Stingray (TV series)

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This article is about the British television series. For other uses, including the American series, see Stingray (disambiguation).
Stingray
Stingray title.jpg
Also known as Gerry Anderson's Stingray (Australia)
Genre Action
Adventure
Children's
Science fiction
Format Supermarionation serial
Created by Gerry Anderson
Sylvia Anderson
Written by Gerry Anderson
Sylvia Anderson
Alan Fennell
Dennis Spooner
Directed by David Elliott
John Kelly
Alan Pattillo
Desmond Saunders
Voices of Don Mason
Ray Barrett
Robert Easton
David Graham
Lois Maxwell
Ending theme "Aqua Marina"
(sung by Gary Miller)
Composer(s) Barry Gray
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 39 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Gerry Anderson
Sylvia Anderson
Editor(s) Harry MacDonald
Eric Pask
Cinematography John Read
Camera setup Single
Running time 25 mins approx. per episode
(excluding advertisements)
Production company(s) AP Films
Distributor ITC Entertainment
Broadcast
Original channel ATV
Picture format Film (35 mm)
Audio format Mono
Original run 4 October 1964 (1964-10-04) – 27 June 1965 (1965-06-27)
Chronology
Preceded by Fireball XL5
Followed by Thunderbirds

Stingray is a British children's Supermarionation television series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and produced by AP Films for ATV and ITC Entertainment between 1964 and 1965.[1] Its 39 half-hour episodes were originally screened on ATV in the United Kingdom and in syndication in the United States. The scriptwriters included the Andersons, Alan Fennell and Dennis Spooner. Barry Gray composed the music, and Derek Meddings served as special effects director.

Stingray was the first Supermarionation production to be filmed in colour, and also the first in which the marionette puppet characters had interchangeable heads featuring a variety of expressions. It was furthermore the first British TV programme to be filmed entirely in colour (the first half of the earlier series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot being black-and-white). At this time American TV networks were preparing for full-time colour broadcasting, although independent television in the UK did not commence colour transmission until November 1969.

Plot[edit]

Stingray, a highly sophisticated combat submarine built for speed and manoeuvrability, is the flag vessel of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP), a security organisation based at Marineville in the year 2065.[2] She is capable of speeds of up to 600 knots (1,100 km/h), while advanced pressure compensators allow her to submerge to depths of over 36,000 feet (11,000 m), enabling cruising to the bottom of any part of any of Earth's oceans. Marineville is located somewhere in California, on the West Coast of the United States. In the case of it being under attack, Battle Stations is called and the entire base is lowered down on hydraulic jacks into the safety of underground bunkers. The base lies 10 miles (16 km) inland, and Stingray is launched from "Pen 3" through a tunnel leading to the Pacific Ocean. The alerts "action stations", "launch stations", and "battle stations" are sounded not by sirens but by a rapid drum-beat (composed and recorded by series composer Barry Gray) that is played over Marineville's public address system.

The pilot of Stingray is the square-jawed Captain Troy Tempest (whose Supermarionation puppet was modelled on actor James Garner). He is paired with Dixie navigator Lieutenant George Lee "Phones" Sheridan, nicknamed "Phones" for his role as Stingray's hydrophone operator. (Phones' real name, George Sheridan, is referred to in the series' publicity material but is not mentioned on-screen.) Troy and Phones board Stingray by sitting down in twin command chairs in Marineville's stand-by lounge, which are lowered rapidly into the submarine via tubular poles. They answer to the crusty, "hoverchair"-bound Commander Samuel Shore, whose daughter, Lieutenant Atlanta Shore, is enamoured of Troy. The reason for Shore's disability is revealed in the episode "The Ghost of the Sea": as a security agent for a deep-sea mining platform, he was injured when a hostile submersible attacked the facility and damaged his patrol craft. He managed to ram the enemy in return, and then escape to the surface, but in so doing lost the use of his legs. Sub-Lieutenant John Horatio Fisher also regularly takes shifts in the Marineville control room.

During the course of the series, Stingray encounters a number of undersea races, both friendly and hostile. The Aquaphibians, an aquatic warrior race, appear regularly—usually under the command of King Titan (modelled on Laurence Olivier), who is the tyrannical ruler of the underwater city of Titanica. In the pilot episode, Stingray is attacked by Titan's forces and Troy and Phones are captured. They are rescued by Titan's slave girl, Marina (modelled on Brigitte Bardot),[citation needed] a mute young woman who can breathe underwater. Troy immediately becomes infatuated with Marina, causing Atlanta to become jealous. Titan, meanwhile, swears revenge for Marina's betrayal. Marina becomes a regular member of Stingray's crew, and later acquires a pet seal pup named Oink, who appears in a number of episodes.

Many later episodes revolve around Titan's schemes to destroy Stingray and Marineville. These often fail due to the incompetence of his spy on land, Surface Agent X-Two-Zero (whose likeness is modelled on Claude Rains but whose voice is imitative of Peter Lorre).[citation needed] Most of the characters, vehicles and places featured the series have names that are connected, in some manner, with the sea. Character names of this type include Tempest (synonymous with "storm"), Shore, Atlanta (from "Atlantic"), Marina, Lieutenant Fisher and the hostile Aquaphibians. Place names inspired by the sea or its elements include Marineville and Aquatraz, Titanica's prison. Vehicle names include Stingray itself and Titan's lethal submersibles, the mechanical fish, named "Terror Fish" in merchandise and comics but never in the series itself (where they are only referred to as "mechanical fish").

According to the audio adventure Journey to Marineville, the "3" on Stingray's fins indicates that the vessel is Stingray Mark III. Marineville is stated to be 20 miles inland, as opposed to the 10 miles mentioned in the TV episode "The Big Gun".

Production[edit]

The series' 39 episodes were filmed as three blocks (or series) of 13 episodes each, since ITC Entertainment director Lew Grade was accustomed to ordering further batches of 13 shows as need demanded, which he had done in each of the cases of the earlier Anderson series Four Feather Falls, Supercar and Fireball XL5 (all of which also ran to 39 episodes).

Supercar had featured a vehicle that could travel on land, sea and air, while Fireball XL5 had featured a spaceship; the next logical step was a series about a submarine, which presented a number of technical challenges. Scenes featuring model submarines or marionettes underwater were actually filmed on a dry set, with the camera filming through a narrow water tank containing air bubblers and fish of different sizes to simulate perspective, thereby creating a convincing illusion that the models or puppets were underwater. This was enhanced with lighting effects that gave the impression of shafts of light being refracted through the ocean surface. Scenes set on the surface were filmed using a large tank filled with water and blue dye. To conceal the boundaries of the set, the tank was deliberately overfilled so that the water would constantly spill over its edges. These techniques proved so successful that they were also used for sea-based scenes that appear in Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Joe 90.

Stingray represented a major breakthrough from Fireball XL5 both in terms of special effects techniques and story-telling. It was the first Supermarionation series to use puppets with interchangeable heads, allowing a number of emotions to be conveyed to the audience. The love triangle between Atlanta, Troy and Marina is a surprisingly mature development for a children's TV programme, and is even incorporated into the closing credits, in which Troy sings "Aqua Marina" (a song about his romantic feelings for Marina, sung by Gary Miller) while Atlanta gazes wistfully at his photograph.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Don Mason as Captain Troy Tempest (speaking) / Various
  • Robert Easton as Lieutenant George Lee "Phones" Sheridan / Surface Agent X-2-Zero / Various
  • Ray Barrett as Commander Sam Shore / Sub-Lieutenant John Horatio Fisher / King Titan of Titanica / Power Plant Technician / Various
  • Lois Maxwell as Lieutenant Atlanta Shore / Various
  • David Graham as Oink / Marineville Tracking Station / Admiral Jack Denver / Various
  • Gary Miller as Troy Tempest (singing voice only)
  • Sylvia Anderson as Guest Voice in 2 episodes (uncredited)

Marina is unique among Supermarionation characters in that she has no dialogue. In the episode "Raptures of the Deep" she appears to communicate telepathically with Troy (her thoughts voiced by Sylvia Anderson), but this is later revealed to be a part of a dream that Troy experienced while delirious, having passed out underwater due to a lack of oxygen. In the dream sequence in question, Marina's lips do not move because her puppet was not equipped with a speech mechanism.

In addition to the 39 TV episodes, three original EP "audio adventures" featuring the TV voice cast were released during the 1960s. These were subsequently re-issued on cassette, and are included as special features in the UK DVD box set. One of these audio episodes (entitled "Marina Speaks") reveals that Marina is in fact not mute at all; her race has been cursed by Titan—should any one of them speak, another will die. They are not certain if this is true, but none of them dares find out; thus, for years they have lived in complicit silence. However, this storyline to some extent contradicts the TV episodes.

Later appearances[edit]

In 1980 and 1981, two TV compilation films were made for the American market, airing in the United States as part of an ITC Entertainment movie package called "Super Space Theater"; this practice was common at the time for many of Gerry Anderson's TV productions. The first, titled The Incredible Voyage of Stingray, was released in 1980 and comprise the original episodes "Stingray", "Plant Of Doom", "Count Down" and "The Master Plan". Released in 1981, Invaders from the Deep was a compilation of "Hostages of the Deep", "The Big Gun", "Emergency Marineville" and "Deep Heat". On 24 November 1988 (Thanksgiving Day), Invaders of the Deep appeared as the first broadcast episode of movie-mocking TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the UK, ITV broadcast repeats of Stingray, using the original film prints, in 1988. The series was later repeated on BBC2 in 1992, from new prints obtained from the master negatives. Stingray was also broadcast on Sky One from 2002 to 2003. In the United States, the Sci-Fi Channel aired some episodes of Stingray in the early 1990s, as part of its block "Sci-Fi Cartoon Quest".

On 2 January 2008, a new episode, "The Reunion Party" (with a running time of 30 minutes), was broadcast on BBC Four in the UK as part of a themed "Thunderbirds Night". This episode was assembled by Anderson from recently discovered linking material filmed in 1965, and takes the form of a clip show episode including footage from the episodes "Stingray", "An Echo of Danger" and "Emergency Marineville". The linking material was originally filmed to showcase Stingray to potential overseas buyers, but was ultimately never used. The 1965 copyright date makes it the last footage ever to be filmed for Stingray, having been recorded after the production of the 1964 series had ended. An un-assembled version of "The Reunion Party" appears as an extra on the Stingray DVD box set.

Carlton TV the eventual owners of the Stingray franchise released a spoken word version of two episodes. Produced by Steve Deakin Davies and released by The Ambition Company.

Stingray-class[edit]

According to the Stingray comic strip in the weekly Countdown comic, more than one Stingray-class submarine was in service in the Marineville fleet. These vessels had names such as Spearfish, Barracuda, Moray and Thornback and were identified by different numbers on their fins, suggesting that the "3" painted on Stingray's tail fin did not indicate that the submarine was a "Mark III" after all.

A similar idea had been adopted by author John Theydon for his second Stingray tie-in novel, Stingray and the Monster, some years prior. In the novel, another WASP submarine (unnamed and referred to as "Number Thirteen") is hi-jacked by an old enemy of Commander Shore. Theydon's description of the hi-jacked boat, both inside and out, is recognisably similar to that of Stingray, with the exception that "Number Thirteen" is stated not to possess Stingray's exceptional performance, being limited to roughly 400 knots (740 km/h) instead of the 600 knots (1,100 km/h) that Stingray is quoted as being able to attain. The implication, not explicitly stated, is that Stingray is an upgraded version of the design. Later, TV21 comic mentioned a second "super-sub" due to enter service under the WASP that is stolen by a Mysteron agent as part of the plot of a Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons story.

Foreign titles[edit]

  • (French): Escadrille sous-marine
  • (German): Kommando Stingray
  • (Hebrew): ha-Trigon (הטריגון; Hebrew for "stingray"). The show was broadcast in Israel in the 1970s and the early 1980s, with Hebrew subtitles incidentally translating "Marineville" as "Kiryat-Yam" (literally "Sea town", but coinciding with the actual name of a suburb of Haifa).
  • (Japanese): Kaitei Dai-Sensō Sutingurei (海底大戦争スティングレイ; literally, "The Great War Under the Sea: Stingray")
  • (Spanish): El Meteoro Submarino ("The Submarine Meteor")
  • (Turkish): Denizler Hakimi

References[edit]

External links[edit]