EPISODE 20 Ė "DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS"
"I believe we will be able to communicate with the Mysterons."
"Our next act of retaliation will be to destroy Cloudbase. Do you hear? Spectrumís headquarters, Cloudbase, will be destroyed at midnight!"
And in case thatís a bit too cryptic for you, the very next line is Captain Blue saying:
"Well, Colonel, the Mysterons plan to destroy Cloudbase!"
Gosh, well, gee whizz, thanks for that.
Dr Kurnitz, of the Nash Institute of Technology, has analysed the properties of the Mysteron crystal nabbed by Spectrum in Crater 101 and is taken to Cloudbase where the crystal is hooked up to intricate apparatus in the lab. Kurnitz believes that with the crystal they will be able to contact the Mysterons. Colonel White succeeds in sending the Mysterons a message, stating a heartfelt desire to offer the hand of friendship and to end the war of nerves with a peaceful settlement. After a four minute conversation in which the Spectrum superior officers explain to Kurnitz how their hats work (no, really) and let him watch an Angel launch whilst describing the system in meticulous detail (please kill me), the Mysterons reply to the Colonelís message. They state that they will allow one unarmed Spectrum member to meet their representative at a predetermined, desolate locationÖ Is it a trap? Of course it bloody well is. So they send Scarlet off to a small, pokey shed to get blown up.
The Mysterons demonstrate their awesome power of being able to drive black saloon cars with their mental powers. Tremble and cower, my friends.
Scarlet punches his fist through a plate of glass without cutting himself and dives into some gravel without suffering any grazes or bruising. Now thatís the sort of guy Iíd want as my best man at my wedding.
At the beginning Spectrum seems quite competent in regards to security Ė the Colonel even orders the base to be subjected to hourly searches with Mysteron detectors. However, "Any plane, rocket or satellite approaching within a 50-mile radius will be attacked!" sounds a bit over the top to me.
However, all this competency goes for a skip off the mountain when nobody on Cloudbase can work out how on Earth the Mysterons are going to attempt to destroy the base when Spectrum are coveting a pulsating Mysteron power source in their lab. Captain Blue even mentions how thereís no trace of the Mysterons on Cloudbase except for the crystal Ė and all the Colonel says in reply is a standard "We must maintain a constant vigil!" Itís only when later that the Mysterons try to blow up Scarlet with an identical crystal that Scarlet actually works everything out. Added to that, a brief shot of the Spectrum lab shows Captain Ochre obliviously standing next to the madly pulsating crystal just before itís about to blow up, and he doesnít think to report it.
And just why is the Colonel so desperate to explain all of Spectrumís secrets to Dr Kurnitz?
Captains Scarlet and Ochre combine their skills to save the day.
Spectrum: 16 Mysterons: 4
KURNITZ: "With the aid of the photographs you and Captain Scarlet took, it was relatively easy to simulate the exact conditions inside that complex."
My arse it was. How the Hell can you convincingly replicate the technology of a completely alien species from a few photos? Itís like how the Hood in Thunderbirds seemed convinced that somebody, somewhere could create entire replicas of the Thunderbird aircraft from photos heíd taken of Thunderbird 1ís control panel. It is, to put it exceedingly mildly, unlikely.
KURNITZ: "Your communication system is of great interest to me, as an electronics man. Could I see a demonstration?"
"Why, of course. Iíll just send Captain Blue to talk to me from the other side of the room."
I mean, really. What a bloody fool.
And what is the point of this scene?! Itís episode 20 in the series, weíve seen Scarlet using his hat and everything countless times over, and now the makers decide, "Mmm, I really bet the viewers would be interested in knowing how the Spectrum officers have been able to talk to each other all this time!" For one, a) we already know because itís blindingly obvious (microphones, dur!), and b) even if we didnít know weíd scarcely care. Jesus, they have a two-minute conversation on hats!
KURNITZ: "Itís a wonderful system!"
Oh get stuffed, you time-wasting arse. Next theyíll be explaining what S.I.G means in-depth, for Godís sake.
GREEN: "S.I.G, Colonel."
No, no I was just-
BLUE: "Spectrum is Green. It means everything is fine."
Iím going to cry. How many other series decide to explain all the basics about twenty episodes down the line? Iíll tell you how many: none. Because it makes absolutely no sense to do so.
SCARLET: "S.I.R, Spectrum is Red, means-"
WE KNOW WHAT IT MEANS!!!
SCARLET: "So much energy in one tiny pulsatorÖ"
No intentional jokes.
"This is Colonel White, Commander in Chief of Spectrum, speaking on behalf of the peoples of the Earth to the Mysterons on Mars. I would like to recall manís first survey expedition on the surface of your planetÖ"
Oh God, must you? Sadistically, he then narrates lots of footage weíve already seen in episode 1 (and the TV phenomenon of a flashback containing scenes that the narrator couldnít possibly know anything about rears its head again). Then:
"The attack on your complex was wrong. We admit it and deeply regret it. But we on Earth want you to know it was done out of fear and was not a deliberate act of aggression against you."
Well thatís OK then. Um, maybe. Possibly. Or, indeed, not at all. If my enemy telephoned me to say, "Iím really sorry for firing missiles at your house and now I wish I hadnít done it," Iíd be slightly riled, to be perfectly honest. No wonder the Mysterons tell Spectrum where to go.
"Well, gentlemen, the events of yesterday can now be viewed in retrospect. Our attempt to end the war of nerves with the Mysterons has failed. Obviously we were unable to convince them of our sincerity. But we will try again. Let us learn from this operation and steel ourselves for the long road which lies in front of us."
Or, maybe, just maybe, the Mysterons just hate the whole damn lot of us and want to wipe us off the face of the galaxy?
Are you one of these brotherhood of man type of people, Colonel?
GREEN: "You will escort them back toÖ Cloudbase."
Almost forgot where you were for a second, didnít you, Lieutenant?
SCARLET: "Well, Doctor, what are the results of your tests?"
SCARLET: "Well I wish theyíd hurry up. I canít stand this waitingÖ"
WHITE: "Gentlemen, we are forgetting we have a guest! Is there anything I can get you, Doctor?"
Do you mean to tell me that if Dr Kurnitz had asked for some coffee the Colonel would have left his desk to go and personally make a cuppaí?
WHITE: "Letís say I wanted to call Captain Blue. Would you mind, Captain?"
BLUE: "Of course."
Eh? Heís just told the Colonel that heíd be offended if he talked to him. But then he goes along with the demonstration anyway. Damn you with your cryptic messages, Blue. Seriously, I think everybody on Cloudbase is on some sort of bender this episode.
GREEN: "I have that course reference for you, sir. The only landfall is a large, desolate volcanic area in Greenland."
WHITE: "Greenland? An ideal spot for a secret rendezvous!"
What the Hell are you talking about?!?!
* breaks down in tears *
Captain Ochre is "Yellow Fox", driving a Spectrum gasoline tanker for Dr Kernitz to discreetly nip into, in exactly the same way the Director General of the Asian Republic did way back in episode 2 (and we all know what happened to him). Also, in a surprising development, itís Captain Ochre who helps in saving Cloudbase from total destruction at the finale when he quickly nabs the Mysteron crystal and lobs it out the window with the minimum of seconds to spare.
After Destiny Angel actually helps out in the escort mission at the beginning of the episode (we assume), the Colonel orders three of the Angels to go through the launching procedure just to show off the planes to Dr Kurnitz. I bet theyíre not best pleased about having their time cut into just to please the whims of some berkish German doctor who doesnít contribute to the episode beyond that point.
And Iím disappointed not to see Dr Fawn skulking around the place. Itís the first time Spectrum has needed to use its lab in ages and heís not there! I know he wouldnít have been able to speak but itíd been nice to see the poor bloke.
The Mysterons donít kill anybody and donít even feel the need to have any agents working for them, besides the obvious exception of Captain Black.
Scarlet has to eject from his personal carrier jet, allowing it to crash and explode in Greenland.
No vehicle crashes.
The flashback to episode 1 contains three small explosions when the Mysteron complex is shot at. The episode proper contains two large explosions and a small one.
No first names.
The first line is the Colonel informing us of the fact that heís going down to the lounge. That strict and merciless exercise regime is still being carried out, I see.
For once a "maximum security mission" seems to have had some time and effort splashed out for it Ė security truck, helicopter, Angel Interceptor, at least four people working on itÖ Of course, the secret gasoline tanker doesnít look so inconspicuous when a whacking great Spectrum helicopter covered in Spectrum logos is hovering no more than 60 feet above it.
Jesus H Christ, another flashback to episode 1, this time to the Martian expedition and Captain Black blowing up the Mysteron complex. These are getting really old, now.
Yíknow, it occurs to me now that if Captain Black and the Martian expedition chaps had blown up the Mysteron reconstruction beam tower along with the rest of the base, we might have won the war before itíd even started. Heh. And, really, with a name like Captain Black did anybody really expect him to be a good guy all his life? They were just asking for trouble by giving him that codename.
Cloudbaseís promenade deck is apparently adorned with seaside deckchairs and a forest scenery backdrop from a theatre company.
The Mysteron plan is just as poor as the rest of the episode. They lure Scarlet out to a warehouse in Greenland, where Captain Black plays a tape of the Mysterons talking and runs away, hoping that Scarlet is going to sit still and listen to the whole thing and not realise that heís been duped (this fails within twenty seconds). Then, whilst heís listening, they want to blow him up with another crystal power source thingy concealed behind the telly. Unsurprisingly, Scarlet foils their plan by getting off his backside and having a snoop Ďround before dashing away before the whole place goes up in smoke.
Scarlet, in his haste to warn Cloudbase of the immediate threat, manages to find the only communications outpost / tracking centre in the world that doesnít actually have any radio equipment, so he has to send a Morse code signal instead. The world of 2068 is in a sorry state indeed.
Captain Ochre can find a respirator mask, put it on and get it functioning all withinÖ about three seconds, Iíd estimate. Either thatís a plot oversight that only Iím sad enough to notice, or Captain Ochre is just as amazing as Captain Scarlet. Iím going with the former, as I truly am a very sad, sad man indeed.
Oh, and I still havenít got a clue what Colonel White was on about with that "Operation: Sword" business last episode. Itís never mentioned again.
Well this is just rubbish, isnít it? The conclusion to the loose Lunarville trilogy lacks any true sense of drama Ė the plot doesnít begin until 60% of the episode has gone by Ė and it doesnít have anything of interest to show us in its own right. However, that long stretch of padding in the middle really does take the biscuit; five minutes of churning out mind-numbing exposition about Spectrum procedures we already know everything about. Itís not even written well, either: just endless bland facts recited by obviously bored voice actors, not to mention the endless reels of stock footage. Iím tempted to give this episode an extra star for the expanded role given to Captain Ochre, which briefly gives proceedings a modicum of interest, but Iím afraid Dangerous Rendezvous doesnít deserve anything more than one star overall. One of less than a handful of low points in the series.
In case you wanted a photo of it, hereís Cloudbase. I expect you to be able to assemble a life-size replica of it by dawn tomorrow.
"How you doiní?"
"No, how you doiní?"
Standard Spectrum practice is to assault your opponent with the deadly handgun / egg-whisk combo.
Spectrum goes on a package holiday. A very cheap one.
Captain Scarlet IS the Terminator. "Iíll be buggered!" or something like that.