Point 783

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"Point 783"
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode
Episode no.Episode 13
Directed byRobert Lynn
Written byPeter Curran and David Williams
Cinematography byJulien Lugrin
Editing byBob Dearberg
Production codeSCA 5[1]
Original air date22 December 1967
Guest appearance(s)

Voices of:
David Healy (uncredited) as
Major Brooks
General Cope
Martin King (uncredited) as
MCA Tanker Driver's Mate
2nd Security Machine
Merchant
Paul Maxwell as
Supreme Commander
Charles Tingwell as
Captain Hassel
Pete, MCA Tanker Driver
Jeremy Wilkin as
Colonel Storm
1st Security Machine

Episode chronology
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List of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episodes

"Point 783" is the 13th episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, a British 1960s Supermarionation television series co-created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Written by Peter Curran and David Williams and directed by Robert Lynn, it was first broadcast on 22 December 1967 on ATV Midlands.

In this episode, the Mysterons take control of an experimental superweapon in an attempt to kill the Supreme Commander of Earth Forces.

Plot[edit]

The episode begins with a demonstration of the most advanced military robot ever built — the Unitron, a virtually indestructible super-tank. It can be controlled by a human operator or programmed to attack a designated target until it is completely destroyed.

The Mysterons vow to assassinate the Supreme Commander of Earth Forces. Spectrum commander-in-chief Colonel White assigns Captains Scarlet and Blue to protect the Commander. Meanwhile, two Earth Forces officers, Major Brooks and Colonel Storm, are killed in a road accident and reconstructed by the Mysterons to carry out their threat. At the Supreme Headquarters Earth Forces (SHEF) building in New York, the Commander, accompanied by Scarlet, Blue and the reconstructed Brooks, chairs a press conference on the Unitron. The Mysterons attempt to kill the Commander by using Brooks as a living bomb; however, they are thwarted when Scarlet, who has a "sixth sense" for Mysteron activity, initiates an emergency response system that shields the Commander, Blue and himself from the resulting explosion.

Later, Blue drives the Commander to Point 783, a military blockhouse located on a test range in the Sahara Desert, to observe the Unitron in action. Also in attendance is the reconstructed Storm. At first the demonstration proceeds according to plan, with the Unitron efficiently destroying a series of targets. However, when the Commander steps outside, the Unitron launches a shell and flamethrower bombardment of Point 783 itself, which quickly weakens under the heavy fire. Repeated attacks by the Spectrum Angels fail to stop the Unitron.

Scarlet requisitions a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle from a bazaar to extract the Commander, who has been left in Storm's charge while Blue and the other military personnel remain in the blockhouse. The SPV speeds away from Point 783 just as the Unitron closes in; however, after ramming the blockhouse, the tank heads off in pursuit of the SPV. At this point it is revealed that Storm has re-programmed the Unitron – and that its target is not Point 783, but Storm himself. In the SPV, Scarlet is held at gunpoint by Storm, who shoots him several times at point-blank range. Though wounded, Scarlet manages to eject both himself and the Commander. The SPV, with Storm still in it, is pursued by the Unitron until both vehicles are destroyed after they plunge over a cliff.

The Commander is rescued by Spectrum while Scarlet is taken away for treatment. At the end of the episode Blue tells the Point 783 staff that the Mysterons will make no further attempts on the Commander's life as all their agents have been destroyed.

Production[edit]

"Point 783" is the first episode of Captain Scarlet to be directed by Robert Lynn, who had previously directed a number of feature films. Prior to making "Point 783" he had never worked with puppets. Filming for this episode took place in February 1967.[2]

As scripted by Peter Curran and David Williams the episode was to have opened with the deaths of the original Major Brooks and Colonel Storm. However, when the first cut was found to be two minutes short, an additional scene, which serves to introduce the Unitron, was filmed in order to extend the running time. The opening scene's special effects shots were a re-use of footage that had already been filmed for the Unitron demonstration that takes place later in the episode.[3]

The episode's incidental music was recorded on 30 April 1967 in a four-hour studio session attended by 14 instrumentalists.[4] It includes a piece titled "The SHEF March",[5] which accompanies the scenes of the Supreme Commander arriving at the SHEF Headquarters. The march can also be heard in various episodes of later Supermarionation productions, such as the Joe 90 episode "Business Holiday".

Reception[edit]

James Stansfield of the entertainment website Den of Geek considers "Point 783" to be the ninth-best episode of Captain Scarlet, crediting the "unique threat" posed by the Unitron and the Mysteron reconstruction of Colonel Storm as well as a "good dummy threat" in the form of Major Brooks.[6]

In a review published in the Anderson-centric fanzine Andersonic, Vincent Law interprets the plot as a negative commentary on advancements in automation and mechanisation.[7] He compares "Point 783" to "Recall to Service", an episode of The Secret Service that features a malfunctioning superweapon called the AquaTank, as well as to the Star Trek episode "The Ultimate Computer".[7] According to Law, "Point 783" is "quite a bloodthirsty installment" of Captain Scarlet, in part due to the accident that results in the deaths of the original Storm and Brooks.[7] He argues that the detonation of the reconstructed Brooks reinforces the "very alien" nature of the Mysterons, whose ability to self-destruct could be compared to the actions of Second World War-era Kamikaze pilots.[7] Law believes some elements of the Mysterons' plan to be confusing, noting that the MCA tanker plays only a brief role: "... it appears that they've reconstructed the tanker driver whom they use to kill the two officers in a crash, both of whom are then recreated to do the assassinating. Just a tad long-winded."[7] He considers the highlights of the episode to be the special effects: the Angels' assault on the Unitron is "what Century 21 is, in a nutshell - fast editing, great music, big explosions and unrelenting action."[7] He sums up "Point 783" as "a snapshot of what Captain Scarlet is all about" and "visually and technically impressive, loud and exciting, yet perhaps just a tad flawed at script level".[7]

Chris Bentley, author of The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide, considers "Recall to Service" to be a remake of "Point 783".[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bentley 2017, p. 38.
  2. ^ Bentley 2017, p. 37.
  3. ^ Bentley 2017, p. 39.
  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. ^ Peter, Marsh (17 November 2003). "Barry Gray: Captain Scarlet Original Soundtrack Review". BBC Online. Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  6. ^ Stansfield, James (6 September 2012). "Top 10 Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons Episodes". Den of Geek. London, UK: Dennis Publishing. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Law, Vincent. "Desert Storm: "Point 783"". Andersonic. Archived from the original on 28 April 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  8. ^ Bentley, Chris (2008) [2001]. The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide (4th ed.). London, UK: Reynolds & Hearn. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-905287-74-1.
Bibliography
  • Bentley, Chris (2017). Hearn, Marcus, ed. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: The Vault. Cambridge, UK: Signum Books/Flashpoint Media. ISBN 978-0-995519-12-1.

External links[edit]