Model Spy

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"Model Spy"
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode
Episode no. Episode 14
Directed by Ken Turner
Written by Bill Hedley
Cinematography by Julien Lugrin
Editing by John Beaton
Production code 18
Original air date 29 December 1967 (1967-12-29)
Guest appearance(s)

Voices of:
Sylvia Anderson as
Gabrielle
Liz Morgan as
Helga
Shane Rimmer as
Reception Guest
Jeremy Wilkin as
Verdain
Casino Commissionaire

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Point 783"
Next →
"Seek and Destroy"
List of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episodes

"Model Spy" is the 14th episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, a British 1960s Supermarionation television series co-created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Written by Bill Hedley and directed by Ken Turner, it was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on 29 December 1967 (1967-12-29) on ATV Midlands.

In this episode, when the Mysterons vow to assassinate a French intelligence agent posing as a fashion designer, Captains Scarlet and Blue and Destiny and Symphony Angels go undercover to protect the target.

Plot[edit]

The Mysterons plan to assassinate André Verdain. Publicly, Verdain is a fashion designer; privately, he is the Controller of the European Area Intelligence Service in Paris. Colonel White, who suspects that the attempt on the Frenchman's life will most likely be made during a fashion show that he will be hosting in Monte Carlo, assigns Captains Scarlet and Blue and Destiny and Symphony Angels to protect the target. The agents will operate undercover, with Scarlet posing as a PR officer, Blue a photographer, and Destiny and Symphony models employed by the House of Verdain.

The Spectrum personnel fly directly to Monte Carlo to avoid the fog-bound Paris airports. They are not the only operatives working undercover, however: Helga and Gabrielle, two of Verdain's models, have been killed in a monotrain derailment and reconstructed in the service of the Mysterons. When the Spectrum agents join Verdain for a tour of Monte Carlo Bay in his luxury yacht, Gabrielle sabotages the engine room; the occupants jump overboard only seconds before the resulting fire causes an explosion that destroys the ship.

Despite Scarlet's warnings, Verdain prepares to host a press reception at the Hotel Imperial. An agent resembling Captain Black has recently been sighted in Europe, and Verdain is certain that he will appear during the evening. At a pre-reception cocktail party, Scarlet receives proof that Gabrielle is a Mysteron duplicate when the model remarks that she and Helga flew in from Paris, despite the fact that flights into the French capital had been cancelled. At this moment, Black, stationed outside by a window on a maintenance platform, shoots Verdain with a tranquilliser gun. Helga switches off the lights, and in the confusion, Black and his accomplice abduct Verdain and escape from the hotel in a car.

The Spectrum personnel converge on the Mysteron agents with the aid of a homing drug that Scarlet slipped into Verdain's drink. Scarlet and Blue pursue in a convertible and a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle, Destiny and Symphony in a helicopter. Finally, Black and Helga find themselves caught between the Spectrum forces and a police roadblock. Having been pushed out of the car window by Helga, Verdain regains consciousness in time to see Black, Helga and the vehicle vanish. Later, Verdain expresses his gratitude to his protectors, presenting Destiny and Symphony with gowns courtesy of the House of Verdain.

Continuity[edit]

The Mysterons' "vanishing power" is featured again in this episode, having first been seen in "The Heart of New York"; it re-appears in "Inferno". Lieutenant Green is seen for the first and only time onboard Cloudbase wearing his Spectrum cap in a scene in which he and Captains Scarlet and Blue discuss the danger facing Verdain.

Production[edit]

The "monotrain" on which the original Gabrielle and Helga are killed was designed by special effects technician Mike Trim.[1] Although the filming of the earlier Thunderbirds episode "Brink of Disaster" had seen Century 21 successfully experiment with a suspended monorail system, the train model had proven difficult to shoot effectively.[1] Trim's solution for "Model Spy", by which the train rolling stock was positioned on top of standard model railway OO gauge track, presented no filming difficulties for the effects crew.[1]

The Monte Carlo Bay set, complete with a background painting by Trim, had previously appeared in the Thunderbirds episode "The Man From MI.5".[2][3] It would re-appear again in the Joe 90 episode "The Race". In a four-hour session conducted on 27 August 1967 (1967-08-27), with an orchestra of 16 instrumentalists, incidental music for both "Model Spy" and "The Trap" was recorded by series composer Barry Gray at his private studio.[4] Two pieces, "Models on a Train" and "Cocktail Music", are included on the commercial CD release of the Captain Scarlet soundtracks.[5][6]

Reception[edit]

James Stansfield of the entertainment website Den of Geek ranks "Model Spy" eighth in his "Top 10" list of the best Captain Scarlet episodes, praising the instalment for its "high-class spy thriller feel" and for going "a bit James Bond.[7] In addition to writing positively of the French Riviera setting and the "impressive" opening railway accident, he commends the episode's originality in such aspects as the Mysterons' use of fashion models as replicated intermediaries, and the Spectrum agents' use of real names while operating undercover.[7] On the final point, Chris Bentley expresses curiosity as to why Destiny and Symphony Angels continue to be addressed by their codenames, whereas Scarlet and Blue are referred to as Paul Metcalfe and Adam Svenson.[2]

Chris Drake and Graeme Bassett write that "Model Spy"'s theme of undercover espionage, combined with a Monte Carlo setting, add up to an "unusual" and "Man from U.N.C.L.E.–type" episode, and concur with Stansfield's view in commenting that it represents a "break from the routine" of interplanetary war.[7][8] Besides the puppet costume design, they praise the technical work on display during the car chase sequence, stating that there are "convincing antics from a couple of stringless puppets towards the end."[8][9] Bruce Eder of AllMusic is complimentary of the episode's soundtrack, describing Barry Gray's "Cocktail Music" as "one of the best pieces of instrumental pop music of its genre and era".[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Taylor and Trim 2006, p. 36.
  2. ^ a b Bentley, Chris (2001). The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet. London: Carlton Books. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-84222-405-2. 
  3. ^ Taylor and Trim 2006, p. 19.
  4. ^ de Klerk, Theo (25 December 2003). "Complete Studio-Recording List of Barry Gray". tvcentury21.com. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "Captain Scarlet Music CD Release Information". soundtrack-express.com. Archived from the original on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Marsh, Peter (17 November 2003). "Barry Gray: Captain Scarlet Original Soundtrack Review". BBC Online. Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c Stansfield, James (6 September 2012). "Top 10 Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons Episodes". Den of Geek. London: Dennis Publishing. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Drake and Bassett 1993, p. 60.
  9. ^ Drake and Bassett 1993, p. 90.
  10. ^ Eder, Bruce. "AllMusic: Captain Scarlet [Original TV Soundtrack]". AllMusic. San Francisco, California: All Media Network. Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
Bibliography

External links[edit]