reasons. Then, I had to consider the issue that Network’s re-assembled version of The Reunion Party wasn’t an exact match for the BBC’s original. Network had elected to fix many of the issues that had bugged me about that 2008 broadcast. What was the truly authentic version that I could cover in a review? I essentially had three versions of the same thing, and none of them had actually been assembled in the way Alan Pattillo and AP Films had intended for them to be viewed in the first place. What’s a boy to do?!

So I watched all of them. Yup, I watched the 2008 broadcast version of The Reunion Party from an original recording, I watched Network’s 2022 version in high definition, and I watched the uncut film reel of the Japanese Linking Material as presented on the Blu-ray release. And I’ve gotta tell you… it was a bit of a waste of time. I mean, I’m a patient guy, but watching anything to do with The Reunion Party more than once still feels like a spectacularly bad use of an hour or so. But because of that tedium, it makes me appreciate the effort that Network have put into fixing the whole thing so much more. If it felt like a waste of time for me to watch it, I can’t imagine how anyone had the patience to sit down and re-assemble this largely forgotten and unappreciated piece of Stingray ephemera, and doing a pretty decent job of it too.

Presented in 4:3 and high defintion, the Network assembly of The Reunion Party is a much more faithful presentation that’s inkeeping with the original series. The opening titles are unaltered, the title caption is in a much more accurate font, the cuts are slightly cleaner (though unavoidably still imperfect), March of the Oysters isn’t inexplicably playing over the linking material, the projector composition effect is much tidier, and the end credits are a stunning re-creation which magically pulls together all the right names in all the right places in a manner which absolutely feels like it was made in 1964. Now, if I’d had a stronger sense of nostalgia for the 2008 assembly of The Reunion Party, I might have been upset that it wasn’t included on the Blu-ray set. But recordings of that first broadcast are readily available online (cough, cough, here ya go, cough, cough), and I’m okay with having a superior, more series-accurate version of the episode taking its place on this and any future releases of Stingray.

Finally, let’s get into the linking material itself. There are some highlights and some lowlights for me to flag. Let’s start with the whole premise of Shore and Denver sitting down to watch recordings of old missions. It doesn’t make any logical sense that the WASPs would have such vivid visual records of their operations, but you just sort of have to buy into the conceit, as one has to do with the framing device of any flashback episode. After all, people don’t naturalistically sit down and have flashbacks. Not without the help of hallucinogenic drugs, anyway.

It’s clear from the surviving footage of what was actually supposed to be shown on the projector screen, that the episodes were likely intended to play out in full during the feature presentation. So the fully assembled Japanese feature would have started with the pilot episode playing out in full, presumably complete with opening titles but minus the end credits, then cut to the first piece of linking material to lead us into An Echo of Danger without titles or credits, then Raptures of the Deep and Emergency Marineville also without titles or credits and linking material in between, and then the final piece of linking material leading into the end titles and Aqua Marina being the song Atlanta references in the dialogue. The only question is therefore whether Troy’s own rendition of Aqua Marina during the Raptures of the Deep dream sequence would have been retained or cut to avoid repetition (probably the former if I had to guess).

All of the action takes place inside the Shores’ apartment, which had really become the heart of the WASP family unit during latter episodes of the series, instead of the control tower. It’s also possible that the destruction of the control tower set during the filming of Eastern Eclipse might have influenced the decision to use the Shores’ apartment – but that’s pure conjecture.

Commander Grumpy.

Admiral Denver is portrayed in his usual brash and argumentative manner as we’d seen in Loch Ness Monster and Set Sail For Adventure. It’s consistent characterisation for him, but also a slightly odd choice considering neither of those episodes were used as part of the presentation, and therefore audiences of the Japanese feature compilation who’d never seen the series before would have had no context as to why Shore and Denver hated each other’s guts. Maybe that context isn’t necessary, but it is curious that Denver was used instead of literally any other visiting guest character. Perhaps Set Sail For Adventure had just planted the seed of Denver and Shore watching movies together and Alan Pattillo decided not to reinvent the wheel. The projector itself is the same real-life AEI 702 16mm projector that Professor Graham was using during In Search of the Tajmanon.

Admiral Grumpy.

Shore is shown in his regular WASP uniform but not using his hoverchair, while Troy and Phones are in their standard-issue formal evening wear. Denver is wearing a slightly modified version of the Admiral uniform he wore in Set Sail For Adventure and Admiral Frendor borrowed in The Lighthouse Dwellers. Meanwhile, Marina has a modified version of her silver gown to wear, while Atlanta has an entirely new outfit and hairstyle which is heavily inspired by the traditional dress of Japanese geishas – no prizes for guessing why that choice was made. Commander Shore won’t let up on insulting the women for taking their time getting ready. I guess he’s supposed to be building up to the dramatic reveal of Atlanta and Marina’s outfits, but it’s a pretty clumsy bit of writing.

“Please buy our show, nice Japanese businessmen.”

So, after all that, what do we have? Let’s just say the discovery of the Japanese Linking Material is probably more interesting than the material itself, or The Reunion Party which was ultimately assembled from it. The fact that unseen Stingray footage survived for almost 40 years without anyone noticing is a thrilling proposition, and the mysteries surrounding its existence are an intriguing insight into the way Stingray‘s marketing and distribution might have been handled. Could there be more material like it sitting in a vault somewhere? Or was this just a one-off surprise and there’s no other Supermarionation footage from the 1960s that hasn’t already been seen? It’s impossible to say for sure. As for the resulting creation of The Reunion Party – I admire the noble act of ensuring the unseen linking material was put to some practical use. The footage probably wasn’t juicy enough to deliver on the promise of a brand new, 40th episode of Stingray, but at least they tried. And thank goodness for Network being dedicated enough to fix some of the original version’s more glaring issues so that it could still form part of the Blu-ray collection, and make it feel just that little bit more complete and definitive.

Into Action With Troy Tempest (MA101)

Story by Alan Fennell

Produced by Desmond Saunders

Released in October 1965 by Century 21 Records

Now we’re into the terriroty of the mini-albums. Familiar to most Anderson fans, these records were released during the height of Supermarionation’s popularity in the 1960’s under the Century 21 Records label by Century 21 Merchandising. Some records included original stories featuring the cast of Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet. Others were re-tellings of TV episodes, presentations of Barry Gray’s music, or tied to television products like Tingha and Tucker and Doctor Who which had nothing to do with the Andersons’ output beyond specific merchandising agreements held by Century 21.

Into Action With Troy Tempest was released as part of Century 21 Records’ debut range in October 1965 alongside the two other Stingray records A Trip To Marineville and Marina Speaks. The range also included Journey To The Moon with the Fireball XL5 team, TV 21 Themes featuring music linked to all your favourite comic strips from TV 21, and – perhaps most significantly – Introducing Thunderbirds – a prequel story for the brand new Thunderbirds series which had just started broadcasting at the time.

Century 21 Records Are Go! A print advertisement for the first wave of mini-albums, published in 1965.

The sleeve for Into Action declares: “Here’s your opportunity to ride along with your favourite T.V. heroes TROY TEMPEST and ‘PHONES in real action adventures. This MINI-ALBUM has been specially recorded so that you YOURSELF can play the parts of TROY TEMPEST and ‘PHONES in these thrillings stories.”

So it’s an original story with a twist. The adventure begins with Fisher and Shore attempting to make contact with nuclear submarine ‘Sea Probe’ just as the vessel is destroyed in an explosion. Troy and Phones take to the seas in Stingray, with the launch sequence played out in full. Stingray switches to automatic bosun and waits to approach the investigation zone. Then things get weird. Commander Shore addresses the kids at home directly and offers to play back the whole sequence again without Troy’s dialogue. No, it isn’t my dream of Troy getting sacked coming true. Instead, the listener is supposed to use the resulting gaps in the dialogue to fill in for Troy and talk just like him when interacting with Phones and the commander. Apparently that’s something the kiddies at home will want to do.

That’s the selling point of the record, basically. You get to act out the parts of the characters yourself as if you’re really taking part in a mission for the WASPs. It’s a cute idea. I’m not an expert in children’s records so I couldn’t tell you whether similar formats existed at the time. Now sure, for listeners hoping for a story which expanded the universe of Stingray with a thrilling new adventure that one was never likely to see on television, disappointment was a certainty. If anyone adapted Into Action for television you’d pretty much have the pilot episode combined with Deep Heat and a lot of Subterranean Sea. A great deal of dialogue is lifted directly from the soundtrack of those episodes, perhaps even offering up some lines that might have been cut from the televised versions. Commander Shore invites you to immitate Troy’s dramatic performance once again as Stingray gets pulled down into an extinct volcano and crashes in a sea beneath the ocean.

The sequence of events continues as it does in Subterranean Sea (minus Marina’s involvement) with Troy and Phones investigating the desert they’re beached on, and then rushing back to Stingray as the sea’s tide turns dramatically. This time, the listener gets to adopt Phones’ Texas drawl, and is instructed by Shore to “look lively there” in the presence of Captain Troy Tempest. Don’t think I’ll be doing that. Of course, this all puts me in mind of young Barry Burn in A Christmas To Remember playfully immitating Troy as he helps to launch Stingray in Phones’ place. I guess all the cool kids are doing it.

Next, dialogue from the series is weaved together to create a brief battle with an enemy craft that didn’t appear in Subterranean Sea. Then the plot of Subterranean Sea continues with Troy and Phones searching for a way out to the surface. Commander Shore reports that this hostile element was later investigated by WASP forces, and a whole city was discovered which had organised the whirlpool that had drawn Stingray and Sea Probe down into the depths. Time is running out on the record, so we’re simply told that the city is destroyed and the problem’s solved. Easy as that. But there’s just time for one more opportunity to immitate Phones and relive the action. And then it just ends.

Needless to say, this record is more of a quirky novelty than anything else. One could adapt the story into something a little more unique fairly easily by embelishing some of the details about the underwater city and its plan to capture WASP crafts with the whirlpool, but you’d still end up with something pretty average as Stingray stories go. Ray Barrett’s performance as Shore and Fisher is quite charming, particularly the moments with Shore interacting with the kiddies listening at home. Like all the records produced by Century 21, I think they’re produced to a high standard and have the same feel as the television episodes.

A Trip To Marineville (MA102)

Story by Alan Fennell

Produced by Desmond Saunders

Released in October 1965 by Century 21 Records

Johnny, a little boy voiced by Sylvia Anderson, is dropped off by a helicopter pilot, also voiced by Sylvia Anderson, at the West Coast Heliport. Troy Tempest (Don Mason) turns up in his fast car to take Johnny to Marineville and give him a tour. Basically, this record is 21 minutes of exposition about Marineville. It’s not a million miles away from Introducing Thunderbirds.

We learn a lot of facts. The base is built twenty miles inland (not ten miles as the episode, The Big Gun, suggested previously). Troy’s car can drive at up to 350 mph but he doesn’t want to get caught by the WASP Highway Police, so does a much safer 100 mph. They arrive at the West Checkpoint, one of several security gates to check the passes of anyone who enters Marineville. Johnny’s pass has been specially organised by Commander Shore and Washington, and the Sergeant voiced by David Graham lets them through. Is it possible for your ears to glaze over?

As they drive through Marineville, Johnny marvels at the size of it. Troy explains that the place is a self-contained town with a hospital, theatres, shops, stores, emergency services, a power plant, and everything else you might need if something absolutely dreadful were to happen to the rest of the world… because, y’know, nuclear annihalation would have been on every child’s mind in the 1960s. I’m not kidding – it was the Cold War. That’s also why Troy goes on to demonstrate the launching of a hydromic missile. David Graham vaguely attempts to sound interested in the role of a missile operative over the loudspeaker. Johnny is offered glasses to protect him from the glare of the rocket… meaning we don’t get to hear his eyes burning out of his sockets. The hydromic missile successfully blows up its target. Huzzah. Consider me firmly sitting down no-where near the edge of my seat.

Next, the gruesome twosome drive past the airfield and Troy boasts about the 300 different aircraft at Marineville’s disposal. We certainly never see that many in the television series. Atlanta is apparently flying to Washington for an all-nations conference aboard a troop carrier, and Johnny is disappointed he won’t get to meet her. I’m sure the Andersons are thrilled they don’t have to pay Lois Maxwell for another voice over session. But she’s left Troy the keys to her house so Johnny can sniff around like a pervert. Marina will be there too. Phones won’t be though because he’s checking out one of the tracking stations, and definitely not because Robert Easton was also busy doing something else that day.

Troy explains that the WASPs have installations all over the world to keep tabs on incoming attacks from underwater enemies, and “they’re all linked together by laser beam and neutron radio transmitters.” Fascinating. They arrive at the Shores’ place and meet Marina inside, who contributes a great deal to this audio-only adventure as you might imagine. Johnny is overwhelmed by Marina’s beauty, as well as all the gadgets in Atlanta’s modern kitchen… I’m not kidding. Troy doesn’t know an ice box from a radio apparently, so Marina has to pour them all lemonade, which we hear her pouring out one glass at a time. Seriously, I said I’m not kidding. The topic of hamburger steaks is brought up, and Troy once again turns on a tape recorder by mistake instead of the cooker – an easy-listening piece of music from Thunderbirds plays as Side One of the record finishes. The business in the kitchen is definitely a low-point of the adventure. I guess it was an attempt to present an immersive, futuristic homelife full of new technology… but I think Marineville is exciting enough without focusing on that stuff, don’t you?

Fortunately Side Two gets off to a more invigorating start as Johnny and Troy drive to the control tower and ride the express elevator to the top via the main reception hall. Unfortunately, the elevator ride is played out in real time, thus re-creating the awkwardness of real elevator rides. Troy explains that in addition to the main control room, the tower contains apartments, restrooms, a recreation area and conference chambers, plus some secret spaces he can’t mention… like the missile planning department… which he definitely didn’t just mention anyway.

They reach the control room and although Commander Shore is there and working, he’s far too busy to talk to them… but Ray Barrett isn’t off the hook because the commander ends up being thrilled to meet Johnny and guides him around the technical gubbins such as the compass and the map in the control room, along with Lt. Fisher whom Ray Barrett is also contractually obliged to voice. Apparently there’s a special control operators school for learning how to use all the buttons for firing missiles and so on. Sign me up.

David Graham interrupts over the videophone from the power plant to announce that the Battle Stations drill is ready to start. But first, we learn the important detail that “P.W.O.R.” stands for “Proceeding With Orders Received.” Have you ever noticed that saying “Proceeding With Orders Received” uses eight syllables while “P.W.O.R.” uses six? I have. I guess the WASPs don’t have time for those extra two syllables. Anyway, Johnny gets to watch the daily Battle Stations drill take place… yes, daily… they test it daily.

As Marineville rises back to the surface following the successful drill, Johnny asks about Shore’s hoverchair and Troy tells the story of the accident which lost the commander the use of his legs, as shown in The Ghost of the Sea. It’s quite a sweet moment as Troy admits that despite Shore’s grumpy exterior, he’s the best commanding officer the WASPs could have… although he does have the added bonus of being able to play hide the sausage with the Commander’s daughter.

Johnny and Troy enjoy the comforts of the Standby Lounge. They’re not allowed to use the Injector Tubes apparently, so head for the handy elevator nearby to access Stingray’s enormous pen. I guess that answers my question from a review a few months ago about how Commander Shore accesses Stingray. Johnny has been waiting the whole trip to see Stingray, so he’s pleased to admire its impressive length. We’re told the craft is at least 40 feet long and 10 feet wide… which is a pretty low estimate considering what we’re shown in the series with the craft’s vast cabin, two bedrooms, missile ejector bays, and all the rest. Stingray is atomic powered and can reach speeds of 600 knots – which is all established in the series proper. We learn that Marineville’s scientists are constantly making improvements to Stingray such as strengthening the steel its made from – as per the end of The Big Gun.

Then, Troy answers a pretty important questions – what’s with the number ‘3’ marking on Stingray’s fin? He confirms that the current Stingray is the third iteration of the craft, and the other two were decommissioned when the new version was designed. So anyone who’s been curious about that can sleep safe in the knowledge that the WASPs genuinely don’t have another craft like Stingray tucked away somewhere, and they rely on that one submarine entirely to defend us from underwater threats…

Anyway, time on the record is running out so Troy decides that Stingray’s interior is classified, and Johnny gets taken back to the heliport with vague promises of a second visit to ride Stingray, with permission from Washington of course. A police escort is going to guide Troy’s car back to the heliport so that he can break his own rule about keeping the car to 100 mph. Yes, as well as being an egotist and a love rat, Troy’s also a boy racer. Charming.

A Trip To Marineville might be a trifle tedious and lacking in a plot, but for a 21 minute adventure it certainly packs in a lot of detail which is mostly faithful to what’s shown in the television series. Johnny is irritating of course, but he does ask some good questions. The most laughable part of the story is obviously the tour of the kitchen, and the fact that Marina is confined in there because she can’t contribute much to this audio-only story, (and probably also because she’s a woman).

Now if only someone could write a story in which Marina speaks…

Marina Speaks (MA104)

Story by Sylvia & Gerry Anderson

Produced by Desmond Saunders

Released in October 1965 by Century 21 Records

Gee, that’s handy. Yes, I’m going to spoil it right now and say that this is by far the highlight of the Century 21 Records range. Uniquely, the blurb on the disc label credits this story to “Sylvia & Gerry Anderson” instead of the usual “Gerry & Sylvia Anderson”. Why the switch-aroo? Well there’s no official reason for it, nor is it a particualrly critical observation, but considering Sylvia was the series’ official Dialogue & Characterisation Supervisor, and this is a very character-driven story that’s told entirely through dialogue and led by a female character who happens to be voiced by… well, you see my point – I think Sylvia’s name coming first for once was probably more than fair.

The story begins with Atlanta and Marina listening to the end of a jazz record. Marina seems upset, and Commander Shore supposes it might be because she hates the music (he clearly does!) or because Troy is away on Stingray without her. Atlanta dismisses that last claim rather furiously. Instead, she offers to take Marina home to bed, but gets interruped by Troy’s sudden return from patrol. Atlanta gets awfully shifty about wanting to take Marina home pretty sharpish now that Troy’s back – the flame of jealousy burning brighter than it ever has before. In the name of chivalry, Commander Shore and Troy agree that as the man Troy should be the one to take Marina home, not Atlanta. Once Troy and Marina leave, Atlanta is upset to the point of tears with her father’s interference – the commander quickly picking up on his daughter’s jealousy of Marina and Troy, apparently for the first time

As Atlanta sobs in her bedroom, I’m sure we’re all listening at home amazed by the rawness of the emotions on display. We’re really digging in to the love triangle here. By comparison, the television series only manages to touch upon the issue with the most delicate of touches, and pretty quickly switches up the dynamic by the mid-point of the series so that Atlanta is clearly Troy’s girlfriend, and Marina is practically written out of the show. Lois Maxwell certainly isn’t phoning it in for this record, and gives Atlanta’s heartache some genuine pain and anguish – probably the finest voice performance of the entire series. It’s a refreshing approach after Don Mason’s rather flat delivery in A Trip To Marineville – sorry, mate.

The commander comes to comfort his daughter and talk about the issue, Ray Barrett bringing great warmth to Shore’s gruff tones. He even brings up the topic of Atlanta’s mother, a beautiful woman whom he married six months after his love rival was killed in a submarine battle. Shore reveals for the first time, with a touch of vulnerability, the concerns he’d had about how their happy marriage might have turned out differently if the other man had lived. Atlanta is surprised to learn all this, just as Shore is surprised to learn about Atlanta’s feeling for

Troy. This is really heavy stuff, far outside the emotional range of the usual Supermarionation adventures seen on television. This is getting into soap opera territory, and I don’t mean that in a derrogatory way. I mentioned this during my review of The Man From The Navy, but I think good soap opera storytelling is pretty magical. It’s at its strongest when the characters are so strongly defined that the story and the choices they make become a pure expression of who that character is, the way they feel, and their approach to life. Good soap opera should allow us into a character’s life more intimately and more completely than most other forms of drama because of how much time we spend with them just talking and responding to a variety of situations and emotional states. That’s exactly what Marina Speaks is offering us at this moment.

Just as the Shores head to bed, they spot a file containing a manuscript, written by Marina. For some reason, this is the first time Marina communicates with the others by using writing, which would have made everyone’s lives a lot easier if she’d done that during the series. The revelation is made through Marina’s writng that she actually can speak, but is forced to remain silent after Titan placed a curse on her and her people. This is probably the single-most shocking revelation to be made in the entire Stingray canon. Marina’s silence has only ever been described in any sort of detail by Titan, who simply remarked in the pilot episode that, “none of her race know the luxury of words.” Otherwise, the assumption has just been that she’s incapable of speaking and/or doesn’t know how. To learn that Titan cursed Marina to eternal silence, but didn’t actually rob her of her voice, adds a whole new dimension to everything we’ve seen in regards to Titan’s influence, and Marina’s struggle to be understood by others at Marineville.

Pacifica, as seen in the episode Plant of Doom.

So, Marina’s manuscript continues with some back story, as she describes in her own words what her life was like before the WASPs and before Titan’s tyranny. The underwater races lived in peace and had yet to be discovered by terraineans. We hear about Aphony, Marina’s father, whom we met in the episodes Plant of Doom and Tune of Danger, but didn’t really get to know at all beyond him seeing like a learned, peaceful old man with affection for his daughter. He is the emperor of Pacifica, a civilisation living on the bed of the Pacific Ocean which began when a sea captain married a mermaid, and created a race of people sharing characteristics from the land and the sea. So that’s why Marina doesn’t have a tail but she can breathe underwater… in case you were wondering. Pacifica’s great palace is described in glorious detail and splendor, which Lois Maxwell reads beautifully.

Marina and Aphony, as seen in the episode Tune of Danger.

The prose fades to dialogue for the second half of the mini-album. Marina’s voice is performed by Sylvia Anderson with more or less the same elegant transatlantic tones she used to portray the character in Troy’s dream sequence from Raptures of the Deep. David Graham voices Aphony, who sounds like a cross between Frank Lincoln from The Lighthouse Dwellers and Dr. Beaker from Supercar, but rather more grand. Marina is asked by her father to throw a very important banquet for 400 people. Gee, thanks dad. He details the menu: vintage seaweed wine, octopus soup, roast electric eels and seafood salad served in mother of pearl shells, followed by sea anemone cocktails and oyster liqueurs. No chicken nuggets and curly fries then. Titan has been invited as guest of honour in order to try and secure eternal peace among the underwater civilisations. Marina points out that Titan’s a complete and utter smeghead, but Aphony has to trust him.

Without very much fuss, Marina manages to lay on this incredibly ambitious event without issue, and there are apparently no parking problems for the hundreds of underwater vessels that arrive at Pacifica to attend the conference. Aphony offers up a speech to all the gathered delegates, who represent every single undersea civilisation within 10,000 marine miles of Pacifica… which might just be the same measurement as a nautical mile, I’m not sure, but either way it sounds impressive. A peace treaty has been signed by everyone except Titan, ruler of Titanica, who is then invited to address the conference. Oh, I wonder what that twerp might do…

Titan, as seen in the episode Plant of Doom.

Apparently Titanicans consider themselves a master race of the sea, which isn’t exactly a good start to the proceedings. Of course, we’ve never for sure seen any other members of Titan’s race. X20 and the giant gargan tamer from The Golden Sea may be from elsewhere. Despite his belief in racial purity, Titan agrees to sign the treaty, surprising all of us at home. Joy! The evening then descends into delegates getting hammered on the seaweed wine. But all is not well. An armarda of Titan’s “Terror Fish” approaches Pacifica – the first time that name has actually been used as an alternative to “Mechanical Fish” as they’re known in the series. The Aquaphibian crews are ordered to attack Pacifica. There are at least 28 in the fleet if Titan’s counting is accurate. The sounds of screaming and flooding dominate the soundtrack as the attack unfolds to create a scene which probably couldn’t have been achieved on-screen.

A “Terror Fish” opens fire, as seen in the episode The Master Plan.

Aphony and Marina survive the attack because they can’t exactly drown, but they’re forced into hiding for months until Titan believes himself to be the ultimate victor and swans off to do something else. Pacifica is rebuilt by the survivors, and Aphony continues his peace mission by speechifying aplenty at other underwater cities. The game of politics going on in the background of all this is incredible. The rich detail of the underwater world and the way civilisations interact and govern is worthy of a whole franchise of novels. Of course, it was all explored through the pages of the sister comic to TV 21, entitled Lady Penelope. The Marina, Girl of the Sea strip introduces us to all the other undersea races that the people of Pacifica engage with, and ran for the first 23 issues of Lady Penelope, starting in January 1966.

Marina, Girl of the Sea, as seen in issue 1 of Lady Penelope comic.

Back in the mini-album, Marina’s hopes for a quiet life are wrecked when she spots a Terror Fish lurking outside her bedroom window. Aphony’s first minister, voiced by Ray Barrett, reveals that Titan has come for a meeting. He’s invited in, despite Marina’s fear of something ruddy awful happening. Sure enough, Titan has come to silence Aphony’s great speeches of hope. A wibbly-wobbly sound effect is used to signify the curse taking effect, and the first minister quickly dies when Aphony fails to stop speaking. Titan reveals that each time Aphony or Marina speaks, another Pacifican will lose their life. So, in order to protect themselves and their people, Marina and Aphony are sworn to silence forever, and Titan’s spell supposedly cannot be broken. That’s one heck of a curse. Of course, it rather suggests that Titan has magical powers, which doesn’t necessarily sit easily in the technologically advanced world of TV 21. But, y’know, the guy worships a fish god who can shine a light out of his mouth to turn plants toxic, so I guess anything’s possible.

Needless to say, I think this development in Marina’s back story is incredibly satisfying, and serves the character far beyond what she was given to do in the television series itself. What’s even better, is the particular detail that Marina doesn’t even know for sure if Titan’s curse is real, or whether the first minister’s death was a coincidence. Such a subtle nuance in the storytelling, but it makes so much difference to how we might interpret all those moments when Marina needed to speak but chose not to for the safety of her people. The only thing it makes a bit of a mess of is the plot of the episode Count Down. Why would Marina willingly go along to speaking lessons when she knows full well it won’t work? Maybe she’s just trying to keep Troy happy. Anyway, Marina finishes her manuscript with a reminder that the friendship of those at Marineville means a great deal to her, something which was made evident during the television series but now takes on a whole new meaning.

A photograph of Marina hanging on a wall in Marineville, as seen in the episode The Big Gun.

Atlanta and Commander Shore are gobsmacked by the story, and it strengthens their mission to make Marina’s life better and defeat Titan to save her from the vow of silence. Then the record ends. No apology from Atlanta to Marina, or an immediate counterattack launched by Shore on Titan. Just an acceptance of the reality of Marina’s life under this curse.

What a powerful piece of writing.

Had Marina Speaks been a fully fledged episode of the television series, it would have changed everything. It could have taken Stingray to the level of a political drama. I’d say that only the episode The Master Plan matches this record’s dark and grave tone. Of course, one of Stingray‘s usual strengths is its light and friendly touch, and I wouldn’t trade any of those fluffy comedy elements for added grit and suspense. But boy, a big-screen Stingray feature film produced by AP Films, based on the story of Marina Speaks, would have been a spectacle to behold, and really elevated Stingray‘s potential for dramatic storytelling to new heights.

Ah well, one can dream.

Anyway, here’s the next best thing as far as Stingray feature films go…

The Incredible Voyage of Stingray

Released in 1980

Compilation of Stingray, Plant of Doom, Count Down, and The Master Plan.

Explaining the Super Space Theater compilation films of Anderson shows to anyone who didn’t live through them is like trying to describe why fax machines exist. Somehow, Chris Dale manages it very succinctly yet thoroughly in his article on the subject for the official Gerry Anderson website. But it would be rude of me not to offer my dumbed down Security Hazard version so here goes:

Basically, everyone who was alive in 1977 wanted more Star Wars, so they tried to turn Space: 1999 episodes into Star Wars films by slapping episodes together, and cutting off the beginnings, endings, and some other bits to fit the 90-minute running time, then gave the result a new title. ITC’s Robert Mandell and project consultant David Hirsch kept on making these “movies” in order to sell the Anderson shows to satellite and cable channels in the United States that were desperately in need of cheap science fiction content. So episodes of Space: 1999, UFO, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90, and, of course, Stingray received the “Super Space Theater” treatment to combine multiple episodes into one story.

The Channel 5 VHS cover for the compilation film Thunderbirds In Outer Space – quite possibly my first exposure to the Andersons’ work.

Needless to say, the results were mixed since the likes of Thunderbirds and Stingray didn’t really have episodes which formed a continuous story over multiple installments. That’s where a certain amount of creativity came into the project to try and stitch things together and invent some uniformity. This could be as simple as adding a “Six Months Later” caption to the start of the Thunderbirds episode Operation Crash-Dive, following directly on from the conclusion of Trapped In The Sky in the compilation film Thunderbirds To The Rescue. In other cases, quite a few creative liberties were taken to try and mash together some sort of cohesive story. For example, the ending of the Captain Scarlet episode, Attack On Cloudbase, was drastically altered to suggest that the events of that installment didn’t take place in a dream sequence after all, ending the compilation film Captain Scarlet vs. The Mysterons on a much more bizarre note with the Mysterons seemingly having a change of heart…

Talk about trippy.

Now, none of this would have been a problem but for one truly terrible decision being made regarding home video releases. During the 1980s and 90s the Anderson shows were being released on VHS, and someone decided to simply replace the original versions of the episodes with releases of the Super Space Theater compilation films instead. This meant that classic episodes such as Trapped In The Sky, Terror In New York City and many others were only available in a heavily modified format. Fortunately, sanity prevailed in the early 2000’s and the uncut episodes became available on video and DVD for the first time. The second that happened, Anderson fans put the compilation films into retirement after two decades of service, since they no longer served much use…

… Until Network came along and decided to re-release a few of them. In fact, in some cases, Network used their HD restorations of the Anderson shows to re-assemble the whole dang movies from scratch. Yes, the nostalgia value of these bizarre novelties has meant that both Stingray compilations, among several other Anderson compilations so far, have received a high definition blu-ray release from Network.

Publicity artwork for the Super Space Theater collection of Space: 1999 feature films from Network.

The Incredible Voyage of Stingray was the first of the Supermarionation compilations produced in the Super Space Theater range in 1980. Three versions have been re-built from scratch using the high defintion episode restorations for Network’s release:

  • Original Fullscreen With Stereo Movie Soundtrack
  • Original Fullscreen With Mono Episode Soundtrack
  • Extended Widescreen With Mono Episode Soundtrack

I’m spoilt for choice, but it sounds like the first version is the most authentic. I want to watch these movies just as I would have done on VHS as a little kid. I probably haven’t seen this in something like twenty years.

Ah… so maybe not quite a 100% faithful re-creation then. I did wonder how those truly horrific 1980s video effects from Dolphin Productions Inc would be accurately reproduced with up to date editing software. Instead, Kindred Productions Ltd who are behind this particular re-interpretation of The Incredible Voyage of Stingray have put together an approximation of the original titles using clean footage from the episodes. The notes from Kindred’s Tim Mallet on the sleeve of the blu-ray case reveal the difficulties involved in producing these compilations all over again, and explains why using the original titles was an impossibility. Thankfully, the original opening and closing titles have been included as a bonus feature so we can take a butchers at them in their fuzzy NTSC, VHS quality goodness:

The only thing that truly baffles me about these original titles is the weird, vaguely 3D viewing screen which is constructed out of laser beams and appears for no reason whatsoever at the end of the sequence. The rest of it is pretty average by the standards of Super Space Theater, and that gives them a heck of a lot of leeway.

Back to the high definition re-creation now and the first moments from the pilot episode play out as normal until… them laser beams. Yes, they may not have restored the original titles, but that’s only because those wizards at Kindred have had to dedicate all their efforts to adding the frickin’ lasers back in. The new effect is perfect – absolutely perfect. Why were lasers added to these films in the first place? DO I SOUND LIKE SOMEONE WHO CARES?! Nah, but for real, it’s probably because of Star Wars. What I can say on the subject is that I did have to google the question: “do laser beams work underwater?” I was surprised to learn that the answer is basically – yes. Now, could those laser beams blow up a submarine? I’ll leave that up to your imagination…

I won’t go through every single darn modification that’s been made to every single darn episode in these compilations because even I would consider that tedious. But Stingray’s launch sequence from the pilot episode is a perfect example of the kind of changes that were typical of the Super Space Theater compilations. Music, usually from Barry Gray and usually from elsewhere in the same series, is added to sequences that originally had none… which happens a lot. It’s almost annoying. Remember that this was the only version of these episodes available to buy for almost two decades. It also meant that for people like me who grew up on these VHS tapes, watching the uncut, unaltered original versions of the episodes later was quite a bizarre turn of events. Suddenly, scenes which I had experienced that were full of music in the compilation felt a little empty when watched in their proper form. I’m delighted to say that I got over it.

What’s considerably more surreal, and actually still gets me to this day, is the experience of scenes that were cut from the compilations suddenly popping up when I now sit down to watch the uncut versions of the episodes. Even now, something very subtle triggers in my head when Jeff, Alan, Scott, Tin-Tin, and that cheeky twerp Braman turn up to say thank you to Brains at the end of the Thunderbirds episode Sun Probe – because I’d spent years prior watching Thunderbirds In Outer Space over and over and over again with that scene completely removed. My plasticine brain got so used to those trimmed down versions of the episodes that I’m still in recovery twenty years later. How wild is that? Of course, today I’d pick the uncut versions of the episodes every time, so nobody needs to buy me a straight jacket just yet.

For The Incredible Voyage of Stingray, only some light trimming is required for the transition from the pilot episode into Plant of Doom. Marina’s final shot is cut a few seconds short to dodge the fade to black from the original episode, instead cutting straight to Titanica and Titan’s scene talking to his pet fish. Since the events of the pilot lead straight into Plant of Doom anyway, the join between the episodes is pretty seamless and they sit pretty dang well alongside each other to form a complete story. Needless to say, some of the joins between episodes in other Super Space Theater compilations are much more obvious. For example – Terror In New York City going straight into Atlantic Inferno made zero sense during the film Countdown To Disaster, particularly as the puppets completely changed appearance, Virgil switched to a new voice, and the Tracy Lounge was redecorated.

Stingray gets yellowish-green laser beams to replace its missiles. Yup, the bad guys have red lasers, the good guys have green. Ain’t that cute? Pretty sure they were more yellow originally but that’s a minor gripe. The smoking vapour trails of the original missiles can often be spotted hiding underneath the added laser effects – but on a fuzzy VHS tape I doubt anyone ever noticed that back in the day.

The most noticeable cuts from the original episodes are the sickly sweet piano-playing finale to Plant of Doom, and the nighttime scene in the control tower from the beginning of Count Down. I certainly don’t miss the cheery rendition of Chopsticks, but the discussion about the secret decorating plans is quite an unfortunate loss, seeing as Alan Pattillo put quite a lot of effort into the dark and moody direction of that scene. Instead, the transition between the episodes is handled by cutting straight from Atlanta acknowledging Troy’s negative views on Marina’s musical talent, to Titan calling up X20 to bark demands about destroying Marineville. It works well enough, and the secret plans still get a look-in during later scenes, so the subplot about Marina’s new apartment doesn’t suffer too much as a result of the scene being missing.

The rest of Count Down is intact, and the final shot of the episode leads straight into the first scene from The Master Plan. I have to give credit to The Incredible Voyage of Stingray for being relatively untampered-with compared to many of the other Super Space Theater compilation movies. I suspect that’s down to this being one of the earliest in the collection, and also because of simple mathematics. It would have been much easier to trim 4 x 25-minute episodes of Stingray down to a 90-minute compilation once the original opening and closing titles were removed, than it was to cut down, for example, 2 x 50-minute episodes of Thunderbirds. Cutting together fewer, longer episodes into a movie meant a more noticeable amount of material had to be lost from each story, and there was less opening and closing title flab to slice off from the two episodes as opposed to the four.

The restored movie ends with some new end credits (that’s the version on the left). Back in 1980, the original assembly of The Incredible Voyage of Stingray wasn’t able to faithfully re-create the graphics of the television series’ end titles, so basically didn’t bother and slapped black cards and a boring white font over the top of them (the version on the right). The sequence was also accompanied by a slower, commercial recording of Gary Miller performing Aqua Marina. For this 2022 restoration, technology has evolved and means that a look much closer to the original, original end title sequence can be achieved. It’s worth nothing that the 1980 white text on black card version of the sequence is pretty tame compared to some of the other Super Space Theater closing titles which usually preferred to saunter away from what was done in the television series and do their own thing entirely.

Overall, The Incredible Voyage of Stingray is quite a satisfying viewing experience. As discussed, very little from the original episodes is cut. As long as you can put up with the heavily over-compensating soundtrack and the laser beams, you’ve basically got a handy way of watching the pilot episode, Plant of Doom, Count Down, and The Master Plan in one convenient package.

The choice of episodes is pretty darn perfect, and they fit together nicely to tell the overarching story of how Marina came to Marineville, and her place in the story as a slave to Titan, a citizen of Pacifica, and now a member of the WASPs. It also serves up some of Titan’s boldest efforts to get revenge on Stingray, Marineville, and Troy Tempest for challenging his power. Count Down is perhaps slightly more of an outlier, in that it doesn’t directly reference Marina’s supposed betrayal of Titan from the pilot episode, but you could easily argue that X20’s plot to destroy Marineville is still egged on by Titan for the same reasons. It also helps that The Master Plan is pretty much the most epic showdown between Troy and Titan anyway, so it serves as a great climax to the movie.

Invaders From The Deep

Released in 1981

Compilation of Hostages of the Deep, Emergency Marineville, The Big Gun, and Deep Heat.

The year is 1981. The year of Charles and Diana, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Ronald Reagan. If none of that managed to get your blood pumping, then you had a fresh batch of Super Space Theater compilation movies to enjoy on some U.S. cable channel in the early hours of the morning. 1981 offered up what I would consider the staples of the collection: Thunderbirds In Outer Space, Captain Scarlet vs. The Mysterons, Revenge of the Mysterons From Mars, The Amazing Adventures of Joe 90 and, most importantly today – Invaders From The Deep. The premise, for want of a better word, which differentiates this movie from the last one is that instead of Titan battling the WASPs himself, he’s gotten all his other underwater alien buddies to go out and do it for him. More on that in a moment.

As with The Incredible Voyage of Stingray, the shiny new Network release of Invaders From The Deep features a plethora of viewing options, and I’m once again opting for the “Original Fullscreen with Stereo Movie Soundtrack” to get the most authentic experience.

Rather ambitiously, Invaders From The Deep opens with a somewhat original scene featuring Titan confiding with Teufel, great god of the sea (or the answer to the question: What if fish could eat lard?). Of course, it’s not a particularly original scene. Footage from Plant of Doom and The Master Plan is cut together with dialogue from Plant of Doom and Count Down slapped over the top to form some vaguely new material. The editing job is painfully obvious with the lip sync going totally bananas… and y’know, Supermarionation lip sync is generally pretty forgiving if you dub it with something else, so this is particularly bad. And quite why Teufel shines a bright light at us (which was even brighter in the original 1981 version of the movie), I can’t say. I guess it’s supposed to represent Teufel enlightening Titan with a new idea but that might be a bit of a stretch. Anyway, having complained to his pet fish for a bit, Titan then suddenly has a radio in his hand ordering all his subjects to destroy Marineville.

And that’s that. That’s the conceit for the whole movie set up. Instead of doing the dirty work himself, he’s called upon all his underlings to do it for him. Of course, it does play on the idea that Titan is in some way connected with at least some of the guest villains we see throughout the series, as hinted at in Troy’s dream from the episode Tom Thumb Tempest. So I guess that’s good. Anyway, this scene exists and Kindred have once again done the best they can to make it look and sound as bad as it did originally so I guess we can consider that a victory.

Just like The Incredible Voyage of Stingray, Kindred have produced new opening titles loosely inspired by the 1981 mess of video effects that made up the original opening titles. Call me a moron tainted by nostalgia, but I quite like the look of the original version.

The titles give way to the events of Hostages of the Deep, which play out pretty much as they do in the original episode, with one notable exception. Well, two if you count the relentless additional music. But the key issue is the removal of the scene featuring Troy and Phones pranking Atlanta with the toy fish. Instead, the movie cuts from the initial scene with Admiral Carson and Millie being threatened by Gadus, straight to Commander Shore’s briefing in the control room. Now sure, the fish prank is a pretty bizarre scene as shown in the episode, thanks to Troy, Phones and Atlanta’s not-quite-right smiler heads, and the fact the fish was possessed by the voice of Joe Pasquale. I don’t necessarily miss it from this compilation movie, but it does mean that Troy using the fish to check for bomb threats while investigating the island truly comes from out of no-where. Maybe we’re supposed to assume the toy fish is standard-issue equipment aboard all WASP vessels.

R.I.P. Francis The Fish – his family don’t even get paid royalties for Invaders From The Deep because his single line of dialogue got cut.

Music from the Thunderbirds episode, Terror In New York City is played quietly over this simple moment of Troy and Phones discussing what to do next. Yup… yup I can confirm it does confuse my brain. But if you think that’s bad, you won’t be prepared for the bold-as-brass musical choice that’s been made for the end credits… all in good time though.

For the transition between Hostages of the Deep and Emergency Marineville, the final exchange of dialogue, in which Phones attempts to squeeze some thanks from Marina for Troy saving her life, is cut. It’s a sweet moment, but I think we can afford to lose it. Slightly more critical is the cutting of the opening scene from Emergency Marineville showing the missile launching from the volcanic island. Instead, the missile’s approach is reported straight from the tracking station and the first we see of it is when it’s flying on course towards Marineville. This means that when Stingray spots the second missile being fired from the island, it comes as a complete surprise to the viewers as well as Troy, Phones and Marina. It just goes to show that even minor changes can have their influence on the viewing experience – in this case, probably telling a better story.

A slightly odd bit of editing from the original 1981 version of the movie has been retained for the new edition – the control tower appears to get stuck halfway through Battle Stations. Nice attention to detail from the re-creation, but why the dodgy editing happened in the first place back in 1981 I couldn’t say. Maybe the VHS machine got tired.

Thanks to Aqunaut of the Year, The Reunion Party, and Invaders From The Deep, in addition to covering it for my intial review – I’ve now watched bits of Emergency Marineville a stupid number of times over the past few weeks. It’s almost dirty how popular this episode was with writers/editors of Stingray compilations. Is it possible to slut shame an episode of a TV series? Cos Emergency Marineville sure gets around. I just wanted to get that thought out there.

The final scene from Emergency Marineville featuring Shore reprimanding Phones for his missing button is cut from this compilation. Again, it’s not a big loss, and it means Stingray’s laser-fuelled demolition of the island packs a bit more of a punch. Let’s be honest, Shore yelling at Phones for being improperly dressed would only actually be funny if Phones had his thingy out… and even then I probably wouldn’t laughing.

Speaking of thingies though, it’s time for The Big Gun. Sort of. The opening for this segment is quite different from the original episode because the scene featuring the WSP Commander briefing Shore, and part of the discussion with Atlanta which follows has been brought forward to come before Mauritimus blows up the target island. Maybe this was done to avoid the material of the island getting blown up from Emergency Marineville getting confused with the material of the island getting blown up from The Big Gun… in which case they probably should have just put the episodes in a different order… which they should have done anyway because The Big Gun was produced before Emergency Marineville, and usually the Super Space Theater films are decent enough to at least get that sort of thing the right way around. Anyway, then Mauritimus blows up the target installation and another scene is brought forward – Atlanta briefing Troy to investigate in Stingray before Mauritimus returns to Solarstar to meet with the Mighty Leader. Presumably this edit was made just to break up the hardcore Mauritimus action a little bit with a dash of familiar Stingray business.

After Stingray attacks the missile ejector and Mauritimus bails out, the scene featuring the Mighty Leader and Chorda discussing the attack has been removed completely. But then Atlanta is ordered to call for action stations, and a few shots have actually been added from elsewhere in order to show Troy, Phones, and Marina boarding Stingray before it launches again. All this scene restructuring is probably one of the more subtle yet significant alterations made to the episodes in the name of Super Space Theater… and I’m not entirely sure why they bothered. It certainly doesn’t save them much running time. Someone must have really felt there wasn’t enough Stingray in this particular episode.

The rest of The Big Gun plays out as normal apart from the final sentimental scene being cut, which originally featured Troy and Phones walking down a corridor at Marineville and discussing Marina. Instead, Commander Shore’s rousing speech about making improvements to Stingray’s ability to withstand deep waters immediately cuts to Deep Heat, and Shore discussing Sea Probe with Lt. Fisher while standing in another part of the control room. It’s a bit of a strange transition, in that there’s basically no transition at all. Why the opening moments of Deep Heat with the probe approaching the volcano for the first time were cut is beyond me, though I guess all we lose is the advantage of actually seeing Sea Probe before people start talking about it. It also means we don’t have to listen to that bloomin’ beeping sound for quite as long.

Stingray’s launch sequence from Deep Heat is given a quick trim with a few shots taken out to speed things up. Stingray’s been launched quite a few times now over the course of the movie so maybe the editors felt it was time to pick up the pace. Another minor cut also includes the removal of the fade to black for the episode’s commercial break, and the surrounding establishing shots, which is made very noticeable by the music starting to swell before cutting out suddenly.

I thought I would be safe from Troy’s mysterious new head rapidly appearing between shots, but apparently even the Super Space Theater films are trying to taunt me. In fact, this scene was the first time I spotted the phenomena back in my review of Deep Heat, so I guess we’ve come full circle… terrific.

Not a particularly important point, but the inclusion of material from both Emergency Marineville and Deep Heat in the same movie makes it even more apparent that Nucella and Chidora from the former, and Torata and Fragil from the latter, are the same puppets re-dressed. Also, I find Deep Heat a bit of an odd choice of story to include in a movie focussed on a variety of underwater aliens wanting to destroy the WASPs and Marineville. That isn’t really Torata and Fragil’s primary goal – they mostly just want to get out of their dumb volcano city. Killing Troy and Phones, and then snatching Stingray, is more of a bonus to their plan. But hey, maybe I’m missing the deeper subtleties of just how much thought went into picking which episodes to haphazardly slap together for these movies.

Other than those minor cuts mentioned earlier, the scenes from Deep Heat play out exactly as they did in the original episode, allowing the movie to end with Troy and the gang getting sloshed at the Blue Lagoon. Neat.

The end credits roll, and once again the visuals have been changed up in the new, 2022 version of the movie. But there was one aspect of the credits that was irreplacable, and it neatly sums up the absolutely lunacy of the Super Space Theater project. Inexplicably, the tune chosen to play out this Stingray movie is a mashup of the Thunderbirds March and Yellow Submarine by The Beatles. It’s a 1967 cover performed by Kapel Van De Koninklijke Luchtmacht and the Dutch Royal Air Force Band and its inclusion right at the end of Invaders From The Deep makes me feel like I’m having some kind of fever dream.

In fact, that’s pretty much how I’m feeling about this entire Super Space Theater experience. I’ll admit that the changes and alterations to the episodes were less dramatic than I had remembered, but in a way that makes the changes that are there even weirder to experience because they sneak up on you. I guess if I had to choose watching The Incredible Voyage of Stingray and Invaders From The Deep over not having the episodes available in any form at all, then I’d be okay with that, as I was during my VHS-collecting years. But now we have the full versions of the episodes available to watch whenever the heck we want, do these compilation films serve any purpose at all? Well, as mentioned, I think The Incredible Voyage of Stingray tells a neat, if not entirely coherent story about Marina’s alleigances and Titan’s plot for revenge against Marineville – so if you were short on time and really didn’t want to watch those 4 episodes with titles and credits, then sure, The Incredible Voyage of Stingray gets a pass. Invaders From The Deep on the other hand just messily throws some fairly unrelated episodes of Stingray together and lets the audience figure out why. I can’t really see any benefit to watching this particular compilation movie nowadays.

Of course, we musn’t forget that Invaders From The Deep (plus Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars and Cosmic Princess) played a role in the early days of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as some of the earliest movies to feature on the show. That’s arguably the most significant legacy that the Anderson Super Space Theater movies are likely to have.

So as we close this bizarre, luke warm chapter on Stingray‘s history, let’s take a moment to reflect on the six-ish experiences we’ve shared over the course of this article:

The Reunion Party: a bold claim to create another episode of Stingray out of some fairly uninspiring material, which basically succeeded as well as it was ever going to after a bit of tidying up from the Network team.

Into Action With Troy Tempest: definitely more of a gimmick than a story, this little curiosity has some charm to it but is basically a thinly veiled attempt to train kids for their Stingray games in the playground.

A Trip To Marineville: although delivered through the thoroughly irritating means of a little boy asking endless questions, A Trip To Marineville is actually quite a nice experience if you want all your Marineville facts consolidated down into twenty-one minutes. Quite a decent attempt has been made to make the record as immersive as possible and I enjoy it for that.

Marina Speaks: without question this is up there as the most significant mini-album of the entire range, and probably one of those impactful Stingray stories full stop. The performances are top tier, and a great deal of effort has gone into the production to make it feel just like a television episode, with the added bonus that audio allows for much grander ideas to be realised. Essential listening.

The Incredible Voyage of Stingray: mostly harmless.

Invaders From The Deep: I’ll need a very good reason to consider watching this again.

Now, this might be the moment that some of you eager beavers ask: “Hey Mr. Security Hazard, what about reviewing this Stingray comic strip?! Or that Stingray novel?!! Or those newer full-cast Stingray audio adventures from Anderson Entertainment?!!!” Well, first I congratulate all the beavers out there who have learned how to use the internet. Building dams is one thing, but building a high-speed WiFi infrastructure is something else. But secondly, I say in response: Of course there are a whole ton of other stories from Stingray‘s extended universe out there which offer up yet more thrilling adventures for the crew of our favourite WASP submarine. But I have to pull the plug somewhere or I’ll be talking about Stingray until I’m fish food. What I hope this article has achieved is to open up the toybox of weird and wonderful spin-off material that exists for Stingray and all the other Anderson shows. For some, the likes of the mini-albums and the compilation movies were how they experienced Stingray for the first time, so I wanted to pay hommage to that. I urge you to share your stories about these pieces of ephemera that formed a part of your appreciation for the show, and anything else you might recommend other readers try out.

It just remains for me to thank anyone who has offered their valuable support over the past eight months or so that I’ve been reviewing Stingray on a weekly basis. I do these reviews for my own enjoyment to learn more about the shows I love and share that knowledge in a fun way. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response from readers who have left kind messages about how much they’re enjoying this opportunity to revisit the series with me. The Security Hazard community is full of brilliant people and I’m immensely proud of that fact. It can be difficult in online fandom to find an audience who “gets” what you’re trying to do, and I’m glad that so many of you are now in on the joke as it were. At times, these reviews have been exhausting and frustrating. But what a treat for me to publish a new review each week and find people eager to read it. That makes the hours and hours and hours of work worthwhile.

Comments, messages, and social media shares do a heck of a lot to boost what I’m doing here at Security Hazard. If, however, you want to do more, I have a Ko-fi page where you can tip as much or as little money as you like, but please only do so if you can afford it. Otherwise, you can follow Security Hazard on Facebook, and on Twitter which is where I’m most active, and join in the bizarre and jolly discussions about all things Anderson. You can also subscribe for updates from the blog as soon as they happen.

Time to hear from those talking beavers again – “What will you be reviewing next?” Every single Anderson series has been considered in one form or another to get the Security Hazard episode review treatment. I can honestly say I haven’t landed on a final choice, and probably won’t for some time, but there is a top secret shortlist with shows that you’re probably expecting, and some shows you definitely won’t be expecting. But first, I need to detox a little bit after working on Stingray non-stop for so long. In the meantime, I want to spend some time working on other types of posts for the blog. Much like how this Tales From Marineville article mixed up the usual format a little, I’d like to try a few other experiments that will hopefully make future articles more accessible and multi-faceted. I have a new, one-off article on something Thunderbirds and slightly Stingray related that’s 90% completed and should be ready for publication in a couple of weeks. I’ve also been working on some other top secret scribblings that will be announced soon…

For now though, I leave you with this – a bingo card, designed by the brilliant @TypicalWatson on Twitter, which you can have some fun with the next time you’re reading through my Stingray reviews here on the Security Hazard blog.

But I’m afraid, whether you like it or not, this has got to be the end.

Next time


Filmed In Supermarionation Stephen La Rivière

Stingray: Adventures In Videcolor
Andrew Pixley

Stingray: Super Space Theater
Chris Dale

Super Space Theatre – The Gerry Anderson compilation movies
Chris Dale

Stingray’s Japanese linking material
Chris Dale

The Century 21 mini albums range
Chris Dale

More from Security Hazard

5 thoughts on “Stingray – Tales From Marineville

  1. The Reunion Party feels rather flat. I’ve also heard that the episode was being made as an alternative in case Aquanaut of the Year couldn’t go out should the makers of This is Your Life not give their consent. Fortunately, they did and Aquanaut rightfully ended the series otherwise we’d have had a poor ending to the show.

    Via Andrew-Mark Thompson has ‘created’ another compilation film for Stingray called THE UNDERSEA NIGHTMARES OF TROY TEMPEST. Consisting of Raptures from the Deep, The Cool Cave Man, Tom Thumb Tempest and Pink Ice, it tells the story of Titan using a deadly ray beam on Troy Tempest to place him in a coma, giving him those dreams, enabling him to threaten the world with pink ice. What compilation films could be made with the other episodes? It’s not as easy like Thunderbirds.

    So, what’s next? (The remaining episodes of) Captain Scarlet? Joe 90?


    1. Joe 90 was a always a series that was great for me and Captain Scarlet. Nice to see the more realistic sized puppet heads as well, Supercar and Fireball XL5 are great as well when you consider how early they were. 🙂
      The only one I really find slightly disappointing to be honest is The Secret Ervice, but then the fact they didn’t add subtitles onto the dvd release and that fact that the plug was pulled so early on hasn’t helped, still there you go. 🙂


  2. Jack, I won’t badger you about your next project and I will say again that if there was ever the chance for Stingray being amde into a Clos-Up Fanderson book you are the go to guy for it to get off the ground! 😀
    I have absolutley loved reading these reviews ,especially this last one as the audio adventures were really unique and great fun to picture in your head I find, especially Marina Speaks.
    I haven’t had the good fortune of watching any Compilation VHS release of any series, but I think that the viewmaster rells have kind of compensated for that to be honest when you see how rare some of the photos are on them. 😉
    I look forward to seeing what else you have in the pipeline, but for the time being have a good rest and be proud of what you have done mate. 🙂


  3. Congrats for completing another set of top tier reviews. Your insights into Stingray got me to revisit the series after a few years (along with all the following Supermarionation shows and a highlights from the black and white era too). It’s fascinating to watch the evolution of the studio towards the incredible effects work of the later shows, by the second half of Stingray there are some amazing setpieces (I think the dramatic storm in The Lighthouse Dwellers might be my favourite).

    Excited for whichever show comes next, I always wonder which props or vehicles or puppets get reused when I watch the others. It’s nice to have such a comprehensive deep-dive (if you’ll pardon the pun) to rely on.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: