Captain Scarlet

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THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS...
WE KNOW YOU CAN HEAR US, EARTHMEN...

Set Twenty Minutes Into the Future, it tells the story of a "war of nerves" between humanity and a race of Martians called the Mysterons.

The aliens were never seen in person and would attack Earth by killing prominent humans and replacing them with superpowered duplicates who would attempt to perform terrorist attacks. Their primary agent was Captain Black, a former Spectrum agent who was turned after accidentally starting the war by panicking and attacking them first.

Opposing them were the Spectrum organisation, an international defence force whose best agent, Captain Scarlet, is killed and cloned in the first episode. He regains his humanity through Heroic Willpower and a convenient building collapse/jolt of electricity (depending on which version you watch). However, he still has the clone body's powers of Nigh Invulnerability.

Like the earlier Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet was produced by animatronics expert Gerry Anderson. The difference here is that the puppeteers used an upgraded design that places the internal mechanisms in the chest area of the puppets as opposed to the head. This change allowed the creation of puppets to forgo the characteristic oversized heads of previous super-marionettes for more realistic proportions. As a result, the show looks a bit like the old 12" G.I. Joe action figures have come to life, which Anderson later noted made them feel less expressive as a result.

A CGI Remake, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, appeared in 2005. The new series lasted two seasons (the original only lasted for one), but remains lesser known than the original due to being Screwed by the Network and not achieving international broadcast or DVD release.

Tropes used in Captain Scarlet include:
  • Ace Pilot - The Angels.
  • Ascended Extra - In the 2005 version, the female Captain Ochre makes a brief debut appearance at the end of season 1, a couple of brief walk-ons at the start of season 2, but by the end of the season had graduated to leading an entire episode ("Grey Skulls") by herself - the only Captain other than Scarlet to do so; even Blue never gets to lead an episode. Several fan sites have suggested that Ochre would likely have graduated to major character status had the series continued. The trope can also be applied to Lt. Green, who in the revival is a more active character than the original version who hardly ever left Skybase, and even to an extent Destiny Angel, who becomes the female action lead and plays a major role in many episodes of the CGI version.
  • Awesome McCoolname - Captain Scarlet Obviously, Destiny Angel Captain Black]
  • Achilles' Heel - Mysteron duplicates are vulnerable to electricity. They also show up as "positive" images on X-rays. Scarlet can also sense when one is nearby.
    • In the 2005 version, duplicates can be detected with a DNA scan. Scarlet's "allergy" to them is also retained, though not consistently applied. The revival shows duplicates' eyes glowing green as well, but the series never makes clear whether this is actually seen "in-universe" or is simply for the viewer's benefit.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier - the Cloudbase/Skybase.
  • All There in the Manual - The weekly magazine TV 21 ran strips and such based on the series (a related publication, TV Tornado, fleshed out the Mysterons' backstory), and the "annuals" (hard-backed yearly comic collections) would print cutaway diagrams of, say, the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle or Captain Scarlet's car.
    • A sharp-eyed viewer will notice there's a window in the shots that shows scenery moving past in the "wrong" direction, making it obvious that the SPV crew are seated in the rear and facing away from the front of the vehicle (presumably for safety reasons). The ejector seat is also used during The Winged Assassin. Or more accurately, Captain Blue's ejector is forcibly triggered by Captain Scarlet, so the latter can try to be a Big Damn Hero.
    • This was mentioned in the first episode.

Undercover Agent: It must be difficult, driving backwards and looking at video monitors.
Captain Blue: Oh, you'll get used to it.

    • There are also several occasions where they open the doors showing the seats face backwards. And of course the toys showcased the feature.
  • Amazon Brigade - The Angels, an all-female squadron of fighter-pilots.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Well, more mildly clever and innovative but impractical in the case of the aforementioned SPV's camera system, which was combined with rear-facing seats. It might reduce the likelihood of injury in the event of a collision, but this troper feels ill just imagining trying to drive that way.
    • And also there was one time a Mysteron agent jammed the camera resulting in the SPV crashing.
      • All of which is probably why the revival did away with this, allowing drivers of the SPV's successor, the Rhino, to face the right way.
  • Blessed with Suck - Scarlet. Indestructibility's all very well and good, but when it means that every other mission you do ends in your death or injury, it's not so great.
    • To the revival's credit, Scarlet's indestructibility is only called into play in a minority of episodes.
  • Bragging Theme Tune - The ending theme.
  • The Captain - Colonel White.
  • Catch Phrase - "S.I.G." -- "Spectrum Is Green." Used to mean 'acknowledged' or 'Roger'. The alternative warning-code, "S.I.R." -- "Spectrum Is Red", was only mentioned in a couple of episodes. This sort of thing is an "Andersonism" dating back at least to his earlier series Stingray.
    • Defictionalization: Both phrases have been borrowed by American private spaceflight firm SpaceX to describe its readiness for rocket launches, modified to "SpaceX Is Green" or "SpaceX Is Red".
    • Also the above "voice of the Mysterons" quote.
  • Cloning Blues - Averted; Captain Scarlet is readily accepted by his colleagues, and he shows nary a hint of angst about being a copy.
    • This also goes for the revival, however Captain Blue takes longer to warm to Scarlet, and several episodes do reflect on Scarlet's angst at being a "human-Mysteron hybrid" as he is described by a friendly Mysteron in the episode "The Achilles Messenger".
  • Code Name - All of the main Spectrum agents were assigned code-names based on colors -- Captain Blue, Lieutenant Green, Colonel White, and so forth. The Angels are code-named Destiny, Rhapsody, Melody, Harmony and Symphony.
    • Long before the home computer era, this show introduced kids to the colour name "magenta". Who says kids' TV isn't educational?
      • The revival continues the trend. Instead of being called Captain Yellow, one of the agents is Captain Ochre.
    • Unlike the original series, which only on rare occasions (maybe no more than once or twice) referred to the characters by their real names, the revival uses the color codes and real names interchangeably. In one episode Scarlet activates an identity scan that clearly IDs him as "Paul Metcalfe, Captain Scarlet". The original series suggests the real names are usually kept secret, but not so in the revival.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience - Captain Scarlet is the good guy, Captain Black is The Dragon.
  • Compilation Movie - Two, from 1980-1981, kick-starting the Super Space Theater project, in which episodes of other Gerry Anderson-produced series went through this.
    • Captain Scarlet vs. the Mysterons, featuring the episodes "The Mysterons," "Winged Assassin," "Seek and Destroy," and "Attack on Cloudbase". Aired in 1980.
    • Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars, featuring the episodes "Shadow of Fear," "Lunarville 7," "Crater 101" and "Dangerous Rendezvous." Aired in 1981.
      • Notable for being the focus of the second-ever episode of MST 3 K.
    • One of these films is notable for a tacked on ending that suggests the entire series was simply a dream!
  • Cool Bike - The Spectrum Raid Bike from the CGI series. So much so, an entire episode ("Grey Skulls") is basically built around how cool it is.
  • Cool Car - Lots of them. This is Gerry Anderson we're talking about.
  • Cool Plane - Lots, but especially the Angels' Falcon interceptors.
  • Criminal Mind Games - The Mysterons would always announce their next target in advance (sometimes in very cryptic fashion).
    • Averted in the revival as such announcements were, for the most part, done away with.
  • Darker and Edgier than the other Supermarination series, partly due to the opening titles and partly due to the fact that the good guys sometimes lost.
    • Captain Black has several close shaves with Spectrum but is never actually caught, for example.
    • How about the deaths? I seriously doubt Thunderbirds would have had an innocent getting murdered through crushing.
    • If it's possible, the 2005 version is even moreso than the original, especially once the series establishes that the original victim's memories and personality still exist within the duplicate and can, under some circumstances, be revived. Yet that doesn't stop them from being shot on sight, thrown off cliffs, etc.
  • Dating Catwoman - While it doesn't quite get as far as a "date", Scarlet and Astrid Winters ( a friendly Mysteron replicant trying to stop the war, but who shows clear attraction to Scarlet) are headed down this road in the revival episode "The Achilles Messenger".
  • Die Hard on an X - Destiny Angel vs. a group of Mysteron-controlled pirates in the 2005 episode "Fallen Angels". Bad-assery kicked Up to Eleven by the fact she actually isn't aware she's offing Mysterons.
  • Disproportionate Retribution - The Mysterons have reason to be angry since Captain Black destroyed their city but since they could instantly rebuild it and there's no hint any Mysterons died, they seem to be rather irrational in their desire to destroy all life on Earth in retribution.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set
  • Do Not Try This At Home - A version of the opening titles included the statement "Captain Scarlet is indestructible. You are not. Remember this, do not try to imitate him."
    • Interestingly the 2005 revival has no such disclaimer. Maybe today's kids know better than to jump out of a flying aircraft hangar at 60,000 feet without a parachute?
  • Dutch Angle - Contemporary with the 1960s Batman.
  • Ejection Seat - The good-guys always eject just in time.
    • Almost always. Remember original-series Rhapsody?
  • Evil Brit - Both the Mysterons and their Dragon, Captain Black - although both were voiced by Donald Gray, who was actually South-African.
    • In the revival Captain Black is said to be from Brooklyn - yet he stil speaks with a British accent (which becomes more pronounced when he's being really evil).
  • Evil Sounds Deep - Ooooooh, yeah...
  • Expository Theme Tune - The ending credits theme; the opening had No Theme Tune.
  • Fail O'Suckyname - Why I gotta be Captain Magenta?
  • Family-Unfriendly Death - Amongst a series where people are shot on-screen and blown-up, one Mysteron agent gets graphically electrocuted to the point he catches fire!
    • In the revival one character is shot in the head by Captain Black at point blank, another is crushed by falling rock, and Scarlet performs a Neck Snap on another!
  • Faux Action Girl - Destiny Angel in the CGI remake. To some extent, all the Angels.
  • The Faceless - The Mysterons don't appear in person; all we see of them is the circles of their possession rays.
  • The Federation - The UN seems to function as a world federation of nations.
  • Five-Man Band -
  • Gender Flip - The male Lieutenant Green from the original puppet series becomes female in the New Captain Scarlet, but remains the Token Minority in both. Captain Ochre also became female, but unusually the gender flip occurred mid-series as a male Ochre appears in the first episode, but by the end of the first season Ochre is a woman. One episode introduced a male pilot who is training to become an Angel before the Mysterons get him.
  • Glamor Failure - In the original series, Mysteron invulnerability extends to being entirely opaque to X-rays. The remake replaced this with a DNA test.
  • Heel Face Turn - In the 2005 series, Captain Black's original human personality - that of Scarlet's best friend and Destiny's boyfriend - resurfaces on several occasions, most notably in "Best of Enemies" when being submerged in a sunken Rhino causes the Mysterons to briefly lose control over Black, and definitely in the finale "Dominion" in which Black is manipulated by the Mysterons and led to believe he's thrown off their influence for good.
    • Also in the revival, the episode "The Achilles Messenger" introduce a faction of Mysteron society who are opposed to the war and are willing to help the human. Unfortunately the series never develops this beyond a couple of episodes.
  • Heroic Willpower - Captain Scarlet's sense of duty and force of will allowed him to regain control and personality when the Mysterons withdrew their mind control ray.
    • Dead or alive, You're coming with me Much?
    • Somewhat negated in the revival when it's revealed most Mysteron duplicates retain the original personalities of the victims; however Scarlet is able to retain control for longer.
  • Ho Yay - Captains Blue and Scarlet, which was turned Up to Eleven in the remake.
  • Idiot Ball - "Uh-ey, Goise. let's send only two police cars to defend a truck containing an atomic bomb in the middle of London." Yeah, nothing can go wrong with that...
  • Implacable Man - Captain Scarlet himself.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills
  • Kill and Replace - "The Mysterons, sworn enemies of Earth, [possess] the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person. But first, they must destroy!"
  • Latex Space Suit - The Angels' flying suits in the CGI remake. Skin-tight and shiny!
  • Medium Blending - Live-action closeups were sometimes used when they needed to show something complicated that required finer manipulation than offered by the puppets, like setting a timer or interacting with control panels.
  • Mythology Gag - The remake is billed as being 'filmed in Hypermarionation' in the opening credits.
  • Nice Hat - The Spectrum hats. Oh so much.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - The whole War of Nerves starts when Captain Black and his co-pilot mistake the Mysterons' scanners for weapons and react by blasting their city into pieces, arousing their wrath.
    • In the remake, the co-pilot is Scarlet, but only Black overreacts.
  • Odd Name Out - Destiny Angel, the only Angel not named after a musical term.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel - Captain Scarlet.
  • Rasputinian Death - In his original, Mysteron-controlled form, Captain Scarlet is shot by Captain Blue and falls off a bomb-rigged skyscraper, which then explodes and collapses on him.
  • Real Men Wear Pink - Captain Magenta.
  • Recurring Riff - The kettle drum "bom-bom-bom bombombom bom!" that opened and closed the episodes, and was used in the distinctive back-and-forth Smash Cut scene changes.
    • Amusingly played with by Chris Evans in TFI Friday where he would try to flip his head between two cameras in time with the Captain Scarlet riff.
    • Sadly the makers of the remake either couldn't or wouldn't license Barry Gray's original music, so a new drumbeat, arguably less effective, is used for the transitions.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens - The Mysterons.
  • Screwed by the Network - New Captain Scarlet suffered from much of this, including having the last episodes aired Out of Order.
    • In addition, as of the end of 2011 it has yet to be aired anywhere in North America and there hasn't even been a DVD release there.
  • So Much for Stealth - In the opening titles, the viewpoint character stalking Scarlet startles a cat which fatally alerts Scarlet to his presence.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky - In the episode where he gets fired, the reason as to why was because he lost all his money whilst playing roulette, his last act being to put it all on red - the ball landed on 13 (black).
    • An earlier episode featured Big Ben striking 13 times, which was a key plot point. If one is about a third of a mile from Big Ben with a radio tuned to a local station, the real twelfth bong will arrive about a full second after the twelve on the radio. After Scarlet learns this, he says he'll consider it his "lucky number" from that point on.
      • Fridge Brilliance Scarlet was trying to loose money as part of an undercover op so he put it all on his lucky number.
  • Title Theme Tune -- in one version thereof, "Captain Scarlet" was the only lyric. As a bonus, the later theme (the one with the lyrics) was sung by a group called The Spectrum.
    • Incidentally, it is rumoured that The Spectrum's involvement came about more or less accidentally; Gerry Anderson was made aware that their name and the SPECTRUM organisation's name might cause a trademark conflict. Rather than pick a new name or call the lawyers in, he chose to Take a Third Option and offered them the title-theme gig.
  • To the Batpole - Anderson's puppet characters couldn't be made to walk convincingly, so typically moved around on chutes, conveyor-belts etc.
    • Averted and eliminated utterly in the CG remake. If anything the characters sometimes move around too much in the early episodes.
  • Unexplained Recovery - Scarlet, in almost every episode.
  • Villain Ball - Possibly subverted. The Mysterons announce their plans in advance, albeit in riddles. However, there's some speculation that they do this because they just enjoy tormenting the humans.
    • A reason once mentioned was that the Mysteron Martian complex is an entertainment device (like the Shoreleave World of Star Trek), but for aliens with other priorities.
      • At least once, the Mysterons stated point-blank that they were engaged in a "war of nerves" with Earth. They wanted to terrify us into self-destructive paranoia.
      • And occasionally the clues were a Xanatos Gambit, where SPECTRUM winning turned out to further the Mysterons plan.
  • Voice of the Legion - The Mysterons.
  • The Walls Are Closing In - Although it was never shown in the series itself due to the limitations of puppets, one of the paintings forming the backdrop to the Closing Credits showed the titular hero in a corridor, with the spiked walls closing in.
  • Why Am I Ticking? - The Mysterons use their control over matter to explode a clone of Captain Brown.
  • What Could Have Been - One episode from the 2005 remake was removed because Gerry Anderson thought it was too scary for younger children. As a result, this was one reason the last few episodes of Season 2 were aired out of order. Humorously however, the Episode "Grey Skulls" was given the description for this episode on the Season 2 DVD inside cover Episode List. The voice cast (along with Supermarionation voice legend Shane Rimmer) performed the censored script, "The House of Dolls" at one of the "Fanderson" conventions.
    • As noted under Ascended Extra, Captain Ochre seemed headed for lead character status at the end of the series, had a third season been commissioned.
    • Also, the revelation that there are Mysterons willing to help the humans stop the war (in "The Achilles Messenger") likely would have been further explored had there been a third season.

Remember, Captain Scarlet is indestructible. You are not. Do not copy him.