EPISODE 31 – "ATTACK ON CLOUDBASE"
"The Mysterons themselves have come to Earth… to annihilate us."
Like Flight to Atlantica, this episode is notable for having every main character in it, though several don’t actually get any lines.
"Spectrum’s headquarters, Cloudbase, is our next objective. We will spare no effort to ensure that Cloudbase is totally destroyed."
Whilst out on manoeuvres, Symphony Angel is shot down by a mysterious power and crashes in the desert, miles and miles from anywhere and without food or water. Meanwhile, Colonel White briefs Cloudbase on the latest Mysteron threat and tension mounts as everybody waits for the attack to come. Destiny Angel attempts to locate Symphony without success and is recalled to Cloudbase to aid in its defence, much to the consternation of Captain Blue who admits to the Colonel his love for Symphony. However, before anything more can be done, Captain Magenta reports an incoming aircraft has appeared on the radar. Rhapsody Angel is sent to investigate and is amazed to find a flying saucer. She sends a description back to base but, before she can make it to safety, the saucer attacks and Rhapsody Angel is killed. Before long an entire swarm of flying saucers descends upon Cloudbase for a final assault and it seems that not even Captain Scarlet can stop them…
The Mysterons have flying saucers with an estimated diameter of 200ft. They can fire missiles of sorts and are immune to their own explosives.
Captain Scarlet volunteers (with some force) to go out in an Angel jet to attack the Mysteron saucers but his plane is hit before he can accomplish anything. He manages to get the jet back to Cloudbase but crash lands and dies of his wounds… this time for good. Captain Scarlet is dead. Totally dead, even.
Bet you didn’t expect that, eh?
Destiny Angel fails to spot Symphony Angel or the smoking wreckage of Symphony’s jet when she carries out an aerial search of the desert sector, even when she flies immediately overhead.
Rhapsody Angel is killed during her investigation of the incoming craft when her jet is blown up and Captain Scarlet is destroyed in similar circumstances. The final saucer attack on the base results in the slaughter of everybody aboard; witnessed are the deaths of Dr Fawn, Captain Magenta, the three remaining Angels, and Lieutenant Green, a few seconds after stating that "We are the last…". Symphony’s fate is unknown, though it’s possible she was rescued by Spectrum land forces.
Eventually, Cloudbase is irreparably damaged and it falls from the sky; the Colonel urges Captain Blue to take a jetpack and escape but the Captain has broken his arm and is unable to leave the Control Room. We are led to assume that both die when the base impacts with the land below…
Well, it seems rather obvious, doesn’t it?
Spectrum: 25 Mysterons: 7
And, er, despite the imbalance in the scores, the Mysterons have won. Blimey.
One of the few truly great scenes of Captain Scarlet:
BLUE: "Why was the search for Symphony called off?"
WHITE: "What’s the meaning of this, Captain Blue? Bursting in here and making demands!"
BLUE: "I’m sorry, Colonel, but I have the right to ask for an explanation."
WHITE: "I don’t have to answer to you for any of my decisions, Captain. Understand the situation. Cloudbase is the target of the latest Mysteron threat. Its safety must be my first consideration. Destiny may well be required to defend it; that is why she was recalled."
BLUE: "And what happens to Symphony?"
WHITE: "Her last position has been sent to Spectrum ground forces. Desert patrols left half an hour ago."
BLUE: "Colonel White, I’d like permission to join the search parties."
WHITE: "Out of the question."
BLUE: "I’m going, Colonel."
WHITE: "I’m giving you a direct order, Captain Blue! You’ll stay on this base. What’s the matter with you, man? Are you in love with the girl?"
BLUE: "I suppose I am… Yes, I am."
WHITE: "… I see… I’m sorry."
Yeah, it’s not overly complex and it’s approaching melodrama but, well, this is meant to be a silly kids’ series. It’s good to have a character scene like this. In fact, this episode is dripping with characterisation, for once…
And another fantastic exchange, said just as Captain Scarlet takes off to do battle with the Mysterons:
WHITE: "There goes a brave man…"
GREEN: "Yeah… [I]Anyone[/I] can be brave if they’re indestructible."
WHITE: "That’s enough, Lieutenant!"
Green’s possible secret jealousy of Scarlet’s abilities is an interesting facet to his character and an entirely believable one; it’s difficult to believe that nobody has had the same thoughts running through their head before.
Captain Scarlet and Colonel White appear to have some sort of romance thing going on between them (see "So eager to please!"), emphasised by Scarlet’s "He’s a wonderful man!"
WHITE: "Destiny, come down to the control room. Captain Scarlet will take the patrol."
DESTINY: "Mon dieu! No! No, let me go, Colonel, please! Please! I have to go!"
Not wanting to be crude, here, but it really sounds as if she’s begging to be excused to go to the lavatory…
WHITE: "Oh, er, Captain Scarlet?"
SCARLET: "Yes sir?"
WHITE: "Captain… If… ever we do get out of this alive…"
SCARLET: "… Sir?…"
Long pause. Both men lean in and gaze longingly into each others’ eyes.
WHITE: "… Get your hair cut, will you?"
Quite a nice scene (well, I think so – though, yeah, melodrama). And by the way it’s directed and scripted you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were trying to hint at some kind of romance going on there. This isn’t me trying to be clever; it really does come over as that.
"This is Colonel White to Spectrum Headquarters, London. Cloudbase is severely damaged and out of control. We will crash in approximately one minute. I intend to go down with my command. Out."
WHITE: "Well, I sent for you both to discuss the Mysteron threat against Cloudbase."
SCARLET: "It had to come, Colonel. This base was an obvious target."
So obvious, in fact, that you seem to have forgotten that the Mysterons already had a crack at it eleven episodes ago, in Dangerous Rendezvous.
MAGENTA: "Captain Blue, Captain Scarlet? Is anything wrong?"
SCARLET: "No, Captain. Just checking."
"We thought you might have knocked yourself unconscious with a coatrack or something…"
And where is Magenta? Why, in the radar room, looking out for Mysterons. Captain Blue himself says that, "In the present situation, this Radar Room could be just about the most important spot on Cloudbase." So, erm, why have you given the job to Captain Magenta? Wouldn’t somebody else be better equipped? Anybody else? Like a gerbil or something?
I know, it’s easy to make jokes about the man, but it’s this episode that cemented Magenta’s position as "comedy fodder". I mean, when the Colonel makes a patriotic speech, Magenta yells out "Yes sir, Colonel sir!"… to an embarrassed pause and a dirty look from the Colonel. And then later there’s… well, read on for yourself.
MAGENTA: "Colonel White! I’ve picked up something on the radar! It must be big! It must be really big!"
WHITE: "Don’t be so eager! Slow down, Captain Magenta! Just give me its course, altitude and speed."
"Oh, and if we need somebody to fight these Mysterons, you’re in the front line, OK?"
Colonel White’s words to Lieutenant Green after Rhapsody’s death aren’t particularly tactful: "It’s no good, Lieutenant Green. She must have been blown out of the sky." Yeah, that’s going to make him feel a lot better…
Further proof that Colonel White hates Captain Magenta:
MAGENTA: "Colonel White! Here they come! Two… er… no, three of them! Yes, three!"
WHITE: "Make up your mind, Captain. And there’s no need to shout!"
Fortunately, Captain Magenta seems completely oblivious to the resentment and loathing, carrying on as he does with counting spaceships:
MAGENTA: "No there’s four! Sorry, Colonel! There’s four! One… two… three… four!"
In fact, he’s still working it out a few minutes later:
MAGENTA: "One… two… Wait a minute. One, two, three… four! Yes! It’s four!"
They’ve given "the most important position on the base" over to this man?!?!?
BLUE: "Colonel White! Dr Fawn has been killed but his assistant tells me Captain Scarlet is dead!"
WHITE: "I want Scarlet in the Control Room! How long will he take to recover?"
BLUE: "You don’t understand, Colonel. He’s really dead. Permanent. Final. Absolutely dead."
WHITE: "… Dead?"
"Not just a little bit dead, then?"
And the Colonel’s grief is interrupted by another call from the man in pink!
MAGENTA: "Colonel White! Colonel White!"
WHITE: "Oh no…"
He really does detest the bugger, doesn’t he? Read on.
MAGENTA: "I’m still trying to count them all, Colonel!"
This doesn’t bode well. It took him five minutes to be able to count to four.
MAGENTA: "One of them is on top of us! Range: 400 yards!"
WHITE: "At that range, and with their size, we have visual contact, thank you, Captain Magenta!"
He says it with such malice, so you can’t help but laugh at Magenta’s chirpy reply:
MAGENTA: "Thank you, sir, Colonel sir!"
Though I’m sure anybody’s patience would be tested by Magenta’s absolutely barking "counting" scene. It’s like Sesame Street but during a crisis of certain doom, just before a death and with the character seemingly being brought to orgasm:
MAGENTA: "That’s seven… er… seven, ah, oh, ah… One, two, three, four five – argh! – seven eight nine… ten… ah… Ten… er… Eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen… sixteen seventeen… Eighteen! Look at that! Ninteen! Twenty… er… tw- twenty-one! OH LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS ONE! TWENTY-FIVE! OH!!!"
BOOM! Then he dies.
The Colonel’s response?
WHITE: "Too eager. Far too eager."
Yes, sir, Colonel sir!
As mentioned already, Captain Magenta gets quite a lot of screen time, spending most of it learning how to count to twenty-five. The other Captains just sort of sit around, not doing much.
It’s darkly amusing that Dr Fawn is finally given an active part to play – he’s to try and resuscitate Captain Scarlet after the Captain is shot down by the Mysterons – but is killed before he can do it. We see him briefly standing in his surgery, waiting for them to arrive, and then suddenly there’s an explosion and that’s that. He’s the first fatality in the final purge, presumably because the poor bugger didn’t have a voice artist anymore to say his lines.
Well, they kill nearly everybody on Cloudbase. Isn’t that enough?
5 x Angel interceptors are lost during the cause of the episode; Symphony’s crashes in the desert, Rhapsody’s is blown up, Captain Scarlet’s is badly damaged and a further two fall off Cloudbase when the whole thing tips over.
And, of course, Cloudbase and its personnel are lost. That ought to dent the Spectrum budget a bit.
No car crashes.
Symphony’s jet lets off a small explosion when it crashes and a larger one a few moments later; Rhapsody’s jet gives a large explosion when it’s destroyed; there’s a smaller one when Scarlet’s crashes; and there’s a few small ones when Cloudbase is attacked but I couldn’t be bothered to count them.
Symphony Angel murmurs "Adam!" in her sleep and cries it out a few more times later on.
Colonel White addresses Captain Blue by his real name as well, for the first (and only) time: "Adam, isn’t it?"
The Colonel is once again a cold, by-the-book commander, ordering Lieutenant Green to call back Destiny Angel from the search for Symphony as one life is less important than the lives of everybody on Cloudbase. It’s also a good touch when the Colonel says that Cloudbase has been positioned above a remote and uninhabited area in the Himalayas, so if anything does go wrong then no civilians will be hurt.
Otherwise, he’s quite depressed, really. Quite understandable under the circumstances.
The desert music is a bit all right, with a slight aura of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring about it (though that’s definitely pretension on my part). Supermarionation shows always portrayed sandy locations extremely well and this episode is no exception.
You’ve probably already worked it out but this episode is really quite dramatic, appropriate for its subject matter. In particular, the scenes regarding Captain Blue’s feelings for Symphony Angel are very touching, achieving a certain level of maturity usually denied to this series. Seeing the Captain standing with his hands on his hips crying out "I demand an explanation!" is rather silly, though.
There’s a really palpable sense of tension leading up to the Mysteron attack, thanks mainly due to some fantastic direction and musical accompaniment. In fact this episode is pretty much a fine technical achievement all round. Rhapsody Angel’s death is probably the most shocking moment in the series as it’s really, totally unexpected: a main character has never been killed before and it’s difficult to take in. It’s the sort of moment when you forget you’re just watching puppets and you realise you’re thinking of them as real and proper characters. Lieutenant Green’s calling over the mic, on the verge of tears – "Come in, Rhapsody! Rhapsody!" – is quite affecting too.
Lieutenant Green’s attack of nerves – "Why don’t they attack? Why don’t they attack? Why don’t the Mysterons attack?!" – is another good character moment. You can tell the voice artists had a good time doing this one.
The "death" moments are depicted in a simple though effective fashion: an explosion is heard and then red smoke fills the screen, blotting out the characters. Meant that they didn’t need to destroy all their models and sets, in any case.
It’s truly an extraordinary bit when Dr Fawn’s assistant is none other than Captain Black, who wordlessly informs Captain Blue that Scarlet is finally dead. Even Blue blinks his eyes in disbelief.
It’s a bit of a shame that, after such great direction elsewhere, Cloudbase’s final demise is represented by a spinning photo of Colonel White saluting. It’s a pretty poor effect, mainly as the fact that it’s a photo is really, really obvious…
A grim and dramatic penultimate episode to the series. It’s superbly done and the script is stuffed full of small moments for the characters to shine: Blue’s love for Symphony; Lieutenant Green changing from despair to paranoia and finally to cynicism; Colonel White’s ruthlessness as a commander and his muddied relationship with Captain Scarlet; Destiny Angel’s desperation to go and fight the Mysterons; even the Colonel’s pure dislike of Captain Magenta, who is abundantly excited and on edge up until the last. There’s a lot going on here and it’s well deserving of a five star result…
… except, it’s not quite like that. You see, it was all a dream.
Everything after Symphony crashing in the desert and fainting before the Mysteron threat sequence is a nightmare had by a delirious Symphony Angel.
Annoyed? I bloody well was. This episode would have provided an absolutely perfect conclusion to this series, full of drama and excitement. Sure, it would have been grim but who cares? The baddies win and the goodies lose! It works! But they chickened out and trotted out the most hackneyed and execrable cliché in the business; "it was all a dream." Why bother? It’s the penultimate episode!!! Why on Earth couldn’t they have swapped this round with the next one and have done with it, killing the characters off and finishing the series once and for all? It boggles the mind, especially as the final episode is in point of fact a clip show – a freakin’ clipshow!!! Bloody Hell.
So all that drama and characterisation was for nought. Symphony is in fact discovered and rescued by Captains Scarlet and Blue at the end (so who shot her down in the first place?!) and taken back to Cloudbase…
SYMPHONY: "It was so vivid! You were all different somehow. The Colonel even more commanding!"
WHITE: "Well, I, er…"
SYMPHONY: "And you, Captain Magenta: so keen and eager to please!"
MAGENTA: "Well I am!… I mean, I try!"
BLUE: "How was I in your dream, Symphony?"
SYMPHONY: "You were just… Adam."
SCARLET: "Sounds to me as if it wasn’t so bad!"
SYMPHONY: "No it was horrible. You were all killed."
SCARLET: "Even me?"
SYMPHONY: "Even you, Captain Scarlet…"
At least they kept in the Blue/Symphony romance, which only really comes out in the way that the lines are spoken. But it’s a real shame that they botched the episode like that (oh, and obviously since it was a dream the Mysterons didn’t actually win – so the score is still Spectrum: 25 and Mysterons: 6). Even with this major disappointment it’s still a good 5 star episode but it’s still a diamond tarnished with a major flaw.
SYMPHONY: "But then… it was only a dream…"
Oh, away with you! And never show your face again.
On Cloudbase, tension before battle is released via impromptu bondage sessions in the officers’ mess.
"Hi there. I’m Dr Fawn. I’m going to die in a few seconds but, if you’d like to leave a message, one of my staff will get back to you as soon as possible."
Those Angel parties sure are a real swingin’ freakshow. WOAH!
"Hey, lookie! A girl! Can we keep her, Boss? A-hyuck hyuck!"
"You know, I’m glad I didn’t die, really. Means I can get on with my brand new enterprise: learning the alphabet! Yeah! Do I have what it takes? Tune in next week to find out!"
Damn you, scary nightmare girl! Damn you straight to Hell.