Winged Assassin

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"Winged Assassin"
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode
Episode no.Episode 2
Directed byDavid Lane
Written byTony Barwick
Cinematography byPaddy Seale
Editing byHarry MacDonald
Production codeSCA 2[1]
Original air date6 October 1967
Guest appearance(s)

Voices of:
Janna Hill as
Intercontinental Airlines Announcer
Martin King (uncredited) as
DT19 Co-Pilot
Paul Maxwell as
DT19 Pilot
Neil McCallum (uncredited) as
Airport Chief[2]
Charles Tingwell as
Captain Brown (flashback)
Spectrum Agent 042
Air Traffic Controller
Jeremy Wilkin as
Director General
Director General's Double

Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Mysterons"
Next →
"Big Ben Strikes Again"
List of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episodes

"Winged Assassin" is the second episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, a British Supermarionation television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and produced by their company Century 21 Productions. Written by Tony Barwick and directed by David Lane, it was first broadcast on 6 October 1967 on ATV Midlands. The plot of the episode see Captain Scarlet establish his indestructibility as Spectrum attempts to prevent the Mysterons from assassinating the Director General of the United Asian Republic.

The episode has been positively received by commentators. In 1980, it was re-edited to form a segment of the Captain Scarlet compilation film Captain Scarlet vs. the Mysterons. When BBC Two began repeating the series in September 2001, "Winged Assassin" was postponed from its intended transmission date due to perceived similarities between its plot and the September 11 attacks.[2]

Plot[edit]

In a transmission to Earth, the Mysterons (voiced by Donald Gray) warn Spectrum that they intend to assassinate Xian Yoh, the Director General of the United Asian Republic, who is currently in London on a state visit. An attempt to kill the target in his hotel room is foiled by Captain Grey (voiced by Paul Maxwell).

Maximum security is imposed at London International Airport, where the Director General is due to leave the country. At the request of Colonel White (voiced by Donald Gray), the resurrected Mysteron double of Captain Scarlet (voiced by Francis Matthews) – now no longer under Mysteron control and effectively "indestructible" – returns to duty to help lead the operation. Scarlet and Captain Blue (voiced by Ed Bishop) fly from Cloudbase to London accompanied by the Angel fighter squadron.

Meanwhile, the Mysterons use their powers to engineer a systems failure on board an airliner, Flight DT19, causing it to crash into the Atlantic Ocean. A reconstruction of the plane, devoid of crew and passengers, continues on the original flight path from New York to London.

As a double of the Director General is driven to London Airport in a decoy motorcade, the real Xian Yoh arrives in Spectrum's "Yellow Fox" – a secure transport disguised as an aircraft fuel tanker – and discreetly boards his private jet. Flight DT19 lands a short distance away. Scarlet, watching from the control tower with Blue, experiences a sudden nausea warning him that the Director General is in danger. At that moment, DT19 breaks away from the terminal and rushes towards the Director General's jet.

Ordering the jet to take off immediately, Scarlet and Blue leave in their Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle to intercept DT19. The airliner is unhindered by the Angels' aerial bombardment, so Scarlet and Blue prepare to fire on its undercarriage with the SPV's rocket launcher. However, the launcher malfunctions. Taking matters into his own hands, Scarlet ejects Blue and rams DT19's wheels, bringing the airliner to a halt. However, he is fatally injured when the SPV collides with a radar bunker. Meanwhile, the jet clips one of DT19's wings and crashes into a field, killing the Director General and everyone else on board. As Scarlet's body is taken away in an ambulance, Blue assures the airport chief that despite Spectrum's defeat, Scarlet will return to fight the Mysterons again.

Production[edit]

"Winged Assassin" marks the first appearance of the series' secondary title sequence, in which the Mysterons transmit their threat to Spectrum while the green Mysteron "eyes" slide menacingly over the regular puppet cast. These shots were recorded during the filming of this episode.[1] "Winged Assassin" is also the first episode of Captain Scarlet to feature uncredited voice actor Neil McCallum, who also voiced guest characters in "Big Ben Strikes Again", "Codename Europa" and "Expo 2068".

Tony Barwick's script gives the DT19 co-pilot's name as "Johnson".[1] According to character dialogue, the events of this episode take place on 10 July, the same day as the events of "Treble Cross" and the closing scene of "Flight to Atlantica".[3][4] Barwick was fond of inserting references to 10 July as that was his birthday.[5][6]

The scale model of the entrance to London International Airport was designed by special effects assistant Mike Trim.[7][8] The episode's incidental music – a suite running to 4 minutes and 38 seconds – was recorded by series composer Barry Gray in a four-hour studio session held on 3 April 1967.[9][10][11]

A flashback to the murders of Captains Scarlet and Brown in "The Mysterons" omits the blue monochrome effect that was originally used to indicate the Mysterons' presence.[2][12]

Broadcast[edit]

When BBC Two began a digitally-remastered re-run of Captain Scarlet in September 2001, "Winged Assassin" was originally due to be broadcast on 17 September as the second episode.[2] However, it was postponed due to perceived similarities between the storyline and the recent September 11 attacks.[2][13][14] This coincided with distributor Carlton briefly taking down the Captain Scarlet pages on its website.[14] The episode was eventually broadcast on 10 December 2001.[15]

Reception[edit]

"Winged Assassin" is regarded as one of the best episodes of Captain Scarlet by Anthony Clark of sci-fi-online.com and as a series highlight by Mike Fillis of Cult Times and Ultimate DVD magazines.[16][17][18] Fillis praises special effects director Derek Meddings for producing "miniature magic" with the DT19 scale model.[18]

Ian Fryer, author of The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, considers "Winged Assassin" to be the series' "key episode", writing that "no episode ... expresses the horror of the series concept better". He praises both the "deadpan" depiction of the DT19 crash and the "genuinely thrilling" climax, which he regards as the best of any Captain Scarlet episode. Fryer suggests that the Mysteron victory "[establishes] this invisible enemy as a truly formidable opponent" while arguing that the episode as a whole "treads a fine line between adult themes and suitability for the young audience".[19]

Andrew Thomas of Dreamwatch magazine comments that the shots of Flight DT19 "sat menacingly" on the runway at London Airport, "with the controls moving on their own and row upon row of empty seats ... is a chilling one, and sets the pattern for the series."[20]

Chris Bentley, author of Captain Scarlet: The Vault, describes the conclusion as "startling", remarking that the Mysterons' victory over Spectrum greatly increases the tension in later episodes. He contrasts this with episodes of earlier Anderson series, which he says "always ended happily, with missions accomplished and lives saved".[21]

Rick Sanchez of IGN views the scene in which Scarlet ejects Blue as an example of superior scriptwriting.[22]

The British Board of Film Classification certifies the episode U, noting that it contains "some action and mild horror".[23]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Bentley 2017, pp. 18-19.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bentley: 2008, p. 121.
  3. ^ Drake, Chris; Bassett, Graeme (1993). Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. London, UK: Boxtree. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-852834-03-6.
  4. ^ Bentley 2008, p. 134.
  5. ^ Bentley 2001, p. 78.
  6. ^ Pixley, Andrew; Rogers, Julie (December 2001). Gillatt, Gary (ed.). "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: By Numbers". Starburst. No. 280. London, UK: Visual Imagination (published November 2001). p. 47. ISSN 0955-114X. OCLC 79615651.
  7. ^ Taylor, Anthony; Trim, Mike (2006). The Future Was FAB: The Art of Mike Trim. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-932563-82-5.
  8. ^ Bentley 2017, p. 84.
  9. ^ de Klerk, Theo (26 October 2017). "Barry Gray Discography" (PDF). barrygray.co.uk. p. 22. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 October 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  10. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Captain Scarlet [Original TV Soundtrack] Review". AllMusic. San Francisco, California: All Media Network. Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  11. ^ de Klerk, Theo (25 December 2003). "Complete Studio-Recording List of Barry Gray". tvcentury21.com. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  12. ^ Bentley 2001, p. 60.
  13. ^ "Toonhound.com Entry". Archived from the original on 3 May 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
  14. ^ a b "The Hound – October 2001: Scarlet Faces ..." toonhound.com. October 2001. Archived from the original on 9 April 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
  15. ^ Bentley 2017, p. 204.
  16. ^ Clark, Anthony (2006). "DVD: Captain Scarlet (New) Series 2 Box Set". sci-fi-online.com. Archived from the original on 16 February 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  17. ^ Fillis, Mike (October 2001). "Instant Guide to Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons". Cult Times. No. 73. London, UK: Visual Imagination. ISSN 1360-6530. OCLC 47688483. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  18. ^ a b Fillis, Mike (October 2001). "Reviews: Region 2". Ultimate DVD. No. 22. London, UK: Visual Imagination. OCLC 65428612. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  19. ^ Fryer, Ian (2016). The Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson: The Story Behind International Rescue. Fonthill Media. pp. 127–128. ISBN 978-1-781555-04-0.
  20. ^ Thomas, Andrew (1994). Leigh, Gary (ed.). "Captain Indestructible!". Dreamwatch. Vol. 1 no. 4 (Winter Special). Brighton, UK: Dreamwatch Publishing. p. 24. ISSN 1356-482X. OCLC 225907941.
  21. ^ Bentley 2017, p. 27.
  22. ^ Sanchez, Rick (19 June 2002). "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons DVD Box Set Review". IGN. San Francisco, California: IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on 20 June 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  23. ^ "'Winged Assassin' Rated U by the BBFC". bbfc.co.uk. London, UK: British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2010.

Works cited[edit]

  • Bentley, Chris (2001). The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet. London, UK: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-842224-0-52.
  • Bentley, Chris (2008) [2001]. The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide (4th ed.). London, UK: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-905287-74-1.
  • Bentley, Chris (2017). Hearn, Marcus (ed.). Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: The Vault. Cambridge, UK: Signum Books. ISBN 978-0-995519-12-1.

External links[edit]