Episode 04 Ė "Manhunt"

"Members of Spectrum: the Mysterons have made their first mistake!"


 

Actually, they donít have a plan. The voice at the beginning just goes over all the old "You started this with your unprovoked attack, so nyah!" shtick but doesnít bother to detail any spot of nefariousness.

Captain Black is hanging around at the Culver Atomic Station Ė for what reason weíre never told Ė and in hiding from the guards exposes himself to radiation. Though not harmful, the irradiated Captain Black is now detectable by conventional Geiger counters for 48 hours. The hunt is on to find Captain Black!

No new Mysteron abilities shown off here, though itís interesting to note that Black states that "The Mysterons also have compassion."

The first episode in which Captain Scarlet doesnít kill himself. Gosh.

The Captains allow the SPV to escape the atomic complex, shooting at it rather ineffectually. And Symphony Angel allows herself to get captured, I suppose.

Well, the Mysterons didnít have a plan, but Spectrum did Ė to catch Captain Black. And they failed. So now itís:

Spectrum: 2 Mysterons: 2

The beginning of the episode consists of Captain Scarlet giving the Colonel a written report of recent activities in Australia:

"Captain Blue and I investigated reported Mysteron activities in Sydney, Australia but found no reason or evidence to suppose any Mysteron present. During the cause of the enquiries I received slight injuries detailed in a medical report to Dr. Fawn."

Aside from the fact that itís so laughably lacking in detail that it seems more like a kidís "Wot I did on Holiday" summary than an officerís military report, and that it contains no info that Scarlet himself couldnít impart vocally within a span of approximately seven seconds, the real killer comes when, following an eight second hold on it to allow the audience to read it, the Colonel goes "HmmÖ" looks up and says, "I see from this that you were injured, Captain Scarlet!" in a way that makes us think we ought to give him a cookie for being able to read simple sentences. Itís then followed by another slide that reads:

"We must conclude from our enquiries that there was no Mysteron activities and it was in fact a false alarm.

Captain Scarlet"

Was no activities? He can rejuvenate himself following any physical mishap, but the guyís bloody awful at grammar.

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The main characters discuss how Captain Black got himself out of the situation at the end of the episode in turgid detail, despite the fact that itís obvious to a five-year-old what had happened.

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"This is the work of the Mysterons!"

OK, this isnít rude or anything, but itís an instance of quite happy dialogue that doesnít belong anywhere else:

BLUE: "This medallionÖ itís Symphonyís! Ö It is, I tell you! I gave it to her on her birthday!"

So, Blue has a thing for Symphony, eh? Doesnít explain why he was taking Destiny Angel out in the last episode, though. Bah! I sense trouble afoot.

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Thereís also an instance of a genuinely funny line. When Captain Scarlet calls in to tell the Colonel that Symphony Angel has disobeyed her orders and landed her plane to find Black, Lieutenant Green mumbles a very cheesed-off, "Huh, Ďuse your initiativeí they sayÖ" Nice bit of characterisation, that, showing Greenís more rebellious side. Colonel White puts a bit of a dampener on things with "Initiative should never clash with discipline!" though.

Scarlet likes his first port of call: "Hmm, aptly namedÖ Stone Point Village. SPV!" Iím not sure if this line is meant to be funny or not, but itís a stinker whichever way you slice it.

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Our first end-of-episode bit of frivolity occurs here:

GREEN: "SymphonyÖ one thing puzzles me. Why didnít you stop the SPV just outside the gate?"

SYMPHONY: "Donít tell anyone, Lieutenant, but thatís the first time Iíve ever driven an SPV!"

Ha ha ha ha. Away with you.

"I feel sure that they are planning to continue their war of nerves!" says the Colonel - at the beginning of the episode. He ends it with "The Mysterons are capable of making mistakes. Let us take consolation from this in the continuing fight."

"Sir, can I fly down and help in the manhunt?" pleads Lieutenant Green. "No, Leftenant, I need you here," comes the Colonelís reply. Apparently itís vital that Central Control remains fully manned. Personally I just think the Colonel would feel lonely otherwise and just wants a friend. Awww.

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A Mysteron car mechanic pretends to search for the keys to an SPV when Scarlet suddenly shoots him dead. "You knew it was a trap?" asks Captain Blue. "I suspected it," replies our stoic hero, "He didnít ask for our identification." Blimey. Shoot first, ask questions later, eh? Iíd hate to think what would happen if a Spectrum agent ever had a slight lapse of memory, or even just said, "Oh, sod it, I know who you are, take the bloody thing."

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BLACK: "I am sorry, Symphony Angel, but you leave me no choice."

SYMPHONY: "That voiceÖ"

Iíve never really understood that remark. Is she just commenting on the fact that Blackís voice is quite weird, or has she heard it somewhere before? Or has she just realised that the voice artist for Captain Black and the Mysterons is exactly the same as that for Colonel White?

The manhunt for Captain Black doesnít seem particularly expansive Ė about seven or eight trucks with long distance Geiger counter equipment driving about the countryside with Symphony Angel flying overhead. Still, Captain Grey gets another outing here, once again supervising operations. Iím actually quite surprised to see the guy appearing so often in these early episodes, though Iím fairly sure that he seems to disappear off the face of the planet after this initial batch of episodes. Captain Ochreís on guard duty, too, next to a pretty flimsy looking road barrier. Lieutenant Green asks permission to go down there twice but gets denied each time. Bah! Oh well. He gets to go on a mission in the next episode. Still no sign of Captain Magenta yet, though.

Perhaps the nastiest Mysteron-inflicted death ever in this episode, when Captain Black comes across a garage, inside of which is a mechanic working on a car on a vehicle ramp. One flick of a switch and the lift goes right up to the ceiling, crushing car, mechanic and allÖ

Later on, Black begins to irradiate Symphony Angel Ė "The radiation will kill you in three minutes." He really is a nasty piece of work, isnít he?

And once again Spectrum loses nothing. In fact the only cash to be lashed out will be on getting the dent out of that SPV and giving it a bit of a buff.

An SPV crashes into a tree, but thatís your lot.

No explosions in this episode, really. A bit of dust gets kicked up during the event described above, but thatís all.

"Adam?"

"Yeah, yeah, Iím fineÖ"

Hurrah! Our first instance of forename usage, heard when Scarlet attempts to console his Blue colleague with the affirmation Symphony will be all right. Thereís definitely something going on between those two. Blue and Symphony, I mean, not Blue and Scarlet. Because Scarlet quite clearly fancies Colonel White. Mmm. Oh yes.

It might just be me but the puppet used for Colonel White seems happier than usual. Still not the "happy face" Iím thinking of, but heís certainly chirpier here than he usually is.

The title for the episode takes some time to appear Ė 6 minutes 45 seconds.

The atomic station in which the episode is set looks remarkably like that seen every week in the opening credits for Thunderbirds in which it kept getting blown to pieces behind a "SUPERMATIONATION!" logo.

Thereís some particularly good puppetry in this episode. An early scene in which a guard hears a movement behind him and leaps round to see who it is looks remarkably human. It doesnít sound much written down but, trust me, itís the little things like this that jump out at you when youíre watching puppets. Actually, maybe itís just me and the fact that I grew up on Thunderbirds and the like but when I sit down to watch a Supermarionation show I almost completely forget the fact that Iím watching puppets at all Ė I just get engrossed in the story and characters that it just doesnít pop into my ahead that Iím not actually watching actors. The voice artistry must go some way to achieving this, though the fact that the puppets themselves achieve a certain degree of physical realism in this series is another point in favour. It probably also has something to do with the direction in general; for instance, a guard getting knocked unconscious in this episode is achieved by using a POV shot of the guard in question which works absolutely splendidly.

Thereís a nice sense of continuity here with Captain Blue being surprised that Captain Black is still alive by this episode, and Colonel White only now realising that Black is a Mysteron agent. You kind of forget that Black hasnít actually been seen by any Spectrum members since the ill-fated Mars mission Ė heís always been hiding in the shadows (or standing in broad daylight at an airport).

Why do the Mysterons advise Captain Black, whoís travelling in a stolen and heavily armoured SPV, to avoid the roadblock and to go back to the research centre? The "block" consists of a single wooden beam, a saloon car and Captain Ochre with a small handgun. Itís not as if Black couldnít just bash into the lot of them and make good his escape.

Despite the culmination of the episode taking place at night, a shot of Captain Greyís Geiger van is quite clearly taken during daylight.

A smashing little episode despite the fact that the plot itself is surprisingly slight, a surprise after the more experimental Big Ben Strikes Again. What I like about it is the fact that the extra breathing room allows the characters to be fleshed out a bit, which is quite a rare thing in a Supermarionation show. Itís not much, but itís still there; the revelation that Blue fancies Symphony Angel; Lieutenant Greenís reluctance to obey the Colonelís orders; Colonel Whiteís more ruthless side, stating that a military operation wonít be affected by concern over any one individual; Captain Black showing a small ounce of compassion towards the end; and the first time that an Angel has ever really been involved in a plotline. Thereís a lot going on here. Itís also a very grim episode; despite Black showing a nicer side he still brutally kills an innocent earlier on and utters the phrase "Prepare to die." Truly great stuff for whatís meant to be a silly kidsí puppet show.

 

Thereís a bloke trapped in there, yíknow. Not pleasant, is it?

The Perils of Symphony Angel

Captain Grey and his sidekick Sergeant Whatshisface