Episode 13 – "Point 783"
"Fast, deadly and virtually unstoppable!"
"We will destroy the Supreme Commander of Earth Forces within the next 24 hours. Supreme Commander, you have only 24 more hours to live!"
The Mysterons kill and retromatabolise themselves duplicates of two important military personnel, Major Brooks and General Storm, and intend to use them to assassinate the Supreme Commander of Earth Forces. When an initial attempt on the Commander’s life at a military conference is thwarted thanks to the swift intervention of Captain Scarlet, the Supreme Commander, still under the protection of Spectrum, flies out to a remote desert to inspect a demonstration of the Unitron, a heavily armoured and revolutionary form of battle tank which can home in on its targets. The Commander’s satisfaction with the Unitron’s weapons systems turns to horror when said weaponry is turned against the Point 783 observation bunker in which he and Captain Blue are situated – as the Mysteron General Storm is in the bunker with them…
No new abilities here but rather the re-emergence of a couple of old and previously forgotten ones.
Firstly, Captain Scarlet feels nauseous when in the presence of the Mysteron Major Brooks, an "ability" that was last witnessed back in the second episode, Winged Assassin. However this "sixth sense" doesn’t occur when he’s with the Mysteron General Storm in the SPV for reasons unexplained.
Also, the Mysteron Major Brooks explodes himself in order to try and kill the Supreme Commander, the same method Captain Brown used in his attempt on the World President’s life in the first episode. However the effect of the explosion seems far more localised here than it did back then – contrast the destruction of a single room with the decimation of an entire tower block.
Scarlet is shot in the chest by General Storm whilst driving the SPV, but not before he can eject both himself and the Supreme Commander from the soon-to-be-obliterated vehicle.
When the Mysteron Brooks is about to explode, Scarlet makes sure that three protective containers come down from the ceiling to protect himself, the Supreme Commander and Captain Blue but there doesn’t seem to have been anything prepared for the other military delegates at the conference; the five in the front row, in particular, must be at the very least slightly singed, if not completely dead, especially as we get a liberal dosage of falling masonry as well.
And the Angels once again prove themselves to be pretty terrible shots, with a rough ratio of 1 hit per 5 misses.
The Supreme Commander is saved! Hurrah.
Spectrum: 10 Mysterons: 3
CAPTAIN: "It looks just like a conventional tank, sir."
GENERAL: "It may look like a conventional tank but it’s the most advanced piece of equipment of its kind ever developed."
Well that told us. Get the madam.
COMMANDER: "They seem to strike anyone and anywhere!"
The Mysterons, intergalactic men of mystery…
The drivers of a methane transporter vehicle have a pretty scintillating conversation before their swift destruction in a tunnel, when, after several seconds of perfect silence, one suddenly says:
DRIVER 1: "I’ll sure be glad to get through the tunnel into the mountains."
DRIVER 2: "Uh-huh."
DRIVER 1: "It’s too darn hot down here."
Well thanks for that. You’ve got about another five seconds to discuss the weather before your untimely deaths if you fancy it.
GENERAL: "[The Unitron tanks] can operate on any terrain and overcome all obstacles and, of course, they’re unmanned."
COMMANDER: "How’s it controlled?"
GENERAL: "By a trained operator."
Not totally unmanned then. Righto.
That shot of the Supreme Commander cradling Captain Scarlet in his arms is quite suspect (see pictures below).
COMMANDER: "Captain Blue! After thanking you for all you’ve done I must say this: I think you’ve acted disgracefully regarding Captain Scarlet! He had three bullets in him and your Spectrum people insisted on waiting three hours for your own helicopter! He could have been in a military hospital in ten minutes… That man saved my life and you’ve probably sacrificed his!"
Ha ha! Ha. Because, like, the joke is that he doesn’t know Captain Scarlet is indes… oh suit yourselves.
Colonel White doesn’t get a look-in here and instead stoic end-of-episode-speech duties are given over to Captain Blue.
BLUE: "Gentlemen, I cannot elaborate, but I will say this: Captain Scarlet will live. He will continue the fight against the Mysterons… maybe sooner than you think."
Oh, you cheeky son of a gun, Blue. Don’t think we didn’t see what you did there.
CAPTAIN: "Will the Supreme Commander be satisfied?"
GENERAL: "Satisfied? When he arrives from New York tomorrow and sees the Unitron in action I’d say he’d be delighted!"
… Um, delighted? Couldn’t you think of a more, y’know, macho word? But, as it turns out, he’s dead right:
COMMANDER: "Under different circumstances I’d be delighted!"
COMMANDER: "Is nobody safe from these Mysterons?"
WHITE: "Your safety is our responsibility, sir. We accept it."
"We don’t like it, but we accept it…"
Another mission for Captains Scarlet and Blue, once again described by the Colonel as his "best men". None of the other Captains even appear in this one but the Angels get to zip about and shoot things after a few weeks’ holiday.
General Storm and Major Brooks are killed when their car enters a tunnel and collides with a large methane transporter vehicle coming the other way. It’s suggested that Pete, the driver of the transporter, is already a Mysteron given that he’s driving the transporter at full speed into the tunnel when the light clearly indicates red (much to the understandable chagrin of his colleague), though of course he could just be a bog standard maniac. Either way, the Mysterons get four for the price of one when the vehicles actually smack into each other with a very satisfying ka-boom.
Captain Black is skulking about the desert with a pair of binoculars but once he telepathically relays the Mysteron instructions to General Storm he buggers off.
Just the loss of yet another Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle, though we never do see it explode…
I didn’t think we were going to get any this time (fnarr fnarr) but both the SPV and the Unitron, seemingly locked together in the battle for ultimate supremacy, plunge over a rocky outcrop at the story’s conclusion and explode quite nicely.
Since the majority of the episode is about a gigantic tank shooting things then it’s understandable that this episode racks up quite a high number of explosions, though it’s still less than the total number of those in Lunarville 7. Approximately we get fourteen little explosions and five big, "wa-hey!" ones, though I’m not sure how correct those figures are. I was getting a bit bored of pausing the episode to note another down every couple of seconds, I must admit. However, I have to say that the special effects in this episode are particularly good, with the annihilation of a couple of trucks by the Unitron looking especially spectacular, a shot so good they used it again about ten minutes later.
Once again we’re strictly on codename terms here.
And Colonel White doesn’t get much to smile about either.
It has to be said that the Unitron is a sterling effort from the special effects wizards at Supermarionation Towers. The model is decent in itself – and the quick usage of a flamethrower is a bit of a wow moment - but the heavy, clanking sound effects work additional wonders and the direction strikes me as more dynamic than usual, with lots of good shots; in particular, there’s a very arty one of the Unitron, having blown up two trucks (as mentioned above), speeding through the resulting inferno, which sticks in the memory. Unfortunately they cheat a bit via the repeating of footage, most of it mirrored, so we see that bit (amongst others) twice.
The Supreme Commander and the two Mysteron military types appear ill-dressed, wearing as they do the standard heavily puffed dark military jackets and hats… and pairs of light grey pin-striped trousers. And, added to that, Brooks is wearing knee-high boots. Ahem.
People entering the Supreme Earth Forces base are checked – by two computer banks that speak to each other, which is silly in itself - for weapons, health risks and… nuclear emissions?! I’d have thought if you had the potential to be radiating nuclear energy from your body you wouldn’t be doing a lot of walking anyway…
The ad-break cliffhanger has Captain Blue and the Supreme Commander stepping out of a lift only to be confronted by General Storm who is holding a gun on them. Gasp! But when we cut back to the episode he… simply lowers his gun and talks about its model, which neither of the other two find at all suspicious, scooting along by without any comment.
Captain Scarlet acquires his SPV from a shifty Arab in a desert market place. It’s a faintly dramatic moment when he drives it through various tables and overturns assorted fruit stalls and piles of cans but I have to feel sorry for the guy who owns them having all of his stock ruined.
The bit where Captain Blue gives the responsibility of the Commander’s safety to General Storm, not knowing that the latter is a Mysteron, is a nicely understated bit of drama. Shows how large the potential was to make quite a nervy and frightening programme if it hadn’t been designed simply to please the kiddies. As it is the final chase scenes between the tank and the SPV are quite tense and very exciting but you can’t help but wonder how much different Captain Scarlet could have been if it had been a human show made for adults. I’m not saying it would have been necessarily better - I adore Captain Scarlet for what it is, after all - but it certainly would have been different. I understand the new CGI series has gone along the "scary" route to a certain extent; certainly the few episodes I’ve seen of it look more gruesome with the CGI characters inflicting far more violence on each other than their earlier puppet counterparts. Ooo ‘eck.
Despite the fantastic special effects, this remains, story-wise, an unspectacular but solid edition of Captain Scarlet. It’s good fun but doesn’t have a lot to really mark it out from the crowd. Interestingly, the core plot – super battle tank firing upon an outpost with a human target inside it – was reused for an episode of Gerry Anderon’s final puppet series, The Secret Service, though it has to be said that the sight of Captain Scarlet’s SPV in a race against time is far more dramatically satisfying than a vicar in an Edwardian roadster pootling over a minefield, despite what you may otherwise think.
"We’re all going on a… summer holiday…"
"We know all your secrets." Seriously, woah, what were they thinking when they commissioned those puppets? Bloody Hell.
"There’s no hurry, you see… We have all the time in the world…"