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Gerry Anderson's classic cult 1960s TV series, 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' is back on our screens in the most impressive animated series to hit kids' TV this century. Now called 'Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet' it now uses motion-capture CGI instead of Puppets which gives each character much more believability and enables each episode to be packed with break-neck action and stunning visuals as well as breath-taking scenes,mind-blowing action and dramatic storylines in each 22-minute episode of Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet it packs all the punch of a blockbuster movie. With production costs of $30 million across 26 episodes and produced in High Definition with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, New Captain Scarlet brings the cinema experience directly into the home. When a mysterious extraterrestrial signal is detected emanating from Mars, the world security organization known as Spectrum sends agents Captain Scarlet and Captain Black to investigate. The two men soon ... Written by
To borrow a phrase from our American cousins, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet 'kicks serious ass!' This 26-part CG animation epic retains the basic setup of Earth caught in a war of nerves against The Mysterons, shapeless, disembodied entities from Mars with the ability to destroy objects and people and then reconstruct them for their own ends.
The 1967 original is of course fondly remembered by fans for its air of menace and that aspect is just one of many elements the new series embraces and improves on with glee. Each week hapless humans die in spectacular 'accidents' and Mysteron agents are shot, electrocuted, blown up and flung off cliffs with impunity. In 'Skin Deep' the delightfully villainous Captain Black even shoots a woman in the face, at point blank range. This kind of deliciously dark mayhem is exactly what young and old love about the show.
The scripts (the majority of them by Phil Ford) are not only pacey, varied and imaginative but exploit aspects of the basic format that were simply beyond the abilities of the original. For example, 'Chiller', sees Scarlet so badly injured in a Mysteron explosion that his spirit literally frees itself from his mangled remains. The result is that Scarlet finds himself invisible to everyone else on Skybase. Not only invisible but insubstantial, able to walk through walls and people like a ghost. All of which poses a major problem given that Scarlet knows a traitor has carried a bomb on board. But how can a ghost warn his friends? In 'Swarm', a plague of Mysteron nanobots takes over Skybase, wrapping its human prey in spider-like cocoons. 'Mercury Falling,' features Captain Blue and Destiny piloting a nuclear powered space shuttle (a tribute to 'Fireball XL5') which has been transformed into a flying bomb aimed at Washington D.C. And 'Rat Trap' sees our heroes dispatched to a spooky Martian colony to face some killer robots on the rampage.
But for all the visceral hi-tech wizardry on display the new series also offers a satisfying emotional core. A blossoming love affair between Scarlet and Destiny Angel is a real pleasure to watch and surprisingly heartfelt in its impact. Although aimed at children this is, as Thunderbirds was before it, a show with genuine adult appeal. And if Scarlet is predictably loyal and heroic his worry about his invulnerability and the way it sets him apart from other humans adds another layer of depth to his character.
As for the photorealistic CGI animation one word sums it up and that word is 'spectacular'. Given that the original Captain Scarlet was a puppet (marionette) show - with all the inherent limitations of movement and expression that entails - the new version is nothing short of miraculous. The characters can finally move without having to be in a vehicle or stand on a conveyor belt! They can smile, look sad, angry, frustrated, and have thrilling hand to hand fights. The new series exploits all of these possibilities to the hilt.
In conclusion all I can say is that anyone who lives outside the UK should contact their local station and request them to carry this show. If you like Gerry & Sylvia Anderson's work but were horrified by Jonathan Frakes' Thunderbirds movie yet still want to see one of the old puppet shows updated with love and skill then New Captain Scarlet is a must. It's easily the best thing Anderson has done since Year One of Space:1999 and far better, IMO, than the BBC's recently relaunched Doctor Who.
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