Episode 05 – "Avalanche"

"I…I can’t breathe..."

Harmony and Rhapsody appear in some stock footage of the Angels taking off but aren’t actually seen in the air. So as you can see it’s very light on regulars, this one.

"Our next strike is imminent. We will show you how weak you really are. Within the next four hours, we will destroy key links in your Frost Line Outer Space Defence System. We will be avenged."

The Mysterons replicate an Arctic maintenance man and his liquid oxygen transporter vehicle. When Red Deer Base suddenly fails to respond to calls from neighbouring Front Line bases, Spectrum realises that the Mysterons are putting their threat into action. However their Martian foes are not the only problem as Colonel White also faces the opposition of the Front Line defence system General Ward, who is convinced that he can "handle these attacks from outer space," and threatens to launch missiles at Mars if the Mysterons continue to attack. Can Captain Scarlet prevent more bases from falling to the Mysteron menace and do so before the General carries out his trigger-happy desires?...

No new Mysteron abilities are seen here, though it is the first episode in which Captain Black isn’t mooching about and supervising operations.

Scarlet doesn’t kill himself. Nor does he die in a crash, thanks to the aid of comfortable seating. Cushy.

Two bases are knocked out before Spectrum manage to defeat the Mysterons, though this time the incompetence lies at the feet of the atrocious Front Line base security (who let people in even if they don’t have passes so long as they know them) rather than Spectrum itself.

Despite heavy military casualties, the Mysterons don’t completely destroy the defence system, so Spectrum edges out of the tie to make:

Spectrum: 3 Mysterons: 2

 

"It’s getting muggy in here isn’t it?"

"Yes sir, I was noticing it myself. I wish this place had a window."

"Yeah, these sealed domes are fine but they have their drawbacks."

Please, list them. I bet your friend wasn’t even aware of the fact that there were any drawbacks until you mentioned it.

___

"Look, Colonel, I’ve got a 3000 mile line of missile complexes, observation posts and feeder bases. Can you cover all that?"

Rather wonderfully, White replies, "We’ll do our best."

"I want some action – and fast!"

The episode ends with some comedy Colonel White spluttering and an insubordinational remark from Captain Scarlet, which becomes even less amusing than it already was when the camera cuts to a close up of the perpetually serious looking Scarlet marionette.

Colonel White has a line in pithy comments every time a communication with the General concludes. "They never learn…" "Trigger happy…" You expect him to turn around and appeal to the kids at home for their sympathies and to share in his knowing mutterings. However he doesn’t get a stoic speech at the end. Shame. In fact this isn’t generally a very good episode for the Colonel, as evidenced by the number of howlers listed below.

"Temperature now reading 20 below zero."

"Boy, it’s cold out there."

Sigh.

___

"I’ve just heard about this Mysteron threat, Colonel. Are they serious?"

Considering that they’re already kidnapped the World President, killed off the Asian Director General and attempted to blow up London then I’d imagine that, yes, General, they probably are.

___

"The whole base is on Red Alert! I shouldn’t have let you in so easy!"

But you did anyway, Stupid Guard # 1. And now you have three bullets in your chest. I hope you’ve learnt your lesson.

___

"Right, I suppose we’d better go through the airlock."

Good idea, Scarlet, given that that’s the only way to enter the dome.

___

"There’s a strange mist, but it registers clean. There’s no radiation, no toxic. There’s no apparent explanation."

"No, Captain, but you can rest assured there is an explanation!"

Thank you, Colonel. Your input is as always invaluable.

___

The Colonel again:

"Tell Captain Scarlet it’s imperative he finds out how the Mysterons are knocking out these bases!"

He’s been out there for an hour, you cranky sod, I expect he knows what he was sent out there to do by now.

___

And again:

"I feel sure if one more base had been attacked by the Mysterons, General Ward would have launched those missiles against Mars!"

You feel sure because General Ward himself told you. Sigh, again.

___

However, despite the Colonel’s dodgy posturings, the big comedy moment of the episode comes when a Spectrum SPV, covered in Spectrum logos, drives up to a guard at Big Bear Base and Lieutenant Green gets out in his decorated Spectrum uniform to ask a question only for the guard to reply, "You’re Spectrum, aren’t you?"

Why am I always surrounded by incompetents?

 

Lieutenant Green gets to go out on a mission! Hurrah! Unfortunately he has to wear his silly green hat and a dodgy green coat which makes him look like Dr Forrester from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Still, he gets to karate chop a guard which is worth the price of admission alone.

The Arctic maintenance chap who gets taken over has a bit of a bad day. First the Mysterons duff up the brakes on his vehicle so that it crashes, then the guy himself, who has remarkably survived this, is left half buried in ice waving his arms about in an almost laughably pathetic manner. Indeed, the director of this episode indulges in a bit of puppet sadism as after allowing the mechanic to squirm helplessly for a while he then proceeds to bury the poor sod in snow for a full ten seconds, even pausing halfway through to allow us a final glimpse of the guy’s feebly twitching hand before piling on another ton of snow to completely obscure him from view. The scene is either horrifying or hilariously funny, depending on your point of view. I opt for the latter, myself.

The agent himself is a bloodthirsty brute, shooting one guard, and then succeeding in wiping out an estimated total of 320 military personnel. That’s more than Captain Black knocks off in the entire series!

A cheap episode for Spectrum once again, with the Colonel only having to dip into the coffers to replace a single SPV.

Yesssss! We’ve been waiting for a while to actually fill this section but today’s episode gives us a double dose of cliff-related vehicular accidents. The episode begins with the maintenance man’s Arctic truck skidding and plunging over a big snowy cliff. However, bizarrely for an episode of Captain Scarlet, the truck completely falls apart but explosion came there none, which takes some of the satisfaction out of the moment. However the same fate befalls the Mysteron truck at the end of the episode when it once again falls apart and then explodes quite spectacularly. Raaaahhh!

And a mention for the scene that gives this section its name, when Captain Scarlet communicates Colonel White in order to chirpily announce, "Colonel White – I’ve crashed the SPV!" What does he want, another medal?

Low on explosions this time round, with only one large and one mini one to keep us satiated.

We’re back on codename terms this week.

The Colonel himself could arguably be called a joke, but doesn’t get any moments of happiness. Poor guy.

General Ward, the Commander in Chief of the Defence System, is a tosser.

There’s some very jaunty, Christmassy music in this one, which appropriately stops when the maintenance man falls to his grizzly death.

We see Captain Blue fulfilling the "sit at the computer desk and press some buttons" duties that Lieutenant Green usually performs. Nice to know that they give the poor green guy some time off.

There’s a funny bit when the General first demands retaliation against the Mysterons and cuts off his chat with Colonel White. In Cloudbase Control there’s an uncomfortable silence during which the Colonel looks to Captain Blue, who swivels his eyes about like a shifty bastard and declines to say anything at all.

This week, Scarlet and Green requisition an SPV from a French hermit in a wooden hut in the Arctic hills (?!), who keeps it hidden under some logs shaped in the formation of a smaller hut. Well, it’s inventive to say the least. Pity him having to put the logs back together when the SPV gets returned so he can obscure it again. Bet it took him days and days to do it last time.

The comedy guard of Big Bear Base who is determined not to let Spectrum officers inside then contemplates letting Lieutenant Green use the base’s telephone a few seconds later.

Captain Scarlet manages to cause an avalanche by shooting a mound of snow on a cliff edge three times with a handgun, because Captain Scarlet is amazing and we’re not allowed to imitate him. Remember that.

Colonel White spends the episode fretting about General Ward launching missiles at the Mysteron base, continually saying that the consequences wouldn’t bear consideration. Why? It’s not as if the Mysterons are being particularly civil at the moment is it?

And, not at all episode specific, this, but I’ve just realised that if you have the subtitles on then the shot of Captain Black in the titles is accompanied by a subtitle that tells you that an: (Owl hoots). Hee hee. Owl.

 

A solid episode this with a sense of peculiar mystery about it, and the scenes of Scarlet and Green discovering the bases with strange, swirling mists and copious dead technicians are very effective. The episode probably gains an extra mark from me because it also has a higher than normal level of unintentional humour to boot, which makes it a darn sight easier to fill up this episode guide.

 

"Please obey me. If you don’t, somebody else will."

* burble * "… Heaven is a place on Earth…" * burble *

"Good evening. We’re dancers. You sent for us."

"C’est la mode! Ennui! SPV!" etc.