Renegade Rocket

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"Renegade Rocket"
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode
Episode no. Episode 16
Directed by Brian Burgess
Written by Ralph Hart
Cinematography by Paddy Seale
Editing by Bob Dearberg
Production code 07
Original air date 19 January 1968
Guest appearance(s)

Voices of:
Gary Files (uncredited) as
Space Major Reeves
Martin King (uncredited) as
Sergeant
Airstrip Controller
Paul Maxwell as
Base Concord Commander
Charles Tingwell as
Launch Controller
Jeremy Wilkin as
Yacht Captain
Security Guard

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Seek and Destroy"
Next →
"Crater 101"
List of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episodes

"Renegade Rocket" is the 16th episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, a British 1960s Supermarionation television series co-created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Written by Ralph Hart and directed by Brian Burgess, it was first broadcast on 19 January 1968 on ATV Midlands. In this episode, Spectrum fights to stop a hi-jacked incendiary rocket from destroying an unknown target.

Plot[edit]

Space Major Reeves, rocket expert and friend of Colonel White (voiced by Donald Gray), finishes a tour of Cloudbase. As the Major returns to the island military facility Base Concord by yacht, Captain Black uses the Mysterons' power to induce nausea from the shore;[1] while on deck for fresh air, Reeves falls into the sea when part of the side railing collapses, and is drowned by the yacht's slipstream.[2] A Mysteron reconstruction of Reeves arrives at Base Concord and hi-jacks the control room, shooting the officer on duty; it then arms an incendiary Variable Geometry Rocket and launches it under the security codeword "ZERO". The duplicate escapes in a J17 fighter carrying the Flight Program Unit, the result being that Base Concord's personnel have no way of knowing where the VGR will strike, or which of the 10,000 registered codewords will remote-activate the rocket's self-destruct system. Additionally, for reasons unknown, the VGR is not registering on radar. The base commander contacts Cloudbase and White dispatches Captains Scarlet (Francis Matthews) and Blue (Ed Bishop) to the island, while also launching the Angel squadron to find the J17. Reeves is quickly intercepted but refuses to surrender the unit, damaging Melody Angel's (Sylvia Anderson) aircraft with the J17's machine gun and forcing her to eject before she crashes into the sea.

Scarlet, Blue and the Base Concord personnel realise that the VGR's invisibility to radar must be the effect of travelling on vertical ascent and descent flightpaths – therefore, the rocket's target can only be Base Concord itself. When a substitute unit arrives, the personnel start to run through all possible self-destruct codewords in alphabetical order despite the hopelessness of the situation. In the air, Rhapsody Angel (Liz Morgan) commands Reeves to surrender, but the Mysteron agent commits suicide by deliberately crashing the J17, sending the original unit to the ocean floor. Three minutes before impact, by which time everyone except Scarlet and Blue has been evacuated, White radios Base Concord to instruct his officers to leave. However, in a last-ditch attempt to save the base, they ignore the order and continue to input codewords. "AMEN", though fitting, is rejected; at the same moment, an ocean current knocks over the original unit, and the shock triggers the self-destruct seconds before impact.[2] On returning to Cloudbase, Scarlet and Blue initially believe that they miraculously succeeded in finding Reeves' codeword; when the true cause of the VGR's destruction is uncovered, White reprimands the officers for their insubordination. However, the Colonel elects not to appoint a court-martial, being all too aware of the value of Scarlet and Blue's bravery in the fight against the Mysterons.

Music[edit]

Incidental music for "Renegade Rocket" was recorded alongside music for the episode "Operation Time" in a four-and-a-half-hour studio session conducted by series composer Barry Gray on 14 May 1967, with an orchestra of 12 instrumentalists.[3]

Reception[edit]

Anthony Clark of the website sci-fi-online.com is critical of "Renegade Rocket", judging the episode "about as dull as [Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons] gets", or "just about average".[4] He argues that it serves as an example of the series' "patchy" quality, and questions why Captains Scarlet and Blue are inspired to disobey Colonel White in the full knowledge that their actions "won't save lives".[4]

In a review for the Andersonic website, Vincent Law considers "Renegade Rocket" one of many Anderson productions to incorporate a theme of danger resulting from the use of advanced technology or "runaway machinery".[5] He observes that Reeves' Mysteron reconstruction effectively pulls rank on a fellow officer to launch the VGR, perceiving parallels to preconceptions of Cold War double agents, as well as to the Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove (1964).[5] Law comments negatively on the dialogue and characterisation – questioning, for example, the lack of emotional response on White's part to the character's realisation that Reeves, supposedly a friend of his, has been killed and duplicated by the Mysterons.[5] Despite his praise for the episode's visuals, Law sums up "Renegade Rocket" as "a forerunner of effects-led films like Independence Day and its ilk — flashy, nice to look at but insubstantial and ultimately unfulfilling."[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bentley, Chris (2008) [2001]. The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide (4th ed.). London: Reynolds & Hearn. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-905287-74-1. 
  2. ^ a b Bentley, Chris (2001). The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet. London: Carlton Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-84222-405-2. 
  3. ^ de Klerk, Theo (25 December 2003). "Complete Studio-Recording List of Barry Gray". tvcentury21.com. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Clark, Anthony. "Captain Scarlet: Volume 5 – Video Review". sci-fi-online.com. Archived from the original on 13 October 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Law, Vincent. "'Renegade Rocket': What Goes Up ..." Andersonic. Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 

External links[edit]