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Aquarium-Based Adventure Series
on 4 March 2009
You wouldn't think it would be possible to imbue a puppet series with all the flamboyant colour and camp of the 1960's - yet here it is.
'Stingray' is gloriously of its time. A deliciously CGI-free world of deep-sea despots, mechanical war-fish, relentless xenophobia and populist rough justice.
It's the completely believable adventures of the Marineville-based World Aquanaut Security Patrol: Troy Tempest, Phones, Atlanta, Commander Shore, exiled sea-nymph Marina, and their self-righteous policing of nasty races, skulking and scheming at the bottom of the sea.
Much fun is to be had spotting the real folk the puppets are based on: Marina is obviously Ursula Andress; Shore displays more than a hint of Spencer Tracy; evil scourge Surface Agent X 2 Zero's voice is clearly Peter Lorre - in fact, there's only Tempest himself a tad unclear. I've always thought it was probably some early 60's crooner like Dickie Valentine - the jury's out.
'Stingray' has the most exciting opening credit sequence of any tv series ever. Oil rigs collapse, a whole marine base disappears underground, huge noisy war-planes raze the sky, explosions, shootings, missiles, a jarring jump from black and white to vivid colour.. All accompanied by the rousing and urgent theme music - in my opinion never bettered - by Barry Gray.
On the un-PC front 'Stingray' is a joy ! The 'Loch Ness Monster' episode is APPALLINGLY offensive, and the WASPs seem to a have a very civilised - if unfashionable - shoot-on-site policy:
Phones: "Hey Troy, I'm picking up a small craft on the echo-finder."
Tempest: "Prepare Sting Missiles!" .
They smoke, drink, play poker and there's an underwater prison called Aquatraz (!) which makes Guantanamo Bay look like the Holiday Inn.
The 60's endorsed sexism is admirably emphatic. Both female characters have massive crushes on Tempest (of course), but instead of filling his boots, he acts so gallant, coy and condescending - he gets neither.
Personally, although Andress/Marina is desirably mute, I'd go for Atlanta. She's a hot red-head dreamily voiced by old Moneypenny herself, Lois Maxwell, and is the daughter of Commander Shore, so there's more chance of promotion.
The only down-side to 'Stingray' is that it was commissioned for children, so no-one gets even slightly killed....