Perhaps, the most remarkable thing about this leading edge piece of work is that its target audience, the family group, appears to be unaware of its existence. It is true that NCS has been shown on children’s ITV already, but it was buried within the Ministry of Mayhem programme 6 months ahead of the planned release date.
The original expectation was that all 26 episodes would be shown in the Autumn of 2005 and would be accompanied by a coordinated publicity and marketing campaign. The show was to be marketed by Granada Ventures in Europe and by Sony Pictures across the rest of the world.
This was to coincide with the launch of a new range of Captain Scarlet vehicles and figures, comics and also the release of the DVDs, themselves. In fact, most of these items are now available in the shops but they have come ‘under the radar’ to a fanfare of almost total silence.
I am a fan of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation shows (real puppets) rather than his live action shows but I regard Hypermarionation (effectively, digital puppets) as a natural extension of this genre. My son says that if you are looking out for the technology then the show has failed. I totally disagree - New Captain Scarlet is way ahead of its time and nothing less than sensational!
Thankfully I was utterly wrong! NEW CAPTAIN SCARLET is a revelation, providing new bench marks for television by triumphing as a visually satisfying and smart, well written series.
The overall plot remains the same, with Earth security service SPECTRUM defending us from the intangible Mysterons and their deadly human duplicates, but already the new series has surpassed the original in every way possible. Initially it is odd to hear someone other than Francis Matthews and the late Ed Bishop as Captain's SCARLET & BLUE respectively, but the 'new' voice artists quickly become the "norm" after just a couple of episodes, making the roles their own.
Visually the show is staggering, with the CGI animation being quite literally the best ever seen on the small screen - Characters move fluidly and with weight, while vehicles look stunning and photo-realistic. Direction is accomplished, and the editing of some scenes leaves the viewer gasping in exhileration. A recently screened episode called VIRUS (not included in this set but it'll be in box set #2!) contained the most intense aeriel dogfight I have ever seen in ANY medium - It only lasted for two minutes yet was a dizzying ballet of aircraft and dedicated combat pilots at work defending their friends' lives.
And there lies the real strength of this series: There's no low-brow, cringeworthy banter or embarassing "kiddie" jokes here; the characters are portrayed as intelligent, real people with no triumphal 'air punching' or declarations of "radical" every few minutes. Plots are as adult as a series of this nature can get, and I am continually amazed at how much is packed into a 22 minute episode. Never once do the writers talk down to their audience, and congratulations to main scribe PHIL FORD for being brave enough to treat the audience with respect.
The first 13 episodes provide solid viewing without a single bad episode present. My personal favourites are the creepy RAT TRAP, the exciting MERCURY FALLING and best of all, THE ACHILLES MESSENGER, a story that hints at some very interesting developments to come.
Although I recorded the series off air, this boxset will be the only way to view the episodes in all their widescreen, high definition, surround-sound glory. After being so personally disappointed by the update of DR WHO, I know I can at least find good adult (in the best sense of the word) television somewhere.
First, remember Thunderbirds? Even the film version of recent years? Right, now forget it. Read more
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