Captain Scarlet (character)

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Captain Scarlet
Captain Scarlet character
First appearance "The Mysterons"
Last appearance "Grey Skulls"
Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Voiced by Francis Matthews
(Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons)
Wayne Forester
(Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet)
Information
Full name Paul Metcalfe
Species Human (originally)
Mysteron reconstruction (human consciousness)
Gender Male
Occupation Spectrum officer
Title Captain
Family Tom Metcalfe and Ann Brightman (parents)
(Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet)
Significant other(s) Destiny Angel
(Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet)
Nationality English
(Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons)
American
(Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet)

Captain Scarlet is the fictional main character in Gerry Anderson's British Supermarionation science-fiction television series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and its computer-animated remake, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet.

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons[edit]

Well-trusted by the commander-in-chief of Spectrum, Colonel White, Captain Scarlet is the primary agent of the organisation and is assigned the most dangerous and crucial missions.

He is a close friend of Captain Blue, with whom he undertakes the majority of his missions, although he is on friendly terms with all other Spectrum agents. A close relationship with Destiny Angel is also hinted at several times in the series.

Death, Mysteronisation, and resurrection[edit]

Captain Scarlet was killed in the first episode of the series, "The Mysterons," in a car crash brought about by the Mysterons, which also resulted in the death of Captain Brown. Both men were reconstructed by the aliens, who assigned their exact likenesses of both men to assassinate the World President. The Captain Brown likeness was turned into a walking bomb for this purpose. When this attempt failed, the Captain Scarlet likeness kidnapped the President from Cloudbase and flew him to England, taking him to the top of the London Car-Vu, a large car park tower. Cornered while holding the President at gunpoint over the city below, the Captain Scarlet likeness was shot by Captain Blue and fell 800 feet to his apparent destruction. However, at the end of the episode it was revealed that Captain Scarlet was returning to life and had become almost incapable of dying permanently due to the powers of the Mysterons, although the fall had broken the Mysteron programming and returned him to his original personality. This extraordinary ability heals Scarlet of physical injuries within hours, making him virtually indestructible.

Captain Scarlet's Mysteronised body, like those of all Mysteron likenesses, is still vulnerable to electricity and impervious to X-rays. He also has a "sixth sense" when in the presence of a strong Mysteron influence - he becomes nauseated, sweats, and suffers a severe headache - but this sense sometimes does not indicate all Mysteron presences in an area. Though Captain Scarlet "dies" several times in the course of the series - usually quite violently - he always returns to life. In "Attack on Cloudbase," Captain Scarlet is declared finally and permanently dead during the course of the battle for Cloudbase; however, this is later revealed to be Symphony Angel's hallucination as she is stranded in a desert, waiting for Spectrum to rescue her following a plane crash.

Personality[edit]

Captain Scarlet, as the main protagonist, is one of the most developed characters in the series. His real name is Paul Metcalfe. He has black hair and blue eyes, speaks with a Mid-Atlantic accent and is said to be from Winchester in Hampshire, England. He was born on 17 December 2036. He is not unfamiliar with gambling and drinking and in the episode "Special Assignment" plays, and loses heavily at, roulette. In the episode "Flight 104," Captain Scarlet expresses a preference for steak "with all the trimmings."

Captain Scarlet is a competent pilot and can drive almost any vehicle. He is also a qualified astronaut. He is a somewhat stereotypical hero in that he is dependable and always gets the job done although he is not always successful. He does, however, have a lighter side. He also has a rather dry wit and sarcastic sense of humour, often using this in dialogue with other Spectrum agents.

He can turn his hand to a variety of weapons from guns to electric cables. Captain Scarlet is not shown to have any love interests during the series although previous attractions are indicated at some points, and a popular speculation among the fan community of the series is that he has a soft spot for, if not a relationship with, compatriot Rhapsody Angel.

Captain Scarlet has a close friendship with Captain Blue, who acts as Captain Scarlet's "field partner." Captain Blue cares about his friend and Captain Scarlet trusts him implicitly, although he is professional enough to use deadly force against him as necessary when Captain Scarlet was controlled by the Mysterons. In the episode "Special Assignment," Captain Blue tries to stop Captain Scarlet's apparent spiral of self-destruction, showing the bond between them. (It was later revealed that this development was part of a plan to infiltrate a Mysteron attack, the plan being kept secret from Captain Blue so that his reaction to Captain Scarlet's dismissal would be natural.) In the episode "Renegade Rocket," both men are prepared to stay in a missile base targeted by the Mysterons and die in a last-ditch attempt to stop its destruction.

Captain Scarlet is also friends with Lieutenant Green, as demonstrated when he accompanies Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue on certain missions. However, Captain Scarlet is friendly with all other Cloudbase personnel, and he has no particular enemies among those with whom he is closely associated.

Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet[edit]

Background[edit]

Born in Winchester, England, Scarlet's mother was Ann Brightman, an English astrophysicist, while his father, Tom Metcalfe, was an American pilot who later joined the International Space Agency. As a boy of ten, Paul watched his father take humankind's first steps on Mars and vowed to follow in his historic footsteps. He studied astrophysics at MIT before joining the US Air Force. But the outbreak of global terrorist wars, which saw the deaths of both his parents, changed his focus.

He transferred to US Special Forces and commanded an elite unit that saw action across the world. His second-in-command was Lieutenant Conrad Lefkon, who became his closest friend. With the end of the wars, a new security organisation was established: Spectrum. Paul was an obvious choice for the new organisation, and took on the codename "Captain Scarlet". His good friend Lefkon was also signed up as "Captain Black".

Scarlet later became Spectrum's special weapon in its "war of nerves" with the Mysterons; a weapon created by the Mysterons themselves when they killed Scarlet during a mission on Mars along with Captain Black. After they had discovered the Mysterons' city, Black fired a destructive shot against it, believing they were under attack. The two men watched in astonishment as the city rebuilt itself, and tried to flee to escape their fate, only to be killed afterwards.

The Mysterons rebuilt Scarlet as an invincible human replica to infiltrate Earth and lead their war against the planet. While under the control of the Mysterons, Scarlet tried to destroy Skybase, but was stopped in his efforts by Captain Blue. Falling down through a plasma stream, Scarlet was killed, but recovered later on in Sickbay, under the astonished eyes of Doctor Gold and other onlookers, and revealed himself to be fully free of the Mysterons' control. Metcalfe's human psyche had survived and regained control of his physical body. Instead of being killed by the power surge, Scarlet was only harmed temporarily, and was restored to life by the genetic mutation of the Mysteron "retrometabolisation" process which makes him virtually "indestructible".

Scarlet is a dedicated Spectrum officer. First and foremost, he is a soldier on the frontline of Earth's defences. However, he is also tormented by what he has become - not fully human. Utterly fearless and dedicated to saving the human race, for all Scarlet's heroism there is one thing that makes him very uneasy - his growing feelings for Destiny Angel, the girlfriend of his late friend, Captain Black.

Abilities[edit]

Retrometabolism - so far, Captain Scarlet can survive, and heal from any injuries, even the more devastating ones, although the recovery is never instantaneous.

In a few episodes, it is stated that he can feel a Mysteron's presence, by feeling nauseated and unwell. In the pilot story ("Instrument of Destruction", Parts 1 and 2), it is also stated that Scarlet shared a kind of telepathic link with Captain Black - which is considered by Colonel White as an advantage in the war against the Mysterons that he cannot dismiss.

During the episode "Rat Trap", the Mysterons were able to contact Scarlet and to talk to him, while nobody else could hear them. It is not clear if this phenomenon was because he was on the Mysterons' home planet, or if he would hear them, wherever he might be, if they chose to contact him again.

In "Chiller", it was revealed that, when particularly badly wounded, Scarlet's body has the capability to separate his emotional and physical selves so that the latter can heal quicker, leaving the former as a ghostlike apparition, detectable only by its coldness.

In music[edit]

Captain Scarlet is referred to by The Kinks in the song "Daylight", on their album Preservation Act 1.

Reception[edit]

The likeness of the original Scarlet has variously been attributed to the actors Cary Grant and Roger Moore[1][2] as well as to the character's voice actor, Francis Matthews.[1] It is widely acknowledged that the voice was an imitation by Matthews of the English-American, Mid-Atlantic inflections of Grant.[3][4][5]

Jim Sangster and Paul Condon, authors of Collins Telly Guide (2005), argue that Scarlet's indestructibility damages his credibility as a hero: "He'll survive no matter what they throw at him, which should mean that there's zero tension in anything he takes on."[6] Daniel O'Brien offers a similar assessment, identifying the character's unkillable nature as a "possible miscalculation" on the part of the series creators. To support his argument, he makes reference to a line of dialogue spoken by the character of Lieutenant Green in the episode "Attack on Cloudbase" – "Anyone can be brave when they're indestructible".[3] Science-fiction writer John Peel considers Scarlet's power to be one of several major faults in the premise of Captain Scarlet.[7] He also suggests that the character, due to his fundamental invulnerability, served as a poor role model to the "impressionable children" who made up the series' target audience, explaining: "Parents didn't like their children watching a show that appeared to be encouraging them to hero-worship someone who was indestructible."[7] Peel cites Batman as an example of a TV series aimed at younger viewers who "sometimes tried to copy their heroes, often with nasty or lethal results".[7] He believes that the inducement to experiment with dangerous, imitable techniques is not lessened by the closing titles theme (with lyrics sung by pop group The Spectrum), which includes such lines as "They crash him, and his body may burn" and "They smash him, but they know he'll return ... to live again".[7]

Sangster and Condon explore the possibility of religious allegory embodied by the character, pointing out parallels between Scarlet and Christ.[8] Actor Cy Grant, who provided the voice of Lieutenant Green, made several observations concerning Christian symbolism.[9] He interpreted the villainous Captain Black, Scarlet's arch-enemy, to be a representation of the Devil; meanwhile, Scarlet, as Christ, is descended from God in the form of Colonel White, Spectrum's commander-in-chief.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wickes, Simon (2 January 2004). "FAQ – Voices and Likenesses". tvcentury21.com. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  2. ^ Archer, Simon (2004) [1993]. Gerry Anderson's FAB Facts: Behind the Scenes of TV's Famous Adventures in the 21st Century. London: HarperCollins. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-00-638247-8. 
  3. ^ a b O'Brien, Daniel (2000). SF:UK: How British Science Fiction Changed the World. London: Reynolds & Hearn. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-903111-16-1. 
  4. ^ Evans, Jeff (2006) [2003]. The Penguin TV Companion (3rd ed.). Penguin Books. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-141024-24-0. 
  5. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1996) [1993]. Marshall, Anne, ed. The Guinness Book of Classic British TV (2nd ed.). Enfield, London: Guinness Publishing. p. 331. ISBN 978-0-85112-628-9. 
  6. ^ Sangster and Condon 2005, p. 166.
  7. ^ a b c d Peel 1993, p. 245.
  8. ^ Sangster and Condon 2005, p. 164.
  9. ^ a b Grant, Cy (2007). "Lieutenant Green and De Anderson CODE – Spectrums, Subconscious Connections & Synchronicities". Archived from the original on 23 January 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 

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