EPISODE 30 Ė "FLIGHT TO ATLANTICA"
"Itís no joke, Colonel! Heís obviously not responsible for his actions!"
Despite the above characters being the only ones to either have dialogue or to be seen leaving Cloudbase, this is in fact the first of only two episodes in which every character appears (the other being the following one, Attack on Cloudbase). Most of them are standing around in crowd scenes, sipping champagne, though Captain Magenta and Dr Fawn get their own little "moments".
"We intend to destroy the World Navy Complex at Atlantica. Atlantica will be annihilated."
To mark Spectrumís first anniversary, Captain Scarlet has organised a party for all the main Spectrum personnel under the nose of Colonel White. Everybody meets up in the conference room for drinks and light music Ė but, unknown to the revellers, the Mysterons use their powers to spike the champagne!
Iíll let that plot point sink in for you.
Owing to an accident, Scarlet drops his drink but before he can pour himself a new one, Colonel White discovers the party and has an indignant fit, telling everybody off and ordering them back to their posts. Later, Spectrum learns that the Mysterons intend to destroy both the underwater Atlantica Navy complex and its defence control tower, which controls the system of automated missiles. Atlantica seems impregnable from both sea and air. The Air Force is due to bomb and disperse a wreck that powerful sea currents are carrying towards the base; in view of the Mysteron threat, Spectrum is undergoing this operation and the Colonel dispatches Captain Blue and Captain Ochre to Maxwell Field airbase to collect the relevant plane and bombs and then get on with it. However, it soon becomes apparent that everybody in Cloudbase Ė barring Scarlet and the Colonel Ė is acting strangely; the launched Angels are way off course and refuse to answer messages from Cloudbase, many of the personnel are asleep at their posts and Captains Ochre and Blue have developed something of an attitude problem. Added to this, Blue and Ochre, having collected the map references for the wreck, run into Captain Black at the airbase, who manages to swap some of the papers, giving them fake instructions and maps. Blue and Ochre, in their stupor, decide to follow the instructions to the letter, no matter how strange they may seem Ė for their new orders instruct them to drop their cargo of bombs onto Atlantica BaseÖ.
Yes, the Mysterons spike the champagne. Scarlet is opening one of the bottles and we see the Mysteron eyes drift across them and thatís that. Later, Scarlet carries out a chemical analysis of the champagne to discover that a new compound has been added, which can induce spasmodic effects and irresponsibility into the drinker. Presumably, then, the Mysterons also have the power to alter the chemical compounds of any substance. By this point itís all got a bit silly but, for this episode, I really donít care. Itís such a gloriously wacky idea that I canít help but fall in love with it.
Scarlet doesnít have a lot to do in this one. Indeed, itís Captains Blue and Ochre who are in the most danger as the Colonel orders Scarlet so shoot them down. This he eventually does but Blue manages to eject both himself and Ochre before the plane hits the ocean.
Examples of drunken behaviour witnessed in this episode:
Symphony Angel almost crashes her plane as soon as she leaves Cloudbase;
Captain Blue and Captain Ochre act sarcastically to the folks at Maxwell Airbase;
Captain Ochre walks into Captain Black and doesnít recognise him at all;
Symphony Angel goes 200 miles off course and doesnít bother to make contact with Cloudbase, as sheís spending her time dipping about and doing loops for kicks (plus two other Angels join her later);
Lieutenant Green ceases caring about anything, puts his feet up, swivels a bit on his chair and stares into space;
Captain Magenta has a nap;
Dr Fawn is seen asleep and spread-eagled across his surgery bed;
Blue and Ochre intentionally bomb and decimate the Atlantica Base control tower, which sets off most of the missiles at the base itself and throws everything into general chaos. So they do, in effect, destroy most of the Mysteron targets.
Itís difficult to say whoís won by the end of this episode. Ochre and Blue do destroy a vital control tower and a lot of the missiles that the base possesses, though they donít manage to completely obliterate the entire base. Even the Colonel says that the Mysterons have had a partial success. So, for the first time, Iím going to award a point each to both Spectrum and the Mysterons. It barely matters by this stage but credit where creditís due; the Mysterons did accomplish a lot and Iím not one to argue with Colonel White.
Spectrum: 25 Mysterons: 6
GENERAL: "But the bombs themselves are new, specially designed for the task. They should be dropped from zero feet and will explode on contact with the ocean bed-"
BLUE: "Yes yes, we get the picture.
GENERAL: "I think I ought to just-"
BLUE: "We are qualified pilots."
GENERAL: "Why, yesÖ"
OCHRE: "Look, why donít we just get going?"
GENERAL: "Of courseÖ so long as you understand the situation."
OCHRE: "Letís go!"
Blue and Ochre swagger away.
I love that scene. I love most of the scenes in this episode.
BLUE: "What a bang! Can we do that again?"
OCHRE: "Sure! Thatís what the order says!"
Surprisingly for a Scarlet episode the script is an absolute hoot, with various jokes or funny lines scattered about which actually are funny, or at the very least bring a smile to your face. Iím quite fond of Colonel Whiteís indignant, "What in blue blazes is going on here?!" when he discovers his personnel having a booze up. This gets followed by:
SCARLET: "Colonel White!"
WHITE: "Ö Well who did you expect?"
OK, itís not funny when written down but itís all in the acting. Scarletís assertion that, "This is very special champagne, Colonel. Itís completely non-alcoholic!" is also said in such a way that youíre sure heís lying through his teeth, which makes everything seem even more amusing. Itís blatant that they all wanted to get thoroughly rat-faced and itís like watching a bunch of kids nervously hopping about when their dad gets back early from work.
The silly dialogue shared by Ochre and Blue is a constant delight throughout the later stages of the episode:
OCHRE: "Iíve got that map reference."
OCHRE: "But I canít see any wrecks."
BLUE: "Who cares? Weíll just fly where the man says!"
This is followed later by:
OCHRE: "Do you know what these orders tell us to hit?"
BLUE: "Surprise me!"
OCHRE: "Switching to computer for final attack approachÖ now. We have a green light! Yippee!"
Did I mention how much I adore this episode?
And, finally, Captain Blueís response when his plane is shot down and plummeting towards the ocean:
BLUE: "Well, old buddyÖ theyíve smashed the radio!"
The final scene of the episode:
WHITE: "Spectrumís charter was drawn up on July 7th last year but the World President signed the document three days later! So in fact today, July 10th, is Spectrumís first anniversary."
SCARLET: "Yes, Colonel. Iím sorry."
WHITE: "Well, Captain, if youíd care to open the bottle you will find on the table, Iíd like to propose a toast to Spectrum Ė this time with real champagne!"
SCARLET: "Yes sir!"
And, just to complete the magic, the Colonel has made special labels for the champagne, which are emblazoned with the Spectrum logo and are titled "Captain Scarlet". It makes sod all sense but itís absolutely wonderful!
What horrible dialogue? There isnít any! Practically every line in this one can be cherished.
Surprisingly, Colonel White gives the mission over to Captains Blue and Ochre, despite Scarlet being in charge of the briefing. However, this is of course important to the plot; Scarlet canít go on the mission because the story requires both pilots to be drunk.
Eventually, realising that they are the only ones that didnít drink anything, Captain Scarlet and Colonel White head off in a Spectrum jet in pursuit of Blue and Ochre. White spends most of the journey urging Scarlet to shoot Captain Blue down, the bloodthirsty maniac.
Iím not sure if anybody was within the control tower when it got bombed Ė itís possible that it was fully automated. In fact, weíre mysteriously never told whether any humans were actually working at the bases or towers so itís impossible to tell whether Captains Blue and Ochre ought to be charged with manslaughter or notÖ
Spectrumís probably lost a great deal of respect with the various armed forces as a result of knackering the naval baseÖ
No car crashes.
Six small explosions and five large ones as a result of the attack on the tower, the various missiles going haywire and shooting off in all directions, and later Captain Blueís plane crashing into the waters and hitting the ocean bed.
"Iím sorry, Paul," says Captain Blue when he knocks over Scarletís drink. Scarlet accepts the apology as opposed to doing the typical British act of squaring up to Blue and shouting: "YOU LOOKING FOR A FIGHT, THEN?!"
Later, Scarlet radios Blue to plead with him to stop the bombing: "Adam, for pityís sakeÖ Adam!Ö Adam! ADAM!"
The Colonel isnít very happy about the party Ė I think itís because he wasnít invited and it hurt his feelings. He can cover it up with bluster about inefficiency and irresponsibility but I bet itís simply because he feels like nobody likes him. Aww. Poor Colonel.
Yet at the end, despite all the damage theyíve done and the problems caused, the Colonel decides not to charge anybody or court martial Captains Blue and Ochre for destroying the Atlantica control tower, or Captain Scarlet for setting up the party in the first place, but instead has bought some bottles of champagne and decides to throw an official party instead! Yay! And unlike the "non-alcoholic" stuff Scarlet had ordered in for the first party, this time itís a genuine, officially sanctioned booze up! And everybody likes the Colonel again and probably hugged him afterwards. It makes me feel happy inside.
The early scenes of this episode set off the giddy, fun tone immediately. Our first scene of the episode is located within the officerís mess, in which Captain Ochre is contentedly reading a magazine, Captain Blue is looking at his watch and Dr Fawn Ė in his full uniform Ė is lustily perched on the edge of a counter. The camera then pans over to see Captains Scarlet and Magenta sitting around as well, all looking very tense, whereupon Ochre and Scarlet start talking as if theyíre all about to go off on a very important and dangerous mission, whilst Lieutenant Green in the control room is being told by the Colonel that "Thatís the third occasion youíve checked the time in the last five minutes, Lieutenant!" Whatís going on, we ask? Then we cut to the conference room onto a close up of several chilled bottles of champagne with cocktail music playing in the background, which pans out to reveal all the officers standing around waiting for the Angels to arrive, with Captain Blue happily checking the vintage on one of the bottles. The fact that the Spectrum chaps and chappettes are so desperate to get away off duty and have a bit of a knees up is a lovely idea. Captain Blue managing to get Lieutenant Green out of the Colonelís watchful gaze by sending a message to Control asking Green to fetch a report is a great touch as well.
Observing the Spectrum gang at their party is quite fun. In the first scene, Dr Fawn has his hand comfortably draped over Harmony Angelís shoulder Ė ooo, a bit of romance there, eh? Probably not, as by the next scene theyíre sitting with their backs to each other, so obviously Harmony wasnít keen on Fawn getting a bit fresh. Captain Grey is seductively perched on a table and seemingly attempting to chat up Rhapsody Angel. Later shots also show Captain Magenta sitting out from the others on his own, as if nobody wanted to talk to him! Awww! And just before we zoom onto Colonel White in the doorway, we see a shot of Captain Ochre from behind in which it would appear heís got his hand shoved into his trouser flies (!) whilst standing in front of Destiny and Melody Angels (!!!). Perhaps itís just as well that the Colonel interrupted when he did. Theyíre a bloody lusty lot, these Spectrum types.
Shane Rimmer is once again lending his vocal talents, this time to one of the chaps at Maxwell airbase.
The music that Blue and Ochre listen to (repeatedly) on the radio is called Dangerous Game, a melody (and song) used as the centrepiece to a Thunderbirds episode called The Cham Cham, in which terrorists were using a jazz song to destroy experimental military aircraft. Really, is that any sillier than the Mysterons increasing the alcoholic content of champagne? Is it?
Itís amusing that the ad-break cliffhanger is the revelation that Lieutenant Green is pissed off his head.
Why does Colonel White leave Cloudbase? Doesnít that mean that itís now technically unmanned and that anything could happen? Itíd be the perfect opportunity for anybody to blow it to pieces (like, oh, I dunno Ė the Mysterons?).
However, itís a good bit of characterisation when Colonel White states that heís got no choice but to shoot down Captains Blue and Ochre for the sake of the military base Ė it shows how he really is a cool and firm military leader, rather than a barmy old uncle in charge of everything. It actually gets quite tense as Scarlet attempts to ignore the Colonel, pleading with Captain Blue to stop what heís doing, but resigns himself to obeying the Colonelís instructions to fire the missile.
Utter perfection and definitely my favourite Captain Scarlet: a giddy and hilarious little episode that nevertheless doesnít poke fun of the characters or the situation. As stated above, the Colonel is quite ready to shoot down his own men if itíll save innocent lives and the situation is given due seriousness, counterbalanced with some great banter between the various characters. Itís surprising to find a Captain Scarlet episode this mature and so damned enjoyable. Itís probably funnier coming at the end of the series once weíve got to know everybody through the previous 29 rather serious escapades and it totally comes across as a celebration in its own right Ė and is perfectly juxtaposed with the rather grim episode to followÖ
The Tragedy of Dr Fawn begins with the man oblivious as to the heartbreak that will befall him at the party to which heís been looking forward so muchÖ
"I hear Dr Fawn is going to make his move on Rhapsody Angel this evening, Captain Scarlet?"
"Thatís right, sir. Heís been waiting a long time to strike up the courage."
"I thought he was a raving poof like you?"
"Ö No, sir."
But Dr Fawnís dreams were dashed when Captain Grey successfully seduced the love of his life, right in front of his eyes, and Rhapsody accepted an alternative dinner date. He was crushed. He would never love again.
Dr Fawn hit the bottle and drank himself into a coma. He was discovered by his boss who had no choice but to dismiss him from duty, just when Captain Scarlet required bowel surgery.
Epilogue: Captain Scarlet eventually gained an intangible form and took the mantle of a mystical genie, residing in a clearly marked place of residence. Never again would he throw another party and he devoted his life to telling Colonel White how to manage his hair.