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
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
Robert Easton
Ray Barrett
Lois Maxwell
David Graham
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
Cinematography John Read
Editor(s) Harry MacDonald
Eric Pask
Camera setup Single
Running time 25 mins approx. per episode
(excluding advertisements)
Production company(s) AP Films
ITC Entertainment
Release
Original network ATV
Picture format Film (35 mm)
Audio format Mono
Original release 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 ITV in the United Kingdom and in syndication in Canada and 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 in which the marionette characters had interchangeable heads featuring a variety of expressions. It was also the first British television series to be filmed entirely in colour over its production run.

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] It is capable of speeds of up to 600 knots (1,100 km/h), while advanced pressure compensators allow it to submerge to depths of over 36,000 feet (11,000 m), enabling cruising to the bottom of any part of any of the 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 sounded and all the buildings and vehicles are sent down on hydraulic jacks into the safety of underground bunkers, protected by enormous steel and concrete shutters whilst missiles are deployed from underground silos and fighter jets are launched. 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 by a rapid drum-beat (composed and recorded by series composer Barry Gray) that is played over Marineville's public address system. Commands given by radio are acknowledged with the acronym: P.W.O.R. which stands for, "Proceeding With Orders Received".

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 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 on twin injector seats in Marineville's stand-by lounge, which are sent down rapidly into the vessel through injector tubes and clamped down into place. 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),[3] 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 X20 who lives on the Island of Lemoy (whose likeness is modelled on Claude Rains but whose voice is imitative of Peter Lorre).[4] 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, Pacifica, Marina's old home and Aquatraz, Titanica's prison. Vehicle names include Stingray itself and Titan's fleet of 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 managing 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 storytelling. 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 Samuel "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 / Doc / 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 recordings 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 revivals[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 from the Deep appeared as the first broadcast episode of movie-mocking TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the UK, ITV repeated Stingray in 1988. The series was later repeated on BBC Two in 1992. Stingray was also shown 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. An un-assembled version of "The Reunion Party" appears as an extra on the Stingray DVD box set.

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.

Episodes[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
code [5]
1 "Stingray" Alan Pattillo Gerry & Sylvia Anderson 4 October 1964 (1964-10-04) 1
When a World Navy submarine is mysteriously destroyed, Troy and Phones are assigned to investigate. However, they are captured by the Aquaphibians and sentenced to life imprisonment in the undersea penal complex of Aquatraz by Titan of Titanica.
2 "Plant of Doom" David Elliott Alan Fennell 23 May 1965 (1965-05-23) 2
Outraged that his slave Marina assisted Troy and Phones in their escape from Aquatraz, Titan plots his revenge by ordering surface agent X-2-Zero to deliver a toxic plant to her father.
3 "Sea of Oil" John Kelly Dennis Spooner 16 May 1965 (1965-05-16) 3
While probing the destruction of an oil rig with Troy and Phones, Atlanta is captured by undersea warriors.
4 "Hostages of the Deep" Desmond Saunders Alan Fennell 13 June 1965 (1965-06-13) 4
An aquatic alien kidnaps a World Navy admiral and his wife.
5 "Treasure Down Below" Alan Pattillo Dennis Spooner 14 March 1965 (1965-03-14) 5
When Stingray becomes trapped in a whirlpool, the crew must face off against undersea pirates.
6 "The Big Gun" David Elliott Alan Fennell 24 January 1965 (1965-01-24) 6
After Stingray destroys two attacking submarines, Troy, Phones and Marina stumble across their source - the underwater city of Solarstar. They aim to foil the Solistans before they can obliterate the West Coast of America.
7 "The Golden Sea" John Kelly Dennis Spooner 6 June 1965 (1965-06-06) 7
Titan hears of the work of scientists converting sea minerals to gold and plans to sabotage their efforts.
8 "The Ghost Ship" Desmond Saunders Alan Fennell 18 October 1964 (1964-10-18) 8
Commander Shore and Phones are held hostage by a plundering villain. Troy tries to find a way to rescue to his friends even it means disobeying Commander Shore's orders.
9 "Count Down" Alan Pattillo Dennis Spooner 9 May 1965 (1965-05-09) 9
Agent X-2-Zero masquerades as a teacher for mute people in a plot to destroy Marineville, leaving Marina in mortal danger.
10 "The Ghost of the Sea" David Elliott Alan Fennell 3 January 1965 (1965-01-03) 10
Commander Shore relives the ordeal that left him paralysed when construction on a new Cobalt mining rig is completed.
11 "Emergency Marineville" John Kelly Alan Fennell 11 October 1964 (1964-10-11) 11
A series of unsuccessful missile attacks against Marineville leads to the Stingray crew needing to sabotage the culprits' attempt to evade WASP's interceptor rockets.
12 "Subterranean Sea" Desmond Saunders Alan Fennell 25 October 1964 (1964-10-25) 12
The Stingray crew brave the perils of a newly discovered underground sea when their vacation leave is cancelled.
13 "Loch Ness Monster" Alan Pattillo Dennis Spooner 1 November 1964 (1964-11-01) 13
Troy, Phones and Atlanta are sent to Scotland to solve the mystery of Nessie once and for all.
14 "The Invaders" David Elliott Dennis Spooner 18 April 1965 (1965-04-18) 14
The Stingray crew is captured by undersea villains and interrogated for information on Marineville's defence systems.
15 "Secret of the Giant Oyster" John Kelly Alan Fennell 11 April 1965 (1965-04-11) 15
Troy is assigned to recover a beautiful pearl from the seabed, but the task is not as straightforward as it seems.
16 "Raptures of the Deep" Desmond Saunders Alan Fennell 29 November 1964 (1964-11-29) 16
Troy's dwindling air supply causes him to fall unconscious while on a rescue mission. Delirious, he dreams about life in a fantasy world where his friends are his loyal servants.
17 "Stand by for Action" Alan Pattillo Dennis Spooner 21 March 1965 (1965-03-21) 17
Agent X-2-Zero poses as a film director in his latest scheme to eliminate Troy.
18 "The Disappearing Ships" David Elliott Alan Fennell 4 April 1965 (1965-04-04) 18
Three disused freighters disappear in mysterious circumstances in their due for self-destruction.
19 "The Man from the Navy" John Kelly Alan Fennell 15 November 1964 (1964-11-15) 19
Agent X-2-Zero sabotages a Navy Captain's test missile by loading it with real explosives. With the officer facing a court-martial at the hands of Commander Shore, it is up to Troy to prove the man's innocence.
20 "Marineville Traitor" Desmond Saunders Alan Fennell 20 June 1965 (1965-06-20) 20
All the signs point to Commander Shore after an essential component vanishes from Marineville Control.
21 "Tom Thumb Tempest" Alan Pattillo Alan Fennell 28 February 1965 (1965-02-28) 21
Troy falls asleep in the Standby Room and dreams about shrinking in size and witnessing a meeting between the undersea races in which they finalise their plans to destroy Marineville.
22 "Pink Ice" David Elliott Alan Fennell 28 March 1965 (1965-03-28) 22
Stingray becomes ensnared in a patch of pink slush created by an unidentified vessel.
23 "The Master Plan" John Kelly Alan Fennell 30 May 1965 (1965-05-30) 23
Troy is poisoned by Aquaphibians and the sole owner of the required antidote is Titan - who demands Marina in exchange for saving Troy's life.
24 "Star of the East" Desmond Saunders Alan Fennell 14 February 1965 (1965-02-14) 24
An Eastern dictator called El Hudat wishes to join the World Aquanaut Security Patrol - but kidnaps Marina after he is overthrown in his home country.
25 "An Echo of Danger" Alan Pattillo Dennis Spooner 22 November 1964 (1964-11-22) 25
Agent X-2-Zero plots to damage Phones's reliability by creating false underwater soundings.
26 "Invisible Enemy" David Elliott Alan Fennell 21 February 1965 (1965-02-21) 26
Troy and Phones save an unconscious man - unaware that he is trying to leave Marineville open to attack by subduing personnel with a self-induced hypnotic trance.
27 "Deep Heat" John Kelly Alan Fennell 7 February 1965 (1965-02-07) 27
Venturing into the base of a volcano to investigate the disappearance of a robotic probe, Troy and Phones are captured by two survivors from a ruined city.
28 "In Search of the Tajmanon" Desmond Saunders Dennis Spooner 13 December 1964 (1964-12-13) 28
Troy and Phones encounter an old enemy when they try to find the submerged temple of Tajmanon in Africa.
29 "Titan Goes Pop" Alan Pattillo Dennis Spooner[6] 6 December 1964 (1964-12-06) 29
Agent X-2-Zero kidnaps a pop star visiting Marineville and brings him before Titan as hostage.
30 "Set Sail for Adventure" David Elliott Dennis Spooner 8 November 1964 (1964-11-08) 30
A storm injures an admiral on his sailing vessel, causing him to lose his memory and turn his cannons on Stingray.
31 "Tune of Danger" John Kelly Alan Fennell 27 December 1964 (1964-12-27) 31
Agent X-2-Zero makes plans to ruin a jazz group's performance in Marina's father's home undersea city with a bomb.
32 "Rescue from the Skies" Desmond Saunders Dennis Spooner 10 January 1965 (1965-01-10) 32
Troy must be lowered onto Stingray from the air after Agent X-2-Zero plants a bomb on the craft's hull while a lieutenant uses it for target practice.
33 "The Cool Cave Man" Alan Pattillo Alan Fennell 31 January 1965 (1965-01-31) 33
While asleep, Troy dreams of a meeting between him and a group of undersea cavemen who have looted the cargo of a vessel ferrying radioactive material.
34 "A Nut for Marineville" David Elliott Gerry & Sylvia Anderson 25 April 1965 (1965-04-25) 34
An eccentric professor is brought in to develop a super missile which is Marineville's only hope of destroying an indestructible undersea craft.
35 "Trapped in the Depths" John Kelly Alan Fennell 2 May 1965 (1965-05-02) 35
An insane professor kidnaps Atlanta and steals Stingray with the intention of destroying Marineville.
36 "Eastern Eclipse" Desmond Saunders Alan Fennell 7 March 1965 (1965-03-07) 36
Agent X-2-Zero frees the wicked former dictator El Hudat from the Marineville brig by replacing him with his twin brother.
37 "A Christmas to Remember" Alan Pattillo Dennis Spooner 20 December 1964 (1964-12-20) 37
While Troy decides to help the orphaned son of a dead WASP aquanaut at Christmas, Phones is captured by an enemy warrior and forced to lay a trap for his comrade.
38 "The Lighthouse Dwellers" David Elliott Alan Fennell 17 January 1965 (1965-01-17) 38
Troy and Phones investigate after a signal from a disused lighthouse confuses a pilot and causes him to crash his aircraft.
39 "Aquanaut of the Year" Alan Pattillo Gerry & Sylvia Anderson 27 June 1965 (1965-06-27) 39
Troy is amazed to receive the prestigious "Aquanaut of the Year" award and sits before an audience while a selection of his adventures are recalled as flashbacks.

Specials[edit]

Title Directed by Written by Original air date
"Stingray" Alan Pattillo Alan Pattillo Unscreened
The cast, joined by Admiral Denver, review some of Stingray's most dangerous missions. A feature-length clip show episode, created by AP Films for Japanese television executives in 1963, comprising four complete episodes ("Stingray", "An Echo of Danger", "Raptures of the Deep" and "Emergency Marineville"). Rediscovered in 2001.
"The Reunion Party" Alan Pattillo &
John Kelly
Gerry & Sylvia Anderson, Dennis Spooner, Alan Fennell
and Alan Pattillo
2 January 2008 (2008-01-02), BBC Four
The cast, joined by Admiral Denver, review some of Stingray's most dangerous missions. A condensed version of the 1963 Feature Presentation, which excludes the material from "Raptures of the Deep". Screened as a segment of "Gerry Anderson Night" on BBC Four. Created in collaboration with BBC Wales.

Compilation films[edit]

Between 1980 and 1981, two compilation films were produced for which a number of the original episodes were re-edited and modified for inclusion.

Title Compilation Year
The Incredible Voyage of Stingray "Stingray", "Plant of Doom", "Count Down", "The Master Plan" 1980 (1980)
Invaders from the Deep "Hostages of the Deep", "Emergency Marineville", "The Big Gun", "Deep Heat" 1981 (1981)

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]

  1. ^ "Stingray: The Complete Series : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  2. ^ "BBC Online - Cult - Gerry Anderson - Stingray -Introduction". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  3. ^ http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/dvd-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews/13206-stingray-the-complete-colletion
  4. ^ "Agent X20 Reports". YouTube. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  5. ^ Bentley, Chris (2008) [2001]. The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide (4 ed.). Richmond, London: Reynolds and Hearn. ISBN 978-1-905287-74-1. 
  6. ^ Fryer, Ian (2011). Script To Screen. FAB Issue 69. 

External links[edit]